Archive for the ‘Organizing Organizations’ Category

For analysts, the most important part of delivering concise, usable analysis is to prepare your workspace beforehand.  You know the drill: a vague request for analysis is sent to you with a short deadline.  Your only resource is a database that is masterfully created – in the DBAs mind – but makes data gathering more than difficult.  You have just a few hours to extract the data, make sense of it all and draw a poignant conclusion from the mess, and send it to someone who won’t read it until next week.

The most important step, after you’ve received this request, is to implement a workflow for separating the data into its logical parts (i.e. preparing your workspace).  That’s where the 5 S’s in Kaizen are helpful.  

The 5 S’s of Kaizen

Sort

Sorting is a step that involves selecting what you need to complete the job and removing everything else from your work area.

Set in Order/Straighten

This step customizes your workstation and surrounding area to meet your work area needs.  Arrange remaining items so they are easy to select, use, and return to their proper location

Shine/Sweep

This step is powerful because its purpose is to find the reason why things become dirty.  Emphasis is on the removal of dust, dirt, and grime to reveal the source and eliminate it.

Standardize

This step creates a work area free of checklists; itf good standards are put in place it will be easier to maintain and continue improving.

Sustain

Sustaining is the end result of how well we have performed the previous four S’s.  In the sustainability stage think of ways to eliminate effort in maintaining an area.

Question: What methods do you use to organize your workspace?

When it comes to communicating difficult concepts concisely, I tend to gravitate to bullet points and lists.  Here is something I found recently that best summarizes continuous improvement:

The 10 Commandments of Continuous Improvement

1. Problems create opportunities
2. Ask 'why' five times
3. Seek ideas from everyone
4. Think of solutions that make it possible
5. Re-evaluate fixed ideas
6. Excuses are not needed
7. Choose a simple solution; not the perfect one
8. Correct mistakes immediately
9. Use your craftiness, not your cash
10. Continuous improvement is endless 

In researching portals it seems many proof of concepts never get the attention or acceptance needed for full-bore implementation.  This article is a good reminder to keep focused on the end-user and allow business requirements to drive development.

Summary 14 Reasons Why Enterprise 2.0 Projects Fail:

1. It starts strong in a single department and then never makes it out.

2. Selecting the tools first.

3. Selecting the wrong tools and sticking with them.

4. There are no resources allocated to adoption and training.

5. It’s purely an IT initiative.

6. The effort excludes IT.

7. Engaging with HR, legal, branding, compliance, etc. too soon.

8. Pushing Enterprise 2.0 as a generic toolbox instead of the solution to specific problems.

9. Lack of effective executive champions

10. Lack of effective participants: Empty blogs, wikis, or silent social networks.

11. No long term plan or budget for governance, community management, upgrades, or maintenance.

12. Failure to draw in key influencers as adoption broadens.

13. Building it all as a self-contained, top-down effort.

14. Not waiting long enough to let critical mass build.

Source: http://www.forbes.com/2009/06/30/social-media-guidelines-intelligent-technology-oreilly.html

A PC in every home and workplace, a smart phone in every hand, all connected 24/7 to the hundreds of millions (and growing rapidly) of other people actively participating online via blogs, social networks, Twitter and multiplayer games.

Whether you call it Web 2.0, the social Web or any other neologism, the new network economy is about communities, collaboration, peer production and user-generated content. It is a place where business reputations are defined by customer opinions and ratings, where press is delivered by independent bloggers, and product development and insight is driven by customers. As digital natives–those who have grown up with the Internet–flood the workplace, your employees will expect to be part of the social Web and they’ll have a lot to contribute.

Does this sound like business as usual? It shouldn’t. Social technologies turn many corporate policies upside down.

Big corporations are scratching their heads trying to figure out how to harness the benefits of increased employee participation while mitigating the risks. Clearly there is no one-size-fits-all: If you are in financial services you have unique concerns for privacy, if you are part of the YMCA, you must be aware that having counselors “friend” teenagers is not appropriate, etc.

