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Are You Ready for Greatness?

In my post [5 Reasons Why Your #workstyle Matters], I introduced workstyle in the context of what it means to us as individuals — and how leaders must allow people to work in the way that embraces their lifestyle. I also explained why improving the workstyle of your organization helps you build and maintain a true competitive advantage. A healthy, vibrant workstyle unleashes the potential of each employee and, therefore, the entire organization. When employees, partners, and customers find ways to work better together, everyone excels. What was once work doesn’t feel like work anymore, and individuals and teams can do their very best work. This environment is what sets apart good companies from great companies.

So how do you become great? More often than not, the most sincere and powerful seeds for greatness are grassroots. Greatness starts with individuals who solve problems or innovate in small teams. When their actions begin to bear fruit, people around them take notice and join the movement already in progress. The movement then transcends business unit lines and inspires the broader organization. Then, this contagious inspiration starts to work its way into the organization’s partner and supplier processes and systems. Teams—both internal and external—become more efficient, learn from each other, and internalize and accept that they are great.

Not every business makes it this far, however. The grassroots momentum is seldom powerful enough on its own to migrate across the organization. IT works hard to support how teams work together. They connect disparate systems so that the work of individuals becomes the knowledge of teams, innovation for the enterprise, and the driving force behind successful customers, external partners and the supply chain. Yet efforts of grassroots supporters and IT aren’t always enough to drive greatness.

Recently I had a chance review some new IDC research that lays out a maturity model for social business solutions. This research supports the idea that the way people prefer to work is undergoing a transformation, and highlights the important role collaboration plays in this broader transformation. One of the three key findings of the report is that social workflow will become inherent in how users think about work and how work is done. A grassroots movement or personal ambition to leverage social tools to increase workforce effectiveness isn’t—on its own—enough. These efforts ultimately need systems that can support how we work and document our work before, during and after a project.

Vanessa Thompson, an IDC Research Manager who focuses on Enterprise Social Networks and Collaborative Technologies, believes the confluence of adjacent and connected technology trends ultimately enriches a pure focus on social collaboration:

This change [enterprise social and collaboration] also comes with the confluence of a number of intersecting market trends — cloud, mobile, and big data. This exacerbates the ways we can use these new communication and collaboration channels to connect with employees, customers, partners, and suppliers in order to meet future needs.

What I like about the IDC MaturityScape (New IDC MaturityScape Shows Companies Must Become Customer Centric and Meet Changing User Expectations)is that it reflects the parallel path from grassroots to enterprise standard that greatness often follows:

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Like any good analyst’s model, this one makes so much sense, you may have been using it without knowing it existed. Let’s break it down:

  • Ad hoc – People solve point problems in great ways.
  • Opportunistic – Departments recognize, coordinate and apply the same great ways to problem solve in multiple instances.
  • Repeatable – People start to trust the outcomes of the opportunistic and ad hoc processes and their own contributions to progress. The systems between groups and between individuals start to connect.
  • Managed – Great work propagates through accepted, connected and integrated processes built on systems that educate, inspire and share both within the organization and externally.
  • Optimized – Greatness becomes a competitive differentiator for the brand.

Culture and workstyle are fundamental to the success of any maturing organization. What starts out with a few champions and some early success defines the seeds for change. The people who inspire, lead and live digitally will thrive during and after the path to maturity. Those same people, in my experience, are more likely to continue to do great things, empowered by technology that enables them to work better together. And the people who don’t start out great? With the right culture and technology, they, too, can follow the path to greatness.