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Month: August 2009

3 Easy Sunday Ways to Master the 3 Principles of Design

It is Sunday today, and I want you to do three things for me.

1    Watch Dan Pink’s TED lecture on Motivation

2    Flick through Jane McGonigal’s slides for SXSW 2008 or  fixing reality.

If you have seen them before, remind yourself of slides 22 through 24.

3    Login in to Facebook and play FarmVille.


First, today is Sunday. I know you want to catch up with your reading but you should also be having fun.

Dan Pink, former speech writer, speaks good too.  Jane McGonigal’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) is to win a Nobel prize for games design and she designs games that ‘give a damn’.  And FarmVille, though childish looking, is actually fun, and will probably get you chatting with a couple of old friends over your farmyard gate.

Learn about the Ryan and Deci (2000) 3 principles of design (ARC) in an enjoyable way

But mainly, because if your goal today was to keep up-to-date with what the gurus are saying, you should know that leading gurus are popularizing the research results of Ryan & Deci (2000).

Ryan & Deci boiled down the principles for designing for work, games and events that are compelling, engaging and ‘moreish’ to

Autonomy.     Can we make our decisions in this place?

Competence. Does the game, work, or event help us learn, and do the conditions keep pace with our growing ability?

Relatedness.  Can we play with others? Is this event socially-rewarding?

Dan Pink and Jane McGonigal may use slightly different terms, but these are the 3 attributes that are being described.

9m people are playing FarmVille (for free) on Facebook

As you play FarmVille, you can admire the ‘assets’ the games have deployed for our leisure and imagination and marvel that 9 million people will seriously attend to their farmyard online and nip over to their neighbours to chase the cows out of the strawberries.

You can also admire the way FarmVille draws you into the game by appealing to your autonomy.   This is your farm and your avatar.   They gently guide you through the possibilities and in a short time, you are as keen as mustard to develop some competence.

FarmVille has levels. I mysteriously found myself at level 3 – possibly it starts at three.   There is clear feedback that tells you how well you are doing and lets you work out the best strategies.   There are rewards that entice you to make an effort.   And there are levels that are both badges of honour and opportunities to try new things.  FarmVille even throws in some random rewards which, of course, are massively reinforcing.

And it is social.  You can see at a glance whom of your friends are playing.  You can send them free gifts.  And they can reciprocate.  You can visit their yards and admire their work (and aspire to catch up.)  You can ask them to be your neighbour.  You can rush over to help on their farm when you they are out and something urgent needs doing.

So a Sunday well spent?

Master the Deci & Ryan model.  When the gurus start propagating a model, you know it will become common knowledge very fast. Everyone will be quoting Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness soon (ARC).

And when we are all talking about the psychology of design and trying and learning to use ARC in our own work, Jane McGonigal will achieve her dream of seeing our ‘broken reality’ fixed and become a lot more like a game.

Will you fix reality with the 3 principles of design?

Will you be up there with the games designers, event managers and entrepreneurs who can design work and play worth living?

Or at least understand why some tasks are tedious beyond belief and others bring a light to your eyes, a bounce to your step, and a gentle smile, if not the singing of your soul?

Have a good Sunday, and if you are in the UK, a good Bank Holiday weekend.

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Who are your mentors: Reflections on the life of Ted Kennedy

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 20:  Senator Ted Kennedy ...
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I woke up at 6:30 today, unusually early for me, and turned on the radio to hear the sad news that Edward Kennedy has died.  My condolences to his family and people close to him.

Being a UK resident, my thoughts turned a little selfishly to the consequences for the world and I reflected how great it must have been for Kennedy to have attended Obama’s inauguration – even though he had to leave early by ambulance.

Obama’s inauguration was the zenith of the Kennedy’s legacy and the Civil Rights Movement and brought life around in a full circle.  While Kennedy’s brother was seen as the marker of new generation – TV savvy and much more connected to the wider American people – Obama marks the changing of the guard to the next generation – social media savvy and much more connected to the wider world.

