Social Media and Learning in the Enterprise

Hierarchies into wirearchies!

Value our People More or Social Enterprise will be Lost

This is the title of an interesting post by Adrian Ashton over at Social Enterprise.

Adrian cites major problems with both pay and prospects with 60% of those working in the sector expecting to leave it within the next 5 years.

there are various strategies and policies around how social enterprise is going to save the world, but in all the hype and excitement we must be careful to remember that it can only do so if our people feel valued in doing so and we can retain them for the journey.

So social enterprises must join the ‘War for Talent‘.

At the heart of talent acquisition and retention is a single, simple question.  What is our winning Employee Value Proposition (EVP)?  What value can we offer employees that means they will join us, stay and develop their impact?

And this is where the social enterprise sector has a potential significant advantage over many for profits.  But an advantage that many social enterprises squander.

A social enterprise can offer meaning, purpose, authenticity (the chance to do what I am ‘meant’ to be doing, to express who I really am through my contribution – to do ‘good’ work) and impact.  It is not about pursuing profits but pursuing social justice.  About building a better world.  Make sure that you build this into your EVP and there will be no problem retaining top people – even if you are not paying top dollar.

But I see many social enterprises lose sight of their purpose.  They become more interested in writing finding applications than in the pursuit of social justice.  They will do whatever the funders ask them to – even if this makes them dependent and compliant.   Working in the best interests of the funder rather than in the best interests of those whom they are meant to serve.

If social enterprise is to have a future then managers and leaders in the sector must learn how to:

  • put the mission above managerialism
  • establish a balance between the demands of funders and the best interests of those whom they serve
  • give EVERY employee the chance to talk openly, honestly and regularly about what matters to them and how their role can be made more fulfilling

They need to become Progressive Managers.

Are You This Innovative?

Do you need to be?

Conscious Capitalism

I have been watching a movement develop over recent years called ‘conscious capitalism’ or ‘conscious business’.  It provides a different take on what it means to be a ‘social enterprise’.  The idea is being pioneered by amongst others, John Mackey, CEO of Wholefoods Supermarket.  In a recent speech he says:

A Conscious Business is one which has two major attributes that define it:

  1. It has a deeper purpose beyond only making profits. Just like individual people by following their hearts can discover their own sense of deeper purpose, so can the business enterprise. I believe that great businesses have great purposes that inspire them to higher levels of success. Think for a moment about some of the greatest businesses in the world and ask yourself whether they exist to fulfill a greater purpose beyond only maximizing profits. Certainly Apple does, driven by its intense desire to create “insanely great” technology which transforms our lives in positive ways. Clearly Google does too with its passion for discovery and desire to operate an ethical company. One of the best examples in the world is Grameen Bank in Bangladesh founded by 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammed Yunus, which exists to end poverty in Bangladesh and throughout the world. Every business has the potential to discover and actualize its higher purpose—it has the potential to become more conscious.
  2. The Conscious Business also understands the interdependency of all of the major stakeholder groups—customers, employees, investors, suppliers, communities, and the environment—and the business is managed to consciously create value for all of these major stakeholders. Instead of viewing the stakeholders in terms of win-lose relationships with conflicts of interest dominating their interactions, the Conscious Business understands that there is a harmony of interests between the stakeholder groups and that by working together greater value can be created for all of them. At Whole Foods we understand that management’s most important job is to make sure the team members are well trained and happy at their work. The team members in turn understand that their job is to satisfy and delight the customers and happy customers result in happy investors through the prosperity of the business. A virtuous circle is created with all of the stakeholders flourishing together.

Who will create the Conscious Businesses of the 21st century—businesses that have deeper purpose and are managed consciously to create value on behalf of all of the stakeholders?

John Mackey, May 2008

This feels to me like a much more coherent, honest and powerful approach to making business work for the planet than cleaving it along  ‘social enterprise = good; for profit = bad’ divide.

Of course words are relatively easy (although John Mackey has found that words have got him into lots of how water in the past.  We have to judge the movement by its achievements.  But I am hopeful.

You can read a much fuller paper by John Mackey called ‘Conscious Capitalism’ here.

Year 10 – Industry Day – Work Related and Enterprise Education

My 15 year old daughter brought home a letter yesterday telling me about Industry Day:

In conjunction with our Work Related Learning programme, we have organised Enterprise Days in which all year 10 pupils will participate.

Hidden curriculum lesson 1: Enterprise is not about freedom of expression and choice – it is about complying with the policy dictats of bureaucrats.  You’d better get used to following orders.

Teams of personnel from Industry will be coming into school to help run the days which aim to introduce pupils (to) aspects of Enterprise education.

Hidden curriculum lesson 2: Forget being a living, breathing person full passion, aspiration and imagination.  Once you are in Industry (why the capital – Orwellian reference perhaps?) you are just personnel in teams.  This way you don’t have to exercise any autonomy – you just have to follow orders.   Enterprise is a bit like a strange cult – we will introduce you to some aspects.  But others had best remain a mystery….

Hidden curriculum lesson 3: Understand the power of language to obfuscate and confuse.  I am a professional in enterprise education and I have no idea what ‘aspects of Enterprise education’ are.

Activities will focus on developing skills such as team building and communication and will be an excellent preparation towards work experience and the world of work.

Hidden curriculum lesson 4: There is a thing called the ‘world of work’.  It has laws, practices and ways of being that are different to the rest of society. You had better know how to conform.

Hidden curriculum lesson 5: If you struggle with team work and communication then the world of work/enterprise/Industry is not for you.  You had better develop your potential to survive in other worlds.  See Hidden curriculum lesson 14 below

Pupils will be working in teams and your child will take part in the Industry Day on one of the following days…

(and yes the first one is on April 1st – perhaps the whole thing is a spoof!)

Hidden curriculum lesson 6: There is little room for the individual in Industry.  They had better learn how to smooth of the sharp edges and get along with people.  We wouldn’t want too many ‘rugged individualists’ in Industry.  Forget what George Bernard Shaw said about all progress depending on the unreasonable man.  In industry we are polite, formulaic team players.

It is intended that pupils will not follow normal timings for the school day.  The day will be as follows:

08:45am – Sign in at Reception

9.00am – Industry conference starts

10.50am – Break

11.10am – Conference resumes

1.00pm – Conference ends – pupils involved in the Industry Day should go home

Hidden curriculum lesson 7: The world of work is dominated by the bosses clock.  You will do as you are told – when you are told.  Because employers are benevolent you will get a break.

Hidden curriculum lesson 8: If we do not have enough for you to do you will be laid off early.

Hidden curriculum lesson 9: You had better get used to confernces in Industry.  They are a lot like lessons – but longer.

In order to give the pupils a chance to experience some aspects of the world of work the pupils will be required to:

  • wear appropriate clothing for business; for the boys this could be simply school trousers, white shirt and a different tie (The David Brent school of office dress then).  For girls, an appropriate example would be their normal trousers or skirts and a plain top (as opposed to the haute couture that they usually wear to school).  This should not, therefore involve extra expense and I would stress that this is definitely not a ‘non uniform’ day.

Hidden curriculum lesson 10:  In the world of work you will be one of many clones – similarly dressed and equipped to deal with the challenges of the stationery cupboard.  In the world of work we will continue to discriminate by gender.

  • sign in at Reception by 9.00am.  This will mean that for this day the pupils will enter through the main entrance.

Hidden curriculum lesson 11: We will confuse you by our ambiguity over timings.  Although earlier we said that you could sign in at Reception at 08.45am – you must be signed in by no later than 09.00.  Got it?  Any non-compliance in the first instance will be dealt with by sarcasm.  You should be clear that in the world of work though time-keeping is a tool of power and any difficulty you have with it could lead to severe disciplinary consequences

Hidden curriculum lesson 12: The world of work is obsessed with clocking in and clocking off on time – get used to it.  Again forget autonomy, initiative and flexibility.

  • behave in an appropriate, business-like manner and follow all instructions from the personnel running the Industry Days

Hidden curriculum lesson 13: Learn to moderate your behaviour when in the world of work.  Understanding the mysteries of what constitutes ‘business-like’ could hold the keys to the kingdom of the corner office on the third floor.

Hidden curriculum lesson 14: There are alternatives to the ‘world of work’.  These include the worlds of:

  • warcraft
  • benefits
  • crime

If the ‘world of work’ as experienced on Industry does not set your heart racing and your soul singing then perhaps one of these is right for you?

It is no wonder that so many highly committed educationalists who take the development of young people seriously are less than supportive when it comes to ’embedding enterprise in the curriculum’.

If Enterprise champions are pedalling such ill-conceived and poorly thought through programmes they deserve to be left to their own devices.

My eldest daughter went through a similar programme last year.  The highlight for her was the ‘Enterprise Wordsearch’.  You have to love those teachers for their great sense of irony!

Management Lessons from Frazer Irving

Had the privilege of attending my first Creative Networks event at Leeds College of Art.  Frazer Irving – a wonderful illustrator talked about his career – from which I took the following:

  1. the seeds of your future are often sown early
  2. just because it sells does not mean it is good – heroin is not better than tofu – even if it does shift more units
  3. provoke, invoke, evoke
  4. 5 years of crappy jobs and being on the dole – being on the dole were the ‘happy days’
  5. ideas burning on the inside
  6. managers/editors can leave you with tears streaming down your face and your soul ripped out and thrown on the floor
  7. the bad times provide the fuel and drive to allow the good
  8. an incessant streak of optimism helps – on being rejected by judges in a portrait competition Frazer chose to believe it was because he wasn’t important – although it might have been because I wasn’t very good
  9. it takes a lot of time, training, passion and life experience to really master your subject
  10. great technology combined with great passion and skills produce remarkable, beautiful and important results
  11. sometimes you need someone to say ‘chin up – you will be alright’
  12. sometimes when your art is ripped off it gets you great new gigs – life-changing breaks…
  13. be a slave to the muse – let the story dictate the style
  14. it is really about finding out who you are and what you can become
  15. treat me as a ‘pencil monkey’ and you will get mediocrity
  16. in the comic world a lot of bad product is there because of poor management – comics and every other industry on the planet – management is perfectly evolved to get the results it gets
  17. if it is bad it is (nearly always) because the managers/editors have put the wrong people on the job
  18. if you have recruited the wrong people then forcing them to compromise WILL lead to mediocrity
  19. recruit great talent carefully and then trust it do deliver on its own terms – not yours
  20. when your hobby becomes your job – you get another hobby
  21. musicians jam and sometimes the results are great – what is the jamming equivalent for you?
  22. be careful about your reputation – one person saying you migh tnot hit a deadline in a public forum can be a killer
  23. sometimes it is best not to claim the credit for all your ideas
  24. it really is full of ups and downs – but you come out of the downs with even more resources – psychological and technical if not financial

This was a great networking event – convival atmosphere – great facilities – good food – great speakers and good managment.

If only all networking opportunities were this good!

Are you Getting the Gifts?

Initiative, creativity and passion are gifts.

They are benefactions that employees choose, day by day and moment by moment, to give or withhold.

They cannot be commanded.

Gary Hamel – The Future of Management

Nor can they be bought.

You can’t get these gifts from employees by challenging them to work harder.

Nor by exhorting them to ‘beat the competition’ or ‘care for the customers’.

You will only get these gifts from employees when you give them a purpose that merits their best.

Using the Right and Left Brain at Work

Most organisations are designed to maximise the contribution of employees left brains to the pursuit of success. Targets are set, plans are laid, logic is deployed, progress is measured and accountability is maintained. Such ‘left brain’ activities fit nicely the milieu of meetings, time pressures, deadlines and procedures that form the social system of most organisations.

However most of us choose an employer based on ‘right brain’ criteria in pursuit of ‘right brain’ goals.

  • Will the work be fulfilling?
  • Will I part of a great team?
  • Will my efforts help to make the world a better place?
  • Will the job give me a lifestyle that works for me?

It is the ‘right brain’ that is the seat of creativity, imagination, innovation and passion. Unless we build a social system that feeds, stimulates and enables right brain contributions we should continue to expect as many as 1 in 4 of our employees to be looking to leave in the next 12 months, while 2 of the remaining three will be in survival (‘count the years, months and days until I retire’) mode.

Take a quick audit of your social system (meetings, processes and procedures) at work. How many opportunities in the average week are there for meaningful ‘right brain’ conversations that are likely to lead to the successful pursuit of right brain goals?

Of course it is easy for our left brains to rationalise away this paucity of ‘right brain’ opportunity in the name of efficiency and the pursuit of effectiveness. To overcome this tendency just remind your left brain of the critical importance of enabling good people to do great work, and of the need for frequent and regular innovation and renewal, if your organisation is to survive never mind thrive in the next few years.

You may find that it gives your right brain just enough time and space to do some big picture thinking.

Need More Creative People?

If folks don’t appear to be creative at work, it’s not because they lack imagination, it’s because they lack opportunity.

– Gary Hamel – The Future of Management

Goals, Priorities and Resources; where does it all go wrong?

Spending time developing and clarifying goals is rarely time wasted. Although some of us spend time clarifying our work goals few of us spend time developing goals for other important aspects of our lives – family, community and self. This is one of the reasons why we find work-life balance so hard to achieve. Goals that have been set in our professional lives are not balanced by goals in other areas. The goals that we have set start to demand creativity and resources and before we know it…

Sometimes we set goals that do not provide clear priorities. Or they provide us with so many priorities that we may as well have no priorities at all. Priorities are immediate next steps that will move us closer to our goals. Good priorities are ones that we cannot fail to address. They are so simple and appealing that they cry out for us to get on with them.

But often we forget to allocate time and other resources to our priorities. Without resources to go with them our priorities are worthless. Without doubt time is the most precious resource that we can commit to a priority. I often find myself working with senior managers to clarify goals and priorities (no more than three or four at a time) and then schedule time in busy diaries to spend on them.

By scheduling two 90 minute blocks of time every week to work on priorities many managers ‘magically’ start to make tangible progress towards goals that had previously frustrated them.