Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Organizations & new structures

In the future, the focus on hiring people should be not so much on their current skills and experience (Knowlegde i+e) but their learning capacity and team work (A.k.a how well they collaborate with others).

To motivate these future workers, the way we reward them has to change significantly. We need to be able to measure knowledge contributions and impact in the organization by tracking them down. One way is to have the knowledge repository integrated with the payroll system. Then a rating system where team feedback can be collected could be used as a validation mechanism so that payments can be increased (or decreased) in a certain range based on people's contribution. Not sure how good can be, but it should make the salary go up as well as down so that people know the impact of their contributions , a strong incentive to be collaborative.

The structure of this organization looks very different. Here is a summary:

Teams Description

Business Promotion & Finance Team
  • Former sales, and financial team.
  • Sales is no longer the focus, the focus is in the customer, and promoting a well thought and excellent product.
  • Rotation: Projects team
Leadership & Channel Team
  • Overall leadership, inspirational and organizational
  • Setting Organizational Vision
  • Define main strategies
  • Monitors performance and new projects
  • Rotation: Feedback team.
Projects Team
  • Project teams developing products and services for outside customers and Inside Employees.
  • Rotation: Promotion & Finance

Feedback & CR Team
  • Creates surveys, forms, track, analysis of customer feedback. Works very close with customers to learn their needs.
  • Conserve statistics and historical information for future reference.
  • Applies same methodologies inside the organization
  • Rotation: Design and improvement team
Design & Improvement Team
  • Policy design, rules and processes.
  • Reviews current surveys and recommends new and improved methods and processes
  • Rotation: Any and All Teams.
Learning & Knowledge Team
  • In charge of creating and monitoring all training and learning aspects of the business.
  • In charge of the knowledge repository
  • Sharing and collaboration of books and any relevant material for employees.
  • Responsible for implementing 4 elements of the Fifth Discipline.
  • Rotation: Any and All teams.
Logistics and Resources
  • Responsible for providing anything and everything the business needs to perform and execute; Includes Legal, IT, Human resources, Purchasing, etc.
  • Rotation: Projects Team, DI.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


All signals are pointing to a big boom coming in technology and the time to start companies might be very well now. I agree. Article

Open Source projects and software are key to what we are trying to achieve, as much of the things we need to do are simple, but simple does not mean is easy; we need to work from other's creations in order to innovate in a shorter timeframe. Maybe that is why many people cry foul when other's patents holders come claiming ownership of your project. Either way, it is very exciting and I look forward to the challenge of breaking new grounds and markets. "The combined effect of these trends is dramatic: For JotSpot it's cost was just $100,000 to get from idea to launch; for Excite, $3 million." from Business 2.0. That is a huge difference.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Collaboration in the future.

I've been thinking what the future would bring in terms of devices allowing us to communicate and collaborate better. We need to create an all powerful media device that allows us to use any kind of current communications method. The main question I ask is how voice, video, email and chat will converge into something powerful yet simple enough to allow ubiquity and action anywhere we are. A cell telephone is the place to start. The way it is designed and specially the screen size and functionality are the most important factors. Digital screens that flex are a reality today. I can envision a device that has two sides and you can have a chat, conference, etc on one side, and in the other you can send, receive, share documents, text, etc and be connected to our system at the same time. I recently saw Nokia concept on foldable phones that can be even wrapped around your wrist. It would be extremely useful to have this flexibility. The future looks pretty exciting and positive.

Control might prevent Innovation.

What would happen if an organization decide to let go trying to control information? Or dare we say knowledge?

I imagine people would automatically feel more confortable. I am not including in this sentence not monitoring what is happening. This means let things happen but make sure you make yourself aware on what is going on, so that you can actually learn and take action.

I was reading a book called "The little book of letting go" and it explains in the first chapter how we adults want to control everything, be right all the time and keep judging life , and that certainly happens to me. Looking at children, they are happy because they are not concerned about those three things. They are focused on today, now, and they have little time for unnecesary thoughts. In order to be trully creative we might need to let go control , and let things flow but monitor them, read feedback closely, learn and adjust.

We can create a friendlier system by "allowing" sharing information instead of blocking people , we can make monitoring and notifying the core funtionality in the system so that a lot more can be done without having manual processes.

An example would be how banks perform a lot of their in house development. They do not have automated tools to check and test the software, generating a big amount of flaws and in consecuence a lot of time spent into fixing those. They could resort to use automated tools to improve the efficiency and reducing cost because if we can write a law it could be " If you want to reduce costs, you need efficiency". Now a days we need to automate more to reduce errors.

Creativity and Innovation

It occurred to me that the way to handle the perpetual question of how do we promote creativity in a system, would be to grant access in the opposite direction as we are accustomed to see. Huh?

In current organizations and specially the intelligence comunity, the higher you are in the structure, the more access you have to critical, confidential, secret information. So very few people actually see what is really important. That might be a big problem. The higher you are from the ground, the less you can actually see , and observe any detail.

Yes, by granting more and more access to people who are :
1- Closer to the customer 2- Experts or heavy contributors to the system, we might generate the push needed for the "small" people to be more productive , hence innovative. But based in the methodology reviewed earlier of "learning organization" the focus has to shift from individuals to teams. The entire team has to have the same access level to information. I am simplifying the structure down to two phases. The one where you create, modify and refine and then execute, we'll call it private phase. The moment you share the results of what you created, we'll call that public phase . A simple way for people to understand how you can create new knowledge in an enterprise.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Groups , Roles and Users

These 3 entities are used to handle the security in the repository. Simply put, each node should have a group or role associated to its permissions. In the most basic form, permissions are applied in the form of Guests = Read only, Members = Modify, add and Coordinator= Full access. They can be applied more granularly but that should be only left to power users or administrators of the system and it (personal permissions) should be done in special cases or what your policy mandates. Permissions can be assigned in a hierarchy structure that allows more or less privileges. Every system I'’ve seen did not take seriously roles until the modules for workflows gave or required users to define roles for the flows at hand, as many tasks in a given flow are more readable if we use roles than if we use a person’s name or a group. Groups are important to organize people, and there should be a special type of group that holds other groups, but to prevent deadlock loops, we should limit it to 2-3 loops when the system is checking for permissions. Recursive groups can grow in complexity, that is why we need to but some safety measures to prevent the system from crashing or slowing down.

It's important to note that there needs to be some kind of synching between these groups and roles with a central directory or at least at the messanging level. Ideally pairing it with a directory services automatically will save you from some headaches.

There should be three sets of roles seen as pools of people that can be assigned to each object:

Owner Or Administrator.



To each of those we should be able to add any group, role, or user in a temporal or permanent basis. Temporal should be set for 1 day, or 1 week. , and permanent should be allowed only to the administrator. A report on this assigments should be available for review .

The permissions should be set by roles. This means that the administrator has full permissions, the member can add and modify objects into the place, and guest has read only priviledges. A special member can be created where permissions are set so that they can add documents, but they cannot modify any .