Friday, 9 December 2011

Looking forward – Enterprise 2.0 Summit


   That’s pretty much it for this year – my business is already starting to wind down into Christmas.  Next year promises to be another and even bigger year for social organisations.

One of the first events I’ll be attending is the Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Paris in February.  There’s a great list of speakers at the event, which includes:

  • Jean-Luc Abelin, Product & Knowledge Manager, Lafarge Group
  • Stéphane Aknin, Head of Group e-Communications, AXA
  • Thierry de Baillon, Senior Social Media Strategist , 90:10 Group
  • Valérie Blondeau, Directrice de la Communication, Lagardère Publicité
  • Yves Caseau, Executive Vice-President, Bouygues Telecom
  • Frederic Charles, IT Strategy & Governance - Enterprise 2.0 evangelist , Lyonnaise des Eaux
  • Richard Collin, Professor & Director of the "Institut de l’Entreprise 2.0 Grenoble Ecole de Management" and Executive Partner, NextModernity
  • Jerome Colombe, Head of Web Governance , Alcatel-Lucent
  • Bertrand Duperrin, Management & Enterprise 2.0 Consultant, NextModernity, France
  • Anu Elmer, Vice President Communications, Swiss Reinsurance Company, Switzerland
  • Dion Hinchcliffe, Senior Vice President, Dachis Group, USA
  • Cordelia Krooß, Senior Enterprise Community Manager , BASF SE
  • Jean-Christophe Kugler, Senior Vice President, Light Commercial Vehicles , Renault
  • Tobias Kunz, Solution Manager Enterprise Portals, Deutsche Lufthansa AG
  • Karine Lazimi, Innovation and Community Manager, Allianz France
  • Johan Lybaert, Business Developer Agile Software Development, Cegeka
  • Jane McConnell, Intranet & Portal Strategy Consultant, NetStrategy/JMC
  • Neil Morgan, Head of Global Intranet, WWF
  • Jamil Ouaj, Communications Manager, Deutsche Bank
  • Franck La Pinta, Web Marketing Manager / 2.0 HR / e-reputation , Société Gérérale
  • Anthony Poncier, Consulting Director, Lecko, France
  • Emanuele Quintarelli, Partner and Social Business Strategist, Open Knowledge
  • Nicolas Rolland, Social Prospective Director , Danone
  • Bobbi Augustine Sand, Creative Director, OZMA
  • Isabelle Schlumberger, EVP Sales & Development , JCDecaux
  • Bart Schutte, Director, Web & Architecture , Saint-Gobain
  • Rawn Shah, Social Business Transformation Expert , IBM
  • Luis Suarez, Social Computing evangelist, IBM Software Group, Netherland
  • Stefania Todisco, Head of Group Operations and ICT Factories Community Unit, Uniredit
  • Mara Tolja, Collaboration Community Manager, Deutsche Bank
  • Ellen Trude, Training Consultant , Bayer Business Services GmbH, Germany


Although the event is only a few hundred miles away from the UK, it does seem to be affected from a common problem that any event organised in continental Europe struggles to attract many people from the British isles (and vice versa) – something that may become even more pronounced with the UK’s increased political separation.

This certainly isn’t an issue about focus on social business within the UK which is at least as strong here as it is in the rest of Europe, so if you’re doing good work on Enterprise 2.0 within the UK and you’re interested in participating in the conference, do let the organisers know.



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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

#CIPDSocial11 & Social Engagement – in the socialmedia garden


night garden flower   I’ve had a couple of conversations with Michael Silverman, Unilever’s ex-head of engagement research, since meeting him at a Symposium event earlier this year (eg at CHRU, and the Personnel Today awards, where Michael and Unilever won the award for the best use of HR technology).

Michael uses a new research tool called Opinion Space, developed with Hybrid Wisdom Labs, which uses the new technique of ‘collaborative discovery’ to help communities suggest ideas and develop understanding about particular issues – eg engagement.

I have to say I don’t really understand the full science behind this:

(Taken from Info and Help)


(!!!)  But to me, the benefit of the technology is largely the same as any social media tool – 1, it allows people to collaborate together and 2, it’s visually appealing.  Add these two points together and it means that it’s fun and compelling.

As I wrote before, this is quite useful in engagement research.  I agree with Michael on this – it seems oddly dissonant that the tool most organisations use to measure engagement generally disengages people.  It’s another area that shouts out to be social medialised!

To give people a chance to experience the technology for themselves, Michael is running an open access research study.  And since it’s run using social media, we thought it would be interesting to apply it to the use of social media.

The starting point is to answer five questions about social media as well as contributing a suggestion about the main barriers for organisations adopting social media.

  1. Using external social media sites at work makes people less productive.  (Yes, I think it can!)
  2. I feel heavily involved in social media.  (Err, yeah!)
  3. My organisation has embraced social media.  (This one was was difficult for me to answer, so I thought about my average HR client!)
  4. HR is best placed to lead social media. (I think it should.)
  5. Successful implementation of social media is about technology not leadership. (Absolutely not!)


So these were my responses:


“HR still hasn't woken up to the opportunities provided by social for media.  In so many organisations which do use social networks if you look at the departmental take-up, everyone is there (led by IT) but not HR.  I hope the CIPD conference and this research will help generate a bit more interest.”


The thing about the garden is that then the whizzy technology displays your responses as a ‘bloom’ within a garden, where surrounding blooms are the other participant responses which are most similar to yours.  Or something.  Neat, anyway.


