Sunday, 25 May 2014

Leading innovation with Celine Schillinger

The In2 Summit London took place on 20th May. Talking about "Leading tomorrow's talent" was Celine Schillinger, the Change Agents Worldwide Co-Founder and social collaboration enthusiast. 

"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all" - Oscar Wilde

Big data, co-creation of content, community management, real time and social conversations have become critical to the future of our organisations. The In2 Summit London was an opportunity to explore these trends and their consequences to innovation.

Throughout the event, speakers challenged the traditional way of communicating and demanded more creativity. We heard of cravery from Weber Shandwick's Gabriela Lungu, a new term that stands for "creating bravery when communicating". Plus, democreativity, a word from Prime's Tom Beckman that links democracy to creativity. The key message here was that "democracy is the mother of creativity." We need to blend different perspectives and insights and transform them into something meaningful for our audiences.

This process also involves accepting criticism and facing it as an opportunity to improve what we do while building stronger relationships. As Rocket Internet's Andreas Winiarski put: "any feedback is better than no feedback. The worst thing that can happen to you is getting no attention. Criticism is a good thing."

To think of better and more effective ways of communicating in a fast and networked society, we have to keep interested in all the possible answers to our problems, look for advice, share knowledge and be passionate. Those elements were considered crucial by Ruth Barnett. The VP of Global Communications at SwiftKey, also pointed out that "we focus a lot on technology when the real value and strength sit instead within the community."

Technology is as good as the people who are using it

The second part of the event focused of tomorrow's technology, and how big data and social media have been revolutionising the way we create and tell stories. A message that resonated the most was from Salesforce's Head EMEA Communications Stacey Torman: "technology gives us the scale and speed to deliver engaging communications. Yet, we shouldn’t forget that we still need the people to tell those stories through creative content. Technology is as good as the people who are using it."

Xerox Europe's Darrell Minards, Electrolux's Mattias Radstrom and Waggener Edstrom's Chris Talago all pitched in. Together, the panel gave the audience some food for thought; such as the urgent need to help our companies to adapt as fast as the technology. We cannot afford to leave our teams behind the curve. Often the main limitation relates to the organisational structure, yet, there is a way to get there even for more traditional institutions. It involves starting being more open, asking ourselves what the real purpose to use the tools is, using data to create credible and trusted stories as well as building connections to deliver behavioural change.

Talking of big data, the conversation touched the challenge around regulations, with the recently Google's story of "the right to be forgotten" being mentioned. While a full conclusion wasn’t reached, - due to the complex issue requiring further investigation and understanding - transparency and value seemed to hold the key: in exchange of the two, people are more willing to give up to some of their privacy.

Be curious and creative. This is your time to shine

The theme of ‘leading tomorrow's talent’ sparked high interest in the final part of the conference. From Jackie Brock-Doyle, Good Relations Group's CEO, we heard of the challenges for the future workforce: "We need to go broader and deeper in our skills, be able to build trust and tap in the good of the business." The latter is mission critical: "Good business matters and it will matter even more in the future." With that said, advice was plenty, such as spending more time on helping our employees being better leaders, not just managers. Plus, empower them to be brave, take risks, and do things differently. "Be curious and creative. This is your time to shine," concluded Brock-Doyle.

Leading this discussion forward was Sanofi Pasteur's Celine Schillinger, who took part in a panel with TRACCS's Mohamed Al Ayed, Capgemini UK's Tom Barton and Tata Consulting Services' Abhinav Kumar. "The biggest challenge is the culture," emphasised Schillinger, talking of the need to integrate communications, break down internal silos, and develop flexible and agile organisations by thinking in terms of ecosystems. "We need to move from conversations to actions."

After the conference, I had the pleasure to talk with Celine Schillinger more in depth about the topic. In this exclusive video interview, she shares her view on the benefits of social business and the challenges for more traditional institutions to become collaborative. She gives advice to internal communicators on how to help make the change.

Plus, as a proud Co-Founder of Change Agents Worldwide, Celine describes the vision and purpose of the movement.


This article originally appeared on simply-communicate 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

#ResponsiveOrg - building a new way of working

The first Responsive Organization unconference took place on Saturday 10th May in London. 

