Misc

Women Not Objects

January 27, 2016
#WomenNotObjects

As the married father of two daughters, this issue is being brought home to me right now… The rise of YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat as advertising media has not helped in any way – the problem just seems to get worse year-on-year.

It has to stop. #WomenNotObjects

Social Connections

Time to let go…

January 4, 2016
soccnx_logo_900x250

The Lotus IBM Collaboration Solutions space is an incredible demonstration of what online communities can become through the truly altruistic efforts of its members.  I’ve always known that, but stepping away somewhat over the past year has allowed me to observe the relationships, events and online activities through a new and less obscured lens.  A little distance and independence has done nothing but confirm the wonderfully inclusive family-like nature of this community.

A little background

lotus softwareLooking all the way back to the nascent days of groupware created by the Lotus company itself, through the glory years of Notes and Domino, and onto the current focus around Connections, so many of the technologists that took to these products were also the ones that truly understood the nature of online community.  Perhaps that should not have been a surprise to anyone (as the products were nothing without connected and committed individuals to utilise them) but it has always been remarkable that the ever-changing and dynamic group of individuals that met at Lotusphere each January,  then stayed in touch via personal websites/blogs, forums and IM chats, bonded in a way that never seemed to happen with the same compelling force around other products.

As I’ve taken my own steps into the wider digital transformation space over the past 8 years or so, and thus connected with hundreds of thought leaders and change agents around the world, it has become evident to me that a significant majority of movers and shakers in this industry have Lotus products in their backgrounds. Given how widely Notes and Domino were used in large enterprises back in the late 90s and early 2000s, perhaps this is inevitable, but I personally believe that there is a deeper and more powerful reason – that the potential of collaboration unleashed by these products lit the spark within so many of us.

What makes this even more remarkable is that the support for the community from the vendor whose products we advocate has been somewhat inconsistent over the years.  This isn’t meant to be a dig at IBM, it is a commercial organisation for whom quarterly sales results and ‘shareholder value’ are at the core of all that it does.  For some, the effort of sustaining the community-facing support has been too much, whereas for others, the occasional raging fire that needed to be extinguished was simply too controversial and difficult to defend.  That said, many of those IBMers that have been at the coalface over the years have absolutely understood the nature of the community, and the value it offers to IBM itself, to partners and most of all, to customers – amongst many others, I’m looking at Mary-Beth, Alan, Ed, Louis, Niklas, Suzie, Luis, Debora, Joyce, Colleen, Susan, Wes, Oli, Amanda and Mat.

What those remarkable individuals have understood is that the community has a tone, culture and internal organisation all of its own.

Whilst ’the Yellowverse’ has been (mostly) loyal to IBM and its technology over all these years, it is fiercely independent, cares deeply about its members and wants to do its absolute best for the wider community of customer organisations and those that build and use the products. That passion and commitment has most vividly shone through the independent user groups that have sprung up over the past decade or more. A few years ago, these were typically named using a acronym that included ‘LUG’ (Lotus User Group), and now tend toward verbs such as Inform and Engage!  However, whatever the name, the user groups were typically inspired by one or more deeply committed individuals, most commonly self-employed or working for independent business partners.  From small monthly afternoon gatherings in a defined geography, through to vast multi-national multi-day events that boast internationally renown speakers, these user groups have in my opinion been the engine that has enabled the IBM collaboration community to remain a force over so many years, even as the success of the products has ebbed and flowed.

Why this post?

soccnx_logo_900x250I have been honoured to be one of those that felt called to start a user group.

Back in 2011, it was clear that social software (and specifically Connections) was one of the significant bright spots in the Lotus product set, and yet the majority of the user groups were still very Notes/Domino-focused.  Two good friends (Sharon and Simon) and I chatted about this and how the lack of regular in-person Connections-focused events was hindering the growth of the community, and thus how prospective customers might be scared by the lack of case studies from customers that had delivered successful projects and initiates on the platform.  From this spark, we founded Social Connections, and to cut a very long story just a little shorter, we’ve just hosted our 9th major international event, each held in a different nation and on both sides of the Atlantic. Well over 1000 individuals have attended (many have been at multiple events), and our awesome speakers have delivered more than 300 sessions. Amazing stats!

