Monday, December 21, 2015
from E L S U A ~ A KM Blog Thinking Outside The Inbox by Luis Suarez http://ift.tt/1lV1Em2
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
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Friday, December 11, 2015
In his influential book Crossing The Chasm, Geoffrey A. Moore wrote of the challenges of moving from our old ways of doing things to new, technologically enabled ones. Sadly many don't quite make it to the other side and get stuck in some sort of digital limbo, not having let go of previous ways of doing things, but not fully embracing the new either.
Just because you have some new social platform, or aspire to "virtual working", doesn't mean that you don't need to manage situations or invest time in people and relationships. You may need to have less face to face contact but you need to invest more in building online trust and understanding.
Especially in the early days when everyone is finding their feet you need to be obsessive about staying in touch, being as transparent as possible, and stating the obvious at every opportunity. We have all seen comments threads spiraling downwards due to an off the cuff contribution, or people shooting off in the wrong direction due to a less than clear post. Worse still is the inclination to discuss online misdemeanors offline with the risk of that particular back-channel tipping into gossip and character assassination.
There is so much to be gained from using our tools appropriately and exercising our new found skills but it doesn't just happen. It takes thoughtfulness, focus, tolerance and consideration. Real work.
from The Obvious? - euansemple.com http://ift.tt/1NSuGbV
Tuesday, December 08, 2015
Monday, November 30, 2015
Monday, November 16, 2015
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Friday, October 30, 2015
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Here at HR tech World in Paris yesterday I heard Yves Morieux from Boston Consulting Group make the case that in a post industrial world an organisation's people, and their willingness to collaborate, are their greatest assets. He also suggested that given that organisations play such a large part in modern civilised society, and that HR are responsible for the people in our organisations, that therefore the future of society was in HR's hands. When I reported this view online it was met with considerable scepticism!
But how many times have we heard this before – that people are the most important things in organisations - and how little have we done to show that we actually mean it!? If it's not HR who are going to take responsibility who is it? Finance?? IT??
Later in the day I watched Sir Richard Branson sit on stage in jeans and an open neck shirt berate the besuited audience for indulging in power dressing while expecting to bring out the best of the people that work for them. He also described how throwing a massive party for 70,000 former British Rail staff when Virgin took over the west coast main line converted them from "government workers" to enthusiastic customer service staff.
With unprecedented numbers of people expressing severe disengagement from work, and a general sense that something is wrong pervading the workplace, it is going to take more than changing our dress code and throwing parties to sort this. It is also no good waiting for the heads of our various silos to sort it for us. They are part of the problem.
If, as I believe it is, the future is about autonomous, thoughtful, proactive individuals operating and coordinating through trusted networks, supported by online conversations, then that is how we have to start acting. Now. We can't wait for someone else to give us permission. We can't wait for them to show us how to do it. We have to start taking responsibility for behaving differently, for saying no to more of the bullshit, for reaching out to others beginning to act in the same ways.
What are we waiting for? Seriously - what?
from The Obvious? - euansemple.com http://ift.tt/20eZb5E
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Last week I ran a half-day workshop at the annual offsite for executives of a major airline alliance, taking the group from a broad view of macro trends shaping the future, through to the generation of specific actionable ideas to create greater value across the alliance. As part of the workshop we used a framework
The post A framework for industry leadership based on collaboration appeared first on Trends in the Living Networks.
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Wednesday, September 30, 2015
from McKinsey Insights & Publications http://ift.tt/1YKO57G
Friday, September 18, 2015
from E L S U A ~ A KM Blog Thinking Outside The Inbox by Luis Suarez http://ift.tt/1KiIX32
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Thursday, September 17, 2015
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
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Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Many large companies spend considerable resources on compiling case studies to document their successes; whole teams can be dedicated to this. The idea is a simple one. When it comes to the outcomes you’re selling, prospects will want to know whether you’ve actually achieved these before, and case studies can serve as evidence […]
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Monday, September 14, 2015
Finding stories to tell is only part of your challenge as an effective communicator. It’s just as important to discern the story’s meaning so that you can put it to an appropriate use at the right time in the workplace. Once you find – or experience – a story, think about what scenarios […]
The post The Story Matrix: Three Zucchini Stories, Countless Meanings appeared first on Anecdote.
