Archive for Efficiency

Collaboration beyond knowledge management

Posted in 1 with tags , , on May 17, 2008 by Geir Stene

We are familiar with the traditional collaboration and knowledge management software solutions and “heavy” solutions for the web. To gather, sort and make data available for groups. We have gotten familiar with some of the social network solutions like LinkedIn, facebook, MySpace and so forth. But we have a lot in front of us when these – and real time communication solutions melt into seamless web 2.0 and web 3.0 concepts.

The essence of collaboration is; by doing things together we get a better outcome, than the effort done by the same amount of individuals would alone. The essence of digital collaboration is to achieve this in a virtual environment where there is no boundaries of location for the participants. Hardware, Software, Portals, web applications, API’s, and not to forget broadband connections and so forth enables a totally new set of possibilities. We can rapidly move from old fashioned (and kind of “static”) Knowledge Management software and server solutions locked in to the company’s IT environment, and move toward open engines where you can both structure your input and collect your output, team based, and go far beyond that and increase work flow processes, speed up projects and make use of your time line far better. Just as we all knew on beforehand; the most interesting discussions and biggest “breakthrough’s” in problem solving happens at the coffee machine, or over a beer in the pub. The trick is to set up a digital environment that support common human behavior, where the technology becomes as invisible as possible. In order to achieve the optimal of all the possibilities the most important factor is may be not not the digital boundaries, but the organizational ability to change from an old fashioned work flow, towards new and improved processes. Defining accurate and flexible concepts for your organizational collaboration and how to implement this in your organization is maybe a bigger challenge than the actual Digital bit of it.

What is beyond traditional knowledge management, and project management systems? We see concepts that includes both a- syncrone and syncrone collaboration in one and the same solutions, we see an increased interests in integrated services instead of singular software. Services that add, and include e.g. instant messaging, presence management, predefined web based web conference solutions (instead of heavy duty videoconferencing hard/software ) like meetcon are emerging. We see that complete collaboration portals (tailor made) that make real sense to reaching goals like; cost savings, time saving, rapid product development (time to market) real time meetings and e learning, increased contact with customers and so forth . All this is a reality of combined and integrated services that takes collaboration to new levels. The best part is that all the technology is at hand right now, it’s not science fiction! Sharepoint from MS, IBM collaboration and a lot of other have improved solutions during the last couples of years. It’s also easy to make solutions that are totally web based without the traditional software solution and need for download of heavy clients. We are no longer dependent on one kind of system, but can “shop” from a lot of systems, services and integrate them into our own needs.

And it gets even more interesting when you start looking at combining this kind of collaboration concepts with communities and add “mash up” concepts. Can you imagine this kind of concepts in a “transparency” environment? How this can influence your work force? What kind of innovative organization you can build and grow? I’m looking forward to see some of the upcoming project that I bet is already in work several places around the world. This is the wonderful part of innovation, it often seem to be a “collective consciousness” worldwide. The next few years will surely be interesting in terms of re-newing the way we work in both a global and local sense. Mobility, cross country and cross culture workflow will increase, and with it – the level of innovation will rise.

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About transparency

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , on May 5, 2008 by Geir Stene

Until recently we all have spoken about the Internet as a channel for the external communication, and the Intranet as the internal channel for communication.

More interesting is the development we see today, where the ideas of transparency and two way communication becomes the standard. Even TV is moving very quickly in that direction. What does this mean? Transparency? Two way communication? It’s to very different concepts, and adding them together creates a third. For now I’ll write a little about transparency.

 

The word “transparency” invites you to think of the idea that what is communicated is open for all to see. Who is the messenger and who is the receiver? Towards whom is the message meant for? and so forth. It’s by far a more horizontal form of communication, and can be a more honest kind of communication.

One example could be; “in our company all communication that is possible to be open and free, shall be open and free for all. Only information that has to be hidden for most will be opened towards groups or individuals. If you implement this idea, you get a combined inter- and intranet where there is a conceptual point in letting everyone outside and inside the organisation be exposed to the same communication flow. You give access for “added internal information/ communication flow” only to those who really needs it. It leads to less double communication, and allows the company / organisation to increase efficiency and reduce cost and double exposure of information elements. In addition everyone in the organization become well aware of how and what the company are communicating externally. The marketing and branding gets internalized in the organization. It’s great way of building a common culture in the company.

Another example of taking transparency into the real world and live by it could be if your company / org. decide to show directly what activities the employees are involved in, to show externally what the company really are doing, what they are spending time on. I discussed this with my friend Gavin Bargus today, as he asked me: “What do transpaerency really mean to management in companies?” My question is also: “Do managements really mean it if they state it ?” or does it just become some sort of “show of statement?” As a customer I would really like to know this, because it would show me where my money goes. Gavin asked : “If you connect every employee to the hour reporting system in a company, presented it as a bar/graph on the website, wouldn’t that be real transparency?” The result could be that every one could see that e.g. Geir(me), as a consultant (or the consultant group) spent e.g. 18% of his time in meetings with customers, 42% writing strategies for 2 customers. He also spent 5% to increase his knowledge and 12% administrational time. 13% of his time was spent in sales activities. A set of bars presenting the total of the whole company would show how efficient the company is as we speak. The question “Where did my money go?” would be answered at all times. That is transparency! It is an option to be in front of competition on the marketplace, to be honest and it would build an organisation that really works as a team to win on the marketplace.

But I can hear the CEO’s out there, shouting; “Is this man crazy?” We can never show this in real time, it’s madness!” It’s “illegal” “our staff would go wild and hang us!”

I would say: Nop, they wouldn’t – nor would the customers! It all depends on the intention, and the purpose and how it’s done. To be honest, to be open and transparent, has to involve the braveness to show what the reality is, to put integrity into ones actions, daringly and without the temptation to manipulate with facts. Not to do so, should at least give the consequence that one stop using the term transparency uncritically.