Demographics and Digital Workplace Maturity

February 2, 2016

I’ve been asked at least a hundred times which countries are the strongest in digital workplace maturity. People always ask about their own country. Many assume that the US is more advanced than Europe, Northern Europe more than Southern Europe, and so on. I have always hesitated to give my opinion based on my firsthand experiences and decided it was time to look at some data and see if there are some answers or maybe just some points to think about. First I’ll start with some basics.

The larger the workforce, the more mature the digital workplace.

Organizations with a workforce of over 50,000 people have a much higher digital workplace score than those with fewer than 5,000 people.

The bigger you are, the more you need digital to reach and connect everyone. It is business critical.

I’ve seen this since the very first survey back in 2006.

The bigger the geographical footprint, the more mature the digital workplace.

The more countries the organization operates in, the more advanced the internal digital workplace is. This applies as well to smaller organizations with people located in many different countries. Again, how else can you connect?

Private beats public, sadly.

The private corporate sector has higher digital maturity than the non-private such as government and educational institutions. Unfortunately, education and government are least mature sectors in digital workplace matters. This may be because their focus is strongly towards external people ­— students, citizens, residents, etc. or there may be a deeper reason. Whatever the reason, it’s a sad state of affairs.

The very institutions that govern us and educate us (in theory) have fallen behind, digitally speaking.

National cultures?


Tips for working with a strategic facilitator

January 26, 2016

I have worked as a strategy facilitator in the field of “internal digital work environments” for 17 years.  In reality, I have never actually worked like a consultant.

My clients have often told me they work with me because “you’re not a consultant.”

Strategy consultants traditionally work in two steps: A. Interview, explore and investigate. B. Analyze and write a report with recommendations. That has never been my approach.

Here’s how I work

First I sell a one-day scoping workshop where we define the goals, approach, players, deliverables, etc. together. The client pays for this. The client is not committed to go any further. The outcome is a document, co-authored by them and myself. They are completely free to use it with another partner. They usually retain me at this point, but the freedom not to encourages them to take the first step quickly.

Then, assuming the scoping exercise has gone well, I do a proposal encouraging the client to play a leadership role in the activities — usually workshops and user needs research. My role is one of coaching the leader and facilitating the process. Positioning the client contact person as both project owner and project leader brings greater visibility and credibility to the outcome.

It’s no longer a consultant on a “hit and fly” mission — stepping in for the strategy development phase and leaving before it materializes (or not).


What are business critical issues for organizations in the digital age?

January 16, 2016

The 10th annual survey on digital inside organizations is gearing up. The Advisory Board has been created and started contributing ideas and feedback. The practitioner LinkedIn group created to provide input and influence the direction of the survey has been refreshed for 2016. (If you’re a practitioner, you’re welcome to join us here.)

There is so much to read today about digital – some heavy, some light, some useful, some not. What topics you think are truly critical to cover in this survey?  What research angles will provide actionable results for organizations? What can we investigate that can have impact on organizations and decision-makers?

Thank you all in advance for your contributions!

What would you add/remove/adjust on this high level working list? (more…)

Executive Edition: The Organization in the Digital Age

November 27, 2015



I invite you to read or download the Executive Edition of the 9th annual digital workplace report. I am releasing this special edition so that people can share it with their top level executives who may not yet be, shall we say, “up to speed” on digital.

It includes:

  • Executive Summary
    • Three Stages of Maturity
    • Guidelines for Digital Leaders
    • Digital Organization Framework
  • 7 pages of selected Highlights from the survey including new forms of leadership and governing the digital workplace as a strategic asset.

The full report with data and detailed analysis is available for purchase, but reading the Executive Edition will already give you a good overview.

Please note that I have closed comments here because of excessive spam, and invite you to contact me here on netjmc or on Pulse here.

Take the HR Evolution Survey – 8 questions, 5 minutes

October 25, 2015

Following my post “HR should be the digital transformation leader” there were many comments – some in agreement, some in disagreement. There were also very strong statements about the future of HR. (See below.) I decided to do a short survey to get a broader view of how HR is evolving in organizations.

I invite everyone to participate, whether you are HR or simply have views and experience with HR.

It only takes 5 minutes. There are 8 questions. Please share the link with your network, followers and colleagues. The survey will be open for one week — from October 25 to Nov 1.

