E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

Travelling

IBM Connect 2013 – Pardon The Interruption, Are You Ready?

Gran Canaria - Guayadeque in the WinterOn January 20th 1997, while I was holidaying in The Netherlands, I started my adventure into the corporate world with a new job at IBM, as a Customer Support Representative for the Mainframe. 16 years later that adventure continues, and big time!, still having just as much fun as I did in Day One. So much so that later on this week I will begin tasting the Joy of Business Travelling, once again, and that this year is going to take me to a good number of countries and continents I haven’t visited just yet, for which I am really excited about, as you can imagine. But, for now, I’m starting to get things ready for IBM Connect 2013, which kicks off on January 27th till the 31st, and which surely promises to be one of those events difficult to forget around the space of Social Business. Are you ready? 

Well, before you answer that question, and while you may want to go ahead and check out the superb agenda put in place, I would like to ask you to go and have a look into the wonderful short article put together by the one and only, Seth Godin, on the topic of “When a conference works (and doesn’t)“. What a delightful read packed up with plenty of helpful tips on how to build, perhaps, a new strategy, in case you haven’t done so in the past, when attending face to face conference events, like I am about to do later on this month. 

I thought perhaps for today’s blog post I would go ahead and highlight a couple of those tips that I thought would be worth while sharing across and which match, somewhat, some of my own experiences attending face to face conference events in the recent past. As a starting point:

[…] someone is going to say or do something that might just change everything. Something that happens in the moment and can’t possibly be the same if you hear about it later […] In the digital age, if I can get the notes or the video later, I will

Indeed, this is what I have been telling folks over and over again. Focus on the face to face conversations, the networking aspects of the event, specially, with those folks who 1. You may not know just yet, so you can keep expanding your network beyond your usual suspects or echo chamber(s) and 2. You may not be able to see them F2F again throughout the remaining of the year. Think of it as your last chance in the year to catch up with them F2F. Don’t waste that opportunity. Seize it and make the most out of it. The notes, and video streaming, indeed, you can always get them later. No doubt. The conversations, you won’t.

[…] If there’s vulnerability and openness and connection […]

This is something that I am going to be trying it out myself quite a bit in numerous other conference events this year, but certainly going to kick if off at IBM Connect 2013. Actually, not just me, but two of my co-presenters and myself, when on Tuesday 29th at 5:30pm local time, we will go up on stage to kick off our session on “Pardon the Interruption at IBM Connect 2013” around Social Business, Adoption Techniques, Enablement, Collaboration, Online Communities and Social Networking for Business in general. Perhaps even a bit on Open Business as well, why not? 

Yes, that will be the time when “The Three Louie” (Louis Richardson, Luis Benitez and yours truly) will throw themselves into the lions living through that vulnerability, openness and connection in chunks of 3 minutes at a time with whatever the question folks in the audience may well have around all of these topics related to social networking for business. We are currently gathering questions over in Twitter under #ptisocialbiz so if you happen to attend IBM Connect 2013 as well and have got a burning question you would want to share with us, drop it over there and we will grab it for the session. If not, take them with you and ask them live while we are all there. Perhaps even more fun to show how vulnerable we may all well be with the unexpected! After all, what are the chances for you to see The Three Louie on stage at any given conference event? It’s a rare occasion, I can tell you that, since it will be the first time we are all three on stage on the same session. That promises to be plenty of really good fun, I can guarantee you that! Even more if you look into the time of the day for our slot and what we may be bringing up with us along the way … 😉

Following further along on Seth’s reflections about face to face events and how to get the most benefits from them, here’s one of my favourite quotes from the entire post: 

(At most events, competitiveness born from insecurity trumps mutual support)

And you know why that happens in most cases? At least, in my own opinion? Well, mostly because, due to that competitiveness flair going around, people who attend face to face conferences don’t have a tendency to be generous on the information, knowledge and experiences they share. Quite the opposite. They are always a little bit reluctant to share openly what drives their passion, their interests and their motivation to attend the event, just because they feel they need to protect something: their selves. Well, not really. This is pretty much what I have been saying for years around the well known mantra of “Knowledge is power. Yes, it is, of course, it always has been and always will be. But make it square, please! It’s “Knowledge SHARED is power”.

