Eight Days a Week.

Day One

The shape of the world is a troubling matter, and leaders can reorient themselves by looking at a map from 10 years ago.  It was a perplexing time, with Friedman and Florida arguing over whether the world was flat or spiky—metaphors for the influence of technological advances on the global economy.  Shapes are a matter of perspective.   Microscopes can make smooth things look spiky, distance can make spiky things look flat, and metaphors can take many forms altogether.  There is wisdom in unicornmagis’ thought that “there is value in every view of the world.”

There has been a lot of technological upheaval over the last ten years.  Facebook has expanded and MySpace has declined.  AOL and Yahoo! are hanging on, and WikiPedia has connections everywhere.  As the world is reshaped over and over again, the question most people are asking their leaders is “Will this affect my job?”  People want to know if machines will take their jobs, or if machines will destroy the planet in which case people won’t have to worry about jobs.  History has proven that new technologies eliminate some jobs while creating others.  Still, not knowing how things will turn out can be unsettling.  With so much change, leaders need to accept that questions outnumber answers, and view challenges as opportunities to move forward.  As EA said, “Perhaps together we can chart the path ahead…if not to the final destination, then certainly the next step.  And may we do so with one foot raised.”

Day Two

I spent a lot of time working on email this morning.  It seems like my mailbox is always full.  Maybe I should tell the IT department about the abundance of information the Internet is enabling so they can find us some helpful tools.  IT would have liked today’s leadership team meeting. The leaders reported on the Web 2.0 tools they have been testing.  livingthedream530 and rd2dochazen showed that Yammer and Slack can enhance workplace collaboration, and there were some good presentation tips in Tricia’s review of Haiku Deck and Keisha’s review of Canva.  I was a little apprehensive about using Twitter, but after hearing peopleologist’s report, I am going to give it a try.  I saved everyone’s reports so I can review them again later.  I’m glad Dr. Watwood introduced us to Jane Hart’s top tools for learning.  The participatory nature of Internet is different than the closed environment the organization is used to, and the leadership team agreed we need to leverage Web 2.0 tools to stay competitive.

Day Three

Today I investigated ways to manage knowledge.  It turns out that knowledge is expanding so fast that managing it can be quite a challenge for leaders.  As Weinberger describes in the book Too Big To Know, the Internet is an open, social space where everyone can contribute to the networking of knowledge.  However, as Christopher mentioned, “the network is messy, and it makes getting to the truth even harder.”  There is a good chance that a hierarchical model of knowledge is no longer relevant.  And, as The Ayes Have It pointed out, it is unlikely that the leaders in the room are the only ones who possess organizational knowledge.  With all of this change, leaders will need to think differently and learn how to operate in a connected world.  At lease we have five generations in the workforce to collectively figure this out.  For now, I am going to take Men in Black’s advice to look ahead and imagine what I will know tomorrow.

Day Four

This morning I watched a video that estimates Gen Zers will go thorough 14 jobs by the time they are 38 years old.  I wonder how many jobs are fungible (Friedman’s term for work that can be digitized and outsourced).  According to a McKinsey report, highly structured and predictable environments are the best candidates for automation, whereas cognitive tasks involving context, improvisation, common sense, ambiguity, socialization, and emotion will be difficult for machines to master.  In a modern workplace humans and machines are expected to work side by side.  Agility will be key for workers—they will need to trust each other in order to work through changes together.  Maybe peopleologist is right, “it comes back to psychology and understanding how to truly leverage the new technology opportunities.” Husband’s idea of a wirearchy grounded in interconnected knowledge, trust, and credibility sounds great, but how do we get there?  I think Shelli’s guidance to focus on interpersonal communication and emotional intelligence will help, and leaders can find insight in Tricia’s advice to listen deeply, be transparent, and be able to “let go of power and control.”  We have such a great leadership team—I love hearing their insights.

Day Five

Maybe the Internet is not such a great invention, and things would be better around the office if we got rid of it.  The leadership team met today to discuss some of the problems caused by a connected workforce.  I brought up the issue I am having with workers wasting their time surfing the net and looking at baby pictures on Facebook.  The leaders suggested I address work productivity in general rather than singling out cyber slacking, since other factors can hinder productivity too.  Several of the leaders expressed that flexibility was a great benefit of connectivity, and they thought being connected would attract a broader pool of talented workers.  The leaders agreed we need to learn how to facilitate virtual teams and manage teleworkers, which reminds me, I need to get with the training department to set up a workshop.  I thought the meeting went well, even though it seemed like everyone was booking flights to Hawaii during our discussion.  While I was driving home I thought about what James said, that only 40% of the world’s population has access to the Internet, while about 89% of US residents have access.  We need to keep working to eliminate the digital divide.

Day Six

Cyber ethics was the main topic on today’s leadership meeting agenda.  We covered an array of topics, from net neutrality to open source code.  Some leaders pointed out that laws don’t seem to be keeping pace with technological changes.  It was brought up that more  workers are downloading Internet resources, and there may be copyright issues.  LivingTheDream530 is concerned that marketing wants to use social media in ways that might infringe customer privacy, but will likely increase sales.  Keisha mentioned that a worker in another department violated a privacy policy.  There were no apparent consequences, which has caused discontent in her department.  The consensus of the leadership team was that unethical behavior should not be tolerated.  With so many cyber issues coming up we decided to make ethics a standing agenda item—it helps to talk things through.  I get the sense that ethics is one of those “true north” values for the leadership team, a compass point that helps us navigate every situation.

Day Seven

It’s the end of the work week, time to look ahead to the weekend and check the Giraffe cam.  It’s funny how change seems to accelerate during the work week and slow down on the weekends.  It will be nice to emerge from the office into the sunshine.  Maybe I will catch the symphony, or visit the Corning Museum of Glass.  I should start shopping for a new car.  I want one with a nice sunroof that drives itself, but I am concerned that smart cars won’t be able to make ethical driving decisions.  Have you noticed that everything is getting smart, even dust?  With so many emerging trends it is hard to keep up, but there are plenty of resources to help leaders learn about new technologies.  Still, I worry that our organization is too hierarchical to create a modern workforce structure, and I fear that our limited resources will hinder us from being as innovative as we need to be.  unicornmagis reminded me that leadership is always about “effectively leveraging resources.”  Maybe things aren’t so different after all.  As long as I focus on the underlying factors that are driving change, I should be will be able to help the organization.  (I apologize that I have been rambling a bit today.  I will understand if you  send me a picture of a bunny with a pancake on its head.)

Day Eight

I am not sure if I like these new eight day weeks.  They are even harder to adjust to than daylight savings time.  Anyway, the week is coming to a close, and it is time for five minutes of reflection.  It was terrific working so closely with the leadership team these past few days.  I learned a great deal by connecting to the team, more than I would have working on my own.  Machines helped me make connections, but very real people inspired my thoughts.  I am grateful for their ideas, their encouragement, and their insights.  Networked knowledge is amazing, but networked knowing is even better.

I had to the opportunity to catch up on some reading this weekend, and to check out Michele Martin’s insights about the skills that leaders need to thrive in a networked world.  The skills and attitudes she highlights—hosting, observing, listening, questioning, connecting, learning, imagining, visioning, co-creating, and openness—are things the leadership team has been discussing all week.  Machines will be great at routine tasks, but people are essential for the aspects Martin describes.  We will always need compassionate, creative, caring leaders.  One advantage of these eight day weeks is that there is plenty of time for leaders to show they care.

Take care, CatOnKB

cougs

 

References

Einstein’s first paper on relativity had no references.  I guess you don’t always have references when you are reinventing the universe.  If Einstein was blogging relativity today, I wonder what he would link to.  Hubble and his telescope, Gödel and his theories, Verne and his novels?

May You Lead in Emerging Times.

pc

An ancient Chinese curse is “May you live in interesting times.”  We seem to be leading in emerging times.  Is that a curse too?  In the book The Inevitable, Kevin Kelly (2016) says that the 1980s marked a convergence of computers and communication, a union that is profoundly influencing our present and our future.  Taking computer classes at SUNY in the 1980s, I was thrilled to use a 1200 baud modem to connect my PC to the school computer.  That way I could write my programs at home instead of working in the computer lab until 3:00 a.m. when it closed.  Little did I know this connection would bring technological advances that would drive the future and transform the world.  Nor did I know this connection would bring a constant flow of change, and an overload of information that would challenge my role as a leader.  But, with plentiful resources to navigate new technologies and ample strategies to benefit organizations, there has never been a better time to be a leader!

Keeping up with Emerging Technologies

Haven’t ordered your 3D printer yet?  No problem.  With advances in 4D Printing there might be a sale.  4D Printing is a technique that encodes materials with a dynamic capacity, enabling objects to transform depending on the situation.  4D Printing is new to Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies in 2016.  The Hype Cycle, which is updated annually, is a useful tool for leaders who want to keep pace with new technologies.  As a university leader, I like to review Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Education.  The 2016 Cycle includes trends I had anticipated, like Virtual and Augmented reality and affective computing, as well as a few surprises, such as blockchain for academic credentials and a Tin Can API that connects learning activities from multiple systems.

Another resource for leaders who want to keep up with technology is Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report.  The report offers a wealth of information for businesses who want to leverage the Internet for competitive advantage.  Retailers might find it helpful to know that Internet retail spending continues to grow, garnering 10% of the total retail market in 2015, as compared to 2% in 2000.  Organizations trying to reach Gen Z will find it interesting that the number of video views is rapidly increasing, especially with apps like Snapchat and Facebook Live.  Global businesses will want to learn that China is now a major player, with AliBaba and six other companies listed in the top twenty Internet companies.

In addition to informative reports like those from Gartner and Meeker, McKinsey provides timely research on tech topics, often highlighting  socioeconomic trends.  For example, a recent  report notes that advances in automation technologies are changing the way we produce and consume resources (Woetzel, et al., 2017).  The report covers new technologies like self-driving cars, drones that maintain utility lines, and underwater robots that repair pipelines.

Leaders can stay current by augmenting industry reports with a variety of tools.  I review Alexa—helpful for tracking websites with the heaviest traffic, and the Tiobe Index, which shows programming language trends.  Wikipedia has a list of emerging technologies, and tech news sources like ZDNet offer daily news feeds that make it easy to keep up with technology news.  TED Talks are another resource, with a variety of tech-related Talks posted each month.  Conferences like Educause and the Gartner Symposium present even more opportunities for leaders to learn about emerging technologies.

A Strategic View

While it is essential to keep up with emerging technologies, it is even more important for leaders to understand the fundamental characteristics that are driving all of this change.  A critical factor is the amount of information being produced.  According to the IBM report “10 Key Marketing Trends for 2017,” 90% of the data in the world today was created in the last two years.  The amount of information added to the Internet each year is measured in petabytes.  One petabyte is enough to contain all the data from all the academic research libraries in the US.  And with objects now connecting via embedded sensors, the Internet of Things is expected to generate a lot more petabytes of data in a short time.

Gartner and ZDNet provide useful filters for all this information.  Still, the pace of change may be disorienting, even if (or maybe especially if) a leader keeps up with all these resources.  It seems that leaders must ascend to the top of the DIKW pyramid and look for some wisdom.  Changes shouldn’t distract leaders, as long as they have a sense of the underlying currents that they should be addressing.  One source of wisdom comes from Weinberger’s (2011) five strategies for dealing with networked knowledge.

  1. Open up Access

Weinberger (2011) says that the open nature of the net necessitates an open system of freely available information.  This view is shared by Alexandra Elbakyan, a graduate student who uploaded over 50 million research papers to Sci-Hub.  Before the Internet, journals allowed for the flow of information from one university to another via the library system.  Will this change in a digital age?  Should access to content be freely available, like access to roads?  My university is becoming more transparent in sharing operational data, resulting in increased collaboration, engagement, and questioning.

  1. Provide the Hooks for Intelligence

All of the knowledge flowing on the Internet is useless if people cannot find what they need when they need it.  Weinberger (2011) says that metadata is needed to work effectively with networked knowledge.  When filters are applied, metadata can help locate information.  It is typically a leader’s job to make sure that workers can get the information that they need.  In a networked environment, leaders can help ensure that metadata is added to business systems along with the data.  A project in my department is to link academic program information to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics,  metadata that will help students connect academics to job information.

  1. Link Everything

Connecting pieces of information is not a new strategy.  Footnotes, indexes, bibliographies, concordances, and glossaries have long been used to provide links, explanations, and extra information.  The Internet, however, has freed us from constraints of time, size, and the need for a linear presentation.  Since taking this class I have started incorporating links in my communications.  This allows me to focus on the key points of the message while offering additional information for those who want it.

  1. Leave No Institutional Knowledge Behind

Kelly (2106) notes that science is inefficient, as most experiments fail.  It may take us a long time to figure out how to get those nanowires (one of Wikipedia’s emerging technologies) working, and a lot of failed experiments.  When we do figure how to make nanowires cheaply and abundantly, batteries will last for the lifetime of the device, electric cars will become common, and flashlights will work when the power goes out. But failure is institutional data, and does not always make the journals.  Organizations may be reluctant to share their failures, and even their successes, but all data is potentially valuable.

  1. Teach Everyone

Learning to use the Internet is easy.  More challenging is learning how to evaluate knowledge in a world where anyone can post anything. Building  skills like problem solving, decision making, and judging can be useful in evaluating networked knowledge.  And, the most important thing to learn is that we must accept differences.

Humble Beginnings… Amazing Future

Since I first used a Hayes modem to connect to an IBM 4381 at the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering, I have watched in awe as technology has advanced, changing what we do, and how we do it.  I am inspired by the vision of the future that Kevin Kelly describes in the video “12 Inevitable Tech Forces That Will Shape Our Future.”  We are lucky to live in what Kelly (2016) calls the Beginning—a time filled with opportunities to shape the future in amazing ways.  Leaders who keep learning, connecting, sharing, and inspiring will find it a blessing to lead in emerging times.

modem

References

Kelly, K. (2016). The inevitable. New York, NY: Viking.

Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Woetzel, J., Sellschop, R., Chui, M., Ramaswamy, S., Nyquist, S., Robinson, H., Roelofsen, O., Rogers, M., & Ross, R. (2017, February). Beyond the supercycle: How technology is reshaping resources. McKinsey Global Institute. Retrieved from http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability-and-resource-productivity/our-insights/how-technology-is-reshaping-supply-and-demand-for-natural-resources

To Cheat, or Not to Cheat; Must That Be the Question?

Cheating is common in high schools and colleges.  According to the International Center for Academic Integrity, surveys of more than 70,000 US high school students conducted over a 12-year period indicated that 64% of students cheated on tests, 58% plagiarized, and 95% percent engaged in some form of cheating (tests, cheating, copying homework, etc.)  Additional surveys of over 71,000 US undergraduate college students found that 68% plagiarized or cheated on tests, compared to 43% of 17,000 graduate students surveyed.  Academic dishonesty is a problem.  Unfortunately, the digital age makes cheating easier than ever.

Three Ways the Internet Enables Cheating

  1. Tests. In a physical classroom cheating is all about smart devices.  Students can use smart phones during tests to find answers, text information to friends, or take photos of the test to share online.  Digital calculators can be programmed with formulas, and test-takers can wear  invisible Bluetooth earpieces to listen to audio notes or take a call from someone with answers.  Some students embed wireless spy cameras in eyeglass frames so they can transmit pictures of test questions to friends who are standing by, ready to send answers to the smart watches worn by the test-takers.  Students can learn the latest cheating techniques by searching the Internet—YouTube has plenty of helpful videos.
  1. Plagiarism. Whether the classroom is physical or online, the Internet makes it easy to copy the work of others, to alter documents in order to hide plagiarism, and to find someone to do the work entirely.  Students can find free papers on websites like MonsterPapers.  Apps that enable translated plagiarism are available; they reduce the chances of finding plagiarism by translating written content into another language, and then back to the original language.  Students who are concerned about getting caught for plagiarism can contract original work (for a fee) from services like AssignmentMasters and SuperiorPapers.
  1. Impersonation. In online courses, student identity can be an issue.  Federal definitions allow verification of online student identity via (a) secure login and pass code; (b) proctored examinations; and (c) new or other technologies and practices that are effective in verifying the identity of students.  Most schools issue a secure login and pass code, and some courses require proctored exams.  However, there is no certainty that the person completing the work in an online course is the person enrolled in the course.  Some students might ask a friend or family member to help with assignments.  And, with a guarantee of a B or better for about $1,000, others might be tempted to hire an impersonator from a business like No Need to Study.

Reasons Why Students Cheat

envy2

According to BestCollegeReviews.org, students cheat for many reasons.  Some plagiarize unintentionally because they do not know how to cite sources or  paraphrase, or because they fail realize the expectation for individual work.  Others might cheat if they do not see the value of an assignment, or if they don’t have the time or knowledge to complete the task.  Students might rationalize that cheating is the only option, given the unreasonable amount of work demanded by their teachers.  They may feel that the ends justify the means—good grades are needed for a good future, and to meet the expectations placed upon them by others.  Students might think the benefits of cheating outweigh the harm, especially if the consequences are insignificant.  To make matters worse, Internet cheating sites leverage these reasons to market their services.  Fortunately, states like New York and Pennsylvania prohibit the unlawful sale of academic papers.

Three Possible Solutions

  1. Create policies, procedures, and processes. Recommendations to combat cheating often suggest tightening the rules.  In the paper “Using Technology to Detect and Deter Electronic Cheating at a Large Public University” Ball, Wood and Allen (2016) advise having clearly defined academic honesty policies, administering consequences for violations, and using automated detection tools like Turnitin and Grammarly.  Colleges can also implement robust identity checks for online students and use exam-proctoring services.  Some entities control the items brought into testing environments; even mechanical pencils are prohibited from the LSAT.  With smart contact lenses on the way, though, we will soon be checking test-takers’ corneas.  Policies, procedures, and processes might deter students from cheating, but they do not necessarily remove the desire to cheat, or change the behavior.
  1. Create a culture of academic integrity. Students receive mixed messages when it comes to cheating.  Some parents endorse cheating by doing their children’s homework, or scaling school walls to pass cheat sheets through windows.  A teacher might look the other way, sending a signal that cheating is okay.  School administrators have altered student answers on system-wide tests, and public figures have been called out for plagiarism.  UC-San Diego Academic Integrity Coordinator Tricia Gallant says that “cheating has gone from morally reprehensible to merely morally disagreeable” (Gallant, 2011, page 5).  Gallant encourages schools to view cheating as a learning opportunity, and foster academic honesty through strategies that focus on the ethical development of students.  As Gallant points out, if the current approaches are not producing the desired results, it is time to try something new.
  1. Remove the incentives. One possible approach is to remove the incentives that motivate cheating.  A lot of cheating seems to occur during tests.  Do we need them?  Students like Erica Goldson argue that tests build memorization skills that are no longer necessary, at the expense of expanding creativity.  James M. Lang, author of the book “Cheating Lessons”, posits that extrinsic motivations like grades increase the likelihood of cheating, whereas intrinsic motivations like the desire to learn something decrease the probability.  Intrinsic motivation is fundamental to theories like inquiry-based learning and project-based learning.  Take it a step further by combining intrinsic motivation with the open, social, participatory nature of the Internet, and learning occurs in a networked environment.  This is where connectivism, a learning theory proposed by George Siemens, might be able to help students thrive.  In connectivism, the connections that enable learning, and the learner’s ability to recognize which connections are most important, are critical.  In a networked world, could a learning model based on connections nurture intrinsic motivation and reduce the desire to cheat?

A New Approach

Employers are not demanding graduates who have good test-taking skills or the ability to work alone in an unconnected world.  The Global Markets Institute reports that the jobs of the future—the jobs we are preparing students for right now—require skills like creativity, judgement, teamwork, and sense-making.  This view is supported by an analysis of 2.3 million LinkedIn profiles, a report from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (2007), data from the Institute for the Future, and others.  Businesses need workers that can leverage the Internet to work collectively and agilely in a fast-paced, connected world.

Might it be possible to offer the education that students need to flourish in a digital world and foster ethical behavior at the same time?  This would require a complete rethinking of how we teach and evaluate students, but that seems to be needed anyway.  Time to try a new approach.

 

References

Association of American Colleges and Universities. (2007). College learning for the new global Century: A report from the National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America’s Promise. Washington, DC: AAC&U. Retrieved from http://www.aacu.org
/leap/documents/GlobalCentury_final.pdf

Ball, N. L., Wood, R. E., & Allen, G. (2016). Using technology to detect and deter electronic cheating at a large public university. Issues in Information Systems, 17(4), 82–90.

Gallant, T. (2011). Building a culture of academic integrity. A Magna Publications Whitepaper, J. Garrett (Ed.).  Madison, WI: Magna Publications. Retrieved from https://www.depts.ttu.edu/tlpdc/Resources/Academic_Integrity/files/academicintegrity-magnawhitepaper.pdf

Five Reasons Businesses Should Cut (and Keep) the Internet Connection.

The business world is changing as organizations adopt net-based technologies.  In their book Leading Digital, Westerman, Bonnet, and McAfee (2014) stress that businesses should embrace the Internet if they want to survive in today’s digital world.  Organizational consultant Harold Jarche says that networks are the new companies, and networked employees are the new innovators.  Employee Internet access is mainstream, and brings benefits like enhanced communication and greater access to information.  It also brings challenges.  Here are five reasons that a business might want to cut (and keep) the Internet connection.

1.      Cyber Slacking

Cut

Cutting the Internet connection will eliminate the need to monitor and correct cyber slacking.  The Internet provides an easy distraction for employees.  Instead of working they might be shopping on Amazon, taking care of personal finances, booking flights to Cancun, checking out the latest baby pictures on Facebook, or watching cat videos.  The results of a CareerBuilder survey indicated that 24% of respondents spent more than an hour a day on personal calls, emails, or text messages, and 21% spent at least that much time surfing the net for non-work activities.

Keep

There are always employees who never seem to be around, “long lunch” isn’t a new phrase, and the water cooler is still a popular hangout.  In addition to surfing the net, the CareerBuilder survey found that gossiping, breaks, and excessive meetings also decreased worker productivity.  Yet, the 2015 American Time Use Survey indicated that people spend an average of 7.6 hours working on workdays, pretty close to an 8-hour day.  Chatting with coworkers can build the team, and surfing the net for a few minutes might provide a needed break that enables greater productivity.  Businesses can set expectations for Internet usage.  They might even follow the lead of some Swedish companies and offer a six-hour workday in exchange for spending time on task.

2.       Security

Cut

Not connecting to the Internet will improve security—just ask any security expert.  Without an outside connection, hackers will not be able to steal precious digital data.  Workers won’t click malicious e-mail attachments to find out who sent them a “LOVE-LETTER”, and it will be harder to share business secrets with other governments.  IBM’s  2016 Cyber Security Intelligence Index reported that insiders were responsible for 60% of all attacks; 25% of these were inadvertent, but 75% (45% of total attacks) were malicious.  Cutting the connection will reduce the large amount of time IT departments spend eliminating viruses and Trojans.  In fact, it might allow for a reduction in the IT budget.

Keep

Email and phishing are the most common threats to security.  Can your business really survive without email?  Is information more secure if it is on paper?  Security is always a challenge because it is based on predicting what might happen.  Every organization should assess and manage security risks.  Buildings have locks, employees carry ID cards, and Internet security is just another business necessity.  Taking risk management seriously is probably one of the best things an organization can do to prevent attacks.  Fire drills are required; why not cyber drills?  Companies should use threat detection and prevention tools, install patches, establish policies, promote user awareness, enforce standards, and train workers.  An anonymous hotline for reporting unethical behavior is a good idea too.

3.       Teleworking

Cut

With the net, workers can connect from home, or any location with an Internet connection.   However, studies show that employees working from home are easily distracted (by chores, cats on the keyboard, etc.).  In 2013, CEO Marissa Mayer banned teleworking at Yahoo after internal data showed inadequate time spent working.  Mayer said that collocated workers would increase communication and collaboration, and enhance the speed and quality of work.  It has also been reported that teleworkers  miss the social aspects of the workplace.

Keep

Research shows that teleworkers work more, not less, than their on-site colleagues.  A Gallup study reported that remote workers log an average of four more hours per week than on-site workers.  Teleworkers are slightly more engaged—especially those who work remotely about 20% of the time—so a combination of on-site and telework might boost productivity.  There are a variety of tools to connect colleagues at different locations, bringing opportunities for conducting global business and attracting workers who may not wish to relocate.  More sophisticated tools are on the way with breakthroughs in virtual and augmented reality.  Sensors in the Oculus Rift can even pick up non-verbal cues, and translate language in real time.

4.       Liability

Cut

Have you heard the one about why beer is better than women?  Chevron has. The company agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle sexual harassment charges that were based, in part, on an employee e-mail that contained the offensive joke.  Liability is a big concern when workers misuse the Internet on company time, with company equipment.  Misuses like harassment, distributing confidential information, engaging in fraudulent activities, infringing copyrights, and gambling will keep legal counsel busy and compliance experts writing policies.

Keep

The joke that was emailed at Chevron was only a small part of the case.  In fact, the most offensive materials were delivered via inter-office mail.  Evidence showed that the plaintiffs were targeted for retaliation by management after filing sexual harassment complaints.  The real problem was not the Internet, it was Chevron’s failure to address the serious complaints.  To minimize liability, companies can take steps like adopting Internet usage policies, providing training, enforcing policies, monitoring e-mail, and installing filters.  With the right tools in place activities like downloading porn or sending threats via the net can be deterred.

5.       Information Overload

Cut

Cutting the connection may benefit the health of employees who are stressed out by their 24/7 connected lifestyle.  The Internet enables an abundance of information and endless connections.  As Weinberger (2011) stated, the “economics of deletion” have changed.  Research shows that dealing with a deluge of email can spur elevations in blood pressure and cortisol levels.  A report by Adobe Systems indicated that Americans check email around the clock, and use email on average 30 or more hours a week.  Stressed workers are searching for email rehab tips and heading to Morocco for digital detoxes.

Keep

As much as Americans are using email and connecting to the net, they have no apparent desire to stop.  And, NYU professor Clay Shirky said the real problem is not information overload, it is filter failure. Organizational behavior expert John Hovell suggests filtering information by identifying favorite sources and using filtering apps like Feedly.  Digital assistants like Siri and Alexa can help, and artificial intelligence is making advances in productivity software.  In the meantime, workers can find yoga classes on the net, and check their blood pressure with Apple watches.  If the pressure is up a bit, watching a cat video or checking out those new baby pictures might be just the stress relief a busy worker needs.

