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Showing posts from 2017

Always follow your passion! Really?

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I just finished uploading 100 documents to a platform and assigning them to someone for review. A very operational task. It had to be done. It's definitely not something I enjoyed doing.

While I was doing this task, I was reminded of some self-help and productivity books I've read in the past. Many of them stress the important of 'doing what you are good at', 'following your passions', 'doing what you find important', etc. You should stop doing all things that don't fit into these categories.

Of course this advice is important and useful. There are many people out there that have never really thought about these things and do their work because they happen to do that work. This can easily lead to stressful situations or even a burn-out.

On the other hand, is this advice realistic? If I would follow this advice I wouldn't have done the upload work today. I would have just left it there for someone else to do. As if there is someone out there tha…

Fundamental and practical advice to help you select the right technology

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In the business book category there are two types of books. On the one hand you have books that serve a relatively easy solution to a problem everybody knows is way more complex than the book tells us. Usually the author doesn’t have actual experience with the topic he/she is writing about. The book is largely based on interviews and other books. The author pulls these together and provides the reader with an overarching model or list of learnings the reader can apply.

I’m not saying this approach is wrong. I regularly read these kind of books and enjoy doing so. But when I’m done I’m usually left with the feeling that the inspiring story is far away from the real complexity I have to deal with.

On the other hand there are books which are clearly written by authors who have been or still are there. They clearly know what they are writing about, don’t provide easy answers or simple 1-2-3 steps to success approaches. These books try to help in your real situation and provide loads of p…

Thinking about working together

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Working together is great - most of the time. I really enjoy working with other people on tasks, instead of alone. Usually it's more fun, we get to results faster, the results are better, etc.

But how often do we give 'working together' some thought? What I see is lots of time is spent on who should we work with and for ("who are our stakeholders?"), when the work should be done and what the objective of the tasks is. But how often do we think about the 'how' of working and what this means for the 'what' and 'when'? Deliberately thinking about how we are working to get better results. I think we should do this more and recently a great report was published to help us all do this more.

Martin White recently wrote an interesting research paper about 'working together'. First I thought it was 'only' about meetings, live and virtual. And if the report was just about meetings, it would have been valuable enough. My experience is…

A story about connections, search and blogging

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So I recently met a new colleague who had worked at Merck & Co. and shared his experience with using a expert finding and knowledge sharing platform. He reached out to me to find out if we have a comparable platform, so he could use that to meet his needs.

I was curious which platform he had experienced. But he wasn't sure. So I googled a bit during our call - of course I told him I was googling, I don't want to be rude and divide my attention between him and the web... - and there is was. A clear blogpost from 2009 about Merck's experiences with an internal knowledge sharing platform. It also described the underlying technology.

What's so special about this? Several things:

The power of (Google) search. It still continues to amaze me how easily you can type in a few words in a search engine and find what you're looking for. In this case what I was looking for popped up in the first three results.The power of blogging. I found what I was looking for in a blogpo…

Asking more questions

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Why don't we ask more questions? Or maybe you do, but I should ask more questions.
Recently I encountered a problem I couldn't solved. So I reached out to colleagues to understand if they had answers. They didn't.

Then I thought: should I post my question on Yammer or Twitter? Yammer could work but I had basically already asked the relevant experts within the company so I thought that would be a waste of time. Then Twitter maybe? To be honest, I find the engagement on Twitter pretty low. When I started using Twitter asking a question could get you lots of answers. Now Twitter is more of an update platform and less of a question platform. At least that's how I see myself and others using it.

Well, then I thought I'd post my question on Quora. Good 'old' Quora. I've always loved Quora. A very focused and smart platform with lots of people just waiting to answer your question. And Quora suggests potentially relevant people from your network and outside of…

Twitter Lists: the key to using Twitter?

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Recently Twitter updated its web and app interface again. Nice and round this time. One thing I was disappointed about is the fact that Twitter did nothing to make Lists more visible and accessible. If you don't know what a List is, you can find more info about them here. I blogged about how I use them several times as well.
Twitter Lists is simply a way to organize all the people you follow into... lists, of course. The way you use a List is up to you. You can put people on a list based on a topic they relate to, their importance, whether you've met them in person, etc. By having Lists you can focus on the people you want to follow, instead of just going through all the updates of all the people you follow. Lists help you follow more people than you can process and focus on the people who you really want to listen to and interact with.