Edward Kennedy was also an important reader of history.  He is the man who said to Obama:  This is your time.

The role of the older generation

It is the role of the older generation to reflect on history and to bring into focus the sense of possibility of the people who come after them.

To do that we need to

  • Know our history
  • Be part of  events and have a deep sense of what is unfolding
  • Be in touch with younger people, having a deep sense both of their capacity and the skills they are developing – which might be a little beyond our personal understanding.

There is much written on the mid-life crisis – the point where we suddenly go from having the whole world ahead of us to the point where we realise that whatever happens in the world is down to us.

Often, around this time, we also find we no longer have mentors.  Life is so much easier when we have mentors.  Kennedy was one of Obama’s mentors.

Who are your mentors?

Who went before you and who brings your path clearly into focus for you?

Who are the great mentors of this time in the UK?

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Here’s A Fun Way to Find Your Customers

A large glass of red wine contains about three...
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Your personality, your wine, your personality?

Via Flowing Data, a useful little chart on the personality of wine drinkers by wine preference.  A little fun and worthy example of good marketing.

Our first job in any business is to imagine our customers

The 1st of the 10 Sun Tzu Rules of  the Networked World asks us to imagine communicating with each one of our fans.  But for noobes, we have a bigger problem.

Just who are our fans and when do we interact with them?

An easy hack to get started

A good hack is to collect the scenarios describing our meetings with our customers – even those in our imagination! – and sort them into a colour wheel – like the vintners did with their wine.

What is your wine by the way?

Mine was always a Shiraz.  But I have mellowed to a Pinot Noir.

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Ignorance is bliss but please don’t charge me for your services!

It’s a good thing they don’t know

Today I had glass of warm water and a few drops of lemon juice for breakfast to allow the medics to do a fasting blood test.  A fasting blood test helps them get ‘reliable’ readings for something for other.  Happy in my ignorance.

We spend most of our waking hours in ignorance of what we are doing or why – happy to let someone else decide.

So, for those of us who have taken it upon ourselves to teach, we find ourselves in a daft situation.  We can be annoyed when the knowledge of our profession is not taken seriously.  We are seriously annoyed when the professionals in our field don’t know the basics.

And none of us really know

To talk glibly of “evidence-based practice” is really rather irritating.  We boil water for our glass of warm water, in many countries in the world to kill bugs.  But let’s face it.  Many bugs survive boiling water.  Some thrive in concentrated sulfuric acid.  What we mean is that of the things we know how to do and can do in our kitchen, boiling water is pretty useful at killing some bugs that kill us.  A very northern hemisphere idea, btw.  It’s just as good to put your water in a clear bottle and leave it in the sun.  But of course, there is not to much sun in the UK.  It works fine in hotter climes.  Do you get my drift?

We need to communicate in terms that can be understood

All our knowledge is based on custom and folk-lore and we are not exempt.   To pass on knowledge to people who are not experts in our field in language and practice they can relate to is not a disgrace.  It is a professional necessity.  They don’t want to know the ins and the outs.  They want to know what to do.  They are leaving uswith the responsibility for the result.

It is a disgrace not to know the basics

But what a disgrace it is to not know the basics.  When we start to believe that boiling water kills bugs rather than some bugs do not survive boiling water, then we perhaps should have our license take away.

Knowing the basics leads to creativity

It is knowing the basics that helps us think of new solutions.

Imagine if I were on the proverbial desert island, wouldn’t it be better to have the idea in my head that I must get rid of bugs in the water that might kill me.  I am abundant in my ignorance.  There are so many bugs that can kill me and fair handful that scientists don’t even know about yet.   Therefore, the question is not what is the solution but what are the many ways I can ‘purify’ [another misleading idea] the water.  And the right action is to do what I can and begin as General Colin Powell says, when I have a 40-60% chance of being right.

Research-based practice or more snake-oil?

So don’t talk glibly of research-based practice.   You are trying to wave a spell in the air.  Actually, you are trying to get me to pay you more money.

