Succumbing to the Ultimate Power Trip

While at lunch with a colleague the other day, we got to talking about different aspects of power.  I asked if my lunch partner had ever experienced the “power trip” that is the White House environment. “No, why?” was the answer. So I shared my own small introduction to the White House experience as an example of how easy closeness to power changes your behavior.

In the late 1970s, I read every book I could find about what went wrong with the “best and the brightest” that were running the White House during the Nixon years.  I couldn’t understand how such supposedly ethical men could mess up and create the Watergate scandal.  Woodward and Bernstein’s All the Presidents Men was one of the key books but there were lots of others like Jeb Stuart Magruder’s An American Life: One Man’s Road to Watergate.

While I could understand the stories at one level, I still didn’t understand how these professionals could go so astray so quickly. Then in one short week, I got my own glimpse of how being at the seat of US power – the White House – can change your behavior so quickly.

One Friday night in 1985 while heading up the development of DEC’s ALL-IN-1 in Charlotte, NC, I got a call which started with “this is the White House calling.”  I immediately hung up the phone because I didn’t have any time for joking around.  The phone rang again and started “don’t hang up this is indeed the White House calling.”  I still wasn’t having any of it so hung up again.  The phone rang for the third time and I decided to play the game to get done with it.  These two guys got on the phone (the next week I found out they were two captains seconded from the Pentagon) and demanded that I get on a plane and come up to DC that night to install ALL-IN-1 on their VAX machine in the Old Executive Office Building.

I told them “No, that is not how we work.”  I told them I would be up Monday morning.  I shook my head and went back to work.  Over the weekend I laughed and realized they could send the IRS and FBI after me.  What was I thinking?

Don Regan

So Monday morning I go up to DC and meet with these two young military eager beavers.  It turns out that Don Regan had just been named Chief of Staff for Ronald Reagan and when he got to the West Wing he was appalled to find out that there were no computers, only typewriters.  From his days on Wall Street, Regan couldn’t imagine how any organization could function with out computers.  So he yelled and somebody at the Pentagon came running and assigned the two captains to make an “office automation system happen.”

The two captains hired a truck and went over to NASA and wheeled out one of DEC’s largest VAX/VMS 780 machines and brought it to the Old EOB.  They then called up the number two executive at DEC, Win Hindle, and asked him what software they should run. Hindle suggested they give me a call and that ALL-IN-1 was the software that they needed.  I spent the morning with them trying to understand what their needs were.  Their goal was to get the system up and running so they could demo the software to Regan at the end of the week.  Everything out of their mouths was Regan ordered this and Regan ordered that.

As usual, a lot of things weren’t working.  So I got on the phone and started calling for help – back to the team in Charlotte and to our support folks in Massachusetts.  Nobody was paying any attention to me and the Captains were breathing down my neck.  Here I was seated in the Old EOB at the center of US political power and it took about 3 hours for me to become like everything I’d read about the best and the brightest at the Nixon White House.  Everything was god awful important and I wanted immediate answers and expected immediate actions.  In three short hours I’d become one of “them.”

The other thing that fascinated me is how little security there was in the Old EOB.  I just had to show my drivers license to get in.  I was escorted to the computer room but nobody stayed with me.  I could wander the halls with ease.

We worked round the clock for a couple of days and then while waiting for software to install, I asked the captains how long they’d known and interacted with Regan.  They looked at me sheepishly and finally confessed “Well, actually we’ve never met or talked to him.  The demo on Friday is going to be the first time we will meet with him.”

I looked at them and went “You mean you’ve been jerking me around all week and telling me Don Regan demanded this and Don Regan demands that and you’ve never even met the man?”

Not looking at me, they said “Yes, that’s right.”

