You Can Assess Competency by Starting at the Backs of an Audience’s Heads

I recently attended a seminar sponsored by a potential alliance partner for our firm.  The objective was to hear their   “thought leader” present their enterprise point of view on “The Implications of the Aging Workforce on Employee Engagement”.

As is the wont of air travel these days I arrived at the session late and to avoid being rude or conspicuous I slipped into the back of the room.

The presenter although polished in style, and aggressive in expressing “my point of view”, was bereft of any recent data to support their conclusions.

In point of fact their data would have been more aligned with the times if their attire had been a lime green leisure suit.

As I was settling in thinking, “well this was a brilliant idea” and wondering “can I get an earlier return flight”, I had an epiphany.

I realized many in the audience were entranced with the “facts” being put forward…..they were lacking in context and how no clue that the data was no longer even useful in the context of a) a global workforce, b) engagement levels that were declining even before the recession, c) the challenges of managing a workforce with four cohorts all of which desire different levels of support from an employer, and d) the emerging complexities of managing the digital tribes promoted by the emergence of social media.

How did I know, psychic that I am not, it was the “tell” from watching people nodding their level of interest and agreement.  MANY of the HR professionals in this particular audience were learning of the aforementioned human capital challenges for what appeared to be the first time(look for the nodding of yes and neck leaning forward)

Be reassured that there were those like me who had the glaze of boredom and were also unobtrusively looking at their watches (look for the head dropping straight down or to the left to look at the wrist).

The torture ended eventually and insincere as I am I was gracious in my thanks and compliments…..yet I was struck by a line from Michael Douglas in the American President (don’t go there), “serious problems require serious people to create serious solutions”.

Like a lot of Consultants I have been on the platform and candidly live in dread fear that my audience is in possession of more relevant or timely data than I therefore making my effort pedestrian.  It is the intellectual curiosity of the audience I rely upon to keep me honest.

My conclusion from this unscientific polling technique is that those of us in leadership positions, particularly in Human Resources have to have higher standards for what constitutes “thought leadership”.   The alternative is we will be treated to a steady stream of presentations by those who really have nothing to contribute in pushing us to address some very serious issues.

IT Infrastructure Projects and the “Net Gener” Resource

By Michael J. Casey, PMP

Staffing IT infrastructure projects is getting more and more problematic. Demands between system support and specialized technical undertakings have increased, while the pool of talent itself evolves before our eyes. “Infrastructure” efforts – a new data center, upgraded network, installation of servers, and desktops, e-mail and voice systems – require trained staff, pulled between providing ongoing service and episodic – though critical – input to technology efforts. This situation will be more complicated as the talent pool changes and the younger technology savvy worker emerges. Writers in recent years have suggested that – in the digital age – the talent geared to work on these technical projects is maturing in a manner not conducive to effective project planning and tracking.

Development roles generally operate within an adopted System Development Lifecycle – Agile, Waterfall, etc. – for a new software product or release. Companies invest heavily in metrics that are continually refined, in part, to protect investment in talent. This practice reinforces the importance of the software engineer in product development. The infrastructure resource, however, roams in the realm of support (ITIL or company custom version) and is periodically assigned to program management (PMO or variation). Specific skills are required for a short time, with tight interdependencies.  For example, the upgrade to web or database servers is often on the critical path of many enterprise wide initiatives, corporate or commercial.  Product an program managers cast a nervous eye at the Dev or QA “environment” build schedule– an amalgam of expensive network switches, racks, storage devices, and servers that have to be nestled,  IP’d and ready to go to meet a strategic schedule.

But, senior stakeholders, the project manager (PM) and the shared resource, the IT infrastructure engineer, are too often reminded that “production is king” and a key milestone may pass if an engineer is delayed in completing a task in order to address a problem affecting services. Most companies – even in good times – do not devote IT staff specifically to capital projects, observing the adage to “not build a church for Easter Sunday.”

The network engineer or system administrator, consequently, is perceived to be “on loan” for specific tasks on a “best effort” basis. The project is just another form of short term work authorization. The engineer may never even look at the plan; the PM is left to gauge the impact of a build or configuration, if missed, with little or no mitigating options. Many have emphasized the multi-tasking – gaming, internet mastering– capabilities of the Net Gen resource. This adaptability could work to the benefit – or the detriment – of the IT infrastructure project.  With a generally short horizon to realizing the product or service, the resource could embrace the repetitive service based tasks… or reject them entirely.

