It’s been a while since I posted to this blog. My excuse, if one is needed, is that I started a new business venture earlier this year. Unfortunately, shortly after incorporating the company, I was admitted to hospital for quintuple heart bypass surgery! I’m pleased to say that while I’m more than fully recovered from the surgery, the new venture has derailed my blogging routine.
My New Venture
The venture is a partnership with my dear friend and long-time colleague, Roy Youngman. (See Roy’s blog). Roy and I have been on a fascinating journey over the last 20 years – learning about the levers that impact IT performance and business value. Back in the 1990’s, I was a Partner at Ernst & Young‘s Center for Business Innovation while Roy led a team at the Center for Information Systems Planning and Delivery, taking what the Innovation Center discovered and developing tools and methods for use by E&Y’s consultants and clients. Since then, Roy and I worked together at The Concours Group (and nGenera, when they absorbed Concours) and as independent consultants.
Social Tools Shape a Vision…
For the last 5 years, we have focused on driving IT improvement using social media and, though I hesitate to use the term, leveraging Web 2.0 and 3.0 capabilities. We have worked together on client engagements and multi-company research. We have worked to improve how management consulting works – a process that has always struck us as a “leaky” and inefficient!
We’ve focused on three questions:
- How can the business value of IT be increased using the kinds of social tools that are transforming they ways friends and communities interact, share and collaborate?
- How can social networking and collaboration capabilities be used to increase organizational clarity and drive higher engagement among IT professionals?
- How can the knowledge transfer process be improved to, within and between our clients?
We’ve worked with various tools (e.g., SharePoint, MediaWiki, Confluence) and with a variety of plug-ins and extensions in support of IT organizations who are trying to improve their performance and the value they deliver to their business clients and customers. We’ve created a meta-model of IT Capabilities. We’ve created an architecture for a Semantic Wiki, based on this meta-model and populated from our combined 60 years of IT experience.
The ‘learning journey’ has been rewarding, and from it a vision has emerged – one where IT professionals and their customers deliver services through a Web-based social context. I will use this blog to post about what we have learned and are learning.
In time, we will create a separate web site and provide the means for others to collaborate with us on this journey, but for now we are strictly focused on our client work (and our respective blogs!)
Some Early “Lessons Learned”
Create a baseline quickly
Set the quality bar high, and make rapid, incremental improvements thereafter. The name of the game is “emergence” – you need sufficient structure to help people have some sense of the destination, but not so much that they can’t participate in shaping the journey.
The most effective way to instill change is through “Pathfinder Projects”
Pathfinder Projects are ones that have to be undertaken anyway (their primary purpose) but that have an explicit secondary purpose of leveraging one or more social capabilities, such as a Wiki (e.g., adding quality content) as an outcome of the project.
Be “in the flow”
The social tools need to be incorporated into the natural work flow.
Take a ‘cascading’ approach to deployment
Deploy in “waves”, starting with IT leadership and Pathfinder Projects, continuing with Process Owners, natural Communities of Practice, and grow from there based upon how the collaborative/social energy flows. But also be sensitive to naturally emerging opportunities – go to where the puck is going!
Pride in workmanship trumps controls!
It is far more important to instill a pride-in-workmanship than to install a complex review and control process.
Expect a Power-Law distribution
A Power-Law Distribution is expected and good; a few will contribute a lot and some will contribute little, but everyone has something worth contributing.
Leaders demonstrate commitment by example
Leaders must demonstrate their commitment ‘by example’ while avoiding the temptation to criticize (which will be initially easy).
Are you working with Social Tools to improve IT work? What are you doing and how is it working?
Image courtesy of pcms consulting