Business priorities and the digital workplace: your input please

September 12, 2014

I’m looking for input about an important indicator for this year’s digital workplace survey: business and enterprise priorities

(This is the long version of the question I have also posted on the Digital Workplace Facebook page and on my Google+ page.)

High-level strategic drivers for the digital workplace

Over the past few years, I’ve proposed a list of five high-level strategic drivers for the digital workplace. Participants were asked to indicate the top three for their organization.

  1. Efficiency and cost savings
  2. Business and operational performance
  3. Organizational intelligence
  4. Agility, flexibility and speed
  5. Engagement and belonging

(Full definitions at the bottom of this blog post)

This led to observations as follows, and I plan to maintain the same question this year to detect possible changes.

  • The Early Adopters indicated that “organizational intelligence” was their top strategic driver whereas the Majority selected “Efficiency and cost savings”.
  • The highest rated strategy drivers differed according to industry:
  • 80 % of both “Government/public services” and “Humanitarian” rated “Efficiency and cost-saving” as their top strategic driver.
  • 56% of the “Professional services” and “Chemicals” companies rated “Agility, flexibility, speed” at the top.
  • 83% of the “Construction, engineering” industry rated “Organizational intelligence” at the top.
  • For the “Consumer, retail” industry “Engagement and belonging” was the highest rated (55%).

Here’s an example of two digital workplace strategic driver profiles: “Construction / engineering” and “Government / public services”.

Strategic drivers for the digital workplace in the Construction/Engineering industry.


Strategic drivers for Government and Public Service organizations.

Looking for input on this list of business and organizational priorities

This year, I’m adding a more detailed question about enterprise and business priorities that exist independently of the digital workplace. I will ask the question twice: “for your whole organization” and “for your own area of work / team / department”.

Based on responses to numerous questions throughout the survey, I will be able to identify which features and dimensions in the digital workplace impact which specific enterprise/business goals.  The results can be analyzed functionally (sales, engineers, etc.) as well as by industry. They can also be analyzed in a macro way by taking all the responses for those who selected “engagement and belonging” as a top strategic driver, and see what specific enterprise and business goals they had, and which features in the digital workplace impacted them (or not). I can also see what organizations are doing in their digital workplace for a  specific business priority.

What do you think of this list? What to add? What to remove?

1.    Reduce costs
2.    Improve individual productivity, efficiency
3.    Improve operational efficiency
4.    Improve existing processes
5.    Reinvent the way we work, transform our organization
6.    Improve collaboration internally, reduce silo-thinking
7.    Enable mobile and remote workers to collaborate “as if in the office”
8.    Improve access to information: relevance, timeliness
9.    Improve knowledge-sharing across the organization
10.    Make our learning environment smarter, quicker and more relevant
11.    Attract, motivate, retain employees
12.    Strengthen our corporate/organizational brand internally, reinforce our sense of purpose
13.    Improve customer satisfaction
14.    Create new products/services
15.    Attract and retain new customers, open new markets
16.    Improve collaboration with clients, partners and other external people
17.    Strengthen our corporate/organizational brand externally
18.    Increase flexibility / responsiveness of the organization
19.    Build alliances with other enterprises/organizations
20.    Improve our sustainability from an environmental perspective
21.    Improve IT applications and infrastructure

These items need to be relevant to all types of organizations and all industries, yet more action-oriented and specific than the five strategic drivers listed at the top of this post. The list should cover most potential goals for most organizations! Not an easy task.  I look forward to your feedback on this list. Thank you!

Definitions for the five strategic drivers used in the last two annual surveys

Efficiency and cost savings: shared technologies, licenses, services, reduced reliance on email, increased productivity, reducing duplication of effort and of content, reducing travel costs, …
Business and operational performance: support/improve product or service development, improve/accelerate customer service, facilitate the work of our customer-facing people …
Organizational intelligence: increase/facilitate collaboration and teamwork, enable fast access to experts, stimulate the emergence of collective intellectual capital, facilitate innovation, …
Agility and speed: streamline core activity/business processes, accelerate communication flows, speed up decision-making, connect workers across teams and geographies, …
Engagement and belonging: help empower people, build trust across the organization, provide a place for people to “meet”, recognize accomplishments (of people and of the organization), …

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Embracing diversity brings decision-making challenges

August 20, 2014

The digital workplace is not a place. It is not a shared entry point. It is an ecosystem that is governed by defining a limited number of strategic principles, then letting people throughout the organization take ownership and assume accountability for various pieces, large and small. A successful digital workplace is participative.


dw diversity and beyond corp walls

Many people are impacted by an organization’s digital workplace and they all need to be consulted when defining a strategy and action plan. I’ve defined 5 stakeholder groups, each with different but complementary needs.

How can you make relevant and actionable decisions in this complex environment?


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What we can learn from a newspaper (and it’s not the news)

August 5, 2014

I recently read Play It Again, by Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian newspaper and website. The book triggered a new interest in The Guardian and it also got me back on the piano.

