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Archive for the ‘opportunity’ Category

The lottery of Stumbleupon may have delivered an article on “luckiness”. Today, my fingers typed zero zero instead of OO and Launchy retrieved something dubious from the depths of my computer – a post modernist view of management.

Rants that pretend to have substance

Yes, I read that sort of thing, so you don’t have to – and just in case the author knows something we don’t.

I read a little of the article as I tried to figure out what I was looking at and how it came to be on my screen. I found a rant.

In short, Nike pays Tiger Woods as much per day as you or I earn in a year. And more than one of their workers earns in a lifetime. The writer was disgusted. I am sure the writer is correct – factually and morally.

But, when I looked more closely, I thought the pot was calling the kettle black. First, there was the rant. Then, there was some obscure theorizing. The author plainly didn’t see the his argument could be applied to him.  He lives in the West very well.   How many people around the world support his lifestyle with their poverty?

So, I wondered, what is a morally acceptable position?

I think we have to put our money where our mouth is.

Shouldn’t we be honest about what we will fight for and what we are trying to win – at least to ourselves?  Don’t we have to fight for the right we talk about?  Don’t we have to get out there and fight shoulder-to-shoulder with the people we champion?  Don’t we have to risk as much as they do?

Isn’t anything less hypocritical?

My 4 rules of a honest life

#1 It seems to me that as I cannot do everything with everyone, I should choose what I will do with whom, and join them, winning with them and losing with them.

#2 I think I have to tell the story from our own side.  Who did this post-modernist represent as he stood in his Western classroom?  I don’t know.  But I’d better know whom I am representing when I stand there!

#3 I need a clear goal.  And I prefer to be able to say it aloud in other people’s hearing.  I like to think through what the people who pay for my goal will have to say about it.  Not the people who pay me – the people who pay for my good fortune.  Will I be fleeing with them at my heels?  I don’t say this out of cowardice.  I am happy to annoy people if I believe in what I am doing.  But I am not going to pretend that my goals have no impact on other people.  Let me be clear about the inconvenience and upset that I cause.

#4 And not least, I need to respect that other people will pursue their goals equally vigorously.  To expect them to do anything less is crazy.  I may need to defend my projects from theirs.  If I find their projects totally unacceptable, I might feel compelled to stop them.  And I might get hurt in my efforts.   That’s why diplomacy is the preferred first strategy.   Perverting Clausewitz- war is just diplomacy continued through other means.

Player or spectator?

But just to rant?  Not for me.  I talk and write to figure out what I think, so that I can act.  I prefer to be a player.  Always have.

I very consciously chose to teach in Universities and to do consultancy because in these roles I am a line manager. I know that neither look like action to you!  But I am a psychologist, so it is in these roles that I run a business. I set the direction. I allocate resources. I solve problems. I am accountable for the outcomes. I couldn’t bear a role with no responsibility.

But that is my preference. What is yours? Are you a player?

Slurp, analyze, visualize, share

I was delighted to find Vinspired Voicebox this morning.  Young people are collecting data on young people in UK and presenting it online in interesting ways.

And you can share the data on Young Brits too!

  • What questions should Voicebox ask next?
  • What questions could Voicebox answer for you with a tweak or two of their current analysis?
  • What question should we ask other age groups?

This is good news.  Great work Voicebox!

My grand-mother had a clear ‘rule’ – none of us should work for a family-business. We should all go out and work in another business or organization.  My grandmother was obviously fed up with family businesses. She had been burned by them a few times. And I think she made the right call.

I think we should go further though. We should all aim to have our own business.

Is it the Talmud where we are advised to join an established business? That is good advice. We should acknowledge what works in the world and work with it.

But I think we should also aspire to autonomy. Many organizations work on a tournament system. You have to start in round one and work your way up. Should you want to move to another organization, you cannot carry credits from the previous rounds with you!

We need a way to aggregate our experience into a stronger and stronger portfolio.

Online portfolios are a good start. Planning our careers as if they are a business is another.

But as employment law is very clumsy and big organizations are more interested in subordination than developing your ongoing value, isn’t it a good idea to register yourself as a company, employ yourself, and develop alliances with others from day one?

