Leading in the Digital Age, Boston U Online edX

January 29, 2018

edx-logo-headerMy latest research has been integrated into the online learning course – Leading in the Digital Age, part of edX courses organized by leading universities in the US. This specific course is organized by Boston University, and they wrote me the thank you note below.

“Thank you very much for all your research and writing keeping us up to date on the Digital Age.  As you may know, we are completing a edX course on “Leading in the Digital Age”.   We are interested in helping our participants develop the needed skills for the Digital Age: (more…)

Juggling priorities? Consider 5 perspectives.

December 28, 2017

Revised version of the post first published in July 2014.

Competing priorities is a tough challenge for most organizations.

Why you need inputs 5 perspectives

“Competing priorities” has been at the top of the list of “obstacles that hold us back” for several years in my annual studies. How to get around it? A digital workplace has 5 types of stakeholders, each with a unique perspective complementary to the others. Taking the time to investigate these 5 perspectives will help you see more clearly and formulate priority statements founded on evidence. (more…)

Working out loud from the top – half a century ago – at NASA

November 17, 2017

Working out Loud, a mindset independent of technology

“Monday’s Notes” – at NASA in the 1960’s

Wernher von Braun, head of the Marshall Space Flight Center (part of NASA) set up a system for working out loud. Most people do not know this case because (1) it happened half a century ago, and (2) it is not sexy or media-worthy as there is no technology involved. It’s all based on paper, pens and a duplicating machine.

From Science magazine, the publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, November 1968:

“….It may turn out that [the space program’s] most valuable spin-off of all will be human rather than technological: better knowledge of how to plan, coordinate, and monitor the multitudinous and varied activities of the organizations required to accomplish great social undertakings.” (ref. Dr. Launius)

Very simply, Von Braun asked each of his senior managers to send him a one-page note each Monday listing the past week’s activities – successes, concerns, questions. He personally noted his comments in the margins of each page, and returned each one to the original writer. The ultimate step – the genius of the approach – was that all the papers were photocopied and shared with all the managers. The system rolled down and included project leaders, R&D people, and so on.

I visualize Von Braun’s approach as follows.

WOL NASA netjmc

I learned of this case from Dr. Roger Launius who wrote a description and analysis that is well worth reading.  Please take the time to do so. It will give you a new perspective on management. (This case is also developed in Show Your Work by Jane Bozarth where I first discovered it.)

Where did “working out loud” come from?


The People Barometer

November 9, 2017

barometer-700 250

After much discussion, feedback from people around the world, and much thought on my part, the V2 of the #PeopleBarometer has been created.


People lead!

November 6, 2017

I spoke at the i2Sumit 2017 in Zurich last week. I would summarize my presentation in two words: People lead!

I talked about how people start movements in organizations, and organizations run to catch up (or not!).

I demonstrate with data how top-down decision-making for digital initiatives is still too common, and how it triggers internal politics.

I shared the first version of the #PeopleBarometer but I have removed it as it is still evolving, thanks to feedback from Zurich and from many people on Twitter.

Organization in the Digital Age i2summit17 from Jane McConnell

People Barometer V1.1 is out!

October 31, 2017

The #PeopleBarometer is intended to help organizations get a sense of their “digital atmosphere”, much like a weather barometer tells us atmospheric pressure which can in turn forecast changes in the weather.

People and behavior

The #PeopleBarometer looks only at people and behaviors. Of course technology is a major part of transformation, but it is deliberately ignored. There are plenty of technology-oriented maturity charts, but few, if any, based purely on people. It is divided into three sections: Leadership, Practices and Culture. It contains three stages: medium, high and transformational impact.

This is a first text draft for version 1.1 seen below. Thank you in advance for your interaction and contributions. You can contact me here or tweet me at @netjmc using the hashtag – #peoplebarometer.

NOTE. The #PeopleBarometer V1.1 originally displayed and described here has been replaced by V2. See the #PeopleBarometer V2 here.




A People Barometer

October 22, 2017

barometer-700 250

What is a traditional barometer? “An instrument measuring atmospheric pressure, used especially in forecasting the weather and determining altitude”.

What is my people barometer?  It is intended to help you get a sense of the “digital atmosphere” in your organization as well as to give indications of your “altitude”, that’s to say, where you are on the road to transformation looking ONLY at people and behavior. Of course technology is a major part of transformation, but I have deliberately ignored it when designing the barometer. There are plenty of technology-oriented maturity charts, but I’ve never yet seen one based purely on people.

Take a look at the chart below and tell me what you think.  

The #PeopleBarometer V1 originally displayed and described here has been replaced by V2. See the #PeopleBarometer V2 here.


Trickle down does not work

October 21, 2017

sillansfalls0004w700From senior leaders’ strategic vision to reality on the ground, trickle down does not work.

Let’s take a look at the data from 300 organizations around the world who took part in my research at the end of 2016.  Looking at the bars on the right of the chart, we see the typical flow of going from strategy to reality. We’ll start, as many organizations do, by defining a “clear role of digital in strategic vision” and making sure “top leadership is strongly involved”. So far, the data are not too bad. But when it comes to the next apparently logical step – “cross-organizational alignment”– the figures drop. It is not therefore surprising that “collaborative decision-making” and “buy-in from business units” are both at relatively low levels. And of course, lower still is “change initiatives owned by frontline and operational people”.

Successful lasting digital initatives

The trickle-down “red flow” approach is the most common. I have seen it often. Senior people define a global digital strategy and expect people in business units and countries to align, regardless of their own on-going initiatives. (more…)

Media is going individual. Enterprise is following.

June 24, 2017

Media are becoming more individual and people-driven, according to Mary Meeker. The enterprise world is following.

In her 2017 Internet Trends report, Mary Meeker shares an analysis of how media has evolved since 1950, moving from the network era to the cable era and to the current digital era.

I was struck by the similarity with my predictions from 2009 about the evolution of the internal digital work environment. It’s clear we are moving – externally and internally – to more individualistic and personally controlled environments – in both entertainment and work life.



Workplace Orientations: Where to Focus?

June 24, 2017

There are many demands on investments and energy in organizations today. “Competing priorities” was cited by over half the survey participants at the end of 2016 as a “serious obstacle holding us back”.

How to decide where to focus? What do data say? What do people say?

I’ve researched the internal digital work environment for a decade – 2006 through 2016 – through annual surveys with internal digital practitioners and leaders from approximately 300 organizations worldwide.

In 2011, the research participants looked at four future orientations and indicated (1) where they saw high, moderate or low potential value for their organizations, and (2) how far advanced they were in each one. Six years later, in early 2017, I ran a quick poll checking to see if perceptions had changed and if progress has been made. Then just last week (Enterprise Digital Summit in Paris) I ran a workshop with 24 people where we brainstormed opportunities and risks inherent in the different orientations.

Four orientations examined:

The four orientations are complementary, each potentially impacting the others, but it helps to have a primary vision. (more…)