Is empathy the missing link in tech integration for hybrid?
Building the hybrid workplace requires technology integrators to pay more attention than ever to human behaviour. Canada’s ET Group is using the principles of design thinking to make empathy central to the development process.
In a world where technology is always evolving, it’s so easy to get distracted by all the bells and whistles, and forget about what actually matters: the user.
This is a huge problem, especially when it comes to creating hybrid workplaces, because when human behaviour is not taken into account, there will be more problems created rather than solved.
However, we are able to avoid this problem by using design thinking. And a crucial element of design thinking is empathy. Empathy allows us to focus on the human experience, and really understand the true needs and desires of the user; even some they weren’t aware they had. Through walking in their shoes, we see the problem from as many perspectives as possible. We are able to identify all of the gaps and explore many different approaches to finding the long-term hybrid workplace solution.
That’s not to say that it’s always an easy process. The idea of a deep discovery phase can be off-putting for some clients. They assume that it’s going to be too time consuming. But that’s actually not the case. By taking the time to listen to an organization’s story, we get to the best solution much faster than if we had simply installed whatever tech is new or trendy. Plus inviting clients to be so involved allows for deeper and more trusting relationships, because they feel truly seen and understood.
Discover more reasons why empathy matters every step of the way when using design thinking, and how it opens the door for more creative and inclusive solutions by reading our latest interview with WORKTECH Academy here.
ET Group is a Corporate Member of WORKTECH Academy. This article is the third in a series on the role of design thinking in technology integration for the hybrid workplace. Read the first two articles here and here.
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How can technology and design collaborate on hybrid?
Technology integrators and interior designers need to work closely to create the hybrid workplace, but too often there is a divide. ET Group is using the principles of design thinking to build bridges – is this a blueprint for collaboration?
Where designing hybrid workspaces is concerned, technology is to design as music is to dancing. You can’t have one without the other. Sure, you can separate them, but paired together they’re just so much better.
Include technology early in the design process
In order to create successful hybrid strategies, companies need to think about space and technology collaboratively, not as separate design phases with different desired outcomes. Too often, organizations are leaving technology decisions to be made at the end of the design process, and they are missing out on opportunities to optimize these choices to suit all of their employees’ needs. By taking a human-centered approach, Design Thinking creates the right foundation for the ultimate partnership between interior designers and technology integrators.
Lead as co-experts
This is why it’s important to think of designers and technology integrators as co-experts, and give them the opportunities to collaborate with each other as early as possible. Design Thinking allows for a process that allows both parties to collaborate and build on each others different areas of expertise where best suited, in order to co-create the ideal hybrid workspace for the client. As our CEO Dirk Propfe explained to WORKTECH Academy, “We need to jump into each other’s swim lanes to learn together”.
5 key principles to a succesful relationship
At ET Group there are 5 big things we often think about when working with designers in order to guarantee a successful outcome:
1. Define what success looks like.
2. Agree on the process.
3. Focus on experience, not just appearance.
4. Prototype together early and often.
5. Keep it simple.
You can read about these 5 big things in more detail, as well as the rest of our interview with WORKTECH Academy here, and understand why we believe Design Thinking will help achieve better collaboration between design and technology.
ET Group is a Corporate Member of WORKTECH Academy. This article is the second in a series on the role of design thinking in technology integration for the hybrid workplace. Read the first article here.
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Can design thinking unlock technology integration for hybrid workspaces?
When it comes to the topic of moving to a hybrid workplace, it’s clear that the key to making it happen is through technology. One of the biggest challenges companies experience today is how to integrate technology successfully into their current systems and processes. Is design thinking the answer?
Designing a hybrid workplace
As companies look to quickly adopt new solutions to enable their hybrid workforce, organizations are struggling to find harmony between the technology tools themselves and the people driving the organization forward. Without a people-centric perspective, companies lack the right balance that is needed to find success to the hybrid workplace.
Could it be that a new approach is required to unlock technology integration in the hybrid workplace?
For the last several years we have been pioneering an approach known as design thinking with our global clients and experiencing huge success. Design thinking is a human-centric approach that seeks to put people at the centre of the solution they are creating for and develop solutions with the user in mind. Design thinking really hones in on the process of discovering and defining every aspect of your business, and looking at it all from every possible perspective. We want to know who your people are, what they do, and why they do it.
WORKTECH Academy interview
We sat down with WORKTECH Academy and explained our approach on the principles of design thinking and why it helps integrate technology successfully in the hybrid workplace.
Check out our full interview with WORKTECH Academy to learn all about Design Thinking, and how it can help bring your technology to the next level.
