Skip to content →

Month: June 2008

4 steps to defining the work of a positive, playful, work psychologist!

Positive psychology x new media x work

It is quite arbitrary, of course, to sum up a blog at the end of each month, but it is also quite useful and I am astounded again by the ground I have covered and the people I have met.

The high point for me has been finding Jane McGonigal‘s description of “engines of happiness”. That came via attending the NLabNetworks meeting in Leicester which I attended primarily to meet Ken Thompson of Swarm Teams. What would Jane call this? Ping quotient I believe.

Though I am more than chagrined to take a year to discover this work, Jane McGonigal’s analysis of game design in terms of positive psychology brings me exactly where I want to be. She looks at the intersections of positive psychology and alternate reality games and points out that game designers make better use of psychology than designers in other spheres, such as work.

Yes, exactly. The intersection between positive psychology, new media and work is where I want to be. And if work becomes more engaging, more compelling, more involving and more meaningful, you want more psychologists there too!

We are ready to roll

I could spend the rest of July summing up June! We seem to have 4 key points to consider at this intersection.

1 What is our role?

How do we relate to other people? How much does it matter to understand what our clients want? How much does it matter to feel and be part of the drumbeat of a wider community?

I expect a consultant to understand why I ask the questions I ask by understanding my business and then to add value by bringing to bear expert information in their field.

The British have an expression “fit for purpose”: to be fit for purpose we must understand purpose and to understand how we augment that purpose.

In social settings, purpose is contested. The way we act reinforces or changes hierarchies, rights and privileges. I am always wearied by professionals who believe they are not part of this process. We are making the future as we take part, as we are made in the way we take part.

The starting point of a vibrant practice is enjoying the complexity and fullness of life in the age in which we live! Our practice should be a celebration of times in which we live! I particularly loved the way Paul Imre highlights his clients’ businesses in his own blog. I think we could all do more of that.

2 What do we understand as the essence of life and therefore how do we try to manage life?

JK Rowling gave the commencement address at Harvard this year. She talked of the importance of imagination which leads us to both innovation, and empathy, and then to collective action.

Eric Schmidt talked of his role as CEO at Google and what it means to a manager of a company which values imagination.

If there you have any doubt about the zeitgeist of our age, listen to those two videos and let me know what you think. JK Rowling talks of people who live in narrow spaces being frightened. Today, the idea that we can live imaginatively and playfully is fresh and exciting. I’ll give it a year before it is almost old hat. Within ten years, we will be in another phase of life, whatever that will be!

Studying an imaginative approach to life is new for many psychologists and I am learning from poets, philosophers and social media.

3 How can communicate what we offer to other people so they can make informed choices?

Switching registers from talking with each other to talking with our clients is difficult, but we do need to switch back-and-forwards. Someone who just “sells” loses touch with the fundamentals of the field and someone just in technology is incomprehensible to our clients so cannot add value.

I found a good articles explaining in lay terms what coaches do . I’ll add it to my three posts on what we do as my growing set of templates (consulting to businesses, social media, general outline of psychological practice, essential ideas about happiness).

4 Skills

And our basic skill base: I’ve put together a 5 point comparison of 3 dominant approaches in positive psychology (Hero’s journey, Appreciative Inquiry, David Whyte’s poetry), I’ve started a wiki for positive vocabulary, and I laid out a wiki of positive psychology courses which colleagues on LinkedIn kindly reviewed for me.  I also summarized well known work on job design and contrasted it with the attributes of computer games.

What’s on for July?

Saturday 4: MediaCampLondon. Registration is free. Head to the site. Come along. This is a good opportunity to experience an unconference.

Monday 28 July: Personal leadership presentation at University of Buckingham.

Technology: Get the google appengine going. Why? Websites should take us hours to get going, not months.

Social Technology: Dry run of Swarm Teams, Ken Thompson’s SMS system for teams.  I am particularly keen to demonstrate how new social media allows us to capture the energy that builds up at conference that we have previously allowed to “run down the drain” at the end of the meeting.

Aspirational Goal: Gather together people who see the same potential in the intersection of positive psychology, new media and work!

Enhanced by Zemanta
Leave a Comment

And after EQ comes PQ . . .

Jane McGonigal, game designer and games researcher, specializing in pervasive games and alternate reality games.


Image via Wikipedia

IQ, EQ and now PQ

PQ is going to be the next big thing in work psychology and management. What competencies do we need for participating, leading and influencing in today’s interconnected world?

Here is a list from Jane McGonigal, the games designer who talks of the engines of happiness. I’ve found links to her work here, here and here.

1 Mobbability

“- the ability to do real-time work in very large groups

– a talent for coordinating with many people simultaneously”

Restated: My immediate thought is the ability to mobilize people for anything – a party, a demonstration, etc. This is a little more though. It probably begins with the ability to appreciate the dynamics of a music festival, or the crowd at a big sporting event. A Mexican Wave is one of the simplest forms

My questions: I get the feeling that I am missing something!

2 Ping quotient

“- measures your responsiveness to other people’s requests for engagement
– your propensity and ability to reach out to others in a network”

Restated: How quickly do you respond to requests for your attention and participation? Do you plan your communication systems so that you are able to respond? Do you anticipate the types of inquiries you will receive and do you update your communication systems to reflect the inquiries you receive? Do you initiate contacts and broaden your network? How do people find you and how do you find them?

My questions: Where is listening?

3 Collaboration radar

“the ability to sense, almost intuitively, who would make the best collaborators on a particular task”

Restated: When you start a task, do you think about who can and will help you? Do you take an interest in what work other people like to do? Have you some kind of model in your head about how to collaborate with other people and what helps collaboration to be satisfactory or unsatisfactory?

My questions: Is this ability to engender collaboration? Or just detect it?

4 Influency

“- the ability to be persuasive in diverse social contexts and media spaces
– understanding that each work environment and collaboration space requires a different persuasive strategy and technique”

Restated: Are you persuasive and are you persuasive to different audiences and in different settings? Are you interested in persuasion and how other people are persuasive? Are you able to communicate through different channels? Do you understand the nuances of using different channels? Have you an emerging theory of when to use various techniques and why? Do you have some idea of what motivates other people in various settings? Are you curious about their motivation? Are interested in how motivation changes when we take part in groups? Can you predict what will individuals will do next in a social settings and what an entire group or community will do? Can you anticipate what individuals, groups and communities are willing to do?

My questions: The arts are so important, aren’t they?

5 Multicapitalism

“fluency in working with different capitals, e.g., natural, intellectual, social, and financial”

Restated: How much capital do you need for your business to succeed? What do you have now? What do you need to do to



Social? Whuffie?

My questions: What is natural capital? Is social capital tradable? Is the “securitization” of social capital the next political innovation?

6 Protovation

“- fearless innovation in rapid, iterative cycles
– ability to lower the costs and increase the speed of failure”

Restated: Do you “have a go” and look for feedback from other people? Do you pick small, cheap, easy ways to experiment with new things that don’t just lead to success but teach you something important when you fail? Do you learn the meaning of errors? Are they useful signals or just sources of distress? Do you celebrate the errors of others (and I don’t mean gloat!) so their experiences are seen as useful and valuable by everyone?

My questions: Has anyone linked protovation to self-efficacy (Bandura) and error-training (Michael Frese)?

7 Open authorship

“creating content for public consumption and modification”

Restated: Do you write, speak, make videos, etc. for other people? Do you expect them to take what you use and change it (mash it)? Do you judge your effectiveness by the extent to which your audience uses and changes your ideas?

My questions: Is this a major aspect of social media? That we expect our ideas to be an input rather than an output or expert opinion? Is expecting a reply rather than approval or disapproval the major behavioral shift of our time?

8 Signal/noise management

“filtering meaningful info, patterns, and commonalities from massively multiple streams of data”

Restated: Have you set up your data streams so that you receive information from many, many sources? Have you set up your data streams so that you can detect repetition (without checking our original sources), speculation, rumor? Are you interested in how information is passed around the world on matters that interest you? Do you streams allow you the benefit of serendipty? Have you got people (lots and lots) to consult when you are stuck?

My questions: How much have these skills changed from the checking of provenance taught in universities? How much can we transfer skills from one domain to another?

What have I still got to learn?

9 Longbroading

“thinking in terms of higher level systems, cycles, the big picture”

Restated: Having a “helicopter view” and seeing a problem from different perspectives have long been valued business skills. This seems to go further – to understand a situation in terms of its dynamics

My questions: If I am correct, then we need to see situations in terms of their feedback loops? And is this an important skill that kids learn when they work out different ways of playing a game?

10 Emergensight

“the ability to prepare for and handle surprising results and complexity”

Spot unexpected patterns as they pop up, and be ready to take advantage of them – even when systems scale in size and messiness.

Restated: Do you look of for the way a pattern unfolds? Do you look for changes in speed as well – from the lull before the storm to the tempest that will blow itself out? Do you look for small levers that have huge impacts?

My questions: Is this improvisation? Are we talking about good reaction times, or understanding complex dynamics?

Hat-tip to NLabNetworks and Andrea Saveri of the Institute of the Future who spoke at the recent NLabNetworks meeting at Leicester.

Enhanced by Zemanta

What is your Vision of the Future?

Street fortune teller consults with client in Taichung, Taiwan

Image via Wikipedia

What do you expect from a futurologist?

I was disappointed by the Microsoft Visions of the Future event in London, though to be honest, we left before it was finished. We had heard, or partially heard three long rambling speeches. The visuals were on domestic-sized screens that only a handful of people could see, and the audience had started talking amongst themselves.

What I heard wasn’t very new either. I have been treated to at talk by a futurologist elsewhere and I was stunned then that there was little, if anything, new in the speech. Puzzled by this happening again, I shot off a question on LinkedIn: what do you expect from a talk by a futurologist?

The first few replies thought I meant “fortune teller” and some others thought “a waste of my time”. James Stuart replied more seriously. He suggested two features:

a) pointing to inter-relationships between events that aren’t immediately obvious


b) helping the audience understand that the future is made through their choices.

What do psychologists and futurologists have in common?

I thought that what James suggested resonated with a brilliant description of the practice of psychology that I found years ago. I am sorry I don’t have the reference still. If you recognize it, please do let me know.

All psychologists, whether we are clinical, educational or work/occupational, do three things:

a) We have models and ideas that we can put at our clients’ disposal.

b) We have experience of other people solving similar problems.

c) We stick with our client while they think through their predicament and experiment with a solution.

First, on the basis of published ideas, we know what questions to ask. Then we have some idea, from observing other people, what it is like to be faced with the dilemma facing our client. And importantly, we are loyal to our client while they are struggling with a problem that is intimidating.

  • It is important that we can observe patterns that are not obvious to other people.
  • And we understand the object of the exercise is action.

When I listen to a futurologist, I want to hear them point to interactions between emerging events that require data and models far deeper than I have available from public media.  And the information must help me see what action I must take. I must experience an “aha!’ and intense relief that I now know what to do. I still have to do it, but I need some clarity about what I want to do next.

Of course futurologists are probably talking about the macro-environment: politics, economics, social change and technological change.  Models of psychology are usually about ways individuals make sense of the world: hope, intimacy, vocation, & schooling.

My understanding of the future

In psychology, I find the 21st century so exciting that I find it hard to think ahead.

As a vision of the future, it is worth flicking through Jane McGonigle’s presentation at SXSW 2008.  Jane believes that eventually we will all be in the business of happiness.  And she can outline the psychological principles to engineer happiness.

Curriculum Illusione is a Dutch site that gives you an interactive time line to map the future, and, how you intend to interact with it.  It is quite challenging.
I would be interested in your opinion of both.

Enhanced by Zemanta
One Comment

3 models to re-design jobs to add-value during the recession

Tell your MP you support the Flexible Working Hours Bill


Image by Finsec via Flickr

How is your business coping with the recession?

  • Are you taking a cynical view of less business, less of a talent shortage, less work for me?
  • Or are you being asked for ways to improve productivity and be more attractive to customers and employees?

Do we know how to design jobs to enhance productivity?

To coin a phrase, Yes, we do! And we have known for some time.

1. Hackman and Oldham (1976)

Before Gen Y were a gleam in their father’s eye, American psychologists, Hackman and Oldham published the Job Characteristics Model. It is a five point model which is handy for reviewing a job and for designing “events” such as lectures which must be comfortable for each of the 400 students in the audience.

a. Is the task a whole task? Is it designed to be started and finished by the same person or team?

b. Is the job important? How does it relate to the work of other people?

c. Does the person doing the job get feedback? Are they able to tell how well they are doing the work from the task and from the people who use the results?

d. Is the job contained? Does the person doing the job have control over the resources including the way the job is done and when it is done?

e. Is the job interesting? Does it call for a variety of skills and is the person doing the job able to learn new skills?

We are NOT talking about Taylor as you can see.

[A C F C V : Auto Connect Friends Responsibly & Variously]

2. Job design and Gen Y

I notice that much of the talk about Gen Y follows this very same agenda. So hats-off to the young. Maybe we will get well designed work at last!

Of course, Gen Y haven’t thought this model up for themselves. The model is embedded into two phenomena that older people love to hate.

Social media, like Facebook, allow

1. Autonomy: the choice of taking part on your own terms, personalizing your input, and managing your time and attention.

2. Competence: tasks that encourage deep engagement, flow, internal goals, internal feedback and intense concentration.

3. Relatedness: multiple ways to interact, collaborate, share, express gratitude, and expand one’s social network.

3. Computer Games develop similar attitudes

1. Bottom-line, results orientation: how am I doing and is the ranking fair?

2. Collaboration with dissimilar others: who do I need to complete this task with me and where and how can I work find people with the skills I need?

3. Problem solving in novel situations: experimentation to learn the rules, and to experiment with the rules.

Devil’s Advocate

If I am to play the devil’s advocate, I can ask:  does every one respond well to a game-like environment. No ~  some people do like utterly repetitive boring jobs. I am sure you will recognize them if you meet them. But I suspect you might have difficulty finding them.

More importantly, people of the 21st century don’t like being “gamed”. They will play the game, but the game must satisfy their interests. If they feel “gamed”, they are likely to resort to passive aggression.

People like taking responsibility and if you ask them to do the impossible, you will stress them – visibly.


What benefits might you expect from improving job design. These are benefits I have seen:

  • The burden of day-to-day management fell away and managers were able to spend their time on problems outside of the firm: negotiating power, fuel, major deals, etc.
  • Employees passed messages from customers to the right people. Customers satisfaction and sales shot up.
  • The percentage of work passing quality control increased by 12x and workers pushed aside deficient work which they fixed for free on Saturdays.
  • Production increased 3x and workers were able to go home at noon (an effective pay increase!)

Practical steps

Would you like a working heuristic?

One side of paper only

1. Require managers to delegate all the goals for all their subordinates on one side of paper. The brief should include the bigger picture (the boss’ boss’ goal), the boss’ overall goal, a goal for each subordinate, any non-standard resources, how they will coordinate.

Communication is in the mind of the receiver

2. Check that each employee knows how to reach their goal (and has done something similar before), and can list their resources, authority and main professional guidelines.

Concentrate on coordination rather than control

3. Check each employee knows when they should signal that they are ahead of schedule and could affect other people’s work, or behind schedule and need more resources.

Concentrate your efforts on redesigning the manager’s job

4. If the manager interferes with the work or does not respond immediately to requests for rescheduling, redesign the manager’s job! They have too much or too little to do!

Count & celebrate!

5. Record the group’s progress. And celebrate!

And then to fine-tune the system:

  • Order tasks on a 1, 2, 3 system. The first time we learn, the 2nd time we polish, the 3rd time we get bored.
  • Allow people to rotate. Someone might have to go to round 4 before a rotation comes up. Never mind! It is better than no rotation.
  • Allow people to set internal goals and improve their work. Someone may want to stay longer in job because they are working on a way to do it better.


Organizing the workplace.

  • Gen Y are savvy about modern media. Let them use it. Review your confidentiality policies with them, of course, and let them design security!
  • Give people private places to work where they control access to their desk, their time, and their attention. And communal places to meet informally and formally.


The return on investment depends on your starting position. Because the investment is minimal, we can look at improvements as our return.

Remember you will have constraints: machines go at maximum speeds and may be erratic too. Production may produce, but can sales sell. Do start in a sensible place and take into account the way sections feed into each other.


If you have done any job redesign, I would be really interested in collaborating with you.

UPDATE: For an HR Managers perspective on the Recession, I have written a summary on a new post.


Who’ll help me build a wiki of positive vocabulary?

Male Rottweiler, 1½ years old

Image via Wikipedia

Once I got bitten by a dog. I have got some wonderful scars on my back to prove it. It was my own fault though. I know about dogs. I like dogs. And I am a psychologist after all.

What happened was this. I went to see a man, not about a dog, but to get some currency for an obscure country I was visiting. He wasn’t in and his wife, who didn’t know me came to the door. She had a one year old male Rottweiler, who after all was still a puppy. The dog happy to be out the house, bounded down the drive to the gate and barked away merrily. As I left, without the currency, and pondering where to get some, I was walking away from the woman towards the dog.

Mistake: I was between a one year old male dog of an aggressive breed and its female owner AND my mind was elsewhere. Before I knew it, the dog had attacked me from behind. I was used to dogs, so despite the pain, I swung round, got him by the neck and clouted him. A little too ferociously. The dog whined, caught my hand, and bit me gently this time.

The dog was clearly signaling to me

  • you are hurting me and I will have to protect myself
  • I get the message that I hurt you.

Life hurts

When people whine – grown ups or children – in the first instance, that is what they are saying. Life hurts! Some sympathy and action to relieve the hurt, if possible, is due so they catch their breath, take stock, and get themselves together.

Now I am tough as the next guy. I was walloping the dog after all with blood pouring out my back. I certainly think in life when you fall down, you have to pick yourself up again. There is a time for tears and a time for drying tears.

The same rules apply for celebrations. There is a time to be pleased by success and flattery. There is a time to put the success aside and set new challenges.

So what is the point of this post?

I find a lot of reports in the press that happiness makes you miserable. What a silly argument, by definition! In their determination to prove the point, they don’t stop to understand the view they are trying to dispute.

  • Positive psychologists stress there is no point going over negative events over and over again. Apart from the fact you are likely to embroider what happened, all you are doing is rehearsing what went wrong. Your golf swing gets better with mental rehearsal – so does your capacity to be miserable!
  • Positive psychologists also stress that there “is a time for everything” – tears have their place. So does sensitivity. Positive psychology should not be equated with ‘therapy culture’ which assumes that there is something wrong with us when we experience shock, disappointment, rejection, bereavement etc. We may need company; we may need consolation; we may benefit from reflection; we may value the wisdom of others – but there is nothing wrong with us – this is a normal process of life.

Vocabulary of positive psychology

But we don’t necessarily use a positive and poetic vocabulary – in fact as psychologists-in-training, we are encouraged to be dry, detached, unemotional and possibly, boring.


I have opened a little positive psychology wiki.

Will you help me to build a dictionary of positive, active, lively vital language that everyone can share?

There is no password.  Just follow the link, and add an entry when the mood takes you!

Zemanta Pixie

5 questions to ask when we initiate an online community

A woman reading SMS messages on her mobile phone while standing on a bike in traffic.

Image via Wikipedia

Wise Web Developers from High Wycombe

I am delighted again by the wisdom that flows from High Wycombe. Paul Imre commented on my post about SwarmTeams and the exercise we did comparing soccer and work.

An online community as a rope

This time Paul used the analogy of a rope to think about a “social media community”. The rope becomes stronger the more we add strands. The rope has a past (so easy to forget) and the rope has a future when it begins to “think” for itself.

I think the first two points are useful to remind clients.

  • Ties with a community require constant participation – social media is a “hands-on” business.
  • A community has come from somewhere and is going somewhere.

How does the rope think? In two ways.

  • In a swarm – which for people not from UK is a social media community built up around an SMS system similar to Twitter – we communicate peer-to-peer – this is not unlike birds flying in a flock. P2P messaging allows us to follow the general direction of the flock, keep up, and not bash in to each other.
    • So we “think” by keeping in position by bouncing messages off the people immediately around us.
    • We also think, when gradual changes in what we do make the flock sweep and swoop across the sky.
    • This is what the pundits call low-level emergence. The flock looks as if it is intelligently following a leader. They are just following each other! And they are doing it without bashing into each other.
    • This kind of coordination would be particularly useful in a fleet of taxis for example, who could communicate where passengers are during rush hour.
  • The message board on an SMS system, that we can see by logging on to a computer, gives us the second level of thinking. The message board allows us to scan the overall pattern of the messages and make higher level changes – and any member of the swarm can do that. It is the equivalent of one of the birds in the flock saying “guys we passed that church half an hour ago – can we check our bearings”. My fleet of taxi drivers might scan the message board at the end of the day and observe, say, that it could be worthwhile having one person in a location to alert other taxis. For so many purposes, we don’t need a specialist to do this – we just need the message board and some motivated people.

Using Swarms at Conference

I also thought Paul’s question about when the “rope starts to think” takes us to something I commented about on the NLabNetworks blog – why didn’t we use social media more at the conference? It struck me that DMU had brought together a wide range of people from Leicester and wasn’t energetically linking the strands or developing a group that was “thinking”. After Bucks08, Paul came up with the analogy of a “dam” which stores potential. Toby Moores of Sleepy Dog wasn’t so taken with the image of “blocking”. But a “dam” is what we made when we put 150 people in a university building for a day. It is a pity that at the end of the day, we just let the water out. We should have at least used the water to turn a turbine or two.

The Swarm technology can be used to that effect. By capturing the tweeting for that group, we might be able to move up to another level of emergence where we see patterns, generate other contacts, etc.

So what are the five questions?

1. What will we do to add more “strands to the rope”?

2. Where did the community come from and where is it going?

3. What peer-to-peer decisions is the group making to “stay in position”and how are we going to join in?

4. How can we form an overall picture of the conversation and reflect it to the community so everyone can contribute to the group thinking?

5. How have we enhanced our future by joining and supporting the conversation (or did we just let the water run out – changing the metaphor, I know!)

Thanks Paul. Great heuristic.

Added this a few days later: What voices do you hear?

Social Media, HR and Member-driven Communities

Social Media is dominated in a fair degree by marketing. I am particularly interested in HR and communities like universities where customers and suppliers are the same people. If you would like to collaborate with me, or work with me commercially, please drop me comment. It would be good to expand the network of people interested in HR and social media in the UK.

Enhanced by Zemanta
One Comment

5 step heuristic for advising SME’s on social media

Private investment, freedom to buy, sell, and ...

What would you do if you were not a social media guru and “got social media” for the first time?

When I was growing up, we didn’t have electricity. We cooked on a “wood stove” (a Dover for connoisseurs). Our water was heated in wood-fired boiler. Our lights were gas. Our fridge used paraffin. The generator at the office used diesel. In winter, we had a wood fire. Our irons for pressing our clothes were heated with coals.

Our house was built for electricity though. The plugs, switches and wiring were all in place.

It was a pretty low key affair the day we were connected to the national grid. My mother received a telephone call (remember the mechanical models weren’t powered with electricity) and we calmly switched on the lights. I must have been about 10 and for some reason I got up that night. I wandered through to the living room and mother was ironing clothes with the electric iron. I might add that we employed someone to do the ironing (with the heavy wrought iron “irons” and their coals). So this was a thrill – using an electric iron was a thrill!

The number of appliances that work so much more conveniently with electricity are numerous – lights, irons, stoves, fridge, the kettle, the toaster, the radio. And we have added more – the TV, the blender, the shower. What else?

What do we already take for granted about social media?

Not many of us are volunteering to going back to houses fueled and heated with wood, coal, bottled gas, candles and paraffin and those that are, probably never lived without the national grid. Social media and its immediate antecedents are now so much part of our life, we aren’t going to volunteer to live without them.

Email is not really social media – but lets start there. If you live apart from your family, email is a boon allowing daily messages in almost real time. My supermarket, who sends me illegible emails, somehow misses the entire point.

Txting is not just a youth thing. How on earth did we find each other in the shopping mall or the railway station without our mobile phones? What a boon it is to arrive on a long distance flight and to txt “we are down” to someone who is coming to pick you up.

Skype has been described as a “life saver”. Imagine being apart from your loved ones. Then think of speaking to them daily over Skype with a cam.

Google search is now so common, we forget it is less than 10 years old.

Internet banking is also a given, I couldn’t believe that my British bank issued a cheque book when I arrived here. I had to be reminded how to use one (and I only use it to transfer money from one part of the bank to another – but we are in UK now – when in Rome and all that.)

Wikipedia and online dictionaries clear the desk next to us as do online yellow and white pages. I use wikis unconventionally. I just like them for organizing long documents and I become quite irritated by long word documents. Nothing over one page on Word, please!

Blogs are not just convenient soapboxes. The conversational format also encourage people to write. No one mentions the increase in literacy and fluency likely to develop from the ease of content generation.

RSS feeds and aggregators are marvellous. I follow a story like the Obama campaign by setting up an alert and feeding it into a folder. Then once I day I can scan 50 or so stories and get the formal news and the citizen commentary. I do the same for new professional areas where I am still getting oriented.

StumbleUpon is the opposite of Google. It finds new sites for me on the basis of their similarity to sites I found interesting previously.

Yahoo Upcoming! is one of my favorite sites. In a place as large as the UK, it is so useful for finding the niche events that interest you.

Twitter is as much fun as passing through the neighborhood cafe or pub.

What are the obvious uses of social media in small business?

The challenge that was thrown out by small business owners at the NLabNetworks conference was to spell out the benefits.

Somehow it is easy to think about moving from gas light to electric light; or coal-fired iron to electric irons. But only because we have already made the transition.

What we need to do is to list the infrastructural benefits of social media so our clients can see quickly and easily what it offers them.

Maybe a session at Media Camp London on July 5 2008?

When we first got electricity, we had to invest a little in the change. What should we get first? A kettle? A new stove? A new boiler? For the record, my mother was quite keen to get a cake mixer (we ate a lot of cake) but we continued to heat the water with a wood burner and had log fires in winter for another 10 years. If we are introducing social media, what should we do first, second, third?

A heuristic for advising clients curious about social media

The speakers at NLabNetworks suggested a concept that we can use to think about the social media that would be most useful for our clients. Think constraints. What constraints can we release with social media?

I suggest these simple questions for understanding a business.

1. What does the business sell?

2. Who does it sell to? Who are its customers?

3. What would the business like to do if it could do anything it wanted? What does it want to be? Bigger, busier, more influential?

4. What is stopping it? This is the constraint. Go gently here. Your client is likely to display a lot of frustration – this is often gets deep, down and personal.

5. What types of social media would release that constraint? That is the value you deliver – your imagination. And then a little know-how as icing on the cake. Can you show your client how to use that media and if not, which of your social media colleagues could you co-opt quickly to the cause?

Looking forward to working with you on this. Being able to work quickly and easily with each other illustrates the benefits of social media for small businesses. See you at Media Camp London on July 5, I hope.

PS Paul Imre has posted today linking to his clients who have running blogs. I think this is a good step that we could all take.

Enhanced by Zemanta

90% of people believe that work would be better if it was organized like soccer


I was at the NLabNetwork meeting in Leicester, England, on Thursday. Ken Thompson demonstrated SwarmTeams, the peer-to-peer messaging system. He asked the audience to text their answers to two questions. And the answers showed up immediately for everyone to see on the messaging systems “board” (which was projected onto the big screen).

The questions

1. What would your soccer team be like if it was organized like work?

2. What would work be like if it was organized like a soccer team?

What would you say?

Do you agree with our answers?

The audience was clear. 90% said a soccer team organized like work would lose; and 90% said work organized like a soccer team would be an improvement.

What do you miss most in your workplace?

I miss the sense of triumph, that roared “Yeesss!” as we achieve something that was hard. I miss the quiet satisfaction of a fist-thump as a long road comes to an end.

I would like to start a catalog of experiences that people enjoy in team sports and then we can mix and match – what is more likely to be experienced in a team with quick, p2p messaging?

So I miss triumph? What do you miss?

One Comment

First steps to a deep understanding of positive psychology

Learn to think like your tutors

When I went off to university, my father told me that I was going to learn to think like my tutors. That comment puzzled me for a long while. I had thought that I was going to think for myself. But of course that is what university does teach you – to follow a discipline. To give a simple example, I can add 5c to 5c and tell you that you have 10 c, or I can teach you how to count, and how to add. You can now think for yourself but following a schema that is also taught to others. It’s good. We can solve more problems, and we can communicate with each other.

Learn that there may be better ways to think about the world

The second thing we learn at university, if it is well run, is that many of the beliefs we grew up with are severely limiting. If our university did indeed ‘expose’ us to the universe, we spend the rest of our lives quite unsurprised when someone in the room presents a view that contradicts ours. Indeed,  we learn to welcome such surprises. They are not only refreshing in their novelty, they also broaden the puzzles we can solve and the people we communicate with readily. Foreign travel can achieve the same effect but without a tutor to interpret and structure, the experience can be hit-and-miss.

Learn that we are learning a system that we might replace eventually

From time-to-time, professions are faced with a paradigm shift. Physicists had a paradigm shift when Einstein moved beyond the physics of Newton that most of us learned at school. Whole professions are faced with a new way of thinking.

When I learned about Kuhn and paradigms in my first year at university sitting in Lecture Room 5 and day dreaming intermittently out the windows across the College Green and the Science Faculty to the skyscrapers in the city four miles away, I never thought that every thing I was working so hard to learn would be subject to one of these seismic changes.

First steps in the new paradigm for psychology

After I posted on the vocabulary of psychology, a philosopher friend of mine pointed me to Alan Watts on You Tube. Here is a link to a 15 minute explanation on vocabulary and how it is simply a schema we have adopted. The video begins talking about time and ends with this idea: is this a fist, or am I fisting.

To understand happiness, we have to think in terms of “happinessing” – as actions of ours. I’ll leave you to the video.

PS I won’t embed the video – it is very laborious to embed video in WordPress. The link will get you there just as fast.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
One Comment

Vocabulary of positive psychology

!!IMG_6449 - Border

Image by foghornleg90 via Flickr

A good article here on savoring and a list of actions and the corresponding emotion we feel.

  1. What did we take the time to marvel at today and did we feel awe?
  2. What did we stop to give thanks for and did we feel gratitude?
  3. Did we have five minutes to bask in a task well done, or a compliment, and feel pride?
  4. Did we luxuriate in the bath, or the park, or some where else and feel pleasure?

It would be good to extend the list. I’ve just started a little public wiki for anyone who wants to join in.

Leave a Comment