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    Entries in workplace (75)

    Thursday
    Jul192012

    Watching LinkedIn Connections on a Sunday Night

    Do you have any remaining doubt that the always on, 24/7, connected at all time via iPhone or iPad life has almost completely taken over your professional network?

    Well if you do, then I recommend taking a look at your LinkedIn feed this Sunday night. I am drafting up this post at just after 10PM ET on Sunday, July 15th, and just a few moments ago I took a scan of my LinkedIn network update feed.

    Quick observation - my LinkedIn feed is littered with 'Person A is now connected to Person B' updates. More than one or two, probably about two dozen or so connections being made after 10PM on a Sunday night in the middle of the summer.

    Sunday night, which used to be the time you were crashed out from a big weekend of fun and family, maybe catching something on TV before turning in, maybe, for the younger crowd, trying to wring the last bit of fun out of the weekend before the work week hits in full force on Monday. But now, at least in part due to smart phone apps and iPads, Sunday nights are now a time where we can simultaneously be with the family sitting on the sofa watching whatever it is that is popular on TV, (I have on an NBA Summer League game on, so forgive me for not knowing what normal people are digging right now), and making sure the care and feeding of our networks doesn't need to stop for whatever passes for our real lives.

    There's nothing really novel in this observation I admit, the always-on social network is old news at this point. 

    But what is changing, at least a little, at least by implication from what you'll see on your LinkedIn feed late on a Sunday night, is the subtle expectation that if you really want to get ahead, or at least stay even with the pack, (the pack that even if they are your 'friends' on Facebook all will be quite happy to see you fail), is that you too better be grinding away on Sunday night yourself. 

    Your mortal enemies are out there at 10:31PM, making connections with people you're dying to meet.

    They're out there sending little private messages thanking each other for the connection and arranging phone calls, or worse, meetings over coffee or a beer.

    They're beating you at 10:35 on Sunday night, and what's worse is all you really want to do is turn on Bravo, have an ice cream and shut down your mind for a while.

    The game hasn't really changed. It just never seems to take a break, and the score keeps flashing in front of you as the LinkedIn connection updates scroll by.

    Monday
    Jul092012

    What if no one wants to drive to your office?

    Back in January I posted a piece titled, 'Will Facebook Kill the Car?', a look and some commentary on research that indicated American teens and twenty-somethings are driving much, much less than previous generations. Shame on you if you don't remember my take from January, but in case you've allowed your own life, work, families, and worldly concerns to interrupt your thinking about what I think, here is a snippet from that piece, (trust me, I have something new to say about this after re-set) -I should have stayed home

    It turns out American teenagers are driving less than their predecessors, and the article offers some interesting speculation on why that may be the case.  From the BBC piece 'Why are US teenagers driving less?' 

    Recent research suggests many young Americans prefer to spend their money and time chatting to their friends online, as opposed to the more traditional pastime of cruising around in cars.

    Here's more from the BBC:

    In a survey to be published later this year by Gartner, 46% of 18 to 24-year-olds said they would choose internet access over owning their own car. The figure is 15% among the baby boom generation, the people that grew up in the 1950s and 60s - seen as the golden age of American motoring.

    The internet, and by implication the social connections and activities the internet empowers, (mostly via Facebook), is the gateway to freedom, mobility, coolness - all the things that the car used to represent to the teenager or young adult.

    Great stuff, no?

    But seriously what jogged my memory about that old post was a commentary I caught over the weekend on Forbes.com, penned by legendary Detroit auto executive Bob Lutz. Titled, 'Generation Y Going Nowhere, And They're Fine With That', the piece isn't about Gen Y's career prospects, or lack thereof. Rather, especially seen through the lens of a grizzled and self-proclaimed 'car guy', it's an examination of the fading importance, excitement, and even utility of the car, and more essentially, the diminishing need of Gen Y, (and truly, not just Gen Y), to actually go somewhere, as opposed to experiencing it all virtually and via social networks.

