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Month: February 2009

Who will earn more and who will earn less because of the internet?

Is the internet good for you?

Was it this week that we had the media telling us that Facebook would give us cancer?  And a professor telling us that the internet makes us scatty?

Well, I won’t go where angels fear to tread, but I do know this.  The world has changed in a fundamental way and it is very important THAT YOU GET IT!

The internet has changed the way we make a living and before you go off and spend 5 to 10 years getting a qualification and doing low paid jobs to get experience, have a look at the business model of the profession you are entering.  Will your profession survive the intenet?

And don’t ask recruiters and HR officers either.  They rarely know the answers.

Ask experienced people who are responsible for strategy in their field and don’t join up unless they can ask clearly!  Invite people who have a hig profile in your future career to talk to your school, university or service club, and ask the questions you need to ask!

Managing risk

At the heart of any profession or occupation is the management of risk – yep that thing that bankers didn’t seem to understand.

Very simply, we cannot know everything in the world and when we have an unfamiliar decision to make, we turn to professionals for advice – doctors, lawyers, teachers, plumbers, and even, bankers.  Even my lowly purchase of a loaf of bread at the supermarket is the purchase of advice.  I am trusting my supermarket to sell me something wholesome and good at a reasonable price.

But how do we know who we can trust?

We have several mechanisms.

  • First is a system of licenses.  A body, like the British Medical Association gives a doctor a practising certificate, for example, to indicate the doctor has the training and knowledge that we expect.
  • Second is a system of audits & inspections.  Chartered Accountants like KPMG and Deloittes check the financial affairs of a business and tell us if it is a going concern.
  • Third is the business model itself.  Newspapers, for example, would verify information is correct before they printed it and it was for that verification that we would pay a shilling or a dollar for our paper, though we often felt that we were buying the content.  They are motivated to get information correct so they stay in business.

The internet adds another way to manage risk

The internet has changed the game of business, and importantly the careers available to us, because it adds, among other things, an additional way to manage risk.  This additional mechanism for managing risk affects how consumers get advice and who gets paid for giving advice.

  • Google Search, for example, allows us to pull up information from all over the world in the blink of an eye.  For many particularly simple matters, we can find information for free and save ourselves the fees of professional advice.  Knowledge has become more easily available and much cheaper.
  • Twitter provides recommendations with equal speed and allows customers to speak to each other. The wisdom of crowds gives us assurances that previously were only available from auditors and inspectors.
  • Blogs, YouTube, Flickr make us all citizen journalists.  Collecting and transmitting data is now so cheap and easy that events like a plane ditching in the Hudson are transmitted as they happen.  No paper or TV service can report events so quickly.

But there is so much rubbish on the internet

Indeed there is.  And it is very important to treat the information for what it is.  IT IS NOT information provided with a stamp of approval from a professional body or a well established business.

This is frightening for many people.  And so it will be until they think clearly about what is happening and act accordingly.

We have two tasks therefore.

  • First, understand how to verify information on the internet.
  • Second, to understand how the internet changes the value of various professions and how much people in those professions will earn in the future.

A lot of people write about the first task.  I am interested in the second.

How does the internet change the value of various careers and the salary you can expect to earn?

Whether you are in a profession or ‘old school organization’, or if you are changing careers and thinking about your next move, these are the questions that I think you should ask.

5 questions to ask about the value of information in your profession or organization

1   Why did you want to go into this career?

When you chose this career, what value did you believe you would add to the world?  Why did you undertake the qualifications instead of just opening up your business?  What did the qualifications teach you that cannot be taught elsewhere and freely on the internet?  How are the systems of knowledge maintained so the knowledge of your profession is deeper and more valuable that information on the internet? To what extent is the profession protected artificially and will these artificial barriers be stripped away by the internet?

2  How do you maintain integrity?

What are the promises that your profession makes to the public and are these promises genuine?  For example, do you send someone to jail for breaking these promises?  What areas of malpractice does the profession look out for?  How do you check that your core promises are being honoured?  When your customers are able to talk directly to each other, what aspects of your service can they inspect better than you can? If they are able to check themselves, of what value is your guarantee?  What aspects can they not check and is the responsibility of your profession?

3  What does your online profile say?

Are you on professional groups like Facebook, Twittter, LinkedIn and Xing?  If we Google your name, can we find you?  What issues are Googled by your clients/customers/patients and what do they find? How do you maintain your profile?  How good is your understanding of information traffic on the internet and the way Google chooses what to show people?  How is your profession learning about the internet and the way it is developing?  How is your profession managing the conversation about the internet among your members?