Indeed, the more you share generously about what you are doing, what you know, what you are good at demonstrating your thought leadership, the much more powerful you become, because it’s that visibility at conference events that clearly highlights how you will continue to build those strong personal business relationships. So get out of your comfort zone a little bit. Throw yourself into the lions, once again, of those who are thirsty for your knowledge and share it across generously. What’s the worst thing that can happen? That they now possess your knowledge? So what? You are the one who knows the most about that piece of knowledge or information in the first place and you would just need to remember that we, human beings, are just so bad in documenting and transferring our knowledge across through oral or written forms that no matter how much you share openly you would still be the one who knows the most about that particular subject. Always. Do remember the brilliant KM principles from my good friend Dave Snowden on Rendering Knowledge that would still apply and very much so. Don’t forget that tidbit that most people seem to ignore time and time again since they decide to go the easy way out: hoarding their knowledge. Don’t! Share it generously. For your own benefit and for the benefit of your networks. They will remember you for that. 

As Seth mentions in a rather smart and succinct manner on his blog post, you will become their hero because you have finally realised, at long last, you don’t have much to lose, but a lot to win. 


[Really looking forward to seeing everyone at IBM Connect 2013 and, please, don’t be shy. If we bump into each other, say “Hi!”. It’s the greeting that kicks off the magic of serendipitous knowledge discoveries from conversations you may have with  your networks and other people!] 

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Meaning Conference Highlights – A Collaborative Future #lawwe

La Palma - Roque de los MuchachosNot long ago I mentioned over here in this blog how one of the many reasons why I went through that extended blogging hiatus towards the end of 2012 was due to a rather intense business travelling schedule that took me on a tour of several different European countries to participate, as a speaker, on various conference events, customer meetings, enablement workshops and so forth. Intense is probably the right word to describe what it was like, but another one that I can think about would be memorable. I do have, indeed, plenty of fond memories about the vast majority of those events, but if there is one that has got a special place in my heart is that one event that kicked off last year and which raised the stakes incredibly high on its first edition to the point where it will always be in my thoughts not only because of the tremendously energising vibe it had all around it, throughout, but mainly because of the amazing experience of attending, speaking and participating in an event like no other in search for something that I am starting to feel we need nowadays more than ever: Meaning. 

Of course, I am talking about the Meaning 2012 conference event that took place in Brighton, UK, on October 1st and that three months later I am still remembering it as it were just yesterday. What an amazing event! Not only was the quality of the agenda and speakers top notch (I had the privilege of being one of them giving me a unique opportunity to continue learning from the greatest and the most unexpected), but the atmosphere around it was just electrifying and incredibly energising. The amount of hard work and the dedication to make things right, the incredibly warm sense of hospitality we enjoyed while in there, and the humanity shown throughout the entire event by folks, now really good friends, like Will McInnes and Lou Ash, along with the rest of the NixonMcIness team!, was absolutely a pure delight. Something other conference events should mimic and learn from a great deal! And all of that on their first edition! 

There have been several different blog posts, articles, references, highlights shared across by a good number of folks who attended the event, which have made it quite a rewarding experience going through as I am writing down this blog entry, remembering the wonderful event that we got exposed to over the course of a single day and, most importantly, the sharing of some of the most brilliant ideas we got to exchange and share openly not just from the speakers themselves, but also from people attending the event live with all of the networking that went on and on and on. A delightful experience all around! 

That’s why I couldn’t help resisting the urge to create this blog post where I could point folks to the recordings of the various different speakers, which you can find them all right over here, so that you could have a look and go through each and everyone of them. At your own pace, whenever you would want to. They are all worth it. Big time.

As usual, and like I have been doing over the last few months, I did a bunch of live tweeting from the event itself as well, and I then captured all of those annotations into a .PDF file that I uploaded into my Slideshare account for folks who may be interested in reading further what it was like experiencing the conference live. The direct link to it can be found over here. And here’s the embedded code in case you may want to flip through the pages as we speak: 

I had the privilege as well of being the last speaker of the day, wrapping up what was quite an amazing day that would be rather tough to forget in a long long time. Of course, I talked about one of my favourite topics from over the last 5 years: Living “A World Without eMail“. This time around expanding further on the notion of what a collaborative future may well look like and hold up for us with the emergence of social software tools in the corporate world. I got to talk about plenty of what I have been learning in the last 5 years after I started that movement, back in February 2008, which reminds me that we are getting close to that 5th year anniversary, where I have got a couple of lovely surprises packed up that I am sure folks who have been following this initiative all along would find rather interesting and surprising. But more on that later on…

For now, I thought, as a teaser, as perhaps an interim update from my last blog article on the subject (Yes, I know! I am long overdue an update on how things have been moving along, aren’t I? Well, coming up shortly!), I would go ahead and share the link to the recording over here, so that those folks who may be interested in the topic (It lasts for a little bit over 17 minutes), can have a look into it and watch at your own pace. I’m sure it will evoke a good number of questions and additional insights that I am more than happy to entertain and facilitate on the comments section below, so feel free to chime in as you may see fit, and stay tuned for that upcoming update on the progress report of what it has been like living “A World Without eMail” in the last 12 months. Oh, and don’t worry, it’s not going to be as massively long as the last one. That’s where one of the surprises would kick in eventually … hehe

Here we go: 

Hope you folks would enjoy watching through it, just as much as the huge blast and true honour I had myself on stage delivering the speech.  The vibe in the audience was something that will be very hard for me to forget. Ever. And for that I am eternally grateful to both Will, Lou and the rest of the NixonMcIness team!, for their kind invitation and for making of Meaning something that I can just define with a single word: special! … [Truly special]

An enormous thank you, indeed, to everyone involved in making it happen!

