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July newsletter: Making the most of an increasingly-connected world

We really do enjoy hearing from members of the Hot Spots Movement, and urge you to keep us updated with developments in your company, and ideas you have – we’d love to discuss them in a future edition of the newsletter!

Facilitating informal networks in the organisation

We talk about building networks, but why is it so important for companies? It’s all about shaping – and capitalising on - the inevitable, says Lynda.

“Professionals are integrating very rapidly – whether your organisation facilitates it or not. If your company doesn’t play a hand in facilitating these networks, they may integrate in groups outside the company. This could lead to a shared knowledge draining away from the organisation, perhaps even to your competition, so it’s best for an organisation to provide a framework to embrace these groups.

“Teams are drivers of value in today’s organisations – not individuals – but organisations still manage individuals and not teams. Companies need to understand that their employees will naturally gravitate towards networks – for idea share, inspiration, and new learning.”

Lynda warns: “Teams add and destroy value so you need to manage them, build them, and
develop them.”

What makes the Future of Work Research Consortium so powerful?

We are launching Phase 2 of the Future of Work Research Consortium in October, with 19 companies already signed up to collaborate on this groundbreaking study. What have we learned about the collaborative process from the first FOW consortium, and exactly what makes it special? We put Julia Goga-Cooke, Community Builder for FOW, on the spot and she explains here.

Meanwhile, in case you missed the notification on the Hot Spots site, community members can now sign up to the Future of Work public portal, to take part in the discussions around the Future of Work, including the Five Forces that will shape the workplace in 2020. Click here to register for an invitation.

Column in The Financial Times: the winds of change

Lynda was a guest columnist in the Financial Times last week, where she addressed some of the very real changes that organisations will have to make by 2020. Among her predictions are that, within 10 years, more than 9 billion people will actively connect to each other to create projects online, and will feel more closely tied to their online network of collaborators than to their organisation. You can read Lynda’s column in full here.

British Airways flying through cyberspace

We are working with social media strategist Noa Gafni on building the online presence and network of the Hot Spots Movement. But for many companies, social media is daunting – which companies are making it work? We asked Noa to give us an example:

British Airways has launched a social media offensive as an attempt to combat the chaos and negative brand associations caused by the strike. British Airways has taken an interactive approach with Twitter, shifting their focus from pumping out messages and ads to providing personalised responses to customers on everything from seat information and customer service queries, to welcome and thank you messages.

BA has expanded their YouTube presence well, dramatically increasing the number of videos uploaded in the past few months. They invited key bloggers on a press trip (usually reserved for print and broadcast journalists) to promote the JFK-London City route with an in-air web communications system, enabling the bloggers to post live from the flight. And BA has even gone mobile with iPhone (see clip), Blackberry, and Android apps - a particularly smart move to target its business customers, who are overwhelmingly using smartphones.

The results? Nearly 70,000 Twitter followers, overwhelmingly positive user comments on YouTube, and significant brand equity to balance the negative associations of the strike. What could BA do to expand their social media standing even more? Enhance their Facebook Page.

At the Hot Spots Movement we’re strong believers in the value of spanning boundaries, and therefore we like to learn from experience and examples outside of our own industry, and we try to learn from the BA example above – we hope you also find it useful.

  • Next month, we will look at the Allianz Knowledge Facebook page, an initiative by a B2B organisation to educate consumers and build their brand through social media.

Spanning boundaries and sparking business ideas

In Lynda’s book Glow, she talked about igniting latent energy and spanning boundaries: that is, how working with people outside your network can create new ideas, often radically changing your business model.

We have been thinking a lot more about this since reading an article about Warner Music Group, which has shifted tack to forge ahead when other music management companies and record labels are suffering from the increase in shared music, and prevalence of cheap downloads instead of album purchases. WMG now focuses on signing bands on 360 deals, providing all the services of a management company, record label and merchandising department, and this new non-traditional revenue contributes up to 10 per cent of WMG’s overall revenue. With this model, WMG embraces the digital revolution because it’s in on the act.

Read the full story here.

What examples of spanning boundaries have inspired you this year? Email Tina with your ideas.

Why should companies focus on blended learning?

We have built the Hot Spots Movement along the principles of blended learning, but why do we believe this is the way forward? “It’s a fact that blended learning outperforms classroom learning,” explains Lynda. “At the Hot Spots Movement, we build learning groups that can enable corporate collaboration, and we place real emphasis on blended learning.”

