September 25, 2009

Bulk view

Loyalty and love at work

Another post taking off from the Smart Work Jam: One of the participants wondered what I’d say about loyalty. I can’t speak for Gen Y and loyalty, but I do know that I love my work.

Am I loyal? “Loyalty” makes me think of Labrador Retrievers or fiefdoms or frequent shopper programs. I won’t stay with IBM just out of habit. I don’t think of it as loyalty, I think of it as love.

I’m here because I love the kinds of people I get to work with and the kinds of differences we get to make.

It’s love, not loyalty, that makes me happy at work, that makes my voice catch in my throat when I read about the awesome things people are doing, that makes me enjoy reaching out and helping out and making things happen.

I love my work not because of the past, but because of the future.

I may not always be at IBM. It’s healthy to step outside and try different things. But while I’m here, I’m here, and I’m in love.

Companies often wonder about recruiting, engagement, and retention–of Gen Y, of other generations, and so on. People have asked me what to do to get people to feel like how I feel about IBM. I think it isn’t that hard to figure out.

  • Help people explore and make the most of what they love.
  • Connect people with other people who do what they love, or something related to it. Passion supports passion. Watch out for cynics.
  • Help people deal with things they don’t love. Eliminate annoyances, work around them, delegate them, whatever.

The IBM I get to see is different from the company that many people see. I’m going to figure out how to share this amazing experience with others. I may not be able to help everyone (re)discover or strengthen their passion, but maybe I can help a few people, and that would already be fantastic.

Don’t go for loyalty. Go for love. It’s a bigger challenge, but it’s well worth it.

Swarming talent and manpower outsourcing

One of the posts from the Smart Work Jam about the future of team work was about the idea of “swarming talent”, a talent pool that flows in and out of projects.

That sounds almost just like the manpower outsourcing (労働者派遣業, Google translation to English) I’d learned about when I went on an AOTS technical scholarship in Japan in 2004. In Japan, it’s difficult to do large projects in one company because payroll costs would be much too high during non-busy times. So they have a very flexible structure that’s similar to using lots of contractors or collaborating with lots of companies. It is not unheard of for someone to work at Company A, get dispatched to Company B, which then dispatches the person to Company C.

It lets companies manage their manpower requirements really flexibly, but it has its own challenges. My instructor emphasized the difficulty of working out disputes or making accommodations, because of the complex coordination needed between different companies. The Wikipedia entry lists even more.

Something worth thinking about…

I think it’s absolutely fascinating that we can look at how different societies experiment with different policies or systems, and we can learn from their experiences. I think it’s also cool that something I learned in one context turns out to be useful in another. Travel is tough, but being able to connect the dots makes it worthwhile…

Thinking about the Smart Work Jam

The Smart Work Jam discussions will be available until October 3. I’m strongly tempted to figure out how to slurp down the content into a database so that I can look for patterns and insights, but I suspect they’d mind. So I thought I’d think about what I want to get out of the Jam, and maybe I can find more effective ways to do so. At 2262 posts, the Jam is overwhelming. Can I focus in order to pull out the insights I want?

Jams are great for IBM in terms of tapping collective insight, but they’re also good for individuals like you and me. I like reading Jam posts in order to find out what people are thinking about, what they’re concerned about, what needs they see, where they think we need to go. I love it when people share their thoughts and I can think of a tool that does most of what they want, or I can introduce them to other people who are working on the same ideas. So the key things I’m looking for here are:

  • What do people want or need?
  • Who are interested? (This may point to the need for a community, or something I can do to help connect the dots.)
  • How can we continue the conversation?
  • How can we act on these ideas?

I’m particularly interested in virtual collaboration, and I’m also interested in multi-generational workplaces. I care more about collaboration tools than about multi-generational workplaces because I think that globalization and work-life integration place more stress on the workplace than generational differences do. I’m interested in the specific issues people run into when working with globally-integrated teams. I’m interested in the tasks people often do, and how we might use collaboration tools to do that work more efficiently and effectively. I’m interested in helping people connect and collaborate. So in terms of the Smart Work Jam, that would be “The Future of Team Work”, “Work Without Boundaries”, and “Smart Work 2020″.

… some time later…

Okay, I’ve blogged about some of the insights I picked up. (See blog posts immediately preceding this one.) Here’s another highlight that didn’t neatly fit into a blog post:

Successful Teamwork does not Need High Tech! – turned into a great discussion of group dynamics when text chat is available. One group found that when they were using Second Life without the VOIP chat (so text only), colleagues from Asia were more likely to participate than usual. Once VOIP was integrated, that dynamic shifted, and the colleagues from Asia were quieter. Another group had the same experience, so possibly voice chat inhibits both voice and text chat for people who are less comfortable with the primary language. The thread also has interesting insights drawn from research into the Fedora open source development community.

So I’ve stuffed lots of posts into my brain and contacted a couple of people. Now it’s time to let them percolate for a bit…