Tag Archives: E2.0

From the Frying Pan, Into the . . . ?

Last week, during the remaining few hours of a two-day Novations class in Project Management, I received a couple of somewhat disconcerting emails. The first one, from the President of the company, was a notification a “Voluntary Separation Program” was being offered to all employees (well, almost all) who would be 60 years of age or older on May 15, 2010. This was announced as the latest step in many that have been taken to prepare the business for the challenges presented by the ending of the Space Shuttle Main Engine program and by the changes announced recently by NASA. I can’t say it was a surprise. The second email was from HR. It contained the (again, not startling, but nevertheless uncomfortable) news that I was (being close the 63 years old) eligible for the program.

Now, I had not – until that point – seriously considered leaving the company. I have been there for a total of over 23 years (cycle time; I worked my first year as a temp and left for two years to join a somewhat ill-fated yet necessary attempt to rejoin a family business) and had every intention of remaining at least another 15. Furthermore, as the lead for a team charged with changing the way we did business, with special responsibility for the use of social media, I was excited about the challenges we faced and the opportunities that presented. Suddenly, I felt very old and somewhat useless. It was not a comfortable feeling at all.

I have since spent a great deal of time thinking about what this means to me and, as a result of this thinking, I have decided to take the offer. In fact, I signed the papers yesterday declaring my intent to do so. While it isn’t the most lucrative of offers they could have made, it will give me about six months in which to plant the seeds of my next career, a career I intend on pursuing with a vengeance. I am also old enough to retire, which will increase the time I have before I need to start dipping into our savings. One last course available to me is filing for social security, something I would rather wait until I am 66 to do so I can receive the full amount.

So . . . what am I going to do with this breathing space. Well, my friend Luis Suarez has hinted at some of it in his post of today, “When This All Gets Cool, It’s All about The People and Your Passion“, and it’s even in my profile on Facebook, where I said “I am most interested in using today’s Internet based social computing technology to further the interests of my company and, not incidentally, humanity as well. I see no reason the two interests can’t converge. Do you?” It looks like I won’t be doing it to help my company, but I’m confident I can find other companies interested in what I do. Possibly, the most exciting thing about this change in career, though, is it will allow me the time to work with schools, community-service organizations, and other types of enterprise that can benefit from my passion about social computing and the promise they hold for doing the right things.

This is the journey I am now embarking on and I’m literally bursting with enthusiasm for it. I believe it will be a large part of the experience I will chronicle in this blog. I will continue my long association with my friends and colleagues in the Enterprise Thinking Network, many of whom will continue (unless there are further, massive layoffs) with Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. In fact, I am scheduled to co-present a workshop with Johnnie Pourdehnad, long-time associate of Russell Ackoff’s, and an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also serves as the Associate Director of ACASA (Ackoff Collaboratory for the Advancement of Systems Approaches). This will be in April, before I have officially left the company (scheduled separation date is no earlier than May 14), at this year’s In2:InThinking Forum – an event you should consider attending if you are interested in new ways to view the world and the work we all do. I recommend it highly.

At any rate, thanks to a fairly extensive network I have built over the years in order to increase my value to my current organization (Hmm. Guess that didn’t work all that well, but it has had the side benefit of being useful to me professionally), I have already begun seeking out new adventures and new ways in which I can be of service. Maybe I’ll even be able to make a decent living at it! I you have any ideas of what some of those things can be, please don’t be shy. Let me know. I promise I’ll get back to you.


So many places to “be” – I’m so cornfuzzled!

Copyright 2010 GoogleWith the release of Google’s Buzz yesterday I have added yet another platform/channel to my ever-growing arsenal of social tools with which to engage and, especially, to learn from a long list of wonderful and generous people who willingly offer their intelligence, passion, and wit by freely sharing what they know. I don’t know about others, but even with locations that federate, or aggregate (oh hell, I’m not sure which it is), many of the places I “am”, I still find it difficult to completely see the larger landscape of the social  network I’m entwined with. Dion Hinchcliffe hints at Buzz portending a change in the way the “knowledge” of who we are, what we like, who we know, etc. is treated in his “First impressions of Google Buzz: Smart, useful, long road ahead“, posted yesterday. If I understand him correctly, Google is using algorithms that can draw context from the web, associated specifically with what our (singular and collective) behavior, connections, and interests are evidence of, and serve up relevant and (one would hope) useful information for us.

I hope this turns out to be the case. I’m reserving judgement for now, as it took  me at least six months after signing up for Twitter before I could see any use for it that made sense to me. If Buzz is anything like Twitter (only better) I plan on being a bit more ahead of the curve than before. Only time will tell, but the thought of having some help in making sense of all the chatter (including my own) is pretty exciting to me. We may end up with a half-dozen different “suites” (which will, no doubt, find some overlap in the apps used) for us to choose from and I’m torn over whether or not I would prefer some sort of standardization. Nevertheless, the reality for now – for me – is that I’ve been using Gmail and other Google platforms for many years and am unlikely to pass up a chance to get (and put) most of my info into their hands.