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Sunday, September 13, 2015
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Wednesday, September 09, 2015
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Change is nothing new. It’s a constant and always has been. Every generation thinks that is it is experiencing greater change than those who have gone before, and certainly the fundamentals of human nature remain the same. But surely there are certain periods that are more momentous than most?
If, as I do, you believe that digital technology, in all its forms, is going to have an impact equivalent to the printing press, and you consider the long term ongoing impact that that had in terms of the enlightenment and our modern world view, then we are about to enter a similarly fundamental period of change. We are only getting started with what we will have to deal with.
This is why I feel a sense of urgency in working out what our overarching story is, our collective way of making sense of what is happening. Not a formula, not a quick and reassuring answer, but a different philosophy, a different world view.
Exciting and frightening at the same time.
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Monday, September 07, 2015
from Adam Smith Institute http://ift.tt/1KWuxr6
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
from O'Reilly Radar - Insight, analysis, and research about emerging technologies http://ift.tt/1MZYgQf
Sunday, August 30, 2015
Friday, August 28, 2015
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
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Wednesday, August 19, 2015
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015
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Monday, August 17, 2015
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Thursday, August 13, 2015
Let me begin with a health warning: Be careful as you watch the video below. It will give you a sympathy backache. That said, it’s worth watching it to see what a naturally gifted human pretzel can do. Now think about how you might perform as a human pretzel. No matter how much physical flexibility […]
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Tuesday, August 11, 2015
from Harold Jarche http://ift.tt/1Sc0GQv
Monday, August 10, 2015
Every organization understands they need to innovate, not just in bringing new offerings to market, but in continually becoming a new and better organization. Networks are always at the heart of innovation. The new comes from combining the old in original ways. Chemist Kary Mullis aptly described how he arrived at his innovations that won
The post Harnessing the power of innovation: networks are at the heart appeared first on Trends in the Living Networks.
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Friday, July 24, 2015
This article is about case studies. No, no…do not stop reading. I have always believed that case studies are the second most boring documents produced in the entrepreneurial world after admin manuals. They are cold, dry, formulaic documents extolling the virtues of a process, product or company. Full of jargon, claims and assertions. Often trying […]
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Storytelling caused an increase in productivity of 10% at ROCHE and an increase in employee satisfaction of 20%. Marketing and sales are far from dead and buried. In fact, these essential business facets are needed now more than ever. Yet, the way they are done needs to change, and embracing the art of storytelling is […]
The post Why marketing and sales need to embrace the art of storytelling appeared first on Anecdote.
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Thursday, July 02, 2015
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Sunday, June 21, 2015
Friday, June 12, 2015
Imagine that you’re responsible for communicating your company’s new strategy, and just as you’re about to do so, you hear something worrying on the grapevine. A lot of employees believe the strategy was created by the new CEO going home one night, digging up an old strategy from his previous company, then making copies of […]
The post How to counter half-truths and lies with a better story appeared first on Anecdote.
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Thursday, June 11, 2015
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Tuesday, June 09, 2015
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I am frequently asked the difference between a Knowledge Cafe and Community of Practice (CoP) as it is not always clear to people.
Etienne Wenger defines a Community of Practice as a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact on a regular basis.
A Knowledge Cafe on the other hand is a highly adaptable face to face conversational process that can be used in many different business situations to bring a group of people together to have an open conversation for a specific purpose.
A Cafe can be run as a one-off event, for example to explore the impact of a new technology or as a regular series of events, for example a series of talks/cafes on a specific theme or a variety of different themes.
A Cafe or a series of Cafes does not constitute a CoP. And although a series of Cafes for people with a common interest may appear very CoP like, in reality a CoP will adopt many different ways of interacting rather than just the Cafe format. e.g. less structured conversations, open space technology sessions and on-line discussion forums.
So in summary, the Knowledge Cafe is a powerful conversational tool that can be employed by a CoP but is not the same as a CoP.
I hope this helps.
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from Harold Jarche http://ift.tt/1H9xHnR
"Four minutes," a triumphant Amy C. Edmondson exclaims as she arrives at her Harvard Business School office, clutching a bike helmet and explaining that her commute is 10 minutes faster by bicycle than by car. Edmondson, the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at HBS, knows a thing or two about efficiency.
But it's one thing to make yourself more efficient, quite another to make a team more efficient, and still another when that team's membership is in constant flux. With short-term teams assembled on the fly becoming increasingly common in today's workplaces, Edmondson and a colleague set out to investigate how fluid teams can work better.
In their paper Team Scaffolds: How Mesolevel Structures Enable Role-Based Coordination in Temporary Groups, Edmondson and lead author Melissa A. Valentine show how a very minimal structure can lead to greater collaboration and efficiency on a temporary team. What they call a team scaffold is fixed while individual team members flow through the structure.
The paper, published in the March-April 2015 edition of Organization Science, focuses on the redesign of a city hospital's emergency department around temporary teams called pods. The low-cost redesign led to dramatic improvements, both qualitatively and quantitatively, including a 40 percent reduction in how long a patient would remain in the ED before being discharged or admitted. The hospital, located in the southeastern United States, was an early adopter of a team-focused structure that many emergency departments are now implementing.
The research showed that temporary teams mimic the behaviors of more permanent teams, which have definitive boundaries around a group of roles, a clear goal, interdependent tasks, and stable, appropriate composition, Edmondson says. "Here we say we've got only the minimal version of those four factors-just a whisper of those things-and yet we get an awful lot of benefit."<divstyle="width:562px;"> Performance of temporary teams can be improved with light
structure—much like how scaffolds are used. ©http://ift.tt/1SC69O9
Given more and more dynamism in the modern workplace, "my interest started to be, how do you have effective teamwork when you can't have the traditional structural features of effective teams, [and so] I shifted my emphasis from teams to 'teaming,'" Edmondson says.
Valentine shared that interest in "messy" teams, making it the focus of her dissertation for the Health Policy (Management) doctoral program at HBS. (Edmondson chaired her dissertation committee.)
Prior to the redesign, the hospital used ad hoc groupings in the emergency department—any available nurse would triage a patient, then return the patient's chart for any available resident, who would then leave the chart for any available attending physician. The nurses did not know which doctor was working on which patient, and vice versa, which led to inefficiencies and a lack of accountability to one another. Schisms between the professional groups also hampered communication.
The redesign divided the ED into four pods, which were essentially bays with the necessary equipment to treat any type of patient. One senior or attending physician, one or two residents, and three nurses were assigned randomly to a pod at the start of their shifts. Patients were assigned consecutively to the four pods, with each pod having ultimate responsibility for its queue of patients. Because of the staggered and differing shifts, the entire team membership could changeover in as little as five hours.
The qualitative data showed better coordination between the pod members because they were co-located, making it easy to know who was on the team. It increased communication, follow-up, and the setting of mutual priorities, especially since the pod members were collectively responsible for getting the patients through the ED.
"The big 'aha' was how very little structure this is," Edmondson says. "We still have no assigned membership to specific teams over time. I think it speaks to the subtle interpersonal challenges we face trying to catch and work with relative strangers, and that even those small moments of hesitation or miscommunication matter."
While the scaffolds helped break down barriers between professional groups, they created new, albeit temporary, affinity groups to some extent, triggering competition between the teams, which the staff referred to as "the pod wars." No one wanted to be stuck in the slowest pod, and other pods didn't tend to help you out if yours was bogged down, the staff interviews revealed. "People were only affiliated with their pod for four or eight hours, and despite how temporary their team memberships were, they were still competitive with one another," says Valentine, who after earning her PhD from Harvard in 2013 joined Stanford University as an assistant professor of management science and engineering.
Valentine says one caveat of the quantitative improvement is that the hospital was not performing as well as its peers before the redesign. Although not every workplace will see such dramatic improvement, the research shows how powerful a tool grouping people deliberately, even if temporary, can be for managers. In other research, Valentine studied four other hospitals that implemented team scaffolds in their emergency departments with less success, which is the basis for an upcoming paper. The city hospital in the joint research with Edmondson had a robust change process, getting a lot of input from staff and buy-in, and used a pilot pod to train staff. One other hospital had a decent change process and bounded groups, but did not assign the pod ultimate responsibility for the patient flow, which hampered the pod acting as a team, Valentine says.
While a hospital may be a natural setting for team scaffolds, Edmondson and Valentine see other applicable sites.
Many large, global companies are trying to enable better lateral coordination to solve client issues more efficiently. "Just the designation that you're part of this temporary group can eliminate some of those bureaucratic layers where the coordination between people laterally is harder than it needs to be," Edmondson says.
