Tag Archives: Project Collaboration

Collaboration for competitive advantage

As many organisations are rolling out enterprise platforms with social media tools like SharePoint 2010 or Spigit Innovation software, they need to look at their ability to optimise collaboration to unlock the power within their knowledge workers.

Collaboration is working together to achieve a goal. Many organisations who are exploring the use of social media tools seem to regard collaboration as limited to comments, votes and “likes”. Rather, it needs to be a coordinated effort to reach stated goals.

Collaboration is a repetitive process where people and/or organisations work together to realise shared goals. These goals could be the deployment of a project, development of an innovation or putting together a proposal. This is a deep, collective, determination to reach an identical objective.

Organisations need to look at their collaboration processes, who should be involved, what the goals are and what information people need in order to ensure that they get the best results.

Up until now we haven’t had the wherewithal to collaborate at scale. Time and geography have often impeded robust collaboration. With the advent of social media and increased quality of data and enterprise technology with social media capabilities, we now have the ability to maximise the collective brain power of our employees.

There are a number of considerations when we embark on collaboration in large enterprises:

– What is the goal we intend to achieve?

– Who is going to lead the collaboration initiative?

– What are the impediments to collaboration? These could include

Access to information and knowledge

Culture and siloed thinking

Anti-collaborative processes, such as corporate governance or policies

– What are the tools we need for collaboration?

Do we need real world space, like boardrooms?

Will other social media tools, like IM, likes, ranks and posts enhance collaboration?

Enterprise platforms can push or recommend information to the users based on the project or the user profile or similar information that has been accessed in the past.

What templates can we develop to enhance collaboration

– Which skills and experiences should be co-opted onto collaborative projects? These could include:

Analytical

Project

Decision

Networking and Negotiation

Industry

Technical

Professional etc.

But of course collaboration is not a panacea for improving how organisations function. Many processes and job functions are repetitive and transactional and require no collaboration at all. Rather, collaborative behaviour will impede the smooth functioning of the organisation. However, it is clear that teams that work collaboratively obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources.

It is time that organisations started exercising the collaborative muscle to take on the ever changing market.

Hansen, Morten T “Collaboration” 2009 Harvard Business Press

McKinseys

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Business, Collaboration, Crowdsourcing, Digital Communities, Enterprise 2.0, Innovation

Three reasons not to block Facebook in corporates

It always amazes me, when dealing with large corporations, how many of them have blocked access to Facebook. I understand this when people are doing boring, repetitive jobs, but I am seeing it in organisations who employ knowledge workers for their innovation, creativity and their relationship building skills.

When I ask them why, there are usually two reasons; bandwidth and productivity.

Too much time spent on Facebook by employees is not a sign that Facebook is bad. It is an indicator of the level of engagement of an employee. If he wasn’t on Facebook, he would be on the phone or playing solitaire anyway. The cure for too much time on Facebook is to engage the employee whether it is through motivation, training, counselling, changing the level of complexity of the work. Switching Facebook off only serves to send the bored employee elsewhere.

The secret to increasing productivity and bandwidth use is to take a strategic approach to Facebook. Here are three reasons why leaving Facebook on could be good for your company:

  • Employees become real people to your clients;
  • Employees learn about personal branding and how to use other social media; and
  • Employees can endorse your brand by association.

Being real people

The lines between our personal and professional lives are blurring. Facebook is enabling everyone to become more approachable and to build accessible personal brands. By capitalising on this, knowledge workers can develop closer more robust relationships with clients. Research shows that when client relationships are rich, clients are likely to be more tolerant if we make mistakes and will allow us to rectify them. Close relationships with clients often leads to advocacy, when clients actively refer us to other clients. They also shorten sales cycles and make sure that we are in the right place at the right time when our clients need our services.

Using social media and building personal brands

Social media is changing the way enterprises work. It is flattening out organisational hierarchies and is fast becoming a way to improve communication, capture knowledge and enable innovation across the business. The quicker employees learn to use social media tools, the more effectively they will adopt and use enterprise 2.0 tools like SharePoint 2010.

