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

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“….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.

Innovation and the Importance of Culture

Why is it that 80% of business leaders feel that innovation is vital to survival yet only 4% feel that they are doing anything about it?

Organisations and their leadership teams typically view innovation at another level… something abstract. Imagine viewing it as a ‘what to do?’; how can we, as an organisation, behave differently?

Too often executives may think that they are coming up with really good and novel ideas – where in fact they are simply variations on an old theme. Whenever one comes to a make an important management decision it is imperative that considerable attention in given to defining the problem correctly.

The rapid change in the business environment brought about by technological innovation, socio-cultural development, economic fluctuations and other factors means that there needs to be an overall understanding of what is going on.

Decision-making and problem solving both rely on the supply of information in order to make logical choices. Oftentimes defining the problem itself and coming up with ideas that represent viable alternatives for consideration pose considerable difficulties. This leads me to suggest that leaders need to foster a culture of Divergent Thinking.

During our consultations and during our implementations of Social Business Software within organizations, we typically see a number of standout issues:

  • Organisations, on the whole, are terrible and communicating;
  • People compete rather than co-operate with each other;
  • People fail to work as cross-functional teams preferring to stay in organisational silos;
  • Meetings are unproductive and lack any formal innovation programmes and techniques;
  • Organisations, typically, are unwilling to consider external and fresh perspectives.

If you believe that there is a fresh way to look at things, that real change can and will lead to more innovations within your businesses through the implementation of Social Business Software then consider doing the following:

  • Institute an innovation programme that is framed as part of a marketing plan or a corporate strategy;
  • Implement a reward system for innovation;
  • Create a budget for innovation to build an ecosystem that drives creative problem solving;
  • Seek ideas from outside the organisation through the creation of external Social Business Communities that engages your customers and suppliers;
  • Getting the leadership teams to clarify the mission, vision, core purposes and core values to the enterprise on the Social Business Software Platform;
  • The leadership teams need to communicate frequently with the rest of the enterprise;
  • Share skills and knowledge within the Social Business community.
  • Make meetings more productive:
    • Meetings are necessary and if done properly can be productive and energetic. By having discussions through event creations on a social business software platform, one gets to be more prepared.
    • You get to set goals and make decisions
    • Start and finish on time
    • Introduce a disciplined approach and keep to it.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enterprise Social Network Trends 2014

Welcome to 2014 and my first blog of the year. I thought I would start by writing a short piece on my predictions for 2014.

Bring your own device (BYOD) will become integrated fully within the Enterprise Social Network (ESN) ecosystems and will become mainstream.

With this, smaller, real time networks will explode. ESN will allow information to be shared amongst employees and its customers.

The asynchronisation of mobile and ESN will enhance collaboration to increased levels of shared knowledge. If coupled with open innovation, organisations can significantly enhance their performance. The top ESN platforms allow for seamless integration with existing internal systems as well as external social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIN.

By aligning the analytics and statistics from existing systems with social networks through the top level ESN platforms organisations are enabled to apply these learnings, take real action, solve problems and predict trends.

gys is the co-founder and CEO of Wyzetalk, Africa’s leading Social business software platform. His 2012 masters thesis on: ‘the delay of social business software adoption in the enterprise and its effects’ have received global acclaim.

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.

How Social Business Software could revolutionise business.

Here’s something I read recently and it is probably something that resonates with you in your own work environment: “You run an organisation with many people, all working for common goals: your goals. You tell them what to do and what you want done and you give them money to do it. This sounds simple but rarely is… During their daily tasks, they struggle to find things, they struggle to find experts that can help them, they struggle to find information that can help them get their jobs done faster, more efficiently. This is frustrating to say the least and over time good employees leave, some of them are experts and you are left wondering how much knowledge just walked out of the door.”

This is not a new problem, and despite progression from paper file cabinets to intranets, it has still not been solved. Getting things done takes coordination, which incurs what we call high coordination costs. These costs include management, infrastructure, and meetings – many meetings. In fact in large organisations I am sure people ask “how do these guys manage to get stuff done?”

What I have described in the first two paragraphs underpins the goals of Social Business software (SBS). I think that it is a revolution much like the internet was a revolution to get people together in ways that were unimaginable 25 to 30 years ago.

