Friday, October 30, 2009

Every Morning

coffee Chris Brogan's post inspired me to tell you about my morning work routine. Like many social media enthusiasts I get lots of strange and anxious looks when I tell them about the way I work and the information I process. They're even more surprised when they hear it doesn't take as much time as you would think.

We'll here's my daily morning routine! Every morning, when I work at the office or at home, I open the following applications:

  • Outlook (client or web) = work email. Usually I can go grab a cup of coffee before Outlook is ready to use... I go through my mail following the GTD flow and empty my inbox (inbox zero). All email that can be processed in 2 minutes (which is about 90% of my email...) is done right away. Other emails contains tasks which are put on my Outlook task list, or contain an appointment (and is automatically put in my Calendar). If a task has to be finished by a certain date I'll allocate a slot in my calendar to be finished on time. I check my calendar for today's meeting and get an alert just before the meeting.
  • Gmail = private email. I process this inbox in the same way as Outlook.
  • Google Reader. I use this feed reader to pull information about the things that interest me, to me (about 200 feeds). Postrank helps me filter through feeds of sites and Google Alerts. Some sites have too many updates for me to process. Postrank tells me which one's are important or interesting. I usually don't read the posts right away. I star posts that seem to be interesting. I'll read them when I have time (on Friday afternoon or in between meetings). I also use Google Reader to back up my tweets and the tweets of people I follow.
  • Brizzly. I catch up on tweets using Brizzly. I used to use TweetDeck, but like Brizzly better. I mostly use Twitter for business purposes. I organized my followers in two groups that are important and interesting to me. People not in those two groups can get promoted by followers in my groups.
  • Yammer. We use Yammer for enterprise microsharing. I check the updates in Yammer.
  • FriendFeed. I used to use FF to merge all the social media streams I have into one stream. I stopped using it, because I found most stuff in FF were tweets anyway. I do dip into FF because of the interesting Youtube video's and pictures that are shared by friends. So I have a specific saved search to filter them out.
  • Google News. I check the news quickly (Dutch section).
  • Intranet. I check if there's any interesting corporate news.
  • Facebook. If I have some time I'll quickly see if their are Facebook updates. I mostly use Facebook to stay in contact with family and friends.

This takes about 30-45 minutes of my time. I don't have a smart phone (yet). I practically do this the same way every morning. A work routine is important in general, but definitely when you use social media. If I have a meeting in the morning, I'll do this later during the day or in the evening.

This is my way to stay connected with my friends, experts in the field and colleagues.

So, what does your morning routine look like?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sharing Process Information

hands Does your company share and manage process information centrally? And, if so, where is that information share/stored?

I usually make a general distinction when thinking about enterprise information. I distinguish four types of information:

  • process information: information describing the processes of the company, the way of working and best practices, the document templates, etc.
  • product information: information about products, such as designs, requirements, parts descriptions, product structure(s), etc.
  • project information: information used to manage a project, like minutes, task lists, progress reports, customer visit reports, etc.
  • departmental information: information about resources, monthly reports about the department, presentations given to the department, etc.

In many companies process information is shared and stored all over the place. Part of the information can be found on the intranet. I think most process info is shared here. Some process information is stored within the project team on a share or project site. Other process info is shared in a more formal quality management tool (to be able to be ISO certified for instance).

What I'm seeing is that companies are slowly moving process information to the wiki (or a wiki-like platform). We are doing this too.

Processes, working methods, best practices, etc. is daily experience for employees. They have to work with them and they know what works and why. For this reason I think a wiki is a great way to share process information. Management could start the 'process wiki' by providing an initial structure and by monitoring its content (top-down). It is very important management doesn't start from scratch but acknowledges there's all kind of process information on the wiki already, it's mostly not coordinated yet. But the content itself will be provided, bottom-up, from the employees. Following the edits to this content gives lots of information about the way employees see the company, what really works according to them, and tells you who in the company is good at rightly in an analytical way about how the company works.

By having your employees provide the process information they are also committed to right it down in the way it actually is in daily practice and keep it up-to-date. It's not "something management imposed", but it's "ours" or "mine".

Furthermore, process and ways of working are not static, but alive. They change continuously, usually with small steps. Keeping up with these changes does not work with a complex governance structure on topic of a closed intranet or quality management site.

