Tag Archives: Motivation

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.
 
Please follow Bruno Gebarski on Twitter or on Google+ at
http://Twitter.com/BrunoGebarski
http://bitly.com/BrunoGebarski
 
Advertisements

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.    

Follow me Bruno Gebarski on Twitter at:
http://Twitter.com/BrunoGebarski 
 

5 Additional Ways Social Business Can Unleash Outrageous and Innovative Power (3/4)

Some days ago, I started on what will end up being a four-part series on innovative power, one of the fruits of Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business.  You are more than welcome to check part one and part two if you have not yet had the chance to do so.

Most company leaders would agree that a happy customer is more likely to become a returning customer, but how can a company expect a happy customer to become a brand evangelist if the company has not first understood the real value of its own employee experience (EX)?

1. Create employee experience (EX) first and customer experience (CX) will follow.

Some time ago I called Zappos’ Customer Service in Nevada.  I asked the person on the phone if she was happy to work for Zappos.  An enthusiastic and enchanted voice answered:  “… Oh …. thank God I am working here…!”  Let’s stop for a second.  Would your employees say the same thing about your enterprise?  If they were to be asked the same question, would they answer with the same positive attitude and with such a gregarious outburst of enthusiasm?

2. Improve your company reputation and internal set of values 

Ask a few friends to run a quick “popularity check” on your business around town and find out what locals are saying about you.  Pick up some outgoing and outspoken testers.  Let them go to bars and places where the locals meet and find out directly from them what the real deal is.  Who knows, the outcome might surprise you, and such an experiment could be an eye-opening attempt, right?  Employee experience (EX) is serious food for profound business evaluation since customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) will never precede employee experience (EX).  CX and UX will only kick in if an enthusiastic crowd of co-workers and employees are passionately standing behind your company’s products or services.  Remember Martin Luther King?  He did not say: I have a “to do list”, but “I have a dream”, which was his personal call for rallying people’s emotions and passions thus creating a relentless support for his cause.  Do your employees know your company values and dreams?  Can your workforce regularly see the ratified vision of your enterprise?  Is your company vision straightforward and inspiring enough for everyone to see and understand?  Are you moving the passion and emotions of your workforce for your cause the same way Dr. Martin Luther King did?

3. Grant your employees the right to make decisions that are right for your customers

It is often a leitmotiv (repeated theme) here in Europe, to have a shop attendant tell you:  “I am sorry Sir/Madam, but I am not authorized to make such a call!”  Why?  Why on earth isn’t she authorized to make such a decision?  For crying out loud, is she not the one dealing with customers on a day-to-day basis?  Why does it so often fall to the hierarchical manager, sitting behind his desk all day long (and mostly cut off from day-to-day sales reality) to make that particular call?

4. Focus on your employees and their needs

Many businesses focus primarily on Customer Experience/Service and this is absolutely mandatory if companies expect to raise their service level, and positively influence customer satisfaction and customer retention.  However, find out first about the working conditions and environment of your own workforce such as sitting comfort, IT equipment satisfaction, dining facilities and amenities. If you do not know, genuinely ask them in a personal way.

The unsung heroes employees at Disneyland are the folks carrying the brooms!  “Sweepers are actually frontline customer representative with brooms in their hands”.  “Scholar John Boudreau and Peter Ramstad have shown that the sweepers who continually tidy up the park and often answer guest questions are vital to Disney.  The caliber of these workers and their ability to solve problems are crucial to the holistic ‘magic’ Disney aims to create for visitors.”  Is your management striving to transform every single employee into a self-declared brand ambassador and evangelist?  Tony Hsieh and the Zappos folks certainly do.  How about you?

5. Create and build a company culture that inspires and unleashes creative power

Study companies like Zappos and Starbucks.  This will give your management lots of valuable ideas on how to create a culture that is right for your business and workforce.  Pass on your vision to your employees, share with them proper business confidentiality.  Be transparent and give! To expect any kick backs would not be a genuine altruistic way of shaping your business gospel, would it?  Your workforce needs a business dream, the drive and passion to reach for the stars, while management humbly keeps ts feet on the reality grounds of modesty.  Leadership should inspire, motivate and consistently foster initiative, engagement and creativity.  In Jacob Morgan’s wonderful book: The Collaborative Organization, there is a quote from Carl Frappaolo (a leading practitioner of emergent collaborating strategy):  “Culture is the single greatest potential asset or detriment.  A culture conducive to collaboration will compensate to some degree for awkward processes and inadequate technology.  In contrast a culture not conducive to collaboration will ignore or in the worst case sabotage, even the most advanced technology and process approaches to open transparent sharing.”

