Friends I’ve never met

April 25, 2010...... at 10:45 am | Posted in personal, thoughts | 1 Comment

I love what twitter is doing to my world.

A couple of days ago my girlfriend ended our relationship because my kids were a problem, too young.
Sad thing is, she’d reminded me how great it is to be a couple and now I find I can’t go back to the me
that wasn’t looking before she gave me intimacy
wrapped up in a body to die for

So I’m feeling all alone and WTF
and took drive out to blogspot
and stumbled on friends I’ve never met
who shared my thoughts and
made my impossible, possible
and gave me peace

How you choose to behave may be a function of where you choose to behave

May 6, 2009...... at 10:21 am | Posted in thoughts | 1 Comment

Until recently my view was that our behaviour is governed by our thoughts ala Gandhi’s ‘become the change you want to see in the world’. However, this view
has been under threat from a number of sources:

  1. smiling causes happiness as well as visa versa – Zajonc, R.B. “Emotion and Facial Efference: An Ignored Theory Reclaimed”
  2. yawning is contagious – howstuffworks
  3. character is environment dependent (character is fluid in new environments ala Second Life) – Miligram
  4. behaviour can precede conscious thought – gamblers making choices associated with poor odds starting exhibiting physical stress symptoms long before they became consciously aware of the poor odds (Gladwell’s Blink)

However, the final straw arrived whilst reading a Harvard Business Review article that talked about mirror synapses, parts of your brain designed to get
you to identify with people around you. Literally the behaviour of other people in your environment can cause your brain to fire as if you were doing the behaviour.

When you consider this information in conjunction with the points above, it becomes apparent that a some of our behaviour may be ascribed to our environment rather than any mindful thought on our part, triggered by environmental factors that are not under our conscious control.

Thus a persons character may well be a function of the environment within which they find themselves. As someone who is interested in exploring how people evolve and develop, my take on this is that if you want to change something about yourself you may be better off changing your environment rather than trying to change your behaviour.

Facebook and Twitter face off

February 10, 2009...... at 11:53 pm | Posted in thoughts | Leave a comment

For while it was cool having a million and one facebook apps stick stuff on your wall but ultimately humans gather either to observe or communicate. Twitter is the Google search box of casual communication, it puts the I in “I said” right back where it belongs front and center. The twitter application allowed a lot of people to leave facebook secure in the knowledge that their friends in facebook would still be
getting regular updates. The fact that a number of users had to stop using the application speaks to the fact that twitter is about conversations, trying to follow one side of a conversation is confusing.

So people started joining twitter. Not the recent facebook arrivals but the early adopters, the people Gladwell would call sneezers. People who go out of their way to share the latest cool things with their friends. For a while these early adopters ran both Facebook and Twitter profiles, but the Twitter app in facebook allowed you to publish your status updates to Facebook without ever putting in an appearance, the return visits got less frequent. If Facebook management is as good as they should be this fact would have turned up on their management dashboards.

So today Facebook announced that it had opened its API to allow retrieval of statuses
But that is not going to bring these people back they are two busy having public conversations on twitter. Conversations about AMBER ALERTS that subsequently turned out to be hoaxes but still generated hundreds of mentions in a very localised area. For this reason Google will buy twitter.

How to be human

February 9, 2009...... at 11:19 pm | Posted in personal, thoughts | Leave a comment

Today I think I met a future friend. So rare friends, we tend to acquire them in youth and loose them along the road to middle age. Yet so necessary to a life well lived. My dad asked me yesterday: ‘What is the purpose of your life?’ To which I replied: ‘To make a difference’ Having thought about it some more I fully qualify that sentiment as:
‘To make a positive difference in the lives of people I care about and to care about people.’

So easy to loose one’s purpose in life’s repetitiveness. But so much of life’s richness comes from it’s uniqueness. Talking to some life long friends on Saturday night, I was reminded of that, in how the talk eddied around our unique adventures. For a while I forgot to cherish those original moments that give us such a rich tapestry to survey. As I grew older I applied myself to being a successful husband, father, employee, boss and as Gladwell argues in Outliers success is a repetitive activity. You need 10,000 hours of practice to become successful at something. How many of those 10,000 hours do you think you remember.

Segue to a conversation I was having last week with Bryn about the importance of doing memorable things. How quickly a year can float past if there are no anchors around which to measure time – dates that you remember because they were significant. Success is nothing if it is not practice, but practice is neither significant nor memorable.

I asked a friend today what makes a business succeed. He replied that in his experience it boiled down to people, retired at the age of 37, he now spends his time making a difference in the lives of people he cares about. A while ago at a 40th birthday party I was privileged to witness a wonderful testimony to the difference that one man can make in the lives of others. Last night I read a quote that went:

“The greatest reward in becoming a millionaire is not the
amount of money that you earn. It is the kind of person that you have
to become to become a millionaire in the first place.”
– Jim Rohn

I leave you with a link to a wonderful video by Professor Seligman on human happiness


Management has 3 functions, World Cup style

April 22, 2007...... at 11:07 pm | Posted in thoughts | Leave a comment

I was having a chat with a colleague Neil the other day on the function of management. He was of the opinion that the best managers he’s worked with have been facilitators. I agree that facilitation is one of the key functions of management but I ask myself facilitation of what? It is this ‘what’ which speaks to the other 2 functions of management: negotiation and communication. I love cricket so excuse me if I indulge a few cricket analogies to illustrate my point.

Senior management always get to bat first, so middle management’s first task is to negotiate an acceptable target. Giving your team a mammoth target to chase is a sure recipe for failure. This is where experience is invaluable, being able to read the pitch. Each innings is different and needs to treated as a unique case but you need to be able to borrow on past experience and identify innovative winning strategies in every case. If you always play leg spinners bowling outside of leg-stump into the rough you will be seen as seen as defeatist by senior management. However, from a team perspective you need to be seen to restrict the opposing team to an achivable target.

Brooks’ Law states that adding late resources to a project whose complexity you underestimated is just going to make it later. Management has a duty to either negotiate the right project scope at the outset or negotiate a reduced set of functionality during the project term. In cricket this is known as preparing the right pitch or setting the right field to restrict the opposition to an achievable total.

After the first innings, the negotiation phase, its time for your team to perform. This is where communication comes to the fore, each player needs to know exactly what is expected of them. Obviously each members role and responsibilities change in the ebb and flow of the game – this needs to be communicated. You can’t have someone blazing away with the bat if what’s needed is an anchor role. If the team needs 230 to win the match and progress to the next round then everybody needs to know this.

Facilitation is the stuff you do when you’re not negotiating and communicating. It is the easiest overlooked of the three management functions, but it is also the skill that can make the most difference in the lives of your team. Peak performance is always a matter of flow and anything you can do as the captain to get your team members into flow is vital.

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