Thursday, 30 December 2010

2011 - a new beginning?

I've been looking back over the last couple of decades recently. And having been in this thing called E-Business for a long time now I've started to ask the question every year - 'so what's next?' or, more importantly, 'what should happen next?'

The answer I think is simple. E-Business (the people and companies involved in it) has got to start to mature a bit. We've all got to start doing the right thing all of the time not just throwing in some best practice here and there, but applying best practice all the time (or at least trying to).

Also, I think a lot of digital practitioners are guilty of being disruptive a lot of the time, it's in their nature to be inventive and challenge the status quo, and it's important they continue to do this. However, it isn't always a good idea to start again or try something new when it comes to certain practices that are perfectly appropriate to the task in hand. For example, producing well thought through research programmes (UCD), or developing products (NPD) that are optimal for the channel they are most likely to be purchased and even experienced in, rather than just fitting them in at the end. Instead E-Business people need to learn from other practice areas more often and certainly work more collaboratively with them than they often do at the moment.

The maturing digital landscape will require a lot to happen over the next few years, here's some of my immediate thoughts:

1. Non-digital practitioners need to get more involved in digital stuff.
2. Digital practitioners need to get more involved in non-digital stuff.

[Effectively digital practices need to be increasingly demystified and democratised - see previous article.]

3. We need to involve the customer in developing our E-Businesses as much as possible. The great thing about digital is that technology allows us to really dig deep and understand what the customer struggles with or prefers etc. when using online systems. There really is no excuse.
4. Real commitments need to be made to create best practice E-Business environments / cultures and this needs to come from the top - Board Directors you know who you are.
5. The customers relationship with your brand and the products & services you offer often still needs to be properly understood - this means investing (time & money) in data, related systems and web analytics as well as turning all the information into insight - and that's just the start. New technologies allow much more effective and insight driven business decisions to be made far more cost effectively than ever before. Whether your business requires full blown eCRM from day one and all the associated headaches of getting a single view of your customer etc. or having the ability to determine a thousand variables for every communication you want to make to your customer - I'm not sure. I can say that it is probably a good idea if we start to ask the questions that will help answer this now and gain what is likely to be considerable competitive advantage as well as an improved bottom line.

As I have stated above, these are only my immediate thoughts, and I'd be interested to hear yours.

If this maturing of E-Business practices doesn't happen immediately there is enough evidence of some of these things happening for me to feel excited about what is going to happen in 2011.

Good luck.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Final thought for the week 2010

“Even after all this time The sun never says to the earth, 'You owe me'. Look what happens with a love like lights the whole sky." Hafez of Shiraz, Persian Sufi poet c 1350 AD

Monday, 20 December 2010

Thought for the week

"The great mistakes are made when we feel we are beyond questioning." American advertising guru William Bernbach (1911-1982)

I'm going to keep asking and answering questions in 2011 and I hope you are too.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Thought for the week

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could." American author, poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Monday, 29 November 2010

Thought for the week

“It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.” French moralist Joseph Joubert (1754-1824)

Monday, 22 November 2010

Thought for the week

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." American poet Maya Angelou

Monday, 15 November 2010

Thought for the week

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” Franco-Swiss philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Orange Balloonacy

Head to and start racing for some seriously good prizes.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Thought for the week

“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.” American General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Just blogging from my iPhone

I'm sat here watching Liverpool struggle playing on my iPhone. I started to produce some wireframes, then add an IM service and then just decided to finish this session off with this post. None of this has proved difficult and I'm really surprised at how easy it has all been. I should know this as a digital professional of c.13 years but I still find mobile tech. amazing, especially from a user perspective.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The Rory Yates Daily is out

Top stories today by @theeMailguide @gcharlton @TheOnion


Technology Business Stories Education
Art & Entertainment Health #emailmarketing #seo

To view a summary of what people in my network have been reading and posting click here.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Thought for the week

“Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.” American scientist James Bryant Conant (1893-1978)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Orange Balloonacy

Here it is again, the great internet balloon race - Orange Balloonacy.

