Does Facebook / social media help us relate or just connect? Are we less lonely having the new tools?
If you have such questions, I would recommend the video below. It quotes the thoughts of Sherry Turkle from her TED talk – Connected, But Alone and it’s also based on Dr. Yair Amichai’s article -The Invention of Loneliness.
Today at 11 o’clock there will be a total eclipse of the sun. This is when the sun disappears behind the moon for two minutes. As this is something that cannot be seen every day, time will be allowed for employees to view the eclipse in the parking lot. Staff should meet in the lot at ten to eleven, when I will deliver a short speech introducing the eclipse, and giving some background information. Safety goggles will be made available at a small cost.
Memo from Manager to Department Head:
Today at ten to eleven, all staff should meet in the car park. This will be followed by a total eclipse of the sun, which will appear for two minutes. For a moderate cost, this will be made safe with goggles. The CEO will deliver a short speech beforehand to give us all some information. This is not something that can be seen every day.
Memo from Department Head to Floor Manager:
The CEO will today deliver a short speech to make the sun disappear for two minutes in the form of an eclipse. This is something that cannot be seen every day, so staff will meet in the car park at ten or eleven. This will be safe, if you pay a moderate cost.
Memo From Floor Manager to Supervisor:
Ten or eleven staff are to go to the car park, where the CEO will eclipse the sun for two minutes. This doesn’t happen every day. It will be safe, and as usual it will cost you.
Memo from Supervisor to staff:
Some staff will go to the car park today to see the CEO disappear. It is a pity this doesn’t happen everyday.
A few days ago I was reading the interview that Don Tapscott, an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto, gave to McKinsey stating that email should be get rid of. I have to admit I agree with most of his statements but I don’t think killing email is the ultimate solution to internal communication platforms adoption nor the right way to embrace emergent technologies.
Besides having a communication channel outside the company, email does serve its internal purposes. I have looked over the emails I’ve sent and received during the last weeks. Indeed some of them could have been moved to our internal document collaboration platform but for many of them – I don’t think they should. Others are conversations with external providers which, from many reasons, it’s by far better to have them by email and have the output documented.
I do see the value of internal communication platforms. I’m a promoter of such a system but let’s not make the classical human mistake of making it the answer to all questions. It’s not.
There are many “soft” solutions to increasing internal platforms adoption. Why not move critical communication (e.g. bonus announcements) to the platform instead of email? Why not use gamification techniques and make it appealing?
Indeed, top management adoption is needed. Yes, we have to change the way we communicate and accept challenging open questions. The possibility to initiate, vote and debate new ideas should be easily available to all staff – this kind of discussions should indeed be stored in the internal communication platforms and even analysed in a structured way if possible. I would even support merging the two and have email as part of the internal communication platform – provided that security and functionality is being offered at the same level – but still, email would be, even then, a service on its own.
Instead of letting ourselves go with our human appetite for extremes, let’s make a smart use of existing and emerging technologies.
I remember how eight years ago I was explaining to one of my clients the benefits of having an online platform that could be easily updated by his sales force, used by both client facing and back office and act also as a sales platform for anyone accessing the internet. It was an innovative idea, custom made but the word “social” had nothing to do with it. Technologies have come a long way and we often hear the word “social” sticked to some other ones such as “knowledge sharing” or “business benefits”. Nowadays, by not reaching the full potential of the existing knowledge sharing system, companies begin to suffer the same effects that the Alzheimer disease has on human brain, as we’ll see shortly.
80% of online users interact with social networks regularly;
70% of companies are using social technologies; 90% of them report business benefits from such technologies;
knowledge workers spend 28 hours per week writing, searching and collaborating inside the company.
However, their potential is somewhere here:
between USD 1 billion and USD 1.3 trillion could be unlocked by social technologies in four sectors;
twice potential value from better enterprise communication and collaboration;
20-25% potential improvement in knowledge worker productivity.
During the last few years, I understood that knowledge management comes in fact to maintain the organization’s brain, to keep it active, to develop it so the organization is able to work and innovate. I observed that organizations with dysfunctional knowledge management begin to suffer the same effects that the Alzheimer disease has on human brain: intellectual abilities are lost, even reach inability to think abstractly, the coordination is limited, and they have trouble performing daily activities. Since the evolution is similar to an organization’s brain, I named this disease Knowledgeheimer – click here for details on this concept.
How do we treat these symptoms?
McKinsey’s report shows that two-thirds of this potential value lies in improving collaboration and communication within and across enterprises. The average interaction worker spends an estimated 28% of the work week managing e-mail and nearly 20% looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks. But when companies use social media internally, messages become content; a searchable record of knowledge can reduce, by as much as 35%, the time employees spend searching for company information. Additional value can be realized through faster, more efficient, more effective collaboration, both within and between enterprises.
The amount of value individual companies can capture from social technologies varies widely by industry, as do the sources of value. Companies that have a high proportion of interaction workers can realize tremendous productivity improvements through faster internal communication and smoother collaboration. Companies that depend very heavily on influencing consumers can derive considerable value by interacting with them in social media and by monitoring the conversations to gain a richer perspective on product requirements or brand image – for much less than what traditional research methods would cost.
To reap the full benefit of social technologies, organizations must transform their structures, processes, and cultures: they will need to become more open and non-hierarchical and to create a culture of trust. Ultimately, the power of social technologies hinges on the full and enthusiastic participation of employees who are not afraid to share their thoughts and trust that their contributions will be respected. Creating these conditions will be far more challenging than implementing the technologies themselves.
Each year I’m looking for the Global CEO Survey with great interest. Specifically this year I’m interested to see how risk management is affected by the global economic challenges. Communications CEOs are more worried not only about the global economic outlook, but also about several related risks. As the report shows, 45% are extremely concerned about the risk of economic volatility (versus 32% of the total sample). Similarly, 40% are extremely concerned about the measures highly indebted governments are taking to cut their fiscal deficits (versus 27%). Conversely, they’re more relaxed about the prospect of inflation. Only 19% of communications CEOs are somewhat concerned on this score (versus 31%).
Disruptive change is a constant feature of the communications industry and the results from this year’s survey indicate that CEOs see little sign of the pace and scale of change diminishing in the future. The rapid emergence and adoption of new technologies, devices and channels —from smartphones to tablets and Twitter to Groupon – can create overnight stars and catch the unprepared off guard. So it’s hardly surprising that 36% of communications CEOs are planning to make fundamental strategic changes in the next 12 months, compared to 13% across the rest of the survey population.
So how do communications CEOs propose to deal with these challenges?
They’re planning various strategic changes covering a wide range of financial and organisational areas over the next 12 months. Capital investment decisions and capital structuring activities feature prominently in their plans, for example: 31% intend to make major alterations to the former and 29% to the latter (versus 19% and 14%, respectively, of the total sample). And 29% expect to make major alterations in the way they manage risk, whereas the overall average is just 17%.
As well as changing their approach to investment and risk, communications CEOs say they’re likely to continue cutting costs. A full 90% have already implemented cost-reduction initiatives in the past 12 months, which is significantly more than the 75% who’ve done so in our entire survey sample. And 48% expect to outsource a business process or function in the next 12 months (compared to the overall average of 33%). Of course, outsourcing may be motivated by the need to reduce costs, but it’s also a component of the major organisational changes that two-fifths of communications CEOs expect to make in 2012.
Not surprisingly, since new technologies play such a key role in the sector, many communications CEOs are reconsidering how best to manage innovation, too. Communications CEOs are repositioning their portfolios to focus on developing new products and services, and fine-tuning existing products and services. But 60% also intend to adopt new business models in response to a fast-changing environment.
Predictably, perhaps, many communications CEOs are pinning their hopes for future growth on the emerging markets rather than the developed markets—as, indeed, are their peers in other sectors. And while most CEOs with plans to expand abroad are focusing on China, communications CEOs prefer Brazil: 26% believe it will be a key growth market in the next 12 months (versus 15%).
The full report on Communications CEO survey is available here.