Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why flexible work is the future

Working on the beachThe nine to five, five day, working week is a modern construct. It was introduced by Henry Ford to his factory workforce in 1926, and become common practice in the US (and subsequently other parts of the world) after The Fair Labour Standards Act of 1938.

Ford favoured a shorter week (until then, six working days had been the norm) for purely commercial reasons. He was losing good employees, and found that a 40 hour week, worked in shifts, was the best way to optimise workers (who needed to be kept alert and motivated) with expensive machinery and power plants, which shouldn’t be left idle for too long.

Most of us in the developed world now live in a post-industrial age where knowledge-based products and services are replacing manufacturing. If your work can be completed over an internet or telephone connection, it’s less likely that you physically be in the office, or work specific hours. Yet we still rely on a way of working that was designed for the factory production line.

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The Digital Champion’s Manifesto

Digital champions are your social superheroes

Back in October 2008, Gina Poole told me about the network of BlueIQ Ambassadors she had set up at IBM.

Gina’s mantra was this: when introducing something new (eg, social software), use volunteers to drive things forward. They will build momentum and consensus for you.

“Run a pilot programme. Get a few dedicated people on board – early adopters and enthusiasts. Make them the ‘poster children’ of your campaign. Make them the rock stars. Don’t just evangelise the project, say ‘look at what it did for this individual’: success breeds success.” 

Volunteers + enthusiasm = success!

Sounds great, right?

Today, every organization of a certain size needs digital champions. They may come under different names – software evangelists or community Continue reading

Hold fire on the BBC – our condemnation will only deepen the management crisis

BBC logo

Poor old Beeb. Damned if they do and damned if they don’t.  I can’t help agreeing with today’s article from Avaaz – there are plenty of BBC-bashers out there and many of them have a vested interest in the seeing the end of any public funding for the UK’s oldest and – still – most-loved broadcaster (which incidentally, celebrates 90 years of speech radio today). But we all need to consider the alternatives before jumping on the BBC-bashing bandwagon.

I firmly believe that the Savile scandal was the fault not of the BBC but of our culture in general at the time. As many commentators have noted, the Life on Mars mentality that prevailed during the 1970s was exactly that – a world away from the relatively progressive environments that our workplaces and institutions offer now.

Back in the late 1990s I was deputy editor on Trisha (produced by Anglia, then part of the ITV Network) when the scandal of fake guests on TV talk shows broke (it was easy for the tabloids to pick up on because they used the same models and actors for their own centre page spreads).

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Monkeys with suitcases: glamping it up

Things have been a bit quiet on this blog over the past month but I’ve been holed up in a tent in the middle of nowhere. And very nice it was too. Admittedly they did have WiFi, but I wasn’t too tempted to use it. Kind of hard to think about anything else when it’s 38 degrees in the shade and the swimming pool/ beach/ ocean is calling.

The best thing about our stay at Tipi Algarve was the set-up: they do it all for you – tent, camp kitchen and everything else. “Glamping” is a literal mashup between boutique (glam) hotel and camping. A great way to have a reasonably comfy holiday without adding too many emissions to your carbon footprint.

Tipi Algarve is also a social business – the place operates very much like a community, with volunteers coming in from all over the world, and guests coming back year after year. To get a feel for it all, just check out their Facebook page – lots of photos, friendly updates and engaging content. (Nice one Calvin!)

How I got my stolen laptop back through Twitter

We had a break-in a few weeks ago, and I mentioned it on Twitter. I didn’t really want to moan too much, it was more a passing observation, as in “today I got up and found the window open…” but when a friend asked me how the burglar(s) got in, I used the h-word when referring to them (I know from my daughter’s primary school guidelines that “hate” is forbidden in the complex, multi-cultural world we live in).

Anyway, it was probably good that I got upset and angry as the person who had just bought my laptop online had found all my personal details and files and was also reading my Twitter updates.

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My Sofalympics: why I hardly left home during London 2012

Like all obedient Londoners I watched the Olympics pretty much from my sofa, because that’s what I’d been told to do by the scarey Get Ahead of The Games ads (subtext: stay at home) and This is Your Mayor Speaking announcements at various games-critical tube stations.

When I did venture into central London it was eerily quiet: everyone was in Stratford. Either that or holed up at home, like meerkats who’d spotted a herd of stampeding elephants.

On the middle Sunday we went down to Brixton and got carried along in a sea of green and gold for ten minutes but otherwise everything – Olympic sentiment, patriotic fervour and Jess/Mo/Hoy/Wiggo fever – was experienced by osmosis through the wonderful medium of television and, of course, social media…so how did my “Socialympics” go?

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Silent disco – last Wednesday of every month at the Science Museum

Saw these people gyrating to silent disco when I was at the Science Museum for Google’s second Luvvies & Boffins night (an effort to get creatives and techies together as part of chairman Eric Schmidt’s vision to drive innovation).

On the way out, I was amused to pass a long queue of trendy types, standing patiently in line. Turned out they were waiting to join the late night Silent Disco.

How very groovy – and possibly more fun to watch than to take part in! Could have sworn I glimpsed the odd luvviebof or two throwing shapes in the crowd.


Listening Post: an amazing audio-visual installation at London’s Science Museum, tracking the text-based web

Listening Post (2003) is “a dynamic portrait of online communication, displaying uncensored fragments of text, sampled in real-time, from public internet chatrooms and bulletin boards”, according to the Science Museum website.

The installation was created by artists Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin, who’ve been collaborating since 1999. As Hansen is also Professor of Statistics at UCLA, I wonder if the title is an ironic take on fellow academic Clayton Christensen‘s concept from The Innovator’s Dilemma: that we need to set up “listening posts” to be aware of disruptive technologies?

There is nothing disruptive here: only the mundane, everyday and intensely personal: because of this, it’s a moving and often humourous experience – go see it!


Collaborative behaviour in organisations: the top 4 barriers and enablers

A networked Europe – c’est possible? I read today that Axel Schultze is in charge of developing a social media strategy for Europe – yes, Europe!

Just – think about it: think about the barriers you might be able to identify in any one of your current collaboration-orientated projects and then multiply them, say, a few billion times. 

As it happens, I’m working on a collaborative behaviour workshop for tomorrow and these are the top four enablers and barriers I’ve come up with (not specifically with regard to Europe, but I guess we can apply them):

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Research shows women as the new early adopters – are we surprised?

Thanks to Jim Zalles of Retail Bench for pointing me to some really interesting research led by Genevieve Bell of Intel, who has found that women are the new lead adopters when it comes to technology. Bell concludes:

“So it turns out if you want to find out what the future looks like, you should be asking women. And just before you think that means you should be asking 18-year-old women, it actually turns out the majority of technology users are women in their 40s, 50s and 60s.”

Looking at the swathe of tech-savvy women around me, Bell’s findings seem right on the button.

Photo: bondidwhat