Category Archives: Best practice

Crowdsourcing and co-creation elements applied to your project


crowdsourcing

You don’t have to be very innovative nowadays to be confronted with terms like ‘crowdsourcing’, ‘co-creation’, ‘hackathon’, etc. But how can you apply these techniques in practice for your next project? We compare a classic project approach with more innovative ones with elements of crowdsourcing and co-creation, to learn that there are many ways to engage the colleagues and tap into the wisdom of the crowd. 

The classic project approach

The process would probably like:

  • One team gets the assignment.
  • Interview with stakeholders and customers.
  • Make a proposal.
  • Present proposal at decision committee.
  • Rework proposal.

That’s great because:

  • We’re more in control.
  • The accountability is at the level of one team

But watch out for:

  • Thinking of & working out ideas by same people.
  • Limited amount of different solutions.
  • Iteration time can be long.

Crowd sourcing & co-creation

So, what’s crowd sourcing? It’s a collaborative technique of obtaining ideas by distributing tasks to a large group of people.

Yes! But …

  • + we’ll get many ideas.
  • – there will be much crowd noise.
  • – there will be more chaos.

And co-creation is:

  • Through a series of steps, people are invited to contribute, evaluate, and refine ideas and concepts.
  • The call is not put to an open forum or platform but to a smaller group of individuals with specialized skills and talents.
  • Companies can automate and track some processes while still getting creative ideas

Yes! But…

  • + there are more experts involved.
  • + it’s faster.
  • + we’ll get better ideas.
  • – people are not used to work with customers.
  • – the project team gets feeling of handing out responsibility.

Let’s look at some approaches in practice!

Approach 1 – crowd sourcing with 1 assignment

The process:

  • The project lead writes out an assignment.
  • All employees of the department can hand in a proposal.
  • The project lead select the best 3 (different) proposals that can be worked out.
  • The ideators can form a team and get time & resources for the assignment. Optional: one person of the project team is in the idea team.
  • The teams pitch their idea to the project team and steering committee.
  • One solution is selected to be worked out by the project team, the ideators are involved.

That’s great because:

  • More people are involved.
  • The colleagues feel involved.
  • The employees have the possibility to prove themselves.
  • Very different ideas can be harvested.
  • Different proposals are worked out in parallel by people with a fresh view (new people).

But watch out for:

  • The interest and participation rate can be low.
  • The project lead is not fully in control of worked out solutions.
  • Commitment of time & resources is needed from management.
  • The throughput time can be much longer.

Approach 2 – crowd sourcing with hackathon

A hackathon originates from the IT world where it’s an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development collaborate intensively on software projects. The efforts of all are focussed on a short time deliverable of tangible software. The principle can be applied for non-IT projects too.

The process:

  • We call for colleagues who want to think along.
  • We reserve an offsite location for 1 or 2 days.
  • The participants are divided into teams.
  • The project lead gives the context and the assignment.
  • The teams work out the assignment and during the day they can ask questions and receive help.
  • The ideas are pitched in front of a jury composed out of management and customers.
  • One solution is selected and will further be worked out by the project team.

That’s great because: (some repeated from the previous approach)

  • More people are involved.
  • The colleagues feel involved.
  • The employees have the possibility to prove themselves.
  • Very different ideas can be harvested.
  • Different proposals are worked out in parallel with a fresh view (new people).
  • Very concentrated effort in 1 or 2 days, which means a very short throughput time.
  • The project lead and management can steer the solutions during the day. (more in control)

But watch out for:

  • The interest and participation rate can be low.
  • Commitment of time & resources is needed from management.
  • Management participation is needed.
  • Additional costs for venue and food & drinks.

Approach 3 – crowd sourcing with multiple assignments

This approach is used in the marketing sector for coming to creative solutions. Eg. when asked for working out a campaign for a laundry softener, one team gets the actual assignment, the other team gets the assignment to sell really nice smelling and soft towels.

The process:

  • We call for employees who want to think along.
  • The project lead writes out multiple assignments and changes the description or terms per assignment. The teams don’t know this.
  • The participants form a team and get time & resources for the assignment. Optional: one person of the project team is in the idea team.
  • The teams pitch their idea to the project team and steering committee.
  • One solution is selected to be worked out by the project team, the ideators are involved.

That’s great because:

  • More people are involved.
  • The colleagues feel involved.
  • The employees have the possibility to prove themselves.
  • We are sure that the same challenge is looked at from different angles.
  • Different proposals are worked out in parallel with a fresh view (new people).

But watch out for:

  • Interest and participation rate can be low.
  • The PL is not fully in control of worked out solutions.
  • Commitment of time & resources is needed from management.
  • Experimental approach.

The leap to co-creation

By adding some co-creation elements you can involve other people to think along. A non-exclusive list of examples:

  • Internal customers (eg. leaders from other departments and business lines)
  • External partners
  • External experts
  • External community

This involvement can be integrated in:

  • Ideation & working out the ideas.
  • Evaluation, giving feedback.
  • Jury.

Additional reading

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More people at your events


How can you get more people at your events? Below a visualization with some positive and negative tips to get the participants to stick to their subscription and to attend the session.

Graphic recording: more people at your events

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Reduce options by making big decisions first


Choice stressHow can you make good decisions when there are so many options? Start with the biggest decisions and eliminate other outcomes. But always keep some backup options open in case it goes wrong.

It might probably sound familiar: you’re in the supermarket to do the weekly shopping for your family and you don’t know what to buy. You browse each section and there’s a lot of stuff you could buy. But what do you really need and where do you start? Typically I would buy “the regular stuff” we need and during the week find out that we haven’t got (enough of) ingredient X to make dinner. Which leads to another trip to the store.

Making the biggest decisions first reduces possible outcomes and combinations. In this case: what are you going to eat for dinner? Today, tomorrow and the rest of the week. You don’t have to make a strict planning for each day, but you need to get it fixed for a few of them to make life easier. When you know what’s for dinner, you know which ingredients you need.

Because the biggest decision is made, you can focus and take the next decisions. Ok, spaghetti’s up for dinner tomorrow. Which version are we going to make: napolitana, carbonara or vegetarian? When you take the next decision, the number of options go down again and it gets easier to select. For carbonara spaghetti you need meat, paprika, tomatoes and onion.

Keep some alternative options open, just in case. You never know what can change between the visit to the store and preparing your spaghetti. That’s why it’s handy to keep an alternative option open that allows you to switch easily. Also buy a zucchini and eggplant, just in case a friend of the family joins as a vegetarian.

Enjoy your meal!

Additional reading

“Decisive” by Chip & Dan Heath

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A notification diet of one week


NotificationsWe check our mobile devices 214 times per day. In my case it’s mostly because it triggers my attention (and curiosity) with a notification. By disabling the notifications of the apps on my smart phone, I count on regaining more of my productivity and spending more time in flow. Read further to see why and how my one week of notification diet will start.

We check our mobile devices about 214 times per day. Of this day, there are about 8 hours of sleep, 1 hour washing & getting ready (for work, for bed), 1 hour getting my daughter ready (for school, for bed) and 1 hour or more driving to work. That means that I’m checking my mobile device 214 times in about 13 hours. Of these 13 hours, I’m 8 hours at work. So in theory, I’d check my mobile device 132 times at work.

There are several reasons why I’m triggered for checking my mobile device:

  • I’m bored.
  • I’m busy waiting (eg. commuting with the train).
  • I’m triggered by a notification of my mobile device.

For 1 and 2, it’s not an issue when I’m working on my mobile. The third is different. If you’re active in a few social networks, following many people online and participating in forums or group, you get quite some daily updates, all at what looks like random times. For example, a new post on your Facebook wall, a trending topic on Twitter, a new board added by your friend on Pinterest.