What are the ways your company fosters creativity and innovation?  How do you define your business culture? Looking forward to your comments and suggestions.

Please follow me on Twitter at: 
http://Twitter/BrunoGebarski
 
Five Additional Ways Social Business Can unleash Outrageous and Innovative Power (2/4)
– Five Ways Social Business Can Unleash Outrageous and Innovative Power (1/4)
– Three Fundamental Macro Trends Transforming Our Society, the Way We Live and How We Work
– The Evolution of Big Data: From Descriptive via Predictive to Prescriptive Business Intelligence (BI)
 

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.

4 More Reasons Why Human Resources Must Become the Control Center for any Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Transformation (Part2)

In the previous article, we discussed 4 reasons why HR needs to abandon its traditional administrative role and become the company cultural citadel and flagship. We could compare HR to the helm of an “Enterprise Culture” ship, with its crew steering the company towards its “cultural destination” and in this way, having much more leverage than a mere rule enforcer. In order to become the motivational driving force of the business overall, HR must learn to meld together different mentalities, cultural tribes and department units. HR must also foster the collective mission of an employee-centric company’s vision and values, i.e. culture. But what are some of the technological, digital and disruptive challenges our traditional personnel management is faced with when bringing the Millennial Generation (Generation Y) onto the company’s payroll?

1. HR must understand and accept the rich & ubiquitous nature of Digital Communication

Broadband connectivity has changed the way we work and communicate. Tablets, phablets and smartphones are found and used everywhere, and recent statistics estimate there are already 2.5 billion mobile social accounts worldwide! As if this deluge of portably-connected devices (also known as “Bring Your Own Device”) was not enough, our traditional 20th century “Dr. Prof. Expert” has transformed himself into a powerful, multi-faceted big-data information giant. This new 21st century digital expert has granted himself a previously unknown crown of knowledge: the hyperlink. This invisible digital inline link can display remote content without displaying the content; it is to be found in many e-articles and has become the new punctuation sign you and I have to contend with!

The hyperlink is the hidden command which has literally transformed our traditional book (with its attached footnotes) into a never-ending reading ordeal! Watch out, while e-reading, that you do not get “hyperlinked-away” and end up wondering where your reading actually started! This new punctuation sign has now given us the technological agility to research any topic at scale. It is the reason why (after roughly two hundred fifty years) Encyclopædia Britannica went out of print, and 300 years later Internet overtook newspapers ad revenues.  How will HR undertake the transformation of this well known archaic enterprise legacy and adapt it to our “hyper-linked”, 21st century digital and highly-connected workplace or wirearchy without losing the necessary line of command?

2. HR TO BECOME THE TRANSFORMATIONAL DIGITAL ZEITGEIST OF LAST CENTURY’S HIERARCHICAL BUSINESS LEGACY

Complete removal of the hierarchical legacy from a company’s organigram seems highly impossible. Every enterprise needs a boss, a visionary, a strategist who guides the mission, inspires the ranks and carries the overall corporate social responsibility vis-à-vis the owner or the company shareholders. But here are examples of quite a different approach. IIya Pozin, writing about his company Ciplex, says: “There is no such thing as ‘management’. There are no departments. Those fancy job titles, like VP, executive, and manager are gone”.  What is worth noticing here is Illy Pozin’s completely different view on company hierarchy.  He continues: “I recently inverted our organizational chart.  Our clients are now positioned up at the top, while our employees make up teams stationed in the middle, and our higher-ups are no longer higher-ups — they are now known as ‘team support’ and they reside at the bottom of the chart.”! IIya Pozin genuinely promotes team culture.  He goes on to write: “You need self-motivated, self-sustaining teams, instead of individual employees below your clients. This fosters a culture in which teams are motivated to succeed together, rather than individuals. It creates a shared sense of responsibility throughout the company. At Ciplex, we create team goals to measure and improve upon every two weeks. This way, everyone becomes a valuable asset.”

Claire Suddath, reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek, wrote an enlightening article about the company Valve Software.  In “Why There Are No Bosses at Valve” (Valve Software company handbook), co-founder Gabe Newell states: “Of all the people at this company who aren’t your boss, Gabe is the MOST not your boss, if you get what were saying,” the handbook says.  Claire Suddath goes on to write:  “Every Valve employee has hiring capabilities, as well as the power to green-light an idea.  It’s basically the Montessori version of running a company. Somehow this results in completed projects and top-notch video games.”

