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

From the blog

This Is What The Circular Economy Looks Like

Tenerife - Mount Teide in the WinterOk, here we go, folks! Here comes 2012 and it looks like it’s going to be busier and more hectic than ever! Are you ready for it? We better be, because there is no way back! We are already fully immersed in it and it surely looks like it’s going to be another exciting, enlightening and rather interesting new year with lots of very inspiring and encouraging things worth while experiencing to the fullest! And today is no different! While I am still enjoying a few more days on holidays, before getting things rolling with another year at work, I thought I would drop by over here and kick-off the series of blog posts for 2012 with what promises to be *the* most Inspiring Video of the Year (Yes, I know! Already!!). One of those videos you must stop everything you are doing right now and watch it through! Specially, with lots of people around. Specially, with your kids or grand-kids. It’ll change completely the way you view things, and the way they, too, see them themselves. It’s the re-birth of the Circular Economy, as we know it. And about time, too!

I cannot believe that the video clip was put together, and shared across, in YouTube on November last year and that we all totally missed it, since it hardly has got more than 180 views so far. But, believe me, it will be worth while the 18 minutes of your life that it lasts. Every single second of it! It will change your life for good and plenty of your beliefs on what rules the world today and what should be eventually. Yes, indeed, it’s that good! It’s a rather short video interview that the one and only, Loren Feldman, put together for 1938 Creative in association with Important Media, to interview Ken Anderson, long-time naturalist, who word after word cannot but keep inspiring us all to help us understand how we need to redefine the way we live and the way we treasure, or not, certain things in today’s world.

Over at Ken Anderson: Perspectives From A Long-Time Naturalist Loren himself describes briefly in a short blog post what the interview will be all about, and in order not to spoil it, I will just briefly mentioned how, while going through the clip on its entirety I just couldn’t help thinking about two different blog entries that I put together last year and which would make up for some interesting reading along the lines of what Ken has got to tell us all on where we are heading. Remember “The Social Enterprise and The Circular Economy“? Or “Welcome to the Social Enterprise Awakening!“? In case you may not have, you would see how Ken demonstrates, time and time again, how it is possible to live, and embrace fully, a healthy, prosperous AND sustainable Circular Economy, as long as we shift focus from what drives our global economy nowadays (Not to worry, I’m not going to spoil it for you what Ken thinks are the main culprits of where we are today… Couldn’t have put it myself in better words either though!) and we start reverting things in the opposite direction of where we are heading. Tenerife - Mount Teide in the Winter

Eventually, provoking what Ken calls out for as “The Awakening“, which, and I surely agree with him 100%, is very much needed at the moment. Now, I could go ahead and describe that awakening referencing back again that blog post whose link I shared above already, but, no, I am not going to do that. I’m actually going to point you instead to a superb piece of art that my very dear good friend Susan Scrupski put together a couple of days back and which describes, quite nicely and with quite powerful words, what our focus and purpose for 2012 (And beyond!) is going to be. At least, that one from yours truly. Have a look and check out “#OccupyEnterprise and Start your own Revolution” and be inspired by amazingly powerful statements as this one:

The Council members are fighting for a new way of working where freedom of ideas will produce increased employee motivation and loyalty which in turn will spur innovation and problem-solving.  Yes, business objectives are driving this change, but the natural by-product is the humanization of the workforce.  Transparency will go a long way to revealing the unsavory underbelly of the corporate beast” [Emphasis mine]

And now, right after you have read Susan’s article, come back, hit the Play button of this embedded YouTube interview and be WOWed by Ken’s words of wisdom, knowledge, lifetime experiences, hope, optimism, outrageousness, deep caring, sharing, mother nature and our role in it, and, in short, ourselves, and our future in this world. Specially, for those who are coming after us and for whom we have got a lot to account for. Still.