I picked up the phone and called the local DEC office and asked if they had somebody that was trained on ALL-IN-1 and had a security clearance and was used to dealing with government agencies.  They did indeed.  So I politely asked them to get the person over to Old EOB as soon as it was reasonable.  I turned to the Captains and said “You don’t need me.  I’ve arranged for somebody who is used to dealing with your power trips to come help out.  I’m headed back to North Carolina to get back to developing the next version of ALL-IN-1.”  And I walked out shaking my head at how quickly I had become one of them.

The postscript to this story was a couple of years later the Ollie North Iran-Contra affair blew up because of an email that wasn’t deleted when Ollie hit delete.  The email software was ALL-IN-1.  We put the automatic archiving feature in as a way to distinguish our software from our competitors.  We thought every user knew that.  Clearly Ollie didn’t.  For many months we lived in fear that the press would point out that it was DEC’s ALL-IN-1 software that was used.  I don’t think it ever became public.

Since that time when I am at my patient best and in the middle of the vortex of power environments of senior executives asking me to do something “immediately,” I pull out the Deming “5 Whys” to get the back story on why we are being asked to do something. It amazes me how this simple process can calm things down and get at the intent of what is needed versus a “knee jerk” demand.

Posted in ALL-IN-1, Content with Context, organizing | 1 Comment

Easy Productivity Boost – Multiple Monitors

Seeing this NY Times article, I was reminded of one of our key recommendations for boosting productivity in eDiscovery – make sure each lawyer reviewer has multiple monitors. From a capital investment standpoint, multiple monitors are very inexpensive and pay for themselves in a matter of weeks. From the study at the University of Utah:

“At the very least, Professor Anderson said, more monitors cut down on toggling time among windows on a single screen, which can save about 10 seconds for every five minutes of work. If you have more than one monitor, he said, “You don’t have to toggle back and forth. You can take in everything with the sweep of an eye.’”

John Seely Brown used to make the point about multiple monitor productivity by showing Esther Dyson’s office versus Stu Card’s office.

A typical day at Esther Dyson's Office

I had eight screen envy when I saw Stu’s setup (I only had three monitors at the time).

Stu Card's Desktop Command Center

However, if you look closely at Stu’s setup in the lower left you can see the documents he moved off the desktop for the photo shoot.  Indeed, multiple monitors aid productivity but they never get rid of the paper.

At Attenex, we recommended at least three screen for productivity and always demoed our product on a four screen system:

Attenex Patterns Demo System

So for a quick productivity boost, add an extra monitor.

Now the next technology boost I want to see is to get the benefit of the terrific resolution of iPads across multiple displays.

Multiple iPads Ganged Together?

Keep dreaming Skip.

Posted in Attenex Patterns, Big Data, Content with Context, Human Centered Design, iPad, User Experience | 1 Comment

Idealized Design Qualities for a University

In many ways our universities are a four hundred year old anachronism.  In the last twenty years with the expansion of the Internet for content, connections, and communications, the world of learning is in a different state.  As Brynjolfsson and McAfee point out in Race Against the Machine, with computing we are on the second half of the chessboard.

So knowing what we know now, how would we re-design the university if we could start from scratch.  Russ Ackoff suggests starting an Idealized Design process with the articulation of the qualities you would like to bring into being for the system under study.

The following is my list of qualities for the new university:

  1. Learner centered design.  Everything about the new university is aimed at creating life long learners.
  2. Project Centered learning.  Using the “collaboration by difference” promoted by Cathy Davidson, the primary mode of learning is to engage the students in real world projects. The projects would be diverse horizontally (multiple disciplines from the digital humanities to eScience to the arts) and vertically (undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, and professors).
  3. Computational foundation. Building on the 4th “R” recommendation of Cathy Davidson, each student would develop a computational competency.
  4. Content and context come forward to replace the structural forwardness of today’s university. Students will be assessed on the competencies they build rather than the credit hours they attend (see Jennifer Turns comments on structural forward aspect of the university).
  5. Students as teachers. The person who learns the most in the classroom is the teacher. Change the role of the student as passive learner to active teacher.
  6. Tangible knowledge production and “publishing” as core competency. Instead of “make work” artificial assignments, the students and professors should use all contact time to “produce” digital media content (including the physical realm with 3D printing).
  7. Focus on the development of critical thinking skills. Move up the learning hierarchy from rote multiple choice assessment learning to critical thinking.
  8. Systems thinking. In addition to learning the skills of analysis, students should learn to see and think in terms of systems.
  9. No walls and no silos. Instead of constructing sterile classrooms, we should be building virtual environments that are supported by project meeting spaces (virtual and physical) and eating/gathering spaces. Multi-disciplinary teams should have project spaces and shared cooking/eating spaces. Instead of the silos of narrow knowledge departments, organizing should occur around real world projects.  (See MG Taylor Corporation examples of built environments for project and innovation teams.)
  10. Art producing. Make art together every day.

What is your list of the qualities you would want to have for an idealized design of the university?

Posted in Content with Context, Human Centered Design, Idealized Design, Innovation, Intellectual Capital, Knowledge Management, Learning, organizing, Teaching, University, User Experience | Leave a comment

Growth Partners

Growth Partner

Working with startup entrepreneurs, I am often asked “What else should I be thinking about?” Invariably the answer is “what are you doing to create growth partners?”

The experienced startup entrepreneurs will think through and develop plans for a channel strategy to get to market.  Yet, most entrepreneurs don’t think in terms of growth partners in the insightful way that Mack Hanan has published for 20 years.

Mack Hanan in Competing on Value describes the importance of a Growth Partner:

“How can you grow your business?

“You cannot.

“You can only grow someone else’s business.  His business growth will be the source of your growth.  By growing, he will force growth back upon you because he will want you to grow him again.

“The businesses you can grow have a name.  They are called your major customers.  Their growth must be the objective of your business.  The capabilities you require to grow them must be your asset base.

Growth requires a partner. A growth partner is a special kind of customer.  He is a customer whose costs you can significantly reduce or whose profitable sales volume you can significantly increase.  In one or both of these ways, you can improve his profits.  This is the basis for his growth.  It is also the basis for his contribution to your own growth.  As the two of you grow each other, you will become mutually indispensable.

“If you cannot grow a customer, you cannot partner him.  You can continue to do business with him, buying and selling, but the maximized profits of growth will elude both of you.  If all your cusotmers are buyers instead of growers, you will be a slow-growth or no-growth business.  None of your customers will be growing you because you will not be growing them.”

It is a joy for me to see the “Ah Hah!” expression after a few moments of thought on the part of the entrepreneur.  Until this moment of comprehension, I think most entrepreneurs believe they are in control of their own business. Hanan’s simple question “How can you grow your business?” with the counter-intuitive response “You cannot” is an eye opener for the entrepreneur.

As you think about your business, who are your growth partners? How are you helping them grow their business every day?

Posted in Idealized Design, Innovation, organizing, Relationship Capital, Value Capture | 2 Comments

Visuals Speak to Me – Quite Loudly as it Turns Out

I am a very visual person, although I have more of an ability to recall those things I’ve seen rather than being very good at creating visuals.

This week my cup overfloweth with colleagues and students pointing me to some great uses of visualization – Amazon Books and VisualsSpeak.

Dan Becker, a student in Professor David Socha’sEvidence Based Design” course at UW Bothell sent a pointer to a new service to visualize book linkages from the Amazon data feeds.  He’d come across the service in an article on mediabistro.  So I cranked it up and as a test put in Russ Ackoff’s name as a test.  It was with amazement that I saw what feels like a good portion of my business library of books come out in the diagram.  I particularly love the rank ordering and information on any specific selected book.