Alan Rusbridger’s yearlong journey to learn Chopin’s Ballade No.1 is the primary story line for this book. However for me, the background stories, illustrated by the following three examples, are more compelling:

  • Rusbridger describes the pivotal role of The Guardian in the WikiLeaks events and chronicles meetings with Assange and the difficult challenge of coordinating the major media supporters and Assange.
  • It is learned that one of the Guardian journalists is being held by Libyan rebels so Rusbridger and a colleague personally fly immediately to Libya and get him out just hours before the No Fly Zone takes place.
  • The Guardian journalists stood up to the Murdoch machine and were key to revealing the hacking scandal at News of the World.

In Play it Again, Rusbridger talks like a true leader – vision combined with humility. Vision for leading The Guardian into the digital age, and at the same time becoming a worldwide model for freedom of the press. Humility for describing how nervous he was, at many points, over the year as he went to piano camp, practiced in 15-minute segments a day, played for small audiences yet felt he would never reach his goal of mastering the Ballade.

Fulfilling purpose and going beyond the surface


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Digital Workplace Stakeholders: Key to Relevant Strategy

July 18, 2014

A digital workplace has 5 types of stakeholders, each with a unique perspective complementary to the others:

  1. People as individuals (throughout the workforce)
  2. Business, operational and customer-facing workforces
  3. Management
  4. Enterprise/group communities and shared services
  5. External customers (or users / citizens) served by the organization.

Your need input from all 5 stakeholder groups. This is fundamental to all digital workplace initiatives, workshops, focus groups and whatever other techniques you use to define your project. This slide deck explains why  the 5 stakeholder perspectives are all important and gives you ideas about how to approach them. It’s a starting point to be customized for your own context. (more…)

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“The Hole in the Wall” or “Let people get on with it”

June 20, 2014

One of my very first ever blog posts from May 2005 was about an experiment carried out by Sugata Mitra and reported in the BBC.   Mitra broke a hole in his office wall and made a computer available to children in a shanty town who had never seen a computer.

The noise goes down, a leader appears…


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3 Defining Moments in My Work Life

June 18, 2014

I have recently read some works that brought me to think about my work life and how it has evolved over the past years.  Most recently, it was John Stepper‘s Working Out Loud (early draft)  that I was privileged to review, where he describes the critical moment when his mind opened to new ways of working. (more…)

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“Working out Loud” week June 9 to 15

June 9, 2014

work out loud week

“Working out loud” is one of the most powerful steps you can take to begin to transform how your organization works.

Several of my co-members of ChangeAgentsWorldwide are “working out loud” pioneers.

See their tips on practical steps you can take. (Thank you @simongterry and @johnstepper.)

“Working out loud” is the title of one of the chapters in “The Digital Workplace in the Connected Organization“, the most recent report from the digital workplace survey (8th annual edition).

50 % discount on report purchases during “Working Out Loud” Week


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Business is the Missed Opportunity of the Digital Workplace

June 4, 2014

Top management is out of touch with the reality of how people work

Quick read:

My first annual survey, conducted with 100 global organizations in 2006, covered intranets, collaboration and what was then called “web 2.0” technologies. Survey results showed that top management in most companies was out of touch with the reality of how people worked. Top management tends to be focused on business, sales and the external world. They do not make the mental leap between how people work internally and how the organization serves their external customers.

Data from my latest survey of 314 organizations around the world (published in February) show three industry sectors that stand out because Business is one of their top three strategic drivers for their digital workplace. These 51 organizations report greater confidence in four specific business scenarios.

One of the 2006 survey questions  was: “How do the senior managers in your organization perceive the role of the intranet?” Thirteen percent of the participants reported that top management considered the intranet to be “business critical”. To the question “How soon would employees be disturbed in their work if the intranet ‘went down’?” 55 percent responded “in one to two hours”.

So the workforce in 55 percent of the companies used the intranet daily, if not hourly, in their work, yet senior management in only 13 percent considered it “business critical”?!

This was only the first of many indicators over the last 9 years of research showing that management in many organizations is out of touch with how people really work. These figures varied no more than 2 or 3 percentage points over five years, from 2006 through 2010. At this time I started asking people to identify their top three strategy drivers for the digital workplace. And things did not seem much better. (more…)

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HR stuck in the middle: management versus people

May 11, 2014

Today, it is clear that  HR, in most organizations, is not yet playing a strategic role of thinking about and preparing for the future workplace.  I asked 314 organizations around the world the following question:

“Which parts of your organization are thinking about and preparing for the future workplace?

This includes strategy and practical guidance. It covers new people skills such as online collaboration, leading virtual teams, participatory management, socially driven work practices. It also includes thinking about where people work, how to facilitate mobility, what is required in building facilities and services and so on.”

HR was identified as being involved in 50% (of the Majority of organizations) to 60% (in Early Adopter organizations). The image below is page 148 from “The Digital Workplace in the Connected Organization“.



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World Cafe in Berlin: The Digital Workplace Journey

April 8, 2014

If you are in Berlin between end of day Wed 9 April and Fri evening 11 April, get in touch. I’m going there tomorrow for Intranet Reloaded.

I’ll be running one table at the World Café on “evolving towards a digital workplace”. I plan to use my new model and deepen the work I did in Copenhagen at IntraTeamEvent and in Paris at IntraNetwork on “obstacles and how to overcome them”. The document below is an example of “working out loud” as it is unfinished and will continue to evolve through contributions made in future workshops.


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