Not sure what you would think, but after watching that video clip, there are two other things I’m going to be doing in 2012 plenty more: Wear Sunscreen and listen, and learn plenty more!, from our elders. They have always known, and experienced fully, a whole lot more than we do…

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Reflections from 2011 – Redefining Your Social Web Presence

Tenerife - Mount Teide in the WinterAfter having put together last couple of blog posts about some of my reflections from the year we are about to end around The Social Web and Technology in general, I guess it’s now a good time to share with the world the third one from the series. The one I have been telling people about over the course of the last couple of months as the one that is going to mark a before and an after with regards to my own involvement with The Social Web. You could probably think of it as a redefining moment of my own Social strategy, pretty much like I did in February 2008, when I redefined my own use of email by living “A World Without Email” ever since. I do realise that some folks may not like it, and some other people may relate to it quite a bit. But, in principle, I am going to keep that spirit of living life in a perpetual beta, going through, yet again, another experiment and see how it would move along, except that, this time around, it’s my own virtual life. Welcome to the new elsua!

How can I summarise this new strategy towards social networking in a short sentence, so that you would be able to have a glimpse of what I am about to get started with? Hummm, that’s quite a nice challenge, indeed, but if you have read the last couple blog entries you may have sensed already what it would be like. In case you haven’t though, here is a single one liner describing what I am about to get started with in 2012: Finally, after 10 years in the making, I’ll be freeing up myself from the yokes of both technology and the Social Web in order to get around, connect with my various social network(s), share my knowledge across and collaborate further along on my terms and not longer theirs.

I am not sure what you folks would think, but I’m ready, at long last, to free up myself from the yoke that both Technology and the Social Web have over-imposed on all of us and to no remedy. Or, better said, I am ready to free up myself from those people who control both of those environments to get the most out of us, but at our very own costs; in most cases, our very own energy, efforts, and truly hard work, while they just sit there and wait for it to happen, because they know it will happen eventually. Most of us, knowledge workers, have always had that very strong urge to connect with others, to share our affinities and true passions, to care for what one embarks on, and to help out where we possibly can. And plenty of times we keep going through the extra mile to try to achieve it. And most of the times, we don’t. Rather technology fails, or The Social Web user experience fails. Or both! And what do we do? We keep trying over and over again till we eventually make it through and make it happen. I am tired of having to put up with it all, of having to spend a humongous amount of time trying to customise my virtual social life to meet someone else’s needs (Those of both technology and the Social Web, as good examples to start with), while ignoring and neglecting my own.

Well, not anymore from yours truly. It’s, finally, a good time for me to depart from that incredibly frustrating experience of having to adjust, time and time again, both my working and life styles to the constant failures from both technology and the Social Web. It’s time for me to let real life kick-in, once again, and bring back that very important component all of us, human beings, seemed to have been neglecting for a long while: our very own personal, real life, (business) relationships. Yes, the physical social networking no-one seems to have realised we have been having out there for thousands, if not millions!, of years! I am no longer going to wait for either technology, or social networking tools, to fix their silliness and have me try multiple times to reproduce an experience that I feel should be rather straightforward: sharing!

I am no longer willing to go and pay through my nose for a service, i.e. the Internet, that telcos have ingrained in all of us as an essential must-have. Well, not really. They never had the control and they are not going to start now. At least, not with me. if the connection is there, if technology enables it painlessly, if the Social Web works the way it is supposed to, I’ll be fine. I will be there! Just like in the last 10 years and counting… However, if either of those three factors fail to deliver, I hereby declare I no longer care. Like a very good offline friend of mine would say: “Life is just way too short to have to worry about certain things taking place. You better make them happen yourself and move on, instead!

And that’s why, from here onwards, I am no longer going to worry about technology itself (Whether it’s connectivity, tools, or social software), nor going to rely on it much to get stuff done. If it works, it works, if it doesn’t, I won’t be bothering. I will be moving on to the next thing, because, you know, there will always be a next thing. Even after the Social Web. And that, basically, means I am no longer going to be around, waiting for things to happen and ask me, again, to spend my energy, effort and whatever other trouble, including my own time, to see if things would work out once again. Like I said, life is just too short for me to worry about those silly things. We should move on to better things, I am afraid.