Ackoff Books on Amazon

The developer, Andrei Kashcha, rapidly responds to user feedback and a recent innovation allows you to bookmark the feature and when you are at an Amazon product page you can click on the visualize option to see what the product is related to.  It was a hoot to visualize all of the Nespresso products at Amazon:

Nespresso on Amazon

As part of a team visioning process last weekend, Sylvia Taylor introduced the VisualsSpeak Image Set. She spread out 200 images on a couple of tables.  The idea was for each of us to explore the question of “What we want for our future?” and then find in a few minutes the images that spoke to us.  Then we were to arrange the images to be able to tell a story. I selected the four images below:

What does Skip want in the future?

I wanted to take my photo editing tool and resize some of the photos so I could get the layout I wanted, but this was a one size fits all. So I arranged the photos in a “Z” eye movement arrangement.  The story I told went something like:

“I am standing in the present looking backwards at my footprints in the sands of time at the journey that I’ve been on for these sixty years.  As I turn around to look at my future, I see the ‘net of knowledge’ that reminds me that my passion in life is teaching others to ‘fish’ like the old Chinese Proverb ‘Give a man a fish and he won’t starve for a day.  Teach a man how to fish and he won’t starve for his entire life.’

“In teaching others about their future path, I try to be the light that is both attractive and yet warns of the surrounding dangers. Yet, as I walk through the doors of the years, I can now glimpse the end game of live.  I wonder what the carving in the stone over the final resting place will have to say about my life’s legacy.”

Sylvia suggests we take a picture of our images so that we can print them out and do additional work reflecting on what those images mean.  A couple of days later, I print out the images and write what comes immediately to mind.

What I want?

Amazing.  The visuals really do elicit a different set of thoughts and ideas than what is coming out of my “writing my way into existence.” I start thinking of this process as “visualizing my way into existence.”

I am interested in trying out the online version as Sylvia shared that the ImageCenter has images of paintings that the founder Christine Martell created.  I was secretly hoping that I would have the same images to choose from so that I could recreate what I did with the Image Set and be able to resize the images.  However, the images were completely different.  OK, Skip, go with the flow.  So I picked the same question we’d used at the start of the group envisioning process “What do I want in the future?” Out came the following (see full PDF):

What do I want in the future?

I couldn’t believe how easily the text flowed out of the images to describe what I was thinking and feeling in the moment. However, the rest of the team that participated in the group exercise will notice some related imagery to the group future visual we produced – many hands, sustenance, and the tree of life.

The VisualsSpeak images, process and tools fit all my criteria for a good process – it is quick, it is creative, it brings together the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic, and it reflects my inner state.  The process meets Chris Argyris definition of double loop learning that Schon describes in The Reflective Practioner: How Professionals Think in Action.

Double Loop Learning

It must be the unseasonable warm sunshine that is suffusing Seattle the last couple of days that is creating the context for all of these wonderful visuals and visualizations to show up.

The visual world is speaking loudly today.

Posted in Content with Context, Human Centered Design, Idealized Design, Learning, Nature, organizing, Visual pattern Language, Working in teams | 4 Comments

Walter’s Laws

While creating and developing ALL-IN-1, I wrote down my first law of software development – “Any product not used by its developers ain’t worth squat.” In building our system, we depended on ALL-IN-1 to coordinate the work among the developers. We used our product every day. When we looked at our internal and external competitors, it was clear that the developers of the systems were not users.  Our competitors systems were neither useful or usable as a result.

Over the years, I accumulated other laws of software development and of business. While laws are a bit presumptuous, principles or heuristics just don’t have the same level of pithiness.

The following are the current collection of laws with a little bit of explanation.

  1. The usefulness of any product is directly proportional to its use by its developers. The Southern Version of this law is:  “Any product not used by its developers ain’t worth squat.”
  2. Version 2 of any application is a pseudo Javascript compiler.  The application developers get confused over who is the customer – an end user or another software developer.
  3. The version 1.5 of any application product is a replacement for whatever the current desktop metaphor is.
  4. When in doubt about what do to next, start at the end goal and work back to the present.  This law is a derivative of Russ Ackoff’s Idealized Design where Russ points out that in artificial intelligence terms it is very difficult to do forward chaining to solve a problem.  Backward chaining works much better.
  5. Words mean something but almost never the same thing to different people. Words are the ultimate abstraction.  A movie is never as good as the book.  A product never looks like the specification.