Employees who build strong personal brands can cement stronger relationships within the organisation. Enterprises with strong employee relationships experience lower levels of attrition, and will find it easier to attract and keep good people.

Brand endorsement by association

In their private lives, employees are surrounded by people, either digitally or in the real world, that organisations recognise as their target audience. Intelligent and relevant updates on Facebook , keep people top of mind and ensure they are remembered when people are looking for related services.

If our employees have a strong personal brand, the fact that they work for us adds to the organisational brand.

A word of caution

Facebook and employee branding can be an incredibly powerful tool, used properly, but used badly they are very dangerous. Facebook usage must be monitored for abuse or counter branding. This leads to questions of privacy and employees should be aware that if they have access to Facebook at work, we reserve the right to monitor what they are doing.

Conversely

Happy engaged professionals recognise their role in building our enterprises. They don’t only need to be in the marketing department to participate in growing the brand. Employees with strong personal digital brands from all over the organisation, from finance to operations, can contribute by virtue of association.

If you have switched Facebook off in your organisation, you could start switching it on based on the employees’ digital behaviour and personal brands, or as a reward for great performance. Your access levels to Facebook could be used as a status symbol within the enterprise.

The world is changing and enterprises need to change too, especially in the way they engage with employees. Enterprise 2.0 is about people. The focus needs to be on managing people for optimal productivity through committed employee relationships rather than on managing technology. A strategic approach to Facebook is just the beginning.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Business, Enterprise 2.0, Facebook, HR Intranet, Web 2.0

Five lessons from crowdsourcing innovation in South Africa

Last year a client approached us to assist them in rejuvenating and creating a new brand for a consultancy which specialises in innovation in the corporate world. The original consultancy had been around for five years and the partners had decided to split up and go their own ways.

Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community, through an open call.

In his book, The rise of crowdsourcing (2006), Jeff Howe established that the concept of crowdsourcing depends essentially on the fact that because it is an open call to an undefined group of people, it gathers those who are most fit to perform tasks, solve complex problems and contribute with the most relevant and fresh ideas.

We suggested crowdsourcing on Facebook to get our “friends” to contribute to selecting a new name for the company, upon which to build the brand and the innovation profile of our client.

We posted the following message on my status update:

“Get your thinking caps on and win R1000. One of our clients is an Innovation company. They want to use crowdsourcing to find a new name and logo. The company provides practical embedded innovation solutions for corporates. Ideally the name should be as descriptive as possible, alternatively something cool that we can build on. The word “consulting” should not be part of the name.”

We received over a hundred suggestions and eventually my client selected “Innocentrix”.

Despite the fact that we successfully crowdsourced a name for our client, there were some lessons learned along the way. Here are some of our findings and suggestions for why we saw what we did.

Only a small percentage of Facebook users participate

Conventional wisdom has it that there is a 1:10:100 ratio in terms of participation in social media; for every one person who posts, ten are more likely to comment and a hundred will read. Obviously this is a general rule, governed by what is posted and the nature of the audience. Howes maintains that the audience should be undefined. This project was

  • a competition;
  • requiring creativity from my personal Facebook audience of just over a thousand friends;
  • a willingness to participate in a crowdsourcing experiment; and
  • potentially an interest in innovation.

Just over five percent of the audience responded, which lead us to postulate that these governing parameters halved the number of potential respondees. It has to be borne in mind that the audience was also my group of friends on Facebook who are likely to have been at school or varsity with me, or whom I have worked with. They could also be friends of friends and ninety nine percent of them are based in South Africa. This makes the audience more homogenous and defined than the universe of general Facebook users.

Rewarding the audience

Given that five percent responded despite these constraints, this is a higher percentage than we expected. This may be because we offered a monetary reward, and it could also be attributed to the fact that we continually “rewarded” the audiences with updates and thank yous.

Keep updating

Because most people do not keep up with their friends on their “walls” and profiles, but rather on the “newsfeed”, only those friends who were on line at the time of the status update, (or have so few friends that their newsfeed is very limited) would see our posting.

