Changing the Conversation in Your Company


Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind

BORIS GROYSBERG AND MICHAEL SLIND
http://blogs.hbr.org

 

Boris Groysberg (bgroysberg@hbs.edu) is a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. Michael Slind (mike@talkincbook.com) is a writer, editor, and communication consultant. They are co-authors of the book Talk, Inc.: How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power Their Organizations (HBR Press, 2012).

In our experience, it’s rare for a diverse group of headstrong Executive Education participants from around the globe to agree on anything. Yet earlier this month, when we surveyed a group of leaders who attended the Driving Performance Through Talent Management program at Harvard Business School, 92% agreed that the practice of internal communication “has undergone a lot of change” at their companies “in recent years.”

While the sample size in this case isn’t large — about three-dozen leaders took part in the survey — these participants make up a highly representative group. They hail from every part of the globe, and from organizations small and large (with head counts that range from about 200 to more than 100,000). They occupy senior positions in fields that include sales and talent management, and they work in industries that range from manufacturing to health care to financial services.

That survey result reinforces a finding that we’ve observed elsewhere in our research: in company after company, the patterns and processes by which people communicate with each other are unmistakably in flux. The old “corporate communication” is giving way to a model that we call “organizational conversation.” That shift is, for many people, a disorienting process. But it also offers a great leadership opportunity.

Our research has shown that more and more leaders — from organizations that range from computer-networking giant Cisco Systems to Hindustan Petroleum, a large India-based oil supplier — are using the power of organizational conversation to drive their company forward. For these leaders, internal communication isn’t just an HR function. It’s an engine of value that boosts employee engagement and improves strategic alignment.

Broadly speaking, there are four steps that you can take to make your approach to leadership more conversational. (In future posts, we will address each of these points at greater length.)

1. Close the gap between you and your employees. In our survey, we also asked respondents to name the biggest employee communication challenge at their company. In response, one participant cited the need to “move away from top-down communication.” Another highlighted a “disparity between the senior management team and middle management due to low transparency.” Trusted and effective leaders overcome such challenges by speaking with employees in ways that are direct, personal, open, and authentic.

2. Promote two-way dialogue within your company… Leer más “Changing the Conversation in Your Company”

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Cisco May Be Making A Run For Skype

Michael Arrington

Cisco has made an offer to acquire Skype before they complete their IPO process, says one of our more reliable sources. We have not been able to confirm this rumor one way or another via other sources, which isn’t surprising. A company in lock down during the IPO process is usually even more tight lipped than normal.


Cisco has made an offer to acquire Skype before they complete their IPO process, says one of our more reliable sources. We have not been able to confirm this rumor one way or another via other sources, which isn’t surprising. A company in lock down during the IPO process is usually even more tight lipped than normal. Leer más “Cisco May Be Making A Run For Skype”

Top 3 Innovation Trends and Issues

What is happening in the innovation community right now? In this post, I give a quick overview of the top trends and issues based on the interactions I have had over the last month or so.

1. Communication

At the recent Open Innovation Summit, communication in a more holistic perspective was a key topic.

Jeff Boehm of InventionMachine gave a great presentation titled Marketing Innovation in which he argued that innovation success requires internal communication. He’s right and I will share more from this presentation in a later blog post.

At a Think Tank session during the summit, we also identified communication as a key characteristic for open innovation leaders. Some keywords on this were internal & external communication, consistent behavior & messages, deliberate strategy, top-down modeling, confidence to share what you know.

You should check out this post by Andrea Meyer: Unilever, Cisco, Whirlpool: Communication in Open Innovation


What is happening in the innovation community right now? In this post, I give a quick overview of the top trends and issues based on the interactions I have had over the last month or so.

1. Communication

At the recent Open Innovation Summit, communication in a more holistic perspective was a key topic.

Jeff Boehm of InventionMachine gave a great presentation titled Marketing Innovation in which he argued that innovation success requires internal communication. He’s right and I will share more from this presentation in a later blog post.

At a Think Tank session during the summit, we also identified communication as a key characteristic for open innovation leaders. Some keywords on this were internal & external communication, consistent behavior & messages, deliberate strategy, top-down modeling, confidence to share what you know.

