The Now of Work

DigitalCollaborationPatternsThe Business of Business

The future of work is a hot topic but not one we should be fixated with or discussing as much as we do.  We should be talking about the NOW of work.

Workforce Change

The workforce is changing and companies aren’t keeping up with the changes.  There is an active reduction in human resources, talent management, knowledge management, operations staff.  There is a push for automation and AI without an understanding of the basic concepts of automation.

There is a shift in thinking across the workforce about the “Gig economy” that doesn’t hold up well for companies and workers alike.  This isn’t about whether or not it will at some point be the model, it is about today.   There are companies in support of this model (see list at the bottom) which support the freelance / gig approach.  Are companies prepared for this?   I don’t think they are since many claim that they can’t find the talent they need.

Many companies don’t know or understand what kind of knowledge or skills they need to perform complex tasks required.  They depend heavily on consulting partners that have great PowerPoint slides and MSA’s already in place.    Having a corporate agreement doesn’t make one an expert.

Many companies aren’t willing or able to define or create governance.  The workforce is broken down into smaller communities where sub-cultures form and become the norm.  Senior leaders (C-level) have no real insight into the organizational sub-culture.   This is where the social and cultural organizational norms start to break from higher level or wide organizational thinking.   This break is the point in which technologies and approach to problems start to create “Citizen IT / Developer / Solution Maker”

Many companies start to bleed money right at this point.   This place where silos meet is very interesting because it is also the place where they depart from each other.

The futurists will tell us about how we will work in terms of large sociological shifts but this doesn’t address “how we get from here to there”   This is the issue facing many in leadership today.

Centralized Core Services

The centralized core services model is economically appealing but doesn’t seem realistic in terms of IT or business.   Many companies have turned shadow IT into the normal way of doing business.   Organizational leaders have their own P&L, they manage their own balance sheet and they look for solutions specifically in line with what they need to do their work.   The concerns of others in the organization aren’t part of the equation and they are still measured on their own group, business or team performance.   The old performance and measurement models don’t support the on-demand shift of the business and the ideas behind “being agile” and ready to change direction.    Instead, centralized core services are a burden and annoying.   The CIO’s get hit with the pressures of core service operations while the business takes the monies once allocated as IT tax and converts it to business investment non-IT (technical) spend.   This also changes how people work as leaders seek to lean out their workforce and exchange internal employees for managed services.

While a managed service approach may be a great approach in consideration of the future of work, many leaders are confused at best as to why spend increases and performance decreases as they moved to service models.  One of the reasons this happens is due to a lack of knowledge transfer.   Additionally,  as a consultant I may know the industry but I have to learn about your company.   HOW your company works may be very different and without the time to learn and gain understanding, I can cause more harm than good both up front and over time.   Many companies that have gone to service models without understanding of knowledge transfer have sought to reverse the trend and take back the service areas they gave up.  The results aren’t good there either because now they are simply trying to rebuild a manage service model with internal resources that know just as much about their business as the outside service providers themselves.

The NOW of work is offsets and investment in offloading work to people or technologies that are supposed to perform  faster but now take more time to produce overall.    Some can argue that certain aspects are faster.   For example, if I reduce my internal infrastructure staff and move to a cloud model and hire top services to provide what we need to deliver technical solutions immediately, the company can have the tools up and running right away.   Using a credit card to turn on a service can take 5 minutes,  deploying the capabilities or services and integration with other services without the right knowledge can turn 5 minutes into 5 months or more.  In fact,  many leaders can’t understand why even with the best talent they can buy things take so long.

The 15 in 5 Rule

The 15 in 5 rule is this idea that for every 15 minutes of work a person does, we can reduce it to 5.    We can automate it using robotics.   We can reduce time to delivery by moving to agile methods.  We can reduce time to support by offloading the support services.   We can reduce labor and go faster by leaning out the workforce.  We can go faster by buying software as a service!    All of this is part of this idea in the future of work.   The NOW of work says “hold yer horses there..”    Let’s just talk about automation for a moment.   If you are a company that is doing something brand new and starting a new line of work or business, automation can lower the time to delivery vs labor fairly easily.   The reason is because where people once had to do certain tasks, automated technologies can NOW do these tasks from planning to implementation.  In other words,  you are designing a new process.    If you try to do the same automation on existing process, it may be much more difficult.    Why?  Because you don’t know what you don’t know and you either have to learn through every step both tacit and explicit knowledge or you have to break everything down and make new process anyway.

That doesn’t get you from 15 -5.   It gets you to something like +60-2.   In other words,  the investment side of automating something in existence has a much longer implementation cycle than estimated.   Consultants are brilliant but not magicians.  Many come into something that looked simple to learn and unravel the old Russian doll.  By the time they get to the core, there is a realization that automation may not even be the best approach.

Still leaders read books and articles as they ride the air, train and car and they hear of all the great things that are happening in the industry.    Unfortunately,  many in leadership positions can’t share their failures even though today we like to talk about how important failure is.     In the quest to get from 15-5,  they wind up paying later for time seemingly saved now.    It is part of the NOW of work.

Want to talk more about it?  ..  

I took these from random sources and pasted them in here so they are in one place.. .but here is list of GIG working sites… How many of these are working with your company? How many have an MSA in place?  How many have you worked with?    Consider these as they are .. the future of work but are here now!

1. Upwork: The most popular freelance job site on the Internet today, birthed from the merger of oDesk and Elance. When you first start out, they take a 20% cut of your earnings, but this reduces as you build more experience.

