Re: Shel's newsletter
- Also -- belated kudos to Shel for the article in March 1998
_Communications World_ on "Getting Along with IT" -- highly recommend it
if you missed it and you have an intranet or an external web presence.
Shel -- it's making its way through Boeing ....
Kathy E. Gill
Business Process Information Visibility, http://process.ca.boeing.com/
BCAG Process Management, http://bpm.ca.boeing.com/ -- 425.234.2004
Empty pockets never held a man back. Only empty heads and empty hearts
can do that. - Norman Vincent Peale
Microsoft Exchange: the perfect name for its users' greatest desire!
> From: Jim Rink[SMTP:userg@...]
> Sent: Sunday, June 14, 1998 10:46 PM
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: [prbytes] Shel's newsletter
> From: Jim Rink <userg@...>
> Hey--Shel has a newsletter offer:
> One of the difficulties many professional communicators have is coping
> the dizzying array of computers, online services, software, and other
> electronic communications paraphenalia. The difficulty isn't deciding
> whether or not to use the Internet or the latest software suite, it's
> trying to figure out how to use it productively.
> All of which is why I and three colleagues invite you to subscribe to
> a new
> monthly electronic newsletter. The four of us, NetGain, are
> communicators. In fact, three of us have earned our professional
> accreditations from IABC and PRSA. We work day in and day out with
> relations, corporate communications, investor relations and other
> organizational communicators --- people like you --- who want to
> on the advances being made in electronic communications.
> The newsletter is pretty simple. First, it's free. Second, it's
> by business communications professionals for business communications
> professionals. No geek-speak, technobabble or other silly rhetoric
> which browser is better or the advantages of PTPTP vs. VPN access
> capabilities. It's about using online and desktop information
> to increase business, reduce overhead and other issues all of us in
> business deal with all the time as we wrestle with the constant
> being made in interactive, electronic communications.
> To subscribe, just visit our web site at www.netgain.org. You'll find
> subscription form there. Just fill it out and in a few weeks, the
> issue of your newsletter will start arriving by e-mail. If you like
> it and
> find it useful -- which we're confident you will -- great! If not,
> cancel your subscription with a simple e-mail message to the address
> included in the newsletter. Pretty simple, huh?
> By the way, we don't share our subscription list with anyone. Like
> you, we
> hate junk e-mail offering to sell us heaven-knows-what. So, the only
> you'll get from your subscription is the newsletter with a lot of
> information we hope you'll find useful, informative and even
> That's it. No more pitching. It's up to you. Enjoy!
> Shel Holtz, ABC
> Holtz Communication + Technology
> E-Mail: shel@...
> Web: www.holtz.com
> Jim Rink
> "Not all that is gold does glitter."
> ----==== Please Support our Advertisers Because They Support Us
> The folks at LAUNCH have taken everything you look for in a music
> magazine, dumped it into a virtual city, and packed it all onto a
> Get Your FREE Trial Issue Now!!! http://www.onelist.com/ad.cgi?launch1
- For those who don't subscribe to NetGain:
August 27, 1998
Here's your issue of the NetGain Update for business
Published by NetGain. Electronic communications
consulting for professional business communicators.
Training. Consulting. Speaking. Succeeding!
* Apology, Apology
* Online Employee Surveys
* There =Is+ Such A Thing As A Free Lunch!
* It's A Jungle Out There
* Internet Job Seekers Offer More
Than Just Professional Skills
* About This Newsletter
* About NetGain
The last issue of Netgain Update was inadvertently
distributed to every member of the mailing list twice.
Not because we've been watching way too many of the
McDonald's commercials featuring Eddie the Echo. Rather,
it was a glitch in the server software. The glitch
has been corrected, and you should have received
only one of this month's newsletter.
We're sorry for the inconvenience, and appreciate
your patience with the problem. Many thanks to those
subscribers who pointed out the problem, which led
to identifying the problem not only for NetGain, but
for all other users of the UnityMail service.
ON-LINE EMPLOYEE SURVEYS
by Tudor Williams, ABC
Gathering employees' opinions, objectively, has always
been time consuming, expensive, an administrative
headache that only occasionally produced visible results.
A typical employee survey in the past was a major intrusion
into day to day operations and few organizations have
been willing to conduct a survey more than once a year.
