Why conversational skills are needed to create a high-performance, engaged, networked organization


I have been frustrated recently in having been too busy to blog about all but a handful of the insights generated in my many client engagements over the last months. Fortunately things are close to easing up into the end of the year so I’ll try to cover a bit of the backlog.

This afternoon was the last of 3 Round Table discussions I moderated as part of the 21st anniversary celebrations of the Graduate School of Business of the University of New England. This session’s topic was the art of conversation.

It was a rich discussion, and there was much to take from it. I was interested in the skills we identified that are clearly vitally important to successful organizations, yet often significantly underdeveloped.

Conversation is vital for today’s organizations for many reasons, including:

Customer engagement. We now all understand that markets are conversations, and organizations must have great ability to build real conversations with their customers in a world of social media.
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The 5 elements that enable expertise networks to flourish


Last week I gave a keynote at an internal conference of a large technology services firm that has recently acquired another firm. The conference brought together senior executives and managers from the two organizations so they could get to know each other and plan how they would work together with existing and new clients.

A significant part of my role was to provide a highly upbeat, optimistic, engaging perspective on the future of business. However I also wanted to address the specific issues they would be encountering in combining their capabilities.

Many years ago when I was working with a large law firm to help them develop their client relationship and cross-selling capabilities, I created a simple framework, shown below.

The fundamental issue for any significant professional firm is to match the best possible capabilities in the organization with the relevant opportunities for value creation at their clients.

This begins at the interface with the client. Whoever has any interaction with the client, including the relationship leader and relationship team, has responsibility to identify and bring to the client the most relevant capabilities of the firm. However there are 5 key steps that are required for that to happen.

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Value polarization and transcending job commoditization: Expertise, Relationships, Innovation


Yesterday I released a first version of my Future of Work framework.

I think that a detailed explanation of the outline framework would be a very useful complement to the visual landscape, and I aim to provide that over coming months in a series of blog posts, videos, and other content.

Click on the image to download the full framework.

Today, I thought I would look at the ‘Value Polarization‘ section under Economic Structure.
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Launching new framework: The Future of Work


I have been working with one of the world’s largest private companies, which is engaged in a strategy project looking at the future out to 2025. Today a key workshop for the project was run, where we refined the project process and I provided some perspectives on the future of work as input to the study.

While the future of work and organizations is one of my most important themes, I haven’t had any public summary documents on the topic. For today’s workshop and also as a first step in building out some richer frameworks, I created an overview framework on the future of work.

The framework probably needs some explanation, and I intend to both refine and provide more detailed explanations of the framework in the near future. In the meantime, here is our Beta v1 of The Future of Work framework.

Click on the image to download the full framework.

I’d love to hear any thoughts or input you have.

Creating a Return on Investment (ROI) calculation for Enterprise 2.0 and internal social media


A major challenge for organizations that are considering internal social media initiatives is that a business case including a financial justification is frequently required.

To be frank, I think ROI calculations for social initiatives are in most cases a waste of time, because so many of the benefits and costs are unknowable before the initiative. A leap of faith is required, after which calculations using real data can be done to help refine strategies.

However if the organization requires a financial case, then those seeing the opportunity need to do what they can to create the case.

Chapter 16 of my report Implementing Enterprise 2.0 is on Building a Business Case. One of the resources I provide in the chapter is a table to help make ROI calculations. All that is required is to put numbers against each of the value and cost items in the table below, where appropriate using a back-of-the-envelope calculation to support them. Not all of the items will be relevant, and you may find other items that are applicable, but it provides a good starting point to generating numbers that can be used in an ROI.
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The law of requisite variety: Why flexibility and adaptability are essential for success


I first came across the law of requisite variety almost 20 years ago. Ross Ashby proposed the idea in his 1956 book An Introduction to Cybernetics (see p.202-218), and expanded on it in his paper Requisite variety and its implications for the control of
complex systems
. The idea became one of the foundational concepts of the field of Cybernetics.

The law is developed mathematically, using essentially what we would now consider game theory. Ashby states it as:
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Launch of We’re Looking For Talent – the foundation of a crowd business model


We have just launched our new recruitment site We’re Looking For Talent.

Crowd business models are a major theme for us in our publishing and events. They are also at the heart of the AHT Group business model. As we build our businesses we want to see how far we can take the use of distributed work.

We currently tap work and talent on a wide variety of crowdsourcing sites, but we have reached the stage of creating our own platform in finding the best people to work with.

The principles for how we seek to attract talent are described in detail on the page Why Work For Us?, which is the best place to read about what we are doing, however I’ve provided a brief summary below.
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Study: Increased customer expectations are driving corporate uptake of social media


Yesterday I spoke at a business leaders lunch event in Darwin on the Future of Business organized by the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce and Optus.

Following my keynote John Paitaridis, Managing Director of Optus Business, shared some of the highlights of a recently released Optus Future of Business report, based on an extensive survey of corporate Australia.

One of the pointed themes that emerged from the study was that customer expectations are driving uptake of social media and digital intiatives. This happens to be highly aligned with my perspective that increased expectations are at the heart of social change, as expressed in my Transformation of Business framework.

Here is some of the interesting data from the report:

Source: Optus
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Social Media and the Future: Keynote slides at CIO Summit


This afternoon I am giving a keynote on Social Media and the Future at the Australian CIO Summit in the Gold Coast.

Here are the slides from my presentation. As always, my keynote slides are shared with the proviso that they are designed to accompany my presentation and are NOT intended to be useful on their own. However you might find them of interest.

To provide just a little context on the flow of my keynote:
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Moving the CIO to the heart of strategy


My recent European speaking tour was divided around equally between deep dives into crowdsourcing and where it is going, and keynotes and workshops for Chief Information Officers on shifts in the business environment and how that will shape the future of the IT function.

A key theme of the CIO workshops was their opportunity and responsibility to move to the center of strategy within their organizations.

My Transformation of Business Framework provides an overview of some of the driving forces and how they are playing out across the business landscape.

Click on the image for full-size pdf

I think it is often useful to consider what the business environment might be in say five years from now, and the characteristics of organizations that will be successful in that world.

Some of the ways we are likely to describe those successful organizations include:
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