Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cloud Culture 7: Becoming a L33T -
Five ways to "Go Digital Native"

[Collaborative Series 7/8]


Subtitle: Five keys to Earn Digital Natives’ Trust

This post is #7 in an collaborative eight part series by Brad Szollose and Rob Hirschfeld about how culture shapes technology.

WARNING: These are not universal rules! These are two cultures. What gets high scores for Digital Natives is likely to get you sacked with Digital Immigrants.

How Do Digital Natives DO Business?

 

You've gotta deal with itYou don’t sell! You collaborate with them to help solve their problems. They’ll discredit everything say if you “go all marketing on them” and try to “sell them.”

Here are five ways that you can build a two-way collaborative relationship instead of one-way selling. These tips aren't speculation: Brad has proven these ideas work in real-world business situations. Interested in Digital Native Culture? We recommend reading (more books):

1) Share, Don’t Tell

Remember the cultural response in Rob’s presentation discussed in the introduction to this paper? The shift took place because Rob wanted to share his expertise instead of selling the awesomeness of his employer. This is what changed the dynamic.

In a selling situation, the sales pitch doesn’t address our client’s needs. It addresses what we want to tell them and what we think they need. It is a one-way conversation. And if someone has a choice between saying “yes” or “no” in a sales meeting, a client can always have the choice to say “no.”

Sharing draws our customers in so we can hear their problems and solve them. We can also get a barometer on what they know versus what they need. When Rob is presenting to a customer, he’s qualifying the customer too. Solutions are not one size fits all and Digital Natives respect you more for admitting this to them.

Digital Native business is about going for a long-term solution-driven approach instead of just positioning a product. If you’ve collaborated with customers and they agree you’ve got a solution for them then it’s much easier to close the sale. And over the long term, it’s a more lucrative way to do business.

2) Eliminate Bottlenecks

Ten years ago, IT departments were the bottleneck to getting products into the market. If customers resisted, it could take years to get them to like something new. Today, Apple introduces new products every six month with a massive adoption rate because Digital Natives don’t wait for permission from an authority. The IT buyer has made that sales cycle much more dynamic because our new buyers are Digital Natives. Where Digital Immigrants stayed entrenched in a process or technology, Digital Natives are more willing to try something unproven. Amazon’s EC2 public cloud presented a huge challenge to the authority of IT departments because developers were simply bypassing internal controls. Digital Natives have been trained to look for out-of-the-box solutions to problems.

Time-to-market has become the critical measure for success.

We now have IT end-user buyers who adopt and move faster through the decision process than ever before! We interfere with their decision process if we still treating new buyers as if they can’t keep up and we have to educate them. Today’s Digital Workers are smart, self-starters who more than understand technology; they live it. Their intuitive nature toward technology and the capacity to use it without much effort has become a cultural skill set. Also they can look up, absorb, and comprehend products without much effort. They did their homework before we walked in the door. Digital Natives are impatient. They want to skip over what they know and get to real purpose and collaboration. You add bottlenecks when you force them back into a traditional decision process that avoids risk; instead, they are looking to business partners to help them iterate and accelerate.

How did this apply to the Crowbar project?
Crowbar addresses a generation’s impatience to be up and running in record time. But there is more to it than that: we engage with customers differently too. Our open source collaboration and design flexibility mean that we can dialog with customers and partners to figure out the real wants and needs in record time.

3) Let Go of Linear

Digital Natives do not want to be walked through detailed linear presentations. They do want the information but leave out the hand holding. The best strategy is to prepare to be a well-trained digital commando—plan a direction, be confident, be ready to respond, and be willing to admit knowledge gaps. It’s a strategy without a strategy.

Ask questions at the beginning of a meeting—this becomes a knowledge base “smell test.” Listening to what our clients know and don’t know gets us to the heart and purpose of why we are there. Take notes. Stay open to curve balls, tough questions, and—dare we say it—the client telling us we are off base. You should not be surprised at how much they know.

For open source projects at Dell (Rob's Employeer), customers have often downloaded and installed the product before they have talked to the sales team. Rob has had to stop being surprised when they are better informed about our offerings than our well trained internal teams. Digital Natives love collecting information and getting started independently. This completely violates the normal linear sales process; instead, customers enter more engaged and ready if you can be flexible enough to meet them where they already are.

4) Be Attentively Interactive

No one likes to sit in one meeting after another. Why are meetings boring? Meetings should be engaging and collaborative; unfortunately, most meetings are simply one-way presentations or status updates. When Digital Natives interrupt a presentation, it may mean they are not getting what they want but it also means they are paying attention.

