Dave Desforges began piloting "Work From Home" solutions over 3 years ago. His role required identifying additional candidate requirements and necessary remote work practices for both employees and managers at Sun Microsystems. His current work encompasses blending appropriate technology, organizational practices, and workplace environments to support mobile and distributed teams.
Jim McGee is currently a Director at Huron Consulting Group. He has spent much of the last 30 years working to understand, design, and apply information and technology innovations in organizations. Before Huron, Jim taught at the Kellogg School and was one of the founding partners of DiamondCluster International. With Larry Prusak, he was the co-author of Managing Information Strategically (Wiley, 1993). Jim has both an MBA and a doctorate in Information Technology, Organization, and Strategy from the Harvard Business School.
Regina Miller has more than 18 years of experience in Organization Development, Human Resources, Leadership Development and International Operations. Regina recently launched a global consultancy called The Seventh Suite which assists growing companies bolster their competitive edge via aligned strategy and progressive people practices. Her last corporate job was as the VP HR/OD for Oskar (Vodafone) which has been dubbed one of the fastest growing mobile operators in Eastern Europe. More info here.
Giovanni Rodriguez - Through a combination of luck and persistence, Giovanni has worked in the company of some of the most interesting and colorful leaders in several worlds: the law, theater, and technology. Today, he is a principal at Eastwick Communications, a Silicon Valley PR agency, where he advises both emerging companies and market leaders on executive leadership, public speaking, marketing strategy and media relations. He has worked for, consulted and advised numerous businesses and organizations including HP, Stanford University, Fujitsu Computer Systems, Cadence Design Systems, VMware, the American Arbitration Association, and the Unified Court System of New York. He is a graduate of Princeton University (Religion and Anthropology), and he has done graduate course work at the Columbia School of Journalism and N.Y.U.
Jim Ware is a cofounder of the Work Design Collaborative and the Future of Work program. He has over 30 years experience in research, executive education, consulting, and management, including five years on the faculty of the Harvard Business School. He was the lead author of The Search for Digital Excellence, (McGraw-Hill, 1998), and holds Ph.D., M.A., and B.Sc. degrees from Cornell University and an MBA (With Distinction) from the Harvard Business School.
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline
This McKinsey article relates to my previous post in that McKinsey recommends, relatively radically I think, how orgs should structure in order to make the best use of knowledge workers and talent pools. Reading between the lines of their structural recommendations, implies collaborative technologies will be required to operate in this new org configuration. This is one of my more favorite McKinsey articles. Usually, I am taking quite the opposite tact.
I challenge the notion that collaboration will increase simply because of the availability of a new set of interrelated tools, or Web 2.0. This is the same trap that allowed thousands to think of e-learning as a fast and cheap alternative to other options, when in fact it is a complex and viable approach, but not always fast, nor easy, especially when you want quality outcomes. Good elearning requires a shift in operating culture. Likewise, collaboration requires a cultural shift...
I believe there is a great deal of potential to distributed collaboration. I'd go so far as to say it will be a required competence and essential business/organization activity. It will be facilitated to some extent by tools. But it won't happen without us increasing our skills, practices and intentions for collaboration.
Some advice about hot jobs and careers of the future by Michael Prospero of Fast Company who will appear on an old fashioned radio show on October 6th at 10:10 AM EST. He will appear on Joan Hamburg's show on WOR 710 AM on your dial. (PS - She's the best!) Uncertain that it will make it to podcast but you can listen live from your pc.
Recently I posted about the fact that I am a member of the freelancers union here in NY and that because I am a member of this group I have healthcare coverage. Sara Horowitz sent an email to members and so here are a few new things from Working Today that might be of interest to many of you. Here is her email:
"Freelancers are creative, independent, entrepreneurial people. Many are fiercely dedicated to the freelancer lifestyle. Survey respondents said things like, Ill freelance till my fingers bleed. Never say never, but I
dont think Ill ever work for a corporation again. Could these be your words? Come to our new message board to talk with others about your freelance life and attitude."
"Freelancers are politically engaged and coming together as a group. Almost all have voted in a national election. About half feel that they belong to a freelancer community, and they think thats important. Do you agree? Let us know what youre thinking. Participate in our message board
and help build our freelancer community." (But where's the Freelancer's BLOG??)
"Freelancers are getting the word out about who they are and what they need. Theyre no longer content to be politically invisible and entirely on their own fending for benefits like health insurance and retirement. Do you know any members of the press? Share The Rise of the Freelance Class
with them and help spread the news. Freelancers are on the rise. And people should know."
-an organization less like an army (hierarchical, focused on winning) and more like a family/community (collaborative, focused on well-being of members) than today's large organizations;
-better able to deal with complexity;
-has a flexible definition of 'work' that is purposeful and meaningful to its people;
-is accessible, inclusive and diverse;
-is responsive to the communities it operates in;
-is self-managed, innovative and entrepreneurial;
-generates deep mutual respect and trust in its people;
-is resilient and agile, and capable of 'acting in the moment';
-attracts people skilled at collaboration and inclined to work collaboratively;
-has a self-determined, shared set of values;
-is committed to "not being evil";
-is amoeba-like (permeable borders, good sensors, able to change shape when necessary, a strong guiding nucleus, and replicable;
-is attuned to and responsive to customer needs (rather than "trying to sell them something they don't really need or want");
-accommodates needs and conflicting demands of its people, using principles of reciprocity;
-motivates and engages its people;
-cross-pollinates people, ideas, knowledge, points of view;
is transparent and authentic;
-is not location-based or location-dependent;
-uses sustainable, cradle-to-cradle practices, and does more with less;
-engages customers and other partners in design, development and decision-making, to tap into the wisdom of crowds;
-has rotating leadership, with leaders who see where the future is going before others do, and inspires others to act on that vision, and who are able to translate the complexity around them into simple truths that have meaning, direction and predictability (rather than encouraging the cult of leadership and the messiah complex of many of today's leaders);
-accommodates and leverages the skills and qualities of women;
-finds and clears away obstacles that prevent its people from doing their best;
-learns from nature;
-teaches people to communicate extraordinarily well, and encourages authentic, powerful conversations;
-recognizes our responsibility to leave a legacy for our children, and pays attention to them and learns from them
Rags writes "Regarding Blogging at work Miller of The Seventh Suite wrote to me saying "yes I believe lots of people are blogging at work - all the more reason to give employees the chance to blog like Sun, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, etc...".
Rags goes on to say "I think blogging at work and employers allowing blogging is not an easy black and white decision. I think I am somewhat cynical about people blogging at work. A disclaimer, " No I am not part of the management, I am just another peon". According to Technorati's numbers the first thing people seem to be doing at work is to post a blog article. This probably is on top of the usual surfing activities like reading personal mails and news. Now one should also assume that the blog posters spend time reading other blogs as well."
In this season of "open enrollment" (the time in companies - usually in the fall when people have a chance to change and/or enroll in benefit health care plans,) I am reminded about the scary nature of the healthcare situation in this country especially for those of us who are self-employed. When I first launched my consulting practice, The Seventh Suite, I knew I would have to address the issue. Here is a post I wrote called Management Diva Joins a Union a while back that explains about a very necessary and progressive organization here in NY called Working Today that enables freelancers to join a union for group coverage. It is open enrollment time for the members of Working Today. I am reminded how lucky I am to have joined this group and have a good healthplan. I hope there are other organizations like this out there serving the needs of contractors and freelancers now and moving into the future.
I'll reserve my thoughts on play and fun at work until I read this book by Pat Kane for myself. (I am not so big on the whole fun/play thing or at least calling it that but more on that later...and maybe I'll even decide to reserve an open-mind on the topic!)
Kerabu points to a cool blog called The Play Ethic by Pat Kane who has written a book called The Play Ethic. It will be published in the UK at the end of September. "Kane expresses the hope throughout the book that the play ethic can be a bridge between results driven management and meaning driven employees in the emerging style of modern organisations."
In particular, "... Generation Xers and Yers who make up increasing percentages of todays workforce have been brought up in a culture of play gaming, play-stations and interactive technology and we need to adopt different patterns of employment to accommodate their needs. New workers are looking for something more fulfilling and enriching something that matches their experience. Perhaps, therefore, instead of looking for a work-life or work-play balance, we need to seek more ways to integrate the two."
DK sounds like a really neat guy with a very big mission. "Everyone is always wondering what kids are thinking. DK gives you a view into the complicated and sometimes contradictory world of today's teens." His organization, Phatgnat, us-them-you together "operates between the commercial and public sectors. Phatgnat creates opportunities for companies and brands to engage and communicate with young people whilst supporting local and central governments youth-oriented initiatives through specific, high profile projects."
This research asks the question: "Do managers of flexible workers manage in a different way than traditionally and then therefore have a different competence profile?"
You can see a condensed list of the findings on Ken Thompson's weblog on collaboration and successful bioteaming.
Basically, the bottom line of the study which is not surprising is that managing remotely doesn't require a different set of skills than managing a team of people on-site. My thoughts on this are if you are inherently a good manager here you more than likely will be a good manager there. All that is required is that one be a good manager and good managers know how to be flexible and adjust to their environments (even though this wasn't named as a competence or skill.)
