Tag Archives: project

Free-form responses on MOOCs+Business

Free-form responses. n=20, Business+MOOCS Survey 2/25-26/2103


What is positive about MOOCs?

Remote access to material/course heretofore unavailable

2/26/2013 3:48 PMView Responses

I had access to professionally presented information that I otherwise would not.

2/26/2013 3:16 PMView Responses

Available anytime and free. Ability to move at own pace.

2/26/2013 7:36 AM

Access to content, arranged Continue reading

Happiness for millions

My calling is to make people happy. Millions of people. Particularly people in the rat race we call business. Most deserve more fulfilling, inspired lives.

Let me say it again: my calling is to make people happy. Lots of people.

My studies of happiness taught me that people who are content and satisfied with their lives are usually committed to a life’s mission, something bigger than themselves. Continue reading

Welcome to the 21C Leadership Project

The 21C Leadership Project is creating an on-ramp for hands-on managers and professions to adopt the behaviors that will make them and their organizations successful in the 21st century workplace. We are developing written materials, shooting video, identifying supporting sources, and putting performance support tools on the web.

Everyone involved in conceptual worked is a leader. Our goal is to help leaders at all levels adopt and use these practices:

  1. Shoulder responsibility. Take charge of yourself and for getting things done on the job. Bootstrap; lead yourself. Drucker said the next challenge was “managing yourself.” Make a commitment to your own personal development. Be all that you can be. Figure out your personal knowledge management strategy. Build an effective network. Agency. This is personal leadership.
  2. Don’t hesitate. Do it now. Don’t mistake thinking for action. Close the knowing/doing gap. Always know the next step. Actions speak louder than words. Do what you can to make things happen. Excuses get you nowhere; action is required. Take charge of the situation. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” Change the things you can. Agency. Make the world and the workplace better.
  3. Manage agilely. Use self-organizing groups to get things done; that involves daily meetings, rapid prototyping, iterative development, living by customer feedback, extreme flexibility, short deadlines, sprints to accomplishment, and multidisciplinary cooperation. Originally confined to software development, agile management is being adopted for more general projects.
  4. Delight customers. This is the new goal for business generally. “Good enough” is no longer good enough. Delighting customers includes exceeding expectations, forming meaningful relationships, and destroying crap like pushy telemarketing and mass advertising. This is what The Cluetrain Manifesto called for and it’s the new field of competition. Zappos, JetBlue, Apple. The purpose of a business is to create and keep customers….
  5. Focus on results. If it’s not part of the solution, it’s part of the problem. Make the mission explicit. Cut bureaucracy, busywork, redundancy, politics, unnecessary costs, and other obstacles. Protect your margins. Understand the organization’s goals and what it takes to accomplish. them. Know the organization’s history and culture. Live by the organization’s core values.
  6. Make sound decisions. Make projections and assess probabilities. (Predict the future.) Systems thinking. Apply business acumen. Balance the pros and cons.  Leverage time. The large once ate the small; now the fast devour the slow. The pace of time has accelerated. Winners make things happen sooner. Time-to-accomplishment is the primary metric of performance. Opportunity cost is huge. Balance short and long term perspectives.
  7. Make things better. Change or die. Innovation is now everyone’s job, not just something that’s stuck in R&D. It’s continuous process improvement. Ofttimes, it involves transplanting an idea or concept from one domain into an entirely new area. Encourage fresh thinking at all levels. Change is all there is. Welcome it, take advantage of it, don’t fight it. (You’ll lose.) Be open to possibility. Life is beta. Remain flexible. Probe, sense, respond. Perspective.
  8. Generate enthusiasm. Instill passion. Instead of downer performance reviews, follow Dan Pink’s Drive formula. Optimism. Esprit de corps. Celebrations. Show linkage to greater purpose. Help people flourish. The positive psychology movement has moved on from happiness to a fuller concept that includes accomplishment and feeling meaningful as well as positive affect and cheerfulness.
  9. Nurture serendipity. Be open, explore, be alert, try hard — and often an unexpected breakthrough results. Make time for reflection. Google’s 20% innovation time fits here. (or maybe the innovation driver gets folded into this one). Take your eye off the ball. All work and no play… Trust is the glue that brings people together. It occurs on several levels. There’s ethics — trusting someone to be sincere and do the right thing morally. And there’s competence — trusting that a worker knows how to get the job done. This is a two-way street: being deemed trustworthy by others as well as knowing others well enough to trust them. Letting someone know you trust them empowers them to act. Ties in to values of openness, authenticity, and narrating the work.
  10. Coach courageously. Provide specific, constructive feedback. Conduct frequent one-to-ones, co-creating solutions. Inspire others to greatness. Challenge people with stretch assignments. Tell it like it is. Be open to bad news. Be transparent. Courageous conversation.
  11. Commune & collaborate. Individuals don’t create value; groups of individuals do, and they do so by collaborating (co-labor), that is, working with one another. Think teams. Net-Work (work the net). Understand and exploit the power of connections. This is where we address social business, making connections, social network analysis, web 2.0 tools, and so forth. Get tech-savvy. Building and participating in communities of people with shared interests. Shifting responsibility and power from hierarchies to interest groups. Share what you know.
  12. Learn voraciously. Learning enables work. Increasing your capabilities, your repertoire, enables you to tackle more a greater challenges, to play a higher game, to add more value, to lead a more fulfilling life. Bring in social, co-creation, informal. (This one, like most of the drivers, has an individual and a group component. The group aspect is nurturing an ecology for learning.) Encourage conversation. Ask questions.
  13. De-stress. Chronic stress kills performance. Robert Sapolski (Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers) is the source on this. TED. Root out fear, have a solid network to turn to, etc. Lots of advice out there on this one. At the same time, be healthy: sleep, exercise, meditate, don’t overindulge. Manage crises to help others avoid stress.
  14. Make mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not daring enough. Change happens at the edges, out of your comfort zone. To make more progress, fail faster. Similarly, encourage others to push the envelope. Praise lessons learned and experimentation; don’t punish attempts that don’t work out. Eliminate fear. Reward risk-taking.
  15. Tell great stories. Stories carry culture. Narrative is more powerful than any other prose. It’s a vital skill for influencing behavior. Communicate a compelling vision.
  16. Conduct kick-ass meetings. Most meetings in organizations are a waste of time. They are demoralizing, over-long, set up wrong, etc. Group graphics practices belong here, too.

