The Recipe for Transparency

We all have our favorite foods. We fondly recall where we were when we last enjoyed it, and who we were with. The aroma still lives in our memory, the taste is tangible and lingering. For me, there is always Lou slide-pull-1Malnati’s pizza. A traditional Chicago deep dish pizza featuring a rich, buttery crust with an overabundance of tomato sauce and cheese which, for some reason, always tastes better in the restaurant than at home.

A visit to the (sadly, now closed) famous Hot Doug’s restaurant when Doug recommended I try the Italian Sausage, with grilled onions, giardiniera and spicy brown mustard. Upon my third bite, a HotDougstear came to my eye upon the realization that this was indeed one of the finest meals I would ever enjoy.

A long anticipated trip to (the also now closed) Charlie Trotter’s restaurant in Chicago for my wife Lynn’s 40th birthday. Course after course of amazing food was ceremoniously placed before us to enjoy. The evening ended with a plate full of delicate, sumptuous desserts, the most special of which was a simple piece of chocolate filled with an explosion of passion fruit. A truly amazing dining experience we will never forget.

But, perhaps my very favorite meal ever is a simple stew, homemade by Lynn. It is from a recipe she found called Hearty Tuscan Vegetable Stew. As with most excellent cooks, Lynn adds her own unique spin on the printed recipe, resulting in a delicious, rich tomato based stew featuring fresh vegetables and thick pasta. A perfect meal for anyone on a cold winter’s day.

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I was enjoying some leftover stew (sometimes, the leftovers are even better!) for lunch one day, and decided to post a picture of this, my very favorite meal, on Facebook. I got a few “likes,” as anticipated, but then things took an unexpected turn. People began to ask for 15698241_10154906533564380_1939528864325610808_nthe recipe. Lynn happily shared the recipe, and then…

My friend Aileen shared a picture of the version of the stew she made. She was concerned she added too much pasta and oil, but it looks really good to me.

Karen was hosting a big family reunion at the time, and decided to give the stew a try. She “added a splash of vino” 15622598_10211250385315040_4716063468688267554_nand used ground turkey instead of the soy crumbles Lynn uses. She said everyone loved it, and she is looking forward to enjoying the three large containers she has in the freezer. Karen also changed the name of the dish to Glickman Tuscan Stew. I like that. As Moriah reports, she gave the stew a try too, and “it came out delicious!” From the looks of things, I would have to agree.15665733_10154298281708163_4420211545911299375_n

This was never the plan. I just wanted to share a photo of a delicious lunch my wife made for me. But, much to my surprise and delight, community was created, information was shared and positive results were enjoyed. In a sense, we were Working Out Loud.

As John Stepper, author of Working Out Loud writes, “…you invest in relationships. You lead with generosity. You make your work visible and frame it as a contribution. Combined, these elements form a powerful approach to work and life.”

Whether it is at home or at work, we are too often hesitant to share. We find it difficult to “work out loud.” We want to maintain ownership or credit for our work, and we don’t want anything to be changed. We worked hard to get to where we are at, and we protect our work product.

But, my Hearty Tuscan Vegetable Stew will always be my Hearty Tuscan Vegetable Stew. It is made in our house for our family. No one take that away from me, and Lynn and I will enjoy this amazing meal together for many years to come. As will Karen’s family, as will Aileen’s family, and  as will Moriah’s family. They will create memories and traditions of their own, and whenever they make the stew, maybe they will remember where it came from.

Our work product has not been devalued because we shared it with someone else. If anything, more value was created. A network now exists around a shared interest, people made our product their own without taking anything away from us, and everyone now loves Glickman Family Stew. 

So, work out loud. Realize the gifts that it can bring you and others, and the value it can create. Oh, and try the stew. It’s delicious.

Top 10 ways to go BIG with Yammer

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Yammer users are often looking for ways to find the specific information they are looking for amidst a sea of resources and posts. They are looking for ways to make Yammer feel small…except when they’re not. Sometimes, people look to Yammer to expand beyond their team and what they already know and who they are connected with. Sometimes, Yammer users want to go BIG.