We posted new status updates every two days for a week and managed to solicit a few extra responses, but the initial interest was much greater, which leads us to suspect that those people most likely to respond are on Facebook more often.

Tightening up the brief

During the process we started to identify two trends:

  • the names were either mutations of “innovation” and combinations of words like “Innocentrix”, or
  • they were creative combinations of unrelated concepts like “cracked pepper”.

We attempted to refine the brief, on instruction from our client, to include a name and three associated words like “fast, efficient and creative”. There was a big drop off in the number of responses, which may suggest that we had annoyed our audience by changing horses mid stream. It may also just be that we had exhausted their contributions up front.

Not everyone is willing to share ideas

Crowdsourcing is a relatively new concept brought about by the democratic nature on the Internet, but we noted a marked trend amongst our older respondents to “in-box” me with their suggestions, rather than sharing them in the public domain. One of our respondees even removed all of his suggestions when we announced the winner to prevent them being used in the future.

This was an interesting, successful, non scientific experiment, but a lot more research is required to understand audience behaviour, crowdsourcing and motivation on Facebook in South Africa.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Business, Crowdsourcing, Web 2.0

Financial Ratios for Social Media

Much has been written about the benefits of Digital Media to business, not the least of which is that it is highly measurable. We can see how many hits we have on a website, how many clicks through on an advertisement, how many members in a community, how many employees are blogging, but are these actually numbers which indicate Return on investment of time, resources and money? Not necessarily. They are merely potential precursors of transactions. In other words they are indicators that there may be additional transaction and revenue. So if we can see the numbers, how do we determine what value these measurement’s have and how to use them to forecast future success, or analyse past opportunities?

If we are to truly unlock the business value of the web, we need to develop a series of indicators of digital success, similar to the financial ratios developed by DuPont for investors and management accountants.

Naturally these indicators are determined by the business objectives and different ratios are more appropriate for different scenarios. It is also critically important to understand that we need to define the ratios correctly by defining a causal link between what we measure and what is actually an indicator of success. Using the wrong ratios to manage the digital side of the business could have dire unintended consequences and be incredibly detrimental.

Here are some proposed digital ratios for a social media business;

  • Social Leverage Ratios

Social leverage ratios are similar to the financial concept of beta, because they relate to the amount of commercial leverage in a social network. The “network effect”, when it come s to social media relates to the fact that a network (of people, telephones, social media sites etc.) becomes more valuable to each member, the more users that are part of the network. One Social Leverage Ratio is the Viral Coefficient.

In his book, The Viral Effect (2009), Adam Penenberg talks about the viral coefficient which needs to have a value greater than one for the network to grow in value. The viral coefficient basically means that each individual member must invite more than one person i.e. replace himself in the membership of the network and add at least one more member. If each individual only invites one person and that individual invites one person, then the growth of the network will be linear. But say for example, each individual invites two people, and each of those individual’s invite two people, then the membership and hence the value to the members grows exponentially.

This has huge implications for the design of social media businesses and marketing campaigns. Although the focus is to get people to register and start using the services, an equal effort must be expended getting them to share and invite other people to join the network. This is called viral loop marketing, and is measured by calculating and comparing the viral coefficient of each social network activity.

Facebook’s new function, which suggests friends for you based on the number of friends you have in common, is an example of a social network activity which is aimed at increasing the number of people you link to and increasing the value of your personal network, to keep you on Facebook. The more active members who are Facebooking, the more Facebook can monetise their platform through advertising, and the more value to the Facebookers the more they will encourage non-Facebookers to join.

  • Collaboration Coefficients

There are similar ratios that can be used to calibrate Intranets, such as the collaboration coefficient which explores the depth and usefulness of employees as nodes in a network. High collaboration coefficients suggest that the business is deriving value from the way that employees are working together.

  • RODSI

Web sales ratios include the conversion ratio or the RODSI which is a measure of the Return On Direct Sales Investment, and is calculated by subtracting the sales and marketing costs directly related to a campaign from the revenue that the campaign attracts, and calculating it as a percentage. Businesses can then experiment with different techniques and tools to increase their RODSI, such as Leads Management, SEO, different advertising media etc.

