Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Slack to Improve Team Collaboration by Dave Nelsen

Here's something to think about: You and all of your company's employees spend, on average, a little
more than 40% of your time working email. Is there anything in business that consumes 40% of your resources, or even 4% of your resources, that you've never tried to optimize?
Here's another thing to consider. Email was invented in the 1960s. Back then none of us had ever imagined an iPhone, or a PC, or a CD player, or a pager, or a VCR or a microwave oven. Heck, I'm not sure I'd yet seen a color television. One of my friends did have a black and white television to which his parents had applied a translucent color overlay. The top 20% was blue and the bottom 20% was green. It turns out that few programs feature a shot showing both grass and sky but if they did, then yes, my friend had a color television. Mostly, people on his TV just looked ill.
So a lot has happened technologically since the 1960s. We've stopped sending telegrams (fun fact: the second 'T' in AT&T now stands for 'T' ... as there are no more telegrams). We've stopped using VCRs. While I use its technological replacement, the DVR, even that is threatened as I now stream from Netflix, Apple, and Amazon, or use YouTube. We've stopped wearing pagers. We've even relegated CDs to the past and are now moving beyond their replacement, MP3s + iTunes to streaming services including Apple Music (love it!), Pandora, and Spotify.
And yet we're still using email. Oh yes, and microwave ovens, although they have evolved; they rotate your food and figure out how long to cook it automatically. And there's been massive technological progress in microwave popcorn.
Back to email.  
It's more or less the same technology I first experienced in 1982. And so I've supplemented it with Dropbox, Evernote, Wunderlist, and texting...on my MacBook Pro, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, and of course "the cloud." Do you think perhaps it's time to say goodbye to email? Absolutely! So what then?
Say hello to Slack. First, to establish its credibility as an important company/product, Slack is funded by a veritable Silicon Valley dream team comprised of Andreessen Horowitz, Accel Partners,
Kleiner Perkins, and Google Ventures. It doesn't get any better than that.  
The Slack product was launched in 2013 and, according to Wikipedia (so it must be true), attracted 8,000 customers in the first 24 hours. Hopefully, none of these companies (or the hoards that came afterwards) are your competitors. It's simply shocking that a small team of smart coders could create a system that's actually better for employee collaboration than email...more than half a century later. (Now I'm making myself feel old.)  
So what is Slack? Go to  www.slack.com and find out. Watch the video created by Sandwich Video, about how they themselves use Slack after they were hired by Slack to create a video about how companies use Slack. Talk about recursive self-references. Wow!    
As I've advised with other new communication tools (Yammer, Chatter, anything social media, or social networking), find a few volunteers in your organization to run a small-scale trial among themselves. Not to be too stereotypical but they probably won't be the employees who were using email back in 1982. Actually, it's a good bet that they weren't even alive in 1982. Interestingly, that year was the beginning of the Millennial generation.  
After 30 days have them report on the pros and cons of Slack vs. email. My guess is that the ‘pros’ will prevail and your competitors will hate me. But your employees won't.


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Friday, July 10, 2015

MikkiLeaks: Honoring Our Heroes by Phil Liebman

My driving purpose in life has me working with CEOs and other top executives because I believe they all have the potential to be my heroes. And I have hopes that I can help you become my hero as well. This begs the question: Who are YOUR heroes? I had always disliked being asked that question. I struggled to point to any one person and definitively say he or she is my hero. I would find myself making it up to suit the context of whatever discussion we were having.There were plenty of people whom I greatly admired but few I knew well enough to consider their actions heroic. I could count my mother and father and my mother's father among the heroes in my life, and could rattle off some great heroes out of history but struggled to identify living heroes beyond those I knew intimately.
Then about ten years ago when I became a TEC/Vistage Chair I came to realize that the people I admired most were the people I had been inviting into my professional world and into my groups. These men and women, through their inventiveness, dedication, and skill at accomplishing things, and above all else their caring, were doing more to benefit society than I had previously experienced when I idealistically immersed myself in politics and government. I came to see that through their ability to create value and solve problems these business leaders were better able to benefit the social, economic and cultural needs of our communities and the world. And the evidence of their good work is all around, in the dedications on libraries, hospitals, university research centers, and even a few towns named for them. I had discovered who my heroes truly are.
Do you ever think of yourself as a hero? Or whom you might be a hero to?
Are you courageous? Do you have an insatiable desire to do or to make things better? If so, you could certainly be one of my heroes. What does it take for someone to be one of yours?
A Final Thought on One of My Heroes 
I began working on this month’s contribution to MikkiLeaks over the long Independence Day weekend. One of my historic heroes happens to be Benjamin Franklin. Beyond being an inventor, a statesman and signer of the Declaration of Independence, Franklin was also a successful businessman and entrepreneur. In 1727 in Philadelphia Franklin established The Junto, a club for mutual improvement. Its purpose was to debate questions of morals, politics, and natural philosophy, and to exchange knowledge of business affairs. They also were a charitable organization that made a subscription public library of their own books. Franklin credited his business success on having this resource available to him, and Juntos, built on the same principles, exist to this day around the world. In good measure it is quite similar to the resources provided to the CEOs I work with through my Vistage Groups and is experienced worldwide by more than 18,000 Vistage and TEC members. Perhaps it's a resource you'd like to explore.

Phil Liebman is a Vistage Group Chair, a Fellow at the Thayer Institute for Leadership Virtuosity and the Founder of the BullFrog Group – helping CEOs become better leaders. You can reach him by email at phil@Strat.com - or by phone at 845.262.8611 or Visit www.TheBullFrogGroup.com