Aren’t instant messaging, texting, and tweeting attention-stealing distractions? 

Don’t confuse IMing, texting, emailing, and tweeting as lack of attention or engagement.

Digital Natives use these “back channels” to speed up knowledge sharing while eliminating the face-to-face meeting inertia of centralized communication.

Of course, sometimes we do check out and stop paying attention. 

Time and attention are valuable commodities!

With all the distractions and multi-tasking for speed and connectivity, giving someone undivided attention is about respect, and paying attention is not passive! When we ask questions, it shows that we’re engaged and paying attention. When we compile all the answers from those questions, our intention leads us to solutions. Solving our client’s problems is about getting to the heart of the matter and becomes the driving force behind every action and solution. Don’t be afraid to stray from the agenda—our attention is the agenda.

5) Stay Open to Happy Accidents

In Brad’s book, Liquid Leadership, the chapter titled “Have Laptop. Will Travel” points out how Digital Natives have been trained in virtualized work habits because they are more effective.

Our customers are looking for innovative solutions to their problems and may find them in places that we do not expect. It is our job to stay awake and open to solution serendipity. Let’s take this statement out of our vocabulary: “That’s not how we do it.” Let’s try a new approach: “That isn’t traditionally how we would do it, but let us see if it could improve things.”

McDonald’s uses numbers for their combo meals to make sure ordering is predictable and takes no more than 30 seconds. It sounds simple, but changes come from listening to customers’ habits. We need to stop judging and start adapting. Imagine a company that adapts to the needs of its customers?

Sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer pays $100 in cash to any one of his employees who makes a mistake. This mistake is analyzed to figure out if it is worthy of application or to be discarded. He doesn’t pay $100 if they make the same mistake twice. Mistakes are where we can discover breakthrough ideas, products, and methods.

Making these kinds of leaps requires that we first let go of rigid rules and opinions and make it OK to make a few mistakes … as long as we look at them through a lens of possibility. Digital Natives have spent 10,000 hours playing learning to make mistakes, take risks, and reach mastery.

See you Next Wednesday..


Our point of view: About the authors

Rob Hirschfeld and Brad Szollose are both proud technology geeks, but they’re geeks from different generations who enjoy each other’s perspective on this brave new world.

Rob is a first-generation Digital Native. He grew up in Baltimore reprogramming anything with a keyboard—from a Casio VL-Tone and beyond. In 2000, he learned about server virtualization and never looked back.

In 2008, he realized his teen ambition to convert a gas car to run electric (a.k.a. RAVolt.com). Today, from his Dell offices and local coffee shops, he creates highly disruptive open source cloud technologies for Dell's customers.


Brad is a Cusp Baby Boomer who grew up watching the original Star Trek series, secretly wishing he would be commanding a Constitution Class Starship in the not-too-distant future.

Since that would take a while, Brad became a technology-driven creative director who cofounded one of the very first Internet development agencies during the dot-com boom. As a Web pioneer, Brad was forced to invent a new management model that engaged the first wave of Digital Workers.

Today, Brad helps organizations like Dell close the digital divide by understanding it as a cultural divide created by new tech-savvy workers ... and customers.

Beyond the fun of understanding each other better, we are collaborating on this white paper for different reasons.
  • Brad is fostering liquid leaders who have the vision to span cultures and to close the gap between cultures.

  • Rob is building communities with the vision to use cloud products that fit the Digital Native culture.





Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cloud Culture 6:
Level Up - You win
the Game by Failing Successfully

[Collaborative Series 6/8]


Translation: Learn by playing, fail fast, and embrace risk.


This post is #6 in an collaborative eight part series by Brad Szollose and Rob Hirschfeld about how culture shapes technology.

Digital Natives (a.k.a. Millennials), have been trained to learn the rules of the game by just leaping in and trying. They seek out mentors, learn the politics at each level...

 

 

Early failure is the expected process for mastery.


You don’t believe that games lead to better decision making in real life? In a January 2010 articleWired magazine reported that observations of the new generation of football players showed they had adapted tactics learned in Madden NFL to the field. It is not just the number of virtual downs played; these players have gained a strategic field-level perspective on the game that was before limited only to coaches. Their experience playing video games has shattered the on-field hierarchy.

For your amusement…Here is a video about L33T versus N00B culture From College Humor “L33Ts don’t date N00Bs.”

