Euen Semple

Authority

Euen Semple

Should be earned, not assumed; conferred, not taken. Fascinating watching this playing out on the streets of Hong Kong and the front benches of Parliament

Rubber necking life

Euen Semple

One consequence of driving every day is that I am seeing, and being affected by, many more road traffic incidents. Yesterday I was stuck for nearly an hour and a half when they closed the M25 after a bad crash. What is it about car crashes that holds such a morbid fascination? Why do people slow down so much to “rubber neck” that they block up the other side of motorways? Even though I really hate the idea of people being hurt I still get a strange thrill passing an incident.

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"Should" is such a toxic word

Euen Semple

Thinking that you know what other people should do is naive and arrogant. Tormenting yourself with beliefs about how you should behave is the source of most unhappiness. The seeds of both are planted by family and society as a means of control, their effects are corrosive. It's hard to think of a situation where the word should should be used

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Choosing the company that you keep

Euen Semple

I like having a large group of online friends and the variety of viewpoints that I am exposed to as a result. I am also very sensitive to the risk of avoiding criticism or dissent, only hearing views that I agree with, and ending up in an echo chamber. However. A couple of times recently people from my past have asked to be friends on Facebook and without so much as a "Hello, how are you?" have waded in with critical, snide, smart arse comments.

Why my brain hurts

Euen Semple

Why my brain hurts. In many ways the actual driving is the easiest bit of my truck driving day. Getting stuff on and off can be challenging and hard work but by far the hardest thing is the sums!

Into the unknown

Euen Semple

One of the consequences of being an agency driver is that I am working for different clients all the time with different processes and different products. This keeps things interesting. But it also means that most of the drops that I do are for the first time. As a consequence I rarely know what is in store for me at the start of the day. Locations that can become easy when you have done them even once can be really testing when you have no idea what is involved.

Life’s banksmen

Euen Semple

Building sites of any size will have at least one banksman. Their job is to manage trucks off the public roads and onto the site safely. They wear specially marked high-vis jackets and carry an air of authority. They will stop traffic on the main road if necessary and then walk behind you as you reverse onto the site, normally waving their hand to give you directions.

How To 135

Working in the Facebook salt mine

Euen Semple

I blog because I enjoy blogging. I have been doing it for so long that I can safely assume that I will always blog. I often think of just blogging on my blog and pulling out of the various social media platforms. But given the fact that most people don't use RSS and following blogs isn't as straightforward as it might be, and the fact that I currently get the best responses and conversations on Facebook, I will continue to repost my blog posts there.

Thingification

Euen Semple

The process of thingification (turning a useful idea into the latest thing and thereby rendering it useless) appears unstoppable. In the context of work it happened with collaboration, innovation, and creativity. It is even happening with disruption! It happened with blogging, it happened with YouTube, it's happening with podcasting. All these potentially powerful attempts at building a new world using new tools being rendered safe by assimilation into the old.

Just enough…

Euen Semple

Being a commercial lorry driver allows me to experience management from the sharp end. Most of the businesses I work for are really impressive, not only in terms of the systems and processes it takes to do my job, but also in terms of focussing effectively on the key importance of safety. There is a real skill in giving me just enough information, delivered in the right way to encourage me to take notice.

Skills 126

Being in the world

Euen Semple

When we were young my parents always took us on trips. Visits to interesting places, holidays around the UK, and when I was older motorcycling day trips around the highlands on the back of my Dad’s bike. We have carried this tradition on with our own family and will almost always “go somewhere” at the weekends. When we got into walking and hiking in a big way this took us into the wonderful mountainous areas of the UK but also into enticing footpaths both locally and around the country.

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Nice people

Euen Semple

I am meeting a lot of new people at the moment. People from very different walks of life. People I would have been unlikely to encounter in the past. Would you believe me if I told you that they have all been nice? Even the ones who, on first encounter, come across as gruff or aggressive soon start to open up if you take the time to chat to them. It is interesting to speculate just how far this principle could be extended. Who are the people who, from a distance, you most dislike?

Giving up on LInkedIn

Euen Semple

I've been in there pretty much from the start (user number 1400 and something) but it always felt like a chore, something I "should" be doing rather than a pleasure. A combination of the design of the site and the people who tend to spend more time there than on the rest of the web. In recent years I have re-posted my blog posts there in an attempt to stimulate conversations and drum up business but to little effect in either regard.

The engine of dissatisfaction

Euen Semple

As I was recording a podcast for Paul Sutton this morning I described marketing as "the engine of dissatisfaction". I may use that phrase more often. Feel free to spread its use

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So what *do* you do?

Euen Semple

At the dentist's today I was asked to fill out a form which included a question about what my occupation was. I have always struggled with this question but today struggled even more than previously. There was a strong temptation to just write "Lorry Driver" and be done with it. More often than not I have described my self as a writer and speaker which normally satisfies people. In the past I have occasionally used "consultant' but that never felt right.