When I tell people about Lists I'm surprised how little people know they exist and use them. On the other hand people that bail out of Tw…

Creating more redundancy

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Recently I blogged about redundancy. At the end of the post I mentioned I would share how I try to create redundancy in my life. I think a key way I create redundancy is a good work-life balance. I’m deeply convinced working more that 40-50 hours per week is unhealthy and inefficient. Having time to be with my family in the evening and weekends helps me be creative and efficient during work hours.
Some other ways I do it are: Go out to jog or mountain bikeRead a good bookBlock time in my agenda to think deeply and without interruptionsWork from home (less distractions and traveling)Don’t plan anything, just see what happensGo on vacation – of courseVisit a conference ;-) Do you have others ways to create space in your life? Let’s learn from each other.

The great thing about conferences

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I really enjoy going to conference every now and then. I’m at the great SocialNow [link] conference now. I go to conferences to meet people and to learn more about a certain topic. This is key for a conference. I’m not going if the people and the program aren’t interesting. But in my experience the result of a conference is the greatest thing about conference visits – at least mine. I find conference visits always trigger news ideas. Not always because of the speakers at the conference. More often it’s just because of the different environment I’m in. I’ve always found this a weird effect of conferences. The weekends or a nice long walks also have this effect but to a lesser extent. Can you relate to this? Would love to hear what conferences do to you.

More redundancy

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Recently I was (re)reading the article "The Knowledge-Creating Company" by Ikujiro Nonaka. It's an old HBR article from 1991, but still a very interesting read. (Later Nonaka expanded the article to a whole book with the same title as the article.) Two sentences from the article have been going around in my head since I read the article. Let me share them with you:
The fundamental principle of organizational design at the Japanese companies I have studied is redundancy - the conscious overlapping of company information, business activities, and managerial responsibilities. And:
Redundancy is important because it encourages frequent dialogue and communication. Nonaka stresses the importance of redundancy in organizations. On the one hand this is obvious. Life is full of redandancy. On the other hand what struck me most is how so much in life and especially work is about getting rid of redunancy. We talk about defining processes, automating work, cutting out inefficiencie…

Getting things done; are you?

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How do you get things done? Do you have a method you follow? I’ve written about this before. A lot of times actually. The trigger to write about it again is my continuous surprise how little people have a method to work productively. Actually everybody has a method, at least implicitly, and sometimes it’s pretty OK. But often I see people struggle. Usually this is because they don’t have a productivity approach and/or there are all kinds of loose ends in their method.

I follow the ‘Getting things done’ productivity approach by David Allen. I follow it fairly strictly and revisit the books quite regularly to see if I can do better. I read ‘Getting things done’ for the first time when I was about two years into work life. I was struggling. I had a method, but it wasn’t working. I wasn’t in control and often forgot to do tasks. ‘Getting things done’ was a revelation to me. After reading it I thought: This is it, everybody should read this. This should be a mandatory course at university…

Focus on the underlying principles

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We love shiny new things. The latest hype, oh, let's talk about it! But is it really new or does it just have a new name?
Just think about how we talked about 'groupware software' back in the day. Nobody calls it that way anymore. We talk about 'collaboration software/tools' now. The same goes for 'web 2.0'. Nobody says that anymore. We call is 'social media' now, although I'm sure we'll have a new term for it soon. A last example (as I could list many more examples): everybody is talking about 'digital transformation' now. Before that all the talk in town would be about 'social business' and before that it was called 'enterprise 2.0'.
Definitions are important. It's all about being clear about what we mean. What I don't understand though is the way many present something as completely new while it clearly isn't. The term is different, but the underlying theme is the same. That's why I try to focus on…

SocialNow 2017 is coming up. Hope to see you there! #socialnow

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In little over a month the next edition of the SocialNow conference will be held. Organizer and good friend Ana Neves has been working hard on putting another great program together. And I'm honored to be the host of the conference again! So I hope to see you there.

SocialNow is a special conference. I wrote about previous editions (and I still need to blog about the last one...). SocialNow is special for different reasons:

For one it's a well-organized and thought-through conference. The conference organizer works in this field, knows what businesses are looking for and what conference visitors need to get value-for-money.The conference has a unique format. There is not one conference in which you get great keynote talk and discussions combined with real demo's of tools based on actual user stories in a business context.The conference is not only for people/companies looking for a new internal social tool. I find that the demo's also help you define and refine your se…

Shipping

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Last week I blogged about 'Reaching out'. I tried to explain why I think it's so important, especially in organizations. This led to another thought. It's something that I came to see during my previous life as a consultant, but actually already knew while working in a large company. It's about 'shipping'.

