New adventures….

Shoes by Janis Petranis on Flickr

In sharing my decision to move on to new adventures, I’d left one question unanswered: What’s next?

Well, I have joined Social Edge Consulting as a Social Business Strategist, working with clients in preparing, implementing, and delivering results with their social business strategies. The role allows me the opportunity to combine my vision for the future of work with my Jive experience, and build on that through a diversity of interactions.

From the very outset in my conversations with Andrew Kratz, I was extremely impressed with the thinking and approach of Social Edge, the tone and transparency. Over the last few weeks I have been busy on-boarding and getting to know an amazing team, who not only know the Jive platform inside out, but also truly understand social business and are actually out there making it real, making it happen. A great group, who have already welcomed, energised, inspired, and teased me! Above all though, they’ve made me feel very sure of my decision and excited to be joining them.

Amongst all the excitement is a strong feeling of gratitude. In getting to this point I have been extremely lucky to have had the support of a wonderful network of friends on which I have leant heavily during the last few months. Thank You! Thank you for playing confidant, for the guidance, for listening, for being there.

And of course, thank you Social Edge for this opportunity.

So, here’s to new adventures! There’s work to be re-imagined and business that wants to become social. Let’s get on it!

Moving on….

Set Sail
Set Sail by john.puddephatt, on Flickr

After nearly 10 years, last Friday May 10th was my last working day at CSC.

My final week left me somewhat drained emotionally, only heightened by the kind messages of support and best wishes I received from colleagues. Once again, thank you to all I had the opportunity to befriend, work, collaborate, share, discuss, and debate with.

But now feelings of fear and sadness are fading fast, with the excitement at what lies ahead taking over.

I continue to be inspired by the possibilities of reinventing work and how we do business. I have never been more convinced that in order to thrive in today’s connected economy, both as organisations, and as individuals, we must embrace the change surrounding us.

I believe openness, transparency, and creativity are new key currencies. I want to trade in them, and help others do the same.

So it’s on to new adventures, of which more to come. Stay tuned!

For “outside-in” thinking to really take off…

Just an observation to wrap up the week:

For “outside-in” client-centric thinking to really take off, procurement processes need a major rethink! Remove the barriers. Let your partners reach you, help them help you.

Time to kill off the RFP! 😉

Social Business is growing up.

Starting on a tangent…

One of the beauties of the written word, particularly in digital format, is that it cannot be “worn out” in the physical sense which makes me think that overuse is the digital equivalent where we become desensitised to the significance and numb to the meaning being conveyed.

At the current rate, words and phrases such as “change”, “paradigm”, “new world”, “connected economy” and “radically different” are being overused to the point of being worn out of meaning – and I know I play my part in that!

But how else do we talk about the significance and magnitude of some of the converging trends racing towards us as businesses, industries, nations and societies?

Back on topic…

Much of my between-the-ears pondering of late has been grappling with what I see as the significance of Social Business and how it relates to these trends. Trying to get beyond some of the “nice” idealistic notions and at the heart of why it needs to be understood as relevant to our leaders and core to their organisations’ ability to thrive tomorrow – whether they be in industry, education or government.

Steve Denning, in concluding his Forbes article Why Apple and GE Are Bringing Back Manufacturing, identifies a number of the changes that we are already beginning to see from some of today’s thriving organisations, and highlights themes I’d expect to hear in conversation with any Social Business strategist worthy of the title:

Success in this new world of manufacturing will require a radically different kind of management from the hierarchical bureaucracy focused on shareholder value that is now prevalent in large firms. It will require a different goal (delighting the customer), a different role for managers (enabling self-organizing teams), a different way of coordinating work (dynamic linking), different values (continuous improvement and radical transparency) and different communications (horizontal conversations). Merely shifting the locus of production is not enough. Companies need systemic change—a new management paradigm.

Cause or Effect?

Perhaps it is a question of maturity, further evidence that it’s just the first innings of social in the enterprise is over, and the reality the hype cycle waits for no-one? Emanuele Quintarelli shared some insight in a recent post:

The fascinating thing is that we moved to the Through of Disillusionment without ever fully experiencing the Peak of Inflated Expectations given that most executives have yet to understand the meaning of this social revolution while pundits are ringing the bell of a next new thing.

