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April 17, 2014 / Jeff Hora

Scary and Hard To Do

Scream Cropped

Scream Cropped (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read an article recently by Laura Cioca, Director of Media & Engagement at W2O, about something she calls ‘Fauxthenticy’.  She defines this as ‘the tendency some brands have towards assuming we’re all complete idiots.’

She goes on to describe it as a kind of creative laziness that ‘pretends that a brand’s participation in community has anything to do with people.’  She then lists a number of examples, all of which I have seen before and recently.  It’s sad really….

It seems to be a gospel truth in social business and so-called ‘thought leader’ articles that treating your customers and others in your interactions as Human Beings (that is, people with which you have and nurture relationships) is the competitive path to better business, greater earnings, products of higher quality and greater relevancy, and a degree of innovation not possible within the closed confines of the conference room.  So, if this is the Actual Truth, why is it generally ignored?
Well, to boil it right down, it’s hard to do.
March 3, 2014 / Jeff Hora

Get out of your way

Ego suspension. There it is.  What does it mean?

listening

listening (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

I have been doing quite a bit of research and consideration of the skills required to be a truly effective listener, collaborator, influencer (more on that later) and generally a better human being. It turns out that ego suspension is critical to this direction of growth and one of the hardest things to do. Ever.
January 31, 2014 / Jeff Hora

The Change of the Moment

mindfulness 1.0

mindfulness 1.0 (Photo credit: Mrs Janet R)

Like it or not, most of the passing moments bring something a bit different than what I am expecting.  That’s really just a fact, an observation. Whatever I plan, even in the midst of doing something that I feel like I have complete control over (like writing this post…), moments seem to move in a slightly different way than I thought they might.  Most of the time the changes are so small, so quantum-sized that they are virtually unnoticeable. That doesn’t change the fact of their existence.  What does change is my perception and acceptance of them.
January 16, 2014 / Jeff Hora

Listening is Visual

Recently I had the privilege of spending several hours with some new members of the community I work with.  The scenario was a bit backwards, as

Listening

Listening (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

their particular community is a couple of decades old and I’ve only really known them for several months, but we are “new to each other”, so to speak.  It was a LOT of fun and extremely educational.

The first part of the meeting consisted of time set aside for me to make a presentation that I had worked on for a couple of weeks and spent some time rehearsing. I went over it again on the plane to the meeting and once more for good measure a half hour before the meeting began.  Upon entering the meeting room, I noticed no projector….um…..OK. The lead at the meeting told me that, since I was the only person with an actual presentation, they had decided not to have a projector.
January 10, 2014 / Jeff Hora

Doctor Who and Abrupt Change

Doctor #11 and Amy with new TARDIS

Doctor #11 and Amy with new TARDIS (Photo credit: ChocolateFrogs)

I recently watched the most recent Doctor Who episode wherein he regenerates from the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) into the 12th Doctor (Peter Capaldi).  The final change was much more abrupt than other regenerations that I’ve seen in the newer series.  Capaldi’s expression is wonderful….he looks stupefied.  He says several things in rapid succession (my favorite is “Kidneys!  I’ve got new kidneys! I don’t like the color.”) but the one that really grabbed my attention was when he asks Clara, “Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?”  You can watch the change here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01nzqm6

January 3, 2014 / Jeff Hora

Disruption, recovery and space

While completing my Masters degree I was vicariously introduced to Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School and his many works (a sample) concerning disruptive innovation.   Greatly interesting stuff and

Disruption

Disruption (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

required reading for anyone in business or those who are creative and wish to understand the business world’s take on how this is perceived and understood, as well as the potential effects thereof.

