Management Innovation Exchange

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Final report from the the Management 2.0 Hackathon now available


This morning, we published the final report from the Management 2.0 Hackathon on the Management Innovation Exchange website.

Click here to download the Management 2.0 Hackathon Report

You can read Jonathan Opp and my blog post announcing it here.

Or download the report directly as a PDF here.

This was a fun process. Since beginning in November of last year, the hackathon had about 900 contributors from six continents. I’ll be in Boston on Wednesday at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference highlighting some of our favorites hacks to come out of the process.

So read through the report and if you find some innovative ideas for hacking management in it, or if you are inspired to attempt to hack management yourself by what you read, please let me know. I’d love to hear about it!

How do you collaborate without leaving introverts behind?


Last week, I watched The Power of Introverts, an excellent TED Talk by Susan Cain (she also has a book out on the same subject called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking).

In her talk, which has been viewed almost two million times since it was posted last month, Susan makes a compelling case that the open, collaborative world we embrace today is not always set up to harness the best work from introverts.

As we’ve moved toward more open office plans, collaborative processes like design thinking, and into a digital world now dominated by the word “social,” Susan wonders who is looking out for the introverts? Should introverts feel guilty about wanting to do their thinking and working alone? And can introverts do great work in group settings?

I spent more than a decade working in the inherently collaborative world of open source software. I regularly lead brand positioning and strategy projects as open, collaborative, social exercises involving entire communities of people in the process. So Susan’s talk made me ask myself a tough question:

By emphasizing a collaborative, social process am I risking leaving introverts—and their best ideas—behind?

It’s no secret that I am a life-long introvert myself. I am much more comfortable writing or reading a blog post in my living room and discussing it via comments or Twitter than I am sitting and talking about it with someone over coffee or, worse, at a social gathering like a party or a conference.

So I get where Susan is coming from. Deeply.

In her TED Talk, she at one point pleads, “Stop the madness for constant group work.” When she said this, it hit me pretty hard. The first thing that came to my mind was the one gazillion design thinking ideation sessions I’ve either run or participated in over the last 7 or 8 years.

I’ve personally never had much trouble speaking up during ideation/brainstorming sessions. But I also suspect I am a relatively mild introvert compared to others I know. I started to wonder what the hard-core introverts were thinking during these sessions (and if you were one of them, feel free to tell me below in the comments).

Did they feel like they were being talked over by extroverts? Did they feel like they were out of their element, or needed more time to process their thoughts before blurting them out and having them recorded on the wall? Would they have preferred to contemplate on their own instead of thinking socially as part of a group?

Then another thought stuck me: I’ve met a lot of software engineers over the years, and while not all of them are introverts, many of them are. Frankly, I don’t think too many extreme extroverts could stand to sit in their office and stare at a computer screen all day. But for some introverted software developers, this is bliss.

Yet open source software is developed in a collaborative, social process… run in many cases by introverts.

Why does that work?

For me at least, the answer comes down to the difference between virtual and in-person collaboration. Open source software developers do much of their collaborating online. Often this is because they are geographically dispersed around the world. But I’ve also seen developers sitting two feet away from each other communicating via instant messages or email.

Online collaboration has two key advantages over in-person collaboration for introverts:

1) It allows them to avoid stressful in-person social interactions.

2) It allows them to take their time, contemplate, and think deeply before responding.

Over the past two years at New Kind, I’ve personally been doing less and less in-person design thinking ideation sessions, instead hosting more open, collaborative sessions online. Sometimes they are efforts like the hackathons I’ve run for the Management Innovation Exchange that involve hundreds of people collaborating from all around the world. Other times they are client projects where the collaborating happens via Basecamp or another online tool.

I’ve found I enjoy facilitating sessions online much more than in-person sessions, and I think it suits my personality better. Because the collaboration happens asynchronously, I can take my time crafting thoughtful responses and generating ideas. I can wait until I’m in the right frame of mind to participate, and most importantly, I can work with others, yet be alone at the same time.

I suspect some of these same advantages also translate to participants in online group sessions as well. And for this reason, perhaps many introverts are more comfortable in collaborative projects online than in person. Some of the best ideas I’ve seen emerge from online collaborative exercises come from people who usually remain completely silent in meetings.

In many cases, online collaborative projects provide the best of both worlds—you can collaborate and build off the ideas of others, but still take the time to process your thoughts before you add them (and as a special bonus, you don’t have the stress of in-person social interaction).

If you consider yourself an introvert, I’d love to hear about your experiences participating in collaborative projects online vs. in person. Do you agree with Susan Cain’s assessment that collaborative group projects are not designed to get the best out of introverts? Do you find yourself making better contributions and contributing more in online projects? Or are online collaborative groups just as bad for you as in-person sessions, and you’d rather just work completely on your own?

I’d love to hear what you think.

Update from the MIX Management 2.0 Hackathon


Over the past year, I’ve had the fun job of being the Community Guide on the Management Innovation Exchange  (we call it the MIX). It’s a great gig because I have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with smart folks from around the world who are interested in improving the way our organizations work.

Over the past few months, we’ve been running an effort we call a “management hackathon.” We ran our first hackathon experiment last year, with a small group of about 60 management innovators attempting to uncover how to enable communities of passion in or around organizations (if you’d like to read the report highlighting our findings, go here).

Our newest effort is called the Management 2.0 Hackathon, and for this one we’ve gone much bigger. This hackathon is a collaborative effort to come up with innovative management hacks based on the principles that have made the Web one of the most adaptable, innovative, and inspiring things humans have ever created. Our goal is to take the best lessons from the Web’s success and apply them to reinvent management practices in organizations.

There are now over 750 contributors taking part from six continents. For fun, here’s a map showing where our participants live and work:

Over on the MIX website, I’ve written a few blog posts highlighting some of our recent accomplishments.

Here’s a link to a post about the navigator tool we created, highlighting examples of organizations that are already using the principles of the Web to innovate today.

Here’s a link to a post I just wrote late last week with some of the most innovative hack ideas that have been suggested by contributors.

Sound interesting? If you’d like to participate in the Management 2.0 Hackathon and share and help develop management hacks with us, it’s not too late. In fact, we’ve had almost 50 new participants join in the past week alone.

If you want to start hacking with us, go here to create your account and read the instructions for our current sprint. It’d be great to have you on the team!

Sprint #1 of the Management 2.0 Hackathon starts today


A few weeks ago at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara my friends at the Management Innovation Exchange (MIX) announced the Management 2.0 Hackathon.

The hackathon is a large-scale collaborative effort where folks from all around the world are joining together to develop a set of innovative management hacks that might help fix what is broken about the way our organizations operate today.

I’ll be joined as the guide/facilitator for this hackathon by my MIX colleague Michele Zanini and New Kind’s own Jonathan Opp.

Over the past few weeks, almost 450 people have signed up. So it looks like it is going to be a lot of fun.

Today it is finally time to get started. If you haven’t signed up yet and are interested, it is very easy—just go here to create your account, then review the orientation materials and head straight to the Sprint #1 instructions.

If you want to get a taste of what we are covering in Sprint #1, here’s a video introduction to the sprint from Gary Hamel.

Introducing the Management 2.0 Hackathon


Earlier this year, some of you joined me for the Communities of Passion Hackathon Pilot over on the Management Innovation Exchange. It was a really great experience—I met some wonderful folks, and we did some pretty interesting hacking (I’ll share the results of our work later this week).

Today, here at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, the MIX announced a brand new hackathon, which we are calling the Management 2.0 Hackathon. In this project, we’ll be exploring how we can harness the principles of the Web to build organizations that are fit for the future.

I’ll be joined as the guide/facilitator for this hackathon by my MIX colleague Michele Zanini and New Kind’s own Jonathan Opp.

Sound interesting? If you want to learn more about it, go read the announcement on the MIX here, then sign up and join us! It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Some words of thanks from a new author


The first copies of The Ad-Free Brand showed up at the house on Friday afternoon. So I guess that means, after nine months of work, it is finally out. Awesome.

This book is the work of many people. It is filled with the helpful edits and brilliant suggestions of Jonathan Opp, Rebecca Fernandez, and Rick Kughen, plus the insightful contributions of Kevin Keller, Greg DeKoenigsberg, Paul Frields, and many others. It is a product of the patience and support of my wonderful girlfriend Maggie and my New Kind friends David Burney, Matt Muñoz, Tom Rabon, and Elizabeth Hipps.

There are so many people who’ve helped me out over the past year, and I owe all of them a debt of gratitude.

I thought I’d share the acknowledgments from the back of the book here in the hopes of introducing you to the work of a few of the people who helped me make this book a reality. Please take a few minutes to click through the links and get to know some of these great folks and the very cool projects they are working on. I can only hope you learn as much from them as I have.

Acknowledgments

One day last September, I received an interesting email out of the blue from someone named Lisa who had stumbled across a blog post of mine. She asked me whether I had ever lived in Indiana as a child. I was born in West Lafayette, Indiana.

As it turns out, Lisa was my neighbor and childhood best friend. I moved to Kansas City, Missouri at age 5 and had lost touch with her until I received this email, almost 35 years later.

As Lisa and I caught up, we learned we each had book publishing in the blood. Lisa is a Senior Publicist at Pearson in Indianapolis. I spent the first five years of my career as a literary agent and editor. In one email to her, I mentioned that I had been thinking of going back to my publishing roots and actually writing a book of my own. Lisa introduced me to Rick Kuhgen, an Executive Editor at Pearson. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was writing.

So I’d like to thank my childhood friend and current publicist, Lisa Jacobsen-Brown, without whom this book would probably still be something I was thinking about doing… eventually. I’d also to thank Rick Kuhgen, a true writer’s editor—responsive, thoughtful, and with a hint of poetry to his own words.

I’ve benefitted from the wisdom and friendship of many wonderful people along the journey.

Thanks first to Maggie, my source of energy. This book would have never been possible without you.

Thanks to my mother and father, who I hope see parts of themselves in me and in this book.

Thanks to my sister, Erika, who has been a great friend and confidant ever since she quit telling on me.

To Matthew Szulik, my mentor and friend, for letting the best ideas win. To Jonathan Opp for helping me find a voice. To David Burney, for opening my eyes and making me a designer. To Matt Muñoz, for always bringing optimism and passion.

To Jeff Mackanic, for your friendship and for quietly, consistently making everything happen. To Rebecca Fernandez, for bringing value before words. To DeLisa Alexander, for your faith and friendship.

To Tom Rabon and Elizabeth Hipps, for making each day at New Kind better than the last.

To all of my friends from the Red Hat nation, past and present, around the world. Special thanks to the Red Hat Brand Communications + Design team, a group of the most talented folks I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside.

To Kevin Keller, for your wise advice, guidance, and contributions.

To Michele Zanini, Polly LaBarre, Gary Hamel, and the team at the Management Innovation Exchange for introducing me to a new set of friends.

To Bob Young, Lisa Sullivan, Michael Tiemann, and Donnie Barnes, who were open when open wasn’t cool.

To Greg DeKoenigsberg, Jeremy Hogan, Chris Blizzard, Paul Frields, and Max Spevack, who know more about inspiring communities than I ever will.

To Kevin Trapani and Dan Moore, for inspiring us to consider a better way.

To Alina Wheeler and Jelly Helm, for perspective, at the right time.

To the rest of the Pearson team, especially Seth Kerney, Megan Wade, and Bill Camarda, for all of your hard work bringing this book to life.

And finally, thanks to my other friends who don’t give a crap about brands, ad-free or not. You know who you are, and I appreciate everything you do.

In a tough job market, your open source experience may be an asset in more ways than one


Does this describe you?

You’ve been using open source software or contributing to open source projects for a long time. Perhaps you are in a job where you utilize open source tools regularly, or maybe you are just fooling around with them for fun or to learn new skills.

You’ve been known to tell (possibly true) stories that highlight how long you’ve been a part of the open source world (from “I remember downloading the first version of Fedora” to “I was in the room when the term open source was coined”). But, most importantly, you consider yourself an active member of one or more open source communities.<img title=”” src=”http://opensource.com/sites/all/modules/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif&#8221; alt=”” />

Did you ever consider that your time spent participating in these open source communities might be more than just good technology experience? That it might prepare you for jobs completely unrelated to using or making software?

In college, I studied history and political science. Not because I wanted to be a political scientist or a historian but because, well… actually I’m not really sure.

