Category Archives: Human Resources

Why Vision Should Be The Raison d’Être (Reason of Existence) For Any Business or Organization

In the wonderful book of Proverbs, King Solomon states:

 “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Why is vision so important? Do organizations really face the threat of “perishing” or extinction if their vision statements are not spelled out clearly and openly for all stakeholders to read and understand?

According Wikipedia’s entry on Vision Statement a company vision should include the following traits:  “general enough to encompass all of the organization’s interests and strategic direction:

  • Challenging: not something that can be easily met and discarded
  • Clear: defines a prime goal
  • Concise: able to be easily remembered and repeated
  • Future-oriented: describes where the company is going rather than the current state
  • Inspiring: motivates employees and is something that employees view as desirable
  • Stable: offers a long-term perspective and is unlikely to be impacted by market or technology changes

Marketoonist_F_Mission.Statement.Clichés_1

Any organization’s vision should be the “raison d’être” or the most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence just like human beings should understand why they were born and what their awesome destiny is! In his book “Delivering Results: A New Mandate for Human Resource Professionals” author David Ulrich makes this fundamental claim:

“It is more important to know who you are than where you are going, for where you are going will change as the world around you changes.”

In many ways the vision of a company is its core ideology. Leaders pass away, services or products become obsolete, market dynamics shift, new technologies disrupt the way we work, but core ideology / culture in a great organization endures as a source of guidance, inspiration and motivation. An organization’s culture or core ideology provides the glue that holds an organization together as it expands, diversifies, and develops workplace diversity. What held and still holds the Jewish people together despite the fact that they have been centuries without a homeland? The principles and core Ideology of Judaism. Core Ideology / Organization vision should be the common purpose, the enduring ideals and principles that bond the entire workforce towards a shared purpose and vision.

I love the “little weirdness” Tony Hsieh promotes in his company Zappos.com. Tony knows that the “WOW customer experience” is never terminal or achieved; it is an ongoing attempt and effort to service all stakeholders for a company that “happens” to sell shoes and handbags.

___CM_F_Zappos_Delivering.Happiness

“One day, 30% of all retail transactions in the US will be online. People will buy from the company with the best service and the best selection. Zappos.com will be that online store. Our hope is that our focus on service will allow us to WOW our customers, our employees, our vendors, and our investors. We want Zappos.com to be known as a service company that happens to sell shoes, handbags, and anything and everything.”

Some of the questions leaders should ask themselves is how their organizations are being perceived by all stakeholders when management is not “in the room”. What is the press saying about their companies? Such a study could bring surprises since management and workforce/customer perceptions are often divergent as exemplified by the following slide:

___CustServ_F_Mission.Statement_vs._Real.Company.Philosophy_2

Ten fundamental questions organizations should regularly ask themselves:

  1. What do our workers and customers say about our organization?
  2. What are the values our organization creates for our workforce, vendors and investors?
  3. What are the core values driving our company vision?
  4. What is the core purpose or raison d’être (reason of existence) for our organization?
  5. What are the values our company provides to our consumers?
  6. What is our company known for?
  7. What are the values our organizations creates in the world
  8. What is the renewable and sustainable contribution our organization makes to our environment?
  9. What is our organization perceived for: cutting edge or bleeding edge?
  10. What makes it peculiar to work for our organization?

____CM_F_Culture_Staff.Treatment

The goal  of making a profit does not belong to a company vision or/and its core values: Making money should be the outcome or the fruit of a company’s labor and hard work!  In Part part two of this series, we will look at two main tenets of company vision: core values and core purpose.

 

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Six Reasons Why Social Business Strategists should read Mark Fidelman’s Socialized!

I bought Mark Fidelman Socialized! on Amazon at its full price (no discounts or coupons from Mark) and just finished devouring it. Fidelman  delivers a fundamental work that greatly contributes to the heated debate of Social Business development.  Fidelman not only shows, but proves how quintessential it is for businesses to harness the power of social.  Not only with tools and technologies, but first with their immediate communities aka company workforce.  Time is ripe for dismantling the prevailing command-and-control leadership style. The militaristic/hierarchical leadership approach ought to be replaced with Jon Husband’s Wirearchy structure.  So why should you read Socialized!Social Media ROI expert Dr. Natalie Petouhoff: “Fidelman’s ability to simplify key concepts like the Digital Village, Darwin’s Funnel, and the Digital Network, gives the reader a unique and important understanding of the power of Social Business. You’ll be sorry if you don’t read this book before your competitors do.”
 
Mark Fidelman: Socialized http://amzn.to/10gw8CR

Mark Fidelman: Socialized http://amzn.to/10gw8CR

Fidelman and his team interviewed business leaders around the globe in order to present to us a state-of-the-art social business road-map.  Fidelman lives and breathes what he writes.  He is the sort of individual any social minded person ought to connect with; either on Twitter/LinkedIn, and Forbes where he is a regular contributor.  Socialized! not only talks the walk but most importantly walks the talk.  It is a practical text-book backed up with countless case studies and examples anyone aspiring to become a social leader should be aware of and study
  
2. Culture, culture and more culture is the foundation to any social business undertaking
 
Fidelman emphasizes culture as the 101 prerequisite to any potentially successful Social Business Strategy.  Fidelman: “Why after all do we insist on employees following our orders, and why do we call it insubordination if they question them? … Yet the companies that are leading in today’s world recognize the benefit of an empowered workforce that feels connected to the organization.  Empowered employees understand not only how to make great products, but more importantly how to create cultures that continue to make great products well into the future.”  Socialized! will assist CMOs and CCOs (Chief Cultural/Customer Officers) not only to analyze their existent Social Business state, but provide them with a detailed 10-point Social Business Culture development program.  
 
3. Building first an internal digital village and then an external digital network
 
Once the infrastructure of a cooperative culture has been established, business leaders will need to handpick the internal evangelists and shepherds (regardless of their rank) who will co-create their internal digital village — the nuts and bolts to any Social Business foundation
 
CXOs need to remember that becoming a Customer Service or/and Customer-Experience oriented company first  requires the emotional support and buy-in of their internal communities or “Smart Tribes” (as coined by Christine Comaford in her brand new book).  These “Smart Tribes” or internal communities represent the company’s intrinsic power that will transform the  traditional working communities into enthusiastic business advocates.  
 
After the creation of an apropos culture and the establishment of the right people foundation, the social team will need to select the social media platforms and its supportive collaborative technologies (Intranet/Extranet/SCRM/Social Business Software).  This will make sure that the Social Business community sets up the proper internal tools to construct its external digital network.
 
4. The new Social Business Playbook
 
Youtility author Jay Baer states: “Socialized! is an imminently readable, practical, and modern guide to social business.  The playbook section alone is worth the price, and then some.  Fidelman has added an important piece to the corporate social transformation puzzle.” Fidelman:  “In practice, management should provide the right atmosphere, guidelines, technologies, and opportunities for employees to thrive.”  Socialized! delivers a 15-point playbook: here are some of the highlights:
 
– Building an internal and external community
– Connecting and empowering thought leaders
– Recruiting a Chief Social Strategist or a Chief Cultural/Customer Officer
– Becoming an own media publisher, which makes me think of Michael Brito’s upcoming book: Your Brand.
– Replacing traditional inbound marketing with content marketing
– Leveraging employees, suppliers and partners to foster innovation
– Enhancing customer support to become the strength of your company
– Using Gamification to engage employees, partners and customers
– Creating the potential for serendipitous relationships
 
This last point is my favorite and reminds me of the romantic comedy “Serendipity” starring John Cusack and  Kate Beckinsale.   Fidelman himself gives a wonderful example of serendipity with StaffUnity:  an automated employee lunch club system provider.
 
5. The rise of the social employee
 
Fidelman  makes the case that, social networks, consumerization of IT, mobility, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device: smartphones, phablets and tablets) and cloud computing are all being part of the social and technological developments a 21st century enterprise cannot fail anymore to ignore. 
 
6. Measuring the ROI (Return On Investment) of a Social Business Strategy
 
Fidelman stresses that social business initiatives should only be undertaken if those can be measured.   He goes on to say: “Before starting any social initiatives, you must first identify objectives such as:  “improving customer relationships, product innovation, acquiring and retaining employees and growing revenues.” 
 
 
Image Credit: PulsePointGroup.com: The Economics of the Socially Engaged Enterprise

Image Credit: PulsePointGroup.com: The Economics of the Socially Engaged Enterprise

 
Social Business metrics and ROI are  very well documented in a 2012 study by MIT in collaboration with the Deloitte institute.  The Economist Intelligence Unit and the PulsePoint Group published a study showing that 81% of interviewed leaders agree that social engagement has the following tangible benefits on the following areas:
 
– Project management
– Innovation
– Collaboration
– Efficiency gains
– Cost saving
 
In conclusion, Fidelman’s Socialized! is a management textbook that provides all the necessary steps for a clear pathway towards a successful social enterprise journey:  
 
1. Reviewing the existent culture of an enterprise
2. Setting up an internal digital village
3. Attaching an external digital village to the internal one
4. Establishing a social business strategy
5. Measuring Social Business ROI
6. Reviewing, correcting, adapting and repeating
 
Any leader wanting to understand the implications and repercussions  of a Social Business development program should study and dissect Socialized!.  Kudos and thanks to Mark Fidelman’s altruistic attitude for having taken the time to give us one of the best researched Social Business Strategy text-books ever written thus far. 
 
