Change is happening so quickly, that it’s hard to keep up.
Products and services that once dominated the market and looked like they would always rule are now toppled by a competitor that came out of the blue.
Employees that felt secure in their jobs are being laid off because their skills – once cutting edge – are now no longer needed in the new, changed marketplace.
A younger generation is coming in the workforce and using words and concepts that mean nothing to you, and they are working in ways that seem reckless & irresponsible.
Suddenly you realize that your company, product or service could be on of those that people look back and and say, “Hey, do you remember…”
In that moment you have a choice to make. You can either disrupt how your run your business, or be disrupted. Because one of those will happen.
But you may say, “No, not us.” And that is what the newspaper industry said. So did the auto industry, the music industry, formal education, the timber industry, religious institutions, government bodies and even something as fundamental as the family unit.
So you have a choice. Disrupt your internal operations, or be disrupted. If you don’t make a choice, one will gladly be made for you. There isn’t any middle ground.
The manager must have the final say in hiring his direct reports. No?
Business strategy must come from the executives. Right?
I don’t know if you noticed, but some of the rules that we have used in the past to run our businesses have been… pretty much obliviated.
Not just changed – they don’t exist.
In fact, I’m not sure if they have been replaced by new rules, or if we are living in undiscovered country.
Like the balance of power in your company
What it takes to engage an employee
The mind set and work practices of the upcoming generation entering the workforce
The push for more a flat and less hierarchical organizational structure
Organization with less rules, less policy but more creativity…
Shall I go on?
Now I know many of you think that the rules haven’t changed THAT much. You think that basically how we run our businesses in much the same we were taught in business school and how we have done it in the past.
That’s like saying that 1+2=3, which it does, but if we are to change one variable, the outcome can drastically change. But too many companies are trying to make 11+2 still equal 3.
When you lose control over just a few rules – but not all of them – of how your company runs and one of those variables change, so does your business operation.
So let’s stop pretending we know what the rules are because right now, they don’t exist and new rules are being written as we speak.
Rather than play it safe and stay with the old, we need to be explorers and discover the new. Only then will we realize that the old safe is actually more dangerous than the new risky.
These are your top 10 thoughts you will have about your career in the new year
10. When the alarm goes off you will moan, because you will still dread or only tolerate your job, with little or no hope in doing what you love.
9. You will remember that thing you love to do and start to get excited about it.
8. You will think about it all day and all night – and even during your regular job. You will watch videos and read books about it. You might even start a blog on the subject.
7. You will start making plans on how to make it your real job and you will tell your loved ones that you are going to dive in.
6. Dive in you do, but…. work will get really busy and you won’t get very far.
5. Your energy will fade for that thing you love, you will forget to write your blog posts, and you will realize that you must focus on what brings in the money.
4. The alarm will yet again go off. This time you will not only hear yourself moan, but you will more deeply feel it because you already tried, but failed.
3. You will resign yourself to the fact that you will be doing the same job 10 years from now and there is little hope of changing.
2. You accept it, and move on.
1. Then, one day, something will click and you will know that nothing is going to stop you from doing that thing you love. It may take time, but living in a job you only tolerate will no longer an option. The passion you will have for that thing you love will overpower any roadblock you come up against and next year’s prediction will be completely different.
Many people have been asking if they could use my videos in their companies because of the impact it has on employees.
To make it easy for them to do so, I have created
This is the full library of unbranded videos (with two new ones). When your company becomes a member, they get access to these and all the new videos as they come out (I have three more in the works right now).
You can use them to…
Use in change management & culture initiatives
Generate excitement or anticipation of new goals, initiatives or software.
Break habits of bad working practices
But, I am not officially launching this quite yet.
There are MANY of you who have encouraged and supported me in this work, given me feedback and have cheered me on. I have appreciated it VERY much.
So I wanted to give you all a 25% discount through October to say, “Thank You!”
You don’t know how much all the feedback has meant to me.
Below is one of the new videos. It’s another “Business Practices That Refuses To Die.” I hope it will be valuable to you.
Why do we regularly torture ourselves with endless email trees that are branched off, creating 14 separate discussions and CC: everyone and their dog? It drives us mad yet we find ourselves being sucked these holes each week. We contort ourselves to fit this time-wasting model of communication and despise it every time it happens.
