Challenges of Social Business in the Workplace

A couple of weeks ago the smart and talented folks from Bloomfire approached me through Twitter to ask me whether I would be willing to participate on an interview around Social Business and be featured on the series of bloggers and influencers they have got going on for a little while now. Of course, I couldn’t deny it such a generous offer, but even more so when the whole entire conversation and the follow-up interview happened through social tools (Twitter and Google Plus) and not a single email was exchanged throughout the entire process! That’s right! Here is a vendor that truly believes on walking the talk, leading by example, utilising other social networking tools than their own, that may be available out there, just to continue to add value into the overall discussion around open knowledge sharing, collaboration and getting work done more effectively. Who knew, right? Why aren’t more Enterprise 2.0 / Social Business vendors doing the same thing? 

While I let you all ponder around that particular question, I thought I would take a few minutes today to share over here some tidbits of the content of the interview itself we did go through that I think plenty of you folks may find rather interesting and perhaps a bit thought-provoking, too. More than anything else because in one of the questions put together we talked about what are some of the main challenges behind Social Business in the workplace today, June 2014, and somehow the answers that came through were not the usual suspects that you see coming up time and time again. 

So, what were the questions you may be wondering, right? Well, you could find them all at the interview itself under the heading “Meet Luis Suarez”, or check the list below: 

  • Tell me about your career 
  • What are some of your hobbies
  • What do you find interesting about the social space? 
  • Where are some of the challenges you have identified in the social space? 
  • What advice (or insight) can you share about utilising social tools to leverage workplace learning?
  • What are your top 3 favourite blogs to follow?

Yes, I know this may well surprised some of you and bring up a good giggle or two, but I do still read blogs. Daily. At a time where vast majority of the conversations seem to be happening through social networking tools, there I was suggesting what were my top 3 favourite blogs at the moment. Oh, don’t worry, won’t tell you about them over here, you would need to go and read the interview itself to find out. Yes, I know! I am just such a tease, aren’t I? :)

Talking about teasing you all about the content of the interview, I think I’m going to take the liberty now and include one or two of the questions and their answers over here, so you folks can take a look and see what you would expect from it and what we talked about. And since the title of this blog entry is around current challenges of Social Business in the workplace, what a better start than sharing the response to “What are some of the challenges you have identified in the social space?”: 

At one point in time I thought that one of the main challenges was technology itself where in itself it became a barrier of entry, specially, for those people who may have been a bit apprehensive of what it could do for them. But, over time, as you get more and more experienced in the field through lots of hands-on, walking the talk, leading by example, you realise that the main challenge we currently have at this moment is management, specially, senior leadership.

We are constantly witnessing how, time and time again, the traditional top-down hierarchy (and not just within the business world, but in a societal level as well!) feels very much threatened by this new way of interacting and participating called social networks where information is on longer power, and where we are transitioning from knowledge stocks into knowledge flows (cf. John Hagel).

That democratisation of knowledge where knowledge shared is power is becoming increasingly more of a challenge for management and senior leaders, more than anything else because they are finding it a bit of a challenge to transition from that command and control mindset into one of leading the pack through merit, participation and overall knowledge sharing as they are just one more of the nodes of the social networks they are part of already. The challenge for them is to transition from the traditional vision of management into one of leadership. Open Leadership.

From there onwards, and perhaps now thinking in more practical terms of how to get started with it all I also ventured into answering this other one question: “What advice (or insight) can you share about utilising social tools to leverage workplace learning?” as follows: 

To start using them TODAY! Don’t wait to be told it’s ok to make use of them to do your work. Don’t wait for your peers to dive into social networking tools, just because you don’t want to be the first one; or for your direct manager, or middle manager or senior leaders to tell you it’s ok to make use of them. Don’t wait for them. Just dive into social networks and start building your digital footprint, your digital brand helping people get better at what they do by sharing your knowledge out in the open, transparently, and collaborating much more effectively with those who may need of your help, skills and expertise.

Over time, you would start to understand how we are moving, rather fast!, into a world where we constantly have to keep demonstrating our thought leadership, expertise and what we really passionate about, so that it gives us a chance to meet up other people, connect with them, learn with them and eventually rather cooperate or collaborate with them to become better at what we do. So, again, don’t wait, start making use of social tools today, whether it’s a blog or any of the major networking tools out there and jump into the bandwagon. Leave that fear behind, the “what would they say if I start using …”, the “I don’t have time for this”, the “I don’t know what to share or talk about”, the “I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of others, never mind total strangers”, etc. etc. Just pick up that one or two topics that you are really truly passionate about and starting sharing with the world that passion for the next few years to come!