I love the concept and I love how easy it is to take-part in, both as a racer and as a host:

Monday, 25 October 2010

Thought for the week

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991)

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Rory Yates Daily is out

Top stories today by @WiredUK @richardbranson @Wossy


Stories #health Politics Technology Business
#measure Art & Entertainment Education

To view a summary of what people in my network have been reading and posting click here.

Farnham Fireworks Fiesta


Farnham Round Table organise the annual fireworks display held in Farnham Park preceded by a torchlit procession through the town centre.

For more information click here

To buy tickets click here

All proceeds go towards local charities.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Rory Yates Daily is out

Top stories today by @gcharlton @maxymiser


* #spendingreview
* Stories
* Technology
* Business
* Art & Entertainment
* Education
* #jump
* Health

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

I'm still waiting...

Loads of web experiences out there attempt to make things easier by using services to source data and populate fields with information on the users behalf. In principle this is a great idea - ask the user to provide one or two bits of information and then return multiple populated fields back, sounds great! In reality even simple #PAF look-ups often take an age to return addresses or there are silly little mistakes in the #UX which mean that users still have to sift through a huge drop down to find the information that relates to them. Worse still the wait for the information to return takes forever and then sometimes only a couple of additional fields are populated leaving the user asking - 'was it worth it!'

These problems are still common and with some #UX planning these can be avoided. I think E-business professionals need to start or more often identify user thresholds for these sort of things and take a lead in driving the system / operational planning as well as optimising the front-end experiences.

The key here is to maintain user momentum, if something acts as a stumbling block or takes time and means the user is likely to start up another online activity you have increased your chances of losing them significantly.

Reference: #UX = User Experience

Monday, 18 October 2010

The Rory Yates Daily is out

Top stories today by @adenhepburn @avinash @WiredUK


* Stories
* Politics
* Technology
* #read
* Business
* Art & Entertainment
* Education
* #change

Thought for the week

“There are four things that hold back human progress: ignorance, stupidity, committees and accountants.” British civil servant Sir Charles James Lyall (1845-1920)

Sound familiar?

Friday, 15 October 2010

The Rory Yates Daily is out

Top stories today by @exectweets @hblodget @adenhepburn @forrester


* Stories
* Politics
* Technology
* Business
* #scrm
* Art & Entertainment
* Education
* #socbiz

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Rory Yates Daily is out

Top stories today by @mrjoe @AmyCallaghan @Methystic @hblodget @hblodget @comScore


* #socialmedia
* Stories
* Technology
* Business
* #measure
* Art & Entertainment
* Education
* Health

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Rory Yates Daily is out

Top stories today by @comScore @technorati @therabbitagency


* #convomktg
* Stories
* Technology
* Business
* Art & Entertainment
* Education
* Health
* #jump

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The Rory Yates Daily is out

Top stories today by @mikebutcher @comScore


* #socialmedia
* Stories
* Technology
* Business
* #measure
* Art & Entertainment
* Environment
* Education

Some M-Commerce Links

Here are some articles I picked up this morning on M-Commerce that I thought I'd share with you:

1. Orvis sports a new m-commerce site:

2. Marks & Spencer announces m-commerce success:

3. Retailers Worldwide Struggle to Keep Up With M-Commerce Demands:

4. John Lewis launches mobile retail site:

5. Shoppers opt for mobile browsers over dedicated apps, survey finds:

I'm sort of getting the impression that m. / .mobi is starting to become a big deal (he says sarcastically into his morning coffee). Time for other market sectors (not just retail) to wake up a bit and get their mobile strategies in place.

Don't worry I'm not going to say that 2011 is going to be the year of the mobile. I will however point out that consumers needs are not being met - what happened to that good old marketing orientation eh? Put customer needs first and in the case of M-Commerce kick your competition into touch in the process.

Monday, 11 October 2010

The Rory Yates Daily is out

Top stories today by @hblodget @biz @timpaterson @comScore.


* Stories
* Technology
* Business
* Art & Entertainment
* Education
* #in
* #fb
* Health

Thought for the week

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength." Dutch protector of Jews from the Holocaust Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983)

Friday, 8 October 2010

The Rory Yates Daily


* Politics
* Technology
* Business
* Art & Entertainment
* #ux
* Education
* #twitter

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Innovation without strategy

Sometimes I moan on this blog about the general lack of innovation out there. However, I sometimes come across a company or market that seems to be displaying a lot of innovation, loads of individually good digital initiatives just being chucked out there. After a while my E-Business head kicks in and I ask - why do these innovations exist? What are they trying to achieve? What customer needs (implicit or explicit) are they trying to satisfy? What does this all add up to? etc. I almost never come up with what might be the strategy behind it all, and I'm guessing there usually isn't one. This sort of activity is not only damaging to those trying to get serious buy-in and commitment towards innovation but it is also a waste of time.

I agree with the general sentiment out there that the traditional strategic planning processes don't allow for, or include, the idea of establishing innovative strategic goals. One way to achieve this is to run a process for 'Innovation Strategy' alongside the strategic planning process and challenge where necessary the strategic direction and or goals by offering potentially better solutions. These processes need to be creative, market & customer centric and driven by the need to discover and learn more. Strategic goals can include a notion of differentiation but perhaps the planning required to achieve this needs to include time & budget for discovery exercises to take place. Taking this further isn't innovating to achieve your strategic goals 'the cost of doing business' and shouldn't we be allocating budget to support these activities like it’s an operational cost (something we have to do)?

I think one of the key ways you can drive innovation is to create more insight. If you know and understand your weaknesses and opportunities then innovating to resolve or exploit these will become an essential strategic goal by proxy, or it will at least make it far more easy to justify in the board room.

In addition to creating a greater focus on innovation strategy, insight can also help determine how your company should innovate and of course the relative priority or importance of different innovations.

Those responsible for innovation (in some way everyone should be) need to accept that some sort of economic value model will need to be established where investment is required. There is a growing number of larger companies which are happy to work to an incremental innovation strategy framework and as aspects of a new innovation become increasingly economically viable they are approved and delivered. The benefit of establishing the vision for a particular innovation is that the decisions on how best to deliver the solutions required in each stage become far more conducive to continuing to move forward i.e. we adopt the right technologies to support the whole process from the outset.

There are some people who would argue innovation in the digital age is just another word for strategy any way and we need to give it the same level of commitment accordingly.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Thought for the week

"Data, data everywhere, but never time to think." Professor Sonia Livingstone of the London School of Economics

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Thought for the week: social change

"I look forward to seeing more and more people willing to resist the direction the world is moving in: a direction where our personal experiences are irrelevant, that we are defective, that our communities are not important, that we are powerless, that the future is determined, and that the highest level of humanity is expressed through what we choose to buy at the mall." American Rachel Corrie (1979-2003), killed while working as a volunteer in Gaza

One of the most powerful and important roles social media plays isn't really about brands and money, it's about community, awareness and consequently real world changes. And when that makes good things happen then it makes a difference to our lives. Without taking the whole people power thing too seriously I took a quick look at a couple of positive things that have happened via social media. Here is what I found after just 5 minutes searching:

1. In 3 weeks a group of friends used social media to get 24,000 people to register for a National Bone Marrow Donor Program to help save a friends life:

2. The Tactical Technology Collective produced a must-see documentary on
a new generation of info-activists - campaigners who are using new technologies to force social change:

3. Save the Children recently took three UK mum bloggers to Bangladesh to report on why so many youngsters are needlessly suffering:

4. TakingITGlobal claims to be the largest online community of youth interested in global issues and creating positive change:

5. earthOCEAN is a unique media production company based in Melbourne, Australia. They use cutting-edge digital technologies to communicate science, environmental, wildlife, news and current affairs topics to the public in a way that inspires and informs.

