Wyzetalk is Workforce Engagement – it’s more than a software offering

Featured

“….the attribute of trust is not pervasive in business. If an organisation has trust, it can create engagement. An engaged workforce provides happiness, profitability and longevity to business.”

For businesses to say they are about the ‘workforce’ is a huge statement to make. To elaborate on this,  ’employee engagement’ / ‘workforce engagement’ is a systemic and not a software solution offering.)

(Providers in the market place should be careful to advertise this unless they are capable of the complexity of the offering this unless you understand what you are saying. Its a systemic issue… it’s not about software.. it’s not a short term fix.

I have always been an entrepreneur, surrounding myself with people more capable than myself. I started a company when I was 24, it became a national operation, with 600 staff and over $ 50 million per annum turnover,  which I sold in 2008. It was predicated, in its structure, on command and control, hierarchical and siloed… by design…

At this juncture in my career I decided to take on a more personal journey by enrolling in an Executive MBA at UCT founded my Professor Tom Ryan. A challenging and positive, life-changing event. It opened the doors of systems thinking for me.

I wrote my dissertation on collaboration in the enterprise… the paper assumed that the attribute of trust existed in business. My partner and I started Wyzetalk in 2012. Wyzetalk, has grown into a unique, diverse international business, forming alliances with top national brands and consultancies – a world class product with world class partners.

We have realised that the attribute of trust is not pervasive in business. If an organisation has trust, it can create engagement. An engaged workforce provides happiness, profitability and longevity to business.

We have spent the last few years trying to understand how to build a connected workforce. How to build true engagement. How to build trust.

The Wyzetalk team understands that the enterprise is typically on the far right side of a room and the workforce, typically, is on the far left side of the room.

Our software builds the railway that links the two but its the content, the understanding and the authenticity that we curate that is built on that railway that builds trust over time.

Doing surveys to groups, giving them vouchers or rewards for their contribution creates possible short term gain but it’s  not a long term solution. Don’t be shallow, don’t be a fad.

We are not in the business of short term gain. We are here to create true workforce engagement. We want to bring the enterprise and its workforce together. Build a tribal culture that’s transparent, genuine and long-term, goal-oriented.

We love what we do and we want to evolve with our clients to make this a reality.

We recently held a breakfast for the mining industry. We were honoured to have Dr. James Motlatse and professor Tom Ryan present. This is the link: http://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/south-africa/messy-wage-negotiations-are-avoidable/

It takes the view that businesses need to become empathetic. It’s about the hands that do the work, but it’s about the mind and the heart of the workforce that matter as much.

Social Business Software: A time capsule for business ideas

Innovation plays an integral role in the longevity and existence of any startup or company, irrespective of which line of work you are in. Customers today are always looking for what their service providers can do for them. And they want you, as the service provider, to provide them with solutions to problems before they even realise there is an issue.
Companies are also struggling to retain important knowledge and intellectual value, as key skills are sometimes lost to competitors looking to get ahead in a highly complex and competitive marketplace.
And then there are external factors; due to a unique mix of economic and political variables, South Africa continues to suffer the devastating consequences of a seemingly unstoppable brain drain. As we bleed skills and knowledge to other countries, organisations’ output and competitiveness continues to suffer, and the cost of re-seeding lost competence and specialisation is both prohibitive and completely unnecessary.
In an effort to fight the brain drain that may exist within a company, it’s important to take note of, and address, what the concept of ‘knowledge’ is. Underlying the problem of knowledge retention in the face of high staff turnover are a few common misperceptions about knowledge itself.
Knowledge, according to Davenport and Prusak (1998), is “a fluid mix of … experiences, values, contextual information and expert insight.”
Don’t get side-tracked — the point is that all of these are transferable and can be made accessible to anyone in a company. Whereas dealing in specialised or privileged knowledge is necessarily role-based in companies, its creation (a process known as innovation) does not happen solely within the realm of job specialisation, talent or inspiration. Knowledge can be created and amplified, over and over again, by merely practising well-institutionalised innovation processes and not limiting processes to a select few.
With the attainment of knowledge thus demystified, it follows that the more participation in its creation, the better. The potential for innovation is everywhere in companies. It exists outside of R&D, tech departments and even the executive team — it does, however, exist with everyone from your staff, business partners, customers, shareholders and the general public.
The more people that participate in the creation of your innovation process, the merrier your output is likely to be. The creativity process shouldn’t be restricted or boxed, and once channels are put in place to allow overall participation, it allows companies to maximise the sharing of knowledge and the building of seeded ideas.
Many strategies have emerged on multiple fronts to plug the knowledge sink-holes that appear with the on-going skills crisis, but few have asked: how can we capture the knowledge people contribute and possess tacitly? And how can capturing it be made integral to our company’s processes?
Those who have asked these questions have relied on knowledge management and communication tools, but all these technologies have, so far, failed to capture and make knowledge easily accessible within a company:
• Email, is not a collaborative technology at heart, it doesn’t lend itself to mass participation or information management. It’s also largely based on assumption (that someone will receive it and respond) and accuracy (that it’ll get to the right person).
• Most intranets are digital notice boards or document storage facilities with little opportunity for interactive discussion.
• Knowledge management platforms have failed to inspire mass uptake in companies due to their complexity.
Technologies that truly assist in the capture, creation, sharing and documentation of knowledge have therefore yet to be deployed en masse, but with the emergence of social business software (SBS) we’re starting to get the right answers.
SBS is a compelling, intuitive way of communicating that ignites participation and lets companies conduct all their conversations in one place. It gives organisational stakeholders a collective — or group-based — platform within which to contribute to the corporate conversation, safely and equally. It is private, it’s secure, it can be aligned to different audiences, different stakeholders and your different objectives.
As SBS is fundamentally based on the principles of collaboration, it allows for the amplification of knowledge. And in sharing knowledge, SBS also aids the creation of knowledge. Although ideas are formed in the minds of individuals, interactions between individuals play a critical role in developing these ideas. Social business communities can span geographical, departmental or indeed organisational boundaries. It also acts as a searchable knowledge repository for documents and best practices, even once someone has moved on.
In the face of rampant skills losses and erosion of knowledge, SBS can help companies retain the value created by individuals and groups and capture their tacit knowledge. Hopefully that captured knowledge may guide and inspire others long after they’re gone, and even get new recruits up to speed before they join.
Sometimes an idea isn’t ready to be implemented today, but could be a great idea/business model in years to come, however if this knowledge isn’t captured and restored it may never flourish.

Generation Y and the effect on the enterprise

Generation Y has been the subject of many workplace studies. Ys are criticised for being overly conscious of their value to the organisation and “too precious” about the myriad career choices open to them. On the other hand, they have also justly been credited with driving much of today’s technology-led innovation.

This is in large part due to their prodigious consumption of information — and equally prolific record of contributing to knowledge — both as innovators in their own right and in their preference for open, collaborative new ways of communicating, which tends to spur innovation.

Good thing
Thus it would seem that a workforce of young turks who question and try out everything can be a very good thing. And indeed my research and experience of such work environments bears this out. In reality, however, a complex array of factors comes into play when young blood enters the system. Mirroring the good and bad of Gen Y-ers themselves, their impact tends to be both energising and stressful.

In this context, organisations can use social business software (SBS) very effectively to mitigate the impacts of generational renewal while managing a positively balanced outcome – characterised by open innovation on the one hand and a robust security posture on the other.

Tale of two (inverse) cycles
The impact of upping your Gen-Y staff component works in two opposite cycles:

Cycle 1 — restricting
As organisations increase their Gen Y staff component, a generation gap may open up. Different behaviours, communication approaches and viewpoints separate older generations and Generation Y-ers, with the latter group generally exposed to a vastly bigger array of media and educational opportunities, as well as a more global formative environment.

New hires often experience difficulty in dealing with older generations. With the latter group markedly less open to accepting others, trust levels in the organisation tend to drop.

The very presence of Y-ers in the enterprise can further be considered major change, as they bring with them a greater reliance on technology and open communication, and a quick but non-linear style of processing information. This invariably leads to a stricter information security stance, which in turn necessitates adaptation of enterprise risk management policy frameworks, to protect social systems from unauthorised, unanticipated or unintentional modification.

Ultimately, this puts a dampener on the zeal and dynamism of the Gen Y mind-set of an organisation and minimises their positive contribution.

Cycle 2 — balancing
But the new generation’s affinity for technology tends to work in the opposite direction too, allowing Gen Y-ers to come into their own and make a self-reinforcing contribution to their organisations. It starts in this way: as organisations increase their Gen Y component, they often experience an increase in the adoption of SBS. By way of elucidation, it must be noted that social media can be organised into four categories – communication, collaboration, multimedia and edutainment platforms. This means organisations will often in such cases see improved collaboration and communication, increased efficiencies, and project savings.

This generally leads to heightened levels of open innovation, allowing organisations to maximise their knowledge resources by extending collaboration to partners outside the confines of enterprise boundaries.

Ultimately, the use of both internal and external capabilities in solving problems or creating new products, assets or channels greatly improve organisations’ competitive standing and chances of survival.

Resolving the conflict
In effect, it is a virtuous cycle that ends (and begins) with an increase in the Gen-Y mindset in the organisation. The positive cycle succeeds in balancing out the negative one, but it is SBS that stands central to organisations’ ability to turn mutually destructive forces into positive, self-reinforcing change.

As companies try to cope with new markets, technologies, attitudes and behaviours, SBS is their best chance to embrace change and rally a new generation of millennials to ensure their continued success.

Gys is the Co-founder and CEO of WyseTalk (Pty) Ltd. Africa’s leading social business software platform. Gys’s Masters thesis entitled ‘The delay of Social business Software in the Enterprise and its effects’ has won him international acclaim.

This article was first published in the memeburn.com site:

http://memeburn.com/2013/10/social-media-can-seriously-unlock-the-value-of-gen-y-employees-heres-how/

Getting from Social Business to Open Innovation.

So you’re using your Social Business Software platform to generate new ideas, everyone’s generally engaged and you have a sense that the mood is improving and communication is up. But what about the ideas that are being generated? When an idea is posted within your community, is there a process to determine which ideas are good, bad, worth taking further, as far as perhaps being called innovative innovations. How do you take these ideas through the full cycle to the point of delivering them them back to the business. How does this delivery take place?

Here’s the three letter “I” challenge –

Ideation;

Invigoration; and

Implementation

Most organisations are not geared for innovation. So while you’re creating your Social Business Software strategy and implementation plan, you need to understand that you are actually changing it, changing your business, altering your future, shifting your paradigm and acknowledging the power in your people. It’s called open innovation.

Too much emphasis is being placed on generating ideas (ideation) and far too little time is spent on the actual translation into action and then the implementation and execution of these ideas.

So I propose a change from the conventional innovation equation of:

innovation = ideas

to:

innovation = ideas + planning + implementation + recognition

If you have invested in a social business strategy and platform with a view to improving innovation then this is how you need to go about ensuring you achieve your objectives:

  1. Create an environment where you can stimulate ideas. Let the SBS platform automatically trigger these conversations and put SBS champions in charge of driving this process;
  2. Create an open ideation group within your SBS Community. So that everyone is encouraged to participate and build on each other’s ideas;
  3. Get the champions to meet (virtually and in person), to discuss the ideas posted in the ideation and other groups. Empower them to take decisions on which ideas to take further and encourage them to give feedback. Be dynamic and be engaged. This is not intended to be another hierarchy;
  4. Great ideas need to get the green light. They need to have actions plans with timelines behind them to ensure they get successfully implemented. And the initiator needs to be acknowledged and encouraged to be part of the success team responsible for the implementation;
  5. The mandate given to the idea committee and the ideator gives them ownership of the success;  and
  6. Create an incentive scheme for great ideas. This can be done through senior management recognition, monetary rewards or both. These schemes can be done weekly, monthly or when projects are completed.

You have to work on a small win methodology… take small wins and let them become big wins over time.

It’s powerful stuff… this social business thing!

Gys is the Co-founder and CEO of WyseTalk (Pty) Ltd. Africa’s leading social business software platform. Gys’s Masters thesis entitled ‘The delay of Social business Software in the Enterprise and its effects’ has won him international acclaim.

Role of social business software in delivering innovation

Businesses today operate within a dynamic environment, shaped by variables, such as evolving legislation, globalisation and economic volatility. Disruptive new technologies create new competitors overnight and the only way to get and stay in front is constantly to innovate.