3. HR TO HIRE TALENT MATCHING COMPANY CULTURE, & SECURE PERSONNEL EXPANSION

HR should hire first for passion and second for skills! What would be the outcome if a multi-talented hiree happened to “row in the opposite direction” of the company culture?  Some of my readers may think that I am on a cultural bandwagon or crusade, but please bear with me, and let’s look at a cultural misfit example we’ve all read and heard about: The Hewlett-Packard/ Compaq merger case:

In 2001 the Hewlett-Packard computer giant acquired Compaq for US$ 24 billion — the largest IT deal ever made!  Combining workforces and operations in more than 150 countries (with roughly 150,000 employees) must have been a daunting task to undertake, but particularly so for HR. Restructuring both businesses was an intimidating challenge that turned out to be a disastrous cultural match. HP originated mostly from an engineering background, while Compaq from a “door-to-door” sales mentality.  This merger was considered a failure and HP was forced to make dramatic leadership and cultural changes to make things work. Could it be that the results of the consequences of that merger are still evident even to this day?   CEO Meg Whitman recently pointed to a lack of clarity around the company’s strategy as well as heavy executive turnover.  Who knows?

HR now has a golden opportunity to start molding and shaping Generation Y hirees (soon to replace baby boomers), to bestow upon them crystal clear cultural beliefs and values, impart the necessary ethics, and to finally turn them into real company spokespeople and brand evangelists.  And even more so, HR has the responsibility to set up the right working environment and transform the attitudes of the workforce into a highly motivated group of engaged employees. It is crucial that co-workers possess the inner satisfaction of having a clear mission, of serving a purpose and delivering outstanding products or services. When HR Daily Advisor SPHR, MBA Kojo Amissah was asked to define HR he gave this most unusual and amazing reply:  “HR is about the business to the extent to which you can utilize people to obtain business goals.”  Some of the structural challenges HR is facing nowadays in modern companies could be perfectly summed up by Dan Pontefract: “Our organizations are built on 19th century learning styles, coupled by 20th century leadership models fused with 21st century technology.”

4. HR TO BECOME THE PROMOTIONAL ENGINE OF SUSTAINABLE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

A recent Towers Watson Global 2012 Workforce Study reveals how the views of employees directly shape their engagement in their work, commitment to their employers, and ultimately their behavior and performance on the job. The study reflects the attitudes and concerns of workers around the world. It also points out that the traditional definition for engagement is shifting and reshaping itself into a 21st century “dernier cri” term of “sustainable engagement”. As we read above, companies are running 21st century businesses in 20th century workplaces. The resulting lack of employee engagement is staggering to say the least:
– 35% employees are highly engaged
– 22% employees are unsupportive
– 17% employees are detached
– 26% employees are disengaged
 
Don’t you think it is time for companies to start attracting, motivating and retaining the right cadre of employees     – those who will best benefit the corporate business identity? What will be the mid and long-term consequences of HR developing a “sustainable engagement” environment for its workers? The Tower Watson study quantifies the direct relationship between employee output, engagement and motivation on the job, and the level of operating margin an enterprise is able to record. It also shows that the higher the level of engagement, the higher the average operating profit will be: 
– Companies with low engagement scores have an average operating margin of 10%
– Companies with high traditional engagement an average margin of 14%
– Companies with the highest level of “sustainable engagement” an average of 27%
 
What is the line of attack your company is applying in order to reverse those trends? How is your HR department raising the employee level of engagement?
 
Follow Bruno Gebarski on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrunoGebarski@brunogebarski or on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brunogebarski
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)
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

4 More Ways for Leaders to Promote Personnel Engagement in Social Business Enterprise 2.0

Employee attitude is an intrinsic and direct human reaction resulting from the work environment any management establishes in its enterprise.  Attitude (good or bad) and its attached emotions significantly shape the “work ethic” barometer any employee will display before, during or after work hours.  It is the hidden and powerful emotional drive, or lack thereof, which determines the level of “engagement” a co-worker will display.  Employee engagement will never be an action verb with an expected code of co-worker behavior automatically triggered by company compensation and perks.

Enterprises in possession of well defined mission, vision and values are in a much better position to transport their philosophy and credo to employees, suppliers, partners and customers alike. Company culture (mission + vision + values) is the fundamental prerequisite if a workforce is to positively engage with both customers and prospects.  A company workforce cannot and will not confidently connect with its customers if an enterprise has failed to establish first a clear code of ethics, business principles and policies.

