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Hot Spots Newsletter: collaboration and ideas curation

We have been thinking a lot about the gathering – or curation – of ideas, whether through our own Jams or through websites like ei and Edge that gather together smart people and their opinions. In tandem, we've been looking at ways we can use online channels for collaboration.

Have you signed up to the Hot Spots Movement Facebook page? You can also find us at the Future of Work blog and we're also on Linked In. Lynda also has a Twitter feed and you can follow it here.

The impact of hyper-specialisation

Being a "Jack of all trades" isn't as common as it used to be: as many tasks and roles have become automated, we are becoming increasingly specialised at what we do. This hyper-specialisation is also a result of the productivity gains that are the result of dividing work into smaller and smaller tasks. These sub-divided processes are then replicated over time, which decreases the error rate and increases efficiency and speed.

In the context of an organisation, that has interesting results. Every deviation from outside these hyper-specialised activities incurs an exponential increase in costs and a steep learning curve. It becomes inefficient to carry out business that are outside core competencies and have a negative impact on the bottom line.

So what is the way forward? Collaboration, between these specialist clusters of activity, means that each company or business unit can maintain their highly specialised areas of activities. By collaborating with others, it enables all parties to benefit from cost efficiencies, which are then passed on to the customer. Technology (our connectedness) facilitates this collaboration by allowing pockets of specialists to bundle their work together.

Trend watch: collaboration meets connectivity

Lynda spoke at The Economist's recent Technical Frontiers conference in London. Some of the Hot Spots team went along to listen to speakers such as Hugh Herr, Charles Leadbeater and Bonin Bough outline their vision of the ways technology will change our lives.

One of the presentations, from Andy Hobsbaum, talked about how the internet, and all the smart devices that access it, have created a culture of increased analysis, feedback and rating, turning everyday products into "social objects". Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube accounts are interacted with by others, entirely independent of whether we are online, or whether we have actively engaged with these users. This is becoming increasingly true of consumer objects, where there is an opportunity to create value in bringing content and services to people through the objects they interact with daily. This turns inanimate objects into animated ones in a virtual world.

This got us thinking. The fastest-growing website in the world is Pinterest, a site that lets users collect and share images on digital pinboards (like the old-fashioned mood board). And while initially dismissed by many as a recipe and wedding ideas site, Pinterest has taken on a life of its own. Last month, Pinterest drove more traffic to websites than Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube – combined. Pinterest users are more likely to discover and buy something new based on what they have seen online, recommended by friends or strangers, or on shared boards. There is an interesting interview with founder and CEO Ben Silbermann in FORTUNE. It is certainly an example of hyper-connectivity and collaboration merging, and creating increased revenue for brands.

The leadership journeys

As we mentioned in the last newsletter, we have been spending a lot of time looking at leadership, and how it has evolved. Through our work at the Hot Spots Movement, and Lynda's role at the World Economic Forum, it's a topic that has been top of our agenda this quarter. Lynda gives us some of her insights from the WEF council.

Lynda Gratton

In the WEF we have distinguished between the Outer and the Inner leadership journey. The 'outer journey' creates the skills and capabilities to do a leader's job, and many corporations are great at this – their capacity to engage people in complex global tasks and invest in learning means that most people come to the role of a leader with the requisite skills. My view is that typically the corporate environment can create the breadth of experience that enables leaders to learn how to manage complex stakeholders, or to build purposeful work. While there is no question that well-run corporations are great at the leader's 'outer journey', what about the 'inner journey'? To find out, click here.

  • Lynda is the Chair of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on the New Modes of Leadership

Can we re-sync the Gen Y workforce and the workplace?

Is just one of many really important questions that we read about in the media recently. They are about the challenges associated with managing a rapidly changing workforce, leading across generations (not just Generation Y) and navigating increasingly complex organisations and working patterns in a world with rapidly changing demographics, societal patterns, climate challenges and much more.

Gone are the days where preparing for the future is something that can could be dealt with later. It's a vital part of every organisation's strategy for being able to attract and lead talent in the future. We have developed a series of three HSM workshops for Q2 that will help serve as a catalyst for that strategy in the shortest time possible. Each theme is compressed and packaged into a day-ling workshop to enable attendees to get the most benefit in the shortest time.

Future-Proofing Your Company | 16 May 2012 | London: Founded on the research findings from the Future of Work Research Consortium, which is now in Phase 3, this workshop will help attendees create an understanding of working life in 2025/2030 and the implications for executives and companies.