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ET Group was recognized for transforming our ways of working. Here’s how we did it.
Everyone wants to work at a place where they feel valued. Where you have the freedom and power to make real change. Where you feel like you have a voice and a purpose. At ET Group, these are only a few of the reasons why our employees love coming to work everyday, and are the driving force behind one of our greatest achievements.
By Ciara Williams, ET Group
In December, 2021, ET Group President and CEO Dirk Propfe traveled to Las Vegas to attend the Inaugural Tony Hsieh Award gathering, and accepted the Tony Hsieh Award on behalf of our organization. The award, presented by the Greenlight Giving Foundation & Keith Ferrazzi, honours the life of the late Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh and the ways that he continues to inspire organizations to be innovative, authentic, and create better ways of fostering connection. Tony believed that there was always room for improvement and that above all else, people come first.
For ET Group, it is an extreme honour to receive this award, and to be seen for all of the hard work and dedication that was put into transforming our ways of working to be more empowering, inclusive and ultimately life-giving.
While accepting the award, Dirk gave an emotional and eye-opening talk about all of the ways ET Group stands out, and why our way of working is not only different, but essential to our success.
You can watch his talk here:
Dirk begins by telling a personal story about the two life changing experiences that inspired him to transform ET Group into what it is today.
A stark awakening in the Galapagos Islands
The first experience details his time visiting the Galapagos Islands, where he witnessed a lot of awe and beauty, being surrounded by so much life. But there was also a lot of ugliness. At the time, he was developing a deep interest in topics such as sustainability and climate change, and while in the Galapagos Islands, he couldn’t help but notice the litter and environmental abuse that could only have been caused by us as human beings.
He became painfully aware that the world is all interconnected, and that we need to pay attention to how we as a species are affecting the broader ecosystem that others call home, too.
However, rather than letting the ugliness bring him down, he chose to find inspiration in its place. Instead of wallowing in despair at the destruction of this beautiful ecosystem, he asked himself “how can I best contribute to creating a more life-giving world?”
This one question led him down a path of introspection and discovery. and he found himself soon embarking on another adventure: Sweden
Schooled in sustainability
Dirk enrolled in the Master’s Programme in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability at the Blekinge Tekniska Högskola school in Sweden, with the intention of discovering how to create more viable ways of working and living. While attending this program, he was able to learn and unlearn many things about himself and others as human beings. He cherishes the opportunities he had to learn about and experience different ways of being and working that “truly energized and amazed [him].”
For example, while visiting a company in London during his thesis research, instead of simply observing them like he had planned, he was warmly invited to participate and collaborate in a strategy session. He felt seen and heard, like his voice mattered. He truly valued the opportunity to learn something that was never taught in business school, or any other organization that he had been to before, which is that:
“We can all come together, co-create and be part owners of what we’re going to bring out in the world.”
This was the feeling that he held onto when he returned to ET Group and began laying the foundation to create what is now a life-giving environment that our team thrives in.
But what was the reason?
In 2016, Dirk saw ET Group as what could only be called a toxic workplace. We were your typical corporation that harvested an unhealthy and unsustainable working environment. There was in-fighting, debt and extreme egos everywhere. Decisions were made in a hierarchical fashion and for many of our employees, working at ET Group was just a job. A job that was losing people rapidly.
Dirk knew things had to change fundamentally, or else see ET Group disappear.
When he came back to work, he was ready to make those changes. And it started with asking one very important question:
“How can we create a more life-giving organization?”
After getting to experience a taste of what a life-giving organization could be, Dirk proposed a major shift in the ways that ET Group operated. In order to create a more healthy and innovative environment, he introduced new company structures inspired by his studies of Teal Organizations and Holacracy. ET Group implemented a self-organized approach to team management, self-set salaries and a promise to create safe spaces for everyone.
This means that everyone on our team is self-managed, as well as credited and compensated for their hard work, not just the leadership roles.
Because there are no “leadership roles”. That was made very clear by Dirk, who, even though he has the title of CEO, made sure that this fundamental shift in the company was supported by everyone, using what became ET Group’s Generative Decision-Making Process.
These examples are only a small snippet of the long list of key practices that ET Group has committed to, in order to keep ourselves in line with our human-centric way of life. You can find the rest of our organization’s cultural practices, toolkits and values in our handbook.
ET Group developed 3 fundamental practices to create a more life giving organization: self-organizing around purpose, self-set salaries and distributed ownership and safe space practices.
