Tag Archives: IBM

Smarter Workforce; Government Leadership Forum

This week I was fortunate enough to be asked to attend the Smarter Workforce Government Leadership Forum hosted by IBM in Canberra. I was invited by my Executive Director for HR because he needed to take along a Gen Y’er, and seeing as I was familiar with the technology being discussed it was a good opportunity for me to talk about this stuff and its application specifically to the public sector.

The idea of the forum was to talk about how social networking technologies and Web 2.0 can help the public sector work in more efficient ways.

Public sector and efficiency? I can hear some sniggers already but I’ll persist. Although there are those jokes floating around like:

Q. Why don’t public servants look out the window first thing in the morning?
A. Because they’d have nothing to do in the afternoon

I would like to say that there are loads of public sector employees that are really passionate about what they do and work really hard.

IBM Forum

Time to get off the soap box now and tell you about the forum. Stephen Collins of Acidlabs (@trib) was opening speaker and you can catch his speech here.

One of the best things about this opening speech is the definition of Government 2.0.

Government 2.0 is not specifically about social networking or technology based approaches to anything. It represents a fundamental shift in the implementation of government — toward an open, collaborative, cooperative arrangement where there is (wherever possible) open consultation, open data, shared knowledge, mutual acknowledgment of expertise, mutual respect for shared values and an understanding of how to agree to disagree. Technology and social tools are an important part of this change but are essentially an enabler in this process.

It’s not just talking about using things like twitter or facebook, but it’s about being more collaborative and knocking downs the barriers to creativity and efficiency that often plagues government workplaces.

This kinda set the scene for the day with some attendees at the forum arguing that the government needs to be more transparent with the public (but that first they would need to be transparent internally with employees) and that fear is actually stopping governments from embracing these changes which could improve efficiency.

Others were maintaining that communication needed to be properly checked before it was released and this takes time. Consequences include being answerable to the minister etc. It isn’t a risk many are willing to take.

Essentially, in using some of these technologies we are asking the government agencies to let go of the control of their brand which is not something Comms staff are ready to do at this point. What if someone says something offensive? What if staff say bad things about our agency? Can we trust our staff with this technology?

For starters, if people are saying bad things about your workplace they are already saying it. To their friends, in meetings, in the corridors, via email etc. These new technologies just gives the agency an opportunity to respond to the comments. Acknowledge mistakes where necessary or offer to take the issue offline to be discussed in greater detail if required.

Secondly, there are still laws in place. People can’t just go around and say whatever they want online and not suffer the consequences.

For instance in Western Australia, an academic was charged for defamatory statements which were published in an online science bulletin board (Rindos v Hardwick). Harwick made a statement which imputed that Rindos had engaged in sexual activity with a minor and that his entire career has been built not on field research at all, but on his ability to berate and bully. Whilst gossiping is rife within most workplaces, these statements were published online where approximately 23,000 academics and students have access internationally and subsequently Hardwick was ordered to pay $40,000 in damages to Rindos as he couldn’t justify the comments. People will need to be accountable for the things they say online, and having the right guidelines and policies in place will help you with this.

Finally, I actually reminded the group that people first thought the internet was scary and that we couldn’t trust people with having an email account. Sounds silly now, but at the time people were concerned. These days almost everyone has a work email address and often personal accounts as well.

I wonder if we will look back on web 2.0 technologies and think the same thing?

*More posts and information to come about this forum

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FL!P Peter Sheahan speaks about mindset flexibility at AHRI National Conference

Peter Sheahan

How do you stay ahead in a world where ‘fast, good, and cheap’ are just the price of entry for your clients, customers and staff? What is the X factor you need to differentiate your offering – and what will it be tomorrow? How will HR add the most value to business in this market and what will HR need to do in order to be seen as a genuine partner and not just a consultant, or worse, a support function to the wider business?
This session was a must for leaders who want to stay on the cutting edge and future-proof their business. It outlines how the world is changing, and what the mindset of the business leader needs to be to adapt to that change. HR professionals and senior executives will be inspired and informed, and be ready to blitz the challenges that lie before them.

