One of my favourite topics du jour is that one of theFuture of Work and, more specifically, how the world of Social Networking is helping redefine it by provoking one of the most profound business transformations we have lived through in our entire history. But then again work, per se, is a whole lot more than just in a business context. Work keeps morphing at a rather rampant and unstoppable pace moving from being that physical space where things happen to become nowadays a state of mind. Work happens wherever you are, in a specific, unique and given context, with the tools you have at your disposal (and the people you may have around you to help you get it done). We are no longer restricted to the traditional office, nor a fixed top-down driven hierarchical team with a specific set of goals. We probably have got nowadays much better collaboration and knowledge sharing tools than ever before, allowing work to flow versus stagnate thanks to those unstoppable open knowledge flows amongst knowledge workers, whether inside or outside of the firewall, participating in meaningful conversations with customers, business partners, competitors, thought leaders, etc. etc. The traditional concept of the workplace is now a thing of the past. And about a good time, too! We are work. Work is us.
Later on next month, on September 21st, I will be participating, as one of the speakers, at the superb Joint Alumni Conference (a.k.a. JAC 2012) event that will be taking place in Zurich and my dissertation is going to be around this very same topic, i.e. The Future of Work. Over in Google Plus I have been having an exhilarating and rather inspiring conversation with a few folks, that I would love to invite you all to check it out, drop by and leave a comment, or two, if you wish to as well (Will be using that thread live on stage!), on what I will be covering on this very same topic and while doing plenty of research on stuff that I would want to talk about I bumped into another G+ Post from my good friend JimHays that clearly helps redefine our traditional concept of work. And how we may need to start shifting gears and make a mental switch from what we have considered, traditionally, as work, and what lies ahead for all of us, specially, in the current turmoil and financial econoclypse we have been going through in the last few years.
I think I would just go ahead and take the liberty of embedding the screen shot over here that Jim re-shared, so you can see what I mean with that redefinition of the state of work:
“If you’re unemployed it’s not because there isn’t any work – Just look around: a housing shortage, crime, pollution; we need better schools and parks. Whatever our needs, they all require work. And as long as we have unsatisfied needs, there is work to be done. So ask yourself, what kind of world has work, but no jobs. It’s a world where work is not related to satisfying our needs, a world where work is only related to satisfying the profit needs of business. This country was not built by the huge corporations or government bureaucracies. It was built by people who work. And, it is working people who should control the work to be done. Yet, as long as employment is tied to somebody else’s profits, the work won’t get done.“
I am not sure what you would think about such brilliant and incredibly provocative quote, but the Hippie 2.0 side of me keeps telling me that we are probably starting to witness an unprecedented and unique opportunity to go through a massive change on how we view work and how the business world needs to start readjusting to a new reality. A new reality where if it is not an integral part of helping improve the well-being of our societies, of our qualified workers, pretty soon we are going to reach that point where we may not have those workers anymore, not even qualified ones. Which certainly helps me get reminded about a quote that I recently blogged about by DonTapscott that I think clearly defines the main big challenge ahead for the business / corporate world of the 21st century, very much along the lines of adapt to the new reality or die in the attempt:
“Business can’t succeed in a world that’s failing“
Indeed, I do strongly believe that the corporate world has been, long enough, perhaps for far too long!, totally disengaged with (knowledge) workers AND their societies. That lack of outer meaning, focus and purpose out of the short term, individualistic corporate profit (Driven by power, politics and greed, mostly) is soon reaching an end-point, if not already, whereby if businesses would want to survive in the 21st century they can no longer thrive in isolation, but must find their way to embrace and apply that so-called concept of corporate social responsibility, because otherwise knowledge workers will find a way to continue thriving without paying too much attention to the traditional business world environment.
Remember that myth of employee engagement? Well, thanks to social computing, and social networking tools, whether internal or external, we now have got a huge opportunity to revert that myth back, embed business back into society, our collective society, and continue through that learning process of redefining work to make it more human, democratised, accessible, universal, worthy, just and meaningful not only for those people who are actively working, but for everyone else altogether, as part of a single, unique ecosystem: society as a whole.
Exciting times, indeed, to live through! However, let’s just not waste that opportunity (again). We may not have another one coming up soon enough… and, if anything, let’s not forget that we, the workers, are the ones redefining the workplace of the future. Let’s ensure we get it right this time around with the little help and good effort from social software. We all are capable of wonderful things, we all know that. We just need to show it and demonstrate it. If we have been looking for a purpose for Living Social, I think this is our chance. We all know what’s the alternative, and how ugly it is, so it’s probably a good time to make a stand and start owning and take a bit more responsibility of our work. After all, it’s perhaps our only way to make this world a better place, not just for a few, but for everyone else altogether for that matter…
At a time of a tremendous amount of incredible positives and incredible negatives, mixed all along with a huge sense of urgent uncertainty as to what’s going to happen next, one cannot, but truly appreciate how the world of the Social Web is changing us as a society, never mind the corporate world altogether, making us all reflect deeply on what really matters after all. Time and time again we keep getting exposed to those wonderful gestures of our human kind that clearly highlight where we are today, but at the same time we also get strong reminders of what’s stopping us altogether from making a better world, for everyone, which could perhaps be very well explained with this single quote: “it’s like a despair, destroying this world … people who have no hopes are easy to control” [- G’mork].
