I have been pondering and writing about the on-going change in the way we work, now and in the future. I especially love to evangelize about and to the people like myself, the middle-aged knowledge workers. A new kind of social pressure is on us.
I feel this need for change everyday in my work and in the business environments I am actively part of. Yes, I particularly chose to say feel. I have one skill I like a lot: I combine numerous signals and facts, added with intuition. And yes, I am 100% layman futurist. You may laugh at that, however there are many reason-reasons to take the social revolution seriously. Here are two recent blog articles on the topic.
Firstly, Shel Israel wrote in Forbes:
“For the most part, social media—like rock and roll—is here to stay. And organizations that continue to ignore it will simply fade away. And that is our key point (in a book The Age of Context he’s collaborating with Robert Scoble). In a very short period of time social media has risen from oblivion, and is part of the lives and work of most people in the developed world.”
Secondly, check out my friend Oscar Berg’s blog post ”Time is Ripe for Social Business” in which he lists recent research about this topic. Here’s one pick from his post:
”The potential for value creation when social technologies are used to improve collaboration and communication within and across enterprises is twice as big as the value that can be created through all other uses across the value chain. Based on numerous case studies and in-depth research in four sectors (consumer packaged goods, consumer finance, professional services, and advanced manufacturing), McKinsey Global Institute analyzed the potential value that could be obtained through the use of social technologies. The total potential value at stake in these sectors is $900 billion to $1.3 trillion annually. A third of that potential comes from business function-specific applications of social technologies in product development, marketing & sales, operations, and customer support, but two-thirds would arise from using social technologies to improve the collaboration and communications of knowledge workers within these functions and across the enterprise. (McKinsey Global Institute)”
Impressive figures, one of the key notions being value creation.
The Soft and Hard Elements of Value Creation
What an interesting combination of the soft and hard elements value creation has. I cannot help reflecting back to the year 2001 when I wrote my Masters thesis about value creation in business processes. My old Analyzing Framework for Value Creation is a very simple model on how organizations are creating value; the ways of enhancing the supply chain processes, and how they can find new ways for cooperation within the business ecosystems.
A bit outdated, but I was on the right path then, wasn’t I? But wow, I had no idea about how powerful new ways of communication there will be.
Here below a not-at-all-fine-tuned picture of my old framework from 2001.
On the outer circle there’s a blend of ’soft’ elements: Culture, Commitment, Leadership, and Strategy. The middle circle represents the two main tasks associated with managing business processes: Coordination and Integration.
On the inner circle I’ve chosen three set of pairs: Infrastructure & Architecture, Relations & Processes, and Information & Knowledge. All these further having an effect on the ultimate target in the middle – Value innovation and Creation.
Kind of Social Business 1.0, or Enterprise 1.5, isn’t it?
Now we all know that the real powerful value creation happens at the edge of organizations and that requires very different management and communications practices. No news here for you.
However, there’s one specific aspect that bothers me almost daily, and makes me work harder: How will the “professionally middle-aged” (not necessarily chronologically) knowledge workers cope, and how to work on with our attitude towards the rapid change, and further to value creation.
I have gone a long way on my transformation path, and already feeling mostly good about the change. But of course, there are many of us who hate this, fear this and/or despise this change. Most of us conveniently are somewhere in between these two.
There is both healthy and not-so-healthy skepticism towards social technology and social business, regardless of the length of your career. This change comes close to your very personal sphere and therefore causes the most interesting reactions and fears. Nothing wrong with that, we need time to think, learn and unlearn.
The reactions are naturally based on the personal experiences, but also on the attitude that one have towards the future change. We all do have our own way of coping with it.
On the organization level, many businesses are facing huge challenges; global competition, economic issues and insecurity, and missing the right leadership skills. From the knowledge work perspective, the people and innovation should be in the core. That requires a new kind of leadership, and strategy as well.
My pet peeve is to observe and learn from this phenomenon, and to help my fellow knowledge workers whenever I can. Finally, what about the risks? There are many, and I chose one: the risk of not taking the risk.
Risk of Missing Out – ROMO
After reading an interesting New York Times article “Turn Off the Phone (and the Tension)”, a new idea and an expression came into my mind: Risk of Missing Out. Let me explain the background first. In the article Anil Dash, a writer and entrepreneur, is speaking about “Joy of Missing Out,” or JOMO. The beauty of sharing and enjoying moments also when not present.
“There can be, and should be, a blissful, serene enjoyment in knowing, and celebrating, that there are folks out there having the time of their life at something that you might have loved to, but are simply skipping,” he wrote.
A beautiful thought. I am often jomoying.
The idea of JOMO was a continuation for FOMO, or the “fear of missing out,” a term coined by the founder of Flickr, Caterina Fake. She wrote about how social media has made us even more aware of the things we are missing out.
From JOMO and FOMO, I did think of ROMO, Risk of Missing Out.
I look at this from the knowledge worker perspective. I believe that any knowledge worker who is not active at all in social media has a huge risk of missing out…the many possibilities of the future work life, lots of learning, and an opportunity for necessary unlearning. A knowledge worker, who is not participating and collaborating in the ocean of social, will face interesting times. At least professionally, and maybe on other areas as well (as in JOMO).
We must change, adopt and adapt: the way we learn, listen, help, discuss, search, collaborate, innovate, combine, produce, and create value. For the sake of the innovation, we need to focus on knowledge flows, instead of knowledge stocks, as John Hagel wisely puts it. You might also like to read my old blog post about Systems Intelligence, by my favorite Professors Esa Saarinen and Raimo Hämäläinen. I do love their thinking.
I am not going any deeper in this right now, but please continue playing with this idea with me. I promise I will. The value creation, innovation, knowledge work, the attitude of the professionally middle-aged, ROMO.
Can you see the connection between value creation and the social way of working? How do you feel about the idea of Risk of Missing Out, in general and especially in your work life?
Remembering ancient history. I started doing e-mail marketing in the late 1990’s and the reason I could do it so early was that my target group were the help desks and IT people. It worked very well as they were the early adopters of e-mail.
The reaction to social media is different. IT people seem to be quite cautious and I don’t think I have sold anything through social media. A agree it creates value but wish it would create business. Well, I will be meeting Oscar Berg later today in a Google Hangout for the next TOW podcast http://www.servicesphere.com/blog/category/itsmwptop and this might be a good question for him.
Aale, thank you, and yes, I do know that you have been working hard on this, social media & Finnish IT shops and leaders. I am so with you and will continue for my little part. Curious to hear what you, Oscar & others came up to?