 
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Seven IT Eras Leading CIOs to Become One of the Key Evangelists to a Social Business Strategy (Part 2/2)

In the first part of this two-part series, we reviewed the four IT-eras that have shaped and transformed the CIO role into a digital mediator and one of the key technologists of the new Social Business (Enterprise 2.0) era.  We saw how mainframe computing led to personal computing then followed by Internet and finally the broadband technology.  The consumerization of IT has brought us the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) movement. BYODs are compelling our 20th century business models (based on the enlightenment era and its resulting industrial revolution) to include workers personal devices such as smartphones, tablets and phablets.           
 
5.  Mobile era
  
Uwe Vielle defines mobile computing as “the ability to use computing capability without a pre-defined location and/or connection to a network to publish and/or subscribe to information.”  Mobility requires new type of softwares or SaaS (Software as a Service) stored in the cloud as well as brand new hardware handsets such as smartphones, tablets and phablets (Samsungs Note II) also known as BYOD.  
 
Post-PC-Era (www.phonedog.com)
 
Two weeks ago, Gartner reported that combined ultra mobile devices, tablets and mobile phone reached 1.872 billion in 2012 and would reach around 2.7 billion by 2017.  Gartner expects a 7.6% decline in PC sales while saying: “This is not a temporary trend induced by a more austere economic environment; it is a reflection of a long-term change in user behavior.”  Broadband and IT-consumerization both contribute to mobility.  Ubiquitous Internet access compels us to centralize our data to a central location: the cloud.
 
6.  Cloud Computing
 
Cloud computing could be compared to the technological shift electricity went through a century ago.  At that time, Thomas Edison favored direct current (DC) systems.  DC was eventually replaced by Guillaume Duchenne’s (1850s) and William Stanley’s (1880s) alternative current (AC).  Alternative current made it much easier to industrialize the production and transport of electricity.  In a similar way the alternative current analogy could be used for cloud computing.  It is not the flow of electric charge that periodically reverses direction, but our computing routines.  IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and SaaS (Software as a Service) deliver the foundation upon which private users can upload their personal digital belongings. 
 
Traditional software vendors like Microsoft are transforming their “one way” Office product into an SaaS platform while offering a 20GB SkyDrive cloud storage.  In May,  Flickr rolled out a whopping 1TB (Terabyte) of cloud-storage for free accounts.  Laptops and notebooks paved the way to mobile computing.  Consumerization of IT brought the diversity of multi-screen computing via smartphone, tablet and phablet devices.  This newly acquired ubiquitous mobile  flexibility threatens the very livelihood of US-PC giants such as Dell and Hewlett Packard.   
 
7.  Post PC era
 
Broadband, mobility and cloud computing confirm the steady decline in the sales of personal computers in favor of “post-PC” BOYDs.  BYOD threatens the use of traditional software in favor of cross-platform applications such as Android, Java or iOS.  In 1999, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates coined this development as the “PC Plus” era.  In 2007, Steve Job renamed it the “post-PC device” era.  According to IDC the U.S. PC market contracted 12.7% year-to-year with a 18.3% decline compared to the fourth quarter of 2012.  “A new report from International Data Corporation (IDC) shows a 13.9% decline in first quarter PC shipments compared to 2012.  The ‘year-on-year contraction marked the worst quarter since IDC began tracking the PC market quarterly in 1994,’ according to IDC.”  
 
Post-PC-Era (www.intomobile.com)-medium
 
The US PC-industry is in a dire position.  Last year Hewlett Packard announced that it would lay off over 27,000 employees.  Dell’s troublesome privatization endeavors are still going on and a 274-page proxy filing  states,  “Dell – the company and the man – wants to move away from PCs because making money in the global PC market is about as easy as selling tap water in a rainstorm”. 
 
