Tag Archive for Social eddies

Social Collaboration for Managers (they are people too)

Cim v2.0 has a lot of new social collaboration features such as Peer Reviews, Scoring, Auto-Promotion, Virtual Workspaces, My Site Snaplets, My Site Bookmarking/Tagging to Social Networks.  Most of these are oriented towards the general community (“the crowd”) and intended to drive broad visibility and participation.  But, what about the managers that have to wallow away actually reviewing, evaluating, and deciding on all of these great ideas, requests, proposals, projects, etc.  Well Cim v2.0 puts some social sizzle in their hands also…

In previous articles, I’ve talked about how Cim blends the two sides of the same coin – Social Collaboration and Business Process.  Generally, we talk about the general community being the spot for social collaboration, whereas, the Stage Gate process is for the managers, reviewers, decision makers.

In Cim v2.0, we introduced the Management Activity Panel.  Now, the managers have their own way to get social amongst their smaller group of people.  Below we show this new feature.


On the left is a listing of the various items that they have to review.  It is like a speed review listing.  It uses a nice, fast and efficient incremental search. Note that they can also quickly see which items they have already reviewed and voted on vs. those that are open.

On the right, is where they do their social collaboration.  This is their private space.  Here they can see the submission description and details in one click.  They can make comments that are private to their group, ie., not shown to the general community.  They can do reviews.  Their reviews can be different from the peer reviews in the general community.  They can have their own review questions, choices, subjective, and absolute and the reviews can be scored with weightings of questions.  Lastly, they can Vote.  Note that their votes are shown to all of the other members of their group.  (Unlike in the community, where the Ratings are averaged and not shown by individual).  And, they can change their votes at any time (but they only get one).

Thus, in Cim v2.0, managers, reviewers, process owners, now have their own private, space to get social.  It is fast, efficient, robust, and compact.  This drives an effective conversation as they deliberate on items, and, it does it efficiently.

Simply, a better way to work.  Enjoy…


Crowd and Management Social Eddies in Cim 2.0

A couple of posts ago I talked about Social Collaboration and Business Processes being two sides of the same coin in Cim 2.0.  They are different animals but very related. In this article, I’ll drill down into an example of features in Cim 2.0 that show how and why they are different, similar and related.

We’ll look at a comparison of the experience of  the crowd users (the general community) vs. the managers of the process in terms of collaborative activity.  In Cim as in any social business process tool, activity and more specifically decisions are primarily done in a “social” context.  This is a small “s” meaning group decisions.   This promotes visibility, engagement, and ideally, better decisions.  This differs from a sequential workflow process where decisions are made sequentially and in a black box. For instance, decisions at each stage of a stage gate process in Cim may be made a group of people or a committee.

We refer to each specific context of activity as a social eddie.  So the crowd rating, commenting, and reviewing of an idea is one social eddie.  A management team doing rating, commenting, and their reviews prior to making a decision is another social eddie. social eddies

In a standard social business process the Crowd social eddie is separate, different, but, very related to the Management social eddie.  The schematic here gives you a visual of the relationship.  Again, think two sides of the same coin.

Below we will do the following: 1) look at The Crowd Social Eddie, 2) look at the Management Social Eddie, 3) sum up how they compare, and 4) and present some interesting nuances to a process with social eddies.

The Crowd Social Eddie

Let’s look first at the Crowd Social Eddie and how it feels in Cim 2.0.  Below is a screenshot of the detail for a Process Improvement submission.  Here the crowd collaborates on the idea.  As shown, they have made comments, uploaded some files, and done some peer reviews. 


A key piece is the ability for anyone in the crowd to do formal reviews of the idea.  This is a new option in Cim 2.0 – a very nice one if you want some empirical data from the crowd.  As items are reviewed the average score is shown.  The screenshot below is a completed review – the questions are radial choices for empirical results.  However, you can also have subjective questions, dates, numbers.  Thus, you can get empirical data, subjective data, and absolute data (great for getting crowdsourced projections).



Management Social Eddie

Now, let’s turn to the management side of the coin.  They can see the activity happening in the crowd as they look to make their decisions.  However, with Cim 2.0 they also have their own, private Management Activity console as shown below. 


On the left they see all of the ideas that are in the review stage. For each one, they see details on the right side.  They can also vote (!), comment, and do management reviews for each idea.  Above, we are showing the tab with the Votes.  Note that here each managers’ vote is shown for all of the other managers to see (whereas in The Crowd, the star ratings are not shown to all).

Now, lets look at the management reviews.  Below we show their questions.  They are different form the peer review form that the Crowd uses. 



Summary of Different Sides of the Coin

Let’s review some of the differences and similarities in these two social eddies:

-  in the Crowd they are working on one idea at a time, whereas, in Management they are acting on many ideas in a single Management Activity display (kind of speed reviewing)

-  both social eddies have the ability to have custom review forms to capture empirical data and score it, yet, the questions can be different to meet the objectives

- in the Crowd, you typically don’t show the individual Star Ratings, whereas, in the Management display a) they are called Votes vs. Ratings and b) they are explicitly shown for each person (ideally, the management people are voting as part of collective decision making)


In addition, there are a couple of nuances about a social business process as described above… 

As already noted, the activity and decision making is primarily done in a “social” context.  However, at any point you can kick off sequential workflows where it may be necessary to get a specific approval or specific input before the group decision can be made.  Examples are a Legal sign off, a Feasibility Assessment, or a Finance decision.

Further, it is interesting that just because the management team may have started its review process or even made the decision – this does not mean that the Crowd Social Eddie has stopped working the idea.  They will see the Status as an item progresses through the Stage Gates – and their conversation may change.  For instance, imagine the conversation after the management team decides not to implement a process, or, decides that they are actually going to fund a change and go forward.

Yes, this can seem a bit chaotic with all of those social eddies going on.  However, the key is that the role of the tool is to enable the social eddies to occur but as part of a structured process that programmatically moves things forward, with solid empirical data, towards informed and better decisions and results. 

You might say it is the best of both worlds – or, you could say that it is two sides of the same coin.


Cim for Process Improvements: It’s Official, It’s the BRI in Cim v2.0

Cim v2.0 is coming up next month.  We have Base Reference Implementations (BRI’s) that are part of the shipped product.  These are standardized, off-the-shelf solutions that are initially implemented to get customers up and running quickly.  They are then customized to meet the customers different application scenarios.  Thus, one BRI serves as the base for many applications within that solution type.

In Cim v2.0, we are adding the Social Business Processes solution type – what we call Cim Process.  We have a number of different applications that we’ve built running up to the launch for beta including Project Initiation, Customer Stories, Process Improvements, Technical Solution Challenges, Requirements Gathering, Product Change Requests, Strategic Planning, and Enterprise Best Practices.  We’ve done bake-offs/surveys/debates to decide which should be the BRI in the product.  The official decision is Process Improvements.

The somewhat obvious reason is that a Process Improvement app logically relates to a solution type that is about social business processes.  It makes sense to use it to get ideas, vet them and decide what business processes you want to create, change, etc.  However, an even more powerful reason was that very few of our customers actually had any structured way of managing the process of improving processes.  In addition, those that did only had methods that they could use to big, new, deep processes – this left a huge gap for improvements.  As we showed them Process Improvements, this became clear, and, most quickly recognized the gap and wanted to address it.

Below is a screen shot of the home page of the winner in all of its Blue and Red glory.

PI Home - red


Let’s talk a bit about this solution that will now be the BRI…

It is a powerful, yet simple solution.  The nuance of process change is that not all change means creating new processes.  Accordingly, within the application we provide for tagging your ideas for process improvements as New, Kill, More, Less or Change.  Also the biggest process change is not necessarily the one that has the most important result.  So, we let users tag their areas of impact.

It also helps that this solution amplifies the voice of the crowd.  There is no question that many organizations have too much process or the wrong process that hinder results.  So, finding out the reality, through visible social collaboration is a big advantage.  Then, we have the crowd to vet, collaborate, comment, and do peer reviews of suggested improvements.  

In addition, the app has a clean 4, stage-gate process to then put the suggestions through to make decisions on implementing the changes.  Below is our new style Management Activity display where process managers can privately review, vote, and comment on each recommended improvement.  Effectively, they have their own private “social eddie” in which to efficiently vet each suggestion – in both a subjective and empirical way.

mgmt activity

So, you put the crowd “social eddie” for capturing and collaborating with the management “social eddie” for getting the investment decisions made and you have an effective social business process app for driving change in processes. 

As the BRI for Social Business Processes it effectively comes in the box of Cim v2.0, so, this is one app that you can cross off your wish list.


3 Core Phases of Activity of an Innovation System

In our web cast on Cim this week we showed our new graphical breakdown of the three core phases of activity of idea and innovation management.  In presentations, our customers have found this approach to be very useful to plan how they are approaching innovation.  It also reflects the overall modular architecture of the Cim solution.  I’ll run through it in this article.

With CorasWorks Idea Management (Cim), we provide a solution that makes an end-to-end process for innovation possible on SharePoint.  We’ve architected our solution to be flexible.  We’ve broken the innovation system into 3 core phases of activity as pictured below.



The short take on the three phases is as follows:

  • Ideation – this where ideas are contributed and collaborated on by a broad community
  • Management – this is where a smaller group of people work the process of formally approving ideas and managing the overall process
  • Execution – this is where the heavy lifting occurs to transform approved ideas into innovations that drive business results

Below is a drill down of the three phases showing a summary of the types of activities we support and that may occur within each phase of activity.


The depth and scope of each of the above phases varies based upon the business scenario.  Most of our implementations have a robust Ideation phase that takes place in a central innovation portal or that is distributed across multiple departments of an organization, my sites, the enterprise portal, etc.  The Management phase depends upon the complexity of our customers’ process.  Usually, it begins rather simply, and, evolves rapidly as the organizations’ approach to decision making matures and their portfolio expands.  Most organizations start with no specific integration plan for the Execution phase.  They have existing ways of delivering results that fall outside of the normal scope.  However, armed with the CorasWorks Project Portfolio Management solution and our out of the box integration with team sites and custom applications – the execution phase tends to rather rapidly become part of their integrated innovation system.

To get a sense of how this looks visually, check out the Screenshot Tour of Cim on our website.


Idea Management: Social Workstreams vs. Workflow

I’ve been working with a customer recently that is implementing CorasWorks Idea Management (Cim) for enterprise Best Practices management.  This is a very expansive business process.  Recently, we discussed the design with executives and we got to talking about how the new business process differed from workflow and what the impact on “the way we work” was going to be.  The short answer is that this end-to-end process, like most with Cim, is a “Social Workstream” vs. a workflow.  The impact is big.  In this article, I’ll discuss the differences and the impact.

First of all, when I get to talking with people about implementing Cim for an end-to-end business process the topic of workflow often comes up.  People have a mental model of  workflow that has been burned in over many years.  In addition, since we are on SharePoint they are used to the model of workflow for processing documents and forms.  It is a good place to start to explain the new model of Social Workstreams.


While workflow approaches and implementations differ greatly, at a very, very basic level there are typically two attributes to a workflow:

1) The Thing: You are typically processing a single Thing.  This Thing is a document, a form, or a transaction.  It stays the same across the process.

2) Sequence: It is a sequential process that goes from person to person based upon decisions by people and/or business rules of the system. 




Workstreams are bigger animals. A workstream, such as most Cim business processes, has two key attributes:

1) Activities: A workstream is composed of a number of distinctly different activities.  Each has its own people, roles, skills, information, and tools.  Each works independently, but, is integrated into a process that defines the workstream.  The integration is loosely-coupled.

2) Gates: The work progresses forward from one activity to another through Gates.  A person or a group of people control when and if the items move forward.  Decisions are often board style vs. individuals and sequential.

The diagram below represents a typical workstream for Cim.  The main stages are represented by 1, 2, and 3.  At the highest level 1 is Ideation, 2 is Management, and 3 is Execution. There are gates between them. The swirling eddies, A, B, C, and D represent activities, usually Social Eddies, that will be discussed below.



The Workstream to Build a House

A good analogy I use for a workstream is the building of a house.  Upfront a team lays out the design and files the plan to get permits to continue.  There is a crew that levels the ground and digs the hole for the basement.  There is a crew that pours the concrete and lays the foundation.  Then, the framers.  Then, the roofers.  Then, the wall guys, followed by carpenters, electricians, plumbing, etc.  Largely, they follow a sequence, but, you can also have different activities going on at the same time.  Decisions are made at various stages (the Gates), often with the help of experts that have to sign off based upon standards (such as getting the local certification for the electricity).


Social Eddies of an Idea Management Workstream

A business process taking an idea through to a business outcome maps to a workstream.  There are various gates along the way such as 1) the initial idea contribution and ideation by the general community (A above), 2) screening the idea to bring it into a formal review process with a group of initial reviewers to rate an idea with relative questions/criteria and or vote on it (B above) , 3) moving the innovation into a formal planning exercise where there is objective data and analysis (C above), 4) approving the innovation and pushing it into a project management team, and 5) the team that develops the innovation or implements it (D above).


Before each Gate in your process there is usually a group of people that participate in an activity (A, B, C, D above).  It is a collaborative process that may involve 100’s of people or a handful.  We refer to each of these collaborative activities as Social Eddies.  In the diagram above, the spinning circles represent these Social Eddies.  (Note: Eddies are an interesting phenomena of fluid dynamics that get created when water or air flows around an obstacle like a boulder in a stream.   It creates a vacuum with often a backflow that goes against the current or creates a circular current.)


Example of Enterprise Best Practices

So, lets look at the Social Workstream for enterprise best practices.

- The idea is contributed (Gate 1).  The general community begins to review it, rate it, comment, and augment it.  Social eddie A has begun.  Popular opinion rules.

- At a point a person or persons screen the idea and decide to bring it into the formal review process.  This is the second gate.  Now, a group of specific reviewers will do an initial review on the proposed best practice using a review form with consistent evaluation criteria (social eddie B).

- At a point a person or group has a meeting and decides based upon the reviews AND based upon the popular rating (eddie A which by the way is still spinning) to move it forward into the Planning stage.

- In the Planning stage (eddie C above) a small group do a deep dive to evaluate the best practice, collect evidence, quantify it, and, present results.

- Based upon this, the Best Practice “board” will then decide on the best practice – fourth gate.  It then may kick off one or more implementation projects, or the drafting of a formal best practice “instructions” document to then drive multiple implementation efforts.  These are represented by the social eddie D.

An important aspect of the CorasWorks solution is that along the way people downstream in the process are able to look upstream.  Thus, a person that is drafting the best practice can look upstream to see a) the formal best practice approved, b) the initial and formal reviews, and c) the original idea and the ideation around it.  An interesting aspect is that since a process like this may span say 90 days, when the person is writing the best practice instruction there may well be many more comments or other information contributed to the original idea or by the various review teams.  Those social eddies may continue to spin depending on the interest level.


Impact of Social Workstreams on the Way we Work

Implementing systems with social workstreams impacts the way we work in a number of ways:

-Loosely-coupled work – Workstreams integrate different work activities to produce outcome – these activities can live on their own and be integrated in a number of different workstreams

- Workstream activity happening in “social eddies” – broader participation, visible, social, continuous feedback (even after gate decision), interactive

- People engage in their Social Eddies – people start to see their “eddie” where they will spend most of their effort

- Potentially expedited cycle times – you don’t have to wait for an item in a workflow to get to you before you can see that it may be coming down the road and begin to participate or decide to expedite it

- Board Decision Style – gated decisions often happen in a board-style, based upon both broad input and precise input

- Disciplined rhythm – Can set disciplined rhythm of decision making (bi-weekly “board” meeting) – not dependent on people or system in sequential process

- Your vote may count less – people are used to having specific power to approve or reject.  In social workstreams, there are often “forcing functions”, such as very high popularity combined with visibility, that lessen an individuals ability to say no or yes.

- Increased effectiveness via the “wisdom of crowds” – hopefully leading to “righter” decisions

- Importance of standard criteria – to make this work, you need to start to establish standard evaluation criteria that is consistently applied and enforced, say through the review forms and board decision criteria

- Greater visibility – the design of social workstreams, such as in Cim, is to provide much greater visibility to the end-to-end process, including status updates to initial contributors as their idea moves through the workstream


The Upshot

A nice, structured workflow is straight forward.  It seems simpler.  In many ways it is.  There are many tools to create a workflow.  But, the value is largely simple efficiency.

An end-to-end process for idea and innovation management can be an extraordinarily powerful driver of business success.  It drives organizational effectiveness.  But, it could get messy.  This is where the tool comes in.  The role of CorasWorks Idea Management on SharePoint is be the enabler to bring you the power of tapping into your social eddies, but to do so in a more efficient and effective social workstream.  It does the loosely-coupling for you.  It gives you your control points and process automation.  It uses workflow in specific places to be efficient.  It provides the upstream and downstream visibility.  It is flexible enough to accommodate the different workstreams and social eddies to support different business scenarios (new products, process improvement, best practices, change requests, etc.).

It will take some time (years) for social workstreams to get comfortably understood and make their way into Visio stencils.  But, trust me, they will.  Why? Because in the future (during the 2010’s), organizations simply will not be able to compete without effectively tapping into the full power of their workforce.