Show me your protocols.  And make sure

a. They are intelligible to me

b. I don’t know more than you

Otherwise, we might just chase you out of town.  We won’t call you a witch, because that is still illegal in UK, but we won’t allow you near our food.  Get your own.

Show me your protocols – in language and experiences I can understand and where I can see the goal and the basic idea.

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Quickly tell an internet optimist from an internet pessimist

LOGO2.0 part I
Image by Stabilo Boss via Flickr

20 questions: which do you agree with?

  1. The internet allows me to reach out and meet people I would never otherwise meet.
  2. The internet allows me to find what I want and organize it the way I like it.
  3. I love the way I have internet friends all over the world.
  4. I am amazed by the diversity of opinion that I encounter on the net.
  5. The beauty of the web is that I can hear the opinions of less powerful people before we make a decision.
  6. We can make our voices heard on the internet.
  7. It’s great the way that so much on the internet is free.
  8. I love the way people reward each other with gifts on the internet.
  9. It’s incredible the way we put together Wikipedia by donating whatever knowledge we each had.
  10. I love the way that my little contribution makes something bigger like Flickr work.
  11. It terrible the way people only talk to their own friends on the net.
  12. The information on the internet is so disjointed.
  13. I fear that people on the internet follow their own interests and disregard the views of others.
  14. I get so tired of the same opinions being voiced over and over again.
  15. It’s too easy on the internet to manipulate the opinions of vulnerable people
  16. It is too easy to bully someone on the internet.
  17. Valuable industries like newspapers will die because of the internet.
  18. If we don’t have property rights, then there will be no reason to compose good music or write good books.
  19. Wikipedia will drop to the “lowest common denominator”.
  20. At the end of the day, great works are accomplished by talented people who have worked hard and practiced long.

Are you an internet optimist or internet pessimist?

Scoring. The top 10 questions describe internet optimists and the bottom 10 describe internet pessimists.

The original list, in much more academic language, was written by Adam Thierer He is looking for a publisher, btw.

Your score? Are you an optimist or pessimist about life with the internet?

With my psychologist’s hat on

I ask:

  • What are the defensive positions that we want covered by the pessimists?
  • And would we trust them, anyway, to cover the weak spots?

It’s funny how the difference between optimists and pessimists is a canyon of trust.

  • How can pessimists lay out an approach to the internet that makes optimists trust them?
  • How can optimists lay out the internet so pessimists can trust it?

Have I got the questions right?

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10 Social Graces for the Networked World

5 years ago, flaming was common on the internet.  Now the internet is one of the politest places to hang out.

If you are a social media user, you will recognize the 10 Social Graces of the Networked World. But, bookmark them anyway for those courses and advice for noobes.

If you are aren’t sure of yourself on the internet, read them and make them your own.

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No 3 of the 10 Sun Tzu rules for a Networked World

How can we send one message to the fans about what is happening and why it is important?

This rule looks innocuous. After all, how hard can it be to write one short message of 100 or so characters that sums up what you want to say and why it is important?

Do we convey our understanding of the world – or do we get distracted?

The original example was provided by Umair Haque when he wrote his rules for 5G warfare in the current healthcare debate in the States.  Often we start rebutting another version of reality when we should be stressing what is important.

We get a sense of what is important or not in the way a message is framed.  Framing a message tells us which facts are important.  Once we see which facts take us where we want to be, we can ignore the noise.

An example we all know too well

One of my favorite examples of lousy “feed forward” is the progress map that passengers are shown on a long haul flight. Bad, bad idea. We do not want to be reminded that we have 10 more hours in a sardine can. Personally, I don’t want to be reminded that I have no control. So I switch off and don’t look.

But if the message were overlaid with colours that related to “lights dimmed for sleeping” followed by another colour for “lights brightened & breakfast” and another for “seat belts fastened and preparation for descent” and another “descent and landing”, then we would have a sense that of what happens when and even a sense of urgency about curling up and having snooze while we get the chance.

