How to Super Charge Yourself During the Summer Holidays

3 min read

Holidays are nearing (or for some of you holidays is already there). I wanted to share with you how you could make sure you are super charged after your holidays. Or maybe I should nuance this already a bit, let me share with you how I make sure I am super charged after my holidays and how this could work for you:

Do Something You Actually Love

First all of make sure you are always doing something you want to do more often. Even though my work is quite flexible, I cannot play soccer with my son full time during workdays. So my holidays will be all about playing soccer with him and doing all other sorts of fun things with my family such as visiting places, having a wonderful meal and enjoy that we can spend a few weeks together without interruption from the outside world.

Stop outside interruptions

You don’t want to be distracted during your holidays. Therefore I will do exactly the same thing as last year: remove corporate email from phone for a weeks. Also I will disable most notifications on my phone. When I am on holiday I want to be on holiday, I don’t want to spent time on my phone doing work related items or be distracted by its notifications. Really disconnect. Every year I am considering to buy a feature phone just for the holidays, however I guess I am not brave enough yet to really take that step.

Get inspired

Holidays are for me opportunities of catching up on books I want to read and to get inspired. Some of these topics are work related, however given that I am very lucky that my work is based on my passion, I don’t see these books as work. The books I will be reading are:

Learn something new

Another book I am reading is about Swift, the new programming language from Apple. I like to learn new stuff, and the holidays is great, since most likely I have got a couple of hours to spare to learn a new skill. It is not the top priority, though I like my brains to remain active and learn something new.

Exercise

Besides keeping my brains on a certain level activity I prefer to keep my body also active and most like I will go on some long walks or will do something cycling. Doing no exercise at all would make me very restless, I need to feel the burn in my muscles every few days. This is what works for me: being with the people I love, doing things I like, without being interrupted by things I don’t want at that very moment is my ideal holidays which makes me supercharged and ready to go back work with renewed energy.

Disconnect to charge

Sometimes you have to really disconnect to charge yourself: it at least helps me to provide myself with a fresh perspective on things. How are you supercharging yourself?

 

Create a Zen of Flow

2 min read

I have removed almost everything from my site, my wife warned me that I would end up with a plain text file if I would push it any further. Maybe that is even a better idea: no distraction. Though I would miss the structure that font-sizes are offering in headers. The reason for removing almost everything is because every click is a distraction. Scrolling doesn’t interfere with what you are doing, a click is deliberate friction, it is a moment for somebody to get distracted.

Driven to distraction

Even though we assume we are great multi-taskers: we aren’t. We cannot read one thing and at the same time process something else with our brains. We can do only one thing well, therefore I removed everything that was distraction so you only can do one thing: reading the article. I don’t need you to read something about me, see the latest articles or start with sharing before you finished the article. To be honest, I don’t want you to do anything else than just reading the article an experience the serenity of scrolling instead of the aggression of clicks.

Each click is a dilemma, scroll is flow

A click is  deliberate action and therefore a distraction. At the moment you are on the page, you have to move your cursor on top of the link and press or tap a button. It is breaking your flow, since it forces you to do many things which creates this single dilemma: will I continue reading the article, will I go somewhere else, shall I preload something else for later reading, or will go and play Angry Birds. With scrolling there is none of this friction. Basically you are reading the article and to keep reading you have to move your screen, just like you need to turn a page. You don’t decide if you want to do the action, you decide if you want to read on. The decision you have to make is more subconscious than clicking to go somewhere else.

Flow through content

So flow through content and remove any clicks. The easier you can make the consumption of the content, the more it will be consumed.

Remove the aggression of clicks and introduce the Zen of Flow.

 

Success is Not a Number, it is Perspective

5 min read

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics – Mark Twain (and others)

Numbers on itself never tell a story, it is the perspective they are put in that tells the story. However in the end the story might be beautiful, though numbers always have a certain truth in them.

One side of the story

Let’s take for example this article about the KLM (it could have been any other company, however I just ran into this one because it is prominent in my Twitter feed).

This article is, in my personal opinion, about huge accomplishments that, when you interpret the numbers differently, are not really accomplishments but small failures presented as accomplishments by presenting numbers in a certain perspective.

Let’s just go through the numbers quickly that are mentioned in the article and show how these numbers could also tell a different story:

KLM transports 26 million passengers each week, these passengers tend to ask questions via social media nowadays and they do that increasingly every year (each year 250% increase is reported). Currently they 35 thousand questions per week that is answered by a team of 130 person 24/7 in 10 languages (and since KLM operates in 65 countries I assume they cannot answer the queries that are in a different language). Social payment is enabled and earned KLM an additional 100 thousand euros in the first two weeks of its launch.

This is where perspective kicks in

Each week KLM has on average 500 thousand passengers (26 million divided by 52 weeks) and that results in 35 thousand questions. Which mean that one in on average one on every 14 passengers (7%) has a question, assuming that customers only have to ask one question and not multiple questions during the week.

Given that KLM has 130 people working on social media questions (assuming they are all full time), they each answer on average 270 questions per week, given the typical dutch workweek is 40 hours, they answer almost 7 questions per hour or close to one every nine minutes.