That said, disruption and innovation as buzzwords have become less exciting through overuse and misunderstanding by some technologists and businesses, particularly as they apply to their organizations.  While, as Bill Gates has said, today’s business goes “at the speed of thought”, and agility is critical, there seems to be a lack of understanding concerning the fragility of organizations consisting of people executing on previous editions of goals, commitments, hierarchies and business models.  There are degrees of change that can be accomplished that help alter the direction of a business, a ‘mid-course correction’ on company strategy, if you will.  There are also methods and timings of rolling out these changes, or more radical degrees or types of change that will break an organization.
When considering disruptive change within a company, several areas should be considered. Along side the change, whether to strategy, execution or model, leadership should realistically assess:
(A) How long has it been since the last disruptive change to the organization?
(B) How long it will take to affect the change completely?
(C) How long will the ‘after change stabilization’ take?
(D) How much lost productivity can the organization withstand while the stabilization takes place and the company can begin executing effectively on the new direction?
(E) How clearly do the members of the organization understand the reasoning driving the disruption and can they clearly see the value of the strategy?
(F) What is the degree of ambiguity this will create for all interested parties – customers, partners, shareholders, communities…..everyone….and what is required to manage it through the disruption?
December 13, 2013 / Jeff Hora

The Shower of Inspiration

water stream from shower in close-up, showing ...

water stream from shower in close-up, showing droplets (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read an interesting interview in the New York Times last weekend with Brian Halligan, CEO and Founder of Hubspot. While a fairly standard interview for the Business section, I was caught by something he said about himself….he told the interviewer that he is “a huge nap guy.” By this, he says that he has found that when he comes up with good ideas, they tend to happen when he is either falling into or coming out of a nap. With the goal of thinking more and working less, he is working to engineer more opportunities like this (yes, naps…) into his life, and is encouraging others to do so as well.

I think that’s cool. The awareness to know when you have moments of inspiration is something few people have. Also, I could use a nap most of the time….

This got me thinking along several lines.

Read more…

December 2, 2013 / Jeff Hora

Comfortable with Ambiguity?

English: Diagram of Schrodinger's cat theory. ...

English: Diagram of Schrodinger’s cat theory. Roughly based on Image:Schroedingerscat3.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Acceptance of ambiguity is a by-word in corporate America today, if job descriptions are any indication. Not just acceptance but whole-hearted embrace seems to be the price of admission.  I find this call interesting, if only because of its own ambiguous nature.

A bit of research into the history of the word yields the Latin ambiguus, meaning “moving from side to side” or “of doubtful nature”. Yet, while demanding a comfort level with uncertainty, we are also asked to drive clarity, provide forecasts, deliver cohesive plans, and prove ROI on all the above.  No small task if the very nature of life, let alone business, is unstable.
It occurred to me that there is a dual view to take in considering ambiguity. One is by science and the other by faith.

Read more…

November 26, 2013 / Jeff Hora

The Tyranny of the Post

They say that any blog post really needs a point to deserve existence.  While conceding that there is an inordinate amount of pointless content out there, I agree.  However, even if I feel that I have a point, a story, a well-

Writing With Left Hand

Writing With Left Hand (Photo credit: indi.ca)

formed argument or discussion, you may feel differently.  Well, OK….whatever.

It has been too long since I’ve published anything here, and I have been progressively encouraged and shamed by a couple of sources: Steven Pressfield whose books “Do The Work”  and “The War of Art” continue to bug me, but in a good way, and the husband of a good friend of mine Steve Wiggins, who is a blogging machine and seems able to publish daily, regardless of ANYTHING (he can be found at http://sawiggins.wordpress.com/ and I can’t recommend his work more that this – he makes me think).
My work for the past 10 months has been all-consuming and very satisfying, including the usual road bumps along the way and the over-arching ambiguity that is part of the workplace in today’s world.  I’m not fond of uncertainty, but I AM beginning to come to grips with it. There will be more about the continuing journey through ambiguity.
I guess the point of this post is I’m not dead yet and I still have a viewpoint from within that you may find of interest.  There will be more.
March 25, 2013 / Jeff Hora

Why gamification bothers me

Gamification is a hot term in business and education today. According to Wikipedia it is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a

Gamification Ethics (by Gabe Zichermann)

Gamification Ethics (by Gabe Zichermann) (Photo credit: Adam Crowe)

non-game context in order to engage users and solve problems. I have been thinking about this in terms of extrinsic and intrinsic motivations and what really keeps people interested in what they do.

I fully believe that the singularly best way to have someone’s full attention in a project or process is to hook into that person’s passion for the project, process, idea or effort. This, as everyone knows, is not only not easy, but difficult to sustain. It can be easy to start well and then, once the excitement becomes the routine, passion can back off.

Read more…

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