WOW!! Really? Are you saying what I think you are saying with those few paragraphs mentioned above, you may be wondering, right? I mean, how will I get my stuff done, both internally and externally, both at work, and outside work, if I am no longer going to rely, as religiously as I used to, in both technology and social networking tools. Well, that’s a pretty good question, indeed, for which, at this point in time, I don’t have an answer for. However, I can tell you something else. I’m an optimist, an outrageous, a heretic, a free radical, in short, a rebel at work by heart who knows that if we don’t push the limits on helping redefine and reshape our very own social technology experiences no-one else is going to do it for us. So I’m having enough with it all. I am having enough with having to put up with plenty of frustration, of additional stress I know I could do without, rather low energy levels that keep draining both my motivation and energy to want to do great things, and a huge amount of unnecessary and unneeded tension that I know I just don’t need any longer anymore! And probably you, too!

Indeed, I am not sure how this is going to end up eventually, and whether I will be making it at all, or suffer along the way quite a bit. However, I am very willing to give it a try and see how it goes. That’s what life is all about, I guess, right? Trying new things to see whether they would work out for you or not, learn a lot about them along the way, and try not to make the same mistakes again. In short, keep applying some of that critical thinking in everything we do, because, like I said above already, if we don’t do it for ourselves, no-one else would. And perhaps rightly so. It’s got to get started within ourselves, because, whether we like or not, we are the ones who know best where the issues lay and what we can do about them. And act upon them! Long gone is the time where we remain passive about most of the stuff we used to do. Long gone is the time where we just waited for things to happen. It’s time to move on to better things and keep excelling at what we are already doing.

I am sure at this point in time you may be wondering what it would look like, right? I mean, how will it work for yours truly in today’s technology driven world by no longer being dependent on it, by freeing yourself from its everlasting yoke? Well, like I said, I will be reshaping it over the course of time, but here are some initial thoughts of how I’m planning to tackle both Technology and the Social Web in 2012 and beyond:

  • Connectivity: Starting with a biggie, why not, right? Yes, from now onwards, I will no longer care whether I’m finally connected to the Web or not. If within the first 15 minutes I can’t manage to stay connected on a rather decent Internet connection, I will give up on it and move on with the offline world. Perhaps a whole lot more productive than trying to figure out, or troubleshoot, why I can’t get connected in the first place. This would apply mostly to my business travelling, whether to customer events, workshops, meetings, or conferences, seminars, summits, hotel rooms, etc. etc. I’ll be more than happy to live blog / tweet / plus on things around me while I am travelling and certainly share as much as I possibly can, but if connectivity fails to deliver, you won’t see me much, perhaps the odd message to alert folks I’m giving up for the day and move on into real life, where I am sure conversations would be just as good and fruitful, but without the excruciating experience of, time and time again, having to struggle with technology. Not to worry, my dear telcos and various different Internet providers, the b*tching will be rather limited, since I know you can’t care less about trying to improve our user experiences. Your wallet will notice it though. From day one… At least, from me.
  • The Social Web – Blogging: One of my favourite social software activities from over the last 9 years (It’s hard to believe that I got started with my first internal blog way back on December 2003!!) will always be blogging. Like I said, if there is anything the last three months have shown me with these rather extensive breaks is that I need to keep writing. It’s healthy for the mind, it’s healthy for the soul. I realise now, as I am putting this round of blog entries that I cannot longer live without it. So what am I am changing in this area?

    Well, as a starting point, I am going to diversify my own blogging style. It’s no longer going to be those rather lengthy, hopefully, helpful, blog posts that I keep sharing over here. I do know and realise that plenty of them are far too complex to digest on a single read. Yes, they are, just as much as they are for me to put them together, since I truly love the research that goes along with it. The amount of extra linking I put together into it, the recommendations I share across on people to follow, including their writings and everything else and so forth. It’s quite a lot of time consuming, but totally worth it. Once you have got the right connectivity though, but since I know next year will be another year where I won’t have it, I better diversify on it. So, as a starting point, my blogging will continue to have lengthy blog posts where appropriate, but when I can’t put them together I will be going for shorter entries, sharper, sharing an initial idea I want to jot down somewhere and rather raw with hardly any additional links or hyperlinks to people’s work. That will need to come along at a later time. 

    The idea would be to keep feeding the blog with, hopefully, interesting content we can all learn from, which is also one of the reasons why I’m planning to make much heavier use of my Google Plus profile to draft some of those ideas, get some conversations going and then perhaps move that dialogue into a blog post for everyone else to see and participate in. And whenever it happens that I’m offline I will move that writing exercise offline as well, which is where I am hoping to rely, quite a bit more, on Evernote on my iPad than what I have in the recent past. Somehow I would want my iPad to become my new moleskine that I can take with me and sync everywhere, whenever I regain back connectivity.

