Mar 10

Sweettt.com – Episode 12 – Sources of Quality

After a long hiatus, the Sweettt.com discussions continue.  In this episode, Matt Simpson & Luis Suarez focus on:

  1. Flaming excuses for not posting our discussions for the past year (bonus – clean the inside of your computer screen!)
  2. The iPad experience, and what it takes to achieve quality (bonus – a cartoon!)
  3. Web Filtering – pros, cons, goods, and evils
  4. Employee happiness as a source of quality and productivity
  5. And then… Luis turns into a Robot.

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Aug 09

CommentLuv Installed @ Sweettt.com

I’ve just installed CommentLuv here.  So post a comment and people will see a link to your latest blog post right next to your comment.  I posted a comment @DogearNation and was immediately surprised by the outcome.  Try it!  You’ll like it!

Aug 09

Executive Encounters of the Geek Kind

One of the nice things about working for the company I work for, is the access to world class executives.  The other day I had a chance to have some really good one on one time with such an exec.  He’s been with the company for years and years, and knows so many aspects of the business.

The Big Chair
The Big Chair

Although the purpose of the meeting was for me to help him with some web 2.0 stuff, I was really limited in what I could teach him because he is just so ahead of the curve.  He’s just the kind of person who engages in everything that’s interesting.  He didn’t present the typical mind set of looking up and across the report tree to see who could impress whom.  Instead, he was much more interested in the collaborative process that was enabled by the tools we were exploring.  He was fascinated by the roles we each represented in our discussion.  Ha!  He was even on the edge of his chair as my laptop crashed, wondering what was causing it.

Would you believe it?  We were even digging into HTML syntax, going through the origins of an “a href” tag.  I love being a geek at times!

By the end of the time, I had offered him a review of 3 different email reduction tools (a la, put your files and your collaboration on the web).  He had carefully considered each one, the functions that supported his use case scenario, and the impact that his decision would have on the “greater good.”

I walked out of the meeting with my head full of things to consider during my dirve back home.

6 Main Lessons an Executive Close Encounter Can Teach You

Read Wired Cover to Cover – We were laughing it up about the bit in the latest episode where Wired says to pull that bluetooth attachment out of your ear “If Brad Pitt can’t pull it off, neither can you!”  Yes, I had caught that one, because I typically scan Wired.  But this guy had thoroughly read it and was able to reference and dig into the articles much better than I.  I can’t accept that.  I don’t mind learning something new from someone else’s perspective.  However, when I can’t even be on the same page with someone because I hadn’t read well enough the same rag we had both read… well… that’s just… oh!  Mrs. Weiss back in Alton, IL (high school literature teacher) would have made folly of me for such.

Read his Blog – He’s already a blogger, both inside and outside of the company.  On his external blog he gives career advice (which gave me a couple of valuable insights and a couple confirmations that I had been coaching myself well.)  However, his internal blog (inside our company) contains business-specific challenges.  I don’t share the same marketing and business analytics background.  But I’m going to be talking to him again in the future.  This creates an opportunity to expore and study these concepts through his blog (especially those about which he cares most), and bring them up in future discussions to learn more.  Don’t under estimate the blog.

Study our Competitor’s Product – Get to know it well.  Be able to compare and contrast our tool’s abilities to support specific collaborative patterns compared to the competition.  We already know that our tools are vastly superior.  But that’s no excuse for becoming blissful in the shadow of this abundance.  Instead, it would help to thoroughly understand the challenges that all companies face, even when they’re stuck with other tools.  I’m not a professional consultant (well, at least that’s not my title ;-).  But situations occur when I’m shoulder to shouder, over lunch or a coffee (or a podcast 😉 with our clients and the discussion needs a solid frame of reference.

Be an Energizer! – This guy’s energy and passion for learning was contageous!  I like to think I’m the same way too.  However, I do recognize the scinical spirit.  It has entered my life, seductively, incidiously draging my optimism down over the years.  Of course it’s imporant to be bridled and realistic.  But don’t give up your intuition and your soul!  He is living proof that the geek factor and learning spirit is alive and well in executive ranks.