    Lutz talks about the social networking serving as a viable and even improved replacement for things like basic social interaction, commerce, entertainment, dating, and just hanging out with a group of friends on a Friday night. From the Forbes piece:

    Armed with the capabilities of their ever-more sophisticated iThings, replete with social networking enabling close, immediate exchange of thoughts and experiences with countless “friends,” who needs to actually get in a car and go to a drive-in?

    Financial transactions, purchases, games, movies…all rendering travel to banks, stores, sports events or theaters redundant. Generation Y stands at the forefront of the next chapter in mankind’s evolution: experiencing everything while going nowhere.

    We mostly think about new technology and the rise of the social web as contributing towards making our experience of the real world better, more complete, and somehow richer. It's fun to live Tweet at an event, and to share on Instagram and Facebook that killer Key Lime Pie you just made. And when we can't actually be somewhere, we can at least partially experience the real world through the what is being shared online by those who are.

    But Lutz takes the argument to its next stage of progession and certainly while coming off a bit old-fashioned and 'get off my lawn-y', he at least raises an interesting question for anyone tasked with mobilizing the next generation to actually go somewhere and be physically present somewhere.

    What if they simply would rather stay on the couch, connected to everything and everyone they need, with their iPhones, iPads, Google Glasses, and the dozens of better gadgets that are sure to come?

    What if you opened an office or workplace and nobody came?

    Sound crazy to you? Maybe it is.

    Well even the NFL, the most popular sport in America, is having trouble getting people to actually come to the games. And I bet your office isn't nearly as fun as the Dawg Pound.

    Happy Monday! 

    Friday
    Jul062012

    Off Topic - For the Corporate Jungle - The Ballistic Briefcase

    Wrapping up a weird, short, but felt like is was long week here in the USA with a mid-week holiday with this item, that folks in Human Resources, who always have tales of employees gone wild in their files, might appreciate.More than meets the eye

    Ladies and Gentlemen I give you - The Ballistic Briefcase.

    Made by the fine folks over at Leison Tactical Supply, the Ballistic Briefcase can meet or exceed all your needs for laptop transport, document management, and high projectile protection. Check the feature list and tell me if you don't agree:

    • Superior Cowhide leather with functions of waterproofness, high abrasion resistance, and high tensile strength.
    • Suitable for government officers and businessmen.
    • Used to carry documents.
    • Flip opening system with quick release.
    • Used as ballistic shield.
    • Case includes NIJ level IIIA panels that protect against all handguns up to 0.44 magnums.
    • Provides full body protection.
    • Opens to 180 degrees, protection area is increased by double

    Sounds awesome, right? Flip open the briefcase to its full length and make a quick getaway from all manner of mayhem coming your way.

    You might be asking, 'Who needs a bulletproof briefcase anyway? From a BusinessWeek interview about the product we learn it might have more applicability than you think. According to a ballistic briefcase expert:

    This bag would be used by businessmen and women working in austere environments—think parts of Mexico, Afghanistan, etc., where there is a chance they could come under attack or get caught in the crossfire. I would think people working for the government, doing clandestine operations, could have a use for this briefcase.

    Austere environments? Getting caught up in the crossfire?

    Heck, you don't need to go to Mexico or Afghanistan to run into that kind of chaos.

    Have a great weekend! 

    Thursday
    Jul052012

    It's hard to build teams when we secretly hate each other

    Quick observation for what seems like another 'No one is working so no one will read this post' kind of day. 

    First, two pieces related to teamwork and group dynamics that caught my attention, then some thoughts from me follow:

    One - Yup, Your Girlfriends are Purposely Posting Those Ugly Pictures of You on Facebook - the title sort of explains it all, essentially, we like making each other look bad on Facebook

    Two - Microsoft's Downfall: Inside the Executive Emails and Cannibalistic Culture that Felled a Tech Giant, the big point here, 'Stack Ranking', a performance management process that forces managers to rate employees into high, average, and low performance buckets, with set percentages of each, effectively crippled Microsoft's ability to innovate, as staff became obsessed with the rankings themselves, and competing with each other, instead of the company's real external competitors.

