Jan 20, 2014

Communication is really important and really hard

Often putting information available or sending an email is the thing people think to be enough communication in organizations. For me, communication is never about making information available, but about getting people to understand the message. Too often communication is seen to be broadcasting information to all and not caring if anyone is receiving the message or not. I see this as both inefficient and unnecessary communication.

People receive messages differently so there needs to be many different ways the message can be received. This is the part that it is so easy to underestimate. It is easy to get communication out of the way by publishing information to be available. I've never seen this to really work. Only the cases where ones work continuation is in question, as larger layoffs, publishing information might be enough. For any other communication, there are always too many distractions to lose the message to all the other noise.

It's not only about the noise, that prevents communication going through. People also receive the messages differently. Some people need to see the big picture in order to understand the message, others need to get the details for understanding. For some people it is important to know the reasoning behind something, for others goal might be the most important thing. This needs to be kept in mind when communication is planned.

Communication is one of the hardest topics in organizations. The value of the communication is hard to measure, but fails in communication are easy to point out. Often improving efficiency in communication, could increase many things in the organization. Better communication would need to be done so that it won't take much time out from people other tasks and still makes sure people receive the message.

The rule, using more time in the planning, will save time at the end, suits communication really well. The better person or small team plans communication and uses time to prepare it, the more time will be saved from everybody else. The bigger the organization, the larger the savings.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jan 16, 2014

Book Review: The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris

I remember running into the book The 4-Hour Workweek few years ago. First I was really excited and followed Tim Ferriss's blog for some time. Then I started to hate the exaggerating style Tim Ferriss has. I started to hate it so much, I decided never to read this book, but when friend of mine recommend the book,
I decided to give it go.

Book The 4-Hour Workweek is as controversial as Tim Ferriss is. On the other hand he has many brilliant ideas and tips, but then he does present everything as black or white. I try to be open minded to all kind of people, but it is hardest for me with people who only see things as black or white. Things are never that simple as for example Tim Ferriss presents in his book. Neither those are so complex as many believes.

Tim Ferriss is really smart guy. He has achieved a lot and seems to enjoy his life. It's hard to say if he really is so happy as he says he is. In a book like his, when author states close to hundred times how good life and everything is, I start to question, if the case is really so. As an example, based on the books I've read about happiness is, that those who have absolute freedom are not really happy at all. People need to have rules and restriction in order to enjoy life.

About half of the book was something I really enjoyed reading. There wasn't many new things, but some really good ideas. The rest was just total waste. I think with proper editing this version I read could have been cut to 150 pages. Now it was 350.

I don't recommend this book to anyone. It has many good things in it, but the other thoughts and advice's where something I wouldn't want people to think I agree to. So the bad overrides all the good on it. I do appreciate Tim Ferriss and what he is doing, I just don't agree on many things he is saying.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jan 8, 2014

Book Review: The Happiness Hypothesis

First book for this year was The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt. It was awesome book to start with. Basic idea of the book is to compare ancient wisdom to the knowledge of today's psychology. But it is much more, it's a journey to the roots of happiness. What makes people happy and why.

Book starts with basics of mind. It goes through the theories and thoughts about what mind is and how it is supposed to work. Book introduces the elephant and the rider metaphor, where conscious mind is the rider and the elephant is the automatic processes. This works as a good simplification on many of the other things that come up in the book.

Book goes through very comprehensively theories about happiness. Why complete freedom actually isn't a way to happiness and how money could buy happiness. It introduces so many important insights about happiness, that it wouldn't make sense to start going those all through here.

Book talks quite much also about divinity and gods. It goes through religions from many different perspectives. Religions are known to be source of happiness, but the as the book states believing to god isn't all there is. Author Jonathan Haidt is atheist, so the he talks critically about religions, but still explains how and why people need religions.

Book is only around 250 pages, but is still covers so many things. It talks about work life, history, ancient religions, raising kids, philosophy, medicine and so many other things. It is packed in a really good form. It is easy to read, but still I felt there was enough background offered on the facts that were presented.

This goes in my list as the books that should be made mandatory on schools. I didn't agree on all the opinions in the book, but that's not the point. It raises so many thoughts and will definitely make my life better in the future. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jan 1, 2014

Top 5 Books I read Year 2013

As I've been blogging so much about books lately, I thought it would be valuable to share the best books I read 2013. From these books only one was published this year, so it's not a review of best books of 2013, but what I read year 2013. All of these are books I'm really happy I read. All of those changed my world and view of the world. Here the list and few words why I think those were so important. I highly recommend all of those.

1. Thinking in Systems: A Primer

I've been familiar to systems thinking before the book, but this was the book that fully opened my eyes. This book works bit like the famous "red pill vs blue pill" scene from Matrix which promises to show the world as it is. Systems thinking should become a mandatory subject to school, it's so important.

2. The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development

I'm mainly sad that I didn't read this book earlier. This is a book everyone in SW industry should try to understand. It's not easy to read and it's even harder to understand. It gave me so many new ideas how to improve SW development organizations. I'm sure it had good thoughts for everyone else too.

3. Green Illusions

Green Illusions opens eyes about the state of the world currently. There are many controversial thoughts in the book and I didn't believe everything as such, but that doesn't matter. I believed the main point, world has a consumption problem. To fix consumption problem we should put much more focus to different things that
we are currently doing. Today's economy is based on consumption and supporting cheap energy. How should we change this? Read the book and think yourself.

4. Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100

This book I enjoyed the most in the whole year. It's the first book over 400 pages that I wouldn't have liked to finish. It is packed with so much information about current technology and future predictions, that I bet all the tech freaks will love the book. The author is very familiar how hard it is to try to guess the future, but him if anyone in the world have information and sources to make good guesses. If there would be more books like this existing, I would read many of those in a row.

5. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others

To Sell Is Human was an excellent book. It goes through some of the same topics Daniel Pink has been writing already previously. Dan Pink writes good stories and every book from him is a fun to read. Also the books are filled with really important information. I'm still honest to myself, this book got to the list because Daniel Pink is my favorite author. I've read almost everything he has written and his writing doesn't light me up as they used to. I still own him so much. His books have been the ones that got me back to reading again. I hope this book could do the same for someone else.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen