Saturday, August 30, 2008

banker lend to thy self

Cheryl has a post about banking customer service that ends with the comment:
And they wonder why consumers hate banks. No amount of ads about happy banking, or your bank caring about you, or determined to be different, or whatever they advertise to try to convince you they care about you, will ever change the banking culture.
I am currently having some issues with my bank. And three thoughts strike me:
  1. The greatest asset that many large, underachieving businesses (and that includes you, Australian banks) have is customer apathy. Seth Godin puts it well.
  2. The banks are in for a(nother) shock. A few months ago, when I was still working for a certain financial regulator, a former exec from one of the retail banks came in to teach us about the banking sector. It was an interesting day but one thing stuck in my mind. In the 90s, the Australian banks were caught out when their prime business (loans and especially home loans) got hit by new entrants such as Aussie Home Loans - with lower rates and better service. Now the growth market that banks are targeting is "wealth management" - i.e. advising people on where to spend their dosh. Based on this former executive, the banks seem to think that this market is theirs for the taking. I think it's more likely to be a repeat of the loans situation - i.e. new entrants creaming the incumbents with better offers and stronger service.
  3. Banks don't seem to understand that customer service means actually serving your customer, not your customer serving you. Not putting lots of bureaucracy in their way. Not hitting them with fees for everything (and most recently I have been charged a fee due to one of their cockups). If and when I become wealthy, why should I trust my future to someone who has no concern for me beyond the next fee hit opportunity and cannot be trusted with the most basic activities?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

podcast - mary-alice arthur on stories

A further podcast on stories with Mary-Alice Arthur in New Zealand.

Download the mp3.

Show Notes:
00:00 - Mary-Alice meets storytelling @ Glistening Waters
03:00 - Leader as Storyteller as Megatrend
04:00 - 4 Million Dreams in New Zealand
05:00 - 9/11 as one catalyst
05:30 - Appreciative Inquiry as a response
07:00 - Personal & national dreams
07:30 - Youthconnect
08:00 - "Not just one thing to do"
11:00 - What does a conversation sound like as a drumbeat?
13:00 - The Paua Shell
15:50 - Hoberman Sphere

Sunday, August 17, 2008

more dramas

I spent Saturday hanging out with Johnnie Moore during his visit to Sydney and going off on lots of tangents. Our conversations seem to consist of multiple tangents from which we eventually return to our original topic. Anyways, one topic that came up was “mindfulness”. In fact it’s been coming up a lot recently (e.g the slow community podcast with Nancy). Here are some reasons why:

  • Life is getting faster & more complicated. If we don’t manage ourselves we will get washed away.
  • We have more autonomy – no one else (e.g. a government, a paternal corporate) is going to manage our lives for us. And as our lives get more complicated and more unique, others are less able to provide us with reliable advice.
  • Mindfulness & self-restraint have been part of our religious traditions. As we have lost our dependence on religion so we have lost some of the resources that religion provided.

So in discussing drama triangles, I see them as part of a personal project around mindfulness and self-understanding. James R comments that they are negative – which can be true if they are used in an accusatory way: “You are a rescuer”; “You are a victim”. I see them more as tools to aid self-awareness (as KT notes): “What games am I involved in here and do I really want to play them?”

There’s something existential - recognising that you have a choice and more freedom than is immediately apparent.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

the enterprise 2.0 drama triangle

If you are driving Enterprise 2.0 in your organisation, there are 3 roles you might be lured into playing:
  • Rescuer. "Help, help, we cannot collaborate with Notes Teamrooms, surely your wiki will save us!" "Why yes, it will solve all your problems and all will be right with the world."
  • Victim. "Why does no one pay attention to me? Why cannot I get any traction with the business?"
  • Persector. "You are doing this all wrong! You are idiots with your impenetrable chains of emails and your hidden information nests!"

Other people will tempt you to into playing these roles by playing one of their own. They may even shift between them.

However, the budding Enterprise 2.0 dude (or dudette) must avoid playing any of these roles and being caught on the point of a Karpman Drama Triangle. There are other options:

  • Rather than being a victim, admit your vulnerability. You are not all knowing and some of your experiments may fail. But you will fail fast, fail early and learn from your failures. You will succeed.
  • Rather than rescuing, reach out. Connect with others trying to achieve similar things in other organisations. Tap into your internal & external networks.
  • Rather than persecute, persevere. The "Enterprise 2.0" buzz term will disappear but the need to help smart people work together smarter will not.

Keep the faith people.

