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March 06 2014
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March 02 2014
February 27 2014
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February 23 2014
February 21 2014
What I have been up to the past couple of weeks!
It’s my fourth month here at NixonMcInnes! This is what I’ve been up to the past couple of weeks…
Caz and I formed my PDP (Personal Development Plan) in January. I realised I work ‘best’ when I have one focus or a set of short-term goals to accomplish over a set period. So we created three main goals, in which entailed a set of steps to do so each month.
I’ve found it a fantastic way of pushing myself, and it feels extremely satisfying to tick each of the steps off! If you are interested, in my last blog post I talk about how Caz and I created these goals, here. My goals are:
- To ensure all my coursework is successfully completed so that I gain my level 3.
- To improve my communication skills – to achieve an 8/10 by the end of the year from peers for blogs, presentations and delivery.
- To understand what an ideal consultant looks like and to develop my consultancy skills, to score a ⅗ from my manager and peers by the end of the year, against the junior job description
Setting these goals made me unbelievably motivated and excited. I found this exciting because if I completed all the steps, I could have those goals! It was such a great aim to have (for me) a hard and inspirational set of goals.
One of my steps towards achieving the goals above was to improve the YouTube Meaning conference channel and increase the subscribers. I chose this step, because it has increased external understanding on what our conference is about, and why we do it! My aim for this month was to grow our subscribers by 20. Another aim was to gain the viewers in total by 500 views. I chose to have this completed in just under a month.
To accomplish these goals I regularly update the tags, so it fits best to the related videos and appears highest in the search engine. I also implemented our YouTube videos on our Meaning Conference Google+ channel, which means they automatically sync all of our videos and directs them to our channel. From the analytics, it has seemed to make a good contribution to our new audience! Great result.
Following my previous blog post, which I briefly wrote about the Hive (the Creative and Digital Media Studio School). I highlighted a couple of questions in my previous blog post about how to attract our audience for the Hive. We’ve made more progress now and here’s the update:
What would attract them?
Throughout our ‘strategic’ planning for the website we knew our target audience was people just like us. So this question was full of exciting ideas! Although some ideas were less ‘suitable’ (with a suggestion of free entries and booze to clubs after signing up!). So we decided to replace words with videos and images because we feel it’s more engaging for the target audience.
We want to portray the Hive through videos, pictures and forums! This would include several students in the Hive creative studio explaining their time at the Hive, w what kind of experienced they had. This would mainly be through video. We believe that our target audience would be more engaged by watching someone similar to them have the experience. Rather than a brief of what units and qualifications are available.
How do we want to attract them?
We wanted to engage our audience by thinking differently. Thinking outside the box! We want something innovative and creative. A series of inspiring creations just through the website. This is to give our audience excitement of signing up and being part of the Hive! The website is a key attraction and stem of growing the reputation and potential students and parents. Taking that idea, our in process plan (because it could be extremely hard to create) is to have several of memorable ideas straight away.
For example, an equivalent of Google Maps to be able to see the building and the rooms. Several induction videos of the lessons what you will be learning. Short video clips of the teachers introducing themselves, explaining their background and what they specialise in.
Personally this project is a fantastic project to work on. We have been given autonomy to create anything we believe will work (to a reasonable extent haha)! Really pleased.
February 16 2014
February 15 2014
February 09 2014
February 08 2014
February 05 2014
In the less connected world of the near past, it was enough for IT to support the needs of an organisation through an intranet, reliable email and some ‘good enough’ enterprise software. In the world of massive connectivity, transparency and social technology, IT has the opportunity to become one of the core enablers for building organisations that are fit for digital. In order to deliver on this lofty ambition, IT can do great things by working hard on its own culture.
Caveat: I am using the term ‘IT’ as a catchall for all technology teams and leaders in organisations – The diversity of roles, skills and cultures within IT is often underrepresented but, for the purposes of this article, I’ll be generalising – please humour me!
As Stowe Boyd relates in his blog post on digital transformation, “For many companies, technology and technology management are the constraining factors in their corporations’ response to change and growth”. The story of Kim Stevenson, CIO at Intel, shows the importance of transforming IT from a ‘good enough’ support structure into an innovation and collaboration multi-tool, one that improves itself, hacks existing structures for the better and challenges incumbent processes.
You are not expecting enough of IT
Kim Stevenson, CIO of Intel
To get there, the people in IT can start to live and breathe new ideals: Agile methods vs. the waterfall, acceptance of failure and pragmatic approaches to risk and security, followed by a hefty glug of creativity and futurism. IT cultures are often represented as insular and anti-social, nerdy and averse to business culture. From my experience, there is also bundles of creativity and intelligence, comfort with deep complexity and strong, hard-working communities.