1. Self-organizing around purpose
Dirk’s first move was to get rid of the traditional hierarchy model. Having owners, managers, or “senior” staff creates inequality, making people feel like their opinions don’t matter.
Now at ET Group, we have self-organizing and self-managing teams (or circles). Our teams are created and organized around how they each contribute to ET Group’s overall purpose: to bring Harmony to Work and Workplace with Technology. In line with Holacracy, each team makes our own decisions regarding how we are best able to meet this purpose, without having to wait for C-Suite approval. Every team member has equal say in what goes, and has equal opportunity to share ideas or concerns.
This freedom allows us to spend less time competing with each other, so we can be more productive and collaborative while ensuring that our clients are getting everything they need and more, because that’s why we’re here.
2. Self-set salaries and distributed ownership
One of the most unique aspects of working at ET Group is our self-set salaries and distributed ownership. In the past, ET Group was owned and governed by only 3 individuals. Today, the company is owned by 70% of our team members.
But owner or not, who is anyone else but you to say how much you and your contributions are worth? When compensation is directly tied to the value and contributions an individual makes to an organization, you begin to see a drastic evolution in the responsibility and ownership that they feel towards the company. As Dirk says, “you have agency for your own life, and we respect that.” This is why we have implemented self-set salaries to encourage personal growth among our employees and let them know that we do see that value in them.
We take pride in the things that we own, and there is an abundance of pride at ET Group; in ourselves as individuals, in each other and in our work.
3. Creating safe spaces for everyone
At ET Group, we don’t hire roles, we hire people.
For this reason, we encourage our team members to bring their whole selves to work, not just their work selves. We don’t believe in hanging up your uniform (metaphorically or otherwise) at the end of the day. When you leave behind parts of who you are under the guise of “professionalism”, you leave behind creative ideas, lack energy and miss out on opportunities to make real connections, which is already challenging in an increasingly hybrid world.
We recognize that everyone is unique, and it’s because of all of the different personalities, perspectives and talents within our team that we are able to thrive at what we do. Sometimes that means that some of our people hold more than one role, because we don’t believe in restricting ourselves.
When we say that our people are our greatest asset, we mean it. Which means taking care of each other. For example, our human-centered way of life means checking in with each other – really checking in with each other – at the beginning and end of every meeting. If someone is having an off day, we want to know so we can empathize and proceed accordingly. We don’t move on until everyone gets to say how they feel, or what they need.
Our Team Connects allow everyone to take part in companywide decisions, and anyone can bring anything to the table. No secrets or hidden agendas.
Too good to be true?
It probably sounds that way, but it really works! Our Employee Net Promoter Score is always over 50 points, and our retention rate is 95%. At ET Group, our team members want to work, so it makes sense that today, our profitability is 2.5x the industry standard, allowing us to have 4x the growth we had in 2016.
The results speak for themselves. As Dirk says:
“This story we’ve been telling ourselves on what it means to be human wants to be retold; life is not about how I can succeed or be better than others. It is about seeing and appreciating each other as wonderful beings with different gifts, talents, and dreams. It is about being in service of each other, and life itself to create beautiful things together. As a collective, it is imperative we shift the narrative and realize what makes us truly happy and fulfilled is to be in service of each other and the planet as a whole.”
There is always more to the story
Becoming who we are today was a necessary and conscious change, and not an easy one at that. It required – and still requires – being always open to trying new things. Sometimes those things fail, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve failed, it just means that we’ve learned, and only become better for it.
“Every day, we put conscious effort into challenging ourselves to make systematic, consistent change. That requires effort every day. Every day requires navigation towards what you feel is the right thing to do, versus our cultural autopilot. It requires steeping yourself in the practice of evolution.”
All of this is just a sneak peak of what it’s like to work at ET Group. To hear the full story, check out Dirk’s full speech for more details about why we love our organization!
We also encourage you to visit our ETG Way Handbook and learn about more of ET Group’s innovative and forward-thinking practices.
And before you go, ask yourself:
How can YOU create more life-giving ways of working?
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3 Steps to Building a Collaborative Business
Investing in technology tools that drive innovation and connect key stakeholders will help accelerate collaboration only if people know how to use these tools. Otherwise, instead of accelerating collaboration, you’ve just purchased some expensive dust collectors.
This is why adopting technology is just as important as the technology itself to advance collaboration within your organization.
Initiating User Adoption
What is involved in effective user adoption? Typically a training team is assembled and directed as to what should be covered in a training session. A more effective approach is to initiate user adoption by taking a “top-down” approach in communicating the vision. All collaboration sponsors should take the opportunity and put collaboration into practice. How can you capitalize on the opportunity?