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7 Ways to Kill Your Presentation and How to Fix Them

La Palma - Roque de los Muchachos (Surroundings - Caldera de Taburiente)Continuing further with that new influx of shorter blog posts over here on this blog and since, lately, I seem to spend plenty of time, effort and energy on becoming a better public speaker doing plenty of reading, rehearsing and learning from those who do it best, I keep bumping into rather interesting resources on doing presentations right: engaging, inspiring, interactive, passionate, involving and rather energising, so I do love learning along the way not just with practice, which we all know makes perfection, but also reading the theory about how other people face having to deliver a presentation, whether they are well seasoned or just getting started. There is always something that we all get to learn. The key thing though is whether we are all ready to absorb, change and adapt our presentation skills to make even better pitches to engage our audience(s), which, I guess, is what matters at the end of the day… But what happens when you inadvertently kill your own presentation without even knowing? What can you do then? 

That’s the exact same premise that Jeanne Trojan addressed on a presentation that she put together a couple of years ago, and that when I bumped into it, just recently, by chance, I couldn’t help thinking how scarily accurate it was, and still is, with regards to the engaging art of delivering presentations and what pitfalls to avoid in order not to run into trouble far too soon. Thus I thought I would go ahead and share it over here, so that you would have an opportunity to see those “7 Ways to Kill Your Presentation” and ponder whether you would need to do something about not only addressing them, but fixing them for your upcoming presentation(s) for this year: 

 

After going through that lovely presentation put together by Jeanne, I bet you may be wondering what could be done in order to improve your own presentation skills, now that you have been made aware of those 7 pitfalls, right? Yes, I know, I had that very same thought, so I kept digging and saw how Jeanne herself has put together another presentation, from just a couple of days ago, where she has collected some extended advice on Presentation Tips from the Pros, which is pretty packed up with some excellent advice on how to not just deliver an engaging, passionate, meaningful and refreshing presentation, but also how you can prepare it, and prepare yourself, beforehand in a proper manner, so I thought I would go ahead as well and take the liberty of embedding it right here for other folks to enjoy as well: 

Finally, here’s one other helpful source from a good friend of mine, and fellow IBM colleague, Louis Richardson, quite an amazing public speaker I have had the real pleasure of watching him live a few times now by the way, about what to expect when putting yourself in front of an audience to deliver a presentation and what you can do to get the better of you out there to engage those who are investing their time AND their attention on you, the speaker, and your message, while on stage. Check out “Top 10 Tips for Stepping Up Your Presentations“: 

The really good thing about bumping into these rather helpful and insightful resources on Presentation Zen and with such a good timing, is that I will be able to put them all into good practice as soon as a couple of weeks from now, when I will be co-sharing the stage with both Louis Richardson himself and my other good friend Luis Benitez (Yes, indeed, The Three Luis’!!) at the IBM Connect 2013 event in Orlando, Florida, January 29th at 5:30 to 6:30 pm ET, under the session heading “Pardon the Interruption on Social Business” that both Louis and Luis have been blogging about it already in their blogs, respectively. The best part of that presentation? Well, amongst several other things [*cough* beer *cough*] I could probably say it’s YOU setting the agenda of the session by participating through this Twitter hashtag right as we speak > #pitsocialbiz as that’s where the three of us are currently gathering questions from the audience that we will be addressing each and everyone of us live at the event around the area of Social Business, and, maybe, why not?, around Open Business, too! 

It promises to be some really good fun and I am hoping that these presentation tips I have shared across from both Jeanne and Louis would help make it all an event better experience for the live audience and for those of you folks reading along.

Will we be seeing you there though?

[We surely hope so! Come and join us!]

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The Joy of Business Travelling

France - NiceAfter a couple of days back home, unwinding and relaxing a bit from quite a hectic schedule at work, it is that time again for yours truly to be on the road again. Every year, they keep saying that October and November are conference events months, now that the summer holidays are over and it is “time to get back to work” (As if we ever stop, right?) and judging from my current current travelling schedule till mid-December I am beginning to believe on that one pretty badly. I have just gotten started with another business trip, this time around a bit longer than usual since I will be going through Madrid, Apeldoorn, Amsterdam, Brighton, Montpellier and then back home again, and I couldn’t stop reflecting about what’s the main reason why I am falling in love, once again, with business travelling: carpe diem.

