We need to talk!

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by Holger Reisinger

Thank you for tuning in today – we need to talk!

I say ‘talk’ for a reason, because I very intentionally chose not to write today’s blog post. Instead I want you to literally read my lips.

According to one of my favorite TED talks; Sherry Turkle, Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT talks about modern communication and how we see a shift from conversing with each other to simply connecting. And a paramount reason, she says, is control. With emails you can change your reply multiple times before sending – you cannot in a conversation. In a text, you can take your time to decide how and if to respond, while in person you do not have the same time to think.

Quite simply we have less control in conversations.

Consequently, as our world has become increasingly complex and connected, our communication is growing static and impersonal, edited as it is. But we should not photoshop our reality – nor should we fear the conversation.

Let’s talk!!

The Hidden Secret of the Super-Productive

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By Holger Reisinger

If you tune into your biological clock, you can do ten hours of work in half the time and stop stress at the same time. All it takes is a piece of paper and a little understanding from your co-workers and your boss. 

Have you ever wondered why some of your co-workers manage to be more productive than the rest of the bunch? You know, those “annoying” elite workers that meet all their deadlines without ever working late? I must admit that it puzzled me for quite some time until recently when I discovered the hidden secret of highly productive people. All it takes is to be fully in tune with your internal biological clock. And here’s the good news: we can all learn how.

The secret to being super-productive lies in the natural circular rhythms between the two hemispheres of our brain. When you are primarily dominated by the left brain side, you are most productive at work. You feel alert and see things straight. When you are primarily dominated by the right brain side, you recover, boost the immune system, and clear your thoughts.

The two are never dominant at the same time. Instead, our brain is hardwired to be dominated by either the right side or the left side in a circular rhythm, normally lasting between 90-120 minutes.This circular movement is called the ultradian rhythm, and it works 24 hours a day, regulating our stages of sleep at night.

The natural rhythm dictates that you can only use your logical, linear left brain for around an hour and a half. After that, you must switch to the right brain hemisphere for roughly 20 minutes. Normally, you start getting drowsy, yawn, and feel a sudden urge to eat and stretch your body.

Unfortunately, most of us do not work according to our natural, ultradian rhythms. Instead of utilizing the productive potential we have in 90 minute bursts, we allow our surroundings to disturb us, thereby depriving us our super-concentrated state of mind. And when the brain orders us to rest, we force ourselves to carry on, pumping natural stress hormones such as adrenalin, noradrenalin, and cortisol into our bodies.

Shortcutting the rest period is a deadly sin. It leaves the brain stressed out and the body fully alert at all times. Over time, the brain will reach a permanent stress mode, and eventually you will get very sick.

How you become super-productive

However, knowing your ultradian rhythms can help you to become immensely effective and productive. All you need is to plan your activities so that you work in exactly the right 90-minute periods during the day, focus on one task at the time, and secure being undisturbed while in the ultra-productive mode.

At the same time, you must cherish the 20-minute breaks when your body is predominantly controlled by the right brain hemisphere. Go for a walk. Have some small talk with your colleagues (if done right, that creates a lot of value in itself, but that’s another matter), or something completely different that doesn’t require too much mental capacity.

If you note how productive and energized you are at different times during the day on a piece of paper, your unique work pattern will soon emerge. After that, it’s up to you to utilize this powerful new information.

The potential of working this way is very well documented. In a famous study, Anders Ericsson showed that all top musicians, athletes, chess players, and writers practice their skills and crafts in the same way: in the morning, in three increments of no more than 90 minutes each, with a break between each one.

The do’s and don’ts of the productive brain cycle

If managed in the right way, most knowledge workers are capable of producing what normally takes ten to 12 hours of traditional work in just three bursts of 90 minutes of work, followed by three 20-minute breaks. No more long hours burning the midnight oil.

