Tag: Collaboration

21
Nov

Humantific at Gates Foundation

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Due to the strategic nature of the work that Humantific does with many organizations we cannot always talk about what we are doing in the exact moment it is being done.

When possible, we do try to provide a window into this kind of strategic cocreation work and there is certainly alot going on in many sectors including the philantropic community.

In different communities this arena is becoming known by different terms including Philantropic Innovation, Social Innovation, Social Design, Social Change Making, Social Infrastruture Design, Change Making For Good, Markets For Good, etc.

Since its inception 5 years ago Humantific has been working closely with the Markets for Good leadership team.

For Humantific this work often involves providing visual sensemaking combined with a hybrid form of strategic planning that includes more upstream challenge framing and wider participation than is typical. Today mainstream business media is full of “big data” talk but we already know that generative innovation involves not just using data for decision-making but rather integrating numeous forms of information based insights into the cocreation process that all participants learn as a common language.

One such session was held in June at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle when Humantific collaborated with Markets for Good and the Gates Foundation to design and undertake a two day workshop. Framed as “a gathering of select leaders engaged in improving the social sector’s data and information capacity” it became an engaging work session that included 65 participants from 50+ different leading social good oriented organizations including: Network for Good, Case Foundation, Global Giving Foundation, New Philanthropy Capital, Heron Foundation, Aspen Institute, Microsoft, NetHope, GuideStar India, LiquideNet For Good, Social Impact Lab, The White House, Intentional Futures, Urbn Institute, Standford Digital Civial Society Lab, Keystone Accountability and numerous others.

This was the Primary Challenge that was collectively worked on during the two day session: How might we collectively build the information infrastructure—the data hubs, information exchange standards, knowledge and collaboration tools, and favorable performance culture and policy environment—to provide all actors in the social sector with the insights they need to inform their decisions?

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Much of the work that Humantific does today involves the framing of, not one challenge, but rather an interconnected constellation. Most often we are surfacing that constellation for the first time. This is part upstream challenge framing and part systems thinking. It rapidly becomes clear that many challenges are interconnected. There are very few free-standing unconnected challenges in this world. Coming to terms with this in real-time is often part of the experience for participants. Here are some of the additional challenges that were worked on during this particular two day session:

How might we develop a minimum viable product for measurement to plug into while strengthening accountability? 

How might we get stakeholders to align on standards?

How might we develop sustainable business models for pieces of the information infrastructure?

How might we establish collective shared values and norms for the markets for good movement?

How might we make great giving easier for funders and more common?

How might we frame data analysis as a growth engine for non-profits?

How might we develop the data ecosystem from data collection to insights? 

This constellation of challenges is a good example of the kinds of issues being framed and tackled in community settings being transformed via the data/information/sensemaking/cocreation revolution.

This community is making great progress accross a complex landscape of issues and this work is ongoing on multiple fronts.

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What is your challenge constellation looking like these days? When was the last time your organization surfaced it via cocreation?

Related:

Markets for Giving Workshop 2010

Markets for Good Background Paper

Data Visualization Meets CoCreation

Portrait of California / Social SenseMaking Project

 

 

 

19
Sep

Brain to Brain Communication

Two topics that are near and dear to us are Collective Intelligence and Collaboration. We are particulaly interested in how they are changing and what lies ahead. In this regard we enjoyed seeing this work by Dr. Michio Kaku a theoretical physicist at C.U.N.Y, talking about present and future brain-to-brain communication….BrainNet! Fun stuff to think about.

 

10
Sep

McKinsey: Trust Culture + Social = Gold

We were delighted to see the conclusions reached in the new McKinsey Global Institute Report entitled: The Social Economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies:

“To reap the full benefit of social technologies, organizations must transform their structures, processes, and cultures: they will need to become more open and nonhierarchical and to create a culture of trust. Ultimately, the power of social technologies hinges on the full and enthusiastic participation of employees who are not afraid to share their thoughts and trust that their contributions will be respected. Creating these conditions will be far more challenging than implementing the technologies themselves.”

