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Euan Semple
Works at helping organisations, and more importantly the people in them, get their heads around the web
Attended University of St Andrews
Lives in Great Missenden, Chiltern District, United Kingdom
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Euan Semple

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Guest post from me on the IPG Blog

http://ipg.uk.com/?id=4884
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A different approach to enterprise technology

I delivered the closing keynote at SocialNow in Amsterdam yesterday. The organiser Ana Neves takes an interesting approach to connecting technology vendors and potential customers. Each vendor is asked to demonstrate their system, from the stage, as if applied to the same fictitious company. A panel of experts ask the first set of questions and then the audience get their chance. As a way of helping potential customers get their heads around technology it was so much more interesting and relevant than the usual unsatisfying mêlée at trade shows or being hounded by salesmen. This was a neutral space where the vendors were on a level playing field and people had a better chance to understand their offering.

I don't know this for certain, but sadly I suspect that there weren't many in the room in control of IT budgets. The macho, big numbers game of enterprise procurement gets played out in very different ways in different places. During my time at the BBC I got an insight into the world of IT procurement and it is not pretty. In fact it is borderline corrupt. Same old players, often changing sides from vendor to buyer, escalating expectations and budgets in a pathetic arms race. They then spend even more money deploying their over engineered, over priced systems, and their organisations waste even more time and energy adapting to them and coping with their not always positive impact.

Building a technology ecology from small iterative deployments of specific tools, with a throw away mentality that allows more constant adaptation, driven by ongoing conversations with users is the only way to do technology efficiently. We can manage this on a global scale on the internet. All that is stopping us doing this inside our organisations is a combination of complacency, lack of imagination, and greed.
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Chris Major's profile photoGreg Lloyd's profile photo
 
Right on. I'd add to your all that is stopping us list: "and power dynamics, i.e. who owns and controls the IT budget vs who benefits."
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What price freedom?

Having social tools doesn't guarantee change. There is nothing inevitable about it. Real change requires consistent changes in behavior and often manifesting those changes in behavior in public spaces takes considerable courage.

All it takes to maintain a repressive national regime is to shoot the occasional blogger. All it takes to maintain control over your corporate messaging is to make dissent a sackable offence. Moves like [this one in Australia][1] are likely to become more common.

We will all have to make harder decisions in the future about the balance between freedom and risk. We should start practicing now.


[1]: http://m.heraldsun.com.au/news/colleagues-told-dob-in-political-web-posts/story-fnii5s3y-1226875635588

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The art of saying what you think

[This excellent article][1] on the rise and fall of PR makes the point that senior people talking in public are very rarely using their own words, and indeed often don't even know what they are talking about. I remember hearing of someone talking at the UN General Council who didn't realise that he had picked up and was re-reading the previous speakers already heard speech until someone came up to the lectern and pointed it out to him!

In blogging we talk of "authenticity" and "finding your voice". I never underestimate how hard it is for people proficient in business bollocks to rediscover the art of plain speaking, but if they are going to get involved in social spaces online they have to. How can they even begin to do that when someone else is writing their words for them?

The phrase "make them look good" came up in conversation during one of my workshops this week with a group of "professional communicators". I immediately picked up on this and we went into more depth on what that "make them look good" actually means. There was a split between those who saw their job being to make sure their senior folks said the right thing in the right way in public, and those of us who saw that as artificially propping up people not up to the job.

What do you reckon? Where does helping people to do their best stop and starting to think for them start?

[1]: http://www.jerichochambers.com/lecture-trust-and-the-fall-of-public-relations/
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Mark Allen's profile photo
 
Signed up. See you there.
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Have him in circles
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Euan Semple

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Feeling trapped.

I often worry about coming across as a smart arse, sniping at organisational life from the sidelines. It's easy for me, I work for myself. I have a degree of agency that many would envy. But I remember.

I remember the creeping feeling that something's not right but that you can't do anything to make things better. Sensing that your boss is displeased with you in some way, that you don't measure up, but not knowing why. Working for someone who doesn't understand either you or your job. Whose values are very different from yours and who seems to hold your future in their hands. I remember trying to do the right thing, trying to fit in, trying to please others. I also remember hating myself for doing it.

Then I read. I read every self help, personal development book I could lay my hands on. I still do. I started to get a sense of possibility, that things didn't have to be the way they were. I started seeing myself and others differently. I realised that I had choice, even in very small ways. I started taking very small steps. Over time these steps got bigger and they speeded up. Things started getting better.

They still are.
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John Bordeaux's profile photoEnglish Atkins's profile photoEuan Semple's profile photoJim Roberts's profile photo
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I understand your hesitation because you are on your own now - but this is why you stay connected with others who are inside the fortresses. Your reflections on 'what it's like' are authentic because you actively stay engaged with people from across the spectrum of experience.

Appreciate the comment. From where I stand... :)
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Latest edition of Shift hot of the press. This one about time. http://t.co/4OUdk0S5dj
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Dave Briggs's profile photo
 
Great news! I really enjoy these on my commute!
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Euan Semple

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Fun to do another workshop with UN staff at their college here in Turin today. Smart people doing interesting things in interesting places. 
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I am going to send out my latest newsletter in an hour or so. Sign up here if you would like a copy

http://euansemple.com/newsletter-contact/
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Don't just do something, stand there.

Many moons ago I worked on a recording of an arts programme for BBC World Service. It was one of a series in which people read a short piece about their lives that had special significance for them and afforded a particular insight. As I was setting up the studio I got talking to the contributor. He was very knowledgable about the topic he was about to talk about, was articulate and compelling even in conversation, and had real presence. When he went into the studio for the read through, normally just a warm up and a chance for me to take levels etc., I decided to start a tape recording just in case.

He proceeded to read his piece brilliantly without a pause or fluff and the story was gripping. When he finished I turned to the producer, feeling pleased with myself for my intuitive foresight, and said "That was excellent, luckily I had a tape running and we got it first take." "No" she said, "I wasn't happy with it. I think it could do with improving. I will go in and talk things through with him."

So she went into the studio, sat down and proceeded to pull the thing apart line by line, giving instructions that confused the hell out of me, and presumably him. We were then made to record three more takes with him fluffing his way through them, getting progressively worse, and giving her more and more excuse to "give him a few more pointers". I then had to spend the best part of an hour hacking together the multiple takes under her instructions and ending up with a result that, to use a technical radio term, was shit.

But she felt pleased with herself. She had done her job. She had done something rather than nothing and this was good thing. Later in my BBC career I would see the same happen when senior managers were promoted to new posts. Not one of them ever looked around and said "This all looks fine I will leave it alone". They had to be seen to do something. They got more brownie points for fucking things up than they would for leaving things alone. Doing nothing was not an option.

Sometimes, perhaps even more often than not, as a manager more can be achieved by just standing there than can by doing something. 
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Paul Simbeck-Hampson's profile photoDuncan Greenhill's profile photoSimon Terry's profile photo
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Great insight.  Managers need the ability to say "Well Done. Let's move on'.  They don't need to put their fingerprints on everything.
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Have him in circles
15,820 people
Work
Occupation
Management consultant, speaker and author
Employment
  • helping organisations, and more importantly the people in them, get their heads around the web
    present
  • BBC
    1986 - 2006
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Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Great Missenden, Chiltern District, United Kingdom
Previously
Strathaven - St. Andrews - London
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Management consultant, speaker and author.
Introduction
help organisations, and more importantly the people in them, get their heads around the web.
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Author of Organizations Don't Tweet - People Do http://amzn.to/xRYEHs
Education
  • University of St Andrews
    Drinking, 1978 - 1982
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