As with most of the other user groups, the growth of Social Connections was built on my own initial investment in the idea, and then bankrolled through a combination of support from IBM, amazing ISV and business partner sponsors, and then more lately, via tickets sold to attendees.  There have been times when we’ve turned a small profit, and others when we’ve made a big loss. I now know far far more than I ever wanted to learn about international tax, insurance and data protection laws!  All of this was managed through my own small company, and we’ve been blessed to have made it so far.

One of the most significant reasons why Social Connections has been a success has been the incredible willingness of community members to step up and to join the volunteer organisation team.  Members have come and gone as their own circumstances have changed, but we’ve never wanted for individuals that have been willing to give their time and resources to plan and deliver the events.  This shouldn’t be taken lightly, as I’d estimate that each team member gives up at least 100 hours free-of-charge to make an event happen.  That’s a massive commitment alongside their own careers and family lives.  I owe a great debt to Simon, Sharon, Lisa, Femke, Janneke, Brian, Sandra, Luis, Martin, Jan, Wannes, Maria, Lars, Doug and Christoph (and of course to their companies and their families).

As members of the team have given up their own time and resources, so the event has also taken a toll on my own situation.  Finances, risk, admin and accounting, the events themselves.  All of this has eaten into my own time, or more accurately my time with my beautiful family.  In effect, I’ve used my own holiday allocation every year plus many evenings and weekends to run these events.  At the same time, what little direct benefit to my own career as been reduced as I’ve moved away from direct involvement with IBM Connections.

Running Social Connections has been tremendously rewarding from a personal perspective – hosting and speaking at the events, plus the social side has been hugely enjoyable. That said, it has slowly dawned on me that this does not justify the cost involved.

Something had to give, and I’m determined that it shouldn’t be my family.

What now?

Following many discussions amongst the team during 2015, we’ve taken a series of steps to ensure the future of Social Connections without my direct involvement.  The details have been shared over on the Social Connections site, but be reassured that the organisation is now in a stronger position than ever to deliver bigger and better events in 2016 and beyond.

With this in mind, as of 31st December 2015, I have resigned from the Social Connections team, and handed over my responsibilities to Wannes, Simon and the rest of the team.  There are a few loose ends to tie up, but I am delighted that planning for the next event is already well underway, and that the team are doing this independently of my own input.

Social Connections VI in Prague

Social Connections VI in Prague

I will of course stay in touch, and will always be proud of what we achieved, but at the same time I am so sure that the time is right to hand over the reins.

Thank you to everyone that has helped with Social Connections over the past 5 years – whether you have organised, spoken, sponsored, attended or supported the event in any way.  It has truly been a ball, some of the absolute highlights of my professional life, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way…

I know that Social Connections will continue to thrive, and in fact, will likely be larger and more successful without my own time constraints.

Go well, team!

Jive

That river’s flowing…

October 16, 2015
River flowing

No matter what we do, or how focused or mindful we are, the time just keeps passing doesn’t it?

peter-gabrielAs the great Peter Gabriel once sung:

Whatever may come
and whatever may go
that river’s flowing
that river’s flowing

(Linking to the ’94 version with Paula Cole – my personal favourite version of an amazing song…)

Somehow, over 7 months have passed since I joined the team at Jive Software.  

It seems both like my switch happened yesterday, and yet also that I’ve been here forever.

Thos months have been a hugely enjoyable yet immensely challenging period of my life.  New colleagues, new customers, new culture, new technology – it has been a time of intense adjustment.  If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll know I’ve been in the collaboration space for the best part of two decades, and have inhabited the world of social since the mid-2000s, yet shifting into the Jive organisation and its community has been massive in terms of change for me personally.  Sure, there’s some similarities with what has gone before and yet in some ways it feels like ‘chalk and cheese’ too.

But ‘it’s just a different technology?’ I hear you ask… However, that’s really just a small part of the picture.

