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51 minutes | 2 days ago
On this week’s show we are joined by David D’Souza to talk about the Human Resources profession, multi-skilled business enabling teams, and how he might have rumbled the whole world of the CIO. The week’s automatically generated transcript… Intro Matt: Once again we find ourselves recording at least I think that’s what we’re doing. Hopefully it’s it has been known for some weeks for me to not manage, to press the record button. So that was embarrassing. And we are into the month of March. That is spring has sprung. Well, they’ve got pictured again tonight. Chris, how are you? Chris: I’m very well, thank you, Mike. His house got very chilling, but today I was out this morning quite early and it was cold. It was a bit of a shock because it was quite pleasant to the weekend then. And one gets a sense that everything’s going to be fine and we can all emerge blinking into the sunshine and coronavirus will be a long forgotten artifact of the past. But now it’s called again today. So so here I am wrapped up in my, in my, in my daily job, but trying to maintain some sort of decorum and and. Maybe think that that temperatures will rise and I’ll start to start to feel a bit better. But so we, we are, we’ve got a funny week and as much as it was, it was, it was a full stop at the end, the week of this lovely two days weather. But last week was really, really busy. I had so much going on so many people had to call and my diary was falling then this week as well, you know, I. This isn’t really my normal preferred style of working. I prefer lots of contemplating time in between doing things. You know, I like to work in short bursts of, you know, once every six months or something, but this is no, this is, this is, this has been a very busy, busy week. Matt: Good. I’m glad to hear it. Busy is good. I’d say. And I just imagined now you sitting in Western tasks contemplating like the border, which actually know, I don’t want to think about that image for too long. And joining us this week is Teva. D’Souza David. It’s an absolute pleasure to have you with us. How’s your last seven days been. David: I can’t remember. I’m tired. I think it does feel as though that there’s some kind of break and I’m curious as to how people would listen to this podcast in two to three years time. And it must seem like a very, you know, a snapshot of a moment in time where all we’ve got going on is a pandemic. And I’m now kind of chatting to family members and there’s nothing left to say. So how’s your week been opening lockdown. How about you? Very similar. Yeah. It it’s, it’s been yeah quite Pacey, same as Chris. Probably not enough thinking time, but it’s nice to have the weather turned is to be able to get outside. May not be too brisk at the same time. Matt: Yeah, it makes a big difference. Those those moments of being able to just get out and not have to have 17 layers on and feel that your bits are going to drop off. You know, but Chris: but you know, to what you said, the David bat about having no time and then people looking back and all we had was the pandemic. I didn’t think it, I don’t think anybody realized how much time upon them. It would take up, you know, it’s, it’s like it’s, it’s. So it’s in the way, frankly, it’s, you know, I just don’t didn’t do anything. Anybody we’d realized how much effort it would be, or it would have taken more, more preventative measures. David: More preventative measures. Yeah. It’s a really interesting one. I think, pick your tide and they don’t know why that’s an interesting kind of psychological quirk. But I also think she pointed, it fills the senses as much as it feels. The time even just trying to keep abreast of the good news, the bad news, indifferent news, all the different views on what the stats are doing. Maybe, maybe it is just, you know, the new national pastime is arguing about what exactly is happening with the pandemic when it might stop and how we got here. But yeah, it’s, it’s quite busy. I know. Maybe it’s replaced cricket Chris: just as well. I think. But but the fact is I tried just listening to people talk about the different vaccines you can happen and expressing an opinion as if they know of any clue about what’s in the vaccine. It’s all as if you know, there’s millions of people in this country will go to a vape shop and buy it, buy some things or put in a vape and smoke it without, you know, if they don’t know it’s in it, it could be. It could be anything as far as they’re concerned, but I’ll know we’re interested in what’s in a pandemic. If thought you’re going to go in a building and say, what mixer do you use in the concrete, in this building? I’m not sure I want to go in this building until I know. Did you use, did you use two parts and then one done? What sorts of men did you get Matt: to be fair? Chris? I do work with people who are exactly like that because they work in the building. David: I quite like it there’s a sense of national boards and where like, The old conversations can only have the framing of the pandemic. So, you know, what’s the weather like has been replaced by, you know, how, how are you doing in lockdown, all that kind of stuff. And to your point, you know, you’ve got people expressing a view on things that they’ve got no inclination of, but it almost feels like the old Patrick compensation in this. Oh yeah. I got the Pfizer one. Yeah, I’ve heard it. Yeah. That’s it. You know, like in the same, in the same way you might prefer to, I don’t know. Like getting a new phone or something like Chris: that. Oh, Continentals are mine. Oh really? Yeah, David: yeah, yeah, no, it was transom the last week and they said the Pfizer one’s definitely better. So if you do have the option go for that, it’s just like the old pattern, but on a situation that we’d never have envisioned actually being in it, it’s strange. It’s a bizarre way to deal with it. Matt: We do have to have these topics. They don’t mean, I also say that though, for your point, Chris, about all the time that it takes up, that I think the the CEO of Goldman Sachs and also the CEO of the Canary Wharf estate have both come out and said that, no, this is what we need to be able to free up time is to spend more time commuting again. That’s where we’re all going wrong. As you get these remarkable vested interests. Now starting to talk. But how everybody’s going to go back and that the prime minister no less, a couple of days ago, talking about how he didn’t really believe that anybody would change from working in the office. This is a man who has his office paid for, to be at home at number 10 Downing street and is unable to see any of the irony, anything that he says. But yes, that’s quite interesting David: though, isn’t it? I hadn’t realized how. Productive the commute allegedly was until some of these people came out and said, this is the critical bit. So I wonder if you can cut out the office in the middle and just have people doing extremely long commutes and then turning around and going back again, maybe grabbing something at the other side. Cause apparently that’s essential team, but essentially just having an extended day of traveling, just, Chris: just build a massive circular train line and just, just get on, get on it, you know, go Rand once or twice and get off and go home. Matt: I D I did have a friend once who in the days in the circle, I was a true circle rather than the sort of a bridge to you shape it is these days actually managed to get so drunk. She managed to go three times round before she managed to get off again. I’m not entirely sure how she knows that three times. Well, David: she made use of that for collaboration. You know, there’s random moments where she met someone and innovation really kicked it off. So, yeah, exactly. So, you know, it wasn’t wasted time in any way. It was essential to keeping the company moving like company on the country. No, absolutely. Matt: In other news this week as well the the, the procurement exercise has reached a new level of excitement where we’ve spent. So, well, we spent a good two hours taking us from 17 down to five, which is very exciting. We’ve we’ve let the, the 12 who weren’t successful to get through to the next stage. And within minutes Afro-Cuban had had people very angry saying no, but we do meet your basic requirements and you think there’s nothing quite like immediately getting shirty to be able to prove that the the potential client has made the right decision in taking him off the supplier list. I, I never fail to understand salespeople. It’s quite busy. And it’s also been school placement announcement day to day. So up and down the length of the country people including myself and I believe it was David had been finding out that maybe we’re not going to get the school that we first wanted. Which is somehow going to be quite annoying for quite a lot of people. But yeah. So how, how have you been finding the, the pressure of the school choices? David: It’s been it’s, it’s quite odd doing it actually at a time when the children can’t attend school because mentally I’ve got a clock to, it’s just another place that she can go, but obviously that won’t be the case for her entire life and it’s quite a bit cold. So didn’t get the school that she wanted to buy. Two or three towns which has got an issue but there’s, you then go into the appeals process and all that kind of stuff. And so hopefully she will end up at a school that’s, you know, slight nearest to where she lives rather than just randomly picked at some point in the country. Matt: Yeah. It’s I suppose it was quite weird. We were S I say we were separate because my wife was super organized and insisted. We did a lot of the School tours last year, rather than this year which turned out really quite useful because obviously there were no tours going around other than virtual things, but saying what schools were able to do with virtual tours was interesting in its own. Right. And I don’t want to say that one of the schools that we saw obviously did a lot of work with drones to be able to get just that right level of whizzing through the air, kind of look about what their school was going to be like to be at. David: Well now they’ve just got abnormally tall children for the video. I mean, there’s two options and I think you’ve, you’ve gone for one, probably say too readily there. Matt: Well it’s yeah. It’s the technologist in where you say I’m immediately going for solutions? Not. Yeah. Anyway, we are going to talk about the world of people and human resources this week because David joins us from, well, not from the CIPD, but a rep representing the CIPD worked for the CIPD. However you wanna. David: Let’s go for a wet for the CRPD and I’m having a conversation with UT. Matt: Excellent. That’s a good way to know how these things were. Christine will David: be far less nervous about that. Matt: Excellent. Well, let’s get on with it and see what we can find out about the contemporary world of HR. main interview Chris: So Mr. D’Souza your w worked for CIPD and some people might not know what CIPD does. I mean, we, maybe in the past, we’ve seen those little tables at events that say, Oh yeah, get your C IPD points for attending this event here. And then, and then you might to do something with them, but maybe, maybe that’s not widely understood. What on earth is a CIPD date? David: Yeah, that is all the Western parties. Chris, I just always had the sausage rolls and yeah, there, they are frequently a qualification. So yeah, with the professor, somebody for HR and people development within that, you’d have a broad umbrella of, you know, everything from paying people, to recruiting people, to training people, to making sure that organizations stay legal, but also making sure that. Organizations have the culture that they need to achieve what they want to do. So we’ve got over 155,000 members. We have a host of students at one point in time, we offer a qualifications membership, which kind of recognizes people’s professionalism. And then we also do giant conferences and to have a perspective on the world of work. So we talk about championing, better work and working lives. So genuinely attempting to drive the change in behavior and policy that ends up with the word wellbeing better because it’s important to many people. It’s a determinant of the quality of their working day and at times of their lives. So it’s an important thing to have a voice on and to make better. Chris: Well, it’s perfect thing to be talking about right now. Okay. Because everybody, you know, we, we talked to a guy called we took time to the assemblers last week. Wasn’t it, Matt? And that was a really interesting conversation because he was, he’s more involved in property with the state, but also what, you know, kind of future of work stuff and how people will work and where their work. And it’s a conversation, which is never ending at the moment. Isn’t it in the business world, because we’re all thinking about what’s remote work going to be like, you know, is everybody going to be shooed back onto trains and press gang to back into back into misery and offices? Or, or will it all be it? The completely different future where we all existed as virtual avatars and and have all this time to ourselves. And that is not, there’s not going to be either of those, but it’s it’s a great conversation to be having. So no doubt, it’s something that’s exercises, your team and members and people generally at the moment. David: Yeah. And so people have been talking about the feature work forever. And also disruption, that was always the thing, wasn’t it? You know, the world of where it’s going to be disruptive now it’s probably been disruptive and no one’s really enjoying it. Disruption was never sexy as suggested. And we’d got a banker people aren’t you can’t just working normally. On site throughout this thing, cause I haven’t had a chance to do it and there’s probably not enough time and attention spent on that. And then you’ve got another group of people who’ve come through. One of the biggest changes that we see in the world of work at pace, which is previously having been office based and now working from home in an enforced manner. And we’ve got data that’s probably unreliable in sense of what’s going to happen next. Cause you’ve got a number of forces at work from real estate and messaging that you have there to governmental influence through to actually just the power of our kind of behavioral norms as human beings. So, you know, I think some of the surveys at the moment when you’re asking people, how, how will things be in a year’s time? It’s very difficult to answer that because of a pandemic, you know, that that’s not a good way of getting a reliable, but what is clear is that things are going to be very different to your point, how different. Very hard to tell will it be Dilek utopian, probably not given the economic status. So we’ve got a layer of realism that we need to factor in, but yeah, it’s exacting our members, you know they lead organizations, support senior teams and organizations, and lots of organizations are having to either make proactive choices, alternatively, or being forced into choices about how they’re going to spend their money and how they can keep surviving. So challenging time, but an interesting Chris: one. And challenging time for HR teams, HR departments, and everybody is trying to keep the organization on the right side of legal and make sure that the people are doing are prospering or whatever. So interesting to see this week we were talking about this recently met the chap from octopus energy, who was, who said we don’t have an HR department. And, but I think Matt, when, when we looked into it, some of the people in our little community, they find they were HR people at octopus energy. What was going on there? David: So I have a look into that because I’ve seen this come up over the years. It’s quite a bold statement, isn’t it? You know, don’t like HR, we don’t have them. And invariably, what you find is they still have a need for the things they jump provides. So they still need to recruit people. They still need to train them. They still need to pay them at a very minimum. And quite often HR has got a broader impact than that. So. What appeared to come out over time? Possibly, you know, the headlines were misleading is that they don’t have an HR department because they don’t have an HR director, but they do have lots of people doing HR jobs. And I think when people say we don’t have an HR department possibly you would assume that men, you don’t have anyone doing HR. And I believe the same claim was made about it. We don’t have an it department but it turned out Archie. Very similar about a group of people who, if you collected them together in a room, you’d probably go that’s the it department and there. So I think it’s important. It’s always important to be here. What are they trying to solve for? And it appears to be, they’re trying to solve for more frontline and managerial accountability and people be more adults and not kind of pushing decisions elsewhere, which in fairness, most HR departments would be in favor of as well. One of the biggest challenges is managerial capability. But it’s one of those areas where no matter how much you might want to hope that people could be adult stuff happens, right. Either mistakes happen or there’s a degree of expertise that’s needed to understand the situation and what can and can’t be done. So it was a really interesting story. It provokes a lot of conversation but as is often the case, it wasn’t quite what it claimed to be. As soon as you scratch the surface. Matt: It does feel to me, it, it does start to tap into maybe some of the the brand positioning challenges that HR having it actually indeed it does. And finance do, and you know, most support functions within organizations do. And a lot of that stems, I guess, from there’s a transactional role. Doing stuff. So running recruitment exercises, or, you know, that, that things you’ve got a maybe transformational role, which is about being able to help an organization to do things better and differently. And that’s always a challenge. And then you’ve got a regulatory role, which is to be the people saying, don’t do that. And I guess the. I mean from my experience of working in many different organizations over the years, it seems that one of the HR biggest the HR team’s biggest challenges is dealing with incompetent managers. And one could argue, well, that’s a lack of the transformational part of HR going on. This led to lots of incompetent managers, but it’s not really, it’s just under-resourced and all the rest But when you get those kinds of stories coming out, it does feel that there’s this. Oh, what? I had to do this one too. And I didn’t like it. So therefore I’m going to make a lot of noise about the fact that I did something I didn’t understand. And didn’t like, Yeah, constant balancing, I David: guess. Well, my view is organizations should always be reviewing their structure and their ways of working to look at the context that they’re trying to work in and what they’re trying to achieve. So the kind of blanket, I always do things this way, or always do things that way never strikes me as a sensible way of approaching things. And in this particular story, I think it was. I had a chat with someone on the front desk, 10 years before and had an epiphany. And now there’s something really positive to say about my intent to, to empower people and support them. But as you say, there’s, there’s a tension in terms of what organizations provide and actually, you know, whether it’s facilities and workplace management, only being known as the people that keep the toilets clean, whether it’s it to, you know, switch off and switch it back on again, or whether it’s, you know, HR just that said to hire and fire. The best organizations find a way to actually think about those as genuine strategic assets. Far more broadly in terms of how do we shape our culture? You know, what’s the importance of the work environment for people and how can we ensure that that’s developing productivity and from a digital point of view, rather than just a pure it point of view, you know, customer and user experience and a far richer way. So yeah, there’s a challenge for HR in sense of