Thus, there you have it. The challenge AND the opportunity while embarking on the so-called Social Business Transformation journey. It’s now down to us all to make a choice and decide where we would want to go and what would we doing to help spark those social interactions. Yes, it’s a choice. And a personal one, for that matter.

So, what’s yours then? Keep hiding away or jump into the bandwagon of the Social Era with both feet?


Written by Luis Suarez

Chief Emergineer, People Enabler and Charter Member of Change Agents Worldwide and a well seasoned Social / Open Business evangelist and 2.0 practitioner with over 15 years of experience on knowledge management, collaboration, learning, online communities and social networking for business; and has been living, since February 2008, a (work) life without email challenging the status quo of how knowledge workers collaborate and share their knowledge by promoting openness, transparency, trust, sustainable growth, engagement, connectedness and overall smart work. He can also be contacted over in Twitter at @elsua or Google Plus.

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Social Connections VI – From Adoption to Adaptation, from Enablement into Engagement, while #WOLWeek Kicks Off

My goodness! Can you believe it’s now a bit over 5 months since I left IBM and moved on to my next adventure as a trusted advisor around Social Business and Digital Transformation? Yes, I know, me neither! It’s just gone so fast it’s been a bit of a challenge keeping up with the pace into this whole new life of being an independent freelancer. Pretty much like when I posted the last blog entry over here in this blog a couple of weeks ago, before I disappeared into a business trip to Barcelona, followed by a long weekend break in the same city, to then come back and embark on my next business trip to Zaragoza. Phew! And yet, while the journey has been incredibly good fun all along, never mind the massive learning experience, here I am preparing, non-stop, for the next business trip just around the corner: Social Connections VI. June 16th – 17th, 2014. Prague. Yes, I know, that Prague.

It’s been a pretty wild ride, all along, since I left my former employer, but it’s been even more interesting participating in a good number of different conversations with former colleagues to get exposed to different perceptions and understandings while trying to figure out where to next from there. Indeed, over the course of the last few weeks I have been taking the time to converse with plenty of former colleagues to catch up with one another on what we have been doing and what we are currently working on and it’s been a bit of a surprise how, somewhere, someplace, there seems to have been this rumour that when I left the company I left in pretty bad terms, with resentment, and without a single intention of getting back in touch with any entry point into the IBM ecosystem. Never mind its extensive network(s). 

Very sad and untrue. I am not too sure where or why that rumour started in the first place and, frankly, I am not even interested in finding out more about it. But those folks out there who know me very well, or who have been working with me for the last 17 years, or any period in between, would probably confirm how, like with any other major corporation, there are always highs and lows, of course (no-one can, nor should, deny them), but, overall, my working experience at IBM has been, if anything, a true privilege. From day one. 

Not every day do you get to work in multiple dream jobs at the same firm, while living in paradise island, with your HR manager physically located in another continent different than yours and with your project manager working in one other (different) continent altogether. And all of that with a pretty good salary, lots of prestige and reputation going the extra mile big time and for a long while, and working with some of the most talented and wonderful people around the globe. If anything, like I said, it’s been a privilege. An honour to have stuck around for that long doing some pretty amazing things realising that, at some point in time, it was a good time to look for a change, to make yourself redundant, and start your new adventure. Whatever that may well be… 

 

Well, that’s essentially what I have been doing myself throughout this time, but, all in all, I also realised, way back after I made the initial decision to depart ways from my former employer, that I would not be going too far away and, instead, I would be hanging around the IBM ecosystem (From the outside, that is) helping facilitate potential clients beginning their own Social Business & Digital Transformation journeys. And while I have been doing some work along those lines already (more on that coming up soon!), there is a special event in my mind that’s going to provide me with an opportunity to explore and experiment further how I can put to good use all of those 17 years of experiences and know-how at a large corporate environment like IBM’s. If I managed to make myself redundant, because I considered that my job in the company was done, it’s time now for me to move on into the next challenge: help clients now, who may have purchased an ESN solution like IBM Connections, adapt to the new reality of the Connected Enterprise.