The opportunities from leveraging those innovative and transformative skills are extremely exciting, but those opportunities are being missed because of cultural barriers between IT and the rest of the business, a lack of integration of IT in the core purpose and strategy of an organisation and siloed, non-collaborative mindsets. These are some of the issues with traditional approaches to IT departments and leaders – some even doubt the future integrity of such structures – to quote Stowe Boyd’s article again:
“When computers and networks became available, companies went outside and hired a geek with an appropriate degree and a pocket protector, and made him (or her) CIO. Those days are past… in a world where ‘computication’ is the bloodstream and nervous system of the business the premise of an IT department makes no sense. “
The changing digital world has changed who we are, but it has also transformed the tools we use to live our lives: our data lives in the cloud, we carry the internet in our pockets with mobile devices, social media technology has forced transparency and we have better tools at home for watching the TV than we do at work to do real, meaningful stuff. IT has a responsibility to bring all those modernising technology changes to the workplace and keep up with people’s technology expectations, based upon their experiences in the ‘real world’, and create environments fit for the employees of the near future; those born into a digital by default world. IT has the opportunity to no longer just react to changes in the ‘real world’ after the event, rather to become one with digital culture and produce things in real time with minimum lag.
I want to help IT and digital leaders to allow IT to become one with digital culture inside large organisations, organically and with purposeful meaning.
NixonMcInnes knows how to create positive, meaningful transformation and I think I can help IT and digital leaders to drive those changes for IT. In order to make that compelling and real, I would love your help in collecting your insights on what you think about IT, your first hand experiences and would you would do differently if you had the opportunity. I’ll collect and share all those insights right here for your benefit, and you will get the lovely side benefit of helping me to fulfil our mission: To create meaning in business. More meaningful business makes for better business, better business makes for a better world and I think we could all do with a bit of that.
Here are some starters for 10:
- What do you think needs to fundamentally change about organisational IT?
- If you are responsible for IT, or digital, in your organisation, what help do you need to achieve the changes i’ve talked about here?
- Tell me a story about how you tried and succeeded, or failed, to change IT culture in your own organisation.
- If you are an IT worker, what would you do with your skills if you worked in an environment where your skills were valued creatively, not just as a resource?
- Have your amazing ideas been blocked at every turn by IT compliance restrictions, or disengaged/disinterested IT leaders? How did that feel and what did you do?
- Do you think there are more pressing concerns at large organisations than creating a better culture of IT? If so, what are they?
February 02 2014
January 29 2014
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has recently announced plans to release updated guidance for financial firms operating on social media. At the moment, there is no indication about what this might contain, however, recent US social media guidelines, released by the FFIEC, provide some good insight into regulatory and risk management best practice.
With this in mind, I have created a briefing document to inform UK institutions about the FFIEC guidelines and what they can learn from them.
Hello its Will here, the apprentice! I started my digital apprenticeship with NixonMcInnes back in September. I have already learned so much. After a lovely Christmas holiday, I returned on 2 January with the NixonMcInnes family.
On my first day back, Caz Yetman and I had a fantastic coaching session. During our previous session, we had created my goals for the year, based on my learning needs and ambitions for the future. I thought it would be really good to know exactly what the ideal consultant looks like.
So, when returning after the new years Caz asked me to draw out with her a stick-man figure with all the qualities that I believe the ideal consultant has. For example I drew him having a dog to represent loyalty and responsibilities. Throughout this I realised so much about what the ideal consultant look like.
This is the image we formed:
As soon as I saw the words, “ideal consultant”, I thought of words such as ‘organised’ and ‘trustworthy’ – because you have to build trusting relationships with clients to create impactful change. Whilst writing this blog I had a conversation with Clive Andrews around this topic. We spoke about how life experience can be so useful because you can offer a different perspective and have things in common with clients or colleagues – which is a fantastic start of forming relationships. An ideal consultant also shows bravery and will have a good instinct which I think is closely related to being creative and passionate.
After completing that, I drew myself as a stick-man figure with the qualities I think I have and we compared the two. It was a brilliant way of being able to see my vision and what I need to work on. It gave me really clear insight to where I am and what steps I need to take to achieve my goals… Awesome session!
Later on in the week, I did one of my first pieces of delivery work. I was analysing social media channels for a big UK broadcast company. The goal for this was to show them where they needed to improve – which skills and knowledge they need to develop. Afterwards I put all my data into a presentation under the titles – ‘branding’, ‘messaging’, ‘content’, ‘metrics’, ‘style’ and ‘interaction’. My key finding was that each channel was very different from each other and there was no real pattern or structure to it, although they are all in the same organisation.
As well as working with NixonMcInnes, I also attend college one day a week as part of my apprenticeship. City College (the place I am currently at studying at) are setting up the Hive (a Creative and Digital Media Studio School). As part of my units, we’re working on a project to support the Hive by creating the website. Recently as part of this, we’ve been brainstorming ways to engage 14-19 year olds with the website. The main questions we focused on were:
- What would attract them?
- How do we want to attract them?
- What theme do we want to have on this website to engage our audience?
We’ve started thinking about a series of short promotional videos with an insight for the parents/ students to what it would be like. We have also considered producing a possible Hive search engine in which you would write in your details of your interests etc. It would match you with the appropriate job role/ course! Fascinating process but this is still in development. I’ll post an update in my next blog post.
January 26 2014
January 20 2014
I’ve just hit publish on our latest case study – building social and digital leadership at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The Consular Directorate at the FCO have been a client of ours for nearly three years now, and it’s been a privilege to go on a true digital transformation journey with them.
Working on what kind of leadership is needed for a digital world has been one of the most fascinating parts of that journey.
When I talk about a ‘digital world’, I don’t mean one where your senior team are all on Twitter. I mean one where all stakeholders – customers and staff – expect you to be more open, more authentic. One where you need to take more risks and act more quickly.
This isn’t about simply understanding social media and its implications (although that is deeply important). It’s as much about a mindset and the behavioural competencies needed to lead in a world that’s more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.
Social media is both a big driver of that change, and it also helps bring it home in a very visceral way – pumping real-time news, customer opinion and the voices of staff deep into large organisations. Getting used to being exposed to the conversation in this way – let alone engaging with it and bringing your real self into it is no small thing.
As a result, once I’ve helped people understand what digital means for them in their role, I’ve found that the questions they ask go way deeper. Questions like ‘what is my true leadership style?’, ‘how comfortable am I being myself online?’ and ‘how do I prove that it’s ok to take risks?’
I’ve found that it’s these are the questions that have the most impact.
January 14 2014
So, last week, on my first day back at work after the Christmas/New Year break, I was sitting on a bus mulling the big stuff (as you do at these times).
I was thinking about what we do at NM to encourage businesses to become more adept at meeting customer needs by building: Authenticity, Transparency, Agility and Inclusiveness.
I was wondering why sometimes companies try to embrace these principles but fail – or, if they do start to act more like this, why it can feel unsatisfactory – like nothing has really changed?
Then a dirty word came to mind – ethics.
I think at NixonMcInnes we shy away from this word. We are in many respects an ethical business consultancy but it’s not a phrase we use often. I think this is because ethics feel at best, worthy, and at worst, naïve, when applied in a business context.
For sure, many large businesses have a code of ethics, social responsibility charters and even ethics officers who oversee the moral behaviour of individual staff operations. In practice however, these efforts often do little more than tick the box for corporate citizenship and limit a company’s legal liability in the case of employee non-compliance.
To be truly ethical a company needs to hold some core beliefs and responsibilities that go above and beyond the legal requirements for business operations. Without this, even with an ethical policy, business practice can still fall foul of illicit behaviour (as we have seen with the banks over the last few years).
Why is this so?
Economist Milton Friedman argued that: “[corporate executives] responsibility… generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to their basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom”. Friedman also said, “the only entities who can have responsibilities are individuals … A business cannot have responsibilities. So the question is: do corporate executives, provided they stay within the law, have responsibilities in their business activities other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible? And my answer to that is, no, they do not.”
This seems to reflect what happened with the banks – the drive to short-term success meant that concepts of risk and ethical behaviour were hugely distorted.
But Friedman’s denial of the need for ethics in business seems strange to me.
When I was at university my area of interest was medical ethics. It is inconceivable that medicine would operate without a consideration of what it means to do so ethically (the Hippocratic oath, for example, has created a baseline for behaviour since 5th century BC).
Yet for business, a consideration of ethics seems to me to be treated as a weakness or even a threat.
One of the issues is that “Business ethics fundamentally try to balance the interaction of profit-maximising behaviour with non-economic concerns.” (source: Wikipedia)
Some interpretations of this hold therefore that ethics must be at odds with capitalism.
Wikipedia also states that: “Business ethics reflect the philosophy of business, one of whose aims is to determine the fundamental purposes of a company. If a company’s purpose is to maximize shareholder returns, then sacrificing profits to other concerns is a violation of its fiduciary responsibility.” [my italics]
But acting ethically can be a sound strategic approach for a business.
The key is balance – recognising the needs of customers, employees and the wider community does not necessarily require the sacrificing of profit. Ethics and profit in business are not an either/or, as the bank Triodos demonstrate.
