Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Practical Imagineer - Turning Dreams Into Thought

Despite a reputation for having both sheets aft, in Practical Imagineer, Leonard Stoat offers us yet another tome full to the gunwhales with useful tips and tricks for disciples of brand marketing and value creation.

Practical Imagineer is a hard and fast guide to reverse engineering your dreams into rational thought and making them available for practical application. Once you fathom out the lessons in this book, there will be no stopping you anchoring your ability to transform imagination into value creation.

Stoat splits the book into 7 "seas". Each sea represents a step in walking the plank backwards, from a dreamworld awash with counterfactual alternatives to reality, to the waters of more concrete cognitive processes.

Having reached the conclusion of this copper-bottomed tome, I'm convinced that Stoat deserves his rightful place in the Pantheon of Imagineers who have truly raised the boom.

The Practical Imagineer - Turning Dreams into Thought by Leonard Stoat. Available where books are sold.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Sirens' Golden Gaze

Ever heard the Siren's call?

Star spangled shades shade your eyes
But could never hide your golden gaze.
Red summer skies bright your smile
And could never hide your golden gaze.
Have you ever answered it?

When it comes to Twitter, I'm amazed by the number of attractive young women who seem to like the cut of my jib and choose to Follow me. Until I realize that all of them are singing the same shanty, luring me like Odysseus to the island of Anthemusa, into an amusing cul-de-sac awash with alluring images, identical tweets and click-through links to heavily-monetized aggregation websites.

So, especially if you have a Follow Back policy, how often do you vet your Twitter Followers? How easy is it? And why should you vet at all? The answer to those questions depend upon a variety of factors.

It depends first and foremost upon why you're using Twitter. If it's a social medium to keep in contact with acquaintances, then you're unlikely to have a huge following, so vetting and blocking users should be plain sailing.

If instead your Twitter account is a medium for advertizing yourself, your products or services, whether that be material goods or ideas, you might like to take a different tack. Who follows you can have a serious impact on your Klout as well as the usability of Follower data for trending marketing metrics.

Whatever way you use Twitter, the more you're followed, the harder it is to keep track personally of who it is that's following you and to clear the decks of those Sirens, pirates and other bucaneers.

Various sites, such as SocialOomph and TrueTwit, offer automated vetting services to help you weather the storm of spam followers. These can include the requirement for followers to validate themselves. But this validation step can also put off a lot of potential followers, some of whom may see this firewall as either self-aggrandizement or an intervention by the World State. It's counter-culture to what Twitter stands for.

Ultimately, the choice is yours on how to pump the bilge.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Green Pea Analogy

If you selected a hundred (102) average-sized peas, you would find that they occupy roughly a volume of 20 cm3. A million (106) peas are just enough to fill an ordinary household refrigerator and a billion (109) peas will fill a three bedroom house from cellar to attic. A trillion (1012) peas will fill a thousand houses, the number you might find in a medium-sized town. A quadrillion (1015) peas will fill all the buildings in one of our larger cities such as Seattle.

Obviously you will run out of buildings very soon. Let us try a larger measure, for instance the state of Washington. Suppose that there is a blizzard over Washington, but instead of snowing snow, it snows peas. Washington State is covered with a blanket of peas about one metre deep all the way from Bellingham to Walla Walla. This blanket of peas drifts over the roads and banks up against the sides of the houses, and covers all the fields and forests. Think of flying across the state with the blanket of peas extending out as far as you can see. This gives you and idea of our next number. There will be in this blanket about a quintillion (1018) peas.

Imagine that this blizzard of peas falls over the entire land- North America, Africa, South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. All of the continents are covered with peas one metre deep. This global blanket will contain sextillion (1021) peas.

Then imagine that the oceans are frozen over and the blanket of peas covers the entire land and sea area of Earth. Go out among the neighbouring stars and collect 250 planets the size of Earth and cover each of these with a blanket of peas one metre deep.

Then you have a mole of peas.

Furthermore, go out into the farthest reaches of the Milky Way, and collect 250,000 planets, each the size of Earth. Cover each one with a blanket of peas one metre deep.

You now have cotillion (1027) – a number corresponding to the number of atoms in your body.

Global conferencing - the new shift work

OK, the sun is up, just about, but Starbucks on Westlake & 9th won't be open for another hour and I've already finished my first global conference call of the day.

Or is that the second? It was only four hours ago that I finished yesterday's last call, with people talking in what still is the future. Whatever. I'm craving a mocahlattecino and some biscotti to get me going.

Hey, and both calls - first with London, UK and Budapest, HU, then with Chennai, India and Atlanta, GA - revolved around Mobility Development. The global village it may be, but it's not the walking distance that's got smaller, it's the talking distance. Presuming, of course, that you can shout loud enough over the static, feedback, awkward pauses and multi-layered developer speak. I hardly feel mobile, just a slothful wreck slumped in a swivel chair.

Once upon a time you needed Union representation to do this kind of shift work. Now we're all being sucked in to activating our wireless devices every time you get pinged, poked, or peddled with spam.

Maybe I should just plug in my tablet for a quick charge and go listen to the dawn chorus in Denny Park.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Scaling the vortal - a guide to monetizing vertical metrics

Today's e-service paradigms allow for synergistic utilization of vertical metrics through rapidfire delivery architectures. But for many, the algorithms for embracing such intuitive catalysts, rather than being as north-south as traditional magnetic sources, are instead as unfathomable as a Yemeni yak hurder's attempts to sell you a camel.

But there are now many synergistic initiatives, often harnessing e-fficienies gained by disintermediating granular markets, that are breaking down those incongruent barriers. Modern e-businesses are learning to streamline such collaborative convergences and empower impactful, multi-diverse communities with the ability to monetize their offerings via metrical disevolution.

It's now commonplace to see organizations recapitalize professional high standards through action items brought about by aggregation of 24/365 ideas, and exploit direct channels.

In addition, complete syndication-enabled information can be pushed through many extensible enterprise products. This further, and often dramatically, productizes interdependent vortals with the bleeding-edge synergy that results in the eyeballs, click-throughs and mortar-boarding so desired by the enfranchized.

Clear your Vision to turbo-charge growth

If you don't know where you're going, you may not like where you end up!

Your organization's vision statement is the first thing to create when writing your business plan. In a downbeat economy, you might think that it's the last thing you need, but having a succinct and easily-communicable vision is imperative to securing your business future.

Your vision, whether it be for a one-, five- or ten-year plan, describes your goals and should be an inspiration for all your colleagues every day they come into work. It's the framework for all your organization's strategic planning and that secret weapon that drives their business ever forward and upward.

So, make your Vision Clear!

And make sure your Pro forma vision remains positive and avoids marginally negative intonations, such as the following example: 

This vision statement clarifies the main goal that our organization wishes to achieve, making appropriate use of “clear quotes” to ensure that it’s obvious to anyone that we have no real substance, direction nor capital assets whatsoever. If that doesn't state our aim, I don't know what does.

 Laker Airlines 1976

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Würst of the week - Braunschweiger Mettwurst

This week's Würst is the Braunschweiger Mettwurst!

This eponymous sausage is often always regarded as a Liverwurst, but in this form, the Braunschweiger Mettwurst (raw meat sausage) doesn't contain liver at all.

Instead, this smoked Würst will generally contain a mixture of pork trimmings and lard, with various herbs and spices for seasoning.

It has a soft spreadable consistency, similar to most Liverwursts, and normally has a pork or beef casing.

Go on, try a bit on a bread roll for breakfast!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Waxy or floury - what's your potato preference?

With well over 4000 known varieties of potato, there's a lot to choose from, even if only a fraction of those are generally commercially available.

But our friends at Potato Facts want to know what Texture of potato you prefer: waxy or floury?

Take their poll and let us know!

If you don't know the difference, then here's some simple advice:

Key Waxy potatoes: Charlotte, Maris Peer

Key Floury potatoes: King Edward, Maris Piper, Desirée

Friday, June 24, 2011

10 mantras for Turning FEAR into Leadership

Have you got the FEAR or have you got the Mo?

Thanks to Primate Ian Brown, turn FEAR into Leadership and positive action with 10 simple mantras.

1.   Free expression as revelation.
2.   Freeing excellence affects reality.
3.   Finding eternity arouses realization.
4.   For everybody a ruler.
5.   Final execution and resurrection.
6.   For each a road.
7.   Fantastic expectations amazing revelations.
8.   Freeing excellence arouses reaction.
9.   Following eyeballs aggregates ROI.
10. Forget everything and remember.

You've got the Mo!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why huh? - They do stuff

I recently stumbled across huh?, a new and very agile design, consultancy and market solutions agency whose methods either leave you breathless, or speechless. You take your pick...

huh? is an enclave of new-age e-movers. They use catchy names for their job titles, like Vision Guidance Leader instead of Consultant. Cool names make them sound smarter and more clever. And that they are.

The CEO is rarely in his office, and all female team members are expected to go to dinner with him, or at least pretend like they'd want to sleep with him. After years of hard labour and Just For Men, it's the least reward we should expect for him.

huh? designers ride Razor scooters around the office, while wearing mail-bag style backpacks to hold their iPods. Once in a while they pause on the sofas and discover new ways of getting Flash on their iPads.

They have lots of shiny espresso machines, and all their new-age eMovers (that's the cool way to say "consultants," remember?) drive to work in VW Beetles, New Minis or minty-choccy-chip coloured Fiat Cinequecentos.

Appearance is everything, because huh? will get more of your money by looking cool than by doing quality work. And who cares, right, provided your customers are stampeding at your door with dollars dripping from their palms, just so they can get a piece of the shiny stuff.

If you call their office, the phone will be answered by a very disinterested intern, giving you the impression that they're too important to talk to you. And if you're reading this, then it's because they are.

Want more huh?

Sandboxing your brand value

For many companies, their most mission-critical asset is their brand. It defines their reputation and helps them stand out in an over-crowded marketplace, particularly one bloated by social networks, e-commerce and the competition of real-time supply-chain architectures.

Brand risk is therefore a potent danger that all of us face. But by its nature, sandboxing your brand, unless you live by the ocean or a large quarry, is a goal that many find one of the most elusive. Many talk the talk of strategizing reputation, but how easy is it to walk the walk?

Key is how to measure the impact of infrastructure or product changes on your brand in the marketplace, especially at moments when your business fails to deliver, launches buggy software, or serves Würst without the sauerkraut.

Many of us hire or contract experts from PR to inflate our brands at every corner, whether we're riding high or in a time of crisis. However, brand and reputation will remain forever so nebulous that it's just as easy to ignore such self-promotion. But at what cost?

Ultimately, in today's world of bleeding-edge communication networks, responsiveness and honesty are key. When relaying problems or delays to your customers or suppliers, speed and accuracy matter, and identifying the key impacted stakeholders is paramount.

Easier said than done. Such a strategy requires strong and effective leadership, to manage the conflicting expectations of customers and the business itself. But it also requires those leaders to know what's going on in the engine room. A strong brand requires an equally strong foundation of open communication within the organization that owns it.

Seldom do investors quiz the board at the AGM about reputation and brand, until, that is, something goes disastrously wrong.

Build the right internal culture and commit to open and honest communication with your customers, and goodwill, the cornerstone of sandboxing your brand, will surely follow.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Protuberance? Fingering the sweetness of Shakespeare's potato

Potato fact #1 - There are two references to the potato in the works of Shakespeare. The first in the Merry Wives of Windsor (Act 5, Scene V); the second in Troilus and Cressida (Act 5, Scene II).

This suits as #potatofact #1, as the potato is believed to have been imported into Europe around a century before these two Shakespeare plays were published (1602 and 1609, respectively), but the plant's introduction and spread toward Northern Europe in the intervening period was both relatively unremarked and unremarkable.

But was it really the common potato, the spud, the tater, that we now know, adore and consume by the kilo, to which Shakespeare was referring?

And by "common potato" I refer to practically all of the supra 1000 potato varieties (99% in fact)  that share common germplasm with a variety that at some time in the species' early history of domestication grew in the Chiloé Archipelago in South-central Chilé.

In both references, Shakespeare's characters allude to the potato's aphrodisiac, even phallic, properties. In Merry Wives, Falstaff tries it on with Mistress Ford:

  My doe with the black scut! Let the sky rain
  potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of Green
  Sleeves, hail kissing-comfits and snow eringoes; let
  there come a tempest of provocation, I will shelter me here.

Whilst Thersites, the scurrilous Greek, is ostentatiously lewd:

  How the devil Luxury, with his fat rump and
  potato-finger, tickles these together! Fry, lechery, fry!

In a letter to the Editor of the London Times, of August 28, 1882, an anonymous writer asserted that at the time of the plays' publication the word potato had a double meaning, referring both to the solanum (our common potato) and to a convolvulus (the ipomoea batatas, or "sweet potato"). Whilst John Gerard's Herball or Generalle Historie of Plantes (1597) refers to the potato as the "batatas", this is more likely a reference only to the imported potato, as opposed to Britain's homegrown variety (the sweet potato being too tender for the British climate).

Thus the protuberances on display in Shakespeare's works, whilst less tuberant in nature, are likely to be all the sweeter for it.

To chino or mochalattecino - Business casual or a casual business?

With the summer solstice, and the official start of summer, most of us will be taking any opportunity to don our Aviators, let our hair down and slip on some flip-flops, bangs or thongs to catch some regenerative rays of solar radiation.

Even if, like me, it's just for a few minutes, eating a sandwich and supping a mochalattecino from the Starbucks on Westlake & 9th, sat on a bench in Denny Park.

But what happens in that stuffy office?

How many of us see our staff adopting a more relaxed dress style as the weather hots up, as a result of a corporate policy for less formal attire in the summer months? How many of us senior executives ourselves start wearing the internationally-accepted standards of business casual?

All too common are the chino pants, brown brogues, plaid shirt and tweed sports jacket (leather elbow pads optional). Not forgetting, of course, for us real snappy dressers the all-important panama hat, de rigeur for those offsite summer parties and visits to the box to watch the game.

But many of us all too often see those standards of dress in our co-workers start to slip. And when - Fred Cuellar forbid - even us leaders start donning deck shoes (with no socks!) instead of proper lace-ups, are we concerned that, rather than wearing business casual, we might actually be starting to run a casual business?

In the modern era of wireless networking none of this should matter. Some of us prefer to wear a business suit, whilst many adopt more comfortable attire. Each corporation, each market has its own conventions that work just fine for most of the year.

So why make temporary changes of policy? Even for single events or conferences. This just causes confusion and embarrassment, especially to employees new to the business or international secondees just off the plane.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How the potato staple fastens the boom

"The great mass of the French nation is formed by the simple addition of homologous magnitudes, much as potatoes in a sack form a sack of potatoes." Karl Marx

Just as he ridiculed the French bourgeoisie of his time, Marx himself evidently had little affinity for the humble potato, but one of his contemporaries had different ideas. Friedrich Engels identified how the potato underpinned the British industrial revolution of the 19th century, even going so far as to declare it the equal of iron for its "historically revolutionary role".

As a cheap source of calories and nutrients, and easy for urbanized workers to grow in the backyard plots of their terraced and tenement housing, potatoes became popular in England's northern coal regions during the early 19th century. Just as coal fired the furnace, the potato fuelled a population boom that provided the labour necessary for rapid industrial growth.

Is it a coincidence then, as China continues a sublime upward curve, and India's population explodes in parallel with unbridled economic development, that China and India now harvest nearly one third of the world's annual potato crop?

Metrically less labour-intensive and more nutritional per acre, and often more easily cultivated than rice, the exponential switch from the traditional crop to the bulbous tuber has unleashed a baby boom tsunami and a tidal wave of manpower.

This rapid community aggregation combined with a bedrock of diverse economic, cultural and artistic infrastructures, has productized these two countries. India and China have incubated a rich seam of models and best-of-breed deliverables synergized with all aspects of the supply-chain, from manufacturing goods to hi-tech e-solutions and consultancy services.

You have to ask: would all this be, were it not for some strong Désirée, an occasional Fingerling and a bit of Pink Eye?

Sipping from the brimming rabbit

Yesterday I ran into the legendary Leonard Stoat, author of the niche change management tome: Morphing Infrastructure Paradigms for the Post-Restructuralist Generation, and he agreed to join me for a mochalattecino at Tully's downtown.

Leonard became affectionately known as The Stoat (hardly a giant leap) through his pioneering cut-throat policy of incisive disintermediation. Despite this reputation for unleashing impactful schemas, The Stoat has since orchestrated and, indeed, monetized a string of more collaborative supply-chain infrastructures.

I recalled, after our brief interview, R. S. Thomas' metaphor of the stoat "sipping from the brimming rabbit", a rumination on the cruelty of nature where the rabbit is viewed simply as a vessel of blood, the spoils of aggression on offer to the stoat.

I got to thinking: does this metaphor describe in any way the key attributes of modern business leadership?

Perhaps our recontextualization of business relationships, operation models and frictionless enterprises, both in terms of architectures and the language that describes them, has merely diluted the vessel contents into a plasma cordial.

Or perhaps we should congratulate ourselves that, also through the aggregation of layers of wireless-linked social communities, modern leaders have enabled us to empower organizational change from the bottom up, helped teams focalize themselves on their meta-priorities, and provided one and all the chance to sip from the grail.