But in retrospect, I’m really happy I studied these fields.

Why? They gave me plenty of experience doing research, writing, and learning to articulate my thoughts and ideas effectively. While I don’t remember how Alexander the Great defeated the Persians at the battle of Issus and I can no longer compare and contrast the views of Rousseau and Locke effectively, I use many skills I learned when studying these subjects on a daily basis.

At the risk of sounding like an advertisement for a liberal arts education, let me get to the point.

While you’ve been happily participating in open source communities because you have a need for a piece of software or want to help make it better, you may also be the beneficiary of an important side effect. You may be getting experience in how organizations of the future will be run.

Over the past few years, I’ve had an opportunity to work with organizations in many different industries, including finance, education, service, hospitality, even in the government and non-profit worlds. Many of these organizations are busy exploring how they can better compete using techniques that many of us in the open source world have already successfully put into practice.

For example, some are interested in testing large-scale collaborative projects involving people outside their organizations. Others want to know how to create internal meritocracies where people feel empowered and the best ideas can come from anywhere. Others want to begin to form more meaningful relationships with the community of people who care about their organizations. If you’ve been reading opensource.com, you’ve seen us highlight many examples in business, government, education, health, and elsewhere.

These organizations have a lot to learn from those of you who already have real experience using these practices in real communities.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell introduced the idea that those who became world-class practitioners at their craft (he uses examples like Mozart, Steve Jobs, and the Beatles), have done so in part because they were able to get an inordinate amount of practice before others in their field. According to the research Gladwell cites in the book, a person needs about 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery.

How close are you to putting in 10,000 hours participating in the open source world? If you’ve spent 40 hours a week working in open source communities for 5 years, you may have your 10,000 hours in already.

But even if you don’t yet have 10,000 hours, my guess is you’ve already learned quite a bit about how open source communities work.

So if you believe that the organizations of the future may be run using many of the same principles that are currently being used to great effect in open source communities, and you already have plenty of experience working within those communities, could you be an asset to an organization that is looking for better ways to compete? And could you be an asset not just because of your open source technology skills, but also because of your open source thinking skills?

An example: My friends Dave Mason and Jonathan Opp, who each have well more than 10,000 hours of experience in the open source world, recently entered the joint Harvard Business Review / McKinsey M-Prize contest on the Management Innovation Exchange with a hack deeply inspired by their open source experience.

Their idea? Take the principle of “forking” as practiced in open source development projects and apply it to the way organizations are managed (read the full details of their hack here). Their “Free to Fork” hack was recently selected from a pool of almost 150 entries submitted by people from around the world as one of 20 finalists for the M-Prize. Pretty impressive.

So think about it: Beyond your technology experience, what else have you learned from working in open source communities that might be valuable to a potential employer? Are there hidden skills or ways of thinking open source has taught you that might be worth highlighting in a job interview or in making the case for a promotion or new assignment?

Start thinking of your open source experience as a new set of thinking and working skills that may be very much in demand in organizations hoping to remain competitive in the future.

By doing so, you might open yourself up to interesting opportunities you wouldn’t have considered before.

[This post originally appeared on opensource.com]

Thoughts from the HCI Engagement and Retention Conference in Chicago


Yesterday I had the privilege of participating in two panel discussions at the Human Capital Institute’s Engagement and Retention Conference in Chicago.

I moderated the first panel on behalf of my friends at the Management Innovation Exchange. This panel featured the winners of the first Human Capital M-Prize: Lisa Haneberg of MPI, Joris Luijke of Atlassian, and Doug Solomon of IDEO. The Human Capital M-Prize competition, run jointly by HCI and the MIX, was designed to find bold ideas, stories, and innovations highlighting ways to unleash the passion of people within our organizations.

Lisa began by presenting her winning hack, entitled Start with a better question to create a better talent management system: the Talent Management Cloud. She made the case that the “old kind” model where engagement and retention are owned within the HR function is fundamentally broken. Because there are so many factors well beyond the control and influence of HR alone, responsibility for talent management must be the responsibility of the whole organization. I’d encourage you to go take a look at Lisa’s winning hack if you are interested in learning how to put her more holistic model into practice.

Next, Joris, who came in all the way from Sydney for the conference, took on the performance review– something he described (accurately in my book) as universally hated by both employees and HR people around the world. Joris shared his story of how Atlassian designed a kinder, gentler, more humane performance review system and rolled it out within the organization. You can read Joris’s original story Atlassian’s Big Experiment with Performance Reviews on the MIX.

Finally, since I make no secret of being an IDEO fanboy, I was excited to share the stage with Doug Solomon, CTO of IDEO. Doug shared his winning story, entitled The Tube: IDEO Builds a Collaboration System That Inspires Through Passion. Frustrated by so-called collaboration systems that IDEO found desperately lacking, they took on the challenge of designing their own, using a model based on facilitating person-to-person interaction more akin to Facebook than your typical knowledgebase or database-driven collaboration system. Doug also shared that a company called Moxiesoft has taken The Tube and turned it into a product, which I can’t wait to go check out.

At the end of the session HCI announced a new M-Prize, which will run from now through December 9th. This M-Prize is called “Encouraging the Gift of Leadership” and will be an effort to discover innovative ideas for how we can stimulate and support the development of “natural” hierarchies, where influence comes from the ability to lead, rather than from positional power within organizations. Have a great idea? You should go enter it on the MIX.

Later that afternoon, I participated in another panel where Katie Ratkiewicz of HCI shared the results of a recent survey regarding the relationship between career development efforts within organizations and overall employee engagement. I was joined on the panel by Stuart Crabb, Head of Learning and Development at Facebook, Russell Lobsenz, Director of Talent Development at Orbitz, and Cathy Welsh, SVP of Leadership Consulting at Lee Hecht Harrison.

I was particularly interested to hear Stuart’s comments regarding Facebook’s approach to career development. Basically, his thinking is that career development is primarily the employee’s responsibility (not the company’s) to drive, something that I expect was fairly controversial to many in the room (judging from the data shared in the survey), but which I couldn’t agree with more fully.

While I was excited to hear him say it out loud (because I wasn’t sure whether I’d be driven from the room tarred and feathered if I’d done it on my own), I did acknowledge that there were prerequisites for an approach where employees are accountable for their own career development to work. In my view, there has to be an entrepreneurial culture in place in the organization where employees have the freedom to explore new opportunities. I certainly felt we had those sort of opportunities while I was at Red Hat and it sounds like there is a culture based on freedom and personal accountability at Facebook as well.

I want to thank my new friends at the Human Capital Institute for a great day and some wonderful hospitality. Also thanks to my friends in the MIX community and especially Lisa, Joris, and Doug for participating on the panel. I’ll see all of you again soon!

An interview about communities of passion, the MIX, and HCI


The other day, Peter Clayton of Total Picture Radio interviewed me in preparation for the panel I’ll me moderating at the HCI Engagement and Retention Conference in Chicago in July.

We talked about the Management Innovation Exchange and I shared some ideas from the winning hacks and stories of the folks that will be on the panel: Lisa Haneberg, Joris Luijke, and Doug Solomon. In addition, we talked more broadly about communities of passion, employee engagement, and social media, among other things.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Dark Matter Matters has a snazzy new look. ‘Bout time.


Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent some time toiling away in wordpress.com hell, updating the static content and look of this blog for the first time since I launched it at the beginning of 2009.

I’ve added some new sections, including one for my forthcoming book, The Ad-Free Brand (Did I mention I wrote a book? Oh yeah, like 1000 times. Sorry about that). Right now I’ve put a draft of the introduction up there, and I’d love any comments or suggestions– still time left to edit before the book comes out!

I also added pages featuring the key communities I’m working with right now, opensource.com and the Management Innovation Exchange. Other than that, it’s a spiffy new template, a few new graphics here and there and, hopefully, some more original articles featuring content from the book over the coming months.

I still have some additional changes I’d like to make, adding TypeKit fonts, customizing the stylesheet a bit, you know, blog nerd stuff. But I’m decently pleased with where it is right now, so I thought I’d point it out.

Thanks for taking a look!

Hey, I Wrote a Book!

The Ad-Free Brand: Secrets to Building Successful Brands in a Digital World

Available now in print and electronic versions.

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