This list — and everything on this site — is beta. This is where we’re building the project. Please add your thoughts and comments.

The 21st century is in play, and it's really, really different

21st century business is a break from the past. It’s a re-set, a phase change, a new normal.

Last Saturday, Jerry Michalski and Jay Cross conversed about how the world is changing and how to understand what’s going on. Please listen in… and join the conversation.

Introduction (12 1/2 minutes)

Finale (13 1/2 minutes)

Jerry’s REXpedition is exploring the relationship economy. Jay and a group of colleagues are co-creating 21C, a project to synchronize professional practice with the demands of 21st century workplace.

A social interaction pattern language 1 of 2

Pattern Language? A concept invented by Christopher Alexander, award-winning, renegade architect despised by most other architects, but wildly popular among designers and software authors.

Alexander used to live in my neighborhood. I wrote up a little presentation on his Pepto-Bismol colored house. Neighbors complained his house was so ugly it lowered the value of each house nearby by $15,000.

When Uta and I moved into our current house 17 years ago, Alexander was completing the house across the street. A rag-tag group of students put together this concrete monstrosity.

Here’s the view from my front deck:

You can see a little bit of my rooftop in this picture from Alexander’s The Nature of Order.

Alexander’s The Nature of Order and his website tout my neighbor’s house as an example of a successful owner-designed home. The owners loath him. For example, with our first rainstorm, water blew right through the walls into their daughter’s bedroom.

During construction, Alexander had asked, “What sort of windows would you like?” The owners didn’t understand the economics of custom-shaped windows until it cost them $30,000 to replace them with windows that didn’t leak. The project went over budget; last time I visited, there were still bare wires in the kitchen where fixtures were supposed to go.

That said, I’ve read Alexander’s A Timeless Way of Being and A Pattern Language twice. They are classics of design.

Close of Part 1 of 2

Michael Allen describes the future of authoring systems

At DevLearn 09, Michael Allen gave us a peek at a new authoring system under development at Allen Interactions. (In case you didn’t know, Michael was chief architect of Authorware, the precursor to Macromedia and granddaddy of digital authoring systems.)

His latest project, code-named Zebra, is a powerful, drag-and-drop authoring environment. I’m impressed. I expect Zebra to own the market when it becomes available. I’ll let Michael tell you what he’s got:

Showing the value of social media

orange, no drawerThis month’s Big Question is one that I’m asked all the time. How do you cost-justify social learning initiatives?

