Recently a CEO suggested I consider doing some short term consulting work for his company. He wanted to know what questions I would ask to figure out how I could help his product management / products team.
This is what I came up with (what do you think?):
-How do you balance short term improvements with long term innovation and new revenue opportunities?
-How do you make product decisions using different market, portfolio, and client analysis techniques?
-What are the components (including success metrics) you include in a business case or MRD for different situations?
-Which among the many different PRD or requirement documentation options do you use?
-How do you change the organization of a team and its processes based on the stage and size of the product line and the company? (i.e. How agile should you be?)
Andrew McAfee’s (website and blog) is one of the main advocates in the Enterprise 2.0 movement. He actually coined the term and recently he released a book entitled “Enterprise 2.0” which I reviewed here. Enterprise 2.0 is the use of next generation collaboration tools in the enterprise or as he describes it the “use of emergent social software platforms (ESSPs) by organizations in pursuits of their goals”
McAfee believes in the potential impact of Enterprise 2.0: “ESSPs will have about as big an impact on the informal processes of the organization as large-scale commercial enterprise systems (ERP, CRM, Supply Chain, etc.) have had on the formal processes.”
I met him recently and I heard a few things:
- During the last 5 years collaboration technology tools have gone from bad to good. (However still email is the dominant collaboration tool; and email is “where knowledge goes to die.”) These new tools allow for creativity and less structured interactions.
- However organizations still don’t have the recipe to rollout these capabilities.
- Two recipes for failure:
o overstructuring offerings from the beginning (need to keep open)
o thinking “if they build it they will come”
- A few ideas for success
Hansen: Should a Collaboration KPI be Participation Volume? Is a KPI for your Overall Business Success the Number of Meetings Held?
Morten Hansen is a UC Berkeley School of Information professor and a part-time professor at INSEAD, France. He recently wrote my favorite book on “Collaboration” which I review here. Published by Harvard Business Press and written by an INSEAD/Berkeley professor, it is naturally very business focused which is probably why I found its insights so valuable.
Recently I had a chance to meet with him and I heard a few things:
-Diagnose your collaboration goals and problems first; tools aren’t necessarily required to get it right
-Create a business case and then back in to your tool strategy
-Consider changing incentives and creating communities of practice
-KPIs for collaboration need to consider benefits and costs; you can’t just measure volume of activity. It would be like measuring the number of meetings as a KPI for business success.
Andrew McAfee coined the term “Enterprise 2.0” and recently wrote a book with the same title. McAfee defines Enterprise 2.0 as the use of emergent social software platforms by organizations in pursuits of their goals.
He begins by saying that many of the problems of the early and largely unpopular computer-supported collaborative work (CSCW) tools (such as groupware and knowledge management applications) were resolved with Web 2.0 technologies that:
-are free and easy platforms for communication and interaction (texting, email, IM, etc.)
-lack of imposed structure on workflow, decision rights, interdependencies, and information.
-have mechanisms to let structure emerge (search, tagging, etc.)
These led to new Emergent Social Software Platforms (ESSPs) such as YouTube and Facebook. ESSPs share technical features such as search, links, authoring, tagging, extensions, and signals (SLATES).
Knowledge workers can take advantage of ESSPs to help them interact with different type of colleagues. For example wikis can help strongly tied colleagues work together more effectively, social networking software can help connect weakly tied colleagues, blogs can help connect colleagues with potential ties (in part by enabling discovery), and prediction markets creates interaction between colleagues who may never form a tie.
The benefits of Enterprise 2.0 come from using features of ESPPs such as group editing, authoring (people publicizing what they know), broadcast search (people publicizing what they don’t know), network formation and maintenance, collective intelligence, and self organization (perhaps the broadest benefit).
The adoption of these new tools can raise concerns around inappropriate behavior and content, the appearance of embarrassing information, and non-compliance with laws, regulations, and policies. However McAfee contends that the benefits outweigh the risks and that most of these risks are actually decreased by Enterprise 2.0.
