Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Is Lotus Notes Still Relevant?

I've been catching up with my reading and came across this item on Lotus Notes at TechCrunch.  It really was a fair treatment of Lotus Notes.

As an early adopter, implementer, evangelist, consultant, author and builder of Notes applications I've always been a bit partial to it.  I believe that even today it is a fundamentally better platform than Microsoft Exchange (it takes more than Exchange/Outlook to equal Notes built-in capabilities). 

What Lotus/IBM failed to do was understand that an intuitive User Interface is key to keeping the users happy.  We can't forget that command and control IT management also had a hand in diminishing the users perception of Notes.

In the early days of Notes users were actually allowed to build their own applications; that was before IT management decided that users were mucking up their stuff.  Well, here we are in the Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Social Media era and the users don't know how powerful Notes is and how it can do most everything they want in 2.0/Social Media. 

IBM has updated the UI in version 8.0, but will users be handed back the keys and allowed to use the tool to its fullest potential?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ballistic Jelly Management

I was thinking about a behaviour I've encountered over the years.  That behaviour is something I have come to call Ballistic Jelly (gelatin) Management.

Ballistic Jelly Management happens when a layer of management (I won't use the term leadership for obvious reasons) charged with translating vision into action fails to make the translation.

The visual is a familiar one to those that watch any of the CSI television programs.  The bullet shot from a gun found at a crime scene into a block of ballistic gelatin and stopped with relative ease before it can escape to the jelly.

This layer of management that should be the translator of senior management vision to the organization just can't seem to do it.  Instead of showing leadership the Ballistic Jelly Managers act just like ballistic jelly, stopping the vision before it can spread.  I've seen this happen mostly in "old school" command and control type organizations where the leadership is trying to changed the organization into one that is more collaborative with open lines of communication in all directions.

Perhaps it is a generational thing or just self preservation.  I think it is more often an inability to fully grasp the vision and personally apply it.  It really is hard for some people to change from an information hoarding to a fully transparent information sharing mindset.

It really is a profoundly sad thing to see this happen.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Organizational Orthodoxy

I find it terribly frustrating when I encounter organizational orthodoxies that persist even in the face overwhelming evidence that they negatively impact an organizations ability to innovate.

We are a long way on from the industrial revolution and still we see organizations defined by rigid hierarchies and outmoded methods of communication and interaction.  It is hard to fathom that organizations can not make the connection between empowering their people and rigid strictures and hierarchies that sap the will and ability to innovate.

We are seeing very vividly today how outmoded organizational orthodoxy is playing out in many entities that bet their future and fortune on things like Six Sigma and Lean.  Lean and Six Sigma in themselves are not the problem, but placing "all the eggs" in those baskets and not empowering individuals to innovate seems to be inherent in those approaches to organizational efficiency.

Friday, December 12, 2008

What is it with Detroit?

Warning, this is a Rant.

I am tired of reading about the need to bail out the US auto industry.  Let those that need to restructure through bankruptcy.

This is an industry whose roots go way back.  With a few exceptions, they really haven't changed the way they operate since the beginning.  We are now in the 21st Century and they cling to industrial age paradigms that are clearly outdated.

I want to know why we can't buy an automobile like we buy a Dell computer?  Does there really need to be such variability "under the hood"?  Is a Ford engine really that much of a competitive advantage over a GM?  What is the value proposition of buying a Ford over a GM over a Chrysler over a Honda?  Other than styling and customer service the parts that make up a car are commodities.  What value does a dealer serve other than a place to test drive a car and provide warranty service?

It is the 21st Century, can't they move on and embrace the value of intangibles?  I find the Blogo story coming out of Illinois much more interesting than the rescue of Detroit.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Enterprise Social Interaction

The social enterprise is not just an off-shoot of the Social Graph on the web (Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, etc.) but something that has been real and delivering value within many organizations for some time.  It was labeled collaboration, knowledge management, or not labeled at all.

Certainly new forms of technology, especially through web services, wiki’s, instant messaging, and presence have helped push awareness and adoption forward.  Adoption and value realization of enterprise social interaction tools lags behind the consumer marketplace.  Lots of talk in the trade press abounds regarding how the technology that people encounter outside of work is expected to be in place within the organizational firewall.  What needs to be considered is how these new technologies can be applied to add value in the enterprise context.  It is not and can not be an “if we build it they will come” approach to implementing enterprise social interaction tools.

Enterprises need to clearly articulate a strategy.  A strategy that builds upon and supports the organizations goals and objectives.  To often things turn into what I term a series of unfortunate projects (approaching enterprise social interaction as a series of discrete projects) instead of creating a road map that helps achieve strategic objectives in a series of planned events.

I have put together these bulleted thoughts on the value proposition around enterprise social interaction.

  • Connectedness

    • Provides participatory interaction vs. passive delivery

      • Example: use Wiki’s to develop Detailed Business Requirements

      • Reduce project cycle times through less face-to-face meetings and more meaningful interaction

      • Enhance project value through full documentation and change management of requirements “documents”

      • Provide a concise view of how the requirements evolved over time

    • Communication becomes Conversation

      • All employees can participate in information creation and consumption based on role and interests

      • Requires an open environment where people and systems work together

      • leverage each person's tacit knowledge

      • Not just about putting technology in place, but letting conversations and interactions take place organically without management intervention

    • Communities of Interest

      • If allowed, will form without top-down hand holding

      • Provide added value by allowing diverse view points to be heard and applied

    • Interactive Management Communication

      • Leadership communication should be parallel not serial

      • Example: CEO communication through blog instead of email or a static web page (moderated of course as some people can be rather boorish)

      • Generational expectations to work, communication and collaboration must be adequately addressed

  • Connective Fabric

    • Tools need to provide a connective fabric that connects people and ideas together not just processes

    • Organizations need to learn from and leverage the enterprise social graph

      • Understand how social interaction capabilities can accelerate innovation and drive knowledge worker productivity

    • Individual knowledge is not power, it is obsolescence.  The collective knowledge of the organization is power and creates a competitive advantage

      • There is no such thing as sustainable competitive advantage; there is only a race to create new sources of temporary advantage.  The challenge is to string together a series of temporary advantages into advantages over time. (1)

    • Stale Content/Rigid User Experiences

      • Top down, centralized activities reduce value and limit innovation

      • Balance needs to exist between security and usability

  • What this means for organizational hierarchy

    • A workplace transition from command and control to people focused and community-centric approaches that ties people, ideas, content, processes and systems together

    • >Empowerment

      • Employees are empowered to create and publish information that is easily disseminated throughout the organization

      • Value bubbles up to those that need it just in time

      • People need to be free to add value at will without compromising their role within the organization

      • Break down cultural barriers that limit innovation

    • Process Improvement becomes more closely aligned with value than with rigid industrial age notions of productivity

    • Tools used are based on flexibility/the ability to enable connectedness vs. a command and control approach

(1) Eric Beinhocker – The origin of wealth

[amtap book:isbn=1422121038]

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Learning About the Open Stack for the Social Web

This is an event help better explain how technologies like OpenID, OAuth and OpenSocial all fit together and what this thing called "the Open Stack" actually is. So, come join people at Digg's offices for some drinks, snacks, and a great series of short informative talks directly from some of the people who have been involved in helping build these technologies.

5:30 to 5:40 - John McCrea introducing the Open Stack
5:40 to 5:50 - Eran Hammer-Lahav on Discovery
5:50 to 6:00 - Allen Tom on OAuth
6:00 to 6:10 - David Recordon on OpenID (including OpenID + OAuth)
6:10 to 6:20 - Kevin Marks on OpenSocial
6:20 to 6:30 - Joseph Smarr on Portable Contacts
6:30 to 6:40 - Chris Messina on Activity Streams

Aim to show up around 5pm and we should have a good hour afterward until 8ish to answer questions.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

web site move

We had a bit of trouble after we moved the KM News™ web site to an upgraded server.  We are now back online.  Sorry for any inconvenience.

Knowledge to do what?

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