It’s times like these when supporting a good cause gives you fulfillment. When you make a difference by adding to the cause … not monetarily, not through force but through faith.
A friend recently made the leap of faith from Windows to Ubuntu, you can read her first hand review here. It does include the slight apprehension, the initial teething problems … but the story also has elements which make it a good technology script … the need, the learning curve and the triumph!! Here’s an excerpt –
It’s been a month since I first grappled with the overly sensitive mouse pointer on my brand new OS. Having solved that and many other problems (whether by exploring the functionalities, or plain screaming murder at Prasad and Ankit – our IT-literate friends), I seem to have adjusted surprisingly well to it. Phantoms of Linux have turned out to be bigger than Linux itself. Its fast. Its intelligent (use it and you’ll see what I mean by that). It has multiple workspaces. Which means you can chat and browse on another workspace without those irritating colleagues, who have the habit of peering into your screen and shaking their judgmental heads, ever finding out! So far, so good!
The point I am trying to make is that often people will sit on the fence when their knowledge about a technical product is low, the goal then is not to push the product, but to give as much information as possible but wait for the user to make the leap of faith.
I see this happen at work almost every day … we call it creative faith. The technology involved may not be related to computers, but it can be as abstruse if not more. So, the next time you are involved in selling a complex solution, try some faith instead.
I often contribute to the team blog of the company where I work. It is fulfilling, where else can you blog at work :-)
In the past two days however, the team blog … specifically my posts have come in the spotlight. By a critic … the comments are coming from a different perspective, maybe by someone who has engaged with the philosophy and found it either too abstract or too disillusioned.
The outcome being that there is criticism about the ideology and some more criticism about the author. Personally speaking none of my blogs have ever attracted much traffic, so I never had to face much applause or critique other than my immediate circle of friends. Critique from an unidentified source, adds that element of mystery and even a little bit of surprise (Ohh!! Someone does read my stuff!).
What I have not picked up over the 4-5 years of passively active blogging I have done is … how to handle criticism. A post I recently found is pretty good and maybe it will help other bloggers as well, so sharing it here.
— Appended —
Pallavi commented that the critique might just be a different perspective or a different opinion. The final choice of taking that is always upto us. I looked back at the comments I was getting, and have decided to take the new perspective and try something new on the team blog. Will update once I get the results.
Copy as in the written text. Often organizations do not realize how important a properly worded message can be. If the communications department does a muck-up of the job, then the intended audience misinterprets the messaging.
At work, we were discussing the entire content cleaning and re-wording of our marketing communications. Anyone who has been to our flagship portal would realize that the learning curve required to understand the concept and use the product is quite steep. During this discussion, we learnt the Study Technology that Scientology proposes. I thought that I might share this with you.
Scientology states that there are 3 barriers which stop an individual from studying a particular topic –
Misunderstood Word – If an ambiguous or a complex word is used in the message, then that is a deterrent to the individual. Jargon comes in this space. Look at the text you have written from your audience’s perspective, if there are any words which could be misinterpreted, then replace them with simpler words.
Steep Gradient – If the student is expected to perform new actions, without getting enough time to learn from his previous actions, then this results in confusion. You can see this problem with most failed games, the tutorials are too small or are too confusing. Give them space to assimilate new actions, try to setup a practice play of the new actions. Games like World of Warcraft excel at these things.
Lack of Mass – Attempting to teach something without anything concrete is difficult. Imagine trying to teach an abstract concept to a student without any solid examples.
For mainstream adoption, if these things are not done, then the level of energy and commitment required for an individual to take up your content would be too high. It might attract like minded people such as yourself, but it certainly wont attract the masses.
Looking back, when I apply these to our own tour to the site, I realize that there are still colossal huge gaps to be filled.
While at work today, an interesting discussion cropped up. Whether there is any correlation between Employability and Self-Esteem. Although a lot of work has been done on these two topics independently, I could hardly come up with anything which tied these two together. Interestingly, many firms have tried to come up with Employability Index and Self-Esteem Index, so why not see the behavior of these two?
Before we laugh off Wally, I want to say at the highest point of Employability, the Self-Esteem is the true identity of the individual’s skill sets. It is very difficult to find people like these, whose estimate of their self-worth is equal to the actual difference they make. I remember a study that I had participated, in a sample size of 40 individuals, only 2 of them were close to their self-worth, the rest either thought very highly of themselves or undersold themselves.
People are just begging to be told what to do. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I think the biggest one is: “If you tell me what to do, the responsibility for the outcome is yours, not mine. I’m safe.”
Whenever you are working with people, how many times have you had to think for everyone else? Everything looks hunky-dory and people seem to be listening to you. But do you know why they are listening? Because that way, they do not have to think, because then they are not responsible. When sh!t hits the ceiling, it will be most likely you who would be doing the clean up.
Try what Seth says, the guru is right. Refrain from telling them what needs to be done. Let your team struggle, let the people take up the mantle. Some of them will start liking being independent. Foster and nurture these pieces of independent thought, and you have a sustainable knowledge practice up and running.
A lamp in pure darkness is bright, but its not as bright as a lamp and 3-4 flickering sparks.
When it comes to work, ours is a curious lot. Always willing to check new things (as long as it takes us away from our work ;-)).
So it was no surprise when on our way to lunch we noticed a simple sign at a hall … it said “Youth Venture Workshops”. Since we are in the career space and passionate about entrepreneurship, off we went. The workshop was having their lunch break and we took that opportunity to talk to some of the organizers. Their idea was simple, they talk to individuals who have a burning desire to change something in the society, and help them achieve it through guidance, team building, and funding. They identify potential social entrepreneurs who have the drive to change the society and help them.
The organizers were kind enough to invite us to stick around and watch some of their sessions. The teaming sessions were simple, and involved a lot of play … just the right thing needed to build a team of young and energetic people.
The workshop turned out to be a subscription based program, for which one has to enroll in the month of June. So we gathered took information about their site and went back to work. After coming home, I decided to check up on their site, and read about the youth venture. Turns out that Ashoka Partnership is one of the largest association of social entrepreneurs!!
At the program, we talked to some of the participants who were volunteering, and it was a good experience to see people take charge of the desire to change something in society and act upon it. The next time you blame society for something, remember it can be fixed :-)
At a friend’s wedding, I heard about this new approach to one’s job. The man was talking that his employee’s are peace time soldiers, “eh?!?” I went. The idea is that many employees approach their job in a fashion like peace time soldiers … they assemble in formations, they do their drills, they salute to their seniors and when no one is looking, they relax and goof around. Having done this myself, I could not disagree … so what does one do to get out of this rut? The answer is simple … go to war!!
During war, soldiers are willing to give their lives (in this case their jobs) for a particular purpose. Employees should identify the purpose for which they will strive hard and achieve or else give their jobs. That gives them the true drive at work, an achievable goal and also a reality check. If an employee cannot come up with any such purpose, then you can be rest assured that he/she is already looking out for different opportunities and is not really pulling his/her weight around.
I tried this tactic with myself at my office, with wonderful results. Not only am I making goals clearer for myself, but also I am sending out a message to everyone else whom I am working with as to what drives me and what is my top priority.