Weblog Entries for September 2005
September 28, 2005
I am blogging this from T3 at Heathrow, on my way to New York for the Applied Improv conference. I'm having dinner tonight with Howard Mann and Tom Guarriello, which should be great, if I'm not too lagged.
The Stormhoek guys so obviously get, and are into, the markets as conversations schtick. And they both clearly have ideas and opinions they've yet to share in their blog. I think Stormhoek have created a great opportunity to demystify the wine business, in much the same way Thomas Mahon has done it for Savile Row.
September 27, 2005
I like Shawn Callahan's examples of interventions:
turning off the blind copy functionality in an email system to send a message about trust
providing managers with notebooks with the inside cover listing all the things a manager CAN do: what they can spend on whom, what awards they can give etc.
stocking the stationary cupboard for mobile employees a statement about trust
Dept of Miscellany
Idly googling for the origins of the British slang term "bog standard", I stumbled into bog-standard.org - campaigning for better toilets in schools.
September 25, 2005
More bottom up intelligence
... and into the gap between corporate telephone mazes and our desire just to talk to a human being, slips this smart offering: A database of how to short-circuit all those touchtone scripts. It's US based; I'm interested in it as another example of the net might help us pick away at command-and-control structures.
(Well spotted by Wade Sturdivant at AdPulp.)
Rebranding the war?
Here's another insight from that Dialogue book. The roots of the word "intelligence" are gather and in-between. I love that. What if we think of Intelligence is being in... or maybe just being... the spaces between us... not in your mind, not in mine, but in our relationship?
Keeping it real
Kathy Sierra has some great things to say in Subvert from Within: a user-focused employee guide. She's talking about how to get really effective engagement with the users of your product.
These two bits really hit the spot for me:
Speak for real users... not fake abstract "profiles".
Represent real people, not the abstract notion of "users". Rather than saying, "what users really want is...", refer to your collection of specific user stories and talk about real people. When you bring up users, talk about specific people with real names and experiences. Too many companies use fake "profile" characters as a way to think about real users (e.g. "The typical user is a thirty-five year old sales manager with a four-year degree and two kids who uses a computer for..."). While that's better than not thinking of users at all, it still puts both a physical and emotional distance between the company and real users. After all, it's impossible to truly care about pissing off the "fake" 35-year old sales manager (even if you give the profile character a name, like "John"), but almost everyone starts to squirm when they think about a real person becoming upset with them.
When those around you talk about the abstract concept of "users" or "customers", try to bring up specific real people whenever possible...
Look for first-person language from users about their own experience. Challenge others to solicit first-person, user-as-subject language.
Do everything you can to get user feedback phrased in first-person terms. Rather than feedback that talks about what the user thinks should be in the product, try to solicit feedback that gets the user talking about himself. Users tend to want to tell you what you should add/subtract from the product, but what you need is feedback where the user tells you about himself in relation to the product, even if it's negative.
Useful: "I tried to use the XYZ feature, and I couldn't figure out how to make it work."
Not useful: "The XYZ feature doesn't work properly."
Jennifer's back, and this time it's personal...
Jennifer Rice took a long break from blogging and has come back refreshed. I'm finding myself nodding along with what she says here about changing her blog to put more of herself in, and being less restricted in what she writes about.
I also like what she says about Brand Humanity: From Processes to People
So we can keep talking about the importance of customer focus, authenticity and co-creation. But well never get there until we recognize that its not that easy to overturn decades of societal depersonalization. We may have to make some difficult choices: letting go of talented employees who are more focused on being right than being empathetic; moving to a new job at a company that fosters a relationship culture; taking a risk and going out on your own. Im sure that part of the free-agent trend stems from a rebellion against the dehumanization of business.Good thinking. Let's not frame the challenge as overturning deeply-rooted powerful forces; humanising is something that is done moment-by-moment, conversation by conversation... It's about taking responsibility for our own little piece of the puzzle first.
I've been working my way through Linda Ellinor & Glenna Gerard's Dialogue, which is a "how-to" guide to creating the sort of conversations envisioned by David Bohm in his Proposal on Dialogue and also described in William Isaac's book.
