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Month: December 2010

21st century challenges: Knowledge capital accounts

brocade-sonobe-level-2-menger-sponge-front-1 by Ardonik via FlickrKnowledge capital accounts

In a capital account, we know the money we spent on an item and we know how long ago we spent it.

For the nation’s knowledge, we need need to be able to map its contours in some way.

Knowledge capital <> literacy

Most of the time, we are fussing about literacy levels. Literacy levels are important

  • Individuals need to be able to read and write
  • And collectively, we need a bedrock of knowledge to build a pyramid of knowledge in the community

But our competitiveness depends on our collective performance at the top level. Are we abreast of new ideas?  Are we keeping up?

Learning from firm-level HRD policy

It’s a simple truism in HRD policy, even in the lowly firm, that we have to think ahead to the changes in knowledge that loom on the horizon. We may not know exactly what changes will bring but we can usually anticipate their form.  Will they be little incremental changes that we can absorb easily, or, will they be discontinuous changes that require major investments in thousands of people so that we have the shared knowledge to create the new frontier?

How are we doing in your field?

I know that in my field that we aren’t doing very well.  Not only has the average person in my field not heard of ideas that were common place 20 years ago in other parts of the world, not too many of the leaders have either.

What is even more worrying is the shallowness of many debates in institutions like BBC Radio 4 which is charged with keeping us abreast of new ideas.  They can’t know everything, of course.  But they don’t really seem to know the right people to find out.

Knowledge capital accounts

The happiness index might promote debate about happiness at least.  Maybe someone can devise some knowledge capital accounts to measure he quality of the chattering sector?

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Holistic ~ in business

Colours for Sale! by magical-world via FlickrHolistic

When I first encountered the term, holistic, or rather when I first realized that I needed to know what holistic meant, I was at sea. It’s proponents tend to be strident, insistent. They chide us with ‘Holistic . . . ‘ and the pained looks on their faces suggest that there is something they intuit but don’t feel able to explain.

Today I found a news report on a marketing alliance between sister firms Ogilvy and WPP who have are now offering an end-to-end consulting service to marketers branded JWP Action.

“The joint venture is to be a new model in shopper marketing, designed to help brands and retailers reach and influence consumers at every touch point along the path to purchase, linking brand strategies, shopper insights and retail opportunities.”

The press release misuses the word holistic and gives me an opportunity to dummy up a tutorial for people trying to get their head around the term.

Misapprehension 1. Holistic is comprehensive or multi-faceted

Holistic doesn’t mean comprehensive or multi-faceted. Holisitic is a philosophical perspective based on not separating object and subject. For example, red is not red. Red is our experience of red.

Holistic begins with “I am experiencing red.”

What would holistic mean in terms of helping marketers? It might mean representing consumers.

Indeed someone was quoted along these lines

Bidwell said: “This move was based on client need. With all the changes in the retail space and consumer buying habits, clients told us their brands now require a wider range of resources and a truly holistic approach to shopper marketing, brand activation and integration.

“The joint venture is not focused on a marketing discipline, but instead on what a client needs. Then we build a media agnostic program from that base.”

Misapprehension 2. Holistic gets better results

Ah,but  no. Holistic is not about getting results because getting results is about using this to get that. Separation. Holistic is not about separation. Holistic thinking suggests that consumers would like to enjoy products for what they are.

This is tough to understand when our belief system rests on ‘winning’ or ‘taking’ financial gain.

Quite possibly, though, people enjoy financial exchange as much as they enjoy consuming a good ice-cream?

From this perspective, we might declutter the consumer experience to allow us to savor more directly what we set out to savor. Elegance. Appreciation. That might be what consumers are looking for.

Misapprehension 3. Working backwards from the answer is holistic

How dull. So we know the answer already?

Holistic is all about possibilities. The unexpected discoveries of world with a mind of its own.

Holistic is about what emerges from time we spend together.

Holistic is about letting go and not insisting on perennial success. Maybe the occasional shriving would be a relief to you too?

Holistic in business

Valuing something important to us and helping it flourish

.  .   . gets crowded out by ‘wanting to win’ (that is, wanting the other guy to lose).

Holistic is about concentrating on what we value and helping if flourish.

Less is sometimes more

More and more clutter hides what is really enjoyable (and creates more work).

Cherishing the heart of an activity brings it alive.

Sharing leads to creativity

Deciding what must happen in advance feels focusing but is so limiting.

The magic comes from what was only possible when we join forces.

Holistic in advertising

Imagine an advertising agency that helps us

• Articulate and visualize what we really hold dear and to profile our hopes and dreams clearly over and above the distractions of threat?

• De-clutter and get to heart of what really brings us alive and makes us feel ‘ a welcome guest on this planet Earth’?

• Create shared experiences where we emerge with shining eyes invigorated, refreshed and astounded by what we created together.

Is a holistic approach to business possible?

