Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Seth's Blog: The sugar cane machine

A small island grows sugar cane. Many people harvest it, and one guy owns the machine that can process the cane and turn it into juice.

Who wins.....

Another simple but worthy parable from Seth. If in a market that has reached a competitive parity, competing on price or efficiency can only get you so far. At some point the differentiation needs to come from something else. Something the other don't have, don't value, and haven't thought of.

Finding that thing for you and your company will never be easy, since after all, if it was easy to recognize somebody would have already started.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


When an oil spill is easier to locate on the map than some of the countries still vying for the Word Cup, then you know your in trouble.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Leadership Equals:....

Simon Sinek posted recently, Re:Focus: The Best Leaders Teach Others To Lead.

In too many places management has replaced leadership as a value. To manage implies that those around you require outside influence to do even the most ordinary and mundane things (i.e. shepherds have to manage their flock. If not the sheep wander off, fall down holes, and get eaten by wolves).

Leadership, implies that the "flock" chooses to follow. Leaders are often selected by the "lead". So when we build a culture around leadership, the leaders as well as the leader should aim to do the right thing and go the right way because it is just that the right way. Leadership, is not a carrot and stick mentality but one where-in the motivation comes from within.

Ideally, the leader inspires the lead to become the next leaders. Managers, never inspire little else but dissent.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What Airports have your been too and how do you rate them?

What it's like to own an Apple product - The Oatmeal

What it's like to own an Apple product - The Oatmeal

The Oatmeal once again hits the nail on the head, such a clear lens on the world is the OATMEAL.

alternate reality 1977: we are not time travelers

Cool pics of what it would have looked like if the tech of the current era was inserted into the style of the '70's

mondaydots: Information Gap

Jeff Monday @ mondaydots makes another simple elegant explanation of ideas. This time from the Theory of the Information Gap and how to use it.

In reading "Driven" & "Made to Stick" I stumbled across an incredibly interesting idea. It's called Information Gap Theory. Dr. George Lowenstien wrote a paper about it in 1994 and it works like this: when we come across something new that is not explained by our previous knowledge or experiences, an information gap is formed. If you are a designer, creator or communicator, understanding how to use this gap will have great rewards.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Global roaming = Frustration

using a roaming prepaid sim card has on this trip been absolutely frustrating. I would still like to find a reasonable solution for using a mobile phone in EU without having to pay an arm and a leg, or having to swap phone cards every time I enter a new country.

WorldSim: had promise but it turns out that my sim got messed up. In fact the number assigned to the sim changed twice so far, so that now I can't seem to top it up.

Telestial: this is the service I had the first time and it has so far worked the best. I only tried the worldsim because it was available at the airport store when I landed in Amsterdam

You will want to have an unlocked GSM tri or quad band phone to use one of these cell phone SIM cards.

There are certainly other providers out there which I have not tried yet. But I need to find one solution, soon.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Seth's Blog: Goodbye to the office

Extracting a few points from his observations

  • How many meetings are important? If you didn't go, what would happen?
  • You can get energy from people other than those in the same company.
  • Of the # people in your office, how many do you collaborate with daily?
Another consideration into the future of the office is:

  • SYNC or ASYNC?

There has long been a push to get everybody in the world to telecommute (I have had much pressure to stop getting onto planes and start working with Telepresence. But, a consistent roadblock to effectively running an organization via telepresence is the effectiveness with which we manage our synchronous and asynchronous working habits.

Synchronous work is that which requires that you and I be working/thinking/discussion simultaneously
Asynchronous work is that which allows that we do or things independently at different times/locations

Logitech ClearChat Wireless USB Headset - Black I have logged enough hours in the Headset to tell you that sitting through "updates" for the web meeting is one of the most painful things in the world. Updating is an ASYNCH activity. I don't need to hear the update the same time as anybody else as long as I hear the same thing.

Discussions, as long as they are two-way channels of communication. Many emails threads of conversation we've had could have been much better if we bothered to make that conversation SYNC. But email is ASYNC. The Feedback mechanism as to whether or not your colleauge is listening or giving you proper attention is not clear.
Logitech 2 MP HD Webcam Pro 9000 with Built-in MicrophoneCameras are good for having telepresence. It is funny how the appearance of somebodies face on the screen makes a difference. They can also make the ASYNC aspects of telecommuting better, as I think if you need to monologue to get your point across you might as well record it to ensure that the body language and facial ticks are present to make sure that your nuance is not lost in the typing of an email, or chat window.

Make use of collobarative tools if you want me tuned in during these SYNC events online. Like Dabbleboard.

Would this help you tell your story more or less effectively during the telephone call or web conference?

Before we can kill the office we need to find what are the activities that really require us to be SYNC'd or ASYNC in our communication. Strip out the ASYNC (and ensure people do their meeting prep) and maximize the SYNC experience. Making sure we can be interactive and collaborative.

How not to solve problems

I wish there was some higher lesson in problem solving I could offer as a moral here, but instead I am stuck between laughing and crying.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Did you read the instructions?

it's not just the instructions that need to be read. Surprisingly computers have this thing called a user interface, which graphically indicates what to do. Many times the buttons have text on them that explains what the button does.

"How do i print?"
"Have you tried the button labeled print?"
"That might work."

SethG: 16 questions for free agents

Seth Grodin's Blog recently post the questions that I had long sought to consider in this blog. But of course since he is Seth and I am not he gets props for saying to more people. I would however like to consider his post:

16 questions for free agents

1. Who are you trying to please?
2. Are you trying to make a living, make a difference, or leave a legacy?

8. Which: to invent a category or to be just like Bob/Sue, but better?

11. Choose: teach and lead and challenge your customers, or do what they ask...

15. How close to failure, wipe out and humiliation are you willing to fly? (And while we're on the topic, how open to criticism are you willing to be?)
16. What does busy look like?

I wish I had posted it first, but it is a good list.
Check out Seth's Blog or search here for other consulting and free agent suggestions.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

On the tarmack again

Frequent flier programs are more beneficial for travel companies than business travelers, Christopher Elliott says.

After the longest travel hiatus of the last two years--i am back in the airport awaiting the boarding to Nashville for the SME annual meeting.

Trying to remember why I participate in the Society. Hopefully I am able to recharge my batteries in regards to the professional society. Lately, it has been a drain on my time, my creativity, and patience as fewer people actually seem to be actively participating.

In any case, plugged in and tuning out.
Panasonic RP-HC55-S Noise-Cancelling Earbud Headphones (Silver)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What motivates employees?

RSA animates video, discussing motivation

Around 6:00 into it runs into some very valuable example of how a software company increased motivation and spurred innovation.
Autonomy day = 24 hours of free reign for the developers to work on whatever their little hearts desired, so long as they shared what they worked on during that period in a special meeting at the end of the 24 hours.

Result??? New ideas, fixes to old ideas, high  performance.

Lesson, Autonomy-Mastery-Purpose.
Great video. Now i need to figure out how to put it into action.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Is it for Real?

Apparently Honda is reinventing the wheel.

Honda U3-X Personal Mobility Device

Some of the video footage looks staged, but it could be real.

If this is for real it will be the ultimate geek toy for the next few years. Even better than "it" when the Segway came out. Trippy. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Delta: WTF?

Every travelers down day: Getting their reservations hosed up when the agent at the check-in F***s up.

Thank you Delta Airlines check-in staff at Detroit Wayne International Airport McNamara terminal for messing up my travel arrangements that I had made MONTHS in advance. First off, even if when I check in you see a duplicate record for the same flight, same seat, same day .... don't try to clean things up by deleting one of the entries. You'll leave me in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport again not knowing if I have a flight anymore. Since you essentially deleted me off the plane.

Next, why bother having twitter if you don't check your @delta or @deltaairlines tags/replies/mentions. After all i was stuck in the airport due to your foul-up.

Finally, thank your partners at KLM and the kind staff at the desk who did help me get on the plane. With a business upgrade.

And please whatever you do, don't forget to credit me my miles for that flight. I don't want to have to recall any part of that trip.