And then the even more neat bit it that you can vote and comment on other people’s suggestions (which changes the size and colour of the blooms).  It’s this social experience which is the key innovation for me.

Anyway, here are some slides from Michael on the results so far:


If you want to try the system out, and / or contribute to the research, you’ll be able to get an access code – here – soon (by about Friday – come back to this post then).  Have fun!


Technorati Tags: Social,media,employee,engagement,survey,research,CIPD,HR,Michael Silverman,collaborative discovery,opinion space


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#CIPDSocial11 Bill Parsons (ARM): social media and why business needs to take notice


   The CIPD’s social media conference has kicked off with a session from Bill Parsons, EVP HR at ARM Holdings.  I met Bill at ARM in Cambridge earlier this year, so this post is a combination of his presentation, and my earlier notes.

I’ll start off by saying ARM is one of my favourite companies – and in fact it’s one of the world’s favourite companies too.  ARM’s vision is to be an effective innovative company (not just a wacky one) – a creative productive machine – and it has been consistently judged as one of the most innovative companies in the world.

However the reason I like the company is that it’s one of the very few that I know about which isn’t just using social media, but has focused on becoming a truly social organisation.  Rather than following ‘the Chelsea Model’ of simply having the very best people / access to the best human capital (‘human capital is about a group of smart people who don’t talk to each other’), ARM focuses on the best social capital – ie having the best networks, relationships and trust.  Human, social and intellectual capital (the explicit stuff which they sell) are the company’s differentiation.  Social capital has been at the centre of their HR strategy for the last decade – it’s the rocket fuel of the innovative organisation.



This starts with the company’s values which focus on things like teaming and selflessness (unusual in such a profitable company) – and are definitely not vanilla.  They were developed and evolved from the organisation’s founders and focus specifically on ARM as a unique organisation (rather than the things which every other organisation does).

Part of the reason that ARM focuses so much on social relationships is that their strategy is about connecting, collaborating and hence innovating and their model for innovation is primarily about open innovation.  They therefore need everyone to behave selflessly – for the greater good of ARM - in external as well as internal networks.  It sounds idealistic but Bill says this really works at ARM (and I think I believe him).

It’s an unusual business model – ARM sees itself as being at the centre of an ecosystem of 500 competing companies collaborating.  ARM itself only employees 2100 people – vs Intel, its main competitor, with 100,000 people.  Their model only works by having a high surface area which it achieves by having its employees talking directly to customers.  The company’s values and culture makes this easy – it’s clear what provides value.

These values are then used as the basis for HR practices eg assessing promotability, fast tracking etc.  In fact the whole HR strategy is about creating the magical ingredients supporting the development of social capital.  Eg rather than the Accenture corporate model in which people are fighting to get to the top, in ARM if anyone is seen to be overtly trying to be promoted, ARM will fire them!  Rewards come to people who do things for the greater good.

So ARM does identify high flyer potential management talent and provides them with coaching and training to help them build their legitimacy.  If you don’t have the buy-in and support of your peers and the people you’re going to manage you’ve got a problem.  ARM ensures that these individuals have good business relationships and networks.

Compensation aligns with ARM’s social strategy as well.  Ensuring justice is an essential part of a social strategy and ARM provide their staff with more equity than any other European company.  This makes employees’ feeling of ownership more meaningful too.  The corporate bonus is largely collective too (just a small proportion is individually driven).

Recognition also focuses on what people do together – they hardly ever celebrate individual success.  Eg the company celebrated its 20 year anniversary last year (its been the highest performing company in the world over this time).  But the celebration was really one of international collective being eg they gave everyone an ipad (they were founded as a child of Apple and Newton Computer).  It was a 27 hour global party revisiting their global successes – not individual stories.

Leadership selection and development is aligned with the values too.  Their CEO is probably the most understated CEO in the FTSE – the one with the highest humility.  He works full time at ARM and keeps a low profile outside.

More generally ARM seek to grow leadership internally – ensuring cultural fit, and fit into the team based environment.  Their feedback and development system also focuses on the company’s values, providing 180 degree insight about what employees think of their bosses.

Social media does have a role in all of this of course, in fact they’ve been using social media for at least ten years.  This includes Skype, Linkedin and Facebook for external use, and blogs and forums internally.  In addition, it uses:

  • Internal YouTube – ARM TV
  • Yammer has taken off in a big way.
  • Video conferencing is the norm (rather than something which would be perceived to be not quite as good.)
  • And wikis are the predominant tool for collaboration.



They also run a Exec Q&A once a year in which their exec answer any question on anything from anyone.  And it’s videod and podcasted so that everyone can see it.

Interestingly a lot of this, eg Yammer and their wikis, were started unofficially and took off from there, rather than being introduced by IT.

However, in Bill’s view, social media can become antisocial media – a barrier to effective communication. So you need to do face-to-face meetings to help people get to know each other. Arguably in advance of social media.

So in ARM, traditional communications plays a part as well eg ARM run twice the number of events (with a corresponding impact on travel budgets) than they need to – these are overtly opportunities to create social networks.  Eg they have a 80 person forum in which they invite people who don’t know each other well to get together (some of which is done unconference style) to work on a range of OD topics eg on the organisation of the future.  This ensures the organisation is constantly questioning its culture.  To get round the biggest organisational barrier of any organisation which is not having the best ideas, they often invite internal customers along, and sometimes external customers too.

