All posts by Lloyd Davis

Rough video of smooth people

To make up somewhat for the dismal showing so far today (see below on The Secret Agent) I give you a very scrunched up version of all the video I shot on Saturday at Podcastcon UK.

See if you can spot among the audience: Alex Bellinger, Nicole Simon, Rachel Clarke, Kosso, Jo Twist, Ben Metcalfe, Hugo Schotmann.

And now that I’ve seen how to embed video (even if I can’t get it to work yet), here’s a surplus picture of Alex for his many adoring fans:
Alex Bellinger

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The Normal Business Person’s Guide to Blogs, Wikis & RSS

nocats

  • “I have too much to read – I can’t keep up”
  • “E-mail has stopped being productive for me, but I don’t know what else to do”
  • “Communication’s really bad around here, nobody knows what’s going on.”
  • “Oh God, I didn’t know we had a project team working on that.”
  • “Advertising just seems to have stopped working for us”

You’re not alone. These are some of the things that made me tear my hair out as a manager (in the end I just had to shave it all off to stop myself doing it) – and these problems seem insoluble – worse than that, everything you do just seems to make it worse.

Geeks to the rescue!

Luckily, some very clever people with rather variable social skills have created a bunch of tools that seem to deal with these problems very well (Hey, you’re reading one now!). What’s more they’ve made them pretty much freely available – all you have to do is know what you want to do and work out how best to do it.

If you’ve been reading the right papers, you’ll have heard of blogging some time ago – what you may not realise is that blogs can be more than a teen-angst diary or a place to add more hilarious pictures of your cat – they are also a business tool that can be applied to marketing and communications, project management and improving the productivity of individuals and teams.

You might even have heard of a mysterious relation of blogs – RSS. Really Simple Syndication is increasingly being used to help people both focus their own reading, but also reach their audience much more effectively. RSS is also spawning a new generation of search engines that can help you find the very latest web-based information while also letting new readers find your stuff much more easily.

Those who really should get out more will have heard the word Wiki. A wiki is a very simple website that anyone (yes anyone) can edit – they are very useful for collaboration, helping people who may be geographically separate to work up ideas, create and edit documents and to organise events. Take a look at my wiki if you like

These tools together can boost your productivity enormously whether you choose to use them over the internet or within your corporate network, but if you’re not a geek and you don’t know any geeks (or perhaps you’d just like to keep your geek-related activity quiet)how can you relieve some of the frustrations of coprorate life? What could your organisation do with them? What are others in your industry doing with them? Just how do you get started?

“The Normal Business Person’s Guide to Blogging, Wikis and RSS” is a one-day workshop that I’m offering now to help people look at these issues and work out how they can benefit.

Who should attend?

There are three key criteria:
Are you a person? Good, ‘cos there’s no cats allowed.

Do you do business? OK so the definition of business is pretty wide here – I work with lots of public-sector people who do lots of “business”.

Now here’s the clincher… are you normal? I think this pretty much comes down to “Do you need to communicate better with people inside and outside of your organisation? Do you want to serve your customers better? Must you have value for money?” If you’re shouting Yes! Yes! Yes! then you’re normal enough to attend the workshop.

What’s in it for you?

If you attend, you will come away with a better understanding of:

  • What these tools are and what they can do.
  • How the tools are being used already by your customers, suppliers or competitors.
  • The risks of not adopting these tools.

You will also see:

  • How ridiculously easy it is to start and maintain a blog.
  • How blogs encourage conversations that can turn prospects into customers.
  • How a wiki can be used to jointly create something useful.
  • How RSS can speed up information flows while improving how well that information is targeted.

Finally you will have the opportunity to talk about how best you could use these technologies to improve customer relations, internal communications and (if that’s the bag you’re into) sell more stuff!

The workshop is best suited to a small group of people (6-8), in a single organisation, or who otherwise have to work together. Contact me in the usual way (lloyd AT perfectpath DOT co DOT uk) to set up a day’s session for your team.

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Geeking & Eating

London continues to welcome a stream of geek-beloved names. This Friday, 22nd July, Lee Wilkins has organised a special night with Jeremy Zawodny of Yahoo! [ sign up in the comments to Lee’s post on geekdinner.co.uk ]

Lee sez: “Venue is the luxurious Bar Blanca, 3/4 Sherwood Street, London W1 [map]. We have hired out the whole bar! As with previous Geek Dinners [last 2] £20 will be payable on the door to cover cost of food.”

Jeremy’s here for the feverish geek excitement that is OpenTech 2005 which takes place on the following day.

Be there, or be quietly sniggered at in binary, hex and l33t.

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Public Service Conversations Caf&#233

I’ve just posted this over at Public Service Conversations:

I’m really pleased and excited to be able to announce that the Public Service Conversations café sessions are going to begin at the end of May.