2. Guru: If Upwork’s service fees make you squirm, Guru is a more reasonable option. More than a million freelancers use this platform to find fixed price and hourly jobs.

3. Freelancer: On Freelancer you can apply for freelance jobs and make submissions to design contests. It’s a relatively new platform on the market but already has a huge base of customers and clients.

4. We Work Remotely: A job board for all sorts of freelance services, including customer service, programming and more. The only rule for posting jobs on the site is that no office is required!

5. Fiverr: Here you can offer just about any kind of freelance service at a starting rate of $5 per project. Don’t let that put you off, you can easily earn hundreds a day if you set up the right kind of gig.

6. Onsite: A curated marketplace of freelance opportunities in a variety of fields. It’s an invite-only platform, and you’ll have to provide work examples to be considered for admission.

7. Folyo: A platform that connects businesses with a network of freelancers and influencers who review their needs and refer them to different freelancers who might be right for the job.

8. Matchist: A platform where anyone can submit a project idea they want to bring to life. Matchist will assign a project manager and then match them with “experts” to make it happen. Become one of their experts and start benefitting from the job opportunities!

9. Mechanical Turk: Run by Amazon, it’s a platform linking businesses and developers with an on-demand workforce to complete their projects. Join up, and you can make money working on HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks).

10. The Muse: A platform offering a searchable database of more than 80,000 jobs in companies around the world.

Here’s a list of 79 current, active sites you can visit to find freelance job opportunities now. Shop around and find the ones that post freelance opportunities that you’re best suited for.

11. Indeed: Aggregates data from job opportunities around the Internet all in one place. You can easily find more than 2,000 remote job opportunities on the site.

12. Freelanced: A social network designed just for freelancers. You set up your profile, set your rates and apply for job postings on the sites. Clients can also give you “kudos” points that appear on your profile.

13. Skip the Drive: Offers a database of searchable remote and telecommute jobs in business, accounting, web development, human resources, customer service, engineering, and more.

14. Virtual Vocations: A hand-selected database of online telecommute jobs from more than 2,500 vetted companies. The website updates with more than 450 new jobs every day.

15. Rat Race Rebellion: A platform that helps people find work-from-home jobs and earn extra cash. It hosts a job board with over 100,000 positions listed so far.

16. Working Nomads: Working Nomads offers a curated list of job openings delivered right to your inbox. It’s catered to people who want the freedom to work anywhere in the world.

17. Remotive: Offers a job board of freelance positions in marketing, sales, engineering, human resources, and a few other areas.

18. FlexJobs: FlexJobs is all about finding you flexible, telecommute jobs. All positions are hand-screened and legitimate by their guarantee!

19. PeoplePerHour: Originally designed for freelance needs in the UK, PeoplePerHour is still dominated by these businesses and freelancers. However there are job opportunities from around the world for freelancers everywhere.

20. Crowdsite: On Crowdsite, employers post a 140-character shout describing their freelance needs. You can be considered for the job by responding to the tweet-like post.

21. YunoJuno: YunoJuno is another great platform that helps connect businesses with top freelancers. It also offers features to support contracts and invoices.

22. Just Answer: Become a Just Answer expert and start answering people’s questions on a freelance basis. Topics include mechanics, electrical engineering, computers, education, and more.

23. Krop: A job board for all sorts of positions, from marketing to design, administration and more. With a free trial, you can build a creative portfolio and find jobs.

24. CloudPeeps: An online community helping businesses find local or remote professionals to help with their marketing, content creation, designs and more.

25. MeFi Jobs: MeFi is all about location. You can search for jobs posted by other members and see how far they are from you, based on your latitude and longitude.

26. Aquent: A community of creative, digital, marketing and technical professionals from around the world that you can be a part of. As a team member, you can help fill gaps in digital and marketing staff for various companies in their network.

27. Project4Hire: Project4Hire is an online freelancing platform for all sorts of services including IT, web development, translation, and more. You have to pay a 5% project fee at the beginning of every project, but it will be refunded if the client falls through.

28. iFreelance: iFreelance is another platform for many different kinds of freelancers, including writers, coders, and marketers. As far as I know, it’s also the only platform out there that lets you keep 100% of your earnings!

29. Damongo: Damongo calls itself the #1 website for micro jobs online! A lot like Fiverr, you can get paid for completing a wide variety of simple tasks related to graphic design, business, music, audio, and more.

30. LinkedIn ProFinder: A professional services marketplace helping businesses find the best freelance or independent professionals in their area. It’s currently only available to businesses and freelancers in the U.S.


Do you have a teachable skill? Chances are there’s someone out there who needs your tutoring services. Whether it be a high school subject, a language, or just about anything else, there are platforms out there that make it easy to teach online. Here are a few to check out in your freelance job search:

31. is the Internet’s #1 tutoring site, delivering more than 15 million tutoring sessions so far. Become a tutor on the site and you can start coaching people through all sorts of subjects.

32. Chegg Tutors: This platform offers flexible tutoring opportunities starting at $20/hour. According to their site, top tutors can earn as much as $1,000/month. The more you build your reputation, the more you can earn.

33. TutorVista: TutorVista is another popular tutoring site with more than 10 million live sessions served. You can work through monthly packages with your students or by an hourly rate.


Want to become one of the top freelance writers online? There are plenty of job opportunities out there waiting to get you a byline and more exposure. Here are some job sites just for freelance writers:

34. Online Writing Jobs: A place to find writing gigs online. It can be blogging, writing research reports, creating feature articles for magazines, and more.

35. DailyPosts: DailyPosts is a freelance writing agency that uses a virtual office to manage production. Become one of their top writers to find freelance writing gigs from around the world.