  • The Social Web – Twitter and Google Plus: My use of both Twitter and Google Plus will continue to be pretty much the same from what I recently blogged about over at “Google Plus and Twitter – How They Work for Me Hand in Hand“. I will continue to work with both of them as part of “The Big Three“, but with the slight difference that, if good, decent connectivity is not there within the first 15 minutes of trying it out, I’m dropping both of them for what’s left of the day, till I regain that connection again. Like I said, if it works, it works, if it doesn’t, I am no longer going to wait. Instead, will focus on other offline activities, including real life conversations, specially, when I am on the road. 

    Mind you though perhaps on that same context of being a road warrior I will probably be focusing more on tweeting, than plussing, at least, till the overall user experience for Plus Mobile improves quite drastically, including the additional of a native iPad App. So if you don’t see me for a couple of days on Plus, it’s probably, because I am travelling and taking a short break; it doesn’t mean I have abandoned it. Not a chance. Remember, it’s still part of my “Big Three”, along with IBM Connections and Twitter. 

  • The Social Web – The Rest: The rest of the various other social networking sites will probably remain the same for yours truly. I will continue to have a light presence in there, although I’m not going to invest much on it, at least, till they all dramatically improve the overall experiences, so that they don’t become more of a drain, like most of them are now at the moment, whether due to privacy issues, terms of service, awkward user interfaces, etc. etc. You name it. So if you would want to reach out to me, the best methods would still be through this blog, a Twitter mention to @elsua or My Google Plus Profile. If it doesn’t get eaten by the system you should be able to receive a response from me within a reasonable amount of time depending on the urgency of the request / query / matter. I will still be there, not to worry, it is just that my response would now probably take a bit longer … But it will get there eventually.
  • The Social Web – Content Curation: And, finally, perhaps the biggest new move I will be making in 2012 and beyond. As good as knowledge sharing, collaborating with others, and generally connecting with other people are as activities on the Social Web, I’m going to start focusing plenty more on content curation. It’s the new black, it looks like, and I am hoping to bring it back into my social streams starting very very soon. Time and time again I keep getting healthily bombarded with terrific content I would want to share across, but usually I keep failing to share it along, because I just can’t keep up with it all while trying to add my ¢2, with the issues mentioned above already. So, instead of increasing my levels of frustration and irritation from not sharing those great links out there, I’m taking a different approach this time around and will start exploring the potential from one social software tool I have been following for a little while and enjoying from other folks: Scoop.it

    My profile in there is rather empty at the moment, but as we move along into the new year I surely plan to create a good number of different categories and start populating them a good bunch of interesting and relevant readings I have bumped into over the course of the last few months, and which, at some point or another, I would want to refer to once again on the odd blog posts, Plus conversations or tweets.

    I may be looking as well for an external social bookmarking service, to keep that curation going, but I am not too sure at this point in time just yet on what I will be doing. Still thinking about it, so if you folks out there have got any recommendations outside Delicious or Diigo, which have never convinced me much, I am afraid, I would love to learn about how you are managing your own social bookmarks. I have heard lots of great things about Pinboard, but not sure whether it would be worth the investment or not… What do you think? Is it worth while going for it? Would love to read your thoughts on it, if you are using it actively. 

And that’s it! Another rather lengthy blog post about to hit the Social Web out there. Another blog entry, that, like I said, will help shape up, once more, my overall Social Web Presence. Still in the making though and with plenty of room for improvements, I am sure, but I just love engaging on this kind of experiments to keep refining them over the course of time, just like I have been doing for almost 4 years now with living “A World Without Email“, more than anything else because of the unexpected situations and key learnings that will occur and that I am sure will be helping me put a stop with that excruciating and rather painful experience of having to adjust my social presence around certain social networking sites, when I feel it should be otherwise.