I love the Internet. I truly love the Social Web. I don’t even know what I would be doing without it, if there comes a time where it does no longer exist or I don’t get exposed often enough to it. I hope that never happens. I think those of us who have been lucky enough to live through it over the last 10 years have experienced, and never better said, such a fundamental change and shift on who we are as human beings that’s almost impossible to remain indifferent. No matter what. And the most exciting thing about it is that our younger generations have been born living through it all and will eventually complete our already started work of making this world a better place for us, for them, for everyone.
I heart social networking. I always have. Ever since I first got exposed to it back in 2001 I always felt it was going to help manage get the best out of all of us, human beings, so that we could go and create and do better things for those around us, and for the world at large. And I think I may have just witnessed one of the most inspiring confirmations of that inner urge that technology, when used right, could help us become better at what we already excel at: getting the good out of all of us and put it into practice. Good practice.
Earlier on today, and through one of my network(s), I bumped into this absolutely stunning, witty, smart, incredibly inspirational, thought provoking and rather moving dissertation by Dr.PamelaGay at the recent TAM 2012 event (The Amazing Meeting 2012) under this delightful title: “Make the World Better (Ask If Anyone Minds Later)“. It’s a presentation that lasts for a little bit over 36 minutes, but I can certainly guarantee you that it’s worth while every single minute of it. It’s fully packed with lots of rather thought provoking messages and plenty of calls to action on how the world of social media, and science, for that matter, are changing and shifting certain things that we have learned to take for granted as part of a rather sickening status quo that perhaps, almost certainly, has got its days numbered, because it no longer represents how our world works or should work to become a better place for everyone! Some sort of a call to action into what I would quote as “The Awakening (2.0)” (Sorry, I know, I couldn’t help using the 2.0 moniker), which I already hinted a little while ago on this blog entry as well.
Today’s blog post is going to be a short one. I would rather prefer you spend the time going through Pamela’s presentation to see what I mean with no longer being capable of remaining indifferent with everything that happens around you. Even more so that I originally had another idea and trend of thought for today’s blog post, but after watching her speech I though it was just too good to let it go by just like that. Why? Well, basically, for plenty of different reasons that I am sure you would be agreeing with as well if you have been reading this blog for a while, but mainly because of this particular quote from her:
“Imagine a world in which all the time, all the energy, all the bandwidth that currently goes into cyberbulling and trolling, instead goes into building good things; goes into doing science, goes into education […] Find what you are passionate about and build that thing” [Emphasis mine]
Or maybe, because of these other rather inspiring quotes that Pamela herself brilliantly used throughout her presentation that have certainly made me think about the inner power we all have and that it’s probably a good time now that it, finally, comes out. To quote her: “We can be the better example”, “We do need to fight to build a better world”, “Be the change you want to see in the world… well, damn it, be the change by doing something!“
Well, with all of that said, and without much further ado, here’s the embedded code of the YouTube video, so you can hit Play, watch and listen to Pamela and be prepared to learn how you, too, no matter what, no matter how, no matter when, can change the world. Our world:
You may have noticed how over the course of the last couple of weeks I haven’t been much active on the external social networking tools out there that I usually hang out at, such as Twitter, Google Plus or LinkedIn. There are a couple of reasons for that, but one in particular is the one that’s impacting me the most at the moment, since I’m still being affected by it and there is no easy solution to it. And the way things are looking up it seems that it’s going to be like that for a few more years to come. Personally, I am doing just fine. At least, for now. So those folks who may be wondering whether I’m ok, yes, I am. Thanks much for the recent concerns shown upon out there through various social channels. It’s very much appreciated. However, the trouble is that really close friends of mine are starting to suffer, in the first person, and pretty dramatically, the various different consequences from the financial econoclypse we have been experiencing over the last 4 years over here in Spain resulting, eventually, in yours truly not engaging in social networks as much as I used to as the focus has moved elsewhere altogether.
Mind you, the following blog entry is not meant to be negative around the world of social computing and social networking for business (#socbiz), since both my enthusiasm and social evangelism efforts are still intact, just as much as it is an open, out loud reflection of what I have been seeing and noticing over the last few months on the state of social networks out there and how they are consistently detaching ourselves from reality. Our day to day reality. And that’s exactly why over the course of the last weeks I have been reflecting, once more, on what role all of these social technologies should be really playing on how I interact both online and offline. But let’s see first some of the reasons that have triggered, in my mind, the title of this article under “The Fallacy of Social Networking” and see how far off I am. Or I think I am. Like I said, this post is not meant to be negative nor indicative of my lack of enthusiasm around social networking; it’s more a wake-up call from reality which I guess I was very much due to go through at some point in time… And it all happened only last week.
Traditional Hierarchies inside Social Networks – Not So Much an Oxymoron Anymore
Somehow I am worryingly starting to show not so much interest in seeing how everyone keeps proclaiming consistently how social networking tools are taking the business world by storm changing the way we work, as well as our societies in the way we live in, to then be confronted with realities like the ones expressed on this absolutely stunning interview with Manuel Castells or this other rather interesting and fascinating reflection from VincençNavarro on the real issues at stake with how the world is being currently run. Seriously, if you would want to find out who is rescuing whom from today’s financial turmoils, as an example, that article is an absolute must-read one. It won’t leave you indifferent either!
Now, I do realise that both links I mentioned above are in Spanish, so you would probably have to rather have them translated or polish your Spanish skills, but I just couldn’t help thinking about Manuel’s reflections on what’s really happening in today’s world to explain why that financial econoclypse may well not be what we think it is. If you still think that social networking has got anything to do with it all, you would have to think about it, once again! It’s on another level altogether.
On that interview, just to give you a glimpse of what it is all about, he gets to talk about power, about the real power. Not the authoritarian one, but the power of the mind, which gets organised by communication networks, our social networks, stating, quite clearly that, whoever controls communication, controls the mind, and therefore controls the power, which reminds me of the recent speech by the always thought provoking JohnHagel at the Social Business Forum earlier on this year in Milan, on the challenge for all of us knowledge workers to fight that well known maxim of “Information is power” and the reluctance from those who have got the information to release that power, specially, in the management and executive layers all the way to the top. So we are starting to see how a good number of hierarchies in social networks are emerging where there are two different types of social interactions: knowledge workers interacting with one another and executives and top managers doing the same, but in a meaningful way just amongst themselves, clearly demonstrating how they are still clinging to their long time standing command-and-control mentality of not releasing that information, therefore, that power, because of fear they may get displaced along the way with the democratisation social networks have been enjoying all along. Talking about that much needed shift on Leadership, don’t you think?
Manuel’s interview would also be a must-watch one if you would want to find out plenty more about the #15M or #Ocuppy movements and what they would mean for all of us in the long term, coming pretty close to a reflection that I shared in the recent blog post “Four Principles for the Open World by Don Tapscott” under this quote: “there is leadership, but not one leader“. Truly fascinating learning how both physical and virtual social networks will be changing and shaping up our perceptions of the role of politics in our society as a result of Netizens 2.0 taking over the online conversations AND the offline actions. His account of the current political system, including the voting system, within Spain and the USA, is incredibly thought provoking on its own! And something that in most cases those folks very much pro-democracy would find shocking, if not too disturbing to watch altogether.
To finish off with that brief summary of Manuel’s interview, and moving way beyond disturbing to describe what he talks about, would be his dissertation of the financial turmoil we are currently going through, what provoked it, how did we end up where we are today 4 years later and which affects, quite clearly, the ill-doings from the finance sector where somehow it looks like there hasn’t been much about both ethics and morale, never mind responsibility, even from the political parties and government(s) in place that are supposed to represent us at the same time, and whose main aim, apparently, according to Manuel, is just to keep their own jobs, so that they can continue doing their business due to their own shortage of skills, wit and talent to go into the private sector. WOW!!! I’m currently using lots of patience while I am writing down these thoughts to try to contain the rage, but I must confess it’s quite tough on its own, given what you will learn from his insights through the second part of the interview.
And this is where things will get very very interesting from there onwards, because he gets to talk about the role of the Internet on how it manages to provide us all with a window of opportunity to be in the know, to find out what’s really happening, to share our information and knowledge across with others, so that we can smarten up in building our very own opinions through massive critical thinking exercises, because we are no longer getting it through traditional mainstream news media thanks to the censorship from both governments and financial institutions… Does it sound all too familiar in other countries? This is probably as good as it gets when you put it in perspective of what a whole bunch of various different governmental entities have been doing over the course of the years to try to put a circle around the Internet and how we use it. Define it whichever way you would want to and you will be right on!
Yes, I know what you are thinking … Once again, here is my Hippie 2.0 hat coming out once again hehe and I guess this time around I won’t be taming it down too well. Rather eye-opening that interview from Manual Castells on this aspect, for sure! Specially, how he describes in a very inspirational manner one of the activities that we seem to be very good at in the world of the Internet: build an Information Mosaic around us through critical thinking, i.e. checking various different news sources, our social networks, our tippers, etc. etc. so that we can form for ourselves much better, and more educated opinions altogether. All of that thanks to that fight of keeping the freedom of the Internet as that: our freedom. And, yes, there is hope at the end of the tunnel: rebuild democracy with people right at the centre of it!
With a Little Help of Friends
Now, that reflection I have just shared above has helped me tremendously to see things in a little bit better perspective, specially, after what I have been witnessing in the last couple of years See? I even finished it up with a positive, moving forward, flavour that we are at the point of no return, past beyond the tipping point of how the Internet is defining who we are as a society, and what purpose, meaning and focus we bring on to the table with it. I guess that’s what blogging / writing does to you. And I am grateful. I am sure by now you are sensing what’s the second reason why I haven’t been much active in the social networking spaces out there in the last couple of weeks, right? More than anything else, because all along I have felt it’s just far too important to ignore it, nor neglect it and I am hoping folks out there who were expecting from me to live social as if nothing happened would understand why I took the decision I did and take some time off to prioritize where I wanted to place my efforts and energy. That second reason, indeed, is that the vast majority of the time that I used to dedicate to external social networks is now dedicated to help those local friends, my offline social networks, any which way I can to get them back on track with their personal specific circumstances, whether financial, family or whatever else related, and that means we have got to get a few things sorted out.
Now, things are looking up already, thank goodness!, and I would probably say that they are all back in good shape after a couple of rough months with the odd scare here and there, but I must confess that helping them out has been quite an eye-opening experience to help me redefine, at the same time, my overall presence on virtual social networks versus my physical / offline networks: instead of spending plenty of time reading through the typical mumbo jumbo me, me, me and how great I am with my social networking insights for business and whatever else that we are all exposed to, I have decided to ditch those loud speakers blasting out their own marketing messages who add very little into the mix and focus much deeper, instead, just on what I feel I can do with my ¢2: help others in need where I possibly can. Life is just too short to have to spend a large chunk of it listening to those social media experts and gurus, or whatever other fancy term that’s used nowadays, who just want to get into your wallet without asking for anything in return. And then, after they get it, they walk away for their next victim…
It’s thanks to those interactions with my offline social networks when things were getting tougher and dire that one realises how it is now probably a good time to find that purpose, meaning and focus on social business networking for work or for personal use. And that’s just what I have done in the last couple of days. I have gone into my Big Three social networking sites, specially, Twitter and Google Plus, and have moved those gurus into groups and lists away from my main timeline, in an exercise to do some social networking hygiene, reduce the growing noise ratio and incorporate back into the mix the signals I would want to keep inspiring me to do what I do on a daily basis. And so far it’s been quite a refreshing exercise to witness much closer how absorbing it can get following up with what you know, over time, is not going to bring you much business value, or purpose altogether.
