Guest Lecture at the Cologne Business School

 

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Yesterday I had a Guest Lecture at the Cologne Business School on invite of Dr. Christian Lucas on “IT Innovation Management”. It was an exciting experience not to present to professionals but to students that have this topic in their curriculum and perhaps (psst :-) ) in their exam. It was also exciting because my daughter Maja, a medical student (*proud dad*) who is one of my biggest fans, could accompany und support me for the first time.

3D Printing – My first hands-on

Covestro Booth at the K-Fair

Last week in the Covestro Booth at the K-Fair I had the chance to watch a presentation of Autodesk.

It was about Additive Manufacturing (=3D Printing) and bringing Software, Hardware and Material  together.

Catalogs of materials with all its properties and specifications would be included in the design tool and help designers to choose the right material. Autodesk sees a $B market not only in fancy designs but especially in parts like sealings for cars (in the first step).

3D-Printers will be able to scale for industrial manufacturing at appropriate volumes and costs. With Additive Manufacturing no dies or tools as in traditional machines are needed upfront.

They mentioned a light-weight tool (Tinkercad from Autodesk) that can be used to create (not only) simple Objects in the Browser.

When done you can send the result directly to one of many 3D-printing providers with a few clicks. You can choose the material and order it. It will be printed within days or even hours.

You can also download the model and print it yourself!

Out of curiosity I created and ordered a small object of about 5x5x5cm that in the meantime was made of ABS for a few Euros. If have to admit: in this I am a member of the late majority.

My first 3D-Printed Object
My first 3D-Printed Object. It throws my initials (“B.E.O.”) as shadows when lit from different angles.

With tools like this it is easy to create 3D-Objects and Prints without any expert knowledge and any special equipment.

Why not print spare parts for your household appliances? Some simply shaped ones in my car and my kitchen appliances, I had to replace recently, come to my mind.

I remember once having to replace “almost” a complete car door, because a broken plastics part in the electrical window regulator was not separately available for order :-)

With a 3D capture app (like the coming  Windows Capture 3D) the last hurdle of having to create a model first will disappear.

Where will it lead us to when people start to print their own parts and exchange self-made models that are good enough for a certain purpose? Will the material get as expensive as ink cartridges for paper printers are now? Will there be charge on it like there is for rewritable storage media?

Will business models based on the short life-cycle of products or their parts disappear?

We will see. At least I have got a nice and solid Pencil Holder on my desk now.

My new Job

Thanks for the congrats and likes in the Social Media. For those who asked or wondered:

De facto starting in September I’ll be globally responsible for IT Innovation in my company.

There were also some more important announcements this week in the Internet about the fact that there will be a major reorganization of Bayer.

Perhaps have you seen the announcements (www.bayer.de/en/covestro.aspx): Bayer decided to concentrate on Life Sciences and to spin us (MaterialScience) off. Our new company is called Covestro.

And the „Co“ stands for… TaDa … Collaboration! Which of course has a more generic meaning but makes me very proud anyway.

In 2009 I started promoting Social Collaboration as a one-man-show.  Now, with our Social Strategy we have many ambassadors and a network of Change Agents that work decentralized with the users in their area.

The other measures of the strategy (Profile Days, Promoting Lighthouses, Communication, Reverse Mentoring, Increase Accessibility, Executive Ambassadors…) have led to the situation that Social gets more and more settled, adoption has reached a critical mass and is running and growing on its own.

Our social KPIs are steadily increasing from the beginning.

This was a good point in time for me to take over a new challenge, though I’ll never give up to support and promote Social and I will also utilize it for my new job and look at it from the IT Innovation perspective. Social Collaboration underlies maybe even more than other areas the need to continuously innovate and renew. The borders between internal and external will continue to weaken over time and a high demand for IT Innovation will occur.

At Bayer I already was MaterialScience’s chairman in the group-wide Innovation Committee.

Now we can build our own IT Innovation Organization, which amongst other topics will be tailored to the specific requirements of our business.

Regardless where you (will) work at Covestro, the times are very exciting now. There are many opportunities to reshape things, challenge the status quo and proceed in an agile way.

I’m looking forward and counting the days until September, 1!

The journey has begun.

The Last Thing We Need is an Enterprise Social Network

  1. we need to succeed by fulfilling our strategy to create greater value in a rapidly changing market; and to do that
  2. we need to be able to work in new & better ways that create a more effective, agile and responsive organisation; and to do that
  3. we need a new culture in management and more leadership from our people; and to do that
  4. we need new conversations that enable our people to discuss and act on creating better strategic value; and to do that
  5. we need more engagement and a better ability to leverage the potential of our people to contribute to and lead this change; and to do that
  6. we need an enterprise social network to support the first 5 steps.

Read on …

Hi Mom, finally I made in into an eBook

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The Book is in German my chapter is in English.

A word in the beginning: this post is not about condemning E-Mail and its usage but on how to increase the efficiency of collaboration by utilizing and leveraging all tools and platforms a modern workplace has including Networking, Collaboration, Conferencing, Instant Messaging. For many use cases E-Mail is the tool of choice and for sure it will remain to be for quite a while.When I started at in my current department I was handed over an ongoing project by a colleague. She went to her mailbox, selected with a few clicks all mails associated to that project and sent me the result as one big E-Mail. I was supposed to read all these historical conversations bottom-up. After trying this for a while I ended up just poking around in this mess using the built in search whenever I needed some information that could be issued in a search query … 

Read on …

Is Gamification Gaming?

Yesterday I wanted to trackback my latest post How to reduce your email load to my company’s intranet. To my surprise my Blog is blocked by my company’s externally hosted web filter. It is categorized as “Gaming” / “Low Risk”. My company for good reasons blocks this category.  But how could this happen? I’m not into GAMING, GAMBLING and LOTTERIES, I never made it to WIN A JACKPOT?

It looks like that my article Gamification vs. Gaming is the cause.

Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems” — Wikipedia

I submitted a change request. Lets see how flexible they are.

How to reduce your email load

mail234A word in the beginning: this post is not about condemning email and its usage but on how to increase the efficiency of collaboration by utilizing and leveraging all tools and platforms a modern workplace has including Networking, Collaboration, Conferencing, Instant Messaging. For many use cases email is the tool of choice and for sure it will remain to be for quite a while.

When I started at in my current department I was handed over an ongoing project by a colleague. She went to her mailbox, selected with a few clicks all mails associated to that project and sent me the result as one big email. I was supposed to read all these historical conversations bottom-up. After trying this for a while I ended up just poking around in this mess using the built in search whenever I needed some information that could be issued in a search query …

Email is a communication form which is now 40 years old (the term “email” was formed 30 years ago). The only big change to that technology happened when attachments were introduced 20 years ago.

For many of us the email client has become the tool we open first in the morning and check several times a day. Notifications about incoming email come in and interrupt our work. The number of unread emails seems to increase steadily.

We misuse our mailbox for our personal Document Management, Knowledge Management, Project and Task-Management.

Usually no one else has access to the information we collect and if someone would have, she would likely not be able to source the information in it without understanding the structure (if any) in which it was stored.

We assign tasks per email in a fire-and-forget mode. Since we can always expect an answer, which is an implicit rule in emailing, we can forget requests until the recipients reply / react. When something goes wrong (and always something goes wrong) we can pull the email out (we usually even don’t have to) and say: “I informed you in time that something could go wrong” / “I told you to take care 2 weeks ago” / “I asked but you didn’t answer”.

We discuss content and send office documents back and forth receiving multiple copies of multiple versions. Discussions are fragmented over several emails, this works more or less as long as there is a sequential discussion. When the discussion branches and several participants reply to different aspects of a discussion it gets time consuming to put the conversation in a sequential order with clear causalities. There is no easy way to include colleagues who joined the conversation later.

In many emails, if we have a look at the net information which is actually included we find that this is only a minor part compared to what is added by headers and footers and the repetition of the complete history of the email conversation.

What is wrong with email?

“Email is a ruthless delegation machine & your daily to-do list imposed by others. (Luis Suarez, @elsua) Just send an action to someone, cc: her Supervisor and it is extremely difficult for that person to not take that action. Asking someone face to take an action is sometimes not as easy.”

Information is private (closed team collaboration). Knowledge is hidden.The information contained in emails is restricted by default. People who might need this information have no access and even worse: they sometimes don’t even know that it exists. Adding recipients later often leads to the mess described above. Information is not available when colleagues are on vacation, signoff or retire.’

Recipients have to be chosen in advance. As a result: often too few or too many or wrong recipients are chosen. Emails and recipient lists once sent are neither updateable nor adaptable later

Attachments blow up mail size and are costly. Multiple copies where is is unclear which is the valid (latest) version

Inefficient for discussions. Sometimes you have to open a series of emails to follow up a discussion. Often you have to scroll a long way down to the end in order rollup the discussion and hope the discussion hasn’t branched in between.

Where is email useful?

When sending emails you can rely on a “Contract”. Following an unwritten law the recipient is supposed to either take notice of an information, or to take responsibility for an action (in many cases only to return information). In any other case she is supposed to reply to you stating why she does not handle the mail in the way you expect. In the latter case she will choose to reply to all.
Since the delivery (at least within the company) is guaranteed, mails often have also a documentary character. Sending an information or task via email documents the transaction including the content of the mail, the timestamp and the recipient(s) of a mail. At a later point in time the sender can use the copy of the mail in his mailbox as an evidence.

In one-two-one private conversations email is always a good choice. It is one of the strength of email to limit the distribution of an email to a closed circle. If necessary the conversation can even be encrypted.

Calendaring, scheduling meetings and sending/accepting invites is a bonus email systems offer. For this purpose they are highly specialized and can not easily be replaced by other tools without losing comfort and reliability.

Are you ready to give it a try?

  • Do not reply to email with email (@elsua). Every reply provokes another reply. Instead inform the sender using a different channel. Talk to her personally, send a reply via chat or post the answer to her or your board or to a common collaboration space, like a community. Doing this reduces the email traffic and helps our organization to adopt a new way of collaboration step by step. An answer to an email posted publicly (where applicable) can also be useful to colleagues who were not on the initial scope of the email
  • Move all distribution lists that are not confidential to blogs/communities.
  • Between the senders and recipients of information posted, optionally agree upon a common set of tags, that senders attach to each posting  (files, blog entries, bookmarks, …).
    This requires some discipline on both adding and subscribing (to) the rights tags. The advantage is that recipients can choose what pieces of information the want to receive (they subscribe to) and to change these subscription over time as their responsibilities, projects or organizational position changes.
  • Give all project teams a closed group and encourage them to „work out loud“.
  • Discourage emailing documents. They should all go into a shared space.
  • Check the appropriateness / necessity of CCs/BCCs whenever you send an email or us the “reply all” button. Consider that many recipients due to their load just ignore emails (some of the even by automated rule) that does not contain their names in the to: line.
  • Encourage anything that needs a CC to go into a social network blog or discussion board.
  • Encourage people to answer questions that they receive through any channel in a blog post.
  • For confidential information (and that should be done carefully), for scheduling, for personal notes and for accepting email from external contacts, some of which should be stored centrally to a collaboration space and link from there.
  • Consider setting an autoanswer in your mailbox or an extension to your email footer hinting (internal) senders how to communicate with you alternatively in order to optimize the collaboration.
  • Check which replacements are available in your environment by Use Case.
  • Use / stay with specialized tools like Document Management, Knowledge Management, Project and Task-Management.

Any Questions? Just reply to this blog post.

Thoughts which aren’t my own are stolen with pride from:

  • www.elsua.net/about/
  • youtu.be/QIqA_YKeboc
  • community-roundtable.com/2012/07/start_with_email/
  • www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/jobs/29pre.html?_r=1