8.  Social Business   
 
Not too long ago, the CIO was considered (and in many cases still is) the technological IT-drill sergeant in many companies.  He was the technological door keeper, who in the name of “security” only granted employees the right to specific choices of hardware and software.  A major shift began when computing mobility entered enterprises with the use of laptops and notebooks.  Emails and data access became mandatory and VPN (virtual private networks) were created.  Consumerization of IT could be for the former CIO king what the 1789 French Revolution was to Louis XIV.  CIOs are losing their controlling grip and are forced to accept the BYOD revolution and the respective operating systems such as Symbian, iOS, Android, Window & Blackberry to name just a few.  Added to this culinary buffet of BOYDs and operating systems let’s not forget our newly acquired social media channels.  Social media are transforming customer service, experience and marketing altogether and terminates the traditional hierarchical company customer communication era.  Traditional outbound marketing methods (pay, pray and spray) are being replaced with inbound/content marketing which in turn is rapidly evolving into convenience marketing. 
 
Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the age of social
Meine Damen und Herren willkommen im sozialen Zeitalter 
Mesdames et Messieurs, bienvenue dans l’ère sociale
 
 
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Ten Lessons Aspiring Social Businesses Should Learn from a Spider Web (Part 2)

We often consider spider webs a nuisance … something annoying, but we often dismiss the very skillful show of one of our planet’s state-of-the-art technologies.  In Part One, we reviewed five remarkable characteristics on how an aspiring Enterprise 2.0 could learn from spider silk properties.  Let’s look at five more lessons a discerning observer should be willing to consider:
 
6. Spider Silk combines both tensile strength and ductility (stretchability)
 
Scientists at Arizona State University (ASU) have decoded the secret of spider silk’s strength and what makes the fiber at least five times as tough as piano wire. “Spider silk has a unique combination of mechanical strength and elasticity that make it one of the toughest materials we know of,” said Professor Jeffery Yarger of ASU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The tensile strength of spider silk combined with its ductile i.e. elastic properties (stretching and retracting) is well worth appreciating. For any of us, it would be hard to imagine grabbing a man-made bar of steel and stretching it to an extra forty per cent to its original length. The fact that this exceptional biological polymer (related to collagen) perfectly combines tensile strength and ductility is mind-boggling to say the least.
 
Clipboard Image
Image credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science
 
How do we set up company structures that are more flexible? Businesses that can “stretch” (such as a spiderweb capturing prey) when customer demand grows, but also businesses that can “retract” when its demand decreases?  How should these businesses embrace structural changes and seamlessly rebound when disruptive trends kick in?  Such theoretical questions are difficult to answer and ratify. An adaptive (stretchable and retractable) enterprise roadmap would be even more complex.
 
7.  The Spiderweb silk has stickiness properties
 
Spiders produce five main categories of silk.  One of them is the capture-spiral silk, used for the capturing lines of the web.  This sort of silk is sticky, extremely stretchy and tough, which should make us wonder how a spider can avoid entangling itself in its own web.  To this day, scientists are still not sure how it is possible for them not to get caught in their own trap.
 
What is the level of cultural stick-to-itiveness that companies have to offer? How does the Human Resource department attract, motivate and retain talent while minimizing personnel turnover?
 
8.  Spiders create exceptional spider web architectures
 
In Science Daily’s column “New Light Shed On the Mysteries of Spider Silk”, Dr. Kristie Koski and her colleagues from the University of Stanford report: “There has never been anything quite like spider silk.  Stretch it.  Bend it.  Soak it.  Dry it out.  Spider silk holds up … it can expand nearly a third greater than its original length and snap right back like new.  Ounce-for-ounce spider silk is even stronger than Kevlar, the human-made fiber used in bulletproof vests.”  Koski goes on to write: “The complete elastic response of spider silk is described by five elastic constants that define how the web reacts to any possible combination of forces –stretching, bending, soaking, pulling or twisting.” 
 
penmai.com.forums.science
Image credit: http://www.redorbit.com
 
How about our business structures? How far can we stretch them, bend them, pull them or even twist them without destroying them?  Have we ever considered the wisdom of a spider web and all its hidden attributes?  Have we ever tried to apply some of those principles to the form-functions of our schools, universities, government and businesses?
 
9.  Spider webs can capture water from the air
 
In the journal Nature, Chinese scientists have reported that silk is not only renowned for its strength, but also outstanding at collecting water from the air: “Sparing the creatures the hunt for a drink”.  We are here witnessing the awe-inspiring beauty of one of the most incredible sights God’s engineering hand has ever created.  “A tapestry of bright pearl-like water drops hanging on thin spider silk in the morning after fog” says Lei Jiang, the scientist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.  He goes on to say: “The spider silk can be several tens of micrometers in diameter, whereas the water drops can be thousands of micrometers wide.  The silk properties change as it contacts water, which causes the bumpy silk fibers to smooth out and drives the water towards the bumpy knots in the spindle, where it gathers into large droplets.” 
 
