What I hope to gain from changing jobs

This summer, a big thing happened in my life. After six years at Axis, working with e-learning and then as the global editor for the intranet, I changed jobs. It was not my original idea when getting to know them, but once I knew more about their plans, I made the leap. Starting at the end of July, I now work as a Corporate Communications Manager at Haldex.

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Ignite: What is new for intranets and the digital workplace?

​Recently, Microsoft hosted their Ignite conference where they presented their view of what is coming. Yes, they are a vendor pushing their own agenda, but a very influential one.

Here are two summaries of Ignite I have found useful:

SharePoint 2016 – What’s new for intranets? by Sam Marshall. Sam works as a consultant for intranets and the digital workplace.

Ignite: Collaboration in a Modern Workplace Transformed, by Benjamin Niaulin. Benjamin is a SharePoint MVP and runs a company focused on migration.

Yes, much of what was presented might change before for example SharePoint 2016 is released. Meanwhile, it presents a view of the agenda of a massive company.

Harold Jarche summarizes 10+ years of PKM

Harold Jarche has summarized more than 10 years of thinking about Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM).

More and more, we need to take responsibility for our own learning and development, and Harold has summarized it in the Seek-Sense-Share paradigm. PKM has certainly helped me structure my personal professional learning, and therefore I warmly recommend it.

I have also started relating PKM to designing an intranet, for example via this presentation at the Intranätverk conference in Malmö 2014. It is a start, and in no way finished. But half-baked ideas like this might lead to something productive in the end.

Don’t lie to yourself

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

By far, this is the quote by Dostoyevsky that has had the most impact on me. Privately, to prioritize my time and energy, professionally to look through the intranet industry I work in. Some things can become the truth, just because we repeat them too many times for ourselves. Finally, we become like the frog entering the cold water, and never noticing the temperature gradually rising until it dies from not escaping the boiling water. Nobody wants to be bitter on the deathbed, but people are every day. Don’t be one of them.

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself” is a good start to any day. We all have limited resources and we owe it to ourselves, and others, to make the best of it. By telling ourselves the truth regarding who we are, were we stand, what feels good, what feels bad, and where we should move, we listen more to our hearts than to our minds. I promise, you will never regret that. Ceasing to love is never worth it.

Content Types in SharePoint – how you can benefit

Since I started working with SharePoint, Content Types have been somewhat of a mystery. Especially when I want to tell others what it is, and how they can benefit. Often, we end up either too abstract (“A way of handling content”) or too concrete (“Is it a Word file you mean?”). Thankfully, there are some great sources that can ease the pain, and let you win from using Content Types the correct way:

Lori Gowin, Microsoft Premier Field Engineer, devotes over an hour to Content Types, Managed Metadata, and You on the great Channel 9 MSDN site.

She starts off by stating the official definition of Content Types:

“Re-usable groups of settings for a category of content.”

And then quickly says it doesn’t tell her much, which is refreshing. Because it doesn’t make much sense for end users either. Lori then goes on to saying that a Content Type can contain any or all of the following:

  • Template
  • Custom Forms
  • Metadata Columns
  • Workflows
  • Information Management Policies
  • Document Information Panel

Complex? Yes. Potentially very rewarding? Yes!

The next source, of many, is Benjamin Niaulin‘s Understanding SharePoint Content Types where he defines a Content Type as:

“Reusable set of columns used together that defines a type of content in your organization.”

Yes, reusable is a key component here – not inventing the wheel as end users would know it. Benjamin emphasizes the demos in his webinar, making it easier for you to dive right into it and try. It is also a great start by talking about the difference between List/Library Columns and Site Columns, and how this links to the Content Query Web Part (CQWP).

Microsoft has a lot to offer on SharePoint, of course. One such page is their Plan content types and workflows in SharePoint 2013,  where their definition is:

“A content type defines the attributes of a list item, a document, or a folder.”

More importantly, they offer an Excel file that lets you record everything they discuss on that page. Very handy!

Once you know the basics, there are many videos around describing how to add them. One example is Peter Kalmstrom’s Use Content Types in SharePoint 2013 of Office 365, showing how to use both SharePoint and SharePoint Designer.

Lynda.com also delivered the SharePoint tutorial: Understanding content types, where they go through the basics in under 7 minutes.

What if you want to use SharePoint, but skip this whole Content Type thing? Well, you can’t, as Bjorn Furuknap describes:

“Your only choice to avoid using content types is not to use SharePoint. All data stored in SharePoint is stored using a content type.”

So, if you use SharePoint, you might as well learn to love and use Content Types. My advice is that you start from the above and move down among my links. These presentations have helped me go deeper into this complex subject.

PKM and the social intranets

After taking the highly valuable PKM in 40 days workshop, led by Harold Jarche, I have started thinking about applying these ideas to the use of social intranets. PKM stands for Personal Knowledge Mastery. Basically, it aims to help us take control of our professional development by applying the Seek-Sense-Share framework. The world and its information flow becomes more complex each day, also inside companies. PKM could help make sense of this, instead of adding to the stress.

Meanwhile, the use of social intranet software is becoming the norm. Basically, the vendors say their software helps foster collaboration, innovation, break silos, and more. All this sounds good, but I think the software only takes you 20% of the journey. The 80% of the potential lies in make the end users understand the potential, and then use it. It must fit the culture, and how people are comfortable working.

When we launched a social intranet, the uptake of the social Twitter-like features was slow. Yes, we educated people. Yes, we made it available to everyone. Yes, we paved the way and used it ourselves. But people hesitated. “What should I share with all?”. “Why should I share to all?” were two usual questions. And people felt too busy to post in the social forums. Or potentially awkward (“Why ask openly for something I can search for quickly, or already should know?”). Instead they kept mostly to the blogs and wikis, which are more familiar.