So, I'm curious: are you seeing process info move to wiki's? If so, share your experiences with us. If not, let us know how you manage process information.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Giving Praise and Showing Empathy

applauding Recently I read a couple of interesting posts/articles about innovation and invention.

First of all, Dev Patnaik has a nice post about what empathy has to do with innovation. Dev has seen "companies prosper when they're able to create widespread empathy for the world around them". Empathy is:

the ability to reach outside of ourselves and walk in someone else’s shoes, to get where they’re coming from, to feel what they feel.

And this should be widespread in the organization. People within the company are able to stand in each other's shoes and in the shoes of their customers. They understand what's happening outside and respond to that accordingly. In this way the edges of companies start to blur.

Dev says we're lacking empathy not innovation. This is an interesting point also related to the posts stressing the importance of an innovative culture.

One of the facets of empathy is praising others. Steven DeMaio over at the HBR blog has an interesting post on praising. Praising colleagues for who they are and the work they do fuels creativity and innovation. This is the opposite of the 'idea killers' heard too often in the office...

But how do you organize for innovation. HBR recently (Sept. 2009) ran an interesting article. Actually it's a two page visual showing how Lego organizes to innovate. "Innovating a Turnaround at Lego" tells the story. The core of Lego's turnaround is:

a new structure for strategically coordinating innovation activities, led by a cross-functional team...

The September issue of HBR also ran another interesting article about using 'mass collaboration' and 'open innovation' to find the next big idea at Cisco ("Inside Cisco's search for the next big idea"). I liked it because it shows that 'innovation by mass collaboration' is not a quick win. Cisco is open about how they sift through all the ideas (manually) and judge which ideas are keepers. But even though it is not an easy shot, they stress the results are invaluable.

We learned how people around the world think about Cisco and the markets we ought to be pursuing.

And finally Clive Thompson in the Wired magazine has a great post about daydreaming and invention.

Daydreaming isn’t just the mind’s way of processing information, though.

Other scans have found that the wandering mind also utilizes the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain that’s involved in problem-solving.

Now I'm going off daydreaming!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Searching inside Companies

R&D gebouw Working for a large company can be tricky sometimes. Definitely when it comes to meeting a colleague you don't know. You only know his or her name and the meeting room.

Of course most companies have who-is-who databases with a picture of the colleague you're meeting (Yellow Pages). So now you can do some facial pattern recognition besides looking for the meeting room.

Can't this be done in a better way? Micello seems to have asked this too. They want to be the Google Maps of the inside of buildings. So Google Maps helps you find the address. Micello takes it from there and helps you find the location you're looking for after you went in the front door. For example: you're looking for a store in a shopping mall. Google Maps will take you to the mall. Micello will take you to the shop in the mall.

Now extend this to companies. Search (in general) in enterprises is usually not very well implemented. This also goes for finding locations insides companies. Micello could help solve this issue. It could map the inside of the company.

And take this idea one step further. What if you linked this application to Sharepoint or (internal) Twitter? Then you could project information on Micello like: where are the experts in a certain areas located, where do they meet, where do colleagues write about a certain topic, etc. All of a sudden you're not only search for the location (of a colleague); you're looking for people that could help you solve certain problems or work with you on a topic.

I think Micello has an promising proposition. I do hope it will be integrated in Google Maps or so someday. Because, as most knowledge workers, I don't want yet another tool to keep an eye on.

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I'm experimenting with Yammer...

... and all I got was a lousy T-shirt. ;-)

Just kidding. Just wanted to show-off my new Yammer T-shirt. Have a nice weekend!
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Inspiring Innovation Speaker

If I had no budget limitations, who would I invite to speak about innovation for my colleagues? Recently I was asked to provide a list of inspiring speakers about innovation. The focus of the talk should be in the area of creativity, innovation and invention. This is the list I came up with. If you have other's you would recommend, please leave a comment!