36. Canadian Freelance Writing Jobs: This platform is designed just for Canada, but as long as you can write using Canadian English spelling, you’re golden!

37. Textbroker: Founded way back in 2005, Textbroker is a platform that connects businesses with professional writers. Become one of their authors to start earning money through their prestige and network of clients.

38. JournalismJobs: Journalism Jobs is an online database of open positions and freelance opportunities in print, broadcast, and digital media. Many of the jobs listed are full-time and location-based though.

39. MediaBistro: MediaBistro is another great job board that writers, editors, and other media professionals can use to connect with magazines and trade publications in their industry. The site features thousands of telecommute jobs writers can apply for.

40. The Shelf: If you’re a blogger and freelance writer, The Shelf is a good opportunity for you. On the platform, you can connect with other businesses and become an influencer to help them reach the right audience.

41. Problogger Jobs: Problogger Jobs is a job board for open writing positions as a blogger. You can find regular postings in all sorts of blogging niches.

Local/offline freelance jobs

Of course, freelancing isn’t all about working from your computer! There are plenty of offline contract jobs you can take on to start earning extra money. Here are some sites that are designed to help you find local/offline work:

42. TaskRabbit: An app that connects people with local freelancers to help them out with just about anything they need. It could be something as simple as walking their dog, or hiring a professional plumber.

43. Uber: Uber has just about replaced cab services in a lot of towns. Sign up for the app and get approved as one of their drivers, and you can start earning cash driving people around your town.

44. Lyft: Lyft is Uber’s biggest competitor in the transport services market. They’re worth a look!

45. Sidecar: Sidecar is an up-and-coming transport services alternative you can check out as well. They focus on offering rideshare services so you can save money on your regular commute.

46. LocalSolo: LocalSolo is an online platform to help businesses find freelancers based in their city. It’s still in its early stages, but to date has curated a network of over 25,000 local freelancers.

47. Localancers: A freelancer/digital nomad directory combining local cooperation and international outsourcing. It uses your location to help companies find people who work in their preferred time zone.

48. Bark: Bark is designed to help businesses find help with just about any kind of service locally, whether it be car repairs, photography, accounting, or more. The site is catered to helping people find someone close by that can help.

49. Wonolo: Wonolo is an on-demand staffing platform helping businesses find temporary or contract staffing for their needs. You can become a pre-screened worker in a variety of fields, including general labor, administration, delivery, warehouse operations, and more.

50. Ozlance: Ozlance is all about helping businesses in Australia and New Zealand find the freelancers in their country. The site supports all sorts of freelance opportunities.


Have a nice camera and an eye for photography? That’s all you really need to start earning money as a freelance photographer. Here are a few websites that will help you find paid freelance photography gigs online:

51. Freelance Photographer Jobs: This website is a curated database of photography job opportunities in the U.S., UK and Canada.

52. Photography Jobs: Photography Jobs Online is a site where you can submit your photos to sell to millions of potential buyers. You can choose from all kinds of photography jobs on the site and earn up to $125 per photo.

53. Get Photography Jobs: This is a searchable database of photography jobs from around the U.S. based on state.

54. The Creative Loft: This is another searchable database of photography jobs from around the U.S. It includes job opportunities in fields such as weddings, technical photography, travel, studio, portrait, and more. You can sort the job list by “freelance.”


Tech workers are probably the most in-demand in the world. Businesses struggle to find contract workers who can help them with their technology needs, while hiring a full-time employee just isn’t in the cards. Luckily, there are plenty of sites out there designed to help tech contractors like you find companies you can help:

55. PowertoFly: PowertoFly is an online community charged with connecting women tech workers to their dream jobs, whether they be in office, flexible, or remote.

56. Authentic Jobs: Authentic Jobs calls itself the leading job board for designers, hackers, and creative pros. Some of the positions available are in-house full time, but remote freelance opportunities also come up.

57. Stack Overflow: Stack Overflow is one of the most popular job boards for employers to find tech freelancers. Some of the jobs listed are location-based, but you can also search for remote positions.

58. Sologig: Sologig is a searchable database of engineering and IT jobs. You can search for positions based on keywords or location. There are many remote options available.

59. Dice: Dice is an online search platform for tech jobs. You can easily search based on job title or keywords and location to find the perfect tech position for you.

60. Gigster: Gigster connects companies and entrepreneurs with developers, designers and project managers to help them with their projects. Become one of their vetted developers and you might get opportunities to work with tech titans.

61. FreelancerMap: FreelancerMap can help you find freelance, contract positions in the IT industry from around the world.

Web design and development

If those general tech sites weren’t enough for you, there are plenty of other opportunities out there in the industry. Here are some other freelance sites that will help you find jobs in web development, design, and other creative projects.

62. Joomlancers: Joomlancers is a job board for freelance projects related to Joomla, Drupal, OScommerce, Vbulletin, WordPress, Magento and more. Some are simple gigs that take only a little time to complete and some are quite complex.

63. Hirable: Hirable connects businesses with freelance developers for short or long term freelance projects. You’ll need to be pre-screened before Hirable can start connecting you with potential clients.

64. A platform for developers and designers to meet up with companies who need freelance work done. Big name companies like Amazon, Zappos, and LonelyPlanet have found freelancers through this site.

65. Smashing Magazine: The Smashing Magazine job board is another great place where freelance developers and designers can find job opportunities.

66. WordPress Jobs: This is the official WordPress job board where freelancers can find jobs in theme development, plugin development, site optimization, and more.