 Youtu.be/JVfVqfIN8_c




* The term L33Ts stands for 'Elites' or 'lites for short, individuals who have mastered a game, versus New Players also called Noobs, a derogatory term that is similar to a Boob.
Basically a New Player that doesn't know a thing.

 

Digital Natives embrace iterations and risk as a normal part of the life.

 

Risk is also a trait we see in entrepreneurial startups. Changing the way we did things before requires you to push the boundaries, try something new, and consistently discard what doesn't work. In Lean Startup Lessons Learned, Eric Ries built his entire business model around the try-learn-adjust process. He’s shown that iterations don’t just work, they consistently out innovate the competition.

The entire reason Dell grew from a dorm to a multinational company is due to this type of fast-paced, customer-driven interactive learning. You are either creating something revolutionary or you will be quickly phased out of the Information Age. No one stays at the top just because he or she is cash rich anymore. Today’s Information Age company needs to be willing to reinvent itself consistently … and systematically.

Why do you think larger corporations that embrace entrepreneurship within their walls seem to survive through the worst of times and prosper like crazy during the good times?

Gamer have learned that Risk that has purpose will earn you rewards.

See you Next Wednesday..


Our point of view: About the authors

Rob Hirschfeld and Brad Szollose are both proud technology geeks, but they’re geeks from different generations who enjoy each other’s perspective on this brave new world.

Rob is a first-generation Digital Native. He grew up in Baltimore reprogramming anything with a keyboard—from a Casio VL-Tone and beyond. In 2000, he learned about server virtualization and never looked back.

In 2008, he realized his teen ambition to convert a gas car to run electric (a.k.a. RAVolt.com). Today, from his Dell offices and local coffee shops, he creates highly disruptive open source cloud technologies for Dell's customers.


Brad is a Cusp Baby Boomer who grew up watching the original Star Trek series, secretly wishing he would be commanding a Constitution Class Starship in the not-too-distant future.

Since that would take a while, Brad became a technology-driven creative director who cofounded one of the very first Internet development agencies during the dot-com boom. As a Web pioneer, Brad was forced to invent a new management model that engaged the first wave of Digital Workers.

Today, Brad helps organizations like Dell close the digital divide by understanding it as a cultural divide created by new tech-savvy workers ... and customers.

Beyond the fun of understanding each other better, we are collaborating on this white paper for different reasons.
  • Brad is fostering liquid leaders who have the vision to span cultures and to close the gap between cultures.
  • Rob is building communities with the vision to use cloud products that fit the Digital Native culture.





Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cloud Culture 5:
Online Games- the
real job training for Digital Natives

[Collaborative Series 5/8]


Translation: Why do Digital Natives value collaboration over authority?


This post is #5 in an collaborative eight part series by Brad Szollose and Rob Hirschfeld about how culture shapes technology.

Before we start, we already know that some of you are cynical about what we are suggesting—Video games? Are you serious? But we’re not talking about Ms. Pac-Man. We are talking about deeply complex, rich storytelling, and task-driven games that rely on multiple missions, worldwide player communities, working together on a singular mission.

Leaders in the Cloud Generation not just know this environment, they excel in it.

 

The next generation of technology decision makers is made up of self-selected masters of the games. They enjoy the flow of learning and solving problems; however, they don’t expect to solve them alone or a single way. Today’s games are not about getting blocks to fall into lines; they are complex and nuanced. Winning is not about reflexes and reaction times; winning is about being adaptive and resourceful.

In these environments, it can look like chaos. Digital workspaces and processes are not random; they are leveraging new-generation skills. In the book Different, Youngme Moon explains how innovations looks crazy when they are first revealed.  

How is the work getting done? What is the goal here? These are called “results only work environments,” and studies have shown they increase productivity significantly.


Digital Natives reject top-down hierarchy.

These college educated self-starters are not rebels; they just understand that success is about process and dealing with complexity. They don’t need someone to spoon feed them instructions.

Studies at MIT and The London School of Economics have revealed that when high-end results are needed, giving people self-direction, the ability to master complex tasks, and the ability to serve a larger mission outside of themselves will garnish groundbreaking results.

*Gaming does not create mind-addled Mountain Dew-addicted unhygienic drone workers. Digital Natives raised on video games are smart, computer savvy, educated, and, believe it or not, resourceful independent thinkers.  


American Inventor Thomas Edison said:
“I didn't fail 3,000 times. I found 3,000 ways how not to create a light bulb.”