A hat tip to KT for putting me on to these in the first place.

enterprise 2.0 presentation

Here is the presentation from yesterday's conference.
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

Some notes to go with the presentation:
  • This is a revised draft of this presentation I created back in April - with slides 23-28 owing a heavy debt to Patrick Lambe's rewrite.
  • The email detox podcasts with Luis Suarez & co: Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.
  • The five steps are: i. ban attachments & instead link to files sitting in a more permanent location; ii. if an email conversation involves more than 5 people then shift it elsewhere, iii. make your tools as simple to use as possible, iv. encourage role modelling of good behaviours by senior staff, v. begin with a small step in the right direction rather than trying to change the world in one go.
  • The 5 issues to consider are: i. security. email is insecure anyway but you need to clearly establish access guidelines for each location where documents are stored, ii. privacy with new tools is important - e.g. staff need to understand how public their discussions will be, iii. develop an archiving / retention policy for your documentation, iv. do not hit staff members with too many tools, they could be overwhelmed with choice, v. consider different IP options for ownership of content esp. if consumers are involved.
  • The Cynefin framework is introduced because social software adoption is complex (lots of interacting agents, inherently unpredictable) rather than simple or complicated. Waterfall approaches do not work. More on Cynefin here:
  • The final page concerned drama triangles. There will be a blog post on this topic soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

grow your wiki

Stewart Mader is tearing himself away from the Tooheys-scented teet of Sydney/San Fran wiki-meisters Atlassian and going out on his own. As a fan of Stewart's work, I wish him all the best and advise you to check out his offerings.

enterprise 2.0 tomorrow

I will be chairing Enterprise 2.0 for Information Professionals tomorrow and then presenting the following day. See you there.

I promise to be as nice as possible.

Friday, August 08, 2008

what's wrong with shameless self-promotion?

So Seth Godin* has posted a comment where he says he doesn't think of the tribes thang as "shameless self-promotion". I don't think there's anything wrong with shameless self-promotion. Provided it's done well. If you give people stuff that is useful for them then it's fine. Bad shameless self-promotion is another matter. Taking attention ("lookatmememmeme") and giving nothing back is one of the surest ways to earn enmity short of calling someone's mother a street-walker.

There may also be a cultural issue here. Seth is American. I am English. What looks like shameless self-promotion to me probably looks like diffident introversion to him.

*Well I assume it's him. On the internet no one knows you're a lactose intolerant scuba diver.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

the strange fate of steve denning

I am currently have a mild stoush with Steve Denning on actkm. I had the experience of meeting the "best keynote speaker on leadership innovation business narrative & storytelling" in DC earlier this year and it was as thrilling as any encounter between two awkward introverts (one of them still jetlagged) can be.

I picked up The Secret Language of Leadership in the US and have been listlessly flicking through it. It's not a bad book. In fact more than anyone else coming out of the KM arena, SD has found a topic and a style that resonates with business managers. He writes well. He has his sights set on the lucrative "leadership" market* and he's using storytelling as his differentiator. On their own, each book is good. But the overall sense is one of diminishing returns. This book is quite similar to the last. Either SD is a prisoner of his own success or he simply hasn't noticed yet.

He also has a worrying tendency (along with many other popular management writers in the US) to offer fixed recipes that allegedly cover every situation. This makes it easy for the reader to digest and gives them to confidence to apply the advice but life isn't always that simple. For example, the weakest chapter of The Leader's Guide to Storytelling is the chapter on innovation. Storytelling gets advanced as pretty much the only way of advancing innovation within organisations and it all gets a little silly.

The next book concerns high-performing teams. My fear is that there will be a thin veneer of new research over familiar themes. My hope is that it will be something completely new.

*This market will always exist because most people want the kudos of being a leader without the pain of actually leading. Books, seminars, workshops - anything but actually taking other people somewhere new.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

ted's dead baby, ted's dead

I was having lunch with a mate a few weeks ago and we got onto discussing TED. Now don't get me wrong, there are lots of mighty fine talks on the TED site (and doubtless at the TED event). Inspiring, funny, clever, etc, etc. But we were both a bit sick of people going on about it and wanting to do copies. Y'know - fly in a few international speakers with books to their name, dress everything up in slick audio-visuals & charge $3-4k a head.

TED is interesting because it is unique. Which means that if you want to copy it you are missing the point. On the other hand, Interesting South tried something same same but different: Yes we have interesting speakers but they have a short period of time to make their mark. BarCamp also (punk) rocks - every man & woman is a star. Open Space offers a different model again.

For me there is a continuum between the pure performance that many trad conferences have fallen into and the emergent will-to-action of an Open Space. Given my personality, I prefer the local & the anarchic but it's up to you.