4  What is your ‘authority’ on the risk management issues which have been the basis of your profession?

What are the issues on which your profession is expert, experienced and willing to help other people, albeit for a fee?  Who in the internet world defers to your opinion and how do they link to you?  How does your profession monitor your online authority?  How do you manage your online authority?  How do you manage the way one member of your profession competes with another for internet domination?  How do you ensure that your clients/customers/patients get access to well debated information and ‘honest authority’, so to speak?

5  How do you help your customers/clients/patients find the information they need and make intelligent choices?

What choices are your customers/clients/patients making on a daily basis?  What information do they use?  What do they search for?  How does information find them and are they able to process it safely and to their advantage?  How has the internet changed this process? And how have those changes, and ongoing changes, changed the basis of your business model?  How you make a living, in other words, and how future members of your profession will make a living?

Your comments?

This is the first time I’ve written about these issues.  So I’d be very interested in your views – or comments – or indeed questions.

How do you think the internet changes our work and our long-term potential to make a living?

What questions should we be asking leaders of professions and encouraging our young people to ask before they invest in an expensive training?


Can I give you some feedback?

An irritated face at my door

Some one came in to my office and said to me: can I give you some feedback?  Yes, of course I said.  Sit down.  Would you like a cup of tea?

My interlocutor had though, absolutely no intention of giving me feedback about anything.

Feedback is not about me

Feedback means the distance between where we are and the goal we want to achieve.  And preferably, contains information that allows us to steer towards the goal.

If my interlocutor had such information, they should not have been keeping it to themselves.  That would be poor team play indeed.  And if they really had feedback about our joint goals, why would this be cause for embarrassment?

Oh, you have a complaint?

Of course, my interlocutor really wants to make a complaint.  They feel annoyed or irritated with me about something.  And as these are rather hostile emotions, they feel embarrassed.

No one likes to feel embarrassed, so they’ve become indignant and righteous instead.

Am I feeling playful?

Now if I were in a mischievious mood, I could let them sweat.  But as I wasn’t, I thought I would let them off the hook of their own anger.  Grab a chair, have a cup of tea, and tell me all about it.

Anger is such difficult emotion

It can be so difficult to give up anger.  Anger is to do with status.  Someone has ‘dissed us’ and we want our status restored.  So often we want nothing else.  Just an apology, an acknowledgment, and a sense that we are appreciated.

But it is too embarrassing to begin the conversation – you dissed me – so we dress up our anguish in other terms.

So feedback was just a request for an apology?

Of course, sometimes there is more to someone’s complaint than anger.  And we can address whatever specific issues arise.

But most times, the redress and correction is easily done.  What’s really wanted is for status to be restored.

How was that cup of tea?  Do you feel better?

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Celebrating my supporters

It’s barely daylight

Today, my mobile phone woke me rudely “It is time to get up: it is 5.30”.  Groan.  Another commute.  Another day.

But I didn’t get up.  I’ve stopped doing that.

I don’t want to stagger through life making someone else’s dreams come true.  I want to make my own dreams come true!

Ah, dreams  . .

Is it possible?  For dreams to be not dreams?

Perhaps not in the blink of an eye.  And certainly not if I panic when I look at the gap between where I am now and where I want to be.

But I can ask myself this question:

Who would like to support me in my quest?  Who would take the greatest of pleasure in helping me along the way?

I smile.  And I hope you do too!


Finding supporters for our goals

From long-tail

15 months ago, this blog was my ‘miscellaneous’ – the place where I thought through up-and-coming ideas in management, psychology and HR.  I didn’t worry about readers or structure.  I just jotted down the things I was thinking about and followed my own thought process.  Not surprisingly, my posts tended to be a bit abstruse and relevant only to a very small group of people interested in the same field.

To body

Nonetheless, this blog surprised me by growing quite nicely and Zen poet, Ned Lawrence, who has been part of this blog from its outset, has encouraged me to write for a lay audience.

I’ve been trying to find the focal point and particularly, the joint project that we would be undertaking together.  I have lots of online conversations with people around the world about management and careers.  Those are one-on-ones.  The question any serious blog should answer is – what would readers like to talk to each other about?

In what way can this blog facilitate this conversation and the capacity of people around the world to find each other?

