Because it’s Friday: “Happiness” by Steve Cutts

Sometimes I pick something on a Friday because it is light and funny, other weeks it’s because it’s beautiful, at other time…well, I pick something because it appeals to me in a different way. This is one of those weeks (for those of you needing one more clue – the title of the video is ironic):

“Two percent of the people think; three percent of the people…

“Two percent of the people think; three percent of the people think they think; and ninety-five percent of the people would rather die than think.”

George Bernard Shaw

(I don’t think that there is any scientific basis for this quote 🙂 )

Because it’s Friday: “The Most Unsatisfying Video in the World ever made”

This video has been viewed nearly 6 million time – not bad for something “unsatisfying”.

I’d be interested to know how you respond to it. It made me laugh, but I suspect for some of you the reaction will be very different. Just remember, whatever your reaction it’s likely that millions of other people had a similar reaction:

Office Speak: Onboarding

The Very Short Version

The act of joining and integrating into an organisation, but also…

The Longer (More Interesting?) Version

There are certain words which I like and others that I don’t. My preference for a word often relates to its feel and aesthetic. I like word which are simple and elegant, onboarding, to me, is neither of these things. I see it as a clumsy overweight word that doesn’t have a straightforward meaning or portray a complete concept. For onboarding this distaste is compounded by my common dislike of flipping a verb into a noun, particularly when the original word in this case was an adjective.

The concept that onboarding is trying to portray is one of someone joining a ship or a plane – getting on board. This concept was at some point in the late 1990s applied to people joining an organisation and thus was born the term onboarding, it was rarely used before then. Wikipedia relates the term to organisational socialisation and in what is quite a long article highlights the various approaches and challenges of onboarding. Whilst I, personally, don’t like the word it makes sense in this context and highlights an important challenge that many organisations experience as people join them and try to become productive. Onboarding as, if nothing else, easier to say than organisational socialisation.

This is where, for me, the more significant problem arises – term expansion and subsequent degradation. Sometimes it feels like every act of implementation or change has become onboarding:

“I’m just onboarding this application”

“Next week we will onboard our new facilities”

“We are in the process of onboarding several updated processes”

“We are looking forward to onboarding our new customer”

“The new cat is part way through the onboarding activities”

None of these are organisational socialisation, apart from, perhaps, the cat.

This is what happens in the modern world of corporate speak, people leap into using a term that they perceive everyone else is using without understanding its origin or original meaning. This leads to expansion of the term’s meaning and a degradation of its value. Eventually the meaning is so diverse that another term gets picked and the cycle continues.

We don’t appear to have reached peak onboarding yet, if the Google search trends are anything to go by, but I suspect that we will have found a replacement for it in the next few years. I wonder what the replacement will be?

Posting to My Facebook Profile – No More

I’m no longer posting from this blog to Facebook. It’s not because I’ve decided that I no longer want to post a link to Facebook. It is because Facebook have decided that they want to take away the ability for services to do that posting to my profile on my behalf.

I used to use the publicize features WordPress to send an update as I published a new post straight to Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter, but Facebook have removed the capability to post there. I’ll still post to LinkedIn and Twitter.

Previously the way to do this was through a service like IFTTT, but they were using the same API and no longer work either.

There is an alternative, and that is to create a Facebook Page for my blog and to get the posts published there. That would require everyone I know on Facebook to also subscribe to my Facebook Page and I think that they probably have better things to do.

I could, also, click a few buttons and do it manually, but life’s too short for that.

So, for now, there will be no updates from my blog onto my Facebook Profile. But, if your normal interaction with me is via Facebook this post probably makes no difference to you, because you don’t know it exists, because this post won’t get posted on my Facebook Profile either. You won’t know what you don’t know.

“When a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth.”
George Bernard Shaw

Update: As others have reminded me, Buffer is also impacted by this change, so any updates I would have posted from Buffer won’t be coming from that route either.

Office Speak: The Tracker

The Very Short Version

A tracker is a list: Normally it’s a list of activities that need to be tracked and is often created in Microsoft Excel.

The Longer (More Interesting?) Version

A tracker is a list which is commonly a list of activities that someone has decided to put together for their own purposes which has sometimes been created from a template. The common purpose of a tracker is to place responsibility on other people for completion of the activities within it. The infection mechanism for trackers is simple, only requiring an individuals name or initials to be added to a line in a tracker at some point. Once added the individual is permanently infected by the tracker with limited chance of rehabilitation. Individuals do not need to be present to become infected.

Trackers are reproducing organisms that can multiply into plague inducing swarms if hygiene activities are not undertaken. There can be multiple trackers for each activity and multiple activities within a tracker, there are even organisations with trackers that track the number of trackers. Each tracker is commonly associated with a progress meeting which will require all of the infected members to attend for the entirety of the meeting even though they may only have limited exposure to the disease. A single record on a tracker is enough to mandate attendance at the progress meeting, some trackers have several hundred records associated with them and the expectation is that every line in the tracker is being worked on.

The common tracker is also likely to morph from a simple organism into a complex mind-bending organism that confuse everyone apart from the creator of the tracker. The scope of a tracker is one of it’s primary morphing mechanisms, the scope is rarely limited which allows it to grow and shrink at any time.

The primary infection source for trackers is Microsoft Excel which, when combined with email can achieve impressive rates of disease amongst the standard workforce. This form of contagion is extremely difficult to monitor as it slips unseen into the normal operation of many businesses through the standard communication mechanisms. The multiplication effect of email communicated trackers produces a significant increase in repetitive data being sent across these mechanisms whilst at the same time making the creation of a comprehensive view of the works required almost impossible. The lack of a comprehensive view of activities is commonly managed through the use of another tracker.

Trackers are non-exclusive infectors with workers experiencing the combined effects from exposure to multiple trackers. The nature of these symptoms differ between the trackers with each tracker having morphed slightly from its previous incarnation and trackers themselves having no defined structure, other than being based on a list. Individuals with multiple tracker infections will be expected to attend the progress meeting for each infection, even if the infection relates to a single activity being undertaken.

One effect of trackers is to make people colour-blind, this has been concluded from a multi-year review of the contents of trackers and the formatting of the cells within these trackers. Particular favourites are red text-on-blue background and yellow text-on-green background.

It is very rare for a tracker to die, they nearly always become dormant before they can be completed. They then lie dormant until someone, generally the person who created them, revives them and reinvigorates the infection for the people named within the tracker.

Some trackers are able to slip under the attention radar and possess cloaking capabilities. If an individual has not noticed an infection by a particular tracker they are liable to be embarrassed in a progress meeting. If you are invited to a progress meeting it is likely that you have been infected even though that infection may not be evident.  Trackers do not actively alert those that have been infected, the disease lies cloaked until a meeting.

Other, more effective, mechanisms for tracking activity do exist and can be successfully deployed as a vaccine, but these are only partially successful and rarely eradicate the tracker infestation completely. This does not mean that attempts to do so are without merit because deployment of alternative mechanisms will allow workers to be effective in the parts of their life where the tracker has been eliminated.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with tracker infections, I am considering the creation of a support group for those impacted and would like to know whether you would be interested in attending. I will, of course, create a tracker for this.

The Suboptimal Kitchen – The 10 Steps to Getting a Cup of Tea

Process for getting a cup-of-tea in a certain kitchen:

  1. Enter the room and make your way to the sink from south to north. Try to avoid the crossing traffic on your way. Wash cup with provided cleaning equipment. Don’t bother trying to dry your cup because that means trying to get to the paper towels which are the other side of the hot water area and would involve more cross-step navigation than is good for anyone’s health.
  2. Turn around and proceed to collect a tea bag from the receptacle on the western side. Special attention should be given to the fridge door which may be open causing a hazard. There may also be individuals stood behind you awaiting access to the sink, another hazard.
  3. Traverse back across the room towards the hot water geyser. Add water and tea bag into cup. Be sure to maintain awareness of traffic crossing that is seeking to access the fridge on a east-west direction and also people accessing the sink in a south-north direction.
  4. Make the small easterly traverse to collect a stirring stick. There are a few hazards on this trip, but it can sometimes be affected by erratic behaviours around the hot water geyser with people approaching direction from the entrance in a south-north direction. People mistakenly seeking to access the paper towels may also be traversing in the same direction, these people should be regarded with suspicion.
  5. Head, slowly, in a southerly direction whilst stirring the tea bag in the cup. Deposit tea bag into the bin whilst retaining the stirrer once the required level of tea strength has been achieved. You will encounter others on your journey to the bin who prefer a stronger brew than you and are not yet willing to surrender their tea bag. There is also a likelihood of milk foragers intersecting this journey in an east-west direction. There may also be individuals heading directly towards you on their return trip from the bin in step 6.
  6. The location of the milk is dependent upon the time of day and other parameters that are too complex to describe here. To be sure to cover all of the requirements partially retrace your steps back towards the stirrers in order to access whether any milk has been left out of the fridge on the eastern side.
  7. If milk is located on the eastern side it will need to be assessed for its freshness as it has been out of the fridge for an unknown length of time. If fresh, add to tea, stir and exit via step 10. More normally though the milk on the side is just an empty carton, in this situation deposit the empty carton in the appropriate bin, because you know where the bin is and others clearly don’t.
  8. From the bin you will need to navigate across the room again in a westerly direction to the fridge. This involves crossing several north-south and even some west-east traffic. Once safely on the western side remove milk from the fridge, add to tea and stir.
  9. As you have taken some fresh milk out of the fridge you will need to make a complex assessment using several other undefined parameters as to where to place the milk. If someone else is actively looking for milk on the eastern fringes it is expected that you will pass it to them. If the kitchen is empty then it’s normally more appropriate to place it back into the fridge. Other than that it’s almost impossible to know what the right thing to do with the milk is, placing it in the fridge is often the safest choice. You may have to make an assessment of what to do with the milk whilst also traversing from west to east and crossing several other task routes.
  10. It’s now time to leave, assess the required cross-traffic situation and proceed with caution. If you’ve been following closely you will have noticed that you are still in possession of a stirrer. This should be deposited in the bin just outside the kitchen, because it’s just too difficult to get access to the bin in the kitchen.

This is based on a real kitchen, no attempt has been made to hide details in this post. If you’ve been in this kitchen you will know exactly where it is.

Please do not try to optimise these steps, it has been tried before and it’s just too politically difficult.