Archive for June, 2008

Testosterone

Keith June 26th, 2008

As a counterpoint to the earlier post on my opinion of how to do Change Management, this is an unedited extract of an article about Telstra that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 30 May last year. 

Mr Winn earlier updated business leaders on Telstra’s five-year transformation program…  As well, Mr Winn, who began his career as a linesman in the US, delivered a testosterone-charged description of the new management style at the telco.

“We’re not running a democracy. We don’t manage by consensus,” he said.  We’re criticised for it. The fact of the matter is we run an absolute dictatorship,” he said.

A cultural shift was needed at the former government-owned enterprise, along with changes in business processes, he said.  “If you can’t get the people to go there and you try once and you try twice … then you just shoot them and get them out of the way.”

I offer this without further comment.  Please compare this with the earlier post and tell me which view you think offers the best business result…

Problem solving

Keith June 26th, 2008

“It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problem just with potatoes.”
 - Douglas Adams

The idea monopoly?

Keith June 24th, 2008

When leaders learn to creatively engage their subordinates in everyday decision making, they can make change happen.

I have written here before about Change Management.  I am still of the opinion that this is an entirely misunderstood function in most of today’s organisations.  It was thus rather refreshing to read in the current issue of IABC’s Communications World magazine that someone has actually done some research that supports my view!

The quote above is from John Smythe, the author of the article Engaging Employees to Drive Performance.  (This is available to IABC members online at the magazine site above.)

The usual concept of change is that it is “done” by executives (usually aided and abetted by consultants).  We have more recently introduced the discipline of Change Management as a way of helping people to adapt to the agreed change.  Today, we focus more on Employee Engagement as a way of more actively getting staff involved in understanding the change, rather than just being told about it after the fact.

Continue Reading »

Are your colleagues interested in what you say?

Keith June 20th, 2008

Telstra operates a public web site (Nowwearetalking) promoting public comment and debate on the telecommunications industry. I authored a blog on this site for eight months when I worked at Telstra.

So I am interested to now read that Telstra is promoting blogging internally!

A recent internal message is asking staff to advise the corporate comms team if they are already blogging (publicly), and they will promote selected blogs via an internal portal. 

This is not quite internal blogging (so far as I know, the Telstra internal infrastructure still does not support the relevant apps), but it is a step in the right direction!

Just before I left, there was an initiative started in which staff were asked to submit “good-news” stories for internal publication.  I found that the submission form for the “stories” seemed rather too prescriptive – and restrictive – to really capture meaningful narrative, but again, another interesting step in a worthwhile direction.

Podcasting – and learning

Keith June 20th, 2008

Just back from working with Dan and the team on the Kokoda Pathways blog.  Finally got PodPress under control last night – it’s all taking shape!  Just waiting for iTunes to set up our feed, and James and Jess will be full-time on interviewing, editing and uploading next week.  Good fun!

———————-

Last week I had the opportunity to meet Jay Cross – thanks to an invitation from Shawn.  Jay and I share some views on the role of learning in today’s organisation.  My main view is that making distinctions between learning, communications and content/knowledge/information management is an entirely archaic device intended to protect some people’s individual empires.  (Read more on my view here.)

Jay wrote back, directing me to one of his blog posts.  The salient point here is:

KM & training both suffer from corporate Alzheimer’s: the inability to read the handwriting on the wall. The future is bottom-up, open, networked, and more complex than we’ll ever understand. Deal with it… Isn’t it time for a requiem to these “solutions” to yesterday’s problems? Old-style KM and training don’t work in today’s egalitarian, networked world. 

Continue Reading »

Where Underpants Come From

Keith June 19th, 2008

Just heard an interesting interview on the radio.  The subject was Joe Bennett, who has recently published a book called: Where Underpants Come From.  You can read more about the book in an article in New Zealand’s Dominion Post

Apparently, Bennett looked at the “Made in China” tag in his new undergarments one day, and decided to find out more.  This led him on a rather strange journey to China, and into Chinese history.

The thing that caught my attention was a story he told of one incident during the journey. 

As I remember the story, he was eating in a small restaurant in a lane-way in a Chinese city.  He was the only tourist in the restaurant, among 30 or 40 Chinese customers. The others in the restaurant fairly quickly noticed his entire lack of ability to eat with chopsticks.  He was “spreading food all over the restaurant, and not eating anything”.  Everyone was very good-natured about it, and some began to laugh at his predicament.  He laughed with them.  One came over and gave him instructions on eating with chopsticks.

By the end of the meal, even though he spoke almost no Chinese, and the other diners little English, they were all laughing and joking together. When he left the restaurant, everyone said goodbye to him.  The waitress even followed him out onto the street to return his tip.

Continue Reading »

The value of social networking and collaboration

Keith June 18th, 2008

Blogs are only useful if you post things on a regular basis!  It seems that life after Telstra has been busier than when I was there!  Since then, I have started work on a number of projects in my new role as an independent consultant, and I have now managed to update this site to reflect my new status.  So time to get back into the blog-posting saddle…

The new projects I have been working on have mostly come via the network of people that I have had the privilege to meet and work with over the last four years or so.  Much of my contact with these people has been via this site, and via Facebook and LinkedIn.  (Which have also helped me to find a new car!)  So it was very timely that one of my network colleagues has drawn my attention to this NY Times article on LinkedIn’s recent capital raising.  (Thanks, Sharon!) 

LinkedIn has just raised $53 million (USD) in capital.  Based on this - and recent valuations of Facebook and MySpace - these three social networking sites are potentially worth something like the following (in USD):

  • MySpace: $580 million
  • LinkedIn: $1 billion
  • Facebook: $15 billion

Continue Reading »