While I agree with the findings, I think this study didn't fully define the gigantic bucket of Leadership compentencies so it is hard to say what was lumped into that category. One of the things that is of crucial importance in managing a remote workforce (and an on-site team as well) is the manager's job of providing "context." There was little talk about "mindset" and helping teams feel connected to the bigger picture, the brand and the culture.
The other thing that helps make managers good managers is making sure they have tools, systems and processes to support them including on-line collaboration tools and software (although not mentioned too much in this article as a method or means of communication) and good information systems.
The other important element when managing remotely is to ratchet up one's powers of listening and reading clues. (You have to do this at the office too but sometimes things are so subtle that when you are not directly seeing someone the subtleties can be missed.)
When managing a team remotely (which I just did having people in Prague, Nicaragua, Boston, Toronto and New York) I had to pay attention to different kinds of clues during phone meetings - silence, tone, energy level towards the project/work and each other.
What are some of your strategies and ideas for managing remotely? What works for you and your teams? Or doesn't?
On a lighter note, well maybe not...I wonder why he stopped with the 40s? This is a good one. Could it be simply a variation on an interesting career meme? (I've been dying to use that in a sentence, meme I mean. Hope I used it correctly?)
SmartMobs pointed me to CIO's article about what Mars is doing with Social Network Analysis (SNA). I am learning more and more about this and just starting to understand the practice and the benefits for organizations. There seem to be several applications for this technology in many aspects of org design, capability building and talent management.
I see direct implications for HR professionals in the Talent Review process. The information and data provided by SNA is important input to help determine who holds the knowledge - and who are deemed as the "important go to people." (It's funny that at Mars it seemed that there was interest in lessening the time interruptions so that these key people could keep working on on their projects.) Yes, that is important for the business and at the same time it is equally as important to put these "go to people" in a special category - that of "coach - meaning one who works with others to extend their skills and capabilities." This becomes part of their role in the org. (It should be revered as a very important and strategic role and therefore treated as such with appropriate comp, etc. - something like what GE did in the past with their battalion of six sigma black belts.)
It seems like these analyses can help us pinpoint who the coaches should be and therefore during the Talent Review Process they can be identified as "Critical Talent." The organization needs to assist the "coaches" in learning how to transfer knowledge and by developing "talent salons" - places where those who are quick learners can go to receive the needed knowledge and skills. (I believe this can be a combo of online tools, processes and meetings.) I still have a bias for some F2F for the all time critical component of transfering knowledge which is the debriefing discussion. Many times companies move so fast that the "so what" and "now what" of the learning is left off and people just move on to the next assignment, project, etc. without adequately capturing and/or ingraining the learning. The coaches would ensure that this occurs.
Gautum Ghosh links us to the results of a corporate blogging survey by Backbone Media. This is a good overview of the kinds of experiences +/- "blogging" companies are having. (I am sure this would be a good piece of data/evidence for those companies in the decision phase.)
The Q&A that particularly intrigues me is as follows:
"WM: Whats the most surprising thing about modern Chinese capitalism?
Arkless: Theyre embracing it, and its changing quickly. There are still some old characteristics. They wonder why we work on such short horizons when their economy has been running for 5,000 years. The cities have become dynamic and fast-moving. Theyve got the long-term view and the desire to get things running in the short term very quickly. They still call it a socialist economy, but its behaving like an open one."
This is precisely the issue that Manpower and others in this position need to be careful about when entering significantly different marketplaces based on different economic models and mindsets.
Having lived and worked (as the head of HR) in a post-communist country (Czech Republic) the average age of our workforce was approximately 26. That meant the workforce had lived half of their lives under communism. (They were in their early teens during the Velvet Revolution.) Their parents lived their lives under communism and the significant clamp down by the Soviets after 1968.)
All I can say is that an executive team who has only lived under freedom and democracy their whole lives will see the world and what's possible very differently. It was difficult to have empathy for a workforce whose DNA consisted of living (even half their lives under communism.) As execs coming from North American we lived a different life and would never be able to understand what that was like to live in a country where freedom was not an option.
One thing I wish we had done as an executive team is actually experienced a simulation of life under communism. We also should have been required to collectively study the history of the country we were living in. The debrief of all of that could have helped us understand the implications of the national culture as we created our corporate culture. Knowing the background of the nation and history of leadership in the country would have given us insight as to why there was no official word for "leadership" and the closest word loosely translated meant "supervision." It would have given insight to the behavior of a nation based on their mindsets not ours ala empathy.