    Interpreting User Needs

  6. When the process you are doing isn’t working, reverse the steps.  Most of us learn a change process that Bob Biller describes as bedrock – hold a system steady for long periods, make massive changes all at once, and then bring the system back to steady state.  Biller describes a better process for environments which change rapidly – swamp mode.  Here you make small changes all the time, much like you would traverse a swamp.
  7. If you are agonizing over picking the optimum choice from a list, implement all of them (move from either/or to BOTH/AND).  Time after time I see software engineers spend days to weeks trying to figure out by themselves (without involving real users) what is the best choice.  By implementing all of the possible ways (usually takes far less time building than trying to decide), choice is preserved until you do get the product in front of real users.
  8. If you can’t decide which option to pick, pick any of them and get started, but be specific.  Ken Olsen’s variant:  When in  doubt JUST TRY!
  9. Produce your product or service every day even during development. Worry about real problems, not artificial ones. Keep the sense of urgency high. Keep the focus on producing value high.  Get paid for the product that is produced. Enable continuous improvement.
  10. Never assume you are the top or bottom application.  Assume the computer is a valid user too. This law is a reminder to make sure that all of the functionality you implement can also be used by other developers.
  11. Open architectures always win, particularly plug in architectures.  The power of others being able to add value provides far more rapid growth than your own development team.  Imagine our surprise when we did the Aldus-Adobe merger when we revealed our respective product revenue streams.  Industry pundits estimated the size of the photo editing market at $15M.  With their plug-in architecture, Adobe was generating >$250M a year – and no one knew.
  12. Integrating applications are a bitch – ALL-IN-1, PageMaker.  You are at the mercy of every other developer and their product release cycles that you are trying to integrate with.  Filters are always out of date.  Testing is a combinatorial impossibility.  The V1 integrating application always looks terrific, but the lifecycle costs of continuing to maintain the product are horrendous.  This law is all about dependency management.  V1 attracts a hot market if done right; but things get combinatorially harder in future versions.
  13. Integrating applications always suck.  They are never good at any function.  The balance of integration versus good functionality versus interaction with other programs always gets done wrong (there is never a right mix for a large enough audience).
  14. When developing a comprehensive system specification which includes APIs, always develop the authoring tool as well.  Authoring tools are always left out in a race to get the product out, but it is the authoring tool which points out the holes in your API and system definitions.
  15. Messages and communications are not media neutral.  The translation between media helps sharpen your ideas and content.  There is a two way flow between what you are trying to communicate and the form you communicate it in. For example, the thesis student projects are generated in multiple media at the Institute of Design – slide show, video, brochure, and 16 page paper.  Doing the thesis in multiple media helps the student understand their ideas much better.  If you want people to edit for ideas and content do it on a crummy printer (low resolution and fidelity).  To edit for typos, do it on a laser printer (high resolution and fidelity).  If you want business executives to understand product concepts do sketches and storyboards, not high resolution prototype applications.
  16. Ends/Means Confusion. When you are with a customer it is easy to focus on Ends.  When you are not, you get immersed in Means.  Picking the customer(s) is the art form to developing a successful product.  Find tangible surrogates for the development team to always have the customer present in any design or product development activity.
  17. If an organizational function or role is not represented in a meeting, their input will be sorely missed. It’s not who is present that is important; it’s who is missing.
  18. Life is a medium scale number problem. Large scale number problems can be treated statistically.  Small scale numbers can be treated analytically.  Most wicked and difficult problems in business are medium scale number problems.  Most professionals convert a medium scale number problem into a large scale number problem and try to sub-optimize everything.  Goldratt brilliantly showed how to convert a medium scale number problem into a small number problem with his Theory of Constraints.

As I shared the list of laws with colleagues, Andy Cargile graciously added the laws that he has accumulated to the list:

  1. Whenever you are brainstorming for solving a problem, always do one pass at reframing the problem and solving it orthogonally.
  2. If you have to explain how to use the interface to the user (who has basic knowledge), it’s not designed well enough yet.
  3. Open systems are a bitch in practice – in “theory” everything “should” work with everything else. Or, the equivalent: have the vendor prove the compatibility of their “open system” instead of you.
  4. In evaluating products, you have to “build” something similar in each one (versus just playing) or you’ll miss the gotchas.
  5. The first people to talk to in redesigning/enhancing an app is the customer service (answer line) folks. They can point out all the problems (without trying to fix them).
  6. Committees can’t create good names. Corrollary: Margaritas can (get away from the day to day work environment).
  7. If one person says it sucks, get a second opinion. If two say it sucks, you have some problems to deal with. If three say it sucks, it sucks.
  8. Beware the functional demo to executives (they’ll plan to ship it in a week).
  9. In estimating, it’s the tasks you forget that kills the schedule, not the individual task estimates being off.
  10. Let the resource doing the task tell you how long it will take.
  11. Have your mom test a system for you (or other completely uninvolved and uninitiated person); you’ll learn something.
Posted in ALL-IN-1, Content with Context, Software Development, WUKID | 2 Comments

Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do – Euan Semple

Once you figure out how to dip your “knowledge net” into the stream of search engines, blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, the world just shows up at your doorstep (oops, I mean browser window).  Well, sort of.  It helps a lot to have great colleagues who keep pointing out where the gold nuggets are.

A couple of years ago, Mason White pointed me to Pinhawk Legal Technology Daily Digest. He explained that of all the resources that he has come across this daily email provided the best and quickest summary of what was important to read in the area of eDiscovery and Knowledge Management.  Over the last couple of years, this is one of the few daily emails that I read religiously.

While you could lose yourself for hours if you clicked through all of the resources, the editor does a great job of highlighting the three or four blog entries that drew his attention the previous day.  The amazing thing is that the quality of the blog has stayed high even through a change in editors.

I usually end up clicking through to one of the highlighted articles each day.  On January 30, 2012, the entry that caught my eye was “Jack Vinson talks about Euan Semple’s book Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do.” As I am in the process of trying to understand the role of Twitter in my online knowledge streams, the title caught my eye. In the first couple of paragraphs, I realized that I needed to get Semple’s book.

So I switched over to the Amazon Kindle iPad app and ordered the book.  Instant gratification is such a wonderful thing.

I felt right at home as I started into the book with its introduction by Andrew McAfee, whose book Race Against the Machine, I’d just finished. To my wonderful surprise, Semple frequently quotes David Weinberger who I’d recently reconnected with after reading his book Too Big to Know.

The more I read, the more I realized that Euan must have been living in my head the last ten years.  Rarely, do I come across a writer who not only has had similar experiences, but who is eloquently able to express those experiences in text. So many of my experiences and thoughts just stay jumbled up and never make it through my typing fingers to the keyboard.

Jack Vinson set expectations appropriately that this wasn’t a book about Twitter or technology:

“Funny enough for a book with this title, the book really isn’t about Twitter – or any other specific service.  Twitter simply serves as the most familiar vehicle to have a discussion around how we operate in the world of blogging and forums and Twitter and Facebook and all the other social services that are out there.  And how we need to operate has been changing for a while – it’s just that there have been too many people with a hierarchical or command-and-control mindset to be able to see it.”

The book was exactly what I was looking for to understand the organizational implications of social media and the impact on both individual contributors and management in the age of the blog.