Think About the Greater Good – When you make a decision, don’t just think about the impact it will have on you and your work.  Think about the impact on the team around you.  Among the 3 tools we revealed, he actually chose the tool that was least convenient because he thought it would be easier for the team to adopt it, given that they were already used to a different tool.  He didn’t mind waiting a couple of months to get access to the extra utility that would make it all easy.  He was thinking of his team.

Execs are Just People Too – Okay, I already knew this one.  In fact, I kinda had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t just talking to one of my buds.  But, it’s important to respect that they are very popular, live in a bit of a fish bowl, and don’t have the time to be your new best friend.  Nevertheless, be genuine.  Don’t get in their way.  Respect their boundaries by keeping good boundaries yourself.  And, if you like the person, and you want to offer more of your time, just be available.  In other words, don’t get all freaky over their rank.

This was the experience that made my week.  It actually motivated me to get back on my blog and start writing more.  It pays to be an energizer.

Jul 09

The Manager Who Thought He Could Create a Community

In my practice, I see many people who are tackling challenges within the collaborative process.  Frequently people want to work with communities, yet are struggling with one aspect or another.

I had a meeting today with a manager who thought he could create a community.  He was troubled that the community didn’t really work well.  It really made him angry.


Now, you might ask yourself, how in the world can a man create a community?  Aren’t communities made of people?  Aren’t they voluntary?  Don’t they form when people gather together and interact with one another voluntarily based on something they have in common and actually recognize themselves as members of a persistent group?  Yes, of course.

So, I asked the man, how did he do it?  He showed me.

As I watched over his shoulder, he did the most amazing thing.  He opened his laptop, sat down at the keyboard, launched his browser, and went to a web site.  At the web site, he clicked a button, which launched a form.  After filling out the form and submitting it, the web page showed the name he had chosen for the community at the top of blank page.  He then clicked some more buttons and uploaded a file to the web site.  When I asked him what was in the file, he explained that it was a list of internet IDs.

After the internet IDs were processed my this web application, he sat back, pointed at the screen, smiled, and proclaimed that he had just created a community, just like he had previously.  “Is this all you did?” I asked.  Of course, not, he explained.  He had also assigned someone to manage the community.  His major frustration was that the assigned community manager hadn’t taken his role seriously.

So, we talked a bit about the concept of communities… about voluntary membership and participation… about the self-selecting nature of the membership itself… about the need for leaders to self-select from within the membership and identify their own topics.  This is a typical flow of discussion, which, when given enough time and insight, eventually changes a person’s entire outlook… from manager to gardener.  Communities form and emerge naturally.  They can be encouraged and facilitated; But they can’t be engineered and determined.

A man can no more create a community by filling out a form on a webpage than he can make a fruit tree by taping fruit to twigs and twigs to a stump.

Apr 09

Sweettt.com – Episode 11 – Information Flow – Part 2

Matt and Luis continue the discussion on information flow.  This part of the discussion starts with a rant by Luis on email.  Is it the tool or the bad habits that we all share that makes email evil?

And the questions continue to explore:

  • What is more important, quality or quantity?
  • Who you are in your blog is very different than who you are in a microblog.
  • What constitutes a valid blog?  Can a blog be trivial?
  • When does your Twitter become a village? – See Laura Fitton
  • How do you enter a online social village and navigate its streets?
  • To achieve flow in the information space, how do you sample information?
  • What is the alternative to managing content within the information space?
  • How do you choose which new technology to use in the information sharing space?
  • What kind of people try technology first?  What does a bleeding edge early adopter look like?  See Chris Miller
  • How do you keep track of your new technology?
  • What’s the ideal amount of technology for the majority of us?
  • Which is the predominant future trend, increased technology fragmentation with more tools, or consolidation of technology into fewer tools?
  • If services become specialized and exploited in other contexts (other web sites), what will be the incentive for the service to be provided, especially if people are not going to the homepage?

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