Toxic workplaces

Euen Semple

Well, let's face it, it's not the workplaces that are toxic, it is people. Not just any people but particular people. And more often than not we all know who they are. But will anyone do anything about it? Will anyone have those early conversations about behaviour before it builds into an apparently insurmountable problem? Will anyone care enough to ask what is driving those troubled individuals to behave in ways that can do so much damage both to themselves and those around them?

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Getting about a bit

Euen Semple

I use a wonderful app called Day One to maintain a number of different journals. In one of them I dictate entries on my watch to keep a log of the various deliveries I do in my driving work.

Flags of convenience

Euen Semple

Over the years I have carried out my work under various "flags of convenience". Knowledge Management, Social Media, Digital, Learning, Communication, Marketing, and more. But from my first encounter back in 1994 with the ability to reach out with a question on a bulletin board and get back wonderfully helpful answers, it's been the same thing. I think of it as "joined up writing".

Blogging equals thinking

Euen Semple

Well, writing equals thinking. I can't remember who it was that said "I don't know what I think until I start writing " but certainly for me it has always rung true. I've not been writing much for a while, and it feels like I've not been thinking. Sure, ideas flit through my head and I can ruminate endlessly as we all do, but by not writing I've not focussed my thinking.

What do we mean by “social media”?

Euen Semple

I often wish we didn't have the phrase. We didn't in the beginning. There were tools that we used, different tools for different purposes at different times, and that was it. It was clear that it was an ecology rather than a single thing. We used the tools that helped us achieve our ends, in my case better conversations, and moved on when they stopped doing that. It was up to us what we used, how, and for what purpose.

Tools 149

The last mile

Euen Semple

Whenever I say that I am setting out on a career in truck driving people invariably say something like “you must be mad - that is all going to be automated soon”. Err…no…. Maybe the long haul stuff between Regional Distribution Centres, maybe in American cities with their more regimented grid systems, but everything else? You must be kidding. Most of my work is what is known as multi-drop.

A good start to any day

Euen Semple

My current driving job starts at 5am each morning. This means getting up at 4am. This is a non-trivial challenge! But…. I get to see the sun come up every day! This morning as I was driving round the M25 towards Watford the mist was settling in the valleys around Rickmansworth and The River Colne. Trees were poking above the mist and the low sun was catching the hedgerows and field edges and glowing on the golden stubble left after the newly harvested crops. Beautiful

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Reality

Euen Semple

The world we each live in is constructed in our brains. The stimuli that we experience through our sense organs get interpreted on the basis of previous experience, cultural conditioning, and the mechanics of differing biology. There is no such thing as a shared real world. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not taking solipsism. There is a real material world out there. When I snagged the truck I was driving on a weigh-bridge on Friday it caused real physical damage.

Destructive distractions

Euen Semple

We fly around the world chasing a dream of fulfilment somewhere else. We spend our lives putting up with boring pointless jobs to fill our houses with stuff that we are told will fill an imaginary void. We pollute our silence with the endless noise of words from other people. We expend so much energy running away from ourselves. Global warming could be solved overnight if we increased our ability to "sit quietly in a room on our own

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The three Cs

Euen Semple

I recently wrote a post about the potential for systems to be self organising and the way that we compromise this ability by attempting to exercise control over the world around us. In order for systems to become self organising the networks that make them up have to be comprised of healthy cells. It occurred to me yesterday that in order to become healthy the cells need to be encouraged to work on the following three characteristics. Curiosity. Wondering why things are the way they are.

Old dogs, new tricks, and competence.

Euen Semple

I don't want to go into too much detail online about my driving jobs but some days are hard. They test my limits both in terms of skill and psychology. I know that I will pass through the feelings of incompetence that something new brings, I almost always do, but the feelings are nonetheless uncomfortable while they are there. It may have been easier when I was younger, when everything was new and you were learning constantly, but I am not sure.

Skills 109

Being brave

Euen Semple

Most of the organisations I work with have clearly defined groups whose needs they are intended to serve. Increasingly these days there is a desire reach out online to foster a real connection with those people, but most staff in most organisations find it ridiculously difficult to do so. As a participant in a workshop once said "How do you find your authentic voice while working in a stifling bureaucratic environment?"

Groups 126

Thoughts for a Sunday

Euen Semple

Religion is the structured process of steering and reinforcing the narrative of "him", "me", "us" , and ultimately "them" Despite reinforcing the idea of community this leads to separation. Spirituality is the challenging and slippery process of revealing what is left when the narratives stop. Despite being a personal and often lonely path this leads to unification

Half full

Euen Semple

On a good day I believe that we are seeing a great falling apart of old ways of looking at the world and our place in it. Ideas like "the establishment", isms like Capitalism and Socialism, Nation States, "the media", assumptions about consumerism and even materialism, all past their sell by dates and struggling to maintain relevance. All developed nations will face the challenge of building a new world out of the debri.

