Real Voices on the Collaborative Mindset

March 5, 2017


I recently ran a one-question Quick Poll asking people: What are your biggest, toughest challenges today? It turns out the top challenge is how to cultivate a collaborative, cooperative mindset. Then I set up a brief crowd-sourcing initiative on a Google doc asking people to share more from their real life experiences. What follows are extracts from the conversations along with my own observations.


> Humans are lost in the digital conversation. We need to get back to basics.


What We Can Learn from an Unfinished Ceiling

March 4, 2017

Intranets and digital initiatives are never finished. They are part of continual change in the workplace.

(The post below was originally published 12 years ago, June 2005.)


Observation in 2017: This famous unfinished ceiling at the United Nations is a timeless reminder for me of how some movements and initiatives will never end. When I took this photo in 2005, I was working with the Secretariat in New York on their intranet. The post below was written at that time.

The reality I know today is that many organizations find it hard to keep up momentum and energy on initiatives like intranets and digital work environments that never end. There is always another step to take. How to keep leadership attention? How to maintain and increase involvement throughout the organization? The answers vary, from organization to organization. There’s no magic potion! (more…)

Your toughest challenge today? I asked 112 people around the world.

February 20, 2017

Digital workplace, digital transformation, organizational change, all valid subjects and important ones. However, I feel our industry is communicating too much theory and not enough operational and workable ideas today.  We need to focus more on the H O W.

I ran a Quick Poll this month, asking people what their toughest “how challenges” are. The results surprised me.

How To Survey Results (more…)

Overcoming Fear

January 17, 2017

overcome-fear-shutterstock_420971914 -700Fear, a natural obstacle to entrepreneurship.

The entrepreneurial spirit thrives in organizations where people can experiment and take risks. Unfortunately, the entrepreneurial spirit is more often stifled than stimulated because of organizational practices and culture. When entrepreneurial activities trigger change and uncertainty, fear is a common reaction. Building an entrepreneurial spirit is hard work, and much of that work involves overcoming fear.

This challenge is shared by many organizations. My research data from 2013 to 2016 show that only 20 to 25% of respondents say people in their organization feel “free to experiment and take initiatives”. Nearly twice as many—45%—characterize their organization culture as one where “absolute compliance to rules, processes and instructions” is the norm. Over the same period, willingness to take risk has decreased. In 2013, 43% said their organization is risk averse; in 2016 that figure rose to 53%.

It is not surprising that people worry when a big change comes along: “How does it impact my job? What is the risk for me?”

In this post, I look at two organizations that are profoundly different from each other in design and purpose, but similar in that both are undergoing significant change and both are working in similar ways to overcome fear and build internal capabilities in new ways of working. (more…)

Go for it! Manifesto for 2017

January 3, 2017


Freedom within a Framework—part technology, part work culture.

Innovation and entrepreneurship are spreading in organizations. People are gradually becoming freer to experiment, challenge status quo and take risks. Innovation is not a job role. Everyone is a potential innovator. This is becoming obvious as workers on the edges of organizations, in operational roles close to customers, are innovating in simple ways that change day-to-day work. (more…)

Key Findings ‘Organization in the Digital Age’ 10th Edition

November 21, 2016

The 10th edition of my research report includes data, analysis, case studies and interviews along with a short guidance section with tip sheets. The research scope is outlined here. Purchase information is here. A special thanks to Modus, research supporter for 2016.

“Competing priorities is at the top of the list of challenges for many organizations when defining their digital transformation strategies. One of the goals of this report is to provide data, analysis and case studies that will help organizations prioritize and identify criteria for strategic decision-making.”

Each of these findings is explained in the full  blog post which follows.

  1. Most organizations are in the Developing stage—a midway point.
  2. Primary goals for digital transformation are focused on efficiency.
  3. Although senior leaders are increasingly on board, most are not yet demonstrating sustained commitment.
  4. Compelling visions need tangible, actionable strategies: top down is not enough.
  5. Digital capabilities that foster unpredictable outcomes are not yet widespread.
  6. The mobile workforce has a considerable way to go before being truly mobilized.
  7. Organizations enable individuals and teams, but stop short when it comes to mobilizing horizontally across the enterprise.
  8. Visibility and openness are key in an entrepreneurial work culture, even more than autonomy for people and teams.
  9. The customer-facing workforce—the eyes and ears of the organization— is often disconnected from corporate systems and information flows.
  10. Few organizations are approaching customer data strategies systematically.
  11. Learning is easier than remembering.
  12. Obstacles around decision-making persist after many years.
  13. People and stories trigger change.
  14. Change agents are key, especially at the Maturing stage.
  15. Technology is a top investment priority; education and change are low; data and analytics will increase in priority in 2017.
  16. Investment decision-making factors vary based on maturity.
  17. Awareness is growing that digital and organizational transformation is a journey, not a quantifiable destination.
  18. The vision is broad and deep, the journey is long.


Change Agents—nearly as important as senior leaders

November 8, 2016

Following on from my post yesterday about senior leadership almost being on board with digital transformation, it is important to see how the impact from internal change agents has increased this year. It’s quite a counter balance!

I define change agents very simply as “people inside organizations who work to bring about change through actions that may not be within their scope of work and may not even be approved by management.”

The more your organization matures digitally, the more you need change agents. Why?
Because people are getting uncomfortable with change, and you need the activists and rebels to help maintain momentum.


The Organization in the Digital Age: senior leadership almost on board

November 7, 2016

I believe that digital transformation is really nothing extraordinary for organizations. This statement may seem strange in the mouth of someone who has been researching it for 10 years. However, my conviction is that digital transformation is part of a continuum of change for organizations as people, the workplace and technology evolve.

Breakthroughs can happen, but organizational change—digital or other—is progressive. Organizational change is not a new topic. Digital transformation is. It has in fact become a handy buzzword for selling new technologies. In reality, organizational and digital change go hand in hand, which is why my research is now focused on the organization in the digital age, and no longer on the digital workplace, a term that evokes technology for many people. (more…)

“Serious concerns holding us back” #wol

September 13, 2016

More #wol information to share.

I’m working on the Challenges and Changes section in the report, and wanted to share this chart with you. I won’t take the time to comment, as I’m pressed to meet a deadline but there are many observations to be made.

The chart shows what organizations in the three stages of maturity —Starting, Developing and Maturing— report as “serious concerns holding us back”. They also had the option of considering these items to be “manageable concerns that require special effort”. This chart shows only the first degree, therefore the real blockers and show-stoppers for some.

By the way, I have another chart showing how these concerns have evolved since 2013. Let me know if you’d like to see it.

As always, join the conversation in the comments section.


Where did search go?

September 6, 2016

Here is more data I’d like to share as I continue to work on the 2016 report. Please think about this and share your reactions. #wol

One of my first reactions is to ask “where did search go?” Both enterprise search and social search are at the bottom of the list. Why?

Responses on the chart show the % that said “available organization-wide” and “available in some parts”.

Maybe Search is just too hard to do well. So we focus instead on the fun stuff—the things that make media buzz.

As I’ll show you later, these deployment figures are just the beginning. What really matters is how they impact work practices—as individuals, as teams and across the organization.

In the meantime, here’s the chart. The full descriptions for each item follow.

digital capabilities 2016.001