I’ve worked with IBM, Microsoft, Atlassian and many other vendors’ products through my career, and all have their merits and their challenges, their unique features and their omissions.  Jive’s products are no different in that regard – there are always some features that are due ‘in the next version’ or perhaps could be enhanced. Our customers have their lists of suggestions for where we can improve – that’s just natural.

Jive Software logoSo what’s fundamentally different about the Jive product, the company and the community?

There’s a list of elements that I want to explore over my next few posts because i think it’s important to get to the essence of what I believe makes Jive unique.

These posts aren’t intended to sway you in some commercial way – any decision such as investing in a social or collaborative platform has to be based on facts, perceived and proven value, use cases and the like, rather than solely on any emotional or relationship pull, or indeed on purely technical grounds.  And that is part of the point, really. Being at Jive has helped to open my eyes to some differences in the way that vendors in this space approach customer requirements and challenges.

So look out for a series of posts on ‘Why Jive?‘ over the coming weeks.  As I say, I’m not intending to try to market our solutions or even the company as a whole – we have immensely talented folks that can do that just fine. I’ve just lived this shift for real for the past months and I think it’s an interesting one to explore.  As a company and a community, we believe in ‘working out loud’ so I see no better way to do that than on this blog through my own personal lens and perspective.

Electronics

Stuff that works – Anker USB chargers

October 6, 2015
Anker range

Anker logoFriends and colleagues that have travelled with me in recent times will undoubtedly have noticed that I’m a great fan of Anker electronics components.

Anker is a relatively new brand, at least on these shores, having appeared in the UK about 3-4 years ago. Through a combination of good clean design, comprehensive well thought-out feature sets, high-quality build and competitive prices. I first bought a multi-port USB charger from Anker perhaps 2.5 years ago, and it is still in daily use now, having taken a battering from the teenagers in the meantime!

Since then, I’ve gone on to acquire a really good dual-port 2A charger for the car, an excellent 15000mAh battery pack (now replaced by this 16000mAh version), a 9-port USB3.0 hub and several other USB chargers.  Being a family of seven currently with at least a dozen mobile devices, we need the power!

So why the post? I just spotted this deal advertised on Amazon and thought it worth mentioning.  The latest 6-port 60W USB charger is now available for just £25.99 from Amazon UK, a discount from the RRP of £59.99 – in the US it’s available at an even better $35.99.  Both the black and white variants are available at that price.

Anker 60W 6-port USB Charger (Black)Anker 60W 6-port USB Charger (White)
Whilst I don’t have the 6-port version, we have three of the older 5-port models and really rate them highly.  One of the nice features is that they run off a standard AC power lead, so it’s really easy to grab an cheap alternative lead for international trips, rather than having to carry a converter.

So… Highly recommended, great quality and at a super price right now.

[The small fee earning links above will lead to your local Amazon store…]

Apple

Safari 9 Responsive Design Mode

October 6, 2015
ResponsiveDesignMode_2x

Do you host a site or platform that you need to make available to a wide range of desktop and mobile devices, including those Apple iThings running iOS9?

Then you need to check out Safari’s Responsive Design Mode (found in the Develop menu in Safari 9 for the Mac).  Take a look at this (video courtesy of Casey Liss):

Yes, you can test your site in all the new split-screen modes available in iOS9.  This feature is already proving to be useful for testing a number of my own sites, including this one:

Testing this site

I have a feeling it will come in handy for checking customer projects too, not least custom themes and layouts. This session video from WWDC 2015 covers the feature in great detail (and much more besides…)

Social Business

Twitter timeline zero

October 5, 2015
Unfollowed?

Over the years, my Twitter followed list had become somewhat cluttered… Just over 4,000 accounts – the usual mixture of friends, family, colleagues, partners, thought leaders, brands and celebrities.  I’d had a few occasional cleanups, but put it this way, it was becoming difficult to see the wood for the trees.  The signal to noise ratio had become pretty awful, and most of the value I was seeing from Twitter came through the search terms I used in Tweetdeck columns, rather than from my timeline.  Thankfully, I’d never been a Twitter completionist, as quite frankly there was no way I had a hope of coming close in the past couple of years!