Indeed, I have been working in such a large corporate world as IBM’s for over 15 years and during the course of that time I have been fortunate enough to live through periods of time where I truly loved business travelling, specially, in the late 90s, and then again there have been plenty of other occasions where I wasn’t very fond of it. Yet, I am realising that over the course of the last few months I am enjoying it quite a bit, once again, and since a bunch of folks have asked me offline why has that happened, what made it tick, I thought I would share a couple of the reasons as to why, specially, when, perhaps for the majority of people out there, it is no longer an enjoyable experience as it used to be.

To start off, I am not ready just yet to kill my day job, as Rolf Potts once beautifully described over at this delightful read on “How to Kill Your Day Job and Travel the World“. I am not sure whether you may have read his article, but if you haven’t I can strongly recommend you go through it. You will find plenty of reasons in it that would confirm why travelling the world is perhaps one of the most fascinating activities that we, humans, once unbeatable and untireable nomads, used to master above any other species, before we became sedentary, changing completely plenty of our daily habits and routines.

It will also help you understand how, in my own case, I am one of those lucky people who instead of quitting his job to start travelling the world, it’s the job itself that I have and the stuff that I do on a daily basis as a social computing evangelist, helping spread the word on Social Business across the world, both internally and externally, that’s allowing me to have that flexbility and freedom to travel along where work would want to take me. Remember when I wrote not long ago that work is no longer a physical space, a traditional office, but more of a state of mind? Well, that includes travelling as well, which is what I have been doing for a while taking that traditional concept of the office with me, wherever I may well be going, as long as I have got my MacBook Air or my iPad and my iPhone and a live Internet connection.

The interesting thing though, and perhaps the main reason why I wanted to put together this blog post in the first place, is because I am not too sure how long it would last, or whether it would be far too long before the time arrives where I would have to stop it. No, I am not referring about quitting my job any time soon, or just move on to something else that would prevent me from travelling again on a more or less regular basis. I am still having a blast, I still believe I have been enjoying, all along, my dream job. I love what I do. What I am referring to is to the fact that things, global events, intrincate happenings are starting to take place out there with such complexity in their unexpected outcomes that I am beginning to sense travelling in general will turn out to be a luxury very very soon for just a few, more than anything else.

And that’s why I am taking the opportunity to seize the day, i.e. carpe diem, and travel as much as I possibly can now that I am still relatively young, understanding how, seeing how certain global events are developing further, there may well be a time when travelling in general would no longer be that easy, accommodating nor comfortable, never mind somewhat affordable.Spain - Tarragona

However, adapting to that new mentality towards business travelling, where a while ago I decided to just take it as it is, hasn’t been easy. It’s taken quite a bit of adaptation, becoming more flexible, understanding, condescending, relaxed and a whole bunch of other things I am sure most of you are already familiar with. I had to continue building on my patience levels, understanding and embracing that at any given point things could go wrong and that when life gives you lemons the best thing you can do is make one heck of a delicious lemonade for everyone to enjoy, not just for yourself, which is probably my own way to keep up with blogging, while on the move, hoping to share some of that lemonade with those interested in reading further along.

And in helping me understand and embrace that new mantra of enjoying, once again, business travelling I just couldn’t help reflect on a recent article put together by my good friend Ross Dawson that has helped me tremendously on not only understanding the advantages and disadvantages of business travelling, but also come up with strategies to help me get the most out of it, time and time again.

In “Travelling for work: 7 principles for productivity and value” Ross put together some of the main principles that he has adopted for when he is on the road / air to get the most out of his travelling experience. No, I am not going to reproduce them all or anything, I would encourage you, instead, to go ahead and read further along, but I surely would want to share with you a teaser by just listing a couple of notes over here, so that you can see what you would be able to find in his rather insightful article:

  • “Travelling is the ultimate learning experience
  • Travelling allows you to open up your perceptions and thinking
  • Travelling is about connecting
  • Have big-picture projects to work on
  • Focus on health and fitness 
  • Work out your personal jet lag strategy
  • Ensure everything you need is in the cloud