Which leads me to think of things in the context of Denning’s words. Executives don’t need to understand “social”, they need to recognise the change under way and the disruption ahead of us. We should objectively question the current state of play in the Social Business space – the vendors, initiatives and case studies we are familiar with – and whether they are truly cause, or rather effect?

We need to see Social Business efforts morph into systemic change programs of the scale Denning eludes to, that will ensure organisations can continue to thrive.

A new end game for Social Business

So whilst we may be rewriting the end game for Social Business, I don’t feel we’re moving the goalposts. To borrow a few more words from Emanuele:

We can call it Social Media Marketing, Social CRM, Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business. Nonetheless we’ll be still missing the point until the broader picture will come together by connecting social to the digital landscape and embedding digital into the real business realm.

I certainly agree, and thanks to the likes of Dion Hinchcliffe‘s Architecture Of A Social Business, and The Community Roundtable‘s Community Maturity Model, we have some great direction.

But what is ever so challenging to capture in a diagram are the levels of complexity, the strength of leadership and commitment needed, the variables and unknowns, the “human factor”.

What began as the enterprise adopting Web 2.0 approaches continues to take on new meaning and significance. It is now core to building and leading organisations fit for purpose.

Social Business is growing up.

Getting hands-on with online education – A Crash Course on Creativity

Tina Seelig's Innovation EngineI’ve been following the developments in the online education space with increasing interest over the last year or so, with the available options and choice growing seemingly by the day. The likes of Coursera, Venture Lab, and Udacity now have an impressive selection of courses, across the full range of the sciences, technology, arts and humanities. Then there are the likes of Codeacademy (learn to code), Skillshare (a global marketplace for classes), and the inspirational Khan Academy.

Back in October, whilst browsing the courses on offer starting soon, I came across A Crash Course on Creativity. Taught by Tina Seelig, Executive Director of Stanford’s Technology Ventures Program, the course is described as:

This crash course is designed to explore several factors that stimulate and inhibit creativity in individuals, teams, and organizations. In each session we will focus on a different variable related to creativity, such as framing problems, challenging assumptions, and creative teams.

The course is highly experiential, requiring each student to participate actively, taking on weekly projects. Each Wednesday a new challenge will be presented, and the results are due the following Tuesday. Some of the challenges will be completed individually, and some will be done in teams. There will be a two-week project toward the end of the course that will allow you to use all the tools you have learned.

To foster collaboration and learning between the students, we will craft teams for each assignment. Each project will be done with a different team, so students get a chance to work with a wide variety of participants. All submissions will be viewed and evaluated by the course participants. There will also be a course Twitter feed and Facebook page, and several scheduled Google Hangouts that will enable active discussions on specific topics.

This was a course that both appealed to me, relevant to my work and interests, and would give me a real hands-on experience of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).

I enrolled right away, and by the time the course was about to kick off, I found myself jumping into something with over 35,000 other students, literally from all corners of the globe. Fantastic!

We’re coming towards the end of the course, and it has been a fascinating experience, I’ll share my progress, course assignments and observations of the experience in subsequent posts, along with some comparisons with having a crack at learning Ruby on Rails via One Month Rails on Skillshare for which I blame Mike Fraietta! 😉

Meanwhile I’ll leave you with Tina Seelig’s TEDxStanford talk: Introducing the Innovation Engine

A serious side to industry incumbents and their inability to innovate

This past weekend, returning home from a trip to London with friends, on a whim I bought a copy of  November’s Practical Boat Owner (PBO) magazine, looking forward to some interesting boating reading in-flight. So it turned out, but what I didn’t expect was for it to provide blogging material on the topic of industry incumbents and their struggles to innovate.

The article that caught my attention was looking at whether a “revolutionary new lifejacket design radically increasing the chances of survival of a man overboard”. Serious stuff for any sailor.

