Tag Archives: people

My Interest in Organisations and how Social Media Fits in

[fr] Ce qui m'intéresse dans ces histoires d'organisations, et le lien avec les médias sociaux (du coup, aussi des infos sur mon intérêt pour ceux-ci).

I found these thoughts about organisations at the beginning of Here Comes Everybody fascinating: organisations and how they disfunction are a long-standing interest of mine, dating back to when I was a student with a part-time job at Orange. My initial interest was of course function rather than dysfunction. How does one make things happen in an organisation? What are the processes? Who knows what? It was the organisation as system that I found interesting.

Quickly, though, I bumped my head against things like processes that nobody knew of and nobody was following. Or processes that were so cumbersome that people took shortcuts. Already at the time, it seems I displayed a “user-oriented” streak, because my first impulse was to try to figure out what was so broken about those processes that people found it more costly to follow them than come up with workarounds. Or try to understand how we could tweak the processes so that they were usable. In reaction to which one manager answered “no, people must follow the processes”. I didn’t know it then, but I guess that was when I took my first step towards the door that would lead me out of the corporate world.

More recently, and I think I haven’t yet got around to blogging this, I have remembered that my initial very “cluetrainy” interest for the internet and blogging and social media really has to do with improving how people can relate to each other, access information, and communicate. The revelation I had at Lift’06 (yes, the very first Lift conference!) while listening to Robert Scoble and Hugh McLeod about how this blogging thing I loved so much was relevant to business was that it pushed business to change and humanised it. Blogging and corpepeak don’t mix well, blogging is about putting people in contact, and about listening to what is being said to you. As the Cluetrain Manifesto can be summarised: it’s about how the internet changes the way organisations interact with people, both outside and inside the organisation.

That is what rocks my boat. Not marketing on Facebook or earning revenue from your blog.

Again and again, when I talk to clients who are trying to understand what social media does and how to introduce it in their organisation, we realise that social media is the little piece of string you start pulling which unravels everything, from corporate culture to sometimes even the business model of the organisation. You cannot show the human faces of a company that treats its employees like robots. You cannot be “authentic” if you’re out there to screw people. You cannot say you’re listening if you’re not willing to actually listen.

Of course, there is the question of scale. I’ll get back to that. Personal doesn’t scale. Radical transparency or authenticity doesn’t scale. But your average organisation is so far off in the other direction…

I’ve realised that my interest lies more with organisations and forms of collaboration and group effort than with social media per se, which I see first and foremost as a tool, a means to an end, something which has changed our culture and society. I find ROWE and Agile super interesting and want to learn more about them. I have a long-standing interest in freelancing and people who “do things differently”. I’m interested in understanding how we can work and be happy, both. I’m also realising that I have more community management skills than I take credit for.

In the pile of books I brought up with me to the chalet, next to “Organisations Don’t Tweet, People Do” by my friend Euan Semple and books around freelancing there is “Delivering Happiness“, the story of Zappos, and “One From Many“, the story of VISA, the “chaordic organisation” — and “Rework” (37signals) has now joined the ranks of the “have read” books in my bookshelves.

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Posted in Connected Life, Does This Need a New Category?, My work, Personal | Tagged auchalet, cluetrain, communities, company culture, corporate culture, groups, happiness, human, My work, orange, organisations, people, Social Media and the Web | Leave a comment

A Conference Where I Hardly Knew Anybody!

I had a really lovely time at Coworking Europe — it was actually very relaxing to be at a conference where I hardly knew anybody to start with. I got to know the two people I’d already met a bit better: Ramon Suarez of BetaGroup Coworking in Brussels, and Linda Broughton who founded and ran Old Broadcasting House coworking in Leeds, and was also one of the speakers at Going Solo.

It was really a change to not have the pressure of wanting to catch up with an inordinate amount of people I already knew and liked and would end up spending only a few minutes with, as it often is when I go to my “usual” conferences Lift and LeWeb.

A conference full of “new people” is like a library full of unread books. I certainly missed out on getting to know some other great people, but I did get a chance to hang out with and get to know some really lovely people I hadn’t even heard of before coming to the conference.

I love how the world is always ready to present you with new stimulating encounters. I personally like taking the time to know people a bit and tend to hang out with the same crowd throughout the conference. This is fine if you don’t know too many people. It can be very frustrating if the people you’re not hanging out with are also people you already know and appreciate and aren’t spending time with during the one occasion in the year where you have a chance to. And then I end up writing posts like this one.

