Archive for April, 2007

You’re not typing FAST enough! Look like you’re typing!

I no longer work for Corporate Amerika… I no longer hear Darth Vader’s Death March as I enter the bowels of purgatory through revolving doors. So you may ask, why do you still write about corporate culture? Well I could take the smarty-pants route and say:

  • I’m still recovering and experiencing PTSD from working on projects for months just to figure out that they were poorly conceived (probably by some twonk in a strategic role who just liked coming up with ideas instead of making products) and therefore being end of lifed before we actually got to do anything.
  • Or experiencing meetings with people higher up who yell and berate you for no reason what so ever rather than to put you in your place, when you were only asking for their help and support on a particularly touchy matter. You wouldn’t have asked for their support unless they hadn’t openly made a good show in a meeting of how they “were there to help us with such matters” in a project update meeting. Blame it on my naivete.
  • I’m still recovering from the impulse to fill out project management PERT analysis and MS Project time-sheets (Spreadsheet Monkeyism).

But I think if i still write about the Corporate Life every now and then it’s because I see something or read about a study or theory that just vindicates the hunch I had that Corporate Life in its perverse form is only a few steps from living in an asylum. Every now and then I run across and article or post that makes my heart warm up like my hands around a mug of hot chocolate with real marshmallows in it.

http://fastforwardblog.com/2007/04/21/balancing-diligence-and-laziness/

In his post Jim McGee asserts that in large organizations like the military (or corporations). Officers who are dumb and hard-working (say like Frank Burns from MASH) usually cause the most problems. I’d add to that if you get an A-hole boss (ala. Bob Sutton’s classification) running an organization of Frank Burns-like individuals them you have some serious problems.

Now who would you rather have as your boss? Frank Burns or Lou Grant?

frank2.jpg lougrant.jpg

It didn’t happen in my last job, but I have worked in jobs where management types walk by your cubicle and give you a look-over when you don’t appear to by doing something at your computer. “I’m thinking… damn-it!” I wanted to say. Maybe I needed to wear a dorky baseball cap with a flashing light bulb on top for these numb-nuts to get it. McGee in his post suggests the use of mind-maps for thinking and looking productive.

More, I agree that it’s much better to engineer smarter ways of doing things than just looking busy filling out things. Or just looking busy. I began my corporate life as an administrative assistant and I’m quite proud to admit this because I believe that good admin are the backbone of any truly high-functioning administration. I spent a great deal of time trying to use and apply the magic of macros to much of my work. Figuring out these things was what made my job quite fun.

McGee asks a very good question: “What barriers to innovation, if any, does a bias toward diligence create?” Looking “Busy” is an addiction that Weberian corporate culture has quite a difficult time overcoming. But I say, in order to stop being an alcoholic one must first admit that they are one.

vonmansteindiligencelaziness.gif

 

More grand stuff:

 

More Densha Otoko… How did I miss this?

It’s not as great as the original…series, and I think the evil love interest has had some plastic surgery, but there it is. You can search for the rest of the series on Youtube under Densha Otoko Deluxe. The main storyline hovers around the hero’s attempts to propose to his beloved Hermes.

[Youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=lLgxDo6p7-E&mode=related&search=]

A clip from the original series:

[Youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=gQNjUd8WQv4]

I’ve always felt that this show and the real-life story behind it really exemplifies the power and real-social power of an online community.  Also, the TV show (the characters and their relationships) were drawn out much better. Though part of me has to recoil  just a little at the thought of one’s private life becoming so public.

Where are the honey bees?

Last night at dinner, my sister-in-law mentioned that for some reason honey bees are disappearing on a wide scale.   This is rather disturbing as these bees are responsible for pollinating a large amount of the plants which produce our fruits and foodstuffs.

One culprit supposedly is the widespread use of cellphones. It seems that the radiation emitted from cellphone usage may disorient the bees and prevent them from finding their way home.

Bummer! But more than just bummer, this is a major problem. I can’t see a whole bunch of people in fields with toothpicks. Has anyone ever seen that movie Phase IV?

New articles on honey bee disappearance:

bees.jpg

I need a new laptop bag!

I was in the bank today and the strap on my laptop bag/purse broke for the third time. I didn’t even have a laptop in it. So right now instead of thinking about how to fix it again, I’m throwing in the towel and looking for a better quality and probably more expensive model.karamessenger.jpg

A possible candidate: Kara B’s Messenger Bag

Here’s my dilemma. I do not want a bag that sends out the vibe, “I have the style and fashion sense of an engineer who was raised in a closet without fashionable clothes.” I’ve lived in the northwest for quite sometime now, and I find myself opting for wearing things that are not so smart or chic… only because making and effort makes you look like a hipster who’s trying too hard… or someone who got to the Good Will before the eBay scroungers hit. But I will not skimp when it comes to a laptop bag. While I’d love to carry this around… or this.

I still I have to be practical.

  • I need some something that is smart looking
  • I like pretty colors
  • I need something that will take a pounding
  • I need something that carries a lot of stuff…including tech equipment such as simple microphones, recording devices, gadgets, my Nintendo DS, and yes, all the other techno accoutrements that I have. In this day an age, many of us have become our own version of Batman
  • I don’t want something that screams, “Steal me because not only am I a 100% Italian leather, I’ve got a lot of expensive crap inside.”
  • I need something with an extra pouch that can fit my knitting (small-medium sized projects)
  • I’m probably leaning towards this bag in a custom color…

Am I carrying a laptop or delivering a baby?
expensive.jpg


Funny for the day… Death by Powerpoint

Presentation zen references some hillarious videos on the misuse of Powerpoint. I died laughing watching the first one. He included a snippet of one of my favorite British comedies ever… The Office.

http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/2007/04/powerpoint_some.html

Want to see more funnies from the original Office? From the original BBC site.

Demise of Powerpoint and Boss Science

Great post on Presentation Zen on how Powerpoint should be considered completely obsolete.

An article on:
The psychopathology of the modern American corporate leader.

I love the photo supposedly representative of the psychopathic boss.dudeneedshelp.jpg

Life on Mars: The Ultimate Cop Show

I’ve become a serious fan of this show. In another life, and another place (blog), I commented that Gene Hunt the Detective Chief Inspector actually embodies the great figure of a leader. Flawed, leader but a good leader nevertheless. Now, of course I’m not implying that we in the business world should just walk in the door, bully and raging with a potty mouth that could make Red Foxx blush. But there is some value and looking back at the past and what worked in the past and understanding why it worked. Of course, today the Gene Hunt style of leadership just wouldn’t wash. But there are some qualities in his persona and character that exemplify great leadership such as taking responsibility for the actions of his underlings.

I really can’t explain why I’m drawn to this show like a moth to a bulb. Other than… it’s just really well-written, I dig the characters, and the show obviously is a labor of vision and love. Plus, the soundtrack rocks. Too bad they didn’t make one of those old fashioned aluminum lunch boxes for the series. I’d be the first in line.

Series 2 Trailer:

Video Tribute:

Watch the creators explain how the show was developed:

Part one:

Part two:

Cluster Map

Locations of visitors to this page

Resources for Graphic Design for e-Learning?

I’m going off on a quest to find and pull together resources on solid graphic design for e-learning.

Christy posted a note on the e-Learning Tyro blog and sort of got me thinking about this.   Everyone has their strengths and this certainly is not one of mine, so I’d like to grow in the area.

If you have any suggestions of links to resources (that don’t have lots of pop-up ads :)) please post them in the comments below.

I’ll post the links as I find them and receive them here:

  • From Brent Shlenkler - post on good Graphic Design Resources and Examples including “Color Picker”
  • From Jacob Nielsen – general web design suggestion.
  • Also on a broader spectrum here’s a directory for all things e-Learning from e-Learning Centre. THe be forewarned you have to dig through some really unusable stuff or are required to sign up with e-mail account information… like the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to Course Development.”  Just avoid it.  I got so frustrated with this site I just closed the browser after 3 minutes.  I guess information is no longer free on the web.

My new life and farewell

I’m on my way to start a new life, new work… and quite excited about it. I had dinner with a group of friends last night to celebrate the final ending of my old job. I officially handed in my badge and laptop this week. It felt great, mainly because I can start again and because I have a great deal to look forward to.

What I’ll miss: Being in regular contact with some excellent people who not only are life-long learners who value innovation and creativity above just having a steady job, but are just top-notch human beings. More, it’s just important I will miss being able to laugh and enjoy their company on a regular basis.

I truly feel that I was able to soar and progress in both my profession and as person because I found people who I could not only relate to, but from whom I could learn a great deal. More often than not these folks had passion about what they were interested that was contagious. I can proudly say that I was blessed because I looked forward to come into work because I could hang around or learn from these wonderful people. It fired me up and excited about doing new and creative things at my job. To the chagrin of the other people who were ‘heads-down’ in their cubicles around us… we had many lively conversations in the cube aisles.

What I won’t miss: Bullies. Politics exists everywhere where more than two people exist… and in the case of multiple personalities. As animals we’re rigged up that way. But being hindered by the politics of a large and semi-established body or organization is something I’m glad to leave. Somehow or other, I also felt that the system of rewarding people at some large companies fosters a culture of bullies. A bully is simply someone (at any level of the organization) who insists of getting their way regardless of the cost to others and the organization. Bullies can be dangerous when their motivation to bully comes from their fear of change and they can be plain destructive when they make the ranks of management.

Political correctness and human relations initiatives simply muted and camouflaged the efforts of bullies. More it made it difficult for their victims to be able to call out their actions. Also, when you’re rewarded for how many times your name appears on something… the bully often has the edge because they can edge their way into projects and claim that they were essential to success. More often than not the bully is vocal and visible so management remembers their names when it comes to promotions and ranking and rating.

So why not confront the bully? Constructive confrontation isn’t always practiced when you will not make the effort as management to make sure that it will not hold their employees responsible for acting to the codes of conduct that constructive confrontation maintains. In order to develop a truly strong and prosperous work environment, I firmly believe that all members from leaders to individual in an organization need to buck up and take the bully by the horns. Once you develop a culture driven by bullies, it’s a short road to lower earnings.

What I have to look forward to:

Everything!

bonvoyage.jpg

Embarking on a new life is like christening a ship…. it’s a maiden voyage and there’s a great deal that could go wrong. But the mere excitement of seeing and experiencing new things is why we venture out on these trips… plus with new beginnings the slate is open and the possibilities are endless. I had a really great geometry teacher once, who counseled me that there are always multiple ways to solving a problem and that I should look for them.

Nuggets:


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