Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Put People on the Balance Sheet

At time of writing, "Put people on the balance sheet" only attracts 27 hits on Google. I came across the phrase by reading the insightful Bill Waddell at Evolving Excellence.

Simply putting the all too common sentiment "people are our most important asset" that plasters internal corporate communications to the test.

I don't need to replicate opinion here, Bill's thoughts on people and inventory match my own.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Statistics in a Gamblers World

"Anything for an easy life..."

Well TS, you aren't getting one.

Life isn't a spectator sport. It's all about getting stuck in, involved and contributing.

I've been there, tried it and nothing was there for me. An easy life is an unsatisfied life.

I have always loved statistics, that's the having fun with numbers part whereas its counterpart maths provide the known universal truths.

What I hate about statistics is the way they can be abused by people to make excuses.

"Only x amount of people make it out of (y^z)2 , so there's no point in me bothering."

That's nice, but that (typically) historical figure isn't a reason behind not succeeding. Statistics are meaningful because they can provide valuable information to aid in making educated and wise decisions. But abilities and will power have far more sway over success than any statistic.

People triumph over adversity every day. If it is always someone else, why do you think that is?

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Reality, Really? - The Armstrongs

We interrupt our normal broadcast to talk about TV. As stated on my Four Things post, I love the programmes Rome and Lost. They made my Autumn/Winter Wednesday nights.

After a small break Wednesday television viewing is now back with a vengeance in the form of the UK version of The Apprentice and the brand new series The Armstrongs.

The Apprentice, the format has been going for 3 years. You know (sort of) what you are getting.
The Armstrongs on the other hand, a complete unknown for me, is living up to the tag truth is stranger than fiction. All I've seen is reinforcement printed that it is actually real life. On the closing credits I was waiting to see Script Writer or akin role flash up.

For at least 15 minutes after airing I was laughing audibly (for only my cats to hear, mercifully) at this wonderful piece of viewing. It is must see TV. If it's real, then you can thank the almighty that you work where you do. If it is fictional, then it's a better laugh than you'll get out of any Simpsons episode.

Scrap that, you'll be laughing your hide off either way.

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Money is Overated - Do Something Fun & Worthwhile

Ramit Sethi another fine tale of personal experience in his series on personal entrepreneurship: Right now, experience is more important than money.

He squares this sentiment on young adults that go chasing after the money as soon as the educational leash is unfastened.

I couldn't agree more. As an early twenty-something that chased the quick-quid fresh out of college, I'd strongly advise not to develop a strong love of cash in your early adulthood. It'll be a long time before you have so much if it again once you move out of the family home. In retrospect, three years of selected experience building activities would have been infinitely more valuable to me than chasing the fast-buck.

Experience is so much more beneficial.

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Fat Links

I have been following two distinct long standing conversations that I think they are about to collide in a big way.
  1. The roll of the blogroll, recently resurrected by Shel Holtz
  2. Blog ranking measurement, covered by just about everyone (those without any digits are probably using their nose to write about this one)
A comment that Kami Huyse left on her Communication Overtones blog somehow merged with the heat the Steve Rubel has taken for culling his blogroll and alleged selfish linking practices.
Kami's closing words:
Still, the idea of assigning weight to links is a good one.
Ah yes, ideally, I'd like to see weight in links too. The key is to include the right factors.
I commented in Lee Hopkins' post Link love and Technorati rankings, agreeing with him that continual link love should be used as a measure (total number of links divided by number of linking sites). This will mark a blogger down as a constant source opposed to an anomaly.

Another key desired weight is authority. This is what we are seeking so the person at the top of the pile is the most authoritative blogger on Earth. Hence when this great mortal sees fit to reference a lowly blogger, that link should carry more weight to represent his or her influence, should it not?

And here's the crunch: Will this effect the way that these individuals dispense links? If it does, is it a good thing? If not, is the current allusion capital system that exists now better?

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Culling Excess Feeds

Despite the recent announcement that The Vision Thing is unbecoming, Ethan Johnson is still handing out the goods.

Highlight of the week being his method for rooting out RSS feeds that he has acquired but feels that they no longer add value to his online experience.

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Four Things

Curses, Ben Hamilton finally got me. And with the Allan Jenkins mentality of inflict, it's time for a Flying Aqua Badger's take on the four things meme:

Four Jobs I’ve Had
Kitchen Porter
Warehouseman
Customer Service Advisor
Analyst

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over
The Princess Bride
Ice Age
Any Lord of the Rings film
Star Trek: First Contact

Four TV Shows I Love to Watch
Lost
Rome
The Apprentice
Dragon’s Den

Four Favourite Cities
Prague
Rome
Las Vegas
London

Four Favourite Dishes
Chicken Tikka Masala
Crispy Duck
Steak
Chicken Pasta Alfredo

Four Websites I Visit Daily (or pretty close)
Bloglines
My bank
Google (I always need it for something)
BBC.co.uk

Four Places I’d Rather Be
With Lee et al in Florence
At the tables in Vegas
Chicago with my buddy Rob
Peak of Ben Nevis - the last of the 3 peaks of the UK I need to ascend

Four Bloggers I am Tagging [which you can never be sure how happy they are about it :-)]
Jack Vinson
Steve Crescenzo

(and keeping it in the family, my aunt and uncle)
Chris
Penny

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I needed Quizfarm in 1996!

Seeing as the what's your perfect major quiz is as hot as the four things meme right now I thought I'd give it a crack.
(Post title inspired by David Seah)

Turns out I should have gone down the road as a philosophical engineer with a side in journalism.
Hmmm, perhaps it is trying to tell me that I should enjoy documenting my work....


You scored as Engineering. You should be an Engineering major!

Philosophy


100%

Engineering


100%

Journalism


92%

Linguistics


83%

Mathematics


83%

Psychology


83%

English


75%

Theater


75%

Anthropology


67%

Chemistry


58%

Art


42%

Sociology


42%

Biology


33%

Dance


17%



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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Dynamic Movie Pricing

An interesting discussion has started between Graeme Watson and Chris Brogan regarding getting rid of flat model cinema prices.

Graeme brought in three comparative products: airline tickets, umbrellas and live theatre while Chris offers books with their red stickers.

The question posed in these two posts is should better movies cost more to see?

A variety of other factors have been called in: timing, (seat) quality, brand, size...
In each instance combining the factors to form a pricing model is, of course, all about maximising profits. Side effect is, because some factors are ignored, the model doesn't always make sense visually.

Subjectivity. This is the problem with trying to establish one film as better than another. Consensus on the best movie is made far beyond opening night. Effectively too late to influence the cinema price, DVD sales will often have to take this factor into account.

Hype would also be a bad influence. With all the hype around The Matrix when it was released I deliberately avoided it, only to find a couple of years later that it was equally as good as any of the top reviews given to it. When Matrix Revolutions hit the box office I was pumped and eager to see it in full cinematic glory.

Turned out it was a massive let down for me. Others state is was brilliant. I'd have been greatly peeved if its raving popularity forced the ticket price up to £10 - £15 opposed to the £5 or £6 I forked out.

The cinema is largely about the experience as well as the actual film. Varying the price between films would change expectations of it, potentially giving a high price movie a hard measure to live up to.

I think there will be too much jeopardised to implement such a dynamic structure. Now if you could trust the audience to attribute fair and independent value to the film and pay accordingly, then you're onto something.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Allusion Capital

Andrea Weckerle, Shel Israel, Doc Searls, Chris Pirillo, Peter Dawson, Niall Cook and Jack Krupansky are amongst those that have been chatting about, well, what the blogosphere is doing. Key subject areas being attribution of scoops, link love and the Technorati measuring stick.

What does my linking to the people above represent?

How about authority? There are a couple of names in there that could be called figures of authority, but no, that’s not it. All we know is that they have written about a subject I have taken an interest in and that I in some way want you to see what I have seen.

How about popularity? Well, there’s nothing here to say whether I like or dislike any of these people. So for one, it doesn’t gauge which sort of popularity. Furthermore, these single links say nothing about whether I’ve read their words before or whether I will do again.
In terms of popularity all it proves is that in a short space of time these individuals produced content that I read on a given subject matter. This is recorded permanently in the annals of Technorati ranking.

To me, what Technorati measures and ranks is allusion capital. The sum of all the times that a blogger entices a person to put their home reference on a post in the form of a hyperlink.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Full Smoking Ban Bill Passed

England will have a complete ban on smoking in public places thanks to a bill passed in parliament this evening.
If a government has the balls to ask the big questions and get the best (but largely unpopular) result then the world is going to get better that much quicker. For that I am thankful.

Think about your utopia. Does that vision of the world really have cancer sticks in it?
No, good, we're making progress then...

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cover For Me - AKA: Get Out of the Way

I was watching Enterprise today (for measure: yes, I'm an armchair trekkie. No, you won't see me at a convention). Sometimes I worry about where my mind is. The Chief Engineer was doing some work at a console and something more important comes along. He looks over to his right and says to the crewman beside him "take over". "Ay, Sir" and the Chief Engineer was on his merry way.

This stuck in my mind.

Later on, Chris B referred me to Rob Hatch and his latest post Get out of the way. And there the reason hit.

