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Tag Archives: Fear

Obvious to Him . . . Perhaps?

The Obvious?

Euan Semple is a friend of mine; at least in the sense we are “friends” on Facebook and we are “connected” and have engaged in an email conversation on LinkedIn. I also follow him on Twitter and read his blog (somewhat infrequently, I must confess). I know he’s read my blog at least once because he commented on a post of mine. We have not yet met face-to-face, nor have we had an actual conversation where we could hear each other’s voices (each others’ voice?), say . . . over the phone or with Skype.

This morning I came across an item on my Facebook wall from him. It was a link to a video of his Do Lecture, shared through his blog, “The Obvious?”. I don’t see too many things from Euan in Facebook, so it caught my attention. I clicked on it to open a tab with the link so I could view it later. Many times I don’t end up viewing the item I’ve set aside, but this time I did. I’m very glad too. You can listen yourself here.

Euan is probably best known for his introduction of forums, blogs, and wikis to the BBC and now spends his time advising organizations on how to integrate these and other “social” applications into their businesses. You can learn more about Euan from his blog or from his website.

As I’m writing this I see one of his friends has commented on the original Facebook post. She says she finds his talk bitter sweet, because he says what she’s been saying too . . . to no avail. I have to admit to feeling the same way, though I did manage to get some traction in changing the organization I spent nearly a quarter century with.

Euan clearly knows what makes an enterprise tick. He also is keenly aware of the numerous ways in which traditional organizations and management waste time and energy and, actually, hinder progress in most every enterprise that’s built on the traditional, hierarchical business model we’re all so familiar with.

I strongly suggest you listen to his lecture yourself. It’s only about a half-hour and it’s quite enlightening and entertaining. He’s a wonderful storyteller. I actually took some notes while I was listening – which is not like me at all – and here are some thoughts that stood out. I’d sure be interested in hearing any of yours.

Euan points out that fear of messiness is troubling. I forget his exact word, but I wrote down the thought it triggered for me, and that was fear of messiness stifles creativity and, therefore, innovation. In addressing the fear that using social media would get out of control, he reasonably points out we still need middlemen to make sense of all the data and information out there. I have heard the people I believe he’s talking about referred to as curators or gardeners. He goes on to point out what we don’t need are gate-keeping middlemen who add no value at all.

He makes quite a few points about culture and how best to deal with the inevitable resistance and fear one encounters when even talking about social media. One of them is a reference to the concept of Trojan mice, i.e. unobtrusive, small things that generate change through their adoption and use. Another comes from one of the few slides he used with words – “Easier to build a tool for the community than a community for the tool” – though he expresses a bit of distaste for the way many view communities. Here he points to the difference between conscripts and volunteers and, for me, invokes the value of emergence, that communities spring up from recognized, shared needs and desires, not from the dictate of management.

I think my favorite thing he talks about is the dreaded ROI argument; one I was beaten about the head and shoulders with for many years, both in terms of knowledge management and later regarding the use of social media (which I have argued elsewhere is what KM is really about; surely the kind of KM I’m most interested in!) to connect people. In a sense, it’s what the entire lecture is about, but he offers up what he calls a Scotsman’s tip about ROI – “Keep the I really small and no one will give you shit about the R”. I got a kick out of that.

So, please take a half hour of your time (plus however long it took you to read this far) and check his lecture out. It’s quite good. It helped me get to know Euan a little better, as well as reinforced my thoughts about so many things I don’t know where to begin. It is, indeed, bitter sweet for me as well.

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By Way of Thanks, This is for you Troy.

Whenever we talk about using social media inside the firewall (Enterprise 2.0) or even talk about people on the Internet using Facebook, making purchases, providing feedback and reviews on products and services, etc., one of the major issues that comes up is that of trust. I think about trust a lot, because it’s absolutely necessary for any virtual team to be able to work together. I’ve discussed this somewhat in other posts regarding the need for face-to-face meetings, etc.

So . . . trust is really important to me because it’s really important to the things I believe need to happen in business for us to move into the next phase shift (paradigm, level, incarnation, whatever you wish to call it). I’m bringing this up because I had the most extraordinary experience over this past weekend that I think is related to trust – at least, it makes me think of trust when I reflect on what happened. Surely, it shouldn’t have been so extraordinary and maybe some of you will disagree that it was out of the ordinary (which, after all, is what extraordinary means, hmmm?). So . . . let me share with you what was an incredible experience for me.

I was in San Francisco for my oldest daughter’s eight annual reunion of the families we traveled to China with to adopt our children. We were staying at the Hilton Union Square; a very nice and very crowded hotel. We were only there for Friday evening through Sunday – a grueling road trip from just North of Los Angeles and Friday night we were attending a dinner at the home of one of the families in our group who live near my old stomping ground of Haight-Ashbury (actually, that was back in 1967 and might be the setting for a few posts in the future).

