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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Conversations for C-level Execs

Following up on thoughts i've had on how organisations and corporations could benefit from networking through communities or blogs, either on their own intranet systems, or through networks outside of their organisation.  As part of an informal survey on Ryze - one question that keeps recurring is why are senior executives staying away from such communities. Here's what one senior executive of a non-ICT firm, with offices worldwide and many thousands of employees has to say :

"Even within our own company, thereís low levels of sharing across departments .. because each dept is a profit center ñ the fear being, will they steal my business, will they share techniques I have developed with clients that may compete. 


Altho we have an internal knowledge management system for better networking, it is highly underutilized and scarcely populated.  The success of a knowledge management system depends on how well populated it is, and how much people share.  Without trust, it cannot work.  Possibly, ours does not work effectively for the following reasons:


  1. Employees not seeing the value - they see it as an additional ëtaskí
  2. Levels of mistrust, low motivation to share - a sense of holding onto my thoughts and innovations, not wanting to share ñ will they steal my business ñ fierce competition within the organisation  - between units, across units ñ if I/my team/my profit centre has invested time/money into devping something let me first milk it .. reap the benefits Ö before it turns into a commodity.  
  3. Organisational culture - is if u invest time and money, it comes out of your budgets and targets ñ no support from the corporate office -therefore u have to work that much harder to recover time and money spent in networking and innovation"

These are only a few of the many barriers organisations have  - in a recent email exchange with Scott Allen and a few others, i remember Scott saying "and, of course, tipping points help.  Imagine the impact when one Fortune 100 company decides that online business networking is an important thing and commits to establishing a sensible policy, training their people, and encouraging them to participate"


Stuart Henshall in his post Open Doors talks of a solution that is "at once :

  • more open - enhances sharing - more personalised
  • increases enterprize security, and risk management
  • builds and accelerates trusting exchanges within and across the community. 
  • reduces work, adds efficiency and accuracy,
  • qualifies external connections

    Is that, open doors, expand circles, make new connections, harness  social capital?  From the enterprise point of view empower attention economics while retaining important connectivity and network links even when an employees become alumni. " 

    He has some good ideas too, on the business model for this.  

    Roger Patterson speaks of trust :

    "I am finding that this is true for me as well.  I have formed an opinion based on months of observation about a group of bloggers that I feel comfortable with. Trust is engendered because you have access to a quite complete perspective of the other. How often at work do you know how a colleague really thinks? You may know his opinion on a project. You may know his opinion of a person but I seldom was let in deep enough at work to understand the full person. Blogging gives us that chance to see below the surface"

    Here are two more comments from the informal survey on Ryze :

    "Whatís working for ryze today Ö. is its warmth, is the relative freedom it allows in accessing people you would not have done so easily elsewhere,  human connections that may be endearing .. for instance, a top notch IT guy whoís so into cats Ö connects at that level and shares freely with other cat lovers, or a photograph of a top honcho with his little baby in his arms"


    ìI find the interaction on the micro-networks (formerly known as "Tribes") such as Serious Play, The End of Free, and 500 Citizens, the most compelling aspect of the Ryze experience. Those forums provide a focal for some very high quality discussions. And if I want to find out who is doing the talking I click over to the poster's page and find, not just some statistics or resume, but pictures of the person's sailboat or family or dog, and some guestbook interactions - all of which is very revealing about the person, and fascinating...î

    It is my belief that the key lies in the recognition that conversations and exchanges can add real value.  And that Blogs and Networks can and do facilitate and encourage these, quickly and effectively, through 'soft' human profiles and opportunities for jamming on thoughts and processes, within an ever-expanding neighbourhood (somehow implying 'safe') that you trust. What needs to be stressed upon is what additional value or unique/dicriminating value they can provide over other forms for the C-level Executive. 

    Are the 'tool guys' listening ?

  • 1:17:13 PM    comment []  trackback []

    Why do i Blog ?

    Lilia's discussions on 'Blogs, Dialogues and Identity Building' made me wonder about my reasons for blogging and what i've learned and gained from it in the three weeks since i started this blog.   

    It started with curiousity Ö

    I had so many questions in my mind on blogging.  Is it better than setting up a website ? How would it be different ?  (Check out the little comic strip at Invisible Shoebox  - 'Blog - a Conversation between Grumpy Girl and her friend The Questioning Ant'). Do I really need several profiles and identities ñ a company website, Ryze profile, Ecademy profile Ö. the list can be endless. Could a blog consolidate all these identities ñ a one-stop profile ñ where you see ALL of me ñ my thoughts and preoccupations ñ personal and business - a bit of mind and soul?  Then thoughts about focus - should it be more a business approach - or a public declaration of whats on my mind - or then an avenue for conversations and collaboration ?