In managing technical project resources in the coming years, we can make some qualified observations to see if they become trends, with the maturity of Net Gen (aka, Gen Y) talent:

–          The Net Gen resource of “Growing Up Digital” (Tapscot) may embrace the episodic nature of IT project work – multiple projects with different stakeholders – but not the repetitive service oriented tasks themselves. (e.g., Build Server, Test circuit.)

 –  Value expressed through core Systems Assurance and Service Delivery disciplines will likely shift as Net Gen staff rises to prominence in IT and resists traditional adherence to standards.

 –  This value shift – and the need to incorporate Net Gen tendencies in the formulation of IT project tasks and the service catalogue may tax companies, led by traditionalists and boomers, in the coming years.

In “Growing Up Digital,” Daniel Tapscott focused on “bathed in bits” children – those between 2 and 22 in 2000. He favorably characterized them as “tolerant of diversity, self-confident, curious, assertive, self-reliant, contrarian and flexible”. These traits, he points out, are a result of this generation’s exposure to the Net, the fluid interchange of information and interactive modes of communication. In cyberspace, he says, there are no hierarchies and the readily available access to information has created in its young “netizens” the quest to search for and be critical of information.

This portrait, no doubt, is a celebration of emerging individuality, the profile of an engaging, sophisticated generation. However, it does not suggest the discipline and sublimation of self needed to build, for example, a required set of 20 Windows 2008 servers in a three day period. Such work is specialized, repetitive and often tedious. It does not allow for diversity, curiosity and a contrarian spirit.

In his follow-up book, “Grown Up Digital,” Tapscott dedicates a chapter to the “The Net Generation Brain.” Exploring “multi-tasking,” he cites an Oxford Future of the Mind Institute study. Net Geners, 18 -21 years of age performed 10% better than a group aged 35 – 39 (a range which includes many current IT engineers.)  Factoring in interruptions from communication based messages (phone call, call text message, or IM), Net Geners lost their competitive advantage. “The thirtysomethings caught up in speed and accuracy.” Despite thinking quicker (spurred by games and internet paging), the Net Geners are “less effective at recovering from disruption when faced with a complex cognitive task.” This is but one study but the author doesn’t really attempt to refute it expect with references of Net Geners’ focus with games and electronic matters that interest them. Attention deficit traits are not a concern but a choice.

In “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30),” Mark Baurlein presents s different picture. While IQ scores have gone up consistently – 3 points a decade since WWII – he contends that Net Geners are “culturally ignorant” while being “mentally agile.” He feels that they don’t read the great works of literature. The digital age, he feels, is fostering ignorance.

Whether or not one agrees with Tapscott or Baurlien, the underlying concern here is the need to evaluate how the talent in this emerging generation may behave differently in an already underemphasized sphere of work, the IT Infrastructure. The nature of the work, while technical in nature, may not appeal to the curious Net Gener described by Tapscott.

Infrastructure generally isn’t sexy; it’s, at best, reliable. It’s not that infrastructure isn’t noticed – if we were to walk into a room, flip a switch and see that a bulb is out, we might consider Edison. We just don’t consider that his invention is now successfully indivisible, that “light,” is easy enough to engineer and provide, regardless of the function of the room it sheds on.  

Infrastructure staff enjoys a flexible though often secondary role in the business hierarchy. They are often tempered professionals who, after years of repetition and observation, are likely to shake their heads in deference… after completing the task. They would agree, of course, that emphasis should remain with the products and commercial services the company presents.  Studies in recent years suggest that a PM’s ability to effectively manage less compelling or product oriented projects with the “Net Gen” resources may replace rumblings with indifference. 

International organizations such as the Project Management Institute (PMI) have taken devoted bodies of knowledge to the fieldof Resource Management.  This orientation includes discussions on functional vs. cross-functional resource allocation; resource management is a key element to activity resource estimating and project human resource management. These components of a comprehensive project plan are recognized and practiced by PMs worldwide. The PMI has promoted “resource leveling,” a technique aimed at smoothing available resources, reducing excesses and shortages. With a goal of 100% utilization, the underlying principle is to invest in resources as stored capabilities, and then unleash the capabilities as demanded.

To the qualified observations, expressed earlier, and whether or not they may lead to trends, one could conclude that the future “stored capability” known as the Net Gener, poised at the technology gate, may not easily lend it to “leveling” or other techniques that promote standardization and uniformity. The IT Project Manager will need to appreciate that the diversity of the stakeholders and interests served may entice interest while the repetitive nature of the tasks may dispel the future worker described by Tapscott.