You can't be on special assignment all of the time. In other words, doing all the fun stuff. The theory being that if you are permanently doing special tasks, no one can take over when you're needed elsewhere.

My upbringing was very much based on the premise "Make yourself indispensable". I still hold to it. In these days where job security has gone down the same tube as company loyalty it would be silly not to. But there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

There is making yourself at your post indispensable. That's the wrong way, how are you supposed to get promoted if you are so good at the job you are doing, no one else could do it half as good or, worse, know where to start.

Then there is making your skill set indispensable. If that skill set involves both bringing the quality and performance of your role into top gear and then being able to pass that knowledge on to others, then you've got it made.

Here's a quote for you:

If communication is the lifeblood of company effectiveness and people are the conduits, don't make yourself a tight passage.

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Activities Update

Notable by an uncustomary period of 4 days without a post, I am into a period of light blogging as other priorities are slotting in this month.

Most prominent are new responsibilities at work;

and

Five years later than advertised, my first course contributing towards a degree has started.

So just a temporary blip whilst I figure how I'll be working around these new activities.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Email and the Emotional Void

Donna Papacosta has today written about the danger of communicating via email. I only started to use email professionally three years ago and so there were plenty of examples of "when emails go bad".

Because of that I would think very little of myself if I ended up typing an email message that got misinterpreted enough to land me in the dung heap.

Easiest way to do it is to accept the emotional void. You can let slip with your close colleagues that understand how your mind works, of course, but when writing an email to an aquaitance you're much better off minding your step.

Stick to the facts first. Be warm if you can, be stern if you need to, but my God don't even write an email in anger. You'll end up overdoing it in making sure you are understood. You have to be a devilishly skilled wordsmith to immaculately convey tone over a short, written communication without being offensively explicit.

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New Internal Comms Blog

Seeing as most of my circle are pointing to the new boy in the internal communications sector of the blogosphere it would be rude of me not to.

For Your Approval is brought to you by Ron Shewchuk, who has only been working in the field for a couple of decades...

He's keen and eager and with a personal recommendation from Shel Holtz I bet there's a great deal to learn from this man.

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Knowledge Redistribution

Knowledge redistribution, otherwise known as the office move, always provides a challenge to employees. Key to that is removing people from their comfort zone. Yesterday afternoon that's where I was. Very aware of the environmental changes.

Instead of facing all five members of my team, I'm only facing one. The commanding position (next to a wall, able to see the entire room) is gone. The voices are also weaker, moving from one small room with the sound rebounding off the walls to a large open room hosting multiple teams means talking at the same pitch as before only covers a yard opposed to the whole room.

In compensation, we get to see how other teams function. It is very hard to amalgamate other good working practices if day in, day out you are only seeing your own team work.

My immediate work enviroment is quite different as well. The desk is slightly smaller, but a clean out means it is now better organised. The old fashioned in-tray is mounted on the back screen which actually means I've more "white space". White space on a desk is just as important as white space on written communication, serving a similar purpose.

The chair is also more customisable compared to the old one. It is easy to change the chair setting from relaxed (for thinking, solution finding) to rigid (for knuckling down).

Change may or may not be brought about for the right reasons, but it is always possible to capitalise if you think through the benefits it could bring and accept that your comfort zone is the past.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Police Tell White Van Man: Don't Say Anything or You're Nicked

Tonight's episode of Newsnight reveals audio and video footage of a police officer in the UK dressing down a driver of a white van who stopped to say his piece about the Islamic protestors in the vicinity, once again showing placards to the theme of Behead those who insult Islam in response to the publishing of demeaning caricatures of Mohammad.

Paraphrasing the officer (only slightly): "if you rile them up I'll end up in the shit"..."one more word, you have one second to get back in the vehicle and be on your way of get nicked."

To which the driver aptly replies: "Freedom of speech?"

A snippet of the paradox and double standards that are plaguing the world today.

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Google Epic Video

If you haven't already seen this flash video Epic 2015 on Albino Blacksheep, you really must.

The world is moving in the direction that has all interaction in life as recordable data which can be harvested by whoever has got the architecture on place to receive it.

The mythical Google Cube is said to be one such device. I don't know whether that name has been chosen just because of its perceived shape or the imagery of Borg related assimilation it may conjure.

I was under the impression the X-box 360 was also supposed to be a piece of hardware that is intended to be used to network all the home entertainment digital equipment. If Google have got their eye on this method of capturing your valuable data you can place a safe bet that Microsoft wants to get in there first.

And if Microsoft is doing it, they won't give you a device for free, that's not their bag. You also won't buy it just to hand over your lifestyle habits; it'll need to include something really enticing.

