Subscribe to Methods & Tools
if you are not afraid to read more than one page to be a smarter software developer, software tester or project manager!
Software Development Blogs: Programming, Software Testing, Agile Project Management
Subscribe to Methods & Tools
if you are not afraid to read more than one page to be a smarter software developer, software tester or project manager!
I am writing this while the world is divided over the issue how to deal with Syria. It is clear for many independent observers that President Assad has killed thousands of innocent civilians. And yet, he firmly holds on to his power. It wouldnât surprise me if Assad actually believes he is the good guy, and that half of the Syrian population just refuses to acknowledge his great contributions and vision for the country.
Research confirms that powerful people lean too heavily on their own point of view, insufficiently taking into account other peopleâs perspectives [Daniel Pink, To Sell Is Human]. There is an inverse relationship between power and perspective-taking. People with authority are blind to important signals, and their brains distort messages that are clear for others. For anyone who has ever had to deal with members of government, this is so obvious, it doesnât even need explaining.
Successful creative networkers lend out their power. They delegate.Delegating Authority
I ran many two-day Management 3.0 classes. But I often let the participants choose the topics they wanted to discuss. Sometimes they changed the time slots. Sometimes they reorganized the class room. I didnât mind. When they felt powerful, they were better able to share their thoughts with me, and then I was better able to tweak my message and influence them.
Iâm sure itâs only a matter of time before Assad is removed from his position due to lack of influence. Power is like a black hole. It has a tendency to accumulate more and more, but ultimately it just erodes and its influence seeps away. Great business transformers gain and keep influence by sharing the power they have. They ask themselves:
How Do We Lend Them Our Authority?
This is part 5 of a 10-part series about the Champfrogs Checklist.
Want to experiment with the Champfrogs motivators? Need to make a decision but unsure about the effects on your motivation? Want to know what motivates your colleagues? Hiring a new team member and need to know what makes her tick?
Play Moving Motivators!
In this (experimental) hangout I discuss with Ăngel Medinilla what he learned from writing his book Agile Management: Leadership in an Agile Environment. He explains the book helped him to get more inquiries for speaking and consultancy.
(Note: Sorry about the video lag on my side. Hangouts on Air did not indicate any bandwidth issues. We only noticed after we had finished.)
Some things I learned from this conversation:
What do you think?
Last Friday and Saturday around 20 Management 3.0 facilitators got together in Munich, Germany, for their first Management 3.0 gathering. We came from Sweden, Slovenia, Canada, Spain, Brazil, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, and of course Germany. Later we were joined by most of the Happy Melly team. Together we discussed marketing & sales, courseware development, collaboration tools, and much more.
What I liked most about this gathering was that I didnât organize anything. It wasnât even my idea! It was Management 3.0-in-action. We have a feeling of community, a shared purpose and identity, and enough intrinsic motivation to make things happen. And so it happened.Feeding Trust, not Lawyers
At the start of the gathering I said I strong believe the best way to promote a better way of working is to lead by example, and practice what you preach. Iâve heard too many stories of non-profit âinstitutesâ, âalliancesâ, âsocietiesâ, and other organizations that all launch with the best intentions of their founders, but where power play, corruption, protectionism and schisms run rampant. It sometimes seems as if we have more religions and churches than ever.
Iâve always declined any form of membership of these organizations because I refuse to get involved in such economical and political games. I like games, but not when people get nasty over money.
Unfortunately, I know I won't be able to prevent conflict in the Management 3.0 ecosystem. It is a complex adaptive system after all. But the least I can do is to grow conditions, constraints, and a culture that make conflict less likely, and collaboration more likely. For example, this means no exclusivity, no territories, no accreditation, and no extortion. Instead, we have a purpose that inspires and motivates, a license agreement that feeds trust instead of lawyers, and license fees that are so small that money issues become unimportant. And then, we let self-organization do the rest.
So far, we seem to be doing well.
(Photos: JĂźrgen Dittmar)
I call myself primarily a writer and a speaker. Iâm not a vendor of tools or products. Iâm not a consultant selling coaching services. And Iâm delegating Management 3.0 courses to other trainers as much as I can.
It means that I try to earn an income as a full-time writer and speaker. This is sometimes difficult, when people ask me to do many things for free.Champfrogs
I am very pleased that my brand new Champfrogs presentation, which I gave yesterday at Agile By Example in Warsaw, and last week at Ăgiles in Lima, was hailed as âoutstandingâ, âbest talk of the conferenceâ, and even âbest slides Iâve ever seenâ. Last week in Lima someone told me that I could easily earn USD 10,000 per keynote with my new talk, in other industries (unfortunately, not in the Agile space).
Not surprisingly, people on Twitter often ask me, âIs there a video online (for free)?â or âWhere can I download the slides (for free)?â The words âfor freeâ are not really mentioned, but obviously implied. The correct (but for me still difficult) answer is, âWhen you invite me, and pay me, like they did in Poland and Peru.â Yes, I did many talks for free in the past. But Iâm now much better, and more focused, than I was in the past.
Sometimes conference organizers ask me, âCan you bring some of your books (for free)?â or âCan you give a workshop (for free)â or âWill you participate in the whole conference (for free)â. Of course, I very much enjoy the attention people give me, and I appreciate all the requests that are usually born out of pure enthusiasm and interest.
But I canât do everything for free.Core Business
When you give away things for free you reduce the perceived value of those products or services. Because if itâs free, it canât be that valuable, can it? This might not be a problem for activities that support your business. But it is a problem for your primary business. I spent four weeks preparing and producing my new Champfrogs presentation. For me itâs quite valuable. It is my core business!
My books and talks are slowly but steadily becoming my main forms of personal income. Giving away all presentations for free can make sense for tool vendors and consultants, because they have other business models. And their presentations are not called âworth at least USD 10,000â and âthe best Iâve ever seenâ. On the other hand, I will never earn the compliment âbest consultant everâ or âbest tool vendor everâ because thatâs not my kind of business.
So, what is the lesson here for creative networkers?
Understand your real purpose, and give away things that support your business model. But never give away your core business itself.
p.s. And no, Iâm not charging USD 10,000. Yet. :-)
p.p.s. Itâs strange I sometimes feel uncomfortable asking for payment. As Michael Hyatt said last week, people who ask services for free often get paid for their own work, and would never consider doing their work for free. :)
I wrote two books. One was published the traditional way, the other was self-published. From these two experiences I know exactly what I want as a writer while working on my third book. And I believe my wish list looks very much the same as yours...
1) As an author I want help from a co-publisher.
I want to work with people who have experience in self-publishing, who can help me along the way toward a successful release of my book. What I need is not a publisher, but a co-publisher. A reliable business partner to help me publish the book, not by taking over from me, but together with me.
2) As an author I want a co-publisher with a global network.
I donât want the co-publisher to focus on the US first, and the rest of the world later. Of course the US is important. But our focus should be global right from the start. This means any options for translation and localization are built-in right from the beginning.
3) As an author I want to pitch my book project for readers.
If the co-publisher makes a selection out of multiple potential book projects, I want my book pitch to be judged by actual readers, not by a clueless editor who just claims to represent the readers. Let the public decide which book idea they like most.
4) As an author I will get a fixed budget for my book project.
I am not more or less important than other authors. Thatâs why my book gets assigned the same budget as every other book in the pipeline of the co-publisher. Or else the budget should be awarded by actual readers, not by a committee. This would minimize envy and conflict among different authors.
5) As an author I want a producer/director for my book project.
I am like the actor in a movie production for my own movie script. My name will be on the final result but I cannot produce the whole project myself. I will need a producer/director who will manage the project with me.
6) As an author I want a mentor/coach for my book project.
In plenty of areas I am very inexperienced and I can use a bit of help from a more experienced author. Regular coaching sessions would be extremely helpful. My mentor wonât do any work, but will give me plenty of advice along the way.
7) As an author I want a customized book project.
Each book is different, which means each book has different needs. Some need great illustrations, while others need appendices. Some have notes, others have an index. Some need a website, while others should have a video. It all depends on the book and on me.
8) As an author I want to use my own writing tools.