We certainly agree!

This is a realization that arrived rather late in the previous eCommerce era so we are happy to see it being stated clearly up front in this emerging Social Economy era.

Related:

E2: Go Social or Go Home?

03
Aug

E2: Go Social or Go Home?

Thoughts on the Enterprise 2.0 Conference.

On June 18-21 I attended the Enterprise 2.0 (E2) conference in Boston.

Was it just another social media Kool-Aid festival?

The good news is that I saw a lot of opportunity space at Enterprise 2.0. Much of it was between the official narratives.

Here are a few observations for those who might have missed our earlier tweets:

1. What struck me most about the conference was the remarkable sense of energy and optimism around the social media phenomenon. Most conferences present limited views into a subject, typically based around the organizers’ and speakers’ perspectives. In this regard, Enterprise 2.0 was no exception. Clearly the Boston conference presented an edited view into the rapidly moving subject of social media and its many implications for enterprises today. For many attending E2, it seemed to be the technological and organizational business revolution of the moment. Similar to previous technology-driven revolutions, there was a lot of “Get it…you prosper”, “Don’t get it…you’re dead” rhetoric floating around.

2. On the question of whether or not the social media revolution has reached a tipping point in terms of its application to enterprises, the vibe at Enterprise 2.0 reflected a resounding “YES!” Like in other heavily promoted revolutions there were abundant pronouncements that it is a done deal and already late in the game. According to the prevailing folklore of the revolution, it is no longer a question of “if” but rather “how.”

3. My favorite speakers at E2 were Michael Wu from Lithium Technologies, who demonstrated one view into real time analytics, and Andrew Carusone from Lowes, who spoke on enabling change in his organization. Both had real insights to offer.

4. For those with more than a one business cycle perspective, numerous shades of the previous eCommerce revolution could be seen at the E2 conference, including early stage presumption/misunderstanding, that what all leaders need to do to make their organizations more collaborative, more innovative, is buy more IT, this time repurposed as social media. It is going to be interesting to see how such re-spun enthusiasms play out in the much more IT savvy marketplace of today. For Cisco, IBM and various consultancies, the packaging of this wave as social media has been heaven sent.

5. The portion of the social media revolution that appeared at E2 was seen to be less about connecting brains to work on world peace, and more about selling more cornflakes and running shoes faster. It was a little like someone asked an MBA student what could business organizations do with social media and the result was the creation of the E2 conference. There seemed to be very little awareness that a parallel “social universe” already exists, that has, for some time, been focused on social innovation, i.e., innovation in a societal context, rather than business organization context: same “social” term but very different meaning. For those who are familiar with both “social universes,” there was a sense at E2 that half the social universe was missing. It seems likely that, in the near future, Enterprise 2.0 will catch up to the realization that there is a lot more going on in other parts of the social media social universe. Other social media for good conferences seem likely.

6. Adopting social media dynamics to creatively increase consumer spending as the next big survival/growth strategy for corporations was the primary focus of E2.  In many cases what that meant was that underneath all the social technology and social analytics talk was the rather unremarkable, some might say, old world order goal of driving more consumerism. There seem to be no seasoned intellectual heavy hitters on stage, interested in or inclined towards pointing this out, or offering alternates to this singular narrative. Drink the “Lets go do this” Kool-Aid or die seemed to be a central vibe of E2. Of course the idea that this massive, emerging capability should be used solely for driving sales, would represent a significant missed opportunity for a new generation of leaders in the new world. The mind bender was that others in the social innovation space have already figured this out. Many alternate narratives and purposes already exist, which were not discussed or shown at the social media focused Enterprise 2. It took awhile to get the brain around that presence and that absence.

7. Overflowing with references to new analytics, there seem to be none regarding the percentage of the social media movement focused on enhancing consumerism, and the percentage focused on the social innovation for good sector. Considering the bigger picture, rather than the one on view at E2, I would guess presently those numbers look something like this: 50% enhancing consumerism, 50% enhancing social innovation for good.

