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Driving change

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Every time I hear the word "driving" used in the context of business I wince. It reveals so many misconceptions: that the person using it is in charge; that people can be driven like cattle; that there aren't consequences to using the word. The false macho fools no one. The use of it distances those "being driven" and they disengage. And then to solve this problem you set up an "employee engagement programme"!

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Resist!

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I recently installed Windows 10 on my Mac. Don't ask, but it had to be done! This has meant me not only touching the Windows world for the first time in many years but also encountering Microsoft's attempt to design an operating system that works on both a touch devices and conventional computers. My initial reaction was to recoil in horror. Everything seemed harder than it had to be, logic appeared to be an alien concept to the interface designers, and everything looked so damn ugly!

Digital Transformation

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I heard recently that in response to their “emissions scandal” VW have unleashed a new set of rules on “proper legal and ethical behaviour” on their staff. The irony of those who created the culture that caused the problems in the first place being the ones to issue the rules is staggering. It’s the same with Digital Transformation. The biggest challenge is that the transition to a new world is in the hands of the old.

Death

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I finally got around to reading Carlo Rovelli's Seven Brief Lessons On Physics. Wonderful, mind blowing book. In it though he expresses doubt that we will last as a species. Given how many species, including our own ancestors, have come and gone - and combined with our current self destructive activities - he's pessimistic.

GDPR

Last year, we hosted the 2017 MVP Awards across three of our sites. In order to get ready for this year’s coming awards across even more of our sites, we’re catching up with some of our judges from the previous awards who offered their time and insight to make the awards even better. Take a look!

Why I love Facebook

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Well, OK, perhaps that is overstating it a bit. What has always interested me about the internet is the possibility it affords for bloody good conversations with interesting people. For whatever reasons Facebook is where that currently happens most often for me. Take my last post on Supporting Change. A great comments thread on Facebook, in large measure due to Louise Robey's first response. And barely a flicker on LinkedIn.

On the death of a "real friend".

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Very sad to read, via another blogging friend from the old days Garret Vreeland , of the death of Mark Wood, writer of the marvellous wood s lot. I just referred to both Mark and Garret as friends - but I have met neither of them. This prompted the recollection of the following story from my book in the chapter on “real friends”: Way back in the early days of blogging, when it was a much smaller world, I read a wonderful blog by called “wood s lot” by Canadian Mark Wood.

Forms over substance

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I recently had to fill in forms for two different organisations. Each form asked me questions that if I answered them truthfully contradicted each other. Both organisations just contacted me to say that I had filled in their form incorrectly. How much organisational energy is wasted trying to force reality to conform to their distorted idea of how it should be rather than adapting to the real world they operate in

The wonders of technology

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It is all too easy to get caught up in the anti technology band waggon and forget what unbelievably clever devices they are - and how lucky we are to have them. During our visit to Torquay at the weekend Apple maps guided us on our route down, avoided traffic build ups, and was, as is often the case, within five minutes of its predicted journey time over a nearly three hour journey.

Cambridge Analytica is just the beginning.

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It's been fascinating the number of people to whom the antics of Cambridge Analytica came as a surprise. I'm guessing there's a large overlap between them and the people who think that their demise has solved the problem. The media didn't help by describing what they did as "hacking" This wasn't some sort of marginal, one off bit of criminality - this was inevitable.

Coherence

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Our brains crave coherence. They want our lives to make sense. To do this they make up stories. We then cling to those stories and make ourselves happy or unhappy as a result. If life doesn't fit our story we get frustrated and upset. If it does fit our story we feel pleased with ourselves. But then we worry that it won't last and things will change for the worse! In reality our thoughts, even about exactly the same situation, change all the time, moment to moment.

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Least worst options

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I am aware that I can sometimes appear overly critical of large organisations. Because I am asked to help with things that are wrong with them it is easy for me to lose sight of what they achieve. I am also very aware of the constraints they place on the people who work for them, and the high price those people pay in return for the stability they seek.

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The rat race

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On the odd occasions that I travel in to London during morning rush hour I marvel at the subtle jockeying for pole position that goes on on the station platform. An error of judgement could mean not getting through the door fast enough and not getting a seat so it's a life and death struggle. I imagine the jockeying for position carrying on through the working day. I remember well the underlying worry about not keeping up, being overlooked, being left standing. Is this inevitable?

