Itune out, drop off, turn in

Having read Neal’s post today and having had something of a blog binge earlier, I thought I’d catch up with the rest of the world and have a look at Itunes 4.9

Perhaps I wanted to wind myself up as an antidote to all the unravelling of ideas that I’ve been doing, I don’t know, but I wish I’d chosen something gentle like self-administered trepanning instead.

I’ve now walked away. I am calm. I have forgiven Steve Jobs, for now.

I cannot be arsed to add their elements to my feed. I cannot be arsed to join up and give them my credit card details so that I can put them straight on my podcasts metadata. I cannot be arsed to dig around to find out how to correct what’s already (half) there.

When at least three people approach me independently of each other and say, “I’ve been looking for your podcast on Itunes, but I can’t find it anywhere” then I shall contemplate doing something about it.

I’m glad my best podcast buddies are similarly cool.

Get to the point Lloyd

hovercraftThere’s actually something else I want to say about this “why I blog” thing. Blogging and podcasting have something really useful buried within them. They’re about ‘dialogue’ and dialogue is a (perhaps the) great tool for unlocking creativity.

When I blog or create a podcast, I’m initiating a dialogue on a couple of levels.

I’m conducting a dialogue with myself, usually with the motivation of understanding better what I think, what I’ve been doing, who I am, who all the people around me are. Regardless of whether anyone else reads/hears/sees what I’ve written/said/erm…y’know video’d, the process of deciding what to say, saying it and reflecting on what’s said has a great value in it for me as a personal knowledge management activity (let alone the emotional or spiritual benefit) – I know better what I know. Importantly, but often forgotten, I’m talking to myself in the future – tomorrow, next week, next year, on my deathbed (btw hopefully that’s way after next year) and I give myself the opportunity to commune with myself in the past to think about what I was thinking then to talk about it, and if I’m brave let it go, let it die so that I can give life to what I think today.

More obviously, I’m conducting an asynchronous persistent dialogue with a self-selecting, global group of people (blimey, now I know why I feel tired after a hard day’s bloggin).

Why is asynchronous important? Well, there’s a difference between a conversation I have face to face with someone and this, where I leave a message for others to find. I don’t get immediate feedback (which can alter what I’m saying as I say it) When I do get feedback, it is usually in the same asynchronous form (except when I meet readers/listeners face to face). This gives us both the chance to step back from the subject-matter, from the message, and to think about it before responding…or not.

Persistent – this stuff stays around, we can pick up the dialogue at any time, because all the bits are still there (Murphy willing) and interlinked. They can accumulate interest and value over time just by sitting there.

Self-selecting? You choose to listen to me or to see my words pop up on your screen. I don’t choose you. I try to encourage you to continue to look at my messages by what I write or say or how I say it. I invite you to engage with me, sometimes provocatively, but the decision rests with you. And if you’re like me, the decision is rarely explicit. And there are no criteria for membership of this group, except the willingness to accept my bitstream in some form.

cleverGlobal? Well duh! Here though there are some barriers to engagement. No internet connection? Makes it difficult. Can’t read English? Difficult. Your government thinks I’m a dangerous radical lunatic? Unlikely but understandable – and it would make it difficult. Nonetheless, I have the opportunity to engage in dialogue with a hugely diverse range of people – this helps my thinking grow and be richer than was ever possible before – people who say I’m wrong, or who point out the cultural assumptions that I’m making nourish me just as much as those who smile and say “Yes! You’re right.”

Then there are the different dimensions to the contact or engagement. You read my post. How do you react? Regardless of whether you explicitly, consciously react or not, you are in some way changed by reading it. Perhaps this is the post that makes you decide to unsubscribe and never go to Perfect Path again. Maybe it adds to your prejudices about English people. Maybe it adds to your prejudices about Welsh people (not realising that I’m not Welsh). Maybe it stops you from taking another bite of that sausage roll. Maybe the words just crawl across your retina and are instantly forgotten, on to the next post. A hugely complex range of reactions – the sum of your experience and mine, touching for a few moments.

What is unusual about this engagement is that you hearing me has no direct and immediate effect on me until you respond. And I have absolutely no control or influence over how you react, I don’t know how you’ll react and neither do you. However, all of these reactions are part of the dialogue – they will influence how you respond, whether you do it by posting a comment or mentioning, when we meet, in twenty years time, that you found it very difficult to understand what I was going on about on 30th June 2005.

The fundamental point here is that dialogue is a creative act and that the act of creation is near-impossible without dialogue. Individuals and organisations need access to their creativity. Whatever business you’re in, you need to be thinking of new ways to do things, different things to do, to be constantly asking: Who are we? Why are we still here? What do we do? Who are we? And if that’s whe we are, what choices are we making today about who we’re going to be tomorrow?

These activities, blogging, podcasting, videoblogging are all ways of asking those questions and getting the answers, whether you’re 1 person or 1,000,000.

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So, c’m’ere… there’s more

03 what does cf mean to youJohnnie, Paul and Gia have all been very kind about my earlier post on why I blog.

I have to admit there’s even more to it than my personal lifestance. This same reasoning applies to my cheerleading for organisational blogging, whether it’s inside the firewall or across it.

The questions are the same for any organisation, particularly those whose primary functions are the creation, nurturing, collation and dissemination of ideas, aka knowledge-based organisations aka the greater part of the ‘developed’ economy.

“Who are we?” and “Who do we choose to be today?” “Who do we think we are?” and “What do other people see in us and the things we do?”

This is day-to-day strategic management. There is a textbook view that success depends on developing vision statements and mission statements and cascading management by objectives. Most managers have a different experience. The comply with the performance management systems, because that’s part of their job. But when it comes down to it, these are the questions they really have to answer day in, day out.

What are we trying to do here? Why do we do it? How do we do it? How don’t we do it? How do we know when we’re doing well? How would we like to be seen by our customers, suppliers, competitors and collaborators? How do we measure up to that ideal? What can we do that gets us further towards that ideal?

As a manager, these questions ring truer than any checklist in a management handbook, but how do we answer them? For the brave organisation and the brave employee, blogs can answer these questions, by allowing people to engage in a conversation that goes “This is what I think we’re trying to do here”, “Well I think that’s baloney, it’s like this”, “Hey, perhaps there’s another way of looking at this”. Now in the past, those conversations have gone on in people’s heads or gathered around the water-cooler/coffee-machine. But to deal with the fact that physical proximity to one’s colleagues is no longer a given, we need new ways to do this, to chew the fat, to check ourselves out, to work out what to do today. That’s what you can use blogs for – whether the person who thinks it’s baloney is ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ your organisation.

And just as personal blogging requires an ability to deal with the anxiety of putting yourself on the line and the maturity to accept others as they are, so corporate blogging requires levels of honesty and tolerance that most organisations just just aren’t used to having out in the open. Trouble is, the best way of encouraging these quailities is to explore our own dishonesty and intolerance and gently expose that of others – and that’s really, really hard – it’s going to take a while.

Can you tell, I’m having a slack work period at the moment? Hire me! and get this brain working on your knotty problems.

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