The Expert Newbie

August 20, 2014

This has been a rather complicated post to write. I still feel there are some flaws and that may sound somehow clumsy.  Yet, here it is : I have a problem with expertise.

During the 25 years of my professional career, I have changed jobs, mission, specialties and professional activities on a regular basis, every two or three years, often while remaining in the same company and without getting any pay rise.

One reason is that I love discovering new work culture and environment while meeting new co-workers. But I think the most important one is I am afraid of looking like sitting in my comfort zone while patronizing from my expert position.

Experts are seen as the super-heroes of today’s organization and, for one, I don’t buy into that assertion. Quite the opposite, actually : I tend to see expertise culture as an obstacle to setting up a healthy one. Which makes me comfortable being a newbie and becoming expert at it …

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base sous marine

(Originally published on Kinder Wiser collaborative blog)

I’m an IT guy. I’ve been working for 25 years in this business doing just about any job you can think of. I’ve been working in different industries, different countries, using different types of technologies, from IBM Mainframe technology built in the 60s to 00’s avant-garde mobile start-ups.

My strategy to survive in this fast-pace changing business has been to think in patterns. This comes from IT industry standards called Design Patterns. The baseline is : for every problem that will slow you down you while designing a software solution, someone has already bumped into it and standardized a generic design solution.

This is both a bless and a curse and here’s why … Read the rest of this entry »

Like most fears, our fear of wrongness is half real, half spectral. It’s not exactly true there is nothing to fear but fear itself, since wrongness really can have clifflike consequences for our lives. But it is true that the fear of wrongness does nothing but hurt us. It makes it harder to avoid errors (…) and harder to forgive ourselves and others for making them. For everyone involved, then, looking closely at the experience of wrongness is far better than refusing to look at all.

This is a glorious book about the way we are making decisions and how afraid and unrealistic we are with the idea of making mistakes. This was offered by Octo Technology during the USI 2012 Conference [FR] where Kathryn Schulz made a great keynote. so thanks to them for contributing to Les Citations du Dimanche.

This is a awesome talk by Sherry Turkle. Turkle is a professor in the Program in Science, Technology and Society at MIT and the founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self.

She is the author Alone Together : Why we expect more from technology and less from each other and this talk introduces the book.

The pitch here : mobile and social take us away from real time conversation. It helps us setting enough distance with each others so that we can control conversation while editing our texting, posts, emails. We can therefore control the image we present about ourselves. As such, these tools not only change the way we do but they also change the way we are.

Profound and powerful it is strongly recommended. I recognized myself in some of the examples and I’m sure you also will. The second part (as of 09:30mns) is scary in how people wish devices could become more human.

A question to my Social Business Activists friends : how do we deal with this on a personal level and on an enterprise one ?

Some transcripts one click away. Read the rest of this entry »

Un ouvrage rapidement évoqué lors de sa sortie et plus longuement chroniqué aujourd’hui après sa lecture.

Christian Roudaut est journaliste et vit en Angleterre depuis une dizaine d’années. L’objectif de cet ouvrage consacré aux français du dehors, ceux qui ont décidé d’émigrer, est d’offrir des pistes de réflexions sur ce qui peut être amélioré en ayant l’humilité nécessaire pour s’inspirer sans nécessairement copier de ce qui se fait hors de nos frontières.

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(English version)

Scott Berkun est une des inspirations majeures de #hypertextual depuis la création de ce blog il y’a plus de 4 ans maintenant.

Auteur, conférencier, éditorialiste, ces travaux ont été publiés par le New York Times, le Washington Post, le Wall Street Journal, The Economist ou dans la Harvard Business Review. Un frondeur solitaire, en quête perpétuelle de vérité. Armé d’un esprit tranchant, d’une culture encyclopédique et d’un humour féroce, il pourfend les faux semblants, les jeux de pouvoir ou de représentation dans les organisations et se dresse en défenseur des idées, du bon sens et d’une éthique du travail très Weberienne.

Ses livres ont tous été passés en revue ici : The Art of Project Management (EN), The Myths of Innovation (EN), Confessions of a public Speaker (FR).  Chacun apporte une perspective éclairante sur le monde de l’entreprise avec un accent particulier sur le management, l’innovation et la créativité.  On pourrait les définir comme «des guides de survie» au sein de l’entreprise du 21ème siècle.

Scott vient tout juste d’auto-publier son quatrième livre:  Mindfire, Big ideas for Curious Minds, un florilège des meilleurs idées de son fameux blog. C’est un immense plaisir pour #hypertextual d’interviewer ce Trafiquant d’Idées, tel qu’il se définit dans Confessions of a Public speakerRead the rest of this entry »

(Version Française)

Scott Berkun has been one of the main inspirations of #hypertextual ever since this blog has started about 4 years ago.

Each of his books have been reviewed here : The Art of Project Management, The Myths of Innovation, Confessions of a public Speaker (FR). They have all shed a bright and new light on the corporate world with a focus on management, innovation and creativity. These could be seen as survival guidelines in Corporatica.

Scott has just self-published his fourth book : Mindfire, Big ideas for Curious Minds the definitive best-of collection of his famous blog. I am delighted the Idea Trafficker (as Scott defines himself in Confessions of a Public Speaker) has accepted to discuss it on #hypertextual :

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(English Version)

Travailleur de la connaissance : celle ou celui qui travaille avec l’information ou qui développe la connaissance dans le cadre de son activité professionnelle. (Peter Drucker – 1959)

Une définition simple et visionnaire qui prend d’autant plus de pertinence aujourd’hui qu’une proportion croissante de nos activités s’articule autour de l’économie de la connaissance. Les nouveaux médias du numérique y jouent un rôle prépondérant en contribuant à la diffusion de l’information, à la fluidification sociale et à la capacitation des travailleurs de la connaissance.

Sommes-nous pour autant épanouis et libérés de toute contrainte ? The Social Network propose des éléments de réponse …

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The Myths of Innovation

February 12, 2011

In the knowledge economy, Innovation represents the Holy Grail : the undisputed source of wealth, pride and prestige. It is one of the most respected and worshiped word in corporate vocabulary. Yet you can hardly find organisations that share a same definition, let alone have a clear plan to manage it. The reason is : we are misguided by common misconception that run rampant in business and popular culture (Berkun).

With The Myths of innovation, his second book, Scott Berkun aims to clarify the topic : he is merciless with wishful thinking using his ruthless wit and encyclopaedic culture on the subject.

This paperback re-edition is a revised version of the original 2007 edition including four new (and amazing) chapters. As usual with Scott, this is a fantastic read, filled with conviction, great ideas, provocative thoughts, common sense and unexpected bursts of humour. The telling stories, the usability of the advises, the hindsight and wisdom of conclusions and the Occam Razor approach of Scott brings bucket loads of value to the reader.

You want to know how to make innovation happen ? And, more importantly, what prevents it from happening because of cultural beliefs and urban legends ? Read on …

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Julian Casabiancas probably is alongside Peter Doherty the ultimate rock star of the 00s. Believe it or not, he has bucket loads of wisdom to share with managers … Read the rest of this entry »

Like This!

When I started working as a Junior Developer in the early 90s, I was developing application software in airline mainframe systems (for the record : IBM TPF technology). Dozen thousands of users (travel agents, airline reservation offices), hundredth thousands transactions a day.

Back in those days we were developing in Assembler/370, a programming language which, roughly speaking, is to today’s programming languages what a 70s calculator is to an iPad. Anyway, that was the most appropriate technology to get things done fast on these mainframe systems.

The problem was : a programming mistake (e.g. pointer error) would end up in mistakenly over-writing the core system, bringing the whole system down and having travel agents all around the planet without any system to enter customer bookings. Coding error would easily cost millions of dollars.

So you didn’t want to mess with the code and for each piece of code you wrote, you were having code reviews by your peers. Half a dozen professionals discussing every single line of code, the number of CPU cycles for each instruction etc … More than often, these code reviews turned out to be some kind of Arena in which professionals happened to struggle to find out who was the toughest TPF gladiator.

Prior to one of my first code review, my team leader (Tony Knight – an exemplary manager) provided me with a guideline to help me taking a step back and cool down : the 10 commandments of ego-less programming. This has since proved to be a professional life savior for me. Read the rest of this entry »

Ce qui fascine chez les A-Listers, ces bloggers incontournables de la blogosphère anglophone : le caractère multiple de leurs compétences et le fait qu’il s’agit de personnalités qui, au delà de la réflexion, sont en permanence dans l’action.

La richesse de leur parcours improbable leur donne une perspective originale et une meilleure appréhension des choses électroniques. Et cette compréhension intime des changements sociaux que nous vivons  leur confère une plasticité professionnelle et une aisance naturelle pour ré-inventer continuellement leur vie avec des activités où s’entremêlent recherche, écriture, business, consulting, art et technologies. La vie 2.0, quoi.

Hypertextual l’avait énoncé dans sa profession de foi : nous ne retrouvons pas cette pertinence dans la blogosphère.fr, et le sentiment est qu’indépendamment des raisons évoquées alors, un motif supplémentaire est ce manque de compétence transdisciplinaire au service de l’action.

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Derek Sivers is a cool bloke. A questionable haircut but still : a great guy.

Graduated from Berklee school of music, likewise some obscure producers such as Quincy Jones or immense jazz guitarists (Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell and John Scofield), he does know a tad about music.

He set up CDBaby, online store selling albums by independent music artist, and now offers consulting services for wannabe musician artists. Incidentally he also happens to be a great blogger often referred to by some Hypertextual heroes like 37Signals. Being at the exact intersection between music industry, lifehacking and attention economy it was just a matter of time before I start waxing lyrical about his work.

He offers on his web page a free book : How to call attention to your music : you just need to register (you’ll then get a nice personal e-mail from Derek himself).

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Meme from Mindapples (via Euan Semple). The five things that keep me mentally well :

  • Make sense : read/listen/watch, think, talk/write/act
  • Love
  • Music : listen to, play guitar, sing, write songs, read about, write about
  • Exercise
  • Be enthusiastic and grateful

Help yourself and give me five.

Happy new year to the whole world.

Mind the gap

Okay I know you guys gonna think I am a bit of a late adopter.

You web2.0ers may have known Hugh for ages, have your own dedicated GV business card, or even the gaping void widget on your blog. Well, that’s not my case.

I’ve landed on Gaping Voids a few times before but I didn’t really notice until today while I was reading this How To be creative post. This is one of the most inspirational posts (okay it’s a pretty big one) I have ever read.

So if, just like me, you’ve one of the last human beings on this planet ignoring what Gaping Void is and who this Hugh McLeod can be, just do yourself a favor and check it out.

Gaping Void

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