Tag Archives: design

Interesting stuff from August 8 to May 13

After too long a break, we return with the periodic roundup:

  • Bringing order to complexity – Paradoxically, “simple” is hard, and “complicated” is easy. We often end up with complicated business processes not because they are dealing with a complex problem, but because we haven’t taken enough time to design them properly. Design thinking, particularly human-centred design, is offered as an approach that applies multiple perspectives to the problem to understand the implications (upstream and down) of any changes made. One key suggestion: separation of process steps from the business rules being applied, which increases the re-useability of both. This is the stuff of business architecture …
  • Why Meetings Are Often Ineffective – Meetings have (quite rightly) garnered a bad reputation over time, mainly because they are used for the wrong reasons most of the time. Have you ever wondered why we often only schedule interruptions to our work, not the work itself? In this post, Johnnie Moore describes meetings as “action theatre” and “commitment ceremonies” where “we sit for too long, arguing with what we think is great cleverness when in fact our rational brain is already worn out and running on empty”. Fortunately he also has a couple of ideas about how we can make them better and more effective.
  • Business Models in Business Architecture – A very useful attempt from Nick Malik to describe the distinctions between business DNA (values, mission, etc.), business strategy, business models and business capabilities … as well as the relationships between them. Of particular value is the recognition that enterprises that are non-trivial in scale will often have multiple business models, each with its own strategy; and that these strategies may not co-exist happily. This is a problem when senior people don’t understand the interactions between business models and their related strategies, because it leads to turf wars, confused prioritisation and no idea what capabilities could be shared. This also is the stuff of business architecture …
  • Party politics is slowly dying. So what will take its place? – While the locale for this piece is the UK, Australia’s major political parties should take note, as the symptoms are similar here. We can recognise thoughts like “ … describes a draining away of authority from the main western parties, which, since the end of the cold war, have become increasingly bland: dangerously similar when it comes to ideology, and incorrigibly controlling” and “The mainstream politicians have forgotten that they are here to represent, not govern … We’re sick of being lied to”. The article describes the rise of single-issue movements, something increasingly echoed here in Australia. If the major parties seek a return to relevance, perhaps they should pay more attention to what issues people engage with, and “represent” rather than “govern”.
  • A Corporate Coup in Disguise | Alternet – Despite some raucous objections in the small, the TPP hasn’t hit the public’s consciousness to any great extent. This is partly due the excessive secrecy that cloaks its discussions, but also to the seeming lack of interest from the general public. This article, although slanted to the US, suggests there’s a number of reasons we should be paying attention, and why we shouldn’t let it happen …


Interesting stuff from July 31st through September 19th

The periodic round up:

  • The Connected Company – As companies and their environments grow in complexity, we need to rethink the way they are put together – we face diminishing returns from growth because they are sub-linear (more growth, less productivity) … This post (and the book) suggests that rather than build companies like machines, we build them like living organisms:
    “To design the connected company we must focus on the company as a complex ecosystem, a set of connections and potential connections, a decentralized organism that has eyes and ears everywhere that people touch the company, whether they are employees, partners, customers or suppliers.”
  • If you want to get paid for your freelance work … – Then you have to have a valuable difference to all the amateurs who have the same tools, and are happy to do it for free. “Professional” might have been enough when skills and tools were scarce; now that they are abundant you’ll need to demonstrate why you’re worth paying for.
  • Race Against the Machine – Digital optimist or pessimist? Will robots and artificial intelligence be the end of our usefulness? Are we doomed? Andrew McAfee doesn’t think so, and explains why in this TEDx video …




Interesting stuff from June 25th through July 31st

The periodic round up:

  • The future of outsourcing – A short and succinct piece on both the advantages and the dangers of outsourcing, and the implications of it for your business. And the importance of drawing the line in the right place:
    “Only a fool would outsource their heart or lungs by choice.”
  • Turn Big Data aspirations into business value – Big data is one thing; finding the business value in it is a bit harder – MIT’s Sloan Management Review suggests that
    “…a large percentage of stored data serves no useful purpose because management has not specified how it will be used: who will make what decisions or provide what services with what data.”
    Interestingly, the research suggests starting at the operational level rather than attempting analytics.
  • - The Obvious? – State Of The Net 2012 – Euan’s talk at State of the Net 2012 – a primer on not only what internal use of social media organisations can adopt, but a consideration of the implications of doing so for individuals.
  • Atlassian’s big experiment with performance reviews – My opinion of individual performance reviews is fairly well-known, and anecdotally well-supported. What has been missing, though, is a viable alternative to the process that most HR software supports. Atlassian found this too, but being software developers weren’t prepared to let that lie. They are not only hacking together a working alternative process, but are sharing it for our interest and education …
  • At Large in the Post-Normal Beyond Futurism – If you struggle with what we consider “normal” at the moment, you may have bigger problems with “post-normal”, and the ubiquity of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity). Boyd considers what we might need to make sense of the world, and sees “speculative design” which considers “implications” as more important than “applications” of design




Interesting stuff from July 25th through July 30th


The weekly round up:

  • Inventing the Future is Everybody’s Job – Increasingly, strategy and planning are moving out of the executive suite into a broader milieu for shaping directions. Why? “the world is just too complex, change comes too fast, and the challenges we face are too immense (and interconnected), for an insular clique of executives to chart the course of an organization from a blank sheet of paper and sheer brilliance” … is that the case in your business? What will you do about it?
  • Cooperation vs Collaboration – An interesting viewpoint on the difference between collaboration (typified as an outcome of “collectives” – groups with a single purpose) and cooperation (an outcome of “connectives” – a less-formal grouping of people with individual but related purposes), and the potential interplay between the two.
  • Why Exception Handling Should be the Rule – Handling repeatable processes is now table stakes – if you’re a sizeable company and  can’t handle the bulk of your business value transactions “automatically” with a standard (probably automated) process, you won’t stay in business for long.
    Where the differentiation comes is in handling exceptions to the “standard” process. These shouldn’t be seen as problems – they are often an opportunity to really put yourself ahead of competitors in the eyes of the customer … so it’s worth thinking about how to accommodate exceptions better.
  • Why corporate blogging is like selling uncut cocaine – Something of a sensationalist title perhaps, but it makes the point that getting your message out via third-parties (while still useful in some distribution channels) is diluting your company’s story … and increasingly consumers want to hear it “from the horse’s mouth”.

Interesting stuff from June 20th through July 5th

The weekly round up:

  • 5 Dangerous Ideas for Designers – While it's aimed at designers, this presentation should make us all think if we do "knowledge work" – as Berkun's first point says: "We're all designers".
  • A Liquid, Not A Solid: A City, Not A Machine – Another post from Stowe Boyd where he suggests that the shape of business will not change, but disappear – become more liquid, less defined in form. He suggests the end of the business process – and I agree when it comes to human work in the organisation. Processes will still exist, but if it's repeatable, it will be automated. Humans looking after the exceptions will do so better without the process, but with a network.
  • Musing about unheralded heroes and heroines and accidental criminals and IPR – Unknown citizens and accidental criminals – how digital rights and copyright protection can work against humanity; and the part that influential lobby groups for narrow and biased interests play in that.
  • Enterprise Architecture: Moving From Chaos To Business Value – Useful overview of the value of enterprise architecture, and the iterative nature of its application to business (a point often overlooked by consultants who want to "boil the ocean" with some methodology). Talks up TOGAF, which is more a method of creating a framework than a framework that can be applied out of the box to your business – but becoming a useful frame of reference for practitioners as it leaves its IT roots further behind.
  • 10 Myths About Introverts – As an introvert myself, I couldn't go past this :)  … 'nuff said! 