This discovery is great news for companies and managers striving to increase work productivity to keep pace with the demands of an ever more competitive market. But it also requires most workplaces to organize work and office spaces in completely new ways. We must supply quiet rooms for people working in open office spaces. We must respect the employees who need some time to themselves and stop mistrusting people who take a short nap or leave the office for a while. But most importantly, we must deal with the “always on” attitude of the modern workplace. In the future, the “off” time is most important.

So there you have it. You can get a whole day’s work done in five and a half hours. All it takes is for you to tune into the vibe of your ultradian rhythm – and stop any disturbances in your super productive periods. In the coming blog posts, I will give you some ideas how you can arrange your work life to do exactly that.

Unified communication deployment tactics – EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

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by  Holger Reisinger

Customers often come to us for advice when unified communication (UC) deployments are not taking off as planned: After a sizeable investment and years of planning and implementation, employees dig in their heels. Here is what I tell them…

UC offer today’s global enterprises an unprecedented way to unite globally dispersed workers and increase productivity, all the while reducing infrastructure costs and earning a rapid return on investment.

Yet despite the promise UC offers, employee adoption of UC technologies remains low. Many workers remain resistant to giving up established tools and ways of working.  Three weeks ago my colleagues released a business brief on the subject. I will save you the eight page read – instead I have done two videos on what I tell people when UC deployments are not taking off as planned.

Overcoming the barriers to adoption of unified communication:

Steering users toward greater adoption of unified communication:

 

I would be happy to hear your suggestions on how we can increase UC adoption rates. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Multipoint explained. One headset for all your phones.

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by  Daniel Gniazdo

Imagine a future where a single headset takes care of all your calls and audio. Say it’s playing music from your laptop, when your cell phone starts ringing. Music is paused, and the headset is now channeling the cell phone call. You press a headset button to start a second call through a connected desk phone, and then you merge the two calls together into a conference – all without taking off your headset.

Does that sound a bit like science fiction? Well, it isn’t. This technology is called “multipoint,” and it’s been here for a while.

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A bit of history: While Bluetooth headsets have been around since the year 2000, being able to connect one to more than a single phone at the same time is a relatively new development. Multipoint technology emerged in the mid-2000s and has been continuously refined and improved ever since. But what in the world is it, and how does it work?

Let’s take a look:

Simple multipoint

In the case of simple multipoint, a Bluetooth headset is connected to two separate devices at the same time. When one of them rings, the headset knows which one it is. So when you answer the call, the headset will automatically stream it from the right device.

If you’re already talking on your first phone, the headset will alert you if there’s an incoming call on a second one. You can then pick up this second call directly from the same headset.

In practice, simple multipoint is useful in many different cases. For example:

  • Having a work and personal phone with you, both connected to the same headset.
  • Using the headset for Skype without losing connection to your primary cell phone.
  • Playing “Candy Crush Saga” on your tablet with full sound effects without worrying about missing an important call on your work phone.
  • You get the picture…

Here’s a short video that illustrates the concept rather well:

Simple multipoint comes with one minor inconvenience: When you answer a second incoming call, your headset actually drops the connection to the call you’re already on. So you can inadvertently hang up on your best friend while answering a nuisance call from a telemarketer.

Fortunately, something called “advanced multipoint” takes care of that issue.

Advanced multipoint

Advanced multipoint is almost exactly the same as simple multipoint…except more advanced. Bad jokes aside, the primary function of advanced multipoint is the same: There are two connected devices and one headset that can answer two separate calls.

But – in the case of advanced multipoint – the first call is not dropped when you pick up the second incoming call. Instead, the first call is put on hold, so you can return to it once you’re done with the other one. In fact, you can keep switching between the two calls, putting them on hold interchangeably.

With advanced multipoint, you can quickly yell at the bothersome telemarketer and get back to your friend at the press of a button. Advanced multipoint is becoming the standard for most new Bluetooth headsets.

Triple connectivity

Some of the newer professional headsets take this a step further. These headsets have a docking base with a nifty touch screen. The base unites all of your connections – from cell phone to desk phone to computer. As such, you can connect to three devices at once and control them all via the touch screen.

