Category Archives: Friends

Google translates compliments well… but strangles a lot of stuff!

mr50.jpgAt the NGO conference (blogged yeserday and the day before) I met Martin Roell a German blogger and e-business guru. He’s blogged the event in German so I got a chance to try Google translate which is charmingly erratic. Verna Allee has become Verna Avenue and I am now John Moorlands! This is Google’s somewhat Pythonesque version of Martin’s very nice comment about me:

John moorlands spoke about confidence. We often speak of confidence as of something binary: “I trust him.” “I do not trust him.” We should of confidence much more as somewhat flexible and context depending speak.

Confidence vs. risk. Incoming goods take risks ton identify trustworthy left .

Unbelievably good lecture. One of the sort, which one cannot show in writing at all. Absolute highlight was, as it linked knowledge management and marketing over the confidence. Intuitively I always knew that (why I advise actually with knowledge management and marketing?), but in such a way formulated I had not ever heard that. Beautifully.

For confidence, read “trust”. Well the bit about unbelievably good lecture translated well, didn’t it! Thanks Martin!


Tony has been blogging on the subject of Heroes. His first nominee is Linus Torvalds – he quotes this paragraph from coverage in Wired:

Torvalds is a work-at-home dad with no formal management training. He confesses to being terribly disorganized. His approach to voicemail is to let messages stack up and then delete them without listening to any. His memory is so lousy that he can’t recall whether he was 6 or 8 or 10 when his parents divorced. And he’s awfully absentminded: We are heading out the door for lunch when Torvalds suddenly remembers that his wife is out and that if we leave his kids will be home alone. Then there’s his ambivalence about his role as Linux’s leader. “I don’t have a five-year agricultural plan,” he says. “I don’t want to dictate: This is how we’re all going to march in lockstep.” Yet the 12 years he’s presided over an unruly group of volunteer programmers is worthy of study by those who teach leadership inside the world’s finest MBA programs.

….Once you start thinking more about where you want to be than about making the best product, you’re screwed.”

I like this.

This coincides with the arrival of the latest pamphlet (Personal Leadership) from Tom Heuerman, always a thought provoking read. He writes:

Our traditional model of leadership looks for the hero to lead us in times of chaos and crisis. In his book Leadership James MacGregor Burns described heroic leadership as a relationship between leader and follower in which followers place great faith, often unfounded, in the hero’s ability to overcome obstacles and crises. The followers avoid personal responsibility by projecting their fears, aggressions, and aspirations onto the hero as a symbolic solution to the conflict inherent in transformation.

Heroic leadership is to be distinguished from The Hero

Great conversations…

I met Paul Goodison yesterday along with my Beyond Branding co-authors Tim Kitchin and Malcolm Allan and fellow Medinge Group member Luke Nicholson. (The Medinge Group is the think-and-do tank that gave rise to the book). It was a great conversation which Paul has blogged here and here in a very flattering way. As he says, I am a lover of great conversation, and yesterday turned into one long rolling conversation.

After Paul left, the rest of us stayed on to kick around ideas for the next Medinge Group meeting in Amsterdam. This led to all sorts of exchanges about how we work together, what helps us to collaborate and what stops us collaborating more. We all took turns to “speak the unspoken” – my hot theme at the moment, and as usual this made the talk more exciting and useful. Anyway, we’ve pencilled January 16th in the diary and I’m expecting it to be another first-rate event.

So now I’m published

I popped over to Kogan Page yesterday to pick up my own copy of Beyond Branding. (It’s quite handy that my publisher is a 10 minute walk from where I live).

So now I’m a published author for the first time. Even if only the published author of one chapter! It’s a strange experience… I’m not quite sure what I feel though I’m telling myself I should feel something.

Anyway I’ve anxiously re-read my chapter and not found any typos in it and feel… pleased with it. I like the book as a whole, it’s not a conventional “how-to” marketing tome; it’s more of an attempt to interrupt conventional marketing thinking by people who have worked inside marketing and accept that much of the No Logo criticism has justification.

And now I’m working on an idea for a book with Tim Kitchin where I’ll be able to say more. We’re working on a theme of the importance of mutualism, an effort to break down the rigid roles of buyer and seller in favour of a more collaborative way for stakeholders to engage with each other.

Trust and NGOs

My friend Olaf Brugman has invited me to take part in a workshop in Brussels on October 29th. It looks set to be an interesting gathering of Knowledge Managment gurus so I’m feeling quite chuffed to be speaking there. I’m going to talk about trust which I like doing – even though the more I write about it the fuzzier a topic I think it is!

One thing I like to empasise about trust is to think of it as something we do not just a nice warm feeling we’re all somehow entitled to feel. Too many debates on the topic have a “why oh why?” quality, bemoaning the disappearance of trust in society. There’s plenty of evidence that we don’t trust the media and institutions in the way we used to… but I think it’s not that trust has disappeared, it’s just that we make much more personal choices about how we invest it.

Lots of organisations try to create trust with reassuring image making, but I think that misses the point. The best way to create trust is to invest trust in others, to speak with integrity and beware of making empty promises that can’t be delivered. Sometimes we choose to trust others and get let down – but that to my mind is a price we have to pay to learn who to trust and in what context. It’s better not to think of trust as an anaeshetic to prevent pain; actually risking hurt is probably a pre-requisite for creating trust.

NGOs tend to come off best in surveys of institutions we trust, but I think that can be misleading – and certainly Olaf confirms that that kind of trust vanishes fast if an organisation lets people down.

In praise of um… er….. deeper meaning

Gary L Murphy blogs these delightful insights on the value of those ums and ers which pepper our speech.

There’s also waaaaay more to language than what Mrs Whazzername taught back in Grade 5. Much more. There’s a subtle fluidity of invention beyond the reach of grammar books and a word-sound-power that only our neural pathways truly understand like the ways r-uff and r-ough are subjectively identical and yet native english speakers learn to produce the two very electrically different sounds.

And so too with, you know, those, like, interjection things, y’know? According to new research Earl tells us was just published in Nature, science is on my side: ‘Er’ cautions listeners to stay on side; ‘Ums’ and ‘uhs’ contain meaning. Right on.

Once again, it turns out that what we do naturally has more value than we realise; whereas clever contrivances intended to “improve” our effectiveness often just destroy significance. A good lesson for all those presentation trainers and “image consultants” out there!

The joy of conversation

I’ve just had a delightful meeting with Emma Cahill co-founder of publishing house Snowbooks. They describe their approach thus:

We publish far fewer titles than some publishers- but this makes for very, very good books. We give ourselves enough time to make sure each book is as well written, well edited, well designed and well produced as it can be. And we only publish books which are good enough to raise the hairs on the back of our necks…

I liked the sound of this, and Emma had come heartily recommended by my friend Jack Yan. I went to kick around the idea of doing a book with Jack. What followed was a long, rambling, entertaining conversation. Emma’s plan for taking the idea forward was simple… let’s have more, deeper conversations. I could tell she meant it. This is about as human and intelligent a description of a “business process” as you will find and beats the pants off the usual parade of matrices, boxes and trademarked “tools” and “instruments” I’m used to seeing.

What a relief to find another person in business who actually recognises the value of conversation and building relationships. And her company seems to really get authenticity: they’re publishing what interests them, they’re not following publishing conventions they don’t like, and – best of all – they really want to engage with their authors instead of keeping them at arm’s length.

Watch this company!