"The Responsive Organization is a movement of people who want to help their organizations become more responsive to a world that is very different to that of the Industrial Age." Matthew Partovi

Many times you wanted to make a change at work, but uncertainties and self-doubts came in their way. You became very scared of the negative implications of the change (e.g. "I might lose my job", "I might find enemies," etc.) and you ended up believing that "it might be better if everything remains the same." Yet, there was something inside yourself that keeps on saying: "something has to change, to improve, to make it better. What should I be doing?"

The Responsive Organization unconference was a great opportunity to reflect on the nature of change and innovation at work with 150 like-minded people. Together attendees explored what the future of organisational life looks like.

What is different about this event is that it is not a forum for official presentations. Instead, it is self-organised through the open space approach to meetings. Beginning without any formal agenda, participants could decide the topics to discuss. Nearly 40 sessions were created around topics such as the role of leadership, accountability, failure, new ways of thinking, creating a new movement, belonging, the future of a catalyst to change, responsive fun and much more.

Perhaps there is a lack of collective responsibility

"Change starts with me saying: "I believe in something. I have an opportunity to make a difference"” - Jonathan Anthony

During a session around making sense of our own thoughts, Change Agent Worldwide's member Jonathan Anthony, sent a message that resonated the most around the table: we should start using the word I more often. "Your thoughts are your thoughts and you have to validate them. If you invalidate them only because the people around you disagree, you are never going to change."

This involves acknowledging, "I am responsible for my own thoughts." It requires a new degree of accountability and responsibility for our individual ideas and experience of work as well as acceptance of being comfortable with ambiguity and continuous learning.

Instead of saying, "I have a new belief. How am I going to make everyone in the organisation to change" we should start telling ourselves "I have a new belief. What can I do about it?"

It is a personal discovery which involves embracing experimentation and failures as Anthony put it: "I have a thought, I am going to test it out, to iterate, to fail, to innovate. I am going to talk, to share, to work out loud.

"I see what happens, I learn new things, I move forward in my own journey while finding fellow travellers inside and outside the organisation. I build a network. And, every time time a reach a place where I have to make a new decision, then I will ask myself: "Am I in the right place? Am I effective? Is my purpose being met? Or do I need to find a new environment?"

To leave behind us old stories and go towards new exciting opportunities, we need be courageous and honest with ourselves first. Do I want to change the world? Well, today, I have the opportunity to change myself and the way I react to what is happening around me.

Responsible fun. Bringing art into work 

Responsible fun was another theme of the day. In some respect, having fun at work seems to be more accepted today than it was in the past. Probably, this is reflective of a new way of thinking about our professional lives, a change in perspective where doing business and feeling enjoyment can and should meet each other. Plus, an emphasis on work-life balance to improve productivity.

It also acknowledges the power and impact that humour can have on our personal work experience. The key lesson from Jonathan Anthony which was taken up by many in the room: try to be your best self in everything you do. Take your work seriously, but don't take yourself too seriously.

Other noteworthy conversations were around the whole concept of work as a form of art. Can we use art to express ourselves in a business context? Many workplaces are still uncomfortable with the idea. Yet, creativity can help us to stimulate new thought processes. There are many ways to achieve that including business cartoons. With that said, @gapingvoid's popular visualisations were given as a great example of engaging people in innovative ways.

The group seemed to agree that bringing art into work requires taking ownership of our personal values and see where they marry with the business values. Again, it is about taking ownership and challenging our own core assumptions.

Who is the performance management for?

A conversation around performance management couldn't be missed in a Responsive Organization event. Moderated by Benjamin Ellis, the reality for many was that to innovate, organisations cannot rely anymore on the traditional annual performance review. Responsive businesses go beyond compliance and stretch their workforce's goals.

As networked organisations grow, performance management systems are built around conversations. The emphasis here was on open communication and trust. Clear dialogue and transparency is key in helping employee to explore what success looks like. Plus, empowerment to find their own way to achieve better results. It is in this type of environments that people are more willing to put discretionary effort and go the extra mile.

An observation was made around the need to stop focusing on what has to be fixed and start looking on what (and how) could be done better. It is a subtle, yet substantial change of perspective that sees performance management not as a punishment session but a means for employees to grow and be the best they can be. It encourages action and a move forward.

It was noted how progressive organisations have started asking their employees to evaluate the health of the business. What do they think of the performance of the company? A good example is Google with their Project Oxygen, their radical performance system.