The Future is Connected

Businesses that cut employee access to the Internet are living in the past.  Weinberger (2011) points out that knowledge is in the net.  Workers need to be there too.  Report after report predicts that businesses will have to embrace AI, robotics and other disruptive technologies.  Gen Z has skills that businesses will need in 2020, like new media literacy and social intelligence.  A locked down environment will not attract the talent that businesses need to thrive in the networked age.  Keep the connection.  What lies ahead is amazing.

References

Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Westerman, G., Bonnet, D., & McAfee, A. (2014). Leading digital: Turning technology into business transformation. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Take This Job and Connect It.

The connected world of the net is changing everything.  Knowledge is no longer linear.  A Wikipedia page about fuel dispensers (gas pumps) has around 100 hyperlinks that connect to pages on everything from the coefficient of thermal expansion to the history of Florida.  This hyperlinked writing style is an example of what Weinberger, in a video about the power of the Internet, calls filtering forward.  With no page limits and seemingly endless information, why not add connections that readers can explore?  Weinberger (2011) suggests that this open, unbounded structure of information will become the dominant form of knowledge, leaving traditional books behind.  Inevitably, networked knowledge and hyperlinked thinking will change how we do business, how we work, what we do, and what we need.  Will it also change how we lead?

change-ahead-hrImage Credit: <thecoolnessfactor.com>

Gartner (2010) predicts that several workplace changes will occur as organizations adapt to a connected environment.  For example, the growing use of contracted technology solutions is changing how we do business.  Enterprise resources are moving out of organizations and into the Cloud.  My university uses cloud solutions for key business functions such as human resources management and online course delivery.  While these solutions come with a loss of control, Gartner (2010) says this “hyperconnectedness” to external solutions will only intensify as cloud strategies position organizations to be competitive in tomorrow’s world.

Enterprise solutions are not the only resources that are relocating.  Workers have a forwarding address too: “My Place”.  Team members of the modern workforce may not have an office, or even know each other well.  As the nature of work becomes non-routine, Gartner (2010) predicts that agile teams will come together quickly to solve problems, and then dissipate.  Several employees at my university already work virtually.  Teams collaborate across the net, using text, images, videos, and exchanging files and data.  How we work is changing, and leaders need to find new ways to help teams work effectively.  Thankfully, tools are available to help leverage workplace connections.  One example is Slack, a popular tool that was reviewed favorably by blogger rd2dochazen.  Slack has a rich set of Apps that link to everything from Asana (workflow management), to GitHub (code management), to GoogleDrive (cloud file storage), to Uber (get a ride), all from within the Slack environment.

Sometimes the net changes what we do.  An example is found in the book Leading Digital (Westerman, Bonnet, & McAfee, 2014).  Pages Jaunes, a French “Yellow Pages” company, recognized that their business model was being disrupted by digital technology.  Printed directories are obsolete—you can find a plumber faster on the net.  Guided by a visionary leader who saw the need to adapt, Pages Jaunes reinvented itself as a successful online connector of customers and businesses.  In today’s fast-paced world, leaders need to look to the future.  My university will continue to educate students, but courses will be different than they are today.  Even now, virtual reality is being considered for course design, and data scientists are creating real-time assessments of student learning.

As the nature of the workplace shifts, so does what we need.  Millennials (people born 1982-1995) recognize that the work/life divide is vanishing, one of the reasons they will choose jobs that pay less but are more socially rewarding (Gallup, 2016).  Millennials do not want leaders who tell them what to do, they want leaders who coach them and empower them (Gallup, 2016).  And now Gen Z (born 1996-now) is entering the workforce, the first truly mobile generation.  Gen Z cannot imagine an unconnected world.  As a university leader I think about my team, yet I also reflect on what students—the workers of the future—will need.

This dizzying array of changes comes with advice for leaders who desire to help their teams and their organizations.  Panetta recommends consulting Millennials about technology and collaboration, and Glassdoor’s chief economist Andrew Chamberlain suggests integrating data science with human resource management to better align worker and organizational needs.   Weinberger advises leaders to be open, constantly anticipating what may come.  And, insightfully, Jon Husband proposes using Wirearchy—an organizing principle generated by connections and collaboration—to foster the creation of social and economic value in a system that connects people and technology.

Fundamental to all of this good counsel is openness, agility, and awareness.  If the net is changing everything, leaders will be ready for change.  We are reminded of Ignatius Loyola’s description of the ideal Jesuit: “living with one foot raised”—always ready to adapt by exploring new ideas and embracing new approaches (Lowney, 2003).  Some aspects of how we lead will disappear; others will remain the same.

-CatOnKB

References

Gallup. (2016). How Millennials want to work and live. Washington, D.C.: Gallup World Headquarters.

Gartner. (2010, August 4). Gartner says the world of work will witness 10 changes during the next 10 years [press release]. Retrieved from http://www.gartner.com

Lowney, C. (2003). Heroic leadership: Best practices from a 450-year-old company that changed the world. Chicago, IL: Loyola Press.

Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Westerman, G., Bonnet, D., & McAfee, A. (2014). Leading digital: Turning technology into business transformation. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Knowledge and Management. Making the Connection.

Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989, but it was not until 1994, when Mosaic released Netscape Navigator to the public, that knowledge began to acquire a new shape.  Originally a place to retrieve information, the web has become an open, social, space where everyone can contribute content.  With the web, knowledge is just a few digital steps away.

