Archive for the 'Analysis and Opinion' Category

Should We Reintroduce Computer-free Activity into the Workplace?

Here is a strange idea: reduce the use of computers in the workplace. Huhh?!?… Bear with me and read on… Computers and Stress Back in the nineties management at my Intel campus realized that non-stop computer use was causing health damage in the form of RSI (repetitive stress injuries – remember all those weird wrist bandages?). To address it, we implemented structured “stretching sessions” where everyone stopped typing and came together to do directed exercises with music and fun. Today we see that non-stop computer use is causing health damage in other forms – and it may be time to.. Read more

Should You Buy a Smartphone for Your Child?

Posted on February 6th, 2016 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

Should you? Not without first understanding the implications. This question derives from a real life situation, which happens a lot: a kid approaches a parent asking for a smartphone. Please? Pretty please?? All the other kids have them! I’ve heard of six year olds popping the request, and parents in our society of abundance are all too likely to give in. But a smartphone is not a toy; it is a supercharged technology powerhouse, with incredible potential for both good and evil. It’s not exactly like giving a loaded gun to a kid, but it merits some serious thought. After.. Read more

What would Ada Lovelace think of Knowmail?

Posted on November 3rd, 2015 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion, Individual Solutions

This post was first published on the Knowmail blog. Cross-posted with permission.   The computer will never be creative or intelligent by itself; it can only do what we tell it to do. I like to call this statement “The Frankenstein clause”: it plays down the primal fear we humans have of our machines getting better than us, then taking over the world. Basically it says, “Move along, folks… Nothing to worry about, we’re the real brains here… These dumb computers will always obey us…” This statement was made by many during the 20th century, but the first to articulate.. Read more

Wearable Devices: Cool Tech or Big Brother?

Posted on August 21st, 2015 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

How to measure knowledge worker productivity  is a recurrent question, and in my business of reducing information overload my clients often ask me how we can characterize the benefit of my recommendations for action. For years I used to reply, “Easy! You fix a Productometer gizmo to every employee’s skull, and it senses how productive they are!” Of course, that was nonsense: Characterizing the impact of a productivity program in domains as complex as knowledge work is a challenge requiring less direct means. It may not remain nonsense for long, though… Not just a cute gadget Wearable sensing technology has.. Read more

When Hobby and Work Come Together: Wayda Go!

Posted on June 15th, 2015 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

An auspicious convergence Most people have hobbies and interests of various kinds – as well they should: this makes them happier, better-rounded persons. Used to be that you’d do your work at work during the day, and your hobbies at home evenings and weekends. This model is disappearing fast as work and home become inextricably mixed up. Instead, one must resort to practicing one’s hobby as part of one’s job. In this post I want to make the following point: that it is quite valuable when people’s hobbies and their work come together, with the blessing of their employer; and.. Read more

How to Avoid Forwarding Gaffes With Email

Posted on May 21st, 2015 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion, Individual Solutions, Organizational Solutions

Gaffes in communication are common in all media, and email is no exception. It does, however, enable special opportunities to be very sorry for what you said… The problem with Forward The main reason is that an email, once sent, is no longer yours . You must assume – and to your detriment often forget to assume – that it will get forwarded and re-forwarded. Everything you said to your intended recipient will likely as not be placed before numerous other people. It is astounding how thoughtlessly a recipient can set loose a message meant for their eyes only! The.. Read more

New Insight Article: Effective Hiring – What I’ve Learned from Experience

Posted on May 6th, 2015 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

Hiring is one of the most critical things you do as a manager, and yet corporate training curricula seldom have a course on how to hire people. This is a pity, because not only are there best practices to be learned from the world at large, there are also specific traditions and processes that have become part of the corporate culture in each individual company. In three decades in various organizations I’ve seen and done enough as a manager to form my own opinions on hiring. Opinionated they may be, but I nevertheless share them in my latest insight article.. Read more

The Importance of Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth is

Posted on March 18th, 2015 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

A key component of leadership A major challenge all managers face is how to motivate their employees to do the best job they can. This is problematic because – despite the usual corporate values of “we respect our employees” and “open door policy” – there is always an element of mistrust between management and employees (I discuss it in the context of Information Overload in this article); and mistrust is a major demotivator. So, managers need to assure employees that they are sincere in what they tell them – and, until someone invents a mind reading device, this is tough. Of.. Read more

Unplugged Weddings: People are Pushing Back!

Posted on January 27th, 2015 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion, Organizational Solutions

At last: some pushback The “democratization” of photography in the smartphone age has wrested the role of the professional wedding photographer and distributed it among all the invited friends and family members; and this change happened almost overnight, in line with the exponential speedup of technology introduction in recent years. The relevance of this to information overload was the subject of my recent post, Wedding Photos and Managing Information Overload. Another interesting development, which came surprisingly close on the heels of the former, is the appearance of the Unplugged Wedding concept. This is a clear instance where people are beginning.. Read more

When Cultures Clash: Mission Orientation vs. Overwork

Posted on December 28th, 2014 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

As I wrote before, the causes of Information Overload are always tightly intertwined with organizational culture, which leads to interesting conflicts and forces critical tradeoffs. Well-meaning legislative efforts I was at a conference dedicated to the interdisciplinary examination of the rampant problem of destructive Overwork. Some of the speakers were academics who presented their research findings about the severe impact of overwork – say, working 60 or more hours a week – on employees’ health and well-being. Others were jurists, legislators and reformers who discussed present and proposed efforts to modify the laws of the land to reduce overwork by.. Read more