Weblog Entries for December 2007
December 26, 2007
A more natural intelligence
Dave Snowden is spot on with this thought, I reckon:
I think one difference with this technology is that it is more natural, its fragmented nature matches the fragmented nature of our intelligence and memory structures, but critically it also allows us to augment our memories through the storage capacity, but also the networked social interaction of the net. In a sense it is less intrusive than the technologies which preceded it which changed the physical structure of our lives... the knowledge economy seems to be allowing us to rediscover more ancient forms of wisdom.
December 24, 2007
An interesting experiment conducted by the egonomics team.
We took 500 managers and executives from the same organization and separated them into 125 teams, with four people per team. Then we wrote down the word leadership on a whiteboard and gave them 90 seconds individually, without talking to one another, to write down as many words as they could that captured what leadership meant to them. Next we asked them to compare their lists and see how many words they matched as a team. A word was only considered a match if each team member had the same word as everyone else on the team, not with just one or two team members. The winning total? One. Only one team had one match. The other 124 teams had a grand total of zero matches. Weve conducted this exercise for years in over 40 countries using different words, i.e., trust, strategy, vision, risk management, branding, customer satisfaction, and even easier words like pizza, family and dog. On a good day, a team will have one or two matches"and only on the easiest words.I think we easily underestimate how different are the meanings we can make and how imprecise our language actually is. And if our words are not holding us together, then it seems likely that something else is. That something else is harder to locate or label, but sometimes in moments of silence I think we sense it's there.
Another interesting entry there looks at soft power. I think there's a connection between that sort of power and the connections that aren't about easily captured in words.
December 22, 2007
Jaw-jaw about War-Warcraft
December 21, 2007
Expert sacks himself
You've got to admire David Sackett. He has declared that
he would "never again lecture, write, or referee anything to do with evidence based clinical practice".Hat tip: Bob Sutton who (fortunately) has not sacked himself yet.
Sackett is not doing this because he has ceased to believe in evidence based clinical practice but, as the BMJ comments, because he is worried about the power of experts in stifling new ideas and wants the retirement of experts to be made compulsory....
This is Sackett's second retirement from expertise. In 1983 he was an expert in compliance with therapeutic regimens. He wrote a paper calling for the compulsory retirement of experts and never again lectured, wrote, or refereed anything to do with compliance.
Ben Zander quoted by Phil Dourado:
A Harvard Business School study looked at job satisfaction. Orchestra players came just below prison guards. Chamber musicians came in at number 1. What’s the difference? The presence of a conductor.A bit of googling turned up this interesting article on an orchestra without a conductor.
Oh my goodness, I had no idea that "Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007".
So I put it in Technorati. There I found many excited climate change-denying blogs. But I also found this from desmogblog: 400 Prominent Scientists Dispute Global Warming - Bunk
It's a good post with some good comments. You pretty soon realise that the authors of the report have some very, er, liberal views of what a "prominent scientist is" (eg it appears to include a British Viscount with a degree in Classics who originally advocated quaranting all carriers of HIV). Plus the usual trick of quoting out of context.
Thank goodness for the internet.
December 19, 2007
All require (the ad says) “strategic vision”, the Disability Director being required to “lead and direct a portfolio of strategic policy projects” (as well as “deliver the CEHR's mandate and cross-strand approach”), while the Director of Business Planning is “developing” “strategic policy projects”, and the Foresight Director is busy identifying “key strategic objectives”.Parris despairs of the language, and I must admit a similar feeling. The word strategic has become horribly abused. It often seems to be used by people who have a circle of concern (and salary package) a great deal larger than their genuine circle of influence.
The Director of the Commissioners' Office, meanwhile “will fill a strategic role”; the Legal Policy Director (“working closely with external stakeholders”) will “build strategic relationships” while “leading the development” of a “legal strategy”; and the Legal Enforcement Director will ensure the CEHR “meets [its] strategic objectives”. In a text no longer than this column, one clutch of vacuities occurs again and again:
Coincidentally, I've been reading a copy of David Maister's Strategy and the Fat Smoker. (Disclosure, David sent it me as a freebie. BTW you can get a free version as a ChangeThis manifesto.) That has to rank as the best book title of the year, and so far it does much to question the role of strategy in organisations. Essentially, he says strategy is easy, implementation is tough. One chapter develops ideas from his post, Lions, Wolves, Beavers and Humans. David suggests that we can write long term strategy based on everyone collaborating... but most folks aren't personally inclined to long term team play. And so often, that's what strategies seems to assume: that the organisation can be made to play by the same rules, delay personal gratification in favour of collaboration. It looks like David's going to suggest ways to get over this and make sense of strategy.