Link the Google Cube in with rumours of the Google IP Network (Google Grid) then all that needs adding is personal GPS into the equation and then you've got one of two things:
  1. The most useful, integrated information system ever known to mankind
  2. Nineteen Eighty-Four
With all the fear that goes on regarding artificial intelligence its more disturbing to note that this supposed system is brilliant and poses little to be afraid of from the technology itself. It's only the human element, the control factor that scares anyone of this idea and congratulating the company/government that builds it.

Hat tips: Neville Hobson, Luke

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Friday, February 03, 2006

Did Feminism Go Too Far?

Did Feminism go too far? A question not posed by me tonight, but rather Amanda Platell famously the press secretary of William Hague the leader of the opposition during the turn of the century.

It was one of the most relevant documentaries I've seen in many a year. 30 Minutes: Women can't have it all aired 03.02.2006 at 19:30 on Channel 4.

Too short to address the complex issue with great detail, the most notable event was the apology of Fay Weldon for the extreme of the feminism movement, because feminism never did what she intended and the state of youth culture at the moment has suffered is suffering because of it.

I have a great respect to Fay for her honesty. By no means was feminism a bad thing. It had been necessary for centuries. But there is little doubt that family values is nothing like it was, pressure on girls from a young age to succeed in the business world is high, home life and life balance are not phrases banded about in schools and that despite all the changes the balance is still wrong.

The sooner both sexes take responsibility evenly and that only with cooperation and compromise will the true balance be found and we can all start leading fuller lives.

Ever the optimist...

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Follow Your Money

Wise words today from David Seah on how he plans to keep a tighter track of his finances:

Follow Your Money — In the past, I used to keep very loose track of what I was spending, but never looked for trends. I had no idea I spent so much on groceries, for example, or that my book spending was so needlessly high. Now I’m entering in purchases the day I make them, categorized by type in QuickBooks, so I can see what I’m doing. At least, that’s the theory…working out the rhythm.


If you ever want to work out where your money goes, you have to write it down. I haven't met anyone that doesn't keep a booksheet that can tell me where all their money went in December and I bet most would struggle with January too.

If you are willing to do this then you must write down your spending daily as you do it. Draft it in as part of your routine. You switch on your computer, before you bring your internet browser up you start up your expense file (a ideally short cut on your desktop or quick launch toolbar).

Unless you've been out drinking, don't go to sleep without doing it. Filling out your expenses, you lot chuckling at the back. If you have been drinking, you should have written down how much you had on you before leaving the house and you can add the sum of what's missing from your wallet with what's missing from your bank account in the morning (yes you really did spend that much).

I'm on my third month of tracking and each time that grand total on the end goes down and continues to drop as you can clearly pick out the things that needlessly put you out of pocket last month that won't happen again.

When you get down to a proper amount, you'll start thinking: Am I still really spending that much, what else can I shirk off? And that's when you start cutting things like your utility bills by finding better deals.

The more aware you are of what you are doing the more you can control the outcome.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Telemarketers - Lets get moral

Thanks to the age of telecommuting, it would appear that telemarketing has been given a new lease of life. This will last until the time caller display which distributes the company name as well as the number hits the masses.

Writer, Donna Papacosta recently posted about her experience with cold-calling which brought back memories of when I posted on the subject late last year.

Quote from Donna:
Working from my home office, I run the risk of answering either my home line or my business phone and hearing that oh-so-familiar telemarketer banter: "Hi, Mrs. Papa – Um, Papas – Um Paspacotta [they can never say my name], how are you today?"

As if they care.

Normally I am polite with telemarketers, feeling sorry for someone who has to make a living phoning people who don’t need their carpets cleaned.

Same dilemma I, and indeed each of us, face every time the phone rings. Should the caller know the job the do and how much it is hated and take our hissing attitude on the chin? Or should we, the recipient, make the effort to acknowledge that there is another human being on the other end of the line just trying to make a living?

There is still no chance that I am going to be sold anything, as things stand, but I still give 3 or 4 seconds to be polite.

As well as the commercial information which telemarketers are spared from, Donna points out two more weapons missing from the telemarketing armoury:
  1. Reliable auto-diallers
  2. Engaging script

Update: 2 cold calls between first word and final edit of this post.

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Flying Aqua Badger Vs Monetisable

It was only a matter of time, but I have finally seen it. The word monetisable was written on an internal document at work today (not by me) and distributed to dozens if not hundreds of employees.

Now you know a word is not a word when you type that single word in Google and come up with a measly 8 more hits than "Flying Aqua Badger" (208 and 200 respectively).

Monetisable, where spell check only offers the alternative: Monet sable, which makes just about as much sense...

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