Image.Credit_BBC.co.uk
Image credit: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science
 
Do we conceive products with compelling beauty and majesty while promoting safety, health and sustainability?  When considering some of the shoddy architecture I’ve personally seen in Paris, London, Los Angeles, Manila, Osaka, Beijing, Moscow, Barcelona and New York, I do not think they contribute to the beauty and enhancement of our environment. Do we boost technology by making it sustainable, durable and of compelling beauty such as the pearl-like water drops hanging on thin spider silk? Or does our industry prefer to plan the breakdown of specific parts for purpose of future gain and enrichment?  
 
10. Spider silk has antibacterial properties
 
In their research article: “Evidence for antimicrobial activity associated with common house spider silk”, Simon Wright and Sara Goodacre, from the school of Biology at the University of Nottingham, researched and proved the antimicrobial quality of some spider silk when confronted with micro organisms.  In Heimer, S. (1988). Wunderbare Welt der Spinnen. Urania. p.14, we read that the peasants in the southern Carpathian Mountains used to cut up tubes built by Atypus and cover wounds with the inner lining.  It reportedly facilitated healing, and even connected with the skin.  This is believed to be due to antiseptic properties of spider silk and because the silk is rich in vitamin K, which can be effective in clotting blood.
 
Do our company products and services sustain our livelihood?  Do our business protocols provide our workforce with physical and emotional assets in form of education, personal growth and vision?  Does middle management nourish the strength and potential of its workforce by facilitating information taxonomy and its distribution?  Or do most structures suffer from a command-and-control mentality going back to the enlightenment age and war room strategies?  
 
Much more could be written about spiders, but I hope that we all could gain a better appreciation for the sustainable world which is just around us.  May we strive to contribute and make our work and world a better place where more sustainable values become the drivers of our business endeavors.  In the meanwhile, we continue to deplete our earth from the very resources that sustain our physical lives.  One thing is certain:  the air we breathe, the food we eat, the sleep we need and the love we cherish, none of these components will ever be digitalized.
 
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10 Lessons Aspiring Social Businesses Should Learn from a Spider Web (Part 1)

We often consider spider webs a nuisance… something annoying, or we look at them as the irrefutable evidence that we have not done our housekeeping properly. We often forget or dismiss the masterful exhibit of one of our planet’s state-of-the-art technologies. Most likely, the majority of us have no particular knowledge about arachnology (the scientific study of spiders). To tell you the truth, I did not even know the word until I looked it up in Wikipedia: “A spider web, spider’s web, or cobweb is a device created by a spider out of proteinaceous spider silk extruded from its spinnerets. The spinnerets are the glands spiders use in order to produce silk. Some spiders are capable of manufacturing up to eight different silks during their life time.”
To conceive such an engineering exploit is a technological tour de force. Spider webs are so stunningly complex that their study has become a science. Around the world, arachnologists analyze the physical properties of spider silk. They consider its scientific uniqueness and the technological input it may bring to future man-made woven materials. We can learn a lot from spider webs and spider silk. We can draw many analogies between their properties and the properties our private and professional communities could and ought to display.
 
1. Spider silk is one of the toughest bio-materials yet known
 
The tensile strength of spider silk is greater than the same weight of steel. Spider silk is five times stronger than steel and three times tougher than Kevlar. Spider silk starts as a liquid protein, which is too small to see without magnification, then hardens to a solid when exposed to air. Spider silk can be stretched significantly (one fourth of its length) before it breaks. It can withstand temperatures from -40°C to 220°C.
How resistant and resilient can our organizations be? How are our business communities confronting adversity and bouncing back from defeat? How expandable and stretchable are our enterprises, businesses and societies? How far can they “spread” and “stretch” before they finally break or collapse?
 