67. WPHired: This is another platform focused on helping you find freelance jobs related to WordPress needs, including design, plugin development, theme development and more. Occasionally blogging and site management job opportunities are posted as well.

68. 99Designs: 99Designs is the go-to site on the web for businesses who need logos, websites, and other material designed. Businesses post opportunities and designers submit their creations. If they choose yours, you’ll receive a predetermined amount of money.

69. DesignCrowd: DesignCrowd is a marketplace people go to get their logos, websites, posters, and other digital designs made. Like 99Designs, you need to participate in design contests to earn money.

70. SquadHelp: This crowdsourcing marketplace is another contest-based platform for designing logos, slogans, and other marketing materials. You submit your creations to a client contest, and if they like it the best, you win the money.

71. EnvatoStudio: EvantoStudio (formerly FreelanceSwitch) is a place where developers and other freelance creatives can find work opportunities. You have to apply to be a service provider, then you can set your own price through the platform.

72. Behance: Behance offers a job board for creative professionals such as graphic designers, digital artists, and more. You can find a job based on your location, skills, and other qualifications.

73. ArtWanted: Are you an artist looking to get paid for your work? Join ArtWanted, an online community to showcase your work and network with other artists. Art you post on the site can be purchased as original work so you earn some profits!

74. DesignHill: DesignHill calls itself the world’s largest graphic design marketplace. Customers post design contests to the site that freelance designers can submit to. Whichever design is chosen gets a pre-defined monetary reward.

75. Coroflot: Coroflot is catered to creative professionals. Designers post their portfolios to the site and companies post their job openings. Coroflot will make the connections.

76. Dribble: A job board for designers. Employers have to pay a several hundred dollar fee to start posting jobs, so you know they’re serious (and have some money to spend).

77. Juiiicy: Juiicy is private online community for freelance designers. Here you can find jobs and get referral opportunities from your designer peers.


If those job categories weren’t enough for you, here are a couple more specialty sites to help you find very specific job opportunities:

78. Toptal: Toptal is catered to businesses looking for talent in the finance industry, including consultants, financial modeling and valuation, fundraising, market research, and more. You have to apply to the site to become one of their freelance finance experts.

79. Traction: If you’re a marketing professional on the lookout for brands or advertisers to work with, then you’ll want to check out Traction. This platform will help set you up with potential clients as one of their marketing partners.

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Purposeful Innovation Awareness

Ideas – Market

Many ideas are already in practice .. we simply aren’t aware they exist.  Here are a few ideas that are out there.

1) Iceland power is practically free due to Geothermal..  NASA scientists have discovered a way to cool the super volcano in Yellowstone and tap it for unlimited energy..
2) Makerspaces are becoming popular but they aren’t interwoven into the fabric of schools across the nation (especially low income and minorities).  There are kits that can be assembled in context of STEM, girl power, vets and minorities.   This can help schools today and inspire the workforce of the future
3) While this isn’t new.. it can scale in ways that have yet to be realized.  Saving people across the world and protecting crops .. powered by the energy of a certain energy company.
Categories KM

Getting from 0 – Digital

negative-space-person-running-sun.jpgReal-time 2 Run-time

While there are significant advances in consumer grade technologies many commercial companies do not exceed the best practices of the defense industry. The engineering rigor, process and culture of the DoD create environmental conditions for long lasting operational success and solution iteration.

The speed in which commercial markets seek to move requires exercise, culture, training and conditioning. 

Imagine for a moment,  you are overweight, eat the wrong things, and seek to get healthy overnight.   You order the best running shoes you can find on Amazon,  you buy yourself the most expensive Fitbit you can get with all the features and functions,  you go to the grocery store and buy all the fresh fruits and vegetables you can carry and finally you get yourself the most high speed, low drag running outfit the top companies offer.    On Monday morning,  you go to the best gym you can find and find the top trainer and personal coach available.

You have everything you need to get healthy right? 

Could you run a marathon the next day?  Could you even run a 5K?  This is what companies are trying to do in moving to Digital.   At the same time, the defense industry is looking over to the commercial companies for insight/ lessons and what they see is the outside sales and marketing fluff but not the truth.

Simply put you can’t get fat or fit overnight.  It isn’t possible at this time.  Maybe there will be a magic pill in the future or at some point we can switch bodies or move our consciousness into an organic computer system but not today.

The Amazon Argument

Amazon is successful because they have a long term strategy with short term planning and a comprehensive process in which they operate.   Amazon has a strong practice and culture with a religious integration of the core culture.   Amazon was born with a digital mindset and that is why the organization can scale and flex with lighting speed.  Amazon essentially eats well and exercises everyday.  It isn’t a shock to the system for them to run a 5K or beyond.


Many companies in other industries don’t have the culture and leadership mindset for Digital.  They don’t practice behaviors conducive to being successful in a fast paced and hard core marathon running Eco-system.

Many companies still haven’t even defined what Digital means to them but they are charging ahead with mandates under the banner of digital something.

Modeling behaviors from successful companies is good but the expectations for success need to be aligned with the reality of measured and realistically achievable outcomes.  If companies try to run the Ultra before getting themselves prepared for the 5K it could mean organizational death. The Pheidippides Principle-

.  Phidippides



Back to the DoD.  The Navy teaches us that every person needs to know their purpose.  The words are backed by actions and we are all accountable and responsible for our actions.

Here is an example addressing the Enlisted Force


Provide leadership to the Enlisted Force and advice to Navy leadership to create combat-ready Naval Forces.