Social learning is no different from other business investments. You don’t sell the tools; you sell the business value of the project. Does it increase revenue? Cut costs? Improve service? Speed things up? How much?

If there’s not an obvious, believable, significant business outcome, pick another project. Social media generally delivers astounding returns.

Draw analogies to what other companies have accomplished with social media:

  • Large company implements an organizational wiki informally. Used by 20,000 employees, it saves $20 million a year previously wasted tracking things down.
  • Consulting firm uses blogs and feeds to distribute summaries of research findings and competitive information to 4,000 software engineers, freeing up 250,000 billable hours annually.
  • Simple FAQ shaves 10% off customer calls and improves quality of service, saving $3,000,000 a year in salary costs alone.

Is Enterprise 2.0 a crock?


Yesterday I attended the Enterprise 2.0 conference, “the event that will make your company more agile.”

First up was a Google presentation about Wave. Bare-bones Wave is a snooze; I haven’t been able to see many benefits. But customized Wave looks like a winner and that’s how I think Wave will be deployed. SAP demo’d a business process management application with collaborative charting; prototyping with their “analysis gadget” looked slick. ThoughtWorks showed project task assignments; the individual tracking and comments reminded me of what I’d seen in Brainpark last month. Novell Pulse combined messaging and project management. All of these bolt onto Wave’s API. Wave enables collaboration. Some in the audience were skeptical.

Google said it plans to open-source most of the code. This happens through the Google Federation Protocol. From the Federation website:


  • Decisions are made in public: all protocol specification discussions are recorded in a public archive
  • The Google Wave Federation Protocol is evolving as an open source project, and as the community and technology grows, here are the guiding principles:

    • Wave is an open network: anyone should be able to become a wave provider and interoperate with the public network
    • Wave is a distributed network model: traffic is routed peer-to-peer, not through a central server
    • Make rapid progress, together: a shared commitment to contribute to the evolution and timely deployment of protocol improvements
    • Community contributions are fundamental: everyone is invited to participate in the public development process

    Next up was a panel session entitled “Is Enterprise 2.0 a Crock?,” hosted by Information Week’s David Berlind. The panel included representatives of MetLife, Alcatel-Lucent, Eli Lilly, EMC, Booz Allen Hamilton, Medtronic, and CSC. None of them thought Enterprise 2.0 was a crock. In fact, they were raving fans.

    The panel addressed Enterprise 2.0’s crockiness along these dimensions:


    Most of the discussion focused on workforce transformation. “We are shifting from waterfall design to agile development.” “We’re providing tools and technology to support change agents.” “This makes it easier for people to share and learn things.” It’s best when embedded in workstreams.

    Booz is employing enterprise 2.0 to make business processes better, faster, and cheaper through bottom-up change. Others report cutting time-to-completion and speed-to-resolution. CSC has an Enterprise Social Collaboration Officer (who also runs KM.)


    The Intellectual Property issue is the old trade-off of governance and democratization. The answer is to trust your employees. Workers have been able to betray secrets with email and phone; enterprise 2.0 is no worse threat.

    The Religious Wars issue is recognizing that Enterprise 2.0 is a people endeavor, not an IT project.

    Big benefits come from useful apps (like Excel Tips and Tricks), timeliness (realtime competitive information), and innovation (through crowd sourcing).


    I mistakenly wandered into the keynote for VoiceCon, the co-located conference, where this character from Siemens was explaining their integration of social software and phone service. Translation: phone tries to make sense of Twitter messages. I tweet “Just arrived SFO,” and my phone resets itself to Pacific time. (Funny, I don’t have to do anything for my iPhone to switch time zones.)

    More advanced: I tweet that I’m headed to lunch and my phone is automatically put in vibrate mode for the next hour.

    Imagine the parody Doonebury could create around this one.

    The expo was listless. People were gathering data sheets on SharePoint, Notes, and lots of undifferentiated collaboration tools.

    Clark Quinn and I ended the day with the San Francisco Overlap Group at Adaptive Path, engaged in an impromptu, zany exercise that seemed a fitting end to a somewhat confusing day.

    Workshop on putting informal learning to work


    I’d leading a half-day workshop on how to implement informal learning the day before Online Educa in Berlin.

    For the main event, Charles Jennings and I are designing a two-day track titled Creating a New Era of Corporate Learning.

    Online Educa has grown to become the largest global e-learning conference for the corporate and public service sectors in education and training.

    berlin1 berlin2 berlin3 berlin4

    Berlin is beautiful in early December. You should think about joining us!
    Continue reading