That’s why I am pretty excited to share over here in this blog additional details about my upcoming business trip to Prague (From June 15th till the 20th) to participate at the upcoming Social Connections VI event. A conference event organised by Social Business practitioners for Social Business practitioners, where it looks like this year is going to be more massive than ever with over 225 participants from across the world. Both the agenda and the speakers line-up are pretty impressive altogether. The venue one of the most stunning places I have yet to visit and speak at. And Prague. In spring time and about to enter the lovely summer. Doubt it can get better than that, don’t you think?

That means we are just one week short for the event itself to kick off and I guess it’s now a good time for me to share with you all what I will be up to while I am there. I will be attending the entire conference, of course, so there will be plenty of live tweeting (and some blogging), but I have also been invited to speak at a couple of different sessions. To name: 

You can have a look into the links shared above for more details on each of the different sessions, and why I am so excited about the opportunity to participate as a speaker on a couple of the topics I am truly passionate about from over the course of the years. From the fast-paced panel discussion where you never have enough time to elaborate a thought or two around Social Business, so being sharp and straight to the point in your answers is an additional bonus, to venturing into exploring what the future of work may well be like for Socially Integrated Enterprises. 

But that’s not all of it. The good fun continues on Wednesday, June 18th, as well, where I will have the pleasure of hosting a one day masterclass around Social Business Adoption & Enablement under the heading “From Adoption to Adaptation, from Enablement into Engagement”. And for this one full day workshop I am truly ecstatic about the prospect of packaging up and delivering accordingly 15 years of experiences, know-how, hints & tips, good practices, use cases, community building techniques, lessons learned, show stoppers, inhibitors, benefits, and overall mindshare of what it is like embarking on that so-called Social Business & Digital Transformation journeys. 

In case you may not have seen it just yet, here’s the description of the workshop quoted below: 

What if instead of “driving” adoption within your organisation, you could inspire and facilitate adaptation instead? What if you would have the means to re-define a new way of working with your fellow colleagues and peers through that very same adaptation to become a successful Socially Integrated Enterprise? What if that methodology, good practices, extensive expertise and know-how would all be at your fingertips, so you could apply it right away? What if you knew the nuts and bolts of getting your management and senior leadership teams all involved right from the start to help facilitate the final social business transformation you have always been looking for? Are you ready?

Come and join us on this one day masterclass to find out and learn how you can get the most out of your IBM Connections deployment to begin, or continue, that transformation journey into becoming a successful Social Business.

Agenda:

09:00 – Welcome and Overview
09:10 – IBM Connections and the Connected Enterprise
10:00 – Use Case #1: From hierarchy to wirearchy (IBM Connections Profiles)
11:00 – Morning Break
11:30 – Use Case #2: From document centric to people centric (IBM Connections Files)
12:30 – Lunch
13:30 – Use Case #3: task centric computing (Getting Work Done through IBM Connections Activities)
14:30 – Use Case #4: Networks as the new production line (IBM Connections Communities)
15:30 – Afternoon Break
16:00 – Use Case #5: A Day in the Life … Making sense of it all in the new way of working
16:30 – Closing discussion
17:00 – Workshop ends at 17:00

Whether you are just getting started with your Social Business Adaptation Journey, or whether you are already a very well seasoned 2.0 knowledge worker, this workshop will provide you an opportunity to learn with other fellow practitioners through plenty of practical, hands-on advice, good practices, lots of hints and tips and, most importantly, all of the necessary knowledge resources available to date. It will help you as well to even break free from the email yoke: Outside of the Inbox 

As you can see, it’s going to be a pretty packed up and intense one full day workshop, but, at the same time, it’s going to help me understand whether it’s something that I can then port over to other cities, other venues, other events, even online!, and make it one of the various work streams I’m currently working on as an independent freelancer. It’s bound to be very interactive and overall very engaging, since I’m hoping to collect plenty of feedback from participants to keep improving the overall user experience for future instances. 

The good news is that if you are around those dates there is still time for you to sign up and join us. But if you can’t make it to Prague in just one week from now, don’t worry. Submit your city in the comments to this blog post and, who knows, before you know it, we may be able to host it around your neck of the woods. After all, it’s just such a small world, eh? :-D And, while I am busy working on the last minute preparations I can guarantee you that the overall masterclass will become available online as a virtual, interactive, workshop some time soon, too!