Doing things like this could have helped us be better executives and helped us understand our workforce as we were asking them to change their thinking, their understanding of the world, the world in which they operated and worked. I am not sure what "cultural training" is like these days but hope that it includes more rigorous content than eye contact, body language and asking how to pass the salt without insulting the host. (It also should be more experientially based, occur on-sight and happen about 3-4 months into the assignment. In this way there is already some sense of the biases and issues and makes the "training" more relevant.")
As Mr. Arkless reminds us..."They are embracing it and it's changing quickly." It's important to honor and respect elements of the past so that moving into the future "quickly" is part of the natural progression.
The GILD Blog linked to me the other day on my BNET Blog and I think what they are doing is quite a good idea and yet another interesting application for the future of blogs within a business - as a follow-up to training. It is a blog for participants who attend the GILD program (Global Institute of Leadership Development) which is part of Linkage - a very big conferencing and publishing company. (I actually have no intelligence on the program's effectiveness, etc. - I just think the follow-up approach makes alot of sense.)
The premise of the blog is looking at the program learning from a variety of angles; it gives those who attended a place to come back to, to discuss their learnings, to process how they applying learnings and skills back at work, and to maybe express their struggles and frustrations with the dilemmas associated with being leaders in today's organizations.
(I actually recommended this same idea to a client after we designed a very large leadership development initiative. The client was extremely concerned about the follow-through application piece after the "training." If you don't use it, you lose it?? We recommended "learning pods" where employees could meet in-person and on-line to discuss what they had implemented and how it all worked in practice , or didn't, etc. (And of course these days you could podcast follow-up messages, lecturettes, stories to amplify points, key learnings, etc.) We also recommended implementing a blog to let the managers continue to collaborate on the program learning in their daily life post training. Unfortunately because of other organizational stuff the recommendations are in limbo...but the client thought these were pretty neat and cool approaches to test out.)
A side note: The GILD Blog also points us to two other blogs - one that references companies that are doing "corporate blogging" and the other that references CEOs who blog. I believe this could definitely be helpful for job candidates when making a decision where to work - do I want to work for the company and/or a CEO that strives for transparency via blogging?? It seems like it is a progressive management practice that can no longer be ignored.
Basically, this article boils down to being able to manage of the dilemma of short vs. long term growth. This really is not a new business challenge. These are the typical dilemmas senior management teams are dealing with every day. (If you have quarterly reviews with your shareholders like we did at Oskar/Vodafone, you quickly learn that short term results are as important as the long term results. I don't think that will ever change...)
This dilemma seems as old as the hills to me and there is no either or solution. It is a both and scenario for executive teams. You have to be able to do both even though they may seem inherently contradictory. You have to also able to show and prove to boards that you encompass an overall "systems perspective" in how you are approaching your short and long term results. Boards want to see the connected picture and it is the senior's team job to help them see it. (At every quarterly board meeting at Oskar, each member of the executive team reported results and long range views for their areas which provided an overall longer term company view.)
MTV is transforming its media landscape to remain relevant as posted in Influx Insights. The network, noticing the decline in teenage TV viewing, is expanding into content for mobile telephony and online gaming. Smart Move! Forewarned: "Other media brands with strong ties to the youth demographic would be smart to follow MTV's lead into other environments that are pertinent to teens." Advice: Change before you have to!
While at the Collaborative Technologies Conference this past week in NYC I heard Gordon Quinn, VP of Strategic Technology and BD for Nortel Networks mention the notion of identity. He said "identity is an underlying enabler of 'presence.'" (The session was called Presence: The Battle for the Desktop) He went on to say that we all have a variety of identities - whether it is a work identity, an end user identity, a gaming identity, a blogging identity, etc...and therefore there would need to be "different types of rules for identities" (and therefore presence.)
His comments reflect a technology bent, but I think the same is true for the future of work from an HR perspective. Equally, I could have been sitting in an HR seminar called Presence: The Battle for Hearts and Minds.
Herminia Ibarra's book Working Identity discusses identity in transition, identity in practice and ways to reinvent your career. Throughout, she advises us to experiment and practice as we start changing our working identity. Here is her most recent article. Quinn's remarks about multiple identities seem to be more fitting; we just have multiple identities even when we are not in a career transition. It's just people's nature these days.
This device and the technology should be considered by HR during the facilities design phase (for open space environments) when the "policy" questions are being asked: Who gets an office and why? Where will performance conversations be conducted? Where will sensitive strategy sessions be conducted?
What is even more interesting to me than the technology is the picture that Rajat points us to. What do you think the average age is and what are the implications of that for the future of technology, design and work? (We might also notice the gender and race of the group too.) Maybe Rajat can get us started with his initial thoughts?