Friday Faves – What We’re Reading This Week

Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive.

The end of corporate culture as we know it  – or not?

Anne says: Last week I contributed recent thoughts and reviews on digital transformation, what it means, what approaches are being used and how we’re progressing over the last decade. Digital transformation is not just about the technology – it’s about the people. So this week’s reading picks up that thread to examine culture in our current and future state organisations.

The article appears in the latest issue of MITSloan Review, published by the editor-in-chief, Paul Michelman. He writes about:

“It will be an era of entrepreneurship, distributed leadership, and the continual reorganization of people and resources.”

Note – no mention of technologies!

He goes on to review various definitions of corporate culture over the decades to arrive at a generally accepted approach:

“…culture is meant to provide a well-rooted sense of purpose within an organization, exemplified by a recognized set of behaviors and shared beliefs.”

Sounds fairly straightforward – based on that definition. Yet – we all know it’s not quite that simple! People are complex creatures, then add the changing nature of work and we start to see this definition unravel.

Time to introduce technology – digital workplaces. The impact to structure and “how we do things around here” is predicted to completely change from predictable to fluid arrangements with colleagues and organisations. He expects employees to become affiliates – no longer aligning to a single culture.

The closing line should make you uncomfortable. However, in doing so, it should also make you re-think and re-frame your corporate culture approaches!

“…a tool meant to reinforce consistency of behavior over long periods of time transforms from a motor to an anchor.”

Readhttp://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-end-of-corporate-culture-as-we-know-it/

Scaling a Transformative Culture Through a Digital Factory

Jakkii says: Still following the culture theme from Anne’s post, this piece from McKinsey introduces their idea of a “digital factory” as a driving force in transformation.

While I’m not convinced we need yet more buzzwords and terminology in the digital transformation arena, the analogy has some merit. They describe the ‘digital factory’:

…a digital factory brings together the skills, processes, and inputs required to produce high-quality outputs. …The factory models a new way of working to develop new products, which are then introduced and integrated into the broader business. It uses advanced methodologies such as design thinking, zero-based process reengineering, and agile software development.

The way the factory works is defined by a set of standard operating guidelines and methodologies that lay out the required deliverables, governance steps, and working processes—such as which decisions can be made by factory leaders and which require escalation. The goal is a balance between the structured predictability required to transform a large organization and the flexibility and agility required for a rapidly changing digital world.

The fundamental flaw in this analogy should be apparent: in describing transformation of the way we do business, we harken back to the traditional model borne out of the industrial revolution: the factory. Is this transformation, or is this business as usual with different levers and pulleys?

McKinsey believe the digital factory does get results, and note that adopting this approach requires supportive culture, and supportive management practices.

Their culture must-haves:

  • Act like venture capitalists
  • Get creative to attract top talent
  • Build ‘squads’ of working teams
  • Model collaboration in your workspace

And their management practice must-haves:

  • Build with clear purpose
  • Invest enough for impact
  • Develop a change management plan to incorporate new product into the business
  • Measure the change
  • Find leaders with the right combination of skills

You’ll note these management practices aren’t new, though they’re of course not always in place – particularly uniformly across organisations.

Do you agree with McKinsey’s view? Are these the ‘dimensions key to what a digital culture should look like in action’?

Readhttp://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/digital-mckinsey/our-insights/scaling-a-transformative-culture-through-a-digital-factory

Trump Twitter bots, numbering in millions, could be used to blanket internet with weaponised false info

“And while such bot-followers can (simply) create the image that one’s account is influential, they can also be used for far-more nefarious purposes, including spreading false news…”

Emilio says: Lately, I have been exploring bots for a new project at Ripple Effect Group – the helpful, efficient kind that responds to information-seeking queries as well as to inane comments – but these bots are not your customer-friendly kind.

I would like to call them the new ‘WMDs’ – Weapons of Mass Distraction and Disinformation (WMDDs).

About a fortnight ago, reports surfaced that the tweeting president Donald Trump amassed 3 million new Twitter followers overnight. Even more telling, a Twitter tracking application has determined that 15 million of Trump’s followers – about half of his total followers of 32 million – are, in fact, bots. This has raised fresh concerns about the embattled president’s army of bots and whether they are being beefed up and used to sway public perception and opinion in his favour, and distract the public from more damning allegations.

In the era of ‘fake news’, social media is the easy scapegoat. Ironically, Trump himself claims to be a victim of fake news. Could he be getting back by deploying WMDDs to gain control of online conversations? Regardless, the important point here is that users of social media need to be critical of every piece of information they are presented, or they become pawns in the propaganda of altered perception and slain by Weapons of Mass Distraction and Disinformation.

Readhttp://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/trump-twitter-bots-numbering-millions-evil-article-1.3216481

Can a Podcast Revitalize an Endangered Alaska Native Language?

“We seldom realise that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society” – Alan Watts

Nat says: Language is something we tend to take for granted, yet our entire understanding of the world is bounded to its usage relative to specific contexts. The limitations of our minds is akin to the limitations of our words. Imagine going to a country in which you did not speak the local language. To your ears, the utterance of speech made by the locals would be nothing more than noise vibrating in the air, but to the people speaking, those words are the foundations of their culture.

It therefore makes sense that modern technological practices, like the use of a podcast and an app, are being used in an attempt to preserve and record a language on the verge of extinction. Some might question the need of wanting to preserve the ‘Tlingit’ Alaskan language, especially when language itself evolves and adapts over time, and the language in question is only reserved to a small corner of the globe relative to a handful of the world’s population. However, cultural preservation is what humans do. We like to leave records of ourselves and record our history.

Doing so via digital technology means this niche Alaskan language can be shared across the globe at the click of a button. This invites people to learn not only about the language, but also its associated culture. Language, preservation and the role of history are what allow us to connect with one another and learn about the shared world we live in, which is exactly what digital technology enables us to achieve. All languages borrow from one another, so who knows what benefits this Alaskan tongue could provide us in our worldly understanding.

Readhttps://psmag.com/education/your-s-town-followup

Microsoft reveals Xbox One X, its most powerful console ever

Joel says: During their e3 briefing this week, Microsoft have revealed that Project Scorpio’s official name is Xbox One X. Xbox’s Head of Software Engineering Kareem Choudhry said it is not only the most powerful console ever, but also the smallest Xbox console ever made.

The system will have a six Teraflop GPU clocked at 1.172 Ghz, as well as 12 GB GDDR5 memory, 326 GBs of memory bandwidth, and true 4K resolution. All existing Xbox One accessories and games will work on Xbox One X. Choudhry also stated that the existing games library will also receive an update, including faster load times and more, even without a 4K TV when played on the One X.

Xbox One X will launch around the world November 7th. In Australia it will be released at $649.

Readhttps://www.cnet.com/au/news/microsoft-xbox-one-x-project-scorpio-reveal-e3-2017/