It all starts with dinner and drinks in the bar, and then the next morning a discussion on the topics – but what matters is the relationships and new networks that are formed.  The same in their engineering conferences, code tests, transistor tests etc etc.

ARM have tried to measure their social capital through approaches like social network analysis, and they also measure engagement, though what they’re really concerned about is organisational citizenship behaviours – do staff understand that networking is part of their day job, and that they need to help the organisation rather than just doing their own thing.

It’s an impressive case study and it’s paid off too.  ARM’s market value is £4m per employee which Bill argues is down largely to the company’s social capital and use of social media.


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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

With Globoforce on Social Recognition


   I’ve just been attending an event with Globoforce and the Conference Board on social recognition.

I’ve been a long supporter of Globoforce’s work on recognition, eg this webinar we did together, and also my support for their book – see this endorsement (which I still support) printed at the start of this:

“Recognition is a hugely underused and badly misused HR and management tools.  It’s effective use isn’t helped by various myths and misunderstandings about the value of transactional recognition schemes.  Using executive and research insights, supported by a series of ‘myth busters’, Mosley and Irvine provide a clear and compelling case for a more strategic approach – the time for Strategic Recognition is here.”  Jon Ingham.


It’s been a natural progression for Globoforce to move beyond strategic recognition into the growing social HR space with a focus on social recognition too -  though in a sense, recognition has always been a social sort of thing.  (We didn’t really talk about this, but my perception is that Globoforce has moved progressively from enabling people to exchange thanks, to sharing points, badges, kudos etc – ie slightly more tangible ‘social recognitions’.)

Some of the most interesting points included in the presentation were:

  • Recognition is key to engagement.  Globoforce’s Mood Tracker suggests that ‘only’ 38% of (N American?) employees are searching for a new job, but that 49% would move to a company offering better recognition.  (I’m still not sure about this.  I think employees like recognition because of what this is likely to lead to, rather than because it’s an engagement driver itself – see this post on this Globoforce webinar.)
  • Social recognition differs from more traditional approaches by being frequent and widespread.  (Yes, although I think it’s deeper than that – it’s about meaningful recognition, and it’s meaningful because it’s from people you know, and work with, rather than just people more senior than you).
  • Social recognition allows organisations to overlay their structures with employee recognition moments, creating a representation of the power players in the organisation.  You can see who is participating in the corporate values and how deep these go across the organisation.  (Yes, though this is just one representation, and other tools will enable you to draw different types of social network too.)
  • Organisations are increasingly interrogating social recognition data, overlaying this on performance and compensation systems and identifying the correlations, providing a sort of multi-person review.  (I worry about this – firstly because of the point that was made that there is a spectrum of people who won’t give feedback, and secondly because once recognition is any way linked to formal performance management and particularly reward, the potential for dysfunctional outcomes is dramatically increased.  I’d just keep it for engagement, and individual and organisational development.)
  • Social recognition is a powerful lever for culture (deepening or) change.  Stanford research suggests that just 5-8% of the workforce providing weekly nominations is enough to develop a self-sustaining culture and significantly increase employee engagement scores.  (Yes, but 5-8% of the workforce doing anything involving discretionary behaviour is a powerful boost for change.)
  • The need for social recognition applies everywhere although the way you might encourage it varies by geography.  (Yes, although I do think some cultures would take to it much more easily than others eg African vs Asia again.  Globoforce mentioned Celestica as an organisation that had cracked social recognition in Asia Pac, but then suggested that India was particularly active – well yes, they would be.  India is a very different place to the rest of Asia – at least as far as social media is concerned eg there are probably more bloggers in India than the rest of the world combined, at least excepting the US, but there are still very few people involved in social media travelling further East.)
  • Social is broader than just social media (a suggestion you might have picked up previously in my blogs).  Eg GE managers in Asia go out to dinner with their employees’ families to support retention by applying a bit of ‘social pressure’ on the parents – a very nice idea.  (But shouldn’t you do that anyway – though perhaps with older employees with partners and kids instead?  It’s a great way to ensure you see your employees as whole people rather than just as interchangeable resources.)


Despite my concerns, it’s great to see the development of social recognition.  I recollect Euan Semple’s remark at HR Technology Europe that all this is doing is formalising something that has (or should have been) always been happening informally.  I think that’s right, and I do think the formalisation of the informal is a good thing.  It’s just too important to be left to chance.

My only remaining worry about a system like Globoforce (and therefore also with Achievers / I Like Rewards, Rypple, Sonar 6, Small Improvements etc) is whether one of more of these areas is important enough for your company that this is where you want your social interaction to be?

Or do you want this interaction in your knowledge management, collaboration, innovation or CRM system instead?  Because if so, you’re potentially going to be reducing the impact of both systems if you split the interaction in two.

So think about which you need to prioritise.  Eg if your whole organisation is built around personal and organisational appreciation (eg using AI, strengths etc) then social recognition might fit well.  If it’s based on more balanced performance management (failures as well as successes), you may need to use one of the social performance management systems.  And if it’s about innovation, then I’d go for a social system that is built around this.

Of course, over time, all these systems will become increasingly integrated (through organic development or acquisition) in exactly the same way that best of breed HCM systems have all been joined together into a small number of integrated talent management platforms over the last five years.  But until then, my advice would be to focus clearly on what it is you want.


Addendum: I thought that was a good last line with which to finish off the post.  However, thinking it through, I’ve got one more: if more social appreciation isn’t what you want, then think about whether it should be (what you should want)!

