Goodbye Machiavelli is about exploring technology, innovation and leadership trends in an ever increasingly online world. Why the name? Well lets just say that "the prince's" methods are out of place in the new workplace.

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What I'm Reading
  • Steve Jobs
    Steve Jobs
  • Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation
    Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation
  • As One
    As One
  • The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google
    The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google
  • The Halo Effect: ... and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers
    The Halo Effect: ... and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers
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The Human Factor In Cloud Success

To date, much of the focus on moving IT to the cloud has centred on the technical and logistical challenges. But the implications for your people should not be overlooked. 
Cloud technologies help promote significant cultural changes across a global organisation. Compared to on-premise solutions, cloud-based platforms ultimately offer a more flexible and scalable way to meet today’s business challenges. In addition, cloud technologies have removed many of the burdens of ongoing hardware and application maintenance costs, so IT departments are freed to focus on business innovations that can ultimately fuel company growth.
However, without a comprehensive transformation strategy, the benefits of the cloud will not be fully realised. This is especially true of global implementations, which bring unique challenges that add complexity and scale. 
The challenges

 Data is a complication for most projects, but this issue is greatly exacerbated in global implementations, due to the need to deal with differing applications and tools from country to country.  A relatively simple data migration project can be hampered by the need to cater for multiple languages, variations in address formats, disparate data sources and, often, patchy data quality. 
Scale also magnifies the human factors that are essential to the success of a project. With diverse stakeholder groups to consider, good communication and effective collaboration are critical.  And language takes on extra importance. Interpretations of phrases can differ greatly between different countries that speak the same language, much less among countries that don’t natively speak the same language. Distance and time zone differences can also inhibit the real-time collaboration necessary to efficiently achieve business outcomes.   
Indeed, the greatest risk to a successful global transformation strategy is failure to account for cultural differences. From simple communication methods, to how each region trains and adopts new technology, cultural differences have a more profound effect than many companies realise. For example, leader rankings and dashboards will encourage adoption of processes in Australia, but they can be a hindrance in Japan, where goals are typically set at a group level, rather than individually.  Meanwhile, in Chinese cultures, there can be resistance to new processes that have the potential to result in people “losing face” with their peers. As an example, sales leaders can be reluctant to enter information about a deal into Salesforce.com until it is won, rather than track it through the pipeline phases, because they don’t want to highlight lost deals. 
Negative cultural issues tend to be the result of not gaining buy-in across global functions at the beginning of a transformation initiative. This is why it is critical the right investments are made to understand how your people and processes work across all geographies, before embarking on a cloud-based transformation strategy. And cultural issues can just as easily arise across teams based in the same country. That’s why, at Bluewolf we recommend companies invest 2:1 in their people versus technology, to ensure maximum return on investment from cloud-based implementations.  
Ensuring success

There is no doubt that cloud technologies are more flexible and enable faster innovation, but the human factor is just as critical as for any other transformation strategy. Failure to engage employees (and customers) upfront – and throughout implementation – will delay achievement of business goals and may jettison them altogether. Instead, take the time to first understand your stakeholders in all markets, and you’ll then start reaping the competitive benefits of transformation to an agile enterprise much sooner.


Social Network Overload Syndrome

Social networks and related technologies have transformed the way we connect with each other - on both personal and professional fronts. I am a huge advocate of the use of social media, however recently I am suffering from social network overload syndrome! Daily I get requests and notifications from LinkedIn, Twitter, Yammer, Chatter, Facebook - and most recently Google+.

The question I am asking myself at the moment, is not "Do I need social networks?", its more like "How many social networks do I need?".

From the outset I have operated a "church and state" approach to social media - I use Facebook strictly for personal connections (ie friends & family), and I use LinkedIn for my professional connections. However I am now seeing a lot of crossover and duplication in the services I am using;

Connections - Facebook/LinkedIn

Broadcast/Content Curation - Twitter/Google+

Collaboration - Yammer/Chatter

I know there are technical solutions to aggregate the various feeds and notifications, however with the proliferation of new social technologies is becoming increasing more difficult to keep up. Ideally there needs to be some federation or consolidation in the space - however with so much commercially at stake I can't see the major players cooperating on this front anytime soon. 

