Quantcast
Subscribe!

 

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

 

E-mail Steve
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    Listen to internet radio with Steve Boese on Blog Talk Radio

    free counters

    Twitter Feed

    Entries in work (183)

    Tuesday
    Jun202017

    Life at 2.0x Speed

    I was talking to some folks I met recently at an event about the HR Happy Hour Show, and the cool things that are happening there with the other HR Happy Hour Network Shows, (I admit to talking about this a lot. I'm sorry). During the conversation, one of the persons at the table indicated that she would love to listen to more podcasts, but she (like many of us, I suppose), felt like she just didn't have enough time in her day/week to fit them in. With work, family, friends, community involvement, etc, spending a couple of hours a week listening to all the great podcasts that people tell her about just seems not doable for her right now.

    At that point another person who was sort of half-participating in the conversation chimed in that he had the same challenge finding time for podcasts too, but he's 'solved' it by now listening to his favorite podcasts at 1.5x or sometimes even 2.0x speed. For those who don't listen to podcasts regularly, or who just may not be familiar with the speed adjustment feature of podcast apps, all of them allow you to increase the speed of the podcast stream to 1.5x or even 2.0x the normal speaking rate. So at 1.5x speed, a 30 minute podcast could be listened to in 20 minutes. At 2.0x you could cover it in 15. It just speeds up everything you hear. It is kind of like the old speed reading craze, except with audio.

    But, and this could be just a personal issue for me, listening at 1.5x or 2.0x speed is really unsettling. The podcast hosts and guests all seem really amped up on six cups of coffee, everything about the conversation feels nervous, and listening to people talk that fast for that long, never taking what would seem to be natural pauses or breaths is just really off-putting. But technically you can listen that fast if you, as our friend above, are so pressed for time that turning 30 minutes into 20 is important in your day/life. But I still think you shouldn't do it. It's too weird.

    Why do I care about this enough to blog about it?

    I probably shouldn't care, but I have thought about that conversation and mister 'I listen at 2.0x' guy a few times since it happened a couple of weeks ago. And I kind of felt bad, (and a little guilty too).

    Bad for a guy who is just a representative of our hyper-focused, productivity over all, 24/7, 'more-more-more', professional climate that seems to value doing as much productive work as possible at all times. And in this instance, turning the concept of time itself into something that can be bent to the gods of productivity.

    And guilty for the fact that I don't speed up the listen rate when I play back podcasts, I do, often, find myself trying to make people get to the point faster, cut to the chase in emails, and text me instead of calling me - lest an interaction that can be reduced to 16 seconds actually take 3 minutes.

    I don't speed up my podcasts, but too often I (try) and speed up lots of other things. And that is probably as unsettling as listening to sportswriters talk about the NBA draft at double speed.

    NOTE: I spent 28 minutes writing this post. With any luck, next time I can get it down to 21.

    Friday
    Jun162017

    n = 1

    1. Three trips to China in the last three years and I am pretty sure it is the most fascinating place I've ever been and may ever get to. HR Tech China was amazing. Shanghai is probably the best city I've visited. I didn't get to see this when we were there, but check out this self-driving convenience store (yes, you read that correctly), coming soon to Shanghai.

    2. One of the harder things for independent consultants, contract workers, or other 'gig' economy types to manage is time out of the (home or otherwise) office. Unlike our corporate colleagues, there is often no one to delegate responsibility for work or even just responses to inquiries to when a gig workers is on vacation or traveling. Consequently, stuff piles up even more than usual. Once I dig out and some of the dust settles, I am going to figure out once and for all an email management system that can work for me. Until then, you can re-send if you are waiting for something from me.

    3. Due to above-mentioned travel, I missed 85% of the recently concluded NBA Finals series between the Warriors and Cavs. What a letdown. I probably watch (at least parts of), 400 NBA games each season. To miss the conclusion was kind of a drag. Thanks to the Delta Sky Club in MSP for having the game on this past Monday night while I was waiting out a 3.5 hour flight delay. 

    4. But now that NBA season is over, I am officially going to join the ranks of 'cord cutters'. Spectrum, look out for a call from me this weekend. In a related note, in the US, Netflix now has more subscribers than 'normal' Cable TV providers have.

    5. If you haven't yet, have a look at the latest shows on the HR Happy Hour Podcast Network. We've been producing some great content lately on HR Tech, Employee Wellbeing, Employee Engagement and more. 

    6. I am a huge fan (as a consumer/user) of Uber. But with each passing week we hear more and more of what a disaster of a company culture that has been allowed to develop over there. But yet, I still am compelled to call an Uber when I need a ride to the airport in Phoenix. I am not sure how to feel about all that. Have you dropped Uber the more you have learned about their culture?

    7. Speaking of Uber, in one of their 'healing' meetings recently, their new HR head asked employees to stand up and hug each other. This is a terrible idea on every level. Mark me down on the side of 'no hugging at work ever' policy. In fact, I am not that big a fan of hugging in real life outside of work as well. I think Jerry has it right in this clip (email and RSS subscribers click through)

     

     

    8. This is a really interesting longer read on corporate branding and logos from Fortune. I didn't know that the Bass Ale 'red triangle' logo is generally considered the first corporate logo, dating back to 1870. 

    9. Which companies generate the most revenue per employee? If your guesses start with Apple or Amazon, keep guessing. Some fascinating data from Visual Capitalist. If you could pick just one metric for the condition of your business, revenue per employee would probably be the smartest choice.

    10. I gave myself exactly 23 minutes to write this post, and I am at minute 22. So it ends here. Have a great weekend all!

    Thursday
    May112017

    Probably not going to get a "Best Boss" mug from the staff any time soon

    Sometimes it can be really tough to be the boss.  Lots of calls, lots of emails, lots of meetings, and probably lots of people in the organization that want a little piece of your time.  They might need some direction, want to get your opinion on something, might need some clarification before taking an action, and sometimes the team just might want a little face time, you know, a little interaction with the boss. Sometimes people feel a little better after getting some 1-1 time with the big kahuna.

    So all that can get tiring for the boss. At least at times it can. The boss, too, has things to do.  The boss probably has his/her own agenda and priorities on any given day. The boss, sometimes, probably comes into work not in the best mood and maybe does not want to deal with any of this 'other' stuff that was not perfectly slated into their calendar for the day.

    So I can kind of get it when once in a while the boss does not really have time for small talk in the elevator or in the hall. Or when, even in a small company, you need about 3.5 weeks advance notice to maybe get 30 minutes on the boss' calendar to day your piece. I get it. I do.

    But time management is only one of the dozens of things a successful leader needs to be good at in order to succeed, and while I don't know for sure how to manage time effectively, (I am writing this at 11:30PM so I can attest), I do know that the wrong way for the boss to set expectations for the staff as to his/her availability and accessibility is to do what TV personality Steve Harvey dropped on his organization, (and as described in Mashable).

    Take a look at an image of Harvey's set of instructions to his staff that was reportedly sent at the start of the show's most recent season:

    Awesome stuff, right?

    Don't talk to me under any circumstances unless we have a meeting on the calendar in advance. Don't speak to me in the hall, don't linger outside the elevator, don't 'ambush' me in the makeup room - basically DO NOT APPROACH ME AT ALL.

    Love it.

    But at least Harvey dropped a 'please don't take offense' at the end of the 14 ways to not talk to Steve Harvey bomb.

    That will make it all better. 

    I actually kind of like some of Harvey's rules. I may try to enact a couple in my life too. And if I do, just please don't take offense.

    Tuesday
    May092017

    Never gets tired, never stops learning

    Sharing another dispatch from the 'robots are coming to take all our jobs away' world with this recent piece from Digiday, "Who needs media planners when a tireless robot named Albert can do the job?".

    The back story of this particular implementation of AI to replace, (or as we will learn, perhaps just augment or supplement human labor), comes from advertising, where the relatively new concept of programmatic digital advertising has emerged in the last few years. Part of the process of getting things like banner ads, Facebook ads, display ads, and even branded video ads in front of consumers involves marketers choosing the type of ads to show, the content of those ads, the days/times to show the ads, and finally the platforms upon which to push the ads to.

    If it all sounds pretty complex to you, then you're right.

    Enter "Albert." As per the Digiday piece once the advertiser, (in this case Dole Foods), set some blanket objectives and goals, then Albert determined what media to invest in at what times and in what formats. And it also decided where to spend the brand’s budget. On a real-time basis, it was able to figure out the right combinations for creative and headlines.  For example, once Albert determined that Dole’s user engagement rate on Facebook was 40 percent higher for mobile than desktop, Albert shifted more budget to mobile.

    The results have been impressive; According to Dole, the brand had an 87 percent in increase in sales versus the prior year.

    Why bring this up here, on a quasi-HR blog?

    Because it highlights really clearly, a real-life example of the conditions of work that are most ripe for automation, (or at least augmentation). Namely, a data-intensive, detailed, and heavy data volume environment that has to be analyzed, a fast-moving and rapidly paced set of changing conditions that need to be reacted to in real-time, (and 24/7), and finally, the need to be constantly assessing outcomes and making comparisons of choices in order to adjust strategies and execution plans to optimize for the desired outcomes.

    People are good at those things. But AI like Albert might be (probably are) better at those things.

    But in the piece we also see the needed and hard-to-automate contributions of the marketing people at Dole as well.

    They have to give Albert the direction and set the desired business goals - sales, clicks, 'likes', etc.

    They have to develop the various creative content and options from which Albert will eventually choose to run. 

    And finally, they have to know if Albert's recommendations actually do make sense and 'fit' with the overall brand message and strategy.

    Let's recap: People - set goals, strategic objectives, develop creative content, and "understand" the company, brand, context, and environment. AI: executes at scale, assesses results in real-time, optimizes actions in order to meet stated goals, and provides openness into the actions it is taking.

    It sounds like a really reasonable, and pretty effective implementation of AI in a real business context.

    And an optimistic one too, as the 'jobs' that Albert leaves for the people to do seem like the ones that people will want to do.

    Monday
    May012017

    The five kinds of office environments and what they really say about your company

    Caught the news this morning that Apple begun moving employees into its new, futuristic, spaceship-looking, and $5 Billion costing campus in Callifornia last week.

    The space (or space ship) seems to be by all accounts incredible, (and I suppose for $5B it had better be), and reading the article over and looking at some of the pics of the new Apple campus got me to thinking about the various office spaces that I have worked in or at least have visited in my career. 

    And honestly, while each office space is unique, and different in its own way, I think that they all can be broken down and places in one of just a few categories. Let's say five.

    Here are the five kinds of office environments as I see it,an example of a typical company with that kinds of office set up, what the company thinks their offices say about them, and what each type of office really says about you, the company, their aspirations, and maybe even their future.

    Here goes....

    1. We don't have ANY offices  100% virtual baby. I'm having a staff meeting from the beach in Majorca.

    Example: Automattic, Buffer, GitHub

    What the company thinks it says: We are progressive, we only want the best talent, we trust people to do their best work in the environment that suits them the best

    What it really says: There's a chance we may not qualify for a 12 month lease of decent space. And your Mom or Aunt Sally has almost certainly never heard of us. But if we disappear, it won't make too much of an impact, since we were never really 'here' anyway.

    2. Class 'A' space in the office park out near the airport

    Example: Tons of them - think logistics, insurance, regional telecom companies, pretty much anyone the developer can find

    What the company thinks it says: We care about our employees enough to have them work in a clean, bright, and completely non-confrontational place. If the space is comfortable and has ample parking, then it is all good.

    What it really says: We have just about zero personality or culture. Check that - we can add a 'culture' board to the break room wall, near the microwave. That will work. Class 'A' office space is like a Honda CRV. Sure, it will get you where you need to go, but you will remember exactly nothing of the journey. 

    3. Big city, downtown, high rise (especially when relocating from Class 'A' space out in the middle of nowhere)

    Example: Boeing, General Electric, McDonald's

    What the company thinks it says: We want to attract more millennials who want to live and work in large cities with lots to do and see - arts, restaurants, sports, night life, etc. We also like to see the company name on a big tower. We also want to attract a more diverse, technically savvy workforce while we are at it.

    What it really says: We can't recruit anyone younger than 40 to come to work in McMansionville 24 miles outside of the city. We also like to see the company name on the side of a giant building.

    4. Common plan! Exposed brick! Ping Pong! Kegerator! (Did I mention the exposed brick?)

    Example: Every Series A funded tech startup in San Francisco or New York

    What the company thinks it says: We are cool! We are fun! We like to work hard and play hard! We don't care about hierarchy here, the CEO sits at the same communal table we all do! And we like exposed brick!

    What it really says: Common plan spaces are way cheaper than building out personal offices, rent at the converted warehouse was almost nothing, (a lot less than in the McDonald's tower), after about 4 days everyone will invest in new noise cancelling/don't talk to me I am trying to work headphones, and my gosh are Josh and Tim ever not playing ping pong! I don't have a snarky remark about the kegerator. That would be pretty cool to have.

    5. Money is no object. I mean, NO object.

    Example: Apple's new campus

    What the company thinks it says: We have more money, power, influence, and gravitas than anyone. We can do whatever we want. We don't care what you think.

    What it really says: We have more money, power, influence, and gravitas than anyone. We can do whatever we want. We don't care what you think.

    $5B large on a new office? Must be nice.

    That kind of scratch would buy a lot of ping pong tables.

    And keep everyone's kegerator filled for a long, long time.

    Have a great week!