I am imagining the difference between shopping at my supermarket that has everything I don’t want and very little that I do want with shopping at my deli.

• Where am I able to imagine a delightful meal?

• Where do I buy less but of higher quality and with more enjoyment?

• Where do I arrive with a simple idea and depart with a better idea?


This is what holistic means

• Whole (not divided into antagonistic parts)

• Valued for its essence (not its frills)

• In the space between us

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Talk of peace will avail you naught

Parveen Shakir

Be overflowing with peace and joy,

and scatter them wherever you are

and wherever you go.

Be a blazing fire of truth,

be a beauteous blossom of love

and be a soothing balm of peace.

With your spiritual light,

dispel the darkness of ignorance;

dissolve the clouds of discord and war

and spread goodwill, peace, and harmony among the people.

This is your mission, to serve the people .  .  .  .

Actions not words

Let us write of each other rather than about each other.  Let’s be social. Let our thinking be collaboration?

Links and copyright

I would like to add proper links here including links to book sales or the representatives of Parveen Shakir‘s estate.  Anyone?



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Excalibur 11365 by bensonkua via FlickrTraitorware

Software that

~ hides itself from you

~ while it gives your personal data away to a third party

An example of traitorware

Sony CD’s and your computer

What if your CD clandestinely installed a rootkit onto your PC that allowed other people administrative-level access to your computer?  In 2005, Sony BMG did exactly that.

Sony wanted to stop us from making multiple copies of their CD’s.  They put software on their  music CD’s that surreptitiously installed DRM technology onto  our PC’s.

That software also stopped us using those CD’s on some CD-ROM players and CD players in cars.  We knew that, because the CD would fail on other devices.

What we didn’t know is the software that they loaded onto our PC’s  allowed Sony, or any hacker familiar with the rootkit, to do anything they liked to our PC.

And it doesn’t stop there.

If a consumer dared to  find and remove the rootkit and its offending drivers, the software would disable the CD drive and trash the PC.

Why traitorware is so offensive

  • Most of us didn’t know the rootkit was there.
  • The rootkit could be used to harm us

Do suppliers still use traitorware?

Traitorware is always technically feasible.   Here are two more possibilities.

Digital camera

What if your digital camera embeds metadata into your photograph, that you don’t know about, including

  • your camera’s serial number
  • your location?


What if your printer incorporates  a secret code on every page it prints

  • to identify the printer
  • to identify the computer that requested the print?


An old-fashioned word but applicable today.

When you

  • deliberately give information to a third party, or make it possible to do so
  • without my permission
  • with intent or effect to harm me
  • while pretending to serve my interests or being in a fiduciary relationship with me


Eva Galperin and @zemanta

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A calm message for Christmas from Lao Tzu

Columbia River Gorge, Nov 2009 - 19 by Ed Yourdon via FlickrIn dwelling, live close to the ground.

In thinking, keep to the simple.

In conflict, be fair and generous.

In governing, don’t try to control.

In work, do what you enjoy.

In family life, be completely present.

From Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching


If you have never lived through a day like this before, remember what if feels like to see history turn

Sea Cliff Bridge Water by Jon... in 3D via FlickrEmperor’s Clothes

I am not sure that the content of Wikileaks is really much to write home about and I still see the reaction as being a classic case of Emperor’s Clothes.  It seems the Guardian has the same view.

Scientific Journalism

But I do take Assange’s point that Wikileaks has ushered in an era of scientific journalism.  Yes, it is good to have evidence for what we write about and what we believe in.

Who has put the frighteners on Amazon and Paypal?

I can’t see why Amazon, Paypal etc are running scared.  Who is putting pressure on them?  And why?

As for delayed warrants of arrest  . . .

As for the extradition, I am afraid I believe Assange’s lawyer.  The Swedish authorities have had more than three months to issue that warrant.  It is sub judice now but I am curious to know what questions are asked by British judges.

If you have never lived through a turning point in history . . .

This is one of these moments when history turns.  We are in a room that turns cold as everyone realizes that we are a fork in the road from which there is no return.  We go this way or that.  Let’s hope it is not that.

Remember the feeling . . .

As we get older, we accumulate experience and we recognize the signs.  And the deep dread of prolonged trouble ahead.

Remember the feeling. It is one of those visceral reactions to life that you should never forget.

Good luck to everyone.  We are going to need it.

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Go students! But in solidarity

UK Uncut Demonstration 041210 by ucloccupation via FlickrThe ethics of Gen Y

I am puzzling over the ethics of our youth.  That’s not unusual, of course.  By an accident of history, I am a typical Gen Xer.  I drink water and carry a laptop. I’m highly independent and anyone not quite ‘up to it’ receives a glance of disapproval that is the hallmark of my generation.

Gen Y’ers elsewhere

I’ve also lived in a country where the Gen Y’ers clashed  magnificently with the old guard who reminded them constantly of history. “We fought for your privileges”, said the old guard.  “Toughs”, said the youngsters, “give us more. And NOW!”