To maintain the gains in quality and service oriented disciplines of recent decades, senior managers will need to invest effort and skill in evaluating program management options with respect to diversity – and age – of talent in project resource management. The values and inclinations of the Net Gener may not favorably cast them for IT Infrastructure projects.

The Contradiction Between Aging and Clueless

As the recession dissipates and the need for experienced talent resumes, there are two demographic issues that will need to be addressed.

The Need to Embrace the Contribution of the Older Worker

A recent Wall Street Journal article spoke of the challenges the legal profession has in maintaining as Partners those over a certain age.  The article spoke of a Partner who still practices at 79, who was challenging in court the position of his firm that he was “too old to fulfill the obligations of being a Partner.”

The article went on to speak about his actual productivity (among the highest billing), scholarship (a regular contributor to legal journals and opinion pieces), and reputation as a mentor (younger Partners revere him as a mentor).

So beyond age… why this dilemma?  His legacy firm stipulates that it was being prudent and needs to have a “mandatory retirement age” to make way for “younger Partners.”

So in the legal profession, as is the case in other sectors such as accounting, contribution is not a consideration……the main one is age!    Hmmm…

Vitality is not a function of years…..it is preparation, outlook, health, and intellectual curiosity…..

Speaking of which……

The Need to Understand the Mental Model of the Younger Worker

A recent survey at Beloit College of incoming freshman had some interesting results.   When asked for example, “Who was Michelangelo?” The response was “a computer virus.”  I thought this was obtuse until it was explained to me that in fact there was a computer virus called Michelangelo.

As a Boomer I thought it would be interesting to create my own quiz and of course answered my own questions as if I was a Freshman (I Wish!)

  1. What was The Cold War? – One fought in the Arctic
  2. What was The Long March? – The first Marathon
  3. Who was Beethoven? – A Dog who starred in a couple of movies
  4. What was the Kitchen Debate? – An argument my parents had in the Kitchen
  5. What was the Palmer Method? – The swing of an old golfer
  6. What is a Fountain Pen? – A fountain in the shape of a Pen
  7. What is a Pop Tart? – OK this one would be timeless

So which is more compelling, the answers of the incoming Freshman or the fact as a Boomer I did not know there were “2 Michelangelos”?

And more importantly is this an issue of age, intellect, or exposure?

Reconciliation of the Apparent Contradiction

As I was draftring  this blog post, I consulted others by Tammy Erickson (www.tammyerickson.com) and my nephew Sean, a former Army Captain currently in Grad School in Germany (http://seanmaybeheard.wordpress.com).

In reviewing their writings, the WSJ article, the Beloit study, and most importantly my pro Sistine Chapel response, I was thinking… maybe this “you lose it with age thing has some merit”!

NAAAHHHH!

There are too many aspirations all who work have in common:

  1. The desire to be respected
  2. The desire to be recognized
  3. The desire to be mentored
  4. The desire to be challenged
  5. The desire to be provided opportunity regardless of age!

The disconnects we note and laugh about to the point of cohort mutual mocking, are not a function of age….there are more accurate explanations. 

Having given this apparent contradiction some recent thought I have concluded it is an issue of understanding and tolerance. 

Moreover as we will need the energies of all who wish to work to be effective whether we speak of societies or enterprises, we had best table the ridicule and focus on more understanding and tolerance.

CEO Lessons Learned 3 – Dude: Where is my Money?

Tammy Erickson (tammyerickson.com) has written a number of books regarding the generational differentiators and in so doing has sensitized many to the difference in aspirations among the 4 cohorts in the Global workforce(Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y).

Generation Y or the Millennial group is and will be a managerial challenge for quite some time.  To those of us in the Boomer cohort effectively acting as mentors and managers of this group, it is exhausting. They ask the Question “Why?” incessantly and take unction when they are not consulted by the C-suite in respect to enterprise strategy.

At the risk of being pedestrian…. let’s follow the money….

There are emerging 3 truisms with respect to Total Rewards:

  1. Don’t hire anyone at my peer level, give them more money, and expect I won’t find out!
  2. Pay me at a level that is commensurate with my performance and self assessment of same…
  3. Forget the stock that will vest in 5 years……I won’t be here…

Einstein’s definition of insanity – “continuing to do the same things while anticipating a different result” – applies to many of the Total Rewards approaches in force globally.

 The lessons learned by many of our clients is that unless the Total Rewards strategy is sensitive to the aspirations of this cohort, and then Compensation will be de-motivational, and controversial.

The Three Ls of Talent Readiness

By Tim Donahue

Perfecting the Talent Readiness formula for “Right People, Right Place, Right Time” involves many complexities, from shifting global demographics to the role of rapidly-evolving technology. But the business case boils down to the Three Ls – Leadership, Leverage and Legacy.

Leadership

The ever-shifting competitive landscape means that with leadership, mastery is a long-term goal. A colleague of mine once said: “As a leader, you will often be called upon to demonstrate leadership when you feel least ready to provide it.” Inevitably, all eyes and ears will turn to you, the leader, for the answer. As President Harry Truman put it, “The buck stops here.”

There is a particularly urgent link between leadership and safeguarding an organization’s future. This can mean everything from helping capable managers transition to leadership roles to shaping succession plans.

Of particular importance is Generation X, the smallest of the three predominant age groups in the U.S. workforce. The bulk of that segment – mid-30s to early 40s – is the traditional feeder pool for the leadership pipeline. Yet that same segment is the only age group that will shrink in the coming decade. The leadership pipeline may very well become a trickle.

 This demographic phenomenon is one key reason why leaders need to model effective leadership as well as extend a helping hand to show this next generation the way.

Leverage

Leadership means many things. When it comes to talent readiness, it means finding ways to increase the capabilities and impact of those who occupy spots in the org chart. If you doubt the strategic importance of leaders leveraging the abilities of those who work for them, consider the following:

  •  The Adecco Group North America’s latest Workplace Insights Survey released in September 2009 showed that slightly more than three-quarters of employees surveyed were not satisfied with their career growth opportunities at their companies.
  •  Recent research by Bersin Associates revealed that nearly 40% of line managers do not feel they have the training and skills to effectively manage employee performance. Yet when companies have highly effective talent management strategies, their average revenue per employees is 26% higher, Bersin’s research shows.

In short, what leaders need to do is what their people want them to do: Help them grow.

When leaders make talent development a key strategic priority – when they personally invest in developing the talent around them – they build organizational capabilities and leverage the full potential of their human capital.

This raises an important question: Do your leaders have what they need to help others grow?

Legacy

Leaders who commit to self-development as well as the growth of their people make an investment that yields a long-lasting dividend: a legacy.

Developing tomorrow’s talent is a job that must begin today. There are no quick fixes or silver bullets – no substitutes for the hard work and commitment necessary for passing knowledge and expertise from one generation of leaders to the next.

If this recession does prompt many Baby Boomers to delay their retirements, there may be a silver lining: Additional time to engage younger employees, transfer knowledge and groom successors.

To appreciate what’s at stake, consider the following:

  • In an era rife with downsizing, it is sobering to consider recent research findings that 30% of companies retain knowledge poorly or not at all when workers depart
  •  A June 2009 study by the Sloan Center on Aging and Work showed that since the recession, employee engagement decreased among Generation X and Y employees – yet hardly changed at all for employees in their 50s and 60s
  •  In her 2008 book “Retire Retirement,” Tamara Erickson says the idealism of the Baby Boomer generation will motivate many Boomers to make a positive difference in the later chapters of their careers – which can include leaving a legacy in one’s organization

Perhaps Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen said it best in her farewell column, “Stepping Aside,” published earlier this year. “John F. Kennedy (said) that the torch had been passed to a new generation,” Quindlen wrote. “But torches don’t really get passed very much because people love to hold on to them.”

Are your leaders holding onto their torches, or preparing to pass them? Is your next generation ready to pick up the torches?

Following the three Ls of Talent Readiness will help you do right by your leaders, your employees and ultimately your organization.

The Silent Generation Meets Generation Y: How to Manage a Four Generation Workforce with Panache – Part 6a

In order to accommodate the four generations, companies are going to have to implement the following 4 critical steps: Insure flexibility; Create educational opportunities for as long as employee is working; Create signature experiences for employees to attract and retain them;and  Re-recruit employees everyday.

According to Tom Casey, “managing human assets is the challenge right now” for HR leaders. A few key metrics help to illustrate the urgency that is required now to manage distinct workforces:

  • +55 is the fastest growing population in the current workforce
  • +65 is the second fastest growing population in the workforce
  • 40% of MIT graduates are from outside the U.S. Historically students came to the U.S. and colleges like MIT because of the quality of the education and because they wanted to live and work in the U.S. Today, a large percentage of foreign grads are returning to their home countries to work-leaving a talent shortage. 600,000 vs. 75,000 are the numbers, respectively, of engineering graduates annually from China and the U.S.

These numbers reinforce the reality that the future U.S. workforce is facing not only a worker shortage but also a skills shortage.

Tom Casey gave three requisites that are critical components of future workforce planning initiatives.

  • Recognize all four generations of cohorts in the workforce. Acknowledge that one size fits all management is not going to work.
  • Adopt a sense of urgency – opt for “speed now” and “elegance later”
  • Create a signature experience

Casey addressed a number of specific challenges related to human capital management for HR professionals and corporate leaders. It isn’t enough for companies to say that they are the best places to work and have great corporate culture. Casey terms this “happy talk” and that does little to describe whatever their unique employee experience as a key differentiator is. Companies that are really having success in the areas of talent attraction, retention and workforce planning are concentrating on three or four areas where they can claim bragging rights. Creating signature experiences as told through storytelling is a key differentiator for many organizations. Casey suggests that HR professionals look at Fortune’s top ten companies list and review their best practices in talent management. Casey believes that leading edge companies are focusing on creating signature experiences in areas such as: hiring, employee development, recognition and rewards and talent promotion. Another strategy that is gaining popularity is hiring by team which focuses on collaboration and exposes employees from different generations to the hiring process.

The Conclusion: The Role of HR in Managing the Multigenerational workforce & Putting Work in PerspectiveWorkforce planning is the priority, says Casey, for HR when it comes to managing the multigenerational workforce. HR needs to be ahead of the worker shortages by focusing on workforce planning; HR departments that don’t take this issue seriously are putting themselves and their organizations at risk. Right now there are sectors in the U.S. economy that are running out of workers. Healthcare is facing critical shortages of nurses and radiologists and in the energy sector there’s already a shortage of engineering talent. Survival of an enterprise will be contingent upon the company being successful at attracting talent from a diminishing pool of qualified workers. A poll conducted by SHRM in 2006 stated that 70% of the HR community was not worried about the challenges of staffing related to an aging and retiring workforce. This type of “head in the sand” attitude is going to be detrimental to many organizations. HR departments will need to experience a “disaggregating and a reconstitution” of the traditional HR operations model. According to Casey, HR should be focusing on critical areas such as: learning and development, recognition and reward, talent acquisition and workforce planning. These four components will determine talent readiness. Gen Y employees don’t have the same identity through work that characterizes Traditionalist and Boomers. While Boomers may work long hours and see work as an extension of their life, Gen Y workers have no intention of defining themselves through their jobs. Organizations are going to need to adapt to new workplace attitudes about the role of work. Many Boomer parents are acutely aware that their own children have chosen careers that allow a better balance between work and life. Gen X and Gen Y employees are not lazy; they simply have a different set of priorities than their parents when it comes to work. Gen Y will enter professions like investment banking and consulting that have typically demanded total commitment and long hours. But even the monetary rewards that enticed workers into such fields are probably not enough to get Gen Y to sign over their lives. Gen Y wants to do a good job for their employers, but work isn’t all they want to do.

Based on the Human Capital Institute webcast, The Silent Generation Meets Generation Y: How to Manage a Four Generation Workforce with Panache, February 13, 2008

Talent Practices: Leveraging the Power of Collaboration

  One of my favorite quotes comes from Rob Cross in his book The Hidden Power of Social Networks, ” Research has consistently shown that whom you know has a significant impact on what you come to know, because relationships are critical for obtaining information, solving problems, and learning how to do your work.”  That, is a powerful statement about social networking . . .echoed in this comic selection from “Zits.” As I said in my earlier post, we have just finished a piece of research designed to explore in what ways can organizations leverage the power of collaboration across the talent processes.  Social networking itself is not new, what is new is the impact of Web 2.0 technology on collaborative behavior.  In this post, I wanted to offer just an ‘appetizer’ of insight from that research and talk about it in the context of the current economic issues.

