Realtime virtual collaboration for change

I recently joined a group of change facilitators and social media enthusiasts in organizing an online conference on the question What tools and principles do we need to help change to unfold? Social and technological development as means for better organizations, and a better world:

The development of the World Wide Web as a tool for global connectivity has given rise to a participatory culture, opening new possibilities for communication and collaboration to effect and facilitate change.

There are plenty of examples that show the ease with which people actually link up with each other and coordinate complex projects as well as social and political change, including the wikipedia, coordination of aid efforts after natural disasters such as fires, and earthquakes through twitter or tools such as ushahidi, but also recent events such as the “Moldava Twitter Revolution”.

These tools, also called social media, are complementing an already existing large toolbox of methods for facilitation of whole systems change such as Open Space Technology, Appreciative Inquiry, Theory U, just to name a few. All these tools are means to an end, which is to change organizations, societies, or communities.

The conference will discuss how the different tools available can be used to foster collaboration that goes beyond mere sharing of information to create action. How can we combine social media tools with real time facilitation to address the essential questions and challenges arising in organizational and social change? Which tools support which kind of collaboration needs? What are the underlying principles that need to be observed to ensure that collaboration effects change?

Go to the Change Management Toolbook to register and to find out how to participate. Another way to get news and follow the conference is to tune into twitter hashtag #rtvc.

Overcoming ‘territorial’ management

The Economist published a review of a forthcoming book by Morten Hansen on collaboration, which talks about the pitfalls and challenges of creating cross-unit collaboration in an organization. This is espacially true when the organization is sectorized and different parts feel themselves in competition to each other, when it has a lot of – what Hansen calls – territorial managers.

Another voice that emphasizes that for any mainstreaming initiative, in this case mainstreaming of a collaborative culture, you not only need a critical mass of people that work differently, but also signs and incentives (and in some cases pushing) from the top to show that working differently is wanted by the organization’s leadership.

Enterprise of the future embraces change. Are we?

Holger Nauheimer is asking a set of interesting questions about the shifting requirements for change facilitators in view of a new IBM report about the enterprise of the future. The characteristics of the future enterprise are, in my mind, very encouraging and can be summarized as embracing complexity and change and seeing opportunity instead of impossible challenge. One of these characteristics I find particularly interesting:

Genuine not Generous: The Enterprise of the Future goes beyond philanthropy and compliance and reflects genuine concern for society in all actions and decisions.

Holger’s questions are:

Are we ready to guide our clients into that future? Do we have the skills, attitudes, knowledge, tools? Do our consulting organizations work along these principles? Or are we repeating old patterns? Are we ready?

Not only change facilitators, but any professional advising organizations on their strategic direction has to ask herself if we are changing with our clients.

Join the discussion.

Saving costs: a good enough argument for change?

TriplePundit has a post on the benefits of pilot projects to convince managers of the usefulness of becoming sustain:

Assuming your pilot is successful, just multiply out the sustainability and financial benefits by the total number of units to be produced in normal operation. Then… presto! Your demonstrated value isn’t just the return of your pilot project, but the return of the overall project, as if it were implemented throughout your facility.

via Making the Case for Sustainability in Tough Times: The Magic of Pilot Program.

Unfortunately, this simple math does not always work. It will depend on the incentives a manager has to cut costs and the way he is viewed by the rest of the organization (especially his superiors) to try out new things.

Watch this video on resistance to change to see what I mean:

If you want to know more about this video case study, read this explanatory post.

Balancing Empathy and Power

[T]here are two kinds of approaches to transform the behavior of organizations, one approach is to use empathy to understand human needs and motivation, and the other is power, the ability to force or coerce a particular behavior. (…) It appears to me that the empathic approach and power based approach are often at odds in organizations or out of balance.

via To Be Sustainable Organizations Must Balance Empathy and Power.

I believe that the rise of the participatory internet culture and the growing concern about environmental impacts by companies will force many organizations to emphasize empathy much more than they currently do to keep clients, staff and partners.

Planned change or rebuilding from scratch?

The following is not only true for the US food system:

The American food system rests on an unstable foundation of massive fossil fuel inputs. It must be reinvented in the face of declining fuel stocks. The new food system will use less energy, and the energy it uses will come from renewable sources. We can begin the transition to the new system immediately through a process of planned, graduated, rapid change. The unplanned alternative-reconstruction from scratch after collapse-would be chaotic and tragic.

via REPORT: The Food and Farming Transition | Post Carbon Institute.

A commentary on the report was published on Treehugger:

While the report clearly articulates the trouble confronting a food system that has developed an addition to cheap oil, it also intelligently details what the US can do to survive when the drug is withdrawn, as it soon will be.

The full report can be found here.

The Obvious?: Why HR, Comms and IT should be really excited about the social web ….

HR, Comms and IT professionals who manage to do this will add real value to their business and the people who work in them. They will be transformed from gate keepers to enablers and they will more likely to have their jobs in three years time!

via The Obvious?: Why HR, Comms and IT should be really excited about the social web …..