Then I realized that I needed to understand who Jack Vinson was and tracked back to his biography and website.  Low and behold he has a strong background in knowledge management and Theory of Constraints.  I’d been writing a lot about both lately so I sent off an email and yet another conversation has started.  I can’t wait to make my spring trip back to Boston to meet with Jack and other colleagues from my invisible university.

One of the measures I used to determine what my top books from 2011 would be is how much I highlighted and made notes within the book.  It’s clear that Semple’s book will make the Top 10 as I made at least 116 highlights and 17 notes.  I made so many highlights that Amazon would only show me a portion of them because “for some books the publisher allows only a limited percentage of a book to be ‘clipped’ and stored separately from the main body of the book, as normally happens when you add a highlight. If you exceed this limit then you will see fewer highlights on this website than you actually marked on your Kindle.”

My favorite chapter in Semple’s book was “Writing Ourselves Into Existence.”  The book title comes from a quote of David Weinberger’s from The Cluetrain Manfiesto.  The phrase and the chapter captured exactly what I’ve been doing the last three months – finding my voice so I can write the layered digital media text I am working on. Euan summarizes the chapter:

“Developing your own skills and knowledge has never been easier. In fact it has never been more in our own interests to build skills and capabilities as the world of work becomes more unpredictable. The web gives us access to all sorts of wonderful resources for learning but it does more than this. It helps us understand ourselves and the world around us in context. It helps us make sense of things. It helps us ‘be’ more. There is something about the process of blogging that makes you more self-aware. You become more thoughtful about yourself and your place in the world. In the reactions of others to your writing you get a different perspective, possibly for the first time, on how others see you.”

Semple combines this insight with arguing that the Internet with emails, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter is exploding a renaissance of writing literacy back into society.  More people are writing AND publishing more than ever in history.

Being able to name what I am doing as “writing myself into existence every day” is so liberating.

The wonderful surprise at the end of the book is Semple’s impassioned plea for us to open our eyes to what the Internet and the web are enabling in today’s workplaces:

“Some time back David Weinberger wrote that the motivating force behind the internet was love. It was the basic human desire to connect that made it all hang together. At the time I admired his idealism and indeed bravery at being so open about something we have all been trained to dismiss as at best personal and at worst a sign of weakness.

“In contrast I have just finished reading Joel Bakan’s The Corporation in which he exposes the fact that corporations are legally bound to do just one thing – maximise shareholder value and that in fact to be motivated by higher ideals, or indeed love, could be considered detrimental to that overriding purpose if it impacts the bottom line in anything but a positive way.

“Where did all this come from, where did the idea that the most powerfully motivating force in the world had nothing to do with business? We spend most of our adult lives in the workplace and at work we bring about the most important and long lasting changes to our society and our planet – and yet we are not encouraged to talk in terms of love. OK we just about get away with “loving our job” or “loving success” but start talking about loving colleagues or loving customers and you’ll have people running for the door. And yet isn’t this what makes great people and great places tick? A deep sense of connection with each other, a depth of purpose beyond the everyday that sees customers as more than merely stepping stones on the way to returning that value to the shareholders? . . .

“Maybe love does have a place in business after all. Maybe more and more of us will start to have the courage to begin to talk about what really matters to us about work and our relationships with each other and to push back the sterile language of business that we have been trained to accept. Maybe we will realise that accepting love into the workplace reminds us of the original purpose of work – not to maximise shareholder value but to come together to do good things, to help each other and hopefully to make the world a better place. Maybe. …

“Oh and by the way if the above is too new age and namby pamby for you I reckon social computing is capable of taking 25% out of the running costs of most businesses – so there!”

What a way to end the book with the intertwining of workplace and love.  What a concept.

Would we have more great leaders working in great teams producing great results if we regularly wrote ourselves into existence with love in our hearts and minds? That is a super question for this Super Bowl weekend.

Posted in Content with Context, Knowledge Management, Learning, organizing, Relationship Capital, social networking, User Experience | 4 Comments