You gotta love Twitter and those wonderfully inspiring serendipitous knowledge discoveries that it helps you bump into, time and time again, because most of the times they surely help you make up for whatever the tough situation(s) you may be going through. And bring you back on track, of course, to what your focus area(s) may well have been all along. Well, I have just had one of those the last couple of weeks (Which I am hoping to be able to blog out it at some point, since it’s still burning inside my brain like hell), but since we are just about to wrap it up for another week at work and move into the weekend, I couldn’t help blogging about that delightful serendipitous moment I experienced earlier on this week, because it surely has been quite an interesting learning experience and a superb reminder, perhaps even to us all: never, ever, lose track of your purpose, and your focus, on what drives your passion(s).
It’s not even worth the effort, nor the energy, being sidetracked, just because it may well all seem more enticing altogether. It won’t. It never will. That’s why I am really glad that a few days back, my good friend, and fellow IBM colleague, Ben Martin, introduced me to Bernie Mitchell, who along with Andy Bargery, they run the absolutely delightful London Bloggers podcasting series. Bernie invited me to participate in the recording of an episode around blogging, after having read a recent article I wrote on the topic under the title “Why Blogging Still Matters“.
Of course, I couldn’t reject such a generous and enticing offer and earlier on this week, the three of us, Bernie, Andy and myself got together to record “LBM Audible #9: Luis Suarez from IBM on Blogging and Corporate Hippies” and while the main topic was around the purpose of blogging and why it still makes plenty of sense as perhaps one of the most powerful tools out there to help enhance your own personal brand and digital footprint out there in today’s Social Web, mostly dominated by social networking tools, we eventually ended up talking about pretty much everything around Social / Open Business.
It was a rather enjoyable, gratifying and delicious podcast recording, more than anything else, because, while we were going through a rather fast pace and jolly dialogue, it helped me realise how much off track I have gotten from my core beliefs around Open Business over the course of the last few months. It felt like my own reckoning that I may have been losing, slowly, but steadily, my hippie 2.0 mojo, and that, somehow, I needed to get it back at some point. Well, that some point is exactly that podcasting episode I did with both Bernie and Andy, because they helped me recover from the back of my mind a good number of ideas I have been rather passionate about over time and that, for one reason or another, they went into hiding, because of other things.
So, what did we talk about then on that podcast, you may be wondering, right? What were some of the themes that helped me get back on track on keep on pushing for Open Business with that rather well known, by now, flair of being the outlier, the corporate rebel, the outrageous heretic and free radical optimist, and, essentially, that hippie 2.0 practitioner. Well, like I said, we talked about lots of various different subjects, but here are some keywords that hopefully will help describe what we discussed and talked about as a brief teaser for the longer piece, in case you may be interested in listening in: Open Business, Adaptation, #lawwe, business blogging as your personal / digital footprint, being bold, fear and reluctance, trust, relinquishing control, leaving a legacy (i.e. a digital footprint), executive (lame) excuses on doing both social and open, ghost writing, authenticity, honesty, best practices don’t exist for knowledge work, blogging101, employee engagement, sustainable growth, evolution vs. [r]evolution of social, servant leadership, managers vs. leaders, hierarchy vs. wirearchy … phew! A lot of topics, indeed, but above them all, we talked extensively about passion for what you do and for what you have always believed in!
The podcasting episode lasts for a bit over 30 minutes and you can listen to the podcast here, if you would be interested in tuning in further:
Hope you folks enjoy it just as much as I did going through that interview with both Bernie and Andy, and from here onwards I just want to take the opportunity to thank them both sincerely for having me in the show and for allowing me to participate on one of the most fun interviews / podcasts I have participated in that I can remember. More than anything else, because it’s helped me realise how I need to re-focus on doing what I know best: change the business world, one step at a time, continuing to challenge the status quo of how certain things happen in order to let that passion do the magic of realising what a Socially Integrated Enterprise is all about in a world dominated by Open Business.
WOW! What a journey, indeed!
If you have been reading this blog for a while you would remember how all along I have been insisting on the fact that for businesses to facilitate and adapt to that Social / Open Transformation technology is nothing more than just an enabler, it’s the icing on the cake, and how the key to become a successful Socially Integrated Enterprise there is nothing more than just acquiring a new set of behaviours, a new mindset, in short, a new core of good healthy habits to get things going on that journey. It may well be much easier saying it out loud than writing it down, but what is a habit though? Is that something that you inspire in yourself, and / or in others? Is that something that you aim to acquire by osmosis mimicking what other people may be doing already? Is it that inertia that keeps coming up without questioning the status quo of how certain things get done around the workplace? Well, may be not. A habit is, apparently, a reward.