I will publish the results at the end of November and send a copy to the participants who leave their email. You can also do the survey anonymously, and read the results here in a month.

What follows are some of the reactions to my article that triggered my decision to do this survey. I have selected and re arranged them. Please take the time to read them in their context.

* * * * * * * *  * * * * * * * *  * * * * * * * *  * * * * * * *

“Sadly, HR does not seem to have enough credibility (generally speaking) to make significant change happen.”


CDO – A Temporary Role?

October 23, 2015

Roles emerge within organizations that may exist over several years but will probably not be perennial. Roles concerning the digital transformation of organizations may be such roles.

New types of leadership may be fulfilling a momentary need or they may prove necessary over a long period of time.

Three examples looked at in The Organization in the Digital Age are: the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) whose role is to accelerate the digital transformation of organizations, the Community Manager who facilitates the work of communities and, last but not least, the internal Change Agent, the activist in the organization who champions new work practices. (page 89 in The Organization in the Digital Age.)

This post focuses on the CDO.


Data from the most recent survey (Q4 of 2014) showed that only 23 organizations out of nearly 300 reported having a Chief Digital Officer (CDO). Interestingly, when further questioned about the scope of the CDO role, it became clear that in a fair number of cases the CDO was not actually at a C-level, that’s to say reporting directly to the CEO or equivalent in the organization. Instead the individual with CDO-like responsibilities reports to the head of another function, usually Marketing or IT, but has been given the assignment of working on digital things.

The CDO scope must be internal as much as external. If not, transformation will be superficial.


HR should be the digital transformation leader because, in reality, “digitalization challenges” are work culture challenges

October 23, 2015

I’m going to HR Tech World in Paris on October 27 and 28, and I expect to meet lots of people who will disagree with my findings, or least be uncomfortable with them. I have conducted surveys with over 300 organizations worldwide and written reports annually on “digital inside” for the past nine years. One of my observations:

HR is the function in most organizations that is the least advanced digitally speaking.

My findings over past years: HR is not very social, nor very collaborative.

In 2011, the data showed that HR was the least involved stakeholder in social media internally and externally. Here.

In 2013, based on my data, I observed that “HR professionals say their organizations have specific concerns around social collaboration and two of these concerns suggest a lack of trust in people: “wasting time” and “irresponsible behavior”. They are expressed more strongly by HR than by Communication and IT professionals.” Here. (more…)

How human is your digital agenda?

September 22, 2015

This was the theme of the Executive Round Table organized last week in Munich by Roland Berger, The Harvard Business Review and the Peter Drucker Society Europe. It was an “appetizer” event for the Global Drucker Forum which will take place in Vienna on the 5th and 6th of November. There is a good summary of the event on the Roland Berger news stream as well as a 5-minute video.

I was the only “non company” person on the panel, which let me speak from a different perspective than the other participants. Here’s a digitized version of one of my flip chart sketches I used during my presentation. My message was: “There’s a huge gap between digital deployment inside organizations and real impact on people and business. It comes down to mindset and work cultures.”

flip chart gap

I adressed some of these issues in my blog post on the Harvard Business Review Digital: The Company Cultures that Help or Hinder Digital Transformation.

Visibility or Secrecy — Is Amazon Lacking a Key Digital Value?

August 18, 2015


Digital brings visibility and accountability. Inside organizations, the digital workplace enables conversations and creativity that happen faster and deeper than in pre-digital times. You can see where ideas come from, see what others are saying and doing. You can jump in and get involved.

Secrecy is not part of the digital mindset. Yet secrecy is an underlying element of the Amazon culture according to the recent article by the New York Times.


Digital Transformation — Beyond the Individual

August 11, 2015

Beyond the Individual to the Organizational Commons

Digital transformation starts with the individual. As digital spreads inside an organization, from person to person and team to team, the organizational commons begins to emerge. However, organizations quickly arrive at a make-it or break-it moment. Either digital remains an ad hoc, nice-to-have activity, or the organizational commons takes shape and digital transformation gets real.

By organizational commons, I mean networks and communities where resources, information and content are created by many and accessible to many. The determining principles are shared contributions, shared responsibilities and shared benefits. The commons is the springboard to digital transformation.

We Are at a Major Turning Point