That said, here is a set of guidelines for corporations considering how to integrate social media in the workplace.

If you are an executive, keep in mind two points as you gear up your social media strategy: First, social technologies including blogs, social networks and Twitter are communication tools. That means a company’s social media approach must integrate with its existing communications channels and goals. Second, if you think these guidelines don’t apply to you, you are probably already on the endangered species list.

Social Web Guiding Principles for Employers

Lead by example.

Rules aren’t enough. Leaders should model the behavior they would like to see their employees take. Chief executive Jonathan Schwartz of Sun Microsystems set a standard on blogging. Chief Executive Tim O’Reillyhas established the bar on Twitter. A corollary to this rule: don’t delegate social media to interns or people who can’t possibly represent your culture and brand.

Build your policies around job performance, not fuzzy concerns about productivity.

If your employees are using Facebook at work, they are also likely checking work e-mail after dinner or at odd hours of the day. Don’t ask them to give up the former if you expect them to continue the latter. If you have good performance measurements, playing the “lost productivity” card is a canard.

Encourage responsible use.

Encourage employees to use social tools to engage and interact with one another and with customers. In all likelihood they are already using the social Web. The difference is that currently they are using these tools without any guidance. Company’s like Zappo’s encourage using social tools. Check out http://twitter.zappos.com/.

Grant Equal Access.

Don’t block your employees from any site that is already talking about your products or that you would like to see talking up your products (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and so on.). I have had many experiences sending instructional material to clients and having them tell me that they can’t view the video or site at work. Enough said.

Provide Training.

The social Web is a cultural phenomenon; don’t go there without a guide. Consider providing some form of education for your employees (including discussion about what tools are available, how to use them and what are the prevailing cultural norms for use). You can use one of your own employees (a power user) or bring someone in–but get educated.

Begin from a Position of Trust.

While there are possible negatives involved in having employees on the social Web, most employees have common sense. Begin with a set of possibilities first (increasing awareness, improving customer service, gaining customer insight and so on) then draw up a list of worst-case scenarios (bad mouthing the company, inappropriate language, leaking IP, to name a few). Modify the guiding principles for your employees below to help mitigate the risks you’ve identified.

Once you embrace having your employees participate in the social Web, give them a few basic guiding principles in how they conduct themselves. You can start with these:

Social Web Guiding Principles for Employees

Listen before you talk.

Before entering any conversation, understand the context. Who are you speaking to? Is this a forum for “trolls and griefers?” Is there a good reason for you to join the conversation? If your answer is yes, then follow these rules of engagement:

Say who you are.

In responding to any work-related social media activities always disclose your work relationship.

Show your personality.

You weren’t hired to be an automaton. Be conversational while remaining professional. If your personal life is one that you (or your employer) don’t want to mix up with your work, then consider establishing both private and public profiles, with appropriate sharing settings.

Respond to ideas not to people.

In the context of business, always argue over ideas not personalities. Don’t question motives but stay focused on the merit of ideas.

Know your facts and cite your sources.

When making claims, always refer to your sources, using hyperlinks when possible. Always give proper attribution (by linkbacks, public mentions, re-tweets and so on).

Stay on the record.

Everything you say can (and likely will) be used in the court of public opinion–forever. So assume you’re “on the record.” Never say anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face and in the presence of others. Never use profanity or demeaning language.

If you respond to a problem, you own it.

If you become the point of contact for a customer or employee complaint, stay with it until it is resolved.

Has your company crafted a social media policy? If so, please share your thoughts here. If you are grappling with issues, what are they? I will respond to all comments. In the meantime you can catch me on Twitter at @jmichele.

As vice president with O’Reilly Radar, Joshua-Michéle Ross runs O’Reilly Media’s consulting practice, helping clients apply Web 2.0 principles. He is also working on a video series, “The Future at Work.” E-mail him at joshua.ross@oreilly.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jmichele.

© Copyright David A Beatty. All Rights Reserved.