The conversation also covered social analytics as part of today's metrics. The whole dilemma around quantifying quality appeared as one the biggest challenges. Is measuring behaviours on the social networks reflective of the competence and true performance of an individual? It was no surprise that there was not a clear answer and general agreement. The theme is such a delicate matter (and most probably at its infancy compared to what we will see in future) that it needs further and deeper exploration.

The collaborative atmosphere of the unconference was vital not just to the enjoyment and energy of the day but also to the quality of the conversations. The event excelled precisely because of its multiplicity of views. While the group did not come up with all the answers, it has certainly developed a fierce desire to find them and with gusto. Why? Well, because as Matthew Partovi put it, there is a clear need "to accelerate the shift from hierarchy to networks, to enable businesses to become more responsive through experimentation, autonomy and transparency."

This article originally appeared on simply-communicate 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Truzign blends external with internal knowledge

For a leading company in technology solutions and enterprise applications, Cognizant's Truzign is open to adopting new apps that promise to improve internal collaboration and facilitate work. One of these is Teamgum.

Truzign is a mobile payments platform within the global IT provider Cognizant. Their products allow users to make financial transactions or purchase items by using their smartphones across multiple channels. Truzign has been keeping track of the latest developments in the market, and choosing the right tools quickly to continue to innovate.

Teamgum is an app launched this year for teams to discover and share any articles available on the Internet without leaving their internal platform. Truzign was one of the first businesses to embrace it.

"Before, we were normally using emails for exchanging external content. We were making research on the web, copying and pasting that information and forwarding it to our team members. But with all that back and forth between internal and external applications, it was very difficult to keep an organised and consistent repository of outside knowledge within the company. Teamgum was the solution to our problem," says Shishir Kapoor, Venture Lead at Cognizant's Truzign.

Sharing external news without leaving your internal platform

The app is straightforward to use and well organised whether on your desktop or your mobile. "For us it is just so powerful. For the first time, we can navigate and share any web-link and social networks’ content without opening another browser tab. All the news that has been exchanged is very easy to find, read and comment from mobiles too. That helps the team to save time and gain efficiency."

Integrated with the Google search engine, when someone sees a piece of content, the system is also able to tell them if a team member has already shared or commented on that link.

All the shared information can be prioritised and categorised in 'boxes', allowing people to go through it at any given time. It it is also very useful for on-boarding. "Our new members are able to see what has already shared and keep up with new projects."

By @-mentioning their name, relevant web-links can be recommended to people, helping them acquire more knowledge in the area of their expertise. And, if they find any shared article worth a read, colleagues can acknowledge it by saying it was "Worth It".

A dashboard with an easy-to-understand interface, allows people to know the source and type of content being most viewed by team members, as well as who the top contributors and readers are.

Improving the business strategy by sharing

Teamgum can be instrumental in supporting the strategy of a business. One of the main uses within Truzign has been to find and share market research and articles on new technology that can have an impact on the business. It also helps to understand changes in consumer behaviour and monitor the competition. "Recently, we shared a news item on our main competitors. We began to comment and discuss it and decided to re-think our internal road map and make our products to stand out more from those of the competition."

Combining channels 

Teamgum’s future will be about aligning the app with enterprise social networks (ESNs) such as Yammer. "We will definitely recommend it to our Yammer Community Manager," emphasises Kapoor.

Built for a real need

Behin Teamgum is an interesting story. Divyesh Kharade and Jinen Dedhia from India, founders of DRONAMobile, an enterprise mobility product for learning and communications, invented the app six months ago. It was an internal need of their team that brought the idea of Teamgum alive.

"We were all reading interesting news, blogs, articles, watching YouTube videos, accessing slideshares and other content on the web. All of that was contributing immensely to enhance our individual personal knowledge. But that vast knowledge hardly got shared and discovered across the business. What many of us were doing was to create a Google doc of links or circulate emails in case we thought an article we had just read could also be useful to other teammates," says Kharade.

Looking at this challenge, they wanted to find a way to share content read and viewed on the web within the organisation, but without leaving their browser or disturbing the reading experience. "We started to look at a tool where we could quickly convert whatever we were sharing into a knowledge repository and access the same without any extra efforts. We found a few, but it was not exactly what we wanted. So, we decided to build it ourselves. In the past six months our team has been working almost day and night to make Teamgum extremely simple to use. Every aspect of the product from user on boarding, activation, engagement and overall experience went through multiple iterations. Some of the features went on to be completely overhauled."

