Monday, 26 March 2012

loved my many strangers or simply and wholeheartedly appreciated by friends.

I just found out I’m an excellent eBayer. cool.

In the same week I also got a personal message from an old friend who used to be real close (sounds like a song lyric...)

What’s interesting about all this is I’m sharing my recent eBay fame with people and keeping my social connection close at heart. It’s interesting that the anonymous, yet collective affection of strangers has more power over me at present than the sincere messages from someone in theory who should be closer.

We’re now in the social age – it’s been round a while. By nature of you reading this is evidence that such is the case and had it not been for the immediate satisfaction of blog posting, I doubt whether I’d be arsed to write a regular column for the printed press. And it’s here I think the reason between by fair-weather friendship and the fame and adoration from eBay lies.

I’ve become a bit needy. eBay feedback gives me the immediate lift I need when I glance upon my stats but my friends don’t. eBay gives me a coloured star and a smiley face. My friends don’t. eBay will track my performance against others. My friends don’t. eBay sends me text and emails from time to time without my asking so I know exactly how I’m doing. My friends don’t.

Or do they?

Perhaps all this efeedback is packaged up in soft language, warmth and affection, laughter, beer, banter and all that I associate with a good friendship. Perhaps I do get my ratings and my scorecard in the conversations I have with my nearest and dearest. I’m always left wanting more. The closest to me keep going back to the WHAT I DID that was great (which really helps)

And then I think of the swaying masses of those in employment – those who suffer at the hands of appraisals, PDR’s, reviews, accreditations and annual HR appointments. What quality is the feedback there? Probably packed up in neat little envelopes with ‘anonymous’ but useful 360 feedback commentary from your peers.

I remember working in a department so small we’d drop in key words into our appraisals so even though they were anonymous, we’d guess each other’s comments from the language used and then work out who won the review quiz in the pub at the end of the week; a far more rewarding experience!

So my sharing this week is about the feedback we crave and how we get what we want from the unlikliest of sources and how we appear to crave what we need from those who don't give it.

We all want the same thing at heart – feedback to help us grow. But the way in which it’s packaged up is in contrast. For a job and maybe our friendships , surely we’d want the most up to date, peer to peer, statistical comparisons...all accessed in easy form with the odd text and refresher. From anonymous people we’ve taken money from – who cares? Yet it’s exactly the other way round...

Odd that don’t you think?

But even odder if I got a 3 out of 5 and a yellow sticker from my best mate...

what is it better to be? loved my many strangers or simply and wholeheartedly appreciated by friends.

have a good week.


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

what were they thinking!

I didn't write on Friday of last week as I knew I’d be in Europe this week. Something always comes up to make me think and on this occasion, the Eurostar terminal at Brussels didn't disappoint.

In need of subsistence before my travels home, I went to the ‘cafe’ area in the terminal..

Have a look at the sign:

The concept of a croissant or cake MADE of coffee beans filled both my head, mouth and stomach at exactly the same time. The thought of that much coffee in my mouth to chew was revolting. I lost both my appetite and thirst instantly.

Given all the attention to build beautiful station architecture at either end of the journey, I’m intrigued to meet the two people who made me feel sick for the three hours I endured thereafter – the guy who designed the cafe sign and the idiot of who approved it.

What were they thinking?

Friday, 9 March 2012

Scale, Souffle and Smart people

Got talking to some smart people this week (Hi ‘B’ and ‘V’ by the way)

So there are smart people and clever people.

Clever people get the simple stuff and over complicate it. It’s like describing a shoelace as a forward-motion-restraining-tension-wire.

Clever people work out the math to inflation models explaining the universe and they often talk at a 1000 miles per hour and make no sense.

I met smart people. Smart people explore complicated stuff and work out how to simplify it and make it accessible to others who don’t understand. I love smart people and I love smart thinking.

These smart people work in a business. A big business, the sort who have 290k people in it worldwide.

That’s an issue when it comes to scaling smart thinking as it’s not just about 4 points on a powerpoint chart copied to everyone.

The issue of scaling an idea is a nutty and knotty one but if you get it right, I think one of the most rewarding. You can't make laminates for everyone; they'll always be an exception to the rule. You’ll always have a customer who has a request that differs from the norms and the laminates. You’ll happen upon a situation where process won’t help. If you think about it, this is good as it means your business is moving and evolving. I think if you have too much process, it prevents that happening, so although everyone can please customers or have policies in place for exceptions; things are just going to waste. Consider the first aid boxes - we all need them but with luck, they should never be used so you're really wasting money each year on plasters and bandages going out of date.

To scale an idea, you gotta think of yeast, you only need a little bit to start it off and then it grows and self multiplies. It's an action, a bi-product of conditions.

If we all agree not to run up the stair cases, we wont trip so much and we won’t need to spend money on the first aid boxes.

I often think that to scale an idea you have to look at the small stuff and see it contains all the instruction you need.

Consider how easy it would be for me to teach 2 people in a business of 290k how to prepare the perfect soufflĂ© AND at the same time tell them how to teach 2 other people how to prepare the perfect soufflĂ©. If they pass on their learning USING their learning, they embed their own knowledge and understanding, upskill others and create the conditions to repeat the process WITHOUT my help once more. It’s a self teaching, self sustaining model.

Not a laminate in sight.
Smart thinking.
Not clever thinking.


Monday, 5 March 2012

Plenty of don’t and not enough do.

I went swimming with my daughter (nearly 4) this week.

I bobbed around the pool encouraged her to enjoy the water. This way she would build her confidence and eventually we could work on the basics of swimming.

But I’m in no rush as learning is easier when you’re having fun and you seek to enjoy it.

Painfully, ironically and upsetting though that I counted no less than 17 signs around the pool telling me what I couldn’t and shouldn’t do... run, jump, dive, splash, climb, shout, stand, slide etc.

In fact there was a great deal of attention paid to what I couldn’t do and nothing at all telling me what I could do or how to enjoy myself.

Such a shame as I learned to swim and grow my confidence BECAUSE I could run, jump, dive, splash, climb, shout, stand and slide. It were these building blocks that enabled me to grow confidence, body awareness and skill.

Perhaps if we all concentrate on the outcome and not the process, we’d all do things better and we wouldn’t need all that signage to stop us doing the things others can’t cope with.