Thursday, 20 September 2018

#ESNchat: ESNs role in The Social Organization

I'll be participating in this twitter chat at 7.00pm BST on Thursday 27th September:

ESNs role in The Social Organization

1.   Does the concept of social capital provide a useful focus for ESN work? Why?

2.   Does helping employees understand the value of social capital support adoption of ESNs? How?

3.   Can a focus on social capital enable greater integration between the activities and organisation of IT, HR, OD, CRE, FM, IC etc

4.  How can ESN groups and community management be aligned with organisational teams, networks and communities?

5.   What type of analytics are useful in informing ENS use and accumulation of social capital?

6. How does social capital enable companies to move along the ESN/Community maturity curve faster? Why?

If you're on Twitter, do join me. (And if not, what impact does that have on your ability to facilitate enterprise social networks and the social organization?)

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Thursday, 13 September 2018

ConnectedCommons webinar: Managing Networks in The Social Organization

I'll be speaking on a webinar hosted by Connected Commons on 24 October.

If you've not come across it, Connected Commons helps spread understanding of informal organisational networks, and especially their analysis, ie organisation network analysis, ONA.

I think these informal networks are important, providing a basis for organisational social capital and holistic business performance.

However, these days there are also increasing opportunities to 'formalise' the most important or strategic networks too and to use these alongside or instead of traditional functions and projects. These networks need to be managed or perhaps facilitated in a very light touch way but can still be used and supported to harness expertise, manage change and produce other contributions for a business.

An organisational focus on networks rather than just vertical functions or horizontal project teams also has consequences for workplace design, the selection and use of enterprise social networks, HR practices and leadership behaviours, etc. These formal networks also still depend on the use of techniques like organisational network analysis to fully understand and improve them.

In this presentation I will build upon the approach described in my recent book book ‘The Social Organization’ to explain why and how businesses need to focus on, analyse and develop the relationships and networks between people as well as the individuals themselves, including the role played by ONA.

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Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Speaking at Aurea Experience 18

I'll be speaking on the digital workplace at Aurea Experience 18 in Munich this year:

My session will be focused on The Social Organization the role of enterprise social networks, especially Aurea's Jive, in supporting it.

Maybe see you there?

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Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Presenting at REBA Innovation Day

So much of what we do in HR and talent management has changed beyond all recognition over the last ten years. But not reward.

I'm keen to do my bit in helping us move our reward agenda forward too and am delighted that I'll be presenting my thoughts on this, and especially on how it is being shaped through technology and analytics, at REBA's Innovation Day on 22 November 2018.

Horizon scanning: Workforce, organisation and technology-based changes driving reward today
  • Reviewing how technology is driving change in managing, measuring and organising people, and how all of these changes then drive innovation in reward
  • Identifying the new opportunities for rewarding differently, along with their main risks and benefits
  • Selecting a way forward based on an individual organisation’s own, unique capabilities and principles
  • Using analytics and experiments to guide and optimise the changes

Speaker: John Ingham, Author of ‘The Social Organization’; people strategist focusing on digital HR and the future of work - voted UK's 7th top HR thinker

I look forward to speaking and maybe seeing you at the event.

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Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Interview on Employee Engagement

I've been interviewed by Smarp on 'creating a culture of employee engagement'.

The article is here.

For more information:
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Monday, 20 August 2018

Top 100 HR Influencers for 2018

Thanks to Engagedly (performance management system) for including me in their list of top 100 HR Influencers for 2018.

The list of 100 was narrowed down by Engagedly's industry research from nearly 300 candidates and nominations. The research team closely researched the industry and considered HR professionals from all divisions and sub-specialties within the broader HR community to encompass the entire industry, including HR Generals, HR Tech, Talent Management, and more. "This year, we took a data-driven approach to the Top 100 List. We analyzed professionals on their social media following, blogging activity, presence at conferences, work in academia, and innovative contributions. We put an emphasis on recency, frequency, and relevance of engagement over the past year."

 For more information:
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Monday, 13 August 2018

Interpersonal relationships in the digital workplace

I'm included in this article on developing interpersonal relationships in the digital workplace published on the UNLEASH conference site.

Despite what the article suggests, I didn’t actually say that the US is behind the rest of the world - simply that each country / region experiences it’s own unique challenges.

Here’s the full interview:

Tell me a little about your professional background and organization

I am a consultant at The Social Organization and focus on helping companies develop innovative people strategies, often based on ensuring people are able to work together effectively.

I started my career in engineering and IT and when I came into HR started with an engineer’s perspective on designing and managing HR processes. But I was fortunate to get a job as HR Director for EY which even then was a very people focused, progressive firm. That experience led to a growing interest in organisation development and a desire to really understand people and the way we learn, become engaged, work together and perform. I still think that it is really important for HR professionals - understanding 'the business' is vital but our real difference comes from our understanding of the people within in. Technology is important too and I’ve maintained an interest in this since my days in IT (including an early involvement in UNLEASH’s original format, HR Tech Europe). Today’s digital workplace provides a major opportunity for HR to impact the business through people.