Who is doing this? Who is making sure their youngsters go on to independent careers after an apprenticeship with some one else?

This is the greatest application of all time.  It rests on a basic idea that you can have my attention, you can use my telephone line, but you will pay me for the privilege!

Making junk callers pay for their calls

1.  When you telephone me, your caller ID is matched with several ads and you are redirected in the first instance to your competition, whereupon you hear an ad, and I get 25p!

2.  If your caller ID matches anyone on my list, then the call comes straight through.

3. If your have a promotional code that you add to the end of my number, the call comes straight through.

All calls are tracked.  So I can find out quite easily who is giving my special number away.

The sister app works for email

1.  When your junk mail arrives, I press one button and a message is sent back to the server who work out the sender and send one email back to them for every email they sent out.  And I get 25p!  Someone who blasts out 1000 unwanted mails is going to get 1000 back!

2.  The email that is returned reflects their competition.  For example:  when emails arrive from a scammer in Bakino Faso, they are sent scrumptious ads of something in Bakino Faso (what is scrumptious in BF?). Or a message from Interpol!  When Virgin Media sends me an email full of pictures, we send back an email about the thing they are obviously short of – social media specialists!  And so on.  Anyway, the app does that.  I get 25 p.

The cousin app works for junk mail

The cousin app works similarly but takes more work from me.  Instead of sending my junk mail to landfill, I strip off my name for security and put it back in an envelope and return to to the sender – in their envelope.  They pay the postage.

The app makes it money by collecting the returned junk mail from the big senders and recycling it properly.  They work out the cost details with the junk pushers.

I told you life is getting better!

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. — Soren Kierkegaard

Good to remember!

Though most people are better living forwards that understanding backwards

In industrial psychology, we distinguish between “tracking” and “diagnosis”.

Take a pilot landing a large plane, for example. They assimilate a lot of information, that changes before they have time to put it into words, and bring the plane down, hopefully, to a gentle landing at high speed.

When, God forbid that something goes wrong, highly trained investigators will come in to work out what happened. The investigators aren’t likely to be pilots and the investigators probably don’t land fully laden passenger jets.

We have specially trained people to think backwards

In factories, we make the same distinction. We have hands-on people who keep complex, continuous flow plants going, safely.  It’s as demanding as landing a plane.

Yet, the day the process breaks down, we call the process engineers. They work out what went wrong and bring science to bear to figure out what the factory managers can do to get the plant going again.

The two people groups aren’t interchangeable. Simply, the managers think forwards. The engineers think backwards.

Usually the engineers are more highly educated. They often earn more.

But they aren’t “line”. And the “line” thinks they are egg-heads because they can’t do the “real thing”.

So it is funny that we have to be reminded not to think backwards. Most of us don’t. Most of us can’t. We need experts for that.

In the future, we might have to do thinking forward as well as thinking backwards

What has been puzzling me recently, or truthfully what is in my in-basket marked “puzzles”, is how the “design-thinking” approach to management will change this divide.

Take Toyota, for example. Every worker on the assembly line is capable of doing quite sophisticated experiments.  They use statistics equivalent to Honours in any subject except statistics itself.   The two types of work seem to be merging.

The idea of ‘failing informatively’ will also change what professions like engineering and psychology learn and contribute in the work place. We will not only be required to diagnose what went wrong. We will be required to play a more hands-on role in moving things forward.

This is the age of statistics

The attitude of Google to data makes simple A B experiments a day-to-day job rather than the job of an expensive graduate. The burgeoning use of good visuals makes statistics a discipline of communication.

I sense there is more to this change than I am saying here. What is clear though, is that the education levels that used to be regarded as the preserve of the top 3% of the population are now necessary for all but the bottom 3%.  Necessary. Not optional.

How can every child learn statistics?

So what are we going to do about illiteracy in Western countries?   It amazes me that people who cannot read books play computer games quite well.

So I doubt this is a real problem. We need to get kids into factories where they see statistics being used

And then they can teach us!

I want a British TED

The world is divided it seems – in to those who watch TED and those who don’t.

