Dan Pontefract: Collaborative, connected and learning-first environment for happier, more innovative, and more productive employees!

Dan Pontefract, TelusToday’s answers in our pre-conference interview serie come from Dan Pontefract, who’s heading the learning and leadership programme of TELUS and who will be one of the keynote speakers at Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT. His focus lies on how to get people more engaged and doing meaningful work. He captured his experience thinking in a book that is called Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization that provides some good frameworks for advancing the transformation process.

1) Dan, you will be joining us for the Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT 2014 in Paris. Can you give us three tags that label best your talk?
  • Open Leadership
  • Open Collaboration
  • Open Organization
2) You are the change agent for learning, collaboration and leadership at TELUS, a Canadian telecommunication company. What is the objective and challenge of your job?

It’s my opinion that leadership can come from anyone and everywhere. It is not left to the C-Suite or senior leaders to demonstrate leadership in an organization. TELUS has vaulted from an employee engagement level of 53% to 83% in six short years as a result of empowering team members anywhere to demonstrate ‘open leadership’ as we aim to deliver on our Customers First priorities.

My particular role is one that helps 40,000+ team members across the globe see their potential as leaders, using collaborative behaviours and technologies as well as new leadership and learning models in which to unleash their true potential and drive both employee engagement and our customer’s likelihood to recommend scores.

3) The key problems for companies in these times is the employer engagement that needs to be fixed to prepare the organizations for the 21st century. What are your recommendations on this? How can we fix this situation?

If we first recognize that employees actually want to make a difference in the lives of fellow employees and customers, then we’re ahead of the game. Too often leaders think they are the smartest in the room with all the answers. Sure, they have great skill, experience and are (ideally) in their leadership role for a reason. But that does not negate the incredible talent, input and ideas that percolate in the organization on a daily basis. Through both the behaviour of collaboration and the use of social collaboration tools, leaders can create a much healthier and engaged organization … united to address the true competition which is external, and not internal.

4) You are also author of the book “Flat Army” that is analyzing the characteristics of the 21st century organization. So – what are the building blocks for those new types of organization?

The principle thesis underpinning a Flat Army culture is if your people are engaged – if they feel connected to the leader and organization, and if they are working within a collaborative, connected and learning-first environment – employees will be happier, more innovative, productive and thus more likely to not only recommend the organization to others, but to stay at said organization and to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Flat Army itself is made up of 5 key frameworks:

  1. The Connected Leader – 15 key leadership attributes that make up an open Flat Army leader
  2. Participative Leader Framework – a participation ethos for leaders to demonstrate CARE (continuous, authentic, reciprocal and educating) with their networks
  3. Collaborative Leader Action Model (CLAM) – a 6 stage daily habit that encourages leaders to connect, consider, communicate, create, confirm and congratulate on actions, initiatives and projects
  4. Pervasive Learning – learning is part formal, informal and social and both the leader and the organization need to employ this new mindset in order to feel engaged, connected and collaborative
  5. Collaboration Technologies – 15 key social collaborative technologies that will help drive employee engagement, participation, collaboration, leadership and learning
5) How do you evaluate the role of technology – especially the social technology – in this game?

There is nothing to evaluate quite frankly. The technology train has long left the station and those refusing to get on will be left in the dark. There is no business case to be social in life – it’s an important part of engagement, business, partnerships and so on. Why do we need to prove a business case for social or collaborative technologies inside an organization? Do we need to prove the business benefit of owning a mobile phone to talk to one another? Collaborative technologies are simply the photocopier and fax machines from the 1980’s. We need it, now get over it and start figuring out how you might change the behaviour in your organization to adopt them.

If you want to learn more, visit the Enterprise 2.0 Summit for the keynote panelHeading from Engagement to Passion in Future Work Performance.

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Rogier Noort
I'm a Social Business addict coming from the technical depths of IT and rising from these dark ages, through web and social, to the enlightened field of Social Business. Also blogger, podcaster, talker and listener.