Then I would look. Then I would experience as sense of comfort and relief.

Who drew the map?

It is the framing of the message that digs deep into professional expertise.

Novices are famous for noticing superficial detail A medical student remembers what you wore. The consultant remembers what they diagnosed and prescribed (they don’t even remember your symptoms!)

An expert chunks; relevantly.

Our job as leaders, influencers and communicators

What we are going to do is supply our expertise in a chunk that is intelligible to our fans – and yet adds tremendous value because it is the right chunk.

What are the chunks that matter? Make sure you know. Then you can package them easily.

And this is what you, as the expert about your product and service, knows best.

The social media component comes with framing those chunks in language your clients can understand in re-tweetable messages of 100 characters including a link back to resources for your fans to dig deep.

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Hack for No 2 Sun Tzu rule for the networked world

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The 2nd rule 0f the 10 Sun Tzu rules of the Networked World

Make our messages as small as possible.

An example

Once again, this rule is intimidating at first, but we can be assured that if pundits are telling us to do something, then they already know how to do it. So for an example, have a look at the link to BNET that I posted yesterday morning to a handy resource for Prospect Qualification.

Note well how they have worked out a simple decision tree and each step is small enough to do.

The General Idea

This is not a new idea at all. We often break complex jobs into small steps.

We are not, however, making information chunks small for the sake of it.  If we do, we are in danger of disemboding information and rendering it unintelligible.

But feed forward and feedback must come in ‘glanceable’ amounts – like the speedometer on our car. The information must arrive at exactly the point that we need it (not at exactly the point Head Office feels like sending it!)

Our Overall Goal

To think in networked terms, I want to reach everyone one of my fans and I want to reach potential fans – the friends of my friends.

So I have to think like Twitter.   Not only do I keep my messages under 140 chars, I allow for the RT and keep them even shorter!  After all, they are 5 times more likely to be read when they come from a close friend.

The technicalities are easy, it is the substance that counts.

The technicalities can be learned quickly enough. What is harder to work out is when and where people need information.

And the viral potential of the message

Hairdressers are often very good at txting reminders for appointments.

What we need too are messages that will go to the “end of the line.” What are we likely to retweet because we want other people to know that information too?

My local deli for example, could tweet its specials to customers who have requested tweets. That makes it easy for me to retweet and invite someone to lunch.

Hack for the 2nd rule

For each customer group that we have identified in 1a and judged to be a qualified prospect in 1b, we can ask:

  • What information do they need from us to organize themselves with people around them?
  • What is their purpose when they use my message?

Isn’t that why we love resources so much?  They become a lego block in a project of our own.

Recap of the 2nd rule

So we need to go back to the scenarios for defining our fans in 1a and think again.  Do we know what our potential customer is trying to achieve?

When we do, communicating is ever so easy.

(And it is so hard, when we try to jump steps.  Find time this weekend to work on your scenarios!  You can do them in the shower, in a walk in the woods, while waiting for your daughter to finish ballet class!).

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3 prongs of HR in our Networked World

The HUMAN Resource album cover
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10 Sun Tzu rules for the networked world

I am currently writing about 10 Sun Tzu rules for the networked world and I stopped to consider the specific issues faced by startups – defining their fans & customers.

For HR too

HR are another group who face special problems. HR are last to the party and we often feel that there is little we can do about the structure and climate we inherit.

Well there is.

HR in the Recession Stressed World of 2009

First, promote positive psychology.

Full press. Positive psychology is the biggest favor we can do for our organization.

And to develop an infectiously positive outlook, we personally will take more vacations, play more golf, laugh more, and have fun! It begins with us.

Second, read the 10 Sun Tzu rules for the networked world

Originally written by Umair Haque to defend networks under attack, the rules provide a framework for an organizational structure that will work in today’s fast moving world.

Our structures will be a little different to the ones we have now.