I see it gets mixed reviews on Amazon. Critics find it superficial or even a sell-out: "This book exploits the whole intent of dialogue, turning it into yet another training tool and management consulting technique" I see where these critics are coming from, especially towards the end of the book when authors recommend talking to organisation development professionals to get things done. However, I think the general attack is a bit harsh, because this book takes a topic that easily lends itself to abstruse and esoteric language and makes it accessible.
(I'm concerned that much writing about complex systems slides towards making them sound complicated, which is ironic. I am much more drawn to writing with a simple quality that evokes a sense of the subject and leaves the reader to appreciate the paradoxes and ambiguities. I have more to say in this in my chapter for More Space, coming soon.)
My belief is that the dialogue process itself will teach the participants. An accessible guide that gets more people experimenting makes a really useful contribution. I certainly found this book helpful in clarifying some practical principles and I found myself flagging all sorts of nuggets. Here's one I really enjoyed.
Silence is a paradox for many of us. When the noise and busyness of our lives overwhelm us, we crave silence. Minute to minute, we discard silence as non-useful and unproductive. Often, we actively avoid it. The ability to work with silence, with the pauses in which we listen and reflect, is a capacity few people have developed. A group that has learned to sit together in silence for mre than a few minutes at a time is most likely a group that has developed a certain level of trust among members and in itself is a learning community.I love that. Some of the most satisfying experiences I've had in groups have been in silences.
(If you're interested in Dialogue, I'm co-hosting an evening here in Islington to experience the process on October 10th - email me for details or leave a comment.)
Conversation in a market
Yesterday I met Jon Husband and his partner in Portobello market and had a great chat about social software, dialogue, the meaning of life etc. Jon's one of the creators of blog editing package Qumana which sounds like its come on leaps and bounds since I first tried it several months ago. Time for another go! This also got me thinking more about the merits of "consulting" to organisations versus trying to do stuff myself...
I spent Thursday afternoon at Channel 4, which was hosting a conference on Britain's education system. My friend Steve Moore (here's his website) created this for them, as the first in a planned series called Policy Unplugged. Essentially, Steve gathered together a range of thinkers and innovators with an interest in education from a variety of perspectives, minus the usual suspects from Westminster. The idea being that real change in society needs to come more from the bottom-up, and we need to give less attention to the command-and-control diktats of attention-seeking ministers who are in their jobs for only a year or two. I was there as a table host for a format adapted from World Cafe.
September 23, 2005
Structure... or controlChris Corrigan draws a good distinction between structure and control. Snippet:
One of the things I hear from many clients is a call for "structure" in conversations. This is a term in need of a definition, and whenever I hear it, I try to clarify what is meant. In a lot of cases, structure means having items laid out on an agenda and a clear sense that we will come to come agreement on them. "Structure" is often a synonym for "control." I don't have an issue with structure, but, in keeping with the previous post, control is more problematic.
September 21, 2005
If you're still wondering "what's all this fuss about tags", you have to read (or listen to) David Weinberger's succinct, charming and intelligent explanation. His conclusion:
Not only does this let us organize stuff in ways that make more sense to us, but we no longer have to act as if there's only one right way of understanding everything, or that authors and other authorities are the best judges of what things are about. And that's a big lesson.Weinberger for Pope!
I don't often write about market research these days. There's only so much mileage in berating a moribund industry.
But I thought Greg Clemenson's post on adaptive conversations was interesting. Ok, not exactly storming the MR bastille and releasing the thousands of underpaid street interviewers and bored respondents... but hey, at least reintroducting a little humanity to the tired process of getting customer feedback in a way that doesn't shove us into the researcher's preset boxes...
Improv at The Hub
I'll be running an evening of Improv at The Hub on Tuesday October 11th, hosted by The Fun Federation. Here's how Hannah, who runs TFF, describes it...
Our next session is on its way and we would love to have you among usIf you want to come along, email Hannah.
