To communicate is a verb. Communication is an action. Actions can cause pain…

I have over the years talked about messages and communication. It is a long time topic, and an area of significant personal interest. I got a great

Email the other day. A long time reader asked me to share what are some subtle communications things you can do that send a message you may not have realized you sent.

I thought about that, its a great question. Each communication pattern and its corresponding anti-pattern sends any number of signals to the people around them. Some of those signals are received by the person getting them differently than intended some are  received as intended but the intent wasn’t nice.

How do you balance that? The easy way is by saying did you mean to do that? But there is inherent risk in that model, you are exposed for a moment to the person who or may not have intended to send you a nasty message.

Six qui k ways to send a message:

  1. During a meeting ask someone to leave the room.
  2. Don’t engage the person in the room in a conversation. While everyone is chatting, ignore one person in the room.
  3. Explain c concepts to one person in the room as though they were 8 years old
  4. Don’t invite that person to a meeting (the afterthought invitation)
  5. Interrupt that person every time they speak
  6. Question an expert on their thoughts without basis

All of these send messages to the person that is sucked into the vortex. Now, the question is always did the person intend to send a message. If they did, then you are right to react. If they didn’t you have to ask that person. That’s the risk within communication. If you ask you expose yourself. If you don’t ask you risk offending someone you never meant to offend you.

  1. Add the complexity of the devices we have and communication goes down hill fast. Brief emails may just mean someone gets a lot of emails. Short phone conversations may be because that person isn’t comfortable talking on the phone. Text messaging works well for many things, but it is brief and locked so you run a risk.
  2. Brevity is the friend and enemy of conversation.
  3. Conversation is how you impact people.
  4. So let’s leave this communication blog with the following thought. Start  off by evaluating should I care. There are people in this world you should care about and people you should ignore.
  5. Question 1: Do I care what this person things of me?
  6. Question 2: Is what this person thinks true (self-evaluation) if yes work to change it. If no, go question 1.
  7. Question 3: Is this person fair.
  8. The last one is the hardest to do. Why?  It means you have to be fair, first. No matter what you have to evaluate the person speaking and determine if they are fair first. That means you have to be fair.
  9. Communication is a tricky problem. All of us succeed and all of us fail when communicating. The reality of where we are and what we say is huge. Look around and make sure you didn’t just ruin someone’s day.
  10. .Doc
  11. long time communications wanderer

Has the time finally come? The technology is there.

There is an old adage about a man who lived at the base of a mountain. He wished easy passage to where his children lived on the other side of the mountain. He thought for days about how to move the mountain. What could he do? It was a mountain and he was a man. The mountain had been there millions of years, he had but 70 years on this planet and many of those were gone already.

What could he do?

One day while working in his garden it came to him. The solution to his problem was not to worry about his problem and make it someone else’s problem. So he “found” a nugget of gold in his garden there at the base of the mountain. He quietly went into town and turned his gold in at the assay office. He paid 300 dollars for 20 goal nuggets from a mine in another state. In a month there was a tunnel through the mountain and he could see his children. The answer to his problem, find a way to motivate others to do what you want done. Gold, always works when you want to move mountains!

I have over the years had the fortune of meeting, working for and following some great leaders. I joined Microsoft to work for Bill Gates. He remains a leader that I would follow to this day. His work with his foundation, simply is beyond amazing. He is trying to make the world a better place and all of us better people.

On a Tangential path to leadership there is a question I have to ask. First off, when did presidential campaigns get so chippy? I get that these folks don’t like each other. It comes out every time the Federal Government grinds to a halt and shuts down. But do we have to have it shared with the world, via video stored, recorded and replayed over and over?

My opponent is a good person. He and I differ on the solutions to some issues. I wish to point out only where we differ. In the areas my opponent and I agree, I won’t say anything. Seriously. Nothing.

What about a national election system that has criteria, and rule. Such as, all commercials are limited, you can only campaign for 10 weeks and you CANNOT SPEND YOUR MONEY nor can you TAKE DONATIONS OF ANY FORM. Let’s agree that we all pay .o2% more taxes and that funds elections. Each congressman gets 1 ad. Each senator gets 2. The presidential candidates get 52 (one for each state and the 2 territories).

We could do this. It should not be that hard. To build a system where it was equal. Where we picked people that understood not only the reality of the laws of our nation but also had a broad understanding of world politics.

I know that dream is not to be. Its time now for direct voting. No more congress or senate as the purveyors of law. Instead they can write the laws, but the people vote on them directly. They can then be applied by the legal system equally. Equal rights under the law means we have equal representation in what laws are passed. No more special interests. No more political groups whose agenda is wholly their agenda. Let the people vote.

We the people want a vote. Not to pick who will represent us (or represent the NRA, or big corporations in our district that give money to politicians or other special interests) we the people want a direct vote.


Time has come…

Oh Value, why does thou escape me so?

What does that five letter word really mean. The value of something? In the world I work in day in and day out value is normally applies to the change relative to the cost provided by a new solution. Cloud Computing is often tagged with a value provided of 20% or more. (It really probably isn’t 20% but that is a different argument). Value is so much more though.

As we come to an age of transition (or we age to the age of transition) in the workforce we are going to see value slip away and new value created. There is a value in having knowledge of what was (tacit) as well as what was documented (explicit). I won’t go on my we are losing information tirade again. Instead let’s talk about the value that isn’t going to be in the organization with the changing workforce.

What is the value of experience? Been there, done that experience? What is the value of optimism? Not wild eyed everything is going to be OK but wild eyed anything is possible optimism? What value lies between those two? The tempering and the envisioning? The best “art of the possible” people sit between those two and pull together an image of what can be done. The value of that person in the middle is fairly easy to get. We call them get things done done people. They aren’t flashy and they bring value in the form of finish.

But there is a value to that dream and a value to what was. How do we within a traditional value equation take advantage of that? I wrote  a book about innovation and innovators (its on Amazon). In that book I talked about the shifting market of innovation. That what once was (working in R&D for a big company) doesn’t happen in the Kickstarter/Indiegogo (and others) world. Innovators at times forsake the knowledge of what was.

Memories of what was, the history are important. I learned a lot of my early impressions of the world like most of us from those around me. Teachers, parents and grandparents opening my eyes to a view of what is through the eyes of those that built it. I continue to find value in asking those who were involved in building things how they did it. But I also see that value in people that can build what isn’t there.

The knowledge value chain or perhaps better the knowledge teeter totter has to be balanced. It has to have the ability to allow what was and what will be to balance in the middle. That way, the art of the possible person can translate both ends.

The system also has to be smart enough to know that sometimes just because that is the way things are, it doesn’t have to be the way things will be. Or, that just because it is possible it doesn’t mean it provides value and is therefore needed.

The equation for value is return – cost. I know that is the simplification of that to an nth degree. But frankly all the complexity around value is simply complexity. If something costs more than its return, it doesn’t have value today. That doesn’t mean it won’t have value later. So the value equation is really return (plus time) – cost. Or Return (plus time, and competitive scenario) – cost. sometimes you have to add package tracking because your competitor already did.

My proposed new value equation is this:

Return = Knowledge

Where knowledge represents the balanced what was, and what could be.


Knowledge worker…

By the numbers, my blog in review…

Like most bloggers and avid posters I watch the stats of my site. I wonder sometimes why there is a reader spike. Or when there is a subscription spike. I consider, ponder and sometimes I make changes to the blog. One of the most requested early additions to my various blogs was adding more pictures. Pictures, help tell the story I was told. When I started the family history project now almost two years ago I started sharing more pictures with my blogs. I often get comments and emails, “enough with this topic, we get it.” But for the most part I write what I want to write.

I do often get requests from long time readers to do more communication patterns and anti-patterns.  On my podcast I get frequent requests for Fred and Ed stories. Fred and Ed stories are those created when I was teaching 30 years ago. I told those stories to the kids after lunch. About a set of twins that were always in trouble and always wreaking havoc. Now, I have real life Fred and Ed living with me so I add some real experience to the new Fred and Ed stories. (those are on my Podcast – 20 or so of them I advocate that people do family and work history projects. This blog is my work history project.

It is funny to me also the shift in readership. I get roughly 100 or so hits per blog from people wandering around looking for a topic. I also have 200 people that get my blogs everyday in the mail (ok 199, one of them is me, so I have an archive of my blog). On average I get roughly 1 comment a month or less. But I average 3 to 4 emails per week from people I know, commenting, correcting and sometimes (rarely) agreeing with my points completely.

I have in the 11 years I’ve been doing this own (2005 was post number 1 on my first blog, 2009 was post number one on this blog) posted more than 5000 blogs and roughly 75 episodes of my podcast. Between this and my other blog posts, a total of well more than 3 million views.

The long pole in the tent or the most popular topics I’ve posted over the years:

Fred and Ed Stories (most popular podcasts with more than 100,000 downloads overall)

Cloud Whisperer blog (which was done nearly 3 years ago and had 12 segments) heavily viewed (800 per day)

Interesting the lowest read overall of my various blogs has been the most requested by my long time readers. My communications patterns blogs tend to only have 100 or so views plus subscribers. I guess it just goes to show that numbers never lie.

Except numbers do lie, because the communication patters posts are the ones most likely to be shared and I can’t track the views and numbers when a blog is shared.

For those that have been reading my blogs for years, you know that when I do a numbers blog I am stuck on a topic and unable to really spit anything else out. So I do numbers blogs. These, by and far are the lowest read of my blog series. The day after I post a numbers blog my numbers go down. I guess there is a lesson there.

By the way if you are considering a blog consider this. It doesn’t matter (to borrow from the Carpenters song) if its good enough for anyone else to read. It is good enough. If you want to write it, write it. There is no reason not to. If people don’t like it, they won’t read it. Just make sure you moderate the comments. Trolls (haters) love to hurt people. Moderated blogs allow you to review and not post hateful comments.


Avid Blogger

I wonder (not aloud) about Quiet…

I won’t on this day when Maryland’s holds it primary elections, bombard or bombast you with my political opinions. I am not a crawl out of the every four year political person. I live and work in the DC area, politics are a way of life here. But what I will say is today, just like every other day is more comprised of bad traffic than great speeches.

The word quit is intriguing. When I was a school teacher I used to have my class see how quietly they could traverse the halls. Not as a demand but as a contest. Last week on the way to music I heard three people whispering. Can we get that down to two? The kids were always good about being as quiet as they could be. Quiet when you are 8 being very different than quiet when you are 30. Now, however when my kids at 18 are quiet, I wonder what they are up to!

We do have places however where quiet is demanded and I wonder about that. First off, libraries. Why quiet? I understand the need to study and read the books, but there should also be great sound proofed halls where the ideas bandied about in the books can be argued, debated and discussed. What once was called a Saloon, intellectuals gathered in a room debating the ideas of the day. But we expect quiet only in libraries.

My classroom, as a teacher and as a computer trainer was never quiet. I know that learning requires some level of interaction and some level of entertainment. If people need quiet I would warn them of the noise so they knew to go elsewhere.

Quiet isn’t required for either teaching or learning. Teacher earn quiet, it shouldn’t be demanded. In fact, if you ask for something you better do it yourself. I worry often about style over substance. If, style is the driver than in the end there is no learning. You have to have substance, the matter that matters the most. 100 small mistakes don’t make a bad learning experience, facts in error make a bad learning experience.

So, quiet really? Today, perhaps a little quieter, a little sadder for the world watches and laughs. Let us instead on this day make a loud raucous noise. Let us open the doors of the Saloon and shout to the world that we understand the insanity that has unfolded and we embrace it. Quiet does little good.

No politics.


political mourner

A new communications pattern (information) and anti-pattern (distraction).

The architecture of connection comes from the lack of connection not the presence of connection. The reality of being connected was designed before it was implemented. Now, we can argue that the intent of the design and the implementation of the design are different. But one led to the other, design then implement.

Connections reality comes from the 1980’s and 1990’s. I won’t go into the details of the pain but point that without the pain of the early cellular conversation, the later digital and ultimately the world we have today, wouldn’t be. You have to have a problem to fix. Connection is a two-sided street. It is important to remember that you need both sides for the connection to work.

There is a human side of connection as well. I’ve spent years on my blogs and podcast sharing communications patterns and anti-patterns. Fun characters whose focus was to inform but also remind. In case, in looking at the character I painted you see a piece of yourself. The reality is, most people with an anti-pattern never see that in themselves. But its there for the rest of us to see.

But connections are more than just what we see in others. They are more than the one or two bars your cell phone has as it cuts out and you can’t talk to other people. It is more than downloading the latest version of Angry Birds while waiting at the Doctors Office. Or looking up the films of Jim Carrey as you wait in line at the grocery store. Connection is all that and more. In fact from this I have found a new communication pattern and anti-pattern.

The communications pattern is the connected worker. The anti-pattern is the directly face connected to the device “disconnected” worker. Yes the names are very similar and we all run into this pattern. The good side is the universe of information at our fingertips. We can reach out into the internet and pull back any information that is delaying a meeting, group or project. The downside is distraction. That device becoming the be all and end all. We no longer need to talk to the people in the room, instead we interact with the electronic device in front of us.

I started this piece with a discussion of the intent of connection (the architecture) and talked about the drifting that often occurs (intent begat reality). The reality of the distracted anti-pattern is the disconnection from the physical world to the digital world. The problems that presents in a meeting, in a group or just at a family diner are immense. It isn’t just the cellular phone or tablet. It’s the world impinging on us.

Personally I get frustrated when people bring devices into meetings. Why? It means they are disconnected form the meeting. I do it myself from time to time. My rule is if I have a device I take notes. If I don’t have a device I still take notes, I just use the Armstrong Word processing system to take the notes. (pen and paper). Don’t lose sight of the person across from you (or next to you). The real connection in the room, is the person in the room with you. The digital connection is transient.


Communications wanderer

When is the last time you powered off your device?

People connections are fairly straight forward, we see them fairly well. But within each of the circles that represents a person there are 2-3 IoT connections (Today). One or two of those connections is by choice. One is by someone else and probably isn’t by choice. Its call BlueJacking, or seizing control of a device via Bluetooth connections. The thing is the number of connections is manageable today (headset, car phone, speaker phone, other devices) but it won’t be tomorrow.

Its going to get harder to harder to manage the CPS/IoT device connections with one-off security. Security focused on the user knowing what should, and what should not be connected to their device. Perhaps the change is as simple as anytime a device connects to your tablet or phone (or laptop) there is a forced yes I started this connection dialog box. Until that box is cleared the device remains in quarantine. While actively there, not actively connected to your device.

Who connects. What are the connecting. What will they do with that connection. Is there a risk for me. Did I setup the connection. When did I? All sorts of potential security components that could be used in setting up new connected devices (or connected bits). Easy security that wouldn’t require people relearn how things work. Complexity is the emend of security. Pushing good security down to users is a good thing. It allows the user to interact with the system in an intelligent way.

CPS/IoT security will require more human intervention than less in the short run. Why? The more compact the device the less inherent security it can have. I’ve talked about the need for CPS/IoT removable security to keep those devices up to date. I think however the reality of what’s next is we need short run local security on your device. It will reduce Blue jacking.

It won’t remove the risk of someone else seizing your device but it may allow a time limit to that seizure. Good phone hygiene perhaps. How often do you power off your phone?

That becomes the magic question. How often should you power off your device? I remember in the dawn of computing we had to have people power off often, so we could run the Novell Login Scrip’s on their machines. We moved to the world of group policies (which only apply when you log in). The next interaction has to be, when network resources are launched and GP is new, they GP has to be applied before you can use the resource. People often don’t power off their devices enough.

Good security comes from good decisions. It comes from powering off that device from time to time. At least once a week. Then given that we prompt for every connection to that device we will increase security. Tomorrow, there will be far too many connections to be remembered if we are not careful. If you block a connection you need later, you can always read it.

Time to go back to the past. Reboot your computer. Power off your devices at least once a week. At the very least you will have a little time away from technology to reflect and listen to the world around you.


IoT/CPS futurist