In the book Too Big To Know, Weinberger (2011) describes a symbiotic relationship between the web and knowledge, which he refers to as the networking of knowledge.  The net’s structure enables knowledge, and knowledge enables the net’s structure.  Free from curators and boundaries, the web retains content indefinitely, and does not impose limitations on its quantity or quality.  Creating knowledge is a social endeavor.  And, the web connects a large and diverse group of people.

In this new epistemology, do organizational leaders need to alter their view of knowledge?

Weinberger’s (2011) concept of socially created, networked knowledge is distinctly different from the hierarchical model of knowledge embraced by organizations in the late 1990s.  The data-information-knowledge-wisdom pyramid popularized by Ackoff (1999) exemplifies the hierarchical model.

DIKW PyramidThe idea behind the hierarchy is that each level is the meta of the previous one.  Information is meta-data.  Data are facts: it rained one inch on Tuesday in New York City.  Information connects facts: if it rains three days in a row in New York City, umbrella sales skyrocket.  Knowledge is meta-information: don’t buy an umbrella in New York City, you can probably pick one up on the subway, people leave them behind all the time.  Wisdom is meta-knowledge: you can’t stop the rain from falling.

Ackoff (1999) proposed that knowledge is the application of data, and Davenport, De Long, and Beers (1998) asserted that knowledge is the cornerstone of organizational decisions and actions.  Weinberger (2010) pointed out that this applied view of knowledge came from the desire to obtain business value from data.  This is the context in which Knowledge Management—a system designed to help organizations create, share, and use knowledge effectively—was created.  Unlike the open and social shape of the net, the style of Knowledge Management started out closed and hierarchical.

In a three-part blog, Nancy Dixon (2009) describes three eras of Knowledge Management—where it came from, where it went, and where it is going.  The first era—leveraging explicit knowledge—began around 1995.  Knowledge was viewed as competitive advantage, an asset for leaders to manage.  Organizations created internal repositories to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and to connect people to content.  Leaders focused on ensuring that the “best” knowledge was both captured and utilized.  The main failing of the first era was that it did not consider the fluid, infinite nature of knowledge, or its reliance on context.

The second era—leveraging experiential knowledge— began around 2000.  This era focused on connecting people to people, and using people’s experience to build communities that learn and perform faster.  Central to this era was the belief that front line workers were the real connection to knowledge.  The problem is, information flow between front line workers is mostly tactical and horizontal, and the model did not capture vertical information flows.  Leaders pondered their role in overseeing experiential learning communities, and looked for ways to create vertical flows.  They also recognized the model’s failure to address the growing complexity of organizations.

There is little similarity between the first two Knowledge Management eras and Weinberger’s open, social, contextual networking of knowledge.  A fundamental problem, as Weinberger (2010) pointed out, was in defining knowledge as a product of filtering information within a hierarchical structure.  Perhaps that is why Knowledge Management was declared to be dead, or at least on a respirator.  In the article “Whatever Happened to Knowledge Management“, Davenport (2015) conceded that, even if Knowledge Management has a few breaths left, it has lost its popularity and probably won’t be back.

Dixon (2009) is more optimistic than Davenport, indicating that Knowledge Management’s third era—leveraging collective knowledge—strives to meet the needs of today’s complex and connected world.  As Jarche (2010) pointed out, modern organizations face an environment of constant change and a market that values intangibles.  In the third era, which began around 2005, Knowledge Management moved out of the  knowledge hierarchy and into a collective, constructivist model; a model that tackles organizational complexity and adaptive challenges by connecting employees to decision makers.

As it turns out, leveraging collective knowledge to deal with adaptive challenges means using the network to create knowledge.  The keys to the third era, according to Dixon (2009), are accepting cognitive diversity, integrating knowledge, and ensuring transparency.  These three keys are also the hallmarks of Weinberger’s network of knowledge.  It appears there is hope for Knowledge Management after all.

The new shape of knowledge is pushing leaders out of the hierarchical model, but will they really miss it?  While the structure of knowledge has changed, the desire to leverage knowledge as a strategic asset remains intact.  The non-hierarchical structure of networked knowledge is complex.  Leadership is needed to facilitate the use of tools to encourage the social exchange of knowledge and bring value to the organization.

Thankfully, there are a myriad of web-based tools to help manage information and knowledge.  My university uses LinkedIn to recruit employees and cloud-based systems like ADP and Salesforce to manage people and relationships.  Virtual employees attend meetings via web tools like Skype and VSee, and students from all over the world use the Internet to connect to our learning management systems.  Employees and students alike use tools like Office 365, Google Docs, OneNote, and YouTube to manage information.

Knowledge Management is not dead, it just had to reinvent itself for the networked age.  Leaders need to do this, too.  Jarche (2010) advises leaders to focus on strategy, gain understanding of the web, leverage social media for problem solving, and teach people how to work effectively in this new environment.  In a network of knowledge connections, leaders must be connectors.

-CatOnKB

 

References

Ackoff, R. L. (1999). Ackoff’s Best. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Davenport, T.H. (2015, June 24). Whatever happened to knowledge management [blog post]. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2015/06/24/whatever-happened-to-knowledge-management/

Davenport, T.H., De Long, D.W., & Beers, M.C. (1998). Successful knowledge management projects.  Sloan Management Review, (39)2, 43.

Dixon, N. (2009, May 2). Where knowledge management has been and where it is going- part one [blog post]. Conversation Matters. Retrieved from http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2009/05/where-knowledge-management-has-been-and-where-it-is-going-part-one.html

Dixon, N. (2009, May 10). Knowledge management: Where we’ve been and where we’re going- part two [blog post]. Conversation Matters. Retrieved from http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2009/05/knowledge-management-where-weve-been-and-where-were-going—part-two.html

Dixon, N. (2009, July 30). Where knowledge management has been and where it is going- part three [blog post]. Conversation Matters. Retrieved from http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2009/07/where-knowledge-management-has-been-and-where-it-is-going-part-three.html

Jarche, H. (2010, February 24). A framework for social learning in the enterprise [blog post]. Retrieved from http://jarche.com/2010/02/a-framework-for-social-learning-in-the-enterprise/

Weinberger, D. (2010, February 2). The problem with the data-information-knowledge-wisdom hierarchy. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2010/02/data-is-to-info-as-info-is-not

Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know. New York, NY: Basic Books.

 

Snagit. Show and Tell for Web 2.0.

Did you ever sight-see from a car window?  The visual is nice, but the experience is pretty passive.  With Web 2.0, you get out of the car.  Web 2.0 is interactive and collaborative.  Anyone can create, contribute, and share content, and Web 2.0 can combine the knowledge of everyone who uses it.  O’Reilly (2005) referred to this as Web 2.0’s capacity to harness collective intelligence.  In Too Big To Know, Weinberger (2011) described the process as the “networking of knowledge” (p. xiii).  No matter what the descriptor, Web 2.0 has changed the way knowledge is created.

There are many useful applications for creating, sharing, and contributing content with Web 2.0.  This post highlights the features of one application—Snagit.  Created by TechSmith, Snagit is a useful tool for producing images and videos.  Download.cnet.com gives Snagit four stars out of five and says it is simple enough for beginners but has lots of powerful features.  Snagit is popular, #26 on the list of Top 200 Tools for Learning 2016.

Snagit has three primary uses: screen captures, simple graphics, and quick videos.  It also has a powerful sharing feature.

Screen Captures

Anyone who has tried to describe an error message to tech support knows the advantage of sending an image of the message.  Snagit makes screen captures a breeze.  After installing Snagit, click the big red Capture button, and capture the selection.

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Voila! The error message is ready to be saved and shared.

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The capture can be edited by adding text callouts, arrows, highlights, borders, and more.  Check out this introductory video for more details.

Simple graphics

In addition to screen captures, Snagit is great for making simple graphics.  After watching a short video, it took only a few minutes to create this graphic of a cat on a keyboard.

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Videos

Making a video is also very easy in Snagit.  Just click the Video tab before you click the Capture button.  Snagit will start recording a video of your selection, with audio from the computer’s built-in microphone.  If the computer has a camera, you can use that to record yourself in the video.  Here are some instructions to get started.

Sharing

Where Snagit really shines is with its Share feature.  Snagit enables users to send captured media to hosting sites like Screencast.com, upload to Google Drive or Dropbox, embed in an email or Microsoft Office document, share on a social media site, post on YouTube, and more.

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Snagit’s Share feature embraces the connected power of Web 2.0.  It not only makes it easy to create and contribute content, it enables content as a source of Web 2.0 knowledge.  Snagit is part of the revolution from printed manuals, to PDFs and help sites, to videos.  Weinberger (2011) proposed that information has left traditional encyclopedias and libraries behind and moved into the network.  In 1990, if you wanted to learn how to change the oil in your car, you might have borrowed a book from the library, but today you can watch a video on YouTube.

Every minute, about 300 videos are uploaded to YouTube, with 4 billion views a day.  Snagit was downloaded 3,220 times last week.  Given the ease and usefulness of these tools, the statistics are not surprising.  The  success of Snagit (and YouTube) was predicated on a scarce resource—videos—becoming abundant.  In an interview about the disruptive power of collaboration, NYU professor Clay Shirky indicated that when a scarce resource becomes abundant it can completely alter an industry.  Web 2.0 video creators do not need film expertise, specialized equipment, or complex distribution channels.  Anyone with a computer, or even a smartphone, can make a video and share in on the net.

I investigated Snagit because I thought it might be helpful to my team.  With employees in nearly every state and students all over the world, we spend a lot of time explaining via phone or email how to find things on the university’s website (library, catalogs, application forms) and within our internal systems (handbooks, help desk, benefits information).  Snagit could be used to create “Show and Tell” images and videos, and a library of Snagit responses to common questions could be organized.  Augmenting email  communications with Snagit videos would add a personalized touch to help connect virtual team members.  Graphics could be shared for collaborative editing, and Snagit could be used to develop training materials.  In addition, faculty could create instructional videos or provide personalized feedback  by adding notes, audio, or video comments to student assignments.  Snagit would be helpful anytime a visual might enhance communication.

Snagit is easy to use and produces quick results.  On the downside, Snagit is not free.  An individual Snagit license is about $50; education, government/non-profit, and volume pricing is available.  Another shortcoming is that Snagit does not have the myriad of features available in products such as Adobe PhotoShop or Illustrator.  However, more features can bring more complexity.  Snagit is a simple and powerful tool—the kind of application that once you use it, you wonder how you lived without it.

If you want to try Snagit, creator TechSmith offers a free 15-day trial for Windows or Mac.

-CatOnKB

References

O’Reilly, T. (2005, September 30). What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software. O’Reilly. Retrieved from http://www.oreilly.com/pub/a/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html?page=1

Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know: Rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room. New York: Basic Books.