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Patterns

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I am currently playing with an app that purports to work out how I spend my time. It does do some clever stuff trying to work out what is work, what is commute etc. but given that I work all over the place, and often in cafe's, the patterns are almost meaningless. I could intervene and manually adjust times, locations, and activities, but life's too short. Amazon are pretty good at working out patterns in my purchasing - usually too good as my impulse purchases show.

A paradox

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It is through my social media platforms that I learn about how mitigate the consequences of people tracking my data. I am better informed about how it works and what to do to protect myself from it. It is also through those platforms that I am able to join with others concerned about this tracking and achieve a mass influence to do something about it.

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As A Man Thinketh

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This is the title of a great little book that I read years ago that explains the way we create our experience of life through our thinking. We think we are responding and reacting to the world around us, but in fact we respond to our thinking about the world as we perceive it. Two people can experience the same situation entirely differently. I always remember the story of two American soldiers held captive and tortured during the Vietnam war.

Change 100

Letting things go

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I have read about the benefits of allowing emotions to pass through my body —not holding on to them, and recovering equilibrium more quickly — in many, many books, but had only ever understood it intellectually. Over the weekend on our long mountain walk I got to experience what it really feels like and to practice experiencing that feeling.

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"I don't often get to have conversations like this at work"

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It has become clear over the years that even having an occasional conversation can make a difference. After meeting with me people have often said something along the lines of "I don't often get to have conversations like this at work" A couple of times recently our brief conversation has even been described as "life affirming"!

Night and day

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I was unfortunate enough earlier tonight to catch a glimpse of Jamie Cullen being inflicted on The Queen under the guise of celebrating her birthday. This prompted a very different memory of seeing Oscar Peterson play live many years ago. Incredible virtuosity but also powerful simplicity, an ability to fill the auditorium with sound but also to break your heart with his sensitivity.

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Zombie Media

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The more the media persist in portraying us as victims of technology the more apparent it is just how out of touch they are. Each time they interview some technology expert as if they were an alien from another planet. Each time they ask in doom laden tones how that expert feels about destroying civilisation. Each time they say the word Twitter with that special, sceptical, "I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole" tone of voice that they adopt.

Being cruel to be kind.

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After my Startup Stage presentation at Unleash last week, in which I talked about the importance of addressing managerial and cultural assumptions as part of "digital transformation", I was asked what to do if management don't change. I said that senior management had to take responsibility and move, or remove, people. In a previous comment thread on one of my posts someone said that in order to really bring about significant change you have to change key people. I think they are right.

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The truth

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I often hear people express nostalgia for the days when we trusted the media to tell us the truth. They contrast the apparent simplicity and clarity of those days with the messiness of a social media world of fake news. But those days never existed. Simplicity never existed. Clarity never existed. We were just protected from the messiness of real life and spared the effort of working things out. “It

News 100

Be that person

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It occurred to me yet again recently how almost all successful attempts that I have seen to shift intranets from being passive content repositories to active places where work really gets done, and great conversations take place, have been down to one person.

My inner geek

Euen Semple

Was let out when I attended an event yesterday that followed on from the Internet Of Agreements Conference in London. Yesterday brought most of the speakers from the conference, many of them developers of Blockchain related products or services, getting together to work out concrete next steps around online identity - how to make it secure, how to manage it, who gets to manage it etc. The session on key semantics was a stretch but also a blast from my geekier past.

Sliding doors

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If any of you have seen the great film [Sliding Doors][1]you will appreciate this story of my very own sliding doors moment. Just after the war my father did his National Service in the RAF, working on radar which was just beginning to be fitted in planes. He was stationed in Kinloss, on the east coast of Scotland, and one day he was crossing the runway, about to board a Lancaster bomber.

Change 100

Workplace

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I occasionally get involved in future thinking about workplace stuff — the design and management of space to make it more suited to our changing ways of working. But it dawned on me the other day that the reason I don't get excited about it is that I hope never to work in a workplace again. Even a trendy one! I was talking about this to a friend during the week when we met up in one of the many WeWork properties springing up around London.

Between the stimulus and the response

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"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." " Viktor E. Frankl. I try to write as clearly and unambiguously in my posts as I can, but sometimes the comments that people leave really come out of left field and appear to have little to do with my original post.

