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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

The Social OrganizationWhile increasing numbers of organizations are investing in social media technology, few are successfully using it to create value through mass collaboration. In The Social Organization, social media experts Anthony Bradley and Mark McDonald explain how firms can leverage these tools to innovate and solve problems faster and better than traditional companies. The authors provide frameworks and proven techniques that any manager can apply to rally people around a collective purpose; launch an effective collaborative environment; guide collaboration toward meaningful goals; and adapt internal culture and systems to support collaboration as it evolves and helps the organization outperform the competition.

Social media can be used by any organization to enable mass collaboration. But “social organizations” are ahead of all others in ensuring that collaboration delivers value and creates a competitive edge. Becoming a social organization involves the following actions and priorities:

  1. At the heart of a social organization is not social media technology itself but the mass collaboration it enables. Mass collaborative efforts succeed by enlisting the interests, knowledge, talent, and experience of all stakeholders in pursuing shared goals and creating value.
  2. Social media efforts rarely succeed without management guidance and support. Too much management involvement can stifle collaboration, but too little creates significant risk that the initiative will lose its focus and its alignment with organizational strategy.
  3. Becoming a social organization begins with a vision statement. A vision statement serves two purposes: it articulates leadership’s belief in the value of collaboration, and it identifies specific opportunities where collaboration can add value to the firm.
  4. Organizations need a community collaboration strategy to guide their social media priorities and investment decisions. A strategy should identify which collaborative communities the organization sanctions, when and how it will support them, what behaviors will be encouraged, and what benefits the organization expects to receive from the collaboration effort.
  5. In addition to planning and supporting collaborative efforts in general, organizations need to cultivate the individual communities that make up their collaboration portfolios. Cultivating a community requires specification of its purpose and a business justification that identifies its benefits and costs.
  6. While too much interference from above can stifle collaboration, appropriate management guidance is essential to creating a sustainable social organization. Managers must ensure that collaboration works productively, that participants stay focused on its purpose, and that the organization’s broader systems and functions support the collaborative effort.
  7. Effective managers guide the collaborative community based on its purpose, progress, and direction. To provide appropriate guidance, managers should view the community as a group, track progress toward its purpose, continually assess the value of its purpose to the organization, and seek new, high-potential purposes.
  8. By adapting processes and power structures to the needs of the collaborative community, managers make the organization safe for mass collaboration. A social organization is safe for collaboration when all stakeholders recognize its value and potential and all functions are aligned to support it.

To download three free summaries, please visit our site.

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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has been getting a lot of attention in the news lately after it was announced that the company would no longer allow employees to telecommute from home. The practice of telecommuting has been on the rise in recent years in the United States as more and more jobs are able to be accomplished from the comfort of the home. Telecommuters typically only need access to a computer, Internet connections, and phone to do their jobs. The question Mayer’s announcement raises is whether or not this practice of telecommuting works.

Mayer cites decreased engagement, productivity, and innovation as reasons for Yahoo’s new policy against telecommuting, but do these reasons hold water? Many studies indicate that telecommuters are actually more productive than their in-office counterparts, perhaps due to the belief that they need to work harder to prove they can do their jobs at home just as well. As far as engagement and innovation are concerned, it seems that Yahoo is the one lacking the creativity to reach out and engage these employees, many of whom see telecommuting as a solution to busy family schedules and other duties.

In the short-term, Mayer’s decision may impact employee morale and productivity. In the long-term Yahoo’s non-friendly stance on telecommuters could cost the company talent as many people seek work flexibility from other companies. Time will tell whether or not Yahoo ultimately benefits from this policy, but in a business world increasingly defined by mobility and flexibility, I think it is more likely to backfire.

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If you take a look through any of the top online review sites, such as Yelp, Google Places, Citysearch, or MerchantCircle, it won’t take long to find consumers voicing their (sometimes harsh) opinions of businesses and retailers. Today, consumers have access to more product and company information than ever before. Not only does this help people make better purchasing decisions, but it also allows those same people to sing a company’s praises or air their personal grievances. On top of consumers’ ability to vocalize their love or hate of a company, the Internet has created a system in which consumers regularly compare services of different companies. If they can get superior service from one company, shouldn’t all companies be able to provide that same top-notch service? How should companies go about competing in such an atmosphere, and how can they balance customer needs with profitability?

In Wired and Dangerous, Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson attempt to answer these questions. They believe customer service is in a transition phase between the age of technology and the age of the customer. They believe today’s customers are different because they get outstanding service from some providers (like Zappos) and use that as a benchmark; they have more undifferentiated choices, so they are turning to the service experience as a differentiator. The old rules of customer service no longer apply. Service providers today need to deliver fast, easy service, while ensuring that customers are treated like respected partners.

To download three free summaries, please visit our site.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service, @Your Service, The Conversation Company

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In today’s complex organizations it is not uncommon to have as many as 50 percent of employees working on virtual teams. Virtual collaboration has already begun to transform many business sectors. The gradual shift of the U.S. economy from manufacturing and production to one of knowledge and information has contributed to a dramatic change in how and where people work. Virtual Team Success leverages the authors’ global research study and hands-on experience to provide a resource for virtual team members and team leaders. The authors suggest that successful virtual teams are characterized by members that effectively interact among themselves, build a solid basis of trust with each other, and have strong team building and interpersonal skills.

For a free trial of EBSCO Business Book Summaries click here.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: The Distance Manager, Managing the Mobile WorkforceCreativity in Virtual Teams

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With Generation Y, or “Millennials,” coming into the workforce in greater and greater numbers, many companies are now recognizing that old teaching and learning techniques do not necessarily work for younger employees. Millennials are much more apt to learn when a company’s training initiatives take advantage of the technology they use every day. This technology includes PDAs and other mobile devices, apps, and social networking sites. Younger generations also prefer content presented in video or audio format.

While many companies have implemented the above technologies in their learning initiatives, one form of technology remains on the fringes of learning: video games. This article from ZDNet speaks to the increased interest in games-based learning for e-learning providers. The aim of employing video games in training programs is to help employees learn in an engaging way. The hope is that games will appeal more to younger workers and help them absorb information better than the typical assigned reading.

I think it is great that companies are starting to experiment with new media to see what it can do to aid their learning initiatives. As technology advances, learning must follow suit, and games seem the perfect vehicle for presenting learning content in a new and engaging way.

Do you think games have a place in corporate learning strategies?

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Although Google’s new social media site Google+ has only been out for a few weeks now, it is reported that over 20 million users have registered on the site already. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ have become the go-to communication tools for keeping in touch with friends and family. They are easy to use, connect users to hundreds of contacts at once, and allow people to share their thoughts and interests with a single click.

Lately, many organizations have been trying to capture this same sense of community and sharing  within their own companies as a way of increasing institutional learning. I ran across the below video that explains some ways to make these initiatives more successful:

Related book summaries in the BBS library: Social Media at Work, Driving Results through Social Networks, Socialnomics

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In The Mobile Learning Edge, author Gary Woodill defines mobile learning as a personalized form of learning that takes place on a mobile electronic device. It allows for speedy communication, it is portable and convenient, it creates active learning experiences, and it allows for learning connectivity at any time and in any location. The content taught in mobile learning is also more likely to be retained because it is learned when the student wants to learn; because the student is actively seeking to learn, the information taught is more likely to be relevant and useful to the learner.

For a free trial of EBSCO Business Book Summaries click here.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: Tailored Learning, Managing the Mobile Workforce, The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning

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