Posts

Making Distributed Meetings Matter

Distributed MeetingOn the eve of IFMA’s annual World Workplace conference, which I am attending this week in Denver, it seems appropriate to think for a moment about meetings that don’t take place in a “place.” I’m thinking of course of meetings where everyone is somewhere else – what most of us call “distributed” meetings.

One distributed meeting practice I hold very dear is this [New Rule]: Do not schedule a “mixed meeting” unless there is absolutely no alternative.

A mixed meeting is one that includes two or more people in the same place plus one or more others calling in from somewhere else.

I’ve almost never seen a mixed meeting go well; some organizations actively prohibit them – if anyone is participating remotely, everyone calls in, even when some participants are located close together. Read more

“Five thousand people are a whole lot smarter than five”

LargeCrowdSome time ago I heard a story about a CEO who had opened up his organization’s strategic planning process to solicit ideas from all of the company’s 5,000 employees. When asked why he did that instead of relying on his executive committee, he said, simply, “I woke up one morning and realized that 5,000 people are a whole lot smarter than five.”

But that kind of openness is highly unusual among senior executives. Most of the executive leaders I have known and worked with see themselves as the “deciders” and the visionaries whose instincts about what is needed are superior to everyone else’s. Most of them are convinced that’s why they are in a leadership position.

But in large complex organizations it’s not that simple.

As I pointed out last week (“Getting Everyone in on the Action”), there is valuable knowledge distributed throughout every large organization – but it’s usually buried deep within the rank and file, and most executive leaders do not seem interested in seeking it out. Read more

Getting Everyone in on the Action

Men Playing The Game Of Rugby UnionHow can you get everyone in on the action and still get action?

Several years ago I was consulting with a major international bank on the deployment of a global IT system. Coincidentally, the bank was also actively engaged in a company-wide cultural change program. Although I wasn’t involved directly in that effort I heard about it almost daily from my clients, who were senior directors in the bank’s IT group.

Unfortunately, what I heard wasn’t particularly positive; in fact, most of the comments were negative and highly emotional. My clients believed the new “vision and values” didn’t make a whole lot of sense, and more importantly saw them as being imposed unilaterally on the whole organization by the chairman’s office.

In fact, almost everyone I knew inside the bank referred to the change program as “Bob’s Vision” or “Bob’s values.” In short, no one other than Bob, the chairman and CEO of the bank, felt any ownership of the new vision or its accompanying values. The real tragedy was that Bob’s vision made logical sense from a rational business perspective, and the bank was in dire need of a major shakeup and redirection. Bob could see that but had been unable to persuade even his direct reports to support his initiative. Read more

Creating Community

The most expensive part of a workplace is the salary of the person who occupies it.

(Kevin Kampschroer, Director, Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings, General Services Administration)

Woman at desk

I am optimistic that the facilities world is gradually getting beyond purely physical measurements of workplace efficiency (eg, cost per square foot, square feet per occupant); we are in the early stages of learning to look at the relationship between workplace design and the employee experience, which is what ultimately drives organizational effectiveness.

At IFMA’s World Workplace conference in New Orleans in September I was pleased to hear David Karpook, Nancy Johnson Sanquist, and Joe Harris of Manhattan Software/Trimble discuss their research on “Workplace as Experience.” Drawing on The Experience Economy: Work is Theater and Every Business a Stage by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, David, Nancy, and Joe educated all of us in attendance about just how powerful an impact place has on people.

And then my appreciation of how important that impact is rose several more notches when I heard Kristine Woolsey of Carrier-Johnson+Culture talk about the connection between workplaces and communities at the recent WorkTech14 summit in San Francisco. I was so impressed with Kristine’s insights that I invited her to meet and share her perspectives with my Talking About Tomorrow conversation group a few weeks later. Read more

What’s the Common Good?

Several hundred years ago most villages had at their center a “commons” – an area of public land that served not only as a meeting place (the “public square”) but usually also as grazing land for the villagers’ cows, sheep, and other animals. It was a shared space that offered food and protection for individuals who were members of the community. Ownership of the Commons was shared by everyone who lived in the village.

Now it’s April 15: here in the United States it is tax day – the day many of us mail our checks, at the last minute, to the Internal Revenue Service. And while it always hurts to pay taxes, I view them as our investment in society as a whole – our “dues” for having a healthy, safe environment to live and work in, and for having an infrastructure that provides us with those things (schools, roads, national defense, and so on) we cannot build by ourselves.

Our federal and local governments are the means by which we design, build, and manage our modern-day Commons. All of which makes me think about what kinds of corporate infrastructures are needed today, and where the boundaries lie between public and private support capabilities.

Read more

Free Webinar on “Leveraging Mobile Work to Engage Your Employees”

When: Thursday, March 7, at Noon Pacific Standard Time

Registerhttps://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/476196598

Please join me and my colleague, Pi Wen Looi of Novacrea Research, for a lunch-and-learn session to learn about “Leveraging Mobile Work to Engage Your Employees.” We’ll present our 2012 Mobile Workforce Survey findings and share ideas about how you can use these insights to engage and leverage your mobile workers. [continue reading...]

Does Online Learning Dehumanize Education, or Just the Opposite?

I just found a fascinating video interview that Bill Moyers conducted with Isaac Asimov over 20 years ago.

Mr. Asimov completely understood what online search and research would be like once the Internet reached full maturity (which of course it has not yet fully achieved). In the video (below) Asimov describes his vision how each of us would be able to search for information or data based on our personal interests and needs–at the moment. [continue reading...]

Great Story About Distributed Work in the Financial Times

FT Logo imageI was thrilled today to discover that Maija Palmer’s latest article about the “new world of work” in The Financial Times actually uses me as a case study.

You can read the story (“So Near and Yet So Far“) online at this link:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/57387a98-58d6-11e1-b9c6-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1nnLTUqqX

(free registration is required to access the article)

The story is actually about the new venture I’m working on with partners Paul Carder (based in the UK) and Marcus Bowen (in Hong Kong).

Read more

Future of Work Agenda Newsletter: November/December 2010

This is the November/December 2010 issue of our free monthly newsletter, Future of Work Agenda. We welcome comments on any of these articles. You can also access the newsletter directly on our website, at this link.

“Two roads diverged in a wood. . .” (Robert Frost)

Believe it or not, this is the 100th issue of Future of Work Agenda. [continue reading...]

Managing a Remote Workforce

We just posted a note on the workshifting.com blog about our latest research white paper, “Managing a Remote Workforce:  Proven Practices from Succesful Leaders.” The post is a highly condensed version of the full 20-page paper, which you can download for free from the workshifting site. Check it out. You won’t regret it. [continue reading...]