The additional revenue reported because of social payment is approximately 10 euros cents per passenger. Though if these passengers are all chair fillers it is 100% additional margin which is what KLM should be looking for.

This is where issues occur with these numbers

It is impressive that so many questions are asked and answered in such a timely manner. However what is wrong with your product if so many questions arise that have to be taken care of by separate agents? If 35.000 questions are asked, it means that 35.000 times insufficient information was available for the customer to take action by him or herself.

Given that the volume increases 250% year over year, it means that next year (assuming KLM keeps their numbers for supporting languages still on ten and won’t increase on that) 87.500 questions will be asked, the year after 218.750 and the year after 546 thousand (which means that are more questions asked than there are passengers, unless KLM in parallel grows it numbers of passengers of course. Though than the year after it will be more questions than passengers since a 200% increase in passengers in 4 years for an established airline is not the current trend for KLM).

However does this mean for KLM that they should grow their team with 250% per year as well? Which means to 325 next year, 813 the next year and 2032 the year after? Since this would result in an increase of salary costs from 4.3 million euros (assuming agents at KLM get paid the so called Modal income of 33.5 thousand euros) to more than 68 million euros.

Coming back to the additional revenue with social payment: it would be 0.0003% of the total revenue of the Air France KLM group, or if revenue stayed constant for the rest of the year the percentage would increase to 0.01% of the annual revenue. Which needless to say would provide KLM with a highly limited impact and even if there would be a steep increase week over week, it would be difficult to reach 1% given the numbers we now have.

With a different perspective the numbers present a different case

Of course KLM will take its measures, since spending 17 times more on salaries alone would be unthinkable in such a low margin business. It will be a slow death sentence or perhaps better phrased as a death by a thousand cuts / tweets.

Of course the growth won’t be a hyper growth of constantly 250%, it will flatten, though it might still reach 100k-200k messages per week. Which is still a big threat, given that handling a question now takes 9 minutes.

Of course automation can help, however why automate drying out a flooded room without turning off the taps. The basic problem that KLM shares with us in this article implicitly (according to my personal interpretation of the numbers) is that there is an information gap, which is currently bridged (or if one would be a cynic: hidden) via web care. A gap that costs them at least around 4 million each year in salary costs alone.

Though it might still give them a good return, not necessarily from a service perspective but from a marketing perspective. Since many people are applauding them for their activities, while all they are doing is mopping the floor under a leaking sink, without fixing the sink.

Lies, damned lies or statistics

I leave the final judgement to you on what the actual truth is, but as you can see numbers put in a different perspective tell a whole different story.

This article was published first on LinkedIn.

 

Why You Need to Develop that Scarce Skill

4 min read

The digitisation of our world creates a huge shift in how we do our jobs. The shift is even so big that some of the jobs we do will be completely commoditized and replaced by digital solutions. For a long time we assumed that craftsman were just fine, since working with your hands is enormously specialised work that no robot could replace. However with the emergence of 3D printing, craftsman such as the goldsmith might just be years away of being replaced by a 3D printer and a designer with 3D design program. And even the 3D designer could be replaced by an algorithm.

All competences are being digitised

The skill of working with gold and turning it into something beautiful is becoming something that can be done via technology. Though when you are creating stuff, what is your next skill to learn? Is it becoming a better craftsman by improving the old, or will you become a different craftsman by adopting the new?

If you are a parcel company (or perhaps less abstract: a truck driver for such a company), you know the end is neigh for your job. Amazon considers drones for delivery, and even though that might be futuristic it should make you think: do we need people and trucks to move stuff from A to B? The answer is clear: no you don’t, drones most likely will be more efficient. So what is your next skill as a truck driver?

Though not only in the physical world this ongoing replacement is going on. The digital world is reinventing itself just as hard. Front-end development used to be a no brainer, we need front-end developers because there is no tool that could replace them. We need to rephrase that statement: there was no tool yet. A tool like Macaw is coming very close and it will be just a matter of years before the front-end developer is obsolete. What will the front end developer do, what will his speciality become in the upcoming years.

Machines outperform the strategists

And it might be clear that when you make something you can be replaced by a robot, that is the old scary picture being painted by the industrial revolution. However when your job is thinking, such as you are a strategist of some sort, your job is dead wood. What you do is draw up different strategies for your company or customers based on your insights and sometimes based on a bit of data.

However what you cannot do is comparing 400 million different scenarios with 1000 parameters to show what is most likely to work in the end. In the age of big data the machine has become the faster thinker with more capacity to create the best strategy based on data. You as an individual can only do so much, but not comparing million of scenarios in a couple of minutes. So what is the strategy for the strategist to be of added value, will he become a button pusher on the big data machine; a typical blue-collar worker?

Move where the added value shifts to

As with everything the added value shifts from time of time and skills that are scarce will be commoditized. End 19th centuries we had computers, people who did really complex mathematical computations, they got replace by… yes computers as we know it. When you watch Mad Men you’ll see typists, a skill that is completely commoditized. Work changes, however most of us never realised that this change was so constant and moved so quickly with digital.

