Saturday, June 30, 2007

Presentation at Conference on Communities & Technologies

Here is the presentation I gave yesterday during the workshop on Communities of Practice in Highly Computerized Work Settings, as part of the Third International Conference on Communities & Technologies at Michigan State University. Volker Wulf and Aditya Johri were able to assemble a diverse group of people for the workshop, which led to many interesting avenues of discussion throughout the day.

With regards to my presentation, I was happy to receive a lot of positive feedback on my research perspective. The timeliness and relevance of studying virtual worlds as a test bed for possible new ways of working in organizations was acknowledged. The theoretical foundation seems to be fairly solid, as well. But as before in Finland, the group struggled with the tension between work and play (as do I).

The most interesting element of that discussion was a contribution by Karsten Wolf (who also presented a paper on his own World of Warcraft research during this conference). He argued that perhaps the tasks that are being performed in a virtual world (he used "killing a dragon" as an example) are much simpler than the tasks performed in a work context. Maybe simpler is not the right word, but at least they are not ambiguous or polluted by politics, which makes collaboration easier.

We also discussed possible reasons for the fact that these virtual world communities thrive without face-to-face contact (as do many open source communities) and came up with a "technology expectancy" theory: if you expect to be able to communicate face to face at some point, you will see computer-mediated communication as a hindrance. If you do not anticipate to communicate face-to-face, you will see the same technology as an enabler.

I will post some more comments about the conference tomorrow.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Leadership in virtual worlds

The results of a very interesting study came out this past week. Led by Byron Reeves of Stanford (and Seriosity) and Thomas Malone of MIT (with important contributions from Nick Yee and others), the study looked at how leadership in virtual worlds relates to traditional leadership models. You can find the full report here.

I was very encouraged by this study, since it starts from a perspective that I wholeheartedly support: there are practices taking place in virtual worlds that foreshadow new ways of working in enterprises. Reeves and Malone focus on leadership, applying the Sloan Leadership Model to online games, but they acknowledge that it applies more broadly to the areas of collaboration, innovation and business processes.

The most interesting conclusion from the study is that it is the environment that makes leadership easier in virtual worlds. Specifically, they say it’s the virtual economies, the transparency of metrics, and the connection methods for inter-group communication. The implication may be that changing the “game” may be as important as selecting and training the players. What they are basically saying is that enterprises should try to mimic certain aspects of virtual worlds, so as to make new ways of leadership (and collaboration, and knowledge sharing, etc.) possible. That is a very encouraging perspective, as far as I'm concerned. Let's see what I can contribute to the discussion.

This coming week, I’ll be off to Michigan State University to participate in the Communities & Technologies Conference. I’m looking forward to a stimulating discussion in the workshop I’ll be part of, and to interesting exchanges with other researchers in the field. I’ll post the presentation I’ll be giving and some impressions of the conference in the course of next week.

Friday, June 22, 2007

davenport vs mcafee: the movie

In an earlier post I mentioned the enterprise 2.0 conference. I was particularly interested in the discussion between both gentlemen. This link is the video registration of the discussion! Have fun! I will come back on this later and on the new book of David Weinberger. I am going to read it during my vacation.

Monday, June 18, 2007

being someone

A key factor in Enterprise 2.0 is being someone in the online community, inside and outside the firewall. An important lesson can be learned from Esmee Denters. Last week we had an interesting discussion at the office how this should work. And not suprisingly a dutch newspaper wrote an article on this subject. I will try to integrate these two discussions in one post.

step one generate relevant content online and get found

when you want to be someone you have to have an opinion, just like normal life. Having an opinion and writing about it gets you an online fingerprint. People do not know you but do have questions. The trick is to associate their questions with your name. This is not something that is easy. A large number of publications in a number of online channels are needed to get found on your topic. The part where you are found by google is something you can only partially influence. Writing a blog, resonding to relevant other blogs, getting published by online magazines are some ways of getting found.

step two create a network of people in a number of communities

After you get found by people you want to connect and have a direct relationship. Most people are in one or two communities but your network may expand over many networking sites. Since most network sites are free it is easy to get in these networks. Of course depending on your subject some network sites are more relevant then others.

step three care for your relationships and share ideas

Like normal life you have to interact with your relationships in order to stay in touch. The goal is not to have a network but to gain mutual knowledge by interacting and sharing with your peers. Creating new business opportunities, new insights in existing and new problems and new knowledge will be the result of sharing ideas with your peers. These peers can be inside the enterprise but also on the outside. The last one causes some concerns about IP. Giving and taking will take these concerns away.

step four integrate this in normal life

The hardest part of them all is to do this as a normal part of life. For youngsters it is already normal. For the most of us this is a big change in our working pattern. Your boss might not like it at first when you use office time to do this stuff. At the end your boss will get something in return like described in step four. You have to invest a lot of time. The return will take some time but it will get there!

What do you think of there steps? Is this the first step to take in enterprise 2.0 inside and outside the firewall?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

enterprise 2.0 conference

In a week the enterpise 2.0 conference will begin in Boston. All the big minds on the subject will be together. They will tell eachother their ideas and together discuss about this topic (real knowledge sharing in action!). I guess that from the start of the conference and when it is finished there will be an explosion of postings on a big number of blogs. All will be sharing their new insights and starting new discussions on the way business will work in the future. I am particularly interested on a discussion between Andrew McAfee and Tom Davenport. They have discussed enterprise 2.0 for sometime online and during the conference they will be discussing in person.

This is my maidenpost on this blog and means I will not be posting on my old blog anymore. But for the archive it will remain. On this spot I want to share my thoughts and insights on the topic of enterprise 2.0.