We can end the madness by using collaborative technologies and work in a way that works for us, not us for it. We can save time, confusion and frustration.
Those of us who have been using collaborative technologies understand this. But it is not an easy concept to teach other in a way that it has a lasting effect – so they change the way they work. The real challenge is how do we explain this to other people?
I hope this video helps you explain how we can work so much better and really upgrade the way we work.
As I was making this video I thought of other business practices that I wish would die. Do you have ideas, too? If so, let me know in the comments and I will put them in my bucket list of videos to make in the near future. Thanks!
Steven Covey tells a classic story. Paraphrased, he is on a subway and a man walks on with a couple kids. He sits down but his kids are all over the place and going crazy, disturbing everyone. He thinks, “Why won’t he control his kids?”
Finally, he says something and the man says, “Sorry, I didn’t notice. We just came from the hospital where their mom died and I don’t think they know how to react.”
He acted based off of very normal assumptions. Only his assumptions were incorrect.
We do this all the time at work. We assume that because there is a rule that it is a good rule to follow. Or we know that the company always ___(fill in the blank)___ so we need to continue doing that (“It must be there for a good reason.”) Or we want to be, what we might consider, politically safe. The problem is that these actions are often based off of a strategy that is faulty. Yet, not realizing the error, we go along with the strategy.
This is called Double-Loop Learning and it looks like this.
We need to ask this simple question much more often. Dig deep. For example, a new CEO may hold town hall meetings in a certain format just because his predecessor did and it looked like it worked. Instead, be bold and challenge the assumption that it worked. It may very well have worked, but then again it might be done so much better.
Instead of assuming that a given policy is the best to follow, ask WHY? Again, there may be a perfectly good explanation for it. But we have all seen bad policy, procedures and practices perpetuate beyond their useful life – to the point where it is hindering the employees from doing the right thing.
Yet, while we do this we must use wisdom. It is not appropriate to challenge EVERYTHING, even if we know it is ineffective in its current state. We need to know where to draw the line and let things go. But where it matters most, it is our obligation as a member of a team to do all we can to create greatness.
There are somethings in life we just accept although we know they are wrong. Like fruitcake during the Christmas holiday. No one really eats it, yet it is still given as a gift. Like a stop sign on a deserted road at 2am. Did you really make a full and complete stop?
And corporate communications – they really aren’t communicating. Rather, they are informing. Communication takes two parties and an exchange of information and an acknowledgement that the message was received and understood. Formal communications within organizations are anything but communications. Rather, they inform. They send out emails. Put up posters. Maybe a sign in the cafeteria or lunch room. These are examples of one-way communication – wait, can there be such a thing or is it an oxymoron? One-way communication is informing.
But we really can’t change the name to “Corporate Informing,” can we?
So how do we have true communication within an organization? How do we make sure people understand? I have heard executives lament the fact that their latest project is not being understood. “It is all over the place. Emails, posters, table tents, small signs in the restrooms. How can they miss it?!”
So how do we resolve this? Here is a suggestion. Whenever we talk about communicating to our employees, replace the word “communicate” with “converse.” This changes everything – it also brings up some more challenges. Some are real (like needing the resources) and some are only imagined (being fearful of discussing sensitive topics). Suddenly, “Communication” takes on a whole new meaning.
Maybe you have been a part of this discussion before: Sitting around a conference room table, you and your colleges lament about the lack of motivation the workforce has as a whole or around a particular project. You decide that if you could only motivate them more, you would have better success. So you sit there, thinking of strategies: awards, incentives, flextime, a clearer mission statement.
Eventually you put some plans into practice but your initiatives yield very little. You all secretly determine that your plans didn’t work, but no one really openly talks about it. So you ignore the initiatives and let them die a slow death.
Until some other big problem comes up that you need to deal with. So you go back to the conference room table and the round starts again.
I have seen this happen over and over and over again. Part of the problem is that they are trying to tackle the wrong organizational monster. They have incorrectly identified the approach to their end goal. Why? It is the same reason that some parents can’t get their kids away from playing crazy amounts of video games. They try to enforce behavior with incentives and programs to do other things. But they don’t want those other things – they want the video games. So what should they do? Take away or change the thing that is causing the undesirable behavior.