These notifications interrupt your current work and it’s very hard not to respond to them. It’s like your mobile saying “Hey, I’ve got something special for you”. But often when I look, it’s kinda disappointing. If I’m actually expecting news from somebody, than the notification is mostly not of them.

The interruptions make it hard to concentrate at work. It’s getting hard to get into flow, the most optimal state of work where things get done and time flies by. When you’re in a meeting or in a conversation, it’s tempting, nearly impossible, not to look at your mobile device upon receiving a notification. You never know what you could have missed… In the end, your productivity drops and you come across as a non-interested ass to your colleagues.

It’s time to take matters into my hands and regain my focus and my politeness. Let’s start with a notification diet of one week and see how things go.

A notification diet of one week

For one week, I’ll disable all my notifications on my mobile device. No more Facebook updates, no more trending Twitter tweets, no more GMail notifications. The sound and vibrate functions will be disabled. The only sound my mobile device will make, is when I get a text message or a phone call. I’m not off the grid, but if anyone wants to reach me, it’s possible and will be via a one-on-one connection.

First I wasn’t sure if I’d disable the notifications for (Facebook) Messenger, Snapchat or Whatsapp. These are also direct links to me personally and the difference with classic text messages is small. But while writing this blog I actually got a personal message, a notification, … and my focus was gone. It proved exactly my point, so they’re out too.

The goal of the notification diet is to regain focus and be more productive. The notifications will only be checked during breaks.

Catch you on the flip side!

Thanks at Robby Moors for making me aware of the loss of productivity!

Additional reading

How often do you look at your mobile device?

10 Smart Tips to Prevent Distractions and Sharpen Your Focus

Eliminate These 8 Things From Your Daily Routine

Flow, the secret to happiness (TeD talk)

PS: I’m also aware that this blog in some cases shows up as a notification on your mobile device. Thanks for reading it, now get back to your work 😉

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Gamification in HR: 15 key takeaways


GamificationAt the first day of the “Gamification in HR” summit in Paris we got demonstrations and insights of various business games from the area of recruitment to learning at work. The group concluded with 15 key insights which are shared in this blog.

What games know but business don’t

  • More rewards don’t mean better participation. Try to motivate people beyond giving bonuses and money.
  • Before winning you have to fail. We have to feel what we have earned. Don’t make it to easy to win, it’s boring and makes you quit.
  • Competition comes third. Collaboration and x matter more.

Making games applicable to diverse target audiences

  • Get to know your different customers and their preferences: do an assessment about their motivators.
  • Include many different game elements to make it intesting for everybody.
  • Add different story lines to the same game;
  • Use a facilitator to support and help drive the outcome. This in a way that participants are not lost and left behind during the progress of the game.

Branding the gamification concept internally and externally

  • Find out which buttons work for your management’s emotions. Look at it from an organization or employer branding perspective. Avoid motivational instead of gamification arguments.
  • Use your network to promote your game. When you launch it, it’s supported by the organization.

Implementing gamification step by step

  • You need the buy-in from senior management to go for gamification.
  • Align with business objectives to achieve success.
  • Make it genuine. Gamification is not a target at self. It cannot be against marketing or other objectives.

Linking competencies assessment and gamification

  • Assessment need to go beyond taking a picture of a temporary performance. With gamification you have a way to also monitor progress.
  • Measure competences, but also emotions.
  • Games generate more data. We need to learn how to manage the data.
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Druk druk druk! Hoe maak je tijd als er geen is?


Druk druk druk“Ik heb geen tijd” hoor je wel eens op de werkvloer. En dit in beide richtingen. Hoe overleef je drukke dagen? Het begint allemaal met prioriteiten te leggen en de grote olifant te verdelen in hapklare blokken. Door met de juiste dingen bezig te zijn, vermijd je rampen die je door de drukte niet had zien aankomen.