How do we make something better than TED? How do we make something new?

collaboration open space

So in the comments on the Open Publish post, Michael Sampson pulls me up. We were all talking about the human aspects of collaboration weren't we? I'd disagree. We were still talking about the human aspects of collaboration technologies. Which given the audience at OP is not necessarily a problem. But where in the environment for IT folks & KM folks & HR people & internal comms dudes & facilitators & suchlike. And even regular ordinary workers?

I'm not sure there is anywhere (please feel free to prove me wrong).

So I want to run an Open Space event around "collaboration". Only we probably won't use that term as such. Suggestions for a better one please. I dunno whether this will be 20 people in a church hall or 1000 people at the exhibition centre. You tell me.

I'll need the following:
  • Volunteers/helpers/collaborators from different disciplines.
  • Sponsors. I ain't gonna make any money out of this but if we want a big location then it's gonna cost $20-30k.
  • And you. Yes, you.

mckinsey on web 2.0

You may recall EwF covering McKinsey's last Web 2.0 report. Well the Jesuits of Management Consulting are at it again with "Building the Web 2.0 Enterprise" (yours for your soul email details). They have a broader survey base than AIIM (but far less depth than the boys from Boston) and I can't comment on the other decent source of Web 2.0 business survey info because Forrester charge a day's wages for two pages of comment ("Our exhaustive research with IT decision-makers indicates that ECMs can be difficult to implement")*.

Anyway the McKinsey report is definitely worth a look-see. It seems that blogs, wikis & RSS are up and web services are down. The top uses are managing knowledge & improving collaboration. And companies where the business drives usage rather than IT seem to be more satisfied (which even the report acknowledges is kinda a "duh" observation but one worth reinforcing it seems). One result is that Asia-Pacific businesses have an unusually high level of satisfaction with Web 2.0 tools. But the survey doesn't tell you why. Lots of tasty hints, not much in the way of satisfying detail.

*At some point I will buy & read "The Groundswell" but I'm unusually time-poor at the moment.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

slow communities & pace layering

Further to Nancy's work on Slow Communities and her question: "when do you need to be fast & when do you need to be slow?". This reminds me of Stewart Brand's idea of pace layering - which he developed to describe our physical environment but which also applies to our digital one (it's a favourite of information architects). Different layers change/move at different rates.

Activities, relationships & artifacts all shift at different rates. One thing important in our lives (individual & collective) is that they don't all do it at the same rate - the variety is good for us.

tribes vs communities

"Community" is term with a whole bunch of associations: collective, fuzzy boundaries, warm, social, perhaps a little suffocating, possibly a bit leftie.

"Tribe" has a different set of associations: also collective but harder boundaries, us against them, perhaps a little ruthless, possibly a bit atavistic.

Etienne Wenger and his many collaborators produced the theoretical work around communities of practice in learning & knowledge sharing. Meanwhile marketers & advertisers chose to identify* consumers based on the tribe they belonged to - trying to link abstract market segmentations to real social relations.

As online social spaces proliferate, we are hearing more about communities & tribes. But the more I hear these terms, the less I think they usefully describe what these new social groupings are. Few of our online groupings are either "tribes" or "communities" as most people would understand them. They are too loose, too ephemeral, too dynamic.

We don't have the words for what these things are yet. We have a language lag.

*And identity is important to both communities & tribes.

online communities & "tribes"

I've been a participant in online communities for over decade (pretty soon after I started exploring the internet seriously in 1996). Being a bit of a freak and therefore poorly serviced by my immediate physical communities, I launched myself into groups concerned with music, chaos magic and other stuff. I was a little surprised when things I learned about this environment could be applied to the KM issues I encountered in my job. Two things have come out in the last couple of weeks that take this a little further.