Eg if you’re going to prioritise innovation, you need to be clear about which you think comes first – ie does appreciation follow innovation (you need to encourage appreciation to stimulate more innovation) or is it the other way around (that stimulating appreciation will most likely lead to more innovation taking pace)?

I think that increasingly organisations are going to have develop their people and build their cultures first (what I refer to as creating value).  If you agree with this, then recognition is a pretty good place to start.


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Sunday, 4 December 2011

Social media in the hopeful continent


   I was in South Africa for a few meetings and a workshop on HR and social media last week.  It’s been a while since I’ve been to southern Africa but it was good to be back – particularly as this meant missing the news that the UK is possibly already back in recession and the announcement that austerity cuts are going to be deepened and lengthened, as well as the public sector strikes during the week (Jeremy Clarkson’s comments on the strikers were still well reported however).

In comparison, South Africa’s economy is getting along quite nicely thank you.  An article in the Economist this week suggests that Africa will grow by 6% this year and nearly 6% in 2012, about the same as Asia.  Although this relates to the continent as a whole, the article touches on a lot of the key themes from my week there too.

For example:

“Africa now has a fast-growing middle class: according to the World Bank, around 60m Africans have an income of $3,000 a year, and 100m will in 2015…

Population trends could enhance these promising developments. A bulge of better-educated young people of working age is entering the job market and birth rates are beginning to decline. As the proportion of working-age people to dependents rises, growth should get a boost. Asia enjoyed such a “demographic dividend”, which began three decades ago and is now tailing off. In Africa it is just starting…

Having a lot of young adults is good for any country if its economy is thriving, but if jobs are in short supply it can lead to frustration and violence. Whether Africa’s demography brings a dividend or disaster is largely up to its governments.”


This mixed opportunity and challenge was something that came up in several of my meetings.  Elijah Litheko from South Africa’s IPM suggested that the country’s dual economies is one of the major issues that HR practitioners there need to deal with, ie that they have a key role in nationalisation and economic development.

One of other things Elijah believes is different is that South Africans are more diverse and that therefore organisations have to deal with, and benefit from, more different perspectives (“everyone in Europe thinks the same way”).  I wasn’t there long enough to test this out thoroughly, but am prepared to accept the suggestion.

I think a result of this diversity, which I also discussed with people, and was demonstrated in my meetings, was that South African culture prioritises conversation, and that people are prepared to really listen to each other until they arrive at a consensus.  This willingness to participate also came through in my workshop (and our use of social media within the workshop, which, whilst not quite as much as I would have ideally liked, was more than I’ve been able to encourage in any other social media workshops I’ve run in Europe or Asia).  And I actually think this is a very positive indication of Africa’s future success as well.  (In the new world of work, organisations need their people to come forward with suggestions and contributions – I think the fact that some cultures don’t support this will limit their future development.)



“Africa’s enthusiasm for technology is boosting growth. It has more than 600m mobile-phone users—more than America or Europe. Since roads are generally dreadful, advances in communications, with mobile banking and telephonic agro-info, have been a huge boon. Around a tenth of Africa’s land mass is covered by mobile-internet services—a higher proportion than in India.”


We discussed this development too, building on the statistics and presentation Bill Boorman had produced for Tru South Africa a few weeks previously.  We didn’t find any HR applications for the local tween focused networking system, MixIt, but did agree that mobile was going to be key for participant’s future social media activities (eg they liked LV’s mobile focused approach to social recruiting here).

We also hypothesised about the deep take-up of social media (especially Facebook) on a personal basis, but the still limited take-up within corporates.  We thought maybe that whereas Europeans in particular tend to do a lot of their mobile social networking on, or waiting for, public transport, given that people tend to drive rather than take public transport in South Africa, and given intermittent mobile coverage and security concerns that they wouldn’t want to try using an ipad in a car, there’s less time for people to go online for company purposes.  I’m not totally convinced by this, but again, am prepared to take it forward as a working hypothesis.


I’ll be back in South Africa again during February…


Picture from The Economist article

Technorati Tags: South Africa,HR,Elijah Litheko,IPM,social media,statistics,economy


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Thursday, 17 November 2011

With Demos on social mobility


   This blog tends to deal with organisational social collaboration, and within this agenda, its main focus is often on social technologies.  That’s not actually my intent –I do want to focus more broadly on other aspects of being social in organisations eg social responsibility outside these organisations, as I do believe these issues all inter-relate, or at least require a similar perspective. 

Well yesterday morning I attended a roundtable on social mobility with political think tank, Demos.  With a few HRDs, journalists, researchers and parliamentary special advisors there, we had what I thought was a good discussion about this issue, a couple of points from which I summarise below:

  • The concern is over relative social mobility (ensuring the low-skilled / paid can progress upwards – as well as the high skilled / paid downwards) rather than absolute mobility (increasing the standards of living for everyone).  [And people talk about HR-speak!  Unless I’m missing something, I interpret this as concern for social mobility over what you get at the bottom of society if there isn’t any mobility.]
  • The government is struggling with challenges relating the open vs the big society (from an open society perspective, the big society’s focus on informal social networks is one of the main problems in society).
  • Some organisations invest in supporting social mobility (apprentice programmes, paid interns, work experience programmes etc) for philanthropic reasons, some because they think there is a business case – even if it sounds to everyone else as if they’re just doing it because they think it’s the right thing to do.  Most don’t do very much at all.
  • Individuals with ‘low social mobility’ ie crap jobs need to raise their aspirations – neither the government nor employing organisations can do this for them.


