My experiment with Moo cards

I am hoping that my current stock of Moo Cards will make god’s speed from London. Moo did well to dispatch them two days earlier than promised, but there is/was a postal strike in the UK.

Moo has done well to put together a simple product that they can manage easily.  Business Model A++.

The benefits .  .  . and not .  .  . of business cards

I find though, that the benefits don’t translate to me.  It takes a long time to prepare Moo Cards.   And seriously, in this day, who looks at cards the morning-after?

Most people roll out of bed thinking they will look sort out the cards in the evening when they get home.  But something else comes up.

My Moo cards are going to have to work for me. And most importantly, work for my customers.

Which images are the most appealing .  .  . and to whom?

My current batch will be extend an experiment I started last time.

I’ve discarded images that weren’t popular. I’ve played with colour and added some alternative images for cards that were popular.

I’ll carry on giving people a choice and see what I learn.

Here they are. Tell me which you prefer. And do me a favor, also tell me your gender (M/F) and occupation (startup, early stage entrepreneur, settled professional, career manager, small business owner, large business owner) and any other information pertinent to you!

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you one of the ways I hope to make my cards useful to my customers.

Grittiness is happiness . . and prosperity

smaller Lorenz_Ro28.
Image via Wikipedia

“It’s about survival, not ego”.

So said Techcrunch about Pandora’s founder.

Hmm. Losada used Lorenz equations to find 3 factors to distinguish successful business teams from unsuccessful teams.

  • Sincere requests for information slightly outnumber proposals for action
  • Positive comments outnumber negative statements by 5 to 1 (83% in other words)
  • Talk about the outside world slightly exceeds talk about the team.

So sometimes the team is complaining that the team is shite.   Inactive, negative and internal.  That’s fine.  As long as later in the day they are talking about what their customers like and the positive points they will push off from.

Unsuccessful teams get stuck in a place of gloom, or, in a place of self-congratulation.

Successful teams swoop gloriously around the whole emotional space like a happy butterfly tracing its own shadow and colouring in the outline in 3D technicolor.

Being in touch with reality in all its forms, good and bad, is what it is all about.

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Review my blogging course, please?

When I heard my letter box go clunk this morning, I thought my MOO cards had made rapid progress from London.

It was my copy of The Psychologist.  And with it, the advert  for my course –

Blogging for Psychologists

If you have a friend who is a psychologist and who wants to start blogging in an orderly way, please do pass on the link (and let me know for kudos and fair distribution of referral fees.)

Should you be an experienced blogger, would you, please, run your eye over the structure of the day and let me know what you think?

Thanks . . .

Bad management just got harder

How will social media change management?

I’ve spent much of the last two year’s pondering how management will change now we can use social media in business.  Social media, for the uninitiated means the two way read-write web.

If Boeing is going to click together aeroplanes like lego, what is the job of management?

At last, I have an answer that satisfies me. Management will not change very much at all.

What will change is that the rentier culture will get a rent – a tear that’s as vicious as wind ripping through an old sail.

Bad management just got harder

In short, bad management will increasingly get short shrift.

Let me illustrate with this example.

BNET today listed three of the America’s 3 stupidest management practices.

I’ve left their labels and added my summary in street language. You’ll recognize all of them.

Then below, I’ve added the positive behaviors that we psychologists look for in assessment centers.

Dangerous Complexity [signing off on codswallop because we think it came from an expert]

Dysfunctional Internal Competition [rewarding brown nosing rather than something useful]

Breaking-up Teams Constantly [making sure no one gets together otherwise they’ll spot we are emperors’ with no clothes]

We’ve known how to manage well for years

Even psychologists know how.  Here are three behaviors (good) psychologists look out for in an assessment centre.

1.  Did the manager summarize the situation, the group goal, and the goals for each person in the team on one side of paper, in words that every member of the team understood?

2.  No matter what the provocation (and we give some), did the manager bring the conversation back to the group goal, and the individual’s role, and explore how the task could be structured better, and more fairly?

3.  In the one page instruction, did the manager lay out a clear structure so that each member of the team is able to anticipate each others actions and, if formal ‘signals’ are not good enough, did the manager allow sufficient time and resources for them to rehearse until their actions become predictable and devoid of unpleasant surprises? (Pleasant surprises are allowed.)

Our job as managers

We do know how to manage, and we do know how to manage well.  We just get muddled up when we muddle management with “being the boss” and with profiteering.

I’ve satisfied my own mind that there is a role for Hannibal of the ‘A’ team – and that it is much the same as it has ever been:

  • Represent the team to itself
  • Coordinate when for whatever reason the team cannot coordinate directly
  • Reflect back to the team the possibilities that are emerging.

Managers in politics, church and business

It is hard to manage well.  Many of us try. Few succeed.