In order for Social Business to succeed however, you need to understand what specific problems your organisation has. Typically communication is a major problem, next is collaboration, next is knowledge sharing, then developing corporate culture and finally building a solution which encompasses the mission and vision of the organisation which in turns satisfies the stakeholders.

Social Business Software as an organisational paradigm is fairly new. The technology exists but its not about the technology… its about the will to change how we do things as a business. This is both the challenge and the promise of SBS. Imagine for a moment your organisation one where your employees feel fulfilled and happy in their jobs, their stress reduced, they trust their managers and their peers and they feel as though they are part of something great.

So before you get started consider the following 3 points:

1)    What are the issues? What are the issues that your company is currently wrestling with?

2)    Are you able to measure and test what is going on in your company?  Your exploration into transforming and improving your company needs to start with facts. You need to explore and understand these restrainers before you introduce a new understanding.

3)    Get help… It is going to be very hard to fix these problems on your own. If companies were able to do it by themselves, they would have done it already.

To find help with this you need to engage with a great team. A knowledgeable SBS deployment team with great passion for what they do, with great case studies and great references.

Written by Gys Kappers. CEO and co-founder of WyseTalk, Africa’s leading Social Business Software business. Gys has an 18 year track record in running large enterprise businesses, has an Executive MBA degree and completed his Masters thesis on ‘the delay of social business software in the enterprise and its effects.’

The Multidimensional Organisation

Corporations today are in a rapidly changing and increasingly complex environment, they reorganise frequently. In fact, some appear to reorganise continuously. This reorganisation consumes a great deal of time, energy, money and lets not forget morale. The latter, the fear of layoffs is very unsettling and often leads to a marked decrease in productivity and quality of output across the enterprise. In this kind of environment innovation comes to a halt and executives and leadership typically view this as too risky.

When organisations are in this state, the stable state, they are like a coiled spring, their resistance to change tends to be proportional to the effort to change them; the more turbulent the environment, the more stability they seek.

Imagine though, for a moment, that you take the view that your organisation, in these times you should choose to be dynamic. Imagine you could adapt to change without reorganisation, without reorganisation, with less disruptive interventions, then the resistance to change would be significanlty reduced and you would have a more motivated, more productive workforce. This is the multidimensional organisation.

Most organisations are a division of labour. There are typically three; starting with functionally defined units whose outputs are principally consumed or used internally, for example, purchasing, finance, operations, legal, personnel and R&D. As such the organisational chart has a horizontal dimension which shows how labour is divided at each level, that is, how responsibility is allocated. The vertical dimension shows how labour at different levels is coordinated and integrated, that is, how authority is allocated. Typically they are designed from the top down, beginning with the CEO and sometimes a COO. At each successively lower level labour is divided again with one more criteria used at each level. The higher the level of criterion is used, the more importance is attributed to it.

Product or service defined units (its products) the outputs of which are principally consumed by the public such as soft drinks, entertainment and plastic containers for example.

The third and final part of the organisational unit is the market, or user defined units, which are defined by external customers to whom the organisation tries to sell its product. Here the organisations customers are defined by geography or definitions (ultimate consumer, retailers and wholesalers).

By bringing Social Business Software (SBS) into an organisations equation the functional dynamism of the organisation can be fully harnessed. By bringing and entire enterprise across the organisational spectrum together they can, through collaboration move from one needed state to another. For example, should an organisation be experiencing product issues, the enterprise can swarm and assist the product or service defined units into resolving issues and solving problems. Should the enterprise be experiencing consumer related issues, the enterprise could swarm to assist the market, or user defined units into solving problems.

Social Business Software (SBS) breaks down the hierarchies and silos that are prevalent in many organisations today. The overarching methodology is that organisations that deploy SBS successfully become more competitive, more innovative and more successful than their competitors.

Recent statistics reported by McKinsey have the following to say about businesses that have deployed SBS: 79% increase in ideas and innovations for the enterprise leading to a 13% increase in sales revenue leading to a 3-5% increase in overall deal size and bottom line improvement.

By believing that your workforce has a substantial brain capacity and that it is largely untapped leaves many organisations with a great capacity to innovate.