It may however be a long haul to adopt these new technologies in part due to our tendency to stay with the status quo even if a better solution exists. Therefore McAfee lays out six organizational strategies for Enterprise 2.0 success which includes:
-determine desired results, then deploy appropriate ESSPs
-prepare for the long haul
-communicate, educate, and evangelize
-move ESSPs into the flow (of every day work)
-measure progress, not ROI
-show that Enterprise 2.0 is valued
Towards the end of the book McAfee says he is most interested in Enterprise 2.0 because it can help organizations move from a Model 1 to a Model 2 style of behavior; from unilateral control of both the goals and the tasks used to accomplished goals to an environment where decision making is based on valid information and where “winning” is replaced with free and informed choices.
“Enterprise 2.0” is a good baseline book on a topic that by its nature needs to be further explored by web 2.0 powered discussions, such as those found on McAfee’s website and blog.
Recently I read a few books on the general topic of collaboration. The one that was most informative for me was Morten Hansen’s book entitled “Collaboration.” Published by Harvard Business Press and written by an INSEAD/Berkeley professor, it is naturally very business focused. It emphasizes the importance of cultural issues, it suggests several best practices, and it provides many case studies.
Hansen begins by enumerating several collaboration “traps”:
-collaborating in hostile territory (some organizations aren’t set up to collaborate)
-overcollaborating (it is refreshing for an author to suggest that his thesis and the title to his book isn’t universally applicable)
-overshooting the potential value
-misdiagnosing the problem
-implementing the wrong solution
He suggests that the solution to these traps is “disciplined collaboration … the leadership practice of properly assessing when to collaborate (and when not to) and instilling in people both the willingness and ability to collaborate when required”
The three steps in disciplined collaboration is to:
1)evaluate opportunities for collaboration
2)spot barriers to collaborate
3)tailor collaboration solutions
In general, his case for collaboration is that it provides:
which all can lead to sales growth, cost savings, and asset efficiency.
The four barriers to successful collaboration are:
-not invented here syndrome (insular culture, status gap, self-reliance, fear of revealing shortcomings)
-hoarding (competition with colleagues/units, narrow incentives (for own goals), too busy, fear (loss of power))
-search problems (company size, physical distance, information overload, poverty of networks)
-transfer issues (tacit knowledge (difficult to transfer), no common frame (don’t know how to work together), weak ties (no strong relations to ease transfer)
The three levers to tear down these barriers are:
Lever 1: Unify People - reduce motivational barriers and get buy-in toward a common goal
One way to do this is to create unifying goals that must
-create common fate
-be simple and concrete
-put competition on outside
Another is for leaders to emphasize the value of teamwork. However as they do this, they need to be aware of three “sins” that can happen.
sin #1 – small team work kills collaboration. In other words small teams only collaborate among themselves.
sin #2 – "everyone do teamwork now (except those of us up here)"
sin #3 – teamwork becomes the point of it all
A language of cooperation also needs to be created. However, as he has warned earlier, unification or collaboration can be overdone.
Lever 2: Encourage T-shaped management that rewards both independent results and cross-unit contributions. For example when BP merged with Amoco managers were expected to spend 15%-20% time on cross unit collaboration activities.
Companies get to this T-shaped management by selection and change: encourage the belief in T-shaped management, promote and hire those who exhibit this behavior (and selectively fire those who don’t), use pay and bonuses, and provide leadership coaching.
Collaboration must be measured. SAP has 3 observable degrees of behavior: “needs development” (misses opportunity to collaborate); “satisfactory” (involves others), “highly effective” (ensures involvement). This data must be must be collected, measured, and have consequences. Employees need to be coached on this behavior, they must be given a way to do it. Performance pay needs to be based on a mixture of individual, business unity, and corporate performance.
Lever 3: Create nimble, not bloated networks across organizations that deliver results
1)build outward (not inward)
2) build diversity, not size
3) build weak ties, not strong ones
4) use bridges, not familiar faces
5) swarm the target, don’t go it alone
6) switch to strong ties, don’t rely on weak ones
Finally the author discusses how you grow to be a collaborative leader
-put personal goals and interests second
-involve others (from autocractic to inclusive)
-be open to people, alternatives, and debate
The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent my company's positions, strategies, or opinions