8. Interconnected with the social media revolution is the parallel revolution in so-called Big Data that is being generated by social media. On the question of—what should humans do with such never before seen data? —again the E2 answer is—use it to sell more stuff to each other. Not present was all the great work being done in the realms of data analytics for good, social sensemaking for good, etc. In addition the focus of presenters at E2 talking on the subject of Big Data was on conveying how easy it has become for amateurs to use open software to generate data visualizations. The process of making sense of all the stuff being generated, good and bad, was not even mentioned. The process of understanding when a visualization is junk or effective was not even mentioned at E2 as the speakers themselves seem to have no idea. It does appear that the various communities assembling around Big Data visualization, including the presenters at E2 are in the very, very early stages of realizing that more is required in change making than visualizations.

9. The Enterprise 2.0 community presently seems to be rather unconnected from the design thinking, innovation, sensemaking and changemaking communities from which they could learn a lot. Considering all the possibilities, the aperture of E2 seemed to be rather narrow. Widening the aperture, it is not difficult to see that deep knowledge exists in many communities connected to the underlying themes of the social revolution, including collaboration, design thinking, sensemaking, analytics, integrative thinking, cocreation, innovation capacity building, etc.  Barely a tiny slice was seen of these knowledge domains at E2.

10. If you are looking for nuanced appreciation of how your business organization has changed and progressed in the last few years, you would not have found it at the binary oriented E2. At the core of the Enterprise 2.0 concept is a giant and rather out of the loop assumption that organizations today remain stuck in old 1950s style command and control structures depicted as Enterprise 1.0. If your organization has already progressed beyond command and control, and you have already enabled collaboration, you might find some of the social media assumptions a little perplexing. The logic seen at E2 works best if you have been drinking the E1 Kool-Aid from 1950 up until last week. Of course many organizational leaders have made significant strides in building innovative collaboration cultures long before social media arrived. That kind of picture was never acknowledged or referenced at E2. With the addition of social media to such organizations, does that acceleration make them E3 organizations? The underlying 2 step logic of E2 seemed to vastly oversimplify the organizational change revolution that has been going on for years. Ordering up some McVisualization, some McChange, some McInnovation was a notion that crossed my mind while watching some of the speakers.

11. Of course mobility and gamification were presented as key trends at E2. The former obviously has deep long legs with enormous implications. Mobile first, desktop second was an often-heard refrain. While gamification was presented as a key performance enabling concept it still seems more like a flavor of the month to me. There is no question that gamification has packaged into a technique for marketers or others looking for new services to offer organizational clients. Did you get your teddy bear today? While I can certainly see situations where gamification can be useful being applied internally with employees and or externally with customers, I wondered about its shelf-life. When will customers grow weary of gaming pitches? Smart senior employees are going to line up to be gamed with 50 colors of teddy bear badges? Once gamification dynamics become widely transparent, how long can that infatuation last? It seems probable that the “Beyond Gamification Era” has already begun somewhere. That would be no surprise.

12. Perhaps the biggest underlying theme at Enterprise 2.0, that seemed to be everywhere, was collaboration. For some it seemed to be a new subject..:-) There was a wide range of interpretations on what the term “collaboration” actually means ranging from simply getting connected, to casual conversation, to more deliberate focused problem solving. Is subscribing to a discussion list now collaboration? As in the earlier eCommerce era, there were lots of IT folks on hand at E2 suggesting (again) that collaboration was going to be as easy as plug and play. It never is. Other than plugging into social media technology and monitoring data analytics, few presenters at E2 seemed to have the foggiest idea how to build collaborative capacity in organizational contexts. The prevailing philosophy seemed to be that the technology itself will get the job done as long as managers stay out of the way. What I saw at E2 could best be described as very early stage awareness of how to cultivate collaboration and innovation in the context of organizations. In terms of an opportunity space, there would seem to be no question that the social media era is a ripe opportunity space for those with deep collaboration enabling knowledge.

13. It was interesting to see that behavior was an often-discussed subject at the E2 conference, but often what was meant by the term was technology adoption- not innovation. Evidently innovation behavior, what it is and how to enable it as a core capability within collaboration, is a subject not yet on many E2 radar screens.

14. Time has returned as an important ingredient in this revolution. The ecommerce era siren call that: “organizations have more money than time”, was replaced with the Nike proclamation: “fast is not enough you need faster”. Accelerating data collection and data visualization are quite different from accelerating the sensemaking and the related changemaking. These more action oriented connections seem to be not yet on radar screens at E2. Of course cognitive acceleration in a business context has a long history but none of that made any kind of appearance at E2. It was like acceleration started when social media arrived. After a while such foreshortened one cycle perspectives grow a little weary.

15. Making sense of the Enterprise 2.0 event in general was not helped by a package of way-finding and catalogue navigation materials, which were, shall we say, a tad under designed from a sensemaking perspective. Running what amounted to a vender event in parallel to the conference, using similar signage added considerable confusion. Such details, as not listing the speaker names beside the event names in the conference catalogue made figuring out who was speaking when and where more difficult than it needed to be. These are rather basic human-centered event and experience design considerations, so I was quite surprised to see them executed in such a mediocre way. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being exceptional from a sensemaking perspective, I would give the E2 way-finding system a 1.5 and the conference catalogue a 1.0. Combine those two elements with a vastly over-scaled event facility and the result was a challenging event landscape for participants.

16. Overall, the Enterprise 2.0 provided an interesting window into the business enterprise side of social media, where that part of the community is and is not, as well as where it is likely going. It does not take a rocket designer to see that where it is not (yet) represents rich opportunity space for others.

I might go back to E2 if they significantly widen the conceptual aperture, redesign it at a more strategic level, have less IT focused presenters, connect it to other communities and revolutions already in motion, fix the navigation and find a venue scaled to the event..:-)

You can follow Humantific on twitter!

 

 

05
May

Thoughts on AIGA’s One Day For Design

Since a lot of what we do here at Humantific is upstream strategy cocreation with organizations as part of changemaking initiatives, we were somewhat puzzled to see how AIGA (formerly American Institute of Graphic Arts), a professional graphic design association seeking to reposition itself, undertook a one day Twitter event on April 13th entitled “One Day For Design” (1D4D). The session was promoted with intriguing prompters including “What if you had one day to alter the future of design”.

From a cocreation perspective we could not help but notice that the 1D4D event seemed to contain a veritable smorgasbord of large scale, highly complex, some might say conflicting framing messages. This entanglement seemed to be combined with additional mixed messages around what the dialogue type was intended to be. How the complexity of the subject to be addressed and the intended dialogue type connected to the technology platform chosen was of equal mystery.

Among the complex simultaneous topics posed by AIGA for the 1D4D session on Twitter were: “The meaning of design, The future of design, The meaning of professional design associations, and The future of professional design associations.”

We noticed that 1D4D participants had wildly differing perspectives on session purpose and dialogue expectations. Some participants thought the purpose was to engage in “online global debate” focused on “the future of design.”

Others perceived intentions included:

“roundtable discussion”…“with every designer on Twitter.”

“dialogue between designers and the general public.”

“24-hour brainstorming on the future of design”

“allow creative folks to discuss current issues in design”

“get the pulse of the industry”

“a global conversation” “to alter the future of design.”

“[AIGA] expect[s] to better understand our role”

“explore ways [for AIGA] to better serve the needs of the design community.”

“bring designers and design followers together with leading minds in our profession”

“engage designers in a global conversation”

“exchange ideas, challenge viewpoints and push boundaries”

“an online, real-time think-tank”

“bring together a global community of designers and design enthusiasts.”

