Happy at work? Spread the word on “Arbejdsglaede”

Are you happy at what you do? Are you being all you can be? I think Alexeander make a good case for the concept of “Arbejdsglaede” thank about it and share with friends.

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A Measure of Success – CSR Business Intelligence

It would seem that we have been over this a thousand times before… What gets measured gets managed. It was true when we invented TQM in the 80’ties and LEAN in the 90’ties and while we seem to forget about basic management skills when we adopt network organisation and self-empower our employees it is still true that if you can stick a number to your performance there is a much better chance that improvements follow close behind.

My good friend Michael Koploy have for a number of years been working with evaluation and documentation of CSR performance. As I he has realised that with CSR comes complexity on a scale that is mind-blowing. For TQM, LEAN and other quality management systems there were at least boundaries that was relatively narrow outlook defined by customers, suppliers, competitors and employees, but with CSR there are no scope.

So how do you work with CSR data, how do you get your hands on it and how can you present it in a way that gives meaning to decision makers and stakeholders. Michael has adopted an approach that might work and builds on some of the fundamentals of TQM and at the same time takes into account that the world (and organisations with it) is always changing. Build on three basic principles with data as “King”.

First – Automate and improve data collection to get a better picture of corporate sustainability;

Companies generate millions of data points every day and as time of progressed much of these systems have been integrated into various systems like SAP or other Business Intelligence (BI) structures. Finance, HR and operations have for a long time used these systems in order to improve their processes and it is high time that CSR professionals do the same.

Second – Use analytics applications to find trends and make informed decisions;

The graphic integration that comes with advanced BI systems can prove to be even more useful when it comes to sustainability performance. Often we see fragments of a total effort displayed in the CSR report or through corporate announcements and newsletters. But what we really need to specialised and specific information that is valuable to the individual stakeholder. For instance if I’m interested in anti-corruption issues I would like to be able to access the policies related to the issue but also audit reports and key performance indicators tracked in real time. What I do not need is a general understanding that this or that company is working actively to reduce corruption in its supply chain I want to know the “how”.

Third – Develop sustainability teams that are data-minded and accountable for business decisions.

The Crap-in-Crap-out principle is of cause also applicable when it comes t CSR Data gathering, reporting and presentation. So when data have to be managed it is done by people who know what they are doing and not by some random employee who have little or no knowledge about a given subject. A team approach works because it forces us to articulate our assumptions about how the world works and enables us to be challenged on our views. Within the field of CSR there are many opinions about what is the right thing to do and how its should be done, so instead of just having one person deciding a team of people agree and are accountable for the approach.

Data is not only king when it comes to CSR it is central, but not without the right people and approach to come with to terms with sometimes difficult to comprehend facts about the organisations that we work with. Data and data processing can unveil truths about an organisation which calls for hard decisions and sometimes for managers to change their perception of right and wrong. But without a common BI platform we will never get close to realising the knowledge that we can gain from systematic and comprehendible CSR data approach.

The online relationship – Build to last?

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

We seem to be more and more fixated with building relationships online. I for one have hurled myself at blogging, twitter, Facebook, flickr, slideshare, several dozen online communities and chat rooms. But when it comes to building real relationships there is no alternative for the real life experience. For one I try to meet as often as possible with the people I relate to online in real life. It is not always easy with busy schedules and all but by making an effort and in general I believe I’m doing quite good if you ask me. However, I as many others tend to slip into the comfort of the laptop instead of going outside to meet actual people. So my pledge will be to  get out of my comfort zone and get out there where real people meet.

What got me thinking was this infographic that Sarah Wenger send me called the “Psychology of Social Networking” which I have attached below. The thing that caught my eye was that even though we send out millions of posts, tweets, etc. every week it would seem that the main theme is the preservation of our own self image as successful, energized and (most of the time) happy.

Well, here is Sarahs food for thought

Psychology of Social Networking

 

Provided by: Psychologydegree.net

Limits to Transparency

If only the world could be more transparent it would be a much better place to live in. Companies would behave more responsible, Governments would be able to enforce rules, regulate much more effectively and people in general would have a much better idea about the powers influencing their everyday lives.

Transparency has been the mantra of the CSR movement we have hailed the word on numerous occasions on every seminar I have ever attended. When companies have come to us we have told them that If only they were a little more transparent they would not be in the mess that they are in right now! Or we have preached to them that the only way to protect themselves is if they can report on a few more indicators in order to quantify their processes and show that they are truly sustainable.

I have worked with these systems for the past 15 years and I know every one of them from A to Z. I wake up at night reciting ISO26000 on Concepts, Terms and Definitions and I know the weak points in the Global Compact and all the companies that cut corners to be part of the sustainable business movement and being FB pals with Ban Ki-Moon.

On of my friends Michael Koploy send me an entry he made on 5 Questions to Start the Sustainable Supply Chain Conversation and it made me thinking about some of the things that we continue to talk about but keep missing. He does argue for more transparency, as we all do, but also that we should take a look beyond the apparent and into the DNA of the company. The “what are we all about”-question of sustainable business. How do we get managers to think for themselves, their business and the society that they are part of at the same time?

We produce incentive plans and bonus schemes, but it did little or nothing to prevent greed and poor ethics during the initial stages of the financial crisis. We created lists of “good” companies, but they do not seem to do much better than the ones that are “bad”. We have systems upon systems that produce endless reports that only a handful of people actually read. So what is the answer to creating a sustainable DNA for business leaders?

Well for starters we should take a good hard look at our educational system both the public and private ones. What are we actually teaching our coming leaders about how to run a business? Are we teaching them how to create a sustainable business model in more than financial terms or have our business schools and universities become temples of past ideologies? I do not talk about revolution or throwing professors out on the streets (even though some of them might need to go that way), but about taking a hard look at what we actually teach our students. We know that blindly following the thinking and guidelines of Keynes, Hayek or Friedman only works in the short run (Keynes smiles) so why not take that insight seriously and bringing it into the lecture hall.

Secondly we need to make shareholders/owners accountable. It will be a significant step away from what we have been used to be doing until now and nothing like business as usual. For too many years one could have an ownership form where one could own a company but not be accountable for its actions. We appoint a board of directors, but we do not really care who they are or what they are doing, as long as they keep producing the results that we want them to. In the process they become complacent and distant from the decision making process. And when things eventually go wrong they are often caught unaware of what have been going on right under their noses.

It would be presumptuous of me to say that I have all the answers, but I do know that its takes more than measuring to create a sustainable business as Michael points out. CSR is more a symptom of a financial ideology that have been over interpreted and gone wrong than an independent movement. Our never-ending quest for accountability and transparency will not succeed until we realise that we need to make some changes to how business operate and we do not do this by replacing with just another ideology.

Institutional investors will put 60 billion into Danish Infrastructure

The Öresund Bridge from underneath

The Öresund Bridge from underneath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is quite amazing to see and hear what Institutional investors are communicating at the moment. For a long time it was their job to create more wealth for the people who had trusted their hard earned money into a few very well of funds. They invested freely in all kinds of projects and had portfolios that were very diversified (and some would say to diversified).

The first came the raise of the consumer activist who forced these huge investors to put in ethical screens that ensured that there was some form of consistency between the individual wishes and the investment targets. These pension funds have now taken a further step in the direction of creating a more sustainable investment platform by looking into projects that benefit the very society and people own them.

The financial and economic crisis means that public construction projects are on a diet, but now there are signs that there may be a tremendous boost on the way to the Danish infrastructure. A telephone survey done by a independent think tank, shows that the country’s ten largest pension and the state owned, ATP, are willing to invest nearly 60 billion kroner in the Danish infrastructure such as a harbour tunnel in Copenhagen, sewers or a large bridge between some of the main island of the country. According to calculations this will create 7,200 new Danish jobs annually over a period of 10 years when billions are invested in public works projects.

This means that there is cash then the government just need to provide the projects and vision needed to make it a reality.

A Critique of Pure Reason – Business forgot how to listen

Immanuel Kant Deutsch: Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant Deutsch: Immanuel Kant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kant said; “Enlightenment is man’s leaving his self-caused immaturity. Immaturity is the incapacity to use one’s intelligence without the guidance of another. Such immaturity is self-caused if it is not caused by lack of intelligence, but by lack of determination and courage to use one’s intelligence without being guided by another. Sapere Aude! Have the courage to use your own intelligence! is therefore the motto of the enlightenment…” (Critique of Pure Reason)

But it would seem that Business did not learn that listening meant one had to listen to somebody else than the ones that represent the status quo.

What happened when it became common sense and a taken for granted thinking, that any business venture claiming to be socially responsible had to have a direct link to the bottom-line? As a keen follower of CSR and developments within business ethics it seems that the discourse of Corporate Social Responsibility have steered of course and to some extend have fall down a cliff.

CSR was about (I thought) making a difference to society not because it made good business sense, but because it was the right thing to do. Now it seems to be the other way around. Even though I to a large extend blame Porter and Kramer for their so-called “shared value” they only tap into a discourse, which already existed in the mainstream business culture. That “there is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud “(Thanks, Friedman for making it clear). That in order to be a legitimate in business one had first of all to think of the bottom-line, that even though business might disclaim Freidman’s claim they continue to follow his credo. CSR have become a business opportunity rather than change in they way that business relate to the society and communities that they are a integrated part of.

It seems to me that companies that pursue profit in the name of CSR are trying to stand on both sides of the river. Claiming that they have not left their liberal roots, while at the same time trying desperately to convince their more critical stakeholders that they are continuing down the path of rightness.

However, at the core of CSR is the ability to see beyond narrow self-interest looking beyond profit seeking and towards doing the right thing rather than doing things right. I do not claim that any business will be any more successful, or that they will even have a better brand or see an increase in dedicated employees. What my argument is that in order to really and I do mean really, know ones business environment one have to be open, open in a way that puts aside narrow interests of division leaders and executive managers and beyond one owns business raison d’etre. Individual business leaders have to realise that their actions cannot only be guided by the search of “the business case” they will have to use their intelligence to incorporate the guidance of the people who is affected by their decisions.

Social media CSR myths – Crap in Crap out

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

It would seem that there should be a natural match between social media like Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc. and the voluntary engagement with stakeholders that is subscribed by most CSR professionals and academics. However, there might be a natural match but between the two in theory it seems that there is a long way to go when it comes to practice.

In my mind there are several things that goes wrong for social media practitioners when it comes to CSR communication.

First, practitioners fall in two categories. One is what I call old school communication people who looks at Social media as a channel that brings new possibilities to get the message through. They properly have a good understanding of the ins and outs of the CSR practiced in the organisation but they are limited by a marketing mind-set. The second category relative young people who understands the media and have been brought up with social media as a natural way to stay in touch with friends and family. However, they might not understand the organisations CSR in depth, its nuances and the challenges that come with having a much broader stakeholder outlook.

Second, social media driven by the users are a myth. Until this date I have not heard of a social media effort from a private or public organisations have a significant proportion of its contents provided by the organisation itself. Think about it, even though you are a member of a really great and interesting organisation would you spend all your time there? Properly not. But amazingly a lot of companies think that if they set up a social media platform and feed it with commercial, lobbyism briefs and sneak previews of their products people will happily engage and provide contents for their sites.

In reality most “successful” social media campaigns have been planned, driven and controlled by the organisations that benefited from the exposure, and users have been invited to participate only to support the already constructed message. There is no negotiation or co-construction of contents. There is no possibility to let the better argument win or possibility to provide alternative messages. The organisation or a professional communication bureau controls everything in the effort from A to Z and users are only puppets that can be played from a string.

When it comes to CSR communication this provides a real dilemma as transparency and engagement is central to our understanding of a truly socially responsible company. So what “normally” happens is that in order not to be perceived as manipulative organisations leave it the users to provide information and debate, which in the end make the whole social media effort a failure because people just don’t provide contents by themselves. Basically organisations are planning to fail in their social media CSR communication.

Third myth is that Social media is cheap. Who is your social media resource? If you are lucky you have half a person who is in charge of all the platforms available a daunting task of he or she is to provide a large proportion of the contents for the sites. However, organisations think that the majority of work is going to be done by the users and therefor do not provide any resources. Just like having a newspaper and only employing the editor, so to speak. If you want to do something serious about your online stakeholder engagement you need to allocate the resources needed in order to make it work. I have heard many business people who complain that that their social media activities are a failure, but when I ask what kind of resources has put into it, it is no surprise that they are not able to harvest the benefits. “Crap in Crap out” seem to be the prevailing model as with everything else in life.