A senior enlisted force that serves first and foremost as Deck-plate Leaders committed to developing Sailors and enforcing standards;

remains responsive, aligned and well-connected to both Leadership and Sailors; and conducts itself in a consistently professional, ethical and traditional manner.

Guiding Principles

Deck-plate Leadership – Chiefs are visible leaders who set the tone. We will know the mission, know our Sailors, and develop them beyond their expectations as a team and as individuals.

Institutional and Technical Expertise Chiefs are the experts in their field. We will use experience and technical knowledge to produce a well trained enlisted and officer team.

Professionalism Chiefs will actively teach, uphold, and enforce standards.  We will measure ourselves by the success of our Sailors.  We will remain invested in the Navy through self-motivated military and academic education and training and will provide proactive solutions that are well founded, thoroughly considered, and linked to mission accomplishment.

Character – Chiefs abide by an uncompromising code of integrity, take full responsibility for their actions and keep their word.  This will set a positive tone for the command, unify the Mess, and create esprit de corps.

Loyalty – Chiefs remember that loyalty must be demonstrated to seniors, peers and subordinates alike, and that it must never be blind.  Few things are more important than people who have the moral courage to question the appropriate direction in which an organization is headed and then the strength to support whatever final decisions are made.

Active Communication – Chiefs encourage open and frank dialog, listen to Sailors and energize the communication flow up and down the chain of command.  This will increase unit efficiency, mission readiness, and mutual respect.

Sense of Heritage – Defines our past and guides our future.  Chiefs will use heritage to connect Sailors to their past, teach values and enhance pride in service to our country.

Leadership and Vision

The very basic foundation is to be honest about who you are, where you are and what you want to be.  I find it absolutely fascinating when companies buy other companies, change the culture dramatically, take the name and jam it into their voice track and make claims on it’s current heritage that track back many years before the acquisition.  It isn’t really who they are and it isn’t an honest representation to the work force.   It is actually harmful if you have a vision of the future.

Starting with the current mission, vision, scope of work and clear intent about who we are today and what we are working towards, creates the tone for the team.   Even if the goal is to eventually eliminate parts of the workforce, some studies show that telling people the truth up front actually increases performance.

Define the Eco-system   & The Connected User (person)

The basics ~

Excerpt from the links above:

The word ecosystem comes from biology wherein it describes a network of interacting organisms and their physical environment. From a technological standpoint, though, an ecosystem is better described as a network of people interacting with products or services. As Dave Jones defines them, ecosystems include:

  • users,
  • the practices they perform,
  • the information they use and share,
  • the people with whom they interact,
  • the services available to them,
  • the devices they use, and
  • the channels through which they communicate.

Ecosystem thinking, likewise, is the inquiry method used to analyze and understand ecosystems, both the problems they pose as well as the business opportunities they might present. Instead of focusing on a single product or service, however, designers who practice ecosystem thinking evaluate user behavior at the intersection of various inflection points. They ask:

  • Who are our users?
  • What practices do they perform?
  • What information do they need? (and where do they seek it?)
  • With whom do they interact?
  • What services are available to them?
  • What devices do they use?
  • Through what channels do they communicate?

Answers to these questions provide designers with all of the raw data they need in order to better understand the ecosystem in which they’re working. Turning that data into actionable information is the job of ecosystem maps.

An ecosystem map is simply a graphical representation of the relationships examined via ecosystem thinking. Ecosystem maps are closely related to other diagrams with which designers are likely familiar, including service blueprintsexperience maps, and concept maps. They differ from these diagrams, however, in that ecosystem maps are optimized to aid in the creation of digital strategies.

A concept model that explains concept models (© Dan Brown, 2010)

Service designers Polaine, Løvlie, and Reason have arguably presented one of the best examples of an ecosystem map, however, without sufficient contextual knowledge it is difficult to understand the relationships their map presents between the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how.”

Real Results

Let’s simplify.   

  • The DoD writes a term contract with employees (service members) 2/4/8 year contract.
  • Leadership chain is clear all the way up to the President.
  • Job, role and responsibilities are clear to the individual.
  • The level of commitment to the individual is clear.
  • The level of commitment to the organization is clear.
  • Leaders come in many forms based on title, rank, context of work or responsibilities.
  • The importance of communication is clear.
  • The importance of governance is clear.
  • The importance of knowledge and knowledge transfer is clear and part of the organizational mandate.
  • Some aspects move fast and some move slow.  You wouldn’t want a doctor to Scrum your heart surgery but you certainly would appreciate in field wound dressings and life saving treatment with speed and accuracy.
  • Finally, the DoD believes in tools digital or other.  It is all about person, material, machine, performance.

While great thought goes into the strategic aspects of the work, there are many aspects of the work that is speed, practical and tactical.   The best part about this is the lessons learned and best practices are knowledge freely available to leverage.   The sophisticated slideshows and books on “how to” are all driven from the same core competencies.

What do you think?


Categories KM

22 Top Tech Execs ~ 3 Things to Consider

Evanta, a Gartner Company hosted a meeting in NYC to discuss the “Digital Enterprise” @Malea O’Neill @Jordon Guess

1) Leadership

Communication is key but many struggle with the everyday pressures of leading high performing, fast moving, results driven teams.   The struggle consumes time and makes it difficult for leaders to deal with the fundamentals including communications.  In turn, the house of cards starts to stack up.  Yes,  communication is critical and important to every aspect of the work, but getting sucked into the black hole of endless meetings, corporate executive briefings, and project or initiative recovery eats away at the opportunities to communicate.

What can we do?