- Use training events to also explore the benefits of collaboration technology
- Reinforce how collaboration can help to achieve business results
- Understand how user adoption drives ROI on collaboration technology
- Avoid these 5 Common Mistakes in Technology User Adoption
The 3 Step Approach to Effective Technology Adoption
Using this approach will lead to successful technology adoption.
It is important to note that in order to have real change in behaviour, it also takes time, a strategy and resources to make it happen.
During the assessment phase, it is important to determine the strategy gaps that prevent an organization from achieving their collaboration goals. To successfully conduct an assessment, everyone must keep an open mind and avoid coming into the process with a predetermined solution in hand. Assessments must be extensive and include examining the organization’s needs in the three areas of collaboration: culture, process, and technology. Begin to collaborate by bringing in other resources such as HR, finance, and IT to help determine the organization’s current state. Describe the desired state and map the gap between the two. The assessment should aim to identify what the best solutions are to help achieve the organization’s desired goal. Many organizations believe that training will close the gap but it may not necessarily be the case. What if the assessment indicates that there are gaps in processes? The gaps can be filled. For example, adjusting the way a purchase order is completed. Or, a culture gap may require extensive strategic changes that effect how the organization functions as a whole. It is key that executives tap into the knowledge of their training departments by completing a needs assessment prior to conducting training. Executives should also encourage other departments to collaborate in the assessment phase in order to ensure that information sharing lays the ground work for the next phase, the implementation strategy.
Teamwork is vital during the implementation step. For example, introducing video conferencing, as a corporate-wide strategic initiative should include multiple stakeholders. The planning and implementation process should include a partnership between IT, Finance, Project Management, Training, and an executive sponsor. All the partners should participate in sharing their knowledge and insight to develop and execute the plan. The result of collaborating and openly sharing ideas is two-fold: an innovative plan and better buy-in leads to a higher adoption rate. When implementing a business improvement measure, a learning and development professional will recommend many short training sessions. This allows people to have the opportunity to absorb what they have learned and trainers can reinforce concepts. Real change occurs when what has been taught becomes the norm. Learners must be encouraged to adopt behaviours that support the business improvement strategy; this is where tangible organizational change will occur. Make the implementation process an evolution not a revolution.
There is a great saying: “What gets focused on gets done.” This is what the evaluation phase is all about. This is a time when organizations should review what is actually happening after training and this should be done shortly after training – say 4 to 6 months afterwards. A successful evaluation should include:
- Measurements of key metrics that can be used to determine the level of success of the business improvement and user adoption of the new technology
- Identify new gaps or solutions
- Refine and refocus on the goal
Teamwork should play a role in this phase as well. For an in-depth evaluation, consider using focus groups as a tool. Two focus groups should be conducted with:
- Stakeholders that were involved in planning and implementing the strategy
- Employees who are impacted to allow them to share their knowledge and experiences
Share feedback widely. Celebrate the accomplishments.
The knowledge collected from your evaluation stage will help you get a better understanding of how well collaborative approaches work in your organization and will help the organization to develop more informed plans for future implementations.
“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.”
Confucius (Chinese philosopher & reformer, 551 BCE – 479 BCE) said, “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” This holds true when using collaboration in assessing, implementing and evaluating changes to how your organization does business.
Collaboration technology that has been embraced by employees allows the organization to realize the true benefits the technology was meant to enable and encourages a culture of knowledge sharing, appreciation of challenges and successes, and becoming more flexible and competitive.
If you would like more information on the 3 Steps to Building a Collaborative Business, contact us.
Is True Collaboration a 2 Pizza Team Rule?
Thomas Edison, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerburg have all had a common observation – smaller teams accomplish more. Far more, when it comes to creative or innovative work.
A recent book Midnight Lunch, by Sarah Miller Caldicott, the great-grandniece of Thomas Edison, talks about the approach that made him so successful. The subtitle of the book is “The 4 Phases of Team Collaboration Success from Thomas Edison’s Lab”, in which she details his approach to innovation.
Small Teams Were a Central Component of Edison’s Approach
Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com’s founder in a 2004 interview with Fast Company recalled an offsite retreat where people were saying that groups needed to communicate more. Bezos stood up and said, “No, communication is terrible!” shocking everyone in attendance. When it came to innovation, Bezos’ experience was that small groups could innovate and test their ideas without becoming entangled in a centralized corporate approach.
The “Two Pizza Team” Rule
Bezos came up with the “Two Pizza Team” rule. If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas the team is too large.
