Thursday, December 17, 2009

Compression ratios and spinning plates

I wrote a piece for the Training Journal last month on appraisals (if you're interested back issues of my articles can be found here). In short, I suggested that one of the reasons that appraisals are such unproductive affairs is the compression ratio - trying to squeeze a year's feedback into one hour or sometimes one word. A very interesting conversation yesterday further refined the thought.

I made two suggestions in my article. First, rather than provide feedback once a year for sixty minutes, try to provide the opportunity for feedback sixty times a year for one minute. Second rather than focusing on the reducing the negatives, look to grow the positives.

So a frequent, positive and light touch...

Anyone see the parallels with plate spinning?

Monday, December 14, 2009

E'en such is time...

Scooting into work this morning reflecting on the reasons that stop people engaging in self-teaching through social learning - and inwardly screaming at bus drivers who completely ignore the rules of the road - a penny dropped.

Learning should be fun.

I know. Duh! We've all known this for years. But if you look at the difference between e-mail and RSS feeds there is something here. We have no control over our email. Once someone or indeed something (spamming engines for example) has got hold of your email address they can send you emails whenever they like about whatever they like.

Many is the time that I have returned from holiday to confront the hundreds of unread email and my mouse has hovered over the 'Delete all' button as I silently wished to myself, "If only". I say to myself that if something is really that important, someone will pick up the phone. But then I never do. I scan and delete as efficiently as I can; I file and forget resenting every second.

I have long postulated a theory of business tasks:

The importance of a task is inversely proportional to the time you need to ignore it to render it moot. For example something bone-crushingly urgent can be ignored for five minutes and is no longer a problem but some trivial tasks can be ignored for months and still need to be done.

But with RSS feeds (or tweets for that matter) it is completely different. Of course, at first it felt the same. I would come back from holiday to confront hundreds of unread feeds and feel as oppressed by Google reader as I do by Lotus Notes. But then I deleted all for the first time and everything was OK. The world didn't stop spinning on its axis. Because I asked for these feeds, I control them. They don't get upset if I don't read them because I'm a little busy today. Consequently, I probably pay more attention to them than a lot of my emails.

I think it is essential to get this across to those daunted by the sheer volume and scale of information on the net.

1. Read what you want to read when you want to read
2. It's OK to delete everything and start again
3. If you miss a meme another one will be along in a minute

Then when you get past this you can start to reflect on what you chose to read... But that is for another post.