Expressions – inside, outside, sideways

I spend a good deal of my life expressing my thoughts and feelings on all sorts of online communities. Glen Coe

Some of those communities are inside the organisation that I work for, a good deal of this expression, like this blog, is done outside the organisation.

I wrote the other day about all of the ways in which I could waste my time, I did this as a bit of a joke. Truth is that all of the places of expression take time, but there are lots of other challenges to working this way. Here’s my top 10:

  1. Am I repeating myself? – it’s difficult to know what I have said where, sometimes I have to check, sometimes I’ve got it wrong.
  2. Am I saying the right thing? – there are different audiences so I need to make sure that what I say is relevant and doesn’t reference something I said somewhere else.
  3. Am I breaking confidence? – I can say things inside the organisation that I can’t say outside.
  4. Am I giving people the attention that they deserved? – I’m not writing very often on this blog because I’m spending so much time writing inside the organisation. Am I being disrespectful to my external audience, and does it matter?
  5. Are my comments relevant? – Comments are a particular challenge. If I comment inside the organisation I shouldn’t expect people to know about me outside the organisation and the same is true the other way around.
  6. Where do I aggregate information? – If I send my Twitter updates to Facebook are they relevant in Facebook?
  7. Some people will see more than others – some read only one thing that I write, others read a lot of things.
  8. Does the real me come across in a single stream? – If someone only read my Facebook what impression would it give? If they only read my blog would the impression be different?
  9. Should I consolidate? – It’s always better to do one thing well. Would I be better dropping Twitter, Blog, etc.
  10. How do I prioritise? – Is inside more valuable than outside? Is the number of readers significant?

In summary; I sometime feel like I’m in the middle of a social experiment; an experiment that will radically change the way we work over coming years.

I could spend hours doing this…

Discipline is such a key issue for productive work especially when there are so many distractions around. Let me give you my ultimate time wasting recipe:

  1. Check your corporate email for unread items.Island Hoping
  2. Read the first two emails by which time you should be bored
  3. Wonder what is happening on Twitter.
  4. Browse through the fresh set of updated. It is essential that you are following enough people to guarantee a fresh crop of tweets every time you look. This is easily done by following a number of news accounts.
  5. Once bored of tweets skip over to your RSS reader to see if there are any updates. Like twitter it is vital to be following a whole stack of feeds. The syndicated and group blogs are the best for guaranteeing updates on every visit, LifeHacker and BetaNews are good examples.
  6. Read posts until bored. The key is to never get to the end of your unread list ensuring that return visits result in further reading.
  7. Continuing the blog theme jump over to your WordPress Dashboard. This is the first of many information sources that you are convinced give you important information each time you visit.
  8. From your WordPress dashboard take particular interest in one or maybe two vital statistics justifying your next stop – Google Analytics.
  9. Google Analytics will highlight some interesting searches that have reached your site – it always does. Justify to yourself a quick trip to Google Webmaster Tools for further information.
  10. If there is any danger of you getting to the end of the statistics before you have successfully wasted enough of your valuable time you can also skip through the Bing Webmaster Tools and the Yahoo Webmaster tools. Three search tools are normally enough, but if you want to waste even more time other search engines are available.
  11. Your next stop is your personal email – again, read a few posts but never get to the end of the unread items available.
  12. Hopefully your personal email will highlight some justification for going to Facebook, but if it doesn’t just go there anyway. Don’t waste your time on applications or silly games – that would be a real waste of time. Spend time reading status updates and looking at photos of people you have never met.
  13. It’s time now to graze through some of the corporate tools that you have available. Portals and dashboards provide more information than you could possible consume. This can soon be justified as work even when you are only mooching around. Justifiable time wasting is the best form.
  14. The next activity that is vital to your time wasting credibility is your ability to browse around new sites. The BBC is particularly good for this there are endless possibilities in news and Sport.

If you are in danger of having to do some real work, by getting to the end of the list, you can, at any point, return to the top of the list.

If you have followed the guidelines correctly there should always be something to do.

Also, remember that you can carry on these same distractions when away from the office by use of a SmartPhone or other such device. Location should not be an inhibitor.

Following this recipe should ensure that you always look busy and avoid unnecessary activities that may result in something being produced. Alternatively, you could just redefine these activities as work and then you will have completed everything there is to complete.

Working through this kind of distraction reaction process is what I’m sure many people do and will do, but it isn’t good for you, or for your brain. Being able to cope with the lure of these attention giving sirens will be a defining feature of the future workforce.

Social Networking – Changing Society

I’ve just sat down for tea (dinner if you are in the south of England or some other countries) with the family.Loch Awe

The topic of discussion this even was a story about a friend of my daughter who had been told off in school by here teacher.

What for I heard you asking?

For putting on here Facebook status: “I hate [the teacher]

I’m sure that this little story is being played out with different characters and different technology all over the world but the essence is the same.

It’s a changing society in which we are all going to have to learn new skills and take different precautions.

It never would have happened in my day.

Socialising with Customers

I’ve spoken to a few people about social networking, and many of them really struggle to understand the “business value” of the types of interactions that social networking technology allows. The following video has some interesting insights for the changing interaction between organisations and customers.Swans, swans, swans

Probably the most interesting quote comes from Scott Monty of  Ford:

“We’re not interested in advertising on social networks. It’s about getting in there and interacting with people. Now, more than ever, people can self publish, put up their own content and be there own publishing houses, they have a voice and they expect to be heard. And when a large organisation pays attention to them and starts conversing with them it really lifts the lights for a lot of people”

That’s quite a powerful statement about customer’s changing expectations. The part that struck me, though, was to think about all of the customers that we all have.

I work for an IT service organisation and we are definitely seeing this shift in expectations. It’s no longer acceptable to have a service desk that people phone into, people want to take the relationship much further than that.

Facebook and me

ParaglidingIt’s been a few weeks since I started using Facebook.

I’m mostly enjoying the experience. I have a few friends, some from work, some from my personal life. I’ve even had a couple of surprise people contact me from my dim and distant past.

I’ve added a few applications and there are a few active groups that I have joined.

It’s not changed my life but it has got me thinking: If Facebook were my corporate portal would it do a better job? I’ve not concluded that one yet, but I am struck by the amount of effort corporate organisations have to put in to get people to use their specially built portal when Facebook gets thousands of new subscribers and active participants every day.

Technorati tags: ,

BBC Update: Bookmark with:

Rain in Lancashire? How much deeper are you going to go?The BBC has modified its pages to provide a link to some of the more popular bookmark sites.

It’s another step into the mainstream for, Digg, reddit and the rest. It also marks the seemingly relentless march of Facebook.

I’ve just posted a really interesting article about plumbers to my Facebook profile. Nice!

Is this new, or did I miss it being released. It’s quite new, I know that much.

The 'Info-glut'

Adventures in Teenbed-Ageroom: Jiimy tries to scale the mount called Revisionpaperwork

Greg at EOD joins the rant about the glut of information and it’s definitely one of the more entertaining ones.


The conclusion:



“As of now, my fancy-pants, community-generated, emergent-behaviour data-sorting heuristic is: a calendar. If I haven’t gotten to something in a week, it dies. Stick that in your attention economy and smoke it. I’m re-booting. Feed list: empty. In-box: empty. TiVo: OK, OK, I still need to watch “24.” But other than that: empty.”


There is a lot to be said for the time based approach.


My dad always used to follow a three draw approach. When his in-tray became full he would put everything out of it into the top draw in his desk. If someone asked him about something he would go and find it, if it was in his top draw it would get put back into his in-tray. Every time his top draw became full he would take everything out of it and place it in the bin without even looking at it. If it had become that old he clearly wasn’t going to get to it and it probably wasn’t relevant anyway. GTD encourages people to do something similar and Greg’s approach sounds equally sensible.


It’s definitely time for people to realise that they need to take control no-one else is going to do it for them.

The always-on social impacts

My friend Steve has just posted a really interesting article on the business case for PDA’s, but most importantly the impacts of the Always on Society.

It’s very interesting observing the social impacts of the working environment that people are forced to work in. I wrote the other day about the general working environment and it’s impact personally on my productivity. (Today I am working from home and it’s Friday s feel great). But it’s a really interesting thing to observe how other people interact with technology and the various connection infrastructures that they have.

Sue, my wife, is an interesting example. She works as a Pastoral Worker for our church (a voluntary position, but no less demanding) and the way that she interacts with the various connection infrastructures is fascinating.

When we come home from holiday, or even a short break, Sue has established a routine that drives me nuts, but is actually no different to the way so many people interact with their connection infrastructures. On films people returning from holiday, walk through the door with bags in hands, turn to each other, have a big hug and say something like ‘it’s great to be home’. Not in my house, are you kidding. As soon as Sue gets through the door she picks up the post and goes straight to the phone which will inevitably be flashing with a number of messages. These messages will be the few messages that have been left in the last 24 hours, because she has already phoned it every day while we have been away. And while she is walking around with the hands-free phone listening to the messages she walks into the study turns the PC on and sits down. She then goes through the post while the PC is booting up (still listening to messages) and down-loading the emails. She then goes through the emails. As a man this is infuriating because I am, of course, completely superfluous to this activity (there is nothing worse for a man than to feel redundant). So what do I do, I go and get the bags in from the car of course.

The thing is, these messages and emails can be anything. It’s not primarily personal correspondence that she is dealing with here, it’s primarily work related. And because she is a pastoral worker these messages can be anything and generally include births, deaths, sickness, upset, separation; anyone of the full spectrum of life’s highs and lows.

Yet, just because it is there, she needs to reconnect herself. She knows it drives me mad, and she knows that for me it marks a stark and sudden end to a holiday that I would rather keep going for a few hours.

I don’t take a laptop on holiday, not because I will fell the need to stay connected, because I know Sue will need to.

The other thing she has is the need to read text messages as soon as they arrive, wherever whenever, even if it’s late at night. For me, it’s more likely that the message itself will spoil my nights sleep, for Sue, the knowledge that there is some information that she doesn’t have will definitely spoil her nights sleep.

Now, there is some logic to all of this. And I’m not saying I’m right and she is wrong. I’m just saying we are different. For Sue, she would rather get all of the information in small doses. Just because she has the information doesn’t mean she worries about it. For me, I’d rather not have the information at all, because I do worry about it. Not sure whether that’s a man-woman thing, or whether it’s our different personalities. What it does mean is that she sneaks away while we are on holiday to phone home and listen to the messages and that definitely troubles me, because it feels a bit like she is behaving like an addict would. She only does it because she knows it winds me up, I’m sure.

Anyway, at today’s level of technology there is a certain level of disconnection. If we are camping in Northern Scotland there is no mobile signal and I’m not driving to a phone box so she can listen to the messages. But those days are rapidly coming to a close. So what will it take for us to fully understand what we are doing to ourselves in being this connected and when will we understand how to train people how to deal with his level of connectivity. How do you train someone to turn off a mobile phone? How do you train someone to know that stuff happens and to relax in it? How do we change the technology so that we get the really important stuff and not the dross? I have a colleague who sends everything to me as ‘urgent’ and it’s not. One of these days he’ll send me something really important and I’ll miss it.

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