Edison had a similar approach at his Menlo Park operation. The “Midnight Lunch” was the small team coming together for a bite to eat while working together, informally in a collegial atmosphere through the evening.
Mark Zuckerburg also believed that small teams gave him a huge advantage over competitors like Yahoo! But for Facebook it was not just the size of the teams but also the focus of the team that made the difference. Caldicott cites an example from Michael Schrage, from the MIT Sloan School.
“Zuckerberg’s software design teams focused on higher-order functions such as robustness, scalability, ease of use, and maintainability – qualities that drive leading-edge performance in the Innovation Age” compared to Yahoo’s small teams who were focused on more traditional metrics like – lines of code written per day.
Additive Vs. Multiplicative Productivity
The result of this varied focus Schrage points out is “additive” vs “multiplicative” productivity. Two companies with 3 teams of 5 would have vastly different results.
Productivity of Additive Approach: 5 + 5 + 5 = 15
Productivity of the Multiplicative Approach: 5 x 5 x 5 = 125
That is more than 8 times more productive! Small teams + high-order focus – a ‘deadly’ one-two punch!
The “2 Pizza Rule” and “Higher-Order Functions Objectives” will accelerate your organization’s collaboration and innovation in today’s Innovation Era.
Technology Driving Small Teams
But what technology tools can turbo charge these small teams and higher-order focus objectives even more?
- Is suited to smaller teams
- Supports group work dynamics on higher-order productivity objectives
- Accelerates creativity and innovation
In one of my recent blogs I talked about the 4 different conferencing technologies that support real time collaboration and how you increase the velocity of collaboration in your meetings (both physical & virtual) by combining the 4 conferencing technologies to provide a collaborative richness, which supports your organizations objectives.
Collaboration Through Interactive Whiteboards
Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) are one of the 4 conferencing technologies. And IWBs meet the three requirements listed above, which enable small teams with higher-order focus to increase the velocity of collaboration even more. This doesn’t mean the other 3 conferencing technologies should be ignored. The more you can effectively combine them, the richer the experience.
But IWBs are the ONLY category of conferencing technology that:
- Is just as useful without remote participants (the other 3 are not required if there are no remote participants). Also referred to as an “In-room only Meeting”.
- Is truly suited for brainstorming and idea flow
- Facilitates the capture of the output of the sessions
IWBs were once more of a novelty item and had far more traction in the K-12 education sector as they are the evolution of the blackboard. The IWB technology has had significant further development to serve the needs of businesses, but be careful of the IWB platform you invest in.
As demand goes up, new IWB solutions are popping up all the time. Don’t be fooled by IWB solutions that are focused primarily on annotating on top of images – most solutions. These solutions are good for emphasizing a point on a PowerPoint presentation in a WebEx type content sharing tool or making annotation on top of any image shown on the IWB display. They will not turbo charge your small teams to greater heights of collaboration and innovation.
Invest in an IWB platform that truly facilitates collaboration and innovation. The technology must be able to:
- Accelerate meeting flow
- Support remote connectivity to IWB sessions
Accelerating Meeting Flow Using Interactive Whiteboards
How do you tell if the IWB solution will accelerate meeting flow? Although the hardware component of the IWB is important, the architecture of the IWB software is the most critical factor.
What does a good IWB solution do to provide good meeting flow?
- It is easy to use
- Facilitates seamless and smooth navigation
- Between applications and the whiteboard
- Within the whiteboard pages
- Within the whiteboard canvas
- Is object oriented so that pictures, graphic images and annotated writing can be easily manipulated as desired, e.g. move, copy, paste, etc.
- Annotation “lives” or “persists” on the application vs on a layer “on top of” the application
- Is integrated directly into industry standard software solutions, e.g. Word, AutoCad, etc. Annotations are saved in the application files.
Technology should be an enabler, not a point of focus in and of itself.
An IWB solution that meets these design points will quickly blend into the background and enable greater innovation and collaboration in your organization.
To learn more about interactive whiteboard technology solutions or our new hybrid work experiences, and how they can be combined with other collaborative conferencing technologies to accelerate innovation and collaboration in your organization, contact us.
What Type of Space Do You Need for the Workplace?
Your Connected Path to the Future
We recently completed a consulting engagement to align the UC technology and room systems technology of a large organization. Strategically, we delivered a comprehensive roadmap to align their diverse technologies and move them forward with a cohesive UC&C framework. This in turn would set them up for significant opportunities to capture long term ROI from operational, procedural and strategic sources.
And then, they had a re-organization.
New Challenges Arising From a Re-Org
All of a sudden, the new Executive in charge of IT Infrastructure had a lot on his plate and the execution of the UC&C Roadmap was just a small piece.
The client didn’t have time to:
- Absorb the material
- Review the recommendations or
- Understand the roadmap and the strategic impact it could have on his organization.
Immediate operational decisions were required that impacted the long term UC&C direction. And he didn’t have time to build a relationship of trust with the consultants that had laid out the future roadmap for the organization.
Saving Your Way Into the Future?
Like all of us who are faced with making decisions constrained by limited time and looming deadlines, he had to rely on what he knew.
He started to eliminate strategic elements of the technology for the Room System standards because he didn’t understand why they were required or how they fit in. He thought he knew what was important, because he’s been in IT for 25+ years.
With the challenges in front of him, he planned to “save” his way into the future.
Over the last dozen years, often the business method of coping with change is to cut expenses. This is especially true in large organizations where a change in direction is slow to take effect. Cutting expenses on the other hand is quick to put in place.
But this is a slippery slope that’s hard to get off once you’re on it and it certainly won’t put your organization on the path to innovation and “Blue Oceans”.
Macro Market Trends
There are two current macro trends that I feel historians will look back at and use to define our time in history.
- The pace of change has gone exponential. We are at an inflection point in the rate of change and the impact is profound. You have to innovate to keep up with, let alone stay ahead of the inevitable – change. Gary Hamel has done some compelling work showing why we can’t do things the way we used to.
- The end of the Industrial Age and the beginning of the Connection Economy. Seth Godin writes about this. This shift is having a profound impact on businesses as things change.
ET Group helps organizations become more connected so they can better collaborate and innovate.
To do this effectively requires an understanding of how different disciplines or business offerings interact and come together as the nature of how we work changes.
The Workplace Of The Future
Meeting rooms are where workspace and technology really come together. Room systems must be effective places to meet where both the physical and virtual world intersect seamlessly. They must contain the right mix of conferencing technologies to enable the required level of collaboration and this will naturally lead to innovation.
The figure on the right shows the different disciplines that have always been separate, yet related and are now critically connected.
As the world changes, how is your business space requirements changing? After people costs, space costs are often the second most significant operational cost requirements of a business.
- How much space do you need?
- How will your space change?
- How can technology enable operational savings, productivity and strategic innovation?
Note: The importance of organizational culture and the need to focus on users and adoption for any significant change you introduce to your organization is not being discounted. This is a fundamental requirement.
Rethink Your Collaboration Workspace
We created this Infographic that highlights some interesting stats about the changing nature of work and how companies are adapting by:
- Adding more “We Space”
- Moving to smaller more efficient spaces
- Supporting alternative work strategies
To do this effectively and enable people to remotely collaborate, your room systems technology must align with your workers personal technology or a UC&C strategy. Note that 72% of people STILL come into the office to collaborate.
This is true whether your organization has 3 or 3,000 meeting rooms.
Meeting rooms are a scarce resource. Meeting rooms are an important part of your organization’s collaborative capabilities.
Securekey’s Collaborative Entrepreneur
Collaboration Changes Everything Including Entrepreneurial Business Models
Have you noticed that when you are contemplating buying a new car and you have a particular brand and model in mind, you start seeing that specific car more frequently on the road?
This is really an awareness change. Your mind has a sharpened awareness for something and that something manifests itself more visibly to your consciousness.
My awareness for collaboration and the importance that the collaborative model is having on business today has increased. Because I focus on Collaborative Solutions, I see more evidence every day that to thrive in today’s world, there is an ever-greater need to work with others in a collaborative ecosystem like a hybrid workplace.
The Evolution of a Serial Entrepreneur
Recently, I attended a luncheon where the main speaker was Greg Wolfond. Greg may not be a household name, but if you have been in technology as long as I have, you’ll recognize his name in connection with two very successful technology start-ups; Footprint Software and 724 Solutions.
Footprint was Greg’s first venture during the period of 1983 to 1995. Footprint developed software to fill a need for a retail-banking branch and their market success ultimately resulted in a sale of the company to IBM.
Greg’s second company was 724 Solutions from 1997 to 2002, during the dot com boom and bust period. 724 Solutions was at the forefront of mobile banking solutions and was a darling stock during the heady days from 1997 to 2000.
In 2007, Greg founded his third start-up, SecureKey Technologies which enables plastic cards to be virtualized into mobile phones and PCs without sacrificing security.
Secrets of a Collaborative Entrepreneur
First and foremost, Greg stated that each time he starts a new company, considerable time was spent determining what problem they are trying to solve. If they don’t get this right then the chances for success go way down.