What are the biggest benefits and challenges of today's digital workplace?

The digital workplace enables us to get work done differently and better, and most importantly, work done that we would not have been able to do before. This applies particularly strongly to communication and collaboration, analytics and AI. For example, in organisation design, the digital workplace is now one of the most important elements of an organisation, and can have as much if not more impact on people’s ability to work, as the structure and processes we use.

The most common challenge in using the digital workplace is that unlike most IT systems people generally do not need to use it to get their jobs done, as the benefits are often organisational rather than individual. People have therefore got to understand the needs and broader benefits in using it, and to be engaged in supporting their organisation by doing the right thing. This means that the digital workplace needs to be designed for people, meaning that we now need to be very serious about the employee experience resulting from its use. An area that often gets missed is that the digital workplace needs to align with, ie to support and inform, the rest of the organisation. The physical workplace is particularly important and the digital and physical workplaces need to encourage the same type of behaviours and provide a similar type of experience.

Why are interpersonal relationships important as teams grow more digital and/or remote?

Relationships have always been important. The most fundamental idea behind organisations is that a number of people working together can achieve more than the same number of people working on their own. But this will only be the case if their relationships enable them to do so. More recently, relationships have become even more important. The amount of knowledge available and being generated is leading to greater specialisation in people’s roles. At the same time, the issues confronting organisations are becoming increasingly complex. This leads to growing demands to bring various people with different skills and perspectives together in teams, other groups and networks.

These demands are only going to increase. As AI takes over a lot of work currently performed by people, the main area that will be left as our competitive advantage is the ability to have relationships with each other. Virtual and remote working make it more difficult to develop the quality relationships we need and therefore make this resource even more important. Put all of this together and we'll soon need to start thinking less about people as knowledge workers, and more about ourselves as relationship workers, where relationships are the core aspect of what we do.

What tools or best practices can leaders employ to foster good interpersonal relationships in their digital workplace?

I think the key is to manage the implementation and maintenance of digital workplaces as organisation development interventions, not as IT. It is really critical to involve people, and to design for people. HR’s increasing interest in design thinking and its use of personas and journey mapping is really useful here. The implementation also needs to be supported by broader OD activities as, for example, it is easier for people to collaborate online if they know the people they are collaborating with offline too.

Other simple, human actions can make a big difference too, for example giving the workplace a human name that people can relate to. Community management is vital and is a great role for people in HR to take on. In many ways community management is the new HR - as in, traditional HR has been about individuals and human capital, the new HR is about relationships, communities and social capital.

Aside from the U.S., do you see any particular region or industry doing an especially good job at cultivating these relationships?

I am not so sure the US is doing a (particularly) good job actually. I think Americans' sense of personal identify means that communities often end up as groups of people shouting at each other and it can be really difficult to get people to cooperate and collaborate with each other to their full extent. True community needs a sense of what’s in it for us, not just of what’s in it for me. I also think there is this strange thing where HR excellence is a power law whereas it is a normal distribution curve elsewhere. Ie there are a small number of truly excellent organisations but an awful lot of mediocre ones focused on hiring and firing too. Those from the later group are going to find developing relationships, and therefore getting the best out of their digital workplaces really hard to do.

Asia has the opposite problem in that there is a lot of focus on groups but there is the downside that people can also disappear and lose their sense of identify within them. Out of all the countries where I have worked, I would say that South Africa is the best placed. They have enormous technological challenges but once these are sorted, their culture of allowing people to sit around and talk things through will act as a huge advantage there.

Cross posted at The Social Organization

Friday, 3 August 2018

Social Connections Keynote Organising Connection

I'll also be doing another keynote at Social Connections in Berlin.

The keynote will be on Organising Social Connection (the title may change to make sure people don't think the session is about organising the conference!, though organising / influencing / enabling the social connections within an organisation is absolutely what the session will be about).

The conference is run by / for the IBM Connections and social business products user group so I'll also be speaking about how the use of these products need to be aligned with the broader organisation and its 'culture':
Even great social collaboration systems, like IBM’s, will not work well without the right ‘culture’. This is about the alignment of different areas of the organisation. And this means that organisation design provides a useful basis for supplementing the implementation and adoption of social collaboration systems.

A particularly critical requirement is to define the most important type of organisational group, so that the systems can deliver a quality experience to these, as well as to individual employees. For example, Watson Workspace is not going to work effectively unless there is a strong organizational basis for working in teams. Connections is not going to be used well, unless the organization understands the basis for, and supports, working in networks.

This session will review the potential groups in an organisation and how they can be best supported by HR processes, internal communications, the physical workplace and the digital workspace.