I didn’t get a chance to add to the debate yesterday, but the points I would have made are:

  • There isn’t a solid enough business case to invest in social mobility at the moment, particularly when many of them are just trying to stay in business.  I agree that talent management professionals should have a longer-term focus but I don’t think this is the right time to ask.
  • Having said that, there are some signs that focus in areas like social responsibility in increasing, and the government should obviously push the door when there’s an opportunity of it opening.  Organisations can sign up for the government’s social mobility contact here.  The most impactful thing I think organisations could do however, would be to start giving better feedback to job seekers, particularly those who have just left school or university, or are from disadvantaged backgrounds etc.
  • But what’s really needed, I think, is for organisations to change the way they work, and be smarter in what they do - and doing this, might well provide a business case. One thing that would help would be switch in focus from always recruiting the best people to recruiting the most cost effective, eg someone from a lower status university who might not be quite as good (though there did seem to be fairly broad support at the roundtable is that what differentiates the high status Russell Group universities from the rest is the attendance of confident if incapable ‘Dim Tim’s).  But because there’s less competition for theses less attractive individuals they can be picked up without paying anything like so much (a bit like John Boudreau’s arguments for focusing on pivotal talent management perhaps).
  • As another example, one of the speakers talked about PwC moving from recruiting graduates to school leavers.  Well I did this 15 years ago at Ernst & Young.  But the reason that we developed our Accounting Technician stream wasn’t about a philanthropic concern or even a business case for social mobility, it was because we’d redesigned the organisation and realised that not everything done by an auditor needed a chartered accountancy qualification.  So when Demos ask ‘how cna the government up-skill HR professionals to implement more effective social mobility strategies in the workplace’, I have to say 1, that they can’t, and 2, that it’s the wrong question anyway.  HR, and other business leaders, just need to be smarter at building their organisations differently (ie better).  If they did this, then work wouldn’t be so hour glass (or even squeezed toothpaste tube shaped.
  • I’d also like to see organisations loosing some of their focus on individual talent management and putting a bit more effort into building collaborative organisations (ah, back to that again!).  I think social mobility, and just generally better performance, would be a natural consequence of this sort of shift as well. 


Picture credit: accent on eclectic

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Saturday, 5 November 2011

Chairing the Social Workplace conference


   On Tuesday I chaired the new Social Workplace conference in London.

This was a great event, focused on the digital workplace.

Highlights for me were:

  • Lee Bryant’s points about:
    • Social business will be key to engineering ourselves out of the economic crisis
    • It fits exception handling in a complex process driven organisation
    • Humans being leaky so organisations will never have 100% data security
    • Amazon having ‘2 pizza teams’ (if two pizzas is not enough to feed it then the team is too big)
  • Benjamin Ellis talking about:
    • Digital being about engagement – making someone want to come and play on a website vs traditional interrpution marketing (putting the intranet on the home page – similar to putting adverts in the middle of a TV programme) eg a good strategy is to tell people NOT to use the intranet
    • The spectrum of communication activities ranging through broadcasting to feedback (still over a closed channel) to dialogue to networking
    • The culture of sharing which works best if you share something when it’s unfinished
    • Measurement being largely qualitative – through tags and comments
  • Elizabeth Lupfer on social experience and the importance of employee profiles, tagging and social recognition (gamification):


Picture credit: Olga Pavlovsky

Technorati Tags: Social,workplace,media,technology,culture,conferences,SWConf


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In the IBM Forum: conversations on social business


   After a week focusing on the ‘analogue’ / physical workplace, it was back into the digital world this week.  It was also a week on my feet as on Tuesday I chaired the Social Workplace conference in London and then on Wednesday and Thursday I chaired the new HR Technology (including social technology) conference in Amsterdam.  And it was a week of learning about IBM as I was with Jon Mell (who I interviewed recently) at the Social Workplace conference and Ian Bird at the HR Technology one.

But this focus actually started on Monday with a session at IBM featuring a few bloggers: Johnnie Moore, Peter Gold and Matt Alder (pictured) plus Mike Morrison (sat behind me) and some people from IBM, including Jon (pictured), and Stuart McRae, who I saw present on IBM’s jams earlier this Summer.

We kicked off with a suggestion from Jon Mell that in today’s organisation, where hierarchy doesn’t matter (doesn’t it?), being social is a key requirement, and that this needs to go beyond being digital.  For some reason, despite this encouragement to go broader, our conversation seemed to focus heavily on social tools.

Some of the key points we discussed, for me, were:

  • Our workforces are increasingly ahead of their organisations.
  • Despite this, social networking tools often aren’t working well in organisations – following your boss feel like friending your dad – not cool.
  • Where it works, it’s because social networking has been made an organic part of the business vs employees being social and then going back to work [though I challenged this as I think in the best social organisations, social plays a much bigger role than this].
  • There are some challenges in this too.  Stuart gave the example of auditors using the network of people they studies for their accountancy qualifications with in preference to senior staff in their own firms – leading to information leakage and greater difficulty in firms establishing their own approach.
  • People naturally follow social processes rather than business processes, so we need to unforce people (from using business processes) rather than force them (to use social processes).
  • Unplanned outcomes are often the most interesting.    Peter gave an example of a retail company where staff pushed back against being given T-shirts.  When consulted they suggested shirts with logos of their products and turned a cost into a profit item.  This could never have been planned.
  • This is the difficulty with traditional business cases.  ROI can be a red herring.  IBM rewarded people for providing case studies.  This helped adoption and helped provide benefits for continuing work after starting it.


