Yacktime explores where things can go....especially in the world of HR and organisations. With an enterprise social media mindset Yacktime looks to explore new ideas and move the static event based traditional HR interventions to a fluid, purposeful and action oriented future.

When it is not enough….

There has never been a more exciting time to be in music or software or writing. If you have the talent the world of the Internet can carry you to the top. Never can so many brilliant minds so quickly evaluate and critique. The word viral suddenly has lost it’s sticky infectious odour. It is a badge of honour and no rubber gloves are needed. For software start ups, aspiring writers, even teachers……the masses will decide where you fit.

So what if what you have is not enough?

The incredible filter of global expectation will by nature sort and shake until there is a result. This process leaves millions of songs, billions of code, trillions of interactions not quite enough.

Graham Greene in the Power and the Glory wrote “there is always a moment in childhood where your future opens up”. One moment. Maybe that song you wrote will be played to one person on one day and change their life. As a teacher perhaps one explanation will help a student understand something that they will remember forever.

We all can’t be Bono, Zuckerberg, the Old Spice Man or Rebecca Black.

But we can be there tomorrow. Looking for a moment where we can use whatever we do to help someone else. One person perhaps. There won’t be a Klout score. You won’t get a retweet. It won’t go viral. But it just may be enough.


Check the fine print

Lawyers or even conveyancing clerks live in a world where adversaries are welcomed. I just finished a brutal settlement on a house sale that never seemed to end. After being caught in a spiralling free fall, an adjusting property market impacted by the economy, floods and uncertainty created a drawn out sale that was a bitter pill to swallow. This emotion was not helpful and was soon to make things worse. We did not check the fine print.

It started with cracks in the pool, cracks that seemed to follow into our minds. From paying a tenant to leave on time to meet the purchasers date, dealing with unfinished building applications from 2001, trying to figure out why we were obliged to include in the sale a ride on mower that belonged to the tenant and a delayed settlement date at the request of the purchaser. Yes after we paid the tenant to leave. And let’s not get started on the broken down video projector.

Our property used to be our dream house but had become a haunted house. So last weekend we took charge. After all this was the house where our kids grew up.

We let the kids loose to explore their childhood home for the last time. We then walked the empty house room by room, paced around the yard each recalling the memories from the past:
- the marathon games of monopoly with a warm cosy winter fire
- watching Lord of the Rings with family and pre teens spooked by precious wedding rings
- we observed the graveyard of two long gone hermit crabs
- the backyard cricket epics where the tennis ball in the fence signified a shot on the full is out
- the many birthdays, story times, poster projects, game nights and family bounces on the trampoline.

It made me realize. There is a finer print that even the finest print in a legal contract. While a legal contract may override verbal assurances (as we found out) a higher law prevailed for houses. The imprints. The memories. The sounds of the past you can still hear quite clearly even in the echo of an empty house. These imprints define the difference between a house and a home.

As I entered our new home I was refreshed knowing it was a chance to learn. In another 20 years perhaps I will be doing that walk again listening for the memories we created. We all wonder where the years go and as we get caught up in life’s struggles we forget that in everything we do we leave an imprint.

It is not legal but it is the finest print of all.



It is just a name badge

A great question to ask a business leader or an operations leader is “what is your biggest business problem”?

I asked a leader recently who answered “It is retention of our employees in the first 12 months.”

I dug a little. “First 12 months or first three months?”
“First three months. “
“And it’s not recruitment…you said retention?”
“Yes, the people are great we either hold them long term or lose them early on.”

He went on to describe the orientation process and it included all of the usual classic HR orientation tools. The induction checklist kicked off the party closely followed by a week of technical training.

When a person starts a new job the impact on an individual and associated family and friend networks is immense.

At the end of Day 1 you can imagine the briefcase or handbag swinging past the picket gate and the keys being thrown on the kitchen bench, you hear someone yell out “she’s home” and a little mini crowd gathers around. The crowd scours the new starters facial expressions looking for hints and finally they can hold it in no longer and ask the inevitable question:
“Did you get a name badge?”

Ridiculous. More like “what is it like and what are they like?”

While the HR folk are ticking the checkboxes the new starter is figuring out what it is like to work here. Who do I know, how do I shine, will I be accepted, am I good enough, who will I eat lunch with. All of these things are social. The orientation of a new employee is social.

We need to redefine the checklist. Imagine this process now in a world of a mature internal enterprise social network:

- does this person already know anyone?
- have they been connected with welcoming colleagues?
- after 5, 10, 30 days has the employee connected with the right quantity of teams, colleagues, and interest groups?
- have the early wins been recognized?
- has the new employee identified other employees with common social interests?
- has the senior executive personally welcomed them?
- has the new employee felt comfortable to start publishing their thoughts on the Company blog?
- have we asked the new employee for their first impressions?
- have we asked the new employee what the best ideas were from past employers?

I could continue but I think you get the idea of what a social induction checklist would look like.

Orientation of a new employee is an example of a HR/ Business process that requires reengineering to make it social. The simplest way to do this is via a sophisticated enterprise social network.

The redesign is not to make orientation social. Orientation already is social by nature. It is to take our processes and make them social so we can measure and control the things that matter. The things that really make a difference.

Social technologies give HR the tools to measure and improve the critical people processes.

If you are a Business Leader or HR innovator and wish to use social technology to improve your business then please drop me a line on Twitter @masonqld

(Source: Yackstar.com)


Hot Mommas

I don’t normally stay up late tweeting hot mommas but the other night I did. It started with a typical male comment to a tweet about why there are less women MBAs. It was a warm exchange and included a great comment by @DorothyDalton that more than 3 women at any level changes the dynamic. With encouragement from @ChiefHotMomma and @lynnbarbour I started to think about the rise of women’s networks and social business. I think the two forces are ready to converge.

The next decade is a decade of social. The capability that organizations build in the next number of years will be the cultural infrastructure for the next phase of commerce and organizational development. Infrastructure in companies will not be about concrete or buildings or servers but about culture and capability of people.

With that in mind there is an untapped potential in organizations. Potential evolving from a strong vision and immense dedication that will soon transfer wonderfully into business success in the next decade. The Womens Network.

For some the Womens network began as a not so secret club that the male dominated workforce gave a cynical wink at. Imagining a work style Tupperware party where women plotted against the glass ceiling at times made it hard to gather the momentum and credibility needed to go mainstream. In spite of this core skills and capability have been developed that will be critical for the social business era. Consider:

1. The ability to reach out cross boundaries. Inside and outside of the organization. Women’s networks are great at this and have set a new standard of connecting across the silos.

2. Focussing on non technical development. The skills that women’s networks build are non technical. Typically the focus is on building influence, resilience and leadership not how to do a narrow technical job. These skills are fundamental to the fast changing world we are facing.

3. The ability to engage with senior leaders. Many organizations have taken seriously the development of women. While there is a long way to go, women in male dominated industries often have great exposure to senior leaders. The ability to relate and influence senior leaders is often intuitive in women. In an era where leadership will be more about influence than control this capability will also be important.

Social business will define the next decade. Leaders who can network across traditional boundaries, develop leadership in people, and influence others will be the leaders who succeed.

I suspect many of these new era leaders will be women.

(Source: Yackstar.com)


Social Sailing

Imagine quitting your job or even better getting a massive pay out and heading down to the marina, unhitching your yacht and sailing off.

I have a friend who did this. Took off. Wind in his hair, salt on his skin, fish for his supper.

He has exciting stories of 20 foot swells and racing darkness to reach the harbour.

Here is something he told me this week that I found profound.

He was looking at Yackstar and looking specifically at the ability to get live real time feedback from employees.

We were discussing how this was better than traditional slow cycle employee surveys for finding out what our employees think and feel on a daily basis.

Then the old wise crusty sailor comment came out:

"You can’t control the strength or direction of the wind but you can adjust your sails."

The GFC demonstrated how quickly things can change. It could be a rise in a currency or a health situation or terrorist threat or event. Things can suddenly change. The loss of a CEO, poor financial results, a safety incident or organizational restructure.

To have the ability to quickly tap into employee sentiment and employee views is now mandatory to survive. Lagged responses are irresponsible. The tools are now readily available to be make us ready! Just as people go online to get their bank statements rather than wait for the monthly statement, managers should be able to access up to the minute data on how employees are going.

By understanding the strength and direction of our people’s views we can adjust our sails and harness the energy. Yep. Even sail out of trouble.

Ok. Enough sailor talk me hearties.

Start adjusting your sails and harness the social energy of your people.

(Source: Yackstar.com)


Social Cycle Time

The analysts are circling. The start ups are popping up. Social vendors have are getting aggressive and the VC money men are both pumped and nervous. The c word is popping up….the commodity word. Are these basic social tools all there is?  So what will happen?

The consulting firms are making the right noises. No longer is it about adoption of tools. The culture word is being mentioned and so is the classic acronym ROI.

The M word is being mentioned.  Metrics.  Let’s take on this debate with a great hypothetical question. Will social tools impact on cycle time?  I knew you were thinking of that too.

It is easy to look at service metric cycles. Let’s go bigger. I met with an old school projects man. He is in charge of scheduling a $16 Billion capital project and has had hundreds of millions of $ of impact sitting on his hard drive. If he moves the schedule by a day the impact is tens of millions!   So I asked a simple question. How do organizations compress and maximize schedule?

This man has a mind like a steel trap and answered me quickly and logically.  He had four points:

1.  Look at the critical path.  Are your assumptions logical?  Can better sequencing help?  Can you reduce overlaps and do things in parallel?  

2. Add resourcing.  Spend more $.  Add more people.

3. Reduce the lead time of items especially of materials.

4. Look closely at internal especially at approvals and review periods.

So lets apply our knowledge of social to these levers.  If you can improve these processes you will save $ millions a day.  Here are a few thoughts.

The above schedule relies primarily on the assumptions of a few highly skilled experts.  By making their assumptions transparent would this improve the process.

The above processes rely on formal handovers.  Contractual processes.  Formal sequencing.  Would additional informal communication speed the process up?

The above processes rely on unrelated groups having their parts of the puzzle sequenced together.  Lead times are critical.  If you save time on one piece unless the next item also can shift you get no benefit.  It is a silo approach.  What if informal networks provided additional context to each area?

All this is so foreign to major capital projects people.  I have spoken to the Head of a Project Management division recently and he knows there is a better way that uses true collaboration.  He also has no idea in the world how to change things.

Interesting.  I would pay a few hundred dollars a day to figure it out.  Would you?

(Source: yackstar.com)


Time for a coffee and chat?

Over Easter I travelled to the country region, Gippsland in south eastern Australia where I grew up.  I didn’t go back to the family farm because I didn’t grow up on a farm but I did the next best thing .  I stayed with my cousin who did grow up on a farm and also ran the family dairy farm until recently.  As we sat around his kitchen table I could have easily been in a dairy farm kitchen  - unfortunately the multi nationals made small dairy farms impossible to survive so we were on his mini acreage property in a town called Drouin.  There was a paddock out the front but a housing development out the side.

So like preserving an ancient linguistic heritage we spoke a language that is fast disappearing.  The language of country common sense.

Like - why were electric can openers invented when the task of opening a can is so simple.  And why UHF milk is a part of a global conspiracy to maximise profit and minimise choice and how Home Brand goods actually all end up coming from China.  I loved the part where we talked about how our grandfathers who chopped wood and mowed lawns manually did not need to go to a gym.  Unfortunately my memories of my pop are of a big rotund man with braces and the highest pants you could ever imagine.  As I ate my bacon and tapped my growing tummy I felt part of the circle of life.

We chatted over some expertly brewed coffee where we lamented the rise of the instant society. Instant potato? Instant tea?  If you can’t boil a potato or even dunk a tea bag there must be so much time saved which begs the question.  With all of this saved time available what have we done with it?  

I shared an article from Twitter from @marshallk about the invention and rise of instant coffee. http://t.co/TISvT5c Here the process of saving time and cost actually eliminated the true taste of coffee.  We agreed around the table that the process of making a coffee, from grinding the beans and tamping the ground coffee and heating the milk is a fundamental part of the enjoyment of a cup of coffee. 

It reminded me of a trip a few years ago to Bosnia.  Bosnian coffee is thick. A bit like Turkish coffee it is to be sipped slowly.  I quite enjoyed the strong taste but my Bosnian host leant over and said “you are drinking the coffee too quickly.  This cup of coffee should take at least an hour to drink!”

Sharing a coffee was really about the process of sitting together and conversing.    The rise of instant has robbed us.  The return of barista staffed coffee shops has started to reinvent this ritual. Perhaps all of those people sitting around are not wasting time?

Like coffee, communication channels are also changing with swings and roundabouts.  Texts and twittering can save us time.   

This is not a modern day rant. Interestingly the old fashioned telegrams were more like text messages than letters.  The term “watg” stood for “where are the goods” and was a commonly understood abbreviation. The terms Thx (thanks), YF (wife), TMR tomorrow) Sez, (says) all from a teenagers SMS? No. From an age old morse code book of abbreviations!

My guess is carrier pigeon messages were also quite brief and Morse Code operators were rarely verbose!  

Communication has always been a constant dance between the medium and the content.   

In our lifetime we will have the opportunity to create new forms of communication.  This does not have to be dominated by technology.  While the Dick Tracy watch could well be the iphone 5, the rise of the blog is like a modern day letter or for those with lots of Twitter followers like oracles that pass from town to town.  Social networks perhaps are like community round tables or perhaps Belgium beer halls.        

So at this juncture I want to take a moment to ask something.  

If you could design business communication for our future what would it look like?

As we reinvent our way of communicating in the workplace can we also learn from the past and from various cultural perspectives?  Can we not confuse instant with shallow?  Can we steal back the time we have saved and use it to converse? 

I am thinking of business conversations around the dairy farmers kitchen or chats in a Bosnian coffee house.  Here is the start of a list:
Where listening is as important as talking.  
Where we allow an idea to evolve before we act.  
Where we gather the wisdom of experience rather than leaving it to the momentum of ego.
Where face to face time is valued.
Where there is time to reflect.  
We reply to a question when asked.
We introduce our friends and colleagues to others respectfully.
Where ideas can come from anywhere.
Where revolutionary ideas that do good can spread.

What would you like to see?

(Source: Yackstar.com)


Be passionate

I spoke at a conference recently and without meaning to I went into “passionate mode”. It was a mix between a footy half time speech and an altar call at an evangelistic rally. The theme was why can’t regular employees have a say and an opinion at work. Why do they have to just shut up? I was on a roll and with a different audience there would have been cheers and spontaneous clapping.

I played AFL (Australian football) as a teenager. My football coach name was Bob and he was an interesting mix. Not only was he a rabid and inspirational football coach, he was a left wing Labour man in a community of right wing conservatives. He also was a lay preacher that spoke eloquently on Sundays.

On Saturdays at half time Bob roared at our team. “You have to hate them. Just hate them. Now go out there and bloody well put your bodies on the line.” Bob got into his zone. Spittle would fly as he eloquently inspired the rough lads from the housing commission area in this industrial town to make a difference on the football field.

Now back in the Gospel Hall there were a few rules. Actually quite a lot of rules and you did not swear. Words like shit, bastard, bloody and the more obvious bad words were not allowed. The occasional Flanders like damnation was ok. So having Bob as a football coach was confusing and uncomfortable. Should I tell the church leaders that Bob had a potty mouth?

Each week after inspirational and rugged football speeches on a Saturday, Sunday would bring the same tone but the words were different. The audience was different. Instead of muddy, bruised teenagers from the wrong side of the line there were upstanding Christian conservative families. The passion was just as palpable but the images now were not of bodies being put on the line but of bodies nailed to the cross. His speciality though was the Book of Revelation and stories of riders of various coloured horses and a whole lot of seals and just as many trumpets. The story always ended ended with an exhortation to the church of Laodicea who “were neither hot nor cold ” and because they were lukewarm were going to be spewed out of God’s mouth. That was always the best bit.

In my mixed up conservative world I listened entirely uncomfortable. I knew when he got into the zone what would happen. I had heard it all the day before. I was totally fearful. My mind was imagining the worst. It was just a matter of time before the word bloody popped out. Instead of exhortations to love he was going to revert to the hate and the inevitable exhortation to ” bloody well get out there and live like Jesus”.

As a look back on things there is one word that describes this man. Passionate.

Social networks can evoke passion. As we take social networks into business there are leaders who are uncomfortable with this. They are just like I was - sitting in the pew waiting for the b word to shock the grannies and start a whole series of meetings focussing on qualities of leadership and the questionable nature of open sharing times. Leaders are not always comfortable with passion and instead of working with the positive and energizing parts of it, hide behind policies and HR people and look to shut it down.

As I look back on things I would ask for more Bob’s. More passion. More people prepared to make a difference. Give me less rules. Less policies. More common sense and an environment where you are more concerned about you personally doing the right thing than someone else doing the wrong thing.

So what is the answer? Lighten up. Allow some passion. If we are comfortable with sharing our passions then everyone can have a say. Instead of controlling carefully everything that is said we can breed behaviors where people can express their passions. This breeds a culture where people really do care.

As business grapple with the reality that social networks do provide a platform for the passionate a word of advice in the words of Bob- “let’s bloody well get out there and give it a go!”

(Source: Yackstar.com)


Speed Social

I know what my wife likes.  Romance.  Attention.  In fact I have broken it down:

  • Stop what I am doing
  • Look into her eyes
  • Tussle her hair playfully
  • Gently touch her face
  • Look her in the eyes and gaze
  • Tell her that I love her
  • Brush my lips across her mouth
  • Mouth over her ear and whisper another I love you
  • Gaze again
  • Kiss her passionately

Life is busy.  It was early and my turn to take our son to tennis.  We were running late but as the boy packed his bag I realised I had a good 35 seconds.  It was obvious.  I know you can see where this is going.  The whole process above can be compressed.  Why drag it out?  So like clicking “reduce file size” on a PDF I gave my wife what she had been wanting. 

High fives….I did not even take 35 seconds. I executed the above integrated plan seamlessly. I was clearly in a new paradigm.

The process above is how some companies think about social.  They know they have to do it.  They have broken it down and pulled together a good execution plan.  Some companies have even tied 25% of bonus plans to its success. Their plans are good but something is missing.  And it is kinda the whole main thing.  It is not social.

Social initiatives must be intense and focussed.  But they need time. And heart. To build relationships.  To build community.  It is a human capital project.  It is building the relational infrastructure that will service the business for decades.  For such a critical initiative why would we leave it for IT folk to play around with widgets or for random project people to explore non sanctioned ways of doing business? 

My wife threw her arm up at me.  Rolled over and mumbled “get lost”.  Possibly like your customers and employees will with your social business efforts.

Be warned.

Footnote: I have put away my iPhone for the rest of the weekend. : )

(Source: yackstar.com)


A global expert or man standing in his underpants?

I try and talk while brushing my teeth.  You can’t understand me. Last night while I was gurgly mumbling away I was interrupted by my wife.

"We need to talk - what have you been doing all night on the Twitter? I have been waiting!"

"I have been blogging." I mumbled.

I then received “the look.”  If this part was filmed and was on the US show “Lie to Me” the camera would have zeroed in on my wife’s pretty face.  First on the initial surprised widening of her eyes,  followed by an assymetrical raise of one eyebrow showing disbelief and mild contempt, along with a whimsical smile and sparkle of the eyes.

While no words were spoken in that instant this is the unsaid microblog conversation that went on:

Me: ” I am a global expert.”

Her: “You are a man standing in my bathroom in his underpants.”

Me: “I was retweeted by @mjcarty, @mijori23 @exmosis and further a mysterious blogger named @umairh and we agreed to change the way GDP was calculated globally.”

Further single raised eyebrow.

Her: “No one from Dachis Group have retweeted you have they?”

This cut to my manhood and as I tugged on the frayed elastic hem of my Bonds underpants I had a further revelation and self reflective moment.

The powerful and motivating ability of a retweet.

The research and education community know this well.  For years academics have taken years to research and write before submitting themselves to the intoxicating and challenging peer review process.  In fact given what academics could earn in industry is a powerful testament to the intoxicating culture of contribution, recognition and achievement.

Technology now allows this happen in short bursts. To the point that grown men fiddle with their iPhones waiting for the @ button to light up after a blog post.  What a powerful tool that could be used in companies!  

Throw out the engagement survey action plans and replace it with an internal and external social media plan. Create experts. Incubate a culture of contribution and recognition. This is how you get engagement.

So what am I?  Am I a global expert or a man standing in his underpants?

Neither. I am a blogger.

(Source: yackstar.com)