capacity and in terms of branding. But actually when I speak to CEOs and their HR teams working brilliantly. They wouldn’t swap them out ever. You know, it’s, it’s an absolute bit, the business that, that are alone. So as with any profession, there’ll be some people lacking behind the pace. But that’s no reason to kind of, you know, make decisions about whether you have a functional goal. Then we’ve got to be a bit more enlightened than, Matt: but what’d you think of the things that would Mark out a, a really good well-regarded HR team at the moment? David: So I think at the moment there’s a few things. So one is a, a richer view around wellbeing and productivity. So actually for lots of HR teams, they’ve had a real chance to prove their worth over the last year, really difficult and tragic circumstances to do it in, but it’s gone from our you’re the, you’re the person that gets me, someone to actually you’re understanding some quite complex change management and helping see us through. But the second one, and I think the most important one for me and for them. Just results. So there are still too many actual teams that will have a series of initiatives and series of pledges, things that like to impact. And three years later, you’re in the same place. And that’s true of lots of different functions of the business, but the ones that can genuinely, you know, a board or a senior team can identify a problem. And the HR team can think really creatively out of the box about what’s the best way of, you know, genuinely solving that. They’re the ones that actually properly move on culture or performance in a different way. And that’s how you change your brand. It’s not, you know, whether you call the HR team, the people team it’s about actually the substance of that job and what people can expect from. Matt: Yeah. Are you seeing things like design thinking, coming in as part of that within the way image? The HR groups are approaching these challenges. David: They can come in primarily, I think most often kind of under the umbrella of employee experience. So broadening out the employee engagement piece and looking at slightly wider end to end the experiential piece, and then design thinking, being the way that you think about the different elements of that. It’s a bit of an odd one. There are some techniques that you can actually take from it that would add value. But actually I think the whole thing goes back to slightly more user centric approach that would have been useful in design no matter what, no matter how you brand it, that’s always been the challenge. And I know there are lots of different Lots of different ways of describing work. But 30 years ago, the challenge probably was understand the problem at a complex level, not just a superficial level, understand the evidence and try and find out the best way to solve it. Focusing on the impact that you wanted to have. I’m not entirely sure how much that’s shifted even though probably some of the philosophies or approaches are laid on top of that. So if you look at no, it’s not a design thing, just pluck it. Yeah. Business model, canvas. Useful to up signal, but you know, obviously not knocking it. But before the business model, canvas businesses still had the same challenge, but still what we attended today. So definitely say more design thinking, definitely seeing some more user centric thinking holistic joined up systemic thinking is what organizations need more of. And you see that particularly around some of the more complex areas. So if we think about wellbeing or if we think about inclusion and diversity, they’re not things that you’re going to solve with. You know, a substitutionary or, you know, we’ll put in an app and that will solve it. It doesn’t work if for complex problems in the middle of a pandemic, you know, paying for some online yoga sessions, isn’t going to be the thing that’s going to solve the problem at the heart of that actually reevaluating the way that you do work. Fundamentally, the ways of working within the organization, the balance of resource. It’s harder, but it’s more necessary. Equally inclusion and diversity. The one day training courses are going to solve that. You’ve got to go deeper and harder and our range of different spaces. And that’s where the really good HR professionals and dope, which is designing. Not for this might make a difference, but actually, if we do all these things well, we can’t help but succeed. And I think that’s where that kind of focus and drive comes into it. Chris: Isn’t isn’t that always, I mean, I’m thinking about what you say in relation to a HR teams, it teams, finance teams, whoever it might be. And generally speaking, if you try to do something as cheaply as humanly possible, then you’ll get only get a certain amount of, You only get a certain outcome. And that will mainly be a kind of, this is what this is. This is what you can do. And this is what you can’t do. And then you, you, HR, as long with, along with it has been called the business prevention department to companies, you know, for, for many years. And what you’re already talking about is HR people just like that. It counterparts people who. Actually can articulate the value of what they do to the, to the organization and therefore get more money to do it because they can show the more they do it. Yeah. The better the outcomes are generally. And overall, rather than just keep you out of jail, you know, stop, stop. You’re getting dragged under, by, you know, horrible tribunals where people, you know, might want more to suggest that you might have treated them badly on all of those things. So two things that actually, as you say, if you can do all of those things, if you can change the culture in a business or change the way people act or change the way that that people see how the, how they see their roles and they end up working in a more effective way and producing better outcomes, then you’re doing a much bigger job than. What are the rules? Let’s make sure we don’t, we don’t break them. David: Yeah. And I think it’s, for me, it’s solving business problems rather than solving the things that you see necessarily in HR publications. There’s a massive difference. But one of my favorite stories of the last few years was chatting to someone from, from a European postal service. And they’d been trying to get the organization excited about employee engagement and the organization just wasn’t having any of it. So they went to the organization and said, look, what problems are you trying to solve? And I said, well, actually it’s absence because if someone is not able to do a postal route, cause they’re off, we have to get somebody in who hasn’t done that before. And it’s quite complex to cover. And, and all of those things quite challenging. So they said, well, if we can help you with the absence problem, would that be good for you? And they went, hold on, I’ll be up so amazing. And all they did was everything they would have done under engagement. It’s, it’s a really. W we can talk about and lose focus on the problems with John. So I was at a conference couple of years back, and someone asked me, they said, how do I get my senior team to focus on wellbeing? And I said, well, what else is on their mind? And they said all that cheap as he focused on that, what happens if their people burn out. Oh, so you’re just trying to call it, you know, what you think the HR world thinks it should be. And I think sometimes we are too prescriptive, you know, we know here are the solutions that need, rather than working back from the problems that organizations have. Matt: Yeah. W also noted a couple of weeks ago, a. A technology company who they’re taking their wellbeing program. So seriously that they’d gamified it, split everybody into teams and made them compete on how much wellbeing they were each doing. And I was thinking you might have missed the point within this whole world, but yeah, it’s it’s an interesting set of challenges. One of the things that I was attracted to actually to my current job by was that rather than having HR and it and finance and the other services, health and safety communications, and so on other services that support the business, having each of their individual silos and then it reporting into different. Strands up at a board level, actually, with the exception of finance, all of our business support services report into the same exact director and that idea of having a multidisciplinary team that is delivering all of the services, the platforms that are needed for an organization to operate is something I’ve been. Talking about and writing about for ages is the first time I’ve actually had the opportunity to work in it. Now, the reality is it’s quite challenging because it people and HR people and FM people and. Comms people and health and safety people all talking completely different languages. So they don’t understand a bloody word each other saying waste of time. So you’ve got some structural issues there. And especially because we’re quite small, we don’t have them that the overhead to enable that collaboration to work necessarily particularly well. But in principle, it sounds like a really good idea. Is that, is that something you’re seeing happening? Organizations or is this an outlier? David: It’s all done a podcast, isn’t it? Cause I feel under pressure to say it’s something I’m saying just in case of missed, you know, missed it. Not, not terribly. I think you’ve seen some more functions coming together, but not actually that often with that breadth of. Tolerant and that stretch coming together. I think it’s a fantastic model. I just think it requires time and mature. And it’s probably one of those things. That’s less, it’s more normal in the market. It’s always going to be problematic for someone joining as well, because, you know, even if you do get a group of people who are comfortable working in that multidisciplinary way, Do start having a more common language and breaking down some of those barriers. You’re still gonna have people coming from specialisms to join that team. But it, it actually makes sense. I mean, you used the word kind of support functions. I tend to talk about enabling. So without those functions, the business. Simply can’t function in the way that it needs to in can’t perform it in the way that it wants to. Because I think sometimes there’s that kind of split between frontline. This is really important. And then we have some people clearing up behind us. Whereas actually I think organizations genuinely need to understand the strategic value of having brilliant similarly spaces actually in really competing for talent there rather than just competing for time. What puts you at the sharp end, but I’m really glad you, are you enjoying it? Yes, Matt: it’s. It’s been a lot of learning for me. It’s a new sector for me. It’s also the first time I’ve been in paid employment for conventional paid employment for about seven years. So getting back into working as a part of the team, as opposed to being a freelance gun for hire, David: because you were an assassin for a while. Yeah, exactly. Matt: I was, I was like Mr. And Mrs. Smith her, but I think that the, as I say, I think that the challenges that naturally, because we’re relatively small, being able to get, to get those functions to not just be working on the transactional across any of those functions is the hard bit, because also establishing a new way of working that involves bringing people from different disciplines together. You have to do work on, on that. And if you’re stretched for time and everything is reactive, it’s really hard to be, to carve that out. But I’ve I started to see this when I was working in the civil service and or do work in the civil service and that there was, there were so many cases where people were talking about, you know, the future of how we do things and user centered design. And then I was like, why do we have these separate functions that report up through totally different reasons all the way at the top of the organization? Cause that’s reinforcing a lot of the problems that you’re trying to address. And quite often, David: You know, historically has been that seat at the table conversation, which I think is one of the most tired conversations. They can kind of have in that space. But I imagine actually it very much depends on who’s leading that function and actually their bias and their background so that everyone actually feels they’re being appreciated and contributing rather than I’m an adjunct to what this function really is. Because I can see that being particularly challenging if it doesn’t have great leadership, but with great leadership. Well, I think that’s how you’ve got to look at things, you know, if we do it well, rather than one of the pitfalls, I can see that being a really strong model. And it harks back to that piece of octopus that we spoke about at the start, which is you have to be open to. Is there a better way of solving this with Matt: the models of professional membership? The other thing I find curious if you compare the HR world to a great extent, the marketing world as well, where there’s been a real drive for accredited professionalism, as opposed to winging it. Professionalism. That seems to be the thing that reign Supreme in the world of, of it. I guess the first thing I find interesting is why have HR and marketing being able to establish a culture where it’s expected that people have qualifications in the CMI or from the CIPD and the. You know, the, the fish compared to society’s floating around at the edges with nobody. Quite sure why I want to be a member. Can do, do you think there is it just the nature of the people who work in those professions that needs one to one to organize in that way and others to David: not. I think it’s quite interesting. So professional bodies kind of come in three-ish tiers, so you’ve got licensed to practice. So I couldn’t really do it without it. Then you’d go you know, used us as an example of an organization where you’d probably be expected to happen. So you’d have, you know, a dominant position. And. It would be, you know, a normal job advert. And then you’ve got some organizations that never quite Breton that critical mass. And I think, you know, one of the advantages we have, we’re 107 years old, so there’s a legacy in history and kind of status, but that’s been built up over time. But I think some of it is affinity community. Some of it is some of the it jobs can be relatively. Technically siloed. So Hal’s a naturally kind of, you can’t do it without people. You can code pretty effectively is a solitary procedure. I wouldn’t suggest that people do that the whole time, but it can be quite heads down. And I, I just think that’s a different maturing of the professions and the recognition, and it can often be quite a course or qualification or platform driven. In terms of, you know, learning and acquiring skills whereas for some of the others, it’s, you know, entry points and then working through in a more structured way. It’s, it’s a professional body. It’s a fascinating well actually if you work in them, they’re probably fascinating. I imagine they’re really boring if you look at something, so we’ve talking for too long on it. But there’s something about having a critical mass in the marketplace that actually a bit like if the comparison of makers, if you were trying to start an online group we’ve all seen them starting to flounder and that’s because you just don’t have enough people to get the conversation going. There comes a point where you reach critical mass and people can expect to go in and get value from it. And at that point, that’s where they started to kind of flourish and nourish themselves. And I think for some professions, you’ve, you’ve got that base. Where actually you can go in and everyone else has got it. So therefore that’s what I need to break into that status. Really difficult thing for an organization do. And because why D why do people think you need it because of the market share, how do you get the market share where they need, if people need it? So it’s really difficult. The barriers to entry, I guess, to that tier are really high, Matt: I guess, as well. There’s something about how. You have got to serve two constituencies. You’ve got to serve the needs of members, but you’ve also got to serve the needs of the people who employed the members. And you’re acting as an assurance service for employers, as well as the, you know, the professional body for the, the, the HR professionals themselves. David: Yeah. Completely. And we fulfill that role. But I mean, he is the amplified T if you think about it, if you think about the amount of cost and investment in that space, You would have thought actually, you know if you’re a CEO and you’re hiring for that, you want something probably more than track record, if there was, you know, external validation of that. But I’m not sure that it’s seen in quite the same way, which is a really interesting one, considering that the criticality to almost all bits of the employee experience and customer experience. Chris: No, maybe it’s maybe it’s just Dan, does you talk about maturity, but I think maturity not just of. Organizations, but, but of the market, generally, the things that you wanted out of a an it person 10 years ago, aren’t the same that you want today. Probably. And, and the, the things that changing in the people world are, you know, people pretty much stay the same regulation changes, but regulation changes slowly by accretion. It’s not, it’s not the rapid pace of change that we see in it. So it’s just, maybe it’s just not that it’s not suited to these kind of. Bodies as, as you say, 107 year old organization can fit into you know, you know, 2000 year old, probably if, if not 5,000, you hear a whole process of managing people. David: It’s quite interesting. It’s a really. That’s a really interesting point. And what it spoke to me is if you think about, if you think about tech entrepreneurs, no, no one thinks about the qualifications that sit behind that you think about. Individual excellence. And you think about, you know, understanding something that to an outsider was completely impenetrable. Now HR is quite often the opposite of that, which is that everyone thinks they can do it. Everyone thinks that I have to train people. Everyone thinks they’ve got an eye for talent. Everyone thinks they can lead people effectively, all of those things, whereas. If I were to think if, if I were to think of almost the whole year with would stereotype of someone who’s great at it, it would be that kind of, you know, it would be a hacker, wouldn’t it flying through some kind of computer generated landscape that’s supposed to simulate how hacking really works, but even, you know, likes of his, of books, you know, Google any of the tech startups, it’s different ethos. And maybe you don’t know for sure. So associated with the steadiness that months in some of the other professions. Matt: Although there’s that kind of mythology about the the founder genius entrepreneur type, but actually SBR missed most of it’s very RP systems. It’s really dull. And if you w w when I was working at Microsoft shortly before I started there, they’d done some demographics surveying of the UK it population. And they actually found that it professionals, this is about 12 years ago now, but on that. We’re significantly more change averse than the general population. So this mythology about how it sort of the cutting edge is, is a very thin sliver. I guess the other part, though, if you think about the accreditation part of this, there have been lots of other routes. So software companies particularly have made a big old monetized. Set of products out of accrediting people to be certified engineers or whatever. So Microsoft and articles and, and all the rest make a, a good solid revenue out of being able to credit people, which would be the sorts of things that maybe an HR would be done by the CIPD. And similarly, we’ve got things like quality standards. The much more suited to being able to, you know give a standard set of accreditation for information security or coding or service delivery. And, and, and, and so it’s probably been achieved in different ways. Cause David: it’s really interesting. So there’s a thing about there. Isn’t a certain level