Do you relish the unexpected in life? Do you get a buzz out of not knowing whats coming next? Do you thrive on surprise events and last minute quick thinking? Or maybe you want to run and hide at the thought of a life without tupperware and lists (like me ;-)?
Either way, this next play session is for you.
Johnnie Moore will lead us through a festival of improvisation games where we will explore the simple principles surrounding the unexpected in life and most importantly; how to make it work for us.
There will be opportunities to discuss in a light-hearted way how playing, and these games in particular, offer not only fun but learning opportunities applicable to love, life and work.
Whether improvisation is your bag or makes you want to run a mile theres fun and laughter in this session for everyone. Dont be scared!!!
Where: The Hub, 5 Torrens Street, London, EC1V 1NV (sorry, no wheelchair access)
When: Tuesday 11th October 2005Time: 6.30 8.30 pm
Cost: Suggested donation £10
Please, feel free to pass this on to anyone you can think of who might want to come along and play.
September 19, 2005
I've been reading this: The Group Unconscious: A Synthesis Paper (pdf), which its author, Alok Singh shared with me. It's real brain food and not a light read, but it echoes strongly with me.
Alok explores the idea that groups of people amount to a great deal more than the sum of the parts, for good or ill. The notion of a collective unconscious makes considerable sense, although it's often pooh-poohed in a culture that tends to see us only as individuals.
Exploring the unconscious feels like a risk, and requires a different way of thinking about conversation.
I think we're accustomed to the idea of conversation as discussion (same root as percussion) in which competing explicit ideas and egos battle it out in a supposed survival of the fittest. Moving beyond this, to a space where we risk less certainty and more vulnerability, can be quite a shift.
(Folks are so attracted to certainty. I watched a commentator this morning, woefully wringing his hands at the result of a German election. The terrible uncertainty of a hung parliament would be bad for the German economy, blah blah. The notion that the opposing parties might have to engage in a constructive conversation and that there might be some good in this was excluded from consideration; in his eyes much better the "certainty" of one political grouping being "in control".)
I liked Alok's observation:
What I particularly notice is that breakthroughs in the depth of conversation happen when the group becomes more conscious of itself in the process of conversation itself.He then relates some fascinating research by the physicist Henri Bortoft who compares "authentic and counterfeit wholes". This strays into fairly mind-bending territory - it's a characteristic of the phenomenon we're trying to explore here that it doesn't lend itself to easy explanation in words. But anyway, here are a few words:
Bortoft says that in any natural or human phenomenon, the Whole is of a different order to the Parts, and is thereby not the same as the sum of the Parts... there is an 'essential irreducibility of the Whole'; while we can put Parts together, we cannot put together Wholes.If you think of times when you've been part of, or maybe witnessed, a great team, or indeed found yourself sucked into a mob, you'll have experienced this sense of something beyond the agglomeration of individuals.
The paper uses the iceberg metaphor to suggest that only a small fraction of what is going on in groups is conscious. (See my post about the Tyranny of the Explicit for more iceberg thoughts) Alok puts forward a variety of interesting thoughts about how groups work, if what's largely going on is the working out of issues and conflicts that are known but not being talked about (the elephant under the table)... or even more interesting, unknown and not talked about (the elephant under the elephant?)
A good example is a group which keeps cycling back to some familiar conflict, apparently resolving only to revive it again. What's interesting when this happens is to enquire into what's beneath the superficial conflict.
Alok has some great insights about the difference between a highly functioning group (increases the level of consciousness) and a mob (reduces consciousness, so that the individuals merely lose themselves).
In Mobs, which develop through Deindividuation, group members bury a large part of their personal identity and replace it with the identity of the group-as-a-whole. Group members lose their moral compass, as the complexity of their many identities is submerged and denied... In Synergistic Groups, which develop through Individuation, group members become more aware of their complex identities, and start to take ownership of aspects of their identity that they have previously disavowed.I also liked Alok's summary of the qualities a facilitator needs to work with groups in a way that respects the great amount of non-rational, non-explicit stuff that is going on... self-awareness, presence and what he calls neutrality but I would call openness.
