Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Implementing Sharepoint at Océ

Just wanted to point you to the following post. Recently two colleagues of mine were interviewed about their work in rolling out Sharepoint in the company I work for. It's a nice story and their approach is thoughtful.

I'm curious if your Sharepoint implementation is different. If it is could you explain in which way or point to your post describing it?

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Too Much Communication

plugged_ears1242413101 Last weekend I read an intriguing article in the Dutch newspaper, NRC. A communication researcher, Tjardus van Citters, wanted to give us all well-meaning advice. (Dutch titel: 'Welgemeend advies van een communicatie-expert: minder communicatie, s.v.p', Sept. 20, 2009.)

His article gives an overview of the sources that are increasing the number of signals we process each day. For instance the number of communication providers has increased. And the fact that our senses are being addressed more than ever.

This overview leads to his advice to communicate less. Why? Because our health is at stake. Our brains get more impulses to process. The model of 'selective perception' is out-dated. We get irritated by communication we did not want to see, leading to restlessness, even illness.

He therefore advises us to turn off signals. Read the news once a week instead of every few hours. Unsubscribe to things you don't want to receive. Be clear what kind of emails you don't want to get. Read from paper instead of screen (- you can concentrate on paper better than with reading from a screen, he says). And remember: the interest/importance of the message is defined by the sender.

Wow. This is really different from the trend that says we we moving to 'life streaming', 'filtering' and the 'real-time web'. I don't feel I'm becoming sick, irritated, etc. by the amount of information and communication signals I'm processing. Of course I do find we should think before we communicate and share. It should be mindful.

But I feel like I'm missing something here. Are you experiencing what is described in this post? And where can I read more about this subject, also proving the statement that more communication is unhealthy?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Recruiting New Style

Thomas Friedman in The World is Flat and Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams in Wikinomics have predicted that the way companies will recruit people will be fundamentally different in the future.

In the past the model was easy: Get the best and brightest people to work for you. Of course these new employees would move close to your company and work inside the firewall as much as possible.

Of course we've seen some movement in this area. Outsourcing of jobs to India or China. Tele-commuting, working-more-from-home, etc.

At first I thought it looked like Google has taken this a step further. But this is fake (Twitter spam...). But the idea is great and got me thinking. In short the site said: Everyone with a computer and a broadband connection can work for us right from their homes. (And aren't we already, but clicking on links!? ;-)) Seriously, this could be interesting and big in my opinion. This 'offer' is 'only' focused on the US and Canada. But what if - and I'm sure they will - they would extend this to the world?

I told my wife about this as if it were real. She's not working (a paid job at least...) at the moment and taking care of this kids. But she responded right away: Great, I'd like to work for them!

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Companies as Communities

Professor Henry Mintzberg has an interesting article in the HBR of July-August 2009 titled: 'Rebuilding Companies as Communities'. (Isn't it too bad these articles are readable by all, even non-subscribers?)

Reading this article brought back memories of Etienne Wenger's book, 'Communities of Practice'. That book was a big eye-opener to me, introducing me to 'social worlds theory', companies staring as communities, communities that just exist (and can't be formed) in communities, etc.

To Mintzberg Community means:

... caring about our work, our colleagues, and our place in the world, geographic and otherwise, and in turn being inspired by this caring.

He proposes a new word: "Communityship" to underline the importance of on the one hand individual leadership and on the other side collective citizenship. Communityship should make...

... use of leadership, but not the egocentric, 'heroic' kind that has become so prevalent in the business world.

This relates well to Jim Collins' "level 5 leaders" in Good to great and Greenleaf's "servant leadership". Mintzberg calls it "just enough leadership".

How to start? Start with the remnants of community in your company. And promote trust. (I'll write about other interesting HBR articles about trust and candor soon!) People must also know what the place is about (strong culture). And leadership at the center. Leaders should rather reach out, than down. (Mintzberg relates to the CoachingOurselves initiative that looks very interesting. Hadn't heard of it before!)

Great article and very inspiring, I thought!

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Social Media is Old

This provoking statement popped up after reading Robin Hamman's post, 'Social media monitoring - more first step than end game'.

Of course some people start sighing when they hear 'social media' and 'web 2.0'. What's the idea of this new stuff and why should I get into it? Robin quotes his Headshift colleague Lee Bryant saying:

If you look at a longer timeframe, you will see that our new era of social technology and social business is in fact more traditional, and continues very old, resilient models of network-based trade, business and socialisation. The difference is, we now have the technology and infrastructure (and arguably the globalised world) that enables us to scale up these old ways of working to support our modern life.

Robin goes on to say:

In short, consumers can and should be closely involved in the co-creation, testing, refinement and marketing of products and services - something that nearly always involves a conversation - and social tools are now available to support this.

This is great stuff - and I enjoyed reading the whole post, which isn't just about 'social media monitoring'! It stresses one of the reasons social media appeals to me and so many others: it's back to basics. It's back to what the market is really about: conversation. People asking each other how they can help and earn money by doing stuff for the other.

By the way, this post ends in an open request. Robin is looking for a client "who wants to genuinely involve individuals, members of the public, in what might be described as a circular process...'. What a great way to find new clients!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How Does Your Boss Process Information?

A colleague of mine kindly pointed me to an interesting report: "The Rise of the Digital C-Suite. How executives locate and filter business information'. It's a Forbes Insight report, sponsored by Google.

To be clear, this report is about how executives look for and process external information. Information that is on the web. It would be very interesting to read a comparable report on how execs do the same for internal information. I think it's the case for many execs they're too busy to follow and look for external trends anyway. Surprisingly more than 60% of the execs said they accessed the Internet for business intelligence on a daily basis.

Another interesting part of the report is how execs use web 2.0. For the 50+ category 80% or more didn't maintain a blog or tweet. Only 26% of the 'under 40' category didn't tweet.

RSS is not used much at all over all categories. Only 40% of the 'under 40' category for instance. Which regrettably relates well to the world-wide RSS trends.

Do you think the way execs process information internally differs much from externally? My hunch is the difference is minimal. Within the enterprise it is clearer what needs to be read. But what I'm hearing is that these formal communications (reports, memo's, etc.) aren't being read too closely. Or do you have other experiences?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Interviews about Enterprise 2.0 Implementation

Recently I was honored to be interviewed a couple of times by Bill Ives about the 'Enterprise 2.0' implementations the company I work for (Océ) has done.
I thought I'd list them here for your (and my) convenience.
These interviews have also been published on Bill's blog.
Being interviewed is very helpful. For one the questions of the interviewer really make you think about the work you've done. Bill did a great job asking questions and I loved the way he structured the interview in posts. Not the basic question-answer type interview.
Another great thing about being interviewed is the external reference it gives you. Of course I've been blogging about my work, but having your story on a couple of big blogs, such as the AppGap, the FastForward blog and Bill's own blog is great. The comments are very helpful and me/us understand how our initiatives relate to what others are doing, if we missed something, how we could extend them, etc.
One thing I don't like about interviews is that it can look like one person is doing all the work. In my case this not true, as I said in the interviews. I'm the one telling the story. But many great colleagues of mine have made it possible for me to be able to tell the story. They deserve lots of credit for that.

Second Meeting of Knowledge Management Made in Holland

On the 4th of November the second Knowledge Management meeting 'Made in Holland' will be held at the University of Twente! Last time - the first time - I was there and blogged about the presentations. I really enjoyed it.
This time I hope to be there again. And... I'll be one of the presenters! I'll be talking about our 'enterprise wiki' initiatives. Looking forward to it.
The meeting is open to all. It's focused on Dutch KM researchers and practitioners. So if you want to come, just leave a comment and I'll get you in contact with the organizers.
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The Knowledge Retailer

IMG_9746A couple of weeks ago I was enjoying my summer vacation in England. One day we went to Oxford with the family. There you have great bookstore, called Blackwell. Ever been there? It's huge!

Then I saw their slogan and thought I'd take a picture of it for you. Their slogan is: The Knowledge Retailer.

I love that slogan. This slogan would fit most companies with knowledge workers. But doesn't this also fit the knowledge worker in general. Isn't that what we do: retail knowledge?

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Not the End of Wikipedia

networkhierarchy It's been a while ago I wrote about an interesting piece by Larry Sanger on the Edge blog. That article questioned "the "epistemic egalitarianism" adagium of Wikipedia." In my words: "everybody is equal, an expert is not more (knowledgeable) than a non-expert, together we define what it true."

This article by Sanger and my post about it, popped up in my mind when Wikipedia changed its policy so "the unwashed masses will no longer be able to directly edit the profiles of famous living people", as Chris Wilson phrases it on Slate. Of course this move was widely debated. The Slate article gives a nice summary, as does the NY Times.

My first thought about this move is nicely stated by Wilson:

No matter how you spin this new policy, there's no getting around that it gives more power and control to a small group of people. But if this were a big problem, Wikipedia would have flopped a long time ago. As I've argued before, the encyclopedia's success is largely due to the devoted efforts of a small number of obsessive editors, many of whom are quick to undo the work of trespassing newcomers. Rather than a signal Wikipedia's coming of age or a shift away from democracy, these new rules merely formalize, for certain pages, what's already happening on the site.

Secondly,this move just makes explicit what already was practice anyway. Have you ever tried to write a new entry or edit an existing one? Go ahead and try and you'll find there are people fiercely protecting 'their' lemma.

Thirdly, also relating to the previous point, absolute egalitarianism is an illusion. To say it in the words of Alex Wright: "Networks and hierarchies are not mutually exclusive; indeed, they usually coexist." (Glut, page 7, read all of ch. 1 for more context). There's always some form of hierarchy in a network. Wikipedia's move make that explicit.

I think this also relates well to the way wiki's are used in enterprises. Usually they start out by trying to copy what Wikipedia is doing. But in practice you see you always need some form of hierarchy (not too much!) to get things going. Just like with communities of practice.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Enterprise Group Book Reviews

27reading-600 As you may know I enjoy reading books. I try to review them on my blog every now and then. After finishing a book I regularly stop and think who else could be interested in this book (employees and friends). Sometimes I also wish I could discuss its contents and translate it to the company I work for, for instance.

I was wondering: Are there companies you know of, that do this structurally? Is that encouraged by management or was this initiated by employees (bottom-up)? And how are those group book reviews organized? Are the conclusions disseminated in any way?

I know Google has something in this direction, Authors@Google, which is very interesting. The talk itself is clearly shared via Youtube. The non-Google-related questions from the audience are also shared. The Google-related ones are not. But what does Google do with the answers to those questions? Does Google try to implement the author's findings if possible?

Love the picture taken from the NY Times, by the way!

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Preparing for a Presentation

Regularly I give presentations to colleagues. I'm not always happy with the way my presentations go. SometimeBreakout Congres Intranet 2009 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!_1252488722215s I loose track of time. Or I don't get the point I wanted to make across. Etc.

For some time now I'm practicing a new presentation strategy that really works for me. I didn't read any books or articles on the topic. And didn't go to a presentation course (- but I hope to shortly!). So, maybe my approach is dead-wrong. If so, please tell me. And if you have other tips and tricks you want to share, please leave a comment.

Most of the time I get a limited amount of time to give the presentation. Say 30 minutes. My new approach to presenting is like this:

  1. I start a document (not a new slide!).
  2. I write down the rough outline of the presentation in short lines of text.
  3. Then I start detailing that outline. I literally write down what I want to say. This is my script.
  4. Then I read the text and time it. Once in silence and once out loud. If that fits into the time I got for the presentation, I move to the next step. If not, I start deleting text.
  5. So the text fits the time slot (and leaves time for comments and questions!). Then I go over the text and mark the key phrases I want in the slides. This helps me get clean sheets, that are not clogged with text. (I love the modern 'web 2.0' style presentations! But I'm not there yet and that doesn't always work in a corporate setting I find.)
  6. Then I proceed to start a new slide deck, spread the key phrases over the slides and add visuals.
  7. I then go over the script with the slides and see if that fits. I also give the presentation out loud for 0 audience.
  8. Optional: If the presentation is very important, I give the presentation to small test-group. Their feedback is incorporated in the presentation.
  9. The actual presentation is held.

Does this make sense? How do you prepare a presentation? I'd like to hear your stories.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Following a News Topic

track_203 Say something happens and you hear about it on TV or you read about it on the web. This topic really interests you and you wonder how it will end. For instance a murder case.

As you know lots of topics start on one day, but don't end until months later. How do you keep track of them? Do you just bump into its 'solution' on tv or the web? Or do you have some way of tracking that topic?

Wouldn't it be interesting if you could just point to the article or video about the topic and say: subscribe to all articles about this topic. A topic-RSS feed. Of course you can do this for big topics, using hashtags in Twitter for instance. And you can also define a query and subscribe to that feed, using Google Alerts for instance. But for smaller topics it's not that easy.

Or am I missing something? Or do you know of apps that already solve this problem?

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Retweet Button

Just a post to test if the 'retweet'-button I added works.

How did I do it? Just followed Blogspot blog's post. Thanks 'Blogspot blog'!