Valentine was one of the authors of a Stanford paper on crowdsourcing teams to handle more complex projects, applying many of the ideas of team scaffolds. She has also incorporated the research into one of her courses, with students creating e-books in 48 hours through crowdsourcing on a team scaffold platform. While the hospital's pod members were physically in the same area, Valentine notes that co-location can be virtual in the case of crowdsourcing, using chat rooms, shared folders, or shared websites.
"There's more complex work that really requires this teaming on the fly, and the social technologies make it more possible to find and coordinate with each other," Edmondson says.
About the author
Roberta Holland is a writer based in Norwood, Massachusetts.
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I have been reading about, and occasionally putting into practice, the principles of Buddhism for more than twenty years now. I first became interested when I got my first "proper" line management role at the BBC. I had had various supervisor roles while still operational in radio, but this was the first time that I truly felt the burden of expectations both from "my seniors" and also from "my staff".
There are lots of air quotes in that sentence because even now the terminology raises issues for me. The idea of superiority implied in the hierarchy made me particularly uneasy. Half of the people I was managing were old enough to be my dad, had been editing since before I was born, and knew more about their craft than I would ever know. They had just had a lot of their friends made redundant with more cutbacks on the way. There were a number of ongoing industrial tribunals involving my group and a lot of understandable anti-management feeling. Suffice it to say I was feeling severely out of my depth.
I started to read management and personal development books in an attempt to find ways to cope. Trying to learn more about what I was meant to be doing and how I could get better at doing it. Sure I went on courses which helped at a superficial level but none of them really got at the deep existential angst I felt about my role, responsibilities, and fundamentally my place in the world.
One of the books I read was John Kabatt-Zinn's Full Catastrophe Living. Dr. Zinn has been applying the principles of Buddhism in healthcare in the US for decades and is really good at stripping away the religiosity of traditional Buddhism and expressing its philosophy and application in ways that make sense in the modern, western, world. I started to apply his teaching and meditating as regularly as I could. I am not going to try to explain meditation, the reasons for doing it, or what my expectations were but I remember one particular session in a hotel room in Hong Kong where something clicked and my level of self awareness took a momentary leap forwards. That has kept me coming back to the practice since.
At around the same time as this interest in Buddhism and meditation was beginning I was also getting into blogging. Although blogging had been going about a year when I started I was still part of a very small group of early bloggers working out what it was and what we could do with it. One of the writers of The Cluetrain Manifesto, David Weinberger, called it "writing ourselves into existence" and this has always stuck with me over the fourteen years that I have been doing it.
In order to blog you have to become more aware. Aware of yourself, your surroundings, and your impact on them. You think about what you have noticed and what it means. You then write about this, refining your thoughts, putting them into words, shaping them. You then publish these words on your blog which hopefully reaches into the minds of your readers in a very direct and immediate way. It feels like a more intimate connection than say writing an article or a book. It's like synapses firing outside your skull as well as inside it, extending your neural network to the rest of humanity.
Most recently I have started reading the wonderful books by American Buddhist Nun and writer Pema Chödrön. She explains Buddhist philosophy in wonderfully clear and understandable terms. She relates it to the strains and stresses we feel in modern life and gives really thoughtful applications of Buddhist thought to alleviating these challenges. Buddha didn't expect to be starting a religion. He was working out the nature of human existence and ways of reducing the suffering and distress we create for ourselves. This starts with awareness. Meditation practice that teaches you to be aware of your thoughts. To identify them as thoughts that come and go, and to realise that you are separate from your thoughts. This feels very similar to the process of blogging. Identifying something as an issue, a thought, a thread, that you want to address. Turning it and twisting it in your mind and then placing it outside yourself in writing. This has always felt very therapeutic. Identifying, articulating, refining the thoughts rattling through my brain.
But it can also feel very narcissistic. What difference does it make to our fellow man. This is where the idea of Tonglen comes in. This is the Buddhist practice of examining thoughts about challenges and stresses affecting you, those close to you, or ultimately anyone else suffering in the world. You might well ask what difference this is going to make in a world full of wars, disease and suffering? But these blights on our existence have to start somewhere. Apart from natural disasters we bring most of our suffering on ourselves. We do this one by one, consistently and inexorably. We identify others as the source of our distress or the perpetrators of our suffering and defend ourselves or attack them. And they will be doing the same to us! This projection of blame outside ourselves is a large part of what perpetrates our suffering. We have to understand and take responsibility for our impact on ourselves and the world around us. We have to get better at remaining detached from our suffering and helping others to do the same.
