Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Future of Work.

Last week Coca-Cola announced it was shutting down its office voice mail to “simplify the way we work and increase productivity”.  Facebook announced a new platform called “Work”, a social solution for office communication. And recently IBM came to market with Verse, its new social collaboration tool that helps “prioritize your inbox”. Powered by IBM”s analytics and advanced search, IBM Verse delivers a cloud based tool to manage your workday. Less clutter, more clarity.

The average interaction worker spends an estimated 28% of the work week managing email. And up to 30% of email time could be repurposed by adopting social collaborations tools for communication (McKinsey, July 2012).

Collaboration has been a buzzword in the social business realm for a while.  Social business technology pioneers touted the productivity benefits of collaboration. And while these early adopters worked hard to prove it, the platforms and the new behaviors they demanded disrupted the entire enterprise - from organizational structures and systems, to skills and culture. “How do we manage information flow?” “We’re not ready for this, we have an approved system for all corporate communications.” “We built it but no one is coming to it.” “We have an intranet.” “We don’t need this. We communicate fine by email.” “It doesn’t fit into our Information Architecture” “What does this do to my org structure?” “This is going to create a lot of chaos” “How do we control this?”

However, companies are figuring it out. 
They have to. Productivity is on the line. Collaboration, cloud, data/analytics, alternative work arrangements, the crowd, talent-sharing, networked organizations vs organizational structures, work/life balance, and a culture of sharing are the #NewWayToWork.

The Career Executive Board recently shared that to achieve breakthrough performance, organizations need to recruit and reward employees that demonstrate what they call “Enterprise Contribution.”. Enterprise contributors are defined as people that are successful in managing individual tasks as well as executing work in collaboration with others. And, according to CEB, increasing enterprise contribution can have a 2x greater impact on profitability over individual task execution alone.


The future has arrived. .

Friday, December 26, 2014

Digital Transformation Requires Transformational Leadership


Digital Transformation Requires Transformational Leadership

Digital transformation goes beyond technology and tools, triggering the need for transformation in leadership and business models.  At the very core of digital transformation is people which is often overlooked in pursuit of shiny tools and cutting-edge technology. Change management and leadership are absolutely essential for an organization to reach its digital outcomes. But too often organizations fail to understand the significance of the human element of digitizing their organizations.  While they equip their organizations with new technologies and a “you have to do it this way now” approach they find their roll-out was ineffective and not sustainable.  In these authoritarian situations, organizations end up with low adoption, little change, more disruption and confusion.  And typically employees become angry and more disengaged from their work.

Rapid technological change, heightened levels of competition, disruptive business models, declining business performance, low employee engagement have created turbulent, unstable environments in which significant organizational change is imperative.  Companies need to find new ways of affecting change while simultaneously building employee morale.
It goes without saying that a concrete business strategy, vision for the future, new business processes and technologies are needed to make this shift.  But having the right leaders lead this transition is imperative. 
A study by Capgemini Consulting and MIT Sloan Management Review revealed that while 81% of the executives interviewed believe that digital transformation will provide a competitive advantage, this acknowledgment is not turning into action.  Only 35% said they have a shared vision for this future and more staggering is that they do not have the right leadership or a roadmap to get there.

Digital Transformation Starts and Ends with People
Bernard Bass coined the term in the 1970s (http://www.psypress.com/books/details/9780805847611/) and identified that the key characteristic of this style of leadership is to motivate and inspire people and to direct positive change in groups.  It is the role of the transformational leader to articulate a vision in a clear and appealing way, explain how to attain the vision, act with confidence and optimism and emphasize the values and behaviors needed in this symbotic relationship.  He or she then empowers, equips and coaches their team to achieve the vision.

Some of the best examples of transformational leaders are Nelson Mandela, Lee Iacocca and President Roosevelt.  Each was able to inspire  their followers to achieve their vision and realize positive outcomes of a new and better way for the future. These leaders are wired for change in a very positive, inspiring, values-driven way.
Not only do these leaders want the group to achieve high performance for the business but they are also committed to helping each individual realize his or her individual potential.  This is the secret sauce.  