That is why elections are important. Imperfect as they are, elections allows us to test what our leaders think of us, to sense how the rest of the world will treat us when we push out our leaders as a symbol of our purpose, and to use the campaign to see how well we will coordinate when we act together.

Of course, in lieu of an election we could hire a psychologist. Some political parties do.  I was once asked to choose priests.  I declined. I could have done the job. I am atheist.  But I explained to the Bishop that I thought priests were chosen by God.  We must be the change we want to see in the world and organizations must be coherent.

What social media has changed in business is the value of capital.  Capital is no longer the only source of authority.  The day of one manager telling a bevy of unskilled people what to do is over.  For most of us, this is a knowledge-based world.  Authority comes from our ability to do our job.

Yet, company law has not kept up.  It will catch up, eventually.  There are some people working on it.  I understand Vermont intends to be the centre of talent-based companies, as London is (was?) of finance, and other places are of Anonymous Money.

Go get your things. We are leaving now.

We do know how to manage. We have known for a long time.   Even psychologists can watch you, rate you, and show you umpteen ways you could have done something differently.

We know how to do this.  Let’s get it done.

Positive psychology in Barack Obama’s words

US Senator Barack Obama campaigning in New Ham...
Image via Wikipedia

“As an African-American, I will never forget that I would not be here today without the steady pursuit of a more perfect union in my country. That guides my belief that, no matter how dark the day may seem, transformative change can be forged by those who choose the side of justice.

And I pledge that America will always stand with those who stand up for their dignity and their rights—for the student who seeks to learn; the voter who demands to be heard; the innocent who longs to be free; and the oppressed who yearns to be equal.”

Barack Obama addressing the United Nations Wednesday 23 September 2009

“for the student who seeks to learn; the voter who demands to be heard; the innocent who longs to be free; and the oppressed who yearns to be equal.”

The mission and values of psychologists

In these words, Barack Obama has summed up the mission and purpose of psychologists all over the world most eloquently.

These goals are not just our goals.  They are the mission and purpose of other people too. After all, Obama is a lawyer, a college professor and a politician.

But if in what we do, we do not pursue these goals, then we do nothing at all.

The heart of positive psychology and positive organizational scholarship

Barack Obama has said what positive psychologists and positive organizational scholars struggle to say simply.

It is the student who seeks to learn (not the teacher who intends to teach).

It is the voter who demands to be heard (not the politician who intends to tell).

It is the innocent who longs to be free (not the hypocritical who intends to justify).

It is the oppressed who yearns to be equal (not the the powerful who intends to explain).

It matters so much whose perspective we take.

It matters so much who is the subject of the sentence.

It matters so much whose intent we seek to buttress.

It matters so much that we choose the side of justice.

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BBC should be the ‘filter’ it knows it can be!

I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘institutional voice’ – and the relationship between ‘institutional voice’ and social media – since my interchanges with Paul Seamen about the distinction between bloggers and PR people

And that has helped me understand what, I think, the BBC gets wrong.  And quite possibly, what many organizations get wrong.

BBC is heard globally

The BBC seems to forget that it has an audience. Now, I am not talking about customer-service here. I am talking about a world-wide, global audience.  Britons pay for the BBC.  But the world listens to the BBC.  And what the BBC says, is in their ears, Britain.

BBC should represent Britain as a global-player

Slagging off the government in the hope of gaining a little audience share in the UK is, to use an old phrase, peeing in your own pond – contaminating your own water supply.

Going on and on about Gordon Brown not getting a one-on-one meetup with Obama when the US President is dealing with healthcare, redirecting efforts in Aghanistan, re-moulding American foreign policy in his first speech to the UN, negotiating the climate change agenda, referring the Israel-Palestine dispute . . . well do I have to spell it out?

Sniping to gain advantage at home is not the role of a major media house – and certainly not the role of an institution which is paid for by the tax payer. Leave the minor issues and sniping to the blogosphere!

You should framing the discussion at the right level. This week the big question is where the world is going and how Britain is taking its place in the shaping of history.

To leave that story for the diary management of Presidents and Primeministers represents us as petty.  It represents Britain as a country which does not deserve anyone’s time.

Leave blogging to bloggers! Your job is to filter NEWS!

If a blogger picks up a minor issue that turns out to be a symptom of something bigger, you will find out soon enough through the ‘trending‘ you have set up on top of your Google Alerts.

BBC is not there to peer through windows and rummage through waste baskets. 

BBC is there to filter the news and to give it perspective.

At least, that is why I thought you were given taxpayers money through the license fee.  Wasn’t that the Reith vision?

Create your job – don’t wait

Unusual ways to find a job

We have to take our hats off to the History Graduate who pounded Fleet Street with a sandwich-board offering himself on a free trial period of one month.

Employers with a sense of humor

We can also hat-tip the guy who hired him.