Innovation is sometimes thought of as the product of inspiration – a spark of genius whose timing or vessel cannot be predicted, or a closed process driven by research and development. In fact, creativity can be cultivated as a habit – by anyone – and it is better when it draws on more ideas.

By using a democratic, collaborative approach to innovation – called “open innovation” – companies can nurture an innovative capability and increase their output of quality ideas, thus increasing their chances of bringing about or weathering disruptive market change and gaining a competitive edge.

Stories abound of market-leading companies that do not respond to disruptive changes in their field of play with a more open approach to innovation. Once great, they find themselves unable to recreate the spark, as they are too set in their assumptions to deal properly with shifting realities. Inevitably, they fail.

One example is Eastman Kodak. The inventors and market leaders in photographic film for over a century filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in America at the beginning of 2012. ZDNet noted that while the company had actually made a latter-day innovative breakthrough with the first digital camera, it failed to respond to the erosion of its monopolistic hold over film and film development, brought about by the commoditisation of the digital camera by Sony and others.

Bitter defeat

Others, too, have tasted bitter defeat by not ably responding to change. Nokia, the world’s leading mobile phone producer, lost more than USD18 billion in market capitalisation when Apple created an irresistible wave of change with the iPhone. The resulting smart phone innovation went unmatched by anyone for years – certainly not by Nokia.

Then, suddenly, Samsung overtook Apple in global smart phone shipments. The difference? Samsung is a dyed-in-the-wool open company (unlike Apple) that taps its workforce and partners as well as the competitive landscape for ideas. The results speak for themselves.

Open companies communicate well, but traditional communications technologies haven’t kept up. Many comms channels have proliferated over the years, giving rise to an overwhelming range of ways to stay in touch, but none that offers an open, collaborative environment – one that everyone is at home in and in which their contribution is given equal weight and visibility.

Email doesn’t lend itself to elegant mass participation or visibility. Intranets have become notice boards with little chance of interactive discussion. Collaborative platforms do not include sophisticated communications that are so necessary for idea sharing. And unified communications platforms (videoconferencing, IP telephony, white boards etc) are expensive.

A new breed of “social business software”

Of late, social technologies have entered the corporate consciousness. A new breed of “social business software” (SBS) platforms, also known as enterprise social software, uses social principles in a business context, offering great promise for inclusive, structured brainstorming within communities. They take the form of social and networked modifications to corporate intranets and communications software platforms or standalone SBS platforms.

SBS, itself a disruptive change in the market, combines and integrates “sharing” features of social media sites with collaboration and standard unified communications support, giving company stakeholders a collective or group-based platform within which to contribute to the corporate conversation, with the safety and equality that comes with openness.

It is clear that a company of information workers who communicate better will also increase their workplace and project efficiencies. In addition, they will co-create better, more nuanced ideas – faster. And more efficient companies that have better ideas stand a better chance of leading markets.

Platforms like WyseTalk, Yammer and Jive have been successful at “ideation” or the seeding, testing and framing of ideas within companies. They harness the untapped brilliance of individuals on the strength of the principle that many heads are better than one, provided their cross-pollination is managed systematically. Collaboration-driven SBS tools provide that systematic, open approach to innovation.

Since the introduction of this nascent (two-year-old) field in South Africa, leading companies in health care, financial services, mining, software, retail and hospitality have embraced it to create workplace efficiencies, knowledge and best-practice sharing, and communication.

As a result of implementing SBS successfully (a certain amount of change management is essential), excellent ideas need not be wasted. They will be given the exposure that is traditionally reserved for inner-circle employees, subjected to open scrutiny and a wide array of potentially complimentary or better ideas, earning individuals and companies the recognition that might otherwise have been denied them forever.

(a recent article published in Biz community http://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/410/542/93631.html)

How Social Business Software (SBS) captures and integrates end user knowledge into improved business knowledge

Dynamic and Highly adaptable organizations today have been blurring the lines between strategic decision and operations. Here employees are generally expected to understand the organizations goals and strategies. Due to the pace of change businesses have to react, change and adapt these strategic goals frequently and do so rapidly.

If employees understand the visions and strategies and are in a well-designed social business software framework they can assist organizations achieve these goals.

Social Business Software aims to capture end-user tacit knowledge and integrate it within the existing knowledge of the business process models therefore forming a decentralized knowledge management framework. Thus the business processes that are designed are done with the participation of the organisational community aligned with the businesses strategic goals. Hence knowledge management through the use of SBS is created in two ways. Firstly current knowledge that exists within the organisation can be shared through the platform and secondly end-users can contribute to the existing knowledge with their own tacit knowledge.

Social Business Software allows for both a top-down and a bottom-up view of knowledge creation to occur through collaboration within their own business environment. One could argue that the top-down view of knowledge is very structured and compliant while the view on knowledge as ideation from the bottom-up can be seen in a less structured paradigm. Businesses that have fully embraced SBS have the ability to integrate formal and informal knowledge which allows to environment to adapt and change in order to achieve the strategic goals and vision of the enterprise.

The diagram below illustrates the Causal Loop of the Social Business enterprise commnity and knowledge capturing process.

Image

In conclusion, the distance between business strategy and business operation is becoming shorter. Organizations can no longer rely on crystallized procedures, though they strive for optimized business operation. Businesses today have to constantly adapt to environmental changes. Therefore SBS allows an organisation to emphasize standardization and optimization and pair it with adaptation and the achievement of needs. Overall it creates an environment, which integrates the formal knowledge described in business operation with tacit human knowledge and is able to constantly allow for the reinterpretation of business strategy in the face of business environment changes.

The concept of purposeful Ideation and Open Innovation

To start with any plan for idea creation or planning for innovation, one needs to understand group dynamics and the differences in personalities of individuals and we need to know how to use this knowledge to manage groups to use this knowledge to guide the group in a productive way; establish an atmosphere in which the participants are willing to share their ideas and build on others’ ideas; maintain the energy level of the participants and enable them to stay focused on the task; and finally connect their previous knowledge and
experience to the current situation.

Remember that creativity is manifested by expressing unusual thoughts and that collaboration must be interesting and stimulating.

In the enterprise, we are looking for Interactivists.

Interactivists are not willing to return to a previous state, to settle for things
as they are, or to accept the future that appears to confront them. They believe
that the future can be created and is dependent upon what one does between
now and then. In planning, the process, not the plan, is the most important
product. Interactivists dissolve a problem by changing the nature of either the
entity that has it, or altering the environment in order to eliminate the problem
entirely. They idealize by designing a desirable future and inventing ways to bring
it about. Firstly it is important to give all stakeholders of an organization an opportunity to participate in the ideation process. Everyone needs to see and understand certain scenarios that the business is catering for. Social business software can help an organnisation with flexibility and responsiveness in real time and  enables it to withstand change rapidly. This gives the organization more control over what lies ahead. Second, you need to consider all the subsystems of the organization, as well as the systems surrounding it to be part of the problem and the solution. This makes 

you mindful of the impact of the future decisions on the organization in its
entirety. Involving all concerned parties in the decision-making process ensures
that all parties are heard and all issues are covered. This leads to better, more
informed decisions.
Third, Social Business Software promotes participation. A participative climate helps employees
believe that they are important assets in the organization and that they can make
a difference. Participants in the process may include
employees, top management, shareholders and clients. So the ability to both co-ordinate top-down and bottom-up decision making is made possible.
process is advantageous for their in-depth knowledge and expertise at the 

Fourth, SBS supports an environment that facilitates employee
empowerment. Employee empowerment involves an individual’s sense of self determination and autonomy in influencing work outcomes. Empowered employees see themselves as integrated into the
key political channels for getting work done in organizations.
This gives them a sense of personal and professional satisfaction, which leads to
increased productivity.
Fifth, SBS acknowledges creativity and appreciates out-of-the-box thinking.
Participants are encouraged to be as creative as possible in coming up with the
new best practices and innovations for the enterprise.
Teams are encouraged to be as imaginative and creative as possible. This can lead to breakthroughs for the organization and the
entire industry.
Sixth, it facilitates ease of implementation.

Important aspects of the IP
methodology are transparency and awareness are critical. Being transparent
addresses and manages the employees’ feelings of apprehension and fear of the
unknown. This lessens the resistance and facilitates buy-in. SBS can be

used for a specific project within a particular department, as well as for the
strategic goals of an entire organization. It can also be used for initiatives of
private organizations, non-profit organizations, government agencies and cities
all over the world.