I am sure there will be plenty of folks out there who would realise I may have unfollowed them in either of those networks. It’s nothing personal. I’m hoping that I will be able to bring you back into my social timelines some time soon, but for now I am sensing that the value I used to get from your social insights is no longer as worth as I thought it would be today. So it’s time for me to put them all in quarantine for a little bit, i.e. Twitter Lists and specific Google Plus Circles, to re-evaluate whether I would want to keep up with the interactions or, instead, move on. Feel free to do the same with yours truly. Like I said, it’s nothing personal and I totally understand if you no longer feel I am providing you the business value in our interactions that we once used to have. Perhaps that’s also part of this critical thinking exercise from yours truly to re-evaluate for myself how I keep using these social networking tools to participate in conversations, adding my ¢2 and whatever else. Social just for the sake of social is now dead. Social for the sake of just showing you are out there and want to be noticed is also dead. At least, for me. I had a great time, but it’s time now for me to move on…
Probably after the summer I will follow-up with another blog entry detailing what the experience has been so far, but one thing for sure that I can tell you right now, is how liberating it’s been to move away from that noise, along with the technology hiccups of catching with that volume of interactions and instead focus on those areas where I feel I can truly help with my knowledge, expertise, know-how, and whatever else. In the offline social networking world, just as much as the online one.
Social Networking Sites Need to Grow Up into the 21st Century. Thank you very much
Finally, one last reflection to go through… Thanks for sticking around this far. It’s greatly appreciated! Now, I have just mentioned how incredibly tiring it was trying to catch up with the technical issues, hiccups and additional hurdles of keeping up with various social networking sites, and their own technical specifications, where the simple sheer volume of interactions details how ugly things are turning around at the moment, provoking an effect I’m not sure I would want to put up much with anymore: spend the whole day in social networks, just because they feel we have got all of the time of the world to spend it inside each and everyone of them! No, thanks! That doesn’t quite work like that, I am afraid.
I am not sure what you would think but I am beginning to wonder whether Social networking sites are starting to behave in exactly pretty much the same fashion that Instant Messaging clients and IM protocols behaved like over 10 years ago and from which we are still recovering today: IM protocols still don’t talk to each other, fragmenting the networks, the interactions, the conversations. It looks like social networking sites don’t do that either, for that matter, and they are not going to get started now if we look closer into what we are seeing with Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook or even Google Plus themselves. Walled gardens are the new black, apparently. And the funny part is that for those folks who may want to spend their time whole day long hopping from walled garden to walled garden it may well be a good, fun activity. However, I am not sure I would want to walk away that thin line of investing far too much effort, energy, and time in a social networking site that could disappear tomorrow or be acquired, to then be terminated the day after, like we keep seeing in recent times… So much for interoperability of federated, open standard social networks, eh?
Where did we go wrong? What happened to us? Do we need to show and demonstrate those external social networking sites, once and for all!, what’s been the number #1 factor of their own success? That is, their end-user base making the most of the social technologies, whether developers or early adopters or mainstream end-users to get the job done? Because if that’s the case, I’m more than ready to remind each and everyone of them to remember what’s the single one must-have requirement for those social networking sites to not only flourish, but also to persist over the course of time: end-users sharing their data, their time and their effort for free (Remember we all are the product) over an extended period of time…
Perhaps it’s the time for us to show and demonstrate all of those social networking sites out there that there is a life outside of their world and immediate reach of influence. Perhaps it’s now a good time to confirm with each and everyone of them whether we could live without them for an extended period of time, or not, just resorting to blogging to share your thoughts and insights out there with an audience eager to keep learning, just as much as we all are. After all, what are you going to do when all of those social networking sites that you spend several hours per day disappear into thin air, where are you going to go to then? Yes, where are you going to go the day when Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Slideshare, Tumblr, etc. etc. are all gone, because you know that’s going to happen at some point in time, right? Here’s the only one certainty that I have grown to learn and treasure over the course of time and which has caught me big time in the last couple of weeks: your own personal / business blog will always be there, no matter what.
After all, your own blog will always remain your personal voice, your own opinion, your critical thinking, your brain, your personal and inner reflection time, unbiased; in short, your own personal knowledge sharing and learning system or whatever else out there on the Social Web that you would want it to be in the first place, like it has over the last 18 years and counting … And, whether they like it or not, they can never take that away from you. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.
For a good few weeks I had on my pending to-do list that action item of watching, I was told, one of of the most inspiring and thought-provoking TED Talks in recent times that would certainly not leave you indifferent for a long while. Yes, I was advised that it was that good. And I must admit that, after having just finished going through it in its entirety, having noticed as well how it’s been all over the place in the social streams out there, I wasn’t disappointed at all, on the contrary. Mind-boggling would fall short by far in describing how good it is. I would even go one step further and state that the Hippie 2.0movement is alive and kicking. And I am, for sure, very grateful about that! More than anything else because of a single key concept that permeates throughout the TED Talk and which I have been advocating for a long while as one of the biggest advantages of making use of social technologies, whether for work or for personal use: Openness.