Fascinating stuff. And not easy to blog about.
September 18, 2005
Improv on the Beach, Melbourne, Dec 19th
I had a great Skype call with Tony Goodson this morning. We're going to organise an Improv on the Beach session when I visit Melbourne in December. It will be on Monday 19 December, 6pm to 8pm (and meal to follow) at Ellwood Beach. We'll be running some of our favourite improv activities, with a smattering of debriefs about how they are relevant to creating lively organisations and brands. If you're interested in joining us, email Tony or me.
"I don't read any more. I just talk to people who have." - Dr Tom Malloy, University of Utah, quoted by Paul B Hartzog at Many2Many.
When two people have a conversation, they act as proxies for the many ideas in their heads which are drawn from the many things they have read. In effect, a conversation is a many-to-many interaction that is both mediated and moderated by the participants. The individuals catalog, sort, tag, and filter ideas as they are drawn into the shared space of the conversation.So a conversation can be the little bridge across which the ideas inside us leap. Interesting perspective.
Lloyd Davis is doing a great job blogging Podcastcon. So I don't feel so bad about missing it. This section of his notes on a talk by Milverton Wallace especially caught my eye.
Technologies challenge traditional ways of transmitting knowledge.
Last October, he'd just got into podcasting. A friend had a big contract with a south london borough for remedial education. The borough decided they had too many unemployed uneducated kids. So they got loads of hardware and software (even quarkexpress and adobe!) equipped a room with state of the art stuff. Big opening ceremony - everyone there. had a phone call saying kids didn't turn up for the lectures in this hi-tech wonderland.
Looked again - it's just another classroom - nice carpets & cool kit, but still a classroom and these kids are those who rebelled against classrooms. That model of encouraging people to learn doesn't work for a significant minority of kids. Milverton said give 'em ipods so they can hang on the corners pretending to listen to music, but really listening to a maths lesson. Not taken seriously - now closed the facility. An illustration of how difficult it is to get established professionals to accept what's new and experiment with stuff.
So my sample of Stormhoek has arrived, along with Hugh's excellent little booklet. The booklet starts by talking about an experiment in disruptive marketing, and only gets round to pitching the wine later. Which makes sense, as we can try the wine for ourselves anyway.
You have to hand it to Hugh. I've not touched the wine yet and already I'm blogging it. What is it I like?
1. The tone of invitation. No hard sell, just the presentation of an interesting idea to take or leave as you please. No grandiose posturing.
2. The sprit of experiment. Selling isn't all about certainty, it's also about curiosity. Hugh is inviting us to play a game of let's disrupt marketing to see what happens.
3. A cause to believe in, if you like. We're not talking about saving the world here, but we are offered an interesting windmill to tilt at - namely the established way of marketing stuff.
4. A bit of provocation. There is actually a proposition in here somewhere too - the one of freshness being undervalued in the wine business. Take it or leave it, it provides a bit of interest.
5. The fact that this is so clearly a message from a real live human being, with a personality of his own, not a committee.
6. Transparency, that oft-quoted term. The whole thing smacks of "What you see is what you get, this is what we're up to, what do you think?"
A friend pointed me to this pdf: The conditions for thriving conversations, by Kathia Castro Laszlo and Alexander Laszlo.
I'm really interested in what makes a great conversation and how to have more of them. This brings together some clear thinking. It's an academic paper so you'll need to cut them a bit of slack on the jargon front. Here are some of the nuggets I'd pick out.
Conversation, in contrast with debate and other forms of antagonistic discourse, is collaborative. It demands from the conversants an openness to changing views and perspectives that is, it involves learning and can foster coordinated action.The authors go on to reflect on what makes for great conversation, and what doesn't. They talk about a blend of generative and strategic dialogue: the former is conversation which builds the familiarity of participants with each other - the relationship focus; the latter is about the explicit purpose or subject of the conversation - the task focus. It's not an either/or choice of course, and you need both to create a thriving conversation.