Here are 1o ways to go BIG with Yammer.

home1. Click on the Home icon: Whether it is the first thing you do when you arrive in your Yammer network, or when you get lost in groups and file libraries and need to return somewhere familiar, you can always go home. Click on the home shaped icon in the upper left hand corner of the screen and you will see posts made to all public groups (even groups you don’t belong to), and posts made to all private groups you belong to.
2. Select your newsfeed: Cast a wide net. After you have clicked on the home icon, you can determine the exact newsfeed you will see. There are three options. “Discover” will suggest content you are probably interested in. “All” shows all posts in all groups you have a right to see. “Following” will show you only posts from groups you belong to, and people and resources you follow.

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3. Turn off email notifications: There is no better way to restrict the information that you see in your Yammer network than only reviewing your email notifications. Turn notifications off in your user profile settings, and develop the habit of regularly checking your Yammer newsfeed. Connect with all the great information being shared in your network.
4. Set an example of transparency: Yammer works best when it enables us to connect with the work of other departments and teams throughout our organizations. When you create a group in Yammer, unless confidentiality issues demand privacy, set your group to be public. Enable others to go BIG with Yammer by being having access to your work through transparency as you share conversations and resources with your colleagues.
5. Review group directory: Even when your newsfeed settings are properly set, even when you are not using email notifications, it is easy to forget the wide variety of groups that may exist in your network. Check you group directory from time to time. See what groups are being suggested to you, see what are the largest groups and the smallest groups, remind yourself of what is happening in your network.
6. Follow the leader: Visit other public groups in your networks, and follow colleagues who regularly post in those groups so you can better stay connected to their work. These are the people who understand how to work in a collaborative platform. These are people who want to share, and who want to be transparent. You will learn a lot from them.
7. Be vulnerable: Don’t just use Yammer to report and push information out. Bring your questions and curiosity to Yammer. Have you gotten stuck on a problem? Want to learn more about a project being done in another department? Make those posts. Open yourself on Yammer. Doing so will result in a more robust network with more conversation and activity. Set the example.
capture8. Use a photo in your Yammer profile: This may sound like a strange way to make Yammer a bigger place, but it’s true. Adding a photo to your user profile is a wonderful and easy way to make it easier for people to connect with you. If it is easier to connect with you, more people will connect with you. When more people connect with you, there will be more activity in your network. Go BIG with a profile photo.
9. Use email: Though email does take us out of the network space where we want our communications activities to be happening, email can do a lot of good in actually getting your colleagues to the Yammer network in the first place. Send an email that says “We could really use your input on this conversation happening in our Yammer network. Click on this link to respond.” “Thank you for requesting the form. Click here to find it in our Yammer network.” Yammer networks don’t go BIG on their own, sometimes we have to be strategic get people there in the first place.
10. Think BIG: Your Yammer network can be the place where your organization works. Yammer can be the place where transparency is achieved, greater collaboration is had, and an ongoing legacy of information is created. The more an organization uses its Yammer network, the more money is saved, the more confusion and frustration is avoided and ideas, creativity and enthusiasm can go BIG throughout every team and every department.

All of this is not to say that Yammer, and Yammer alone can save the day. But, if we are open to change, transparency and collaboration, your Yammer network can be a very effective place for these behaviors to take hold and flourish. So, give it a try. Don’t be afraid. Go BIG!

Don’t Push. Engage.

A website can’t shake your hand. An email won’t laugh at your joke. A Facebook post won’t give you a hug. What they all can do very well, though, is get information to you. The information is pushed. Whether or not you decide to take the time to read the pushed information is up to you. Whether or not you decide to absorb that information, to act on that information, and maybe even to share that information with others is up to you. But, make no mistake about it, whoever sent you the information desperately wants you to read what they have sent, and to react in a positive way.