Sessions will be held every other Wednesday at 10.30am and last for an hour and a half. The venues will vary, but at least for now they will be within Central London. Each session will have a maximum of 8 participants but there are no other requirements on you – to be able to attend you need only have an interest in public services in the UK and have a willingness to participate in a conversation with people who are similarly inclined.

The conversation in the session will be recorded (audio-only, no need for extra make-up) and a copy of the recording will be made available for download here (but if everyone waits to see what the recording is like before booking a place, then no-one will come to the first session!) Coffee, Tea and Water will be served.

The first session is on Wednesday 25th May 2005. If you’d like to come along, please send an e-mail to bookings@public-service-conversations.co.uk or leave a comment here and someone will get in touch with you. These sessions are available at a special introductory price of £75 + VAT (payment is possible by cheque or by invoice).

We are also taking bookings for four more Wednesday sessions during June and July:

8th June
22nd June
6th July
20th July

We’ll deal with August when we come to it!

The venue for the first session is yet to be fully confirmed but is likely to be in London W1 or SW1. As soon as details are available, they’ll be publicised on this site.

Remember places are strictly limited so book soon to make sure you’re part of the conversation.

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“Find your neutral space. You got a rush. It’ll pass. Be seated.” – Withnail & I, 1987

I was initially puzzled by what Dave Winer meant by me believing in the insiders and giving them the power (I wouldn’t have put it that way) but his explanation of what happens when the drugs wear off helps.

And what he says about tools puts into focus my dissatisfaction with Sparks! as I wrote about it earlier. It doesn’t actually do anything more that I want to do as a podcaster except bring together cut down versions of the tools in a single package and bung in some free (for now) hosting. I’d much rather learn to use the existing separate tools (my minidisc, audacity, RSS 2.0 and associated software, ftp, ipodder, MT) which I might one day use for other things too, than put the effort into learning how to use a needlessly over-complicated interface which just sews together the bits that someone else thinks are important.

The whole notion of insiders and outsiders kind of dissolves when I remember that to me Dave appears to be an insider – he plainly doesn’t feel like one. To anyone who discovered blogging yesterday I might look like an insider – well I just ain’t, but I have experienced the buzz of people considering me an insider in other areas and I don’t deny it is a powerful drug.

This leads me to refine what I said about power on Doc’s site – I left out those who don’t accept the popular view of where power lies and point out that (as usual) those who style themselves as “kings” are in the altogether.

So please Adam, Evan and all, put some clothes on, quick, I’m finding it difficult to put my mouth right up to the mic with that mental image in my mind.

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PKM trust, faith & fear

For the KB PKM workshop at KM Europe yesterday, I provided a teaser to get conversations going that originally was entitled “trust vs suspicion, faith vs fear…aaaaaagh the feelings” to get us talking about emotional responses to Knowledge Management and the implications for Personal Knowledge Management.

My motivation was really to get the conversation going at all as I’ve so often found that fear ends up being the ultimate barrier to change and to knowledge sharing but even talking about it is taboo in many corporate cultures.

The notes I scribbled before standing up to introduce the conversation went like this:

Fear as a barrier to change

Fear of: Discovery; Making mistakes; Ridicule; Victimisation; Loss of power; Loss of control; Telling the truth (where this is not the norm)

Isolation vs Connection

As I’ve often found with Open Space type events, it’s very difficult and probably not desirable to try to report in detail what we talked about. While we talked people were also putting thoughts on post-it notes which Ton promised to transcribe on the wiki, so the conversation might continue there.

The big insights for me were:

  • Very few people actually go to work intending to inspire fear in their team.
  • Some uber-gurus are quiet, shy and deferential
  • A lot depends on what your reward and value system is like (and I don’t mean PM Systems etc, I mean the more informal personal ones – how do I know from people around me whether I’m doing a good job)

What I wasn’t prepared for was for my definition of PKM to become the focus of the discussion and we ended up in a bit of a trial of my ideas on PKM rather than a broad discussion and I felt (perhaps wrongly, but I’m not sure) that people wanted me to give them the answer. I think this is entirely understandable in a situation where people are constantly bombarded with presentations where people stand up and say “I have the answer” I’m happy to say I don’t have *the* answer, but I have some possible answers and I’d love to keep having the conversation.

The bit I entirely forgot about – but perhaps we can talk about next time is how expressions of fear are not acceptable but expressions of anger are. I can’t remember which guru said that when people are being angry in the workplace s/he always asks “what are they afraid of?”

Looking & Recording in Different Ways

robephoto
More of an art day than the last few sales sales and more sales.
Spent an hour at the V&A this morning drawing.

robesketch
And was struck by the difference and similarity between the two images I created of the same robe.
robeclouds
Especially in contrast to the “reality” of the photograph. I know this isn’t a new idea in art but in management (even Kmanagement) it’s rarely this clear to me.