I would be really interested to hear about how others are managing this problem (if it is one at all)? Is it just a matter of ignoring/culling some of the tools (do I really need a Google+ account?) or is it a matter of using tools or process to solve it? Any thoughts?


Blogging is not dead - it just got smaller!

There is a guilt associated with writing a blog. How long has it been since my last update? Am I blogging enough? Will I loose my audience (did I have one to start with)?

If I look at my own blog, I have found that the time between blog posts is getting longer and longer. It's not that my overall level of busyness is increasing - nor has my overall enthusiasm to publish diminished - so whats happening? In a word - microblogging.

I do the vast majority of my publishing today via microblogging services such as Twitter and Facebook. Fast, easy and bite sized. If I look to innovation in the social media space it all seems to be reinforcing short form content - Squarespace (microblogging with location) - Instagram (microblogging of pictures). In addition, my current attention for video (a la YouTube) is about 3 minutes. Any longer and I'm bored.

So is long form content going the way of the dodo? Are we conceding defeat to our mild cases of ADHD?

Stay tuned for my next blog post - it just might take a while.


Putting Yourself Out Of Business

There have been countless books and articles written about industries that did not see the digital shift coming - take the music industry, or traditional newspapers as just two examples. Why didn't they see the tide turning? Why didn't they see the disruption coming and adapt? Why did they respond so late?

The major challenge faced by traditional businesses that are seeing a digital disruption is that they have to cannibalise or totally sacrifice their cash cows - and its a tough thing to do. They are typically in market leading positions - making good profits - and along comes a disruption. One of the primary characteristics of disruptive innovation is that it drives down margins and commoditises the market. One day you are selling $30 CD's in music stores, and the next you are competing with 99c singles online - or even worse - free downloads. Its a completely different business model - and adapting requires a lot of pain for traditional businesses.

As a counter-point, it has recently been reported about the potential for the iPad to cannibalise Apple's laptop and desktop sales. On one hand, a traditional view-point would be to ensure you have product segmentation and don't release products that compete with each other. Be defensive. Protect your margins.

What I would suggest is that if your products or markets are going to be disrupted, wouldn't you rather be the one doing the disruption? The only way to survive in an environment of constant disruption is to be the one making your own products extinct - even when it hurts.


Forget Realestate - Intellectual Property Development is the Investment of the Future!

Ever had a good idea? I bet you have. Millions of napkins have given their lives in pursuit of the next big idea! Yvonne Adele of Ideas Culture recently challenged me to go a day without saying the word "idea" - I lasted about 17 minutes - it's impossible (give it a try). Ideas are the spark that turn dull dinner conversations great, they can change the world, and they can change your life. That said, I wonder how many good ideas are lost? Not captured, not acted upon, not funded - not given their time in the spotlight ...

We talk about knowledge workers, and an information economy, but do you know how to capture, develop and commercialise an idea? Matt Church does. If realestate property developers take a piece of undeveloped land, see its potential, build on it and commercialise it - then Matt Church is an intellectual property developer. Just like realestate, some ideas need to be constructed from scratch, some ideas need renovating, and some ideas just need some rented furniture to prep them for sale.

Matt is obsessed with ideas and has produced a methodical process for developing them and creating thought leaders. On the back of being one of Australia's most successful professional speakers, Matt founded Thought Leaders - whose mission is to "inspire thinking and facilitate conversations that rock the planet" - a lofty but worthwhile goal ... and he certainly walks the talk. 

Ideas are becoming a new currency, and there are other innovators building businesses around the concept. Yvonne Adele, who founded Ideas Culture is one of them. Ideas Culture teaches creative thinking techniques and facilitates brainstorming sessions - even taking it a step further and tapping into the ideas of others, with a crowd sourcing product called "ideas while you sleep". Businesses are starting to appreciate that fostering and developing these talents inside their organisations pays dividends. Innovation is certainly on the corporate agenda.

If you are a knowledge professional, I would encourage you to start thinking about your assets - your personal brand, your expertise, your experience, and your ideas - they are the components that represent your value in the market - and surprisingly enough are probably where your passion lies.

What do you think about the future of intellectual property development? Do you think there is a conflict between the corporate view of IP versus the individual. What impact do you think the "open movement" has on the commercialisation and development of knowledge?