Search This Blog

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why do we help each other out

I am always interested in why people help each other out and have used the concept of reciprocal altruism in my talks on knowledge management.
I've been reading over my lunch today an article by Martin Nowak about co-operation. He views co-operation as interesting as it means that you help someone who is a possible competitor and that you reduce your own success in order to increase the success of someone else.

He highlights some types of reciprocity that knowledge managers might find interesting.
  1. Direct reciprocity - individuals interact repeatedly - if I help now you may help me later.
  2. Reputational (my phrase) Indirect reciprocity which takes place in groups - where people see you interact with another person and reach the conclusion that you are a helpful person.
  3. Spatial selection - where neighbours help each other - they survive by being in clusters this could be of interest in communities of practice but also in organisations especially departments which consider themselves in danger.
  4. Finally Group selection and he says' it maybe that our group of co-operators is better off than another group of defectors, here selection acts on two levels because in our group there is more co-operation

Got Hype? You need POST | Forrester Blogs

POST applies extremely well to internal-facing collaboration and Information Workplace discussions, which he described in “POST: A Systematic Way To Define Your Collaboration Strategy.”
In the context of collaboration the four step POST methodology consists of:
1. People. Start by understanding what employees actually use and need today. Don’t guess and don’t rely on anecdotal interviews. Instead, start with a quantitative assessment.
2. Objectives. With that baseline of understanding in place, next decide what your business goals are. You will need to build a decision council that includes IT and business to help you do this.
3. Strategy. The strategy part of this planning process means mapping the business goals to specific collaboration scenarios that you can actually improve — no tools yet.
4. Technology. The last step is to figure out which technologies improve your most important collaboration scenarios. Choose cloud services if they make sense; on-premises if not.
IT struggles with a new form of hype. As one Content and Collaboration professional recently told us, “I used to hate constantly meeting with vendors trying to sell me stuff. But now the vendors go directly to the users, convince them they need the tools, and I end up with my own colleagues demanding I buy this “great” stuff that is “exactly what they need.” It’s even worse!”
POST deflects this kind of demand. “You think it’s just what you need? Ok, let’s run the POST methodology and see if this technology is appropriate for our people, objectives, and strategies.” If the answer is yes, you’ve cut through the hype and verified real business benefits. If the answer is no, you’ve demonstrated precisely why, rather than just refusing to give users what they want.
This is a helpful concept to utilise if someone wants you to use something new - run it past this concept and tweak as you need - say in re-designing your intranet to buying iPads for the business. I've been there and worn the T shirt from vendors in the past.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Is Business-centric Social Networking a Revolution -- or a Ruse? - Knowledge@Wharton

Is Business-centric Social Networking a Revolution -- or a Ruse? - Knowledge@Wharton

An interesting article to read on the subject, as the jury is out on this one for a lot of companies. I hear a lot of claims for this and wonder if it is just part of the normal technological hype that you see from time to time or does it have a role in business helping people to go across silos.

Do we need this or could something like Instant Messenger which is part of most organisations capabilities as part of their office suite be just as effective as say Yammer.

It could be that it just becomes part of the plumbing to businesses as the Internet has become since it's introduction and that the technology will evolve into standard enterprise software and become standards.

I think for a lot of companies they will try it as an experiment so long as it is done on a reasonable scale and see how it impacts on peoples day to day performance and also how it has helped the business to deliver real value to the end client. (I can remember trying Google Wave as a test and we soon found out it's limitations)

Anyway, please read the article and post any comments you might like to.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Energy—our buildings are wasting it and a lesson for knowledge managers

From a recent HBR panel meeting - talking about the need for change. What is interesting is that the lessons that they have learnt also relates to knowledge management - ie to show people the effects of the actions that they take on a monthly basis.

In a panel on energy entrepreneurship and demand management, moderated by Professor Forest Reinhardt, experts focused on two main problems: buildings in general are far too inefficient, and people in general are clueless about their individual electricity usage. The sole investor on the panel, Craig Huff (HBS MBA 1993), co-CEO and co-founder of Reservoir Capital Group, said that rather than focusing on brand-new energy sources, his firm often focuses on companies that make current energy sources more efficient.

Urban buildings consume 40 percent of the world's electricity, said Andreas Schierenbeck (HBS AMP 176, 2009), president of Siemens Industry's Building Technologies Division. Fortunately, for most of those buildings, there's the potential to cut down electricity usage by up to 75 percent via various readily available energy-saving measures, noted Philippe Delorme, EVP of strategy and innovation at Schneider Electric, which is based in France, but does a third of its business in Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Unfortunately, it's hard to persuade people to institute those energy-saving measures.

"Human beings don't like to change, and everything involving energy management does imply the need to change," Delorme said, adding that electricity demand will double in 20 years if we maintain status quo practices.
This raised an important question: "How do we connect the energy consumers with a value proposition that makes it worth their while?" asked Gregg Dixon, SVP of marketing at EnerNOC USA, which helps large organizations in the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom track their electricity use.
Dixon noted that while many consumers would jump at the chance to save 25 percent on their monthly mortgages, even if it meant paying some financing fees up front, they seem less apt to invest in energy-saving measures that will save them money in the long run, such as compact fluorescent light bulbs, air-sealing services, and tools that help customers measure energy expenditures.

Schierenbeck supposed that electricity customers might be more apt to conserve energy if their utility bills reflected exactly how they were using that energy from month to month—giving them a better idea of how and where they could save money. "Right now, people can't tell you where they're expending energy but they can tell you what their monthly bill is," he said

Delorme agreed. "We don't know how much we spend because it's not visible enough," he said.