My list, again, in no specific order:

  1. Scott Berkun, author of 'The Myth of Innovation'. Nice book about what innovation is and what it's not.
  2. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of 'Flow: The psychology of optimal experience'.
  3. John Seely Brown, ex Xerox PARC director, talks, publishes and thinks about new forms of learning and education and the role of technology. Wrote an interesting report for McKinsey called ‘The next frontiers of innovation’ with the next person on this list
  4. John Hagel, thinker/author about mega trends (shifts) in the world and its meaning for enterprises.
  5. Clay Christensen, author of the well-known books about innovation: The Innovators Prescription, the Innovator's Dilemma and the Innovator's Solution.
  6. Dev Patnaik, author of book about innovation culture ('Wired to Care') and recently wrote a great article titled: ‘Innovation starts with empathy’.
  7. David Murray, recently wrote a book about building ideas on other ideas. It's titled ‘Borrowing Brilliance’.
  8. Henry William Chesbrough, the Open Innovation guru.
  9. Edward de Bono, author of several inspiring books about creativity, invention and innovation.
  10. Rene Jansen, inspiring speaker on the edge of organization, innovation and technology.
  11. Someone at IBM to tell about their (Innovation) Jam Sessions.
  12. Someone at Innocentive or Proctor & Gamble to tell about Innocentive and crowdsourcing innovation.
  13. Dave Snowden, special thinker and practioners on the edge of innovation and knowledge management.
  14. Thomas Davenport, recently published an interesting article about 'reverse engineering Google's innovation machine'.
  15. Tim Brown, director of IDEO about 'design thinking'.
  16. Darell Rigby, Kara Gruver and James Allen, authors of a June HBR article 'Innovation in Turbulent Times'. Interesting how they show companies that successfully and structurally innovate have paired leadership: analytic left-brainer thinkers and an imaginative right-brain partner.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Favorite Books about Information and Knowledge Management

books Some time ago a friend asked me to give him a list of my favorite books about information and knowledge management. I emailed them to him, but I'd also like to share my list with you.

I'd like to hear how this list relates to your favorite IM and KM books. If you would recommend other books, please leave a comment with the title!

Here's my list (in no specific order):

  1. Chun Wei Choo, Information Management for the Intelligent Organization. Basic book on information management.
  2. Thomas Davenport, Thinking for a living. About the characteristics of knowledge work.
  3. Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive. Must read because the term 'knowledge worker' is used in this book for the first time.
  4. John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, The Social Life of Information. Great book stressing that information is social. This is mainstream now, but at the time this book was published it wasn't...
  5. Mathieu Weggeman, Kennismanagement. [Dutch] The Dutch book about knowledge management.
  6. Ikujoro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi, The knowlegde creating company. One of the core books in the knowledge management area. This book made KM mainstream. Their SECI model has been critiqued as too objectivistic and mechanistic. Dave Snowden has fundamental articles on this topic. He also shows that Nonaka related to the concept of ba before the book was published, showing the model wasn't meant as an all-encompassing model for knowledge management.
  7. Kazuo Ichijo and Ikujiro Nonaka, Knowledge Creation and management. An update of the previous book with other authors. Good overview over state-of-affairs of KM. Does not address web 2.0 though.
  8. Harvard Business Review on Knowledge Management. A collection of fundamental articles about KM.
  9. Dave Snowden's work about knowledge management (not in a book yet).
  10. Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams, Wikinomics. Not specifically a book about information and knowledge management. But it is a book about shifts in the way we see and manage information and knowledge.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change - Blog Action Day 2009

carpool Today is Blog Action Day! I just went over to the Blog Action Day site to see how many people have registered. At this time 8,103 sites have registered, resulting in 11,788,878 readers. Wow!

This year's Blog Action Day is about 'Climate Change'. A big topic these days. And I'm happy it is too. The number of times we talk about 'it' at home, at lunch, at the coffee corner or in the carpool with colleagues clearly shows: this issue grips lots of us.

However, because it's such a big topic and lots of people are talking about it, I'm also sensing that lots of people don't really know what to do about it. It's too big for me to really make a change. I don't agree, but I do understand. Is the fact that I'm doing all these small things in my personal life really making a change for our climate and the future of this world? This question is a serious one and should be answered regularly. I know all kinds of websites and organizations are providing tips for personal contributions to climate change. But even if lots of people listen to these tips and actually do them, they wonder: But if governments and big companies are the source of the problem, what effect does my good-doing have?

For this reason I think 'climate change' should be approached from two sides. Governments and business should show leadership with clear, measurable goals. Governments should also provide clear, measurable goals to people so they understand how they contribute to a greener world. Incentives in what ever way could encourage them to keep up the good work. I like the 'carpool lane' the US has. In the Netherlands we don't have one. The 'only' incentive to carpool is your personal finances and idealist reasons (- which is good enough in my opinion...).

Small, clear, measurable and actionable steps with which I can contribute to a cleaner and greener world. That's what I'm looking for. And I think that's what many people in this world need.

We are moving towards a more open and transparent world. This trends relates well to 'green' and 'climate change'. Consumers can now scrutinize companies openly for not be green or sustainable. But we still have some big steps to take here. And again, these big steps have to be broken down into smaller steps. For instance, when I buy a product I want to easily be able to see and understand if this product is green and sustainable. At the moment this is hard to do. And because it is, most consumers just buy the product.

So, I'm looking and asking for small steps to change. In this way we can all contribute and understand our contribution.

But until then, we don't have to sit still. I'm not either. Even though I don't always understand what my contribution will result in, contributing to make this world a 'better place' is just good in its own right. So, I try not to spill water and electricity. I carpool to work (which is great because we get to talk and share ideas about climate change a.o.). I isolate my house as best as possible. I separate different kinds of trash. Etc.

I'm curious: what are you think about climate change? And how are you contributing? Do you think 'small steps' will help overall? Blog about what you are doing and join the Blog Action Day!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ideas Built on Other Ideas

833building_blocks Wow, looks like there's a new interesting book out. It's called Borrowing Brilliance. The Six Steps to Business Innovation by Building on the Ideas of Others by David Murray. I'm definitely going to buy it. Why?

Well, the review in BusinessWeek triggered me. This book seems to look at ideas, creativity and innovation being sparked by other (older) ideas. I think this point is often overlooked. Your idea has to be brand new to be a good idea. Your invention has to be done all by yourself or else it's not really an invention. This book says: That's not true. Lots of inventions and innovations are sparked by old(er) ideas and innovations.

And it provides six steps to help you apply this fact in your personal practice or in your business. As I understand the first step is: define the problem you want to solve. What I'm hoping is that the book will say: Try to define your problem as a wish. My experience is that looking at a problem can limit the creativity of the people trying to solve it. To get around this don't say: The problem is..., but say: It would be great if 'this and this' would be possible.

What also triggered me about this book is how well it relates to the concepts underlying Web 2.0. Web 2.0 has a lot to do with sharing ideas openly, building on other's ideas, praising others for their ideas, etc.

However, this is also the hard part. If building on ideas of others is good, how do we cultivate and encourage that? We all know employees hate it when someone else takes your ideas extends it and goes off with te success (- even though we like Truman's quote...). I think this can be done. And I hope to tell you how soon.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009: Are You Participating?

bad-300-250 I just registered for this year's Blog Action Day about Climate Change!

I participated last year too. I really like the initiative. It's a really smart way of getting all kinds of people together on the web thinking about one issue. What you have to do to join in? Just write one post on the 15th of October about 'climate change' and link to the Blog Action Day site. It's that easy.

So, are you also participating?

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Océ's Social Media Guidelines

Recently Luis Suarez pointed to this nice overview of the different social media policies companies have (- Thanks Luis!). It's nice also from the perspective that it shows which and how many companies are taking social media seriously.

However, Océ's social media policy hasn't been shared yet... We'll here it is! As you may notice our policy has been inspired by IBM's. So, thanks for leading us IBM!

Océ Social Computing Guidelines

  1. Océ encourages all employees to communicate open and transparent, for the benefit of Océ, your colleagues worldwide and yourself. With regards to participation in social media on behalf of Océ, it is required to obtain management approval in advance and to focus your contributions on topics related to your position.
  2. Every Océ employee has signed a contract with Océ. Act according to the guidelines provided in this contract. These guidelines also apply when communicating on-line.
  3. Every employee is personally responsible for the content they publish on blogs, wikis or any other form of user-generated media internally and externally.
  4. Identify yourself- name and, when relevant, role at Océ, when you discuss Océ or Océ related matter externally and write in the first person. You must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of Océ. You can use a disclaimer such as: the postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent Océ’s position, strategies or opinions.
  5. Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.
  6. Don’t provide any confidential information or information that is meant to be private or confidential to Océ.
  7. Don’t cite or refer to clients, partners, colleagues or suppliers without their approval.
  8. Respect your audience. Don’t engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in Océ’s workplaces.
  9. Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective.
    Oce’s brand is best represented by its people and what you publish will reflect on Oce’s brand, your colleagues and yourself.
  10. Don’t talk about our competitors.
  11. Stop publishing if your manager says so.

Well, that's it. What do you think? Like it?