Automatic For the People

This program and I are at odds over what “automatically” means. It says that the dataset is updated automatically, which is fine. Except they produce new data multiple times a day at the most frequent and every couple days at the least. The agent software is supposed to update every day. My dataset was 202 days old, so something was obviously wrong.

I decided to give it a kick in the teeth by doing a manual update. Just annoyed at it informing me that I don’t need to do this because it does it automatically. Obviously I did because it was not actually automatically doing it.

Now it is telling me that I need to reboot and giving me a 20 day countdown until it does.

“Job Title”

No one knows what is a Technology Strategist. So, a while back, I changed my title on LinkedIn to Systems Architect and Engineer.

The side advantage to this is I can tell the source of where people have gotten my information. If they were looking at my Curriculum Vitae, then they would see Technology Strategist. If they got it from a conference I attended, then they would get the same.

The past several cold calls have all been the job title from LinkedIn. So, I decided to change the one on the CV to Application Infrastructure Architect. Now, all three have different titles. All three are fair.

Integrate PeopleMap With Office

I work to integrate systems. So, when I learn about things, I guess my mind drifts into how would we use it. And then into how would tie together this with other things we have to make them better.

Used with permission from atmasphere

Last week news dropped about Microsoft (MSFT) buying LinkedIn (LNKD). The big deal people seem to be making of it is the Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) potential for Microsoft. Imagine in Outlook having a guide about whomever you are emailing. LinkedIn potentially could supply the data.

So Friday I also took a PeopleMap System communication training. (Leader-Task) The idea is that people have innate preferences for how they process information. Understanding their preferences and tailoring your communication to key off them will make one more effective working with them.

I guess the MSFT-LNKD deal was still on my brain because it seemed like what we really needed was a PeopleMap plug-in to Outlook which would remind us the type of the individuals we are emailing. My vision was since everyone was providing management with our types, that information would be populated into the directory service. Then a plug-in would use the email address of the recipient(s) to display that person’s type and perhaps advice on how to communicate with that type. No more wracking one’s brain for what is their type and how to deal with them.

Of course, I used Google to look to see if this already existed. It pointed me to PeopleMaps which is a service for exploring one’s social network to find connections to sales targets and get an introduction and avoid cold calls. Microsoft’s Social Connector would pull photos from Facebook for contacts.

Carbon-Copy Evangelist

Sometimes I feel preachy when advising people to carbon-copy (CC) emails. Lots of good email etiquette advises to avoid using “reply all” with emails. I think the matter is a bit more nuanced. Thinking of the perspective of a small team…

  1. The more eyes that see discussions about work decision history, rationale, and possibility the better. Also, anything I write is my perspective which other coworkers might disagree with or challenge. Including the group allows everyone to be on the same page and have the information necessary to do so. Unless the email is of a personal nature, any email about a project should include the group.
  2. I may be tied up with other things or even gone. Including the whole team makes them aware of what is going on such that one does not need to track down as many messages to bring others up to speed. They will have a general idea of what is going on and enough to get quickly up to speed.
  3. Supervisors see what employees are working on, what help they may need, or directions they are pursuing.
  4. Keeping conversations in one-on-one conversations can lead to situations where one unexpectedly goes too far down an unwanted path when other could have advised on a better one. Those outside the group like to email a specific individual directly about things. That individual CC’ing the group in replies ensured others are aware of what is asked or wanted.

Admittedly I do often brazenly initiate one-on-one side conversations from group ones. “My hypocrisy knows no bounds.” – Doc Holliday, Tombstone.

TED Talk: I Share Therefore I Am

Human relationships are rich and they are messy and they are demanding and we clean them up with technology.
— Sherry Tuckle

Technology is the great deceiver. We can use it to craft how we present ourselves to others.

Unfortunately, we lose the connections. As a university campus webmaster, I most preferred meeting in person. Phone was second best. Email only was least. At the time, I thought it a James Borg thing that 93% of communication is non-verbal (words). Email only interactions usually suffered from misunderstandings. People with whom I had single meeting were more understanding and less problematic.

Now days, I think oxytocin generating trust is responsible. Email is just text and misunderstandings happen when the reader has assumptions to mistrust the writer. That meeting in person creates the necessary trust.

Technology does enhance our relationships when used to augment in person interactions not replace them.

If the above video does not work, then try Connected, but alone?

Solving Internal Communications With Blogs

I'm blogging this.
I'm blogging this.

Through the grapevine, a coworker heard in another organization a top administrator wants the rank and file to start blogging. My coworker was opposed. I thought it could be a cool way of internally communicating. Though the conditions to make it work very much depend on the organizational culture:

    1. Encouragement not forced. Managers are asked to pay attention to the things about which the rank and file are proud or excited. Encouraging employees to post about how they created or solved things provides an outlet to express good pride. Something arbitrary like everyone must post something every week will become forced and a drain on morale.
    2. No rules or judgement from on high. The more rules there are around what employees should say or how will stifle them offering real ideas. Instead, only regurgitated ideas from managers would be offered. An echo chamber of everyone imitating each other becomes boring really quick.
    3. Peer judgment is not discouraged. Knowing my peers throughout my organization read this blog cause me to delete about 30% of the potentially work-related posts I start. I value what they think. When I realize what I wrote is not good enough, I am willing to dump it in favor of a complete rewrite or more time to think more to maintain my reputation. Self-editing to make sure I present only my best work requires me to understand myself.

Writing is a good skill to have. Writing for a blog is different than writing an email, a web page, a report, or a presentation. Like presenting, blogging is a useful way for an employee to grow in interesting ways. The hard part is the readiness people have and growing into becoming bloggers. One especially does not want them to become discouraged early. Because then you end up with a morale problem.

At work, we have a blog built into Sharepoint. While the CIO uses it, I am not sure it is the place for me. The audience there is internal to work. My audience is both internal and external.

There is also the idea getting the rank and file to blog is some kind of weird study in improving internal organization communication. Walking around to find out what everyone is doing takes too much time. Regular reports become, “I am working on exactly what I think you want me to be working on,” regurgitation. Blogging is an interesting and difficult to pull off right idea.