Sunday, 26 May 2013

Move with the Cheese and Enjoy it!

The big opportunity is to figure out how to take advantage of the change that was just handed to us, even if it wasn't for us, about us, or what we were hoping for”.

Last week I was talking about books with @Simply_Marc publisher at simply-communicate. During the conversation, I asked him if he had any special book in mind that he had enjoyed reading in the past. He answered immediately with “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr Spencer Johnson, and suggested: “If you haven't done it already, you should read that story Gloria.”

I had always wanted to read that famous book on dealing with change, and after listening to @Simply_Marc appreciation for it, I shared with him that it was definitely my wish and intention to do it. 
On the following day, the wonderful @Simply_Marc came to the office with a copy of the book which he handled to me for reading. (So happy!).

Nothing to say except that as soon as I start reading “Who Moved My Cheese?” I found myself totally immersed in its inspiring and clever parable. I could realise why it became a best-selling business book and why @Simply_Marc found it interesting and recommended me to read.

Below are some marginalia that I would like to share, sentences from the book that I personally found powerful and relevant to remember. While I hope that you might find something helpful and meaningful in these notes, at the same time, I encourage you to enjoy the original source and make your sense of this great book. (A big thank you to @Simply_Marc!).

The business fable - which uses 'Cheese' as a metaphor of what we want to achieve in our lives (personal, professional and organisational lives) and 'maze' as a metaphor of where we look for what we want – presentas some key points:

  • Change Happens ('They Keep Moving the Cheese').
    Things change and they are never the same. Life moves on. And so should we”. “If you do not change, you can become extinct.”

  • Anticipate Change ('Get Ready for the Cheese to Move'), Monitor Change ('Smell the Cheese Often so you Know When it is Getting Old') and Adapt to Change Quickly ('The Quicker You Let Go of Old Cheese, the Sooner you Can Enjoy New Cheese').
    The change probably would not have taken him by surprise if he had been watching what was happening all along and if he had anticipated change.”
    It is natural for change to continually occur, whether you expect it of not. Change could surprise you only if you didn't expect it and weren't looking for it.”
    Noticing small changes early helps you adapt to the bigger changes that are to come.

  • Change ('Move With the Cheese') and Enjoy Change ('Savor the Adventure and Enjoy the Taste of New Cheese').
    He was aware of his fear. Then he laughed at himself. He realised his fears were making things worse. So he did what he would do if he wasn't afraid. He moved in a new direction”.
    As he started running down the dark corridor he began to smile. He didn't realised it yet, but he was discovering what nourished his soul: he was letting go and trusting what lay ahead for him, even though he did not know exactly what it was. To his surprise, he started to enjoy himself more and more. Before long, he knew why he felt good: when you move beyond your fear, you feel free. Just realising he was not letting his fear stop him and knowing that he had taken a new direction nourished him and gave him strength.”
    "To make things even better, he started to paint a picture in his mind. He saw himself eating the many cheeses he liked and he enjoyed what he saw. 'Imagining myself enjoying new cheese even before I find it, leads me to it'.”

  • Be Ready to Change Quickly and Enjoy it Again ('They Keep Moving the Cheese').
    He thought about what he had already learnt. You can believe that a change will harm you and resist it. Or you can believe that finding new cheese will help you to embrace the change. It all depends on what you choose to believe: when you see that you can find and enjoy new cheese, you change course.”
    He reflected on the mistakes he had made in the past and used them to plan for his future:
    Be more aware of the need to keep things simple, be flexible, and move quickly,
    Don't overcomplicate matters or confuse yourself with fearful beliefs,
    Notice when the little changes began so that you would be better prepared for the big change,
    Adapt faster. If you do not adapt in time, you might not adapt at all,
    It is safer to explore, stay in touch with what is happening around and being aware of real choices than to isolate yourself in the comfort zone,
    The biggest inhibitor to change lies within yourself and nothing get better until you change.”

Indeed, it is certainly true that change is a constant. Embracing rather than opposing it could lead both ourselves and our organisations to greater opportunities. Let's move with the cheese and enjoy it!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Value and Creativity

Today I was reading an article via HBR blog (by Jack Hughes), "What Value Creation Will Look Like in the Future". According to the piece, “value creation in the future will be based on economies of creativity” and we will need to understand how to manage this creativity: “organizational structure will have to change to meet the new reality of creativity as a core component of value and continuous innovation as the mechanism to sustain it”.

I agree with this. Creativity should be part of our organisations' DNA.

That read made me start reflecting on the concept of creativity itself. According to wikipedia:
“It refers to the phenomenon whereby something new is created which has some kind of subjective value (such as an idea, a joke, a literary work, a painting or musical composition, a solution, an invention etc.). It is also the qualitative impetus behind any given act of creation, and it is generally perceived to be associated with intelligence and cognition”.

When it comes to organisations, wikipedia also reports the following: “It has been the topic of various research studies to establish that organizational effectiveness depends on the creativity of the workforce to a large extent. For any given organization, measures of effectiveness vary, depending upon its mission, environmental context, nature of work, the product or service it produces, and customer demands. Thus, the first step in evaluating organizational effectiveness is to understand the organization itself - how it functions, how it is structured, and what it emphasizes. Amabile argued that to enhance creativity in business, three components were needed: Expertise (technical, procedural and intellectual knowledge), Creative thinking skills (how flexibly and imaginatively people approach problems), and Motivation (especially intrinsic motivation).”