If you want to be sure you’ll make the right next step for your next job make sure you become the expert in a scarce skill in a field that is suffering from abundance. Such as becoming a data scientist in the world of big data or a growth hacker in the world of digital. However do not consider those as the jobs you’ll keep till your pension, already think about your next step after this new role. Since also these jobs will be completely commoditized and digitized.

 

Social Business Needs Social IT

6 min read

This article was first published on CIO of the Future

Social Business is not just changing what the marketing department worries about. It’s changing how we run our businesses, and changing what we consider to be a well-managed business. Social Business can make your business more flexible, more agile, more open, and more future proof for the next revolution in technology. This is a revolution that is already taking place.

If the future of business is social, then the future of the IT department is social too.

Social Business

We need to stop thinking about the technology – the social tools – being something that we implement for others. The change that is currently happening in the marketing departments is working its way through business, and will hit the IT department eventually. It is the choice of the IT department to be part of this change, or to be outpaced by somebody who serves the business better. Price is not the competition, it is about value delivered.

Shift from thinking about Social Business as a new communication channel to implement, to seeing social as the starting point for that will lead to a big change in how you design and manage your operations, and it will lead to big benefits.

The future of business – and of the IT department – is more flexible, responsive, and more open. It is not about being more social, whatever that might imply; we never worried about being more SOA or more ITIL . Social is a design principle that leads you to these goals. It is not the goal itself, nor was SOA or ITIL.

Design Principles

The concept of Social Business, associated as it is with Social Media, is often treated as something isolated from other activities within organizations. It’s confused with channels – email, instant messaging, phone… – since it’s the channels that are the most obvious aspect of social, with their manifestation in the form of Facebook and Twitter.

Social Business, however, is changing how we manage and run our businesses. If you want to get the full benefits from Social Business you should not see it as a collection of tools or as something that is only concerned with customer service. Getting the most from Social Business goes beyond ‘being great’ on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It is a fundamental change in how businesses are being run, organized around how businesses and their stakeholders interact and think.

Social Business is a design principle. It is a logical design principle if you compare it to other design principles we use, such as open architectures, service orientation, and cloud. While Twitter and others might be the most obvious manifestations of social, they are only channels. Though these channels are not Social Business, they are designed with the design principles of Social Business.

What are the top four aspects of the social design principle?

  1. Privacy and trust
  2. Simple, flexible tools
  3. Flexible policies over detailed processes/rules
  4. Data driven ROI

Social IT

We all like change when change is something we do to others. However, if IT wants a role in the new social businesses then IT needs to apply the social design principles to itself.

1. Privacy and trust

With the rise of a PRISM society who can you trust? Is the CIO reading my email? To design for Social IT you have to ensure that there is complete trust between all stakeholders inside and outside.  This means that office politics have no place in social environments, and openness, connectedness and delivered value are valued over utilization and old boy’s networks. Participation is something that is valued, not something that is held against somebody.

2. Simple flexible tools

Open architectures, service orientation, and cloud are things you keep in mind while designing your processes and your applications. However Social Business is most often forgotten, it is added afterwards or it is introduced as a separate silo next to existing solutions.

3. Flexible policies over detailed processes and rules

IT cannot control every bit of IT a Social Business uses. It needs to move from detailed rule-based policies built on the assumption that IT owns the technology, and focus on flex policies that provide the business with the flexibility it needs to get things done.

Who knows what’s best for everybody? Most likely everybody knows what is best for everybody and with consumerization being a standard phenomenon in the enterprise you cannot enforce rigid policies anymore, since the ROI of enforcing would be so little compared to the ROI of letting go. People are not stupid by default, they don’t need lengthy rule books, they need guidance in the right direction.

4. Data driven ROI

What is the ROI of measuring ROI? What is the ROI of not changing? The beauty of social design is that it creates so many more data points that it is easier than ever to optimize ways of workings than it was before. Optimizing doesn’t mean making it more efficient, it is making it more value-adding for the company.

The assembly line is completely optimized, however what is the retention level of the people working on that line, what do they think, what is the cost per new hire?

Efficiency is a model that works in scarcity, not in the abundance driven world we experience in the 21st century. Information and knowledge workers aren’t scarce anymore, they don’t need to be utilized more as the precious steam engines in the 19th century did. They need to mobilized better so they can, will, and want to deliver a better ROI, an ROI that can be measured in absolute detail since every action they take is willingly and intentionally shared with everybody.

Conclusion

Thinking of Social Business beyond the implementation of a channel and treating it as a design principle will help you in designing different kind of solutions. This provides the advantage that the social transformation is coming from the start of the design, instead of after the introduction. This helps you and your organization to move the traditional enterprise to a more social business.

If you start designing your processes and applications as social by default, you’ll see that solutions are likely to become more flexible and connected. It will create more value than in the traditional silo approach and it will help to connect the dots between people, processes and systems. This is because social is not only about human interaction but also about the interaction between humans and systems and even between systems themselves.

You unleash the power of outside by thinking outside-in. However keep an eye on privacy, trust and mobilizing the social network around you, since those are important elements to create tangible value for your organization and for your customers. Social by design is two-way street, a street owned by your customer.

This article was first published on CIO of the Future