Little emperors, indeed.

Student action in UK November 2010

The student action along Oxford Street of the moment are interesting.  So many students are not there.  We look around our universities and wonder.  Not even self-interest can get them out.

But self-interest has got some out.  Are they really ethical though?  Are they pouting because they have been excluding from the loot and pillage of the economy?  Or do they really care about a well run society and are they prepared to run society well in exchange for a fair and decent wage?

Solidarity is the ethical test of politicians

The test is in solidarity.  Let’s see what alliances are formed and let’s see how easily they are bought off.  How many of the leaders would join Top Shop tomorrow if given a graduate management position?

The test is in solidarity and I am hoping (against hope) that they will take the lead in mapping the issues that face the UK today.

But beware: Politics is about results not motives

But then an old politicial science professor said to me once: In politics motivation doesn’t matter.  Only results matter.

Unless students have a clear ethical position and  a map of the alliances they want to forge, they will find their energy quickly coopted to other causes.

It happened to other generations who were smug and complacent. It can happen to them too because that is politics.

We are waiting to see.  Hoping but waiting.  I hope their political science professors have taught them well.

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Day-dreams win over one track goal-orientation

I'm back by Taho Scope via FlickrForget being goal oriented – it’s inherently evil

I’ve always been a day-dreamer.  It’s not that I don’t get things done.  But I’ve known since I was a teenager that getting things done is dangerous.  Psychologists like Peter Gollwitzer use more complicated impenetrable language.  Simply put, when we are going like a train, we are apt to run over other people and ultimately make a mess.

Better to chill and have a happy routine of work, look about, work, look about.  No need to be so stressed.

Living without dreams lacks soul

But to live without dreams, that is stressful. We become increasingly ill-tempered.

It’s a good thing that dreams don’t take no for an answer!

I don’t know what happens to other people but with me ultimately the dreams win.  I am fascinated by the size of my doodle books when I am overly busy.  I need my day dreams.   And I keep breaking off from work to doodle.

When too much dull work locks them out, my dreams simply break back in!  I am glad.  They are loyal friends.

They are also interesting friends.  When I entertain them, ideas  roll.  I love it.

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Fantastic new reads and listens found this week

Riverside Park stroll - June 2008 - 066 by Ed Yourdon via Flickr1  Play ethic

Not an easy read but this article sums up

Store it away as a baseline of what we know about business models in the networked age; give it to your students to study; use it make heuristics for your strategy sessions

2  Mute magazine: culture and politics after the net

Mute magazine: Deeply thought out well informed discussion of a wide range is issues from architecture to the ongoing student protests in London.

A lot of it is over my head.  To comment on any piece, I’d have to read a shelf of books too.  But that’s why it is in my “Worth Reading” feed.

3   French Radio London

I definitely don’t understand most of what is said on French Radio London but I like the music and I like the way they put the title of the track on the screen.  BBC never does that.

Station of choice for the moment

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Your best work environment? I do need to be happy and playful

When the Desert flowers by Martin_Heigan via Flickr
When the Desert flowers

Who we insist we are and will be!

I had to write a proposal over the weekend and I was astonished by the words that seem to come unbidden from my fingers.  Playful language, evocative language, jocular language.  Where on earth did it all come from?

A moment’s thought and it wasn’t difficult to deduce.  I’ve been doing some more conventional work in more conventional organizations. Everyone is so angry, so abrasive, so concerned that they are losing out.

Any good wishes seem calculated.  The smallest problem is a disaster.  Little is an opportunity to create a better and more joyful world together.

My proposal was little more than a response to 4 months in an emotional desert.  The flowers came out at the first opportunity.

Playfulness and joyfulness begets playfulness and joyfulness – I hope

Then I got two emails from people I don’t know – at all.  I had contacted them about their work.  In both cases, it gradually had come through that they were having to make a stand at work to be heard.  They are doing a good job. Smooth.  Polished.  And very, very professional.   But there was an emotional cost – an unnecessary emotional cost.

With no expectation of any sort of reply, I replied to each raising real questions about their work. I also pointed them to connections and opportunities that might benefit them.  They then replied to me with more connections.  They weren’t that interested in my ideas but they liked it that I had created a loop in their lives or reminded them of one that had fallen off the radar.

What is your essential environment?

I’d never thought of myself as needing to be in a playful environment.  I am not playful person.  I don’t come from a playful culture.   And that’s the under statement of the year.  I can at least make people laugh by taking off the favorite phrase of ‘my people’ – we will make a plan.

But I think I need a playful, joyful environment otherwise I try to be the playful, joyful one.  And I’ve not had much practice.

But I sent off the proposal anyway.  It began “I’d be delighted to spend my time in the company of lively burbling . .”

Do you think they will reply – not made here?

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