So what to do?

Reboot.

Put quite simply, it was time to start again.

So as of this morning, I’ve unfollowed every single account that I was was following:

followed

How did I do that?  Well here’s the trick.  Open up your following list in Google Chrome, and scroll all the way to the bottom.  It currently loads 12 accounts at a time, so in my case I had to keep scrolling for a long time.  Then open the Chrome Javascript Console, and enter the following jQuery command:

$('.user-actions-follow-button').click()

Leave it to run for a few seconds, and you’ll see that every single ‘following’ button gets toggled back to ‘follow’.  Of course, if you wanted to just unfollow a sub-section of accounts, you could search for them and then run the command.

So what now?

My plan is to follow Luis Suarez’s example, and to start using lists in a big way to manage my Twitter use, and to allocate each to a column in my Tweetdeck dashboard.  I know this isn’t exactly revolutionary, but do think it will force me to be more selective over whom I let enhance/pollute my timeline, and thus my attention.  At the same time, I’ve opened up my DM preferences to allow anyone to direct message me even though I’m not following them…

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Jive

Jive Software named as #2 best company to work for in the UK

September 4, 2015
Glassdoor

There were few companies in the world that could have tempted me back into permanent employment, and I was really happy to join Jive Software almost 6 months ago. I’ve loved my experience of the organisation so far – the culture and workstyle mixes damn hard work with fun, humour, camaraderie and great support from the leadership.

Therefore it’s satisfying to see that others feel the same way. Glassdoor have just published their 2015 list of the best organisations in the UK to work for:

The Glassdoor Q2 2015 UK Employment Confidence Survey revealed that two thirds of employees (66%) don’t believe or don’t know if they will receive a pay rise in the next year. But with pay and benefits a big piece of the equation for any job seeker when deciding where to work, where are UK employees most satisfied with their pay and benefits packages? To help, Glassdoor put together its annual report identifying the Top 25 UK Companies for Compensation & Benefits in 2015.

The top 10 is dominated by tech, business consulting and IT firms, with the highest rated based in London – Facebook (#1, 4.7 rating), Jive Software in Reading (#2, 4.7) and MediaMath (#3, 4.6), also London.

Whilst Facebook being number 1 has dominated the media coverage of the Glassdoor report, actually Jive Software was incredibly close to being top in the stats. For sure, we’re hugely proud to be ahead of so many awesome and well-regarded organisations!

Here’s the full list:

Glassdoor Top 25 UK 2015

To give you a clue as to why Jive’s staff rate it so highly, this video gives you a feel for the company’s appreciation of our very different workstyles:

I certainly feel at home here. The company’s focus on kick-ass products and service, with a strongly-held belief in recruiting A-grade staff, allowing them to work flexibly and dynamically, all the while ‘working out loud’ through what is possibly the most vibrant and engaged ESN platform in the world suits me down to the ground.

Jive has a good number of positions open right now, so if you’d like to come to work at a company that truly believes in employee satisfaction, feel free to get in touch for more details and to hear it from someone with first hand experience!

Future of Work, Quotes

The old culture has to die

July 23, 2015
Robert Paterson - old culture has to die

Most organizations remain bound by the old rules. The power systems all use the old models. Only a handful of organizations have made the move. To make this kind of change, the old culture in the organization has to die. – Robert Paterson

It’s so refreshing when I engage with an organisation that views collaboration, productivity and efficiency through this lens. Tools alone cannot change an organisation or its employees’ work styles. Technological improvements must always be accompanied (or indeed, lead) by cultural change.

Misc

Just a glance…

July 23, 2015
It can wait

Such a powerful message from AT&T.

(I’m starting to think that it might need to be illegal to have a mobile phone in view on your dash – so easy to have a phone there for calls or navigation but to be distracted by a notification. Either that or the smartphone OSs need to have a semi-automatic option to disable notifications from appearing in that situation?)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers