Oscar Berg: Digital Transformation is about empowering employees work together to serve the organization’s customers

At i2 SUMMIT we are always also inviting international speaker to discuss with us their insights on the digital transformation. One of those international guests at this year’s event is Oscar Berg, an experienced management consultant from Sweden who has recently become author. He is passionate about helping customers to become more successful by improving communication, sharing and collaboration and follows a belief that “Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others” (Buddha).

Oscar – you will be one of our opening speaker at i2 SUMMIT in Zürich on Nov 12. What are the three tags that we could label your talk with?

I would probably use #futureofwork #socbiz #collaboration

You call yourself an expert in Enterprise Collaboration and you have recently published a book with the title: “Collaborating in a social era”. What’s the new point you are bringing into the discussion with your book?

First and foremost, I describe what challenges organizations are up to when it comes to non-routine and interdependent knowledge work and what is wrong with the current setup and ways of working in most organizations. I also discuss the root causes and how to approach these in new and different ways. This requires us to change some underlying assumptions about work, how we create and share information, and how we organize ourselves. Finally, I introduce some key models and tools that I have created throughout the years that have helped individuals and organizations understand what is required to collaborate in this social age.

So – you are saying that the issues about achieving remarkable and successful results with social collaboration initiatives is a question of how we as a member of the workforce are perceiving the task of “collaborating”?

Yes. Today we are too narrominded in how we look at collaboration. Collaboration is often relatively small teams. But it is much bigger than that. an organization’s reason for existence to bring people together to collaborate on a shared purpose. The better it is at collaborating, the greater the chances it will survive and thrive.

Today organizations operate in increasingly dynamic, competitive and unpredictable business environments. They need to be prepared for change and quickly adapt to changes in their environment. This means they cannot rely on the autopilot for collaboration any more. They need the spontaneity, flexibility and creativity that often characterizes collaboration in a small company or startup, but it must happen at a much greater scale and across geographical and organizational barriers. This can be made possible by new advances in information and communication technology, but in many organizations existing norms and structures are hindering them to adopt these in a way that changes the way they communicate.

How can your idea of the “Collaboration Pyramid” – that is also described in your book – change this situation?

It can help individuals and organizations understand what the root cause behind many existing communication and collaboration failures and find ways how to address it. The model highlights the need to make employee-to-employee communication and thus collaboration happen just as spontaneously across organizational groups and locations as within a small group of people who are located at the same place.

Isn’t the approach of “working out loud” a way of making this manner of the collaborative work more visible and therefore an approach on the way to the top of your “Collaboration Pyramid”?

Yes it is. I mention “working out loud” in my book as an example on how you can make otherwise intangible and invisible knowledge work visible and accessible. You have to make your work visible not only the people you work closely with, but with anyone within the organization or enterprise where you work. Otherwise a lot of synergies and innovations will never happen. “Working out loud” is definitely an approach that supports the bottom layers of the pyramid.

At the i2 SUMMIT we have invited you especially for the topic of the “enablement” for the digital transformation of work. So would you say that your “Collaboration Pyramid” should play a key role in the digital enablement of the workforce?

I think the model can play an important role in helping individuals understand what is required to enable digital transformation of work. Digital transformation is not about technology. It is about people. It is about empowering employees work together to serve the organization’s customers. People must be empowered to make the most of their potential, both as individuals and as a collective. An important part is to give them access to easy technology that helps them extend and leverage their social capabilities. The Collaboration Pyramid shows how these social capabilities are still constrained by physical proximity and organizational structures. If we don’t put social technology to effective use in our organizations, a lot of employees don’t get the chance to become visible, share, get recognized and build their social networks beyond their organizational group and the location where they usually work. When they don’t, communication and collaboration doesn’t happen naturally across groups and locations. As a result, innovation, organizational agility and productivity will suffer.

What are your expectations for the Zurich event?

I hope to learn a lot from the other speakers and from questions and discussions with the participants. I know I will.

Don’t miss the talk of Oscar Berg at i2 SUMMIT 2015 and register your ticket now!