About the author >

Category: Posted: April 21, 2013 0 comments

A manager recently voiced his concerns: “Most employees prefer being told what to do. They are willing to accept being treated like children in exchange for reduced stress. They are also willing to obey authority in exchange for job security.” That is the way we have seen it: managers inspire, motivate and control employees who need to be inspired, motivated and controlled. These dynamics create the system of management and justify its continuation.

If we want to meet the challenges of the post-industrial world, this relationship needs to change. The workers changing their role are often seen as a matter of the extent to which the managers are willing to allow it and give up responsibility. In reality it is as much a matter of how much the workers are willing to grow their (management) capacity and take more and wider responsibility.

The dysfunctional relationship between managers and employees creates a self-fulfilling prophecy and a systemic failure in creative, knowledge-based work. What is tragic is that neither side normally understands the predictability of what is going on. The pattern is a mutually reinforcing self-destructive process that manifests itself as a steady decline in the authority of management and productivity of work.

A few researchers have started to dispute ...  Read the article
Category: Posted: February 03, 2013 0 comments

Last week I met with executives from large traditional manufacturing firms asking what the ideas of social business might mean for them. What kind of changes might be ahead?

There is a saying that without customers, you have no business being in business. Accordingly, customer focus has been the dominant idea in business since the 1960s. Businesses have focused on customers as an audience for products, services and marketing messages.

But unfortunately many businesses still consistently miss the big shift: customers have transformed from an audience to actors. Firms don’t create value for customers. The way customers actively use the products and services creates value. More value or less value.

Many troubled companies still focus mainly on the wrong things. Their turnaround efforts don’t typically involve the customer. Managers streamline the businesses mainly through cutting costs; they re-engineer the internal processes to make them more cost-efficient. But they regularly leave out the most important part of the equation. They don’t start from the outside, the customer, and work in. They don’t create...

Read the article
Category: Posted: November 05, 2012 0 comments
The structures of the brain and the Internet look the same. In the brain there are neurons that link as a result of being active at the same time. This firing together creates a connection, a wiring together, that increases the strength of the connection. On the Internet there are wired servers and people that are linked in temporal interaction, sometimes as a result of being inspired and interested in the same topic, firing together. This short-term communication sometimes leads to a longer-term relationship increasing the strength of the connection. New connections are formed, connections get stronger and connections are lost.
It is not uncommon to think that knowing is something that goes on in the brain. Yet the evidence that it is really so is not quite clear. Some scientists have expressed doubts. The mind, they have argued, is not a thing to which a place can be allocated. Intellectual life is essentially social and interactive, they say. Life is carried on through communication between people. These researchers claim that interactions are not secondary by-products of thinking. They are the primary sites of that activity.
We often think of individuals as independent and self-contained. The view suggested here sees individuals as interdependent nodes of the complex networks they form interacting with others, co-creating themselves and the reality in which they participate.
According to Cathy Davidson, attention blindness is the...  Read the article
Category: Posted: October 05, 2012 0 comments
The big move we are in the midst of is towards an economy that is more centered on information products than physical products. Examples of this are financial services, professional services, online game industry and software.
The second transformative change is global access to relatively cheap and relatively high quality communication networks
New communication technologies have always had a strong impact on industries and the logistics around production. But this time, with information products, the societal changes are even bigger than before. The Internet is the first communication environment that decentralizes the financial capital requirements of production. Much of the capital is not only distributed but also largely owned by the end users – the workers having their own smart devices.
The characteristics of the new economy are different from what we... Read the article
Category: Posted: June 26, 2012 0 comments

It is often said that the transformation to become a social business means enabling activities like transparent action and cooperation instead of the competitive individualism we are so used to.

Management buy-in is also seen as a challenge that needs to be tackled. But can it be that the real challenge is not the ROI of the new tools or learning new ways of doing things, but acknowledging that there is a need for rethinking what management is and refreshing the theories it is built on .

The way business thinking sees the self and its relationships is based on the Cartesian philosophy; I think, therefore I am. Everything in management and thus also in mainstream social business takes place from the first-person point of view.

This Cartesian isolation was strengthened in Newton’s...  Read the article
Category: Posted: June 04, 2012 0 comments
The division of labor reduced organizational effort and the cost of work in factory production. The division of labor also increased the quality of work through specialization. This led managers to focus on the efficiency of activities separated from other activities. Organizational design was seen as the planning and execution of a collection of independent, but connected jobs forming the workflow system.
Connections were based on top-down command-and-control and horizontal, sequential processes. In both cases the action of one part was meant to set off the action of another. Interaction was understood as one-way signals, a system of senders and receivers, a system of causes and effects. ...
Read the article
Category: Posted: May 21, 2012 0 comments

Emotional contagion is a fact of life. It means that our moods and even physical health are created in interaction with other people. We tilt either to the positive or tilt to the negative as a result of our relations, and the further relations, the people that we relate with have. It is a chain of contagion that goes far beyond the horizon. This is why we can no longer see our minds as independent and separate but as thoroughly social. Our mental life is co-created in a larger and larger interconnected network. What we have called the individual mind is something that arises continuously in relationships between people.

Our social interactions also play a role in shaping our brain. We know now that repeated experiences sculpt the synaptic connections and rewire our brain. Accordingly, our relationships gradually frame the neural circuitry. Being chronically depressed by others or being emotionally nourished and enriched has lifelong impacts.

Mainstream thinking sees the social in social business as a platform...  Read the article
Category: Posted: April 16, 2012 0 comments

In a typical large organization everybody is a long way away from everybody else. As a result the individual perception of the world is narrow and confined to a small group of immediate acquaintances.

That did not matter in factory type of settings because physical tasks could be broken up. Bigger tasks could be divided by assigning people to different smaller, fairly independent parts of the whole. Hierarchies made sense as a way to modularize work. The worker did not need to communicate with many people. The downside was lack of flexibility. Reconfiguring a hierarchy always created a mess for a long time. And if you had a lot of interaction going on in a ...  Read the article
Category: Posted: April 10, 2012 0 comments

One of the basic ideas of modern science is that the laws of the material universe can only be meaningfully understood by expressing quantified measurements. Numerical terms are needed, not just words and stories. Instead of ordinary sentences we must use mathematical equations, was the belief.

The values of the measurements at a given starting time are called initial conditions for that system. The Newtonian, deterministic claim is that for any given system, the same initial conditions will always produce identically the same outcome. Life is like a movie that can be run forwards or backwards in time. ...  Read the article
Category: Posted: April 02, 2012 0 comments

Products that are manufactured the same way with the same product features are often used differently by different customers. Just because a product is a commodity doesn’t mean that customers can’t be diverse in their needs and uses of the product.

Companies used to have no mechanisms for connecting with the end users in order to understand and influence this. Social media and mobile technologies are now changing the model.

A relationship between a customer and an enterprise can get smarter with every interaction. Consider a service as routine as grocery shopping. Suppose that you could turn to your mobile phone and come up with a graph of last month’s or last year’s grocery purchases. Every time a customer buys her groceries, she is not only showing herself and the firm the products she buys, but also teaching the firm the pattern at which she consumes/uses them and implicitly the complementary products she does not yet perhaps know of. The service is creating a history of this particular customer that is virtually impossible for a competing shopping service to replicate.

Interactive value creation is about two new capabilities: the firm needs to be capable of networking with individual customers, and behaving ... Read the article