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Going numb

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It is so easy to go numb in the face of challenges. Especially big ones, and especially at work. Everything seems so complicated and interconnected that we fool ourselves into thinking that we can't make a difference. Even those at the top of their organisations feel the same way. I heard recently of an article claiming that Chief Execs experience the same Monday feeling of dread as their staff do. No one is immune to the feeling of powerlessness.

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Eyes wide open

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A bit like my post the other day about fake news being a good thing, the current brouhaha about what Facebook does with our data is also a good thing. While it surprises me the degree to which people appear not to have realised what was going on, it is a good thing that they are finally waking up. I have often said that the internet is a mirror, showing us a reflection of our nature, warts and all. Sometimes that mirror is going to be deliberately distorted, like those old mirrors at funfairs.

Right up my street

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I don't write much about my various projects here. It's easier in terms of confidentiality and I am always always a little put off when people broadcast about every project. I am really looking forward to the two talks I am doing at [Unleash][1] this Wednesday (after ten years working with them as HR Tech I am still having to learn not to call them that!)

Supporting change

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Two conversations yesterday reminded me of how important training or other forms of support are when implementing large change projects whether involving new technology or new processes. In the first conversation the project had spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on technology but it hadn't had the anticipated impact because not enough effort had gone in to explaining the "why" let alone the how! This so often happens, especially with social enterprise platforms.

Change 100

Avoid the tyranny of being picked

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This phrase from Seth Godin has always resonated with me. Since leaving the BBC twelve years ago I have been in the very lucky position of either being approached by people who have heard about me asking me to work for them, or have been part of new ventures that have grown out of conversations. The result has been that I haven't applied for anything for about twenty years.

Toxic social media?

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On the same day that I, yet again, read a journalist pontificating about toxic social media, I hear from my daughter Hannah about a friend at school whose sister recently died of cancer. The girl's mother had written a post on Facebook so movingly, and so skilfully, about the tragedy that Hannah, and everyone who read it, had been moved to tears.

Helping people to catch up

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One of the challenges of my work has always been balancing clients' need to anticipate the big technology driven changes that will impact their business with sometimes really basic questions about how to use Twitter! Even those involved in "digital" can be unclear why. They focus on the practicalities and get busy building things or doing stuff - often simply because other companies around them are.

Clever people

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I am really early for my first meeting this morning and so am sitting in a Pret A Manger on Finsbury Square. I know I shouldn't be earwigging but it's hard not to listen to the group of men sitting at the table next to me. Essex lads from their accents, discussing what sound like office fit-outs. Their conversation reminds me yet again of the amazing amount of expertise there is these days.

Using technology rather than letting it use us.

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I use my iPhone and my iPad to read books about the origins of capitalism, the drives behind totalitarianism, the differences between socialism and communism, and the writings of Kropotkin and Tolstoy as they grapple with the ideas behind anarchism. I find out about these books through recommendations from people in my social networks or the algorithms in Amazon.

Like two friends

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The internet could be like this if we wanted. “We We are like two friends sitting in the park on a lovely day talking about life, talking about our problems, investigating the very nature of our existence, and asking ourselves seriously why life has become such a great problem, why, though intellectually we are very sophisticated, yet our daily life is such a grind, without any meaning, except survival—which again is rather doubtful. Why has life, everyday existence, become such a torture?

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Real men

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Real men don’t get bent out of shape when women expect to be treated with respect and have the same opportunities as they do. Real men don’t have tantrums when people who don’t happen to have the same skin colour as them expect to be able to live without fear of physical violence, or not to be considered further down the evolutionary scale. And real men don’t care what other men do in their beds or with whom. Some of the men who are currently throwing their toys out the pram need to grow a pair

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Not today

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As part of her A Level Politics studies Hannah is required to listen to the news in the mornings. I am therefore being subjected to The Today programme for the first time in years. The almost physical levels of discomfort finally got too much this morning with a story about the government's attempts to curb internet bullying and to "make Facebook and Google mend their ways" We just looked at each other, rolled our eyes, and raced to the off button

Good intentions.

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I can cope with marketing if the intention is to help me make better informed decisions about the things I want to buy. If the intention is to interrupt what I am doing to shout at me about s**t I don’t remotely need my brain is getting better at filtering it out and not even noticing it. If the intention of journalists is to hold the powerful to account and to explain the world better to me I will pay attention.

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