...and the list goes on.
When did our business communication stop being authentic and start being a frantic race to leverage robust world-class business intel that offers flexible, yet scalable, capabilities to help achieve (I really wanted to say "leverage" again) potential and future stakeholder value?
Um, I feel a little bit better. Can you tell I've been reading some deadly emails today...and casting a jaundiced eye to some that I've recently written as well?
What is your least favorite gobbledygook business term or phrase? Bonus points if you're willing to write it on a 3x5 card, set it on fire and never use it again.
Chime in on the discussion here or here.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Interesting little gizmo. I like the screen protection afforded by the clamshell-like design along with the twist-to-tablet operation, but I can't help thinking it's a little too small. His hands look a little too large for touch typing. The video shows a user typing (albeit somewhat torturously) with it sitting on the table and using two thumbs (like a Treo or Blackberry) when holding it in both hands.
The video also follows what seems to be an industry trend to show a user playing games or music with the device (very clear images showing how it would work) and grainy images of work applications (if they're shown at all). For me, I'd like to get real work done while listening to music. I'm not a big one for futzing around (a technical term) with downloadable tracks: I just tune in my Sirius account online and listen in the background.
In the 20 some odd years that the BG posse over in Redmond have been creating new products, they've finally done it: left us completely bewildered by their product icons. Aside from the usual suspects (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Frontpage), I've gotten good at guessing, which is the only reason I scored so well (trust me: I still don't know what Groove is). Take this quiz and see how you do (so far the average score is 58% with 327 responding).
Icon... Can You?
Score: 83% (10 out of 12)
My comments (and those of other inquisitive souls) at Mental Floss...
Friday, September 14, 2007
Just as I was getting ready to head off to do some other writing, I saw this write up on the Wired.com website: OQO Model 02 Upgraded: Faster Chip, Faster WWAN, Faster Storage. From the OQO website:
Huh! Now, it's not uncommon for a new product roll out strategy to include higher initial prices (to try to recoup up-front development and marketing costs) and there's lots of chatter on the 'sphere about the tad too quick $200 price drop on the iPhone (leaving early adopters feeling like iDiots). But I think unlike the iPhone price drop, the drop in the OQO price is due to the entry in to the marketplace of other UMPC's.
SAN FRANCISCO – September 10, 2007 – OQO Inc., creator of the model 02, the world’s smallest PC running Windows Vista® and the first ultra mobile PC (UMPC) with embedded 3G mobile broadband, today announced new model 02 products with high performance features that deliver increased Anytime/Anywhere Productivity™ and extend OQO’s lead in the category. To accelerate consumer and enterprise adoption of the model 02, OQO is aggressively pricing its upgraded UMPCs starting at $1,299.
Bigger HDDs, New Flash Memory SSD The improvements to the model 02 product line start with a choice of high-capacity storage options. In an industry first, OQO now offers an ultra-mobile PC with a 120GB hard disk ideal for video, audio, and data-intensive applications. At the same time, HDD capacities have increased across the board: to 40GB in the entry-level model, and to 80GB in the standard high-end configuration. For users requiring an even more advanced storage solution, OQO now offers the model 02 with a flash-based 32GB solid state drive. The SSD provides up to 50% faster boot and application launch times, as well as increased battery life and the ultimate in rugged physical data protection.
Faster CPU Speeds and Improved Wireless Connectivity
The new model 02 delivers faster CPU speeds of up to 1.6GHz, another industry first in a UMPC. WWAN configurations of the model 02 are now available with higher-speed wireless connectivity provided by EV-DO Rev. A with mobile broadband service from Verizon Wireless or Sprint. EV-DO Rev. A offers data rates of up to 1.4Mbps, improved upstream speed, and lower latency. Users will find Rev. A particularly useful for online video, interactive web content, and bandwidth-intensive enterprise applications.
Due to increased volumes and new technologies, OQO is delivering the new model 02 with a lower price point or improved functionality at every level of the product line. The entry-level price for an OQO model 02 has been reduced by $200 (to just $1299) while increasing disk drive capacity by 33%. Additional pricing is available at OQO’s online store at www.oqo.com/store.“With today’s announcement, OQO further extends its lead in the fast-growing UMPC category,” according to Bob Rosin, senior vice president of marketing & alliances. “OQO created the UMPC and our new products offer performance, wireless and storage options that further advance our vision of anytime/anywhere access to information, applications, corporate networks and the full PC internet.”
Usually the market leader sets the price and, when others enter the market (and competition heats up), drop their price significantly to drive others, who can't afford a price drop, out. Trouble is, it drives out innovation and creativity as well. Oh, and the fact that the OQO was priced at the higher end in the first place (and the market isn't quite getting warm yet). The recent entry of the Vye mini at $1,350 (with an $850 model available) has got to be giving new OQO CEO Dennis Moore (dum-dum-dee!) a case of the shakes (is it any wonder, then that the price drop came simultaneous with his appointment).
Having heard nothing from the good people at OQO, I'm left with the clear impression that they are unwilling to consider the impact of the right-handed bias with respect to their pointer placement. I've been looking for other options, though I'm still holding out. Here's one, the Vye Mini from VyePC with their write-up:
Weighing 2.2 lbs and small enough to fit in a school bag, handbag or briefcase, the mini-v is the world’s most practical mini notebook computer designed to offer everything that a notebook can. The mini-v has the benefit of having an easy to use qwerty keyboard, with real keys and full notebook functionality. The mini-v combines your conventional notebook, desktop, PDA, MP3 and MP4 Player, whilst being not much bigger than a paperback book. The mini-v mini-notebook from Vye Computers offers great performance in a stylish silver and black lightweight design. With its stunning 7-inchWSVGA touch screen display, this mini-notebook offers you the best on-screen performance, enabling you to operate full Microsoft Offic applications, watch films or view pictures of your last holiday. All this with the freedom to choose from keyboard, mouse, touch pad, joystick, touch screen and stylus.
The mini-v comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Vista and can act as a Phone, Notebook, MP3 Player and PMP (Portable Movie Player) as it has been fully tested with iTunes, DiVX, Skype and comes with CF (Compact Flash) compatibility to support a 3G data/voice card. Using Intel® McCaslin technology and configurations that will include Intel Stealey processors, the mini-v is a compact notebook computer that’s capable of acting as your office PC. With an integrated VGA port, 10/100 LAN and USB 2.0 interfaces, you can connect all your desktop peripherals and multimedia devices to the mini-v. With integrated Wireless LAN and built-in Bluetooth® you can also take advantage of wireless networks and hot spots whilst out and about.
The Vye Mini is slated for US release next week. The two memory options will allow you to get your mitts on one: The Intel A110 800MHz processor or the Geode chip which is about half the price (and half the memory).
Still looking for options as my HP Pavilion continues to get some age on it. Besides, it isn't getting any lighter and my travel schedule is heating up (much like the battery compartment on the loaner Dell I'm using).
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I just got a call from my Dad in Lafayette, Indiana (my hometown). Excited, he explained to me that there was an article about me and my podcast in his newspaper today. Seems one of his fellow deacons told him about it at church today and he rushed home to see the article for himself.
Now, I'm certain that my Dad doesn't understand the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) that makes my podcast (or this blog, for that matter), possible, but I'm still smiling thinking about how he sounded when he read the article to me: "...Amos is the daughter of local resident, Gordon Amos...."
Nothing better, friends.
I love words. Always did. My mother bought us, first a dictionary, and then a set of encyclopedia when we were very young children. My brothers and I read the entries in those blue and white Grollier International volumes like short stories in an anthology.
My work with clients includes constant clarification of what they say and how it connects (or doesn't connect) to their beliefs, actions and results. Does your language create your business reality? You bet. Is this something New Age, connected with the? Where have you been? Really! It isn't just the good people in the marketing department who agonize over words: It's also the concern of those of use who work in the area of business strategy as well. Our words are like the points on a map towards our desired results. Nebulous strategic mission, vision, objectives, strategies and action plans will get you...well, you get the picture.
In this TED Talk, lexicographer Erin McKean discusses her work in the constant pursuit of new words, new meanings for old words, or signs that once-favored terms have fallen out of use. She worries that dictionary editors are viewed as little more than traffic cops looking to police the "bad words" and put dictionaries on the Internet in the same way that they exist on paper. She longs to participate in the Internet-driven transformation of words and meaning.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I know that on your blog you occasionally introduce new products/services that you have found useful and innovative. I want to make a recommendation to you that would be a great tool for a lot of small business…particularly those that have employees who travel or that want to send/share files.
I use this service instead of uploading to my own company web server. The transfer speed is blazing fast and the user interface is nearly dumbproof. Password protecting files takes two clicks. Just a great all around file tool.
See ya’ around-
Body Shop Founder, Green Movement Pioneer, Dies -
Body Shop founder Anita Roddick died of a brain hemorrhage Monday. Ms. Roddick started the environmentally friendly cosmetics boutique in 1976, long before the green movement became mainstream. She didn't wait for her marketing division to tell her that there were imminent profits to be had before doing what she believed was right.
Greenpeace executive director John Sauven called Roddick an "incredible woman" who would be "sorely missed."
"She was so ahead of her time when it came to issues of how business could be done in different ways, not just profit-motivated but taking into account environmental issues," Sauven said. "When you look at it today, and how every company claims to be green, she was living this decades ago."
Sunday, September 09, 2007
The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego has settled lawsuits with alleged abuse victims for $198 million, double what the church offered just months ago. Settlements here in the US have topped $2.3 billion in the aggregate and leave me wondering at what could be the largest failure in sexual harassment and abuse of children in history.
Now, before we beat our chests and thunder "The Children!" know this: we're not too good at dealing with harassment and sexual harassment in the workforce when all parties are adults. I worked for a time as an internal HR rep. Our focus seemed not on rooting out problems before they escalated; instead, with little company-funded training (I paid for a lot of my own development), reps were known to tell people they were making too much of situations, being "too sensitive" and other things. The thinking was that by getting the complainant to simmer down, it would go away. It didn't. Generally, complainants began suffering workplace write ups as their productivity and workplace ethic began to decline. It usually started with attendance and the every-ready "attitudinal" anomalies. On several occasions, it escalated to violence (including gun play).
One gentleman that came to my attention had an employee file that was almost an inch thick, stuffed with complaints by women workers that spanned over 20 years. The corporate "we" had done nothing--and he wasn't the only one. Side note: When I came to talk with him at the end of second shift about the most-recent complaints--wait for it...wait for it--he hit on me, telling me how pretty I was and moving from his side of the table to mine (we were at a small table with only two chairs).
Help me, heaven!
When I suggested escalating the discipline, I was reminded how many years of service he had with the company, with no consideration about policy or the law (or--heck--the feelings and rights of the women involved). Like priests with long tenure, these people are given a "pass" and begin to believe that their behavior is acceptable: "If they really didn't want me to do this, they'd punch my ticket." It wasn't lost on me that just I was leaving that organization they were served with a $550 million race and age discrimination suit.
In an earlier blog post on this site, Like Nobody's Business: How We Want to Work...and Live: Mean People are Made to Pay!, we saw that it didn't take an censer and a sacramental vestments to get slammed by our reluctance to roll up our sleeves and deal effectively with predatory behavior in the workplace. Deutsche Bank got a $1.5 million spanking for refusing to effectively deal with threatening, harassing behavior. Studies suggest that our inability to deal with workplace relationships can cost in excess of $60 billion annually.
We didn't get it any more than these diocese.
I've said before, how ludicrous it is to me that the people charged with fair dealing with firms (churches, civic organizations, etc.) are not required to be trained in problem solving and effective conflict resolution.
Friday, September 07, 2007
This is a short work week due to the Labor Day Holiday. People are slammed, trying to get work done and the children back to school...and everything else. Someone said their short week felt more like a punishment requiring them to work even longer hours. Conversations have turned to the mythic Work-Life Balance.
Where did this come from?
This term was coined around 1986. Men and women of color and white women had begun making serious inroads into the professional workforce. The country had been experiencing a depressed economy and people were working longer hours to try to get ahead. Added to this, workforce reductions caused people to work even longer hours. Workers balked at complaining over the extended work weeks for fear that they'd wind up on the chopping block. There was a heady mix of increased worker productivity, advances in technology, stepped-up globalization, and more people in the workplace that went into the RIF brew. After WWII, the average work week was right at 40 hours. Today, younger workers are unfazed by a 70 hour week with an average work week of 47 hours (this with the addition of women and people of color).
To most minds, WLB is little more than time off.
I remember taking a group of managers off into the "wilderness" (Oconomowoc, Wisconsin) to meet in groups, discuss our personal mission statements, meet with a Jungian analyst and get a massage (yup, it's all true and I'm hanging my head in shame). Sounds nice, but the gathered managers and key employees were left wondering: How do achieve that much vaunted "balance" when my evaluation depends on producing results (no matter how long I have to work to get them). Added to the mix is the trend for performance management systems to include evaluation of a worker's work-life balance. Now, I had been in HR for a number of years and I know I didn't have a solid explanation of WLB. As it turned out, no one else did.
Seemed kind of pointless.
How you think gives an insight to how you work?
Even though I'm trained in behavioural science, I'm not a fan of extensive testing in the workplace--mostly because I'm not sure that those tests are valid (measures something worth measuring) or reliable (consistent application of the measure over time). Taken in broad strokes, humans tend to think and solve problems in two dynamic ways (there are others, but just hang on: we're embarking on a little chat here): linear or serial thinking and non-linear or parallel thinking.
In a serial world, a person handles one problem set through to completion. Ask them to take on several projects and you'd be spitting into the wind. Parallel or non-linear thinking and problem solving tends to see people working on several projects at the same time (or moving from project to project). In most companies, we make space for only one kind of thinking: care to guess which one?
Does it work?
Now, I've met those people who thrive on the energy and drama of a packed schedule. You may like to run from pillar to post with your hair on fire, trailing paper, taking on the cellphone and sliding into a parking space at the gym in just enough time for yoga. You may like being up in the wee hours checking email and crafting a question for your LinkedIn Q&A forum. If that works for you: God love you. Keep on keeping on.
There really is no need to force change on a person whose personal system is working. Where we get into trouble is when it no longer serves us: That's when it's time to consider other options and develop other habits.
Listen Now: 22:58
Recently my wife underwent some serious tendon repair surgery on her left foot and cannot put any weight on it for 6 weeks in order to let it heal. Then last weekend I was tooling around my studio and whoops, slipped and pulled my right hamstring........owwww.
Since then the two of us have become the walking, or in her case, scooting wounded.
I'll turn 52 in a couple of weeks and do not typically feel my age. Well I think I am experiencing a preview of coming attractions as all of us Baby Boomers age.
We have been tooling along in life and then BAM one day it hits us, "we're not as young as we were." It allows for the opportunity to reflect on where we are in life, and where are we headed.
I used to be make a list every six months:
As I was gimping around the house, it occurred to me, "I haven't thought too far out into the future lately." I see myself as a little complacent, perhaps stopping at a rest stop in life. At least from my perspective. My wife and many of my friends thing I'm nuts.
I work full time at the University of Cincinnati as the Superintendent of Utilities, I teach as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in our College of Applied Science, I sit on the Board of the Hamilton, Ohio City of Sculpture, Chair the City of Montgomery's Arts Commission, work in my sculpture studio, spend time with my wife, kids and dogs and at times it still feels like I'm a slacker.
So I am taking some time to ask myself my list of questions again, and I'll let you know how it goes.
Have you heard of Second Life. I was listening to NPR last week and on Science Friday I heard a story about Second Life. Perhaps I am behind the curve, or too old or too....
to understand what the big fuss is all about.
I went and checked it out and was thinking, "What a horribly unproductive use of time." That's one of the reasons I quit playing video games years ago. Too many other fun and productive ways to use my time.
So the question is: how do you choose to spend your time?
When is a "leisure time" pursuit worthy and when is it a waste of time?
I'll watch Jon Stewart on the Daily Show on Comedy Central, and enjoy it quite a lot. But some people think it's a waste of time.
I know far too many people who watch professional sports, and I think that's a horrible waste of time, not too mention supporting less than admirable values in athletes and their teams' owners.
So what determines how you spend your time outside of work. Can you separate life and work? Isn't it all your life? Don't you choose how you spend your life?
So how do you choose?
I prioritize my time to keep my commitments in life moving forward. I have several plates spinning in my life and throughout the day I need to spin one a little more to make sure it keeps moving and doesn't fall and hit the floor.
I mentioned Jon Stewart. I choose to spend some time watching his show now and then as a means of defusing my disappointment with current events. He is able to provide a sufficiently humorous and sarcastic view that it's all a little better.
Now Second Life. Isn't the one we have in the physical world interesting enough???
Sunday, September 02, 2007
It's no surprise that I'm committed to seeing Africa move from requiring aid to active participation in trade. I just don't think it will happen if we train African leaders to be good little copies of Euro-centric styles of leadership. I think a cut of this is the complaint many have of Hillary Clinton: they think that she's succeeded to well in being the best little shark in the water. On one televised focus group, one women commented on the possibility of a Hillary Clinton Whitehouse. Another woman replied that she might gain the Whitehouse, but that it wouldn't mean that there would be a woman in that seat of power.
While I was in Namibia, I got to meet extensively with several leaders in the Namibian government, most of whom were Western educated (their families got them out of the country in part to help them survive the worst of the upheaval connected with the death throes of apartheid). I found myself more than a little worried that they seemed to be adopting the best (and the worst) of our leadership styles. For instance, while women were making inroads in public service, the halls of Corporate Namibia looked like ours: from the year 1980.
In this TED talk, Patrick Awuah discusses failures in leadership that he believes are connected to a failure to train leaders. He left a great gig in Seattle to start a liberal arts college in Ghana. He succeeded in imbuing them with ethical quick-thinking and idealism.
Ray asked a great question in the LinkedIn Q&A: Who do you see as authentic leaders? Here's the text of his question...
I think it is easy to pick out leaders from the past who made an impact, like Gandhi, Marting Luther King, Malcolm X, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther, Niels Bohr, Einstein..... Who do you see as historic leaders, local or on the world stage? and today? who do you see as authentic leaders, again local and global?Be sure you post your responses there or here.
Designs are getting hipper (the first wave of the MTV Generation has just turned 50, ya'll) and have a more youthful appeal. The little gem pictured above (from Widex.com) is slathered with diamonds (I couldn't have foreseen this one if I tried) and sells for a staggering $49,000! Quite a lot of cabbage, I'd say. I think they're getting ready for Paris and all of her friends.
I can't wait for a design brainiac to combine an iPod and a "Personal Communication Aid." Maybe they'll combine it with an iPhone and get the most out of this possible convergence device.
Now that I've put that in the blogosphere, I'll wait for my check from Apple.
Got back from the gym a little while ago. Did a good set with 15 minutes on the bike to warm up, 30 minutes of hard resistance and 25 minutes to yoga (the last pose, savasana, is named appropriately, corpse pose: you end up lying there like a dead thing). I was a sweaty mess. Serene, but a sweaty mess. The yoga at the end of my workouts is the treat I look forward to. The other stuff, however...
Oh, and I've learned that fitness water is a bad thing. A terribly bad thing for the Lalita home team. After our workout, Garland and I stopped by the cafe at the HealthPlex for something light to eat. While I was at it, I decided to try a Revive Fruit Punch vitamin water from Glaceau. Now, I should have been put off by the un-warning label that suggested that children or women wanting to get pregnant shouldn't drink it (I'm not lying). But, the un-warning was so charming (my euphemism for confusing) that I dove right in. It tasted slightly...medicinal and was only vaguely fruity tasting, but I like the other Glaceau products (meaning: I'll give this one a pass).
On the ride home, Garland pronounced sentence on the Glaceau. Seems I took a deep breath when we left the gym and didn't stop talking (or breathing) until we got home. This stuff is packed with caffeine.
I'm getting back into the rhythm of working out with 20 minutes on my Total Gym in the mornings (no hitting the "snooze button," um, more than once) with 10 minutes of yoga to set myself up for the day. I'm finding that I'm more clear-headed in the mornings, having slept better at night. I don't drink the green tea first thing that used to use to rev me up. Also, I'm taking lots of vitamin B. It was suggested by my doc that I'm vitamin B-12 deficient and I started taking a serious supplement early in the day along with a set of vits for adrenal support. Calcium rounds out the day, with me chomping down a handful right before lights-out. While I'm out and about, I put an Emergen C fizzy packet into a glass of water and I'm off and running. Good stuff.
This is starting to get me where I want to go.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
What do you mean you don't use PowerPoints...?
Hunkering down in my comfy chair with a steaming cuppa tea last night to re-read The Forgotten Half of Change: Achieving Greater Creativity through Changes in Perception by Luc de Brabandere, I smiled when I remembered how much I enjoyed the opening page the first time I read it. Seems Bill Gates was coming to Brussels and the head of Microsoft Belgium had organized a conference meeting with a thousand users and customers. Luc, a rock star in the consulting world, was going to be a presenter and would introduce Bill to the gathered throng. The evening before the conference, the MS Belgium head called, and it didn't go well...for him:
(Note to Self: be sure to post something on the book later. It's a wonderful example of how to use powerful questions to shape better enterprises and expand creativity and innovation.)
"You've forgotten to send the slides of your presentation, and Bill Gates would like to see them," said the head of Microsoft Belgium.
My reply was immediate: "Most people in Belgium and France know full well that I never use slides. I prefer to practice the art of oratory as was done in old times. I've got clear ideas and I'm ready for my presentation tomorrow."
"So...you have no slides?"
"No," I said for the second time. "The spoken work and the written word are two different things. I use both but I never mix them. I give speeches, and I write books. The ideas are the same, but the way I express them is different. When I speak, it's in real time. When I write, it's in delayed time--it's as if I were someone else."
The death of communication as we know it
We can all agree that in the 20 years since Bob Gaskins and Dennis Austin sold their little program to Microsoft, business presentations (hell, all presentations) have become an endless testimony to our inability to communicate ideas that matter in ways that stick. They've become a horribly emotionless mashup of incomprehensible text, pictures, fades and spinning text than set dogs a-howling and babies crying.
"This is largely so because people do not know (or don’t care about) the difference between a well-written document and well-designed supporting visuals. PowerPoint users usually shoot for the middle and create a slideument, a “document” that would make your third-grade English teacher apoplectic with disgust and shame that you ever attended her class, and draw scowls of disapproval from anyone who makes a living as a designer or visual communicator."
A slidument to call my very own...mother would be proud
At this point, I remembered a strategic staffing course I took in B-School--a team project (which meant the strongest players did all of the work) which culminated in a presentation. We were graded on the PowerPoint presentation and I can remember the completely blank look on the prof's face when I suggested that we may not have any PowerPoints at all--that PowerPoint may not be the most effective way to communicate our ideas. He was horrified. Well, we did have PowerPoints and the prof suggested we turn in our slides for a grade. To make certain that he had all of our commentary on the slides (we didn't want to chance his memory), I added an extensive comments section to each slide as well as a slide for our bibliographical references, which generate a huge printed slidument.It was painful, but informative the way we've commonly expected PowerPoint slides to be created. We got the highest grade for our work, but still.
Solid ideas trump pretty PowerPoints
Godin challenges us to create presentations instead of PowerPoints, working to be sure that our ideas are solid, rather than ensuring that our slides are clever. He promotes
- No more than six words on a slide. EVER. There is no presentation so complex that this rule needs to be broken.
- No cheesy images. Use professional stock photo images.
- No dissolves, spins or other transitions.
- Sound effects can be used a few times per presentation, but never use the sound effects that are built in to the program. Instead, rip sounds and music from CDs and leverage the Proustian effect this can have. If people start bouncing up and down to the Grateful Dead, you’ve kept them from falling asleep, and you’ve reminded them that this isn’t a typical meeting you’re running.
- Don’t hand out print-outs of your slides. They don’t work without you there.
A few years ago, I started simplifying my PowerPoint presentations, first by putting together the presentation and then deciding how best to communicate my ideas. I find I tend to work best when I can see the white of my audience's eyes and combine discussion, presentation, stories and drawn representations. Immediately, that meant cutting my number of PowerPoints in half...and then, actually talking with the people who came to hear me speak.
Novel idea, that.
I'm not quite done with this topic. There's the issue of Pecha Kucha that I want to get into. I'll save that for another time. Looks like an interesting way to put Godin's exhortations to good use.