A new life in Malmö begins

During the first two years of the pandemic, I was fortunate to work 100% remotely at Play’n GO and the Digital Workplace Group (DWG). Two world-leading organizations in their respective fields, with many challenges and opportunities. But with no offices (DWG) or offices hours away (Play’n GO), I started to feel isolated. So, after two years of digital team meetings, the time came to do something else. By then, a job I really felt sounded right for me appeared, and since May I am the product owner of the intranet at Malmö Stad with access to three offices although the job is done from home as well.

Since then, I have become a key player in the team, plus met a lot of skilled and awfully nice people who work at Malmö Stad since you can do a difference for a lot of people. I am also a member of the steering group for acquiring a new learning management system (LMS) and a member of a team focusing on Working Smarter. This means I not only feel less isolated. I can also take on a broader approach to intranets and digital workplaces. With 27 000 employees, Malmö City is a big employer, and the better we collaborate and innovate in our teams, the better the service we can provide to the citizens of Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city.

A very rewarding thing that also happened is that I was selected to be one of the judges in the Intranet and Digital Workplace Awards, held by the legendary Step Two people. Humbling and awfully fascinating to see so many skilled and devoted entries, which of course also gave me insights on which kinds of intranets and digital workplaces are awarded and why. I also managed to record the 27th episode of “Att vakna ur meningkrisen” (in Swedish) – my interpretation of the work of professor John Vervaeke. Plus a recording in English on how I use the application Obsidian to structure my knowledge work around the Brothers Karamazov.

I am in a good place now, which you can tell also by me posting more often on LinkedIn. The time has come to work closely with the world-leading experts to see how far we all can take our work.

Photo by Pontus Ohlsson on Unsplash

A new road opens, thanks to my network

The summer began with me being asked by my former employer to leave the company alongside many others. The pandemic hit the automotive industry very hard, and apparently, not even the company expert on Office 365 could be saved. At the same time, I prepared and went through the biggest house move ever, where I and the kids and the dog moved to a new place. So what to do to find a new professional future?

I reached out on LinkedIn saying what happened and then asking for help to find something interesting again. That post has not been viewed by more than 24 000 people globally, and it directly led to my two new work arrangements. This is the true power of building a rich network of experts, which I have built over a decade. I learned from Harold Jarche, Valdis Krebs, Michelle Ockers, and many others by then, and continued this year after year.

Starting on September 1, I will work 80% as the Digital Workplace Architect at Play n’ GO and 20% as the Community Manager Nordics for the Digital Workplace Group (DWG) to expand the collaboration between companies in these crucial times. This means I both take care of a digital workplace and advice others on how to do this. The best of two worlds.

So, my advice today is for you to keep building a rich network of people that you learn from. One day you might need them more than ever like I did this summer, and until that day you have grown every day thanks to them.

The Copenhagen books

Yesterday, I held a presentation on knowledge management and the digital workplace at the wonderful IntraTeam event in Copenhagen. During the presentation, I showed books that have helped me understand knowledge management and how to apply it.

Here are the books I mentioned:

The Knowledge Manager’s Handbook:

If only we knew what we know:

The obstacle is the way:

The knowledge illusion:

Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

Gnothi seauton

Getting to know yourself can be joyful and distressing. We are complex creatures and of course have strengths and weaknesses. Facing these can be an eye-opening experience. As a part of this life-long journey, I went to Understand Myself – a personality test developed by Dr. Jordan B Peterson and his team. They have constructed the Big Five Aspects scale based on thousands of people cross-culturally. Their test contains 10 pages with statements you either agree or disagree with on a scale. This is how they describe the dimensions:

“Extraversion (associated with positive emotion), Neuroticism (negative emotion), Agreeableness (the primary dimension of care for others), Conscientiousness (associated with duty, precision and responsibility) and Openness (interest in ideas and aesthetics)”

I took the test as recommended – in a calm state of mind where I am not disturbed. These were my results:

  • Agreeableness: Compassion and Politeness: (65) Moderately High.
  • Industriousness and Orderliness: (31) Moderately Low
  • Extraversion: Enthusiasm and Assertiveness: (89) Very High
  • Neuroticism: Withdrawal and Volatility (56): Average
  • Openness to Experience: Openness and Intellect: (96) Exceptionally High

On the positive note, thanks to my Extraversion and Openness to Experience, I should engage in work that aims to revolutionize the way we work and think, preferably close to top management. I should also use my energy to talk and write about this, based in my interest in philosophy and new ways of working and learning. This is also where I am at work today, given the projects I have initiated and the talks I give at conferences. I just can’t wait to see where the next step will take us.

On another note, my conscientiousness is moderately low, and this could be my Achilles heel if I don’t pay attention. Since I so easily can drift away in my thinking or reading or music, I must use lists, routines, and plans to get things done in time without missing any details. This also works for me at work, since I follow meticulous plans where others can see my progress. Such project plans stop me from thinking about the next big thing and instead do the next thing on the plan. But during the projects, there is always something in me that longs for the detailed project phase to be over, so the philosophizing can start again. I do not grow especially well when given detailed routine work for too long.

Remember that a test that shows your strengths and weaknesses can be one of many tools for building a stable personality and knowing what kind of work is best suited for you. Remember also, that if you have a hard time accepting a weakness, read these words of Arthur Schopenhauer:

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident”

So, even if you think “that is not me!”, after some time you might see it as self-evident and see what activities and tools and people can help you balance your weaknesses. We also have different kinds of strengths and weaknesses, where a balanced team can do wonderful things. Just look at the current digital workplace project I am involved in: The external project manager helps me keep track of all the details, after I have sold the idea to top management, recommended the vendor, and have grand plans for where this will land. A weakness can be turned to something good with the help of tools and people around you.

Photo by Hans Reniers on Unsplash

Let the cloud workshops begin

Next week will for sure be adventurous! We are conducting no less than two full-day workshops with our chosen vendor Precio Fishbone to sort out the document handling and quality management system. We also have the formal kickoff with 12 colleagues from different parts of the company and the world, where they tell us how we could work smarter, from their perspective. I have been talking about the digital workplace for years, and now it is happening.

Precio Fishbone and their praised product suite Omnia were the ones who best matched our needs. Since a year back, our Quality department had collected all the limitations of the current ways of using documents and then added their own needs as well. Meanwhile, we also took the latest version of our company´s processes and saw a chance to turn them into a truly global system, connected to the document handling.

After comparing different vendors for the document handling and the quality management system, it was clear that Omnia had what we needed. Their third product, the Intranet, also looked and worked well with central notifications, beautiful news publishing, and constant renewal. Precio Fishbone also invites their customers to webinars about their roadmap and their next releases, plus a Yammer group for customers. This appealed to me who want to make sure the vendor both listens to what the customers need, plus are inventive and tell us what is happening.

Next week will probably add a few gray hairs from all the thinking, but oh it is so worth it. At last, we can build an environment that truly helps our colleagues, based on current thoughts on Knowledge Management, the Digital Workplace, and Modern Workplace Learning. I will for sure keep you posted on our journey to the clouds.


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L&D and the Digital Workplace are merging

Last week, I spent two days in Belgium including the beautiful town of Ghent, pictured above. The reason for my visit was to collaborate with my colleagues at Haldex when starting our e-learning efforts globally. Since they are subject matter experts and I have a background in professional education, including instructional design, we could find a mutual road forward. Frankly, I was so glad to return to the e-learning discussions again after spending years with intranets and the digital workplace. Then it dawned upon me that those two big areas in my professional life are merging, which I also wrote about in a LinkedIn post that sparked quite some interest.