Indeed, I am talking about the recent TED Talk from DonTapscott under the suggestive title “Four Principles for the Open World“, which lasts for nearly 18 minutes, and which talks quite a bit around some of the major key themes from social networking for business that have become some of my favourite topics as of late in the realm of Social Business: Openness and Collaboration in new, more powerful ways.
Indeed, in that rather inspirational presentation Don brings up lots of wonderful insights and powerful messages around digital natives and digital immigrants, and our growing sense of no fear of technology which will certainly help inspire a good number of open interactions that perhaps in the recent past were not taking place. Now, I never bought personally into the whole argument behind digital natives and immigrants since I have always thought it was all about working stylesand how you, as a business, could help accommodate accordingly, for those various different generations getting work done. Together. As a network, or as a community, interacting and collaborating with one another. But nevertheless his perspective is quite an interesting one, for sure!
What’s really fascinating though about Don’s TED Talk is how, over the course of nearly 18 minutes, he gets to talk about 4 core principles from social networking for business that would resonate, quite strongly, not only within the business world, but also within each and everyone of our societies, within each and everyone of us as human beings, and this is essentially what makes this presentation just delightful, but equally inspiring.
Don’t worry, once again, I am not going to spoil the fun and share with you folks a summary of what Don talked about throughout that time. I would rather encourage you all though to go through it and watch it, but you probably will need to be ready to experience shivers going through up your spine, because I can surely guarantee you that you will have plenty of them! So without much further ado, here’s the embedded code of the Talk so you can start watching it right away:
Not too bad for a Friday afternoon, don’t you think? Actually, not too bad for whatever time in the week you go ahead and watch through it. Absolutely brilliant stuff, to say the least! Now, as you can see from his pitch he gets to talk about 4 different core principles that are influencing rather strongly, not only the business world, but also our societies for that matter. And if there is anything that I have enjoyed the most from watching the video clip is the fact that, right there, you probably have got some of the most compelling reasons as to why we have passed, a long time ago, the point of no-return with regards to social technologies and how they are impacting the world.
Thus I thought that to close off this blog post I would focus on quoting those 4 key principles and what I learned about them, as I watched Don go through his presentation. Basically, my own take as I feel you may be wondering what I think about each of those key principles, specially, in the context of Hippie 2.0, right? Now, the funny thing is that if you have been reading this blog for a while you would notice how this is not the first time that I have talked about each and everyone of those principles, so it would be interesting to see how Don’s pitch has changed my overall perception of those key themes. Let’s go! Let’s do it!
Collaboration: Essentially, we are consciously evolving into a new business world, as well as a society, where there are no longer any boundaries in / throughout organizations, where the firewall (Even our very own personal one!) is soon going to become extinct and where hiding behind it is going to continue being frown upon as you would have something to hide, therefore not becoming trustworthy enough, which we all know of is not good for business.
Talent is no longer inside of your organisation, but also outside, and, in fact, ALL OVER the place! So why neglect it or ignore it any longer when we are all starting to understand how the most powerful component of collaboration is that concept of co-creation? With your customers, clients, business partners, even with your own competitors. Remember? Social media, and social technologies for that matter, are all about social production where the main benefit is no longer on creating private value alone, but on creating a public one that will benefit everyone as part of that entire ecosystem. That’s why collaboration, specially, virtual collaboration through social networking tools is becoming so critical nowadays in a world that’s now more distributed and virtual than ever before. Still think your organisation could live by without breathing a collaborative corporate culture? Hummm, I don’t think so. Maybe 10 years ago that was possible, but definitely not today. And, most definitely, not tomorrow!
Transparency: This is a big one. A huge one, actually. Indeed, as Don mentioned institutions and organisations are getting naked, whether they like it or not. It’s no longer about providing good value and good products, but about having core values. Values that the entire organisation can live by every single day. Values that, without them, you won’t be able to build trust. And we all know how critical trust is in today’s day and age where without it we can no longer get work done. Do you still work the closest with people who you do not trust much? … I doubt it. And rightly so!
I truly loved a particular quote that Don mentioned on this part of his speech and which are true words to live by in the Era of Transparency: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and we need a lot of sunlight on this troubled world” (Somehow, it reminded me of wearing sunscreen, basically, be prepared before you go naked remembering who you are, what you do, what core business values you have and live them. Walk the talk…)
Sharing: This is probably one of the toughest to comply with, embrace and live through principles that Don talked about. Specially, in the business world. He basically talked about giving up on your (business) assets, your intellectual property. Think beyond the personal private business benefit into the more general, public one. The social good. Indeed, the original definition for Social Business. Failure to do so will represent a massive problem and a huge challenge not just for that business, but also for the overall humanity. And his account of what’s happening with the music industry as one of the worst examples of not being open to sharing, along with the pharmaceutical industry, are just mind-blowing, not only because of the impact upon themselves, but because of the overall impact in our society, specially, in the latter case, where, if they would want to survive themselves, and all of us, for that matter, they would need to share their assets in the commons before it is too late, looking out for that social good, which in this case would relate to giving up those assets for the well being of humanity. Some pretty serious stuff that would unfold in 12 months, according to Don. 12 months and the clock is ticking …
Empowerment: And, finally, one of my favourite principles: Empowerment, which, in a certain way, would be pretty much related as well to Engagement, which has been one of my preferred topics to talk about lately, specially, after my last blog post on the topic. Don comments how both knowledge and intelligence are power, and how as they start to become more distributed thanks to the extensive use of social networking tools, (Yes, where “knowledge shared is power”) it will bring up something that it still amazes me that we are in 2012 and we don’t see enough of it all over the place: Freedom. And in all senses of the word. Very powerful messages in here from him for sure on how networks and communities, the good old wirearchy we are all already pretty familiar with, will be driving the emergence of that freedom in everything that we do, collaborate on, share across and participate in. Essentially, help us redefine not only how we do business, how we get work done, but also how we live as a society. Yes, I know what’s going through your mind at the moment as you read through these words… Hippie 2.0 overload!! Oh, yes, I know! I love it, too! And about time, don’t you think?