of is indecipherable from magic. It departments do things that. Your average person in the business doesn’t even begin to understand. So I mean that in a really basic level, right? If my laptop doesn’t stop by give it to someone and they give it back to me in a couple of days speaks, and I don’t know what’s happened there. I don’t have any insight into that with finance. I can sit down, I can kind of understand the P and L with most bits of a business. I can get talked through. What they’re doing and why maybe have a view on it, even down to you, the legal team, this is the guidance. Well, is it really, you know, how does it look? It is like magic. And so there’s something really odd about the fact that something so fundamental to our lives that we all use. We don’t have a clue about how it actually works, you know, th th the level of dependence and that, you know, we’ve seen that this year with zoom calls and things like that, you know, just people, but literally, like, how does this witchcraft work? Cause I’ve never had to use it before. The intimidation that comes with technology as well. So you say otherwise, you know, completely in control individuals when faced with not being able to work out how to connect their printer, just falling apart and being wholly reliant on another human being. I think maybe there’s something in that you get, you get away with being far more magical than any other department, if you work in it. Matt: Yeah. I wonder if there’s a short lifetime on that now, now, because if you think about how I imagined that things like cars were like that. When Carlos was still more user serviceable. If you go onto the bonnet of a car these days, there’s a bloody great plastic sheet that is basically telling you, get out. You’re not coming in here, take it to the garage and they’ll plug it into a machine. It will diagnose it for us. And similarly, actually, we’ve got to a point now with probably with mobile technology that actually the ability to fix it is just not the same with mobile. Because you don’t need to in the same way as you do with the PC. And that’s just because it’s legacy technology in many ways, still that it does go wrong. And most of the stuff that goes wrong, if truth be told is cause the it department have been buggering around to make things better. When they’re trying to second, guess what it is that Microsoft or Apple or whoever else do. And I don’t know that being able to be great because you’re fixing stuff that you broke in the first place is not necessarily. A longterm strategy. Yeah, no, it’s just blending, uploading that blend a little fit. Chris: I mean, if you think about it a few years ago, sorry. A few years ago when I was, when I was a wee boy. Right. And you were to have a TV in the corner of the room, if you were, you know, if you’re lucky. And every now and again, some who go wrong and then a man would come round in a Brown coat in the tool bag and tap the bow. But the dock back off it and fiddle around with it. And maybe there’d be a smell of soldier or something. And the CV would be repaired. And the TV repairman was doing the same magic that Dave was talking about earlier. Nobody else knew how the TV repairman, but he was really important. He got it fixed, right? Because it was the TV. And now that doesn’t no, we don’t need that because it’s, it’s become essentially a non serviceable anyway, but they don’t break as often as it used to. And maybe it is still going through that phase of, of. Getting to the point where nobody needs to touch it and we’re getting there, right. Nobody’s going to serve as an iPad. If you’ve used an iPad or a tablet, all the tablets are available pretty much. It’s going to work whenever you turn it on until the day it doesn’t. And, and then you’re going to get another one and maybe that’s, we’re getting to that point where those magical moments go away. Matt: Although there is the irony that we’re now discussing how technology fails, because it’s the technology. When most of the time we spend our time saying to the thing that fails about technology, isn’t the technology, it’s the way in which we get people to try to use it. And to what extent is that a people issue, which has been left in the hands of, of a part of the organization that thinks that the people are the stuff that breaks stuff. David: Was him ubiquitous to NRG, look at XL. And to what extent, that could be useful to organizations and isn’t utilized fully. You look at something like three 65. You look at teams, you look at all of these kinds of things, and we know we don’t maximize use of it, but some of those people are just scared, you know, that I’m sure that training elements, all those kind of elements, but it just feels like magic. I mean the millennium bug, could’ve been a giant hoax for all learning. No people were telling me that, theoretically, there’s something going wrong. You need to pay some consultants or consultants could have just clumped together and then got around. Oh yeah, we fixed it. That’s why it didn’t go wrong. Because we’ve never known it, whereas that it’s not true of any other bit of the organization. You can sniff stuff, you can see it. It’s obviously going wrong. It’s not working in some ways. Whereas to your point it teams don’t go. We made a change that didn’t work. They just go and fix that for you. I’m a wizard is as the kind of narrative. So, so yeah, I, I don’t know if there’s a mystique to it and a distance that I think is really interesting. Now, to what extent that plays into the whole professionalism piece. I don’t know, but actually when I have interviewed people who work in it during my career, And I’ve ended up in positions where you, but there’s no other role and it don’t come. It’s just, for me, I think it’s a slightly more universal experience, no other role where I know what I’m talking about. I’m basically sitting there going. So what I’d really like to know is, are you good with computers and for the stuff that we need computers to do? Have you done that kind of stuff before? Because there, there isn’t, that was that your con pretty much I can interview, you know, for an FD role. That’s not a problem. I can do that. Same for HR CEOs. I can tell you, you know, what a good stirrups of legal and governance that’s like it. No, we’re so out of our depth, there was ordinary mortals. I’m basically going, I’m trusting you to be good. It’s really strange, really strange. Your magical mystical is, is it’s. It’s like interviewing Pokemon, but not being able to know how their special politics come up. All you’re going to be good when you evolve. I don’t know how this works. It’s pretty much that, Chris: but isn’t that crazy? Is that isn’t that absolutely crazy. That, that, that such a fundamental thing now is down to people. Who’ve. You don’t really know who they’re taking on a Y. And I, you know, God knows I’m not the best CIO or CTO or whatever that ever Strode the earth. And I’m, I’m quite capable of making mistakes, but I look at some of the people who ended up in some of these jobs and I think, Oh my God, you know how, and it’s, you know, because they’ve managed to say the right things at the right time and they, you know, they’re, they wear the right suit and they’ve got the right names on their CV, but. But under no circumstances, are they going to make a positive contribution to the business? They’ve just joined, but it’s, as you say, it’s, it’s a bit maybe because it’s, it’s just a bit David: magic. So do you remember that TV series faking it? Sort of thing. So for anyone, I guess listening, we didn’t let’s take a member of the public and they would teach, teach that I think I had like 48 hours to try and get them to a possible professional level. So they could go into an environment and people wouldn’t recognize that they were a fake and I’ve always, I’ve always been tempted to put myself in fake a CV and go in for like a CIO job. Or like ahead of OT and just, you know, talk to, you know, that’ll be your firewall, you know, or yeah, no, it’s all about agile methodology going forward. You know, that’s how I need to get the team working and migrate everything to the cloud. I think that’s going to be a challenge. I mean, it’s sold, it’s the same line. You could get away with three or four sentences and you’ve probably seen. Relatively credible. Well, it’s, I’m not entirely sure how that would work and maybe, and it’s not actually for anyone listening. It’s not, cause I’m flipping it and don’t rate the capability in it. It’s because it’s just really hard as an outsider to discern whatever Matt: side. And so how do you assess the skills that you don’t have particularly at senior leadership level to be able to bring them in. And I think that’s it. Yeah, I think there’s, there’s a real challenge there for organizations, particularly if they need to change direction when it comes to technology. Yes, they a couple of roles I’ve had now where I’ve inherited from somebody who was a very long serving head of technology. And that means they weren’t able to be able to get the influence from outside into the organization. And if you’ve had somebody long serving for a long while in the same role, then actually. Bringing somebody to replace them. And all of your expertise internally has been based around that person. Who’s been there forever. That’s a real challenge. David: Well, I think what we need to do is review the legacy architecture, ensure that we’re digital first, culturally, as well as from a systems point of view. And then once we’ve done that over time, you’re going to have a roadmap that we can develop together that gets you to that level of user experience that you really need. That, that is kind of, I kind of figured I could turn up and I have a show. Chris Christian is looking at me in a very skeptical way. I’m Chris: just thinking we need to stop this interview before you blow the whole gap, frankly. outro Matt: Well, having blown our cover. Thanks, David. We bring the show to something of a judging Holters. Many of us, particularly those of you out there who are in senior it role. So I’ve been realized we’ve all been rumbled. Pleasure talking to you, David, have you got any idea what’s happening in the the week ahead? David: Schools were going back. I believe that that’s, that’s a thing that’s happening within a week. Some will be shining. The starts are going to continue going in the right way and probably piers Morgan, also something outrageous the nation. Core, Matt: you’ve got crystal ball. It’s amazing skills. And Chris was, it’s just, it’s just now into the regular bit of the show every week where it asks you if next week’s going to be the same as this week Chris: and you go, yep. I say I died. I can’t even remember what I say. I think I’d probably yes, I suppose. It’s it’s, it’s very busy at the moment. So I’m a bit like last weekend I went to the start of the show and I was like, Oh, it was busy last week. It’s going to be busy this week. And, but not nothing unusual is going on really in my work life, I guess. I guess one of the things that’s happening is now I’m starting to have those conversations about, I had a conversation this week or this week, then the end of last week about. Oh, right. I October we might do this thing and you might be able to come to that and I’m starting to contemplate the travel. I’m starting to contemplate the bits in the diary that say you’re going to be in a different place then. And it’s all a bit unreal at the moment because it’s kind of, Oh yeah. You know, maybe if, if, if, if, but we all know that at some point. Things are going to change. We, you know, we can cross our fingers and hoping the person I was talking to actually was from Serbia where they’ve, they’ve, they’ve vaccinated a third of their population and they, you know, they are really cracking through them. And he said, well, actually, where, you know, if all this happens a bit, we’ll get vaccinated numbers go down. We could well be we could probably be in a position where we’re, where we’re traveling around in October. So that’s only six months away. Right. And. It’s starting to go in little circles and the diarrhea and that that’s a bit, it’s a bit weird and I’m looking forward to him anyway. He’s but not necessarily without that, a level of maybe I’m like a dog, cause it’s been locked in a cage for, you know, a year, you open the door and it doesn’t necessarily want to come out. And maybe, maybe that’s the way I’m reacting to it. Matt: Yeah, I can, I can kind of relate to that. I think there is a bit of Hermitude in my psyche that has been brought out in the last 18 months that is going to make it quite hard, to be able to make decisions of flight, leaving the house. And especially, I think the I don’t know, at the moment, the idea of going into an office, I just find so alien. I, David: I get scared might be too strong, a word, but occasionally you’ll see like sporting events or post events on TV with large crowds. And my instant gut reaction is what are you all doing, man, standing so close together. And, but I’m curious as to how that’s going to translate actually to going back into. Like say a commute in a city where you don’t know people and you don’t know how well they’ve been looking after themselves or any, any of those things going on. And you imagine that the media will flare up any virus anywhere. And that will throw people into perpetual panic as well. So now I I’m I’m. I’m happy to confess that I am feeling the same way as Chris, which is quite unsettled about quite settled about all the stuff I’m supposed to Chris: look forward to. I remember, I mean, this didn’t happen to me for a long time, cause I’m now old and decrepit, but imagine being in a nightclub or somewhere where you were at the bar and across your people trying to get served and the sweatshirts trickling down your back, and you’re not entirely sure whether it’s yours or somebody else’s and you know that, that see the mud cross of people and the idea of doing that now, it seems. Just the balmy. David: Yeah. So being in someone’s own pit for a train journey. Yeah. I achieved all that, all that kind of stuff, you know, queuing up to go into a football stadium know even, I guess, you know, for people, you know, different backgrounds, you know, going to religious places of worship and that kind of, you know, funding in and funneling out together. It just seems like a lot of the things that we spent an entire year conditioning ourselves to being inherently dangerous, that the things that we’re supposed to. Well, my former snap back into looking forward to, and I find this degree of cognitive dissonance in that way, I’m both excited and scared, but scared and Chris: excited. Matt: Yeah, no, that makes sense. But let’s keep in mind schools go back on Monday. So that’d be good. Anyway. Thank you very much for joining us, David. It’s been fantastic, Chris, as ever see you. Next week we having had no people with a name begin with duh. We have two in the course of two weeks, and next week we’re going to be joined by the journalist writer Matt D’Ancona, who is going to be talking about the book he’s got coming out a little later in March. So that should be fun. It’s been fun this week and we’ll look forward to seeing you again next week.
48 minutes | 9 days ago
On this week’s WB-40 we talk with Antony Slumbers about the commercial property market and the way that the pandemic might change who provides office space in the future. The Automatically Generated Transcript… Intro Chris: So, hello and welcome to another episode of WB 40. We are here today with as Matt said in the intro, Anthony Slumbers. And we’re going to be talking about property trends in how people are going to work. It’s been, it’s been a bit of a theme for us recently and about prop tech as well and what that means and how that’s going to change in the next few years. So, Matt, how has this week treated you? Matt: Well, I had some time off, which is very exciting to spend more time with my children, just what I needed at the moment. It was half term, so that was it rained basically for most of it. So the, you know, the lovely ideas that I had in my head about going out on long cycle rides and. Painful walks in bushy path from whatever amounted to now. So we just sat in and the kids just nacked about bumps, play computer games all the time. That is being a 21st century parents where I was, I can tell it’s about how long do you go before you go? No. All right. Then it’s usually about 25 minutes. Chris: If it wasn’t right. It would have been before that was TV, right? Isn’t it’s the same thing. Matt: Yeah, exactly. But other than that, I had a a very nice time of the weekend where I caught up with a mate of mine. I went for a long walk down by the Thames in a socially distanced, not stopping for RefreshMints kind of permitted way. And I’ve taken actually. Because having actually got my fat ass out of my chair for the first time in weeks, having had a little break from work, I’ve decided to start experimenting with standing up whilst doing meetings. So I’ve written myself up with my iPad on a microphone stand so that I can stand up for meetings and I have done it for one day. I feel invigorated. And much refreshed already, but by day two, we’ll be seeing whether I can manage to keep it going or not. I I’d forgotten for my days of training, standing up all day. It’s actually bloody hard work, even if you’re not actually walking anyway. So it feels like I’m doing myself some good. And yeah, you know the news today that the, the lockdown time today, well, I refuse to call it a roadmap is being widely. Publicized and, and seeing people talking about that. And some people seeing it seems to be terribly slow, Mizon happening more quickly. And other people saying it seems to be how many terribly fast and why isn’t it happening more slowly. So yeah, nine days left before the kids go back to school. How’s your week Antony: been? Chris: Well, likewise it’s been after and therefore I’ve been at home with the children, although I only had one day off. In the week. And I there was a reason for that. I went somewhere. I had to something to do. I start my car for service. So that was exciting obviously Matt: a day out Chris: as is. Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. But it’s it’s but of course, with all the messing about and, and coronavirus and things like that, it was, it was a bit more of a hustle it needed to be. So yeah, I mean, that was my exciting week and Oh, it’s been, it’s been it’s been fun, right? The kids are, as you say Not really moved out the house because it was whether it’s been filthy. Although today I had two, this one came out, which I was really grateful for because was, as I have detailed in some, in some depth on a, on a signal group, my boy that did fail this morning, moved me to go into the garage this morning and find water all over the place and the whole thing in a sorry mess. So now I’ve got a few days without heat or water, so hot water. So that’s I’m very glad that it’s going to be 10, 11. 