Earlier, I posted about five ideas on improving LinkedIn, and now I have come to Microsoft. I use their products every day privately and professionally, and here are some ideas that could make them even better from my perspective:
I have no hopes that Satya Nadella will read this but maybe someone else at Microsoft will listen. Microsoft sure does a lot of awesome things, but here are some ways to become even better.
Today is a fun and festive day indeed! Today my first self-published book has been released on Kindle. The title is “How to avoid information overload using social media tools: Steps to feeling calmer and smarter“, and the book is free to download the first three days.
If you use Kindle (otherwise download it for free here), I would be very grateful if you could download it and then send me any feedback by commenting this blog post. This way, I can do some necessary changes before the free period ends. If you like the idea of the book, please write a positive review of it here. The book is free at the beginning, and I am helped by friendly reviews.
I view this as an experiment and a chance to grow. I have studied what people like James Altucher and Tim Ferriss are writing about self-publishing and wanted to try it. Even though I have no illusions about reaching big audiences, I have crossed a mental barrier: None of us need permission from anyone else to write, publish, and sell books on any subject. If I can do it, you can do it.
Let us see where this lands. Meanwhile, cheers!
I just finished reading two fascinating books; The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil, and Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Boström. Both send us into the future, where the exponential development of robots and more have changed our societies completely. As far as I understand, Ray works at Google and Nick works at Oxford University. Both have already done more than most others achieve during a lifetime, but their descriptions of the future make me wonder.
Ray describes a future where artificial intelligence (AI) has eclipsed human intelligence. Piece by piece, nanorobots and more will take over our bodies and transform us into cyborgs. This transformation will happen around 2045 according to Ray, meaning we have 28 years until humanity changes beyond recognition. According to the “Law of Accelerating Returns,” computers will be able to design technologies themselves to make the development move even further. Thanks to becoming cyborgs, we will also become super smart, Ray says. At the same time, nanorobots could rebel and quickly send us into oblivion.
Nick describes a future where super intelligence will arrive around 2105. By then, machines will be able to learn and perform without needing humans to guide them. Most, if not all, jobs will be handled by robots and machines. This will, in turn, leave the majority of all humans without jobs, forcing their basic needs to be taken care of by others. Meanwhile, the rich will be super rich since they control much of the production. A great thing about Nick’s book is that it reflects even more on the philosophical questions that surround these major developments. For example, when large teams built the International Space Station (ISS), it joined people from the US and the USSR showing others they could work together. We as humans also need such collaboration when creating a super intelligent future, says Nick.
Once I had read these somewhat bombastic descriptions of our future, questions arose:
Ray and Nick have written two fascinating books, and now I will complement this by reading Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari. Here, humans agree to give up meaning in exchange for power, and the development will create what he refers to as a “useless class” plus a new religion called ‘Dadaism.’ I am not sure this will feel uplifting to read, but maybe I will feel more intelligent after reading that book too. And perhaps therein lies all the difference.
On May 16, I had the pleasure of attending the Intranätverk conference in Göteborg, Sweden. Intranätverk is a way for intranet and digital workplace people to stay connected and updated, and it has three conferences per year. This is a summary of what I heard in Göteborg, and I focus on the people working to create great intranets and not the vendors who presented. If I misheard something just e-mail me and I will correct it.
Mikaela Månsson from Kapp-Ahl, a fashion company with stores all over Sweden, spoke about their pre-study for a new intranet. The main goal was to also include the people working in their stores, so they quickly can find answers to customer questions and more. The current intranet is old but somewhat ok, with a rather bad search engine, no mobile access, and more.
The Communications department, where Mikaela works, owns the intranet but they have involved IT, Retail, and Human Resources in the pre-study. Their goal has been to provide support in the store worker’s daily jobs, and to strengthen the knowledge and connections among all. Soon, they are leaving the pre-study phase, and will go into production mode where they also will select which platform to use.
Karl Brännström from Svenska Spel, which offers online and offline gambling, spoke about their intranet Hemmaplan, who has won a price as the best digital workplace. Is it based on SharePoint 2013 and has been described by researchers as a democratic intranet. As far as I understood it, they have avoided using special permissions all over the place, meaning all can use it on an equal basis.
They have placed a lot of effort on creating great profile pages. Getting people to add their own profile pictures can be a hassle, but Svenska Spel invites a professional photographer and a make-up artist on a regular basis so people look their best. Another feature is that people can nominate others as the best team players, which leads to recognition. Three things made sure they won the prize of the best digital workplace: It supports people’s daily work, it makes you more effective and saves you time, and it helps you feel proud of working there.