There is loads out there. Keep up the good work.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Thought for the week

"The key to success is to risk thinking unconventional thoughts." British inventor Trevor Baylis

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Online purchase experiences still suck most of the time

Why do I keep finding purchase experiences online that are completely flawed?

When something goes wrong online or once you receive a purchase offline you can rarely recover the problem without going into the offline world and therefore ending up in a store or on the phone. The person you end up speaking to usually makes some reference to the 'internet people' being rubbish and how they will try to help but it will probably be a complete nightmare as they are not really part of that bit of the company.

This is unacceptable. I'm not talking about the need for multi-channel services here, I'm talking about the basics of offering the service online in the first place (aren't I?).

Some pointers:

1. Allow for things to go wrong and offer ways of making them right - online.
2. If it can't happen online (for whatever made up technical reason) make sure you provide the customer with information on how they can resolve the problem offline.
3. Make sure the people offline are prepared and able to help people with their online related purchase problems. And that they apologise for the inadequacies of the online service whilst explaining how this will be reported back to the 'internet people' to help them improve things.

As a company you need to trap these moments and experiences and understand them, it will help to build your case for making them better and allow you to make sure they are factored into your E-Channel teams responsibilities. They are, after all, part of the customer experiences of buying online.

Enough said.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Thought for the week

"The real voyage of discovery begins not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." French writer Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

How you get 'new eyes' is a really important journey otherwise you might end up with the wrong ones or end up with an even worse pair. Getting people 'new eyes' in this context is a big part of what I do day to day - albeit E-Business changing rather than life changing. And even if it is only a glimpse through someone else's eyes the impact this can have is always amazing.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Mountain Biking Fame

I ride mountain bikes occassionally and sometimes I ruin the chances of a team in the odd endurance race. I was therefore suprised to see a picture of me in the August issue of Mountain Bike Rider (MBR) - page 100.

Here it is (I'm the rider on the far left):

Well okay, it's not exactly mountain biker fame so here is a close up of the top of my head (as I look down to work out how I clip in to my pedals):

I'm still not sure how I spotted me in this picture - it's a bit worrying actually. Even worse I'm posting it on my blog - despite the sarcasm I'm still showing off really.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Thought for the week

"The person who says it can't be done should not interrupt the person doing it." Chinese proverb

Friday, 20 August 2010

History of the Internet

An old one [2009] but still worth reminding ourselves of the past 50 years once in a while. Rather than think 'wow we have come so far' I often look back and think in E-business terms we are still moving relatively slowly and the opportunity to meet customer needs (not even to exceed them) is still massive.

Thought for the week

"The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way." Anonymous

Monday, 2 August 2010

Thought for the week

"The really happy person is the one who can enjoy the scenery, even when they have to take a detour." Sir James Hopwood Jeans (1877-1946)

Monday, 26 July 2010

Back to basics

Things seem to be moving so fast now eChannel owners have finally realised that they need to understand the digital channel as the massive P&L it has become. This requires hardcore business discipline and things like web analytics needs to start to become a core part of everything that the eChannel owner does (you've got to know exactly what your largest channel is up to and what you can do to further improve it). The good news is that the digital channel can provide a lot of data and more opportunities to use it than with other channels, but with this increased opportunity comes the challenge of how to focus on what is really important and build your data / analytics capability.

Whilst there is a lot being written and said on this subject little of it is easily understood and is often written by the experts for the experts. Time has come now for this space to demystify what it does and start to focus on the question: how are we going to identify meaningful data and turn this into insight / make decisions from it? A bit like the shift in focus towards web analytics prompted by channel scale this question is going to be more easily answered by those with the hardcore analytics and insight expertise and few companies can provide both.

Good news - I will have some more on this subject in the not too distant future so watch this space / expect an update from me shortly.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Paid or free?

I've been picking up on lots of debate about whether or not e-newspaper content should be paid for or free. It seems to me that the answer is probably 'either'.

Newspapers have to make money as they are (trying to be) profit making organisations. One way or another their online business model has to try to achieve this goal. Taking a little look back on how we got here might help. Initially the internet brought loads of information and news to billions for free, even a lot of newspapers simply jumped online and put their content out there (some notable early movers went into the subscription model). Obviously people grew to expect news for free (or at a greatly reduced cost) and the newspapers moved to advertising focused models to try and make some money. To make even more money out of this ad model most put some form of subscription or data collection process in place partly to help get more targeted ad models up and running to try and get more of a premium. Some are now suggesting this is still something they want to do but on top of some kind of paid content model as well. And here we are today with the next big debate on which model works best.

Now I am not a media expert, by any means, but it seems to me that what would help is some good old fashioned business modelling and research with a dose of honest answers to that old question, what are our core competencies and strategic assets (what are we good at / could we use to be good at)? Essentially the newspapers wanting to charge for their content are actually only really trying to apply their offline newspaper model online i.e. you pay for a newspaper and companies pay to advertise in it.

There is also a value : volume model to debate here. If you make the content free but get really good and clever about how you advertise can you command even higher premiums yet get to higher volumes of content consumption as well? The answer is undoubtedly yes but how to operate this sophisticated ad / content model is the difficult question.

Ultimately this debate isn't really needed as the newspapers are taking different approaches to this challenge and we will see if there is a right or wrong answer. I still think the likely answer is that either model works - it will just depend on how effectively they implement them. Partly this will come down to their global or domestic focus, but they need to be clear on what they want to achieve and their e-strategy will also need to be very clear as well.

Good luck media friends - I hope you make some money out of which ever path you choose and keep providing us with great content.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Thought for the week

In this fast paced ever changing world it is important to remember that...

"The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time." American President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

It is also important to remember that our part in that future is in our control. If we think clearly and give ourselves the time we need we are likely to make the best for ourselves and enjoying tomorrow even more when it comes.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Thought for the week

Cheese'tastic thought this week but it's highly appropriate to a number of things I am doing at the moment. In digital we are used to pushing boundaries and not being afraid of giving ourselves and others challenging goals, that's after all what people where doing when they sent the first email in 1971 or when the first banner was served in 1994. This digital thing is getting on a bit now but many more boundaries still need to be broken before it can even reach adolescence so let's keeping setting goals.

"There is no guarantee of reaching a goal at a certain time, but there is a guarantee of never attaining goals that are never set." Even Eagles Need A Push" by David McNally (1991)

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Thought for the week

Having earnt such titles as 'The constructive disrupter' (from) and other people who work with me providing recommendations that include 'In the one year I've worked with Rory, I've probably had more arguments, bun-fights and near-death experiences than in the previous five!' (take a look) I have to agree with this weeks thought.

"When everyone agrees, someone is not thinking." Second World War U.S. General George S. Patton (1885-1945)

Monday, 28 June 2010

Knowing the question

The internet continues to make people feel like super powerful know-it-alls. I fall into this trap as much as anyone, usually claiming sporting knowledge then using my mobile phone to find the answer only to struggle because I don't even know what to type in to Google in the first place. It is often easy to think you can get the answers and information you need online so you just nod and go with the flow but, most of the time it isn't that simple. You need to know a few things usually first in order to find relevant information and be able to trust it.

That old saying ‘there is no substitute for experience’ is perhaps more true today than it has ever been. I find myself taking a lot of information in from other people only to find, when questioning it, that it is really just something picked up on the internet. Worse still it is often out of context and when I find the offending item online myself it often reveals the real problem and the correct answers more easily follow.

A while back I posted a 'Thought for the week' on this subject (click here) and I'd extend this to include knowing the right questions in the first place as of equal if not more importance.

Often this problem can be solved by thinking a bit more about how you can find the right question in the first place. I work with a bunch of smart people and some are really good at what I am going to call 'question discovery'. For example, when they come into my office with a question they often start by giving me the context / problem, then they ask a series of open questions and as they take on board my answers they then start ensuring they understand these clearly by asking some closed questions, so it’s not this because...but it could be if... The other way this works is simply by me giving the problem its more widely held or semi official name, and then they have information that helps establish their searches for the answers.