“evolve ideas, make connections and initiate change.”

Somehow others got the impression that “the ultimate goal” of 1D4D was:

“understanding how design could shape the future of the world”.

We love experiments but OMG what a confusing framing mix! There are at least half a dozen different dialogue mode types in that mix and more than a dozen different focus paths. That’s a lot of fuzzy complexity to hoist onto participants.

Maybe these designer types are from another planet and can digest multiple streams of giant-size fuzzy complexity while leaping tall buildings! It seemed more likely that 1D4D participants were going to be humans from planet earth. We could not help but wonder if anyone thought about the framing of this session from a human-centered perspective. Without that orientation the confusion of event dynamics can be as complicated as the subjects to be addressed. That cognitive double whammy tends to undermine and deplete participant energy.

All organizations face a continuously changing world and AIGA would be no exception. This could have been important strategic thinking work involving complex present and emerging future states, fuzzy challenges and opportunities. Apart from the romancing of social network technology, since when is Twitter geared up for such complex work?

Some of this framing implied outcomes other than casual chit-chat. Was it possible that 1D4D organizers did not understand the difference between a conversation, a debate, a roundtable, open dialogue and outcome oriented dialogue? Was it possible that 1D4D organizers did not understand the default dynamics of 100% emergence? We wondered what happened to the much-vaunted AIGA design process. It seemed to be completely absent.

We noticed that 1D4D participants were asked to imagine the future of something that AIGA leaders have presented no framing for in the present. How does that work? Was this event about the present and future of graphic design or something else?

We will gladly leave the post-session parsing of words used in the One Day for Design event to the analysis by others. We will happily leave commentary on how to improve the collaborative functionality of Twitter to our interaction oriented colleagues. With all due respect we leave AIGA members to sort out their own challenges as a still graphic design oriented professional association, struggling to reposition itself and expand into the broader strategic design community.

Our only concern is that it seems likely as a result of the AIGA Twitter event that considerable misunderstanding around what strategic design is and does, now seems to have been generated in the broader community outside of design. If the “meaning of design” was in fact tweaked by AIGA’s One Day for Design, it was not in a way that was particularly constructive, not in a way that relates to the many challenges and opportunities facing design. An unfortunate message seems to have been sent by 1D4D: that the design community of communities thinks change making cocreation and meaning making can be accomplished with sloganeering and soundbites. We assume that this meaning making was not AIGA’s intended message.

With all due respect to AIGA and its no doubt noble intentions:

Please don’t assume that AIGA represents the entire design community. It does not.

Please don’t assume that AIGA´s One Day for Design event on Twitter had anything to do with the present or future states of best design practice, methods, modes or consciousness outside of graphic design.

Please don’t assume that 1D4D has anything to do with how strategies are being cocreated today by organizational leaders interested in meaningful change making.

What was most interesting to us about One Day for Design was seen, not in the event itself, but rather in its aftermath. In the wave of post-event commentaries could be seen a thread of cocreation awareness connected to the not often talked about subject of emergence. It is becoming clear that there is rapidly rising awareness in several communities of practice including design, that fuzzy 100% emergent events are very time consuming for participants and typically problematic along what has already become a well-worn path (a subject onto itself).

Picture ahead: Multiply that 1D4D experience by 5 or 10 or 100 and at some point along the way, for some sooner, for others later, most will no doubt be ready for something, anything other than 100% emergence. That romance is rapidly dwindling. This is probably not so good news for those selling 100% emergence as a new collaboration holy grail.

As the number of professionals in various fields reach that realization it seems inevitable that much in the current mix will change. It is that rising awareness that will change not only how we work, but what we expect of our technologies, our organizations, our leaders and ultimately of ourselves.

Whether all of us like it or not, at the end of the day 1D4D represented one of many small defining moments in the slippery decline of 100% emergent events. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands, unless you want to repeat those outcomes, it is already time to rethink the think and move on. In that moving on many design opportunities can be found.