12 degrees for the next few days. If it happened two weeks ago, I’d have been an extremely grumpy man trying to keep warm in the, in, in the Sub-Zero temperatures. But but yeah, and I did an event in Austria, so that was exciting. Of course I didn’t move. But that was, it was fun on the list. Nice to meet you see some different people and yeah. And that’s been pretty much it. For me. So Anthony, what’s the week held for you? What has your week been? I think it’s Antony: all been all been pretty similar, actually love laundry, been hiding away in my house or in my office at the end of the garden, promoting the weather that we have in February. Same as same as every year. Main, main moments where it’s and it’s rainy and it’s. Gray and it’s depressing behaving like a spoiled childhood. So not, not, not, not going anywhere. Well, I did do though, was I actually bought a travel Haldol. I bought a 24 hour away. We can sort of weekend away back. I was like, Oh, this is a. His email came, came through and they had this lovely week. We, we can back out, it was 50% off and I just looked at it and thought, well, I can’t actually go anywhere, but I’m going to bloody buy it anyway. And I’m just going to leave it out. So as soon as it can go, it’s going to get filled up. I’m going to be built the off, but, but in the, in the, in the meantime, in the meantime, actually I see the last five weeks I’ve been running, I run an online. I’m online real estate course. And we had a cohort started in January, so that’s been running for five weeks. So it’s actually been rather a lot of fun. So it’s all online. But on Thursdays we have a two hour big group zoom session. And there’s people from everywhere from New Zealand to San Francisco to bring us ours. So it’s actually actually quite, quite funny now in a weird way, as long as you forget the externalities and just try and concentrate on. Something, something else. Matt: Was that something you did before the pandemic? Antony: Actually, I see it. I’ve done it with a friend of mine. He lives in lives in New York. And we started working on it before Christmas. So we started working out before Christmas 2019. And it just happens. So we were working, working on it. So Jen March and funnily enough, it was ready to go. The day we went into lockdown, which was extraordinary, extraordinary, same, just really lucky. And then we didn’t do anything for two months because remember back in March, every March and April, no one knew what the hell was going on. But we’d probably be launching in. In may. So it was actually, I don’t know, it was hot half clever, clever thinking and half really lucky to decide to do an online course given, given the timing. So it’s it’s well, it’s worked really, really well. Matt: That’s interesting. It’s going to be interesting to see how The flexibility and the ability to be able to reach people and the ability to be able to fit it in around other things more easily. It’s going to what it’s going to do to more traditional. Learning, which was, I mean, a lots of learning and development work had shifted online anyway, although lots of it was crap, but actually now with the ability to better bring diverse groups of people together from across the world, actually, there’s a huge bunch of opportunities for that for making a much better than more traditional delivery models. Antony: Well, I think, I think absolutely. I mean, what’s been so, so interesting about this is that we didn’t know who was going to go to sign up, sign up for it. But as it happens, I think we’ve had 27 different countries. And North America, South America, Africa, Asia, or Australasia it has been, it has been fascinating. But I’m a huge, I’m a huge believer that business or. Get very aggrieved with this whole, you know, you can only innovate if you’re face-to-face and then what is that? We will also call a moments or, you know, or nothing ever happens. And I just think it’s complete completely nuts and nonsense. And this has given us an opportunity to actually talk to talk to people in a way we’ve never, never done before I talked to more people the last year. Then I’ve I’ve ever met. I mean, I’ve always been a huge Twitter user for years, and I find Twitter the most amazing networking tool. There’s a most extraordinary networking tool. I mean, my partner is drawing in New York. We met on Twitter, I don’t know, five years ago or something. And we didn’t meet in real life until three years ago. And I think we’ve only met. Three or four times, but where the hell it sort of can start a cost cost together. You know, you can, you can do, you can do these things. And I think there’s a, I think there’s a mindset change, which is the upside of the pandemic that there will still this idea that. You know, the way things work was the way things worked. And they worked like that because that’s the way things worked. And that was the best way to do it. But we have so many habits have been broken because this has gone on for so long. But I think the, the, the change that is coming is actually much more significant than people think it is because, you know, I think if you know that little story about the, what’s the difference between a rubber band and they and the safety pin that, you know, if you pull a rubber band and you let it go, it just says mind straight back to, as it was before. But if you get a safety, a safety pin and you pull one of those one of the bits of metal up and you let go, it mowing, it, bounces back. But he doesn’t go back to the way where it was before. And I think, I can’t see how certainly amongst the smarter companies there is any way on earth. They are not all of them reconfirm me thinking how they work, where they work, who they work with. Howard. And all of this stuff, what tools they use and everything, because you see that there are so many upsides to being distributed, but it only, it’s only going to work for people who we can figure out how their businesses work. You know, I think there’s a huge, a huge problem coming with companies that are blindly going, Oh, well, let’s go hybrid where have some people working in the office and some people working at home and it’s just going to be a disaster. You know, if you have, if you have some people in the office all the time, and some people are home, that’s an absolute recipe for disaster. The whole process of moving. To back into the office is going to be a big jump. It’s it’s different now because everybody is out of the office. We’re actually all working fully remote. So if I want to get in touch with them, anyone, anyone, it has to be virtually, no one has an option of going in and Oh, I can schmooze up with the boss today. I can’t, I have to do it like that. So at the moment we’re working in a completely different way. So when we go back, essentially, we need to try and keep, keep that sort of thinking and then enhance that thinking rather than, rather than drop back into, or some of us be in the office and some of us won’t, but the ways of working the ways of working will change. I think, I think a lot, because simply what’s the point. I mean, I mean, so much of this obviously depends on what type of company you are, what job role you have and where you live. These are where they all offer offices. But funny enough, I was talking to a friend in Stockholm this morning and he was saying, well, he said about half an hour or something from, from the office. So, and he still doesn’t think he’s going to go and he’s not going to go about five, five days a week, but it’s still only a half an hour. So he’ll go in and out now I’m only 35 miles South of London in Guilford, and it would still take me 90 minutes to get into the city London. So it’s three hours, three hours a day. So I never did. I I’ve worked basically either had an office at home for 20 odd years, but I’m, but I’ve gone into London generally try twice a week. Because I can do everything I need to do in two days and meet everyone and do well, to be honest, I think the way I I’ve done it for ages, this is the way most people are going to do it. Similar situations of, you know, nine, 19 minute plus community. It felt like, you know, if I live 15 minutes from the Apple, Apple headquarters, I think go in the office five days a week, but I don’t. So. So, yeah, I th I th I think it’s really interesting. And in a press, you just mentioned that it’s lots of decisions are kind of, had to have to be made, and it is sort of make your mind up time now, because we now know probably about from September onwards offices are going to be okay to go back into. So you’ve got all the people with real estate are now in a position to go. Hmm. Right. What are we going to do last, last year, people were just mulling around ideas because you didn’t know when you were going to look at it back now, is it that there’s a, there’s a deadline at some stage we’re going to convince, so what should we be doing? And to be honest, I think, I think there’s also, it’s a problem for companies. Cause they don’t know. And they really starting to, the wheels are starting to spin now. Matt: Well, let’s, let’s hold that thought because that’s what we’re going to explore in more depth in the rest of the show. So let’s get on with it. Main Interview Chris: So we’re going to goodbye. It’s those things that we’ve just been mentioning around how people are going to work, we’re gonna talk about, about prop tech and what part that has to play in it, because it’s one of those rather PR terms for a whole bunch of things that some things are very, very dedicated to property. And some things are a little bit just a bundle of. Related services and Anthony, your background is, I mean, you’ve been in this market for a long time. Now this is something you talk on and you, you, you you’ve, you’ve got a long history and so may, maybe you can help us to define PropTech and what it, you know, what it encompasses. Antony: Well, I had, I probably have 15 years doing PropTech before the word wordings actually existed. Essentially, I mean, I started, I started in 1990, 95. I actually started with nets, the Netscape browser, not 0.9, four Netscape browser. So, but I’ve always, I’ve always been the stuff I do has always been for commercial real estate, mainly the, the office market in one way or another, but the sanctuary on the top takes really been a thing for. Seven seven, eight years, something like that, but it’s really, it’s really developed as a marketing handle. So talk about any technology that was related to the built environment in the same way as FinTech is any technology that’s related to money in, in, in the widest sense. So it obviously encompasses all the different asset classes. And it encompasses everything from residential estate agent software to commercial agent software, to investment agent software to how do you run a building? How do you design a building? How do you construct a building, how you operate a building and all that sort of thing. It’s I think it’s a term that is there this past itself sell by date. I actually wrote a blog post, I think, in. December, 2017 for new year’s resolutions for 2018. And my number one was to kill the term PropTech by the end of the year. Because it’s limiting in some ways it’s learning it’s limited. It has served a really good purpose for the last, for the last number of years. So it’s folks to focus the mind on technology relating to whatever you do within, within the built environment, but the trouble is it then becomes. It then becomes limiting because people talk about, or what do you do? Oh, well I’m in real estate. No, no, I’m in prop tech, but really I was using the argument about Amazon, Amazon doesn’t have an it department as such because it is diffused through the whole. The whole business. It’s part of it. It’s part of what you do. It’s like the companies who have innovation departments, so well, you know, everyone else can sit on their ass because we’ve got an innovation department there. They do the interesting, interesting stuff as opposed to being an innovative, innovative company. So it’s sorta it’s so it served its purpose. But it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a. It’s time, it’s time to move on and it’s actually time to move on in the sense that in in our every cloud has a silver lining way. COVID is there absolute making of the PropTech industry is absolutely the making of the PropTech industry for, for two absolutely fundamental reasons. The first is that we’ve known for ages for years, for decades. The importance of air quality and the impacts on air quality on a, on a cognitive function and B how you feel, you know, your health and wellness, but it’s never been no one’s really ever paid that much attention. It hasn’t been a, well, how healthy is your building in a, in a lease? I mean, yes, there’s been all the, like the world standard and Fitwell and, and all that, but that’s sort of. Relatively neat as an industry. No, one’s really cared that much, but now we have a situation where we’ve had a pandemic and we absolutely know the saying, staying in indoors in the space with lots of people in bad ventilation can kill you. Now that’s a pretty good lever. Start to stop pushing technologies that improve the, the environment, environmental conditions. So anything to do with the indoor air quality and the environmental conditions within the building is now a really big thing, because if you’re going to go back to your office, whenever it is, if you don’t actually ask the question, is this office safe? Then you’re, you’re, you’re making it. You’re making a mistake. Because we know that we know buildings can be, can be ready. It can be really toxic. So fr my landlord’s pond, there’s a, there’s a fucking a feature at the office, but the bug is, we now have spend money to make our buildings safer. So we have to invest in new technologies, have to upgrade HVAC systems and all this sorts of stuff. But the feature of it is that it actually improves your building. It makes it, it makes your building a better building and a better place and a better place to be. So there’s that science side of things. And the second big, big driver around pop tech is that it’s demonstrated globally that this remote working thing well, actually works. Remote working works, you know, the, the whole, the world has been functioning. Most companies have been functioning, but no one in the office and funnily enough, there’s an awful lot of companies that have been doing really, really well. So you know, now that you can function without an office, so this has been something that’s been boiling up for a long time, but the whole office market is turning from one where previously it was an industry based on selling a product. To one that is going to be based on delivering a service, but more fundamentally it’s been based an industry based on a customer who needs you, right. Product, historically companies needed an office because that’s where the computers were. That’s where the desks were. That’s where the people were. That’s where everything was nowadays. And the last year has really, really proved the point. We don’t need an office. Now, that’s not to say we don’t want one, but as an industry, the, the office industry has to change tack from working on the basis that it’s customer needs needs us. You know, it’s a bit like Brexit, isn’t it. They need more than more than we, we need way meet them to going up. I now got to prove to you, Mr. Customer, why you should. Take my office, why you should come into the office? Th that’s an interesting LinkedIn, because as Mark kind of alluded to. Earlier, one of the things that I’ve been I’ve noticed certainly from, I was worked in various property management and FM type businesses over the years. And all the technology was very much about the building. It was about money managing the assets within the building. How often does it, you know, does this air conditioning unit break down or is the lift okay, or when are we going to replace those carpets or whatever it might be. All of your systems were, were tuned to that. And one of the things that I’ve talked about is, you know, actually build executive serve communities that they down there for their own purpose. They’ve got, they’ve got a reason to exist and that’s for the people that use them either long-term or short-term or whatever. But what you’re talking about really is, is, is PropTech liking that live link. Now that leap, rather than being focused on the building, because it was, it was the thing we needed. And that was the thing we focus on. Actually, it’s the people and the, it is this fit for purpose. Is it, is it going to add value to what you do or is it going to add to the sum of the sum of your organization as a, as a building? Because if it’s not, you’re not going to use it, but that’s absolutely the whole, the whole way the real estate industry is it sets up the office market has been set up is there’s actually been two customers. The primary customer of an office building has actually been the institution funding it. Or the investor buying it, but I’m buying an asset for, for my pension fund. No one is a, has had really any interest in who’s in the building. What’s it doing? The, the interest has been, this is isn’t. How good is this bond that this lease? How long is it? How strong is the covenant and what sleep and how guaranteed is my income? End off that’s the way the industry has been set up. But that is in, that has been slowly moving. It’s still a big brick wall within the industry. There’s that essentially a, a huge, there’s a huge area of denial within the industry in terms of the institutional industry that still says. Yeah, this is all very interesting, Anthony, and people like me to talk about this, but I don’t care. I want a 10 year lease. Otherwise I’m not going to fund your building, but it’s getting to the point where there’s not any customers for a 10 year lease or there’s very few customers, but for a 10 year lease, you know, leases are getting shorter and shorter and shorter. So the, so the focus is, has been moving much more to a people thing. I mean, there’s something fundamentally daft about the way the industry works, because there’s a, there’s a phrase that started there with the world. Green building council uses that you pay three pounds for your utilities, 30 pounds for your rent and 300 pounds for your people. So what does the industry concentrate on the three and the 30? And no one cares. We’re moving to a world where it’s the 300 is, is what we need. And I, I always use a phase that within the industry, we, we sort of operate under a bit of a category era that will, because we building offices, we think people want offices and no company wants an office. And that company has the slightest interest in an office. What they want is a productive workforce. And the industry has to start setting them productive workforces, but where, but where the PropTech thing and coronavirus comes into all of this is that the pandemic is forcing us to make our buildings healthier. Otherwise people aren’t going to come in or if they do come in and we kill them, then, I mean, this is the interesting thing in America. You look at the, how far out. The big American companies are saying before they bring anyone back. And it’s not a real estate issue. It’s a legal issue because in America, you’re going to take that. Someone’s going to Sue someone as soon as I wake up all night, if I, if anything happens. So you’re going to, you’re definitely going to see in America cases, you know, you, you may meal because of, because of this. So we have to solve that problem. But the, the interesting thing is in solving that problem. It’s actually gonna go a long way to solving the, the, the bake in commerce productivity problem. Cause people talk about, well, how do you measure productivity? And they say, Oh, well, you can’t measure productivity in an office building, but you in a workplace, you can measure it if you relate it back to cognitive function. So if I put Chris and Matt in an environment that. For some, the right environmental conditions, such that their cognitive function is operating to the maximum of their abilities. I’m making the, I’m an Mo I’m enabling them to be as productive as they can be. But if I put you in an environment that’s too hot, too cold, too noisy, whatever it will impact on your cognitive function and you will be less productive. So. The interesting thing in real estate, I really real estate cannot make a bad company. Good. Put it back company in a great workplace. It’s still a bad company and we can’t affect that. But what we can affect is putting the people in the right environment, in the right In the right spaces with the right environmental conditions to enable them to be as good as they can, as good as they can be and to solve the air quality problem, we solve that problem. And also the triple, the triple bonus of this in doing these two things, we’re also pushing a long way down the sustainability issue. Because a lot of, a lot of the impacts and the, the FM and how the building works has implications for sustainability. And, you know, you’ve you chillin a building properly, it’s operating in a more sustainable manner than the building. That’s not true. So taking a absolutely glass half full look at what’s happened over the next year. But potentially for the, for the smarter operators, there’s going to be a real opportunity to brand themselves as well, come to our space because a we’re sustainable and we know. More and more people actually want to know that they’re working in a building that’s sustainable. We’re going to get put you in really good environmental conditions. And we’re going to pay attention to your health and wellbeing. And that build that build a brand. There will be a number of new, either new brands or existing listing brands, which were really co-op to list the where, where the company. But is concerned about making you happy, healthy, and productive. And those spaces, those buildings I think are going to do better than they’ve ever done. Before. I was saying to Matt earlier, I was talking to someone today who was telling me about three or four new city office buildings that have just received. Planning permission. And they’ve been funding funded and they’ve been financed today. And you’d say, would you go build an office building today? Well, you would. If the calculation is the winners, even in a declining market, I’ve going to be the best buildings, the best buildings operated in the best way, paying the most attention to who’s going to make us happy, healthy, and productive. That’s that’s the theory of where is the successful real estate company of the future? Because if you don’t do that, as I say, well, why the hell am I going to come in? Would Matt: you think if you think about the people who operate buildings today, and if you compare them, say to a hotelier, because what you’ve described there, it sounds like if I compare the world of residential landlords, and particularly in the realm I work in, which is in a social landlords as opposed to hoteliers, there’s a massive difference in the whole approach there, because actually for for residential landlords, the focus is all on the property. Because, you know, you’ve got a captive market, you know, that you you’ve got more demand than you can possibly service. So that the focus goes on to efficiency within the management of the property and then customer experience of that might not necessarily be particularly great in many cases. If you look at the world of hotels and certainly outside of the realm of Especially now, even if you look at the budget chains, they’ve got the idea that actually you can’t have a budget chain. That’s a really unpleasant experience. You need to be able to provide a good quality of experience for people to want to go there. And so it strikes me that hope tele is a much more focused on the customer experience. And of course, the way the hotel industry works is that the people who manage the buildings, aren’t the hoteliers. There’s a layer that sits within that is managing the experience. That is way more than just. Some building and some space and they offer a bunch of things that are adjacent to the management of space because you’ve got restaurants and you’ve got, you know, whatever other services it is that is deemed to be necessary if I’m running, running a hotel. I guess we work started to go down that route, but it was also. In, in good tech company, funding models, completely open inflated and losing money, hand over fist. And my personal experience of it, wasn’t the, you know, the customer experience was it wasn’t that great. Everybody was trying to rub against the magic pixie dust of startup by working next to people from Accenture or whoever it was, you’d be sat next to in your office. But from what you’ve described there, that sounds like this. This middle there of people who were actually starting to think much more holistically about what is it to provide spaces for working or, or to provide collaborative environments. That would be a logical extension asset Chris: that, yeah, it would absolutely be logical essential. There’s that? There’s an increasing overlap between, between hospitality and office in the sense of, you know, what, what, what, what is a hotel? What is, what is an office? I mean, you remember, you know, pre pandemic, you’d go into any number of. Central London hotels, and the whole ground floor is full of people working. And that was that. That was a big thing, but absolutely there’s an, there’s an operating layer. And then it’s quite interesting. If you look at Matt Marriott, Marriott used to own all their hotels and they’d run all their hotels, but I think it was in the, in the nineties, they split up and they, they, they, there’s a Marriott wheat, which looks after the. The real estate. And then there’s a operating company, interestingly, with Marriott, there’s also then a brand division. So, you know, you can that they might build you a hotel or buy it or buy you a hotel and then Marriott my, my operate it themselves. Or, or you can just license the brand. But the point, the point is that absolutely that there is this operating layer, which makes the difference between. Which activates a space. So the, if you like the, the, the, the, the real estate is just dumb. We want to say he’s dumb. It needs is this of activation and hotels are definitely the way to look at it, particularly to do with brand because you made the, they made, they made the point that there’s great budget brands, and there’s very top end brands. And there’s middle brands. So, you know, premier Inn is fantastically good at what premier does for its particular customer. And the four seasons is equally brilliant at what it does. They’re completely different animals, but they have a different customer, different value proposition, a different brand, et cetera, et cetera. And what you’re increasingly going to find. In the office market is that is going to be this opera operational level. And you mentioned, you mentioned we work, but then, you know, you think of the, you know, the office group or industrious or uncommon or any number of brands, which are aimed at particular types of people. And, and a lot of it’s going to be around. That brand is aimed at a particular type of customer and understands the wants, needs, and desires of that customer. So what type of space do you need? So see, you’re starting to see coworking spaces set up for particular industries. So there’s ones to do with, with music or fashion or finding it finance or, or women, and they, and they have different needs and on different, different configurations and the trick. The trick for the real estate industry and the difficult thing for the real estate industry is working out who is going to do that operator level. So you have a few of the biggest real estate companies. Trying to do the operator operator level themselves. So sure fans have story. Land securities have myo tissue, inspiring America zone, et cetera, et cetera. There’s a number of them, but it’s a really hard game to play, to move from being a real estate product company to a service company. I think today CVRE, a number of years ago started their own flex brand. Cool Hannah or Hannah, H a N N a. That has actually just been, that has actually just been taken by a third party brand is a, there’s a big co-worker flex operator in America called industrious. And CBRA had just invested $200 million into industrious and are merging their Harner operation into industrious as well, which is essentially saying. We are CBRA, which is a massive, massive political company. Well, we can do it. We’re going to have our own band and they’ve gone down the road and live with us or they can’t make this call make a success event. So they’re pushing it in into some something else. So, yeah, this is why the, the, the market is so interesting at the moment because. But the fundamental value proposition that is changing and that operator level is becoming super important. And also the asset itself is becoming more important, you know, used to be. I don’t, I don’t even care what your building looks like. Is it, is it BCO, BCO, specification? Yes. In that case, How much is it I’ll buy other you’ll need to look at it, but now the type of space is becoming really, really important because is it the type of space that you can create within that, within that four walls, the title, the type of spaces that people will be interested in. So physically can you create the right, you know, an exciting place to be, and then who’s going to operate it. And. The interesting thing is, as I say, I think that the best buildings define best in many different ways, but the best buildings for the best operators are probably going to generate more revenue than, than an office building has ever generated before. But that doesn’t matter. That doesn’t mean that’s a good thing for the landlord because the landlord might be the building might be generating more, a huge amount of revenue. But who you are having to pay to help you generate to help you generate that. So it’s big. It becomes a really difficult, difficult game that is going to involve the industry changing dramatically, dramatically over the next. Hey, Hey, X number of X number of years, because you’re going to find it. You’ve got to work out. You’ve got to work out a model that works. I mean, I don’t know. Yeah. I mean, we work in many ways have completely transformed the industry, but we weren’t. As big as mistake is they had too much capital money we want to say is not an industry suited for. For venture capital software. It’s funny, you put venture capital because you either crashes or you make, you make an amazing return. You know, your margins are huge in real estate, your margins, and never go, never going to be huge, but we work got push. I mean, obviously they went with it, but they also got pushed to do too much. And you can’t just keep, you’ve got to be a little bit more plotting in, in, in, in real estate and take your money from, from different places. Matt: What do you think we’ll see organizations coming in from other sectors. So again, thinking about what you’ve described there, could you see, or are they already say, you know, the big consulting firms getting into this. Management of space game, or Chris: I could see that as becoming possible because they’re going to end up doing a lot of it themselves, you know? Cause I think th th th the big consulting firms. Absolutely bullseye for pushing the remote distributed work and button post pandemic. Cause they, they did a lot of remote working anyway. I’m a big, you know, the KPMGs and the PWCs of the world. And now they will all be dispersed and they can work. They can work all over the place. So they’re going to, they’re going to become pretty good. At, at operating these places. So they’re, they’re all, they’re all they’re definitely going to be new entrance is interesting. They don’t, again, talking about the financing. How do you finance this stuff now with an institutional industry that sets out that wants 10, 10 year leases with, you know, they want Google on a 10 year lease and that, and that doesn’t happen. Isn’t even Google by their own self. You can’t mostly, he can’t have Google as a tenant because they think $15 billion of their own real estate. It’s massive. But. If you look back to when ball games was fun, was funded for broad gate. At that time was North of the city. It was beyond what was considered the city, the city of London. I mean, it’s now very much as almost the center of the city. But it was really was beyond the pale, the eighties. It was right up there. The institutions. The obvious institutions in the eighties did not, and would not from bull gate, the Japanese funded bull gate. And what I think you’re going to find here is there is, there is so much money in the world sitting, earning. Next to nothing in terms of interest rates and some of them, I was listening to a webinar with a chairman of an investment company. So you just to two acronyms, you need to pay attention to Tina. Good old Margaret affections. Tina, there is no alternative, you know, where am I going to put my money? I’ve got billions, I’m sitting on billions, where am I going to put it? And not negative interest rate policy, which is exists. I mean, I think there’s supposed to be something like $15 trillion of, or Donald’s of, of money sitting on negative interest rates. Where are you going to put it so surprising in America? You see all these new SPACs turnout, these special purpose acquisition companies, and they’re just raising hundreds of millions to go to go and do stuff. So you’re, you’re gonna find new entrance in, in to the industry who prepare to move up the risk, the risk curve. Because I mean, even if, even if I could get Google on a 10 year lease, well, what’s it going to earn me 1%, 2%, you know, nothing it’s safe and secure, but I’m not going to earn any money out of it. How do I actually earn a decent return? And, you know, pension funds and well, all investments, they, they need more than one or 2% interest. So how do that, how do they do it? So you’re going to have to become more risky. So there’s going to be more money going into, into more risky ventures, but they didn’t like hotels, hotels are riskier than offices. Typically. Traditionally you have essentially the cap rate, as I say, a hotel. So hotels might yield. Six to 8%, you know, so you pay, pay a hundred million for it. You get six to 8 million a year in rent. Whereas a prime office might be two to four. So, but office is more likely to move closer towards hotels. So they riskier. But if you operate them in the right way, you might be able to generate 10 to 30% more income out of the building. So that the game, the game is changing from. Being designed for passive places to park your money, your pension money. And you said, societaly, it’s a problem. You know, cause pension pension is obviously a really important and they’ve got to park them somewhere, somewhere sensible. You don’t want them sticking it all on Bitcoin and you know, hoping. But that’s become, that’s becoming a harder, harder. So yeah, it’s It’s an interesting, interesting, interesting, interesting market, very, very entrepreneurial, which is, I think, you know, which the real estate industry always has been, but it’s now there’s a different type of entrepreneur coming into the market for, for Matt: organizations who are the, the clients of all of this, the customers of all of this Obviously it’s a time of is going to be a time of transition. It’s not going to be any, any great certainty, but for organizations who are trying to work out what their flexible working mix of office space kind of thing, what are the sorts of factors? I don’t think you can, you know, open up your crystal ball here to be able to tell people what they should do, but what are the sorts of factors? The sorts of dimensions that people should be thinking about when it comes to their own commitments around, you have to Chris: commercially, you have to, to, to still fund Steve jobs, start with the customer. I’m thinking of all your employees are all the other customer you accompany has to understand. The, the, the needs of each of it, of each of their employees in the sense of for instance, how do they, how do they use space before the pandemic? What do they do when they were in the office? What were they doing since the pandemic? How have they been? Have they operated? Okay. Has it been all right for them? What’s worked for them. What’s not, not work, not work for them. And then what do they want when, when they, when they come back. And it sort of splits up. If you look at the best research, all this is done by a company called Leesman or they’ve done 170,000 interviews with people work at working, working at home. And the, the, the bottom, the bottom line is roughly 70 for roughly 70% of people working from home has been okay. It’s been okay to very good. And in fact, the, the, are you more productive at home or in the office? It’s, I’m more productive, but for 40% of the people it’s been really bad because they’re not set up leads to, you know, they haven’t got the space and all the, all the obvious reasons why, while it’s really, really bad, so that that’s almost like a starting point to understanding what it is your, your individual needs. And then, and then how long is that committed? You know, there, there is an absolute correlation between the number of days people want to work in the office and that, and how long they, how long they can, like they commute. And then what are you going to do in the office? Why do you need the office? Well, everything works for me at home, but I need to speak to see my team. Do I need to see my team five days a week? No, probably not, but I do need to see my team for one day a week, two days a week. One day, every fortnight, two days before, like what, whatever. And in what type of space do I need to see them? I don’t need to sit and sit them all over the desk. We need the right environment. So you actually have to, every, every company should, should start with talking to its employees about how thing, what did they do before the pandemic? What, or how have they been since the pandemic and what do they want to do to the pandemic? And that will provide a huge amount of data. And that’s your, that’s your starting point to understanding, understanding what you need, what you need to do. Outro Matt: Fascinating stuff. And I’m sure this is a theme that we will come back to, again, as the, the myths of post pandemic, start to slowly lift into the worlds of more office spaces going to be like and how it will be used. So that’s it. It’s it’s towards the end of yet another show we have. Another seven days ahead of us before the next one, Christopher, what’s the seven days of your diary looking like for the week ahead? Chris: Well, we’re hoping that I’ll get my boiler fixed is going to occupy quite a lot of it, but and the, the nuts pretty much just in this is the same every week, pretty much doing what I was doing last week. I wish I could say something different, but I’m looking forward to a mild week for various reasons. And as you say, and, and then, and then our next podcast with another blink guests where we’ve got an embarrassment of riches this year has been Matt: great. We’ll talk about that a bit more in a moment. Anthony, have you got anything exciting on the horizon in the next weekend? I’ll try. Antony: I have, because what we’re doing at the end of this week, Is where having a first zoom session, Matt: which is open to all the alumni of our Antony: online course. So we’ve run about five, five or six cohorts now, and we’re doing a big event at the end of end of the week where everyone’s invited to them. And we’re going to have but doing a fireside chat with someone who’s a big, big fish in the market. And then we’re having people from all around the world doing updates on how’s things in Asia, how’s things in South America and this sort of thing. So I’m actually really looking forward to that. And then after that, where we’re looking to build a new course, so. So I’ve got some, some free weeks just getting stuck into my big pile of reading books here. Chris: What about Matt: you, Matt? I have got the first stage of whittling down the applications that we’ve had for property, asset management and repairs management tender that went out a couple of weeks ago. We’ve had 17 organizations. Being able to respond to that. So the rest of this week is going to be spent going through those and working out how we get down to a shortlist of potential suppliers. So that will be. Entertaining, although by probably number 15, I might be losing the will to live as I stare endlessly into yet another spreadsheet, but I’ll show it will be fine. And the the, the, the moderation sessions that we have to have, where we were not allowed to have averages the way that the whole. Set up, which is going through the the digital outcomes framework. You have to come to a consensus on the assessment panel about what the marks are, rather than just taking an average. So those actually turn into quite interesting sessions, as you try to then have to remember why it was you marked something a one or a three Which once you get to number 15 of them might become a little bit challenging. We will see. So yeah, that’d be good. And obviously watching what would continue their ascent on the the wonders of the the automatic promotion places. For the time being anyway. So there we go. So we wish you a wonderful week between now and then, Anthony. Thank you again for for joining us this week. It’s been an absolute delight to have you on and we will speak to you again this time next week.
46 minutes | 16 days ago
(182) Big Tech Backlash
On this week’s show we talk with Tech Monitor‘s Ed Qualtrough about the ways in which people are rebelling against the tech giants, and how the CIO might be the most adapt to change in the C-Suite.
