Sunday musing: Reinventing the reading experience

In case you missed it, and I’m sure anyone hardly did, Apple decided to reinvent the textbook experience by identifying transformative currents and building the right tools to navigate them”

 iPadded textbooks are still textbooks, but they’re personalized textbooks. They take advantage of the emotional connection people, and especially young people, feel to their devices. They encourage, rather than frown on, active note-taking. They demand, rather than curtail, exploration. They create a kind of kaleidoscopic experience: video, text, audio, all whirring and whirling into each other in a self-guided tour of history or chemistry or biology. They invite students to create learning environments that, though standardized on one level, are, on another, uniquely theirs. And that changes everything. 

And though it did not revolutionize the publishing industry -at least not yet-, it actually created enough momentum to raise interesting discussions on the need of reinventing the reading experience. Reading is definitely “morphing as it transitions to a new technology platform” : Tablets. And by leveraging the power of social collaboration, reading will never be the same for sure! Here are some videos that make this case.

Have a great Sunday!

Update: I stumbled upon this video from Readmill which states an essential question “Why make a book digital and not make it shareable?” Why indeed!

Snippet

The old model of the heroic superman is increasingly archaic. The most active and successful leaders today see themselves as part of the global community and peer groups. They listen as well as they speak. Never confuse charisma with leadership. The first job of a leader is to enable an organization to survive without him or her. The key to that is to build a sustainable culture.

~Sam Palmisano's speech on IBM's 100th anniversary

Power of networked teams

36925399-team
Photo courtesy of ‘PixelPlacebo’
How can you divide the labor in your organization to optimize for innovation rather than efficiency? ~Dave Gray 

Networked workers are a critical asset for today’s organizations. But in the end of the day, it does little good to be a networked worker if the organizational context will simply drive you back to ineffective patterns. In order for an organization to benefit of the power of its networked workers, it needs to instill a culture that scales the social and intellectual capital of its employees to a level that meets organization’s purposes. And that’s where networked teams come into play. 

What is a networked team?
A networked team is a social entity that carries out tasks in order to serve the needs of a customer (internal or external) and is embedded in one or several larger social systems . It stands out from regular teams by its network awareness, which mainly manifests itself in the following characteristics:

 

Cohesive construct: A networked team is a cohesive social network. It is not too tight that homophily takes stage nor too loose that it becomes difficult to diffuse knowledge and  new innovations. A networked team can have a core subgroup that instills the team’s culture and insures a good environment for nourishing peripheral members with the needed knowledge. If many subgroups emerge within the team, they need to be interconnected to keep the knowledge flow going.

 

Connected unit: A networked team is anything but siloed. It doesn’t evolve in an independent realm but rather bridges the gaps among itself and other teams effectively. It recognizes its weavers and leverages their access in order to reach out to novel ideas and processes.

 

Just the right amount of power : While a certain degree of leadership is necessary for stimulating innovation, the power within networked teams is decentralized to some extent. Team members are actually empowered enough to function as a business within the business.

 

36925398-teams

Why networked teams are winner teams?
Networked teams grant the organization a fluid structuring based on relentlessly changing templates, quick improvisation and ad hoc responses. This can easily be translated into competitive advantage as it allows for innovation through continuous creation of new (combination of) resources.

Networked teams are network-aware, which means they manage their social and intellectual capital better, they know how to retain and access talent across the organization (thanks to their bridges) and their inherent structuring allows them optimal knowledge diffusion (Fully connected with more or less decentralized power).
Networked teams have been proven to perform better as they empower their members, interface with different other groups and collaborate internally and externally in more effective ways.
And finally, a networked team is not as strong as its weakest tie because it is resilient (small world characteristic). It is as strong as its core structure which is much stronger than a single player. 

Engineering a networked team

As we’ve said before, if the organizational context does not offer the right ecosystem for networked teams to thrive, any attempt to build one will fail systematically. Indeed, “Culture eats strategy for lunch”. So before engaging in the engineering of a networked team, make sure the general context won’t hinder its progress.

 

1. The map: X-Raying your teams’ external and internal ties is the first step. A Social Network Analysis of every team member’s relationships with colleagues in and out-side the team’s boundaries can help profile the actors and give a general overview of the network’s structure.

 

2. The measures: Cohesion, centralization and clique analysis are three measures to start with.
The measures addressing network cohesion are the density of the network (number of linkages), its average path length and diameter (longest possible path in the network to which extent linkages effectively connect nodes). 
Centralisation of a network entails the emergence of  ‘hubs’ which are highly-connected nodes. While peripheral structures of nodes with a lower degree of centrality emerge, highly differentiated structures are known to be generally more robust. 
Clique analysis looks into subgroups using the clustering coefficient. It has been proven that the most efficient network architecture is the small world topology, where cohesive subgroups are connected to each other.  
3. The gap: Once the measures are laid on the table, all is left is bridging the gap between the “As-Is” and the “To-Be” networks. It is not an easy task as it grazes organizational and cultural aspects. And there is no silver bullet. Many initiatives can be taken according to the problem at hand and the context of the organization. If we note, for example, many peripheral members that barely link to the subgroups, a  mentoring program can be implemented to shrink their distance from the hubs, giving them access to the majority of team members. If the team looks highly cliquish with no interconnection among subgroups, maybe it’s time for some conflict management workshops… 

While knowledge workers are the working force of an organization, teams are its backbone. If teams can really be businesses within the business, and of they can leverage the power of networks, then there is no saying to the potential they can unleash.

Sunday musing: Why I unplug

36504368-alaindebotton

I’m no better-never, I don’t think technology is ruining our brain, life or whatnot. I truly believe though, that like anything else, it’s our use of it that makes it the Good or the Villain. Sometimes it’s actually the over-use of it that makes it the latter. As I was revisiting “Connected“, I thought about  relearning to be disconnected and how I have failed to consider that sometimes the only way to appreciate something’s value is by distancing oneself from it for a while. Relearning to appreciate technology, rethinking its effect on our lives can only be possible by unplugging the matrix and then re-plugging with a new perspective.
Not convinced? Monika Guzmano from geekWire makes a good sell of it on her Ignite talk: Why I unplug.

 

 

It definitely gives you something to think about.
Have a great Sunday!

Let’s talk books: 5 books to read in 2012

After weeks of compiling book suggestions from almost everyone I set my eyes on, I have finally settled on a set of 24 books to read this year (the whole list can be found here). Here are some of the highly recommended ones. 

36391076-steve_jobs_cover

By Walter Isaacson

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

Why read this book? Because Steve Jobs was a one-of-a-kind man who lived an extraordinary life. His biography is definitely worth reading (especially if it’s written by Isaacson!) 

36391077-51jLcpv9N5L

By Matthew A. Russell

“You’ll learn how to combine social web data, analysis techniques, and visualization to help you find what you’ve been looking for in the social haystack, as well as useful information you didn’t know existed.”

Why read this book? Because there is so much data out there and so much knowledge hidden in its folds and this book may grant us some of the necessary skills to uncover it.

36391075-The-Age-of-the-Platform-Front-Cover-Hires

By Phil Simon

The Age of the Platform demonstrates how the world of business today is vastly different from that of even ten years ago. Today, the most successful companies are operating under an entirely different business model-one predicated on collaboration, emerging technologies, externally driven innovation, different types of partnerships, and vibrant ecosystems.

Why read this book? Because it was recommended to me by my good twitter friend Kelly Craft and I trust her judgement very very much. And because I’ve taken a glimpse at this video and it convinced me on the spot that it will be worth my time.  
36391074-MacroWikinomics
By Don Taposcott and Anthony D. Williams

In their 2007 bestseller, Wikinomics Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams showed the world how mass collaboration was changing the way businesses communicate, create value, and compete in the new global marketplace. Now, in the wake of the global financial crisis, the principles of wikinomics have become more powerful than ever. 

Why read this book? Because I read wikinomics and I can say it was one of the best books I read last year. And because taking the wikinomics’ principles to a larger scale can only mean one thing: More goodness! 

36391314-Where_Good_Ideas_Come_From

By Steven Johnson

This sweeping study of the history of innovation breaks out the seven patterns of innovation like “the slow hunch” and “serendipity.” It debunks the myth of the lone genius and presents the real-world dynamics and context that enable innovation. Johnson shows how understanding the roots of innovation can lead to our own creative breakthroughs.

Why read this book? Simply because of this!
Happy reading everyone and I’m curious to see what are the most anticipated books on your reading list too!  

Snippet

The Web is more a social creation than a technical one. I designed it for a social effect—to help people work together—and not as a technical toy. The ultimate goal of the Web is to support and improve our weblike existence in the world. We clump into families, associations, and companies. We develop trust across the miles and distrust around the corner. 

~ Tim Berners-Lee, Weaving the Web