In many markets, brands and products make small leap-frogs over each other, mostly marketing-driven “features”  in the name of innovation. In our clamouring for “shiny and new” we often overlook this in the markets for washing machines, mobile phones, bicycles, and the like. But in the sector for marine personal safety equipment, it doesn’t strike me as acceptable.

In this case, unfortunately,  the cost was much higher than a bad quarter and a dip in a share-price.

In a previous issue, PBO had done some testing of lifejackets following the death of Christopher Reddish who “drowned in minutes, despite being attached”. The tests concluded that a “boat would need to be slowed to less than 2 knots within 1 minute to give the casualty any chance of survival”. A crew’s reaction times and a boat’s inertia combine to make those chances slim indeed.

A 22-year-old engineer and sailor Oscar Mead, was moved to act. In his words:

“I dug out some webbing, a D-ring and on old inflatable lifejacket, and experimented with attaching a harness to the back of the jacket.”

“It was so effective that I couldn’t believe no one had done it before.”

It doesn’t sound like the kind of effort a product design engineer working for an established marine safety brand would be discouraged by his management from doing. At least I hope not.

Some eighteen months later, backed by a successful patent, Oscar Mead’s TeamO lifejacket was debuted.

All traditional harnesses, using an attachment point on a sailor’s chest, pull man overboard victims through the water chest forward, effectively forcing water into the mouth and face and this can literally drown sailors who go overboard, despite being tethered to the boat.

The new TeamO design allows the harness line to pop over the wearers shoulders when called into service so that the tether load is taken from the back and the man overboard is pulled through the water with his head securely above water and his mouth away from the oncoming water.

Here’s the video clearly demonstrating the difference between a “traditional” lifejacket, and the new TeamO lifejacket.


Team O Lifejacket on test in PBO

It saddens me that it cost a sailor his life, independent journalism to run product trials, and a sufficiently motivated young man to move the dial and come up with something better.

It strikes me that the marine safety industry could well do with reading up on some of Simon Wardley‘s thinking, in particular on inertia to change:

Inertia can create quite a significant barrier to change, which is often why it is a company that is not encumbered by an existing business model that creates the change and produces the more evolved form of the activity.

And perhaps then some reflective thinking, their situation clearly framed by management innovation gurus Gary Hamel and Polly LaBarre in their recent article Making Innovation a Natural Act:

For industry incumbents, the problem isn’t a lack of resources or a shortage of human creativity, but a dearth of pro-innovation values, processes and practices.

……

our organizations have efficiency DNA.  Operational goals like productivity, predictability and alignment are woven deeply into management systems and processes.  Innovation, experimentation and risk-taking—not so much. Until we solve this DNA-level problem, rule-bending innovation, when it happens at all, will occur in spite of the system rather than because of it.

I wish Oscar Mead and his TeamO venture all the best for the future. I hope he can be successful with it, and avoids repeating the mistakes of the incumbents he is disrupting today.

Not-so-random good stuff

For a friend.

Interesting video this on learning from artists about career progress:
The Art of Career Development http://blogs.hbr.org/video/2012/09/the-art-of-career-development.html

Part 1 of a series from the excellent (IMO) Steve Denning- read them all – about how agility is important, and what is needed to make it work
http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2012/09/19/when-will-us-firms-become-agile-part-1-virtual-agility/

Stanford online creativity course I’ve enrolled in
http://venture-lab.stanford.edu/creativity
Full list here: http://www.stanford.edu/online/courses/index.html

More online free education from leading institutions, very much worth reviewing
https://www.coursera.org/courses

You are reading Seth Godin regularly, right!? 😀 Take this one as an example, then apply the ideas to our convo yesterday……
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2012/09/the-simple-power-of-one-a-day.html

Another site to follow, this is just an example…. sometimes it’s good to hear good old common sense!
http://zenhabits.net/starting/
http://zenhabits.net/zen-work/

I like what Julien Smith has to say, and the way he says it. Though it might not be everyones taste….
http://inoveryourhead.net/19-thoughts-about-finding-your-purpose/

Thinking visually about CV’s….
http://pinterest.com/saradbo/resumes/

Hoping that gets juices flowing!