We surveyed over 75 organizations, and overall we found that:

  • Social networks are an important component of an organization’s core talent processes . . . While social networking was important to the successful execution of all talent processes, they are considered critical for engagement, on-boarding — transitioning — and off-boarding, and leadership development. 
  • Furthermore, respondents believe that networking is important for all levels of the organization, but particularly so for senior executives.  As Michael Watkins so often points out in this book, The First 90 Days, no leader, no matter how capable, can do it all.  Leaders need networks that are constantly being refreshed and renewed to be successful.
  • Finally, despite the fact that social networking is not a new behavior pattern, our respondents indicated that they don’t think they are as effective as they could be at leveraging the power of collaboration.  Their organizations may be leveraging the technique and/or tools in selective ways or within functions — creating pockets of excellence.  But overall, many organizations are still experimenting with collaboration tools. 

So, in what ways are companies leveraging the power of social networking across the talent processes?  Let me share just a sampling of what we’ve learned:

  • Recruitment: Of all the talent processes, this is the area that has seen the most visible change as a result of social networking and web 2.0 tools.  While I find networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook interesting, I am far more intrigued by sites like “Beyond.com” and “Jibe.”  Before the recession we were seeing the emergence of ‘talent brokerage.’  But the recession has accelerated a new approach to employment –‘gigonomics,’ the act of being employed on a ‘gig’ basis.  Social networking tools allow active communities to form around project based work creating a new type of long term employment experience.  Social networking sites like Jibe, on the other hand, is interesting in that it uses social networking to create transparency around an organization’s culture, allowing potential employees to find a ‘great fit.’ 
  • On-boarding/Transitions/Off-boarding: As the recession deepens and we see talent moved in/out/ and around the organization, effectively managing the employee life cycle becomes more important.  Social networking can become a key tool to enabling that process.  Given the short tenure of senior leaders these days, robust on-boarding and transition management becomes a strategic intervention with real impact on organizational performance.  What if you can speed time to effective performance by 3 to 6 months for a Senior Leader through accelerated on-boarding? In a tough economy where performance runways are short, time matters.  Finally, many of us have had to say ‘good-by’ to talented people as organizations are reforming themselves.  Off-boarding with care and keeping connected through social networks is an effective way to ‘keep your talent close’ in anticipation of future opportunities.  Over time, more of our talent will move in and out of our organization on a project or ‘gig’ basis.  Keeping talent networked with us through their employee life cycle, will be an important enabler for organizational agility.  So who does this well?  Look to companies like Baxter,  Capital One, and Johnson & Johnson who have Leaders Transition Programs.  Consulting firms, not surprisingly, have the most interesting approach to employee life cycle management by leveraging 2.0 tools to keep alumni connected — E & Y and Deloitte, for example. 
  • Employee Engagement: At any time, particularly in tough economic times, employee engagement is a key enabler to organizational performance, now and in the future.  As organizations have cut their way to survival, they may have already lost their most important asset — employee hearts, minds, and hands.  An effective internal social network is the glue that binds the organization together, keep talent engaged, and facilitates transformation.  As organizations fight for precious customer revenue, engaged employees can provide that point of competitive advantage.  My favorite example of good old fashioned social networking comes from Ford Motor Company . . .clearly a company fighting for survival.  As they introduced the new product line-up for this year, they invited all of their HQ employees down to ‘test drive’ the products . . . hoping that they would ‘activate the purchasing power of their social networks.’  What a simple but powerful way to engage, inspire, and enable employees. 
  • Training and Development:  As I prepare my my thoughts for the Winter Professional Development Consortium this week, I am convinced that social networking will have the most profound impact on this talent process.  New social tools will change the fundamental role of the CLO.  We will transition from being ‘content enablers to context enablers’.  These tools will enable employees to access the information they need when and where it is needed — through instant messaging tools, blogs, wiki’s, expertise locators, and so on.  Employees will be able to zero in on the specific information they need to solve problems, perform specific tasks, or quickly update skills.  Our role will be less about creating information/skill content, and more about enabling the context for employess to access information/skill when and where they need it . . . pulling it together quickly and easily to create knowledge. . . experimenting with it. . .creating repeatable transparent processes.  Responsibility for learning will shift to where it belongs . . . with the employee. 

Social networking is real work.  It is not unusual for leaders to think of social networking as a supplemental acticity, something that augments ‘real work’ or ‘personal development.’  For those organizations that actively use social networking and associated tools to share information, cooperatively develop insights or event collectively create product(s) it has become a fundamental work process that adds value to the organization. 

As your organization takes its own unique journey, where do you think it will engage first?  How is your organization harnessing the power of collaboration?