Each of these ratios can be used as a measure of success and the future success of digital strategies, it is incumbent on us to work out what the best measures are, and if necessary to develop ratios that are particular to the project.

These Social Media Ratios start off by being experimental, but over time they should stabilise as we ratify the causal link between what we are measuring and the business objectives which are predicated on them. Once we have validated the ratios, they can be used to benchmark and compare the success of one social media activity over another.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0

Meeting the Challenges of Collaboration

Knowledge workers are individuals who are valued for their ability to interpret information within a specific subject area and advance the overall understanding of that subject through focused analysis, design and/or development. Fuelled by their expertise and insight, they solve problems, in an effort to influence company decisions, priorities and strategies. The term was first coined by Peter Drucker in 1959, as one who works primarily with information or one who develops and uses knowledge in the workplace.

When working with knowledge workers, we seek to aggregate their value by enabling them to collaborate on behalf of the organisation, to innovate or solve problems better than they could each have managed individually. Increasingly emphasis is also being put on collaboration as a means of informal learning and knowledge exchange between people. So how do we encourage employees to make use of the tools available and enable collaboration across departments and borders?

Well, the first step is to identify where employees should be collaborating, why they should collaborate and make sure that collaboration does not become collaboration for collaboration’s-sake.

The need to collaborate should arise out of the organisation’s strategic intent. We need to ask ourselves the following questions: In order to attain its strategic goals, what does the organisation need to do – innovate, develop, or cost cut? Will collaboration enhance the ability to meet the objective? For example if an FMCG company has a pharmaceutical brand for which the patent is about to expire, it may choose to cost-cut in order to compete on a commodity basis with other generics that are coming into the market, or it could work on developing a new product, what about innovating a different method of ingestion?

Each of these strategic imperatives would require a different type of collaboration:

  • For cost cutting the pharmaceutical factory manager might need to collaborate with one of the FMCG factories to reduce the cost of packaging by consolidating production runs.
  • If a new product needs to be developed then the research scientists based around the globe may need to collaborate to bring new research into the mix.
  • Should they decide to change the ingestion means, perhaps the scientists need to collaborate with a nano-technology company.

Only once we have identified why we are collaborating and with whom, can we address the challenge, which is finding the right mix of tools that spur collaboration as employees strive to meet the business requirements.

When organisations look at solutions to optimise collaboration, the best idea may be to take the approach of mixing something proven and familiar with something new. Successful approaches to collaboration have to embrace people’s current work processes, while also supporting a transition over time to additional strategies that further refine collaboration.

Many organisations are finding ways to give knowledge workers the web based tools they want to use for collaboration today, while providing the means to incorporate additional strategies for addressing future collaboration requirements.

Technology Adoption

The fundamentals or hygiene factors when it comes to expecting users to adopt any technology, including collaboration tools, include ensuring that the technology is useful, easy to use and makes the user look good.

  • Usefulness – If the chain is broken between the organisational objectives, the individual’s key performance areas and collaborative behaviour, then there is no way that the knowledge worker is going to use any collaboration technology, no matter how sophisticated. He just won’t see the point.
  • Ease of Use – If the collaboration technology is tricky to use, requiring complex user names and difficult to remember passwords, or keeps falling over, then your knowledge worker is going to find other ways of collaborating, for example by sending eMails or using the phone. This negates the benefits of collaboration technology because the data and evidence from the interaction are not captured and you will not be able to learn from the collaboration nor analyse why it was successful or not, in other words you will have lost the organisational memory.
  • Make the user look good – The collaboration technology must make the user look good and enable him to build his personal brand and build recognition for his contribution. This is achieved through creating validating employee profiles with blogs or awards or participation in forums etc., whatever is appropriate to the individual and the organisation.

Getting Ready to Collaborate

In his book Collaboration (2009) Morten Hansen explains the necessary conditions for collaboration to take place effectively across organisations, or between organisations and their stakeholders. He suggests unifying people, cultivating what he calls T-shaped management and building nimble networks.