Kharade believes that Teamgum can offer tremendous value to corporates. He wants it to become a thriving go-to place inside teams to help them discover and make sense of external content.

He has found a sweet spot in the market. Teamgum beta version was officially launched at Social Now Europe. Within just two weeks after opening the app to the public, more than 150 teams signed up and more than 4,000 links were already shared. The app was also featured at the last The Next Web conference in Amsterdam, after going through a selection process that involved more than 1,000 enterprise applications.

This article originally appeared on simply-communicate 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Jenni Wheller, new Chair of CIPR Inside

Her passion for the internal communications and employee engagement industry is huge; her energy and tenacity even bigger. Jenni Wheller (pictured below), is Head of Internal Comms at SSP UK and Ireland, Co-founder of The IC Crowd and the new Chair of the CIPR Inside, Charted Institute of Public Relations specialist group for Internal Communications.

In this interview, she reflects on the current state and challenges of communications in the workplace, including social media and leadership buy-in.

GL: At SMiLE London, I saw you being actively engaged in the conversations around enterprise social networks (ESN). Is this a sign that the social business journey at SSP is taking off?

JW: Yes. At SSP we are currently going through a big change. We moved away from the old Word Press-based social intranet into an IBM-Connections enterprise social network (ESN). They are very different tools, which serve distinct purposes. The social intranet is where we publish news. With a social element added to it, employees can comment and subscribe to content relevant to them. Instead, the ESN is completely collaborative. In that sense, it allows you to share files, and work on projects with the whole community.

GL: With internal social media coming to the workplace, it seems to be an interesting, yet challenging time for internal communicators. What's your view on this?

JW: I have mixed feelings. In my view, we have got too caught up in things like social media at work, when actually sometimes getting the foundations right is the biggest challenge for our profession. I have quite a strong opinion on not doing social for the sake of it. I don't think that it's right for every business.

As internal communicators, our primary responsibility is to understand our audiences and make sure they have the information they need to do their work. This entails using channels that are right for them. If internal social media is not the right channel, then we should not use it. Plus, it's important to understand the differences between the various social tools as well as the need for our organisation to use them.

GL: Based on your job today, what do you think are the key competences that internal communicators need to bring to the workplace?

JW: They need to understand business and be able to talk in terms of budget and company performance. Commerciality is hugely important! They still need the basic skills such as grammar, language, the tone of voice and employee segmentation. Also, having lots of tenacity; every day they are fighting for something, which can be quite challenging. They have to have the ability to really drive through all of that.

GL: As the new Chair of the CIPR Inside, what's your vision and objectives for the group? What should internal communicators expect from you this year?
JW: We have a duty to be the voice of our members in the wider communications industry, help them develop a network, and bring their career and skills forward. Since the profession develops quickly, we want to put in place new activities, events and resources to strategically support their ever-evolving roles and needs. A full calendar will be published by the end of June. In the coming weeks we will carry out research with our members and non-members to understand what the group is doing well and where it is lacking. That will constitute a strong foundation for what our strategy is going to be this year.

For now, we can announce the CIPR Inside annual conference, which will be on 2nd October at the Kia Oval in London. Some elements of it will be around measurement, focusing on key trends within the whole spectrum of internal communications.


GL: What do you think is the biggest challenge for internal communications today? How can the CIPR Inside help in that respect? 

JW: The biggest challenges we still have in our profession is having senior leadership buy-in. This is not just in terms of supporting internal digital tools, but supporting the general role of internal communications. The function is still undervalued in many businesses. Internal communication can still be a brand new role in some organisations and start from scratch. At CIPR Inside, we want to do specialist research, and provide our members with all the necessary resources, content and case studies to prove the value of their profession for their organisations.

GL: There is plenty of research and anecdotal evidence around the value of internal communications and engagement at work. Yet, as you have just mentioned, not many companies have put it on top of their agenda. What are your final thoughts on that? 

JW: Being quite cynical about it, there is a fundamental element: businesses have a duty to show their shareholders that they have been making money. As internal communicators and engagement specialists, we talk about 'why we do what we do'. A lot of that talking is not about making money; yet, the CEO wants to see the ROI.

I think part of the responsibility holds to shareholders too. Do they care how the company they are investing on is making money and engaging their workforce? If they did, then they should start saying: “I am going to invest that amount of money and want to see the level of engagement inside this company increasing.” This is not talked about, at least not in the same way as they talk about shareholder return.

This article originally appeared on simply-communicate