Beeline Labs, Deloitte & The Society of New Communications Research have a report on the "Tribalization of Business". This does not refer to middle managers covering themselves in paint and hitting each other with sticks (altho the trend for outward bound "team bonding" exercises in the 90s wouldn't make this topic surprising). Rather it's about the involvement of businesses in online consumer/customer communities - for customer service, marketing, new product development, etc. It's actually a pretty solid piece of research - with some nifty presentation ideas (use of Slideshare as a channel, using tag clouds rather than graphs).
Some of the takeaways for me are unsurprising:
  • The focus should be on creating a good environment (including seeding the space with good content).
  • It's about customers talking to each other (based on social rather than market imperatives).
  • You need to support/facilitate them (many organisations seem to be under-resourcing their communities).
  • It's not just about your community - but the range of online environments that your customers interact with each other in. You are part of an ecosystem and you (and your ego) have to accept that.
I don't think that we will be replacing Chief Marketing Officers with Chief Community Officers anytime soon for two reasons: i. For most organisations, there is more to marketing than online communities & ii. Online community champions need a different skills set to the traditional marketer. This new role has the following skills:
  • Someone who is embedded in the same online environment as your customers outside your community environment as well as inside it.
  • Someone who excels at listening, facilitating & doesn't need to hog the limelight.
  • Someone who understands their own organisation very well.
  • Someone with some understanding of the role of the community in marketing & new product development & customer service & PR.
  • Someone who can pick up the tools quickly and make them work (but probably isn't a technologist).
Meanwhile Seth Godin has a wizard wheeze to promote his new book. Which is on tribes funnily enough. So Seth put up an invite on his blog to join his tribe (on Ning natch). All you have to do is pre-order his book and you're in. Well, you were. The invite was closed after 24 hours due to demand. Seeing as I was probably going to buy SG's book anyway (and I can still cancel it from Amazon if I change my mind) I pitched in. Some observations so far:
  • SG's Ning group has nearly 3000 members. Many of them are like SG - shameless self-promoters who sometimes have something interesting to say. It feels very crowded - and already some structures have either emerged or been imposed to cope with that.
  • What do these people have in common? Well, Seth. There seems to be a lot of "Seth, Seth, look at me" behaviour. Hopefully this will die down after a bit and people can start talking to each other.
  • Ning seems to cope with a few hundred people relatively well but less so with thousands.
Things to check out:
Just as "collaboration" will become a much-abused buzz word, so "tribes" & "online community" have hit the peak of the hype cycle. More reportage as it happens.

open publish redux

So a major theme at Open Publish 2008 was "collaboration".
  • Brett Jackson (in his capacity as a recently-departed employee of Atlassian) started off well, dipped into a puff-piece and then came good in the end.
  • Michael Sampson talked about expertise location & some other collaboraty stuff.
  • Cairo Walker talked about working with the WWF - and included some interesting facts about bees & elephants.
  • James Robertson had some interesting points about collaboration - including the distinction between the internal (collaboration) & external (publishing) roles of team collaboration.
  • Nerida Hart presented on the LWA work she has been doing.
I have two concerns with all this talk of collaboration:
  1. Keeping the focus purely on collaboration technology rather than all the other elements.
  2. Making it concrete & specific. Who wants to collaborate on what and why? Because not all collaboration situations are the same and what works well for a co-located team will not work for a global community of interest. "Collaboration" (like "knowledge" or "innovation") is a word that covers a multitude of sins.


The last couple of weeks have been a bit crazy so I haven't been able to blog as much as I like. Apart from Open Publish there have been some other things going on - including two events around mobile technology.

AIMIA ran an event on augmented reality. There were four speakers:
  • Jason Collins from Alcatel-Lucent demoed some work with Georgia Tech. Live magazine ads & posters that cameras can recognise and then trigger content on your phone such as video.
  • The next dude might have been either Adam Dunne or Peter Bray -pretty sure it was the former. Stuff on QR codes & Telstra. QR codes make the world clickable - a hyperlink on every surface.
  • Viveka Weiley talked about the AR toolkit and some other stuff. VW obviously knows a lot but had some difficulty articulating that.
  • Aaron Stafford from Adelaide talked about wearable computing & the Hand of God. Aaron was pretty blunt about the current user experience offered (it's a bit shaky and the equipment is a pain) but there are some obvious applications - augmented gaming, real estate & construction, etc.
The second event was Mobile Monday (which was bloody packed). Two pressos here:
  • Xumii - a mobile social network site aggregator aimed at Gen Ys. Interesting tool but I suspect there is a low barrier to entry for this kind of product and they are still in beta.
  • Justin Baird from Google. This was the headline act and a bit of a let-down. We learnt that mobile will be big (no **** sherlock) and that Google have some creepy ads for SMS Search. Android looks like it might have some cool stuff in it but that's all for the geeks really.
So two main takeaways from these:
  • Expect to see QR codes everywhere before the end of the year. Also expect to see QR spam/junk data and marketing successes & failures (success uncorrelated to spend) in the same timeframe.
  • Expect to see a plethora of mobile social networking technology - most of it aimed at teenagers. The first generation will simply be aggregators - then the next generation will start introducing rich media & location-based services.
Oh and I'll be getting an iPhone in a few months but I'm waiting for the data plans to sort themselves out first.