Today it doesn't have to be that way. As more and more
employees are connected to e-mail and intranets, the
process of gathering employee opinions and ideas
electronically is becoming a routine part of employee
In cyberspace, questionnaires are constructed and
completed by the click of a mouse. Questionnaires can
be attached to an e-mail message or put on your internal
web site. Data is gathered, processed and analyzed
without consuming a drop of ink or a page of paper.
The information you receive from an electronic employee
survey is timely, fresh and can be almost immediate.
Columns of numbers are transformed into visual images
automatically to convey the story the data is describing.
Employee satisfaction can be measured quietly, easily and
inexpensively, as often as the situation demands, month to
month, week to week or day to day rather than every two or
Employee opinions can be tracked regularly over a period
of time to assess the effectiveness of corporate and
communication strategy as it is implemented. Electronic
employee surveys will become critical change management
tools providing the data to fine-tune or dramatically
revise strategies that are not achieving the results
you need. Data trends measured over a period of time
create a moving picture of opinions rather than a
snapshot taken once every two years.
Software is available today to create your questionnaire,
randomly sample groups of employees, manage your survey
administration, collect the data that is returned either
to your e-mail box or to your web site, and graphically
depict what the data describes.
Just last week we helped a client assess the
effectiveness of a weeklong strategic planning process.
As the 50 participants were critical change agents in
the implementation of the plan, my client needed to
measure, very quickly, how well the planning had
proceeded, the degree of support that existed for the
outcomes of the plan and the commitment of the 50 change
agents to implementing the plan.
We created the 20-item questionnaire and pre-tested it
Monday morning and I sent the questionnaire to all 50
participants, by e-mail, in the early afternoon. By
Wednesday, we had received responses from over 80% of
the group. Graphs and analysis were delivered on
Thursday. Before the end of the week our client was able
to deal with two key issues that emerged from the
Earlier this year another client, involved in a major
reorganization, asked us to track employee opinions
over a six-month implementation period. The company
wanted to assess employee satisfaction with the
communication of changes as they were planned and
implemented. We surveyed small, randomly selected
samples of employees every two weeks for twelve weeks.
Executives and managers in different parts of the company
and different regions of the country were able to assess,
on an ongoing basis, the information needs of their
employees and their concerns and issues related to the
changes. It was very clear which communication
initiatives were working and which needed revision within
days of implementation.
In both circumstances the use of electronic data
gathering enabled the organizations to quickly and
inexpensively assess their situations and respond
quickly to valuable employee feedback. Employee response
to the survey formats was very positive. No concerns
were expressed over confidentiality as the e-mail
responses came directly to our e-mailbox. The results of
the surveys were communicated back to employees along
with information about action arising as a result of
the employee feedback.
Contact Tudor at tudor@....
THERE =IS= SUCH A THING AS A FREE LUNCH!
by Shel Holtz, ABC
Getting something free via the Internet isn't a new
idea. Hell, way before the existence of the World Wide
Web, I was searching the Internet with a utility called
Archie to find nifty free software I could download via
FTP. (Okay, so I'm probably nerdier than thou.)
The Web has taken the "free" concept to new heights.
Everything from sophisticated Web browsers to multimedia
players can be had for the price of your connection and
the time it takes the bits to transfer from their server
to your hard drive. And, of course, most of the content
on the Web is also there for the taking.
So a lot of stuff on the Net is free. Yawn.
But now comes a joint effort of USWest, the
telecommunication giant, and Web software developer
Changepoint to give "free on the Net" a whole new
meaning. Thanks to the collaboration, anybody with
access to the Web can set up a team workspace. I'm not
talking about a private discussion group or an online
community. These are a dime a dozen. Nearly every Web
portal vying for market share is scurrying to add a
community component. No, what I'm talking about is a
sophisticated project management tool that up to now
would have cost thousands of dollars to install on a
In fact, Involv Intranet -- the Changepoint software that
drives the service -- does run in the $5,000 range (plus
a per-user fee) when installed on an intranet. But visit
http://www.involv.net, and Involv is available for
nothing. Bupkis. Zilch.
Why free? "Because," the Involv site states, "we want
you to dive in and experience the enjoyment, power and
efficiency of using the Web to work together. In turn, we
hope that you findmore and more ways to use it in your
business life and want to upgrade for customization, more
space, and more teaming features." In other words, this
is the "lite" version of the application, and if you like
it but need more power, you'll want to buy the full version.
Oh, and because it's free, you'll be subjected to some
So what? I already manage to ignore the vast majority
of banner ads that cross my monitor; a few more won't
hurt. And for my purposes, I'm not likely to need more
power than the Internet version of Involv has to offer.
You are under no obligation to upgrade, and USWest and
Changepoint promise the service will be available (for
all practical purposes) forever. Once you have established
a team site, it's yours into perpetuity.
Which is quite a bit. You can post a daily message to team
members. Projects can be managed, with various team members
assigned tasks. Ideas can be floated and voted upon, with
team members able to view the results of the voting to date.
You can establish project calendars, store files (such as
word processor documents, graphic images, even Web sites)
for team use, and start a discussion group or broadcast a
message to the entire team.
It took me less than two minutes to set up a NetGain team
site, and another minute to add the consortium's logo to
the top-level Team Directory page. I'll report back in a
future issue of this bulletin about how well it works.
Or, you may want to report to us, if you take advantage
of Involv and like it. Or hate it.
But one thing's for sure. On the Internet, the quality of
that free lunch continues to improve.
Contact Shel at shel@....
IT'S A JUNGLE OUT THERE
by Carol Kinsey Goman
In the 17th century, scientists began to refer to the
universe as a large clock, and the metaphor of a machine
has been used to describe organizations from the
beginning of the industrial era. Successful enterprises
were said to "run smoothly," like "well-oiled engines."
Even today we still talk about the "tools and techniques"
needed to "reengineer" our companies -- and yet for most
organizations, the mechanical model has outlived its
usefulness. Modern organizations need to be intelligent,
resilient, adaptive and innovative -- all attributes
found not in machines, but in living systems.
Living systems are comprised of many independent agents
interacting with each other in a great many ways. It is
the very richness of these interactions that allow the
system as a whole to undergo spontaneous self-
organization. The realm of computer networks is a created
world, built on a living-system model. "Chat groups" self-
organize around their special interests, linking people
from every conceivable background and demographic segment.
To model a business after a living system is to give the
organization the freedom to realize its organic capacity
to self-organize, to respond creatively to continuous
change, to build temporary structures and relationships
When you use a living-system metaphor for the
organization (a reef, a rainforest, a brain, a jungle)
you create a new perspective for viewing stability and
instability. Like all living systems, organizations exist
in a turbulent environment that constantly tests their
ability to survive. Yet, we know that without turbulence
living systems stagnate, losing their ability to adapt
and ultimately to live. Instead of trying to hold onto
stability, healthy living systems thrive on instability
-- utilizing turbulence as their life force. In robust
businesses, information provides the turbulence, the
disequilibrium, that pushes the system to transform --
and to utilize this turbulence as a life force,
information must be everywhere throughout the
organization, not just at the higher echelons. Only when
information belongs to everyone can people shift and
organize rapidly and effectively around changes in
customers, competitors, or business environments.
Dissipative change is the name of the process by which
existing forms of living systems break up and seek
entirely new forms. When business organizations adopt
this concept of transformation, they view change
"organically." Businesses become energized by
fluctuations which in turn drive the processes of
change. Organizations flourish in a dynamic state on
"the edge of chaos" in which they are in flux, but not
out of control. Information from the internal and
external environment flows freely through the
organization, and employees have access to both it
and to one another. The flow of information drives both
continuous improvement and transformative innovations.
In organizations where flux and instability are embraced
as positive, life-enhancing attributes, a stabilizing
force is maintained through corporate identity and
collective focus of purpose. Communicators perpetuate
this force through a constant reinterpretation of the
company's history, present activities, its core values,
its purpose, and its and future aspirations.
Traditional stability has a shorter life span in this
model, as processes temporarily manifest themselves in
structures while they get ready for the next
transformation. Managers facilitate the disorder.
Constant experimentation becomes the norm. From a
corporate mindset of "multiple right answers," local
solutions are kept at the local level, and not elevated
to models for the entire organization. A strong sense of
identity, vision, and purpose keeps the work force
cohesive and focused on a collective goal. People
understand that there is no single solution for the
challenges of the future, regardless of how brilliant
or appropriate the approach is today in response to the
current environment. Disequilibrium and uncertainty are
valued for what they really are -- the creative dynamism
of the organization. Employees are prepared for the fact
that discontinuity creates the unexpected, that no leader
has all the answers, and they know that in any vibrant
living system, the process of change is never over.
Contact Carol at carol@....
INTERNET JOB SEEKERS OFFER MORE
THAN JUST PROFESSIONAL SKILLS
By Craig Jolley
The red-hot U.S. job market and the rise of Internet
based job hunting services has provided an added
benefit to savvy researchers-competitive intelligence
on the inside workings of companies.
With millions of professionals making frequent job and
career changes and with companies continually searching
for new talent, it is becoming commonplace for workers
to keep resumes continually listed and updated on
numerous Internet job services, even if they are
Using a little Internet detective work these resumes
offer a unique and often detailed look at the inside
operations of these worker's employers. Information
that is free and available to anyone with access to
these resume databases. Since professional resumes
highlight important accomplishments of their owners,
many company's most important and perhaps jealously
guarded capabilities are only a few mouse clicks and
keystrokes away from anyone who want's to look at them.
Considering the range of professional resumes in these
services, a clever researcher could learn a lot about
a competitor's marketing programs, advertising or
communication campaigns, financial or accounting systems,
investor relations programs, computer network
installations or even how warehouses or inventories
are managed and organized.
Granted, much of this information is probably dated
and archival in nature, and one has to assume some degree
of hype considering it is designed to make the resume
owner look good. However, when added to other
competitive intelligence sources this information offers
a potentially valuable look inside a company.
Ken Fox, founder of Intelligent Algorithms Enterprises,
learned this firsthand recently on a client assignment.
As creators of information productivity software Fox's
company was designing an internet resume mining program
to help the HR department of an online service provider
find qualified job candidates more quickly and easily.
During development and testing Fox ran the program to
look for resumes belonging to individuals who had
worked or were currently working for the client's
"In our test we targeted software engineers as a job
function. All of a sudden we learned a great deal about
the new computer system that a major client competitor
had recently installed, apparently from those who had
played key roles in the research, acquisition and
installation of the system itself," Fox explained.
While such an information source may be valuable as
a competitive tool it must be remembered that it
works both ways. Just as it may be easy to gather
information about your competitors, your competitors
could be gleaning valuable information on your
organization in a similar fashion.
Contact Craig at craig@....
ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER
Was this issue of the NetGain Update useful? Did it give
you a new idea or two you can use to improve the way you
use electronic information tools? Maybe even a new service
you can offer your clients or employer to help them
succeed. If it did, we've succeeded. If it didn't, just
wait until the next issue.
NetGain UPDATE is a monthly newsletter published by
NetGain, a consortium of independent communications
technology consultants. Each article in this newsletter
is copyrighted by its author. Feel free to share the
NetGain Update with your associates, clients, managers
or anyone else you think would benefit from it. And
remember, anyone can sign up for a free subscription at
our Web site, www.netgain.org.
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This newsletter is managed and distributed using UnityMail,
a product of Revnet. Get information at www.unitymail.com.
NetGain is a unique consortium. It is the only consulting
organization made up of public relations and business
communications consultants dedicated to helping other
PR and business communications organizations capitalize
on the advances being made in electronic communications
technology. Using desktop computing, organizational
networks or the Internet, NetGain helps professional
communications organizations -- agencies, corporations,
associations and non-profits -- develop and execute
strategic electronic information programs. We help
This month, NetGain consultants...
* Provided executive coaching to the CIO of a major
utility to become a more effective leader of change
in her organization.
* Were asked to help a 50 person task force evaluate
a planning project they participated in, resulting
in the development of a short 25 item questionnaire.
Participants completed the survey on line and returned
their answers to us by email.
* Assisted a national nonprofit plan the development
of its intranet.
* Prepared a white paper for a major provider of Year
2000 consulting services
* Helped an organization set up a plan to audit the
content and delivery of electronic communication that
will result in an action plan to develop and implement
internal communication strategies as part of the corporate
knowledge management initiative.
To find out more about NetGain, send an e-mail message to
"Not all that is gold does glitter."