If we accept this and want to create value while contributing to the effectiveness of our organisations, then we need to start thinking of using our creativity to help innovate.

Can we all be creative and therefore contribute to the success of our organisations? Nowadays, fortunately many experts on the field say, “yes!”. While in the past creativity was seen as something possessed only by special gifted people, today it is seen as the potential domain of everyone.

In this video via TED Talk, David Kelley – founder of IDEO and committed to help “unlocking the creative potential of people and organizations to innovate routinely” - suggests precisely this, while offering advice to build the confidence necessary to create.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Connecting HR London Spring Tweet-Up

Last Wednesday, 8th May, I came across a tweet reporting of an event called 'Connecting HR London Spring Tweet-Up', which would have been held on the same evening.

The tweet put me through to the event's details where I could read: “If you've not come across or been to a tweet-up before it's simply a face-to-face meet-up for HR people using or interested in social media (including Twitter)...If you've not come across ConnectingHR, we're a community of these sociable HR people...And we're online at though you'll generally find more chat over at Twitter using the hashtag #ConnectingHR.”

With a deep interest in internal communications and social media, and my beloved job at @simplycomm - where we specialise in these themes - it is easy to guess that I was very intrigued by what I read and decided that I had to be there!

As soon as I arrived at the venue in Holborn, I was welcomed by @RafaDavies the event organiser. He very kindly explained me the concept of #ConnectingHR. People in the room were Twitter friends who - during and thanks to Tweet-up events like that one - meet and gather together to share their interest and experience in the HR, workplace communications and social media topics.

On the wall there was a big screen with all the tweets that were being posted by participants on the #ConnectingHR twitter conversation.

The event was designed as an informal networking and sharing opportunity. From the very beginning I met great people and professionals and had wonderful conversations on those kind of topics that – as you may know - make my day (my evening in this case!).

Discussions ranged from employee engagement to internal social media, online community managers, change management initiatives, blogging, relationships at work, news, reciprocity styles...In a couple of hours I learnt and shared so many things by talking and discussing with these wonderful people. I love it when a broad range of views, expertise and stories come together...something incredible happens – at least this is something very fascinating for a curious mind like mine!

I found out that the majority of the participants were, like me, very passionate about writing and blogging on these topics. Therefore, now I have a new range of blogs (their) to happily visit and add to my daily reading!

Should you also be interested in reading some of their blogs, they always share their new posts on #ConnectingHR were all the discussions take place. Also, if you wished to get involved in the group and meet some of the people behind #ConnectingHR, they will run an Unconference on 21st June.

As I mentioned above, the event left me with lots of insight but also fascination. Fascination for the kind of unpredictable possibilities that existing social media, like Twitter, can give us to develop relationships united by passions, interests and professions.

Indeed, thank you very much to everyone who made that event so interesting. I already look forward to meeting you at the next Tweet-up event. Meanwhile, let's keep connected and informed via Twitter!

Saturday, 4 May 2013


This post is about yesterday's simplyTV, the monthly television programme organised by simply-communicate on internal communications, internal social media and employee engagement topics.

I was very much looking forward to it and ready to seat behind the scenes while looking after the Twitter @simplycomm account and the #simplyTV conversations.

@Simply_Marc and @KellKass brilliantly presented and interviewed a range of speakers on a number of interesting topics. In particular, yesterday's series saw:

  • Nick Terry, Managing Director of Top Banana (@topbanananick);
  • Katy Eyre, Co-Director of Jacaranda (@Jacatweetaranda);
  • Nick Canner, Head of Creative Development at the Edge Picture (@edgepicture)
    They discussed about corporate videos and video production, the changes that the YouTube world has brought to this industry as well as user-generated videos' topics.

  • Sheila Parry, Managing Director of theblueballroom (@Sheila_Parry) presented some of the major learning points relating to the #thefuturestory event that her agency held some days ago. In particular, she discussed about current and future trends in the business world and the way people communicate.

  • Nathalie Nahai, Author of a new book titled 'The Webs of Influence' (@TheWebPsych) talked about the art on on-line persuasion and presented valuable insight for businesses to use.

  • Finally, James Del Gatto, Head of Communication at Sthree (@JamesDel_G) discussed about psychometric tests in recruitment and whether they will determine people finding their next job.

Now, if you are familiar with my blog, you may know that I love writing my marginalia, my note about an event that I attended in order to share my learning experience with you.

However, today I would like to use the power of social collaboration. Rather than writing my personal notes down I will share the Storify from the event.

With this Storify, I collected some of the best tweets that enthusiastic participants created during the #simplyTV conversation.

I think there is a lot to benefit and learn from the network. It is powerful to look at those tweets and see what caught the attention of other people. Multiple views, multiple reflections, multiple notes that capture the best of the!

Indeed, for me (and I believe for anyone who love to think and reflect on communication) it is fascinating to observe how social media are changing the way we spread and consume information.

While looking and living this present form of social communication, I wonder and also look very much forward to seeing how it will develop in the future.

How will we write and inform in one, two or three-year time? What will this phenomenon mean to our organisations? How will internal communications be created? Well, let's stay tuned!