Being comfortable with making mistakes thousands of times ’til mastery sounds counter-intuitive until you realize that is how some of the greatest breakthroughs in science and physics were discovered.

Level up: You win the game by failing successfully.

Translation: Learn by playing, fail fast, and embrace risk.


*Digital Natives have been trained to learn the rules of the game by just leaping in and trying. They seek out mentors, learn the politics at each level, and fail as many times as possible in order to learn how NOT to do something. Think about it this way: You gain more experience when you try and fail quickly then carefully planning every step of your journey. As long as you are willing to make adjustments to your plans, experience always trumps prediction.Just like in life and business, games no longer come with an instruction manual.

In Wii Sports, users learn the basic in-game and figure out the subtlety of the game as they level up. Tom Bissel, in Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter, explains that the in-game learning model is core to the evolution of video games. Game design involves interactive learning through the game experience; consequently, we’ve trained Digital Natives that success comes from overcoming failure.

* Anything with an asterisk designates importance.


See you Next Wednesday...


Our point of view: About the authors

Rob Hirschfeld and Brad Szollose are both proud technology geeks, but they’re geeks from different generations who enjoy each other’s perspective on this brave new world.

Rob is a first-generation Digital Native. He grew up in Baltimore reprogramming anything with a keyboard—from a Casio VL-Tone and beyond. In 2000, he learned about server virtualization and never looked back.

In 2008, he realized his teen ambition to convert a gas car to run electric (a.k.a. RAVolt.com). Today, from his Dell offices and local coffee shops, he creates highly disruptive open source cloud technologies for Dell's customers.


Brad is a Cusp Baby Boomer who grew up watching the original Star Trek series, secretly wishing he would be commanding a Constitution Class Starship in the not-too-distant future.

Since that would take a while, Brad became a technology-driven creative director who cofounded one of the very first Internet development agencies during the dot-com boom. As a Web pioneer, Brad was forced to invent a new management model that engaged the first wave of Digital Workers.

Today, Brad helps organizations like Dell close the digital divide by understanding it as a cultural divide created by new tech-savvy workers ... and customers.

Beyond the fun of understanding each other better, we are collaborating on this white paper for different reasons.
  • Brad is fostering liquid leaders who have the vision to span cultures and to close the gap between cultures.
  • Rob is building communities with the vision to use cloud products that fit the Digital Native culture.





Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Cloud Culture 4: No Spacesuits! Authority Comes From DOING, not Altitude

[Collaborative Series 4/8]


Subtitle:

Why flattening org charts boosts your credibility

 
This post is #4 in an collaborative eight part series by Brad Szollose and Rob Hirschfeld about how culture shapes technology.

Unlike other generations, Digital Natives believe that expertise comes directly from doing, not from position or education. This is not hubris; it’s a reflection both their computer experience and dramatic improvements in technology usability.  

If you follow Joel Spolsky’s blog, Joel on Software,” you know about a term he uses when describing information architects obsessed with the abstract and not the details; Architecture Astronauts—so high up above the problem that they might as well be in space. “They're astronauts because they are above the oxygen level, I don't know how they're breathing.” 

For example, a Digital Native is much better positioned to fly a military attack drone than a Digital Immigrant (a.k.a. Boomer). According to New Scientist, March 27, 2008, the military is using game controllers for drones and robots because they are “far more intuitive.” Beyond the fact that the interfaces are intuitive to them, Digital Natives have likely logged hundreds of hours flying simulated jets under trying battle conditions. Finally, they rightly expect that they can access all the operational parameters and technical notes about the plane with a Google search.

 

Our new workforce is ready to perform like none other in history.


Being able to perform is just the tip of the iceberg; having the right information is the more critical asset. A Digital Native knows information (and technology) is very fast moving and fluid. It also comes from all directions … after all it’s The Information Age. This is a radical paradigm shift. Harvard Researcher David Weinberger highlights in his book Too Big to Know that people are not looking up difficult technical problems in a book or even relying on their own experiences; they query their social networks and discover multiple valid solutions. The diversity of their sources is important to them, and an established hierarchy limits their visibility; inversely, they see leaders who build strict organizational hierarchies as cutting off their access to information and diversity. 

Today’s thought worker is on the front lines of the technological revolution. They see all the newness, data, and interaction with a peer-to-peer network. Remember all that code on the screen in the movie The Matrix? You get the picture.
To a Digital Native, the vice presidents of most organizations are business astronauts floating too high above the world to see what’s really going on but feeling like they have perfect clarity. Who really knows the truth? Mission Control or Major Tom? This is especially true with the acceleration of business that we are experiencing. While the Astronaut in Chief is busy ordering the VPs to move the mountains out of the way, the engineers at ground control have already collaborated on a solution to leverage an existing coal mine and sell coal as a byproduct.

The business hierarchy of yesterday worked for a specific reason: workers needed to just follow rules, keep their mouth shut, and obey. Input, no matter how small, was seen as intrusive and insubordinate … and could get one fired. Henry Ford wanted an obedient worker to mass manufacture goods. The digital age requires a smarter worker because, in today’s world, we make very sophisticated stuff that does not conform to simple rules. Responsibility, troubleshooting, and decision-making has moved to the frontlines. This requires open-source style communication.

 

Do not confuse the Astronaut problem as a lack of respect for authority.

 

Digital Natives respect informational authority, not positional. For Digital Natives, authority is flexible. They have experience forming and dissolving teams to accomplish a mission. The mission leader is the one with the right knowledge and skills for the situation, not the most senior or highest scoring. In Liquid Leadership, Brad explains that Digital Natives are not expecting managers to solve team problems; they are looking to their leadership to help build, manage, and empower their teams to do it themselves.

So why not encourage more collaboration with a singular mission in mind: develop a better end product? In a world that is expanding at such mercurial speed, a great idea can come from anywhere! Even from a customer! So why not remember to include customers in the process?

Who is Leroy Jenkins?
This viral video is about a spectacular team failure from one individual (Leroy Jenkins) who goes rogue during a team massively multi-player game. This is a Digital Natives’ version of the ant and grasshopper parable: “Don’t pull a Leroy Jenkins on us—we need to plan this out.” Click Here for Leeroy Jenkins: Youtu.be/LkCNJRfSZBU

 

Think about it like this: Working as a team is like joining a quest.

If comparing work to a game scenario sounds counterintuitive then let’s reframe the situation. We may have the same destination and goals, but we are from very different backgrounds. Some of us speak different languages, have different needs and wants. Some went to MIT, some to community college. Some came through Internet startups, others through competitors. Big, little, educated, and smart. Intense and humble. Outgoing and introverted. Diversity of perspective creates stronger teams.

 

This also means that leadership roles rotate according to each mission.

This is the culture of the gaming universe. Missions and quests are equivalent to workplace tasks accomplished and point to benchmarks achieved. Each member excepts to earn a place through tasks and points. This is where Digital Natives’ experience becomes advantage. They expect to advance in experience and skills. When you adapt the workplace to these expectations the Digital Natives thrive.

 

Leaders need to come down to earth and remove the spacesuit.

A leader at the top needs to stay connected to that information and disruption. Start by removing your helmet. Breathe the same oxygen as the rest of us and give us solutions that can be used here on planet earth.

On Gamification...
Jeff Attwood, founder of the community-based FAQ site Stack Overflow, has been very articulate about using game design to influence how he builds communities around sharing knowledge. We recommend reading his post about “Building Social Software for the Anti-Social” on his blog, CodingHorror.com.

Click here for More: http://youtu.be/LkCNJRfSZBU


See you Next Wednesday...


Our point of view: About the authors

Rob Hirschfeld and Brad Szollose are both proud technology geeks, but they’re geeks from different generations who enjoy each other’s perspective on this brave new world.

Rob is a first-generation Digital Native. He grew up in Baltimore reprogramming anything with a keyboard—from a Casio VL-Tone and beyond. In 2000, he learned about server virtualization and never looked back.

In 2008, he realized his teen ambition to convert a gas car to run electric (a.k.a. RAVolt.com). Today, from his Dell offices and local coffee shops, he creates highly disruptive open source cloud technologies for Dell's customers.


Brad is a Cusp Baby Boomer who grew up watching the original Star Trek series, secretly wishing he would be commanding a Constitution Class Starship in the not-too-distant future.

Since that would take a while, Brad became a technology-driven creative director who cofounded one of the very first Internet development agencies during the dot-com boom. As a Web pioneer, Brad was forced to invent a new management model that engaged the first wave of Digital Workers.

Today, Brad helps organizations like Dell close the digital divide by understanding it as a cultural divide created by new tech-savvy workers ... and customers.

Beyond the fun of understanding each other better, we are collaborating on this white paper for different reasons.
  • Brad is fostering liquid leaders who have the vision to span cultures and to close the gap between cultures.
  • Rob is building communities with the vision to use cloud products that fit the Digital Native culture.