Did I complete lose it? Am I way off again? Did I jump the shark far too soon? I seriously don’t know. I guess time will tell, and this blog, too! Because I surely plan to share how the experience will be developing over the course of the next few months. Got any suggestions on what you feel could work, or not? Share them along, too, please! I would love to know whether I have gone completely crazy with all of this Social stuff or whether we are just witnessing the beginning of something bigger, much bigger: Redefining Our Own Social Web Presence with a Focus and a Purpose.

(Ohh, by the way, I haven’t revealed a couple of surprises here and there that will surely continue to shape up and change a few things on how I view self-publishing of new content and not necessarily on the blog alone; I will be sharing more details on each of them shortly as well, as I get ready to prepare last few things, before they go live … Stay tuned for more! It’s bound to provide lots of good fun, too!)

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The Future of Work Is Learning

Gran Canaria - Pinos de Galdar in the WinterAs a result of John Tropea’s wonderful blog post from yesterday, which I have blogged about over here, there has been also quite an interesting and rather refreshing conversation developing on the side over at Google Plus around the topics of business processes, BRP (Barely Repeatable Processes), the role of traditional hierarchies and structures in today’s work environment while mixing and mingling with a networked organisation and where learning fits in there altogether. Some fascinating stuff in there, for sure! And one of the various reasons why I keep digging quite a bit G+ over other social networking sites. The depth of the conversations has been like no other so far! And it’s thanks to those conversations themselves how one keeps bumping into golden nuggets like the one shared yesterday by Dennis Callahan on that very same thread around “The Future of Work“.

Yes, indeed, you may have noticed how the last few blog posts have continued to raise my interest around the topic of The Future of Work and how social networking and social computing tools are helping redefine how we view and interact at work within a corporate environment to make it much more open, transparent, trustworthy, networked, meaningful. Well, it looks like that interest keeps growing further, specially, after going through that fantastic article put together by Dennis where he has shared 19 different very enlightening and educational resources on The Future of Work, ranging from links to other insightful blog entries, to short video clips, presentations, etc. etc. Quite a goldmine on its own right there, for sure!

However, from all of those resources mentioned by him, and which I would strongly recommend you all go through them, since they will be worth while your time, specially, if you are interested in this topic as well, there is one in particular that I thought I would expand further on it for a bit. More than anything else, because of how much it resonated with how I view work myself, but, perhaps much more importantly, because of how well it describes the current work I have been doing myself, and a whole bunch of other people!, for the last few years. And still going strong…

Time and time again I keep getting asked what my work day as a KMer, Community Builder and Social Computing Evangelist looks like, specially, while working at a large IT corporation that has been there, alive and kicking, for the last 100 years and counting… At times, it presents a bit of a challenge in itself, since I guess it’s pretty tough to try to describe what you are passionate about in an eloquent manner; too many things to cover in such a short time!; basically, that stuff you know you could talk for ages and ages yourself and never get tired of it. Yes, I guess that passion for what you do will describe it quite nicely at this stage. Well, T.A. McCann, founder of Gist.com, just did that beautifully for me over a couple of minutes in a short interview under the suggestive title of “The Future of Work Is Now“, which he himself blogged about over here.

It’s a priceless gem, for certain! I can tell you that! If we have been talking for a little bit now about The Future of the Workplace, about what meaningful, networked, freelanced, intrapreneurial (corporate) work is all about, T.A. McCann pretty much nails it on that short interview. I just couldn’t put it in much better words than what he did. If not, judge for yourselves:

Mind-blowing, isn’t it? Who would have thought that in that future of work concepts like multiple jobs across a working lifetime, having fun @ work, work life balance no longer there, retirement would no longer exist, do your best effort at all times, connecting and reaching out to others who share a common passion on a particular topic / goal with you, learning as a key driver of working together effectively, etc. etc. would be helping redefine how we view AND live our workplace(s). And all of that thanks to the emergence of social networking tools within the enterprise and beyond! Not too bad, right?

I am not sure what you folks would think, probably  that I am a dreamer or someone trying to live to the fullest an unrealistic, utopian business world that will never see the light, specially in today’s working environment. Perhaps too optimistic, too outrageously excited and eager for what’s to come. Well, may be. May be not. Who knows. The reality is that’s the current work environment I have been living, experiencing AND enjoying for the last couple of years, and I know for certain I am not the only one going through this, so I doubt it would be a dream any longer. More of an ever-growing reality, rather. It’s probably just a matter for us, knowledge workers, to define how we would want to make it work for ourselves; basically, have knowledge workers create and define their ideal job role(s) and get down to business.

After all, remember, “Individuals will have more freedom and power than ever before.

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How Meaningful, Smarter, Freelance Work Is Redesigning the Social Enterprise

Barcelona - Parque GüellContinuing further with that series of blog posts on meaningful and smarter work and how it is helping the corporate world redesign the future of the workplace to make it much more networked, interconnected, open, egalitarian, non-hiearchical, unstructured, porous, chaotic, trustworthy, engaging, transparent, agile, dynamic, empowering and whatever else you would want to add further up (Phew!) to realise the Social Enterprise dream, I thought I would go ahead and share a bit of special entry today where we can keep talking about it, although it’s not going to be me the one doing the talk, but one of the folks I have long admired and from whom I have learned tremendously over the course of years in the areas of Knowledge Management, Communities (Of Practice, a.k.a. CoPs), Complexity, Enterprise 2.0 and Social Computing. Of course, I am talking about the one and only: John Tropea, whose blog posts, tweets, plussings and tumblrs are always highly recommended reads and a must-subscribe, too!, in case you may not have done so just yet. You should. It’s worth every minute of your time.

Take, for instance, this particularly rich and very insightful conversation over at Google Plus, on the topic of Corporate Culture and whether we can exert some influence in changing it, or not, through social networking, collaboration and open knowledge sharing, all of it as a result of a follow-up conversation from a brilliant blog post that originated from my good friend Jack Vinson under “Culture is nebulous, focus on what you can change“. In it, John gets to share quite an amazing array of insightful comments, along with helpful links that surely help understand how changing the corporate culture of an organisation is definitely not as easy as one would expect. Plenty of food for thought for those internal social computing evangelists out there who feel they are on to another league trying to shift gears and change their corporate culture as they know it to start living social. Well, perhaps it is not as easy as what we have been told all along… Worth while a read, for sure!

However, the main purpose why i wanted to put together this blog post in the first place was to continue making that connection between previous blog entries on redesigning the Future of the Workplace that you folks have read over here lately, and in plenty of other places, I am sure, and build further up on it pointing you folks to what I think is probably one of the best blog entries you will read this year in 2011 around that very same subject. It surely has moved pretty quickly into my Top 3 favourite articles that I am definitely going to keep coming back over and over again to digest all of those hidden gems that keep coming up every time I read through it. Already done with my third reading of the post since it was first aired out yesterday and still learning new insights!

Go and have a look into John’s latest take on how wild ducks, trust agents and intrapreneurs are continuing to take the corporate world by storm gathering informally in groups, whether teams, networks or communities, amongst several others (John mentions a few of them as well!) to carry out that meaningful, smarter work that they themselves feel rather passionate about in the first place! Work, by the way, that’s not mandated from top-down, i.e. the strict organisational structure(s) we have all gotten so used to over the course of decades, but work that has been defined by those groups themselves, just because they share a common affinity, a bunch of free time and a passion to carry it out. Yes, something like finally being capable of freeing up the human batteries within each organisation, as in freeing up those free radicals that know why, what and who they network with in the first place, what John calls freelancing in the corporate world and which more and more seems to help define how work gets done nowadays, where the center of gravity, or power of decision, has been lowered down more than ever before and where being more agile, open, transparent, engaged, empowered, and networked seems to have set up the new rules of the workplace. And it is starting to look like it’s here to stay, too!

Indeed, not going to expand much further on this blog entry itself, since I’m sure you will be enjoying John’s article plenty more. It’s a long, extensive, brilliantly covered and rather comprehensive read on what that new freelance corporate work looks like and how we have already started the transition to it. In “The future of work is to freelance within an organisation – choose your task, assemble to work, then dissolve” you will see how there are plenty of numerous references to other thought leaders in this space and what they have been thinking about this particular topic for a little while now. And while it may look a bit overwhelming as you go through it, you will notice (As my good friend Jon Husband also mentioned in a comment) how there is some very nice momentum building up around it by multiple thought leaders and that can only mean that the shift towards that work model may have gotten started already and John has managed to capture it beautifully into one of those blog articles that would surely have a permanent home in our hearts, and brains!, for those of us who would want to see the Social Enterprise dream come true. And the sooner, the better!

Hope you enjoy reading through it, and from here onwards I just wanted to share a special Thanks! with John for having put together such amount of hard work in assembling all of those great insights and share them across in that outstanding, must-read, brilliant blog post. He’s done us all a huge favour and I can see the day where we will look back into that article as the seminal work that consolidated what a good bunch of us have been saying for a while now as well…

Intrapreneurship is here to stay! Are you ready, finally, to embrace it?

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The Crisis of Meaning in the Knowledge Workforce

Gran Canaria - Valsequillo in the winter ...If you have been reading this blog for a little while now, you may remember how there have been numerous ocassions where I have discussed how I am one of those folks who doesn’t really buy into both the whole generations or digital divide arguments. Gen-Yers, Gen-Xers, Baby Boomers, etc. etc., to me, are all part of the knowledge workforce and, if anything, instead of talking about different generations at work, I always tend to think that it is mostly about embracing and facilitating different working styles within the workforce. But what happens when each and everyone of those work styles don’t have a meaning, nor a purpose, for what they usually do? Well, we have got a crisis. A crisis of meaning.

That’s the main premise that Roger Martin, Dean at Rotman School, talks about at the Big Think Web site under a thought-provoking, and rather evocative, short video clip under the title “The Crisis of Meaning in the Millennial Workforce“, which lasts for nearly three minutes and which I would strongly encourage you all to have a look in order to find out a bit more on the state of things within today’s corporate environment, which surely would sound as a key issue of why we are potentially going through the current turmoil with this financial crisis.

Now, Roger talks about that crisis of meaning for the younger knowledge workers, i.e. that generation of millenials. But, like I mentioned at the beginning of this blog entry, I don’t think it’s just a problem with millennials themselves, but more with the knowledge workforce in general, and with each and everyone of those working styles I mentioned above. So if you go ahead and scratch the word millennials and, instead, you put there Gen-Xers or Baby Boomers, or whatever else, you would still obtain a very similar result: an urge for each of those working styles to define a larger purpose or meaning for what each and everyone of us do in our day to day work.

We could probably say that one of the common themes permeating throughout the short video clip is that one of employee motivation, engagement, or participation in today’s corporate environment; or the lack of, better said, something that seems to be a rather popular topic at the moment, and which I will be covering shortly as well in a separate blog entry, as it really heated up a fantastic conversation over in Google Plus earlier on in the week on corporate culture(s).

But here is a good definition of that lack of motivation from the general workforce that Roger mentions in that video:

“Okay, so let me get this straight.  I’m supposed to come to work for you and work every day with the singular goal of maximizing the value of faceless, nameless people who can blow us off in a nanosecond if they had a bad hair day?  Am I right thus far?”  The truthful answer is, yes.  And the millenials are just saying, “Like, you got to be kidding me.  Seriously?

Like I said, scratch millennials and insert there whatever other moniker and it would still be spot on! Employee engagement and motivation are really two hot topics within the workplace at the moment. They always have been and will probably be. But perhaps that’s because we may have been looking into this crisis of meaning issue from the wrong end and we could probably very much need to apply some fresh thinking that would help us address the issue in a much more profound way to finally find that solution for it. And in this case, I do believe that Dave Pullin (Wish I could find the right Dave Pullin links to point you to him, but alas I couldn’t find them out just yet…) pretty much nails it as to put on the table what the real issue is at hand and what we, each and everyone of us!, could do to address it and fix it for those younger generations who have already started to enter the workplace. To quote:

You have the problem 100% backwards. It is NOT “How do we motivate people to devote their existence to the interests of business”, it should be “how do we motivate business to devote their existence to people”.

Business has become the problem.

People want jobs but no business regards itself as having an obligation or objective to create jobs. People want rewarding jobs but business wants to pay the least they can get away with. People want fulfilling jobs but business couldn’t care less whether jobs are fulfilling.