Driving Collaboration | 14 June 2012 | London: Collaboration is at the heart of value creation in most businesses today. This workshop will provide insights into the driver of, and barriers to, collaboration and how to make it happen in teams and across an organisation.

Future-Proofing the Team Leader | 27 June 2012 | London: Teams are increasingly recognised as the unit within the organisation where value is created and innovation happens. This workshop provides a toolkit for those leading teams with a focus on understanding what kind of leadership is required for high-performing and innovative teams.

To register for any of these workshops, click here.

Announcing FOW 4

It seems incredible that we're starting work on a fourth cycle of the Future of Work Research Consortium. Eleven companies have already signed up in advance of the October launch: Arla Foods, Aditya Birla, Cisco, Marks & Spencer, Ministry of Manpower (Singapore), Novo Nordisk, Outotec, People in Aid, Save the Children, Tata Consultancy Services, and Volvo.

The FOW is the most extensive study on co-creation ever conducted between academics and executives, with a 'wise crowd' of hundreds of experts, executives and young people from across the world coming together. For each cycle, their challenge is to think, talk, share, argue and converse about the world of work they believe will emerge over the next two decades. Watch the video to get an idea of our members' experience.

If your organisation is interested in joining FOW4, email Tina for more details.

Opportunity to Jam!

Jams – online 72 hour knowledge gathering and brainstorming sessions – have been a runaway success for FOW3, and we have run several across the Consortium to great success. To date, these Jams have been exclusively run for FOW members or for single companies. We have also run bespoke Jams for companies that wish to have a deep conversation with various stakeholders or want to solve common challenges. The insights from the Jams have generated enthusiastic reactions from the Jam 'owners' who learnt a lot in a very short period of time.

We are now looking for organisations that may want to participate in a Jam on the flexibility of work. Whereas we will run individual Jams for each organisation, all participating organisations will benefit from shared wisdom and ideas from the other organisations on the Flexibility of Work. Over the 72 hours, we will gather a rich stream of ideas from participants, wherever they are based in the world, and use the results to develop a new model for new ways of working, and customised for each company in the Jam.

If you would like to hear more, please contact Tina.

Cluster working in London

Talking of new ways of working, we have been reading about an emerging tech cluster in London that insiders have termed "Silicon Roundabout". Tech start-ups have offices near Google, Twitter and other industry heavyweights. But, more than shared office, this co-working community – THECUBE – is an active cluster of collaborating but competing hubs, like the Norwegian marine cluster we wrote about a few months ago. You can read more here.

Your feedback on corporate citizenship

Last month, we talked about corporate citizenship, and how it is developing to be more than just charitable donations. Louise van Rhyn, founder of Symphonia, has written to share her organisation's leadership development process in South Africa, Partner for Possibility. In the programme, business leaders are partnered with school principals for co-learning and co-action. The task is to address the issue of parental and community engagement, which is one of the most challenging issues in South Africa.

The programme is being recognised as an innovation in Leadership Development and Corporate Social Investment as it creates an opportunity for business leaders to make a practice of corporate citizenship while developing their own leadership skills at the same time. So far, 47 business leaders have signed up to be Partners for Possibility for school principals across South Africa, and there is an impressive list of businesses which have sponsored business leaders to participate in the programme.

Louise tells us: "We have been completely blown away by the impact of the process on business leaders, schools principals, teachers, parents, learners and others." Have a look at the video about the initiative – really inspirational!

Thank you, Louise! Please keep the examples coming!

News from the HSM

Madeleine Cranfield is joining the HSM in April as a Collaboration Practice Lead. We will feature an interview with her in an upcoming newsletter.

The Shift has just been published in Russian making it the 12th language and 21st country. We will share the cover image with you when we receive it!


What we're reading

This month, we've been reading Edge, an online salon, curating ideas and opinions, which was launched in 1986 as an online version of The Reality Club, an informal gathering of intellectuals in New York. Our favourite sections are the Annual Question (2012's is "what is your favourite deep, elegant or beautiful explanation?" and the Conversations (including happiness and globalisation).

Who's in our network?

Julia Hobsbawm founded Editorial Intelligence (ei), which recently hosted a wonderful Names Not Numbers conference in Portmeirion where Lynda was a speaker. She is the only UK media CEO on the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council and is also a visiting professor at the Cass Business School. She is an excellent example of "spanning boundaries", where reaching out across networks can lead to sparks and Big Ideas. Follow her on Twitter, @juliahobsbawm.

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