Being heard

Euen Semple

I try very hard when I write my blog posts to be as accurate as I can; to express the ideas that I hope to get across as simply and clearly as I know how. Over the years I have had a lot of practice at this, and have often been commended for my ability to get complex topics across simply. And yet sometimes when I read the comments on my posts I wonder why I bother.

My workplace

Euen Semple

As I am speaking at a workplace event soon I thought I'd talk about mine. This is my office at home but all of the tools in the photo can be put in a bag and seconds and the whole thing reassembled wherever I am. The various bits and how I use them are listed below.

Lag time

Euen Semple

It is disconcerting how often ideas that I have been banging on about, for years in some cases, are only now beginning to emerge in mainstream media and podcasts. I list them here for handy reference: We all have a volume control on mob rule. The future is too important to leave to technologists. The ideology of algorithms is an inescapable challenge that we all have to address. We can all change our worlds, one conversation at a time. And of course, Organizations Don't Tweet, People Do

List 126

The Five Whats

Euen Semple

Some of you may be familiar with the idea of "The Five Whys" If you want to really uncover the reason for something ask why, ask why again, and keep doing so until by the fifth asking you are likely to be getting to the real reason. I reckon we need "The Five Whats" When someone in business comes out with a stream of nonsensical business bollocks ask them what they mean.

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Oh, it’s just a fly.

Euen Semple

The other day we noticed a bee buzzing around our house. We decided to take our chances and co-exist with it rather than throwing it outside where the freezing temperatures would certainly have killed it. This morning I heard a buzzing again and started to imagine a scenario where I found the bee, tried to look after it, feed it etc. But then I saw where the buzzing was coming from. It was just a fly. My caring instincts evaporated. It could look after itself and didn't matter.

Feed 136

Sticking our oars in

Euen Semple

Most systems have the potential to be self organising. With the right feedback and thoughtful, aware, tolerant, adaptive individual cells it is amazing what is possible. Just look at nature and the incredible complexity, and adaptability, that it achieves. Look at what our unbelievably sophisticated bodies achieve every day, often in spite of our attempts to derail them! So why do we get it so wrong?

Groups 154

On not having a job

Euen Semple

When we dropped Mollie off in Cambridge for the start of term I got to meet her best friend's parents for the first time. As the dad and I started chatting it became apparent that we actually worked in very similar, or at least related, fields. We hadn't realised this until we met and it occurred to us that neither of our daughters had been able to explain to the other what we did! People not being able to describe what I do is not new. I face that all the time.

A Sufi Story worth remembering in our polarised times.

Euen Semple

“Upon entering a new country a traveler noticed an old man sitting under a tree. He approached him and asked about the people in his land. The old man answered by asking, ‘How are the people in your country?’. ‘Oh’ Oh’ said the traveler, ‘they are friendly, hospitable, and cheerful.’ Well,’ the old man said, ‘you’ll find them to be the same in my country.’.

Zen and the art of HGV driving

Euen Semple

The other day I was headed to a location I hadn't visited before. The postcode that I was given wasn't recognised by the SatNav (it was a building site so the postcode was new) so I entered a nearby location and set off. On top of this imprecision I reckon there had also been an incident blocking a more obvious route because I and a couple of other HGVs ended up down this relatively small road and faced with a bridge with a 7.5 Tonne limit which our SatNavs appeared not to know about!

Skills 122

Today’s workplace

Euen Semple

First day of proper HGV driving (I'd previously done a day but in a 3.5 tonne van). Great fun. Lots of complicated reversing, having to unload gazillions of window frames on my own, and the general nervous wear and tear of manipulating 7.5

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To see a world in a grain of sand

Euen Semple

Yesterday as I was filling my truck with diesel at the end of the day I looked down at the ground and started noticing the concrete surface of the petrol station forecourt. It wasn't just concrete, there were tiny flecks of stone in it. Differently shaped bits, varying in colour and likely origin. It was raining heavily so the surface was wet. It was glistening under the bright lights of the canopy above me.

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Body Politic

Euen Semple

Each day we get the bus along the packed beach here in Poetto. People board that bus in all sorts of beach wear. Never having had a problem with her attire before Hannah got on the bus in shorts and her bikini top. In front of the whole bus the driver decided to berate her and insist that she cover up. Seeking a riposte which would express my irritation the first word that came out of my mouth was fascist. Sign of the times I guess

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Being places

Euen Semple

I never take for granted the opportunities I have had to be places. Interesting places, different places. One of the appeals of truck driving is the opportunity to be lots of new places. But I am always reminded of Jon Kabat Zinn's "Wherever you go, there you are."

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No news is good news

Euen Semple

I haven't watched or listened to news broadcasts for years. I became tired of being presented with a litany of things to be frightened about, that I could do nothing to prevent, and that had minimal direct impact on my life. I also lost confidence in journalists. With a few very rare exceptions they barely understand the subjects they write about, always have an agenda, and certainly in the case of podcasts get between me and the people I want to learn from.

News 116