Knowing the question is critical to finding the answers that you need and developing this question still has to involve people and their experience. And the internet can only really help when the question is one that can be supported by answers that can be found online. This is probably only true for a handful of the problems I see. It is more often the case that the right question means that good old problem solving and innovation is required to answer it, and the framework for these exercises can sometimes be shaped by what is out there or has been completed to achieve similar things in the past.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Thought for the week

"You can blame people who knock things over in the dark, or you can begin to light candles. You're only at fault if you know about the problem and choose to do nothing." American author and environmentalist Paul Hawken

Monday, 21 June 2010

Time out

I think getting real time out from the rat race is really difficult to plan for these days. When you go on holiday now there is some expectation that you are on 'the network' somewhere and therefore you are accessible / available in some way. Equally social media is so integrated into mobile that it goes with you as well. This is made even worse when you are in a 'digital' profession and you spend a large chunk of your time exploring this world and as a result adopt some different/bad behaviours - which I've seen in non-digital professional folk as well.

So, when you go away, as I did recently, with the promise of keeping people in the loop and 'the network' isn't there you really do take time out. This has a couple of real benefits:

1. You relax a lot more.
2. You focus on other things - perhaps more important things get more of your time.
3. And in my case you come back to 'the network' with a refreshed appetite for it.

All obvious stuff really. The lesson for me though is to factor in more of this approach over the normal course of my life so as to relax and re-energise more frequently and focus even more on the important things.

Time out is good.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Thought for the week

I think the vast majority of people wake up with honourable intentions.

"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." American essayist Elwyn Brooks White (1899-1985)

However, I reckon you can improve (or save) the world whilst enjoying (or savoring) it. Have your cake and eat it.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The humble brochure

Recently I've been learning a lot about optimal information design from brochures. In particular the fold out style brochures that are often shown in retail environments. The parallels with good web IA are strong.

The typical flow:

  • On the cover page they aim to capture your attention and provide some pretty good reasons to explore.
  • On the reverse of the cover page they provide some important information needed to proceed to purchase (as this is the reverse of the cover page it is therefore not the first page to be read and just acts in support of the next page).
  • Then they provide some compelling USP's / Promotions / key reasons to buy.
  • Depending on the product and/or service the brochure provides steps to configure the purchase to your needs (often acting as a guide).
  • It then gives the options needed to complete purchase - and being a brochure it is channel neutral so provides all available options in one easy to read layout.
  • The final page (back page) is then optional reading and is usually dedicated to any particular terms and conditions / special notifications.
The key difference:

The designs are often far richer and more creative than a lot of their web equivalents. They are also far better at providing the salient information needed to progress or continue to explore. There is no sense of having to give all the information in the world on the one page and simply the back cover provides any particular terms and conditions or additional information resources are highlighted.

In a way they are better information on demand systems than many web pages, where people seem to have forgotten that the international network of computers is actually one big information on demand system, and it is better to have a really clear navigation and sign posting system than swamp the most important information by trying provide every bit of detail up-front.

My tip to fellow digital bods is keep an eye out for brochures and other offline material. They have been created by talented people who have spent a long time perfecting the art of persuasive communication and we still have a lot to learn from them.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Thought for the week

New people and new ideas are great. They offer a fresh approach and help advance many things. If these are set in the context of experience and expertise, not to hamper them but to further evolve them, then they have a far better chance of being delivered and more importantly adding real value.

"A new broom sweeps clean, but an old one knows all the corners." Jamaican proverb

Thursday, 3 June 2010

RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

We all have whiteboard skills this good. :-)

Seriously though the purpose vs. profit motivation conclusion is brilliant.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Thought for the week

Just got back from holiday and this seemed very appropriate:

"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy." French-Italian-Polish poet Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918)

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Thought for the week

"Critical thinking should centre not on answering questions but on questioning answers." The Changing Nature And Uses Of Media Literacy by Sonia Livingstone (2003)

Monday, 5 April 2010

Thought for the week

When things are hectic at work it is important to remember to enjoy it, because if you are busy with work then you have much to be grateful for.