Rather like William Isaacs in his book Dialogue, they talk about the stages of conversations and the need to live with chaos:
Thriving conversations are not exempt from such stages - it often happens that an initial agreement (integration) is followed by disagreement and chaos (differentiation). However, a true thriving conversation transcends this stage of divergence and arrives at a new level of organization and meaningThey introduce the notion of synergic inquiry, which supports participants in going through four stages: self-knowing; other-knowing; holding differences; and transcending differences. I think the ability to hold differences without automatically leaping to attack/defend mode is a crucial sign of a group that is capable of something special. I'd just emphasise my own learning about these models: these are not predictable circuits you go through once, in order, then you're done... in conversations (in life) we're going through them all the time and not necessarily in the same order.
They have an interesting listing of five different kinds of facilitation, from first generation (outside expert) to fifth generation, who...
not only involves the group in the design process, but also helps the group to learn how to learn to facilitate.The bit that most caught my attention this morning was their discussion of one factor that differentiates a thriving conversation from a boring one. They quote research on Evolutionary Learning Communities (ELCs) by a guy called Alexander
The composition of a group is critical to its success.... Perhaps the filter relates to relative passion objectives: if the passion objective is to live, learn, and understand from the process in order to enrich ones life, then the ELC will not transcend; if the passion objective is to live, learn, and understand from the process in order to enrich the world, then the ELC will transcend. In the former, the quest is for realization of the self, with contribution to and betterment of the world being secondary and a by-product. In the latter, the quest is for contribution to and betterment of the world, with realization of the self being secondary and a by-product. ELCs cannot emerge from individuals with proximate life passions. They must seek and attract and embrace individuals with transcendent life passions.This resonates with me. Lots of people like to talk about synergy but I think it's easy for that word to simply mean: a process where I get to take out more than I put in, as if it is a risk-free, safe process. What makes for thriving conversations, and thriving groups, is a sense of a goal beyond our immediate egotistical desires and a willingness to take emotional risks to get there.
September 16, 2005
I'm intrigued by the long string of comments to my post a few weeks ago about Phone Spam. In what seemed a tangential remark, Bill commented about nuisance calls from a 179 area code.Over the succeeding days, this web page has become a little hub on the net for exchanging information about this particular phenomenon.
Just a microexample of the connected world we live in.
Customer service update
I've blogged about a couple of recent customer service experiences. Here's an update. Internetters/Iomart have not replied to my letter of complaint from 20 July and two reminders from me, though they have found time to send me a payment reminder. So they're still very much in Brontosaurus territory for sensitivity to feedback.
[UPDATE In December 2005 my dispute with Internetters was resolved to my satisfaction. Credit where it's due, they have put things right now.]
Things are a bit more cheerful on the Orange front. The trick here seems to be to bypass the regular customer service and write a letter to Mike Hughes (Customers Services Director, Senhouse Rd, Darlington, DL1 4YQ 0870 376 8888). This produced a much more engaged, much less defensive response. So now Orange have waived the disputed charge though I'm still working on getting clear on how the bizarre data charge was clocked up in the first place. But I feel like I'm having a conversation with them now, and that makes it much more likely that I'll stay. I wouldn't now describe Orange as arrogant, which is the perception I had in earlier posts.
Basically, I've learnt that there is an Executive Department at Orange that rises above customer service to deal with the curved balls. Orange don't publicise this department because, I suppose, efficiency dictates that they want us all to go the call centre. Such strategies might become less effective in a networked world; this isn't the first posting on the net to let the average Googler find a better way to deal with their Orange complaints.
Likewise, this comment to my Iomart post explains how to bypassing their usurious £49 transfer charge.
So the net contributes to a stripping away of some of the conventional corporate defences as customers become better informed. This means customer service needs to be less combative - which probably requires a change of behaviour on both sides, organisation and customer. I think this is what Ben Hammersely means about a new etiquette emerging. (I've not quite figured out the etiqette for dealing with Ben's questioning technique, but practice will no doubt make perfect).
September 14, 2005
Sign of the times
Adrian Trenholm reflects on how a combination of email, blogs, LinkedIn and phone led four people who'd never met before to have an animated conversation.
September 11, 2005
Marketing as teaching
Yet another smart post by Kathy Sierra: You can out-spend or out-teach. Snippet:
...teaching is the "killer app" for a newer, more ethical approach to marketing. While in the past, those who out-spent (on ads, and big promotions) would often win, that's becoming less and less true today for a lot of things--especially the things designed for a younger, more-likely-to-be-online user community.Of course, most us will have, how shall I put this?, mixed experiences of teaching and I think most people trying to create a brand will also need to see themselves as learners. Let your customers teach you, too.
Engaging the resistance
Over at 173drurylane, Adrian Trenholm writes about this article about the symbiotic relationship developing between a Whole Foods supermarket and the local farmers' market. Adrian speculates on whether Sainsbury's could create a more collaborative relationship with farmers' markets. James Governor in the comments says
Sometimes you can Be More Competitive By Being Less Competitive. In other words, sometimes it doesn't hurt to engage with or even encourage "competitors" if its going to benefit the customer.I think this is the kind of thinking brands need to do more of.
It feels important to me to highlight disturbance's role as a friend because I have come to see certainty as a curse. This was not a realization that came easily to me. I, like most of you, was raised in the traditions of Western schooling. Knowing the right answer was always rewarded. Intelligence was equated with how well I did on tests, and most tests were about knowing the right answer. Later, as a leader, I was promoted for my certainty-I had the vision, I knew how to get there, and people would follow me based on how well I radiated that certainty, how well I disguised my fears.This is resonating strongly with me this weekend.
But everything has changed since those sweet, slow days when the world seemed knowable and predictable, when we actually knew what to do next. The growing complexity of our times makes certainty about any move or any position much more precarious. And in this networked world where information moves at the speed of light and "truth" mutates before our eyes, certainty changes and speeds off at equivalent velocity.
September 10, 2005
Caught in the act
James Cherkoff and I went out last weekend with Jesper Bindslev and Jon Froda, whose shared blog is e-mediators. We'd first met them at Reboot7 earlier this year where we had a lot of fun together. They were great company, hugely engaging to talk to and full of ideas. (Disclosure: if you read what they say about us, you'll recognise a Mutual Appreciation Society).
They're both interested in innovation and co-creation and are writing a thesis (collaboratively, of course) on Making sense of corporate blogging through social movement theory. If you read that post, you'll see they provide some further academic depth to the sort of stuff Hugh posted about the porous membrane. This notion of movements of people transcending the apparent fixed boundaries of corporations seems pretty important to me.
Anyway, towards the end of the evening over dinner, we got round to talking about Improv and they recorded my impromptu demonstration of one of my favourite improv activities, the shared drawing game. Jesper has just posted the results as a five minute video here.
If you're interested in the exercise, I wrote a post with a bit more detail here.
September 9, 2005
Connect via books
But Connectviabooks feels a little more promising. Enter the books you like, and it will point you to other people who are into the same books. It strikes me that people's choice of books is going to provide some clues to some of their deeper passions and interests. There are a few books I've read where I'd be genuinely interested in meeting the sort of people who also enjoyed them. So I'm giving it a go, and I think this site is onto something worthwhile.
Our Social World and Whose Brand is it anyway?
I'm blogging this live from Our Social World, where we're reached the final session and many of us are now sipping the Stormhoek, courtesy of Hugh. The OSW site links to lots of coverage of what's been happening.
I did my party piece sharing an improv game to explore the idea of taking risks, stepping into the unknown and co-creativity.
I also mentioned my part in starting 173drurylane.com, and was surprised to find that this sparked a bit of controversy. If I followed correctly (and I may have got the wrong end of the stick), some folks, including Ben Hammersley, were a bit startled at this blog being run independently of Sainsbury's and without the bloggers explicitly telling the company about it.
One thing about this that feels important to me is the idea that a brand, like Sainsbury's, is a social construction. While the company may own the trademark, it's for all or any stakeholders to determine its meaning, which they do in a variety of conversations. The 173 site is arguably a slightly different way of hosting a few of these conversations, but I think it's perfectly fair for us to do that.