Triodos operate a triple bottom line: people, planet and profit. They believe in promoting sustainable and transparent banking, only lending to people and organisations who are working to make a positive impact – culturally, socially and environmentally.
And in terms of business results they remain competitive – generating good returns for customers and demonstrating growth year-on-year
Friedman’s assertion that “the only entities who can have responsibilities are individuals … A business cannot have responsibilities.”, also leads us into dangerous territory as it absolves the business from moral responsibility putting the onus on individual agents’ consciences.
To my mind it is the type of thinking that allows behaviours such as those witnessed in the banking sector prior to the crash.
Ultimately, a business is made up of individuals, its culture disseminated from its leaders, their behaviours and beliefs. This is one of the reasons I think the banks behaved the way they did – their leaders demonstrated and created cultures that were based on individualistic perspectives of profit and risk.
And this is why ethical policies are often just empty promises. Even if your policy states that the business should put customers first, it will never do so unless its leaders actively strategise and behave with this goal in mind.
For me an ethical business practice is one that strategically balances profits with things like environment, customers, community to create long term business sustainability. It is one where these ethics are lived and breathed by the organisation through its leadership and culture. Where these ethics are displayed transparently and authentically and drive innovation and stakeholder relations in the business.
Being an ethical business means understanding that business is part of a bigger ecosystem and that it needs to operate well within that system in order to thrive – it is a part of that system, not at odds with it.
From this perspective, it is the capitalist single-minded drive towards short-term stakeholder return that seems naïve. It is not worthy or woolly minded to take the view that environmental sustainability, good customer practice and better employee relations might build a business that can operate for greater economic stability and shareholder returns in the long-term.
In fact, in a world where transparency and authenticity give us a window into your business, customers are increasingly making the choice that represents fairness and ethics, not just value or good return. Arguably in today’s world its deeply embedded ethics that give the competitive advantage.
January 13 2014
Last year, JP Morgan suffered a big embarrassment on social media. In case you were on the moon at the time and missed it, the story was a planned Twitter Q&A with a JP Morgan vice chairman which was cancelled after a barrage of furious attacks at the company’s reputation. Ouch. It’s quite staggering when you think about it – one of the largest financial institutions on the planet effectively losing its voice. Silenced by ordinary people.
The final tweet from the poor JP Morgan Twitter bod trying to handle the situation is worth reflecting on.
‘Back to the drawing board.’ Let’s think about that for a moment. It means starting again. A new plan. A new design. But for what – JP Morgan’s social media marketing? Sorry, not good enough. No social media programme or crisis comms plan can protect you from the level of hate that was directed at JP Morgan.
This is not a social media crisis. It’s a crisis of purpose. What must an organisation stand for if generates such hate and criticism? There’s something much deeper in the organisation’s DNA which needs to go back to the drawing board. Its very reason for existence – the purpose out of which all of its activities stem.
JP Morgan’s Twitter disaster is just one small example of why everything in a business, from the products and services it provides to customers and the value it creates in the world must start from an meaningful purpose. Anything less is a criss waiting to happen.
January 06 2014
I’ve spent the last few years telling organisations to invest in social media, to create a Facebook Page, set up a Twitter presence, start buzz monitoring and to be equipped to engage customers in conversations online…
…usually to find that most people are only concerned about not keeping up with their customers. And although this is a valid concern, it shouldn’t be the only reason for investing in social media.
The thing is, I don’t actually care about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat etc. Although I think these can be really useful tools to help some of more important stuff – the stuff that is really going to help your business deliver its mission.
Maybe it’s the words ‘social media’ which are misleading some people.
They’ve got bad connotations. They’ve become associated with the idea that your office doing the ‘harlem shake’ is the best way to engage your customers (I put my hand up – I’ve suggested this before).
The thing is, it does work… sometimes. Organisations having fun is really important. It’s when it’s a pretence that I get bored with it, and customers are getting tired of it too.
What I’m really talking about is ‘kulturelle etterslep’ (which is a Norwegian term meaning ‘cultural lag’).
The term cultural lag refers to the notion that culture takes time to catch up with technological innovations and that social problems and conflicts are caused by this lag. — Wikipedia
What I mean by this is that we’ve moved on from believing the hype. We, as consumers, can see whether your employees are really happy or that you have true purpose in what you do.
But you can solve the kulturelle etterslep problem if you start looking beyond the digital tools and start focusing on authenticity, trust, purpose and meaning. It is this which will shine through.
If you invest in developing a culture which is truly authentic and has purpose and meaning, then your Facebook/ Instagram/ Twitter/ Vine/ Snapchat account will look after itself.
January 03 2014
January 02 2014
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