These professional headsets let you not only switch between calls but even merge them into one conversation. So now you can make your friend yell at the telemarketer on your behalf. I’ll make sure to talk about some of the cooler features of these professional headsets in an upcoming post.

***

The majority of today’s Bluetooth headsets have multipoint and work with multiple devices. To see how connecting your headset to multiple phones works in practice, watch this video.

Stress will kill you – if you think it will!

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by  Holger Reisinger

Have you ever found yourself walking aimlessly around in the hallways, eager to get to work but unable to settle down at your desk? Or have you ever thought that your team is getting an awful lot of coffee these days? You may be under more stress than you think and you may be heading for disaster, unless you make changes fast.

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One of those changes should be how you view stress itself. Because if you view it as harmful, it may end up killing you. Psychologist Kelly McGornigal has some interesting statistics: a study carried out by the University of Wisconsin, which followed 30,000 Americans, concluded that the people in the study who were exposed to large amounts of stress and viewed the stress as harmful had 43% higher risk of dying than people who viewed stress as a helpful response. The latter group had an even lower death ratio than people in the study with hardly any stress at all. If the study is correct, at least part of the people who died from stress could have been saved by a change in attitude.

I am sure that even if this is true for some, it is not a universal truth. 120,000 Americans die from stress every year. In fact, stress kills more people in the western world than most other major killers such as HIV/AIDS. But if we can alter some of those cases with a change in attitude, then I think it will be worth trying.

In the past year, I have been thinking a lot about how we work, how we should be working and where I see the trend going. I have looked into everything from productivity in the open office to mobility. What do you do when you experience instant fight-or-flight mode when you hit the office? What do you do when the office is killing you? According to another study carried out by the recruitment site Monster.com, 42% of people just give up and quit. If this is not in the cards for you, and you choose to stay and fight, this is how you do it.

Get the team together

While stress may not make you social, social interactions relieve stress. This is why people naturally go for coffee more often than they need to. Interaction at the coffee machine or water cooler takes the pressure off, at least momentarily. I suggest you build in more opportunities for social interaction in a work setting so that you can keep productivity up while releasing team stress.

Address the problem

If you are feeling the pressure, I am sure that you are not the only one. Your team or colleagues will most likely be feeling the same way. Addressing the issue in a constructive way and striking a deal to look out for each other, as well as setting realistic goals for jobs and the company overall in an imperfect world, will go a long way to getting on the good side of stress. Realize that there are some things you cannot change and focus on the things you can.

Turn the negative into a positive

As Kelly McGornigal says, try to think of your stress as a helpful response to a stressful situation. Instead of thinking that the stress is slowing you down, try to think about it as your body’s way of helping you perform in a difficult situation. It will take practice, but if it can save your life, I think it is worth a shot.

I for one will look out for the fight-or-flight responses in myself and in my team and try to avoid the pitfalls of negative stress.

Knowledge Workers: to the Contact Center!

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by  Holger Reisinger

Today, contact centers are a vital part of business, handling customer service through multiple communication channels, and more often than not, the setup is technologically state of the art. However, we have not yet seen the full potential of the contact center. I dare to venture that big data’s entry into the data center will bring better and smarter products and services to light and wholly new types of central job opportunities for the trail blazing knowledge worker.

Contact Center

We are witnessing a silent revolution. The contact center revolution has been a quiet one, and the industry is changing before our very eyes. Odds are, you have spoken to at least one contact center worker recently, and according to the 2013 Global Contact Center Survey by Deloitte, you will do so again tomorrow.

There are some interesting take-aways from Deloitte’s 2013 Global Contact Center Survey. For instance, while the financial crisis was still with us in 2013, 77% of the 526 respondents in Deloitte’s survey reported that they would grow or maintain their current size in the next 12-24 months, with more than 60% viewed customer experiences provided through contact centers as a competitive differentiator. These figures are equally interesting and surprising. However, the most interesting finding was that 82% recognized “accuracy and quality of information” as the most important customer experience attribute.

