Philip Sheldrake

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Category: Social business (page 1 of 5)

Barking a top-down command to be bottom-up

dog barking
According to The Onion earlier this year:

Warning of severe consequences if he didn’t see results, Pantheon Digital Consulting COO Daniel Abelson, 59, told employees Monday he wants a relaxed, friendly company culture implemented by the end of the week ...

Interesting approach.

Organisational culture is a notoriously tricky thing to pin down. My favoured definition is simply – how things get done round here. And if you're tempted by new forms of organisation that retire command and control and emphasise self-organisation, how on Earth do you get that process started?

Can you use that command and control authority one last time to instruct people to dismantle command and control? Read more

Recoding public relations

PR Genome conference New York 2015

Having co-founded, built and sold a PR consultancy. Having written a book on reframing marketing and PR for the digital age that's now recommended reading across a number of under- and post-graduate courses. Having made some of the first presentations to the PR profession on the implications of the Internet of Things, the Semantic Web, and machined media. And having co-founded the CIPR's prolific social media group, I have it appears left the profession. And for some good time now.

I've taken the best the PR profession and academe have to offer the world, and then determinedly escaped its narrow practice. I've found I can now offer consultancy that isn't framed by preconceived ideas of PR. I can combine it with management consultancy more broadly, with org design and social business, with digital transformation and web science, without anyone saying "that's not PR!"

It does I admit help that I am a chartered engineer. Engineering is my nature. I will always be an engineer, but my association with PR is always framed these days in the past tense, if only to disassociate myself from inadequate and inappropriate context.

21st Century public relations isn't a synonym for media relations, or earned media, or simply "communications" come to that. It isn't publicity or, worse, spin. It isn't a side function and it's definitely ill-suited as a marketing function. Read more

Google on collaboration – a new study

Google collaboration report June 2015
First published to Gigaom Research.


Our customers often tell us that encouraging and enabling collaboration has dramatically improved their business. We decided to dig a little deeper by conducting some original cross-industry research that measures the power of workplace collaboration in concrete terms.

This is how Google introduces the findings of its recent survey of senior staff and C-suite executives at 258 North American companies across a wide range of business sectors and sizes. (PDF of full report.) The primary conclusion is presented up front:

… collaboration has a significant impact on business innovation, performance, culture and even the bottom line.

This is quite right and quite wrong. Collaboration is at once driven and the driver; it is both a cause and an effect. As is culture come to that. Effectively, Google must grapple with two distinct appreciations of business among its customers and prospects.

Simply complex

If there’s one thing that differentiates organization this century from the last it’s that we may now acknowledge complexity and do something about it. We increasingly have the technologies to help navigate complexity. Choosing to do so offers competitive advantage for the time being; there will soon come a time when failing to do so renders an organization unresponsive, fragile and, consequently, bust. (Note that complexity and complication are different things.) Read more

Work IT: bring-you-and-your-own-everything

your-own-everything

First published to Gigaom Research.

Cast your mind back a decade or more. Did you request specific hardware from your company’s IT team? If so, you started a trend that continues to play out to this day, and will continue to its logical and exciting conclusion.

You may or may not have been successful in your request given IT’s historic intransigence, but nowadays many of us expect to rock up to work with the laptop and tablet and smartphone of our choosing – often our own – and expect the IT team’s full accommodation.

We’re also bringing our own applications. Non-IT staff have adopted software-as-a-service without necessarily going through their IT colleagues. Yammer, Trello and Slack for example. Perhaps Google Docs crept in without organization-wide adoption of Google for Work. Meeting schedulers. Note-takers. Expense trackers. Skype. Dropbox. Instagram. The list is as long as the kind of things you need to get done.

It’s useful to think of this in terms of Enterprise IT and Work IT. The enterprise owns Enterprise IT whereas the worker owns Work IT. In simple terms, Enterprise IT is focused on the organization, Work IT on organizing. Enterprise IT is top-down with the starting position of locking everything down, whereas Work IT is bottom-up, thriving by facilitating sharing and openness. Read more

Marketing and PR and the General Data Protection Regulation

EU citizens

My main character in Attenzi – a social business story, the CEO Eli Appel, has this to say over lunch with his chairman:

Good business is about cooperative and interdependent relationships, always has been, yet the humanity was lost when organizations scaled way up during the 20th Century. We want to make those relationships more human again, but the answer can’t be to scale it all back down. We have to scale something else up.

He adds:

... No business can really get to be social in a meaningful and valuable way simply by indulging in social media or by slapping apps onto social devices or by subscribing to a social enterprise network.