Get in touch for more information, or to develop your organisation's social connections:
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Thursday, 2 August 2018

Presenting at Symposium Future of Work

I'll also be presenting at Symposium's Future of Work summit in October.

I'm doing the final slot and will be taking the suggestions of the other presenters and helping attendees understand what to do with them to make the best impact in their own organisations:

Designing a Best Fit Future of Work Strategy
  • The need for best fit in a strategic approach to capture the full potential of the future of work
  • Focusing on employee experience through design thinking including future focused personas and increasing personalisation
  • Selecting organisational, staffing and technological options to meet objectives and principles
  • The role of data, analytics and change agent networks in supporting and leading the transformation

If you'd like a free pass to attend with me I may be able to provide one (to just one person) - in which case, let me know why you'd like to attend and how many drinks you'll buy me later.

Get in touch for more information, or to develop your organisation's response to the future of work:
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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Enterprise Digital Keynote: Role of HR in the Social Organization

I'll also be delivering a keynote at Enterprise Digital in London in November.

Get in touch for more information, or to develop your organisation's digital workplace, particularly if you work in HR:
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Tuesday, 31 July 2018

BOC Keynote: Building Better HR Departments

I'll be delivering a keynote on developing better HR effectiveness for BOC's Reinventing HR conference in London in December. 

I we know each other and you'd like a guest pass, you can come with me at a reduced fee of £690 +VAT per person for the two day conference or £590+VAT for the first day when I'm presenting - let me know if you'd like to take me up on this.

For more information, or to develop better HR effectiveness within your organisation, contact:
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Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Company Lifespan - Why Do We Care?

A common slide in many change oriented presentations shows the declining lifespan of organisations. (I took this one from Dion Hinchcliffe's session at Digital Workplace Experience in Chicago, and comes originally from this.)

It's interesting data and does provide evidence of a VUCA world. But why why do we care?

Even if companies learn to survive for longer, they'll have:
  • Different shareholders
  • Different customers (usually)
  • Different brands (sometimes)
  • Different employees.

Take the current changes in car companies learning to compete with Tesla and Uber etc. Even if they move into the new digital world, they'll be employing designers and programmers in California, not engineers and machine operators in Detroit.

The only people who benefit from company longevity is the senior leaders and perhaps high potentials in the company, who may survive the complete transformation of the business.
Which is, of course, the wrong focus. We're got enough problems with leaders worrying about their own rewards rather than the long-term performance of their businesses without this further distraction.

For example, wouldn't a company actually be more successful if it managed the inevitable decline of its current activities, keeping and developing its people for the longer term as long as it can. Rather than getting rid of its people as quickly as it can, and recruiting a different set of people with more modern skills, just so its senior leaders can run the company that bit longer? Even if it means the company eventually goes to the wall?

A good example may be Royal Mail - eg I'm currenty watching the RSA's event on Good Work in the New Machine Age, kicking off their Future Work Centre.

Moya Greene, CEO at the Royal Mail Group, suggests their delivery business has lost 10,000 employees whilst a similar number have been created elsewhere. But these platform technology jobs are boring, low quality jobs. Deliveroo doesn't provide the same quality experience, pay or benefits as Royal Mail's delivery business.

They're doing this because Greene doesn't believe that people like change (I think that's debatable, but I can imagine why Royal Mail's experience will have suggested this to her). But isn't the Royal Mail doing the right thing anyway? They don't need to become Deliveroo, it's much easier for a start-up to do this. The best thing they can do is to be the best Royal Mail business for as long as they can. Isn't it?

For more information, contact:
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Thursday, 5 July 2018

SEBrexit18 - HR's Brexit Questions

I’m at Symposium’s Brexit and HR conference today. This is nearly really good timing as we’re approaching the crunch point in October when we have to agree the way forward with the EU, and the UK cabinet are meeting at Chequers tomorrow to agree our pitch for that.

However, I think the day after the Chequers meeting would have been even better (obviously everyone had hoped there would have been a bit more clarity by now). As it is, we’ve got lots of questions, and quite a bit of criticism, but few answers.

Tim Thomas, Director of Employment and Skills Policy at EEF, took us through various questions including:
  • What does this mean for worker mobility, UK to EU and EU to UK
  • What may be the impact on workforce planning and skills
  • How can we continue to attract EU workers
  • What is your wider business planning around Brexit
  • What are the legal implications for teak outside the EU.

And there’s also the additional, and for me, more important, question about developing the UK workforce to make up for falling numbers of EU workers but dealing with this will be long-term and difficult as we’re already close to reaching full employment. (Of course that doesn’t reflect the 40% of jobs some people think are going to be lost due to AI etc.)

Mark Stewart General Manager and HR Director at Airbus added to his company’s public criticism.

