Technology and Organizations
Nilofer Merchant provides great guidance in her new book, 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era. These rules are actually unrules (my word, not hers) given their focus on fast, flexible, and fluid forces around modern work and organization.
We've moved into the social era, and I don't think we'll be switching back to more walled-in modes. Transaction costs used to make formality valuable in organizations but many of our transaction costs have been dramatically reduced by social era technologies and practices like smart phones, social network sites, electronic job boards, and crowd sourcing. Our expectations have also shifted given that greater transparency in some organizations is letting us see the possible across all organizations. People, technology, and organizational processes are shifting.
Have you already come to understand how these changes will affect your own work and organization? Have you begun to make adjustments? Whether or not you have, you need to read 11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra.
The book itself is of the social era. Nilofer looked broadly across the networks for her sources and feedback. Harvard Business School Press published it as an ebook with an option for an expanded print version. This is the new world of publishing and is just the beginning of how our learning, creating, and organizing will change in the #socialera. (See chapter 4 for examples ranging from Stanford to Singularity U.)
Key to this work are the ideas that:
- Scale an be achieved through communities.
- Consumers can be sources of value creation.
- Purpose can become an alignment system.
- Important to my own research and advising is that "work is freed from jobs."
Nilofer notes that:
[T]he social era rewards those that can bring together a herd of gazelles, by which they can be fast, fluid, and flexible. What we reward in the social era is being connected to customer insights and acting with relevance in what we produce and deliver.
Our organizations and how we function within and across them is shifting. There is value in being open with your ideas and an understanding your "onlyness" and the "onlyness" of those around you. Onlyness includes the skills, passions, and purpose that only you bring to the situation. There is still benefit to being individually unique, skilled, and motivated... But it is also important that others understand what you bring to the table. Saving an idea until you can reap individual credit may actually mean your idea has less value. Nilofer offers:
Instead of holding an idea in a closed fist, hold it out in your open hand. Someone can see or understand ideas held in a fist only in the little parts visible between your clenched fingers. An open hand gives your idea space to get bigger. Held in an open hand, treated like a living thing, it can grow, it can spread, and it can be picked up by others and made into something that will touch many lives.
Use this book to stretch your fingers and to help others relax their grip. Let us know what happens.
Aaron Eden isn't only an Intuit Innovation Catalyst, he's also an entrepreneur in his own right. Now he's part of a group helping Intuit bring the ideas of lean entrepreneurship inside an 8000 person company with an audacious goal: 100 Startups in 100 Days.
Aaron has watched Intuit grow over the years. He spent eight years at Intuit before leaving to work on his own startup. Though his new business was successful, he was drawn back to Intuit for another three.
Intuit has become a different company company in the time Aaron was away and he resonates with the design thinking and Design for Delight he found on his return.
While working on his own business, Aaron had been listening to podcasts on innovation and creativity. The work of former HP CTO Phil McKinney on Killer Innovation (now author of Beyond the Obvious: Killer Questions That Spark Game-Changing Innovation) and that of The Lean Startup Machine (inspired by Eric Ries' book, The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses), were foundations for him in his own business and as he came back to Intuit.
Aaron had the chance to think about how these ideas might support the company given Intuit's 10 percent unstructured time policy. After one data focused innovation project, combining random datasets and storyboarding with what the team might be able to create with them, the data and analytics team manager Aaron had worked with remarked that Aaron should use his skills as one of Intuit's formal Innovation Catalysts.
He went through Innovation Catalyst training in February of 2010.
Innovation catalysts help people throughout the organization work on innovation. The number of innovation catalysts has grown from 10 in the beginning (fiscal year 2009) to over 150 now. The idea for the role of innovation catalysts came from Intuit’s director of design who was challenged by Intuit's founder, Scott Cook, to find a way to support a broader perspective: Design for Delight where the focus is on solving customer pain through products and services developed through direct field research and speedy/iterative prototyping.
The innovation catalysts typically perform their role as part of their own unstructured time contributions. The number of catalysts, their actions, and how they are selected and trained has all followed the same design for delight interactions as regular service and product innovations do at the company. The next story is no different.
Aaron participates in "startup weekends" outside of Intuit, hosted by The Lean Startup Machine and the Kaufman Foundation. He realized that a similar approach of testing assumptions (i.e, rapid and iterative prototyping) while developing products and services might also work well inside of Intuit.
Aaron and Ben Blank (another Innovation Catalyst) piloted a customized event including five teams and several coaches. The success of the initial program led to a cheer of, "lets do a second event." They upped the participation to 15 teams. Their goal wasn't to replace the Design for Delight ideas that have become key to Intuit's values, but rather to give those values another stage on which to perform.
The second experience was such a success they they took on an even greater task: 100 Startups in 100 Days across 10 different Intuit sites. Intuit's Chief Technology Officer supplied the support for the ten events.