Types of blogs in management, psychology and HR

I see the new ideas in management, psychology and HR as being on two continuum (or continua to be pedantic).

Continuum One

On the first continuum, our interest stretches from self or personal leadership on the one hand, to building a team or group on the other.  The first end looks at personal development, motivation and happiness – all topics I have been writing on at some length.  The other end looks at finding support, mobilizing teams and finding the joint path where many of us can travel temporally together.  Issues much like focusing a blog, for example.

The first end is well covered in the blogosphere.  Steve Pavlina, Steve Roesler and many others, some giants in the field like Steve Covey, talk about personal development, productivity, emotions and interpersonal interaction.

The other end – attracting support and developing critical mass for our projects is barely covered – or I’ve missed it!  So that is the end that I think this blog should cover.

Continuum Two

The second continuum stretchs from a place to be defined, to the mysterious world of management.  Some time ago now, I worked with linguists who taught me some tricks for analyzing language and they made me very sensitive to passive sentences.   One of my linguist colleagues believed that when we are unwilling to name the actor in a drama, we are usually staring at some kind of corruption.

In 18 months in the UK, I’ve noticed that many people whom I respect and admire are given to ‘reifying’ organizations.  The organization does this and the organization does that.

No – Organizational Behavior 101.  Organizations don’t do – we do.  I get a lot of traffic, particularly from India (hello!) – to my posts on HR and the recession.  I am still interested in HR and the recession.  I’ve spent a good three decades in HR.  But I lose interest when we pretend that organizations are magic.  Organizations are us.  If we work for a bank that has been running foolish systems, that is our failure and our shame too.  If we took out an overpriced mortgage – well, we took out an overpriced mortgage.  The organization is us.

The end of the continuum which talks about management in a rather disembodied way is also well covered in the blogosphere.  I don’t need to go there.

I’m interested in organizations were each and every person takes responsibility for what we do as a collective and where each and every person speaks freely about where we are going and their part in our venture.  I cannot accept anything less.  I am interested in management where we are the managers, and we take responsibility for the effects of our actions – all our actions and all the effects – the surprising ones too.

The positioning of this blog

So what I am going to do in this blog is tilt it towards an area that I think is neglected – the quadrant where we are mobilize support for our ideas.  I’ll say that again where WE mobilize SUPPORT for our ideas.  The quadrant where we negotiate a common cause with other people.

I would like this blog to bring together people who are pursuing their own dreams and who are interested in the dreams of other people.  Our common cause will be our sense that we have a mutual journey together and that an essential part of our journey is negotiating our shared activities.


These are the kinds of topics I am going to write about, at least until I get some feedback from you.

  • Where is work is going? What exciting areas of work are emerging?  Who is doing this work? Where is it happening?
  • How do we find like minded people? How does the internet offer us opportunity to work with like-minded people across the globe?
  • How do we make organizations where we can work together respectfully? What are the principles of working effectively and fairly together?
  • And finally, how can we be our own HR managers, so to speak?  While we are busy working, how can we keep an eye on the issues that HR managers usually manage?
    • The future of work
    • Interpersonal relations, organizational structure and employment law
    • Pay (!) and attracting the calibre of people we need for the project we have in hand.

    You are invited!

    I hope you will come with me on this journey and find companions along the way with whom you can share information and maybe even conceive and execute mutual projects.

    Please don’t forget to bookmark the blog, or better still subscribe in Google reader or your usual aggregator.  Save Flowing Motion in Delicious and Stumble it too!

    I’m looking forward to this journey with you and arriving at end of the recession, richer and happier, and with vital, interesting and healthy connections right across the globe.

    Yours respectfully,


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    A plan big enough to include now!

    Feb 8 2009 High Street South & Steeple snow pi...
    Image by joolney via Flickr

    Will your degree really take you where you want to be?

    I’ve just read story in the TimesOnline about a mature student who returned to university and read psychology, very successfully, only to find that there are insufficient places for students to complete their professional qualifications.

    I am sorry to hear this story. There is a breach-of-confidence here that shames us all.   When students go to university, they accept in good faith our implied promises of progression within their degree and access to their chosen profession.

    Very sadly, these promises are often made lightly.  And quite often universities deliberately conceal the facts, if not by commission, then by omission.  They quite consciously don’t collect information on student destinations, and they just as consciously don’t make these facts available.  It is certainly time for regulators to insist that these facts are published on University websites and kept up-to-date!

    Not only do I think publishing student pass rates and destinations should be mandatory.  I think universities should loan fees to students and recover the loans themselves!

    Caveat emptor

    Until the day that regulations are tightened up, then I afraid it is a matter of caveat emptor, buyer beware.  Students need to be wary of making large investments in services that have no warranty!  Should they discover that the university’s promises are inflated, they will be able to recover neither their money nor, more importantly, their time.

    Craft a life plan that is far bigger than uni and the professions

    So what can students do to avoid this trap?

    The advice from contemporary positive psychologists is this.  Don’t plan your university studies around a specific job and employment route! Neither is guaranteed.  Indeed, we have seen from the banking crisis that nothing in this world is guaranteed.

    Rather, see your university education as a supplement to your life plan.  Let me give you this example.

    Young Nick Cochiarella from my village of Olney has already launched his first social network, SpeakLife while he is at college.  He’s a hardworking guy and he also has a job at the local Coop.  He is taking a slightly circuituous route doing technical training before he goes to university.  But he is not waiting for anyone.  It is true that his hard work still guarantees him nothing.  But he is not deferring his dreams, and his university training supports, rather than defines, his life’s purpose.

    But I need a job now!

    It can be tough to start living our dreams.  We often get into an enormous tangle.

    The biggest distractor is the desperate belief that we will somehow be safe when we follow a road carved out by others.  But it is not safe, as we have seen.

    And even if it were safe, why do we think that other people’s dreams will be enough for us?

    Wouldn’t it be better to have our own dreams and to work with others to find where we can temporarily work together to make the path easier and broader for both of us?

    A plan big enough to include now

    Ned Lawrence has been challenging me to refocus this site on the needs of the ordinary person – the person who lives these dilemmas.

    What do you think?

    Is it possible to make a plan that is big enough to include now?

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    Young Olney to Australia! And back?

    Ben Thompson at MuchAdo
    Ben Thompson at MuchAdo

    Brits leaving for downunder

    Ben is leaving us today for a year long working holiday in Australia.  Sad for us.  Happy for him!

    I’m sure many young people in UK are checking out jobs in Australia.   This is an inevitable upshot of the recession.  Actually, I think it would be a good thing to upgrade the agreement with Australia that allows young people from Britain to work temporarily there and young Aussies to work temporarily here.

    Swap young people during the recession

    I think we should go further and set quotas to swap young people.  We should even provide an year return ticket!

    Build a resilient young generation

    Experience abroad broadens the mind, expands our skills, deepens our resilience, and rekindles hope.  We will be stronger country for it.  Our future at the end of recession may depend upon a better reservoir not just of skill but of character (selfish, aren’t I?).

    MuchaAdo Cafe

    I’ll miss Ben.  He’s been with MuchAdo Cafe in Olney since it opened a year ago.  I understand he began his career as a schoolyard at the Courtyard Brasserie tucked away in Rose Court off Market Place.  He went off to Australia, came back, and is now associated with a very successful start-up with the most delectable food and friendly adaptable stylish service.   MuchAdo have a daily blackboard menu with food from the delicatessen next door and they happily adjust the dishes to your taste.  They’ll also send you home with delicacies too and the recipes to prepare something special.

    Bon Voyage, Ben! Enjoy the sun and sand.  And be back soon!  We’ll be waiting for you.

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    Life on Market Day in Olney!

    Life on Market Day in Olney

    I had another delightful day in the village of Olney in Buckinghamshire or Bucks in England, UK.  That’s a long address, isn’t it?

    Social Media

    Hero of the hour, GarethLRoberts, tweeted well before morning tea that he was back from the markets in London.  A quick look at the blog of MuchAdo deli persuaded me that I was not going to eat noodles this week.  I am going to eat a fresh green salad with tropical fruit and to accompany this extravaganza, I am going to grill mackerel (for the first time in my life).  UPDATE: Catch MuchAdo on Facebook and see the ceiling mural by Lee Farmer unfold.

    Market Day

    Thursday is market day in Olney.  Market Place thronged with the regular array of butchers and greengrocers, haberdashers, cobblers, and gardeners.  The Coffee Cavern joined Olney100 today bringing their range of exotic teas and coffee.  The Happy Carrot, who are the most-glass-half-full people I know, were the ONLY stall to appear during our heavy snow.  I wish they would blog.  They have a philosophical turn of mind, a ready camera, and extensive knowledge of the whole Bucks area.  This is when I regret using Ning.  People can’t comment without logging in.

    Housing Market

    After the market, I headed for the eastern corner of Market Place and went to congratulate Taylor’s, the estate agent, for selling a house around the corner from me.  Did you hear that folks?  The market for housing in sought-after Olney ain’t dead.  Poke it with a stick!

    Coffee Shops and Youthful Enterprise

    A lively young man reminded me of how much fun it is to work with Gen Y – on-the-ball, optimisitic and conecting-connecting-connecting.  Next door at the coffee shop, Beans, young Charlie Ray (17) seized the opportunity to raise the profile of his business Mute . . . Anything but Quiet! – an online store for tie-and-dye shirts.  Charlie and his team will teach us a thing or two about websites and social media with connections to Facebook and Myspace.  He intends to go up to university in a few months to read broadcast journalism – mental note to myself – ask Euan Semple at Amplified09 if he knows any mentors around here.

    Hair Salons

    Energy levels continued to throb in the next store.  Well, it is a store within a store.  Olney is an old lace-making town and shops are tucked away romantically down alleys and warrens.  To reach Olney’s newest of five hair salons, we weave our way through a baby clothes store.  Secluded, airy, fresh, At the Salon is run by engaging proprietor, Rebecca Green, who also teaches hairdressing in Milton Keynes.


    My rounds ended with a visit to the Phonebox – an extraordinary institution.  Ron, or Gandalf, got to the social media business model long before Google.  Funded entirely by advertisements, Phonebox prints and distributes around 50 000 copies of the must thumbed and read periodical in the Bedford – Milton Leynes – Northampton triangle.  Quick remarkable!

    And amazingly, we aren’t tourists! We live here!

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    Surprised and delighted by Britain

    Today’s hero!

    I have to be honest.  My favorite people have verve, drive, audacity, panache and plain zest for life.

    Today, I met GarethLRoberts for about half-an-hour in Olney‘s delicious coffee shop, MuchAdo.

    Today’s project

    Gareth and I had a quick chat about a tantalizing mixture of IT networks and the hidden highways and byways of rural England: cereal farmers (not serial, cereal!), millers, bakers and eaters.

    GarethLRoberts bakes a mean cherry focaccio. Quite scrumptious and delectably breakfast, lunch or supper.  Gareth also does the buying for MuchAdo at London markets.  Every Wednesday night, he drives down and buys our vegetables from Covent Garden and our fish from Billingsgate.

    Within hours of our brief chat together using the WiFi provided by MuchAdo, Gareth had his new blog up and running: Connecting with Bread!  Congratulations!

    Watch his space!

    I hope you will all go over, welcome him to the blogosphere, and bookmark him.  He writes well and he is going to make you feel so well acquainted with rural England, you’ll think your mouse is scurrying across a corn field!

    An example of social media helping us be surprised and delighted by Britain!


    I’ll pick up some SEO issues later.  For other blogs of Olney, check our blogroll on Olney100.   I am cataloguing the online activity of Olney in Buckinghamshire, England in the UK (or Bucks to the natives).

    Flowing motion!   Oh, I do love it when a plan comes together!

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    The first steps together?

    Ideas whose time has come

    I had an email today from someone I worked with a long time ago.  It was interesting.  Though we have barely been in touch, many of us who worked together ten years’ ago have pursued similar interests in different corners of the globe.

    Great minds think alike?

    The loneliness of the corporation executive

    I don’t think my old friend reads my blog, but we were thinking alike yesterday too.

    Yesterday, I wrote:

    What do we trust each other absolutely and entirely to do?

    His brief note on Facebook said that he feels optimistic about the future of the world economy but depressed by the ‘ostriches’ around him

    Are we agreed?

    There is plenty of opportunity.  Our task is to find the ‘sweet spots’ where people feel they can take the first step together?


    What comes after business as usual?

    Where were you in February 1999?

    Mmm, that was three countries and four cities away.  I had to go through my backups to remind myself of the hopes, dreams, goals and uncertainities that swirled around me then.

    Why didn’t we see this coming?

    The ClueTrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual was published TEN years ago, would you believe?  Here is a modern day slideshow that helps you skim the 95 theses in comfort.

    What was I doing then?  Why didn’t I read the Manifesto and pay attention?

    Well I was busy.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!  What were you doing then?

    So what comes next?

    What do you think the world will look like in 2019?

    What are the trends that are emerging and that will be sustained by our common interest and agreement?

    What do we trust each other absolutely and entirely to do?

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