Category: Food for Thought

Under Communication Limits our Effectiveness

Why do we have so many meetings that have few observable results?

Under communication creates over congregation.

We have so many meetings because the participants spend a great deal of time and effort removing ambiguity and aligning expectations. The ambiguity and misaligned expectation are the symptoms of to little communication. Face to face communication is rich and powerful but it is expensive, requiring parties to be present at the same point in time and space, and has a limited scope of accountability. There are techniques to increase the accountability of people who use face to face communication as a primary communication mechanism. Techniques like formalized follow-up and written recaps create artifacts of the communication.

The lack of communication in any organization forces people to seek the richest form of communication. Over communication is key to reducing the number of meetings and managers must be conduits for and facilitators of communication. I found that when I feel like I am communicating to much, I am really just communicating enough.

So over communicate you might find that you have fewer meeting and become more effective.

Documents as conversation pieces

Many times people are unable to sustain a dialog without some concrete representation to reference. In many organizations critical decisions, direction, assumptions and goals go under communicated. A document creates an opportunity to hold critical information but importantly it creates a relationship between the interested parties. The parties may have little opportunity to communicate and without the formality of a document the dialog never reaches critical mass or never occurs.

For example a report card really is a conversation piece to be used by the parent, teacher and student/child. In the end the value of dialog generated by the report card will eclipse the document itself.

The importance of the document is eclipsed by the dialog that is triggered and focused by the existence of the document. At some level the document is simply a conversation piece used to focus the exchange and create a reason for meaningful discussion. Once the conversations are complete and a meaningful result is achieved the document becomes a reference to the dialog that can be used to remind all parties of the exchange and commitments.

I know this is not some formal methodology where the documents are the critical and substantive. Pragmatically the value of the document will rarely exceed the value of the collaborative dialog that surrounds its creation, socialization, and acceptance. In the end the document is just a piece of corporate art that inspires passions, opinions and is left as a memory of it all.

To Delete (private) or Not To Delete (not private)..

That is the question, is it private or not private, or is it even your data. This all, in an interesting article about search history and how it should be handled (via WSJ).
John Battelle thinks the search engines should take a stronger position.
The Attention Trust lays out the principles that customers should require of their consumers of their attention.
The government is trying to protect your data and at the same time trying to ensure that they have access to it.

The way I see it, its our data without the user Google wouldn’t exist and the government is sanctioned by the people for the people. We need to be more demanding of our online relationships when it comes to the privacy and handling of our data. We also need to be more exacting and demanding of our elected officials in protecting our basic rights. It’s not that the government shouldn’t have access to our Internet activity, that access should follow due process, be visible to the user or their legal representative (in some cases this may be a court) and be transparent. Companies should respect the user’s rights and provide clear mechanisms for customers to exercise those rights. We minimally share copyright on our user data. Companies need to recognize that joint copyright and set forth a framework for collaboration and rights management (which may include explicit termination of rights).

Just my two cents.

oh yeah

Questions in my mind,

What is the value of the history of human behavior (online or offline)? Don’t know, but that information serves us to this day, will Google query history, who knows.

When do the names on a war memorial become obsolete? Never.
What about privacy, can someone refuse to have a family members name on a memorial? Not sure.

Is it just me

In San Diego I never see Banks showing the time and the temperature. It may just be a Midwest thing, something for us to complain about, no time or the weather. Or in San Diego, The temperature is perfect and who cares what time it is, it’s just now.

Thinking about the Long tail (Core Dump)

I was listening to the Resignation Gang (Part 3) and was interested in the arguments around how people like to get their news and inversion of the network. I have a couple questions running through my mind:

Does the head of the Long tail exist because the market has been unable to deliver meaningful specialization?

  • Does the impact of low cost software and hardware make specialization more affordable?
  • Do improved information strategies make specialization more accessible and understandable for the tail?

The idea that the head of the tail exists because of inefficiencies in the market makes me think that mass market and mass production are dying. It will linger for a long time but it will die. From content to pharmaceuticals to services, all will be become capable of serving the tail.

If the network is inverted does that make everyone a part of the tail?

  • What opportunities exist in a infinite tail scenario?
  • What is the most efficient mechanism for value creation?

I was thinking that affinity based collaboration may become the new organizational model. In order to manage the scale and complexity of the infinite tail, an economy based on cognitive products and services will be required. I don’t foresee anytime in the near future when we will be dealing with less information. The growth in the amount, type and quality of information will force people to seek solutions that a match the efficiencies of the market and of their own cognitive processes. The cognitive economy will arise as a function of the emergence of the infinite tail.

The Gillmor Gang RSS feed
Resignation Gang (Part 3)

An estimated 168 million Americans lack broadband access at home!

A Reuters article (via points out:

An estimated 42 percent of Americans had high-speed Internet access at home in March 2006, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That was up from 30 percent of Americans with high-speed access one year earlier, it said.

Wow, 168 million people do not have Broadband at home. The funny thing is many (technologists, the technorati, and the like) refer to the network as being ubiquitous. Its not, and given the cost issues ($49.00 for Comcast) and the political BS around the last mile and now net neutrality, its likely that many may never get Broadband. 168 million, in that number lurks the digital divide, and we as a country don’t seem to be doing much about it. Anybody want to guess how many children are deprived the benefit of the information super highway. Dial-up doesn’t count in my book either. Sad very Sad.

Open letter to those without RSS feeds

To whom it may concern,

I will not join your mailing list.

If your company, service or group requires me to get information via a mailing list, forget about it. If you enroll me I will unsubscribe, I will not enroll, and I will do everything in my power to avoid using your product. PLEASE CREATE AN RSS FEED. An organization that I belong to offered events calendar updates via email. I will most likely suggest using an RSS feed, I will offer my assistance and then unsubscribe.

I know a great many people don’t know what RSS is, so I hope my little protest and offer of help (for those things I believe in) will encourage companies to find out about RSS. I then hope this new found understanding of RSS will result in an RSS option. The information flow that I sustain via RSS aggregation, filtering and classifying is far more efficient than email.

So please give me a break, wake-up and read the writing in my RSS feed.

Wikipedia on RSS

Leadership Training and my personal work of art

I have been in a leadership program for about a month now. The session this week is “The Art of Leadership” based on the book by the same name authored by William A. Cohen PhD.. The class has been thought provoking, most provoking was the exercise where I identified the different types of advice I rely on and who provides the advice. I really thought about the various contributors in my “Board of Directors”.

The insight that I came away with is that for most of my career I have treated it like personal art, something that I created alone while integrating feedback from others. The reality is that as I seek to pursue the goals I have set for myself in the coming years I will have to become more skilled at treating my career as a collaborative piece of art. I may have to think about my career more like making music, because every great solo artist still has an engineer and in most cases a producer. The session really has focused my thoughts regarding how I care for and nurture my career.

eBay bans Google Checkout, not a wise move

It seems to me, if eBay believed in its payment service they would want to compete head to head. I think it is telling that Google offers links to competitive services. For example, if you search for an address on Google you get links to Google maps, Yahoo maps and MapQuest. If you believe you have the best service you look to create opportunities for customers to compare which positively reinforces a positive view of the best service. eBay is making a mistake by banning Google Checkout, head to head competition is the way to prevent the Google Checkout beach head. My guess is that right now eBay and Paypal provide a more robust feature set and that difference may be enough to slow or stunt Google Checkout. That attack should occur now not later after Google has improved on their service.

I once read an article where Meg Whitman talks about the value of the eBay community. It seems to me if the community wants to use Google Checkout then eBay should respect the communities demands.