Tread Softly

In 2006 Sir Ken Robinson gave a wonderful talk at TED about education. I've watched that talk numerous time, because it's so inspiring and true. Recently he gave another talk at TED and it just as great as the first one. I inserted it for you below. And also added the poem he ends his speech with. It speaks to the hart when you have kids. But isn't this also the way we should see our colleagues?

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet,
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

W.B. Yeats

Sharing 6Things

Recently I got a DM from @6things saying: "You are very interesting." That's always a great thing to hear. :-) 6things is a relevance engine, as they call themselves. They select 6 things per day in different themes as the most interesting things of that day.
Now they are asking others to curate for one week. And probably because they find me interesting, I will be sharing 6 interesting things per day in the coming week with you. I selected the technology theme, so you can following the tweets with #6things_tech. Sharing starts tomorrow, May 23rd. Hope you enjoy it.

Are You in the Twitter Parade?

isparade This is great fun! Go to this webpage, type in your Twitter handle or a keyword and sit back and enjoy.

Moved by the Mobile Web

For some time now I've been following the mobile web with fascination. How quickly this market has grown and is still growing! I can remember getting my first (Prepaid!) mobile phone about 9 years ago. Even then a mobile phone was something not everyone had. Some people were even very irritated by "all the people calling in public (on the street) and sitting in the train". I don't hear that complaint very often anymore...

Then slowly but steadily the mobile web popped up. Actually it was already there but just way too expensive for mainstream use.

I don't think the mobile web is mainstream now, but it definitely is getting there. Recently I bought an iPhone 3GS (I know I'm slow...) and now have my own real experiences with it. And I must say I was impressed without having a smartphone. But I'm even more surprised and fascinated by it now.

Like with many technologies, after you start using it, you really feel it. You suddenly actually experience the power it has and what it's pushing. My experience in short is: the Web is clearly moving to Mobile, or maybe I should say it is Mobile. This may seem to be common-sense to you. Good for you! To me it wasn't. And after showing lots of friends and colleagues how the iPhone works, which Internet apps you get and can use, they are continuously fascinated by its possibilities.

What I find is that the Mobile web is great for lots of things. It pulls to the Internet to your fingertips. I find myself using my laptop less, for instance. My smartphone is great for keeping up with email. Reading email, deleting emails right away if your not going to read them, writing back short emails, archiving and forwarding them. Writing back long emails is not very easy though. I usually save that for when I'm working at my pc. This is something I'm struggling with. As you know I apply GTD to my life. This also implies touching an email once. When I decide not to answer an email using my iPhone, I'll have to keep that email in my inbox and come back to it again. I don't like this. What I am doing know is typing in some snibbits of the email I want to send back and saving that in draft mode. (If you also apply GTD, how do you handle this issue or isn't it an issue for you?)

It's also great for browsing through my feeds and reading the shorter ones. The longer posts will be saved to be printed or read at my computer.

I've been tweeting for some time. One thing I didn't like about my tweet reading behavior is that I would have to be at my computer to read them. This is OK, but I now find that reading tweets is done much better and easier from the iPhone. I look at them between meetings, at times and places I find handy. It's much easier to keep up with them in this way and also to engage in conversations.

The neat thing about the mobile web is it's developing quickly. The number of useful new apps is astounding. I just feel it grow every time I pick up my phone and go to the App store. A direction I think will be big is the potential for product innovation and development. Just think of the direct feedback you can get from users in the field (we're seeing this already via Twitter), using the camera to project all kinds of information on products with augmented reality for customer of service reasons, etc.

For this to happen I do think the mobile web needs to speed up. Internet access is OK via wifi and it's reasonable if there's a 3G network. But the 3G network is not fast enough (- although sometimes this also has to do with the apps themselves...).

What are your experiences with the mobile web? Do you have a smartphone? Are your experiences comparable to mine? I'd love to hear from you.

Is Your Organization a Process or a Network?

Is your organization a process (several operational steps to get things done) or a network (smart knowledge workers connecting to get things done)? Or is it both?