1. Workforce should fulfill job requirements with limited hierarchical where and when

I remember a € 80 million (US$100 M) manufacturing company led by a Managing Director who micro-managed.  Every morning he would pick up the mail from the local post office himself, open up every single piece of correspondence and distribute it to the appropriate company employees. His reasons? “I want to know what is happening”, he once told me! We are living in the broadband communication era where consumers decide the way they wish to communicate with their brand. Thanks to hyper-connected mobile devices we are now en route to a people-centric, convenience marketing superhighway, where consumers exclusively select when, where and what sort of information they wish to obtain.  Cell phone subscriptions have overtaken landlines. People in the UK are now more likely to text than to make a phone call according to a recent research from Ofcom.  “In the past, cooperation was a kind of dream, an ideal. Today it is a requirement for survival” says Nicholas Roberts.

A European company, I was once associated with, gave its employees only 15 minutes of “flexi-time” for arriving at work in the morning, all the while knowing that some would actually be more productive after sleeping an extra hour or two than arriving on time and lingering around the coffee machine and shooting the breeze. Employees should be compensated for results rather than the numbers of hours they have worked. Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) could easily be promoted thanks to mobile technology Studies made by ROWE with renowned clients such as GAP and BEST BUY have shown  significant savings and increased productivity were registered. BEST BUY applied the following formula:  “Retention + Intrinsic Motivation + Productivity = Increased Capacity” which meant a saving of $2.2 million for their team over the course of two years, an average of 41% increase in productivity on ROWE teams.

2. Management should take control of work, and not of its employees

Looking for an alternative to work? Organize a meeting! Wasted time in meetings costs Business £26 billion (US$ 41.6 B) per annum reported Techradar some months ago. Marcus Austin went on to say: “The average employee wastes two hours and 39 minutes in meetings every week… this would equate to 13 million more productive hours per week and an increase in gross domestic product (GDP) of approximately 1.7 percent…” Wouldn’t it be better to let these employees decide for themselves if their participation in a meeting is mandatory or not? It is now the time for company leaders to start learning to trust their employees and respect their right to exercise sound judgment. Managers also need to delegate. This should be the first step toward transcending the average employee output into something more significant. Extrinsic motivation needs to make room for the intrinsic if companies earnestly want to crowd-source more of their own talent and increase employee engagement.  Around 50% of Google’s products and innovations were found during the 20% period of time where employees are encouraged to work on personal Google projects and not on their core responsibilities. It is evident that a hierarchical boss cannot control how everything is being done so would it not be better if management could find ways and tools for their teams to get the job done themselves?

3.  Employees look beyond payment to non-monetary factors such as advancement and recognition

What are the values of intangible company assets; the ones that cannot be quantified… the ones that are dormant in remote parts of a company because of disuse… the raw diamonds waiting to be polished in order to shine?  In her article “A Zappos Lesson in Customer Service Metrics”, Ashley Furness relates her conversation with Joseph Michelli the author of The Zappos Experience: 5 Principles to Inspire, Engage, and WOW:

“Take a look at your performance metrics. Is time-to-resolution an important indicator? What about call time? While popular, these KPIs are indicative of a very un-Zappos experience. They don’t ‘drive service into your culture,’ as the author of The Zappos Experience, Joseph Michelli, explained to me. Zappos invests in the call center not as cost, but the opportunity to market. Their whole strategy is to create loyalty through ‘wow’ moments and emotional connections.”

4. Leaders should be able to step back and promote others

Put your ego away because it could be one of your biggest obstacles towards team effectiveness! Pride destroys communication, builds silos, isolates and pushes people away! In an employee-centric led environment, it is imperative not to give pride, arrogance, ego and selfish immaturity any room for business. Get rid of it, and get rid of the workers/people who are rowing in the opposite direction, regardless of how high in the hierarchy they are positioned, or how skillful they are. Are you placing self-interest ahead of your enterprise’s interests? Are you concerned about piling up more for yourself while neglecting customers, employees and maybe even board members?  Place the interests of your immediate co-workers and middle management before your own; trust your workforce and give them space to grow. Treasure confrontation, hire employees first for their passion and then for their skills, regardless of the fact that you might not feel personally attracted to them.  Are they a cultural enrichment to your company, department or team?  Would your company consider an international hiree if your most valuable customer is international? Does your team fully understand how different the international community is? Do you give them the chance to learn and grow?

What are you doing to inspire your workforce?  What initiatives are you sponsoring in order to foster creativity and leadership? What are the difficulties you are confronted with?

Follow Bruno Gebarski on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrunoGebarski@brunogebarski or on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brunogebarski

Related posts to Social Business i.e. Enterprise 2.0:
3 Ways to Promote Your Employee Engagement and Increase Your Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Productivity
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
Humility, a Core Ingredient For Moving From Hierachy to Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Leadership (Part 1)
Humility, a Core Ingredient For Moving From Hierachy to Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Leadership (Part 2)

Why Are People, Processes and Platforms the Three Fundamental P’s of Any Social Business Enterprise 2.0 transformation?