You see, many people focus on the wrong thing (trying to substitute a bad behavior with a good behavior) without dampening the direct behavior in the first place. They focus on the wrong opposite.
Attending last year’s Enterprise 2.0 conference was a great experience. I learned a ton, met friends I had never met before in carbon, and left feeling invigorated. But there was a nagging feeling – it was all too perfect.
The sessions and keynotes were all about how great this was and how successful everyone had been. But I knew those were not the full stories. Having worked on Social Business for a few years, I had made my share of mistakes and had made a partial living off of fixing the mistakes of others and I learned a ton from these experiences. Why should a conference be any different? Why can’t we learn from each others’ mistakes? Was there a huge fear of failure?
So, when the call for presenters went out, I decided to talk about failures. I had some I could share, and I was sure I could find others so it didn’t turn into a “Kevin Failure Show.” I was wrong. As I started compiling stories I realized that there were very few who were willing to talk about their failures. But I had to go forward and the only failures I knew where my own or were from organizations I had worked with – and I didn’t feel like I could rat them out.
My first thought was, “I don’t have THAT many failures I could share!” Wrong again. It was amazing how many times I had failed. Not catastrophically, but even in small and simple ways.
My sweet wife was concerned. “Will it look like you are a total failure? Will they understand that you are really good at what you do?” I assured her it would be just fine. But this meant I had to be very open and transparent about my mistakes. This really is not an easy thing to do (mentally).
While creating the content for the session I learned that all of us make very few huge failures, but instead we make many small ones, quickly learn and adjust and turn them into wins. And the more I thought about it, the more mistakes I could name off. Soon, there were so many that I had to figure out which went into the presentation, and which I would merely mention and not explain.
The day of the presentation came. I was scheduled for the first time slot immediately after the keynotes. Arriving a bit early, I set up as I watched attendees pour in to this huge room. Susan Scrupski (queen of the Social Business Council) came up and said, “Have you seen the line to get in?” I had to go see this. She was right and it was long. By the time everyone had filed in, this large room was full.
I mention this only to point out that the reason they were there was not because of me, but because of the topic of failure – there were many others that felt the same way I did – a nice validation of my thoughts, but now the pressure was on (I didn’t want a live failure of a presentation on failure!). They wanted to learn from the mistakes of others so they would not repeat it.
In another post I will go over the content, but there are a couple things I did in the session that were kind of fun. The day before, during the workshops, I made the above video, and that is how I started it off. Immediately after it was silent, everyone waiting for me to start. I stood there, quietly for a moment, and then said, “Hi. I’m Kevin and I have failed.” A few giggles followed. I had planted four others in the audience who, in turn, stood up and introduced themselves and said the same thing. It was a Fail Flashmob or an FA meeting (Failures Anonymous). Then I went on to talk about the nature of failure, followed by examples of failure and how they could be overcome.
Time was running out and I had MANY more in the hopper (just in case time went long). I didn’t expect to explain most of them, but just use as examples. Later others told me that as I blew through the last 20 or so, they personally recognized each one and realized that we fail all the time, but we recover.
At the very end I issued two challenges to the audience. The first was to share their failures and not be afraid to talk about them. The second was to join me in discussing them after the conference has ended.
And so I invite you as well. Each week I will post an Enterprise 2.0 failure on this blog and encourage you to answer these two questions: 1) how can we avoid it and 2) if it still happens, how can we correct it? I have enough for a half year’s worth and by the time that comes around, we’ll all probably have that many more again.
The response after the session and for the next three days was wonderfully overwhelming. Thank you to everyone who tweeted during the session, blogged (Nigel Danson, Steve Radick, Cecil Dijoux) and wrote articles (SearchCRM, CMSWire, IT Knowledge Exchange), came up and talked to me about it and referred to the session in subsequent sessions. I wish I could thank you all individually. I am truly humbled by the response.
So please join us. The more perspectives we get each week, the more we can learn from each other and be better we will be at what we all love to do. I hope to learn from you next Tuesday with the first failure! (I promise the posts won’t be nearly as long 😉