To me shipping is about delivery results. The weird thing is that I find most people think about results as being a huge results. So many don't deliver results at all. They think and talk endlessly about what the result will be. But never really produce results or versions of the result. And this thinking and talking usually happens in small groups. To others it seems that nothing is happening.

As a consultant I was hired to deliver results. I remember the great clients I've worked for that were absolutely thrilled results would be delivered, every 1 to 2 weeks. Progress! Some of them were capable of doing so by themselves but didn't have tim…

Reaching out

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We need more people that reach out to others. As people are social beings, you would expect 'reaching out' would come naturally. The strange thing is about the time we are living in, is that we learn (again) that this doesn't come naturally. Just look at the state of politics in this world, especially the uprising of the populist movement. And the web, deliberately made as a platform for connections and building bridges, shows this as well. We've all heard of being 'alone together' on the web and the 'filter bubbles' we all like to live in. The web often looks like more of a shouting-at-each-other platform, than a platform for connecting and networking.

I see this inside organizations as well. I've worked for quite some organizations and one thing that strikes me is how small the number of connectors is in organizations. People that bridge gaps between individuals, teams, department, business units, office locations and the outside world. The inter…

Too much to read

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'Information overload is filter failure.' Most of us probably know this quote by Clay Shirky and agree with it. I do. It relates well to what I love about the web. There's information abundance, but the web is structured in such a way that we can pull information towards us that we find interesting. And push away things that are not relevant to us.
There are great tools to help you with this. Feedly is I think my core filtering tool. Twitter would come in second place. (It continues to surprise me how little people use an RSS subscription tool like Feedly...)

I hardly ever read something right away though. This is where Pocket come into play. Pocket is where I save interesting online posts and article to read later.

But - and this is where I'm interested in your experiences - I find that more and more there is just too much interesting stuff to read. My Pocket is completely stacked with articles I hope to read some day. And this is just the 'digital' stuff tha…

Data and stories

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There's a thing about metrics and measurement. Especially in digital channels. We all agree we should measure, but most research reports about social media, intranets and websites conclude it's hardly being done.

But the thing I find even stranger is that if we actually measure and share our numbers, big conclusions are derived from them. "Our website is very useful because we have x visits per month." Or: "Our internal microblogging platform is valuable because 90% of our employees has created a profile on it."
To be clear I think we should collect these numbers and share them. They do tell us something. But I find it strange that when these numbers are shared, they are shared without any context. And they are shared as if data can tell us the whole story. Data is the only reality.

We know it isn't. There's much more to life, even digital life, than numbers. Yes, we should collect data and do that much more rigorously, definitely when it comes to …

Conversations and empathy

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Markets are conversations, remember? In 1999 this was the central thesis of the great book The Cluetrain Manifesto. The book is just great. It's a must-read. I'm surprised how many people in the digital marketing and communication market know and have read it. Not to mention that I think we still have a lot to learn from the book - so don't just read it once!

Markets are conversations. We know and feel that deep down. But are we as humans and are companies actually doing accordingly? There is so much in marketing, communications, advertising, selling, etc. that has nothing to do with a conversation...

Maybe there's something more fundamental that we are not getting here. I'm about 90% through Sherry Turkle's book Reclaiming Conversation. And what a great book it is. I love books that really make you think. And this is one of those books. When your a 'digital' fan and junkie like me, you almost want to put it away. The book is a mirror and what you see t…

Changes to work and blogging

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If you follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn you've probably seen I changed jobs as of Jan. 1 of this year. After 6 great years at Entopic and Bildung I decided to join Teva Pharmaceuticals as senior director external digital channels. I've been at Teva now for about 10 weeks and must say I enjoy it. There's lots going on in the pharmaceutical industry and the intersection of digital and pharma is very interesting, I find. In short, there's lots and lots to do.

So, why change? As mentioned I enjoyed working at Entopic and Bildung. Great working environment, great team, dito customers. But I also found I was looking for new challenges. In leadership development and in digital. If possible I wanted to get more experience with leadership in a large, international organization. And I was looking for new areas in digital to learn about. Teva contacted me and gave me this opportunity. After quite some talks and lots of thinking, I decided to go for it. And I'm happy to say I…