Learning From Those who Know

I continually struggle with how best to share here on this blog. Guess I’m trying to find my voice, which is difficult when one’s personal life is so thoroughly enmeshed with one’s professional life and the company you work for needs to keep much of what it does close to the vest. So I need to work on separating those things that are mine (my thoughts, that is) and those things that are my company’s.

Credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

There are a couple of bloggers whose thoughts I really respect and I am learning a bit from them on how to go about doing this and growing my ability to share and connect. There are others as well, but the two I’m speaking of are Euan Semple and Gil Yehuda. Euan has a blog he calls “The Obvious“. Here’s what he says in the section “About this blog”: “This is my personal blog which I began in February 2001. I called it The Obvious? when I wrote anonymously and chose the name to reflect the fact I have to overcome my inhibitions about stating the obvious!” This resonates so strongly with me as I have always felt that anything I saw had to be obvious to everyone since it was so obvious to me. I’ve learned that’s not necessarily the case, but I have yet to fully convince myself it’s true. Reading Euan and, especially, the method he uses in his blog, is very instructive to me; might be to you as well.

Gil Yehuda’s blog is a bit different, as he writes a great deal about Enterprise 2.0. In fact, the title of his blog is “Gil Yehuda’s Enterprise 2.0 Blog“. Gil doesn’t write quite the same as Euan. Most of his posts are a bit longer, though short enough to not be tedious to anyone who’s used to the rapid-fire reality of today’s online world. Since my greatest interest – indeed, my job – is centered around Enterprise 2.0 capabilities and design principles, I appreciate Gil’s clarity and constancy of purpose in sharing his thoughts. His latest post, “What to Contribute: Thoughts of a Blogger“, is a great read on how to deal with the issues I find myself pondering each time I set out to write. I have to admit I have waaay more ideas than I manage to write about.

I intend on learning all I can from these two. I’m hopeful that time will find me opening up more and engaging with greater frequency and, hopefully, clarity as I follow how they do it. There are others – in fact Gil’s latest blog (link above) points to a lot of them, the majority of whom I follow on Twitter – and I will write about them as well as time goes on. Each has a voice worthy of listening to, even if your interest isn’t Enterprise 2.0, as they have firmly established themselves in the “blogosphere”. Check ’em out.


2.0 Adoption Council One of the Best Stories of Year (says Dion Hinchcliffe)

Well, I’ve spent the better part of two years now learning about Enterprise 2.0 and how it can be applied at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. I have been practicing Knowledge Management for over 10 years there and it has been a constant struggle to get people to see the value in sharing knowledge, learning from our mistakes (though we pay great lip service to it in the form of never-quite-realized attempts at collecting “lessons learned”), and not re-inventing the wheel.

I first became aware of E2.0 after reading Tim O’Reilly’s seminal paper, “What is Web 2.0“, and it started me thinking about how we could use the design concepts he laid out so well to our inside-the-firewall efforts to increase our communication and collaboration capabilities. I actually thought I was in the forefront of the effort and was somewhat chagrined when I discovered Professor Andy McAfee had been writing about it for at least a year prior to my discovery. He was the one who coined the term Enterprise 2.0 and, after my initial disappointment with NOT being actually in the vanguard, I was thrilled to find there was a body of work out there I could learn from.

I also soon found Dion Hinchcliffe, who wrote prolifically and lucidly about E2.o, as well as created lots of excellent graphics that made sense of how the connections worked and what, in fact, should be connected. I have a large collection of Dion’s graphics gathered together in a rather large PowerPoint presentation that I drag out and look at now and again to remind of why I’m doing what I’m doing and how it all fits together.

At the end of July of this year I was fortunate enough to become a member of an organization of E2.0 practitioners, the 2.0 Adoption Council, dedicated to advancing the acceptance and application of Enterprise 2.0 design principles. Rather than tell you much about it, I want to point to Dion’s latest post entitled “Enterprise 2.0: The 2009 Year in Review, where he has the following to say:

Communities of practitioners began to form. One of the best stories of the year was the formation and rise of the 2.0 Adoption Council. Founded by my good friend, the tireless Susan Scrupski, the 2.0 Adoption Council is a practitioners-only community (no vendors or consultants allowed) that has developed an impressive following. Well over a hundred companies are now represented on projects from the quite small to the quite large. It’s also one the very best sources of data — their latest report is packed full of useful information — for what’s taking place with Enterprise 2.0 today. If you’re engaged in Enterprise 2.0 work, I urge you join the council and increase our collective knowledge of what’s happening with enterprise social computing.