Petra Graus from Pensionsmyndigheten told us how they moved from information stored in pdf files over to being stored on pages in their intranet. Pensionsmyndigheten handles all the governmental pension savings and more in Sweden, and receive a lot of calls an email about pensions and money. Earlier, the people working with supporting pension savers needed several clicks way down in pdf files each time they looked for an answer. By using Site Vision, they transferred all the material stored in pdf files, so everything about one subject was stored on one page.
Annika Lennstam from Transdev spoke about how to give the right information to the right people at the right time. Transdev drives and takes care of trains, buses, boats and more, to cover transport needs all over Sweden (backed by a global company). Many of her colleagues work as drivers and on the ground, and earlier they met a multitude of pages on the intranet depending on your role and location but mixed all together. This meant a search for ‘uniform’ could display a multitude of results, but none that was relevant for you. Therefore, Annika and the team created a matrix where they could see which role should find what based on their location. This role-based intranet helps people find information much quicker, and you can also switch roles to see the information aimed at other roles and locations. They meet the super users twice per year and have trained them to use their iPhones to record movies and then use iMovie to publish these movies. For example, they recorded “What are you most proud of during 2016?” which proved to become very popular.
Johan Simon from Sveriges Television spoke about their current intranet built in Site Vision as front-end and their 365 environment as back-end. It is currently in a beta release and is planned to go live in June. Sveriges Television is a governmental TV and media company in Sweden. Their old intranet was the third worst ever within Customer Carewords’ measurements and didn’t meet the end user’s expectations. Johan showed the upcoming “Nyttosidor”, which could translate into “Usefulness pages”. Instead of having several different pages about “Visiting Sveriges Television”, they created one single page for this but with several authors. Site Vision shows clickable “accordions” within the page which expand when clicked and if you click them again, they fold. Mutual hashtags between Site Vision and 365 hold it together. They also created printed how-to guides on how to use the intranet, since these are more tangible than pdf files or the like.
Elisabeth Lundholm from Malmö Stad spoke about their plans for building a digital workplace. Malmö is Sweden’s third largest city and Malmö Stad takes care of everything relating to running the city. Their previous intranet was built as a best-of-breeds intranet and mainly open source, but now they are looking at using Office 365 instead. The timing is right for them, since the old intranet needs to be updated, there are political decisions to support this, and there is a big need for better digital tools. Elisabeth and her colleagues are now matching which 365 tools can cover their old tools, plus grounding this work all over the organization.
Tobias Mossop from Martin and Servera told the story of moving from 250.000 files on a file server and sloppy use of e-mail, to today’s well-functioning intranet. Martin and Servera is a food and logistics company serving schools, restaurants, and more. The intranet development theme during the last couple of years has been “Koll på läget”, which could be translated into “Stay updated”. As much as possible the intranet should support the co-workers in knowing what is happening. Therefore, the search bar is really big, the lunch menu is always at the top since people look for it, and all corporate news follow a set content layout template which is easy to follow. So far they have published around 480 corporate news following this template, and every Monday they ask the “Question of the week” and let people vote.
Thank you Intranätverk for creating this awesome meeting point, where we share knowledge on intranets and digital workplaces. Going forward, I just wish more presenters placed time on describing how their intranets supports their company’s strategies. What have you built that pushed you closer to the most central goals of your organization? We saw some examples of great applications at Intranätverk, but I wish more would mention their strategies so we see the clear connection.
As a part of me embarking on Harold Jarche’s workshop in Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM), I decided to expand my use of a social network. Last time I took the workshop (yes, it is awesome), I focused on Twitter. That move has led to a much smarter ways of handling Twitter, including using lists. During this year’s workshop, I decided to become better at using LinkedIn.
It all started with upgrading to LinkedIn Premium to see if that gave me better insights into my professional network plus access to training via Lynda.com. I combined that with engaging in more posts and groups, and so far it is working well. I do, however, think that LinkedIn could be even better at what it does. Therefore, I have the following suggestions on how to improve the platform:
These recommendations would surely make LinkedIn a pleasure to use. Today it is somewhat of a mess where I feel I miss valuable posts, but LinkedIn can transform this into something good.
Every morning on my way to and from work, I listen to smart people talking to other smart people about being human. For example, this morning I listened to Krista Tippett talking to Maria Popova about creating meaning in a digital age. In one of the passages, Maria quotes a conversation she had with Andrew Sullivan:
POPOVA: And then he said, “You know, culture needs stewardship, not disruption.”
TIPPETT: Mm. That’s lovely.
POPOVA: And I was like, “Yes.” But I actually think, yes, we have forsaken stewardship to a large degree, but we need both, always, to move forward.
When I look at Twitter and blogs, there is a ton of material written about ‘digital disruption’, as if that would awaken and guide us. Mostly, I just get tired and think the authors write ‘disruption’ because they have nothing else to say, no more words to use to increase the nuances. Let us look at the definition of ‘disruption’:
noun: forcible separation or division into parts.
noun: disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity, or process.
synonyms: disturbance, disordering, disarrangement, disarranging, interference, upset, upsetting, unsettling, confusion, confusing;
So, here we are, listening to all these consultants who think we find pleasure in hearing that our businesses will be “forcible separated” causing unsettling confusion. Again, look at what Maria referred to:
“You know, culture needs stewardship, not disruption.”
Where are the consultants and big thinkers who can show stewardship in how technology will support us? And no, I don’t mean how it can make us more ‘productive’ and create busy-work with yet another gadget, or show us where technologies are placed on Gartner’s hype cycle. I mean how technology can guide us to better businesses and help us lead better lives. Technology is part of our culture today, and it could sure win from more wisdom and less colorful hype with cool hashtags and top managers and consultants telling us what we already know.
Please, the next time you want to write about ‘digital disruption’, think about what you want to tell us. We all know that the world is changing, but please guide us more. Once you know how what you say will help us, write your words and publish.
The last six months I have made it a habit to read and listen to the books and podcasts from Tim Ferriss and James Altucher, and then apply some of their ideas. For example, Tim’s book “Tools of Titans” contains a tremendous number of tricks and tips to live smarter, while James’ books in the Choose Yourself series helps you build a stronger foundation for everything in life.
Meanwhile, via Lee Bryant and PostShift, I have been introduced to the Quantified Organization relating to the Quantified Self. Instead of guessing if we are making progress or not, we can measure if we are or not. On a personal level, it happens via apps, habits, smartwatches and more, and on an organizational level we use KPIs of all sorts.
It is, however, hard to measure if you are progressing in your personal development. Many of the tips coming from Tim’s and James’ podcasts and books feel great, but then I wonder if I can measure if I am progressing or not. Then it struck me that I might as well practice ‘idea sex’ as James puts it. By combining the advice from James and Tim with a theory like Constructive Developmental Theory, I might gain some clarity. This is a half-baked idea, but that’s ok: I learned from Harold Jarche that a great way to develop your own thinking is by releasing such ideas into the open. Then others can react, and we can continue building our collective knowledge.
I first heard about John Kegan’s Constructive Developmental Theory when reading about change, and especially why some people never want to change. Fast Company wrote about it when mentioning the mind-set we need to succeed in the future, and linked to Future Trends in Leadership Development (PDF) from the Center of Creative Leadership. Then Ana Cristina Campos Marques Curitiba clarified all of Robert Kegan’s five levels in her post on Constructive Developmental Theory:
No matter if such levels are true or not, they can work as mental models. I find that the ideas presented via Tim’s and James’ books and podcasts urge us to move up the above ladder. By adopting the best tips and tricks and habits, we can move from being loyal followers who don’t question anything, over to self-directed thinkers and then self-transforming minds. It is almost as if we in this later stage can hold ourselves in our hand and objectively analyze what is best for this person.
As Jay Barbuto puts it in this video, at this level we are no longer the prisoners of our own identity. Instead, we see all the different nuances and possibilities and can reinvent ourselves.
So there we have it: By merging great ideas from people like James and Tim and their guests with developmental theories, we can reinvent ourselves. A great start for a new way of life.
My blog on artificial intelligence, the Deckard Blog, already has 100+ posts. This means there is a lot to learn from it each week. This is the first example of a Friday post where I list what I learned from the blog during the week. All images belong to the creators of the original articles.
See which technologies there are today and how they rate on the scales of ‘Sophistication’ and ‘Mass adoption or application’.
An excellent site from BBC, with an overview of artificial intelligence, with movies and more.
A discussion with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito, and HealthTap CEO Ron Gutman on a World Economic Forum panel in Davos, Switzerland.
Already today are we facing difficult choices for using AI in our lives, and these choices will become even harder.
Very interesting post, originally from Quora, on which jobs will and will not be affected by artificial intelligence entering the job market.
Ray has been called a genius for years, and now leads the engineering team at Google. A must see.
A set of scientists and business people lay out 23 principles that we must follow to avoid bad consequences from using artificial intelligence.
Partnerships in the self-driving car industry take shape
Companies are collaborating to reach the best effects, and I think we will see much more of this. Here are two examples:
A report that caught a lot of attention. Not only are the car companies seeing more or fewer disengagements in their self-driving cars (Google leads, Bosch last) – they don’t always measure them the same way.
As my followers know, I have written about the digital workplace for some years. Lately, however, I have grown somewhat tired of it: It seems we either only talk about the latest semi-smart upgrades in Office 365 and how they can be used, or some futuristic views of how we will work in 5 years from now. In one sense these are interesting subjects. In another sense, they are somewhat boring, repetitive, and distant. Some days, I couldn’t care less about the tools Microsoft throw at us, and how they relate to Slack. Meanwhile, I have started a blog on Machine Intelligence, and oh that has opened my eyes. Suddenly, I see more of the woods instead of just staring at the trees, and where we look is the deal breaker:
“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer, Studies in Pessimism: The Essays
By expanding my field of vision, the limits of my world are moved further away. Then there are other writers who help me understand the world. One such example during the last months is Gloria Lombardi’s compilation of what she refers to as the future of work predictions for 2017. A line of smart people present their views on what they think will come this year, and here is my quick interpretation of the things the interviewees talk about:
Very short version: If you don’t take care of your employees and the exponential technology that is coming, the smart employees will leave and you will lose business deals while feeling left behind.
I have written and spoken about corporate culture before, and I have just entered the world of Machine Intelligence. Now I read more about the ways we organize work, including the Gig Economy which I honestly don’t see coming as fast yet but maybe it is. We should never think entrepreneurs are the only ones to save the world – the intrapreneurs are crucial here. Don’t underestimate the existing industrial companies.
So, let’s look at what Deloitte says about Machine Intelligence:
Collectively, these and other tools constitute machine intelligence: algorithmic capabilities that can augment employee performance, automate increasingly complex workloads, and develop “cognitive agents” that simulate both human thinking and engagement.
Exponential data growth is requiring Personal Knowledge Management for individuals, faster-distributed systems are democratizing information handling, and smarter algorithms help us process information to understand the world better. Combine these with the strong positive cultures we need, and the new ways we should trust the coworkers no matter where they are, and an interesting painting is forming. Trust me: Companies who miss this train, will for sure be left behind.
And on that note, we might as well focus on something important while working, and maybe this is the middle of the three rings: The purpose that the culture, machine intelligence, and ways of organizing work creates. The company I work for creates brakes and other safety equipment for large trucks and trailers. We all want them to stop instead of running into us, and we want them to be kind to the environment. We are also very focused on the culture we nurture and create, while keeping a close eye on the technology that is evolving. I think these are all keys to the great kinds of workplaces we look for.
If you think you lack a purpose, which is alarming since a purpose is the jet fuel in our tanks, you can always look at the upcoming possibilities. Just look at World Economic Forum which helps us zoom out and see the big picture, as in 5 global problems that AI could help us solve.
There is a lot of thought work left to be done from many people, to understand this. Thankfully, a lot of people are engaged in this, and I follow them closely.
I have attended Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) workshop twice, and they have been wonderful learning opportunities. There is a kind of meta-learning involved that I seldom experience otherwise: I learn about how I learn.
One of the images Harold uses to describe PKM is this
Harold describes PKM as:
PKM is a set of processes, individually constructed, to help each of us make sense of our world, work more effectively, and contribute to society. PKM means taking control of your professional development, and staying connected in the network era, whether you are an employee, self-employed, or between jobs.
Personal – according to one’s abilities, interests & motivation.(not directed by external forces)
Knowledge – understanding information and experience in order to act upon it.(know what, know who, know how)
Mastery – the journey from apprentice to disciplined sense-maker and knowledge catalyst.(masters do not need to be managed)
After talking about PKM at conferences and aiming to apply it at work, I am now applying it in a new blog. Since I work in the automotive industry, there are many trends and technologies within artificial intelligence (AI) that will affect us. This is a fascinating area to me, marrying the most human aspects with the most technical. To keep track of all the top news in this area, I created a blog called The Deckard Blog – named after the main character in Bladerunner. An example post can look like this:
The blog gathers what I think are the best AI news, quotes them, and then groups them into subject categories:
This way I can, based on my own interest in and fascination in a subject, Seek the most relevant news, Sense by categorizing it and explaining it, and Share by posting on the blog.
I will see where this adventure takes me, but at least I have taken the first step.