During our first conversation (about midway into the 100 Startups in 100 Days programs), Aaron offered me the chance to attend the the final presentations of one of the two day workshops. Of course I said yes.
Mountain View Lean StartIN: 100 Startups in 100 Days
For two hours I saw the most vibrant engagement I’ve seen all year. Teams started with ideas, ran a variety of experiments using a combination of face-to-face interviews on a local shopping street, Google AdWords campaigns, and the like… anything that would let them quickly test assumptions of what would delight their intended customers. Pivot after pivot these teams found ways to improve their options — all in just two days.
I've told my students that I've raised my expectations. Given the results these Intuit teams had in two days, imagine what I expect out of their 10 week projects.
Aaron and I are in complete agreement. This process is yet another example of how Intuit makes the most of their people, their technologies, and their organizational practices. They support this important mixing at all levels of the organization. The Lean StartIN participants come from all sections of the organization. As they take the show on the road in search of 100 startups in 100 days, they ensure the tools and values are available across the organization.
This is also a beautiful example of what I'm calling 2020 Engagement
I'm working on a related book proposal and I'm starting it out with a longer version of this story. My idea is that 2020 Engagement takes us into "new work" where transparency is demanded of organizations, responsibility of individuals, and personal professional development is the norm.
Intuit and the now 250+ Lean StartIN participants are early entrants into the 2020 Engagement model. From them I'm learning the basic tactics and how to track and pivot around lean, minimum viable test results. In my recent book, The Plugged-In Manager, I describe this kind of activity as effective use of stop-look-listen; mixing across people, technology, and organizational process; and then sharing to bring more people on board. Where being "plugged-in" is a life skill (similar to swimming), 2020 Engagement is participating in an Olympic relay race using a variety of strokes.
I thank Intuit and Aaron for sharing so much with me. I expect we will all continue to learn from their experiences. I hope you too will share your thoughts and experiences. 2020 isn't very far away and we all need a moving start.
A shorter version of this post appeared on Technorati.
Imagine that you are an experienced movie director. The writing team gave you an amazing script. You were able to cast the perfect set of actors and special effects gurus. The filming went exceptionally well and you are even happy with the editing and music. The studio’s marketing team is doing a great job and you hear that presales of the related merchandise is at record levels.
Your job is done -- or is it?
The movie opens in two days and your team is still testing the interactive component of the film. Using personal sensors worn by audience members, your movie adjusts on the fly based on the audience’s emotional response in real time. Not scared enough? Add a bass beat in that particular showing to match a faster heart rate and some subsonics to make the skin crawl. If heart rates and other stress indicators show the audience is too scared to follow the plot... bring down the bass and make other subtle changes.
This is not science fiction, but rather how I think the application of biomedical sensors to entertainment (and entertainment is just the tip of the iceberg) could go given the players already in the field.
Irish innovators from Shimmer Research are developing a variety of wearable wireless sensors. Shimmer has worked with filmmaker and new media consultant Gawain Morrison of Filmtrip as Morrison’s team develops, “Sensum,” an emotional response system that can easily be worn by audience members. Filmtrip makes movies more engaging and has gained acclaim for their work at South by Southwest and other new media festivals.
This level of engagement with our own reactions, our customers, clients, and colleagues is available today. You may already be involved in some level of engagement through sharing your workouts, blogging your interests, or tweeting about your work. Filmtrip gets to the leading edge by creating a film, a work, that is better due to the engagement with its actual audience at the moment, not just with what they thought the audience would be like during production.
We all need and can have this level of engagement in our work.
We may not all have biomedical sensors to show how we are connecting with our work, but we all need to think about how else we can get 20/20 insight into:
- Our own work
- The work of our teams
- Our organizations
- The organizations we cross paths with
And then, how to use that insight such that our work, no matter our industry, is improved.
Greater transparency, greater responsibility given the trust offered along with the transparency, and a supporting need for continued professional development. Do you have an example to share?
For more on the Shimmer technology see Kieran Daly's (VP Business Development) recent post on using the technology during the Allianz Business to Arts Awards -- tracking his biomedical responses as Shimmer won!
Each year the Leavey School of Business (Santa Clara University) publishes a list of books the faculty have read and would like to recommend. I'll add a link to the list when it's available. I'm sharing my response with you here, in case you missed my earlier reviews, and for those great books I've yet to formally review.
Looking forward to reading (in press or on my shelf):
11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra by Nilofer Merchant (member of the Leavey School of Business Advisory Board)
What did you read this year?
The Plugged-In Manager: Get in Tune with Your People, Technology, and Organization to Thrive was the August book for 12 Books, "the only author led book group in the world." Jacob Paulsen was my gracious host for the month and led the webinar where we summarized the month-long on-line discussion. All in all, a great experience for me as an author and I hope a great one for the participants. Thank you to all for the opportunity.