A few simple takeaways from the discussion:

  • Make communication a priority and don’t sacrifice it to any other organizational pressure.
  • Establish, define, adjust and consistently broadcast mission, vision, scope, objectives, and organizational intent.  Always convey the reasoning behind decisions at a high level and create discussion regarding direction.
  • Maintain trust, integrity, and respect for all in the organization.
  • Maintain respectful collaboration / communication channels for all employees.
  • Learn about your people and know them.

At all times, leadership must maintain and focus on organizational and situational awareness.  Lack of awareness and lack of communication eat at the fabric of organizational trust.

Make this a practice and make no compromises.

2) Learn

Lessons learned in Digital Transformation / Transformation / Formation should not be ignored.   This doesn’t mean piling books on a desk and studying to remember everything all the time.  It means that life long learning including lessons of the organization must be consistently practiced.  There is an idea about a “decade apprentice” where we recognize that we never stop learning and continuous learning is part of the work / life activities.    Ryan Rose (Cisco) refers to research by Josh Bersin  that ‘continuous learning’ cultures are:

  • 92 percent more likely to develop novel products and processes
  • 56 percent more likely to be first to market with products and services
  • 52 percent more productive
  • 30 to 50 percent higher in retention and engagement rates
  • 17 percent more profitable than their peers

Learning corporate, company / organizational lessons and writing or sharing these is part of this practice.   Learn to know what we “know” as a collective organization.  Interesting lessons specifically on transformation in insurance were shared by Kevin Field. If you are interested in his perspective, reach out to him.

3)Define Digital 4U

Multiple Perspectives on Digital

Three viewpoints reflective of a room full of leaders.

  • Digital is broken down by customer, employee, partners.
  • Digital is everything.
  • Digital is Business, Market, Workplace.

Even at a high level these aren’t really helpful or practical for use.   The common thread in discussion and frustration is a lack of consensus on the definition of digital. It means different things to different people, both inside and outside of organizations.  Unless companies define what they define as digital from an organization or corporate perspective, it remains unclear as to what it is.  This goes back to communication.   It also makes things very challenging in consideration of planning capital and operational expenses because many companies are doing digital things and classifying them as investment.   The technology is still technology but it finds itself with a CMO, CXO, CTO as opposed to a CIO.

A strategic digital initiative may not consider the operational implications or costs.  The support aspects of O&M wind up with the CIO that didn’t plan for them.  Many CIO’s can’t see the costs coming because business leaders use credit card IT or cloud services without the consideration for long term implications or systems integration.

Even simple solutions can become complicated.    Someone bought a mobile app and didn’t realize the integration issues with AD or authentication services.  They find themselves going to those IT guys after the purchase.  IT didn’t know about the initiative because it was “none of their business” but now it is.    The banner or flag in which the initiative was created is “Digital something.”


Example: Global, Personal, Group / Area of Context

Company A’s leadership understands that Company A must continue to evolve towards digital connectivity both with our customers and internally with our workforce.   What does this mean for Company A?   What is Digital?

What is Digital?  Digital is..  at the very core is

  • SocialCommunication and Collaboration
  • Mobility – Ability to easily access resources while “in motion”
  • Analytics and Data – Big data, small data…. data .. data..  understanding patterns, behaviors, and having information to help us learn more about “why” something happens.  How to understand what to do about it and how to predict it.
  • Agile and Application Based Information Technology–  Having the ability to self service and execute quickly to accomplish a business or personal task or goal.
  • Cloud – “To the cloud!”   Ability to execute quickly, less on site resources, less on premise spending, realizing benefits of shared resources, realizing speed of available services and realize benefits of expertise in specific technical areas.
  • Automation – Ability to have tasks, services, business objectives, and/or goals accomplished through patterns, both pre-conditioned or intelligent technological response.
    What does it mean to you?

    Two basic considerations:

    1. Digital Workplace
    2. Digital Customer Experience and Business Exchange

    Regardless of what we do at Company A we are all part of the digital experience.  We must work together to share our lessons learned, our best practices, our innovation and our failures in order for us all to become better in this digital world.  The most important thing to remember is that digital is not a replacement for our human experience, it is an extension of who we are.   If we keep this in mind and stay focused on our experience both as a workforce and in client customer service,  we will continue to lead the pack.

    Is Knowledge Management tied to Digital?  *Tied to an area of sub-context in an organization.

    Yes..  Our KM Team focus is mostly on the Digital Workplace aspects, but the same tools, process, practices may apply to other areas.   The future of work is cognitive, physical, social… and digital.

Categories KM

Evanta Discussion (Digital Enterprise)

This week I am leading a discussion with Evanta, a Gartner Company


Topic 1: Redefine: The Digital Enterprise
•    What are your successes in building a roadmap for a digital strategy?
•    How do you secure organization-wide support for digital initiatives?
•    How do you demonstrate ROI on digital initiatives?

Topic 2: Redefine: Innovation in a Digital Space
•    How do you balance the day-to-day while creating innovative practices?
•    What is your strategy on innovation — buy or build?
•    How do you steer your organization toward new technologies (AI, machine learning, smart devices)?
•    What talent skillsets are needed in the new digital environment?

Topic 3: Redefine: Customer Engagement in a Digital World
•    What partnerships within the business are you leveraging to build a customer experience?
•    What are you doing to understand your current and prospective customers?
•    How can you influence the business to meet the needs of the digital consumer?