“Ik heb geen tijd” hoor je wel eens en als je zelf druk bezig bent, dan betrap je jezelf er ook op met hetzelfde te zeggen.

Een nieuwe job, een nieuw project, een nieuwe taak. Op het moment dat het gebeurt, weet je wel wat te doen. Of misschien net helemaal niet. Je wordt overspoeld met taken, gespreken en ToDo’s. Als je er aan wilt beginnen, krijg je net een telefoontje of komt er een collega binnen die je al lang had willen spreken.

Hoe overleef je zo’n een dag zonder een wiel af te rijden?

Hier enkele tips om een drukke periode op je werk te overleven:

Maak je geest leeg

Om overzicht te krijgen in wat je allemaal nog moet/wilt doen, is het soms het gemakkelijkste om het gewoon neer te schrijven.

Neem pen en papier en schrijf alles op wat in je hoofd zit: je ToDo’s, je zorgen, je contacten, … Als je gewoon bent om digitaal te werken, doe het dan niet op papier! Je creëert zo een extra ToDo, namelijk alles op je computer zetten.

Zie dat je met de juiste dingen bezig bent

Niemand is perfect en kan alles op tijd en correct doen. Als je zorgt dat je met de juiste dingen bezig bent, dan komt alles wel in orde.

Duid in je takenlijst duidelijk (bv. met rood) aan welke taken belangrijk zijn. Op deze manier kan je geen wiel afrijden.

Haal het belangrijkste uit de brand

Wat moet je nu onmiddellijk doen om later niet in de problemen te komen? Een dringend telefoontje, een workshop inboeken, een afspraak inplannen.

Doe dit nu onmiddellijk en haal het van je takenlijst af.

Plan je werk op voorhand

Bekijk je taken en plak ze ruwweg op een werkdag in je week. In de taken per dag kan je nog onderscheid maken (bv. met kleur) welke het belangrijkste zijn en/of welk zeker die dag gedaan moeten worden. De taken die je niet gedaan krijgt, schuif je op het einde van de dag door naar de volgende dag.

Heb je taken die je al een week doorschuift, dan zijn deze niet kritiek. Zet ze op een lijstje “ooit / misschien” en stop met ze uit te stellen.

Reserveer tijd om te werken

Als je je werk niet gedaan krijgt, boek tijdsloten in je agenda in om het werk te plannen. Het kan zijn dat je hier initieel geen plaats voor vindt, typisch een probleem voor druk bezette mensen.

Neem je agenda en begin pas 3 weken verder te kijken. Daar zijn zeker nog lege plekken. Gebruik deze om tijd voor jezelf te reserveren. Ik ken ook collega’s die bijvoorbeeld één dag per week vrijhouden van meetings.

Laat het weten als je geen tijd hebt

Het is voor je collega’s vervelend als ze maar geen antwoord krijgen op hun vragen. Het resultaat kan zijn dat ze net meer geen bellen en mailen. Hierdoor wordt er weer tijd van je verbrand; tijd die je elders nuttig had kunnen gebruiken.

Als je geen tijd hebt om ergens aan te werken, laat dit dan weten aan je collega’s. Ik ben er zeker van dat ze dit meer zullen appreciëren.

Sluit je dag af

Een gezonde geest in een gezond lichaam, zeggen ze. Maar je moet jouw geest ook wat rust gunnen.

Plan je taken al voor de volgende dag zodat je dan onmiddellijk kunt beginnen. Dit vermijdt dat je ’s nachts zit te piekeren over wat je de volgende dag (eerst) moet doen.

Wees tevreden

Bekijk voor dat je vertrekt naar huis je takenlijst en wees tevreden met wat je bereikt hebt.

Verwijder de taken die je gedaan hebt. Eventueel kan je ze elders klasseren om te zien welke “berg” werk je verzet hebt.

