Why corporates should blog – reason one (of many)

I recently got into a conversation about corporate blogging. The sort of conversation that starts with ‘what is a blog?’ and ends with ‘it’ll never work here’. And, as always, the killer argument for corporate blogging popped into my head 5 minutes too late.

A tractor in a field yesterday

Many years ago, I used to work for Case, the company that builds big red tractors. It was great work, especially as people understood what you did – none of this ‘I work in computers’ malarchy. Only problem was that we were working in Navan Ireland, with most of our colleagues based in Racine, just north of Chicago.

Not too much of a problem for the first 15 or so people – people who worked out of Chicago for the first 4 or 5 months. We were able to build up personal relationships with a colleagues. We could ask later ‘how are the kids?’ or ‘are you still playing football?’. Small things, but make the real work discussions a lot easier.

The problem came with employees 15-100 – the ones that didn’t spend any amount of time in the US. Technically great people, but didn’t ‘click’ in the same way with Chicago. As a result, small misunderstandings became big misunderstandings, and projects got delayed.

And that’s where corporate blogging comes in. It allows people in far flung offices to connect. Doesn’t matter what you blog about – personal life, or some small project that’s happening in your local office. Chances are somebody else in the company will pick up on it and vital connections will be made.

And if you’re in the market for a big red tractor, click on the photo above. 125 BHP, Diesel Engine, a bargain at 16,500 Euro.

3 Steps to GTD: Time management for really, really busy people

Stressed? No time to talk to people? Losing sleep over tomorrow’s work? You don’t have a lot of time to read this, so I’ll keep this short.

  1. Have a task / todo list. On Outlook , Excel , wiki or paper. Daily, pick off most important tasks and allocate time for them on your calendar.
  2. Schedule your time in some sort of calendar. Use Outlook, Google Calendar , Mozilla Lightening or even a paper diary. Keep about 1/3rd free for the unexpected. Timeslots no shorter than 30 minutes; bunch smaller todo’s together to make up. Set your mail program to show first your calendar and not your email – that way your daily agenda is set by your plans, not somebody else.
  3. Clear mail inbox twice a day (and only twice a day). Do same for phone calls (using voicemail) if that’s disrupting you too much. Only touch mails once: delete, respond, or make room on calendar / tasklist (action).

Adjust steps 1,2, and 3 as required. Get as fancy or as simple as you want.  Don’t aim for perfect, so you’ll be flexible enough when you need to change. Works for me. What works for you?

And yes, it’s probably already covered in ‘Getting things done‘.

Dear Mr LinkedIn, will you show me yours if I show you mine?

I like LInkedIn a lot, and have written about the business social networking tool before, so I’m not going to repeat myself.

There is one small change I’d like them to make – you have only the black or white option of either showing , or hiding your connections.

I think there should be a third option: ‘Show mine if you show me yours’. I’ve only met a handful of people that hide their connections; I’m still happy to connect to them – I typically scan my LinkedIn list when asked to recommend people. But there’s no incentive for them to open their list – they get a free ride no matter what they choose.

It may be co-incidence, but all of the people with hidden connections make their living from their professional network (e.g. recruiters, high end management consultants).

What do you think? Are these people being business savvy, or just parasites stealing our networking time?

Toddle – Drogheda man about to take over the world

I thought I was good at shameless self publicity. But Alan O’Rourke is even better at it. And he’s got a great business idea in Toddle (a very easy to use tool that allows people to send out dramatic, relevant emails).
Toddle - Alan O Rourke

The above picture is from the Irish Independent writeup on Toddle. And if you want to check out Alan’s mad-take-over-the-world-ideas , he blogs at PinStripe.

I’ll almost forgive him for being from ‘the faaaaaar soide’ – that’s the Meath side of Drogheda if you don’t follow our local tradition of ignoring people from the other side of the River Boyne.

And now for something completely different

I’ve been very lucky in the 9 years that I’ve been working for myself. Lucky in the opportunities to travel and the people that I’ve met. Lucky in I’m doing something I love – playing with and building the latest technologies.  Lucky on the financial side of things that it’s given me a wide range of choices.

So, it’s surprised the people I’ve told that I’m now going to be doing something completely different.

No it’s not the economy. I can see the effects of the slowdown but I’m one of the most ‘low maintenance’ people I know (anybody who lives in Drogheda and drives a ’98 Toyota isn’t exactly into bling!) I’d be ok. And the uptick (in 18months – 2 years time) is the most profitable bit of the economic cycle.

No , it’s not through lack of clients. One of the most painful parts of the decision have been the 3 prospective projects that I’ve had to turn down. The sort of ideal projects that I’d working to land for the previous 2 years.

No, it’s not through lack of choices. Two other ‘life changing’ choices I had to turn down were to scale inside a well known consultancy, or specialise in one tool and go international (you know who you are guys, thanks for making the final decision so hard 🙂

So why then?
The basic reason is that I’m enjoying this now (as in big smile on Monday mornings), but can see that I might not be enjoying it in 3 years time. And chances like this one don’t come along every day. That, and I’m fascinated by the new area and people that these guys are working with.

And what you’re doing is?
This is a big change for me, so a bit nervous about it and will blog about the new job (and it is very much a job, rather than being self-employed) in due course. It will either be the very best, or very worst thing that I’ve done.

Luckily it’s still dealing with People and Technology so no need to change the blog title … and I’m still a techie at heart (in that I’ll play with the stuff even if I’m not paid to) so expect more in that area!