An application of storytelling

Practical storytelling

What is storytelling used for? Storytelling is always important and is particularly topical this week when there is a great conference on the subject.

Examples of practical uses of storytelling abound in the fields of training and elsewhere. One of the most practical uses is in aviation, a field in which storytelling is rife. This is driven by the general acceptance, in aviation culture and especially among pilots, that no one has enough time or lives to learn entirely from their own mistakes; it is important also to learn from other people’s mistakes. Continue reading “An application of storytelling”

The value of a story

How often have you heard …

“Have you heard that … ?”

“Don’t forget the old saying: …”

“Did you hear the one about … ?”

The need to pass on “the one about …” is based on the urge to share a good story. This happens with jokes, mythical tales and real life stories. So why is that? What is it about a good story that  is  “valuable”? We will return to this question. Continue reading “The value of a story”

Sell the opportunity

Treat every problem as an opportunity, we are told. At first sight it is an attractive idea, but further investigation reveals that it is a little too glib. Problems and opportunities are similar but different things; in a sense they are the opposite of one another.

Edward de Bono, I think it was, who captured the difference as follows. Presumably, in general, we do things because we can see the benefit of doing them. A problem exists when we can see the benefit of doing something, but we do not yet know how to do it. An opportunity exists in the opposite situation: when there are things that we know how to do, but we have not yet seen the benefit of doing them. Continue reading “Sell the opportunity”

Helping other people to get what you want

“We are not a cruise ship. We are an explorer ship!”

This is one of the key messages in the passenger briefing on the ships of the Hurtigruten service which runs daily northbound and southbound along the coast of Norway. For nearly 500 passengers recently boarded at Bergen, almost all of them on a cruise going well north of the Arctic Circle and many of them cruising back again, over a total of 12 days, this message is an interesting form of: “I have bad news and I have good news”! Continue reading “Helping other people to get what you want”

Meeting Ann Holman

Innovation was a theme on Friday morning, when I had the pleasure of meeting Ann Holman in person. What an energetic and forward thinker she is!

We’d already conversed briefly by electronic means, and so we arranged to meet IRL (In Real Life), as others have termed it. Ann had already tweeted, although at the time I had not seen her message, that drinking coffee at the Innovation Centre, Exeter University, was an important ancillary benefit of meeting me there! So we know one source of fuel for her thinking; and our meeting place was one element of the “innovation” theme. Continue reading “Meeting Ann Holman”

Is “IT” “in denial”?!

Wow, the big picture of the IT world seems to be crumbling with increasing rapidity! Many people are at risk of getting hurt if they continue to hold traditional attitudes.

The post “Why the New Normal Could Kill IT” captures it well.

Thomas Wailgum provides an insightful description of the challenges facing the important operational aspects of IT in many organizations. Many of the symptoms and some of the causes that he describes are undoubtedly true and have been adversely affecting the performance of many people for a long time!

But, who really cares? Continue reading “Is “IT” “in denial”?!”

Let’s stop messing with the clocks!

The whole concept of adjusting the clocks with the seasons, “Daylight Saving” as the Americans call it, seems increasingly ludicrous the more that one thinks about it. In the UK, it is called British Summer Time and is abbreviated to BST; I call it British Silly Time.

The expensive consequences for computer systems, airlines, railways and many other systems and organisations having to mess about with times and schedules are completely unnecessary. And I have lost count of the number of times I have heard of people missing calls or online meetings due to misinterpretations of time zones and distortions in the name of “daylight saving”.

One would have thought that people who spend the most time involved with nature would find it the most ludicrous and that among those would be farmers. However, it seems that this is not the case as there is a discussion about introducing permanent BST or even “double BST” on the NFU website. Continue reading “Let’s stop messing with the clocks!”

Less is more manufacturing productivity

Recollections of an memorable project

Thinking about the concept of “less is more”, takes me back to a small and initially unpromising project that a maverick boss of mine persuaded me to get involved in many years ago. It provides an interesting example of counter-intuitive optimisation.

The scene…

There was a manufacturing plant which produced credit cards. The plastic cards were manufactured in sheets; this involved a lamination process which started with a “layup” of three plastic sheets and ended up with them laminated together as one sheet. The lamination was done in a press which was heated and then cooled; this caused the plastic sheets to melt slightly and to become welded together as one.  To produce cards with flat and clean surfaces, each layup also had shiny metal plates on either side to produce a smooth finish.

The instinct … Continue reading “Less is more manufacturing productivity”

Less is more!

There seems to be an upsurge of interest in the philosophy of “less is more”. A couple of recent articles about product design, in general and in a specific case, address relevant aspects of this phenomenon.

What do we know?

On one level, we tend to question: how can “less” be “more”? We know it makes no sense! This is true: it really does not make any sense, if all that we focus on is measurable, countable, sequencable information – the kind of information understood by the “left side” of our brains.

On a different level, we know that “less” really is “more”. Less complexity is more simplicity and fun; less distraction is more concentration; and so on. This makes sense when we are thinking about the whole picture – the kind of information which is handled by the “right side” of our brains.

At the moment and on this topic, there is a specific product which is exercising the minds of people who follow these things. Continue reading “Less is more!”

Social communication is with us

The technology of communication devices, systems, services  has changed over the years. There have been telegraph, telephone, radio, television, and a variety of others. The characteristics of each technology have dictated the behavioural model of the systems and the services available to users.
With the advent of the internet, systems have tended to emulate traditional models: bulletin boards, post (email), with the web being based on a well-known “request-response” model until relatively recently.
But, now,  the gloves are coming off! People are building software-based communication services to provide whatever behavioural model they choose; consider, for example, Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed and there will be many, many more.
So far, their matching of the models to any specific requirements has been very loose. They build something and then figure out what people use it for!
There is an opportunity to get serious now: to decide whatever experience we want users to have; to design it and build it. Then to iterate models based on live tracking of actual scenarios. This is potentially very big … and keep half an eye on “augmented reality”.