From there onwards, Don takes us all towards the end of an amazing presentation with a delightful and very beautiful trip down the memory lane of us, human beings, as a culture, as a civilization, and over the course of centuries by stating what openness meant for all of us in each of the various different stages, and which we may have forgotten already: The Agrarian Age, the Industrial Age, and what he calls the Age of Networked Intelligence. The latter being of vast promise. The new power of the Commons, the one for which we no longer can see the point of no return. The one from which we just can’t go back, nor get off the train. Far too immersed on it.
And this is the point when beauty and an unprecedented sense of wonderment got on stage, because right then Don talked about the whole concept of “There is Leadership, but not one leader” as he showed the absolutely stunning example of immense flocks of starlings, up in Scotland, preparing to roost at dusk, which is probably one of the most beautiful reminders of the true power of nature that we have got the privilege to witness and enjoy every single day that goes by:
Yes, indeed, there is leadership, but not one leader. Nowadays, more than ever, there is a strong, growing, real sense of interdependence, amongst all of us, whether doing work together, or whether we all are part of a single unique society, us, human beings, where we are also finally coming to terms with a key message that we just cannot ignore anymore in today’s financial econoclypse: “Business can’t succeed in a world that’s failing“… Think about the kids of today, i.e. your kids, and think where you would want them to be tomorrow. Couldn’t we create some kind of collective intelligence, that we share together, creating that global awareness and consciousness that would help build a much better, sustainable, generous, respectful, caring, transparent, collaborative, sharing and empowered world for them? Think of it, what will be the legacy we will leave them with that they will talk about in say 30 to 50 years from now? Today’s world, or tomorrow’s networked, interconnected, brilliant future?
Whoahh! Who would have thought about that, eh? Here is this English Language and English Literature BA just going through one of those milestones difficult to achieve in today’s current time and age. Who would have thought that on January 20th 1997 I would start working for IBM and that 15 years later I would still be there having a blast loving what I love doing: working smarter, not necessarily harder, with plenty of people as passionate as I am for everything related to knowledge sharing, collaboration, communities, learning and social networking, and aiming at doing, or, at least, trying my hardest, something meaningful and purposeful. Yay!! Happy IBM Anniversary to me!
If someone would have told me, back then, in January 1997, that I would be making 15 years in the IT company that hired me back then, as a contractor, to then full time regular employee in November 1999, enjoying the work I do without focusing too much on the technology piece, that I never liked anyway, I would have told them that they would be just plain crazy. If someone would have told me that after IBM making its 100th anniversary last year, and with over 50% of its population less than 5 years in the company, while I just hit 15 years, I would have told them there would be no way for me to last that long! Seriously. Can you imagine yourself in today’s world, 2012, where the average knowledge worker hangs around a job for 4 years approximately, lasting in any business for 15 years and still have a feeling that you are just getting started? Yes, I know, too difficult to imagine, but the reality is that’s the time I have been at IBM and it feels just like yesterday!
Long gone are the days when I first started working as a Customer Support Representative for the mainframe, supporting the UK, to then move to the PC environment (OS/2 and Windows 3.11!), to then end up on the Training Department from the Help Centre where I spent 4 years in total getting folks up to speed on how to make effective use of computers to get work their work done, as customer support representatives. Long gone are the years where I spent one of the most unforgettable years on a physical assignment in Dublin helping out with the migration of the Help Center from Zoetermeer, NL, to Dublin itself. Long gone, too, are the years where I was in the Global Technology Services line of business, working as a Knowledge Manager for the whole of EMEA implementing and deploying KMS and other Learning & Knowledge initiatives. Long gone, as well, are the years where I worked at the Systems and Technology Group business unit on their Technical Communities Programme or the Global Business Services Community Building programme within their Learning & Knowledge section. Yes, indeed, time flies when you are having plenty of good fun and you have that strong feeling of contributing into something bigger, much bigger, than you.
So much fun as the last 5 years that I have been part of the BlueIQ Team, as a social computing evangelist and community builder, helping accelerate the adoption rate of social software tools, both internally and externally, from fellow IBMers. So much fun as the last 11 years that I have been involved with social networking tools, having gotten started with that precious gem a bunch of us got busy with back then calledFringe and which, right from the start, initiated my journey towards living social till today. And still going strong!
Late last year, with the craze from year end activities and the bunch of business travelling I did, I missed a couple of other important milestones: the 8th anniversary of my internal blog (December 2003) and the 6th anniversary of my external blog (October 2005); as well as my 12th anniversary as a full time employee at IBM (November 1999). I couldn’t possibly miss out on another important one, this 15th consecutive year I have been working for IBM, and which I made a couple of days ago. So what did I do to celebrate it?
Well, after having completed a face to face team meeting to prepare and put together the last few details from the planning of our internal and external Adoption Programme for 2012 and beyond, and after a rather intense, exhausting, but equally rather exciting and exhilarating experience at one of the best conference events I have attended in a long while (Lotusphere and IBM Connect 2012), I decided to take the vast majority of the day off, hang out by the pool (After all, the weather in Orlando last Friday was just stunning!), relax, muse and ponder some more, about how lucky I am for working where I work, for living where I live, for doing what I love doing, and for having around me an incredible amount of really smart folks, both IBMers, and non IBMers, who, without them realising much about it, have managed to shape up, over the course of the years, yours truly, what I do, what I care for, in short, who I am today.
I think it was GaryHamel who once said that we, human beings, are pretty much shaped up by those people who we are surrounded with, you know, the folks who we usually hang out with (Gosh, wish I would remember the exact quote! Anyone wanting to come to the rescue, please?) and that’s probably the best way for me to define how I feel about work (at IBM) and perhaps share some further insights as to why, all along, I am a people person who cares about who I work with, what we do together and what we can learn new. Long gone are the days where I would worry about making more than enough money, or about having enough (executive) decision power, or influence, to change things, or about having wide spread recognition (even if I don’t deserve it) or just simply having enough work in order to be able to keep up paying my bills. While I can imagine some of that may tick for some people out there, it is no longer the case for me. Maybe even it never was in the first place.
Yes, I guess you could call me a hippie, a Hippie 2.0, but I have always believed work should be a whole lot more than just that. Work. It should be about constantly finding new meaning, new focus, new purpose, new goals in one’s life,a strong sense of pride on what you do and who you know, who you connect with, collaborate or share your knowledge with; it should be about finding new ways to keep up with the learning curve so you can stay away from stagnation to no end; from being a passive consumer, or witness, of things (passing by); it should be about having that rather rewarding and fulfilling feeling that you are, hopefully, contributing into something bigger, much larger, something beautiful, that we could then pass on to our future generations knowing that we have done the right thing: leave them with an opportunity to remember and treasure a legacy that will make their lives, and those of their grandkids, much better altogether.
Yes, I know. I am a hippie 2.0 at heart, probably on the verge of being flagged as well as a utopian, but very proud of it eventually! Always have. And while I may continue to work on helping achieve that purpose and those goals for as long as I possibly can, there is one thing that I could share with you all out there who may be reading this blog post as I reflect further on about how those 15 years have gone by lightning fast and with me hardly noticing it: carpe diem! Seize the day!! Make the most not only out of (your) work, but also out of your own life!
If you come to think about it, we have been given one single life to try to enjoy to the fullest. To get the most out of it, while we can! Yet, we haven’t been given a single job to carry out in our lifetime, have we? But dozens, if not hundreds of them! So, why would we continue to work for something that we may not believe in, that we may not feel motivated, nor engaged enough, nor recognised for and whatever else? Just because it keeps paying the bills without involving too much thinking on the side from you? Really? I hope not. Otherwise we would be totally wasting another precious life. Our own.
Just think of it. Already one third of it is spent getting plenty of much needed sleep, specially, those who have learned how important it can well be for your own well being to sleep good enough hours (So we don’t notice it…); the second third is spent at work (where I do realise a good bunch of folks do have a tendency to work plenty more hours than that second third!!) and that just leaves us with one third of our lifetimes to enjoy and celebrate what we enjoy doing the most: our true passion(s). Whatever those may well be…
Why waste our meaningful and purposeful lives, just like that?!? Shouldn’t we all wake up, once and for all, and try to aim for better things? We know we can do it. We know we just need that gentle push to get us going. Perhaps 2012 is the year where we can break loose and start living much more fulfilling lives altogether. Otherwise, what’s the alternative? Do you like it? I surely wouldn’t. I guess at this point in time in these reflections I shouldn’t spend entire afternoons at the pool in Orlando, Florida, reflecting on these things, but as I went through my 15th year anniversary at IBM last Friday, while enjoying the sunshine, the good weather, a lovely drink and plenty of thinking along the side(s), I just couldn’t help but reminding myself of one of my favourite speeches, quite an inspiring and thought-provoking reminder for us all on what really matters, and which you can find out more about it on this YouTube video, which I will also embed over here. You know, the same thing over again, the small things: Wear Sunscreen!
I am not too sure what I would be doing in the next 15 years, whether I would still be working at IBM, or elsewhere, but one thing for certain is that I definitely plan to continue having a blast with what I do, on a daily basis, living social and all. Life is just too short not to grab it by the face and smack it left and right, if it isn’t facilitating, nor helping, to provide you with you truly deserve. So go ahead and grab it, before it vanishes and moves on, leaving you behind!
Happy IBM Anniversary, my dear hippie 2.0! Here’s to another 15 coming along …
The question should not be ‘What keeps you up at night?’, but ‘What gets you up in the morning?’ @practicallyrad at #ls12
As I am about to enjoy my last day on vacation, since tomorrow morning I will be heading over to Orlando, Florida, to embark on the regular yearly pilgrimage trip to attend IBM’s event of events around the world of Collaboration, Knowledge Sharing and the Social Enterprise (Of course, I’m talking about the one and only: Lotusphere 2012), I just couldn’t help putting together this blog post about an article that, when I first bumped into it, I found it incredibly innovative, rather refreshing and very re-energising, but after finishing it up I just thought… “Gosh, that’s a given! Why are we not doing it in today’s corporate world on a wider scale?” … “Give Your Employees Unlimited Vacation Days” may sound all to unrealistic and utopian at best, yet, to me, it’s the ultimate goal for any employer out there around Employee Engagement: Trust your employees to do the right thing!