This is where blogging and the internet come back in. Being able to publish our thoughts instantly in a way that can be taken in, digested, and reshared by others is Tonglen in practice. It is our chance to understand things more and achieve a degree of detachment from our shared problems. We can carry out this approach in public, model behaviours, show the way, and make small ripples in the consciousness of our fellow humans.
There is no other way to bring about change. There is no "them" who are to blame and going to sort things. There is only us and that is where we have to start. With us. One at a time.
from The Obvious? - euansemple.com http://ift.tt/1cISx2w
Work can move at such a hectic pace that we often don’t get the time to reflect on important projects we’ve completed. But valuable lessons can be learned by doing this, particularly when stories are involved. Lessons learned using the power of stories A team I worked with had toiled on their project for two […]
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Friday, May 22, 2015
from Above and Beyond KM http://ift.tt/1Lk8ace
A lot of my time is spent listening to people sharing their challenges and frustrations. Lone voices in their organisations, who can see a better way of doing things, they get ground down by resistance and inertia. Knowing that others feel the same, and that people around the world share their vision of what is possible can be very sustaining.
Just having someone listen helps. I can see them clarifying their thinking or stiffening their resolve simply through the process of articulating their thoughts and sharing them with someone who understands.
We don't often need people to fix things for us, we just need someone to help us work out what to do and find the motivation to do it. This is why a coaching or mentoring relationship is so powerful. Not the dependency model of old style consulting where you would pay others to come up with solutions and deliver them for you, but a way of building your own skills and insights and becoming better at using these to make a difference.
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Friday, May 15, 2015
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Saturday, May 09, 2015
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
We all want to make a difference; to "put a dent in the universe", however small. Some days we manage it and we feel good about having a sense of purpose beyond survival, beyond just making a living. Other days it can feel as if someone is following along behind is filling in those small dents and sanding them over.
Why bother? Why not reduce our aspirations, do no more than is expected of us, avoid rocking the boat and enjoy an easy life?
Because there is no such thing. There is no such thing as stasis. If we are not nudging forwards we are going backwards. The world keeps moving relative to us and time and progress wait for no man.
Sometimes what appears the safest thing is the riskiest. Getting a good steady job used to feel safe. Nowadays those jobs can disappear with frightening speed. The longer we've been "safe" the more devastating this can feel.
Keeping your head down used to feel safe. Nowadays if your'e not seen to be adding value, seen to know what you know and be willing to share that, then what's the point in keeping you?
Making small dents, sharing our knowledge, making a difference, is part of what we are. Forgetting this is one of life's great sadnesses. Whether we are recognised or rewarded is not the point. We are not doing it for others, we are doing it for ourselves.
That's the point.
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Monday, March 30, 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Saturday, March 14, 2015
Yesterday professional services expert George Beaton and I ran the inaugural Clients and Firms of the Future: How to Compete conference in Sydney, bringing together around 100 senior leaders of professional services firms to look at the future of the industry. It is just over 15 years ago now that my first book was released
The post Three critical domains of change driving the future of professional services appeared first on Trends in the Living Networks.
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Friday, March 13, 2015
Mitchell B. Weiss has heard it too many times: government doesn't work. Too slow. Too bureaucratic. Too burdened by procurement rules and performance measures.
"Some of that is fair, and some of that is unfair, but it adds up over time," says Weiss, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School who has created a new MBA course, Public Entrepreneurship. "The course allows students to consider the alternative that government can work—or they can help make it work."
Once chief of staff to the late Boston mayor Thomas Menino, Weiss isn't just engaging in wishful thinking. He's seen firsthand how entrepreneurs within government can cut through red tape.
Weiss co-founded the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics, which among other projects produced the nation's first big-city 311 app that allows citizens to alert government to potholes and graffiti. He also helped cut through zoning laws to create the Boston Innovation District on a vast and underdeveloped swath of waterfront in South Boston, attracting hundreds of startups.
And when the 2013 Boston Marathon was attacked, Weiss helped establish the One Fund within 24 hours to serve as a central pool for donations to victims. "The One Fund ended up channeling $60 million to survivors and to the families of the victims in 75 days. That speed is virtually unheard of," says Weiss.
<divstyle="width:562px;"> A new Harvard Business School course inspires students to be
entrepreneurial leaders in government. Pictured: Government Center in Boston. ©http://ift.tt/18uORPL
Not that producing such results comed easy. As One Fund was being established, the IRS determined that the organization was not eligible to receive nonprofit status—which meant donations would not have been tax-deductible and likely caused many potential donors to not contribute. "The One Fund team made it known we would proceed without nonprofit status rather than agree with its finding," Weiss remembers. "Eventually, the IRS found a way to grant the status."
In the past five years, cities around the world have increasingly become laboratories in innovation, producing idea labs that partner with outside businesses and nonprofits to solve thorny public policy problems—and along the way deal with challenges of knowing when to follow the established ways of government and when to break the mold. States and federal government, too, have been reaching out to designers, engineers, and entrepreneurs to help redo their operations. The new US Digital Service, for example, follows other federal efforts like 18F and the Presidential Innovation Fellows to streamline government websites and electronic records—adapting from models in the UK and elsewhere.
"We have many talented people in government, but by and large they have tended to be analysts and strategists, rather than inventors and builders," says Weiss, who hopes his course can help change that. "One reason we didn't have them is we weren't training them. At policy schools we had not been training people to be all that entrepreneurial, and at business schools, we were not prepping or prodding entrepreneurial people to enter the public sector or even just to invent for the public realm."
Government entrepreneurship takes many forms. There are "public-public entrepreneurs" who work within government agencies, as well as "private-public entrepreneurs" who establish private businesses that sell to government agencies or sometimes to citizens directly.
In Philadelphia, for example, Textizen enables citizens to communicate with city health and human services agencies by text messages, leading to new enforcement on air pollution controls. In California, OpenCounter streamlined registration for small businesses and provided zoning clearances in a fraction of the usual time. In New York, Mark43 is developing software to analyze crime statistics and organize law enforcement records. And in Boston, Bridj developed an on-demand bus service for routes underserved by public transportation.
The innovations are happening at a scale large enough to even attract venture capital investment, despite past VC skepticism about funding public projects.
"There was this paradox—on the one hand, government is the biggest customer in the world; on the other hand, 90 out of 100 VCs would say they don't back business models that sell to government," says Weiss. "Though that's starting to change as startups and government are starting to change." OpenGov received a $15 million round of funding last spring led by Andreessen Horowitz, and $17 million was pumped into civic social-networking app MindMixer last fall.
DOESN'T NEED TO BE PERFECT
Governments could attract even more capital by examining their procurement rules to speed buying, says Weiss, giving them that same sense of urgency and lean startup practices needed to be successful in entrepreneurial projects.
"In government we announce something and wait to get it perfect. By using more experimental approaches, some public leaders are achieving success by testing and learning instead of writing a plan in stone before executing it."
In the HBS case study More Citizens Connect, Weiss details some of the learning challenges involved with Citizens Connect, the 311 app produced for Boston. After the successful rollout in that city, project creators Chris Osgood (Harvard MBA 2006) and Nigel Jacob, faced the challenge of scaling it to serve other cities in Massachusetts. Along the way, they ran smack into state procurement rules that forced them to open the contract to other bidders.
As with the IRS and the One Fund, sometimes entrepreneurs question the rules and push on barriers to achieve results. "But we must wrestle with the downsides of that, too," says Weiss. "On an individual basis, it might seem OK to say this rule doesn't make sense, so we won't follow it, but at what point does this practice become a problem?"
One company running afoul of the rules is private taxi-on-demand service Uber, which has disrupted the highly regulated and often inefficient taxi industry, and expanded to hundreds of cities worldwide. At the same time, the company has been criticized for "surge pricing" that jacks up rates during rush hours, as well as its lack of background checks on drivers and alleged evasion of local taxes. The Uber case brings up thorny questions around when pushing legal or policy boundaries becomes a public hazard rather than public benefit.
PERMISSION OR FORGIVENESS
"We address this in the course in a session I call regulatory permission, forgiveness, or neither?" says Weiss. "Boston was one of the early cities where Uber was allowed to operate. I ask students whether they think we did the right thing."
Other aspects of working with government, such as requirements for openness and public scrutiny, could be seen as opportunities as much as impediments.
"Nowadays, companies are desperate to have a huge community of innovators looking at what they are doing and offering ideas," says Weiss. "For centuries government has naturally engaged people in what it is doing. Government should be naturals at crowdsourcing."
In exploring these challenges and opportunities, Weiss believes the public entrepreneurship course can help make working in government a viable alternative for innovators looking to effect real change. Noting that HBS offered pioneering courses in private entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship, he is hoping that eventually public entrepreneurship will be seen as just as legitimate a field of enterprise.
