Where I Am, What I Am Doing and Who I Am With – Part 5: I Share Therefore I Am

Last one. This is a really tricky one. It’s not black and white. Sharing is powerful but secondary to getting the best out of where I am, what I am doing and who I am with.

1st June 2008, I had the privilege of attending the first final of the Indian Premier League in Mumbai.  The match was won by the Rajasthan Royals with a single off the last ball of the match.  It was an amazing experience made all the more special by my being the guest of the owners of the winning side.  That meant I got to mingle with some heroes for the whole weekend, including the legendary Shane Warne.

The people around me at the match had been involved in setting up and managing the team. Their journey had been long and dramatic.  Despite the presence of people like Shane, their ultimate victory was considered extremely unlikely when the tournament started.

I noticed something I thought odd taking place as that last ball was bowled.  Many around me had video cameras and phones out to record the dramatic final moments.

When we got back to the hotel it was on the TV and already on YouTube.  I just checked, it is all still there.

It struck me as insane to watch that frantic final ball on a small screen when it was happening right there, right then and right in front of tens of tumultuous thousands of us.  I suggested to a few close to me that we turn off the gadgets, look up and live this moment.  I think that was when the title of this series started to form in my mind.

I kicked off in Part 1 with a reference to Sherry Turkle’s TED Talk, “Connected But Alone”.  It makes countless brilliant points and is at great pains to be balanced. One of the many interesting points she makes relates to the behaviour of sharing for the sake of sharing, a mentality she describes  as, “I share therefore I am”, through which we view solitude as a problem to be solved by making connections.  As a result we are at risk of losing the ability to be comfortably alone and to reflect, the drug of connection is just too easily available and highly addictive.  There are times when this habit extends to a failure to connect, not just with ourselves, but with the people we are with and the experiences we are having.  It was early days, but the need to record the final moments of that cricket match, albeit to share later in those less connected days, at the expense of simply experiencing it, was an early symptom of this.

I really would love to know what you think about this.  I have been wrestling with these topics for a while, trying to strike a balance.  I doubt very much that I have got it all right.


Where I Am, What I Am Doing and Who I Am With – Part 4: Events

I said this one would be about Tweeting at events, it morphed a little to put it mildly. I have split it into two parts which means I can keep this one brief:

I will Tweet before an event, to raise profile and rally a community.

I will Tweet after an event to cement connections and make secondary introductions.

I used to Tweet at events a lot. Now I am very selective, it can be very powerful and enable me to connect with others and allow those not present to be involved also, but less is more.

First and foremost I am trying to enjoy where I am, what I am doing and who I am with, using the technology selectively and with deliberate purpose.

Where I Am, What I Am Doing and Who I Am With – Part 3 Talking to Myself

Like the other posts in this little flurry, this is really a call for balance in how we use electronic communications, including social media.

I have met a lot of interesting people and made a couple of new friends through online collaboration inside and outside the corporate firewall. I learned some skills and simple truths about connecting people that have had truly amazing results.

However, I noticed that I had developed a slight tendency towards black and white group think. I had to some extent stopped talking to myself, at least in a critical, independently minded way.

I also noticed I became tempted to connect to others for the sake of it, rather than with purpose. There is a little endorphin rush when someone replies, likes, follows, retweets or favourites something. It is addictive and led to my not always engaging in the moment.

I broke the habit and try to connect only when I have some purpose that is greater than one I can fulfil through where I am, what I am doing and who I am with. Sometimes that’s just breathing in and out.

It is a balance. Connected collaboration is an awesome way of getting things done. Independent thought is often the root of radical innovation.

I am trying to do both, and turn it all off now and then to give my full attention to who I am with, including myself.

The next post is about tweeting at events, which I do less than I used to.

Where I Am, What I am Doing and Who I Am With – Part 2: I Wouldn’t Start From Here

Balancing a mix of technologies while taking advantage of presence when we can, takes thought and dogged persistence. It is not easy or obvious. We can be so in awe of the technology that, while it enables things we otherwise could not do, it can isolate us if we are not careful.

I have got used to corporate comms events being run as Webcasts, frankly they are not a great starting point and I am guilty here of making the best of a bad job, to put it mildly, hence the title of this post which I have altered since it was first posted to make it a bit more direct.

Webcasts are great for broadcast, but on their own they fail to connect people to each other. As stewards of the connectedness and wellbeing of our people, we risk shirking a management responsibility while ticking the comms box.

We tend watch these webcasts at our desks, on our own. A very few usual suspects join the online conversation, but while that thread might sometimes be long, it is usually narrow too.

Receiving a broadcast on our own when surrounded by others doing the same, each of us cocooned by headphones, distracted by email and IM, is a missed opportunity and a failure to take advantage of where we are and who we are with, so we can connect and do things better. Shared experiences are more memorable and make for more effective communication.

We can’t be together all the time though, and mixing in an online conversation can be powerful. We will be more inclined to join that conversation if actively led by advocates to show the way. At work this SM type approach is still very new, it still doesn’t feel like work to most. The hard core that “get it” forget that they still make up a tiny proportion of the whole in most organisations. It takes dogged persistence and leadership by example to make it work.

For the next webcast I will get my teams (and anyone else who wants to join in) together in our various locations to watch in small groups, debate it among ourselves and join the on line conversation too, balancing the best of presence while making a few random connections. Go me etc., but I will still be making the best of a bad job.

The next post is about how it is dawning on me that finding time to talk to myself now and then is actually a sign of sanity!

Where I am, what I am doing and who I am with. Part 1

I watched this TED talk by Sherry Turkle over Christmas. It is tempting to view it as an attack on all e-channels, SM, sms, email, webcasts, take your pick. I view it as a call for balance and the avoidance of a damaging and dogmatic lurch in favour of all things electronic over choosing to enjoy where we are, what we are doing and who we are with.

It contains the chilling phrase, “Connected but alone”. It is stupendous and helped focus things I have been ruminating on for a while.


It relates to conscious choices I am making about how and when to use all electronic forms of communication.


I will come back to this topic. The next post is about corporate communications. I realised recently that good communication isn’t just about corporate effectiveness, it is necessary to fulfil responsibilities that managers have for the mental health and well being of their staff. Read the insightful series led by Alison Chisnell at thehrjuggler.wordpress.com for more on that. It’s quite an education.


I would love to know what you think. Electronically here, or over a beer if you prefer.

False Choices and Over Simplifications

There’s all sorts of management nonsense I fear, here are just two phrases that make me shudder:

“It all about” [insert fad of choice]

“Why don’t we just” [insert miracle of choice]

These phrases usually herald a lazy over simplification and a lurch from one tired dogma to another, often due to the mistaken belief that a choice must be made.

Here’s the latest, it’s all about culture. Let’s just concentrate on that and everything will be lovely.  Better still, we don’t need strategy or process. That’s great because they were hierarchy’s really boring friends and if we just do culture we can declare hierarchy to be dead.

I really like the idea that culture eats strategy for breakfast and process for lunch (credit to Peter Drucker). Culture is rather complex, very difficult but great fun and it does do most of the work. Strategy and process are more precise and a little dull, but they keep the lights on. The things we eat sustain us.

Do them all, and do them all at once. It is not a choice. The good news is that a great culture enables us to have clear strategy, simple process, minimal policy, few metrics etc etc.

As for hierarchy, in a super connected world, it is less useful for managing communication, collaboration and innovation than it used to be; but it is more important than ever for ensuring accountability and protection from unintended consequences and rogues.

Rumours of its death are premature and an over simplification.