45 minutes | 23 days ago
(181) The Lockdown Catalyst
On this week’s show we are joined by Julia Hobsbawm to talk about how the pandemic and lockdown may prove to be a catalyst to change more about work than just the physical workplace. You can find more about Julia’s work with the Demos Workshift Commission here:https://demos.co.uk/project/the-workshift-commission/ Show Transcript (Automatically generated) Intro Matt: Once again, we find ourselves on the precipice of a show. Christopher, is there been anything in your week just gone, that’s been different from the week that came before that that became before that that came before that? Chris: Oh, that’s a really difficult question to answer because, it’s such a varied lifestyle. Really? It isn’t it. I can’t say that anything significant has changed. It’s been a pretty busy week. I can say that it’s been one of those weeks where I’ve I CA Friday came around very quickly. I had lots to do and this week has started in the same way. Although I was very glad that I’ve got up in the mornings. It didn’t last few days. And being able to watch the cricket on TV, it’s been fantastic. That’s been a sort of, something of a I have a nice little treat in these in these times, but I know Matt, I have to admit it’s been a fairly quiet week in terms of novelty. Sorry about that. Matt: I keep asking hoping, Oh, well, I’ll turn. Instead to Julia, Julia Hobsbawm joining us this week, how was your last seven days been? Julia: Hello? Well, first of all, it’s a lovely thrill to be here. And I love the fact that we had a technological glitch before we came on air that cause I I’m I’m I’m the the, the anti-tech candidate. I mean, I’m not really, but you know my week has been mercifully cricket free. I would have to say I’m probably a sport free zone by choice other than doing 10,000 steps a day where I can get to it. I’ve done. Quite a few bits of far telly and conferences. And so sort of dressing up from pajama bottoms up in front of my zoom, if you, if you know what I mean? So that’s been quite good and Yes. You know, just one, I have become a tremendously house, proud person in this infinite lockdown I’ve been taking delivery of, you know, patch, plants, and that sort of thing. That’s been my week. Matt: That sounds do, are you able to notice any variation in days of the week or do they all just seem to be like something day? Julia: Big big advocate of routine and rhythm and so on and so forth. So actually I do have a little set pattern. Yeah, there’s a demarcation between Monday and Friday and the weekend. But I don’t really advocate that generally. I think that all those rules about, you know, Days on and days off just to be adapted according to what you like. I’ve got lots and lots of kids and we have, we have half a dog it’s complicated. The dog doesn’t completely belong to us, but the dog is with us at the moment and dah, dah, dah. And I end up, I’m like the dog’s grandma because my daughter who’s 20 years, you know, behaves towards the dog, like a single mum that. Sometimes says, Oh, grandma, you take it. And so I find myself plotting around the park with the dog. Sharing that, but you have is . Matt: Yeah. Excellent. That’s good to know. I I’ve studiously avoiding any concept of dog in our home. Cause I, I, you know, at least children, you get to a point where they can clean up after themselves. Whereas dogs are, it appears you have to follow them around with a plastic bag at all times all the way until the end of their little doggy lives, which can’t be doing with that. Julia: Well, is it you, that suggests you’re a cat person possibly. Yes, Matt: absolutely. Yeah. Okay. Well, that’s good Snyder where we’ve drawn the lines here. Isn’t it? It’s, you know. Excellent. Chris: Yeah. Good to know that you’re spending some time making your space livable in a different way. I think we have to do that. Don’t worry. I have to try and take some some time to make it a little bit more Appealing. If we’re going to be there all the time, you know, even if it’s perfectly nice to start off with, we tried to find ways to incrementally make it slightly nicer. Don’t we? Yes. Julia: I think I’m, I, I think I’m one of what I’m called the 1% of the 1% during this lockdown, you know, to have space, to have. Different rooms for every member of the family to have large shared space, to have a little bit of outdoors, to be near in my case, hamster teeth, which is a large, huge sprawling piece of land, which is never boring, very near me and so on and so forth. I really can’t imagine what it’s like. And feel pretty wretched whenever I’ve read. Christina Lamb articles in the Sunday times describing or statistics like for some people, I mean, it’s beyond imagining really the level of stress and hardship of being locked up. There, my kids are not little tiny people anymore. They’re teenagers and young adults, which also makes a difference. So yeah, but, but I think actually wherever you live. Luxury or otherwise you’ve had to sort of zone it a bit like your own regional planning officer, you know, Where does so-and-so do their work, their school work, where do we do this, that and the other. And that, that has been quite interesting, you know, the inner architect and all of us has, has this. Chris: Absolutely. So, so I’m not unlike Julia, I do have strong demarcation. I, I reached Friday afternoon a bit like a cross channel Sumit climbing out of the water. It’s that kind of. Staggering towards the finish line. What about yourself? How has this week been? Matt: If I can manage to get that particular visual image out of my head? It’s, it’s been a week of getting stuff done and particularly on Friday being able to do the first big piece of going out to tender for big new project, he stuff at work, which is brilliant. And There’s been an awful lot of work with the team over the last four or five months. And with some external people helping out as well. And we’ve now got eight weeks to see what we can do to be able to start to replace some of their core systems, but also try to be able to use this as a lever, to be able to help the organization get a bit better at Joining itself up behind the scenes, which is very exciting. And I’m very pleased that we’ve got to that point and it feels like I’m at now doing stuff that is, well, I think we should be doing as opposed to clearing the backlog of the stuff that was in flight when I joined, which is a great relief part from that, I learned how to cook ramen, which is very exciting following on from my learning, how to cook Goza a few weeks ago with Yuki’s kitchen, which is the most fabulous thing. The only thing was though I was supposed to have an online course except I’d managed to get the date a month out. And so I had all the chicken and noodles and soccer and everything else that I needed for producing this wonderful ramen dish, but unfortunately no zoom class to do it. So I had to go on my own with the recipe that was that had been sent through. And then I’m going to try it again next month with Yuki giving experts the position and see if I can do better next time. So that was very exciting. I was kind of, I was in cookery classes, a thing to behold, and I think I would do more of them in the future. Julia: I’m having zoom exercise classes, which has been a bit of a revelation. And tomorrow morning I’m going to be joining a dance class in Tel Aviv or a dance movement class in Televiv. Don’t quite understand it. But that’s the plan that has been interesting. That’s been a revelation, actually that you can just sort of join a live stream. Anywhere in the world. I mean, of course you always could before, but somehow this moment has made us experimental. Did you ever think you’d made wrong? Well, Matt: maybe. But what I wouldn’t have expected was to be doing online. That’s definitely the, the bit that’s changed around it also. I mean, this is the other thing that the the continuing exploits of my friends in the capacitor and ventilator, which is the virtual public we’ve been running on and off through lockdown. There was a group of people who now desparately spread across from Galway in the West of Ireland all the way through to, I don’t know who the furthest flair is, probably somebody in Stockholm. And we’re seeing each other more than we have done in 20 years, which is fabulous. But all from the comfort of our own seats, we should probably have you reached a certain ages. Probably a worrying tendency cause with we ever leave the seats again, anyway, fantastic stuff. We’re going to be talking about some athletes, some of the things allied to that. Thinking about how organizations are fairing through this, which is a theme that we keep coming back to. Cause I think it’s really important and to look at it from, from your lens as somebody. Julia, who’s been doing an awful lot of thinking around networks and groups and organizations and how to make our life simpler. So let’s get on with it. Main interview Matt: So we’re now entering into the second year of this mass experiment into dramatically disparate working practices, flexible working practices, homeworking not being in the same physical space as our colleagues and so on. And I actually interested to start off with . All that you look at and study around how organizations operate in networks and, and collaboration and so on. How do you think it’s going at the moment? Why do you think we’re at? Julia: Well, I think we’re sort of in the middle of nowhere. It’s the name of a paper I’ve got coming out called the nowhere office for demos. I’m the chair of the work shift commission, a new. Exploration of what the world of work is going to be like run by the think tank demos. And I think we’re in the middle of nowhere because we’re, well, I want to pick up on the, on the beautiful word liminal that was used with Rhode Island last week. I mean, we are twixt in between. A place of fixity and certainty, which was the office where even with some flexibility and some work spaces and, you know, ultimately it was still an old system that people went into. A building with regularity. And we are now transitioning in this space, which is currently nowhere where we just don’t know. Where we will end up because the pandemic has surprised everybody by proving how versatile work can be thanks to technology. So all the big companies started really effectively offshoring their work to home as early as February last year, you know, long before. Mid-March when the ax came down. Actually, if you talk to, as I’m sure you have done facilities managers and CEOs and tech, and what have you, I mean, it was all set up for the very big companies at home and lo and behold it works. And so then you had the question about, well, if it worked so well, what does that mean? Economically socially. And so there’s this enormous sets of questions has been expelled like a volcano that was rumbling and rumbling and rumbling for 50 years, which it was in the world of work with discussion around flexibility, with discussion around presenteeism, with discussion around all sorts of things. But it. You know, the, the volcano never erupted while the pandemic is that eruption and it’s still spearing out all sorts of things, but when it sets goals, the big question is where will it settle? Will we be going back to that more or less fixed routine and pattern in place? Spoiler alert. I don’t think we will. And what will it feel like to the people doing that work? So, so where are we as we are in an exciting place we’re in a place that could potentially be an awful lot better than it was before, because I take the view that work wasn’t a great place before. I mean, certainly if the metrics on stress and absenteeism through stress and. Productivity or anything to go by which is not to completely dismiss and rubbish the office, but it is to say that change was probably wanted and overdue, but wasn’t felt to be as possible as it is now. So that’s my position as kind of an optimistic pessimist really. Matt: You, you gave us some, a bit of a sneak preview of the work, the demos. And I think one of the things that struck me and it was the you identify that there’s two sets of people and there are people maybe who are either newer into their careers or newer into an organizational, both. And then those who are further into their careers and sort of maybe. In their own minds, learning less. Although I think anybody who thinks they don’t need to learn anymore is in deep trouble. Julia: Yes. I’m going to call them learners and leavers. I mean, I think that when we think about the place of work and the idea that we will go back, there’s a real question Mark, about how often and why, and fundamentally as you say. Kind of specialize in organizational behavior around networks and the way people. Form networks which is actually a rather more interesting way to look at it, the networking, which is perhaps being pedantic. But, but I think if you understand the science of networks, which is tremendously interesting, not least in the middle of a pandemic to understand the epidemiological spread is really quite similar to the way ideas spread, for example yeah. But in terms of networks, we are of course, a social species and we need to connect in order to share information and knowledge and ideas and creativity and warmth and love and passing on risk and passing on news about danger and all sorts of things. And so that is how we organize ourselves as a society. And it’s how we organize ourselves in work places. And so not being able to be in a workplace. Does present a real problem for those networks, which I don’t believe, you know, the Trello’s and slacks and what have used the productivity platforms ha quite meet. I’m sure they would say otherwise, but I felt quite clearly that Well, I know from my research that we’re going to see a rather interesting new generation of social networks around work, but at the moment, going back to this idea of learners and leavers, what you’re then left with post pandemic is once people have realized it might be more possible to choose. The frequency with which they go back to an office and, and indeed the bosses, if you like might decide, it’s cheaper to have people, some people stay at home some of the time and so on. Why will anyone want to go to an office? It will be to collaborate and to connect and to be social and to gather in those networks face to face. And then you have one group that has a greater need than others. And that’s the youngsters. That’s the young people, because fundamentally they want to hang out. They want to learn. They want to gossip. They want to watch, they want to experience, whereas the leavers, if you like the baby boomers and I mean, I’m born in 1964. What does that make me? Matt: Definitely gen Julia: X, gen X. Okay. Our source of generation. We. We quite like having what they used to call work life balance stamp. We were quite enjoying some of the new found freedoms. And so we might want to go in and dip in back to the office, but I don’t know about you, but the idea of going back to an office nine to five is, is, is about the last thing I would want. So that’s really interesting because then you say, you think, well, what’s that going to be like for the property guys? What? So that would be like for the it guys, what’s that going to be like for the HR guys? What’s that going to be like for the C-suite generally, what’s that going to be like for the building, the office, the experience. And of course the other trend that we’ve seen, that again has been bubbling away, all this, all this time and never really agonizing is this thing that they call purpose. The P word, which is the meaning, the values, which Jen Zed, the newest kids on the block care a lot about purpose. They care about two things. Fundamentally, actually one is mobility. So they, they want to be able to go into an office, but they also want to have access to absolutely everything on the move. But the other thing is they want to have meaning and value in their lives. And so work has got to fit that. So suddenly purpose, which had been gaining momentum for the last three years, things like the British Academy, future, the corporation purpose stuff, which I’ve been a little bit involved in last year, 200. Of the world’s largest companies effectively signed a declaration of purpose in the summer, suddenly something that was sort of seen as almost nice to have, you know, next generation CSR has actually become a really live issue now, which is when we get back from all of this, where are we going to do it? How are we going to do it? And why are we going to do it? Matt: You think then that will be maybe one of the other things that we’ll have learned out of this is that we can actually be able to control things a bit more on our own terms. And so is there the purpose part, part as much as anything about how do you actually attract people to become in any way? Part of an employer anymore because you don’t have the physical space. You don’t have the places to go. The signage on the walls, all of that stuff. If you’re stuck in your own home at all times, then there’s no sense of being part of the greater thing. And that’s, that’s a You know, that’s really quite a significant challenge for organizations who probably over the last few decades have started to, you know, we individually have started to question, what is the purpose of us being part of a big organization. If the, if the return for it is three months, notice is all you get and we won’t be loyal to you, but we expect loyalty in return. I wonder if there’s something there that could be quite existential for the, the big corporation. Julia: Oh, I, I agree completely. And I think that the philosophy of meaning attached to work is what the purpose agenda means in practice for employers, which is, and, and to your point specifically about the Dispersal of, of a culture because people work remotely. I, I think it’s going to become the number one priority for brands and businesses and organizations is how do you create and nurture cohesion if you are not United in effectively a skyscraper or the emblem of it? I mean, what was fascinating to me writing this report was I was. I had a flashback really to just a few years ago in 2018. I think it was the Bloomberg’s new office building opened in the city of London and Mike Bloomberg really began the era of the office as Citadel to attract talent. It’s in fact, when people began to be described as talent, rather than just employees, you know, really when Jan. Gen Zed began to, well, the millennials, when the millennials began to enter the workplace and suddenly offices began to compete to be really like sexy with, you know, all you can eat bars and bean bags and what have you. And that trend continued. All the way through the decade, which saw the arrival of, you know, the triple revolution of the internet, social or mobile Island broadband and all of that, the apex of which could be seen to be the opening of the gazillion square foot building of Bloomberg in the city of London, which was, was going to did briefly pre pandemic house 4,000 people. You know, it was the most sustainable building on the planet, blah, blah, blah. Well, it what’s going to happen to that building is my question. Is it going to just snap back, like pre pregnancy weight to its former full occupancy or not? I don’t know. So, I mean, it’s really a, it’s a really interesting question. And if not, how can you have on a distributed basis? Culture and a sense of belonging. And that’s the thing where the tech that you chaps are really interested in becomes suddenly married almost for the first time to human behavior and human need. It feels to me like for the last 25 years or so, it’s been almost. Separate in some respects, certainly in an office environment, it’s been about productivity. It’s been about documents. It’s been about sharing. It’s been about uploading. It’s been about not really connecting people and suddenly that’s becoming more and more and more important. So it’s a, it’s a proverbial tipping point. That’s going on. Chris: That is a good point. And it’s, which is, it has been a lot about technology has been about sharing golf stuff rather than connecting people in some way to share thoughts and ideas. And but I wonder whether the, yeah, the, the, the, the city has been exaggerated a little bit in as much as. People are, people are saying, Oh, here we go. You know, one of other landlords and the cities are going to be empty and nobody’s going back to work. And I think from my point of view, I see different, as you say, different types of people that are there. There are definitely people who are, are absolutely delighted to be away from the office. And maybe that includes those of us who got to a certain age and, or maybe became. You know, in terms of knowledge workers or whatever, you’re kind of vulnerable enough or or