Wednesday 19 December 2018

Digital Workplace Strategy & Design

The other books I've been meaning to review here is Oscar Berg and Henrik Gustafsson's Digital Workplace Strategy & Design.

This is clearly an important topic, and I agree with the authors that "the digital work environment and the employee experience are the blind spots of the ongoing digitalisation process" - something that I've been talking about myself, eg at Digital Workplace Experience in Chicago back in the Summer. I don't agree that experience is just about the organisational, physical and digital environments - the nature of the work and job are hugely important too, but increasingly these are being performed in a digital way.

This means that the needs of employees is key, and in fact the book defines the digital workplace as "a digital work environment designed purposefullly and holistically with the user front and centre."

I agree, I just wish we could talk about people rather than users - user is an organisational view of a person. I see my experience, my journey, as being about me, not the system that I'm using.

It may well be for this reason that I'd use personas throughout the strategy and design process, rather than switching between users and personas. I think personas give me a better and broader handle on the holistic nature of the employees who will be working via the digital workplace.

Other than these points, the book is full of useful tools and frameworks, supporting an effective design process and is definitely recommended.

You may also be interested in my course on digital transformation delivered with Symposium in the UK (or available to run in-house). 

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Tuesday 18 December 2018

Reinventing Jobs

So I’m catching up with a few books now things are a bit quieter as we approach Christmas.

My main priority is Ravin Jesuthasan and John Boudreau’s book Reinventing Jobs which I started back in the Autumn but didn’t manage to finish before getting busy on project work.

It’s clear to me that jobs do need to change, and are already changing, as everything around them changes in the 4th Industrial Revolution. However I don’t think we put anything like enough attention on job design, so I’m really pleased this book is helping shift our focus back to this topic.

I like the categorisation into repetitive / variable, independent / interactive, and physical / mental, and also the identification of the major opportunities as robotic process automation, cognitive automation and collaborative robotics (I think ‘social robots’ are something else). However, I'm not sure the categorisations necessarily help that much in identifying when these opportunities can be used. And we should be thinking more broadly about using apps, platforms, augmented / virtual reality etc too.

There are also a few areas that I disagree with the authors more strongly on.

Firstly, they emphasise that reinventing jobs is different to business process reengineering, but I don’t think it is, that much.

Linked to this, I’m only half convinced by their four step approach to reinventing jobs. Starting from the end of this, (3) Identifying options for recombining tasks in light of new technology, and (4) Optimising work but putting it all together to reinvent jobs, make perfect sense, and is what happens, or should happen, in process reengineering too. Jobs need to be designed to perform the work of the organisation using relevant technology. I also agree that this is the basis for updating structures, decision rights, social networks, culture and other organisation level factors, including the definition and execution of leadership, and the role of reward, etc.

However, I’ve never been convinced by (2) Assessing the relationship between job performance and strategic value (not investing in the Mickey Mouses but the sweepers where a certain investment makes the biggest difference) and think including this approach unfortunately detracts from the rest of the book.

And (1) Deconstructing jobs into component work tasks is one option to identify opportunities for automation. But bigger opportunities exist by looking at processes, practices or employee experiences etc. I agree that the job isn’t the right level to identify these, and that the organisation structure is even worse, but who said this is where it needs to start?

We need to look at the opportunities of digital automation top down and future state back rather than just bottom up and current state forward. So the better focus is on processes, projects, services, or the transformations which get done in teams or networks (if the organisation doesn’t focus on processes etc).

We also need to look at wider issues as part of the new job design too, and I’m pleased that the authors review the role of leadership, reward and other HR processes - in fact despite my interest in jobs, this chapter on the New Leadership was probably my favourite in the book. I’d have liked to have seen more on other consequences too, eg designing jobs for employee / worker experience which I also think is a high priority in the 4th industrial revolution (it’s not just about the opportunities for automation); helping contingent workers and others perform in jobs or otherwise take on tasks (although I know this was dealt with in Boudreau’s previous book, Lead the Work); designing jobs in the context of the teams / groups / networks that employees work within; and how these groups and the relationships between individuals can be improved or otherwise changed by automation too (which I write about in The Social Organization.

So in summary, I like Jesuthasan’s and Boudreau’s focus on the job, their specific approach to job design, and all the examples. I’d personally have preferred all this to have been put in a rather different, and broader context. But I’m a critical reviewer and it at least one of those books where there’s plenty of content to reflect on and criticise if appropriate. The book made me think and that’s probably more what I look for more than anything else in my reading.

You may be interested in my course on job design delivered with Symposium in the UK (or available to run in-house). 

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Monday 17 December 2018

REBA Innovation Day

I enjoyed speaking at REBA Innovation Day last month. You can review my slides and video of the session.

Looking back, it might have been a bit lacking in detail, but in 20 minutes I though it was quite an effective challenge to change.

You'll find some of the details in this book chapter (from the ATD's Talent Management Handbook).

And I'll also be talking about opportunities for reward innovation in this course with Symposium next year.

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Friday 30 November 2018

#GPDF18 Networks, ecosystems and platforms

I've been attending the live stream from the Peter Drucker Forum in Vienna for the fourth year in a row. This conference is always really good value, and I usually find it has a few particularly great sessions, often focused on one or two key issues, not necessarily connected to the formal theme of the conference. This year's event has focused on the Human Dimension, but for me, the best insights have been around networks, ecosystems and platforms.

I wrote about platforms and ecosystems in The Social Organization, but only briefly, partly because I ran out of time / wordcount, but also because they're relatively new and I'm still developing my understanding of them. So I was pleased to gain more insight at the forum.

First up on this agenda yesterday was John Hagel, who spoke about developing creative organisations, but also mentioned his work on business practice design. That diverted me onto the Centre for the Edge's site to do some multi task reading on this, as well as on network organisations, which I've written up on Organization.Social.

I think that's relevant because for me, the fundamental basis for ecosystems is the extension of network organisations outside a single organisation, increasingly through the use of digital platforms (and in the future, through Blockchain). 

We also head about one network organisation - Vinci Group - from their CEO Xavier Huillard. Vinci runs as a network, but it's a network of companies not a network of individuals, which is my own interest. 

Vinci doesn't focus on processes but on the network. It's central principle is that people are pulled by the group's values, not pushed by processes. This provides a strong culture, the Vinci Way, and the behaviours published in its Manifesto. Reward is important too, and 120 thousand of their 200 thousand people have a common system of reward providing collective ownership. They own 11% of the group and are collectively its biggest shareholder. Overall, it acts as a decentralised organsiation, with its 3500 business unit heads acting as entrepreneurs. Controls to develop human capital and balance global and local are provided by these inspiring leaders, not an organisational hierarchy.

Michael Jacobides (pictured above) then spoke about digital designed ecosystems. He suggested that ecosystems are becoming new the basis for competition, both in terms of products but business ecosystems (models) too. This is leading to the development of new customer centric, globally connected but locally relevant 'digispheres', this example for the health sector:

All organisations need to be thinking about their places within these ecosystems, whether as orchestrators, partners or contributors (not everyone can or should be an orchestrator, meaning that business leaders need to be aware of their own ego-systems). Eg the second slide here is Phillips Healthcare.

We also heard today from probably the prime example of an ecosystem orchestrator, which is Haier, in a talk delivered by their CEO, Zhang Ruimin, in Mandarin. This wasn't translated on the live stream so I only got a few additional insights on top of what I've previously read elsewhere.

Ruimin explained Haier's Rendanheyi model and the way this has disrupted:
  • Employees - from the economic to autonomous person. Emancipating and mobilising people's ability rather than seeking balance or harmony. And seeing the world as my HR department.
  • Organisations - from bureaucracy to '3 selves': self employed, self-motivated and self-organised.
  • Compensation - from broadbanding to paid by users. Linking income directly to value provided to customers.

This is perhaps the third reason that I didn't write about ecosystems myself. I was writing about social organisations and ecosystems often aren't organisations at all, but market based arrangements for getting work done.

But Haier is at least an 'organisational ecosystem' rather than just a 'business ecosystem', ie it functions as an overall entity rather than just a set of entities whose products stitch together into an integrated whole.

I think both types of ecosystem are going to be an increasingly common way for businesses to do work, and we need to understand how to design them too. (Including designing what I describe as 'social ecosystems' - ones in which social relationships are built to enable and support the transactional commercial arrangements at their core.)

For business ecosystems, we just need to understand how to design our organisation to participate in the ecosystem. For organisational ecosystems, we need to be able to design the whole ecosystem.

So it was good to also hear from Dave Ulrich speaking about market oriented ecosystems (or MOEs) and a logical process for developing such an ecosystem (which actually largely applies to any organisation design):

If you want some support in making this sort of change, please contact:

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Wednesday 3 October 2018

#ESNchat: ESNs role in The Social Organization / 2

This is a summary of the tweets on last week's Twitter chat about enterprise social networks and social capital:

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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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  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com

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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  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com

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