Spiderweb
 
2. The spider web has the ability to adapt to different levels of stressOne of the remarkable keys to the stability of the spider web is the fact that “a spider web design, and the unique properties of its silk, allows just a single thread to break so the rest of the web remains unharmed.”  Can we say the same about our education systems, our management models and our manufacturing routines?  Someday, could a giant corporation like Apple tumble or “break”?  Could it be the reason that the unpredictable and creative genius of a Steve Jobs is not around anymore?  Could this cause a threat to Apple’s long-haul business strategy?  In “Apple Might Have a Bad 2013: 10 Signs of Trouble Ahead,” eWeek columnist Don Reisinger wrote:  “Apple could be in for trouble, as there are signs that iPhone demand is waning and its mobile market share is starting to slide.” If a corporation is threatened, will it adjust and adapt the same way a spider web can?
 
3. The silk’s molecular structure allows it to stretch
 
When a filament is pulled, the silk’s unique molecular structure unfurls as stress increases, leading to a stretching effect… The durability of the web is not just controlled by how strong silk is, but also how its mechanical properties change as you stretch it” says Dr. Buehler.  Darwin’s bark spider can weave a huge web over flowing rivers, stretching from one bank of the river to the other.  In order to stretch from bank to bank the Darwin spider must weave anchoring lines of up to 25m!  They weave such large tapestries by using one of the toughest, most energy-absorbing silks ever discovered, tougher than any other known biological and most man-made materials.  How tough and resistant do we train our workforce to be?  What sort of company culture and vision do we impart to them?  How far do we allow our workforce to stretch their minds and broaden their outlook?  How do we build bridges between departments and company silos?  How can we overcome isolated competitiveness for the benefit of community success?  When purchasing deliberately keeps a low inventory to earn CFO strides, production is postponed, client delivery is late, client production lines stops.  Does this sound familiar?  Unfortunately, it sure does to me.
 
Darwin_Spiderweb
 
4. The breaking of a single spider silk thread never threatens the entire web structureResearching on the spider web functionality, Dr. Buehler, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology goes on to say: “If a building, a car or an airplane is exposed to large mechanical stress, it typically breaks as a whole and the entire structure becomes dysfunctional.” He continues: “Each individual thread of silk could be ‘sacrificed’ to maintain the overall structure.  How far can our communities stretch before they break?  How much stress can they take?  Why did Kodak file for bankruptcy in January 2012?  Didn’t the management foresee the technological trends and the reality that sooner or later cameras would be digitalized?
 
5. Spider silk becomes spider food
 
Did you know that spiders can nourish themselves from the silk they produce? Spiders produce a large quantity of silk, roughly 59.43 meters (65 yards) a day or 70.81 km (40.44 miles) in their entire lifetime.   We could compare spider silk’s double functionality (web weaving and food) to bamboo which is commonly used for scaffolding in Asia but also consumed as a delicious plant.  Will we ever see the day when a man-made product will be used both as building material and food?  When will shareholders understand that greed destroys our planet?  It’s time to replace polluting manufacturing plants with clean sites and an environmentally biodegradable production output.  How much longer can we pollute, destroy and loot the very planet that sustains us?  Companies, entrepreneurs and leaders should bear in mind that short term greed will soon destroy our children’s right to live abundantly!  One thing is certain:  the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink… none of it will ever be digitalized!

In part two, we will look at five more spider silk properties and the physical and spiritual lessons they discretely continue to teach us, should we want to observe and learn.    

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Five Additional Ways Social Business Can Unleash Outrageous and Innovative Power (2/4)

A few days ago, I started a series on innovative power — one of the fruits of Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business. How do we get creative, divergent and provocative? How do we forsake our day-to-day fire extinguishing duties (and we all have them) and force ourselves to get physically out of our office buildings, companies, towns, states or countries? Too many companies are routinely stuck in extinguishing the daily fires of their business responsibilities such as:

– Customer claims
– Quality issues
– Product development
– Reporting and having to come up with “news” for the Corporate Office
– Sales & Sales Prospecting

Any one of us could easily yawn while reading those bullet points. But beware, so do our co-workers and employees, if these represent the bulk of their daily to-do-lists!   I absolutely admire the innovative Google spirit of letting employees mix up their worksheet by setting their own “20-Percent Time.”  Customer Experience (CX) can only be achieved if companies first learn to establish Employee Experience (EX), which has long been the case at Google.  Google receives more than two million CV’s every year; the irrefutable evidence that Employee Experience has long been one of the ways Google retains attractive, creative and innovative talents.