You should check out this post by Andrea Meyer: Unilever, Cisco, Whirlpool: Communication in Open Innovation Leer más “Top 3 Innovation Trends and Issues”

Old Spice Parodies Not Recommended For Political Campaigns

If you thought Cisco’s Old Spice copycat campaign was bad, just wait ‘til you see Daniel Freilich’s new Vermont Senatorial campaign video. The description of Freilich’s Old Spice campaign video says that the candidate is showing off his “fun side” with this parody clip, which has accrued over 17,000 views since it’s upload last week, most in the last twenty-four hours. But I’d be willing put money on the fact that most of these viewers are laughing at Freilich and not with him. Who thought it would be a good idea to parody a men’s deodorant campaign in a campaign for political office?

As I’m not from Vermont and haven’t been following their Senatorial race very carefully (OK, I haven’t been following it at all), I don’t know what kind of a candidate Freilich is or whether he has any chance of winning. However, what I do know is that in the past there hasn’t been any precedent of a political candidate winning based on a viral YouTube video.


Posted by Megan O’Neill

Daniel Freilich Old SpiceIf you thought Cisco’s Old Spice copycat campaign was bad, just wait ‘til you see Daniel Freilich’s new Vermont Senatorial campaign video.  The description of Freilich’s Old Spice campaign video says that the candidate is showing off his “fun side” with this parody clip, which has accrued over 17,000 views since it’s upload last week, most in the last twenty-four hours.  But I’d be willing put money on the fact that most of these viewers are laughing at Freilich and not with him.  Who thought it would be a good idea to parody a men’s deodorant campaign in a campaign for political office?

As I’m not from Vermont and haven’t been following their Senatorial race very carefully (OK, I haven’t been following it at all), I don’t know what kind of a candidate Freilich is or whether he has any chance of winning.  However, what I do know is that in the past there hasn’t been any precedent of a political candidate winning based on a viral YouTube video.  Leer más “Old Spice Parodies Not Recommended For Political Campaigns”

Vidyo: Videoconferencing’s Best Hope?

Without HP’s support, Vidyo is just another promising startup. As the world’s biggest PC maker and a prime supplier of corporate tech, HP could bring Vidyo and videoconferencing to the corporate mainstream. Analysts expect HP to use Vidyo to distinguish HP’s computers and mobile devices from products made by rivals such as Dell (DELL) and Apple. It could also help HP build up its $35 billion-a-year a consulting business by advising companies on how to use videoconferencing to lift productivity.

It’s unclear, however, whether HP will aggressively pursue this video calling market. Although it introduced its Halo system a year before Cisco unveiled its own telepresence product, HP has just 3 percent of the videoconferencing market, compared with 45 percent for Cisco, estimates Davis. “Vidyo could be an important weapon for HP, but it all depends on what they do with it,” says Chuck House, a retired HP executive who now advises Vidyo’s board. He points out that Cisco CEO John T. Chambers promotes videoconferencing every chance he gets, “but you never hear HP say anything about it. It’s an afterthought.”


A New Jersey startup gets pricey and basic systems communicating—and could be videoconferencing’s ticket to the mainstream

By Peter Burrows

At most companies, videoconferencing has yet to evolve from a technological parlor trick into an everyday utility like e-mail. One reason is there’s no cheap and easy way to make it available on all the devices people use. Even companies that opt for top-of-the-line equipment from Cisco Systems (CSCO) or Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)often pay nearly $1 million to upgrade the underlying corporate network, says IDC analyst Jonathan Edwards.

That’s why tech industry veterans are keeping a close eye on Vidyo, whose technology will soon be sold by HP. The 120-person startup, based in Hackensack, N.J., makes software it says can run on almost any device that connects to the Net—and adjusts whether that’s a high-speed link in the boardroom or a cell connection from the 18th hole. While most companies buy a few high-end videoconferencing systems for executives, “We want to connect millions of people,” says Vidyo Chief Executive Ofer Shapiro.

The aim is to bridge the gap between traditional systems costing up to $300,000 for a just-like-being-there telepresence room and cheap but low-quality PC-based services such as Skype—and in a way that lets people using all of these options participate in calls together. Leer más “Vidyo: Videoconferencing’s Best Hope?”

Now Skype Wants to Go Corporate

Skype, which disrupted the telecommunications industry with free or low-cost calls routed over the Internet, is once again an independent company. EBay (EBAY) bought the Estonian startup in 2005, but, after a strained relationship, sold most of its stake for $2 billion in November. Now the new owners, led by private equity firm Silver Lake, are imposing business rigor on the company and pushing it to grab a piece of the corporate telecommunications market.

Skype is in talks to sell its software through Cisco Systems (CSCO) and ShoreTel (SHOR), both of which make phone systems, according to a person familiar with the discussions. Skype is also doubling the size of its sales and support team to better reach business customers and respond when technical issues arise.

Skype is already a verb for the more than 520 million consumers around the world who use it for phone calls or video chats. According to a report by investment bank Thomas Weisel Partners, Skype had $705 million in revenue last year, a 28 percent jump from 2008. The corporate market, which research firm IDC values at $203 billion, presents a more lucrative opportunity.

Persuading corporations to ditch their traditional carriers won’t be easy. “There are some major roadblocks to growing this in the large enterprise space,” says Jayanth Angl, an analyst at Info-Tech Research Group in London, Ont. Chief among them: giving IT managers more control. In industries such as health care and finance, companies need to track and monitor calls—something Skype doesn’t allow for. Skype also needs to convince potential customers that its service, which is sometimes criticized for poor quality, is reliable and secure enough for important business calls.


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The chat service is tapping Cisco and ShoreTel to help it sell telecom to big business

By Joseph Galante

Skype, which disrupted the telecommunications industry with free or low-cost calls routed over the Internet, is once again an independent company. EBay (EBAY) bought the Estonian startup in 2005, but, after a strained relationship, sold most of its stake for $2 billion in November. Now the new owners, led by private equity firm Silver Lake, are imposing business rigor on the company and pushing it to grab a piece of the corporate telecommunications market.

Skype is in talks to sell its software through Cisco Systems (CSCO) and ShoreTel (SHOR), both of which make phone systems, according to a person familiar with the discussions. Skype is also doubling the size of its sales and support team to better reach business customers and respond when technical issues arise.

Skype is already a verb for the more than 520 million consumers around the world who use it for phone calls or video chats. According to a report by investment bank Thomas Weisel Partners, Skype had $705 million in revenue last year, a 28 percent jump from 2008. The corporate market, which research firm IDC values at $203 billion, presents a more lucrative opportunity.

Persuading corporations to ditch their traditional carriers won’t be easy. “There are some major roadblocks to growing this in the large enterprise space,” says Jayanth Angl, an analyst at Info-Tech Research Group in London, Ont. Chief among them: giving IT managers more control. In industries such as health care and finance, companies need to track and monitor calls—something Skype doesn’t allow for. Skype also needs to convince potential customers that its service, which is sometimes criticized for poor quality, is reliable and secure enough for important business calls. Leer más “Now Skype Wants to Go Corporate”

Verizon, AT&T & Cisco Talk Up Internet of Things


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Written by Richard MacManus

You know that a trend is ramping up when big companies begin to namecheck it. It’s happening now with the Internet of Things, a term for when real-world objects connect to the Internet. Senior executives from two major U.S. broadband and telecommunications companies – Verizon and AT&T – plus the CTO of the world’s biggest network systems provider Cisco, have recently discussed the Internet of Things.

As part of a patriotic statement about how the U.S. leads the world in Internet innovation, Verizon chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg said today that the “‘Internet of Things’ will infuse intelligence into all our systems and present us with a whole new way to run a home, an enterprise, a community or an economy.”

Seidenberg said that “in a 4G world, wireless will connect everything” and that “there’s really no limit to the number of connections that can be part of the mobile grid: vehicles, appliances, buildings, roads, medical monitors.” Leer más “Verizon, AT&T & Cisco Talk Up Internet of Things”