See? This week is #WOLWeek (Working Out Loud Week). And my good friends Jonathan Anthony, Austen Hunter and Simon Terry, along with a whole bunch of people and the rest of the folks at Change Agents Worldwide (@chagww), have already kicked things off with numerous blog posts, tweets, plus sings, etc. etc. so I guess I have already started with my own share of working out loud practices by letting you all know folks what I will be spending my time on, and a large chunk of it, for sure, for the rest of the week: Social Connections VI and the Masterclass “From Adoption to Adaptation, from Enablement into Engagement”. 

Hope you will have a chance to join us, whether at Social Connections VI, or the Masterclass I will be hosting on June 18th in Prague following the #soccnx event itself, or, eventually participating further along into #WOLWeek. All in all, it’s bound to be good couple of weeks of fun, learning, knowledge sharing, and, why not, visiting one of the most beautiful cities in the world. At least, you shouldn’t miss on that, right? :-D 

 

PS. Ohhh, and before I forget remember that, as I mentioned on my last blog entry over here, all of my #WOL (Working Out Loud) activities will also happen over in my Google Plus profile from here onwards … 

 

Written by Luis Suarez

Chief Emergineer, People Enabler and Charter Member of Change Agents Worldwide and a well seasoned Social / Open Business evangelist and 2.0 practitioner with over 15 years of experience on knowledge management, collaboration, learning, online communities and social networking for business; and has been living, since February 2008, a (work) life without email challenging the status quo of how knowledge workers collaborate and share their knowledge by promoting openness, transparency, trust, sustainable growth, engagement, connectedness and overall smart work. He can also be contacted over in Twitter at @elsua or Google Plus

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Working Out Loud with Google Plus – Part Deux

One of the themes around both Social and Open Business I have grown rather fond of over the course of the last 2 to 3 years is that one of Working Out Loud (Other related topics would be as well narrating your work or observable work, a.k.a. #owork). From the moment that fellow Change Agent Bryce Williams coined the term, nearly 4 years ago, to today, a lot has happened, but, surprisingly enough, the interest around this very same subject continues to raise the stakes that perhaps the realisation of becoming a successful Socially Integrated Enterprise is no longer just around how social you may well be, whether internal or external, with your peers, your customers, business partners or, even, your competitors, but maybe about how comfortable you may well feel when showing your work, out in the open, in a rather transparent manner, for others (even total strangers) to benefit from. What do you think? Are you ready to start working out loud as well? 

I can imagine how throwing yourself out there into the unknown, hoping for the best, may well be a bit of a challenge in itself. I mean, if you look into it, within the corporate world, all along, we have always defaulted to work in private, close silos with team colleagues whom we knew rather well, or even just our very own selves, as we have kept protecting and hoarding our own knowledge thinking that would make us all become indispensable to the business. Remember the good old mantra of “Knowledge is power”? Well, it may well have its days numbered… 

I know plenty of you folks out there would tell me that knowledge is power is still very much alive and kicking and, in fact, it pretty much rules everywhere, even in our social, digital activities, specially, when we just keep talking, referencing and sharing other people’s content and work items vs. our very own. Mainly, because we just don’t feel comfortable and open enough to think AND act different; to shift and change our very own behaviours and mindset; to show how vulnerable and limited we all are, after all, as we move on and transition into “Knowledge SHARED is power”. Yet, let me tell you, based on first hand experience, there is a lot to gain. And we are no longer alone. Not anymore. By far. Yes! It’s time to open up!

Like I said, over the course of the last couple of years plenty of people have been thinking and talking openly about the whole concept behind Working Out Loud. It’s become a mantra as well, for a long while now, for my fellow peers and myself at Change Agents Worldwide with folks like John Stepper, Susan ScrupskiJonathan Anthony, Jane McConnell, Catherine Shinners, Simon Terry, Dennis Pearce, Christoph Schmaltz, Patti AnklamHarold Jarche, Jon Husband, Eric Ziegler or Ian Thorpe talking about it extensively and, much more importantly, walking the talk in showcasing how it could work not just for organisations but for knowledge (Web) workers, in general, even when doing client work.