Eli is referring here to the visceral difference between 'doing' social (bolted on) and 'being' social (built in), and you know which one you're on the receiving end of in any given situation right? Read more

Talking garbage and the purpose of business

garbage

The third in a series on the topic of the purpose of business. Follows:

  1. What, exactly, is the purpose of business? An answer post-Drucker
  2. Debating the purpose of business

Business exists to establish and drive mutual value creation. Steve Denning challenged this statement, preferring Drucker's assertion that the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer. I responded, and he has challenged my response:

we may be talking about different things: theoretical purpose of a firm and how to run it

"satisfying all the stakeholders" isn't a viable heuristic to run a firm. See Making Management as Simple as Frisbee

“satisfying all the stakeholders” was tried in mid20thC. It led to Garbage Can firms.

[tweet tweet tweet]

Garbage

Steve refers to "garbage can firms" in his Forbes article, Is The Tyranny Of Shareholder Value Finally Ending?, an eloquent take down of prioritizing the pursuit of shareholder value. When it comes to garbage it quotes a trio of academics – Cohen, March and Olsen – who in 1972 explained: Read more

Debating the purpose of business

Hogwarts potions

The second in a series on the topic of the purpose of business:

  1. What, exactly, is the purpose of business? An answer post-Drucker
  2. Debating the purpose of business
  3. Talking garbage and the purpose of business

Steve Denning published an article to the Drucker Forum last week, How The Internet Is Forcing The Humanization Of Work, an argument founded on Drucker's assertion that the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.

Steve found my post on the purpose of business post-Drucker via a thread with Kenneth Mikkelsen and tweeted his comments. His first quotes my re-definition of the purpose of business:

[The] Problem with "establish and drive mutual value creation" is that it doesn't tell me what anyone has to do.

and then:

"Delight customers" as the goal is crystal clear as to what everyone has to do.

and lastly:

Since power has shifted from seller to buyer, "delighting customers" sets priorities right, for firm to survive

I share Steve's optimism that we may be on the cusp of the potential to possibly humanize work (can my optimism be more tentative?!), but I cannot subscribe to his rationale. Read more

What, exactly, is the purpose of business? An answer post-Drucker

Paternoster Square

The first post in what turned out to be a series of three on the topic of the purpose of business:

  1. What, exactly, is the purpose of business? An answer post-Drucker
  2. Debating the purpose of business
  3. Talking garbage and the purpose of business

 

Peter Drucker asserted that the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer. He was right at the time in offering previously inward-looking firms a more appropriate beacon. His dictum is, however, wrong for our time.

The assertion is insufficient in sustainability terms; ie, being concerned with the health and resilience of living systems such as organizations, society and the environment. A customer-centric outlook is too simplistic, simply failing to recognise complexity, and therefore at threat from business that has progressed beyond Drucker's heuristic. Read more

Technology trends relevant to change management

when change becomes routine – PostShift

I have been invited to talk about tech trends relevant to change management at this evening's London meeting of the Change Management Institute.

I'm keeping most excellent company alongside Karolina Lewandowska, Change and Transformation Manager at Google UK, and Faith Forster, Founder and CEO Pinipa.

The image here is taken from an excellent blog post by Lee Bryant of PostShift – The Quantified Organisation: can change become routine?

Here's my stack:

The quantified self, the quantified organization, and the organized self

quantified org self

The diagram here portrays where I'm going with this post, so let's dive in.

The quantified self

The current Wikipedia entry for quantified self (QS) describes it as "a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person's daily life in terms of inputs (e.g. food consumed, quality of surrounding air), states (e.g. mood, arousal, blood oxygen levels), and performance (mental and physical)."

And it doesn't stop at mere data acquisition of course; as the strapline for a major QS community puts it, we're looking at self knowledge through numbers. Adriana Lukas, founder and organiser at London Quantified Self Group, proselytizes self-managed QS, a future in which “expertise is supplied rather than outsourced”, where each of us acquires “agency as sense-maker”.

That's certainly a powerful and possibly quite natural vision, and one I wholeheartedly embrace. Yet it's also counter to the branded data siloes many a purveyor of QS gadgetry would, it seems, have one locked into. Adriana employs a turn of phrase, which may well be riffing off Doc Searls:

We can’t treat individuals as data cows to be milked for the data bucket.

The quantified organization

Lee Bryant, founder of PostShift, describes their take on 'quantified organization':

... a framework of organisational health measures, informed by theory and company goals, that can guide ongoing change in an agile, iterative way and assess the success or failure of change actions against a desired future operating state.

Read more