WANTED: A 5 yr forward bank-integrated cash-flow system

Who has an expenses, budget and payment system that they are happy with?

When I was growing up, we were paid neatly on the 25 of the month, all our bills were raised on the last day of the month, bills arrived during the first week of the month and you had 30 days to pay.

One evening each month, you sat down and reconciled your bank account, you paid your bills, and if you were really organized, you entered your payments into you cash flow plan.

Isn’t life complicated now? Employers happily pay you in the first week of the month. Credit card periods end any time. Some credit card payments are due in 3 or 4 days;others in 30 days.

Some firms want direct debits but beware – if they allow a fraudster access to your account, which happens quite often, you will spend ages cleaning up the mess and restoring your credit record.

Needed: easy cash flow payment systems

What we need are some easy cash flow payment systems. I have seen one, I forget where, that liases with a bank but that is pretty frightening. I can’t get into my internet bank reliably as it is (British banks don’t seem to get computers.)

So how do we solve this conundrum?

I am looking for a simple system to manage expenses and to plan payments at least 5 years ahead to cope with payments like domain registrations that get forgotten.

Do you know of such a system?

Ask your Chief Social Officer 5 questions

I love a good protocol.  Today (Saturday),  Harvard Blog published 5 ways social media will challenge your business.  I’ve rewritten the list as the opportunities we should be look out for.

The list will work as a job description for your Chief Social Officer. Or, a  checklist for your Social Media Consultant.  Or, to focus the minds of employees who are dead keen to use Social Media in your business.

And if you cannot answer these questions, pick out a clutch of bright Gen Y in your company and ask them to answer them for you.

1  Where and how can we use social media tools, and where and how can we run our business much more easily (and lucratively)?

<        Tool                             Example                                                    >

<         Socially mediated linkages affecting our industry       Tools>

2  What issues might arise from social media (whether we use it deliberately or not) and how can we respond?

<          Situation                         Protocol, people & tools to respond >

3  How do our customers enjoy helping us and helping each other?

<          Example                                 Tools & resources to help them >

4  How do our employees enjoy helping us and who do we talk to away from work?

<          People we talk to                                        Resources we need >

5. When and where do we discuss the usefulness of our procedures for our business?

<          Discussions we have                     Key factors of our business >

3 opportunities for HR in social media. Join me?

Plateau du jeu des petits chevaux, variante fr...
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve this minute discovered Norwegian blog Human Resources and Social Media, where Vegard Iglebaek asks today – are there any collaborative organizations out there?

I spent much of my career consulting to a variety of multinationals in a regional hub, a career which allowed me to get a sense of how management styles differ by nationality.

Norwegian firms are highly collaborative but also very disciplined. You aren’t allowed to bypass the collaborative process. Nor can you act as a loose cannon. That can be a shock to people from more ill disciplined cultures or cultures where position allows personal license.

I think Vegard is asking a more general question. What are the opportunities in social media? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this too and these are my conclusions.

3 issues for HR & #So.ME.

1   Helping conventional organizations use Social Media in their existing structures or take the first baby steps to learn about Social Media.

I have rubric for aggregating #So.ME skills in an organization and slowly assimilating #So.ME expertise in a pragmatic way, if you are interested.

2   Helping #So.ME organizations use conventional management to pursue their more collaborative goals (doing HR and OD for them).

Many of these young organizations need some basic help in putting in management systems. We should take care though to adapt our systems to the nature of their organization. We shouldn’t just copy procedures from old organizations.

3   Understanding the new organizations that will emerge and how they put some of the organizations in 1 out of business (requiring some redundancy work from us.)

I am impressed the US military is using social media quite assertively. For the most part though, it is not enough to tack social media onto the end of an organization as an afterthought.

The correct thinking is to sketch out the value added chain for the whole industry and to ask where #So.ME will be the game changer. Then leap frog to that position creating a vigorous viable organization that is competitive right here, right now.

Choosing the concentration for our own practice

While these three prongs are clear, trying to service all three groups at once can split our attention.