It was also really nice to be in an uncommercial conference. To have a day of unconference included (I ended up hosting a session, something I absolutely hadn’t planned to do, and did on the spur of the moment because I wanted us to question the assumption that “more” is always “better” (more people, more money, more networking). I got the same kind of “high”, inspiration and remotivation that I got from my participation in Startup Weekend Lausanne earlier this year. I think I need to start going to slightly geekier events again. Like Paris Web.

Some of the people I met and got to spend a little time with, in addition to Luis and Linda: Rebecca, Stefano, Julie, Philippe, Anna, Tony, Adam, Pierre, Nicolas, Pascale, Anna… and a few more of you whose names I can’t recall right now or never learned. Say hi in the comments!

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Posted in Event Musings | Tagged conference, Coworking, coworking europe, people | 3 Comments

Drifting People

[fr] On ne peut pas être ami avec tout le monde, ne serait-ce que pour des questions d'agenda. Je crois que j'ai accepté cette limite, et aussi que l'amitié va et vient la plupart du temps, et que les gens invités dans ma vie ne resteront pas forcément pour toujours.

I like people. I meet a lot of them. I connect easily and make friends. I have lots of people in my life, and not just “business contacts” kept at arm’s length.

At some point these last months, I started reflecting on the fact that I want to count as friends more people than I can cope with, from a purely “calendar” point of view. It’s very frustrating.

Four years ago I wrote a post titled “Too Many People“. I’m not at this level of crisis, at all, though the seeds of this year’s realization were undoubtedly sown sometime then.

I think I’ve accepted that people will drift in and out of my life. I’ve accepted that I cannot pursue every friendship worth pursuing, and that when friends drift out of my life, it is not just my responsibility.

You see, for some reason, I tend to look at things as if I was in charge of maintaining the relationship. But there are always two of us, and when there has been no contact in a year, it is also because the other person has not made a move either.

I’m not thinking of any of my friendships in particular, here. It’s more that I think I’ve accepted something about the somewhat transient nature of friendships and relationships, and the practical limits which mean one can’t be friends with everyone one wants to, and feel more at peace with it.

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Posted in Personal, Understanding life and the world | Tagged dunbar, friendship, people, relationships | 3 Comments

Less Extrovert Than I Thought

[fr] J'ai réalisé qu'en fait je n'étais pas aussi extravertie que je l'imaginais. Cette "méconnaissance de moi", si je puis dire, m'amène à me surcharger un peu côté vie sociale (et vie professionnelle "avec gens"). En fait, j'ai aussi pas mal besoin de temps pour moi. Je vais être plus vigilante à l'avenir avec ça!

A couple of weeks back I found an MBTI questionnaire and took it. The result itself is not that surprising (ENTJ) — but what did catch my attention was that the test only evaluated me to be “slightly extrovert”.

I’ve long known that I do need alone time and can become over-socialized, but this test result has suddenly made me realize that I’m just probably not as extrovert as I viewed myself to be. I always thought that I was very extrovert, but come to think of it, it’s just not true.

I love being around people, but I do need a healthy dose of alone time if I’m going to keep my balance.

Now that I’ve put my finger on it, I’m going to pay more attention to making sure I have enough time to myself.

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Posted in Personal, Psychology | Tagged alone time, entj, extravert, extrovert, mbti, myers-briggs, people | 1 Comment

Face Blindness

[fr] Un épisode de Radiolab qui parle de "face blindness", littéralement "être aveugle aux visages". J'ai un peu de ça (je ne reconnais pas les gens, mais je me souviens d'eux immédiatement quand ils me donnent leur nom). Episode intéressant à écouter.

I wrote some time ago about being bad with faces. I remember people, I just have trouble with faces. I’ve been paying more attention to this recently, and realized that I actually do “recognize” people — I know that I know them — but cannot “place” them or “identify” them based on their face alone.

This morning I listened to the Radiolab podcast “Strangers in the Mirror“, about face blindness (I love Radiolab).

Oliver Sacks, the famous neuroscientist and author, can’t recognize faces. Neither can Chuck Close, the great artist known for his enormous paintings of … that’s right, faces. Oliver and Chuck–both born with the condition known as Face Blindness–have spent their lives decoding who is saying hello to them. You can sit down with either man, talk to him for an hour, and if he sees you again just fifteen minutes later, he will have no idea who you are. (Unless you have a very squeaky voice or happen to be wearing the same odd purple hat.)

Go and listen to it.

Like everything, face blindness is not all-or-nothing. I guess I have some degree of it (not as bad as Chuck or Oliver, though). My strategy is to tell people upfront. I’m also very good with names, so that helps compensate. I find myself using some of the strategies they talk about: looking for some distinctive feature in the face, making a mental note of eye colour or eyebrow shape, teeth. Some detail I can hang onto.