The job of corporate HR in a networked world

Why do we need an organization anyway?

In the ‘corporate’ office, our task is to develop the collective properties of an organization that the people out in the field need to compete effectively.

We, for example, work on discounts that make it easier to get good rents in the shopping malls. But we don’t sign exclusive deals that block the initiative of the people in the front line.

We conceptualize the meaning of the collective.  But ot in terms of return on our funder’s capital.  Interest on capital is incidental to our business. So are we, actually.

We conceptualize why the field units are better off working under one umbrella and we work out which aspects of the organization must be coordinated and which do not have to be.

That’s what we went to university to learn and that’s how we contribute significant, inimicable value that exceeds the cost of our salaries.

Just how lightweight can the organization be?

And then we execute those aspects of coordination in as light weight form as we can.

If capital is needed, so be it. But we don’t become prats and hand-over the business lock-stock-and-barrel.  We let the funders have their % return.  That is all.

Take the initiative to lead us into the networked world

And we step-up! This is the age of sweat equity. We are in the age of organizing ourselves around our talent and around our relationships with customers.

This is our task as HR managers of the 21st century

1.  Conceptualize the organizational structures that add value to the business.

2.  Organize the corporate office to add that value.

3.  Help talent make the transition from solo operator to team player and from talented employee to customer-oriented professional.

That’s what we do now. We are the entrepreneurs of the 21st century!

And if you are not in corporate HR?

Start learning.

You can activate positive psychology in the workplace without anyone’s permission.

Indeed, if they are inclined to say no, that is all the more reason why you must activate positive psychology, for the sake of your own mental health.

If you don’t understand that argument, contact me, and I will explain.

And activate social media for the functions you do control.

All works parties, sports teams and fund raising can be managed with social media.

Begin, so your skills are up-to-speed when you need them.

To recap: HR in the Networked World

1.  Positive psychology

2.  Social media


1.  We want to find the organizational structure that brings value to business.

2.  We want to organize the corporate office to execute the structure to add that value.

3.  We want to help each and every person in the organization go from being solo-performer with talent to a customer-oriented professional who is supported by a team and supports a team in turn.

I have my mission. I hope I have helped you find yours.

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Step 1b for defining your fans and customers

NEWPORT, ISLE OF WIGHT - JUNE 14:  Music fans ...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Laying out your social media campaign

Yesterday morning, I posted 10 Sun Tzu rules for the networked world.  These are 10 questions to guide our social media strategy – beginning with describing our fans and ending, with  issues which confuse the fans and which we need to address.

Startups have special issues

Start-ups struggle, or rather panic on the first question.  Who is my fan?  I know who speaks to me now, and I have a vague idea about who I want to speak to – and there is a biiiiiiiiig gap.

Pupils dilate.  Heart pounds.

How can we define the fans we have never met?

All is not lost.  We have a hack.

Last night, I posted a really simple way to imagine speaking to that customer that we haven’t met yet.

It’s a really good technqiue for describing fans and customers we hope to have but don’t have yet.

Get our scenario-writing going

Try it.  Get rid of that anxious feeling !

You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can  imagine the scenarios.

Once you are imagining meeting your customers, you can start defining your sales process

Once you can imagine your customers, the next important step is to figure out who is ready to buy.  And if they are ready to buy, do they have the money and when will they have the money?

Finding the best customers

For those of us not from a sales background, approaching customers is seriously intimidating and meeting with dead-ends is disheartening.

BNET came timeously to the rescue yesterday.  Here is their step-by-step “prospect qualification” system.

It breaks these larger 4 questions into baby steps.

  1. Do they need what you sell?
  2. Do they have the money to pay?
  3. Who does the buyer have to consult and who makes the final decision?
  4. When might they buy and what determines when they might buy?

It’s a very good idea to take one of the fans you described and step through these questions.

The questions seem to loop into each other towards the end so just revert to the pages 1-17 and click throught to the end!

Making progress?

Is this coming together for you?  It should be.  Do let me know!

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