"For 200 years, we've had a sense of how private entrepreneurship creates and delivers value, and for the last 20 years, we've seen the development of the idea of social entrepreneurship," says Weiss. "I told my students on the first day of class [that] we didn't invent public entrepreneurship, but together we could help make public entrepreneurship the third leg of that stool. We could help show the huge opportunity that exists in government to invent a difference in the world."
About the author
Michael Blanding is a senior writer for Harvard Business School Working Knowledge.
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Friday, March 06, 2015
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw famously wrote, "He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches." But it's often more accurate to say, "He who can do can't teach."
It's natural for novices to seek out experts for guidance. That's why many organizations adopt formal mentorship and training programs. Unfortunately, though, experts frequently make lousy teachers.
Experts are sometimes so steeped in expertise that they don't remember what it was like to be a newbie—in terms of both how much they knew and how they felt back then. The memory gap leads to an empathy gap.
"Having a lot of knowledge and skills can make it harder for these experts to transfer what they've learned to people who know very little about what the experts do," says Ting Zhang, a doctoral student in the Negotiation, Organizations and Markets unit at Harvard Business School.
Researchers refer to the problem as the "curse of knowledge." Zhang is on a mission to break the curse. In her research on the psychology of rediscovery, she's looking into how experts can rediscover the experience of inexperience.
"There's one underlying question behind this research," she says. "How do you help experts help novices?"
According to Zhang, experts can rediscover inexperience in two key ways. One, when they are still novices, they can proactively document their own early-stage learning process from day to day, anticipating eventual proficiency. Later, when they become masters, they can look back and reflect on what they wrote as novices. Two, experts can actually re-experience how it feels to be a beginner.
Through a series of experiments in 2014, Zhang investigated the efficacy of each rediscovery method.
Documentation vs. recall
In one experiment, Zhang hired 169 college undergrads to keep daily diaries of their summer internships, with the understanding that Zhang would hold on to the diaries in a "time capsule" to be opened at a later date. The interns were told to record surprising experiences, unforeseen challenges, and meaningful interactions with colleagues.
Two months after the internships ended, the participants received a follow-up questionnaire about their summer experiences. Half of them also received copies of their summer diaries, reminding them of how they had felt as new interns. The other half did not gain access to their diaries; they were told to recall their experiences from memory.
After completing the questionnaire, all the veteran interns were asked to provide some advice to interns of the future. Zhang then hired 93 other undergraduates (who were seeking internships for the following summer) to review and evaluate the advice.
As a whole, the young advice recipients gave higher ratings to the advice from the experienced interns who had "rediscovered" their own summer diary accounts. Zhang was not surprised.
"The people in the recall group would give vague advice like, 'A meaningful summer internship experience is one where you can learn a lot,'" she explains. "Whereas the people in the 'rediscovery' group were more likely to say things like, 'Make sure to seek out a mentor, and get that person to explain exactly what you'll be doing.' They would give advice that was relatively actionable."
The upside-down guitar effect
The next experiment explored how experts could experience the feeling of inexperience without the benefit of past documentation.
Zhang hired 74 skillful right-handed guitarists to record themselves playing the guitar for one minute, any song they liked. Half, the control group, were told to "play as you would on a typical day."
Expert guitarists in the control group were told, "Play as you would on a typical day."
The other half were told to flip their guitars around and play with their non-dominant hand, strumming with the left hand and forming chords with the right. This was the "rediscovery" group. The idea came from Zhang's personal experience.
"I used to play the violin," she explains. "During orchestra practice, sometimes we would turn around our instruments and play them that way. It's a really bizarre feeling. It makes you feel like a beginner all over again."
Indeed, the rediscovery group in Zhang's experiment reported that playing with the non-dominant hand made them feel (and sound) more like beginners.
Experts in the "rediscovery" group played with the non-dominant hand, making them feel and sound like beginners.
After playing for a minute, all the expert guitarists watched a YouTube video clip of a true beginner, who struggled to play a series of chords. They each wrote a few sentences of advice for the beginner, and then reported the extent to which they related to his struggle. Playing backwards proved to be an effective rediscovery technique for the experts. Compared with the control group, the rediscovery group reported feeling more empathy for the greenhorn.