People want healthcare, but we have HealthDontCare Businesses that want profit but couldn’t care less about people’s health. People want as much health care as they can afford, or to be healthy at the least cost, but we have Health “Insurance” businesses whose objective is to maximize the cost and minimize the healthcare[Emphasis mine]

Etymologically speaking, some people say that crisis means change, decision, choice, judgement, etc. Well, perhaps we do need to go through this crisis of meaning to really evaluate, once again, whether knowledge workers need to adjust to business or whether the business needs to adjust to knowledge workers. Something tells me, deep inside, whether we would want to admit it or not, everyone, that we already know the answer to it. We probably have already made up our own minds, but thing is, the challenge here is, is it *the* right decision, *the* right choice?

Dave, once again, reminds us of what it may well be all about with a final brilliant sentence, extracted from the above comment, that I thought was worth while quoting over here as well:

Business is an artifact invented by humans for a purpose. But now it is humans that must serve the purpose of the artifact

Something tells me that it’s probably a good time now to remember, and to reflect, about where our real place at work is at the moment and where it should well be. Somehow, I think we all know the answer already, don’t we?

Have a good one everyone!

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Silence of Love and the Power of Storytelling

Gran Canaria - Puerto de MoganThere are plenty of various different reasons as to why, for the last few years, I have been really excited about the emergence of social software tools within the corporate environment and beyond, but there is one in particular that keeps getting my attention, time and time again, as it has been helping bridge a number of various different disciplines letting them feed, each and everyone of them, from the same source to perhaps become eventually one and the same. Knowledge Management, Collaboration, Social Computing, Learning and so forth are coming along nicely, at long last, looking for a common identity that would reflect a purpose within a work context and it looks like Storytelling is helping big time become the unifier business component a good bunch of us have been looking forward to from all along to boost the way we share our knowledge and collaborate also within the workplace environment: that is, through (beautiful) stories.

At this point in time I think it is undeniable the Power of Storytelling in helping knowledge workers not only transfer their knowledge effectively across with others, but also learn plenty more along the way. There have been lots of great write-ups and insightful articles along these terms on the many reasons why storytelling helps make messages stick, but the truth is that telling stories is not something new and related just to social computing. Quite the opposite: “Since the first humans gathered around a fire, we have been telling stories“. In fact, “telling stories is fundamental to how we make sense of this often confusing world, how construct our identities, and how we tell each other who we are“, as Sarah Jansen wrote beautifully over at the Zahmoo blog a couple of months back.

I, too, have been blogging, just recently, about storytelling and creative work, about what makes a good story and how to share it across or about the power of storytelling and narrative in helping businesses realise their true full potential of the amazing talent their knowledge workers have and how to make the best out of it by helping (re)surface conversations, stories, experiences, know-how that, for a long while, have been hidden away in people’s heads. And now, slowly, but steadily, and thanks to the wonderful work of social tools, we are witnessing how storytelling is no longer a dirty word, but pretty much a highly recommended activity to engage in, whether internally or externally.

So I thought that for today’s blog post I would ahead and highlight how powerful some stories can well be to not just share your knowledge across, as well as embrace a rather fascinating learning activity coming along nicely, but also about how they involve something that is pretty much unique to us, human beings, which is emotions. Rather touching emotions in most cases. Like this week’s Inspiring Video of the Week.

Now, I am not going to say much more about this precious little gem that lasts for a bit over 3 minutes, other than ask you to stop whatever you may be doing at this very moment, sit back, relax, and hit the Play button. And prepare yourself to be wowed and touched in plenty of special places! Perhaps places you never thought you would have them, any longer, anywhere near you. Yet, after watching it, I am sure you will get to enjoy and treasure them just as much as you used to up to not so long ago.

This is perhaps one of my all time favourite Inspiring Videos of the Week, and I am certain that, after you watch it, you will know why. Compelling, touching, mind-blowing are some of the words that surely fall short in describing how wonderfully delightful it is and what powerful messages it conveys throughout! Get ready, here it comes!:

So, what do you think? Do you still feel that storytelling, whether work related, or not, doesn’t have any business purposes within today’s corporate world? Silence of Love surely is going to help us all get rid of that assumption and start figuring out ways of how we are going to incorporate telling stories and narrative into our long term strategy of becoming a powerful Social Enterprise. Something tells me we would all be much better off…

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