I’ve realized that I can in fact “recognize” or place people based on their faces, but it takes me a lot of time and energy and concentration to do so. Sometimes hours or days after I’ve seen the person. I’ll bump into somebody at the supermarket, I know I know the person, we say hi, but I have no clue who the person is. I’ll keep thinking about it, try and visualise the person (face, voice, movement, expressions) and see what context appears in my mind.

When watching movies, I’m often crap at differentiating actors that look similar. “Is this somebody we already know, or is it a new character?” Or if I see an actor in another movie/series, it can take me a long time to be certain I’ve recognized them. For example, Lisa Edelstein (who plays Dr. Cuddy in House) was playing the role of a doctor (!) in an episode of Without a Trace that I was watching a week or two ago. It took me a good 10-15 minutes to be sure this character was not the same as the in-house FBI psychiatrist (also a woman roughly the same age with long dark hair), another 10-15 to be certain I’d seen her before and realize she was Cuddy.

So, is my “problem” in the face blindness range or is it in the “link the face with the person” one? I wonder if there are any tests available for this kind of thing. I’m curious.

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Posted in Personal, Psychology | Tagged chuck close, face blindness, faces, memory, oliver sacks, people, radiolab, recognition, recognizing | 4 Comments

Bad With Faces, Good With Names

[fr] Je suis très peu physionomiste mais dès qu'on me donne un nom, je sais exactement qui vous êtes. Pensez-y la prochaine fois qu'on se croise en vitesse quelque part, à une conférence par exemple!

I have a problem. I am really bad at recognizing faces. Really very bad. Bordering on hopeless.

This makes social occasions like conferences very difficult for me, because people keep coming up to me, saying hello, and though their face might seem familiar, I have not the slightest idea who they are.

Even with people I know, it’s sometimes difficult. My good friend Kevin Marks came up to me to say hi this morning, and it took me 4 excruciatingly long seconds to recognize him.

One might think that it’s because I meet too many people, or have too many people in my network, and can’t keep up. I’m happy to say it isn’t the case — I haven’t reached such a celeb status, luckily.

How do I know that?

I know that because the moment the person who just walked up to me gives me their name, I know exactly who they are.

I am deadly good with names.

That’s why I like conference badges.

The way I explain this to myself is that my “internal database” of people I know has an index on the name column, and not the face one. It’s as if I were “colour-blind to faces”.

I’m really good at remembering people, actually. I just need names.

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Posted in Conferences, Connected Life, Psychology | Tagged conférences, faces, names, networking, people, physionomy, recognizing | 8 Comments

A Networking Secret

[fr] Pour "réseauter", la meilleure méthode reste encore d'oublier le réseautage, et de s'intéresser aux personnes.

Without really trying to, I’ve ended up with a rather large and powerful network. Often, I’m asked how I did it. “How do you network?”

A lot of it comes naturally to me, and I honestly don’t really know what advice to give apart from the following:

All you really need to do is be interested in people. Forget about “networking”.

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Posted in Being the boss | Tagged networking, people | 4 Comments

Sometimes, I’m Awkward Around People

[fr] Parfois, je suis un peu à côté de mes pompes avec les gens :-)

Sometimes, I’m awkward around people. Sometimes it’s people I know, and sometimes it’s people I don’t know. It might be people I know too well online, and with whom I just don’t know how to <em>be</em> offline — often because they scare me more offline than on.

People scare me.

That’s the basic premise.

I’ve come a long way of course, and I’m not that scared any more — but still: every now and again, I’m awkward around people.

I learn to be comfortable around some people in no time, whereas with others, it takes longer. Putting things like that make it look like it has something to do with the other person. But it’s more about my reactions when faced with certain situations, certain personalities, or certain attitudes. The bug is on my side.

Sometimes, I’m awkward in the middle of a whole room of people I don’t know, or maybe don’t know well enough. I’m a rather sociable person, but at times, I just seem to lose all that and not have anything to say to anybody. It helps to have a friend. It makes me feel less like a butterfly pined inside a box. Or wallpaper, to say it less poetically.

Other times, I look and listen at myself in the middle of a group of people, and bite my tongue after hearing myself behave a bit too much like the unpopular teenager I was, who wanted so much to be “in” with the cool kids.

One day, I’ll figure out where the “off” switch is. The switch which lets me turn the awkwardness off. Or maybe it’s really an “on” switch, which just allows me to turn my normal self back on when I get lost.

In the meantime, I’m sometimes awkward around people.

So, when you find me cold, unapproachable, silly, quiet, clumsy — don’t take it personally. That’s just me being a bit awkward.

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Posted in Stuff that doesn't fit | Tagged awkward, feelings, people, Pieces of Me, shy, uneasy, user/07467067922840649993/state/com.google/read | 1 Comment

Books That Changed My Life

[fr] Une série de livres qui m'ont marquée.

Picked up on Lifehacker (via Feedly, which I really like!), What Books Have Changed Your Life? — so, off the top of my head, and way too late in the night to do any serious thinking/writing/linking, a bunch of books that were groundbreaking reads for me:

  • The Web of Belief (Ullian & Quine)
  • Emotional Intelligence (Goleman)
  • Comment gérer les personnalités difficiles (André & Lelord)
  • Naked Conversations (Scoble & Israel)
  • The Black Swan (Taleb)
  • Getting Things Done (Allen)
  • The Paradox of Choice (Schwartz)
  • Buddhism Without Beliefs (Batchelor)
  • India: A Million Mutinies Now (Naipaul)
  • The Cluetrain Manifesto (Searls, Weinberger, Locke, Levine)

There are certainly more that I’m not thinking about now, and the list is certainly skewed towards these past years (the near past is always fresher in memory, and old changes tend to be forgotten). I could give an explanation for each of them… but some other time, maybe.

I read a lot of fiction, too — not just essay-like books. But I wouldn’t say that any work of fiction (that I can recall) really changed my life in a major way.

I might come back to this. Or I might not. Who knows?

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Posted in Books | Tagged Books, influence, life, people, reading, Thinking, world | 1 Comment

Becoming a Professional Networker: Tags in Address Book OSX Needed!

[fr] Besoin, de toute urgence: plugin Address Book.app permettant de taguer ses contacts.

For some time now, I’ve been aware that I’m becoming a professional networker. Almost all I do to promote Going Solo, for example, relies on my reputation and the connections I have to other people.

Now, I’ve never been somebody to collect contacts just for the sake of collecting contacts, but until LeWeb3 last year, I had just been content with butterflying around and stacking business cards somewhere near by desk. At LeWeb3, when I started telling people about Going Solo, I also started realising that the people I met and contacts I made were going to have more importance for my business than before.

And if I’ve learnt something during these last two months, it’s the importance of getting back to people. I’ve figured out how iGTD and GMail can play nice together to help me with that, but it’s not sufficient. I need to keep track of who I’ve asked what, of who can help me with what, who has this or that connection. And yes, I have too many people in my business network to keep everything in my head.

As I explain in the video above, the lovely Cathy Brooks put me on the right track: use Address Book.app. I don’t really need to keep all the contact details related to a person close at hand (ie, phone number, e-mail, etc.) because I have that in LinkedIn, Facebook, GMail address book, or on business cards. I’m not interested in keeping an exhaustive repository of all the contact details of all the people I’ve met. What I’m interested in, however, is keeping the names of these people somewhere I can attach meaningful information to them.

Where we met. What we talked about. Stuff that’ll help me remember who people are.

So, I started simply adding names (Firstname Lastname) into my OSX address book, along with a few words in the Notes field. The nice thing about the Notes field is that you don’t have to toggle edit mode on to add stuff in the Notes. So, of course, I started using the notes field to tag people. Not too bad (smart folders allow me to “pull out” people with a certain tag) but not great either, because tags get mixed up with notes, and it’s a bit clunky.

Somebody suggested I create a custom “Tags” field (a “Names” type field is fine). Unfortunately, though this looks like a good idea at first, it fails because you have to edit a contact each time you want to add tags. Also, you can’t create a smart folder based on the contents of that field — you need to search through the whole card. Clunky too.

I don’t know how to write Address Book plugins, but I know they exist, and I have an idea for a plugin that would save my life (and probably countless others) and which doesn’t seem very complex to build. If there’s anybody out there listening… here’s a chance to be a hero.

I want a “tag your contacts” plugin for Address Book.app. What would it do? Simple, add a “Tags” field that behaves similarly to the “Notes” field. That would allow me to separate notes and tags — they aren’t quite the same thing, don’t you agree?

In addition to that, the plugin could display a list of all contacts tagged “thisorthat” when you double-clicked the tag. That would be nice.

Does anybody else want this? Does it already exist? Would anybody be willing to build it? (If other people are interested, I’d be willing to suggest we pool some cash to donate to the kind person building this life-saving plugin.)

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Posted in Being the boss | Tagged address book, address book.app, code, contacts, details, entrepreneuring, field, Geek / Technical, mac, network, networking, notes, osx, people, plugin, software, Software and Tools, tagging, tags, tool, utility, Wanted | 18 Comments