Accuracy and quality of information is naturally a priority one job. However, it has a slightly larger meaning, too. You see, it reminds me of a conversation I had with my good friend, Norman. He runs a contact center in Virginia and is very passionate about the development of the sector, and over dinner, he told me that he has begun to employ handpicked, specialized analysts and use big data in his contact center, providing clients with even more customer information, views, and insights about brands, products, and customer satisfaction to his clients.

This makes total sense to me. I am sure that while this development will not happen overnight, we will see contact centers become much more specialized in the future – providing additional services, which require more data-driven value creation. I can see how the knowledge worker may appear out of place in our image of contact centers today, but there are opportunities here and truly interesting jobs and opportunities to make a difference for the curious knowledge worker, with the goal of occupying a central position in a data-driven industry – and, it has already begun.

The contact center is where companies have direct contact with their customers and can collect important knowledge about the way your products are being utilized. From the customer interaction, you can learn if customers are using your products as they were intended, be inspired to develop new products and designs, learn if your manuals and guides are user-friendly, or build your marketing campaigns on real market insights.

So, like Norman, I think this is the future of contact centers: providing accurate and qualitative information on a whole new level, but collecting it as well, to provide better services, better products, as well as new products and services, created to some degree just by listening to what customers have to say about it.

So how may you help me, you ask? Continue the revolution.

Noise cancellation in headsets: What exactly is it?

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by  Daniel Gniazdo

If you’ve ever shopped for headsets or headphones, I bet you’ve heard the term “noise cancellation” used once or twice. I can also bet that you weren’t always quite sure what it meant. It’s not your fault: Depending on the context, noise cancellation can mean a number of things, and companies aren’t exactly consistent in how they use the term. Let’s try to unravel the riddle.

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First off, there are two broad types of noise cancellation – one in the microphone(s) and one in the headphones themselves. The first type helps the person on the other end of the line to hear your voice instead of the ruckus in the bar you’re calling from. The second type protects you – the wearer – so that you aren’t disturbed by that same bar noise.

Now let’s look at each one of them in a bit more detail.

Noise cancellation in the microphone

This doesn’t actually benefit you directly. Instead, it helps others hear you better. Noise-cancelling microphones are built to pick up your voice while ignoring the background noise. We’ve already covered noise-cancelling microphones in an earlier post.

This noise cancellation can be achieved in different ways, including microphone shape and positioning, digital signal processing, and other tech words. Some headsets even come with a special wind sock that practically eliminates all wind noise.

More advanced headsets use multiple mics to truly take noise cancellation up a notch. How? In a nutshell, the two mics have some distance between them, which means one of them is closer to your mouth than the other. While the first one picks up your voice, the other one picks up more of the surrounding noise. Combined with some digital algorithms, they “subtract” the surrounding noise from the equation, leaving just your voice. This may sound like voodoo, but it works.

Companies use different branding for their dual-mic noise cancellation. Jabra call theirs Noise Blackout™, for example. In the end, the basic principle is the same: Your voice gets the green light, while the background noise is stopped at the door.

So if you don’t want to be the friend who always sounds like they’re in a wind tunnel or on the set of an action movie, a headset with noise-cancelling microphones might be for you.

Noise cancellation in the headphones

This is what most of us tend to think of when we hear the words “noise-cancelling headphones.” It’s what helps the wearer drown out ambient noise and focus on talking to someone or listening to music. You see people wearing these types of headsets on long flights to tune out screaming babies and airplane engine noise.

To make things even more confusing, there are two kinds of this noise cancellation: passive and active. What does that mean? I’m glad you asked…

Passive noise cancellation

This refers to noise cancellation achieved by the headset’s physical features, like design and materials used. It’s really just a fancy term to describe the effect you get from simply wearing the headset. Those bulky earmuffs you see construction workers wearing? Yup: passive noise cancellation.

Passive noise cancellation is best for filtering out irregular, high-frequency sounds, like your colleague Bob who won’t stop talking excitedly about the last episode of his favorite TV show. While this is typically used in music headphones, some new office headsets are also designed to fully cover your ears and block external sounds. If you work in a busy open office, these can be a godsend!

Active noise cancellation

Active noise cancellation uses more advanced technology to – surprise – actively counter noise. Basically, it detects and analyzes the sound pattern of incoming noise and then generates a mirror “anti-noise” signal to cancel it out. The end result is that you hear a drastically reduced level of noise.

This type of noise cancellation works best for steady, low-frequency sounds, like ceiling fans, engine noise, or that same colleague Bob who won’t stop humming the theme tune from his favorite TV show. You usually find active noise cancellation in stereo headsets, which have the chance to block both of your ears and truly eliminate noise, but some mono headsets also use it to help you hear better.

Most modern headsets use both microphone and headphone noise cancellation to make the conversation sound better on both ends of the call.

What Can Technology Roll-Outs Learn from the Pioneers of Medicine?

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by  Holger Reisinger

What do today’s technology roll-outs and mid-19th century medicine have in common? Both have struggled to get users to embrace the latest innovations, despite their obvious benefits. Find out what the IT professionals of today can learn from the doctors of old. 

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I recently came across a fascinating article, published some years ago in The New Yorker, which discussed the introduction of anesthesia in surgery. It got me thinking about the IT industry’s criteria for success when introducing new technologies, especially our obsession with “on-time and on-budget” over actual adoption of the technology.

Now, no one in their right mind today would have a tooth pulled, appendix removed or broken arm set without the benefit of anesthesia. But that wasn’t the case in the mid-1800s. I’ll spare you the agonizing details, but the experience can be summed up as nothing less than excruciating.

What fascinated me about the article was the medical community’s response to this groundbreaking invention. While some accepted it, many others remained steadfastly opposed.

This new technology – one that could spare patients indescribable misery – wasn’t fully embraced by the medical community for a full seven years.

The more I read, the more I began to see parallels between the pioneers of medicine and what we as IT professionals do to help workers collaborate more closely.

Of course, I’d never equate our work with the lifesaving duties medical professionals carry out. But what’s interesting – and perhaps unsettling – is that many inventions, even ones where the benefits are obvious and perhaps even life-changing, struggle to gain acceptance.

We see that today in Unified Communications (UC). This new way of interacting doesn’t just promise great benefits to companies and employees alike, it actually delivers. Organizations benefit from better collaboration among employees, greater productivity and lower infrastructure costs. Employees benefit from additional flexibility in how they do their work, where they work, a less stressful work environment and a greater sense of job fulfillment.

And yet, despite all these positives, employee adoption of UC is only about 10 percent, according to one study. That’s pretty abysmal when you consider the millions today’s organizations spend on it.

Why?

It’s pretty simple, really: Old habits die hard. (Don’t believe me? Try living without your smartphone for a week.)

What isn’t so simple, though, is how to break those old habits. The previous ways of introducing technology in the workplace – deploy and hope for the best – don’t work, especially when workers are reluctant to give up previous ways of doing things. These legacy deployment strategies are ineffective because they don’t give users a compelling reason to break from the old and embrace the new.

New methods are needed. And that’s where we can learn from the medical practitioners of yore. These pioneers found that the key to getting doctors to accept their new technology was to show them how it could make their lives easier – eliminating the screaming and thrashing of anguished patients, so they could perform their delicate work with more precision – and then gently nudge them into adopting new behaviors.

In the present-day world of technology, UC deployments are beginning to incorporate new theories and methods from the world of behavioral economics to similarly overcome employee resistance to change. This usually involves using indirect suggestions and positive reinforcement to influence choices, instead of the traditional model of mandating behavior.

Examples of some of these new methods include creating spirited competition between workers to use UC; building online communities to share experiences, ask questions and get advice; and recognizing and rewarding workers or departments for embracing new UC technologies.

These methods – along with several other strategies, which we discuss in a new business brief – are working. Companies that have incorporated them into their deployments are seeing increases in the percentage of workers choosing to embrace UC.