Over the course of the last few months I have become very interested in the whole concept of behavioural dynamics, about how we may be able to influence the behaviours of those around us, and the good old habits they may have accumulated over the course of the years, in order to think differently in terms of how they share their knowledge across and collaborate perhaps much more openly and transparently through social technologies versus whatever other traditional means. And all along it looks like I haven’t been the only one interested in that topic judging by the extensive amount of additional reading materials in terms of blog posts, articles, dissertations, reflections, infographics, and numerous, never ending, Top N Habits posts to perform or do XYZ, you name it. Plenty of extensive reading on the topic of habit formation, too, I can tell you.
I would event bet you all may have your own favourite picks that you may have curated over the course of time in terms of what would be those desired good habits (Even for Community Managers!), or whether they are related to keeping up with healthy habits, or perhaps enjoy the odd pleasure of showing your gratitude. You may even want to break away from your email habits altogether (As my good friend, Oscar Berg brilliantly wrote recently at CMSWire) or from any other bad habit from that matter!
The thing is that habit formation is hard. And yet, it’s of paramount importance, because habits are at the heart of our successes and our failures, apparently. So when thinking about that Social / Open Business Transformation I just couldn’t help thinking whether we have got it figured out how we can inspire those new habits in terms of how people connect, collaborate and share their knowledge across. Whether we can model new behaviours and new habits and, if so, how can we achieve such goal, because something tells me that it’s not going to be an easy one. You know, they keep saying how for a human being to acquire a new habit for a particular action, it needs to be repeated, at least, 31 times. I know, that’s a lot! Well, that’s what would take us to build a new habit into what we do on a regular basis.
Interestingly enough, a couple of months back, I bumped into this superbly done short video clip (Under 3 minutes) from Epipheo that pretty much describes The Power of Habit from Charles Duhigg and which surely makes up for quite an interesting watch altogether. No, I haven’t read the book just yet, in case you are wondering, but I finally managed to buy it for my Kindle for my upcoming, and ever growing, summer reading.
The video though clearly highlights what’s perhaps the main challenge we, social / open business evangelists, keep facing when helping fellow knowledge workers adapt to those new behaviours, those newly built habits, in terms of whether they are going to succeed in the long term or not. Here it is, so you can have a look and see what I mean:
Apparently, a habit is based on three components: a cue (the trigger), the routine (the behaviour itself) and, finally, the reward. I am sure, at this point in time, you may know exactly where I am heading, right? Well, may not. If you look into how most businesses have been facing the adoption / adaptation to Social Business as their new fabric, their new DNA in terms of how they get work done, you would notice how time and time again we do have the cue, we do have the routine in place as well for that matter (The hundreds, if not thousands, of use cases), but more often than not we seem to lack the reward. And I am not just thinking, perhaps, about tangible rewards, which is, I am certain, what most people would be thinking about out there. I am talking more about the long term reward of that habit, that is, of how we are transforming the way we work, interact, build relationships, while still keeping the focus on the business results.
That, to me, seems to be missing from most of the various different deployments of Enterprise 2.0 to help further along with the overall Social Business strategy; to the point where it is no longer surprising the apparent high % of failed deployments of social networking platforms for business, if your vision and focus are on the behaviour and the mindset (which is where it should be, in the first place), as Gartner recently indicated.
Somehow, it’s probably now a good time then to dive into the world of psychology, behavioural dynamics, and social sciences in general to understand how Social / Open Business has never been about technology, nor the business process themselves, but about the people, their mindset and their behaviours. In short, their day to day work habits they have accumulated over the course of time and the rewards in place to realise that long term vision of becoming a successful Socially Integrated Enterprise. Somehow, and like I have mentioned above, we seem to have the cue, the routine, but we better get our act together around the reward piece, because otherwise those new habits would not stick around for long, before people would move on to something else. And, once again, we would be going back to square one. Remember Knowledge Management?
We shouldn’t have to go back.
Instead, I do want to have my small piece of chocolate today, and you?
It looks like this is the year of Transformation, of Change, of Thinking Forward -out of the box- in terms of what may well be awaiting us in the next 5 to 10 years, within the corporate world, trying to figure out what next. Or, better said, where to next. You would remember how at the beginning of the year I decided, for myself, to start making the move away from Social Business into Open Business, and how, just recently, I also decided to move further along from driving adoption of Social Business into facilitating the adaptation to Open Business. Exciting journeys so far, for sure, more specifically, from the perspective of how both concepts (Although not necessarily rather new) are already starting to catch people’s attention in terms of how organisations could as well be provoking their own business transformation just like it is happening in our very own societies, all around a single key concept: The Era of Open.
Indeed, it is undeniable how the whole mantra of being open, specially, in a business context, is starting to catch up plenty of steam and a whole lot of attention , more than anything else, perhaps, as a reflection of what’s happening out there with a good number of global (or local, for that matter!) events, where more and more knowledge workers (AND citizens) are demanding a whole lot more openness and transparency in terms of how organisations across sectors and industries actually function around their day to day business operations. It’s been fascinating to witness how the current financial econoclypse, the social unrest, the massive workforce shift and those very same global events I referenced above are leaving a profound mark in terms of how it may well be about a good time now for the corporate world at large to re-gain back that social responsibility towards society through becoming more open and transparent in how they operate as well as how they communicate.
Open vs. Closed. That’s it, really. That’s what it is all about. “Connected, messy, loose and open“, as my good friend, Harold Jarche, wrote about brilliantly a couple of months back. It’s essentially what the Open Social Web is helping provoke on a scale that’s going to be rather tough to stop, but also to ignore, or neglect, specially, seeing the huge impact those open collaboration platforms will have over the next couple of years, if not already. And I am sure that, at this point in time, you may be pondering about going a couple of steps even further and start thinking about Radical Transparency. Or Radical Openness for that matter.
I can imagine how a good number of people out there may have just gone, a little bit, into panic mode when reading above about radical transparency. The thing is that we don’t know (yet) whether it might help out the business world to come back in good shape aiming as sustainable growth, or to help re-define a whole bunch of the business operating models (and processes) carried on from the 20th century that would help us address a good bunch of the business problems we still face today. Take, for instance, employee engagement: still the number #1 business problem in today’s corporate world.
The thing is that Radical Transparency can be really good for employee engagement, as David Zinger wrote nicely about earlier on this year, picking up from a piece from HBR under the rather enticing and suggestive heading of “Why Radical Transparency Is Good Business“. The challenge, as I have written about a couple of times already, and I am sure most folks out there would be thinking along these terms, too, by now, is How Open Is Too Open?
Ahhh, the limits and the limitations. They always have to be with us, don’t they? The constraints that little by little keep regulating and overruling our lives, whether at work or on a personal level. Those constraints that once they start being part of our own comfort zone(s) it’s almost impossible to get rid of them in order to keep evolving along. That’s what’s stopping us at the moment from progressing further into exploring that whole new Era of Open. Jacob Morgan pretty much nailed it when he recently blogged about it and what it would mean. To quote:
“We talk about openness, transparency, and sharing, but how far would we be willing to go with it? Would you feel comfortable working in an all glass building where people can see everything you do and every move you make? I do believe that organizations need to be much more open and transparent but there’s a balance that needs to be struck here“
Yes, indeed, there may well be a need for a balance at some point, in terms of how open and transparent you would want to become over the course of time. The thing though is that I have always believed that people should not be transparent. It’s organisations the ones that need to be transparent. And the more radical they are in that approach, the more each and everyone of us would benefit from it. This is essentially all about how much you would want to protect and hoard your own knowledge as an organisation understanding that what may have worked relatively well in the 20th century does not guarantee it will work the same in the 21st century. In fact, it won’t. That’s why we need to provoke that mindset shift from sharing knowledge on a “need to know” basis into “default to open” or, basically, sharing publicly everything by default unless you have been told otherwise.
That being told otherwise pretty much refers to what I think is the only one use case scenario for which organisations may still want to hoard and protect their knowledge. That is, when that piece of content truly is confidential and of a rather sensitive nature. Mind you, you should still challenge it a great deal, if you feel that what may have been flagged as confidential in the past, may not necessarily mean it needs to be in the present or near future. Remember, the more that you may be able to share out in the open, the more visibility, the more re-findability, the more reuse your content will go through. And that’s a good thing.
That’s essentially why I am such a huge fan of both mantras “narrate your work” and “working out loud“, without forgetting for that matter “Observable Work“. In my new job role, the rate of confidential, rather sensitive information I am exposed to on a daily basis has increased quite a bit from my former role, yet, time and time again, I keep challenging my own assumptions and those of others in terms of opening up and what it would mean for our overall efforts if we do. Vast majority of times I have discovered how the reason why people may not want to share their knowledge and information is not necessarily because they may not want to, but more because of inertia taking over with mutual agreements along the lines of “Yes, that’s how we have been doing business over here for a while and we never thought about questioning or challenging its status quo, because we thought it was all right. It was working“. Well, obviously, it’s not. Because if it were, I could guarantee you that we would not be having the good number of the business problems, challenges and what not we keep facing day in day out.
Jacob, later on in the article, quoted: “Being open and transparent is a scary yet interesting thing but as with everything else there needs to be a balance” and I keep thinking that perhaps that balance needs to be a bit unbalanced after all. Yes, of course, it’s going to be scary. After all, it’s new ground, within the business world, that we are trying to cover over here, right? I mean, when was the last time you heard of an organisation, the larger, the better, whose main mantras were to become more porous enough to permeate throughout on both openness and transparency? I haven’t heard of many so far, when trying to strike that balance. Yet the potential for that unbalance is massive, and here I am thinking that perhaps one of the things we could do is to get started with it and aim for radical openness instead. The one Jason Silva shares across in this absolutely exhilarating, inspiring, refreshing and thrilling short video clip:
What do you think? Ready for some yet?