I have been neglecting this blog for some time. I have 27 posts in draft condition; I just can't seem to find the time or inspiration (or both) to end up with any of them or get brand new posts done.
I have a new design on the pipeline.
I have also neglected commenting and reading on the blogs I usually read and comment upon.
I want May to be over; odd since it's my favorite month. May in Bariloche (my hometown) is Rainy and very "autumnish"; quite inspiring.
I need to get off Auto Pilot mode (thanks Mark).
My beautiful wife just got her first Scientific Paper with her as first author approved on international immunopharmacology magazine.
Way to go girl!
PC World's top 100 products of 2007 is out. And I must say I can agree with most products, but not necessarily with the order. This is only natural because a major part on this reviews and lists is based on subjective observations.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X60 tablet is listed number 50, and although there is one other PC above it on the list I think it is a very solid performance (The HP Pavilion dv9000t made it to #14, but I'll stick to a Lenovo over an HP anytime...). My guess is that if the new T, R and X 61 series would of been taken into account for this list, we'd be seeing a different story.
Other things worth noticing is that Vista is not listed at all, and that Ubuntu 7.04 made it to #16. This only confirms what I think about it; it is the best OS I've ever used.
Yahoo mail is a couple positions above gmail... I also agree with this; I've used both (yahoo for over 6 years, to the point where it is my main email account) and I'm much more comfortable with Y!'s UI than with gmail's. Not to mention the increases in storage.
It is very interesting to note how many on-line services and free software utilities / programs are listed. Firefox 2, Picassa, LaLa.com, YouTube, Ubuntu, Flickr, just to name a few, are rated side-by-side with very pricey items such as iPods, PCs, Game Consoles and Hard Disks. Some food for thought.
Not hilarious but funny enough. It quite depicts how help desks (don't) work:
Star Wars help Desk:
Look left. Look right. Look everywhere, look anywhere. You'll see anachronisms, standards out of date, deprecated ways of doing things, old laws and rules.
Should patents apply to software? Should copyright be set to last longer / forever or vanished for good? Should record companies and Hollywood studios chase p2p networks and users? Should traditional ways of managing companies be put to rest and try more horizontal approaches? Should scientists be allowed to play with DNA? Should democracy be re-stated with the possibilities the digital era provides?
The questions are endless, yet the answers are lacking or they please only a few. Look anywhere they are all around us, they affect every part of our lives: our jobs, our families, our health.
The 20th century was full of revolutions. From penicillin to the atom bomb, from TV to the internet. Yet, the last quarter of it was the one that most challenged and affected the way we live, defying the main institutions upon which we build our lives.
So much looks out of date, one wonders how things will be in just 10 years.
But most of what needs to change, needs to improve. I think much of what's happening is moving towards what might be the right direction (only time can tell). The truth might be that "continued change" is the norm, the way of life. It has been so for well over 100 years, and unless a meteorite wipes us all out, it shall remain that way. We need to build upon thoughts and institutions that can last whatever crazy new things the human race might invent in the future. We need to get over the "this exact millisecond" thinking and into a more deep way of looking at things.
The questions out are there. What answers shall we find?
The last couple of weeks have been very hard. The sort of weeks you just want to get over with, get it done with hitting rock bottom and start the upstream travel again.
We all face such times. Things aren't always great and exciting, bad times help put things into a different perspective, and you can do one of two things: whine about the bad time you're having or doing something about it. Easily said, not so easily done.
One thing that helps is remembering previous crisis. In my personal case, every crises has always led to a radical improvement some time afterwards. Such times "recycle" things, and the order that follows usually flushes what had lead to generating the problems in the first place. In some scenarios you end up with a fresh start; and that is also nice.
The only hard thing is actually going through it. But you learn through it.
Time to take a deep breath, some good rest and back to the fight. It is good to have one's patience tested every now and then.
Recent events got me to kick the dust off from a draft post I had written some time ago.
Today's "marketing is conversation" and "customer is the king" world has improved BtoC relationships a lot, particularly for the customers benefit. Yet as with everything else in life there are some downsides which must be taken into account.
Some "visible" customers yield a lot of power over companies. Possessing a blog, for instance can be used as a weapon to threaten with creating bad fuzz for a company. The result is that if you threaten or actually post a negative review, comment or experience, chances are you'll get a sort of VIP treatment.
