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Posts Tagged ‘The Networked Enterprise’

I’m summarizing and excerpting from Ken Thompson’s The Networked Enterprise. Ken is a leading expert on teaching small to medium sized businesses come together to form Virtual Enterprise Networks (VENs) to enable them to achieve scale through collective projects.

Ken’s Guidelines for Effective Group Operational Meetings:

1. Sterile Cockpit: In meetings this means focus exclusively on the agenda. Ken borrows from the aviation term for restricting all discussion in the cockpit during take-off and landing to those tasks and nothing else. Even if an interesting topic comes up, don’t allow the meeting to be distracted.

2. No Telling Stories: “Give the absolute minimum facts to allow the meeting to determine the correct action”.  Any stories inevitably lead to defending or justifying.

3. Reveal Don’t Conceal: Put everything on the table without being asked. Don’t force others to deduce or uncover information.

4. The Four Task States: Task may only be: Done, On Plan, At Risk, or Missed.

  • For Done or On Plan tasks: congratulate and end discussion, unless there is a challenge.
  • For At Risk or Missed: Team must find a new commitment that they really rely on.

5.  The 5 meeting roles: to be allocated to participants before the meeting.

  • Customer: The participant with predominant need for a successful outcome.  This role decides the success of the meeting.
  • Facilitator: Leads the meeting to make sure the customer gets what they need.
  • Timekeeper: Self explanatory!
  • Scribe: The designated notes recorder and after meeting report with action tiems and minutes.
  • Sensor: Senses how the meeting is going and spots unhelpful moods or agendas.

Last year I helped manage an online community (Greenlight Community on ning) of about 8000 members.  Ialso organized Greenlight Community city groups in 12 cities.  From my experience leading conference calls every week for 13 months, I have not seen more effective and concise guidelines for operational meetings. We learned this mostly by trial and error.

Please submit your own guidelines that have worked for virtual or distributed groups.  Thanks.

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It seems almost unfair to ask this question. After all who would consciously choose technology over trust. By choice I’m referring to where do you put the focus?  I admit I flirted amorously with the ocean of technology as the goal itself.  The child who wants to play with his toys comes out in me.  Sometimes, I become so carried away with the possibilities of all this technology, I lose sight of why I was originally so excited.

Oooh! Look it can do this and that!! I got a Google voice number last year. I was so excited that I was telling everyone how I could read their voice mail because Google’s technology transcribes it for me and sends to my phone via text. So what?

The real miracle was it allowed me to connect with more people and vice-versa (build trust), in ways I could manage more efficiently – and it was FREE!  Thanks Google.  But none of this technology made me nor my business more income, it merely facilitated it. Technology is a cost center. Plain and simple! It has no magic, no warmth or personality other than what we animate it with.  So why do we get so carried away with it?

Is it easier than actually relating to others? Is it easier than dealing with the highly subjective aspects of our own unpredictable human behavior? After all, technology is an object without choice. It must obey or it’s destroyed. But us, each other, well, that requires, care, attention, emotions, moods, feelings, constant misunderstandings, being open and vulnerable…on and on it goes. Yet, when there is trust, our behavior becomes highly predictable, and then more trust is generated in a self-reinforcing loop.

If I’m authentic, vulnerable and open, I become highly predictable. You may like me or not, but you will trust me, because you will know enough about me to predict how I will behave.

I will explore the theme of trust more in depth this week, including Ken Thompson’s team “Karma” concept from his book, The Networked Enterprise.  I’ll get back to work now and leave you with this excerpt from the book Virtual Teams: People working across boundaries with technology, by Jessica Lipnak and Jeffrey Stamps (2nd Edition, 2000).  The authors founded virtualteams.com and are considered the world’s leading experts on virtual teams and networked organizations.

“People work together because they trust one another. They make deals. Undertake projects, set goals, and lend one another resources.

Virtual teams are quicker, smarter, more flexible work groups in a sea of change. Highly adaptive as organizations these teams can cope with tumultuous complexity. For them trust is a need to have quality.

Trust builds with the recognition of the contribution that everyone makes. If you make a real contribution, people will trust you.”

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