Without any further ado here are five more points on how to foster creativity:

1.  Schedule, sponsor and organize FUN or CRAZINESS within your business premises.

“When fun is a regular part of work, employees get to know each other as real people,” Paul Spiegelman, CEO of Beryl Companies, told Inc.  To that end, Spiegelman created a ‘Department of Great People and Fun’ and instituted ‘Pajama’ day and ‘Dress like the 70s’ day. “While these ideas are not practical for every work environment, the key is to do something fun, no matter how small, on a regular basis,”  The key here is to break  company silos and barriers!  A bit like in Germany, when neighbors, who traditionally rarely talk to each other suddenly get together for a pint of beer or more during the famous Cologne Carnival Festivities and this … until the wee hours of the night!  Eric Ryan, founder of Method, a soap and cleaning products company in San Francisco, thinks adding some “weirdness” to your corporate culture inspires employees to accomplish a lot. In the past, Ryan hasn’t hesitated to dress up as a chipmunk, blast Eye of the Tiger in the elevator, or host flash mob dance parties at his offices. “It reminds everybody that, ‘Yeah, I’m working somewhere really special’.”

2. Create “nap rooms” and grant your employees some rest.

I was once asked during an interview how would I proceed after an intercontinental flight, if I would directly come back to my office and work?  My answer was: “I’d rather sleep in a bed than in my office: it is much more comfortable and at least I am getting something done properly”!  Google is again a trendsetter when it comes to employee dedication and engagement making sure that their workers can “power nap” whenever they feel like an urgent need to close their eyes: and we all know that power nap can help relieving stress and thus unleash creative power.  “Zephrin Lasker, CEO of a Pontiflex, a 60-person mobile app ad shop in Brooklyn, converted a room of computer servers into a napping retreat. ‘I’m a huge believer in napping,’ Lasker tells Inc.com. ‘It helps people recharge, and personally, it helps me think more creatively’.”

3. Openly encourage and promote diversity rather than conformity.

At Zappos not only is weirdness encouraged, but it is also integral part of its company core values: “Create Fun And A Little Weirdness”.   At first, employees will be careful and suspicious particularly if a traditional hierarchical structure suddenly endeavors to humanize its practices, but management and leaders have to first break the ice and lead the way!  Culture is the fundamental catalyst that will open the doors to employee reciprocity.   Corporate Culture will most likely generate employee engagement and employee initiative, which in turn will trigger creativity and innovation.   Remember to be a little crazy and weird “À La Zappos” so to say!  It will automatically break down some communication barriers, encourage creative thinking, unleash motivation and most probably reduce employee turnover.

4. Find out what your employees are passionate about.

On one of his websites, trainer and guru Ken Blanchard suggests twelve different areas for employee work passion. Organization factors such as collaboration, performance expectations, growth, procedural justice (fairness) and distributive justice (rewards) are fundamental values to a Social Business Culture if future employee passion is being hoped for.  Does your company truly know what your workforce is passionate about?  Have you ever asked them? Genuinely found out?  Maybe it is time for HR to revisit and reconsider, don’t you think?  Let’s make no mistake about it, passionate employees will be much more inclined to bear additional work hours than a disengaged or passive crowd of workers.

5. Create writable walls and workforce sharing spaces  

Food and drinks always bring people together.  Like any local bar, it is a place for venting, sharing or listening while drinking a pint of your favorite Weiss Beer or Lager!  How about coming up with a company bar where workers could get together after work?  Would not it be great to enjoy a drink, casually chat while exchanging ideas with CXOs?

“Says tvsdesign’s Don Ricker, ‘Our most successful office designs feature writable walls in large open spaces where multiple people from diverse teams gather to exchange ideas and feedback. This fosters genuine collaboration along with a sense of play and fun, which in turn, opens the floodgates of creativity while serving as a potent morale booster.’”

How are you fostering company creativity and employee divergent thinking?  How are you systematically destroying the silos of traditional communication and replacing them with a flat, open cultu.re?  Looking forward to your comments.

2 Final Reasons Why Human Resources Must Become the Control Center for any Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Transformation (Part 3)

As we already covered in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, management, at the highest level, needs to seriously review the role and responsibilities of Human Resources.  Both shareholders and company leaders must demand HR to thoroughly scrutinize personnel policies built on “19th century learning styles, coupled by 20th century leadership models fused with 21st century technology” – Dan Pontefract, and to thoroughly revolutionize the entire organizational approach of their company.  This has to be done if a company is to digitally survive, humanly thrive and finally bring the coveted ROI (return on investment).  Sir Ken Robinson’s insightful presentation: “Changing Education Paradigms” can also apply to the   “baby-boomer” HR leaders who received an education designed, conceived and structured for an intellectual culture of “enlightenment”.  Today HR still operates in a societal system, born during the industrial revolution, which is modeled on the capitalistic foundation of gain only, regardless of how people are treated to acquire it.  Think of the term GDP as irrefutable evidence!