  • Unifying People – When unifying people Hansen suggests crafting an explicit common goal for the collaborators.
  • Cultivating T shaped management has to do with fostering a high-collaboration high-performance culture. He talks about low-collaboration high-performance employees as lone-stars and suggests that in the long term they may not be good for innovation because they don’t share knowledge and experience with other team members which could surface hidden opportunities.
  • Building nimble networks has to do with the formation of the right kinds of cross unit personal relationships to help identify and capitalise on opportunities.

Using the Interactive Web for collaboration

Whether the collaboration is required between employees within an organisation on the corporate intranet, externally between a company and its stakeholders on an extranet or with clients and potential customers on web based applications and websites, the process of collaboration should follow that of the strategy.

First of all we need to make sure that the web application that we are using for collaboration is useful. Why are we collaborating, what do we want to achieve, how will we know when we have achieved it? What do we need to provide the users in order to ensure that our collaboration tool is fit-for-purpose? Do they need a content management tool, a document management system, a collective set of taxonomies to facilitate search? Maybe they require an integrated project management tool and a wiki.

Then we need to decide what we need to equip the collaborators with in order for the collaboration tool to be easy to use. What should the process for collaboration be? What is the most intuitive way to work together? What should the user experience and interface be? etc.

Finally and very importantly, what will make the collaborator look and feel good? Is he the type of the person who works for explicit awards? Is she very proud of her education? Who needs an audience to demonstrate that he is a thought leader? To whom is a title important?

Each individual requires a personal profile which they can populate to a greater or lesser degree. Some people may only want contact details and access to the project plan and documentation, others may feel that their past experiences have bearing on the project. Some people may have a more relaxed approach to the line between socialising and work, take for example a new mother who has been asked to assist a company in the design of a new kind of nappy for newborns. While she is telling the company that she feels the elastic should be broader around the legs, she may want to share baby photos with the other mums in the nappy design collaboration group.

Knowledge workers are human too

The important thing to remember is that collaboration is to do with sharing, developing and communicating to achieve a common goal. The tools we need to give people to facilitate collaboration should make their jobs easier and more intuitive and their efforts to reach the common goal more effective. This requires a lot of thought investment into getting it right so that we really get more out of people working together than we would have out of each working on his own.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0

Collaboration for Business Success

The 21st century with its advances in communication and technology requires us to be more agile than ever before in responding to business challenges and business leaders realise that helping employees access greater levels of collaborative intelligence at work is key to the future success of the business. It turns out that this is a way of motivating and retaining skilled people.

In a recent article released by GIBS entitled “The Age of Participation is about getting clever – together” (Gibs Review March 2008) they mention that research has shown a direct link between the level of collaboration within organisations and employee motivation, which depends on an individual’s attitude and the quality of their relationships within the team/entity.

Stephen James Joyce says in his book Teaching an Anthill to Fetch: Developing the Collaborative Intelligence of Teams, while that customer motivation impacts the quantity of business you do, employee motivation impacts the quality of business.

High levels of collaboration within an organisation improve employee retention, because people feel more connected and are much less inclined to leave.

Collaborative Intelligence is denoted with the symbol CQ, and is defined as is the ability to create, contribute to, and harness the power within networks of people. It enables participants to coordinate their actions closely with everyone else’s.

The GIBS Review quotes James Joyce as saying high CQ organisations:

  • Attract and retain high quality team members
  • Create a sense of meaningful participation
  • Collaborate in highly effective ways
  • Connect to a strong sense of purpose
  • Balance leadership and followship

Moreover, high CQ holds many transformative advantages for organisations:

  • People pull their weight and support each other to an extraordinary degree
  • There is a vigorous pursuit for learning, at an individual and a the team level
  • There is a sense of community within collaboratively intelligent teams/ departments, which others sense as something special.
  • Teams or entities with high CQ expect challenges and meet them with one eye on the results and the other on what they can learn from each encounter.

Collaborative and collective intelligence are two distinct things

The GIBS Review warns that collaborative intelligence should not be confused with collective intelligence. They are two distinct things:

  • Collective intelligence is the emergent intelligence of a collective entity, like a group or community.
  • Collaborative intelligence is a way of exercising collective intelligence.

Co-intelligence can be used at any level of social organisation.

  • A company can use better teamwork (collaborative intelligence) to build a more collectively intelligent company so that it can become dominant in its market (non-collaborative intelligence).
  • A collectively intelligent group could use its collective intelligence in collaborative or controlling ways or use collaborative intelligence to help it compete.

Co-intelligence affects how organisations are managed. It is fundamental to our survival in the 21st century. This means we create serious problems, when we don’t use co-intelligence at the higher levels of social organisation.

Management guru, Professor Gary Hamel says few executives would argue with the traditional and outdated definition of a manager’s role: the art of getting others to do what you want them to do. In fact the Industrial Age was built on four basic principles:

  • Managers have a clear vision
  • Managers exert hierarchical power
  • Managers get things done through bureaucratic procedures
  • Managers motivate their people through extrinsic rewards.

Hamel has formulated four alternative, ‘inversed’ principles:

  • Vision is often less effective than a guiding purpose and a desire for discovery
  • Industrial Age hierarchic decisions are often less accurate than those based the wisdom of the crowd
  • Bureaucratic procedure is often slower and less effective than a market-based system for allocating resources
  • Human motivation is, in reality, built on intrinsic rewards not on money.

High CQ requires the right tools and the right attitude

Web 2.0 tools are most conducive to developing high collaboration quotients in organisations. Tools, like virtual meetings and Web-based applications and wikis –  make it possible to do things at scale without necessarily having large groups of people physically aggregated, with hierarchic structures, says Hamel.

Collaborative tools also enable business professionals to explore the true potential of the group or team to which they belong. But, as useful as they are, collaborative tools are only part of the solution. As with most IT, it is not the technology itself that enables the competitive advantage, but the people. Witness CRM, the panacea of all customer relationships in 2000. It wasn’t until we figured out that having the software and the process wasn’t enough that organisations started to incorporate people skills into the solution and we see more successful CRM applications

In the same way CQ is quantified by what employees can and will do together, rather than what a piece of software will allow them to do.

James Joyce suggests 10 ways to develop people’s collaborative intelligence at work:

1. Establish a ‘higher calling’ for the team

  • This is a common purpose that represents a higher calling and brings context to the significance of the team’s existence.
  • Providing a service to society is the simplest way that an organisation can isolate a higher calling for its existence.
  • This process must be entered with full sincerity. A ‘true’ higher calling is reflective of the culture and intentions of the organisation as a whole. It is core to what the organisation stands ‘‘for’ and how it plans to achieve that.

2. Establish a reward system for innovation and creativity

  • Ensure that rewards are equally available for ideas and innovations that don’t work as for those that do.
  • Instead of focusing on the practical results of a particular idea, focus the level of innovation, even those that don’t result in ‘success’ in the conventional sense.
  • Many ‘mistakes’ have gone on to became innovations of great value
  • When we reward attempts at innovation, we demonstrate that it is the intention that is important.

3. Plan to use all of the experience within the team

  • Think of the years of life experience represented in a room of 15 people with an average age of 35. It represents over 500 years of life experience.
  • Great team leaders and managers know how to harness and tap into those years of experience and wisdom.

4. Raise awareness of the importance of shared assumptions

  • Assumptions cause us to run on ‘autopilot’.
  • Supported by assumptions that go unchecked and unchallenged, teams continue to run the same old routines for a long time without anyone noticing.

5. Encourage team members to find out about each other’s roles

  • The more they know about others perspectives, the more likely they will be able to empathise with each other when the going gets tough.
  • Empathy is an important business skill. The ability to put ourselves in another’s shoes helps us understand what others’ needs and motivations are.

6. Intention is very important

  • Intention is just as important as attention. Intention directs attention.
  • Having the whole team form a positive intention around an objective is one of the best ways of doing this.

7. Celebrate successes along the way

  • Making celebration an integral part of the organisational life helps individuals feel more deeply connected to the entity.