This is where PKM and the social intranets could be a way forward. Some basic ideas I want to explore going forward are:

  • How can an intranet break organizational and work related silos? All intranet software seem to include formal organisation directories, and formal team/project sites. But how can an intranet support more open and spontaneous cooperation, based on themes, interests, and curated content from the users?
  • Which concrete intranet tools should be available to support Seek-Sense-Share? All intranet software seem strong on the last Share part using blogs, feeds, and comments. Tools to support the Search part could be the search function, notifications, RSS web parts, and wikis for personal or mutual content creation. Tools to support Sense could be metadata, tags, discussion forums, and more.
  • When should the employees use which social tool on the intranet? How do we guide users so they feel informed and comfortable in each step? Not all want to share openly, but they might be interested in personal content curation for their own sake.

I hope PKM can be a way to foster cooperation, break silos, and help colleagues with Seek and Sense, and not only Share, which comes last.

Please see this as a start, and please pitch in with your ideas. It is a half-baked idea (thanks Harold for the expression), but hopefully on its way to be more baked.

Leadership: A key to the digital workplace

This week, three posts made a great contribution to my view on how leadership and management is needed in succeeding building the digital workplace.

The first was Jane McConnell’s Business is the Missed Opportunity of the Digital Workplace. Her annual survey continues to show how out-of-touch many managers are with what the employees need to succeed:

So the workforce in 55 percent of the companies used the intranet daily, if not hourly, in their work, yet senior management in only 13 percent considered it “business critical”?!

This, to me, sounds like managers are too engaged in other things than what their people find crucial, thereby aiming at the wrong things in their leadership.

The second post that made a great contribution this week, was Harold Jarche’s Good leaders connect. Switching from the more formal managers, to leadership, which does belong to more people than just managers. Let go of the busy work, and focus on the people instead:

The real job of leaders today is to “hold the space”, and in order to hold it they need to first establish a space where connections are flourishing.

So instead of the busy work, the leaders should help others connect, and thereby grow.

The third post was Tom Peter’s epic Herein a 737-page “Freebie”: EXCELLENCE. NO EXCUSES. 74 Ways to Launch Your Journey. Now. (And Then There’s Also “MOAP”).  The first of his “blinding flashes of the obvious” states:

BFO #1: If you (RELIGIOUSLY) help people—EVERY SINGLE PERSON, JUNIOR OR SENIOR, LIFER OR TEMP—grow and reach/exceed their perceived potential, then they in turn will bust their individual and collective butts to create great experiences for Clients.

In just three posts, I got so many ideas regarding the absolute crucial role managers and leaders play when turning an organization into a digital workplace. The more emphasis we place on dead-end meetings, busy work, and which technical tool can do what, the further away we come from what matters: The people.

Yes, in Tom’s words this is a blinding flash of the obvious. Nevertheless, or maybe because of it, it needs to be said over and over.

Using a priority list to gather intranet demands

The way ahead for an intranet can be foggy at times. Gathering demands on your intranet can be daunting, and come in all forms and shapes. E-mails, formal meetings, a coffee break, general complaint, etc.

So to make the intranet team’s job more transparent, and help the organization decide what is important, we decided to try something new.

We created a list with the names of all major business units in our company, alongside the intranet team as a separate unit. This because we can have other high priorities than the end users. Upgrading to a new service pack is one example. Then we list all the demands of each part of the organization, and ask them to rank the top three things they wish for. Before anything is listed, we sit down and talk to the business unit. Once we know what they need, we formulate the demand on a high level. This, so we don’t get caught up in technical details at first, but instead focus on business gains.

The simple, but potentially powerful, list could look like:

Business unit 1

  1. Highest priority
  2. Second highest priority
  3. Third highest priority

Business unit 2

  1. Highest priority
  2. Second highest priority
  3. Third highest priority

We just started doing this, but what I hope we could achieve is:

  • Transparency between all business units and us in the intranet team, so all know what is being prioritized.
  • A way for each business unit to join forces and decide what really is most important for them.
  • A way for us to know that we prioritize the correct things.

How do you collect and sort what is most important for your intranet?

Photo: © Dietmar Rabichrabich.de, Licence: Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0, Source: Wikimedia Commons

Influential e-learning and learning people on Twitter

Before I started working as a global intranet editor, I worked as an instructional designer and script writer for web based training for five years. Since then, I have gathered the names of people who are influential within the areas of e-learning and learning. If you are getting started in this professional area, the below list of names can be useful. It is by no means complete – there are so many skilled people working in this area. You will, however, get a good start by following these, and then Twitter will give you further advice on whom to follow.

All these names, and more, are also featured in my own list: https://twitter.com/patrikbergman/lists/e-learning-and-learning

You should also look at people’s lists, where they have listed people within a certain subject. Here are two, for example:

The Double by Dostoyevsky – a movie that saves this year of movies

[blockquote cite=”Dostoyevsky” type=”left, center, right”]We have all lost touch with life, we all limp, each to a greater or lesser degree.[/blockquote]

No matter how hard Godzilla pounds its enemies, angry people chase bitter people in cars, or secret agents pretend to be happy, none of them beat this movie this year: The Double based on Dostoyevsky’s work.

An interesting take on what would happen if we met ourselves, but with different personality traits. And it goes back to the choices we make in life, the crossroads where we select which way to take. Learning from another version of yourself, formed by other impressions, but still the same as you.

If you want to read the original book, I found the Double online at Penn State University.