"If you no got smile on you face, no use open shop". Jamaican proverb

Friday, 26 March 2010


Widgetbox looks like a lot of fun. I spent 5mins over lunch having a look today and managed to come away with a rather basic mobile site: Still pretty good though and I will be playing with this again soon.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Possibly one of the best gadgets ever? (Part 2)

So, as promosed I am reporting back on the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen (see Part 1 for the rather short and not very helpfull introduction).

It turns out that it's a real crowd pleaser! And even with my unconfident and slightly shy manner it got a lot of post meeting airplay. This is probably its most impressive feature. Whilst it is a useful gadget and there is a lot of impressive technology on show the amount of noise it inspires is really overwhelming. Is it because its like a new approach to 'the pen' or becuase it has packed in so much for such a little initial outlay? I don't know. I did enjoy the extra attention though.

I've been using it in most meetings. It has effectively done what it promised it would. It saves me time in wiriting my meeting notes and gives me a very useful record of what was said and therefore often what I signed up to so that I can make sure I deliver. Which is all very good and pleasing.

However, there is always one of these, the text convertor is lame and doesn't work that well. You'd have to virually write in full capitals with no arrows or bullets etc. for it to work effectively. And with my Doctors style handwriting this is never going to happen!

All in its a great gadget and one that I will continue to use and make part of my working life. It isn't the best gadget ever though. And the 'smartphone' probably remains at the no.1 spot for now - well some of them deserve this position that is. The search continues.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Possibly one of the best gadgets ever? (Part 1)

I just bought a gadget. Well a couple of days ago actually, it has just taken me this long to get it working properly (that's down to me not the gadget by the way - you would probably take a matter of minutes).

Here it is:

Now I won't describe everything it does just yet. However, I will say that it isn't just a pen and it actually records stuff while you write and then when you dock it all your notes are up there on the screen instantly. That is only a very small part of what it does but the primary reason I bought it.

I am going to use this device extensively over the next two weeks and then report back on whether it is in fact one of the best gadgets ever (in my opinion).

More on the gadget click here.

Sunday, 28 February 2010


Companies thrive on innovation, but the human beings who make up those companies inevitably favour certain ways of working. They also favour working with people like themselves, so they tend to hire people who also like that same way of working. So where is the innovation going to come from?

According to Robert Sutton, professor of management science at Stanford, it comes from hiring people you don't like. Perhaps not people you actively dislike, but certainly people who make you a bit uncomfortable, people who think differently and disagree with you. They probably won't be impressed with the way you do things. Which makes them much more likely to come up with a better way.

This sounds about right to me. As someone who innovates and manages the process of innovation into delivery I regularly study innovation and thinking techniques. I do this because I don't really subscribe to the idea that the ability to create and generate ideas is purely talent based, or something some people have but others do not. I think really good thinking and innovation is a practice or a skill and like all good practices people can develop better ways of thinking and generating ideas. I mention all this because I often feel that one way you can help the innovation process is to be the person who says different things or takes a different perspective. So, along with actively employing people who are different or who you don't exactly like, you can also engender a culture of 'good thinking' and introduce techniques for idea generation that achieve a similar if not the same result.

Thought for the week

I've been talking to a lot of people at the moment about the fact that it is like another boom period for digital at the moment. I'm not entirely sure why it is happening. It could be that digital was the right answer for a lot of the challenges thrown up by the credit crunch. I don't think this is why though. I think it is the fact that people in digital are growing up and everyone else is finally realising it is where they need to focus to succeed.

This weeks thought is based on my feelings about what has stopped certain organisations from really embrassing digital and taking advantage of the opportunities it has presented. And I truly believe it is a fear of failure. I think that fearing failure generally is healthy, but as with any fears you have to balance out the risk i.e. what can we do to work towards the opportunity but plan for the risks effectively? Some organisations get so caught up in the risks and the potential of failure this eventually takes over and the original opportunity is lost.

"There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure." The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1988)