1. HR to foster Divergent Thinking in order to promote creativity

Divergent thinking is a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring a variety of possible solutions.  Sir Ken Robinson defines divergent thinking as: “The process of having original ideas that have value… divergent thinking is not a synonym but an essential capacity for creativity.”  It gives a person the ability to search out different answers when faced with a challenging assignment. Lateral or divergent thinking requires an “out-of-the-box” sort of reasoning which is not immediately obvious.  It involves ideas that are not obtainable by using traditional step-by-step logic. For example: an average person will find 10 ways to use a paper clip but a top “divergent thinker” will come up with 200 or more!

Now let’s apply this divergent thinking approach to our 21st century business model and start identifying company “divergent thinkers”.  Give them the space and freedom they require, and watch them come up with different ways, for example, on how to solve the boredom of repetitive tasks.  Make the challenge accessible via the Enterprise Social Network (ESN) and not only involve employees, but also partners and clients.  How about posting all suggestions and recommendations on a visible company Wikipage?  Don’t all companies wish they had more employees thriving with engagement and creativity?  Has your HR department ever taken the time to find out from its employees what would be the best environment for them to work in?  Under what working conditions would they feel their creative juice flow again?

Our society is plagued with the carryover of the industrial revolution way of manufacturing, thinking and educating, and it is easily to be found around us.  Let us look at a couple of examples:
– The traditional office hours are still from 9am to 5pm to this very day.
– Our schools have remained “educational manufacturing plants”, whereby knowledge and education have been standardized. Children of a “same manufacturing date” i.e. birth-year are “assembled” together and all taught the same thing regardless of their proclivities, talents, interests but also dislikes and even hatred at times!
 
Patagonia is based in Ventura California and employs roughly 1,500 people.  It is known for its flexi-time policies and also its “let my people go surfing” policy! During any work day employees are encouraged to leave their duties and get their creative juice flowing!  This policy must be good for CEO Yvon Chouinard since his company finished 2011 with a US$ 400 million turnover compared to US$ 333 million the previous year!

2. HR to improve customer service and loyalty by directly impacting employee engagement

Many companies do not have the position of a Chief Cultural Officer. Those businesses have not taken the time to formalize their company culture. They indirectly leave it up to their workforce to improvise, regardless of the positive or negative consequences this might have on their business.

A lecturer in an education program on leadership once told the following joke: “A CEO was asked how many people work in his company: ‘About half of them,’ he replied”.  This, for so many enterprises, is unfortunately very close to reality.  All businesses want to achieve the best possible operative results but often forget the financial loss encountered due to lack of employee engagement.  Watch out HR!  A company meticulously empowering its employees is automatically investing in its brand and consequently reaping the rewards of superior customer service.  Remember Zappos? 70-80% of their turnover is repeat business because of the outstanding service all Zaponians are proudly providing!

The attitude of too many employees shows a high level of disengagement caused by submission to avoid “rocking the boat”, and also by a lack of trust towards company leadership.  Deference to the authority of a recognized superior doesn’t really foster creativity does it? A client-centric organization will only be created if a company stops doing BAU (Business As Usual) and starts measuring first “loyalty, delight and experience at the employee level” as Frank Palermo states in his CMS WIRE article: “Improve Employee Engagement to Maintain Loyal Customers”.

How could there ever be customer experience (CX) if employees feel partially or completely disconnected from their workplace? A fundamental reason why HR should want its workforce to invest in discretionary effort on the job is the fact that employee engagement will trigger improved customer service, which will consequently promote customer loyalty and drastically prop up bottom line profit.

How is your HR department promoting divergent thinking and creativity? Is HR considering gamification for repetitive tasks? Looking forward to your comments and suggestions.

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Related posts to Social Business i.e. Enterprise 2.0:

-4 Reasons Why Human Resources Must Become the Control Center to any Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Transformation (Part 1)
-4 More Reasons Why Human Resources Must Become the Control Center to any Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Transformation (Part 2)
3 Ways to Promote Your Employee Engagement and Increase Your Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Productivity
4 More Ways for Leaders to Promote Personnel Engagement in Social Business Enterprise 2.0
Why Are People, Processes and Platforms the Three Fundamental P’s of Any Social Business Enterprise 2.0 transformation?
Why Company Culture is The Foundation to Any Social Business Enterperise 2.0
Understanding the 4 Fundamentals of a Social Business Enterprise 2.0