I'm wondering whether much of our efforts to create strategy, rather like cultivating leadership skills, are based on a rather idealistic notion of what really goes on in organisations. And possibly actually conceal rather than acknowledge the very individualistic expectations of the supposed strategists...
December 18, 2007
Not so secret Santa
Oli has a good post about seeing Santacon the other day.
Through the window of the Soho Pizzeria I spied them. Hundreds upon hundreds of crimson-suited Santas, wending their way through the streets of London. Santacon 2007 had arrived and, last Saturday I was one of thousands of onlookers.
Not three days before I had witnessed Commutercon on Waterloo Bridge as hundreds of business men, dressed identically, had made their way from the Strand to Waterloo Station, all obeying the strict rule that none of them was allowed to smile or laugh. At least I think that’s what was going on.
From Flashmobs to Cinemas, terraces to moshpits, aside from the fun of the activity we’ve arrived to enjoy, there’s an excitement in the very act of ‘doing things TOGETHER’.
December 10, 2007
Reduce load - stimulate brain
Don't drone. Get students talking and guessing and arguing. Our short-term memory can only process four ideas at a time, he warns, so don't try to cram whole chapters into an hour. In a nutshell: reduce the load; stimulate the brain.
"I can't imagine a three-hour lecture, personally, but getting students to flex their brains during class rather than just sit there passively is exactly what we want to see," Wieman said in an interview.
It's that interaction – the answering and arguing and persuading – that stimulates protein in the brain, which in turn helps anchor ideas into long-term memory, he says.
Earl spotted this from David Isenberg. Another Reason Torture-tape-gate is Abhorent I'm astonished at what's happened in the USA over the torture tapes - as Earl says, this is another nail in the coffin of the perpertrators. Or should be.
Suppose the torture victim says something useful, but mumbles, or uses disjointed syntax, or uses a language that the torturers don't know. Maybe the victim has a moment of weakness and then clams up again. Or maybe the victim utters the valuable information and dies. Or maybe the information needs to be translated by somebody who's not present. Or maybe it only gains value as it is subject to further analysis.
To NOT RECORD torture is to risk losing the very utility the perpetrators claim makes torture necessary. If they're risking loss of information to keep their own asses out of the fire, it's even worse. Shame. Shame. Shame.
Paul Levy has some smart things to say about "icebreakers" for workshops in his comment to this: Energisers for Introverts.
Just as "ice breakers" make the dangerous (and often wrong) assumption that there is "ice" at the start of a workshop that somehow needs to be broken, the idea that a workshop needs "energising" at the beginning is also a bit sweeping and often mistaken too...
I prefer to look into the creativity field and find the concept of "flow". Flow is better when it is not manipulated by a facilitator (no matter how well intentioned). Flow happens differently in different people..
December 8, 2007
Investing in the web explained
December 6, 2007
Coalitions of the willing
I used that phrase back in February. I think it's a good way to describe a way of thinking about how to respond to what's created by Web 2.0: you can't control it, you need to manage people as if they're volunteers.
Where we've come from...
Here are a couple of my favourite cartoons from The Superest website.
It's a continuing improv cartoon site where folks invent cartoon superheroes to outdo the last superhero.
Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan
Forward or back?
Mike Weaver compares and contrasts these two thoughts:
The improvisor (story teller) has to be like a man walking backward. He sees where he has been, but he pays no attention to the future. His story can take him anywhere, but he must still 'balance' it, and give it shape, by remembering incidents that have been shelved and reincorporating them. Keith Johnstone
We were not created to walk backward into the future. Just the decision to look forward to the future has a healing power in itself. Erwin McManus
New improv site
I recently stopped managing the website for the Applied Improv network. After four years, I felt I'd become stale. Fortunately, Leif Hansen stepped out of the void and rebuilt the site for us on Ning.
It's working really well. The old site was set up as a blog but very few posts were written. The old set up was just a bit too taxing for people.
On ning, it seems the pain threshold is lower and there's a whole lot of new life.
And some excellent blog posts.
December 5, 2007
It's been a bit quiet here lately because, to be honest, I have been a bit addicted to World of Warcraft this week. Still, I feel better knowing Mr T and Willam Shatner are prepared to endorse it in this ad.
I'm not quite ready to do my "I'm Johnnie Moore, and I'm a Mage" video just yet, but I could be tempted. That's if I can spare the time from levelling up my Priest or Druid alts. Here are my three avatars as presently equipped: