Nov 30, 2010

How to prevent interruptions in workplaces

I watched recently Ted talk from Jason Fried. He is the author of Rework I read lately. Jason talked about why work is not done in the work places, but rather in almost anywhere else.

His main point is interruptions. He identifies two types of interactions. Un-voluntary interruptions (or distractions like he calls those), when someone or something else interrupt you without you having possibility to affect on it. And users voluntary interruptions, like reading mail, checking FB or going to grab coffee. He makes a valid point here. When you check your mail, it's your decision, when someone comes to talk to you, it's not.

He blames meetings and managers on these interruptions. I tend to think good on people. I don't believe managers and others are interrupting people by plain evil. Also I think meeting organisers often do think their meeting has a meaning. And often these interruptions, managers or meetings do have a value. The problem is more on the timing and the actual interrupting. So what could we do.

Jason had already couple of ideas you can listen, but I'll bring couple of my own. Maybe some meetings could be kept as a chat type of a thing. Someone is typing in a stream and others have the possibility to participate when they want. It could be for example announced, that during this 4 hour window, this chatroom is dedicated to this subject. Feel free to join to discuss or read the stream later.

Other idea is to have an actual traffic lights next to your desk. Available and Do Not Disturb. Those do require environment, where you can say to your boss and colleagues, that I know what is important, let me do my job.

Maybe the main thing still is to recognizing this on your workplace. Are people interrupting each other. Are people doing things that require concentration and takes some time to really get back to the mood again. If yes, then talking about this will definitely be the first step.

If you have any good ideas and expertise on this area, it would be nice to know more.

Nov 23, 2010

One subject blogs comes soon quite boring

I wouldn't like to keep many blogs. I already have two, this one and then one stream of funny stuff in Posterous. Still many guide that you should try to blog about one narrow subject, so that people would know what to expect. That would make them follow you. In a longer term, I think it's bit other way around.

I've been following for example Agile blogs for some time. One after another those start to become more borer and borer. Agile is still quite narrow subject where renewal of different methods and thoughts takes time. No one can really write interesting new views on agile 100 times a year.

I think more and more, people are finding writings by recommendation or social stream. So people are not following exact blogs only, but writings that are detected by someone else and are visible in websites, twitter and FB streams. This also supports my approach of wider scope.

Why I actually started to think on this, was that I thought that how much I should mix things from personal interest and professional interest on this blog. For example, I'm not that an agilist, that I would without my job, really follow that closely what's happening with Agile. But then, I am following some of the tech stuff just for personal interest. Same goes with many other things. Some stuff I follow and know from business and some from personal life.

I actually convinced myself, that I'm going to continue blogging on misc subjects, since that so much more fun. You can write on anything that comes to you mind. If people don't like, then they don't read it. Skipping content is easier than ever. And there's so much always happening in the world and life, that it would be shame to try to keep with one subject. Hope you agree and read me some other time also.

I revisited my thoughts 3.12.2010. Here's a post for that one: My thoughts on one subject blogs revisited.

Nov 19, 2010

Personal cloud services

I have this problem of having many computers I use, 2 different at home then the ones in workplace in addition. When I need to remember to do something, I often send myself mail, to either work email or home email related where I need to remember that one. This works for things that need immediate attention.

When I want to store some information for longer time, I had this problem of not finding suitable tool for that one. I use Diigo for things related in web, but that's not for my own content. And I know Evernote is kind of for this king of thing, but I figure out otherway more suitable for me.

I made form in Google docs for me. I can reach Google doc form anywhere, any time, with any PC or mobile. All information is then stored there and I can get back to it also whenever I want.

I know it's nerdy solution, but it really works fine for me. And you can easily extend it for your family or friends for example. That's my personal cloud service.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Nov 16, 2010

What do you remember from learnings few years back?

When I think about courses I've attended in work life or back in school, I always remember only one or two things for those from those, if even that. Same goes with business books, there's one or two punch lines you remember after few years and that's all. And I'm talking about time frame of years now, not months. When talking about certain processes or technologies which you practice every day this might not be true. For training sessions or books this applies at least for me.

This got me thinking, why trainers and writers don't emphasize this more. In the beginning they could say, here's the catch for this course or book, keep this in mind. Then over and over keep saying the same punch lines.

Maybe it's just hard to decide what are the small things you would like others to remember. All books and courses will of course offer lot more material to deepen the understanding on the subject, but normally there is this one catch. Somebody could perhaps make a study about this one. They could be asking people what they remember on specific book or course from years back.

Everyone who have read legendary Crossing the Chasm from Geoffrey Moore, what do you remember from it? I remember what the chasm meant and then I remember the technology adaptation curve (which I guess wasn't invented on this book). Also I remember there was lot of methodologies for "crossing the chasm", but I don't really remember any details on those. Still I would say Mr. Moore should be happy that I remember even that much. It's much more than other books I've read on that time (maybe 2003).

Of course everything you learn builds your consciousness on the world and different areas. And you can't really say if something was worth of reading or participating only by what you remember from that in couple of years. But still, I think it gives some hint.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Nov 14, 2010

Book I read: Undercover economist

Good friend of mine brought this book to me and said, just read it. My education is from economics, so I wasn't really that keen on reading book about economics. My friend knew all this, so I decided to give Undercover Economist by Tim Harford a try.

I have to admit that mr Harford really can explain things easily and entertainly. Many of thing that he brought up I knew, but still he explained those from an angle that really made it valuable to keep on reading.

Book was able to explain many complex economical stuff so easily that it really started to feel that these things are simple and easy. One of the best things were that human side was often present. Book explained many phenomenons so that it was obvious that human behaviour is one of the key explanations to those.

I liked the most on the game theory, globalisation and china becoming big parts of the books. All these really introduced some good views to me. I maybe need to find some books about game theory after this one. Somehow that felt so interesting and I have so little understanding on that one. My game theory is mainly from poker books and from movie Beautiful Mind.

If you have any interests to economics, this is good one. Like my friend said, just read it.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Nov 10, 2010

Can you live your life without ever trying Facebook?

I have still many real life friends who have refused to join Facebook or Twitter due to principle. I think they still see it childish or something. This got me thinking what's gonna happen to them.

These guys are men of principle (there's lot of those in Finland) and they might be so stubborn that they'll never join FB. I think FB is there for good. It's going to change over time for sure, but I don't see it ever going away. FB or something similar will be part of our lifes for a long time.

If they will never join FB I think they will somehow get isolated. That's really the question. Will they be isolated or not? Is FB account like email, you just need to have one. Or is it just for fun. Will they be dissed in future job interviews if they are not part of social media. I'm not saying FB equals social media, but it often is the first step to interact elsewhere in the web also.

What FB has really brought to me is the different level of friendship and communication. There's lot of people who I follow and who I interact with, I would almost never talk otherwise. This is the aspect they might not ever really understand. I just see it a pity.

If I check from their perspective, I don't think they'll really miss anything, since they don't know what to miss. And I'm not saying that's wrong at all. That's just selection of life.

And don't get me wrong, some of these are really my best friends and really smart guys. It's just so funny that they see something like FB or Twitter so differently than I.

Everyone just needs to make their own mistakes, like Geraint Andersson said.

Nov 7, 2010

Extending experiences

For many things we do, actual doing is not the all we get from it. Like vacations for example, all the planning and checking out the places in advance are big part of joy. Same goes afterwards. People want to extend the experience by telling others about past vacation or showing photos from places they've been.

I wanted to share how I extend my holidays for example. I like to build photobooks around those. One important thing is the cover. I try to do something different each time. This one on the rigth is from out trip to Santorini. I wanted to try this nice collage this time. Front cover is on the right side and back in the left.

This one on the left is from Switserland, like you can guess from the photo.

I really like to build these for myself. This is kind of like playing Simcity or some other Tycoon games for me. It's just relaxing to work on the details of the books. And I don't mind paying from that fun.

I'm currently working in product management and I think these are things we often forget. People want to extend their experiences. It's not only about product, but it's everything around it. Some people like to discuss about products in the web. Others want to pimp their products with additions. Some like to take extra good care on their stuff. There's so many different people around, that there's always room to engage someones experience. There's always possibilities to make someone feel bit more happy and at the same time, make some money for you and your company.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Nov 3, 2010

TED talk - Keep Going Until We Stop

TEDxOakville - Scott Stratten - Keep Going Until We Stop

It just makes sense. So obvious, still so hard.

Nov 2, 2010

It's our nature to overhear phone conversations

I read about study week ago from some magazine, about how people naturally start guessing how conversations go, if they hear only one side of conversation. So, nowadays this means that you will more likely notice someone talking to the phone than someone talking to person next to her.

After reading this one, I've really noticed that I at least behave just like that. My brains tends to guess what people are talking about, when I hear someone talking to the phone. That's just funny. If you pay attention to this, you probably notice the same.

I think this gives us right to overhear phone conversations.

I just hope I would have taken note which study it was and where it has been made. It would be nice to dig bit more on it.