We had just finished getting something from our car, which was parked on the 8th floor of one of the towers, and I was waiting for my wife with our children in the elevator vestibule. I knew she would be a moment and I had just sat down. My youngest was pretty wired and she started spinning around when she lost her balance, hitting her face right on the edge of the table between the two chairs my oldest and I were sitting in. She started crying immediately. I pulled her up from the floor and saw lots of blood on her teeth, gums, and lips. Just then my wife arrived and I left her holding our daughter while I went downstairs to see if there was a Doctor available in-house. I found a security guard, who came upstairs with us and immediately offered to give us a ride in the hotel limo to the ER at St. Francis Memorial.

When we arrived at the hospital and were almost immediately show into a room where both a Doctor and Nurse attended to my daughter, I suddenly realized I had left my iPad somewhere other than in the waiting room. As it turned out I had left it on the floor in that vestibule. In my haste to get my daughter to the ER, I set down the iPad and never thought about it until she was receiving the medical attention she needed. Now I had to fight the urge to panic, as I had become very attached to that device. As well, I hadn’t really done what I should have to secure my data and private information and all the possible ramifications were swimming through my head. Nevertheless, I concentrated on making sure my girl was OK, though I managed a phone call to hotel security to ensure it wasn’t in the limo or the vestibule where we had been.

Now . . . having said all that, this really isn’t what the story is about; at least it has little to do with the point I wish to make here (other than to set the stage). Another thing I had done was decide to leave my BlackBerry in our hotel room, thinking I really wouldn’t want – or need – to talk to anyone on the phone. After all, I had my iPad and could essentially communicate via email, twitter, facebook, and sms to just about anyone I knew or cared about.

One more thing. As it turned out, our daughter had split her lips a bit and scratched her upper gums, but she didn’t need stitches and her teeth were fine. All we needed was an ice pack and, of course, the assurance of the Doctor that she was not in need of any surgery or other procedures to ameliorate any permanent damage <whew!>

So . . . now we had a ride back to the hotel (generously provided by Hilton Security), but we didn’t have the address to the house we were going to and, at that point, nobody seemed to be answering their phone. My wife had her cell, but she doesn’t have email on it and my BlackBerry had the address in one of the emails I could access with it. I was forced to go up to the room and, when I arrived, I found there was both an email and a voicemail from the person who had found my iPad and was anxious to return it to me. I was floored! Both my wife and I were certain I’d never see it again.

To make a long story longer (just kidding), I was able to hook up with this person and the following morning we met in the lobby and I got my iPad back. This blog post is, ultimately, my way of thanking him in the only way he would allow me. I offered him a reward, but he wouldn’t even let me take my hand out of my pocket. He did let me give him a hug when we parted and I hope we will stay in touch. I hope I’m wrong, but it seems to me there aren’t enough people like him around these days.

Now I need to tell you who he is. His name is Troy Maragos. He is the Director of Compassion Ministry and Local Outreach at the Harvest Bible Chapel Niles. I need to thank him publicly and, even more, because I am not a religious person, I need everyone to know how much I value (and trust) the kind of person this man is. When I was in my first year of law school, one of my professors said something that has stuck with me over the years (decades, actually; over three of them). He said “If I had to choose between a person who had the right politics but no humanity, and a person with the wrong politics but who had humanity, I’d pick the latter every time.”

This experience points out a somewhat analogous situation, I think. Here is a man who’s religion is not only different than the one I was born to (I was raised as a Jew and I am bar mitzvah), but who has religion as his occupation; surely something anathema to my own non-religious life. Nevertheless, he demonstrated the humanity I always seek in people. He was not merely selfless, but relentless in seeing the right thing was done.

I have a huge amount of respect for that and I am deeply thankful our lives crossed at the time they did. I want to wish him the best and hope he finds success in all he does. The world needs more people like him, in my opinion.


Where’s the Anger?

Listening to only minor excerpts (and some exceptional analysis on KPFK Pacifica Radio) I find myself absolutely incensed at the arrogance of the people who caused the financial meltdown and who gladly took our tax dollars, ostensibly to keep the economy afloat, and are now proceeding to pay themselves handsomely for their indiscretions.

Listen . . . I’m doing OK. I didn’t get caught up – at least not directly – in the mortgage fiasco and I’m lucky enough to have a job that probably isn’t going anywhere, but what about all the people who’ve lost so much? Even if they were a bit greedy (or where they just reacting logically to a society that preaches the ethos of looking out for oneself and the hell with everyone else?), I don’t think they deserve this kind of disrespect and the uncertainty that so many face right now . . . with no end in sight.

But I have to ask, where’s the anger? Why aren’t people really paying attention to how we’re being played. Though I think Phil Angelides probably has the best of intentions, I think his commission is going to end up toothless and, once again, the high-rollers of Wall Street are going to scoop their ill-gained winnings off the table and we’re going to be left wondering what happened? Where are the pitchforks? Why aren’t more people demanding accountability? Where’s the call for bringing back the guillotine?


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