Why is blended learning so significant? The mix of face-to-face / classroom learning is proven to be more effective, both in academia and in the corporate world. Indeed, one university head said it was the “single greatest unrecognised trend in higher education”. Online material has made a huge impact on the educational possibilities for young people, as well as retired people (a huge untapped human capital resource).

Wikis, internet search engines and other collaborative tools give us wider access to material from around the world: a benefit of the world becoming flat, according to Tom Friedman (see below). They also promote learner empowerment, and the use of different learning channels promotes variety and greater absorption of the lesson. At the Hot Spots Movement, we mix face-to-face teaching, with online seminars, as well as online guided teaching, to promote the thinking process – and we know this combination works.

Meet the Hot Spots team: Max Mockett

Max is one of our Generation Y representatives. He studied Politics and International Studies at Warwick University and was part of the inaugural class of the Dual Master's Degree in International & World History at Columbia University and the London School of Economics. He has an interest in international development and has recently completed his thesis concerning the importance of networks in the development of American and Indian national identity.

He has practical experience in international relations, having worked as magazine editor for the Warwick International Development Summit, and worked as an intern at an Argentinian Human Rights organisation. His interest in the future of work stems from these experiences, as he is confident that the future holds many opportunities for constructive engagement with rising economies.

Back to the future

Fifteen years ago, Lynda wrote the book Living Strategy, which went on to become a seminal tome in the world of HR. Many of our Hot Spots Movement members have pointed out that they have re read the book and found it to be even more relevant now, in 2010.

This inspired us to revisit the text to introduce the concepts to the next generation of graduates and employees. And we must admit, even with a critical academia/business eye, we have been struck by how relevant the text is still. Have corporations moved on in the last 15 years?

Read an excerpt from Living Strategy here and let us know what you think!

Is there an I in team? Your feedback!

Clive Wilson emailed us following the observation in the last newsletter that there is an I in team: after all, how can you be a team player if you don’t know how to act like one?

“Of course there is an “I” in team,” says Clive, who is deputy chairman of Talent Liberation. “There are at least as many “I’s” as there are people. In fact there as many personalities in a team as there are people plus combinations of people, each bringing another unique personality. There is a wonderful African word “ubuntu”, which means “I am because we are”. This was the philosophy used by Tutu with Mandela in eradicating apartheid. Each of us owes our being and personality to those around us. We are the relationships we form and the services we offer.

“When we train managers (and others), we always begin with the individual, the self. We ask participants to recognise, value, develop and use their own talents before thinking too much about the talents of others. Of course, even in this process, there has to be team dialogue so that the whole team gains from the growth and sharing of each individual. We have to know who we are before we can work effectively with others.”

Blog watch – websites we like

We have been reading Ewan McIntosh’s blog for a while now – it focuses on digital media and education. But his latest post, on the way IDEO works, really struck a chord: we love the work done by Ideo, and the way they manage their teams and collaborative process. Ewan includes a video – a week with the IDEO designers in two minutes – which demonstrates the flow of teams. Ewan, who is one of Europe’s foremost experts in digital media for public services (particularly education), also includes a blogroll of interesting, quirky sites.

Who’s in our network?

One of our favourite writers is Thomas L. Friedman, the Foreign Affairs columnist of the New York Times and best-selling author. His last book, Hot, Flat and Crowded, was a stable on our reading lists last year: Version 2.0 brought a fresh outlook to the forces of change brought about by globalisation, most notably the flattening of the world thanks to the Internet, which brought 3 billion new consumers on to the world stage.

Like our research, his work shows how the Internet has opened up learning, inspired innovation and collaboration, and flattened the marketplace. You can read the first and second chapter of Hot, Flat and Crowded, Version 2.0 - definitely food for thought.

Summer reading

Lynda is on the judging panel for the FT and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year 2010. She joins Jorma Ollila, chairman of Nokia, and Shriti Vadera, adviser to the G20 Presidency, Helen Alexander, president of CBI; Mario Monti, president of Bocconi University; Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times; and Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive of The Goldman Sachs Group. What is your choice for business book of the year? Email Tina with your ideas.

What are you packing for your summer reading? As expected, many of the Hot Spots team have chosen audiobooks and iBooks / Kindle books this year to save excess baggage! Among the selection are: catching up on Harvard Business IdeaCast podcasts; a Warren Buffett biography and Ted Turner’s memoirs. Don’t forget you can also order Glow on audiobook or Kindle – perfect for keeping the mind active while sunbathing!

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