I can certainly relate to a few of the things that Ross indicated on that article, like the overall massive learning experience, like how travelling helps you open up your perceptions and thinking not just to other countries, but also to their cultures, customers, languages, traditions, etc. etc. how, specially, travelling is all about connecting with other people, meeting old friends, and new ones, about enriching experiences with face to face meetups over a lovely meal, or drinks, that surely make it all up worth while living through them. They help you become a better person, to grow further; they help you understand why people behave and do things in a certain way, they help you become a whole lot more tolerant about things and people around you, which is something that I can certainly see the world needing plenty of it at the moment. All of that without neglecting the work you are supposed to be getting done while on the move or looking after your health and fitness to ensure you can get the best results from each and every single business trip. And if you can learn how to fight that jet lag all the better. Perhaps one day I will share a short blog post highlighting how I learn to deal with it and how I haven’t experienced it a single bit in the last 10 years or so. France - Paris - Opera

It’s really fascinating though how, subconsciously, after having read his article a couple of months ago, I have been taking into practice plenty of his advice and many tips, along with some additional other key learnings, hints and tips, tricks, etc. etc. I have been incorporating over time myself as well, and how by adapting to the circumstances one finally gets to comprehend how humans were designed for travelling after all. Our innate ability to adapt to the medium, regardless of how tough it may well be, while getting the most out of it and its circumsntances, is just remarkable and once one starts embracing that the end-results are ever so much better, to the point where one begins to even enjoy it.

And that’s exactly what I am doing at the moment. Yes, I know, it’s a crazy schedule. Yes, it’s frantic at times. Yes, it’s incredibly complex to figure out how to make it all work, but it is also rather accurate how rewarding it can well be facing up all of these challenges and opportunities to keep up with one’s learning curve of life, to reach out and connect with other people, to get to know the world a little bit better, to continue treasuring that unique opportunity of being in on country, one culture, one language, and then the next day in another, completely different altogether. And eventually at some point head back home and enjoy the little pleasures of what you have built up over time in your little corner of the world…

Yet, I know that business travelling is not going to last for much longer. I’m sensing things are going to change and rather drastically far too soon, seeing how tough certain things are getting, i.e. the current financial econoclypse we are going through, the geopolitical complex world we live in, the rampant conflicts growing at a rather alarming pace, combined perhaps with our lack of being a bit more understanding and tolerant with those around us, our unwillingness to help others in need, our selfish attitude and envy of what others half, while we see others suffering and so forth somehow it is, finally,  confirming, for yours truly, how the days of travelling for the vast majority of us may well be numbered over the next few months. Sadly.

Spain - Barcelona - SitgesAnd that’s perhaps the main reason why this year I decided to embark myself on that lovely boat of business travelling, hoping to seize that opportunity to see the world, keep spreading the message on all of that social business stuff I have been rather passionate about for a good while, sharing across what I learn and build further along on it, meet up with plenty of those people, whether work colleagues and plenty of other good friends around the world, who share that very same passion, hoping that as a result of that continued learning experience, one, living and embracing a much more interconnected, networked, intelligent and smarter world, can continue helping make a difference, not just for myself, but with whoever else would want to change the world to become a better place.

For everyone.

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JAC 2012 – Joint Alumni Conference Event Highlights

Switzerland - ZurichAs you may have seen from my recent live tweeting from over the last couple of days, I am returning back home from Zurich, Switzerland, one of my favourite European cities, after having presented at, and attended, the excellent Joint Alumni Conference 2012 event on what I think has been one of the most inspiring events that I have attended in a while. More than anything else, because it’s been a rather eye-opening experience for yours truly with regards to where we are with the adoption of social software and that social business transformation that a bunch of us have been advocating for for a few years now. I know that most people out there reading this article would not believe it, but those of you who may be thinking that we are done with the job and are ready to move along into the next thing could not have been more wrong! Ladies and gentlemen, Social Business is just getting started! And it’s a good time for us all, social computing evangelists and enthusiasts, to get out of our lovely, some times desired / needed, 2.0 echo chamber(s) and comfort zones and get to experience the business world in full force, because it’s completely different than what we think it is. There is still a lot of work to be done and we have only just scratched the surface. Roll up your sleeves, because we are not done here just yet. By far! 

Yes, indeed, that has been the main ah-ha moment and massive wake-up call that I have been having while attending and presenting at JAC 2012. My fellow colleague, and good friend, Paivi Raty, invited me to participate on this event to talk about the topic of “The Future of Work“, in general. To talk not only about the subject of Social Business and its impact in the corporate world, but also to talk about general trends of what’s happening with the traditional concept of both work and the workplace, with knowledge workers and the various generations, with mobility, with innovation, with leadership, etc. etc. As with all of my recent public speaking, I didn’t make use of any slide-ware to deliver the dissertation, but I did record it and those folks who may be interested in listening to it can download the .mp3 audio from this location (You may want to turn up the volume a bit since it came out a bit too soft!)