1. People and behavioral changes

People are at the core of any successful organizational and structural company change.  A technological fix vs. a behavioral change remains once and for all, an inane discussion. After companies have established their own “culture”, Enterprise 2.0 will dictate the necessary behavioral changes.  Employees’ motivation and engagement must first be stirred-up by HR and upper management, and then supported for any new collaborating technological implementation or change to flourish.  After a recent study led by the Dachis Group, Harold Jarche used the findings for his article “It Takes Time to be Social”, and rightly points out that “… when asked to assess the overall engagement of employees for the company, more than half responded that only 10-20% of its employees were active…”.  If a company wants its personnel to become more social, management should pave the way first.  They need to lead by collaborating and co-creating themselves otherwise the time and investment expended in a structural change could be entirely wasted.

Employees, teams and task-groups are the driving force inside any organization; they solve problems, create value and drive innovation.  On the other hand, organizational silos thwart collaboration and cut off departments and co-workers from each other. Silos isolate departments, locations and teams while preventing overall company motivation, engagement and higher achievement goals.  A corporate vision, code of conduct and established company culture are fundamental essentials if HR, Controlling and IT are to reach out to sales and marketing, while looking beyond their own responsibilities or department silos. The command-and-control frame of mind that IT traditionally has, will have to be reshaped to enable some sort of a revived technological door-opener (as opposed to the door-keeper) to co-create value to the people-centric enterprise that social business is striving to develop. HR must encourage and develop cross-functional team building if the silo-mentality is to be overcome, so that a genuine Enterprise 2.0 frame of mind can be established.

2. Processes and Business Process Management (BPM)

As Clay Shirky once said: “Process is an embedded reaction to prior stupidity.”!  Processes should then be proactive and not stifle employees’ creativity with a straitjacket-set of company rules and regulations.  Processes and policies ought to be defined and ratified in order to encourage communication and creativity to flourish. They should protect workers, promote products and services, and dismount company silos.

For new collaborative business processes to be implemented, HR and management should encourage and motivate personnel with the use of gamification; the art of applying game theory and procedures to non-gaming environments.  They ought to motivate, recognize and reward their employees for rethinking and putting forth more efforts into reshaping their own work behavior and modifying their daily routines.

3. Platforms i.e. technologies

In his recent article “Social Collaboration: It’s the people not the technology stupid!”, Steve Dale writes that “most collaboration strategies are treated as technology projects and not organizational development (OD) projects”, again showing that IT can be the troublesome door-keeper.  That’s why many of those projects will most likely fail to bring any social enterprise return on investment (ROI). Adoption rates are poor because again and again technologies and processes often fail to take into account the mandatory and necessary workforce behavioral changes which need to be attached to such implementations. Too many entrepreneurial 2.0 strategies and projects are perceived by employees as a behavioral straitjacket they are forced to put on. The resulting poor rate of adoption is irrefutably proving the fact that implementation is not as successful as the IT Project Managers would have expected it to be.

A company’s workforce is the most important “customer-base asset” it possesses. Traditionally, this workforce is a group of human beings resisting change (don’t we all!). Employees will reluctantly give up familiar territory and only bid farewell to old practices if motivation and rewards are attached to those changes. Technology should remain on the level of a helpful tool.  Its initial roll-out should be introduced mainly by a handful of hand-picked collaborative advocates and Enterprise 2.0 social stars.  The Chief Customer Officer and Community Manager should promote these advocates socially and create new leadership positions for them.  Their conviction, passion and gregarious approach cannot help but motivate and inspire the rest of the community i.e. workforce.  HR should rally all company employees to the cause of this entrepreneurial social project with the support and techniques of gamification, and then evangelize first the human benefits, and second the technological paybacks. Rewarding the early social adopters with incentive programs, bonuses and company perks, will give a new social project implementation its best chance to succeed and exceed the Dachis 10 to 20% average adoption rate!

What incentives and company perks are you giving or planning to give to your employees for the support of a successful roll-out of Enterprise 2.0 social technologies?

Follow Bruno Gebarski on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrunoGebarski or on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brunogebarski

Related posts to Social Business i.e. Enterprise 2.0:
Why Company Culture is The Foundation to Any Social Business Enterprise 2.0
Understanding the 4 Fundamentals of a Social Business Enterprise 2.0
Humility, a Core Ingredient For Moving From Hierachy to Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Leadership (Part 1)
Humility, a Core Ingredient For Moving From Hierachy to Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Leadership (Part 2)