Do it now, apologize later

September 4, 2007

zombie.bmpThis article Facebook for the Enterprise got me thinking about why Facebook is a long way from working within many traditional corporate environments.

  • how many people can’t access their outside email accounts from their work PC?
  • how many people have cell phone restrictions at work?
  • how many people can’t use their Internet access at work  to do school work?
  • how many people can’t IM at work?
  • how many people can’t access streaming video/audio or similar bandwidth hogs?
  • how many people can’t download anything without IT intervention?
  • how many people are blocked from accessing web sites they need? (this means the company is running some sort of software where you get a “STOP or I’ll report your ass” message followed by your explanation of why you really need to go there followed by a glance around the cubes that surround you where [gasp] you suddenly discover that you are surrounded by ZOMBIES!).
  • how many people have their phone records, Internet usage, email, IM reviewed by a department set up for that specific reason?
  • how many people aren’t allowed to install software on their own PC?
  • how many people can’t use their own (owned) computing equipment at work? (laptop, peripheral, etc.)
  • how many people can’t publicly publish anything about their company without approval of a corporate communication or legal department?

In the article, Dennis Howlett said,

I am convinced now more than ever that the MySpace and Facebook generation are going to obliterate a lot of what we understand about business today. Much of what my generation of business people understand about business is based on applying command and control hierarchies that folk like my friend Sig Rinde abhor.

Anyone can understand command and control hierarchies if they have experienced it. I don’t think it’s about age but experience. The fact that you’re older doesn’t mean squat. Change is about people not age- 15, 20, 30, 40, 80 whatever.

A comment from Wendy Wickham to a prior post here about budgets (totally different topic but the comment is on point) illustrates what it takes to obliterate what we know and (better yet) do:

I tend to get around budgets by doing stuff cheap and under the radar to start with. Helps to be of the “do it now, apologize later” school of thought.

Hey – here’s what I can do for cheap. Imagine what I can do with some money.

The tactic has worked beautifully so far. I went from a budget of zero 3 years ago to having a budget of hey – whatever you want to spend. Now if they would only include TIME in that budget.

I don’t know how old Wendy is. It doesn’t matter. She hasn’t said here that she’s gone all defiant, rule-breaking crazy at work. I bet it works for Wendy because she’s good at what she does. I suspect she earned the right to make change happen within her organization and it had nothing to do with the generation she was from.

If change is what we strive for, shouldn’t we  just earn the right to make change happen? How do you do that?

Perhaps you know of a small group that works together but communicates primarily via email. You know they don’t particularly like this. This is a good group to offer up (not impose) something better on a small-scale. You may even find that people are willing to work outside the restraints of the firewall at home. What if that something better was a Facebook group? Don’t small successes have a way of duplicating themselves in other departments? All you need is a foot in the door.

How have you created change in your organization?

  • http://christytucker.wordpress.com/ Christy Tucker

    I’m very fortunate in my team that we have a manager who really encourages trying out new tools. All our team documentation is on a wiki, we have a Nexo group, our course calendar is a shared Google calendar, revision tracking database in Zoho Creator. A lot of our team communication happens through Skype, and we use Skype and Adobe Connect for team meetings. All of this is new to the company since my manager and I started last November.

    Because we’ve been successful in developing courses (and in less than half the development time the company was used to), other people are seeing what we’re doing and are starting to ask how we do it. I won’t pretend that we haven’t met resistance to what we’re doing in some cases, but we are slowly getting some people who are willing to try something new.

    In our case, I think the most effective way to create change is simply doing it ourselves and showing how it can succeed. We have taken Wendy’s “do it now, apologize later” approach, and it’s working pretty well. I expect that our team will always use more of these tools than the company as a whole, and that’s OK. Our team is all virtual and we have different needs than the people who work in the offices. We’re still leading by example by trying new things and taking the risks others are too afraid to take.