Transformational leadership theory has identified 4 leadership competencies (sometimes referred to as the 4 I's)
  • Idealized Influence (II) - the leader serves as an ideal role model for followers; the leader "walks the talk," role models who are admired, respected, and emulated by followers
    • Establish Trust
    • Walk the Talk
    • Demonstrate integrity in all that you do
    • Establish a shared vision with your team
    • Share risk taking – if something fails as a result, own it, don’t blame
  • Inspirational Motivation (IM) - Transformational leaders have the ability to inspire and motivate followers. Combined these first two I's are what constitute the transformational leader's charisma.
    • Provide meaning of the vision and challenge the team to new ways of working
    • Demonstrate optimism, positivity and energy
    • Provide two way communication  - feedback from the team is essential
    • Clearly communicate expectations and goals
    • Hold everyone, including yourself, accountable
    • Demonstrate your personal commitment to the goals and the shared vision
    • Coach in the moment to help others grow
    • Be direct, honest and straightforward in your communications
  • Individualized Consideration (IC) - Transformational leaders demonstrate genuine concern for the needs and feelings of followers. This personal attention to each follower is a key element in bringing out their very best efforts.
    • Become a great listener and foster two-way communication
    • Empower the team
    • Develop your emotional intelligence  and lead the “whole” person – not just the task
    • Position yourself on the team as mentor or coach
  • Intellectual Stimulation (IS) - the leader challenges followers to be innovative and creative. A common misunderstanding is that transformational leaders are "soft," but the truth is that they constantly challenge followers to higher levels of performance.
    • Encourage innovation and creative thinking, but with a focus on rational business outcomes
    • Encourage creative problem solving (Question assumptions, reframing)
    • Use mistakes as learning opportunities and do not criticize others mistakes in public

Friday, January 6, 2012

2011 Social Business in Review – The Power of Community
In 2011, we saw the impact social media had in toppling authoritarian regimes - removing dictators in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. My friend Clara Shih, author of The Facebook Era, and CEO of Hearsay Labs writes: “ Transparency, connectedness and decentralized power resulting from social media played a critical role in every revolution. What can corporations learn from the Arab Spring?”
Last week, the question was answered. Verizon Wireless bowed to the torrent of criticism over its plan to impose a $2 bill paying fee. Immediately following news of the proposed plans Verizon customers went into action and used their social voice and community power to share their strong dissatisfaction of the new policy all across the web. Within 24 hours, Verizon listened and responded. They conceded to their customers.

John Hagle, Chairman of Deloitte's Center of the Edge has been researching U.S. corporate performance and emerging business trends. In The Big Shift, Hagel/Deloitte reported that U.S. companies’ return-on-assets have dropped steadily every quarter returning to their 1965 levels.  On The Big Shift's web site they tout: “Consumers are gaining more power than firms because they are quicker to adapt to disruptive technologies. The digital infrastructure will likely increase the scope and frequency of social volatility."  Hagel has been an early thought leader on social business and sees social technology innovation as the means to reversing this downward spiral. He too agrees that transparency, collaboration and decentralization are critical. In his book, Power of Pull he describes the shift in information Pulls vs Pushes. Hagel shares that with more focus on "Pull" (and leveraging Pull platforms like Facebook, Twitter, internal social networks, and other digital infrastructure), a company can improve its performance.

And one more thought. A recent study by inSites Consulting claims that only 16% of businesses using Social platforms have fully integrated them into their business operations (ie. Social Business). Even despite many business leaders believing that better social integration of their business operations will not only improve and streamline their operations but also increase the productivity of their business.

We're making progress on Social Business but still much work to be done for us all.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Google+ The Innovation which Integrates in a Social Way

Of all the Google Innovations over the past 13 years, I think I’m the most excited about Google+ While Google’s vision has always been to index everything on the World Wide Web, I’ve often found the many Google projects clumsy, difficult to navigate and hard to understand how to integrate all the touchpoints. Even with a technical background, the user experience has been less than ideal to maximize the value of their robust offerings.

However, Google+ is clearly the solution. It’s biggest win - Aggregation! Google+ finally puts the presentation layer on top of its offerings with a social interface. It is what has been missing from Google over the past many years of innovation. Google+ is now a one stop shop now to view gMail, Picasa, Blogger, Reader, Calendar and GoogleDocs with sharing, collaborating and social networking vehicles.

Prior to its launch, there was much media and social speculation that Google+ plus might be the Facebook killer. However upon testing it is clearly evident that Google+ is a much richer platform and will likely attract a different user base than Facebook. It’s positioned more closely with enterprise collaboration tools like SocialText, Jive, Yammer than it is with a social network, social sharing site like Facebook. While Facebook has announced its parternship with Skype, I don’t think that’s enough to compete with the infrastructure and years of innovative offerings which Google has to boot to compete at the same level

And the icing on the cake? The social layer and integration with Mobile Android devices. Brillant move, Google!
Social Graph:
The Google+ network connects friends, family and other contacts similar to Facebook. I will admit that it was less intuitive to find others when I first got on the platform as I am so accustomed now to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn who continue to send potential contacts my way. But I suspect over time this will become easier. Regardless the organization and ease of building a community (called “Circles”) was an easy Drag and Drop experience. And now I can very easily share my content or information with the appropriate groups.

Social Sharing/ Communication Options:
With Google+ we now have the option of video, email, tweeting, posting, chatting and mobile in an all in one. The Stream works similar to Facebook with posting, sharing, commenting. Hangouts, an ad hoc collaboration space, makes it easy to interact with others. The video app is easy to download and use, making it a rival to Skype. Sharing and watching YouTube videos with friends and family is easy.

Android Integration
The Google+ app is easy to download from the Android Market. Once I downloaded the app, it was easy to upload photos, share and interact. With over 100 million Android users worldwide, I suspect we'll see much more innovation here in the future.

I certainly don't see the 750 Million Facebook followers leaving that platform any time soon either. However, for those with many Google applicaitons running and the Android marketing growing, I definitely see Google+ as a sustainable and growing community once its released to the public.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Social Integration with Digital Assets Key for 2011

Before I go there, let me again point out that social by definition is not a marketing campaign or a digital tactic. It can and is supported by tactics such as videos, online ads, landing pages, web pages, email blasts, blogger outreach, traditional media. But at its core, social is not a marketing campaign.

Social is about building relationships. Sustainable relationships between internal and external parties. Social is an all encompassing business approach. A social business is an organization which integrates its business goals and functional areas, with its customers and social technologies to exchange value. Social is about this value exchange between these relationships. And social and digital technologies enable this exchange.

From macro strategies to micro tactics, integration is the holy grail for 2011.

Two of David Armano’s Six Social Predications for 2011 focus on integration. At a macro business level, he writes: It's The Integration Economy, Stupid.“ From Ford, to Dell, to Starbucks (client), to Jet Blue, and a host of other companies who have pioneered early uses of social media for business, 2011 will be the year these companies take a serious look at integrating social media, not only regionally but globally...integrating social media into all facets of business from global marketing to crisis management and beyond."


At a more micro level, he further predicts: "Social Functionality Makes Websites Fashionable Again. After several years of being told to "fish where the fish are," businesses realize that users expect social integration to existing Websites…Websites will increasingly serve as "digital hubs" that integrate social activity from many platforms. They must integrate to be relevant in a socially connected world."

Jeremiah Owyang also forecasts integration as well in his social report “Social Business Forecast: 2011 The Year of Integration” Within the report he shares that 47% of the strategists surveyed stated their social focus for 2011 will be web site integration.

Integrating Social into Digital Assets: website, email, blogs, online advertisements and beyond
With that said, I’d like to focus at the micro level for a moment and examine ways to enhance digital marketing initiatives in 2011. While both Armano and Owyang mentioned website integration, I'd like to take it a step further and add all digital integration - such as rich media advertisements, landing pages, emails, blogs as well as websites.

Here are four key areas to think about when brainstorming how to integrate social with digital initiatives:
1/ Create Social Proof. Social proof means social influence which is when a person's thoughts, feelings and actions are influenced by another. At a psychological level, when people are in ambiguous situations and are unable to determine the correct behavior, they will assume that the behaviors of those around them are the appropriate actions and of those who have more information about the situation or decision at hand. From a social/digital perspective, putting people, faces,or voices of the consumer's real world into your digital assets can create powerful social proof. On the website, this may be providing photos and access to friends and followers of a page (think of Facebook and Twitter), or by allowing comments by others on your content or product pages. It may also be attained by allowing people to rate and review your products on your website, (which by the way could also become a social object and a shareable feature). Or it may be using video from community members or customers within the experience. Using social proof on your website or in digital properties can powerfully influence visitors to stick around, read your content, take an action, or share and tell their friends about your business. Its about allowing humans to be involved directly in your digital properties right alongside your brand.

2/ Create Social Objects: Social objects are the things we create to provide opportunities for people to share with others and to socialize around the object. Objects can be links, content, video, images, widgets or tools they are easily able to share. It doesn't have to be a huge viral campaign to be successful social object. Its important for companies to give something to its customers in this value exchange that they need, find helpful or are entertained by. This sharing of information – videos, coupons, articles, links, recommendations -amplifies a company's ability to scale its messaging to others. There are lots of opportunities to create social objects in all digital properties. Make it easy by including Sharing buttons next to these objects.

3/ Create Social Aggregation: Social Aggregation involves creating a hub of all your communities into one place. This is most often the web site wherein you provide your customers one central URL where they can obtain access to all of your social communities and properties. Think about your mobile site as well.