The role of CIO has been shifting for a long time.  In many cases, the “Digital” concepts or technologies are treated as strategic tech as opposed to operational tech.   This logical separation is creating more costs overall.   Business leaders in many companies are making technical decisions on the promise of cloud technologies that are self contained and self sustaining.  Unfortunately, the promise of cloud doesn’t mean untethered technologies.  The responsibilities for data management, security, compliance, sanctions and EA still reside with the company.   Historically speaking, CIO’s have been prepared to deal with the many challenges companies face with tech but they can’t fight for the corporate cause in an ungoverned wild west state of digital.    The business often times finds itself in trough and when in pain goes back to IT for help.  Since IT never knew that the business was going all in on platforms and services on their own,  the CIO never had a chance to prepare and budget for core service support.  The end result is more cost, more pressure, slower time to realize delivery.  Finally, the rush to get experts and high value talent in play to recover and save projects from the downward spiral.   

I will post some reflection on this discussion.   It feels normal now to hear that CIO’s expect to be on the job for 3 years or less.  It feels normal to also hear them talking about how their roles are shifting to something for of CTO as the cost centers are drained by the credit card happy business leaders that have an itch to get what they want, when they want based on the promises of the cloud. 



Categories KM

Day 0 – The Network Came to Help


M&A Reflection

My job changed January 1st, 2016, the first day of what we called “NewCo.”  There was a lot of talk about “Legacy” company x and y.   All I really knew was that the culture and feel of the company I was working for had changed.

Regardless of what it became, it simply wasn’t what it was.  My new manager was dramatically different from the leadership I had.   The feel of the language changed and it was up to the employees of the company acquired to learn it.    I was thankful to have an opportunity to serve this new company, but I also recognized that I was an artifact of the old.   Ironically, I was new to the old company and had just started to get settled into the culture.   It wasn’t easy to learn the culture of a company with a rich history of over 130 years, but I did have pride in the company.

When I initially joined, I interviewed leaders, peers and staff across the company.  It was a learning experience similar to a consulting engagement except that I chose them and they chose me to be with them for my career.  I was honored, humbled, proud, excited, nervous, hopeful and I had so much energy that it just poured out of me.

My Global CIO was challenging corporate norms, he was constantly critiqued about his decisions and under considerable pressure from those he served.   His motto was “To deliver on commitments and exceed expectations.”   His office was behind a security door, but he wasn’t there in the office, he was out with us on the floor.   He told me when I first joined that my most important job was to work with partners and understand what they needed, why they needed it, and find ways to help, not hinder.   Beyond that he told me that he was counting on me to keep our promises.


As I started to learn more about the company and meet people along the way, my network started to grow.  The opportunity to meet people and learn about what they do for a living was fascinating.  The experience that people have over careers spanning, in some cases, 45 years, all came with stories.  Lessons, instruction, passion, love and thoughts of the future were all there.   It was a true blessing to have this opportunity to learn.   Senior leaders, like the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) opened the door for conversation and education.   The Innovation Officer taught a master class on the insurance industry with every exchange.   His understanding of the industry and his knowledge of how things worked at the company were so wide and deep that I would have to take snapshots of the whiteboard or come up to see him with a computer or notepad on every occasion.   He shared his knowledge and made certain that when I walked out of the office that I could understand the language, the story, and his intention.    Beyond that, his leadership style was familiar to me from my military history of working with DoD leadership.   Both the CIO and CInnO,  believed in excellence and backed it with their leadership.

The days were filled with learning to negotiate and build the partnership network.  Some people outwardly rejected the work I brought and others embraced it.   Where doors opened, we built relationships day by day.   One of my team members leading a strategic program and project organization would meet me every Tuesday.   She was an organizational coach and friend that would allow me to bounce ideas off and discuss pain points.   She helped me navigate the daily challenges.   The CIO presented everyone on our team an opportunity for leadership coaching with a company called “Brand Velocity” with leaders coming from various industries.  These folks could walk into a room and know everything about you in a Gladwell Blink.   They didn’t leave that first assessment to make a decision about us individually, they gave us a chance.   One of the coaches said, “I don’t coach B players, once I confirm where you are, if you are an A, we are going to get you to A+ and beyond.”  I was humbled by the investment by my company and that I had a chance to sit with and talk to global leaders in industry.   What I found was caring people coming from years of experience where there was recognition that companies have to make tough decisions, but they can make these with integrity and respect for their employees.

From my perspective, it took a chunk of the company and consultants to coach me and interact with me for me to be an effective leader.   I also made friends with brilliant people across the organization.  Some have become close personal friends that I cherish the relationships.

Down Shift

I took a turn with all the support in 2015 and got on the highway of successful growth.  Our projects and initiatives were at the bleeding edge of what is now being discussed and known as “Digital Workplace.”   My partnerships with HR, IT, Business leaders,  Innovation and others felt like a family matter.    We had challenges and difficult things to work on, but my team was empowered to do what they needed to do.  In fact,  without the good graces of my team (you know who you are Tina, Deb, Jane, Pat, Ian, Mitch, Terri).  In the beginning we had only 6 + Mitch.   With their support, we were imagining possibilities and realizing them in short order.   I would also like to state for the record that most folks were either late Gen X or Boomer.    Once they gave me a chance,  I couldn’t help but literally experience their support.   The projects and initiatives saved the company millions of dollars in 3-6 months of operation.  The savings spilled over to revenue generation and we were all at a loss in terms of words to express our excitement.

Tina wrote something recently in reflection of our experience. The Howie Experience  they are her words untouched in anyway by me.

As we accelerated and gained momentum by the forces of the crowd and our network, we were consistently writing, learning, and adjusting to meet growing demands.   While we were a small team initially, we grew our work across the many.   By the end of 2015, we realized savings and reallocation of monies into 20 million dollars.   While all this was wonderful,  our team was aware in mid-2015 that things would change in 2016.

On January 1, 2016, we were faced with integrating new team members and down shifting our work.   Our focus moved more towards technology and our team size at that point was over 5x larger.    We had to quickly regroup and adjust.   (Probably a good story for another time.)  To note, many of the people that merged with my team became a part of the family.  I will leave their names from here out of respect for their current role and position.

The Network

My personal network from my years at Booz Allen, Lockheed Martin,  Joint Forces, Exxon Mobil and friends I have met along the way had always been strong.  In my life,  I have been more than lucky to meet people that I share a bond of brotherly connection, kindness, respect, and admiration.    These people became family and I never let them go and they never let me go to far as well.  In a recent presentation by Kim Bullock and Wendy Woodson at KM World, Wendy and Kim explained to a packed room of KM’ers that our external network has been critical to our internal organizational success and that our connection to others is one of our greatest strengths.   As they presented,  I could only feel pride that after all these years, we kept so closely tied.  No geographic or work boundaries could keep us from helping each other and others.

My network and my relationships are what drive me.  My passion to help others is only exceeded by my humility on how others have helped me.    When people ask me over the years why I would help or advocate for them,  my answer is simple,  it is my way of paying it forward.   If you are reading this and you know me, I am talking about you.

My Next

On Monday, November 6th, I was informed that as a result of the M&A, a large portion of my team would be released from our current responsibilities.   While this is difficult for all involved,  it wasn’t a day of sadness.   On that day for myself and my team, my network came out and hugged me both virtually and physically.  I literally called a very good friend and recent business partner and asked him if he was heading down 200 miles to KM World.   His response was, “I am on my way, and I am coming to get you now. Be ready.”    I jumped in the car and we drove down to KM World where many of my closest friends were.   It was an outpouring of understanding and connection.    While I don’t know where the road will take me from here,  I know that without a doubt my network is full of people that I am absolutely proud and honored to have a connection to.

On my first day of my next chapter,  I wasn’t alone.   My network of family and friends were there and gave me the positive reassurance, advice, and empathy that I needed to take my next steps.   I am thankful, grateful, and honestly humbled by you and I won’t let you down.


Categories KM

Twitter: Judge, Jury & Executioner

The Social Truth

An allegation is an assertion until it can be proven but this doesn’t stop companies from reacting immediately to a social truth.

I define a social truth as something that is true because it is supported or corroborated to some extent on social media.   The result is that many voices become one message which may or may not be factual but seemingly without hard facts (at the point of entry onto social media) true.

This is a really difficult issue and highly concerning for our time.    In a recent television show,  Seth MacFarlane actually addresses the complexity of this in Orville “Majority Rules”  As a side note on this,  I think MacFarlane is paying a true homage to Star Trek (original series).

As we are living in this new norm of social media,  I believe this is very dangerous.   I use social media and I believe it is a powerful tool for communication.   The concern is that we are heading towards and even living in a “mob rules” aka Ochlocracy situation.   Whether political, social, military or corporate action taken on social media, the result recently has been immediate action.    The new normal in business is “speed” and “sentiment” but this has many costs and risks associated that follow.   In the entertainment business there are billions of dollars at stake and while this alone may not be a big deal to normal people, it sets a precedence that is concerning.


Social @ Work

Generally speaking social media at work has been helpful to companies.   There have been a few situations (Google most recently) where social has created an issue that became public.   It seems that as quickly as these things bubble up, they also go away.

They go away from our view, but what reminiscence they leave behind and the troubles or costs are troubling.    Many companies today are moving away from community management and now leaving communities to self-govern.   The result is internal mob rules which is also dangerous.   CEO’s can get ousted based on an implication.   Careers can be destroyed because someone made a statement.    What is starting to happen is people are becoming more fearful in some cases and embolden in others.   Having courage to speak your mind in a corporate setting is important but the channels in which we use are also critically important.

Whether or not for example Uber former CEO Travis Kalanick is guilty of the actions in which he is accused it should have been independent of Uber itself.   Many people today won’t take Uber just because it feels wrong.

Law and Justice

We need fairness in our society.   We need to be consistent and we need law to keep order.   In the world we live in,  it is dangerous for our families and our children because we are always recorded and there is no forgiveness of words or actions recorded.   A record automatically put on social media becomes the fact and that fact is judged with immediacy.  The public is now prosecuting people through this record and the higher the counts of which people speak of an action or deed, the faster things happen.   It isn’t that way in every single case, but it becoming that way more often.    It is driving us apart as a nation and it is impacting us on a global scale.   It is now becoming harder and harder to know what is true and what is not.

There is a difference between free speech and yelling about danger in a movie theater.  What we may be doing today on social media is the equivalent of yelling “fire” on a scale never before seen.

Community Management

I think we can have our say as a society and have safety at the same time.   Community managers have historically and successfully been involved with cultivating and managing social communities.   They look for indicators and help facilitate and control conversation.   They exist today on Wikipedia and Quora and many other places but they really don’t have a strong presence in other areas.   That’s not to say there aren’t controls in place but there aren’t community managers.    We need to find ways to inject people into situations where things are trending high to make decisions on when to buffer conversations.   This doesn’t mean to control or stifle conversation, it simply means to take a look at what and where people are yelling “fire” and make a determination as to potentially pause the discussion for the greater good.   This is dangerous territory and a tough subject but I believe if we keep going down this road as-is,  there will be proverbial hell to pay.

What are your thoughts? if-all-you-had-was-a-hammer



Categories KM