I watch TED because I like positivity – I like my daily fix. And I admire technological advancement. I wish we had a British TED too – the best of science and technology that is coming out of the UK.

But is my wonder of TED shared?

It seems strange to me, but so many people don’t share my wonder.  They aren’t interested.  They even proclaim themselves proudly as Luddites.

What bothers the Luddites?

Of course, the original Luddites weren’t just disapproving of new technology.  They smashed  the new weaving presses too.

The people around us who claim they are Luddites, simply don’t understand the technology they decry.  But they don’t stop anyone else using it.

They share with the original Luddites, though, a sense of disapproval.  Most of all, the new technology threatens their status.

Should we bother with Luddites?

I am impatient with people who are ‘tight’.   But all fear is genuine – sincerely and acutely felt.   And I am willing to spend time to help people find a positive place in the world.

What I am not willing to do is hold up improvements for others while they have a sulk.  That’s not on the agenda at all.

The general class of bereavement counseling

When we are counseling people who are fretting about change, we are working with a ‘general class’ of issue – bereavement at the highest level, and adjournment at the level of group formation.

Because disdain of new technology belongs to broader, general class of situations, we have the know-how and experience to help people.  We work through three broad steps.

1.  Acknowledge the contribution they made to our welfare and celebrate the skills they used.  We do this fully, sincerely and elaborately.

2.  Focus attention on the opportunities that are opening ahead of us, and new patterns of relationships with new people who are coming into view.  We are concrete & specific and we introduce them, in person, to people who work in the new technologies.

3.  Help individuals, one-by-one, to formulate a personal plan.  We get down & dirty, one person at a time.

I think we should be bothered with Luddites.  If they cannot see how technological change will benefit them, then we haven’t worked hard enough to show them around the new world that it is coming.

Better Reality TV?  TED and the parallel program for Luddites?

I want a British TED, because I like to watch science, and I want to know the best of British science, up and down the land.

I’d also like to see a parallel program that offers respect for the work of people in ‘old technologies’ and welcomes them into a world that we find dear.

Shall we put reality TV and our license fees to good work?

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As a relative “noobe” in the UK, I’ve been frustrated in my search for data about the economy. It is incredibly difficult to get information from the National Statistics Office that in the US and NZ can be slurped online in seconds.

There also seems to be little vision about where we are going.

Repeating complaints and doomsday scenarios doesn’t help, I know. But asking the right questions does.

Yesterday, IT writer, Philip Virgo posted a summary of his lobbying at each of the Party congresses. I’ve reorganised his post below as a set of questions – using his words when they graphically describe the issue.

Questions about the future of work in the UK

  • Which are the industries of the future? [Which are they are, and how are developments in these industries consistently highlighted in the media?]
  • Which industries will have “integrated career paths”?
  • What would be consequences of not having industries with integrated career paths? What is the alternative?
  • Will “home made” careers do? Or, will our children be condemned to a “professional backwater . . . no longer part of the mainstream route to the top – unless they emigrate and don’t come back”?
  • Will our children and grandchildren be “condemned to surf the cybercrud on the fringes of the global information society – as the UK becomes the electronic equivalent of Cannery Row – a post-industrial poor relation to the economic powerhouses of Asia”?

What will attract industries of the future – particularly in IT and information-management?

  • A competitive communications infra-structure and access to world-class broadband
  • Regulatory simplicity, clarity and predictability
  • Fiscal certainty [presumably for companies and employees]
  • Removing planning controls designed for the 50’s and replacing them with controls we need for the information age.
  • “Workforce skills programmes” that develop a critical mass of skilled people in the industries that interest us

Virgo describes the migration of IT businesses out of the UK – Maxwell’s newspapers, Google and Yahoo. Isle of Man, Switzerland and Singapore seem to be attractive destinations largely because they undertake to defend data privacy from interference from the US. If that is so, then a foreign policy component of future planning is also clear.

These questions seem to be a good way to start thinking about life and prospects in the UK in the future

What do you think of them?

Being a ‘noobe’ here, I’d be interested in your thoughts on the right questions to ask . . . and the likely answers.


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