The reason for this interest is probably since a lot of people also feel Learning & Development (L&D) is about to take a big leap forward in the coming years. People such as Jane Hart and Harold Jarche (see the LinkedIn post for their profiles) have long been advocating Modern Workplace Learning and Personal Knowledge Mastery as an integral part of working. Meanwhile, my focus the last years, the digital workplace, is taking big steps in this direction too. By using Delve for AI-driven profiles, Yammer for supporting communities of practice, and SharePoint to structure files so staff can re-use them, L&D and the Digital Workplace are merging. Add a modern Learning Management System (LMS) that includes modules for performance support and can be integrated into SharePoint, and you have a solid ground to stand on.

I used to work as an instructional designer, and now work as a communications manager with a focus on building a learning organization based on knowledge management and the digital workplace. I guess those professions will merge more and more and that the formal titles will mean less. No matter if you are an instructional designer, L&D manager, or communications manager, your role is to help others understand the world, work smarter and learn better. I so look forward to the coming years when much will change for the better.

Project Starman has started

Now when Haldex is moving our intranet into Office 365, we formed a formal project with global members and of course chose a great name. First off is our FastTrack collaboration with Microsoft. When you engage in this, be prepared to answer some really technical questions on Azure, authentication, proxy servers, federated identity providers, and more. “How do your users log on to their computers and applications in your current environment?” might sound rather straight forward, but then you get to choose between ‘userPrincipalName’ and ‘sAMAccountName’ So, bring a devoted server hero to your first meeting with Microsoft.

And no matter what I have heard people telling me about the migration included in FastTrack, we are left with three choices: File shares, Box, and Google Drive. This probably means Microsoft will not assist us with the migration from SharePoint on-prem, which I guess is a very typical user scenario. It also means we either handle the migration ourselves, or let a vendor include it as part of their deal.

In FastTrack you are also pointed to their Driving Adoption portal, but I often find these kinds of portals a bit too general and marketing oriented. Instead, I recommend anyone wanting to move to Office 365 the white papers from 2tolead. Yes, they somewhat pitch their company but above all Kanwal Khipple and Richard Harbridge clearly show why people appreciate their SharePoint knowledge. I browse through their guides almost daily for inspiration and to not miss vital details.

Soon the holidays are here but first I will invite about 10 colleagues to the project start-up. Our project office told me you can’t underestimate the value of meeting all face-to-face, and I believe them.


The first concrete steps towards Office 365

A week ago, the management team of Haldex said yes to the idea of moving our intranet into the cloud. So now all my ideas over the years on how to build an including digital workplace for all employees can become a reality. But what are the first steps to take? It is easy to get stuck in all the models of the digital workplace or listen to vendors who say it takes a day to install their product. For me, I instead start in an internal pay-it-forward exercise to collect great ideas and in a more formal step of signing up for Microsoft’s FastTrack. I tell you more about these steps in the short movie below.

By the way, pay close attention also to Microsoft’s Planning Services. If you already are a customer of Microsoft, there is a good chance you can use free days to plan your setup and migration together with a Microsoft Partner. Just follow the steps in the Planning Services link and ask your Office 365 admin to log in and check how many days you have. And if you are a Microsoft partner, signing up for Planning Services is a must.

Photo by Wim Arys on Unsplash.

Back in black, and loving it

Last week, I did something rewarding and simple. I booked two meetings with very knowledgeable and nice people, Hanna from TetraPak and Fredrik from IKEA. We sat down on two separate mornings, had our black coffee, and enjoyed the sheer pleasure of talking uninterrupted for an hour or two about our work challenges and potential roads ahead. It doesn’t matter if our companies employ 2.000, 20.000, or 200.000 people – we all have challenges and headaches and win from talking about them.

My advice this week is don’t believe the hype: Spend less time reading about “grand strategies of implementing digital disruption” (what? be much more concrete please), “the intranet is dead” (no it isn’t, be quiet), and “our digital workplace solution will solve all your problems” (no it won’t since you don’t know even 1% of how our company functions). Instead, sit down with people you respect and from who you can learn. And drink coffee.