This is great, it forces companies to listen, and excel at their relations with customers. If the company takes such voices seriously, they'll review their processes seeking for the weak links and try to improve the overall customer experience and satisfaction, not only for those writing about it, but for everyone.
Yet, the unavoidable question is: what about those customers that don't have a voice? Those that have to deal with their frustration in silence, or just sharing verbally with their peers (a harm that is also important, although we can't see it or effectively measure it). Those without the power or the will to generate public perception damage to a company. It is on those where we should put the focus on next. It is only fair.
The solution is strikingly simple in concept but hard to get to good end in the real life. Have the best possible customer relations. The world is not a perfect place, and no matter how good you get at treating your customers things can and will go wrong at some point.
That being said I need to refresh what I stated at my post on making companies personal. Every individual or organization inside a corporation that has contact with customers, either on a one to one basis (like help desks and sales men) or in one to many (traditional marketing or web), must be fully aware that they are delivering a message about the corporation and what it stands for. If those people and organizations, and the people who manage them are fully aware of that fact and act accordingly, the company will be one step closer to Marketing 2.0 Utopia: Customer is king, and he's happy and talking wonders about you.
Although the harm public negative voices can do to companies is huge; I'd try and make a statement: "I am listening to you, reading your blog, your comments and forums, but I listen as hard to those that don't speak as loud."
Mark and his comments got me thinking a little deeper on the subject, thus, before posting one of my humongous comments for which I'm becoming famous, I'd thought I would better write up a follow up post instead.
I think the fear of failure and/or retaliation have a lot to do with people avoiding responsibilities. Many times a lot of people consider that committing into something that does not fall exactly into their job description will not only add workload but poses a potential risk in terms of things going wrong and being held responsible for a failure that they weren't accountable for in the first place. Usually the rewards (in monetary terms) don't balance such risks, thus dodging the bullet seems the smart thing to do.
Personally I find it sort of hard to understand. I usually find it very rewarding to complete a project / task, thus that is more than enough for me (actually I like the "process" better than the "completion", and the "creation" above anything else).
This doesn't mean I'll commit into just anything, If I know nothing about a subject or I think I cannot give my best I wont accept. But as I'm usually looking forward into doing new stuff (which is my professional fuel) I have a hard time saying "no". This can be a handicap from time to time; particularly when you find yourself working long hours.
Mark mentions "accountability". The funny thing is that in Spanish "responsibility" and "accountability" are both "responsabilidad", thus it is hard for me to divorce both terms. But I do get the point. We have been spoiled. We expect mom and dad to take care of our business when we are kids, we expect our employers and government to do the same when we are grown ups, and we expect social security, and our sons and grand-sons to take care of us when we are old.
I think the "only positive feedback" education that has become increasingly popular might have to do with it as well. We went from abusive & restrictive to too open. I remember reading an article a couple of years ago (either on Money or Forbes, can't recall) which stated my same generation had a hard time facing the reality of jobs, since there's no-one giving them pats in the back telling them how great and special they are. This relates directly to risk vs. reward. We have come to expect way too much reward way too often.
Act expecting nothing in return, and you will be truly pleased when rewards do arrive.
Finally Today I fixed my feedburner issues and reactivated feed redirection.
It was an easy fix, and I almost feel ashamed I didn't think about it before! In case it is of some use for anyone here's how I worked it out:
I was sending:
To feedburner. That is RSS 1 type of feed, thus it hasn't got any of the advantages of RSS2 or Atom; thus by simply giving:
to feedburner I was able to fix the cropped feeds issue.
The only minor issue is that you'll see my latest 12 posts as new in your readers, since I had to ping feedburner. Sorry for any inconveniences.
Completely personal opinions and impressions follow.
Do you feel people in general take less responsibilities than they used to?
I've found talking about this with friends and colleagues, and we agree on most of it. We're under the impression that people in general (whether they are managers or the last link of the chain), are increasingly eager to avoid any responsibilities.
Overall I seem to be getting more and more "I don't do that", "It's not on my duties" kind of phrases, not to mention the times one you do get people to commit only for them not to deliver.
I'd like to say it's generational, but I see this on people spanning quite different ages; "cultural" comes to mind instead. But I find the term too broad to make me happy about using it.
I haven't yet give much thought on why I think this happens; but I think it might have to do with rewards. People I know that take responsibilities (beyond their call) find reward in completing their jobs, no more, no less.
What are your thought on this?