As I have mentioned in a blog post a couple of days ago, on June 8th I will be participating in the upcoming Social Business Forum 2011 event in Milan, Italy. And as a way to introduce my breakout session on the topic of “Organisations or Communties?” I mentioned a recent interview I did with Roberto Cobianchi “On Collaboration: Interview with Luis Suarez (Part One)“, where we talked at length around the topic of virtual collaboration, online communities, and the role social networking tools are playing within the enterprise. The interview was divided in two different parts and yesterday, Roberto published the second part under “On collaboration: interview with Luis Suarez (second part)“.
Once again, we spent some time talking about some interesting facts from another infographic (This time around SocialCast‘s “Dare to Share?“) around the subjects of Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing and how can both, through cooperation, help solve business problems more efficiently. Specially, in today’s, now-more-than-ever distributed corporate environment where not only is the vast majority of the knowledge workforce working remotely, but at the same time those knowledge workers keep working on multiple projects and teams across the board. Long gone is the time when we *all* used to be co-located and working on the same floor, on the same building, on the same single project / team, without having to go elsewhere to get the job done!
To such extent, and to share with you folks over here a little bit of a teaser on the kinds of conversations we had during that second part of the interview, I thought I would go ahead and add those questions over here, with an additional short annotation, perhaps, and point you to the article itself to read the rest. And see what you think on this rather important topic around fostering and boosting collaboration within the workplace. Once again, I would also want to take the opportunity to thank Roberto for taking the time to do the interview with me and for sharing it across over at his blog. Many thanks! So, here we go:
- “In the long history of humankind (…) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed“: Indeed, now more than ever, we have been witnessing, over the last couple of years, how more and more businesses are starting to turn their heads towards their internal (AND external) communities, whereas before they weren’t just simply doing it, as perhaps the most powerful organisms to help boost collaboration and knowledge sharing across the board, helping flatten the organisation encouraging work to take place amongst networks versus teams and organisations, making them all much more agile and nimble. Yes, indeed, about time that happens, don’t you think?
- “From an enterprise perspective, the social software and the change in the behavior of employees is not only a question of efficiency or cost reduction, it’s a matter of survival”: And that matter of survival is driven mainly by customers and business partners, even competitors!, whereas before it was all somehow driven by vendors themselves in their ivory towers thinking they always knew better than their customers, when all along, social software tools have confirmed it’s rather the opposite. No matter how much a vendor is knowledgeable about their own products, your customers will always know more than you, not only because of the extensive use they make of your offerings, and the figuring out of new ways to use your products you didn’t even think about!,, but because they are also connecting and talking to other customers, amongst themselves, and competitors! to converse about your products and that’s something that in order for businesses to succeed they can no longer ignore, nor neglect. They need to dive right in, before your customers move on to the competition… just because you were not there!
- “In the same infographic: “20% to 50% of collaboration activity resulted in wasted effort”. There are three main factors:
- poorly planned meetings
- unproductive travel time
- bad communication
I think you agree with that, but which one do you suggest to consider first? Which one do you think is the first to fight with?”
This question surely was an interesting one, specially, since I have been trying to tame down, quite a bit, one of those items for a few years now while living “A World Without Email“; thus, considering that one out already, my answer for this question was probably what’s going to be my next quest, poorly planned meetings, not only because of the quality of some of those meetings, but also because of the sheer number of them we all seem to have throughout the course of the day (How can you have 7, 8 or 9 meetings a day and still get work done?!?! That’s just insane!), when, in reality, we may not even need them in the first place, if we would get to utilise our own collaboration, knowledge sharing and social software tools much more effectively reducing our dependency and addiction, not to count the time we spent in meetings! But that would be another topic for an upcoming blog post on living “A World Without Meetings“… (Notice that I am not going to state I’d want to kill off meetings altogether, but certainly find smarter ways of getting the job done without having to call for a meeting along the way…)
- “How many tools do you use in your daily work in order to reduce mail overload?” I tried to be brief on this one, since I know it could get far too long before we all know it, but basically I mentioned the main social tools I am currently using, both internally and externally, in order to reduce, rather substantially, my dependency on corporate email and, like most of you folks know already, I detailed plenty more of that on a recent mindmap & presentation I put together on that very same topic of “A World Without Email“, for those folks who may be interested in finding out much more in-depth.
- “Each tool is an opportunity to keep in touch with customers, colleagues and partners and so on”: Indeed! and 4 years later I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s that fragmentation and diversification of my mailbox that has allowed me to forget / worry about all of those issues with inbound email. It just doesn’t happen. Even if I am gone the entire week on a customer and company event like I have been, having just returned from Barcelona, Spain, where I got 17 emails for that single week, while I have been interacting all over the place on social tools. Priceless!
Oh, and here is another good reminder for a much overdue update on the progress report over the last few months that I need to do as well over the next couple of days …
- “When do you foresee to arrive to zero emails?“: Probably, the one million dollar question that everyone is trying to answer to a certain extent, for sure; specially, seeing how there are some business that are starting to question the validity of corporate email and are already well embarked on a mission to ditch it altogether. As part of my answer, I mentioned how we would probably not be capable of ditching it altogether, since there are two single use cases for which email still is probably the most effective of communication tools (i.e. Calendaring & Scheduling and 1:1 private / confidential conversations), but for the rest we can probably kiss it good-bye, if we are all ready to embark on diversifying and fragmenting our Inboxes to look out for much more effective and efficient collaboration, knowledge sharing tools within the social computing realm.
I guess that time will tell, although for me, seeing a reduction on my incoming email already by over 95% is probably good enough for me to state I’m almost there, don’t you think?
And that would be it! Those were the questions that Roberto asked me as the second part of the interview and I do hope you may have found some of the answers interesting and relevant. I would be looking forward to the Social Business Forum event where, after checking out the agenda, I know it’s going to be a rather interesting and tough challenge to decide which sessions to attend, because, once again, the line-up of speakers is outstanding with plenty of smart folks like Bill Johnston, Sameer Patel (Who has already blogged about the event over here), Cordelia Krooss, Esteban Kolsky, George Siemens, Bertrand Duperrin, Norman Lewis, Ming Kwan, Craig Hepburn, Rosario Sica, Laurence Lock Lee and a few others!
Lots of really good friends to meet up and see again, and a bunch more new ones to be made in a packed couple of days of great conversations and thought-provoking knowledge sharing around Social Business! Yes, sir, you can tell I just can’t wait for it to get started!!