Next, Zhang hired 75 beginner guitarists to evaluate the advice from the experts. (The novices read each piece of advice at random, knowing nothing of the previous experiment.) Indeed, novices favored advice from those experts who had played their guitars backwards—and thus rediscovered the feeling of inexperience.
Overall, rediscovery experts gave advice that was more specific and actionable. Experts in the control group offered comments such as, "This player's hand placement is wrong." In contrast, those in the rediscovery group gave more constructive advice; for example, "Have that right hand flowing on the strings, and suspend the hand using your pinky finger as a swivel on the body of the guitar."
The advice from the rediscovery group was more encouraging, too. ("Play slower and work your way up to full speed," one expert wrote. "Kirk Hammett didn't learn it overnight!")
"The experts who felt the experience of inexperience ended up seeing more potential in the beginner they were evaluating," Zhang says. "Their advice reflected that."
Corporate field studies
Zhang and her faculty advisors hope to study the effects of rediscovery in a corporate setting, where mentorship and training programs are often integral to everyday operations.
"We'd love to understand how managers can understand the feeling of being a novice in the organization," she says. "This is a really important problem in organizations because transference of knowledge of skills and expertise is critical to helping new employees learn."
The field studies will include hospitals, where seasoned physicians routinely mentor brand-new doctors through life-or-death situations. "There's a huge learning curve in medicine, and teaching is highly variable in terms of training," Zhang says. "Some attending physicians really prioritize mentoring, while others think students should fend for themselves. If these people can rediscover what it was like to be a medical student, can that change the type of training that goes on in a medical context?"
Zhang acknowledges that the rediscovery process might be uncomfortable for experts. But her research indicates that it can yield positive results for any organization where leaders pass their knowledge on to followers.
"It's not something we do naturally," Zhang says. "Once we get good at something, our intuition is not to say, 'OK, let me go see how it feels to be bad at it again.' But the findings suggest that if you get people who are experts to rediscover the feeling of being a beginner, that could actually have powerful implications for how advising takes place in an organization. It has implications for how experts can better understand those who have less experience than they do."
Note to managers: If your organization is interested in participating in a field study on rediscovery, please visit The Research Exchange, or email email@example.com with the subject "Research Exchange Field Study."
About the author
Carmen Nobel is senior editor of Harvard Business School Working Knowledge.
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Sunday, February 22, 2015
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Friday, February 20, 2015
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
I had a great meeting recently with Isabel Collins who is building a consulting business around the idea of belonging. We talked about the sort of things people feel the need to belong to and why. What is the optimal group size for a sense of belonging? What norms have to exist to give us something to belong to? What is the right degree of conformity?
My own belief is that networks of autonomous, tolerant, collaborative individuals are how we are going to thrive in the future and the only way we are going to solve our complex and volatile challenges. What is the minimum amount of structure, rules, or consistent behaviours that allows those networks to work and not fall into dysfunction and disorder? What is the right balance between the outlook and interests of the individual and those of the network? How do we keep the networks fluid and diverse enough to avoid them becoming tribal? How do we retain our identity when we belong to multiple, overlapping, networks?
Last night I read a long but fascinating article about ISIS in which I was struck by the need that fundamentalists of any religious persuasion have to belong. A need to belong that overrides their individuality and even, in extreme cases, their need to live.
Even in the workplace there is an often overwhelming pressure to conform, to fit in. We are encouraged to sublimate the self to the needs of the group. Dissent is frowned upon and individualists invariably end up being ejected.
A need to belong to something larger than ourselves is clearly a powerful part of being human. How do we avoid that need overcoming our sense of self, our ability to operate effectively, and our very humanity, in the process?
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Saturday, February 14, 2015
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Friday, February 06, 2015
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Some of you may remember Chris Locke's great blog of that name from back in the early days of blogging. You could feel the force of his writing pushing against the tendency for things to revert to previous states or to fall apart.
Entropy, in its sense of a return to equilibrium, is a powerful force in organisations. Whenever you make a change, unless you continue to inject energy into the system, things are likely to return to "normal" pretty soon. So many of my clients put in social platforms at work, have a communications push to start if off, see an influx of users, then it all slows down, often to a halt. The novelty wears off. People return to their old ways of doing things, and the naysayers get to say "I told you it would never work".
You have to keep injecting energy, you have to keep caring, you have to pick yourself up and try again, and again. The sort of change in how we work that we are on the brink of is worth the effort but unless we keep injecting energy we will stay teetering on that brink.
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