  • http://christytucker.wordpress.com Christy Tucker

    I’m very fortunate in my team that we have a manager who really encourages trying out new tools. All our team documentation is on a wiki, we have a Nexo group, our course calendar is a shared Google calendar, revision tracking database in Zoho Creator. A lot of our team communication happens through Skype, and we use Skype and Adobe Connect for team meetings. All of this is new to the company since my manager and I started last November.

    Because we’ve been successful in developing courses (and in less than half the development time the company was used to), other people are seeing what we’re doing and are starting to ask how we do it. I won’t pretend that we haven’t met resistance to what we’re doing in some cases, but we are slowly getting some people who are willing to try something new.

    In our case, I think the most effective way to create change is simply doing it ourselves and showing how it can succeed. We have taken Wendy’s “do it now, apologize later” approach, and it’s working pretty well. I expect that our team will always use more of these tools than the company as a whole, and that’s OK. Our team is all virtual and we have different needs than the people who work in the offices. We’re still leading by example by trying new things and taking the risks others are too afraid to take.

  • http://www.daveswhiteboard.com/ Dave Ferguson

    One of the things I like about Christy’s comment is that her examples start with the real-work product (our documentation, our calendar, our revision tracking), not with the particular technology (the wiki, Google, Zoho).

    Some hierarchical outfits are more rigid than others, so you have to choose where you’ll try to introduce change. Early in my career, I found it useful to present job aids as a form of training, rather than (as I saw them) as an alternative, because the organization thought training was good.

    In practice, producing results was good, and if in part we could produce them faster because of the use of job aids, the client groups gradually accepted them as part of an updated vision of training.

    Well, except for the AVP who thought it was “unprofessional” for people to have to look things up.

  • http://www.daveswhiteboard.com Dave Ferguson

    One of the things I like about Christy’s comment is that her examples start with the real-work product (our documentation, our calendar, our revision tracking), not with the particular technology (the wiki, Google, Zoho).

    Some hierarchical outfits are more rigid than others, so you have to choose where you’ll try to introduce change. Early in my career, I found it useful to present job aids as a form of training, rather than (as I saw them) as an alternative, because the organization thought training was good.

    In practice, producing results was good, and if in part we could produce them faster because of the use of job aids, the client groups gradually accepted them as part of an updated vision of training.

    Well, except for the AVP who thought it was “unprofessional” for people to have to look things up.

  • http://in-the-middle-of-the-curve.blogspot.com/ Wendy

    Thanks for thinking of me!

    The piece I left out of my little equation is that the projects I do tend to be strategic. Solving a problem that I know exists (or will exist shortly) in an attempt to make (at least my) life easier.

    Doing that requires keeping a real close eye on corporate trends.

    For example – I still get some pushback from a couple of co-workers that insist everyone NEEDS face-to-face training. They see my little project as a replacement for face-to-face. I see the eLearning initiative as a supplement to, not a replacement for, face-to-face training and continue to communicate this with them.

    Where strategy comes in: Looking at time / cost issues within our current environment – we had to build some tools to allow us to reach people who CAN’T come to face-to-face training:

    – Residents work crazy hours and have unpredictable rotations.
    – We have serious staffing problems in 2 of our 3 Departments.
    – Our organization is starting to outsource our Clinical and Business systems to other medical groups.

    Paying attention to trends makes it much easier to justify what you are doing.

    FYI – I’m 37 and 3/4 :’ )

    And I like the bats!

  • http://in-the-middle-of-the-curve.blogspot.com/ Wendy

    Thanks for thinking of me!

    The piece I left out of my little equation is that the projects I do tend to be strategic. Solving a problem that I know exists (or will exist shortly) in an attempt to make (at least my) life easier.

    Doing that requires keeping a real close eye on corporate trends.

    For example – I still get some pushback from a couple of co-workers that insist everyone NEEDS face-to-face training. They see my little project as a replacement for face-to-face. I see the eLearning initiative as a supplement to, not a replacement for, face-to-face training and continue to communicate this with them.

    Where strategy comes in: Looking at time / cost issues within our current environment – we had to build some tools to allow us to reach people who CAN’T come to face-to-face training:

    – Residents work crazy hours and have unpredictable rotations.
    – We have serious staffing problems in 2 of our 3 Departments.
    – Our organization is starting to outsource our Clinical and Business systems to other medical groups.

    Paying attention to trends makes it much easier to justify what you are doing.

    FYI – I’m 37 and 3/4 :’ )

    And I like the bats!

  • http://christytucker.wordpress.com/ Christy Tucker

    Thanks for the compliment Dave. That’s a good point; all of those technology uses started out with a problem that we needed to solve. We looked at several different technology options and chose what we thought would work best for that specific issue. (That’s part of why things are all over; different problems are solved in different places.)

    I won’t pretend that sometimes we have investigated things partly because we want to try something out; one of the reasons I started the wiki was because I wanted to gain some experience with that tool. We really did need a quick way to document as we developed processes, and I wanted something multiple people could contribute to as our team grew. A wiki really made the most sense.

    If we’re going to convince people to change, we do have to use tools that actually work for what they need to do, and that actually solve problems they have. Starting with the problem and choosing the tool to help solve it is definitely part of our strategy.

  • http://christytucker.wordpress.com Christy Tucker

    Thanks for the compliment Dave. That’s a good point; all of those technology uses started out with a problem that we needed to solve. We looked at several different technology options and chose what we thought would work best for that specific issue. (That’s part of why things are all over; different problems are solved in different places.)

    I won’t pretend that sometimes we have investigated things partly because we want to try something out; one of the reasons I started the wiki was because I wanted to gain some experience with that tool. We really did need a quick way to document as we developed processes, and I wanted something multiple people could contribute to as our team grew. A wiki really made the most sense.

    If we’re going to convince people to change, we do have to use tools that actually work for what they need to do, and that actually solve problems they have. Starting with the problem and choosing the tool to help solve it is definitely part of our strategy.

  • http://www.daveswhiteboard.com/ Dave Ferguson

    Christy: I’m with you on the investigation — I installed MediaWiki on a website just so I could fiddle with it and see what the admin side is like. Probably a bit like deciding to build your own motorcycle, but I wondered about things like spam posting (if the wiki’s completely open) and how you could deal with that.

    It sounds to me like your experience not only got done what you wanted, but could serve as a great proof-of-concept for an interested potential partner (internal or external). “You know, we found a way to do X and Y. Let me show you” sort of thing.

  • http://www.daveswhiteboard.com Dave Ferguson

    Christy: I’m with you on the investigation — I installed MediaWiki on a website just so I could fiddle with it and see what the admin side is like. Probably a bit like deciding to build your own motorcycle, but I wondered about things like spam posting (if the wiki’s completely open) and how you could deal with that.

    It sounds to me like your experience not only got done what you wanted, but could serve as a great proof-of-concept for an interested potential partner (internal or external). “You know, we found a way to do X and Y. Let me show you” sort of thing.

  • http://christytucker.wordpress.com/ Christy Tucker

    Our wiki’s visible to anyone but only editable by members; that’s how we got around the spam issue. If we were worried about the visibility of things or needed to keep proprietary content secret we could certainly have used a private wiki instead. I don’t know if our proof-of-concept is useful to you at all, but feel free to check it out if you want: http://plsonline.wikispaces.com/ The organizational structure of the wiki is, um, fairly organic.

    I’m still struggling with explaining the point of the wiki to some of our internal people. I haven’t figured out a good way to convince them that this solves a problem for us. Then again, I know one person in particular doesn’t really believe in documenting processes. That’s a whole other thing, and it has nothing to do with the tools and technology…

  • http://christytucker.wordpress.com Christy Tucker

    Our wiki’s visible to anyone but only editable by members; that’s how we got around the spam issue. If we were worried about the visibility of things or needed to keep proprietary content secret we could certainly have used a private wiki instead. I don’t know if our proof-of-concept is useful to you at all, but feel free to check it out if you want: http://plsonline.wikispaces.com/ The organizational structure of the wiki is, um, fairly organic.

    I’m still struggling with explaining the point of the wiki to some of our internal people. I haven’t figured out a good way to convince them that this solves a problem for us. Then again, I know one person in particular doesn’t really believe in documenting processes. That’s a whole other thing, and it has nothing to do with the tools and technology…

  • http://www.daveswhiteboard.com/ Dave Ferguson

    I made the “mistake” of entering Second Life this week, so I haven’t had the chance to take up Christy’s offer. One thing I’d like to do is collect and share examples of how organizations are applying wikis. The idea is to ignore the conceptual barriers (and the funny name) and focus on how this group of people achieved this solution.

    I’m hoping people might be willing to share screen shots of non-proprietary parts of their wikis, along with examples of how they’re used, even if it’s necessary to fictionalize some of the data (e.g., edit the names of coworkers or clients).

  • http://www.daveswhiteboard.com Dave Ferguson

    I made the “mistake” of entering Second Life this week, so I haven’t had the chance to take up Christy’s offer. One thing I’d like to do is collect and share examples of how organizations are applying wikis. The idea is to ignore the conceptual barriers (and the funny name) and focus on how this group of people achieved this solution.

    I’m hoping people might be willing to share screen shots of non-proprietary parts of their wikis, along with examples of how they’re used, even if it’s necessary to fictionalize some of the data (e.g., edit the names of coworkers or clients).

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    Dave-
    Yes, finding examples is a good idea. Let me through out a couple of requests and see what comes back.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com Janet Clarey

    Dave-
    Yes, finding examples is a good idea. Let me through out a couple of requests and see what comes back.

  • http://eduspaces.net/vinall/weblog/ Joan Vinall-Cox

    I began to use wikis for my classes when I changed teaching environments. WebCT had been a wonderful scaffold for learning how to use the computer as part of f2f courses, then I found myself in an environment that, at that time, had significant technical steps between me and getting my course on WebCT. So I moved to a wiki and a community blog. It worked really well. I was 59 and 3/4s.

  • http://eduspaces.net/vinall/weblog/ Joan Vinall-Cox

    I began to use wikis for my classes when I changed teaching environments. WebCT had been a wonderful scaffold for learning how to use the computer as part of f2f courses, then I found myself in an environment that, at that time, had significant technical steps between me and getting my course on WebCT. So I moved to a wiki and a community blog. It worked really well. I was 59 and 3/4s.

  • http://christytucker.wordpress.com/ Christy Tucker

    Joan, are you using just a wiki and community blog for your course now, or are you using those tools with WebCT?

    Janet, thanks for playing the gracious hostess for us. I feel like we’re all crashing at your place to have a conversation that’s gone off a bit from your original question. I appreciate you giving us the opportunity to keep talking!

  • http://christytucker.wordpress.com Christy Tucker

    Joan, are you using just a wiki and community blog for your course now, or are you using those tools with WebCT?

    Janet, thanks for playing the gracious hostess for us. I feel like we’re all crashing at your place to have a conversation that’s gone off a bit from your original question. I appreciate you giving us the opportunity to keep talking!

  • http://eduspaces.net/vinall/weblog/ Joan Vinall-Cox

    Hi Christy,
    I’m using a wiki and a community blog with one class, and am on a Blackboard site with another course where I am one of a team.

    And Janet, thanks for the space;->

  • http://eduspaces.net/vinall/weblog/ Joan Vinall-Cox

    Hi Christy,
    I’m using a wiki and a community blog with one class, and am on a Blackboard site with another course where I am one of a team.

    And Janet, thanks for the space;->

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com/ Janet Clarey

    I’m just grateful you all read my blog…I’m happy to host your conversation.

  • http://www.brandon-hall.com Janet Clarey

    I’m just grateful you all read my blog…I’m happy to host your conversation.

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