I must confess that for a couple of months before the conference event took place I was a bit apprehensive, as well as incredibly excited for the opportunity, of course, more than anything else, because, if I recall correctly, it was the very first non-technical conference event that I participated in for a long long time, never mind related to Social Business, and I wasn’t really sure whether I was going to fit the profile or not, but since they say that in order to keep improving one self, one has got to throw one-self into the lions and leave that comfort zone I accepted the invitation and decided to go for it. And now that I am, finally, home, while reflecting about what I learned, it was a good decision. A very good one, actually. 

It helped me understand how both the IT and the Business worlds are living separated lives in two bubbles that don’t talk to each other, necessarily. It helped me understand how that lack of communication between IT and the Business is not going to be much more sustainable in the current times we live in. It helped me understand as well how if IT would listen to the Business on the many various different challenges, problems AND opportunities it faces and if the Business would try to understand how IT could help address the vast majority of those, we would ALL be in a much much better position. It, finally, helped me understand how we need to start building a much more cohesive ecosystem where we would be combining both business and IT as part of the same equation: as ONE single entity, facing the same challenges, but also the very same opportunities. Switzerland - Zurich

And I am just not talking about the dichotomy we see inside companies between the needs and wants of the business and the prerequisites and requirements from IT. I’m talking more about the fact of how the IT industry needs to start leaving its own comfort zone and start mingling further along with the rest of the industries, because, right now, there seems to be a huge disconnect between the two. In numerous occasions, while engaging in various different conversations at the event, talking with business leaders about their own firms, their strategies, their many challenges, etc. etc. I couldn’t just help thinking how for a good number of them technology could have made a huge difference in helping address them and find a solution for them. Yet, because both worlds don’t talk to each other, they both keep missing out from one another and therefore from these wonderful opportunities to keep innovating by making a difference.

It needs to stop. And soon! Just as much as something else that I witnessed while at the event that I thought was rather remarkable: the huge disconnect between the IT / Business world and the world of Academia. I am hoping that I would be able to get hold of the presentations that I attended from a couple of professors from various universities who shared their insights and research on some really fascinating topics, because not only were they incredibly inspiring and rather resourceful, but they highlighted a bunch of really mind-blowing research that’s been done on how the current role of Leadership needs to change and adapt to face a brave new world. Covering both natural, born, networked leaders, to executives reaching all the way to the top. Incredibly inspirational research as well on how we need to shift gears on how we are viewing professional development in the corporate world, moving away from that extra focus on weaknesses of your knowledge workers into just focusing on their strengths to help them excel and achieve more at what they are already good at! Yes, the well known positive psychology and positive leadership. Lee Newman‘s on this topic was just brilliant!

Like I said, lots of really good insights that I took away with me on a wide range of topics: Leadership, Healthcare, Finance, Sustanability, etc. etc. and that have made me realise I need to make a much more conscious decision from now onwards to start attending more business related events rather than just technology driven ones.  Specially, in the area of social business and social networking for business. I just felt that I kept missing the business part for far too long!

It may well seem like our job is done, like I said above, specially, those folks who may have been heavily involved with driving such social business transformation at their own organisations, but I am starting to think that’s no longer enough. The ecosystem, yes, that one I blogged about a while ago, needs to GROW and fast! Stagnation is perhaps the worst thing that can happen to any kind of movement. If it doesn’t find a way to develop new trends of thought, if it doesn’t evolve, if it doesn’t continue to challenge the status quo of the corporate world in general, we are not going anywhere. We need plenty more cross-breeding. We all know that the business environment needs to change, but I am starting to strongly believe that it needs to change with a purpose: not just that one of aiming at sustainable, and profitable growth for everyone, not just a few, but also how it is going to reflect into our societies, where we are all starting to sense how the business needs to come closer to our society in general, in order to provide us all with an opportunity to strive for a better world, not just for us, and our children, but for many future generations to come!

Switzerland - ZurichFor far too long the corporate world has been totally disengaged with taking ownership and responsibility for how it can help societies flourish and boom in a sustainable and resourceful manner. It’s just been far too focused on amassing huge profits, power and greed for the benefit of just a few, while destroying the resources, and the planet, for that matter!, we all live in. And if there is anything that I am starting to strongly believe in is how Social Business can help glue both the corporate world into our societies to become ONE. That single one entity that each and everyone of us, humans, continue to build, nurture and cultivate over the course of time. More than anything else with the growing urge for businesses to drive societies into becoming much more sustainable, profitable, relevant, purposeful, educated, meaningful, etc. and for societies to help businesses re-find a new purpose where that power and greed that I mentioned above both stop being the main key drivers. Essentially, what Don Tapscott brilliantly stated at his recent TED Talk: Business Can’t Succeed in a World That’s Failing.