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Reduce options by making big decisions first


Reduce options by making big decisions firstHow can you make good decisions when there are so many options? Start with the biggest decisions and eliminate other outcomes. But always keep some backup options open in case it goes wrong.

It might probably sound familiar: you’re in the supermarket to do the weekly shopping for your family and you don’t know what to buy. You browse each section and there’s a lot of stuff you could buy. But what do you really need and where do you start? Typically I would buy “the regular stuff” we need and during the week find out that we haven’t got (enough of) ingredient X to make dinner. Which leads to another trip to the store.

Making the biggest decisions first reduces possible outcomes and combinations. In this case: what are you going to eat for dinner? Today, tomorrow and the rest of the week. You don’t have to make a strict planning for each day, but you need to get it fixed for a few of them to make life easier. When you know what’s for dinner, you know which ingredients you need.

Because the biggest decision is made, you can focus and take the next decisions. Ok, spaghetti’s up for dinner tomorrow. Which version are we going to make: napolitana, carbonara or vegetarian? When you take the next decision, the number of options go down again and it gets easier to select. For carbonara spaghetti you need meat, paprika, tomatoes and onion.

Keep some alternative options open, just in case. You never know what can change between the visit to the store and preparing your spaghetti. That’s why it’s handy to keep an alternative option open that allows you to switch easily. Also buy a zucchini and eggplant, just in case a friend of the family joins as a vegetarian.

Enjoy your meal!

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Respect at work


Respect at workRespect is in many organisations a core value, but how can you explain something this essential to you colleagues? Respect is hard to explain because we are used to be treated with respect. My experience at a construction site to taught me that respect at work starts with treating each other as equals, open communication and sharing information. This in order that your colleagues can think along and take initiative. You steer on results and now the ‘how’.

Respect is something many organisations have in their core values, but what does it actually mean? Many times I have tried to find the correct formulation and an example that suits, but we were always stuck after the “for getting respect, you first need to give respect” tagline.

Respect is hard to explain because we are used to be treated with respect. It was only after doing something completely else, that I experienced what it was to be treated without respect. That’s why it’s hard to explain respect from my current employment because I have almost always been treated with respect. But sometimes I come in a completely other environment. One where I don’t have prior knowledge or training. One where I don’t have acquired experience in the field. It is a construction site. At my home or at a site where friends or family are building or redecorating their house.

On a construction site, I’m a newbie. The palms of my hands don’t lie: I’m used to desk work. On a construction site I have the knowledge of a newbie and I act as a newbie. Surrounded by experienced experts I do my best to help and assist. In some cases I’m treated with respect, in other cases I’m not.

Some examples of being treated without respect:

  • When I don’t do my work good enough, work is taken out of my hands and done by the lead himself.
  • I cannot understand the professional because he uses jargon I don’t know.
  • When I don’t know something, the professional acts as if it’s common knowledge and I’m missing out.
  • Knowledge and information is only shared if really needed and only at the time needed.
  • The professional is telling me in every detail exactly what to do instead of allowing me to fill in my work myself.
  • I’m only told the next step in line and don’t know how the end result should look like. This makes it impossible to think along, find solutions and take initiative.

To summarize the above, the other party is not treating me as an equal. I’m happy to admit that all of this didn’t occur on one occasion, but is mere a summary of everything I experienced during the years. I must also admit that in some cases I was ready to heat my head against the wall.

So how should you treat your colleagues with respect?

  • Treat them as an equal. (this is were our first punch line “give respect to receive” dissolved)
  • Keep communication open and share information.
  • Offer the opportunity to think along.
  • Offer the space to take initiative.
  • Steer on output (results) and not on input (the ‘how’).
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Write a compelling story


Write a compelling storyPeople learn by reading stories. But are your stories getting the result you want? We learned from the film industry to make a compelling story by introducing a problem, a solution and an enemy. Your story is the journey from the problem to the solution, documented in key points that form the paragraphs.

Organizations have been using story telling for quite a while but how do you know it has any results? If you’re only focusing on acquiring and publishing stories, you might get lost in producing input. The danger is that you invest a lot of time and effort that doesn’t pay back. One (of many) reasons could be that your audience is not reading your stories at all. It could be that you lost them after the first paragraph.

What makes a good story?

All good stories (Disney’s Snow White, The Lord Of The Rings, etc) start with a problem and an enemy is introduced. The story is about solving the problem and working toward a solution. The enemy is preventing an all-to-easy solution of the problem and is a guarantee for plot twists. Take any other story in mind and you’ll see it fits: problem, enemy, solution, steps to solution.

The steps to the solution are the key points, the takeaways, of your story. Each key point is something to remember and will form the paragraphs of your story, when you work it out. In this blog entry, all key points are marked in bold. This makes it easier to skip text and still capture the essence of the blog. Do you have much to share? Find the main key points and break them down. Next, do the same with the sub key points you’ve created.

Stick to the core, the essence of your story. Less is more. If a paragraph has no key points marked in bold, ask yourself: “Is this paragraph needed? Is it key to the story?”. For me, this is the biggest challenge. Also experts are challenged here not to bury the essence in too many details and paragraphs.

How to capture the attention of the audience?

Before story starts, you need to capture the attention of the audience. Create the setting for the story and make sure they can relate.

In most stories and movies the audience can relate to the main character and starts to “live” the story. The reader is compelled and is pulled into it. Remember sitting on the edge of your chair when Frodo almost lost his ring in the LOTR movie?

People have nowadays (too) much communication to read and they’re very scarce with giving anything their time and attention. You only have the first seconds when they start reading your story. Make sure that the “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM) is captured in the very first paragraph of your text. The WIIFM contains the core of your story, the main reason to convince your reader why he should spend time in reading. You might consider it as a summary of your whole text. If this doesn’t trigger into reading, he’d never have read the full story. Consider it as an acid test for your story.

It might sound odd to give it all away in the very first paragraph of the text, but this is needed to gain interest. Check your local newspaper: they do it too: a nice title and the very first paragraph is the summary of the whole article. If the summary gets you interested, you read further. If you are interested, but you don’t have much time, you skip to the key points marked in bold. If you’re not interested, you check the title and summary of the next article.

When do I start?

So knowing all this, when do you start writing better stories? As of today!

1. Next time you write a story, start with answering following questions:

  • What is the problem?
  • What is the setting, the context?
  • What is the solution?
  • What are the steps to the solution? (these will become your key points)

If you find answers to these questions, you can write the summary of your story. Consider it as an elevator pitch: you need to pitch the story to somebody new and have only a few minutes of his time.

2. Write your story: elaborate your key points to create paragraphs.

3. Check your story and remove all information that’s not core to the problem or the solution. Strip it down to the bare essentials.

4. Mark the key takeaways in your paragraphs as bold.

Additional reading

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Liever lui dan moe – tips om te overleven op de werkvloer


Liever lui dan moe - norulesjustwordsAcht uur per dag is soms echt wel te veel voor een medewerkers. Hoe kom je de dag door zonder te veel van jezelf te moeten geven? Deze tips helpen je op weg.

1/ Doe pas iets wanneer je leidinggevende er expliciet om vraagt

2/ Wees tevreden met een “neen” op je vragen

3/ Vermijd om iets nieuw te leren

4/ Zet makkelijk haalbare doelen

5/ Van uitstel komt afstel. Stel uit en blijf volhouden

6/ Kijk wat je collega’s doen en doe zeker niet meer

7/ Regels zijn er om te volgen

8/ Culturele gewoontes moet je respecteren, ook als ze achterhaald zijn

9/ Blijf onder de radar, anders krijg je meer werk

10/ Vermijd conflict en discussie, het kost je tijd en moeite

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