    And i realised that what i desire most is to encourage conversation ñ conversations and exchanges and collaborations between people that have the energy to say ìhey lets share and learn and growî.   I came across this little zonkboard at Sameer's blog and think its a neat little tool.  I've been taking many of the exchanges i've had with people though this blog, further into IM chats, email exchanges and good old telephone - most rewarding both personally and professionally.

    Must explore more utilities i can add to allow more conversations and more jamming !

    Ultimately, to borrow an old metaphor .. i see this space as a piece of jazz - (i see spaces as Ryze and Ecademy as such too).  This is what i have at my Ryze page :

    Doug Little, a jazz musician and a member of The Motion Poets, an improvisational jazz band, described improvisational jazz:

    "What I play will inspire the drummer to play something. The drummer might inspire me to play something. The musicians listen to one another and make spontaneous decisions. The possibilities are endless. It is always within the form and it is always interconnected with each person but it is never the same.

    The joy of performing is the group sound. I can't play whatever I want whenever I want. Jazz is democratic music and everybody gets to solo but only within the context of the whole. The group is what is the most important thing. Sometimes the best thing for me to do is not to play. And to respect another's musical space.

    When I do solo, I still have to pay attention to what the rhythm behind me is. I can't ignore it. I have to be a part of that. Playing in a group means giving up some of your space for the group. If a band isn't playing with any interaction, I walk out because it is no fun."

    11:33:32 AM    comment []  trackback []

    Mathemagenic - Blogs, Dialogues and Identity Building

    Mathemagenic is a wonderful blog !  I came upon it today and found myself completely absorbed in the thoughts of Lilia Efimova, and spent a lot of time at the links provided.  Lilia at her Ryze page describes Mathemagenic :

    "Mathemagenic means "giving birth to learning" and this is something that triggers my interests, my contacts and my work (and recently my PhD proposal ;). Hmm, to be fair it triggers my life too :)))"

    Definitely worth looking at by 'newbie' bloggers like me .... and there's lots of food for thought for the more experienced too.I like the simplicity in its conversational style, and the tendency to stay away from jargon and cut right to the bone.  

    Some excerpts from the April 8 posts on Blogs, Dialogue and Identity Building :

    "Blogs, dialogue and identity building (3).

    Jim McGee continues the discussion:

    Denham suggests "thinking together" as preferable to "thinking in public" [...] I think he takes my notion a step farther than I was intending. I agree with Denham that the goal is to be receptive to the thoughts of others and that "thinking together" can indeed lead to better results than thinking alone (as does drinking together instead of drinking alone).

    [...]One of the primary reasons that thinking together is hard is that it requires both that we think in public and that we think collaboratively. I suspect that thinking together fails at least as often because we don't know how to think in public as it does because we don't know how to do it collaboratively. Further I think that order matters. You need to learn how to think in public first. Then you can work on developing skills to think collaboratively.

    Thinking in public is a precursor skill to thinking collaboratively that's been ignored. We want to get to the fun stuff (ooh, brainstorming!) and skip over the hard part.

    Weblogs make the hard part easier. "

    And another post :

    "I wonder why it's hard to belive that weblogs are good

    A follow-up thought from previous post: I wonder why so many people are sceptical about weblogs. I assume that one of the reasons is that "blogging is like a loving sexual relationship - you just do not realize how rich and rewarding it is until you have experienced it" (David Gurteen).

    For example, I find it very difficult to explain to non-blogger why

    ·        blogging somehow builds trust to other people faster and better than other ways

    ·        blogging somehow gives me a feeling of "belonging" to my "blogging neighborhood" and loyalty to this group

    ·        I feel that blogging gives me better identity than any of my on-line profiles, my CV, list of my publications

    ·        I feel that my blogging conversations are deep and engaging

    ·        I feel that these conversations are dialogues with me and not "everyone on-line" even if they are public and distributed over several blogs"

    And a third :

    "We can discuss if weblogs are good for a meaningful dialogue [see previous conversations], but their added value for identity building is more visible. Observing someone thinking, reflecting and participating in several conversations gives better understanding of his/her context than even in-depth discussions in one community. This is especially true for community straddlers who stretch between different communities/contexts."


    11:30:11 AM    comment []  trackback []