I’ve always worked in creative environments with a lot of interdependent roles and processes – and big, unyielding deadlines. Twenty years ago (did I just type that?!), it was editors, writers, designers, artists, production teams, salespeople, prepress film houses, printers, and all of the rest involved in producing magazines. My role was at the intersection of the creative work and technical production. Sometimes it all happened as a meeting in one room, other aspects involved sneakernet, sending disks and film back and forth via couriers. Missing a print date cost big dollars. You didn’t miss the dates. Ever.
Being a bit of a geek with a logical streak of an engineer’s daughter, I was always looking for ways to add structure and streamline processes. (This is not unlike trying to put a wet cat in a sweater.) I developed a successful, but perhaps unhealthy relationship with spreadsheets that I used to hold information – deadlines, story details, status, page counts, art files, page ratios. I dutifully maintained my trusty grids and could answer any question about any bit or piece along the way. But hand anyone else a printout and their eyes would cross and roll before they simply restated the question. The spreadsheets held data; I was the mechanism for sharing data – the user interface, so to speak.
It took me awhile to go through all the random Top 10 of 2011 lists for various topics, so now I’m ready to look ahead to 2012’s preponderance of pundit predictions. Or maybe I’m just fashionably late. I’ve tripped over a few reports here and there – some quite possibly developed by caffeinated squirrels on a treadmill.
Not me, but she looks like she's predicting something...
On the technology front, I found one more interesting than others. Instead of putting a small group of experts in a room and not letting them out until they agree on a list, Baseline Magazine annually surveys business and technology managers at companies with 100+ employees to ask about their organizations’ investments, plans, and strategies. Across several hundred respondents, patterns evolve.
Whoever these people are, coming from the desk I use, I like the way they (and their companies) think. Following – their predictions and my two cents (maybe three or four).
Apparently “outside the box” topped a list of the worst offenders in corporate jargon for 2011. I expected that social would make the list until I realized that people are still struggling to apply it to business. It has yet to become a corporate jargon offender, let alone one of the worst.
Still, we have social media, social networks, social business, social advertising, social cats, social dogs, social goldfish. OK, perhaps I exaggerate. A little. It’s like Y2K all over again when we tacked an e- to the front of everything from mail and business on through the rest of the dictionary to say, “Look, it’s online now!”
Working for technology companies, I’ve often had the advantage (or disadvantage) of working with new tools as they came into being. Now, some of the so-called social media tools I started using in my personal time have become valuable business tools: Instant messaging is a good example.
In her BNET column, “168 Hours,” Laura Vanderkam recently shared “22 Things to Do During That Boring Conference Call.” While I applaud Vanderkam’s suggestions to write love letters and thank-you notes, read poetry, and do other things that arguably make the world a better place, I also agree with her that if people need conference call distractions to pass the time, perhaps they should instead think of ways to make the calls more worthwhile.
So how do you make a conference call productive? Host it over telepresence. The face-to-face connection commands people’s attention—you can’t hide from the person staring at you across the virtual table! With telepresence, participants can read each other’s nuanced body language and engage in lively, natural dialogue without the common audio call hazard of talking over one another. Just by paring down the confusion of faceless communication, telepresence calls can take regular 60-minute conferences down to 45 or 50 minutes. Add up those savings over the course of the week, and you’ve earned back several hours of quality time. Read More »