Oh, yes! We are not alone in this. Far from it. Plenty of other folks (to name a few), like Matthew Partovi, Dion HinchcliffeRogier Noort, John WengerMarshall Kirkpatrick, John HagelEuan SempleStowe Boyd, Stephen Danelutti, Greg Lloyd, Sacha Chua, David Burkus, Maria Popova (Reflecting on Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work), Hugh MacLeodJanet Choi, Sunder Ramachandran, Jessica Grose, Moyra Mackie, Louise McGregor, Laurie Webster, Rick Ladd, John Buonora, Jane Bozarth, Michael Sampson, CV Harquail, Inge Ignatia de Waard, Lloyd Davis, Bernie Mitchell, Nick Milton, Sarah Lay, Ewen Le Borgne, Mike Taylor, Russell Pearson, have been talking and writing about Working Out Loud for some time now, demonstrating how it’s not as scary as it may look like. Quite the opposite. They have been sharing plenty of first hand experiences and insights on what it’s meant for them all along and, if anything, it’s been pretty inspiring overall seeing how this topic is picking up more and more steam by the minute by everyone else.

Even organisations are jumping into it. Examples like Grundfos (Read as well Thomas Asger Hansen’s take on it), Deutsche Bank, National Fluid Power Association, Lowe’s, etc. etc. have been embracing this mantra as well of #workingoutloud (#WOL). Even some vendors like Salesforce, IBM or Podio have been advocating for it, too! You would probably say that, at this point in time, it’s an unstoppable movement towards opening up organisations, business processes and technology while inspiring, throughout the knowledge workforce, new, innovative ways of thinking different while doing business.

But what is Working Out Loud exactly, you may be wondering, right? Well, instead of me detailing a short explanation of what it would be like I thought I would point you to a short video clip of about 3 minutes, put together by my colleagues at Change Agents Worldwide, for Salesforce’s Chatter, that pretty much explains what it is and how you, too, could embark on it without too much effort or disruption from your already existing day to day work routines. Have a look and see what you think: 

 

So, after watching that short video clip you now may be wondering why am I putting together this blog entry in the first place, right? Well, after having embraced Working Out Loud for a good number of years while I was at IBM, as both a Social Business Evangelist and Lead Social Business Enabler, more than anything else as an opportunity to show and demonstrate how it would work through pure hands-on, walking the talk, and leading by example, I thought it’s now a good time for me to pick it up again, even as an independent trusted advisor, and show what it would look like out there in the Social Web.

The interesting thing is that this is not the first time that I do it. I have done it in the past through Twitter multiple times, and even through Google Plus itself as well, as I have blogged about it a couple of years ago over here. That’s essentially how #elsuasworkbook was born in the first place and while I am just about to get things started with client work around Social Business and Digital Transformation and things are beginning to settle down a bit with my new life of being an independent I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to show everyone in my networks (and anyone else who may be interested for that matter) about what it is like Working Out Loud for yours truly. 

It’s bound to be an interesting experiment, since I know I will be trying hard to be as open and transparent as I possibly can, through my Google Plus profile, to describe the kind of work that I am currently involved with at the moment. Oh, don’t worry, radical transparency is a bit too far away for me at the moment, specially, while I am trying to taste the waters of a new working life, but over time, as I, too, myself get comfortable with the uncertain, the level of transparency will keep increasing more and more by the day. 

After all, if you would remember, transparency is one of the 10 Principles of Open Business and, to me, one of the key mantras I decided to adapt to over the course of time in my transition journey away from Social Business into Open Business. From not only talking about social, but also doing / living social AND Open.

Thus, if you would want to find out some more how things will work out for me from here onwards, check out my Google Plus Profile or just keep an eye on #elsuasworkbook every now and then to get a glimpse of what’s happening. Oh, and if you decide to jump in as well, let the world know (me, included, please!) about how and where we can find you, working out loud. For now, I will leave you all with a couple of rather inspiring quotes on the topic, as well as the prospect of enjoying the lovely weekend ahead of us. Mine is just about to get started now! 

Have a good one everyone!

 

 

Written by Luis Suarez

Chief Emergineer, People Enabler and Charter Member of Change Agents Worldwide and a well seasoned Social / Open Business evangelist and 2.0 practitioner with over 15 years of experience on knowledge management, collaboration, learning, online communities and social networking for business; and has been living, since February 2008, a (work) life without email challenging the status quo of how knowledge workers collaborate and share their knowledge by promoting openness, transparency, trust, sustainable growth, engagement, connectedness and overall smart work. He can also be contacted over in Twitter at @elsua or Google Plus

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