As modern-day professionals, we can learn some lessons from the medical practitioners of the 1800s. No matter how beneficial your new technology may be, not everyone will share your passion for it. To generate acceptance, you need demonstrate how it benefits them personally and gently steer them toward embracing it.

I think we should be grateful to the doctors of old—and thankful we never spent any time on one of their operating tables!

 

Make your UC pay off with professional-grade headsets

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The headset market is booming. A big reason for that is the growth of Unified Communications. Deskphones are becoming a thing of the past. More employees work from home or spend their time on the road. Many of them have less space and privacy than they used to as companies move to open office spaces.

Unified Communications can help address these challenges and keep the workforce productive and happy. But how do you make sure that those UC deployments pay off?

Professional_Headsets

There’s been a ton of buzz in the press about the important role headsets play in UC adoption. To learn more about why professional headsets have such a big impact for such a small device, we caught up with Urban Gillis, Sales VP at Jabra.

“A recent report stated that 48% of companies implementing a Unified Communications solution expect a return-on-investment in one year, but only 10% realize that return,” says Gillis. “The primary reason is lack of user adoption, which usually means negative user experience. There can be many reasons for users not taking advantage of the new tech – lack of training, lack of bandwidth or corporate culture, but the reason professional quality headsets are so important is that, more than anything else besides computers, they are the endpoints that connect users to their UC experience and make it come to life.”

A recent report from Frost & Sullivan goes even further, stating that high-quality professional headsets actually improve the return on UC investment. How so? Well…

Four ways professional-grade headsets improve UC adoption

“Knowledge workers expect to have a professional experience when speaking with other business people, and businesses demand value and low total cost-of-ownership,” explains Gillis. “This is why companies look towards business-grade headsets like Jabra’s to ensure employees can hear and be heard clearly, background noise is eliminated, and they are able to get more done without ever worrying about the performance of their audio endpoint.”

Here are four ways in which high-end headsets deliver value to your business.

1. Comfort

Professionals usually spend many hours a day wearing their headsets and talking to others. If the headset is not comfortable, knowledge workers are not going to wear it…at least not for long. If users opt out of wearing a headset, your UC deployment won’t be as successful.

On the flip side, comfortable professional-grade headsets will make sure the users keep them on, which increases user adoption.

2. Quality

Consumer-grade headsets can break down quickly. Businesses want their headsets to last – ideally for the full length of UC implementation. They don’t want to worry about replacing the headsets every 12 months.

Sound quality also tends to be much higher on professional-grade headsets. They have noise-canceling technology built into the speakers to reduce noise from a busy open office. On top of that, their noise-canceling microphones make sure the person on the other end of the phone only hears the party they are speaking with.

3. Convenience

Businesses need headsets to be plug-and-play and certified to work with their specific UC platform. IT teams have to manage a fleet of headset and automatically update firmware on all of them, when necessary. Employees should be able to easily switch between phone calls, listening to music, and blocking out background noise to focus on a specific task.

Professional-grade headsets are equipped to deal with most of these demands.

4. Financing

There are some creative solutions in the market that allow businesses to finance headsets and other non-software aspects of a Unified Communications deployment via their operating (OpEx) budget. This lets companies include non-tangible items such as services and soft costs and eases cash flow for the entire solution.

The little things can often make all the difference. Professional-grade headsets and their positive impact on UC adoption is one of those situations. It pays to spend the time to find the right headset that will deliver comfort, the right technology, the right support, and the right value.

How to Find the Data and the People that Will Help You Succeed

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by  Holger Reisinger

We lose billions of dollars every year and waste hours and hours of valuable time and talent by failing to share information and make data and skills available to our colleagues. This constant reinvention of the wheel will eventually impact your nightly rest, as well as your budget.

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“Right now, I am staring into the abyss, Holger!” gasped Lena, a newly appointed COO of a large technology vendor. She was talking to me about the shared drive: the center of her new organization’s heart and history, containing every sales pitch, product manual, and budget ever made. “The other drives all look the same. I wonder how anyone gets anything done – I don’t even know where to start!”

