Category Archives: News and Admin

News and administrative information

Interesting stuff from July 12 to August 7

The periodic roundup:

  • Do Things that Don’t Scale – Technologist and venture capitalist Paul Graham with advice for start-ups (it IS his game, after all) … it’s the stuff that can’t be automated that makes a difference, so do that.
  • How Drucker Thought About Complexity – You could be forgiven for thinking that since Peter Drucker worked in a simpler time, his thinking might not apply in our more complex environments these days. You’d be wrong … check out what John Hagel III has to say (read it quickly – it’s a limited access HBR article)
  • Overcoming the Barriers to Enterprise Collaboration – All the time I’ve been involved with technology, people and organisations have been pre-occupied with technology as a “silver bullet”, the magical answer to their problem(s) – enterprise social/social business has been no different. This is a reasonably balanced view of enterprise social media, and where/how it might help with your collaboration efforts
  • Robert McNamara and the Dangers of Big Data at Ford and in the Vietnam War – “McNamara felt he could comprehend what was happening on the ground only by staring at a spreadsheet—at all those orderly rows and columns, calculations and charts, whose mastery seemed to bring him one standard deviation closer to God.” Big data can be a powerful tool, but sometimes what you really need is eyeballs on the ground, where people do real things … either that, or we all just become part of the body count

 

Interesting stuff from April 3rd through July 11

The periodic round up:

  • Henry Farrell – On post-democracy – “Post-democracy is strangling the old parties of the left. They have run out of options. Perhaps all that traditional social democracy can do, to adapt a grim joke made by Crouch in a different context, is to serve as a pall-bearer at its own funeral.” The dilemma facing centre-left parties the world over is one of irrelevance. This poses a problem for democracy in general, as meaningful social democracy withers. While the Australian Labor Party is not mentioned here, it is recognisable in the description …
  • The Calm Before the Solar Storm – For some time we have been given the impression that domestic solar power generation has been A Good Thing. But in a system designed for power flowing in only one direction, in an industry populated by business models that don’t fit with widespread independent power generation, there is a collision pending.
  • The Great Disconnect – As Warren Buffet commented: “there IS a class war going on, and the rich are winning”. Buoyancy in financial markets is increasingly disconnected with real well-being, a situation that is politically unsustainable. The widening gap between the very rich and everyone else is the stuff of revolution …
  • Steve Mann: My “Augmediated” Life - “Until recently, most people tended to regard me and my work with mild curiosity and bemusement.” Steve Mann’s wearable computing gear has come a long way in 20 years. Google Glass now has people taking his work a lot more seriously (although Google hasn’t caught up to him yet). Life, augmented and mediated …
  • What the NSA Sees in Our Gmail - MIT runs a little exercise in metadata gathering from your GMail traffic … a sobering reflection on our loss of privacy which by now should even be worrying those of us with “nothing to hide” from the NSA

Progress Middleware Products land at Aurea

A brief follow-up to my previous posts about Progress Software’s divestment of its middleware products … The Sonic (SOA), Savvion (BPM), Actional and DataXtend products have been packaged up as Aurea; and were accompanied by Progress alumni Hub Vandervoort and MA Ketabchi.

Australian representation is via Adaptris, who operate out of Sydney (you can check the Adaptris Contact page for details). 

The products are a good fit together; it’s encouraging to see them in the same place – there will hopefully be some product development now ownership is settled. 

 

Interesting stuff from February 24th through April 2nd

The periodic round up:

  • Every Employee Should Work From Home – David Heinemeier Hansson: “[Face time is] far less important as a tool of getting things done. Managers vastly overestimate it’s efficiency because it’s their job to interrupt people. But everyone else knows that being pulled into endless meetings is toxic and makes progress harder.” Remote working is topic du jour, it seems … but it’s true that the office isn’t always where you get work done. 
  • How Google Is Using People Analytics to Completely Reinvent HR – Not entirely surprising that Google takes a data-heavy approach to its HR – it IS after all its raison d’être. Will be interesting to see how it holds up over time, but I suspect that results are better than most subjective hiring decisions.
  • “The Art Of Not Sucking” – Hugh McLeod’s recipe for a meaningful life? Learning how NOT to suck … this is the place to go for real advice on success – defining it as well as achieving it. You might recognise Hugh as the source of my favourite cartoons too 
  • The Dangerous Logic of the Bradley Manning Case – The potentially far-reaching effects of the charges laid against Manning for his Wikileaks whistle-blowing represent a threat to some of the USA’s constitutional freedoms, and arguably an Al Quaeda victory more substantially damaging than 9/11
  • Death To Core Competency: Lessons From Nike, Apple, Netflix | Fast Company – “Sticking to the knitting” was the mantra; finding your key competency was essential to competing well … but is that too limiting? The Nike experience suggests that disrupting yourself is preferable to having disruption done to you: “You can’t have a barrier or restriction to that core competency. If we constrain ourselves by a circle of competency, we’ll do ourselves a disservice.”

 

Interesting stuff from January 7th through February 18th

The periodic round up:

  • IT as Manufacturing - Commoditisation, modularisation and small bets … this is a long way from “IT as we know it”, but right where it should be (even if it DOES upset a few large vendors :) )
  • How is social business like urban traffic? - Stowe Boyd again exploring the benefits of subordinating personal productivity to network productivity, drawing parallels with research into traffic management that indicates that forcing drivers to think more selflessly (and not seek the most personally efficient outcomes) actually improves traffic flow. So too, at work we may be collectively better-performed if we think less of our personal productivity and more of our network’s.
  • Alain de Botton’s 10 Commandments – for Atheists - Is religion required for morality? Atheists would contend not, and de Botton’s list is a good start for developing /nurturing our morality independent of a belief in gods … “We are holding on to an unhelpfully sophisticated view of ourselves if we think we are above hearing well-placed, blunt and simply structured reminders about goodness. There is greater wisdom in accepting that we are in most situations clunking and rather simple machines, with only a few moving parts and in want of much the same firm, basic guidance as is naturally offered to children and domestic animals. ”
  • America’s Real Criminal Element: Lead – An interesting, and somewhat disturbing look at what lead has done to society, and still is. It’s probably not the whole story, but the statistics suggest it’s a large part of it … and there’s still plenty of petrol-related lead in our soil, and still plenty of old places with lead paint.
  • Why IT Should Be on the CEO’s Agenda - Is enterprise architecture’s time about to arrive? Now economic observers are beginning to notice that just thinking seriously about IT isn’t enough – there has to be a bridge between the CEO and IT’s strategic potential. Enter the enterprise architect. As this article says: “Enterprise architecture can be understood as a change and transformation framework to provide open and flexible business architecture for change management under conditions of high uncertainty.”

 

Interesting stuff from September 25th through October 16th

The periodic round up:

  • The Paradox of Preparing for Change – Given that we will live through many changes in the course of our life, Hagel posits that the best preparation for those changes is to determine what WON’T change – what are our core values, our purpose or direction, and who are the people most important to us. If those things are solid, we can more readily adapt to other changes.
  • Annealing the Tactical Pattern Stack – Interesting look at how we make decisions, and the templates we use to move from ad-hoc decisions to integrated rituals as we deepen our familiarity with a domain of expertise.
  • Why You Need To Be Daring Greatly – Not your average “business” post – in fact it might seem a little mushy and “soft” … just check it out anyway, particularly the embedded video. Then think about your own life, and you tell me how “soft” it is to face our fears, and allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
  • Welcome to the new reputation economy – A good look at how digital (online) reputation is built, what value there might be in it, and how we might derive that value without giving the crown jewels of trust to ad farms. The issue is twofold: how our reputation is captured and stored, and who controls its use.
  • The internet and web are not killing retail, poor service is – Bricks and mortar retailers are making the same mistake as the book and music industries before them – assuming that the competition with online revolves around price. The battlefront is convenience – if you want me to get dressed, travel to your store and walk in, the experience had better be worth it; and the underpaid, inexperienced staff that you treat as an unwelcome cost aren’t going to cut it. When you figure out that they are your competitive advantage over online, maybe they’ll be better valued and trained. And maybe then you’ll be able to compete with online …

 

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 …