We also talked quite a bit about IBM’s own (Lotus) Connections product – including a rather bizarre (to me) conversation comparing Connections to BuddyPress (just because I think this has precisely no connection to the social business), though we got into IBM’s own use of Connections more deeply at the Social Workplace conference.



So an interesting debate, though the most interesting part of the day for me was walking back to the tube with one of the other bloggers, (perhaps because this is where we got more social?). We both agreed that the session had suffered from a couple of limitations:

  • A lot of what makes social works is doing the right thing in a particular organisation. It depends on this – on what leaders or other individuals do – not what we as thought leaders think they should be doing!
  • We weren’t totally sure how much IBM has taken ownership of the event, or whether this is just a good idea of their PR agency.  And Jon, it really isn’t very social to disappear from your own session!


Anyway, you can keep track of IBM’s work on the social business at

Also see Peter Gold’s report on the session.


Technorati Tags: IBM,social,business,workplace,Stuart McRae,Jon Mell,Ian Bird


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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

#SWConf interview with Jon Mell, IBM


And I think this will be my last interview, as it’s not much time till the conference.  This is with John Mell, Social Collaboration Leader at IBM North Europe.  Jon once again focuses on the importance of culture, and talks about the benefits of investing in the social workplace for customer service, R&D and HR.



Technorati Tags: Jon Mell,IBM social,media,collaboration,workplace,conference


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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

#SWConf interview with Jenni Marshall on Social Communication


My latest interview is with Jenni Wheller, Internal Communication Manager at SSP UK.  Jenni describes the role of social in an organisation that 1. doesn’t have an existing internal communication function , and 2. in which 80% of their people work offline – a couple of challenges which might leave you thinking if social communication works there, where wouldn’t it work? (even if you don’t call it social media).

You can see more from Jenni at the Social Workplace conference on 1st November in London.



Technorati Tags: Jenni Wheller,SSP,social,media,communication,workplace,conference


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Thursday, 20 October 2011

Workplace Trends


   I spent most of yesterday at Workplace Trends: Property is a People Business.  The conference opened with a reinforcement of the opportunities that the workplace provides for generating performance through people and a regret that this isn’t yet understood more widely, eg with the conference chair’s proposal to the CIPD annual conference being rejected (workplace design was also a theme in my own broader proposal which was also rejected).

The main theme of the conference seemed to me to be about how our office buildings enable people to be effective.  For example there was a panel session mid-day debating whether property is a people business - which not unexpectedly was supported, though we also heard some interesting challenges to this conclusion eg the act that architects tend to publish photos of their buildings without any people using them (and we saw quite a few examples of these throughout the day).

The main input to this theme was provided by Craig Knight from the University of Exeter talking about psychology in the workplace.  His conclusion was that a lot of what we do to create ‘lean offices’ dates back to the early 1900s and are generally fairly toxic to the people who work within them.

For example, a common focus is monitoring the workforce (eg 30% of companies in Norway place their toilets under video surveillance?).  They’re a bit like the ‘ultimate prison’, the Panopticon designed to enable an unobserved guard to monitor all of the cells.  This sort of covert monitoring just shows that we don’t trust our employees (as opposed to our managers who can where / when / how they want).

Most workplace design is conducted by designers based on what they understand about knowledge workers but without input from regular office workers.  This is a problem given Knight’s research which suggests that an empowered workspace (in which people are able to move around their own plants and pictures, and display their own personal items etc) is much more productive than a basic ‘lean’ one, or even a space which is enriched by other people but without the employee’s involvement or ownership.

The key therefore is someone’s ownership and control over the environment they work within.  Eg there is nothing inherently wrong with open plan design, it’s just that this leaves itself open to management abuse.

Kerstin Sailer from UCL looked more at the relationships between people, arguing that we need to bring together the spatial with the social.


Sailer talked about spatial and transpatial (which I would define as cultural / organisational) relationships and solidarities as the basis for understanding how people come together.  Her research shows how the interaction frequency between people is influenced by spatial distance, and how unpicking this influence requires and understanding of the peoples’ transpatial relationships (eg through a social network analysis).

So think about the use of atriums (yes, I know it should be atria – but do people ever say that?) as they can divide people, or coffee machines which can bring people together but create noise for people sitting around them

We then looked at a couple of different buildings - PwC designed their new office at 7 More London for sustainability, flexibility and collaboration – allowing their people to come together and interact with each other.  Some of the design features include open air space where you can eat and have a coffee which people respond well to, clear walls from the entry space which allows visitors to see the way that PwC works; and always being able to see the atrium so know where you are / your orientation in the building.

PwC have taken away peoples’ personal stuff, using a clear desk approach.  They use hoteling with automatic booking system where everyone books in in advance and then checks in into an open space when they arrive.  PwC are seeking to fill 8-9 out of 10 desks every day for the sake of efficiency.

To me, this was another example of the need for clear objectives.  for example PwC will use the system of different lifts to different floors which is good for sustainability, but confuses people.  These tensions need to be resolved.  In particular, efficiency clearly pulls in a different direction to collaboration, and despite the formal objectives of the building, my read on this case study was that efficiency has won.  Despite the social spaces for refreshments, there was little humanity or social connection within this building from what I could see.