I donât want to be limited to the editing tools and versioning tools prescribed by the co-publisher. I use whatever I want, and let the professionals figure out how to deal with the crazy file formats that I deliver. Otherwise, why call them professionals?
9) As an author I want total freedom in design.
It is my book, therefore it is me who will decide if itâs going to be a book in color or not, and in hardcover or not. Of course, I will heed the advice of the producer and my mentor. But everything from the cover to interior design to illustrations will ultimately be my decision.
10) As an author I need a platform for my book.
My book is part of a bigger picture. The whole platform around my book can include a mailing list, social media presence, presentations, blog posts, podcasts, and videos. I need a co-publisher who can help me with all of that.
11) As an author I want my book to be managed in an Agile way.
This means working with a backlog of âthings we could doâ, a visualized workflow, limited work-in-progress, and a feedback cycle including actual potential readers.
12) As an author I want the support of professionals.
This potentially includes editors, illustrators, designers, translators, and others with actual experience of contributing to book projects. It will be as if Iâm working with a traditional publisher, but Iâm not. I'm publishing myself, with help from experts.
13) As an author I want to own the copyrights.
No matter how many other people have contributed to my book, it is ultimately my book. It is me who wrote the text and it is me who should own the copyrights. This also means that I am accountable for any copyrights mistakes that I made.
14) As an author I want help with a steady delivery cycle.
Both the feedback cycle while writing, and the update cycle after publishing, will need to be managed together with the producer. The co-publisher will see to it that this happens.
15) As an author I want my book in all formats and in all channels.
There should be no limitation to just one digital format, or just one reseller. My book will be on Amazon, of course, in paper and Kindle versions. But it will also be on other e-readers, and maybe even in book stores.
16) As an author I want help with the book launch.
Releasing a book is more than just uploading the data to Amazon. I want help with all aspects of promoting and marketing the book, and increasing sales in all distribution channels.
17) As an author I want to decide how to earn back the investment.
I know the co-publisher needs to have a return on investment, thatâs why we split royalties 50/50. But when I decide to give away my books for free at conferences, thatâs my own decision. I could also earn back the investment through speaking fees, consultancy gigs, or in other ways.
18) As an author I want to outsource printing and selling.
It is impossible for me to manage printing, storing, selling, and distributing my book at a global scale. Thatâs why I want others to do this for me. We can do this in the form of a license-to-print where people pay a fixed amount for a print-ready file to locally print and sell the book.
19) As an author I want to print and sell my own books.
No matter how many other parties are printing and selling my books, I want to be able to print my own copies and sell them at any price I want. (Or even give them away for free.) It will be as if Iâm being my own distributor.
20) As an author I want the co-publishing relationship to end.
When the co-publisher has earned back their investment several times, I want our relationship to end automatically. It is my book, not theirs. Once they earned good money, the rest of the bookâs success should be mine alone.
This is what I want as an author.
What I described here is the best of two worlds. I want the quality of traditional publishing and the freedom of self-publishing. I donât know how much of this is realistic, but I do know that Happy Melly Express will try to make all of this a reality for me. And for you.
Do you agree with these requirements?
Be one of the first investors in Happy Melly Express.
Would you dare to help HR to replace their performance appraisals with a merits system?
Would you dare to learn how to do better development, marketing, sales, orÂ finance?
Would you dare to stop talking about Agile and Lean, and instead focus on Purpose and Mastery?
Organizers in UK, Norway, Singapore and Belgium have already stepped forward and committed to organize a DARE festival in their countries. And we have positive inquiries from Latvia, Switzerland, Finland, Canada, Brazil, Chile and more...
Are you the next in line?
DARE is like ALE, except it goes beyond Agile and Lean.
DARE is like Stoos, except it goes beyond management & leadership.
DARE is like TED, except it goes beyond the 18-minute talks.
DARE is like any other conference, except for the boring badges, crappy coffee, and fricking flyers.
DARE could be your next favorite destination, after home.
Would you dare to organize a DARE event?
Iâm sure you know about Instagram. Itâs a smartphone app that enables people to take photos and post them on the social networks. It was acquired by Facebook for nearly a billion dollars. I think Instagram is a fantastic idea, because it enables any colorblind halfwit with a smartphone and one finger to pretend that they create and discuss art as if theyâre the reincarnation of Andy Warhol. Instagram has made people feel that they make great pictures. They donât, but that doesnât matter. They look competent.
Have you ever ordered a macchiato? You have? Iâm sorry, that makes you look a bit incompetent, in the eyes of the Italians. You see, macchiato means âstainedâ. A caffĂ¨ macchiato is espresso stained with a bit of milk. A latte macchiato is milk stained with a bit of coffee. When you order just a macchiato you are asking for a âstained nothingâ. A competent barista should look puzzled and ask you, âWhat do you mean? A latte macchiato, or a caffĂ¨ macchiato?â To add to the confusion, in northern Europe the default macchiato is often a latte macchiato, but in southern Europe it is usually a caffĂ¨ macchiato. Knowing what you will get is important, because they are each otherâs opposites. When a menu in a coffee shop just says macchiato I take pleasure in asking them, âWell, which one is it?â and then watch them struggle.Competence & Mastery
I have no good reason for telling you this story, other than to make me look competent. People seem to think Iâm a coffee connoisseur. I like that. In truth, I spent only five minutes comparing some Wikipedia entries. (Did you know that the caffĂ¨ latte is not the same as a cafĂŠ au lait? Oh, and notice the spelling.)
So, what can you do as a business transformer when you want to motivate people? Easy! Get them to believe they can become a master at something, without putting in more than five minutes of effort. People love showing others which books are the best, how to save money, where to find the best restaurants, and how to properly order coffee. They spread the word, and their arty farty photos, because it makes them look as if they have achieved mastery. Thatâs why you should ask yourself:
Can We Make Them Look Competent?
This is part 4 of a 10-part series about the Champfrogs Checklist.
As a creative networker, trying to change a little bit of the world, a great weapon you can use is the association principle. It says people are eager to associate themselves with the successes of others. When they feel connected with other peopleâs achievements, even if itâs in a superficial way, they think their public image is strengthened, and they feel more accepted by the group.
I attended a class reunion a year or two earlier and I was talking with one of the ladies, who had been a girl in my class more than 30 years ago. This was one of the most intelligent pupils at the time, and Iâm sure sheâs still quite bright. At the reunion she told me, âThis is very silly. When I found out your book is on Amazon, I felt proud, because you were in my class long ago. Isnât that stupid?â Me being Dutch I probably replied in an honest and fair manner, something like, âYes, thatâs ridiculous. I wrote the book, not you.âThe Smell of Success
Thatâs how people are. When their favorite team wins the seasonâs finale they celebrate, âWe are the champions!â while we did nothing, except drinking a lot of beer and making a lot of noise. But when their team loses, most of the fans say âThey lost,â not âWe lost.â Even worse, supporters can give voice to pure brain-twisters such as âWe could have won the championship, if they had not screwed up!â
As smart creative networkers we use this. When we want to convince people of the usefulness of our great ideas, we allow them to enjoy the smell of success, so they can hope a little bit rubs off on them, and feel accepted. Thatâs why we ask ourselves:
Where Is the Smell of Success?
Oh, by the way. Did you see I have 10K followers on Twitter? Care to associate yourself with me? ;-)
This is part 3 of a 10-part series about the Champfrogs Checklist.
(image: Juhan Sonin)
I call myself a writer. I publish most of my work for free. The book Iâm writing now? You can already download each chapter, at no cost to you. It is called the freemium model. You give away things for free, and then lure people in with extra services. The software industry knows all about it. My mother as well. It is based on the insight that most people have a desire to pay back their debts.
Have any of you ever declined an offer for a free drink from a stranger, or a free sample of cheese in a supermarket, or free access to yet another productivity tool, because accepting the offer would make you feel uncomfortable? Exactly! We decline because we donât want to be in a state of obligation. People usually feel obligated to the repayment of favors, gifts, and invitations. It is the honorable thing.
Another insight from social research is that people desire to be consistent. When I can get your commitment on something very small, I set the stage for your almost automatic commitment on anything else that follows. Once you have agreed to a small request, thereâs a good chance you will also agree to a bigger request later. People hate to be seen as flip-floppers. They will do a lot just to be consistent in their own behavior. Again, it is the honorable thing.Repayment & Consistency
Repayment and consistency can be used effectively to gain your fellow workerâs compliance. You will get a positive response to a request that normally would have been refused, if it wasnât for the desire of not owing you or not flip-flopping. You can get a âyesâ even from people who donât even like you! First, you should do them a small favor that has a good chance of being accepted. Second, you ask them for a very small favor in return (repayment). Third, you subsequently ask them for a slightly bigger favor (consistency). Et voilĂ , now theyâre hooked on you!
As creative networkers, we ask ourselves:
What Small Things Do We Give and Ask?
This is quite useful advice, isnât it? Why donât you download these free articles I wrote for you? In the meantime I'm enjoying a free Wi-Fi hotspot, but I did order a coffee along with it, or else I would have felt guilty. Which is of course exactly what they wanted.
This is part 2 of a 10-part series about the Champfrogs Checklist.
(image: Erin Pettigrew)
A few years ago, after our wedding, Raoul and I jumped onto the TransâSiberia Express from Moscow to Beijing. Iâm very sure that few people can claim they spent their honeymoon sleeping in a yurt (Mongolian tent), sitting on a horse three sizes to small, waiting for the river water to evaporate from the engine of a 4WD, or squatting pants-down over a hole in the ground in the middle of the vast Mongolian steppe. (Donât worry, I wonât visualize everything of that story.)
Some of our friends were envious. Why? Because it is different. Drinking fermented horse milk, instead of champagne, on your honeymoon isâŚ remarkable. The experts call this the Contrast Principle, Differentiation, or being a Purple Cow (Seth Godin).
I thought we were just Out of Our Fricking Minds.Contrast Amplifies Influence
Contrast amplifies influence, according to the researchers (To Sell Is Human, Daniel Pink). When you want to get people interested in your idea, it has to feel like something that people are already aware of, and yet something about it must be different enough to be noticed. My horse was just another horse, but with the extra feature of being able to stop it by planting my feet on the ground. Happy Melly is just another business, but it has a funny logo, cool animated videos, and a Constitution instead of a Contract. Familiar, and yet remarkable (The Impact Equation, Chris Brogan).
People take great pleasure in being confronted with something novel and intriguing (Pitch Anything, Oren Klaff). As successful creative networkers we show our fellow workers that our ideas are remarkable, but not too weird to try out. We intentionally create a sense of wonder and surprise (Contagious, Jonah Berger]. We invite curiosity, by asking ourselves:
Is our idea remarkable?
Some of our friends will be returning this week from the same Transsiberian/Mongolian trip that we made two years ago.
We influenced them.
This is part 1 of a 10-part series about the Champfrogs Checklist.
Also read: The 40 Best Influence & Persuasion Books
I'm very happy with my latest experiment: my first sketchkeynote on YouTube. If you think I did well, please like, tweet, and plus the hell out of it. :-)
There's also a version on SlideShare:I Can't Draw from Jurgen Appelo
Today I want to offer you the opportunity to book me for speaking at a company or conference event before my next book is out!
Prior to the release date of Management 3.0 Workout (april 2014, I hope) I will be visiting inspiring and innovative companies, who will get a chance at a guest appearance in my new book. With only a few months left I can probably visit around 40 organizations. Will yours be among them?
As CEO of Happy Melly I am leading a small global business, and just like you I am looking for solutions in agile transformation, change, innovation, personal development, and organizational culture. But, unlike most other employees, I travel to 25 countries per year, which gives me plenty of inspiration to share with others. Note: I am not a consultant or coach. This means I can truly share inspirational ideas, without being bogged down by organizational politics. The naive frankness of being Dutch also helps. ;-)
I have five popular creative presentations. One of them is 100% hand-drawn, and exclusively available to paying customers. All ratings I receive are published on my website. Fortunately, most of them very good. :-) As the "6th most influential person in Agile", with the 3rd most popular Agile blog in the world, and my Management 3.0 course (which has attracted 2,000 people in 35 countries), I'm sure I have some stories that can inspire the people in your organization.
Feel free to check out the overview of my earlier customers, my videos, my slides, or the feedback from audiences. Oh, and I don't make contracts. I simply trust my customers. But I do have a list of frequently asked questions for your convenience.
And, who knows? If you have inspiring stories for me, there is a good chance they will end up in my new book.
Hope to share stories soon!
p.s. If you contact me about availability and pricing, I will send you a nice gift. And don't wait too long! It is well known that writers play hard-to-get after their book is out. ;-)
The concept of work-life balance has gained a lot of popularity in the first decade of this century. The suggestion is that people need time to enjoy their "lifestyle and spiritual development", away from the stressful demands of their career. And many managers are urged to respect their employeesâ need for having a life.
I see things differently.Work-Life Integration
I answer all most of my emails with 24 hours, also in the weekends, because inbox zero helps me to have peace of mind. For the same reason I enjoy one-hour walks in cities and parks during regular weekdays, while other knowledge workers are PowerPointing each other to death in meetings. I usually take Skype calls or Hangouts in the evenings when others are watching TV, but I love relaxing with a book and a caffĂ¨ latte in the afternoon, when ânormalâ business people are writing reports, marketing plans, or mission statements.
I can relax when Iâm supposed to work, and I can work when Iâm supposed to relax. It all depends on my mood, the context, and the vicinity of a decent coffee place. I love my work and I live to do what I love. Separating my work from my life is the last thing on earth that I want.
Ricardo Semler, the famous CEO of Semco, said the same thing in his book the Seven Day Weekend:
I firmly believe that people should strive to integrate work and life. Read a business report in your bed and bring your kids to the office. Get your spouse to review your new presentation and watch The Big Bang Theory with your colleagues during lunch. Cook dinner for your boss and feed office supplies to your dog.
Work-life conflict is Management 1.0,
work-life balance is Management 2.0,
work-life integration is Management 3.0.
I prefer not to balance my work and my life because Iâm not dead when I work, thank-you-very-much.Work-Play Balance
I prefer the term work-play balance. (Actually, I think work-relax balance is technically the better term, but work-play just sounds better.)
There are times I do work (at home or in an office) and there are times I relax (or play). Sometimes I get paid, sometimes Iâm not. We could depict this with a simple 2x2 diagram with four quadrants, which will make many business consultants very happy:
The last category is the one where I try to get rid of as many boring activities as possible, by delegating them to others, paying them for doing a better job than me, and hoping that they see pleasure in these activities where I donât.
The boundaries between the four quadrants are not rigid. They are fluid, with activities moving back and forth, up and down, in and out. The only constant being that all four quadrants together form my life. The two balancing acts are work versus play and getting paid versus paying others.
Now I wonder, could the meaning of work be to move as much as possible down (play) and to the left (paid)?
SketchKeynote Example from Jurgen Appelo
I was happy with my previous presentations, Letâs Help Melly and Blueprint for a Tribal Business. They look fine, and they are appreciated by my audiences. But step-by-step improvement (Kaizen) didnât seem to work for me anymore. I felt I needed something radically different (Kaikaku). I was stuck on a local peak in the fitness landscape, and I wanted to discover new territory.
This is what I came up with:
Thatâs why I call this style sketchkeynote. It is a keynote made up from sketchnotes.Presentation Experiment
I tested my new format for the first time on Tuesday at an AgileHolland session, and the next morning at the WorldPay [Re]Think event for which I was invited to give a keynote. The response I got was great:
And my favorite:
I don't know what the last one means, but it sounds good! :-)
I also received plenty of suggestions for small changes, for which I am very grateful. Do more of this, do less of that, stop doing this, and start doing that. All comments were good and useful. But they were about minor improvements, of the Kaizen-type. For me the most important thing this week was to validate the effect of a radical Kaikaku-type change: a new presentation style as a series of sketchnotes that all unfold as stories.
I believe the experiment was successful. :-)
People said it was remarkable, personal, and effective.