Lena is not alone here. We, as corporations, often run into this problem, constantly and continuously reinventing the wheel. Granted – it happens across large organizations, indifferent departments, and different teams, but it is nonetheless the same wheel, invented over and over again, because we struggle to share information with the rest of the corporation.

This, I feel, is deeply connected to another issue – the organic networks within our organizations often turn out not to be large enough to have any real impact. This, coupled with the fact that company biography rosters are rarely up to date, means that teams spend excessive amounts of time trying to find information or in-house experts – and failing at it, only to end up hiring outside help and leaving the in-house help with idle time on their hands.

This is bad for two reasons: aside from the obviously unnecessary expense, it keeps important knowledge and expertise outside the organization, which prevents us from creating the corresponding in-house expertise and specialist skills. And, it prevents us from sharing best practices and working towards knowledge and becoming the learning corporation that we all want to become.

We lose billions by not sharing

Tactically and strategically, not sharing knowledge and information in a structured and dynamic way on a day-to-day basis is inefficient and expensive. In fact, Fortune 500 companies lose roughly $31.5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge. Thirty-one point five billion dollars! For the sake of comparison, that is just a little shy of the entire 2014 profits of ExxonMobil – the sixth largest company in the world.

Fortunately, new networking tools and work methodologies can make the entire organization available at the click of a button. All we really need to ask ourselves is: “Am I tired of spending development time and money on absolutely nothing?”

I bet you are. Frankly, you would be foolish not to, because you know, as well as I do, that many of the resources, plans, and templates, which are routinely re-invented, are available somewhere in the abyss of information and data on that all-encompassing server, just as the people with the right experience and skillset are often just across the hall, and are more than likely eager to help. So, what should you do?

Three steps to managing your knowledge gold mine

There are a few more than three steps, I concur. For example, Lena will be spending a good deal of 2015 planning and implementing her new knowledge management structure. However, here are three main points, which will get you on your way to increased productivity and knowledge mining.

Culture

Just like the old saying goes: “In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king!,” so that can also be said about those few of your employees who know their way around the system. Often, companies with a poor record for sharing information, have a culture of individual performance. Basically, this means that accessing data, which is available to only a few employees, becomes a personal success parameter.

This is a culture which you need to change, either before you start or during the first phases of planning the new structure. Those who stand to lose the most in terms of personal advantage will be your greatest opponents, but they can also be your greatest assets. Get them involved in the planning of the new structure. Not only do they know where the data is hidden, they can also enjoy the admiration of their peers, which softens the blow and initiates a cultural change in favor of all employees.

Technology

Getting that one button I mention above requires a system. But don’t go overboard. My first rule of thumb is not to get the coolest system with all the bells and whistles, if that particular system does not fit your needs. That goes without saying, right? Nevertheless, I see it over and over again that the project takes off and suddenly a multi-client-introspective-synergizer with double complete wiki function sounds like just the ticket for your on-site sales team. It isn’t, though – I just made up that gibberish, but my point is that you need to make up your mind about what your people need and what may be useful in the next couple of years, should your strategy succeed. Once that is decided, stick to that decision. It may not be the newest and most shiny knowledge management system, but gizmos and gadgets have never ensured success, and your employees are more likely to be able to use it to increase production, thereby saving you the extra costs for tools, time, and resources.

Measurement

Take stock of collaboration, efficiency, and productivity before you start and then measure continuously during the phases of the roll-out. Do this religiously. It is the efficiency, productivity, and collaboration you are aiming to improve with this exercise, so at the beginning and/or end of every phase, measure and celebrate improvements. Get human resources to help – they often know a trick or two about measuring productivity, and, just as importantly, they will be a great link to retrieving honest feedback, which otherwise doesn’t always reach the management team.

Also, if you measure diligently, you will avoid costly mistakes, and you will have knowledge to share with the board of directors and be able to build a great best practices story for the new structure.

Good luck – and happy mining.