I much preferred the case example described by Novo Nordisk of their new HQ near Copenhagen.


Even if the workstyles identified by NovoNordisk are fairly standard and haven’t been implemented yet, you see how this has been designed around the ‘user’ in this North European vs Anglo Saxon designed office.


A final point was that Anne Marie McEwan suggested that the workplace needs to be both physical and virtual ('physual') – or analogue and digital.  I’ll be returning to the digital side next week.


Also see:



Technorati Tags: Workplace trends,property,facilities,office,workplace design,Craig Knight,Anne Marie McEwan


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Wednesday, 19 October 2011

#Onrec Smartworking conference


   So you wait all year for a workplace design conference, and then two come along in the same week.  First up was John Blackwell’s Smartworking Summit, linked to the UK’s Onrec conference.

The main workplace design speaker was Simon Ward from Cushman & Wakefield.  His main point was that smartworking isn’t about space – it’s about people and work.

He talked about some of his Corporate Real Estate (CRE) experience taking down offices and implementing open plan, touchdowns for travellers, collaboration spaces etc and noted that collaboration and business social interaction was a common factor within many of these experiences.


Integrated approaches

John had suggested that since no one function has got the full picture of smartworking, including the property market, use of technology etc, we need to bring the different facets of its design together.

We talked specifically about HR, with Simon mentioning he wished that HR was at the table more often when smart working was being discussed.  GE Heathcare’s HR Leader, Roshni Haywood gave a good general presentation about GE, and some useful insights about change which I may include when I come back this shortly.  However I didn’t learn much about smart working.



There were some interesting discussions on measurement – Roshni emphasised the need to keep track of everything and make people accountable for meeting their numbers.  And Simon suggested that execs want facts and you’ve got to have data – utilisation, security barrier, portfolio data etc. He gave the example of one Head of Risk who wanted to have his full team at head office because ‘they all go there all the time’, but checking the security data showed that only ten in three hundred when into the building more than once a quarter.

OK, fine, but what about tracking smartworking back to the extent of business social collaboration? – I suspect that might be a bit more difficult to do, and that therefore we need to encourage our execs to go beyond facts and data.  And in fact, Simon noted in some of the his experiences that identifying the cost savings or smart working was difficult as a lot of these were intertwined with other things.  Exactly.

John also noted that when you go home and are asked about your day, you just know – you don’t need to consult an HR scorecard.  Plus people can get caught by their own metrics and forget they need to respond,  I thought this was a good point.


Outcomes and emergence

I also liked John’s suggestion that we need to be open to emergence: “we don’t know the destination – we’re creating it as we go, and the journey changes the people which changes the destination” (although there are key known issues, such as getting one of those buses when the Olympics is in London next year – but there will be other things as well)

However, I also think we need to have a clear understanding of what smartworking means for us – and plan as much as we can for this outcome to be achieved.  I also think we can get a bit more granular than Simon’s suggestion about people being ‘buzzier and happier’.

And I also think taking this approach would avoid the sort of disastrous problem described by Simon where Cisco set up lots of cube work spaces but which resulted in no one talking to each other in the way that was intended.  Perhaps this requires CRE to go beyond ‘we’re just here to help’?

I’m hoping to see a bit more of this approach at Workplace Trends on Thursday…


Technorati Tags: onrec,smart,dynamic,alternative,working,workplace,facilities,real estate,John Blackwell,Simon Ward,Cushman & Wakefield


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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

And the analogue workplace?


   In my last post I referred to the maturity of the digital workplace.  I think this is a major aspect of how a business can gain social advantage – but there’s a lot more..

It’s a point I’ve been making recently over at Strategic HCM, writing about the need to extend HR/OD’s focus on Organisation Effectiveness.

What about the physical (analogue vs digital?) workplace, for example?

I’m looking forward to the Workplace Trends conference: Property is a People Business which will focus on ‘how we can create working environments which enhance performance and wellbeing, and explore the techniques used to understand organisations and work processes to inform the property and design community’.

Referring to the need for greater integration between HR and Property professions, Workplace Trends co-chair, Neil Usher notes:

“My plea to the HR and workplace communities is to grow closer for our mutual benefit, to not let this happen again – and perhaps in future we might hold a joint event. At least, that is my intention.”


I think that’s true, but as I’ve already commented,

“I think part of the difficulty is the number of different professionals that need to come together to support social business. HR and Facilities absolutely, but IT, Strategy, Communication, OD, etc too. It's unfortunately very difficult to keep an eye on it all! (I do try).”


HR – OD – Digital Workplace – Property: to me they’re all part of what needs to be a wider movement.  But Property / (the analogue) Workplace definitely plays a major role in this, and I look forward to finding out more at the Workplace Trends conference…


Technorati Tags: Workplace,trends,conference,property,facilities,Neil Usher


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#SWConf interview with Sam Marshall on the digital workplace


   My most recent interview has been Sam Marshall, ex Unilever, now Director at (err….) ClearBox Consulting.  Sam talks about his earlier and current experience, as well as development of the digital workplace maturity model (pictured) for the Intranet Benchmarking Forum.



I thought it was a really interesting conversation (you can make your own mind up) and particularly liked Sam’s focus on strategy – to ensure the different dimensions of the maturity model aren’t developed in isolation.


You can find out more about Sam’s participation in the Social Workplace Conference that I am chairing at


Also see:


Technorati Tags: Social,media,intranet,workplace,Crexia,SWConf,conference,London


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Monday, 3 October 2011

#SWConf interview with Mark Morrell, Intranet Pioneer


   My second interview in a series of conversations leading up to the Social Workplace Conference on 1st November has been with Mark Morrell, Intranet Pioneer, and previously intranet manager at BT.

Mark talks about his experience at BT and since, working independently.  I think he offers some useful tips, so do view the video, and come along to see more at the conference next month!




Also see #SWConf interview with David Christopher / Oracle and StopThinkSocial


Technorati Tags: Social,media,intranet,workplace,Crexia,SWConf,conference,London


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Friday, 30 September 2011

Collaborative Leadership in Asia


   I’ve been attending the Singapore Human Capital Summit and it’s been remarkable how clearly increased collaboration has come through as a core theme.

We started off with Lynda Gratton’s description of the changing nature of work, which includes a big focus on collaboration.

But I thought the best explanation of the shift came from one of Gratton’s research participants, Pradeep Pant, President of Kraft Foods for Asia Pacific. Pant explained that the command and control organisation has had to go, since that as business has become more complex, it’s no longer possible to be hands on.

Advantage through product features lasts just a few months – sometimes weeks. So real advantage today comes from:

  • A relentless focus on who we want to be, and what we want to do (and not do)
  • A higher purpose – older people are concerned about job descriptions and salaries (my notes also say potatoes, but I’m sure that can’t be right!), but those at the other end of the age spectrum are most concerned about what does the company stand for, other than market share, profits and cash (actually I don’t think that’s right either – I think all generations, East and West, are increasingly focused on this).
  • Looking at communities, and understanding what to do with hierarchies and organisation
  • Organisational flexibility and adaptiveness to change – ensuring that true innovation, rather than simply product development, is deeply embedded. So the job of the leader is encouraging risk taking and experimentation, taking away fear of failure.


Pant says he’s had to stop wearing a tie – people knew he was informal but were worried other people saw him as too formal, and that they wouldn’t talk to him,

A lot of the speakers seemed to understand the shift Gratton had been describing – but there were a few other comments that made me less sure about this.


So, for example, one of the CEO speakers claimed that her employees put leaders (including her, presumably) on a pedestal. Um, I wonder… And yes, I know that there’s a high power distance trait in much of South East Asia, but even so, I’m not sure this will be right. I suspect the speaker’s comment has got more to do with many Executives’ lack of understanding about their organisations (but I could be wrong on this)..

Anyway, I was cheered later when Jen-Luc Betel from Medtronic (I think it was) noted that whilst respect for hierarchy may be comfortable for leaders, it’s not good for their organisations, as it saps creativity and energy.  Companies need to unleash people at the bottom of their organisations by creating a respectful environment and ensuring that people are empowered – if they’re watched, they won’t innovate.


The value of collaboration also came in several other sessions, for example Vineet Nayar talked about HCL becoming a ‘Facebook organisation’, based upon community rather than control. He wants HCL’s internal relationships to be spherical, rather than hierarchical, in nature. People need to come together for purposes that are good for the company, collaborate over something, and then disband (then go and collaborate somewhere else).

See also this earlier post on Vineet’s organisational model (including his original drawing of it).

And also Vineet’s  presentation on the perfect storm:


Technorati Tags: Singapore,Human Capital,Summit,Vineet Nayar,perfect storm,Asia,HR,awards,collaboration,Facebookl,organisation


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The Chief Social Officer



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Friday, 16 September 2011

The Social CEO


Social Media CEO   I’m presenting at this session on Social Media for CEOs on Tuesday 20th September.

The half-day strategic briefing session is being organised by Luke Brinkley-Jones at Our Social Times and is for senior executives of large organizations.

“This unique event – the first of its kind in the UK – offers an end-to-end view of the benefits, and risks, of adopting social media across multiple departments within large organizations.

During this intensive morning session, we will cover topics such as:

    • Social media business strategy
    • Leadership and innovation: “The Social CEO”
    • Enterprise social networking (internal communities)
    • Customer engagement and advocacy (external communities)
    • Brand and reputation management
    • Talent retention and recruitment.”


You can follow the conversation at #socialceo.


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Thursday, 8 September 2011

#SWConf interview with David Christopher / Oracle and StopThinkSocial


   One of the wonderful things about chairing conferences is that you often get to spend additional time with some of the speakers before and during the event.

On 1st November, I’m going to be chairing the Social Workplace Conference in London (one of very, very few 2.0 / social business events held in the UK) and I’m going to be talking to several of the people who are going to be speaking at it.

I had the first of these conversations yesterday – with David Christopher, who is Social Media Business Lead at Oracle, and also does his own thing at StopThinkSocial.

Here’s the video of the interview.  If you’re interested in social business / enterprise 2.0, I think you’ll find it an interesting view:




You can find out more about the Social Workplace Conference at


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Friday, 12 August 2011

Social business webinar


   Posting about my forthcoming social innovation webinar reminded me that I’ve not given you the links to the archive or my slides from my Social Business webinar back in the Spring.

So, here you go:

  • Citrix GoToWebinar archive
  • Slideshare presentation


Social business 2.0
View more presentations from Jon Ingham


And as a further reminder, here are the links to the same resources for my previous webinar on HR 2.0:

  • Archive
  • Presentation


Technorati Tags: Social business,enterprise 2.0,team,community,organisation,development,HR,social media,web 2.0,management 2.0,communityship,workplace design



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