Monday, 22 December 2008

Information Overload

How individuals respond to the communication overload issue varies dramatically from person to person and organization to organization. In some cases every communication is operational and actionable. There’s no sense of overload here and any redundant or irrelevant material is rigorously excluded. Typically this might be a military or strictly hierarchical operationally focused service delivery company. This is a controlled and directive working environment.

At the other end of the spectrum is the media or consultancy sector, for example, where the flow of information is open, uncontrolled and can be experienced as overwhelming. It’s in this environment that I think we can discover a strategy for survival.

People in this sector regard information as their working medium. They select what they want from a virtually infinite variety of sources creating for themselves a bespoke set of communication lines which are specifically tailored to their needs. They pick and choose what they need and what is relevant. They are effectively a self-segmenting audience in technical communication terms. I think these two dimensions highlight essential factors in the 'information overload' debate.

There’s a gap between the “push” side of communications - the transmission mode; and the creation of a “pull” culture where people are supported in taking ownership of their own information needs. As communicators, we should recognize the evolving digital media world as our new operating environment. In a bid to gain organizational transparency, we need to change our perception of what an information-rich environment really means for individuals and organisations.

Perhaps we need to devote more time to helping people understand that an infinite flux of information is not necessarily an intimidating overload, but a unique opportunity that can be grasped with enthusiasm and energy. It is the way the world is today and we can choose to be fearful or we can adopt a positive and self-determined attitude. An attitude that says we as individuals are responsible for the information we consume. We are in control and we can take our pick.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

SeeThru Business

Spending a lot of time these days talking about transparency and the impact this will have on the future shape of business.

It is digi-tech driven of course. One of the most significant developments in the last few years has been the erosion of organisational boundaries. For example, organisations fully engaged in the digital space accept that what they say internally has to match their external statement and vice versa. It is a truism, but employees are always the most avid consumers of external media comment about their business along with other key stakeholders. So it must be desirable to ensure that information and comment flows freely across organisational barriers.

Typically these organisations embrace social media , shared workspace, collaborative environments, and the smartest forms of customer relationship management and influencer marketing. All point towards openess and transparency.

This level of engagement will ultimately be the most successful. Because these organisations will be the most adaptive, creative and the most able to respond to their market place and their operating environment.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


24th January 2008 at 0410 hrs ............. Our wonderful baby is born.

And I've been living like him in present time. He is nine months old now and on the brink of walking. You will know if you have a child that he is a font of pure love and that simply to be with him or her will open a door to your soul. It is undeniable.

With Eils, my wife and my life - we have been focused on Maxim Gabriel Berrisford since the last posting - 293 days ago (as Technorati reliably informs me). It has been a deep immersion in the physical and emotional business of caring, nurturing and continuing to earn a living. Hard work, but infinitely rewarding.

He is a gem, of course. Just like my two other children Callum and Kate. Both in their twenties now, both building their lives. And both beautiful, gentle beings who love their little brother.

So that's it for now. Sorry for the sentimentality, but I had to get it out of my system. Definitely All in Favour.

Back to some tougher stuff in the next post. I won't be leaving it so long!

Friday, 28 December 2007

End of Year

I listened to the baby's heartbeat yesterday.

It is December 28th 2007. Between Christmas and the New Year. Our baby is due sometime in the next 12 days. It has been great to be at home, we've been very quiet. Eils resting a lot and I've just been pottering about. Putting up the odd shelf, fixing the intercom, hanging the bathroom cabinet. All very low key. Waiting.

Our visit to the midwife was cosy. I think they like Eils, she's very organised and on top of what is happening - although I think she is worried about the birth. It will be her first child.

Alongside the baby's heartbeat which must run at around 160 bpm you can hear the pulse of the placenta which is a sort of rhythmic 'swooshing' sound. It all seems balanced.

Back in Edinburgh in the seventies I wrote a poem about 'the first insidious vibration of my mother's gentle heartbeat'. It was about how that basic rhythm sets you up for life. It winds you up and sets you free.

Time. The school bell. Clocks and watches. Clocking on and clocking off. Time and motion. Film at 24 frames per second. The beat. Music.

Ugly Blog

The more I learn about blogs, the more I realise that I'm not blogging. I don't feel bad about that. I don't like the word 'blog' in any case. Its one of those ugly nerdy invented words that seem to occupy the online space.

I know for sure readers, that this is transitional. Sooner rather than later this language will disappear and keeping an online note of what we are doing will become just that. The way we do things. The last time I wrote an entry for All Those in Favour was in August. I'm not going to let that worry me - although it breaks all the rules of blogging.

Monday, 27 August 2007

DNA Assembly

It has happened a couple of times now. I have found myself with a bundle of boards, brackets, rods, nuts, bolts, fittings and fixtures. They usually come out of a box with a page or two of instructions.

I built a bookshelf for my sister in law, Bins. I built two CD racks for myself and I've been building a greenhouse for my wife.

We take it for granted, but it is amazing to consider that this flat packed stuff can be transformed into useful 3-dimensional structures. Of course, it is all relatively hi-tech and is in effect a short cut - no cutting, no screwing, no pain - only the steady step by step of assembly. My advice - read the instructions (or 'destructions', as we like to call them).

The greenhouse is built now. Ready for seedlings and germination, grafting and propagation. And it is a perfect little environment for growth - warm and moist already even though it is less than a day old.

We were talking the other day at work about the DNA of organisations. I wondered whether the DNA of a flat pack is in fact the instruction sheet. Its a cheap analogy of course, but a flaw at this level can cause major structural problems later........

Of course, when we talk about DNA in a real sense, we are talking about the biological imperative - genetic material and the survival of the species through evolution.

It is sensitive territory, and possibly offensive to some. I mean to move from flat pack assembly to reproductive processes. Is there really a difference? Obviously its all a lot more complicated, but essentially there is an assembly template , some raw materials and a third party who is providing the energy to make it all happen as intended. The mother.

In pregnancy you have scans at regular intervals. A sense check on how the foetus is developing. There are measurements which let you know that all is well - the nucal fold scan for example. You can check the heart beat and the progress of the organs at twenty weeks. You can know the sex - although this is an arbitrary characteristic at the feotal stage. It is all very reassuring.

My point is that at one level it is all about assembly and process, on another it is an overwhelming biological and emotionally complex process. Or maybe just self-assembly.

An analogy will only stretch so far.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

Tea Zen

It is fast flow for most of us most of the time. Its either physical in the way we get around, or the jobs we do, or its mental activity. The permanent buzz of that internal traffic, the never ending conversation we have with ourselves. Of course the Bhuddha spotted that aeons ago and for the monk its normal to shut down the roof chatter and empty the mind.

In the office the other day I was surprised to find myself with nothing going on. I was simply stirring the tea bag in the hot water. Standing at the bar making my mug of tea - which I like strong with a drop of milk - I was watching the pattern of bubbles on the surface. It seemed as if the universe took a deep breath.

And I walked back to my emails and feeling clean and clear.