    ----------------------------------------

    Over and over again we read, think, and explore ways to make our organizational teams work with each other more effectively, efficiently, and simply better. It seems to be a common assumption that working well in teams, and the ability for organizations to harness and mobilize teams of disparate and often dispersed and virtual team members to meet the needs of a fast-changing business environment is one of the keys to long-term, sustained organizational success.

    I suppose I believe that is true. Certainly in larger organizations, in order for individuals to progress their ideas, to make important contributions, and to impact on a major scale the organization's efforts and direction will usually entail and require that individual to operate in a team concept. In large organizations, and even in smaller ones usually, significant projects don't advance much past the 'idea' stage without a pretty high level of team-based work.

    But the trouble with all this team-based work, and at least one of the reasons, (at least I am submitting this as a possible reason), why it can be so hard to keep the momentum from one person's great idea alive as the singular idea transitions to a collective or team goal?

    It's because we all secretly hate each other. Well, perhaps that is too strong. If not hate, then for many of us there exists a quiet, below the surface, but undeniable realization that business and life are often seen as a zero-sum game, or said differently, when you look good, I on the other hand, look a little bit worse. We know that credit, accolades, rewards, esteem - all the good stuff that comes from achievement, are usually not spread around equally. Even if we are on the same team, working towards the same goals, that for many of us we are certain that the honors will be parsed out individually.

    It's not an easy game for leaders, getting to the right balance of team players, who are happy to see the team succeed and hope the rising tide will lift them up as well,  and superstars, who think the team only wins because of them.

    It's easy in sports where we see this all the time, each team a mix of superstars and role players. It tends to work there because everyone knows who the stars are, or at least who are supposed to perform like stars.

    At your workplace I imagine it is a little bit harder. Maybe everyone there is a star. Or everyone wants to be a star and naturally sees the guy in the next chair as competition. And programs like stack ranking just ensure the organization is seen as sanctioning the internal competition.

    Good luck sorting that out.

    Tuesday
    May152012

    Regrets of the retiring

    There is a pretty internet-famous post titled, 'Regrets of the Dying', written by Bronnie Ware a long-time nurse who worked with serously ill and terminal patients. Her 'regrets' post was really a summary and distillation of what she had heard over the years from patients, most very ill and dying, when they talked about what they might have regretted in their lives.The article, and the five most common regrets are not that really surprising or hard to guess, ('I wish I didn't work so hard', interestingly made the list), and is worth a read.

    I'm not sure what led me to stumble upon the 'regrets' piece, but after reading it I had to wonder if there actually were some parallels to people's lifetime regrets and their workplace or professional regrets, besides the stated regret of wishing they had not worked so hard. After all, for many, work is such a massive part of life, and often, ones happiness or at least contentment can be profoundly influenced by their feelings (and regrets) about their life's work.

    In case you didn't click over to Bronnie's piece, here are the top five 'Regrets of the Dying':

    1. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the one that was expected of me

    2. I wish I didn't work so hard

    3. I wished I had the courage to express my feelings

    4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

    5. I wish I had let myself be happier

    In a way, most of if not all of these regrets can have direct equivalents to the choices we make, or feel we have to make, in our professional lives. How many of us took a college major in a 'safe' subject like business or economics, rather than what we might have been more interested or passionate about? It might have been the 'right' decision but it could have and often does send people down a path they never wanted to head. Or how often have we worked ourselves silly because we thought we had to, and perhaps missed out on fleeting moments in our families or children's lives? And if you are like me, no doubt you've lost touch with lots of your earliest workplace colleagues and mentors that sometimes you wish you could re-connect with today. And lastly, even though in these really tough economic times, being 'happy' at work can be considered a luxury and not a necessity, for how many of us is there nagging feeling that our best years that should be filled with our best work are slipping away just a little bit more every day.

    I don't mean this post to be such a downer, (after a quick scan it seems pretty darn depressing I think), but I would rather just draw your attention to the list from Bronnie Ware if for no other reason to make anyone who takes a few minutes to read the piece, and think about the list of regrets, to consider if there is something missing in their work lives, and if truly, something should be done to make some, even small, changes.

    I just think while it can be very hard, incredibly hard, it is probably even worse to call it a career someday and wish you had really been true to yourself, even just a little bit more.

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