When people ask what do they think about this, and how will they react, I start to wonder about what this they means; I start to philosophise about who these they are. Perhaps, in this context, we're talking about the senior management of the company, who may or may not like our little blog. But what about the staff of the company, one or two of whom have been known to participate in the conversations at 173? And aren't those of us who shop at Sainsbury's part of the this they as well?
Call me a subversive, I can hack it.
UPDATE: The debate continues at Tim Kitchin's, who weighed in my support, bless him. I hope we'll all end up as friends in the end.
September 7, 2005
I'm updgrading the software behind this weblog to Movable Type 3.2. Apologies if normal service is disrupted.
UPDATE 12.05: MT3.2 is installed but currently individual entry pages and comments are down. Sorry - I'm working on it...
UPDATE 12.13: Ok, that problem seems to have resolved itself. Let me know of any adverse experiences you have...
UPDATE: There's a problem with Typekey registration, sorry if it's not working for you. I'm all at sea with the new comment templates but I'm trying to figure it out...
UPDATE Sept 13th With help from the nice people at Tech Support at SixApart, I think the Typekey glitch has been sorted out.
Locked out radio workers turn to podcasts
Chris Corrigan reckons
..the podcasts produced by the locked out employees of CBC are far, far better than the crap produced by the locked in managers.We live in interesting times.
What is it about American leaders that they like to have crowds of poker-faced people standing behind them when they're giving speeches? From this side of the Atlantic it looks really weird. Actually, it looks really naff. Haven't these folks got something more useful to do?
(Partly prompted by Fouroboro's post here.)
A Simpler Way
I've been enjoying A Simpler Way, by Margaret Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers. I've found myself underlining quite a lot of it. Here's the bit that caught my eye this morning.
Life accepts only partners, not bosses. We cannot stand outside a system as an objective, distant director. There is no objective ground to stand on anywhere in the entire universe. Our disconnection - our alleged objectivity - is an illusion; and even if we fail to realize this, the system will notice it immediately. Systemswork with themselves; if we aren't part of the system, we have no potency. Systems do not accept direction, only provocation.I especially like that last sentence.
September 6, 2005
A good day
I ran my Facilitation for Surprise Workshop here in London yesterday. It was one of my most satisfying day's work for a long time. All the participants were really enthusiastic and engaged and there was a lot expertise and experience being shared. One of the great things about this sort of work is the opportunity to learn myself and I got some new insights on several of the activities we did together.
One of the things that I'm getting really interested in when facilitating is the power of silence. It's quite a challenge for facilitators to keep silent at times and allow processes to unfold. Yesterday gave me some new insights into this.
The picture is a souvenir of one of the things we did, based on the activity described here a few months back.
I've now scheduled the next workshop for November 7th.
September 4, 2005
UK blogs and business
Today's Sunday Telegraph talks about blogging belatedly getting on the corporate radar screen here in the UK: Big business battles to keep up with the bloggers. It looks at two blogs in particular, both with a supermarket interest. The first is Supermarket-sweep-up.com, which questions the impact of Tesco's soaraway success. The other is 173drurylane.com (which I co-founded a few months ago).
I cringed slightly at my co-blogger Max's (tongue-in-cheek, I hope) quote about me ("Johnnie wanted to save his alma mater".) Really, the blog started as experiment, to see what would happen. I don't expect to save Sainbury's but I thought it would be interesting to give some voice to its customers' desire to see it do better.
The most interesting bit of the article was this:
It is a reflection of how underground blogging remains in the UK that press officers at Tesco and Sainsbury appeared to be unaware of the sites when contacted by The Sunday Telegraph.Yep, I think corporate Britain is a couple of years behind the curve when it comes to blogs... and I get the strong feeling it is about to start paying more attention.
September 1, 2005
The numbers game
Hugh writes more about Stormhoek blogging experiment. Folks are asking him to give them the numbers, like a case study. I like his response:
Maybe it's more important to be interested in the conversation you're actually having, rather than only what's in it for the bottom line.