4/ Create Social Sign On: Common technologies enabling social sign on are OpenID and Facebook Connect. With these technologies, it enables users to move from site to site carrying their credentials with them. This is especially helpful when a user needs to register or sign up for something on your website and is especially appealing for mobile users who don't want to be burdened with long forms. With a simple one click, they are automatically registered. A big win here is optimizing conversions and hopefully seeing increases in same.

Have a Happy and Socially Integrated New Year!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Servant Leadership

Do you Serve Others or Are you Self-Serving? The phrase “Servant Leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay that he first published in 1970s. In that essay, he said:

"The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first."

The 1984 Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu shares his thoughts on the quality of the greatest world leaders - servant leaders who serve others.

Read more at my new blog: Positively Leadership

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Social & Search Continue Evolution-Google Lags Behind

Back in 2007, Website Magazine asked me for my opinion on the future of the internet. Here is what I said:

“Personalized Search technologies, social media and user-generated content are putting consumers in the driver’s seat even faster and with great impact. Long gone will be the standard algorithms and one behemoth listing of results. Businesses will need to create even more personalized, on-demand experiences and ensure they provide relevant, highly targeted content. Knowing your customer (behaviors, needs, demographics, and lifestyle) will be even more important and listening to your consumer base vital. They are in charge!"

Sherri Maxson,Internet Marketing Consultant

I revisited the article tonight as I prepared my posted. Back in 2007 personalized search technologies consisted of Google’s innovation with its algorithm to show relevant results based on a user’s past search behavior. Search technologies continue to evolve, however, as search and social converge.

Search & Social Converge
On November 3rd, Bing announced the promise of more meaningful search results as it seeks out information from a user's social graph on Facebook. Now, using Bing search, your Facebook friends who Like content you are seeking appear first in the results. It's word of mouth on steroids powered by technology as friends show up in search results with their vote and recommendations for products and services they have “liked” and shared on the web.

Google Needs Innovation
Google’s search results listing is largely based on how important web content is deemed based on the amount of links to the site, the ‘authority’ of the site from which the link comes and the popularity or sheer amount of content/links. Google is also giving local businesses priority. There is no human interaction or relationship building in this model.

Google search results are deemed neither positive or negative. Thus a site with a negative reputation can easily be ranked #1 or appear on the first page of results, which is “the money page”. This was the premise of a recent New York Times article that appeared earlier this week. The story centered on an online businessman who treats customers poorly to provoke negative chatter about his company online to increase the content and links to his site. The more this chatter increases, the more content and links are generated about his company, the better his results in Google. This strategy has provided top search engine rankings for a number of key terms and he claims has increased his bank account significantly. The sad fact is how he is mistreating and harassing customers. If consumers dig deeper into their social networks or other sites to investigate, they’d see that most of the online conversations warn others not to do business with this company. However, for many they are not taking this next step.


All the more reason why social search has more relevancy. Human interaction and trust factor into search results for far more personalized and trusted results. As mentioned, Bing currently offers social search – using Facebooks’s social graph (network of friends and connections) to enable word of mouth search results and by far has the most robust offering. It’s integration with Facebook is huge.Blekko’s been around for a while and it too relies on community and humans to power its relevance (similar to a Wikipedia model). Google’s working on building their own social search/social graph with Google Hotpot. Neither Blekko nor HotPot have the momentum or the social graph of Facebook.

Building Social Search
Facebook “Likes” will now take precedent in search vs the sheer link building that Google evaluates. Trust and human interactions are the root of social search. Social graphs rule. Consumers will continue to seek out and place value on information from their communities and those they trust. There are many many ways to enhance search efforts, but two primary ways I’d like to touch on are Social Objects and Social Authority.

Create Social Objects
Create content and applications that your community wants and finds valuable. By doing so they consume, “like”, and share with others. In the past, content used to be created for the benefit of search engines (robots would read the content and index it accordingly as another dimension of the linking algorithm). Now, in social search, content consumed and shared by humans takes precendent. It has to have meaning and value.

Keywords still have relevancy. In the past, those performing SEO put a lot of focus on the keywords they were hoping to get searched on and embedded them in the pages of the site and as content in their link building strategy. This holds true today. Social objects and content still need definition for the search engines to rank them. They should be used for titles and within content for your users to share.

Create Social Authority
Page rank used to be the holy grail. Getting a link on an authority web site (for example a .edu site or one of the top 50 web sites, was considered a knock out to get your site ranked higher.) Now the goal is to build relationships with social authorities, those who others trust and who have a high volume of followers. If the social authority likes your content and passes along content authentically and sincerely, more people take notice.

Be Human,
Sherri