There is probably a whole lot more that I could talk about from what I learned about this event, but perhaps, instead of doing just that I will stop for now, thinking that several reoccurring themes will pop up again in upcoming blog posts over time, I am sure. But, for now then, if you would want to learn some more about what the event was like you could have a look into this .PDF file that I have created with all of the live tweeting I did during the course of the day and perhaps witness, a bit more in detail, why it’s probably a good time now for both the IT and the Business worlds to come together, one step closer, to help us all realise that business and societal transformation that we all know we need to go through, but that we keep postponing time and time again hoping it will fix itself on its own at some point. It won’t. The clock is ticking and we are running out of time. If you ever thought that social business was all done and dealt with, think again please, my fellow social computing evangelists. We are just getting started! And we better begin to hang out there a bit more to keep spreading the message, which is, I guess, what true social business evangelists need to be up to nowadays, specially, outside our very own comfort zones. Don’t you think?

 

Exciting times, indeed! Time now, for me though, to prepare for the next business trip that will take me, over the next two weeks, to Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, Brighton, UK, and, finally, Montpellier, France. But more about that business trip in upcoming blog posts … 

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Social Business Is People to People Business – The Iberia Story

2009/02/21 EC-JCYAs you may have seen it already, once again, I am on the move. This time around to Zurich, Switzerland, to go and present at the Joint Alumni Conference – JAC 2012 event, perhaps on what may well be one of the most important and relevant speeches I may be delivering to date, around the topic of “The Future of Work in the Age of Social Business“, which is turning out to be one of my favourite topics to talk about at the moment, for that matter. Over the last few weeks I have been working on the dissertation itself for this particular event and time and time again I have been thinking about different ways of how I would introduce the topic to such a rather selected audience. Who would have told me then though that, despite all of the various different iterations I have been working on so far, I would be going eventually for the one I fully experienced during the course of today, on my way there, as perhaps one of the most powerful introductions on Social Business I have done to any presentation I may have delivered so far in the last few months. As part of the series of “Social Business Is People to People Business“, here’s the next take of what living social is all about. This time around with an unexpected surprise: Iberia.

The future of work is social. I haven’t got a doubt about it. And, after today, even more so. The future of work is going to be exciting, too! It’s going to help knowledge workers become more empowered, more autonomous, more trustworthy, more motivated and engaged, more open and transparent than ever before carrying out important, meaningful and purposeful knowledge work. Work that they care for, work for which they have built certain attitude to do it just right, in short, work that aims at perhaps the panacea of what doing business nowadays should be all about: delighting your customers. 

After today’s experience, which I will start detailing shortly, I am 100% convinced that we are not going to have it any other way. On the contrary, we, customers in general, are going to start aiming higher and higher at what excellent customer service should be all about. And we are perhaps going to start demanding it more and more as well! And rightly so, to be honest. It’d be about time, too!, don’t you think? Here is why … Here is another story as to why the future of work is social. 

If you have been following this blog, and my various social networking interactions over the course of time, you may well remember how I get to travel quite a bit for work and throughout all of those years I have been on the road, or up in the air, I keep having a good number of unpleasant experiences, in general, to the point where I have learned to develop lots of extra patience, resilience and perseverance in order to learn to live with it and move on. Well, today it was different. Totally different. Today, for the first time, in a long while, I have been having one of the most gratifying customer experiences I can remember as a road / air warrior. And all of that with what it is turning out to be one of my favourite airlines out there: Iberia

As I keep writing this article further along, I am sure most of you folks out there would be thinking that I am crazy, right? I mean, Iberia? Really? Iberia is your favourite airline nowadays? Are you really sure? Well, yes! And here’s the reason why… excellent customer service through a rather unexpected channel: Twitter.

Indeed, like I was saying, earlier on today, I was supposed to take a plane from Madrid to Zurich arriving about early afternoon to then get everything ready for tomorrow’s presentation at JAC 2012. Everything was going according to plan. No delays, no additional, last minute problems. Just everything perfect. For a change. So we get on the plane, take off and about one hour later, approximately, the captain tells us that the two systems that regulate the cabin pressure of the plane both broke and we needed to lower our altitude to the point where eventually we needed to divert our course and head to our nearest airport, which, at the time, was Barcelona. The tone of the message was rather reassuring and calm, so everyone did just that: remain calm. And perhaps a bit defeated that once again something did eventually happen, although without further consequences. Something for which I am very grateful altogether on its own!

So there they went, all of our intentions to arrive on time In Zurich on another uneventful trip. We got off at Barcelona airport and this is where the story begins and where it’s changed completely my view of the airline itself. When we all arrived to the airport all of the passengers headed to the Transfer Desk to see what was happening and to find out plenty more details as to whether we would be able to fly again that evening or in the early morning. I didn’t. I decided to remain, lag behind and instead get my iPhone up and running and go into Twitter. After all, I was supposed to meet up a group of colleagues to catch up and needed to tell them I was going to be running late and perhaps not make it altogether, if we were going to leave the next morning. So I told everyone what happened, about the incident, about how everyone was all right, about how we all remained calm (Despite the good amount of recent events that have been reported in the press that I am sure we are all far too familiar with for multiple other airlines) and how we were all waiting for things to happen… 

At that point, it occurred to me that I could query @Iberia and see if they would know what was actually happening. What was the failure about, how long we would need to wait for something to happen and whether we would be leaving for Zurich eventually, after all. And lo and behold within a few minutes I got a lovely response back from the @Iberia folks confirming the problem, how they found out from their colleagues they were sending another plane from Madrid to Barcelona and how about one hour later we would be taking that one from BCN to our final destination and how everything was going back to normal. And there I was, from feeling a bit uncomfortable, tense, perhaps a tad too nervous about what was happening, waiting for more news to come through, I got all I needed: the right information to reassure me (us all, in the end) we were being taken good care of

From there onwards, I no longer felt that I needed to go to the Transfer Desk to inquire any longer. Word started spreading pretty quick and before we all knew it we were all enjoying a refreshment waiting for the next flight to arrive. And it surely did! 35 minutes ahead of the scheduled time we were told! Once again, that distress, uncomfortable situation of not knowing what was happening, which is usually the feeling one has when travelling, was transformed into excellent customer service and all of that thanks though a delightful exchange of tweets, not just with the folks behind @Iberia, but also a couple of other folks (Aviation enthusiasts for that matter, who were tuning in on how the plane got diverted for no apparent reason), and also my own social network(s) who all kept me entertaining sharing glimpses of what was happening to them while they interacted with me to confirm whether I was ok and being taken care of, which I was. 

Yes, I can imagine! I am sure you may all be thinking this success story is an easy one. I mean, so easy to keep your customers informed about what’s happening, right? Specially, while they are on the move… Well, the thing is that it’s not happening as often as it should! Like I have mentioned above, I travel quite a bit throughout the whole year and this was the first time any airline tuned in on to their social channels (Twitter, in this case), to go the extra mile and help their customers get comfort after a rather interesting incident which turned itself into just another anecdote, which is essentially what happened after we got the information we needed. Now, imagine this whole scenario without having social technologies helping out. Imagine the chaos of several dozens of people piling up, complaining about their own rights, about having good information on what’s happening, about their vouches for refreshments while the wait ensured, etc. etc. Yes, I am sure it’s not hard to imagine. It would have been a complete chaos. Mayhem unleashed. And yet, a couple of exchanges with @Iberia through Twitter and we are all good. Yes, just that, 2 or 3 exchanges in Twitter and we are back in business!

Needless to say that this success story, just like it did for Movistar a little while ago and that I have blogged about over here, can only mean something, something that we all seem to take for granted, but that, time and time again, it’s incredibly difficult to gain and enjoy for much longer nowadays as we have all become rather disenchanted: customer loyalty and employee engagement. Because you know, happy and engaged employees surely help cultivate happy customers. Each and every time.

Indeed, thanks to that helpful exchange on Twitter, one gets to comprehend how the future of work is social, how Social Business is all about people to people business and how customers don’t interact with brands to get their problems addressed and fixed and their needs met. Customers talk to people, people who take ownership of their customers’ problems and whom, within a matter of minutes, ensure that problem has been taken care of and a proper resolution is on the way, depending on the context, obviously. Essentially, no matter what people out there may well say, that’s what customers care about. Perhaps not so much about engaging with those brands per se, but more talk to people to have their problems solved, so that they can move on. And since that’s just what has happened to me that can only mean one thing: my new favourite airline out there to do business with is … @Iberia. Just another business that has embarked already on that fascinating journey to become a successful socially integrated enterprise.

In short, another business that, finally, shows and demonstrates fully, by walking the talk with these social technologies, how to care about their own customers: From people to people solving their problems by making them their own, while finding a solution in a timely manner. That, folks, is what a Social Business is all about! And, I do realise that this may well be just an isolated occurrence, so we will have to wait and see about that! But, for now, once again, Iberia is showing everyone the way… It’s now up to us to follow suit.

[ I already have, by the way. They just landed themselves a new, happy AND loyal customer 😀 ]

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