If you are at all interested in how your business can perform better and be more effective – not merely more efficient – you owe it to yourself to understand what E2.0 has to offer you. If you are working now to get your company to adopt these practices, consider doing what Dion suggests, joining the Council and learning from some of the best practitioners in the world. You can read his entire post here.


Russ Ackoff, Systems Thinking, and Enterprise 2.0

I posted another “tribute” to Russ Ackoff in my blog at the 2.0 Adoption Council’s collaborative site and thought to share it outside the Council as well. Our site is enabled by Jive SBS and is private, so I’d like to share it with others. What follows, then, is the post as I wrote it the other day:

I am of the opinion it takes a certain kind of sensibility to understand how and why Enterprise 2.0 fits into an organization and, more importantly, how it can increase the effectiveness of everyone and everything with respect to how that organization realizes its goals. In my mind that sensibility was understood well (if not best) by people like W. Edwards Deming and the man I’d like to reflect on just a bit in this post, Russell Lincoln Ackoff. I am writing this because Russ just died last October 29 and the resonance of his passing has yet to settle amongst the community of people who knew him – either personally or through his writings and teachings. Just today I received an email from John Pourdehnad, Director of ACASA at UPenn, with a link to another tribute to Russ, which I urge you to read. I have written about his passing also, as Russ affected me profoundly. I was hoping to visit with him once again next month. Alas, that was not to be. You can read my feeble attempt here, and you can read the latest blog I received from Johnnie here. If you aren’t aware of who Russ was just Google his name and you’ll find plenty out there to inform you.

I raise this issue for several reasons. One is my feeling that, much like so many great people, the full impact of Russ’s influence will only be felt now that he is gone. Whle he was alive he was the spokesperson for his thoughts; nobody could convey what he had to say as well as he could and few tried. Absent his presence it now falls to those of us who stood at his feet to now stand upon his shoulders and try our best to carry on his work. Make no mistake about it, Russ was an important figure in contemporary thought. Not merely in business, but also in education and life in general. No less than Peter Drucker held Russ’s work in high esteem. Drucker once wrote a letter to Russell, which he proudly displayed on the wall of his office. In it, Peter had this to say:

“I was then, as you may recall, one of the early ones who applied Operations Research and the new methods of Quantitative Analysis to specific BUSINESS PROBLEMS — rather than, as they had been originally developed for, to military or scientific problems. I had led teams applying the new methodology in two of the world’s largest companies — GE and AT&T. We had successfully solved several major production and technical problems for these companies — and my clients were highly satisfied. But I was not–we had solved TECHNICAL problems but our work had no impact on the organizations and on their mindsets. On the contrary: we had all but convinced the managements of these two big companies that QUANTITATIVE MANIPULATION was a substitute for THINKING. And then your work and your example showed us–or at least, it showed me–that the QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS comes AFTER the THINKING — it validates the thinking; it shows up intellectual sloppiness and uncritical reliance on precedent, on untested assumptions and on the seemingly “obvious.” But it does not substitute for hard, rigorous, intellectually challenging THINKING. It demands it, though — but does not replace it. This is, of course, what YOU mean BY system. And your work in those far-away days thus saved me — as it saved countless others — from either descending into mindless “model building” — the disease that all but destroyed so many of the Business Schools in the last decades — or from sloppiness parading as ‘insight.’” (I took this from a comment by Steve Brant – a friend – to Michael Trick’s Operations Research Blog. I have personally read the letter as well, in Russ’s office earlier this year)

Another reason I wish to point to Russ’s work is my belief it can – and should – play a significant role in our understanding the implications of Enterprise 2.0. As Andy points out so saliently in his book, and as I would hope most of us have already come to realize, our work is not merely to theorize about the efficacy and implications of adopting E2.0 principles, but rather to apply them to the conduct of our respective organizations such that they improve their day-to-day operations and assist them in achieving their strategic goals. I think that can best be done by also understanding the systemic nature of the organizations within which we operate, and Russ had unique understanding and insight into how this was so.

The intent I had for my personal blog, which I link to above, was to work on reconciling Systems Theory – as taught by Russ and others – to the philosophy of Dialectical Materialism; perhaps a bridge too far given the demands on my time and energy. I do, however, wish to continue understanding how the principles of E2.0 (here‘s a great overview Dion linked to in Twitter) can be best understood from the viewpoint of Systems Theory. To that end I will continue attempting to reconcile what Russ had to teach us with the work we are all engaged in with respect to this council. It is my hope many of you will asssist in this endeavor. I believe it is extremely important to our success. Actually, I believe it is a valuable component of the continuing development of human thought and organization – economically, politically, and socially. I welcome your comments.

Respectfully,

Rick


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