Peter was a highly engaging and interesting speaker, and this was important as he was towards the end of Day Two of the AHRI National Convention. He started out by telling us that the number one skill needed by Senior Leaders was what he called ‘Mindset flexibility’.

Sheahan_Peter

‘Mindset flexibility, not proprietary expertise or resources will define the successful businesses and leaders of the future’.

Mindset flexibility is about ‘flipping’ the norms or what we have been complacent with, and being challenged. In times of high-speed change and complexity, a new philosophy for strategy and leadership is needed. Peter argues that the real money is made in the cracks and that we are conditioned by past experiences (choosing to stick with the way its always been done) and being conned by media into believing that success or failure is a result of the economic conditions.

The biggest take out for me from this presentation was when he used the “Values Jam” from IBM as an example of flipping the way HR does things.

In a time of great change, IBM felt like it needed to revaluate its values for the first time since it was founded. They said they needed to “affirm IBM’s reason for being, what sets the company apart and what should drive our actions as individual IBMers.”

The CEO did want this dictated from the top and wanted everyone engaged in the process. So they created the “values jam”. For 72 hours they invited all 319, 000 IBMers to their global intranet for a discussion on the values at IBM.

The CEO said that people were brutally honest and that “some of what they wrote was painful to read, because they pointed out all the bureaucratic and dysfunctional things that get in the way of serving clients, working as a team or implementing new ideas.”

The result was:
• Dedication to every client’s success
• Innovation that matters, for our company and for the world
• Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships

What an amazing organizational change experience to be part of. So go ahead and get yourself FL!Pped today!

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The Secret Business of Social Networking. Lee Hopkins at the AHRI National Convention

Lee Hopkins- Director of Buzz
Check out his blog

Lee Hopkins

“Lee Hopkins is a management psychologist with over 20 years experience of helping businesses communicate better for better business results. An internationally sought-after speaker, Lee combines his passion for employee and online business communication with his dynamic presentation skills to create ‘once seen, never forgotten’ live experiences.”

Scepticism still surrounds the use of social networking sites at work for many organisations. Can this new technology be tapped to achieve business outcomes and what are the potential positive and negative implications for organisations?

I’m fairly engrossed in the Social media scene already (I’m a member of the Social Media Club Sydney) so Lee’s presentation was introductory for me, but judging from the amount of questions and engagement he had from the HR professionals in the room- this is an area that needs to be explored much further.

Lee argues that social networking is now much bigger than email- its one of the largest ways that we get information. However it’s important to follow the Social media ethos; which is about trust, transparency and accountability. Gone are the days when companies could not admit mistakes- social media has actually encouraged companies to come forward and concede errors in the interest of being transparent and accountable.

See an example here

He then illustrated the power of social media by playing us a clip of an AOL customer trying to cancel his account. The customer had to wait on hold for more than 15 minutes, and then asks to cancel the account. It’s a frustrating call to listen to as the customer repeatedly says “cancel the account” and “I don’t know to make this any clearer”. The AOL rep refuses to budge and even asks to speak with the customer’s father even though the customer is 30 years old.

The customer then put the call on his blog, and it went viral. Due to its popularity, the customer was interviewed by many television and radio stations including CNBC. To date, it has had more than 250, 000 views on YouTube.

Lee also spoke a bit about Second Life- which to be honest I’m not a huge fan of.

According to their website: “Second Life is a free online virtual world imagined and created by its Residents. From the moment you enter Second Life, you’ll discover a fast-growing digital world filled with people, entertainment, experiences and opportunity.”

Many organisations have already jumped onto Second Life including Xerox and IBM. They use it hold ‘virtual’ meetings, conferences, training sessions and they even simulate business situations and build product prototypes.

You might want to read more on this by checking out the IBM case study.

Overall the key message was that Social Media isn’t something companies should rush into. It’s important to conduct a risk analysis, develop clear policies, and ensure that your employees are trained.

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Filed under AHRI National Convention, Social Media/Technology