  • But wouldn’t it have been better if he had a portfolio of his work online before he graduated?
  • Wouldn’t if have been cool if he knew what he wanted to do?
  • Wouldn’t it have been cool if he had had targeted 10 specific people and gone to them with the same offer?

Ways for students to get good jobs after graduation

I suppose telling students to start early and to work on their career path little and often is about as silly as telling them to work consistently throughout the year.
Some do though.  @casperodj, @trudyYS, @dolphonia are well known in the community and they haven’t graduated yet.
None of the three has done anything eye-catching in a celebrity-way.  They’ve just showed up and joined.
I’ll put my money where my mouth is too.  If the History Graduate stumbles over this post, and wants a quick guide of online resources, the trick will be to comment below.  The comment will reach me same day and I will reply.
And for people already doing everything they can, some stunning creative resumes.
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3 questions to structure your filter of economic data

All over the internet yesterday, people were chattering about filters.

What sense do you make of the world? And the 100 million dollar question, what is your understanding worth to anyone else?

Scary thought?

Well, here is an easier one!

Which indicators do you use to judge the health of the economy?

Last night, Forbes suggested that men wear brighter ties when the economy is on the up.  And wear duller ties when it is going down.  And the dull ties came out before Lehman crashed!

What do geeks wear when the going is good?  What do Kiwis wear?   They seem to wear black forever.

How do you judge the state of the economy?

The Forbes indicators tell us about confidence in the economy. What else should we be looking at?

When I lived in Zimbabwe, a leading economist advocated that we look at the state of people’s lawns.  Lawns are expensive and tiresome to look after.  Someone who is ‘staying’ will look after their lawn.  Someone who is ‘leaving’ will let it go.  Drive down the street and you get a fair idea of what people intend to do.

So if guys’ ties tell us how chirpy we feel, and where the economy might be headed, what tells us what people are going to do?

Which behaviors do you look out for and which leading indicators suggest the behavior may increase (or decrease)?

And what deceives us? What is just another dazzling bubble?

I remember another economist being overly impressed by the growth of flash chain fast food outlets in Harare.   I was stunned because I saw fast food outlets as a sign of non-investment activity.  When we have money that we have ‘won’ rather than ‘made’, we tend to waste it.  It’s a sure sign we are in a bubble.

Another working economist reckoned that he could judge the viability of a working farm in a glance as he drove up.  If there were more vehicles than drivers, the farm was going under.   The motivation was a little different, but once again money was being spent on decoration rather than functionality.

British political scientist, Parkinson described this phenomenon in other terms.  When organizations build monuments to themselves, they are on the way down.

Others may call this ‘chi’ – or lack of it.  We can feel the focus and vigor seeping away.

Which warning signs do you notice?

Three questions for your economics filter, then.

  • In your world, what tells you when the economy is on the way up, and does the same indicator tell you when the economy is on the way down?
  • In your world, which behaviors are so important to the future health of the economy that it would be good to have advance warning? What might that leading indicator be?
  • In your world, which behaviors suggest our eye-is-off-the-ball?  Or, that we are playing with funny money – or stolen goods – or money not made in the productive economy?

What else should I be looking at to structure a useful, working filter of the economy?

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The secret of an un-junked life is your own filter

Do you remember the days when you needed a ‘big man’ to present you to the world?

I barely remember, yet it was not so long ago that we had to find a patron, if we wanted to be heard.

  • If we wrote a book, we needed a publisher.
  • If we were into politics, we joined a political party.
  • If we kept counted the beans in business, we found ourselves an employer.

Some of these ‘big men’ were indeed patrons of quality

When we wanted information and advice of quality, we went to the same ‘big men’.  People of quality gathered around them.  We could randomly pick anyone of them. They would probably be OK.

Clay Shirky explains why we needed ‘big men’

Taking newspapers as an example – printing on paper was expensive.  Journalists couldn’t invest in the prohibitively expensive printing presses and distribution networks.  And newspapers proprietors wanted to be sure their printed papers would sell.  So newspaper owners had a vested interest in promoting quality and they become the arbiters and promoters of journalistic quality.

The internet has broken the ‘big man’ model

The internet has made publishing cheap and easy.  Working together has got cheaper and easier.  In short, the internet allows us to present ourselves to the world without going through a ‘big man’.

Every man and his dog has a story up on the internet and we feel drowned in a deluge of material – unfiltered and of indifferent quality. Junk food, junk mail, junk bonds, more junk.

The flip-side of everyone being their own ‘big man’ is that refereeing quality, and promoting quality, has become our job – perhaps our only job.

The secret of an un-junked life is our own filter.  And as the art of speaking is the art of being heard, for the first time we are faced with the task of truly understanding how other people filter.  We cannot rely entirely on ‘big men’ to do it for us.  Too much is going around and past them.

How do we filter the deluge of junk?