Interesting stuff from May 16th through May 26th

The weekly round up:

  • Bitcoin, Ven and the End of Currency – The author has a vested interest in the outcome he speaks about, but this is nonetheless an interesting look at the possibilities of virtual currencies, and what they might ultimately mean for current financial systems, and continued sovereignty of nation states.
  • When Did Everyone Decide To Pay Themselves Last? – When companies jump into social media, they tend to look at Facebook, Twitter, etc as the important places to be. This alternative view suggests that the first priority should be tending to content and places that YOU own – improve your own assets first, build your own brand(s) before Facebook's …
    One quote: "signal to noise ratio in platforms you don’t control is usually poor, and content there decays quickly – frequently ending up in archive purgatory, never to be read again. Yet content created on your own site or blog has value forever, given infinite life by search engines and getting shared well into the future by users"
  • The Customer-Centered Innovation Map – A lengthy but interesting discussion about deconstruction of customer processes, with the objective of discovering points in the process we can provide value, and/or innovate. An important note – what the post calls "job mapping" is different to "process mapping" (although it may use the same artefacts), because the objective is to find WHAT the customer is trying to get done with each process step, rather than HOW they're doing it.
  • MIT management professor Tom Malone on collective intelligence and the “genetic” structure of groups – When you've got wicked problems to solve, and you want to put together a group of people to think it through, what are the criteria for inclusion? Counter-intuitively, the cognitive intelligence of the group isn't correlated to the cognitive intelligence of the individuals involved – a better predictor is their emotional intelligence, or social sensitivity. So, at the moment the quickest way to smarter groups is to include more women …
  • Is a Well-Lived Life Worth Anything? – Is the world of chasing a bigger house, bigger car, bigger burger and more STUFF starting to pall? Do you ever think "there has to be more meaning to life than this"? Welcome to the "Eudamoniac Revolution" … it all sounds like fairies at the bottom of the garden, wishful thinking or utopianism. But I dare you to read this and then tell me you don't want a better life, rather than just a bigger one.

    … or as the French would say: "Avoir empêche d´être".

  • 10 visions of the future – … mainly of the Internet. Intel's anthropologist Genevieve Bell has a few ideas what the internet will look like at some point in the future. Australians will possibly be more comfortable than most with the idea that it will be "more feral", and will be used for "sledging" (there's more subtlety in those ideas than it seems, by the way).
  • Developing Talent – Retaining and Attracting Talent – Talent – everybody wants to hire it, everybody wants to retain it. Unfortunately, it often seems no-one wants to develop it. But if your business gets a reputation as a developer of talent, you'll find and retain more talent than you know what to do with …
    But it's more than training programs: "we would suggest that training programs are becoming more and more marginal to talent development. What matters most is the talent development that occurs in our daily work environment."
    And it's more than executives – everyone in the business has a role to play in providing and sustaining customer service, so everyone needs to be developed.

Interesting stuff from April 21st through April 29th

The weekly round up:

  • Why is surprise the permanent condition? – All our political, financial and business systems strive to reduce variability and unpredictability, which is sometimes a good thing. But in times, circumstance or environment that is naturally "noisy", an enforced calm merely hides the variability from view so it is never considered in our planning. When it finally breaks through, as it almost inevitably will, it comes as a shock, and at a larger scale than when it was suppressed – but it could have been foreseen if we hadn't covered it up.
  • People Power – A glimpse at the way our lives might change for the better when we learn how to leverage the fact that we are more and more connected than we ever have been before. Using health care as an example, this post talk about using what we already have to improve effectiveness of existing facilities.
  • Patient-driven health care – Nowhere is our personal data more "personal" than our health records; and nowhere is there a more committed participant than when someone is told they are seriously ill. Why is it then, that "patients are the most under-utilised medical resource"? Because we don't have easy access to our own data, and we don't control its use. If we're lucky, we've had the same doctor for a long period – but the doctor shouldn't be the aggregator of our health data, we should. Why? Watch the linked video from TEDx Maastricht and find out …
  • Same Old New World Cities; or, the missing vision for Australian cities; or, asking the right questions in the first place – A response to the Australian government's National Urban Policy discussion paper (http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure/mcu/urbanpolicy/index.aspx), this is a biting criticism of the lack of decent thinking and debate about not only what our cities should look like, but more importantly, what sort of cities we really need in Australia. Our love affair with McMansions in the outer suburbs and pervasive home ownership are no longer consistent with having sustainable and resilient living spaces that make us richer: socially, environmentally, intellectually, culturally and economically.
  • The Management Myth – One for all the MBAs out there – maybe you should have studied philosophy. A neat précis of management theory, and how the same themes get recycled under new names in a regular cadence, and how they seem to do so little of value. Consultants! Who needs them … ?