As an information architect I'm often confronted with this question. Usually not explicitly, but in a more implicit way. From an information process perspective you hear people talking about structured and unstructured information processes, for instance. I've shared my thinking about this topic in the past and I'm working on a longer post about this subject (to be published soon). I thought I'd start with something different. Three pictures to show the different views on organizations and how they relate. I'd love to hear you thoughts about these pictures.

What I see is managers and business process specialists look at organizations in this way:


So, the organization is put together as discrete, operational steps moving packets of information (the gray boxes) forward. (Loops back into the organization exist but are not in the picture).

Most employees see the organization in a different way. They see the organization as a network of people that have certain information or knowledge helping them get things done. Employees find the operational steps OK for very operational tasks, like time registration, but not for their core (knowledge) tasks. This could look like this:


I understand both approaches. Depending on how you look at (part of) an organization you see clearly defined steps or a chaotic network.

So my conviction is both are true. Both approaches exist in practice. If so, the pictures above should be combined. It could look something like this:

operationproces and networkorg

The interesting thing is the amount of time and money being invested in these approaches. Generally speaking you see lots of time and money being pumped into improving the first approach. Aligning and reengineering business processes, rolling out an ERP system, etc. The other approach is usually just there. It seems to be taken for granted. It's supported by email and more and more by platforms like Sharepoint. Some companies are also pushing social media into this space. In any case it is seen as infrastructure and investments are low.

This is strange to me because the largest part of the organization is organized as a community and network. People with a certain passion and expertise connect and collaborate to get work done. Of course there are operational processes in companies. And if they can be automated, we should do this quickly. However the amount of time and money being put into these operational improvements is, to me, disproportional to the amount of time being spent by knowledge workers on non-operational work.

Do you agree? Do you see both of these views in the company you work for? And do you take them as they are: related to each other? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Realistic Influencing (part one)

realistic influencing Recently I went to a three-day course about 'Realistic Influencing'. I've been wanting to go to a course about influencing for some time. My role, as an information architect, is about influencing. And I'd like to know how courses about influencing try to help people be better influencers. I enjoyed the course and would like to share some learning points with you. Here's part one.

1. In the 1st place I like the diagram (inserted as a picture in this post). I like it's simplicity. And we went through all the parts of it and experimented with it. 'Facts' are things a person sees as real. His or her experienced truth. This don't not have to be the same as a fact, as we usually talk about facts. Like 2+2=4. As we know (and maybe even have experienced) some would dare say the equation is not true, not a fact either... The idea behind this model is to take the persons 'fact' as a fact.

'Criteria' are personal norms and values a person finds important. Sometimes they are implicit, sometimes explicit. Criteria are the ground of convictions. Some criteria are valid forever, some are valid during a project or a weekend, for instance. Example of a criterion is 'result driven' and 'be on time'. Note: a fact can also be a criterion.

The last part of the diagram is 'Conclusions'. Conclusions are the conclusions people draw based on the 'Facts' and 'Criteria'.

The whole model together comprised our 'Convictions'. So, 'Convictions' consists of 'Facts', 'Criteria' and 'Conclusions'.

2. As I said 'Criteria' can be implicit or explicit. Finding a person's criteria is important when influencing. Based on someone's 'Conclusions' you can try to find the other's 'Criteria' by asking: 'Why do you conclude this?'

The same goes for 'Facts'. They can be implicit or explicit too. Often people just state their 'Conclusions'. Understanding their underlying 'Facts' is essential for influencing. Asking 'What their factual basis is for their conclusion' is an easy way to find the fact or facts underlying their conclusion.

3. This diagram basically says: Don't try to change someone's Facts and Criteria. It's really hard to do that. This was an eye-opener to me. I find myself often not wondering what the criteria are of the person I'm trying to influence (usually because there is not enough time... - not an excuse!). Or I find myself working on his/her facts. Trying to prove the facts are wrong... And usually this doesn't work.

4. The underlying conviction(!) of this diagram is you need to 'click' with the other person to be able to influence. This 'click' needs to be on the level of 'convictions'.

5. So, the only place we can start is we have to start is Conclusions. How do we change them? There are three strategies:

1. Offer alternatives: based on the same facts and conclusions, draw different conclusions

2. Reframing: draw new conclusions, based on extra facts (remember don't try to change his/her facts!) you put next to the facts of the person you're trying to influence. Don't use too many extra facts!

3. Pragmatic evaluation: don't change a thing but think the filled in diagram through. What consequences do the conclusions have based on the facts and criteria. Are these consequences realistic, intended, etc.

6. We played around with the diagram and strategies, as said. And practiced using it in in real discussions.

7. We also examined our own criteria. We made a list of them and tried to rank them. (As I wrote, don't try to change someone's criteria. But if you have to try to start with the one that is ranked lowest.) Comparing your list to other's helped find overlap in criteria. This overlap is a good starting point for influencing.

Asking each other what his/her criteria are is a good way of finding the 'click'. The other can change the way you see him/her or he/she sees you are really listening.

What are some of my criteria? Honesty, Faithfulness, Justice, Do your best, etc.

8. An interesting part of the course was investigating our inner-voice. Most people have voices in their head telling them what to do. These voices can contradict each other. These voices usually have a link to short-term or long-term personal criteria. Listening to them is important to understand your personal criteria. You can play with them by speaking out loud about them. 'On the one hand I'd like to, but on the other hand...'.

9. We also went into nonverbal communication. Are these cues incongruent with what is being said?

10. And finally, on day 2 of the first part of the course, we also looked at 'Objections'. Objections are barriers that block seeing the future bright world. Objections can be practical or relate to criteria. Use the above-mentioned strategies to approach criteria-related objections. Approach objections related to practice with practical solutions.

That was all for the first part of the course. I'll blog about the second part soon.

I hope you enjoyed this post. How do you influence others? What is your approach? What works for you? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Who Wants My Free Full-Pass to e2.0 Boston?

I recently wrote about the prediction market I won. I told you I got a full-pass to the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston (June 2010). In short, my company won't pay for travel expenses, so I can't go regrettably. So, who wants my full-pass to the conference. Leave a comment and I'll select one of you with the best motivation!

Email Guidelines: Do You Have Them?

signRecently the old debate popped up again: what to do and not to do with email? A colleague started a rant about colleagues who continuously CC lots of people. Another chipped in about colleagues using 'reply all' too much.

Ah, the beauty of collaboration! ;-) Doesn't it all come down to agreeing how we work together? For this reason many companies set up a 'code of conduct' (or something like this). We have one too. Strangely enough these 'code of conducts' doesn't say much about using email for instance - as far as I know.

Some time ago we did an internal workshop with Novay about email productivity. One of the assignments was to come up with 'email guidelines'. The great thing is consensus about the 10 email guidelines we all would adhere to was easily found. (By the way, these guidelines were only approved by the workshop members, not by the whole organization. We still have a way to go...)

So, does your company have email guidelines? If so, how did you define them? And if not, what are your ideas why your company doesn't have them?

Six Degrees of Collaboration

Recently I was honored to be interviewed by CNBC Business. Colin Brown did a great job of writing it all up! It definitely not only an interesting article because I'm in it. The experiences and cases of the other interviewees are fascinating. Hope you enjoy it. If so, leave a comment. If not, please say so as well!

More Interviews about Enterprise 2.0 and Océ

Recently Jan van Veen and I had the privilege to talk with Jacob Morgan about the work we (and other colleagues) are doing in social media. You can find transcripts of the interviews here:
Others interviews about our work can be found here. You can compare them and see if we're making progress! ;-)

The Sustainability Debate Paper Versus Digital [Océ Whitepaper]

The company I work for, Océ, has a clear track record as a sustainable company. Way before it became the hot topic it is in these days.

Every year we have a Sustainability Week to focus even more on this topic. During this week an interesting whitepaper was released. It is about 'All in Balance. Océ's eco-efficient and eco-effective approach to analog and digital document'. Reference is made to a paper I wrote with others about (personal) document processes.

I hope you enjoy the whitepaper. If so leave a comment below or here.