#1 Work with the ‘big men’ who remain

Political scientist, Matthew Hindman, reminds us that the old patronage systems are still up and running.

In so far as these systems provide a quality filter, there is no harm in using them.  We still go to university.  We read good books.  We even watch good TV programs!

What we have to get our heads-around is that as little as five years ago, the ‘big men’ provided the only channels, and the only filters. We lived with their definition of quality – like it or not.

Today, we do have a choice.  And we find ourselves having to judge the quality of the ‘big men’.  Do the filters that we’ve used for so long have the quality they promise?   Sadly, the alternatives, even the alternatives produced by amateurs, are exposing many ‘clay feet’.

#2 Actively reconstruct our filters on a regular basis

The power, and responsibility, for judging quality has shifted to us.  Our next step, fortunately seems to come quite easily.  We figure out what matters in the world.

Much of what happens is not worth reacting to.  I loved President Obama talking about racist responses to his initiatives.  Looking utterly relaxed on the Letterman show, he began, as if to make a serious point, then with good timing, reminded us he was black before the election.   It is true, he reminded the audience, with mock insistence.  How long have you been black? said Letterman.  Our mental models have become important. It doesn’t do any more to borrow from the great and the good.  We must have mental models of our own.

Julius Solaris, intrepid London networker, also wrote today of pruning his huge networks, much like my neighbors pruning their roses. A healthy network is free of dead wood and dead heads.  And for that matter, free of ‘dittoheads’ as they have become to be known on Twitter.

But do other people actively filter? Will they hear us among the deluge of junk arriving on their screens?

I count 5 ways to understand how information reaches, and doesn’t reach people.

#1 Old forms of patronage count

We shouldn’t dismiss the power of old establishments.  They might not fully comprehend the loss of their old monopoly, but they will defend their territory, and they will use the weight of their considerable resources to defend their position.

Be wise and take the back road to the high ground.

#2 Recommendations of friends still matter

Though many people are incredibly trusting of the old filters, they still trust their friends more.

Old fashioned communication systems remain influential.

Get close to the people who matter to you and be in touch – literally.

#3 Understand Google

How do we find information on the internet?  We can put up a website but does anyone ever look at it other than us?  Understanding the algorithm used by Google is part our our new literacy.

#4 Join social networks

Our lives are now lived virtually as well as on the street.  Join up to major social networking sites and take part.  To be off the network today would have been like refusing to read newspapers in the 1960’s.  Odd to say the least.

#5 Become a respected filter

Build your own web presence as a filter that other people can rely on.  Let people see the world through your eyes.

If you are a fan of junk food, then yay, the world can discover junk food in your wake.  If you have an understanding of the deep structure that underlies good food, like Daniel Young, then show that to the world.

Working consistently on our web presence helps us understand our own filters.

Using the many statistics packages available (like Google Analytics) helps us track what other people respond to and deepens our awareness of their filters.

Sometimes this is deeply depressing – but hey, knowledge is power. If people come to this site to find out if they are good looking (told you it gets depressing), or at other extreme, how to do HR in the recession (deeply depressing), it tells me a lot about them. And it tells me a lot about how I manage my relationship with the world’s cybermediary, Google.

It is a brave new world. The deluge of junk can get overwhelming.

This is no time to be lazy.  Our job in this age is to define how the world works, to gather quality information around us, to digest it, and to put our understanding back out there for the next person to use.

Can you imagine doing anything less? If you can, I would like to know.

Because the quality of our filters seems both to preserve our sanity and be the basis of our earning power.

Eureka! Why bad treatment rattles me so much.

I think I get unreasonably distressed when big companies treat me badly. I take it badly. And I take it personally. Which has to be unreasonable. After all they don’t give a jot about me!

Double-bind

Being bullied by people in power is called a double-bind. It’s basic structure goes like this.

  • You treat me badly.
  • But I can’t walk away.

So I have to absorb three bad things about myself.

  • You treat me badly.
  • I can’t walk away.
  • I am in a position where I cannot resolve this dilemma or even talk about it someone else. You certainly won’t listen. You will just deny that you are treating me badly.

Side-stepping a double-bind

I understand all this stuff. I am a psychologist after all.

So why do I take bad treatment like a kick in the solar plexus and spit in my face?

I pondered this a few days ago and had this ‘eureka’ moment.

Because suffering humiliation suggests I am investing in the wrong things. Because the petty humiliations hint that I have been horribly mistaken about what is true and good in this world.

If I catch the fleeting hint and look at it squarely, I can ask myself why I continue to pursue this life.

If this life is what I want, then maybe I can find a way to remove the irritant, compensate for the irritant (or pay it back), or simply put it in the irritant box.

The key question is not what to do about the irritant.

The key question is in the fleeting hint : is this the life I want? What have I assumed about what is true and good?

Do I still believe I have chosen the right direction in life knowing what I know now?