Indeed, in a rather inspiring and incredibly thought-provoking article, Joe Reynolds (From Red Frog Events) shares the story of how over at his company (Red Frog) they celebrate vacation. They encourage it and they ensure that once work is done and you are covered you are happy to take as many holidays, as an employee, as you would want to. And interestingly enough he comments that this new system has never been abused so far. Surprise, surprise. Well, not really. Why should it?
I mean, last time I brought this subject up, perhaps not over here in this blog, (Although I think I may have hinted it earlier on over at “Reflections from 2011 – Is Employee Engagement Still a Myth?“) but certainly in multiple conversations all over the place, unless you are a rather special business, you have always got a tendency to hire the smartest of talent out there; truly hard working networked professionals who know exactly what’s expected of them and how to excel at their jobs. I know that most of you out there would get a good giggle out of this one, but last time I checked no-one out there is hiring jerks nowadays, and, if you are, you certainly have got a rather problematic issue with your own HR hiring process that needs fixing really soon, that has got nothing to do with social networking tools nor how people use them, by the way. It’s more of a fundamental, organisational issue altogether.
So considering that you have got a whole bunch of hard working networked knowledge workers, why wouldn’t you allow them to take as many holidays as they would want to? It’s not surprising, indeed, that the system won’t be abused, as Joe mentions on that article. On the contrary. If your knowledge workers are truly motivated, and rather passionate, appreciated, recognised and rewarded for their exceedingly good jobs, not only are they going to be willing to take their extended holidays, but there is also a great chance that they would come back to work sooner than expected! That’s what passion does for you. You can’t think any longer whether work is holiday, or whether holiday is work. It’s no longer about striking a good balance between work and life, but more moving things into the next frontier: work life integration.
Yes, that’s right! It’s all about finding that flexibility of doing your job in an effective manner, when you need to do work, and treasuring your personal life when you would need to do so as well. More than anything else because, as Joe mentions, the traditional concept of office work (From 9:00 am to 5:00 pm) is now a thing of the past! Things have moved on and we are at the stage where more and more employers are starting to lower down their own center of gravity, and the power of decision, and leave it down to employees to make the right decisions for the work they are doing. Main reason why? Well, as a starting point, they are beginning to trust their employees much more than whatever else in the past. And this is an important matter, because we are seeing, finally!, that social transformation where knowledge workers are no longer treated like sheep, as in sheeple (and, as such, they no longer behave like sheep either!), and, instead, they are treated as what they are: people with enough motivation and passion for their jobs to want to go the extra mile, if you offer to go the extra mile yourself. So why not offering that opportunity of unlimited vacation days then? It does make plenty of sense, right?
Of course, it does! If not, have a look into the main reasons that Joe mentions why this rather creative initiative is working out really well for them:
“It treats employees like the adults they are
It reduces costs by not having to track vacation time
It shows appreciation
It’s a great recruitment tool“
Plenty of common sense altogether, no doubt! But perhaps this quote from Joe’s article is much more accurate in describing why such innovative policies will be key, critical, and essential, to attract and retain top talent in a world where we are starting to see plenty of fierce competition on the subject:
“Through building a company on accountability, mutual respect, and teamwork, we’ve seen our unlimited vacation day policy have tremendous results for our employees’ personal development and for productivity“
Both of my good friends Beth Laking and PaulGillin pretty much nailed it a few days back as well when they tweeted their thoughts about this very same article:
The rather interesting and exciting thing though is that Red Frog is not the only company doing this. One of my favourite people, and really good friend, the always insightful and rather smart MaggieFox, has been doing that at Social Media Group for a good couple of years now and has been having tremendous success with this initiative highlighting how it exactly works out for all of them. She wrote about it a while ago under “Why we decided to offer unlimited vacation at Social Media Group” and it’s even more surprising how the only negative reaction towards that initiative is that most people, specially, new hires, don’t believe that there could be such a thing! Goodness! If that’s all, perhaps we also need to start shifting gears ourselves, knowledge workers, thinking that it is also possible working for employers who truly respect and very much appreciate us, employees, to do what we do best, i.e. our jobs, and be rewarded with that much deserved extended holiday break.
After all, it’s thanks to that flexibility, passion, engagement and commitment to our jobs, in keeping excelling at what we are already pretty good at, that clearly demonstrate how not only do we love what we do, but also how we love our lives even more, like Elizabeth Lupfer talked about over at The Social Workplace just recently in a beautiful blog post, which I would highly recommend you go ahead and read through it all, to ponder further and digest on some golden nuggets like this one, which clearly sets the stage of how the corporate world is, finally, starting to come to terms with embracing that new concept of Social Transformation of Your Business – The Workplace of the Future:
“Organizations that create cultures that value balance, and assist employees to achieve life balance will be rewarded with highly engaged employees. Work-life balance does not mean that employees are not loyal, nor committed to their organizations, it means that employees want to lead whole lives, not lives solely centered on work“
To me, replace “balance” with “integration” and we are already there! Don’t think about striking a good balance between work and life, because you will never achieve it (Work will always eat that balance up any given time, before you even notice it!), but more a full integration of your personal life into work and work into your personal life. That’s the key, the sweet spot. That’s what really matters.
I just had one of the most amazing holidays I can remember; mostly disconnected, unwinding from everything online, re-charging my batteries fully, getting plenty more energy levels, full again of optimism and outrageousness, and yet, I can’t wait to get back to work tomorrow, on my way to Orlando, Florida, to attend Lotusphere, even if that happens over the weekend… Already looking forward to seeing over there lots of smart friends and customers wanting to Live Social. Do Business.