But, how many times throughout they day can people really expect us to engage with this barrage of information? We know you want us to attend your event, or buy your product, but honestly, why should I care? Do you know who I am ? Do you appreciate my specific concerns and challenges? Can I just have a hug?

I used to be a synagogue executive director. When board members would have a program to promote, they would work with me exhaustively to design and produce a large sign to display in our lobby, and as the date of the event got closer would express their concern to me that very few people have signed up. My general advice was, “If you want to be 100% sure that your event will be ignored, put up a big sign for it in the lobby.” People rushing in to pick up their kids from school, to attend a program or drop off a donation are not going to take the time to stop. To read a sign. To absorb the information. To react to the information.

In a way, posting a sign, or pushing information, is permission for many people to stop working. By getting the information out there, maybe they don’t have to make calls or talk to people in the car pool line. People will see the beautiful information that has been shared, and RSVP in droves.

Yes, pushing information out is an important step in sharing information, but to achieve meaningful success in the age of social networks, broadcast emails and strategic texts, we must engage people in deeper, more meaningful ways if we want them to respond, give or attend.

Imagine I am hosting a brunch at my house, and I want you to attend. Imagine I walk up to you on the street, hold a clip art brunchillustration of eggs directly in front of your face, and say “Come to brunch at my house next Sunday at 10:00 a.m!!!!” chances are pretty good you won’t attend…you may even run away and hope I never talk to you again. I didn’t say hello. I didn’t tell you who else would be there, I didn’t tell you how important it was to me to have you there to enjoy the delicious food and good company.

What if, instead of a boring sign with boring clip art, I came up to you and said Hello. I told you about the brunch that I was having at my house. I told you the other people who would be there, and I stressed that the brunch would not be complete unless you were there too. I told you what I would be serving, and I asked if you could bring the delicious coffee cake I know you like to make.

There’s a reason it’s called the information superhighway. We are moving quickly, and so is the information. People expect to see information pushed at them. They want to avoid this information, so they move by quickly. But, what if instead of simply sharing information as an announcement, as a “push,” we put a curve in the road? What if we encourage people to slow down, and we talk with them, instead of at them. What if we try to engage them in a conversation about things that matter to them rather than simply pushing information at them.

Your post could say “Join us on March 3rd at 7:00 for the next guest in our lecture series. Jane Smith will be talking about trends in technology and education. RSVP to info@info.com.”

Or, you could make a post that says “How do you feel when your kid comes home, plops down on the couch and immediately turns on their laptop? How do you respond? What are your concerns? We’d love to hear your thoughts, and we have some information that you might find valuable. Please join us and our friend  Jane Smith who will be talking about trends in technology and education on March 3rd at 7:00 p.m. Respond to this post, and we will be happy to follow up with you so you can attend the program.”

The chances of responses to either of these posts is largely dependent on timing, mood and a host of other variables. Ultimately though, people are much more likely to respond if we have shown that we care how they feel, that we want to hear from them, and that we want them to attend our program so much we will even take the burden off of them to RSVP.

So please, don’t yell at me, talk to me. Don’t tell me what to do, ask me what I would like to do. Understand that I am a special, unique person, and I am going to need you to make your message matter to me if you want me to care about what you have to say.

Brunch, you say? I love brunch. I’ll be there.

 

Not So Scary

Opening the heavy glass door and walking into work on the first day of your new job can be a frightening experience. Most everyone you see is a stranger. You don’t know how to navigate your way to your desk, you are unsure of the dress code, and you have a company culture and history to learn if you hope to fit and and do your job well.

It doesn’t need to be that way. Not only can we explore innovative ways to help make a new employee feel welcome at our company, but we can also use the occasion of a new person joining the team to re-emphasize team goals, bring new and seasoned employees alike up to date on current projects, and bring the entire team closer together.

Many companies have begun to adopt enterprise collaboration platforms like Yammer, Jive or Slack. Enterprise collaboration software expands on the promise of email to make communication, sharing of resources and teamwork transparent, seamless, simple and robust.