The clock is ticking and we still have no further clarity about what is going to happen so how do you run a business, especially a long-term one? Airbus in particular have integrated supply chains with 10,000 parts being shipped across EU, often crossing the channel two or three times. And they also have UK nationals in the EU and vice versa, as well as 80,000 people movements between EU and UK.

For him, Brexit provides a shocking and damning inditement of where we find ourselves as a country and of how not to do business. Customers are looking and laughing at us, and wondering what we are doing.

Key questions for him include what does Brexit mean for:
  • UK access and influence to the regulatory regime operation by the European Aviation Safety Agency
  • Continued access to the EU single market and any proposed new customs arrangement
  • Continued UK access to and influence in the collaborative R&D / Space programmes being run and funded by the EU
  • Access to skilled labour and continued free movement of labour
  • An agreed phase of transition.

Airbus is trying to engage their staff but this is difficult as there is nothing positive to say. However the next phase of their Brexit engagement plan is beginning tomorrow including a survey of employees who are being directly affected.

This is all true and Airbus' criticism is quite understandable. I don't think Boris Johnson's 'F*** Brexit' remark was an appropriate response to Airbus' comments. However, I do think business needs to understand Brexit is about the UK's people expressing what they want, rather than creating an easy environment for business.

Trust in business is still at quite a low point and so therefore is the belief that doing things for business will benefit the population. If Airbus had avoided paying bribes - sorry, that should say making unaccounted for payments - of £100 million Euros to sell Eurowings fighters, things may have been a bit different.

Actually, that's unfair. I don't mean to single out Airbus, and I appreciate them coming and speaking to us today. The point is a broader one. If many major firms had avoided all the major scandals they've been involved in, then people, including cabinet ministers, might have been more interested in listening to their case. 

So at least part of the answer for how business needs to respond to Brexit, as well as how business becomes more trusted in what it needs regarding Brexit, and how it progresses post Brexit, all boil down to the same thing - for businesses to become more responsive to people (including through the type of engagement planning Airbus is doing) and the societies they operate within.

Actually, that point sort of applies to the EU too.

For more information, contact:
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Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Organisation Design for the Digital Workplace Experience

These are my slides from my session on organisation design at Digital Workplace Experience in Chicago (DWX18):

I provide some explanations of the slides on Linkedin.

Also see my other posts on the conference:

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Monday, 2 July 2018

#DWX18 Brian Solis on Culture 2.0

Probably my most favourite presentation at Digital Workplace Experience was on Culture 2.0, delivered passionately by Brian Solis and also illustrated beautifully by Gaping Void.

Brian noted that 62% of participants in a survey he ran with CapGemini suggested that culture is the #1 hurdle to digital transformation. Culture is your biggest competitive advantage or your greatest disadvantage. It is the lifeblood of any organization and defines how people treat each other and how they relate to customers and stakeholders of all kinds. All of that aligns with my own experience too.

However, Brian also noted that culture is ephemeral and is defined by the experiences people have and share. This makes it one of the most talked about but least understood assets in any company.

In my own later session on the organisation design of digital transformation, I argued against using the term culture. For me this thing that we're talking about is so important that we need to break it down and focus on the parts we can understand. Nobody understands what culture means, or if they do, they have various different understandings. (They often don't understand digital either, so if you put the two together you've got real problems. For example, in Brian's survey 40% of leaders said they believe their organisation has a digital culture, but only 27% of employees said the same. That means nothing. Other than that nobody understood the question.)

But I do agree with Brian’s diagnosis of executive out-of -touchness. Eg he suggested that collaboration is one of the strongest aspects of digital cultures, but even here, although 85% of leaders said it is easy to collaborate in their organisations, only 41% of employee agree. There is a growing disparity between business agendas and employee needs. I agree that this is why focusing on employee experience is so important.

Experience is something you feel and interpret in the mind which lies behind how people feel and react. The digital workplace supports our focus on employee experience become new technologies work in modern ways. And this makes it possible to look at what's possible with work.

I also argued against talking about culture because from an organisation design perspective we focus on the elements we can control rather than the emergent outcome we can’t. (However, I mentioned that if I was invited back again to speak about organisation development and the digital workplace next year then I’d emphasise culture to much greater extent.)

For example Brian suggested the following attributes of a digital culture:

And these titles look fine, don’t they. But I’d still encourage organisations to work out what’s really important for them rather than following somebody else’s checklist. Then these things need to be cascaded through an organisation’s architecture, and taken on by the society of people who work there.

This last point is important. As Brian stressed, culture change isn’t simply a business initiative, it’s a social initiative. 80% of what we learn is done socially.

Brian suggested this new approach of human-centred cultured design focused on employee experience is what he means by Culture 2.0. I love this idea, with the exception of the word culture. So perhaps Organisation 2.0. Or The Social Organization?

For more information, contact:
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