Now I can focus on all the small step-by-step improvements, such as better drawings, better language, better timing, and better jokes. Believe me when I say that both creating and delivering this kind of presentation is quite different from my earlier ones! Many things I learned with earlier slide decks have suddenly become completely useless. The new learning path leads up to an entirely different peak.
Great! I love discovering new creative territories.
Sometimes, when youâre stuck improving things in a step-by-step fashion, consider throwing everything out. Start all over, in a new direction. And enjoy the re-learning.
p.s. I am publishing only a fragment of my first sketchkeynote presentation (two stories) as an example. For now I prefer to keep a sense of exclusivity for customers. ;-) Â Do you want me to speak at your event? Contact me.
p.p.s. I know other people also draw their slides. But my specific twist to this concept is showing/dimming the whole sketchnote and then only highlighting parts in color.
As a public speaker, I have learned to enforce a few rules for my presentations. I do not submit my slides 4 weeks before a conference. I will not use the organizersâ computer. And I tell organizers that I donât accept PowerPoint templates with logos, slogans, banners, and footers. I will not allow anyone to turn my presentation into the Las Vegas Strip.
I can be a total idiot when it comes to fashion, food, cultures, and languages, and I will happily agree to almost anything you say in those areas. But public speaking is my territory. It is where I need to be the authority. When you see a doctor I hope you donât tell him, âHere, use my sewing kit instead of your own needles.â When an ad agency creates your new commercial, you donât tell them, âIt is required that you make the videos with my smartphone.â So why use someone elseâs ugly PowerPoint template?Situational Power
The experts call this situational power. As a business transformer, you sometimes have to tell people, in a subtle but firm way, âNo. In this very small pocket of the universe, I am the authority. In this area I make the rules.â
There are two reasons for that. First, when you abide by another personâs silly power rituals, you reinforce their authority over you. Your power to influence anyone will crumble, like a European diplomat under a Chinese politician [See Oren Klaff, Pitch Anything]. Second, your status among peers goes down as well. Imagine how doctors would rate a colleague who says, âYes, itâs difficult working this way, but my patient demanded that I use her sewing kit.â
As a business transformer you donât claim situational power to be arrogant or to offend people. You do it because, for Godâs sake, youâre a professional! Sure, you should allow people to advise you on how to do an even better job. But when the conversation is about your topic, you must have the authority. It helps you to be an influencer, because people are trained from birth that listening to authority is right [see Robert Cialdini, Influence]. And it helps you to be appreciated by your peers, because all professionals appreciate taking a stand against crap. Donât allow it to seep in.No PowerPoint Templates
Sticking logos, banners, and footers on slides is considered a bad practice among professional speakers. Open any book on public speaking (this one, or this one, or this one) and you will see that all experts consider it an anti-pattern.Â PowerPoint templates are evil.
Actually,Â you know a practice or technique is bad when it's the default setting in PowerPoint.
Conference organizers can do anything they want with their conference, and with their own situational power that can span the whole venue. But for 45 minutes the stage and the screen are my territory. I will share inspiration, pictures, jokes, maybe even a song. But no logos.
p.s. I hope you realize this post is a metaphor for any professional who is trying to do a good job.
Want to hire me for a talk? Without logos? Check out my website.
Also see: How to Make a Presentation
(image by: Patrick Rudolph)
It has happened again several times recently. I meet someone, and I ask a question, such as âWhat made you come to this conference?â or âWhat was the highlight for you today?â or âWhat are you looking for in an event?â and then the person starts talking. And keeps talking. And goes on talking. And on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on it goesâŚ with me nodding my head, trying to listen, but actually thinking, âWhen is he ever going to stop?â Usually our âconversationâ is interrupted by some external event, such as a phone call, a bell indicating the end of the coffee break, or a bystander dropping dead from boredom.
Even worse is the situation where I am asked a question, which is great, but it turns out I have only 20 seconds to answer it, because some bystander intervenes offering us her unsolicited input, âWell, I experienced something like that when bla bla bla bla bla blaâŚâ, and there we go again. My opportunity to share something is hijacked without my permission, and for the next 15 minutes this conversational parasite is sharing with us an endless stream of opinions and personal experiences, in answer to questions that nobody had asked her. Until I escape the trap by pretending that my hair is on fire.
I am of the opinion that these are not conversations.
They are uninvited monologues.Meaningful Conversations
When we're trying to survive and thrive in a network of creative people, it is important for us to develop the competence of having meaningful conversations with each other. Conversations are dialogues of people inviting each other to share there opinions and experiences, and returning the favor. A meaningful conversation is not about answering questions that nobody asked. And it is not about filling the available time until the next external interruption.
I think I have developed a sense for asking good questions. But Iâm still not a good conversationalist. I have yet to learn how to say, âShut up! Now itâs his/her/my turn.â
Any tips are appreciated.
(image by Monkieyes)
I recently posted the 2013 edition of the Agile Books Top 100, and many people seemed to like it. But the problem with a top 100 is... wellâŚ it only has 100 places. Very annoying.
And thus a good number of interesting new Agile books were unable to get onto the main list because they were too new, with only few reviews and ratings. In this list you find the books that might be able to earn themselves a spot on the main list next year.
(Note: I only list books with at least some ratings on Amazon and/or GoodReads.)# Title Author Year Â 1
The Coding Dojo Handbook
Paul E. Ellarby2012
Personal Kanban in a Nutshell
Kanban for Skeptics
I am an Amazon affiliate. By purchasing a book from this list you help me pay for this blog. And for coffee.
(image borrowed from theÂ Pacific Rim game)
There was a lot of buzz last week about the word âliterallyâ, which is abused by many people who actually donât mean things literally. Many language dogmatists were outraged, ignoring the fact that the âincorrectâ use of âliterallyâ in the English language has literally been around for 200 years.
I literally donât care.
However, I do care about people incorrectly using the word âblogâ when they mean âblog postâ. I hate it! As a blogger, it literally makes me weep every time I see this.
Language evolved for us to communicate with each other. Language is the tool, understanding is the goal. Therefore, whenever people abuse the English language, the question is not, âDonât they understand that they are incorrect?â The better question is, âIs their incorrectness improving our understanding?âImproved Understanding
New words and expressions such as breadcrumbing, cyberslacking, and overparenting are all âincorrectâ because most dictionaries donât recognize them. Yet. (My text editor is undersquiggling them right now!) But these unofficial incorrect words and phrases improve our understanding.
This is why we want our language to live and evolve. Tomorrow we can explain things to each other that we couldnât explain yesterday. It helps us all to be on the same page. (I donât like that last one, but we donât have to like each enrichment of the English language.)Decreased Understanding
On the other hand, people who write âI wrote a blog todayâ do not improve our understanding. They make things worse! A blog is a simple website (or part of it) with a steady stream of new articles. A blog post is exactly one of those articles. At least, thatâs how it was, until the illiterate started blogging.
Nowadays, when someone writes âHow do you like my blog?â I have no frickinâ idea what they mean. Do they mean, âDo you like my website?â Or âDo you like my latest post?â Text editors cannot undersquiggle the errors, and most of them are flung on the web unchecked. My only clue is the authorâs intelligence, because language itself has lost its meaning. The hooligans have ruined it.Fashionistas
Literally somewhere in the middle we find the type of language abuse that has no other consequences than the sight of a hundred language dogmatists chased up the tallest tree. When this leaves the less dogmatically inclined among us to literally piss themselves laughing, nobody expects these spectators to actually wet their pants. Understanding is neither improved nor decreased with this kind of âincorrectâ language.
In cases like these, itâs merely a matter of taste. The only thing people should concern themselves with, both authors and reviewers, is their personal brand. Pink socks under an orange skirt can be a naĂŻve mistake, or a fashion statement. Comments about the socks can make you a fashionista, or a condescending prick. Itâs all up to you. And frankly, I donât care.
Treat language in a similar way. Language is a tool. Understanding is the goal. We should undersquiggle meaning, not words.
p.s. Iâm hoping to introduce undersquiggle and undersquiggling in the English language. At the time of writing they only have 423 and 81 search results respectively on Google. Letâs undersquiggle the dogmatists and the hooligans. Iâm sure you know what I mean.Â Â Â