Imagine you have been interviewing for a job. The recruiter calls to give you the good news. You got the job, your salary request has been met, and you start in two weeks. The recruiter says “Congratulations. You will get an email soon with all the information.”

Later that day, you hear the re-assuring “ding” from your computer, and rather than receiving an email just giving you the details of your job and what to expect the first day, you have received an invitation to join the company collaboration network. You fill out the requested information, add a recent, not too awkward picture of yourself, and activate your account.

Looking at the screen, you notice you are already in a few team discussion groups. You are in the “Staff Welcome” group.  There is a nice message from your new boss announcing your hire to the rest of the staff and sharing some background information about your experience. People are already sharing messages of welcome. One person says that she went to the same college you did, and you are thrilled to see that an old friend of yours you haven’t talked to in years works at the company and has recognized your name. Scrolling through the group, there are similar posts about three other people starting the same week you are. You make a note to be sure to connect with them.

FirstDayYou are also added to the team discussion group for your department. You start to get to know the names your new colleagues, you scroll through the newsfeed and notice there is some pretty interesting work being done. One conversation in particular jumps out at you about a project you think you can contribute to on your first day. You review minutes from recent meetings, and start to get an idea about how you will fit into the team. You get the idea that maybe people are being a little “extra” generous in sharing information with you because they know you are new and need to learn. Whatever the reason, it seems new ideas are being discussed and new goals are being set. This is getting exciting!

You scroll through posts from other groups. You are delighted to see a “Local Cheap Eats” group where staff has recommended good places to eat near work. You see posts from other departments that share news of current projects and recent accomplishments. You see photos from throughout the company that let you know what the dress code is like, and how different people have arranged their desks.

Now your first day doesn’t seem so scary. You feel connected to people you didn’t feel connected to before. You know the dress expectations, you are up to speed on current projects and initiatives. You also know who you want to ask to lunch that first day and where you want to go.

Collaboration networks help us to work better, they help us to work smarter. If used thoughtfully and strategically, they can also help us create community in our workplace while we connect staff to current projects, people and culture.

So, welcome to your first day on the new job. Open the door and come on in…it’s not so scary!

 

 

The First Day

My first blog site. My first blog post on my first blog site. My first day.

First days can be difficult. The first day of a new job, a new project or a new endeavor can be a little mysterious, a little scary, and hopefully pretty exciting. Reminds me of being a kid, and jumping into the inflatable bouncy house at my neighbor’s birthday party. Though I have somewhat of an expectation of what will happen after I take off my shoes and thrust myself into this strange environment filled with new people and activity, I really don’t know. I might take one step and find myself soaring above everyone else, or I might get a swift kick in the jaw. Most likely, I’ll get the swift kick.

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My first full time job was as a photo editor at a publishing company. I had gotten to know my new boss through the interview process. I had gotten to know the receptionist because of all the time I was waiting in the lobby for my interviews. But walking into work my very first day, I did not know anyone else. I did not know the culture of this place where I would now be spending 40 hours a week, I did not know who I would be having lunch with the first day, and I did not know where my desk was. Sitting down at my desk, I did not really even know what to do. Where do I start?

My first day as a blog writer is much like that first day of work. I don’t really know how to do this. I don’t know who will be reading my ramblings and musings. I am not even sure what I will be writing about.But I do know that my first day at that first job was over 25 years ago, and along the way I have learned a lot.

I have changed careers, and I have embarked on adventures and challenges I never dared dream. I have gotten married and had children. I have become passionate about the importance of community, the value of networks and connections, and the promise of technology. I had 5th row seats for a solo acoustic Bruce Springsteen concert, and I once met Mavis Staples at baggage claim at O’Hare airport. I can make a delicious challah from scratch.At some point, I am sure all of these people and experiences will be fair game for their own blog post.

Today is my first day at NextStep360. Together, let’s climb into the bouncy house. Let’s see what is going on. This should be fun!