Another important key ingredient is the core team and having the right people in the right roles. Greg used himself as one of the prime examples. He is good at getting things going from nothing but as the organization starts to spread its wings in the market, Greg does not think his strength is being the CEO and he hires the right people and elects the right board members to enable the organization to take the product to market.
Greg had described some of the common factors between his three entrepreneurial ventures. But one of the questions from the floor during the luncheon was, “This is your third technology start-up, what is different this time?”
What is Different with SecureKey?
Greg was building more than a product. He was building a market offering that was enhanced and enabled by the partners that became integral pieces of the solution.
He was solving problems in collaboration with other parties for the overall good of the customer, his partners and SecureKey. He was creating an “everybody wins” outcome by building a solution that involved stakeholders as collaborators in achieving common goals.
This is different and will likely play a large part in how successful SecureKey will be.
Partners in the SecureKey Collaborative Ecosystem
Greg started SecureKey with the goal of simplifying passwords for users and making sure that people’s use of the internet was really secure. So he started to build some software. Even though SecureKey’s software was going to be new and different, internet security, and most importantly, transaction security, was part of an ecosystem that involved users, vendors, financial organizations and governments to name some of the more obvious parties.
Greg started to work with these other parties as partners. He met with them to understand what their goals were, and what they offered as part of the overall solution. Although this made the work more complex, in the end it really simplified the solution. Most importantly, the results of collaborating have greatly increased SecureKey’s chances for success.
How does SecureKey collaborate with their partners?
SecureKey was not going to grow by doing all the components involved in authorizing transactions as the banks were already highly efficient and cost effective. Not only did SecureKey leverage the banks for this, but they have also extended the authorization model to include government transactions. This is good for the banks as they make a cut on each transaction. By using the bank’s systems, it is good for the government because they do not need to build or operate a separate system. It is good for users because it simplifies things by having less accounts and using an authorization process they are familiar with. And SecureKey is the glue that makes all the systems work together.
Complexity is increasing. Change is accelerating. Increased collaboration is essential and technology is an important component to increase collaboration.
Our organization can help yours to understand and orchestrate an effective technology platform for Unified Communications & Collaboration and for a Digital Media Communication architecture.
For assistance in using technology collaborative solutions to make you more effective, contact us.
Do you Lack Meeting Room Space? Without Exception, Every Company or Agency I Speak with has This Problem
The nature of work has been changing from less individual focus-time work, to more group collaboration work. The result: Time spent in meetings has increased significantly.
This doesn’t mean that all meetings are effective or that individual time is unimportant. But, there is a trend towards an increasing amount of time working with others to solve problems, and to collaborate and innovate in the workplace. If you don’t have the right design for your workspace your collaborative efficiency can be hindered.
“…Research has shown that while individual work might sometimes result in a faster answer, collaboration consistently delivers deeper and richer ideas because of the broad perspectives and cross-pollination of ideas that teams can offer…” 360 Research
“A Steelcase joint research study with Corenet Global found that two-thirds of organizations collaborate between 60% to 80% of the time. There’s good reason for it — collaboration works. Research has shown that while individual work might sometimes result in a faster answer, collaboration consistently delivers deeper and richer ideas because of the broad perspectives and cross-pollination of ideas that teams can offer. But whether alone or in a group, the drive for innovation requires greater creativity.” 360 Research
The reality is building collaborative solutions means more meeting space is required.
Two Trends Working Against the Availability of Meeting Space
1. Companies Are Reducing Their Real Estate Footprint (Less Space = Less Rooms)
Often the biggest fixed cost a company has is their real estate. Some are reducing their space to save money but most just don’t need as much real estate as they used to.
More flexible work policies allow people to work away from the office such as at home, on customer premises or even on the road. Secondly, companies are redesigning their workspace to accommodate more people in less space while making the workspace much better to work in. Finally, personal computing devices are allowing workers to take their work with them anywhere they go.
I have heard clients say that they can “shoot a cannon off” on a floor and no one would get hurt. People are just not in the office as much. Some will even argue it is easier to get individual work done when you are out of the office.
I have a friend in the Commercial Real Estate market, who visits clients and often tells them they have too much real estate because they just aren’t utilizing the space the way they used to.
2. Organizations Do Not Effectively Use the Rooms They Have
As it can be really tough to get a room or space to meet in, you’d think it makes sense to utilize the space that you already have right? Unfortunately rooms often sit idle more than they should because the systems are not in place to manage these spaces properly.
People book a meeting room and then plans change but they forget to free up the meeting room. This is how meeting space is wasted. Offices are left empty when their owner is away – another wasted opportunity for meeting space. Meetings take longer than they should for a number of reasons none of which are related to how the actual meeting is conducted. These are examples of wasted time and valuable meeting spaces.
Another example of wasting time is “finding a place to meet”. As per Steelcase Workplace Surveys:
- 70% of employees report losing up to 15 minutes a day looking for a place to collaborate with teammates
- 23% waste up to 30 minutes daily.
This is costly for organizations and has a real impact on productivity.
On the Bright Side, There Are Ways to Combat Both Trends That Work Against the Availability of Meeting Space
This table provides you with multiple solutions for solving the inevitable problem of not having enough meeting room space.
|Getting More Space From Less Space||How to More Effectively Use Meeting Rooms|
|Move from less “I” space to more “We” space – more flexible space||Scheduling systems|
|Virtual meetings||Enabling faster start time|
|Automate meeting wrap up|
|Make technology easier to use|
I will discuss the details around the solutions, which offset having less real estate in our next blog.
Identifying your lack of meeting space is half the battle. The next step is about finding the right solution for your organization. Contact us to discuss the situation in your office and stay tuned for our next blog Part 2: How to Get More Space From Less Space – Factors Offsetting Less Real Estate, where I will delve deeper into the solutions in the table above which help to make meeting collaboratively easier, by making more ‘meeting space’ available.
Without Collaboration, There is No Innovation!
I recently wrote about the importance of Innovation. We reviewed why people and organizations that consistently innovate are not only able to sustain themselves in ever changing environments but that they actually grow and thrive beyond their peers.
Innovation is not about invented technologies; it is about how those technologies are applied in meaningful ways. The US Patent & Trademark Office estimates that only one out of every 500 patents has any chance of commercialization. Innovation combines existing technological inventions with new ways of doing things, to create new value.
So Far we Know:
Innovation= Sustainability in the Market & Economic Prosperity
Collaboration is to Innovation as Innovation is to economic prosperity. You can’t sustain prosperity long term without Innovation and you cant be truly innovative without robust and consistent collaboration with others.
Collaboration is about the pooling of ideas, resources and energies. Whenever people come together in creative discussion about how to solve a problem or create something new, the most powerful mechanism of development comes to bear. A big gene pool of ideas, perspectives and experiences always trumps limited pools. And so, we should look for ways to foster collaboration as a required stepping stone to Innovation.
This isn’t always the obvious approach. Often we want to keep our best ideas to ourselves so that we can realize the benefits and not have others steal them or get credit for them. In reality, by sharing openly we will likely realize more and quicker success.
Don Tapscott, in his book entitled Wikinomics, describes the new world economy based on four Collaboration principles of Openness, Peering, Sharing and Acting Globally. He describes how a number of companies reached huge levels of success by adopting these principles even when it seemed counter intuitive.
Top Three Business Examples of Collaboration Driving Innovation:
- IBM resisted the open platform software development efforts of the Linux community for many years. Their logic was that the Linux effort was competitive to their own software business and that Linux would die off eventually. After several years of resistance IBM realized that Linux was here to stay and actually was contributing huge value to the world. At a certain point, IBM decided to join the Linux community and over time, shared approximately $100 million dollars worth of their own development efforts for free. What they got back for opening their development ‘kimono’, was over $400 million in free development.
- Another Ontario based mining company broke the traditional taboo of their industry by publishing all its geological data on the internet asking for advice on where to mine and offered a reward for new ideas. Their revenues increased from $100 million to $9 billion, almost entirely out of openness, collaboration and trust.
- In the newest book from the Intelligent Communities Foundation entitled ‘Seizing our Destiny’ the authors describe how 7 communities around the world earned the rank of Most Intelligent Communities. Invariably these communities started with collaboration as a corner stone of their path to new successes. Several of them were coming from the depths of serious challenges and were forced to reinvent themselves in creative and innovative ways.
So as it turns out, Collaboration is the necessary predecessor to Innovation.
It is critical that we all create environments of mass collaboration. Enabling creative thinking and acting wherever we co-exist. We should challenge ourselves to enable those environments with technologies that allow flexible work styles and places. We should foster those principles of Openness, Peering, Sharing and Acting Globally whenever we can.
What Greatness Can You or Your Organization Possibly Achieve by Collaborating Better?
If you are still trying to “sell” collaboration in your organization and people don’t understand how collaboration achieves innovation and economic sustainability, contact us at ET Group if you like to learn more about our strategies to implement technology to increase collaboration.