I would love to form a consortium of HR people who use #So.ME so we could each specialize in one area and bring in our colleagues specializing in the other prongs on a project-by-project basis to add depth.

It seems to me though that HR people in #So.ME don’t have confidence in the new zeitgeist.  Does it seem like that to you?

We need to put our money where our mouth is.  We need to be seen to be working collaboratively (and in as disciplined way as any conventionally collaborative Norwegian organisation).  The our clients will readily believe what we say.

Contact me if you are interested!

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5 questions to ask when we initiate an online community

A woman reading SMS messages on her mobile phone while standing on a bike in traffic.

Image via Wikipedia

Wise Web Developers from High Wycombe

I am delighted again by the wisdom that flows from High Wycombe. Paul Imre commented on my post about SwarmTeams and the exercise we did comparing soccer and work.

An online community as a rope

This time Paul used the analogy of a rope to think about a “social media community”. The rope becomes stronger the more we add strands. The rope has a past (so easy to forget) and the rope has a future when it begins to “think” for itself.

I think the first two points are useful to remind clients.

  • Ties with a community require constant participation – social media is a “hands-on” business.
  • A community has come from somewhere and is going somewhere.

How does the rope think? In two ways.

  • In a swarm – which for people not from UK is a social media community built up around an SMS system similar to Twitter – we communicate peer-to-peer – this is not unlike birds flying in a flock. P2P messaging allows us to follow the general direction of the flock, keep up, and not bash in to each other.
    • So we “think” by keeping in position by bouncing messages off the people immediately around us.
    • We also think, when gradual changes in what we do make the flock sweep and swoop across the sky.
    • This is what the pundits call low-level emergence. The flock looks as if it is intelligently following a leader. They are just following each other! And they are doing it without bashing into each other.
    • This kind of coordination would be particularly useful in a fleet of taxis for example, who could communicate where passengers are during rush hour.
  • The message board on an SMS system, that we can see by logging on to a computer, gives us the second level of thinking. The message board allows us to scan the overall pattern of the messages and make higher level changes – and any member of the swarm can do that. It is the equivalent of one of the birds in the flock saying “guys we passed that church half an hour ago – can we check our bearings”. My fleet of taxi drivers might scan the message board at the end of the day and observe, say, that it could be worthwhile having one person in a location to alert other taxis. For so many purposes, we don’t need a specialist to do this – we just need the message board and some motivated people.

Using Swarms at Conference

I also thought Paul’s question about when the “rope starts to think” takes us to something I commented about on the NLabNetworks blog – why didn’t we use social media more at the conference? It struck me that DMU had brought together a wide range of people from Leicester and wasn’t energetically linking the strands or developing a group that was “thinking”. After Bucks08, Paul came up with the analogy of a “dam” which stores potential. Toby Moores of Sleepy Dog wasn’t so taken with the image of “blocking”. But a “dam” is what we made when we put 150 people in a university building for a day. It is a pity that at the end of the day, we just let the water out. We should have at least used the water to turn a turbine or two.

The Swarm technology can be used to that effect. By capturing the tweeting for that group, we might be able to move up to another level of emergence where we see patterns, generate other contacts, etc.

So what are the five questions?

1. What will we do to add more “strands to the rope”?

2. Where did the community come from and where is it going?

3. What peer-to-peer decisions is the group making to “stay in position”and how are we going to join in?

4. How can we form an overall picture of the conversation and reflect it to the community so everyone can contribute to the group thinking?

5. How have we enhanced our future by joining and supporting the conversation (or did we just let the water run out – changing the metaphor, I know!)

Thanks Paul. Great heuristic.

Added this a few days later: What voices do you hear?

Social Media, HR and Member-driven Communities

Social Media is dominated in a fair degree by marketing. I am particularly interested in HR and communities like universities where customers and suppliers are the same people. If you would like to collaborate with me, or work with me commercially, please drop me comment. It would be good to expand the network of people interested in HR and social media in the UK.

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