8. Invest resources in learning

  • Continuous improvement is only possible when individuals and the team as a whole learn new things.
  • By publicly demonstrating support for the learning process, leaders model the importance of building ‘learning organisations’. This serves everyone in the long run.
  • Establishing learning teams’ is one of the core strategies of running an organisation that is highly adaptable and responsive to change

9. Provide opportunities for sharing ideas during the project-planning phase

  • Getting ‘buy-in’ for a project is much easier when everyone plays an active part in the planning process.

10. Balance ‘top-down’ with ‘bottom-up’ processing

  • This means that directives and guidance from the top must be balanced with feedback and ‘street-level’ information.

When we look at each of these ideas, we see that 2.0 technologies lend themselves to supporting collaboration. With careful planning it is possible to create an Internet based platform that becomes a strategic tool for facilitating collaboration and organisational growth.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0

Employee Engagement using the Interactive Intranet

The Interactive Intranet is an Intranet that has been enabled with web 2.0 tools in order to facilitate interactions between the organisation and its employees and communication and collaboration between the employees themselves.

It is important, as an organisation, to use the Interactive Intranet to engage with your employees rather than merely using it as a tool to communicate at them. By engaging with your employees, you enter into a meaningful conversation with them that is based on a deep understanding of their needs, interests and behaviours. This improves morale, motivation, productivity and loyalty.

The Interactive Intranet is a complex and fragmented environment that offers you multiple channels to create relationships with employees, for example in their communities of interest, forums, eNewsletters, blogs, on Twitter, Linked-in and more.

One of the ways that an Interactive Intranet facilitates this engagement is through the use of profiling. Employees throughout the organisation from the CEO, communication managers, personal assistants debtors clerks etc. should have profiles on the Intranet which they create with their photographs, contact details, qualifications, skills and experience.

These profiles should be, in some part visible to the entire organisation, in other parts visible only to those people who need to see it. For example, leave management on the profile needs only to be visible between the employee, her boss and the payroll team, whereas, when the employee is on leave, everyone needs to be able to see it so that they don’t make assumptions about what is getting done.

As employees work on specific projects, their profiles could be linked to these projects. Awards and commendations could also be featured on their profiles.

Employees should also be given the facility to blog and comment on other people’s blogs. These profiles are an important way for employees to build up their personal brands within the organisation, and for the organisation to understand the skill-sets and experience they have within the employee base.

Employees also need to be enabled to create or join communities of interest, for example a CRM forum, or an employment equity forum. Here they can share ideas and knowledge which improves their ability to do their job more effectively.

When communicating with employees you can segment your communication into groups such as “Frontline Staff”, “The Executive Team”, “Marketing” “The HR Payroll Team” etc. However with your employees’ profiles you can also use these to see the way they conduct their profiles, the projects they are involved in and the communities of interest they join. This makes the Interactive Intranet an extremely powerful tool for understanding your employees’ behaviour. This will give you a better idea of where to engage with them and what they’ll respond to.

Initially you will need to focus a lot of your energy on experimenting to understand exactly what works for your organisation and its employees. The important point to remember is that every interaction with your employees is an opportunity to learn more about them, to strengthen their relationship with the organisation make the most of each interaction.

You’ll need track the success of your campaigns and conversations to see which message employees are responding to. You also need to be tracking the employees’ routes through the Intranet once they’ve logged in so that you can understand their on-line behaviour, where do they go first, what is popular, where do they stop using the functions available to them, do they create communities of interest, collaborate on projects, search for skills, share documents, instant message etc. The use of business intelligence tools and analytics could surface some important employee behaviour patterns. You could develop a mood indicator to measure the state of your organisational culture

What is the content of employees’ public communication with the organisation? One of the most important words in on-line employee engagement is ‘relevancy.’ You need to understand their needs and interests so that you can target them with messages that are relevant to them in the work context within the time frames that they are thinking about what they are doing.

Armed with this information, you are able to filter employees through a conversion funnel that begins with communicating meaningfully with them and ends with a loyal, productive workforce aligned behind your brand.

Interactive Intranets give you the tools you need to understand your employees better so that you can constantly tweak your engagement process and address them with the right messages at the right time to deliver on your strategic mandate.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

9 Comments

Filed under Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0