confident enough in your own body, you just say, actually, I’m going to work from home today, or I’m going to go and work from that coffee shop or whatever. And you don’t fear the, any reprisals because they can take a run and jump ball, get another job if you don’t like it and all that. But I also think there are some types of work and sometimes the people for which the elastic pulling us back to. But how it was before is stronger. So yeah. As you, as you say that a lot to those with younger people, those people who are trying to climb the greasy pole at the end of the day, if you’re nearer to the people, making the decisions, you have a better chance of influencing them and being seen and being noticed and all of that kind of thing. So we are a competitive species and as we. Compete for the attention of the people that I’ve got, the money, we will go back. You know, those people who want to do that, we’ll go and be close to those people. It’s it’s inevitable, I think. And I think there are some businesses who. Make the decision that they want to work in that way, they want to work close to people. They want to work in physical proximity and they will go back to those cities and those organizations who believe that they can. Sure. Well elsewhere. Another, another way of working. Well not, and they’ll say, okay, no fine. You do. You go for it. You know, you take all the, all the costs and all of the, all of the risk of, of, of having all this real estate and, and all these assets. And we, we won’t do that. And I saw that when I, I was, I was running a project on a team, building a cryptocurrency thing a couple of years ago. And all of those people are all over the world and they were all young and very, very articulate, very intelligent, highly valuable people in as much as they have really good skills and they were, they didn’t need to be close to each other. It was, it was Google Hangouts or meet or whatever. And we met, you know, a time where the one hour of the day where the people in New Zealand could talk to the people in Chicago and all of that kind of thing. But do you know what every single. Yeah. When the sort of Ethereum big international networking thing came around, whether it be in Prague or in stock on whatever they wanted to be there. Everybody wanted to be there because it was that moment where you got to sit down and have a beer with the person you’ve been coding with for the last you know, six, seven, eight, nine months online. So th I, I do think, I think there are lots of people who will do this and they will definitely be work apart. But I do think some of the gaps, maybe all of the gaps will be filled by organizations and people who do just want to get back together and they want to work physically and this, but they are just those kinds of people in business. Julia: I think that’s completely right. I think it is Not the case that the nowhere office, the remote office is going to eradicate, you know, patterned working in the same place anymore than, you know, fundamentally manufacturing requires a production locus in order to. Assemble the parts and so on and so forth. But what I do think going back to the, you know, the old volcano analogy is that there have been rumblings of discord and discontent and efforts for change that have really not surfaced for about 50 years. So if you just take flexible working, I mean, just to, you know, just to burnish a few feminist credentials at this point in a row, in a, in a, in a digital room full of blokes, I mean, You know, women by and large champion, the idea of flexible working to be better at having a balance and childcare and sense of well, and it has been pretty hard. One BC was very much an early adopter. The phrase work-life balance being. Used in response to a paper that they published as, as long ago as 1987, but flexible working has never really completely caught on and of course, lockdown. Now when a lot of men and male executives suddenly understood it and got the point a bit, that’s when this whole discussion about possibly not working in the same way has has. So I do think that Certain genies are not going to go back in the bottle is what I think. And one of those genies is that if you don’t have to, or don’t want to work in a fixed immutable way, you will be able to argue convincingly that you don’t have to anymore. And even if your boss thinks they can keep a lid on it, legislation will follow. And from that point of view, I don’t think it will be the same again, but what I think is that in exactly the same way that all humans let’s face, it are on a spectrum of all sorts of things at any given time. I think the work is on a spectrum. You know, the learner at one end and the lever at one end is a spectrum in which your needs and the needs of your organization change. And so. Some organizations at certain points are absolutely going to need everybody and all the time, a bit like, you know, there’s no leave in a police, you know, in a, in the police force or poor, poor law in the NHS at the moment, you know, all leave is canceled kind of thing. But that doesn’t mean the norm is going to be presenteeism anymore. I think that, so, so I think there’s a separation between the hard economics of the way individual organizations need to run on a re-organized and therefore, do people need to be in the same place in order to get it done? Is it just too complicated, even with the best software? So run different schedules, not in the same place, you know, debate. Arguably that might be the case, but culturally it’s another, another master entirely. And I think that a number of shifts that were beginning from around about 2007, which is roughly speaking, when you started to have all the, all the mobile brands and mobile light, you know, The Facebooks and the Instagrams and the Airbnbs, for example. And you had a very particular book published that year called the four hour work week. Did you ever read that fantastic book? Did you ever increase your look? Oh, it’s the most marvelous book. I mean, it basically says it’s the four hour work week, not the four hour work day. And it says it was on the bestseller list for seven years. That’s how much of a nerve it touch and it effectively argued. That emotionally and philosophically and intellectually and logically, there was a case to do your work anywhere, but in a presentee way, and to keep your bosses happy. And that touch a design Geist, which I think a pandemic is going to re re-ignite. That’s all I’m saying. And it brings back in that whole kind of big purpose piece, which is why we all working anywhere and what do we want with our lives? And there’s capitalism. Everything is cracked up to be blah, blah, blah. That’s what I’m really interested in is those big questions. I’m not denying at all that of course, city centers will reopen with the, with the latte stalls and the dry cleaners and the. Restaurants and the bars and the, all that sort of stuff, because that’s, that’s, that’s society, society will resume, but I do think these big questions have been unleashed in us. We hadn’t had a pandemic in this kind of connected industrialized, modern society for a hundred years. At this scale, Matt: it would have been a very, very different experience. If the pandemic had hit say 20 years ago, as well before the connected nature of how we work now, it would have been a completely different. Completely different experience two decades Julia: back. Although I know an architect, a guy called David Katz in New York pointed out that, of course, a lot of modern building design from netball busier onwards was in fact informed by the, the, the aesthetic of the last pandemic of the Spanish flu, which I hadn’t even realized. So, so these shifts in the way, the world functions. Around our safety and our mobility and our meaning, you know, we’re experiencing mass death, mass threat of death. That is making us question meaning isn’t it? Chris: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, you got to think that there are going to be people who. A few years ago would think to themselves, well, the chances are they’re going to look to 70 plus and there’s going to be a retirement and all of that kind of thing. And I’d even had my pension and all of that. But maybe one of the things that this does to everybody is to take that question and shake it about a bit and say, you know, is life too short? You know, are we. How are we wasting our lives when we’re young and if this kind of thing is going to happen again. And you know, it’s a valid question, isn’t Julia: it? Yeah. Especially when you marry it with, with, with the whole climate discussion and that sensibility and the fact that what you’ve now got again, as a consequence of the pandemic and as a consequence of the seriousness of the situation is that. The purpose of agenda and the ESG environmental sustainable and governance agenda is curiously and alignment for the first time, arguably in a hundred years between the bosses and the worker, which is everybody wants the same thing for the first time survival. And that’s really interesting. So they might be coming at it from different. Physicians, you know, how do you retain and attract talent and have social cohesion in an office that isn’t really an office anymore? How do you do, you know, drinks and secret center and that if everybody’s on shift, but at the same time, if what you’ve got is the boardroom in embracing purpose principles, which are really different too. You know, stakeholder capitalism, then that could also create all sorts of change. So just in one case alone, I’m really interested in what’s going to happen around the use of time and the spending of time. I, I think when you asked me at the beginning, how my week was, I used to be a very much champion of switch off at six o’clock on a. Friday, for example, and demarcation and practice what I used to call a technician bat and no technology for 24 hours and a sort of screen wide. And I don’t know if I think I would advocate that anymore, partly because we’ve become so embedded with the tech, but also because. More and more, we want to choose our own patterns and our own presenteeism around our work is a form of freedom and choice. And so if I could both wave a magic wand and maybe even future a little bit, I would say that I also think we’re going to see not just an uncoupling from that place of work, but also. The fixity of saying you’re paid for this number of hours and you’re paid to show that you’ve worked those hours rather than have you given meaning to this organization. What does success look like? What have you contributed? Have you brought your networks into this organization? Have you been a good team member? Have you, you know, time I think could become much, much less relevant or differently counted. Matt: That’s what interests me. Yeah. There’s definitely something in that. And I think that the I mean, from my years of working as a, as a consultant and trying always to be able to work on the principle of. Being able to charge a client for the outputs or the outcomes of what I was doing rather than the input of time and that working sometimes, but mostly not because most people couldn’t equate. Yes. But how many hours would he. B because that’s how we’re used to paying for people. And I think that shift away from the inputs is going to be, there’s definitely potential there, but I think it’s really hard. And I think the other bit within this is if we think about this as the idea of gaining, making gains in productivity, I think traditionally the, the organization, the employer has always expected that the primary recipient of any productivity gain should be the organization that was power industrialization, whether, so you put machines in, you can get rid of people and then you can, you know, and so on. And I don’t think that works with knowledge work. I think there’s a lot of claims at the moment that, you know, artificial intelligence, et cetera, will. Get rid of the need for currently highly paid knowledge professionals. It will get rid of some anthroposophy and there’s, you know, some traits like within healthcare or within say the legal profession where a lot of the Drudge work there there’s currently reasonably highly paid. We’ll just go because you don’t need to do it, but. Maybe this marks the point at which for certain types of work, more people are able to be in a position of greater power over the people who are contracting them to do things. Maybe this will give an opportunity for them to be able to start to take the rewards of that productivity. If it is, if I can do the work in four hours a week, but I still get the outcomes you expect, don’t expect me to fill in the other 36 as we stuffed, just because that’s what a week is. Julia: Yes. I think the whole productivity question, by the way, it’s just so fascinating. I’ve never understood why people just go, Oh, There’s the productivity factors again, aren’t they terrible, you know, productivity is always obviously, or it seems to me index linked to creativity to purpose, to meaning whether you are on a factory floor or an office floor. And actually what I think is coming out of this phase is a sort of alignment again, thanks to technology and thanks to the trend where. We’re not really going to differentiate between the factory floor and the office floor work is all going to have to tick similar boxes, which is, is it first of all, is it ethical? That’s a big issue, more and more, is it sustainable? You know, and. Does it provide a good environment for the people doing the work? One of the, one of the most pioneering examples actually of purpose driven work which I was surprised to come across extraordinary case study of, of, of the Kellogg’s factory, the cereal factory, and In production in the 1930s, which is a Kellogg instigated, a six hour day, a flexible working shorter working day in 1929 in order to give more work because after the great depression. You know, there was such a, such a, an economic crisis and it proved incredibly popular with the men and women leading those lives so much so that they campaign to retain it all the way up until the 1950s, when it turned out that the workers wanted more hours, because there was so many white goods they wanted to buy and rumor has it that the wives got, you know, and see that the husbands were under their feet. A few extra hours a week, but that may be just an urban myth, but actually in the end it lasted until the eighties, but it was done over by management management, wanted to control the hours. So the other question, so, so many things to talk about here. Hope you can come back and have another conversation, but I think what’s really interesting is burstable of course, productivity is linked to meaning and whether we value the time we are spending. And that should, in my view a much more valuable than what time we’re spending, you know, is there a point to what you’re doing and are you being treated well for doing it? But the second issue is really what, what is the work itself, if you are in fact producing, you know, I don’t know, toxic products made with slave labor. That’s just not cool anymore for anybody anywhere. And increasingly those values, I think, are not going to, they’re not going to be put away even when people fear that there’s not enough jobs going round. I think that, that that issue is live for large organizations, you know, we’re in a very self-conscious era. Are we not where certain values and norms are popping up a fresh, and that makes me think that some of these shifts might actually stick. That culturally, there’s going to be a lot more force than there has been before driven by, beyond, but also driven by the market. The whole ethics question is, is actually now got commercial T that’s really an interesting moment. So productivity ought to go up. If those interests are aligned. And if it doesn’t, the question is, well, what is it? Bad management. Is it presenteeism? Is it lack of skills? Is it the wrong technology? Is it? What, what is it? Outro Matt: Well, thank you to Julia for fascinating discussion into themes that we continue to come back to. But I think we still need to explore them. Anyway she’s had to shoot off Chris, you’ve got another week ahead of you. Chris: I mean, I Matt: hope that’s why I, yeah. Tell me to give you this note. I’m sorry. This is a very harsh way to break it to you, but yeah, Chris: the if I’m spared, yes, I’ll have another week in front of me. And it’s well it’s again, another busy one and. I mean, luckily we’re in that time of the year where, so this is how it works with IDC. At the start of the year, we have these things called directions events, which are essentially predictions and all that stuff, sort of all that good stuff that comes out. And then I’ll do some a turn on one or two of these events. And I think like I talked about last week, recording them and things like that. So, and then we’ll talk to people and now that might be something to come to some conversations about. How about how we might be able to help people and things like that. So that’s some of that’s going on in the next few weeks with some of the people that were at some of our events. So that’s good because that’s me talking to people that I’ve not talked to before. And it made me think about actually without opening the can of worms, about what we were just talking about and, and about the fact that the funding part of the funding for me of this job and it’s valuable to me is it helps me expand my network. And no doubt I bring my own network to it. Right. So that’s part of my buddy, but it is valuable to me too, because I’m meeting people and learning things that I wouldn’t otherwise have done. And I think, especially when you’re young, that’s part of what you go, but you’re opposite. I think that’s something we should maybe, maybe as we employ people, you know, we should be bringing up the things that you do get out of a job when you’re in it. But anyway, sorry, I didn’t want to you know, continue the debate. But it just made me think about it and it made me think about what I’m doing this week and all of those kinds of good things. But yeah, it’s going to be a bit like that. A few conversations with customers, few with new, new, new connections, I think, I think that’s about it. Really. Matt, what about you? Matt: Well we continue to track how many people are going to be sending their responses to the tender that I mentioned at the beginning of the show. Very exciting. You can watch it live on the digital outcomes on gov government, UK. It’s it’s like watching the football on tele techs back in the eighties. Very similar. Are Chris: you are you going to share the link in the on the web page? Matt: I might. Well do it’s that Chris: exciting when you go to the web page? Is that it is something involving like Nora orange on the page and you have to wait until it turns over to get to your Matt: that’d be great. No, it’d be late new Orleans procurement for a new set of spanners. And then, yeah, it’d be fabulous. And then other than that it, it’s actually a bit of a week of relative Relative quiet, contemplation and comparisons to the last few words. And then the weekend, I’ve got to try to think of things to do with the kids next week during half term, because it is half term and I will be spending most of the week with them rather than working. So I’ve really got to come up with some plans of stuff to do cause otherwise it will be a as a day of video games, which will not go down well with anybody. Chris: Ah, well, you ought to get one of these little microbit Rover things that I was programming and that’s where, again, it’s, it’s a really cool thing. I’ll send you the detail. Matt: That’d be good. Yeah. We’ve got a microwave. So I think we’ll play around with a bit, although we’re trying to get away from screen time as well. Cause it would be good, especially cause the kids are basically on the laptops. Most of the day is they’re doing schoolwork, trying to be able to do things that don’t involve. Any sort of computer Chris: technology for awhile, then weeding the garden. It would be a good thing. You know, you have lots of little weeds that are start popping up. This is a great term. Great use for tiny Hunter. Matt: Yeah, that, that may well be it. Next week show we have got yet another guest and if I remember correctly, it’s Ed Qualtrough. Who will be joining really? I believe so. If it isn’t then, you know, there we go. So it, the, the former editor of CIO magazine somebody who I’ve spent many hours locked in a room, judging CIOs from across the nation with, and he’s now working for a subsidiary, the new statesman. So it’d be great to catch up with ed and find out what he’s up to and his view of the world at the moment. And before we get to that, Enjoy the week between now and then, and look forward to joining you next week.
46 minutes | a month ago
(180) Inbetween Places
On this week’s show we speak to Roland Harwood about liminal things and places. You can find out more about Roland’s business Liminal here: https://www.weareliminal.co/ And his podcast On The Edge is here: https://www.weareliminal.co/ontheedge Transcript This is an automated transcript, so there may be errors, some of which might be hilarious. That’s just the machines taking the rise… Intro Chris: Hello and welcome to the latest episode of WB 40. And here we are, again another recording and as the nights are well, not exactly getting a great deal. I too, it’s pitch black now, but it’s starting to creep in as it was starting to get a little bit more of a, of an evening. And it’s been one of the, one of those weeks where basically the same things happen that happens every day, but not how’s it been for you? Matt: Hey was quite last week launched a new website, which had been about five years in the making. As far as I can tell it predated me. It was good to get that one done. That was exciting. Hung a mirror. I hate DIY. I keep seeing these things on the internet. I know that it’s probably because everything I do is tracked and deeply processed, but there’s this thing, this device that keeps getting advertised to me on Oh, that yellow Twitter, the yellow magic. And so I hung this mirror and of course it starts off by being, not quite plastic ball, but not a solid wall. It’s harder than plasterboard. I don’t know. I think it’s the original construction of the building. And then trying to put things into play. And then of course, one of them’s about half a millimeter lower than the other one, and it’s a 1.2 meter mirror. So by the bottom, my wife, nice, this, these things. So that’s a skew and then trying to work out what you do cause you’ve got plasterboard holes, but it’s just it’s my idea. Chris: When you bought that for a company, you knew what you were getting into. Matt: I didn’t realize it was a hollow waffle. I work in software for reasons and, mostly my crashing competence than anything physical. Yeah, that was stressful. And then apart from that yeah, it’s just one day forms in Tim for another one, much like any other in this endless repeating cycle of. Sunrise and sunset had some scaffolding put up around the front of the house, having a bit of roof replaced. That was exciting. That is exciting. Haven’t bought any shares in a failing. On a physical shop business, and now haven’t bought anything in sh in silver, either which apparently where all the cool kids have read it and are plowing their money. It’s better to turn over the global financial systems, not involved in that. Haven’t got any Bitcoins. There wasn’t any the wiser, when. Elon Musk said that then it Chris: was after. And then that’s which has been a fairly a, been a bit of a backwater for a long time. And suddenly it went up like 200% or something like that. Matt: Yeah. I’m glad to hear that. I’m just, I’ve not been into that new iOS only. What was it called? Social club or something? Shop club chat house. Chris: Yeah. How many 20 Matt: nos? I feel I might be letting myself down in terms of being on the cutting Chris: edge. Yeah. And olden, like the whole thing about what I w I once was I was with it and then what it was changed and now everything’s scary and I don’t know where I live or something like that. Matt: Yeah. Anyway, so this is now turning into the bit and the Muppets. So that’s two old Chris: boys has really upset it. Really? Yeah. Anyway, look, come on. Let’s stop this. We’ve got a guest. We’ve got it. We’ve got an honored guest. Somebody has to talk sense in between all this nonsense Rowland hall with how they Roland. Nice to see you. Hi, Chris. Nice to see you. Roland: I didn’t realize this was mostly DIY podcasts. Chris: Yeah. Yeah. The home improvements. It’s mainly drywall and things like that, but yeah. And how’s your week been? Roland: My week’s been it sounds similar, the trudge of lockdown, I think But we’re getting that it’s February that psychologically means something I’ve survived dry January, which I feel quite smug to that, to be able to say that I think we’ve Chris: all survived. I genuinely, I’ve never been tempted to touch a drop. It’s not, it was no hardship. I was just notice the height yesterday Roland: and I have downloaded clubhouse and I’ve tried using it, but I don’t think I’m cool enough or. Yeah, I haven’t seen why I really should use it other than it’s a new thing and Elon Musk is using it. And yeah, no, I’ve made a few, maybe big decisions, which I might talk about. We’ll see how it goes in the last week, which I’m quietly confident and excited about. So yeah, it feels like there’s lots of bubbling away below the surface, but above the surface, it all looks as it did the week before. Chris: So some sort of, as a bit of a draw is a win at the moment. I think in the, Matt: how about you, Chris? How’s your week been? Chris: Oh, it was it was quite busy. I see quite a lot going on various events with work and trying to record try to record a keynote for one of our events, but I am still not at the point where I’ve reached that kind of Oneness with doing video events, because one, when you speak at an event, normally you, your just stood there and you can see the audience. And even if half of them are on their phone, looking at their email, they’re not really paying attention. You can find somebody who’s got, who’s desperate enough to listen and then you can get some sort of feedback trying to deliver that sort of thing to a camera. As my dead screen is really hard. I find it very difficult. But yes, I was thinking about that last week and yeah, as always, it was some really great conversations with different people. Lots of interesting folks to talk to I work with but what those room looks like the other, I was just reflecting on your mirror. Tie in, cause I was doing something similar not last week, but a couple of weeks ago. And I always forget this in my house is I get my spirit level out and I’ll get it all level. And then I step back and I realize that there’s no point in what I put up being level because my balls aren’t straight and the floor isn’t. So it just looks bad. You have to make it. Yeah. Deliberately skewed just to go with a house, just to go back onto that deal, I think. But yeah, it was fine. No, in many ways I can’t really complain. Not Matt: good. Okay. That thing though, about having to present to nothing but the. The lens of a camera. I think, I don’t know. Maybe people are starting to appreciate a little bit more of the skill and talent. There is for a good television presenter, Chris: Richard Baker, up in my estimation, Matt: And Richard Attenborough. No, David Attenborough. I reached out when he was good as well, of course, but it’s not been around for awhile. But the the ASAM Bruce, they were able to be able to do instead all in one case able to do this whilst surrounded by marauding wild animals. So it’s be able to do all of that is. Quite remarkable. Really? There is something that actually, and I don’t know if you’ve talked about this before, but, so I’ve talked with other people about this recently that the presenting to a group of people, even if they are there, that alone, if they’re displaced by time and doing that is so much more hard work, I knew using a tool like zoom or whatever else, and it is to do in-person because the emotional energy you need to drive out of it. The ability to make yourself feel deeply uncomfortable, because you are trying to do something with an energy that isn’t coming back at you. And I think it’s massively difficult. Roland: I was on a session last week with a relatively small group of people and the instructions at the beginning were stay off mute, which is the opposite of what you almost always get told for the very reason that. You want a little bit, if possible, obviously if your child is running around screaming in the background, then use your mute button, but otherwise stay off mute. And I actually thought that’s quite good instructions. Isn’t appropriate for bigger events and what have you, but just so you get that audio feedback, if nothing else, if you tell a joke and you don’t hear anything, it’s soul destroying. So I thought I might try that as well in the Matt: future. Yeah. That’s an interesting thing. And it’s one of the challenges actually. And one of the, I think the biggest. Single challenge with the technology at the moment is that audio does not allow people to talk over one another. Because you get the thing where one dominant audio channel will mute everything else in an ability to be able to, this is why you have to stay on mute, because if you’ve got a loud noise, it stops the speaker from being heard completely, not just, riding out over the top of it. Now, being able to get to a point where we have technologies that enabled us to be able to talk over one another, a little bit, or even, maybe even a lot. It’s one of the things that Liz stocker was saying when we spoke to her at the end of last year, About how the actually talking over each other is part of the way in which we communicate with one another and losing that makes everything that much harder, the technology to be able to do that will be monumentally difficult. Chris: I don’t think it’s just the tech guy. I think it’s our ability to focus on in-person you can tune one person out and listen to another, or you can it’s. It just seems to be easier when you’re surrounded by people and maybe. It’s to do with your brain being able to say, okay, I can kind of position that person over there and I can position that. And you’ve got a 3d effect. It’s not the same when you’ve got a 2d effect in your ears. Somehow your brain is just not possible. And so the tech might be able to get us there in terms of. Processing the input, but I don’t think we can process that here with headphones Roland: on none of it. It’s funny. I’ve been playing with some tools recently just because of zoom fatigue, because it’s not even if locked down and soon I think we’re still going to be having to use these tools a bit better. And so I’ve been experimenting with a bunch of new tools recently. The latest one I’ve been using is called bonfire, which is 3d audio. And it, it’s quite simple. You just move yourself around a room or there’s different zones. And so you can hear people spatially around, around the space and it’s very different to a mano kind of webcast zoom experience. I dunno, I think people are playing experimenting with that. Aren’t they? But yeah, it’s by no means perfect Chris: right now. Okay. Oh, I hadn’t heard about that, but that sounds like the kind of thing that might be necessary in order to suit. Hi, you might set up with the visual clues then to get you all to work in the way that we’re used to. I don’t know, but you maybe we’ll evolve, our minds and our brains will evolve in, new ways of capturing all this stuff and processing it. Matt: I think we are ready. You don’t hear you’re on mute quite as much as you did this time last year. Anyway, let’s let’s press on with the show. We’re going to talk about the things between things. Cause that seems like a good place to be. Should we crack on. Main Interview Matt: Last year, we had an episode which is entitled liminal. And one of the reasons I know that word is because of this week’s guest because he introduced me to the term. And the conversation we were having last year was about how, one of the things that we seem to have lost through lockdown and this mass experiment in working remotely. From one another physically has. Being the loss of the spaces that exist between the things that we think are important. So the loss of the space of commuting that, that space and time between home and work, the loss of the space that exists at the beginning and the end of meetings, when you’re chatting with your colleagues before you get to hit the agenda, because everybody’s now obsessed with having meetings that only focus on the agenda items as if those were the things that you couldn’t do through things other than a meeting. Anyway, Which is a whole other story. The loss of places like the water cooler and these slightly turgid ways to try to be able to recreate them. They’re all just a little bit awkward and how maybe we finding some of the working from home and some of the everybody distant from each other harder because we’re losing some of those places, which were never seen as being necessarily the important bit of work. And we’d get factored out if you’re allowed an accountant anywhere near it. But in fact it probably how human organizations, businesses and what have you, or work does that resonate in any way? Roland: Rolling. It absolutely resonates. Yeah. I think, and I’m biased for reasons I’ll explain, but I think the most interesting stuff happens at the edges of organizations or places or yeah. Times whether it’s meetings or what have you. And so I think it’s important to go there. And I think know we are missing some of that in some ways in our new lockdown lives, as you describe Chris, but at the same time, liminal just quickly. Can I just define it because most people know the word subliminal, but they just, they don’t realize that liminal is it’s the same word. So subliminal is usually in relation to your thoughts. So subliminal thoughts are your subconscious or unconscious thoughts, but liminal just means the kind of surface or the threshold. That’s when a thought goes from being unconscious to conscious. That’s where the, that’s the sort of the Latin, I presume origins of the word. But so it just really means transitions or boundaries. And I think that’s where there’s a great quote by JG Ballard, which is my fate. One of my favorite quotes, the future reveals itself through the peripherals. So in your peripheral vision, the new opportunities, new technologies, whatever it might be, make themselves known often quite quietly at first. And then, more forcibly over time. And so yeah, I think that’s an interesting fertile ground and, by definition overlooked, Matt: How do you explore this bit that people overlook? What had, how do you even find it? Some of the times, Roland: By accident probably is the short answer or inadvertently just by trying to pay attention. Yeah, the idea of liminality comes from anthropology originally, and I’m not an anthropologist, but it was introduced to me by an ethnographer where they study amongst other things, rites of passage in life, whether it’s births or deaths or marriages, or the example I remember was The bar mitzvah in Jewish culture, where you go from being a sort of boy to a man. And there’s a phase in that sort of ceremony. I’m not Jewish, I’ve never been to a bar mitzvah actually. So I’m not speaking from firsthand experience, but where you say goodbye to your boyhood self and a little bit later you welcome in your adult identity and there’s that in-between bits when you’re no longer a boy and you’re not yet a man or girl or a woman, of course. Where there’s a lot of, potential for reinvention, and so that’s where the idea originally comes from, but I’m a physicist by background and. I’m fascinated by things like superconductivity and weird stuff that happens at the transitions between solids liquids and gasses in that example. And just, I think at the transitions, that’s where it’s possible to reinvent or recreate. So yeah, I’m just being fascinated with this concept for years. And I feel as a, without wishing to be too grandiose as a world and a society for the last few years things have been very fluid. Old certainties have been. Cast aside and new certainties have yet to be picked up and that’s probably magnified more than ever in the pandemic. So I think it’s, yeah, for me I’ve become completely obsessed with it as a concept and an idea there’s Chris: something, yeah, absolutely. Something that has. I’ve often used as a metaphor when looking at innovation and organizations and trying to help people to find where the innovation is this idea of that, which was just, I think the other bit related to what you’re saying. And it is it’s it’s I think, or the edge effect in a way where you have two ecosystems that meet and that’s where evolution happens faster, because you’ve got. Maybe, where the land meets the sea or whether it, where the edge of the rainforest or wherever or whatever it might be, where you’ve got two different ecosystems meeting and then they have to adapt in order to, and that’s where you get the most adoption. And also that happens in terms of organizations where two organizations working with each other, is that kind of related to what you’re talking about, that forced adaption, that place where you have to meet the challenge of whatever is Roland: coming next. I think absolutely they slightly cynically. The first thought that pops into my mind is, but by that analogy, then mergers and acquisitions should be some of the most kind of fertile ground for innovation, which, obviously well frequently, they’re not lots of evolution fails. I guess I used to run a little company that specialized in open innovation, which is basically just connecting different companies, usually large and small companies around new products and new ideas. And. The best new ideas are basically just two or more old ideas mashed together, maybe in a new or interesting way. I think things like innovation get quite okay. Overly theorized and mythologized, actually. It’s just, yeah, it’s just bringing to two things, two people, two ideas or two or more together to create something new and different. And yeah, it’s there in that in-between space where something new can emerge as well. And it’s not just the overlap between, it’s not just the yeah. W where two ideas overlap as well. They the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, yeah. Or maybe even collide collect. Yeah. Matt: But where you’ve got stuff where actually it’s causing problems, because you’ve got two different disciplines and sometimes that leads to. Problems. So that can also lead to people having to better work through new ways of being able to operate or do things or think about things differently. Roland: Yeah, absolutely. It’s quite uncomfortable, being in transition or yeah. Being between two cultures or whatever it might be. It’s not always a very comfortable state of existence. But I think it’s a fertile and it can be a fertile and a creative one. And I think it’s also, if I can just get back on my hobby horse for a second, I think it’s one that we all need to get better at, in our, in previous generations, those periods of transition, you change jobs every, depending on how back you go, never, you leave school and have a career for life. And, as time goes by our lives and our attention becomes more and more fragmented. So the sort of transitions between. Previous more staple periods of our lives. And then, reinventing yourself for the next phase of your life is happening with much greater speed and frequency for all sorts of reasons. So I think we need to get better at navigating some of those ambiguities and gray areas and transitions. At least right now, maybe that will change, whatever happens post pandemic, but. Matt: So you’ve built a new venture after the thing, a hundred percent open, I have called it liminal. In terms of the actual things that you are doing to go from this theoretical discussion about the idea of the liminal space and whatever to yeah. W how are you stopping the debt collector coming around? And, Roland: So we were basically a sort of distributed agency or consultancy. Don’t really like the word consultancy because everyone’s a consultant these days, but yeah we’re hopefully a bunch of smart, creative entrepreneurial people who. Come together and support each other and share learning. And in various forms deliver projects together. So the main ways in which we keep the debt collector from the door are we’re running a big challenge in South Africa at the moment where we’re finding interesting startups over there and matching them with startups here in the UK, around a bunch of different. Particular challenges. But we’ve done that with a very distributed team, both here in South Africa. We’ve done a bunch of research for various organizations the Wellcome trust and Facebook and various other people in organizations. And and yeah, we facilitate a kind of toddler workshops, I think for me, the most interesting and important problems. And the biggest one. Current pandemic notwithstanding would be around kind of climate change and climate emergency require weird hybrids of governments and corporations and startups and academics and citizens to come together and collaborate in some shape or form. So at our most kind of pompous and ambitious, we want to occupied or not occupied, but just connect the dots a little bit between unlikely bedfellows and try and solve. Interactive or very challenging problems. That’s where we, I think we get most excited. It’s hard to craft a sensible business model around that, but so far touch wood we’ve done. All right. And and it seems to be resonating with people as well. Matt: That idea of having to bring different groups together. I look at the. I dunno, micro level, of the world in housing, where I’m at the moment and thinking about some of the challenges around targets, the social housing over the next 30 years, where by 2030, all of our homes need to be, have an energy performance rating of a C or a B. Bob will seal better. And then by 2050 carbon neutrality, and that might be, I called earlier. And if you’d look at the the number of different professional interests that are involved in the designing and building and delivery of homes, let alone retrofitting old ones, which is a whole other thing. Ballgame of nightmares, the houses are places where a group of different professions come together and often fail to communicate or collaborate in any way, shape or form. And I know Chris, you’ve spoken about this in the past, around your. The experience in the world of facilities management, where the people responsible for different systems within buildings ended up actually creating a complex systems that just fundamentally don’t work with one another, because nobody’s talking to each other. And the challenge, there are very interesting challenges. This is just sociological and cultural. One of being able to get different groups from different worlds and different professional experience, to be able to not only just talk to each other, but also start to think about how they need to be able to actively work together, to be able to get things that, that work, that, that sounds like a really important challenge and also quite. A Chris: pick. That’s why I think also the problem is not necessarily that yes, they all come with from different backgrounds with different worldviews and different experience, but they also come with different agendas and they have very different views on how things should be done. And they also have often very strong views on how the other party should be doing their job, which is different from the way they do it. That’s just so I can, I think back to my time, working in the criminal justice sector where you’ve got people like police magistrates, Probation officers, prison officers and every single one, every single group would regard the other with disdain and dismay and as much as probation officers who police polices the just Bali boys and thugs. And they’d say the prison officers is ketone as an policeman. We’ll see the probation people as. The soft Nancy kind of, encouraging the, the wrong diverse to, to misbehave and prison office would see the mall as hopeless because by the time they’ve finished with them, they have to deal with them at their and actually working together in a multi-agency way to achieve an outcome, like a societal outcome, which is a reduction in crime reduction in victims, an outcome for society to. So to to rehabilitate people, it’s really difficult because just, it’s not because they don’t actually all have that outcome in mind. They do, but their views on how you achieve it and their views on the reasons for it completely different. And I think, you see it often. Roland: Yeah. I’ve definitely, I relate to that massively. See that in so many different ways, my wife actually used to work on the sort of fringes of the criminal justice system as a social worker. But and yeah why is that? And we all we’re a social species. We there’s a tribalism. We sort of cluster birds of a feather flock together. We cluster with people we like or have something in common with, and other people that are different to us. And. I think that’s a natural part of our behavior as a species, but at the same time, I don’t know if you’ve read Yuval, Harari, his book sapiens, and the work around it, but he talks about our super power as a species is our ability to cooperate at a very large scales, through telling stories predominantly, stories like money and brands and things like this, which create a more macro identity. But yeah. How do you get people to, I don’t think they know what you don’t want to do is just get everybody. And this is maybe where mergers and acquisitions go wrong. They try and absorb and squash. Usually this, the culture of the smaller organization by the larger organization, that’s taking it over. Whereas really you want to preserve I, in my last company, we were nearly acquired by a much bigger company. And we were saying, it’s going to be great. We were in pitch mode, but we were saying, it’s going to be great. We, w we’ve got all this agility and creativity and you’ve got all this reach and infrastructure and investment. And then what, one of the people there just said yeah, but obviously we want it to be that the he had a great little expression. I’ve forgotten it now, but it was basically like, we want it to be the best of. What you do and the best of what we do not the worst of what you do in the worst of what we do. Chris: Yeah. Oh, you have to do to my brains and Roland: not something like that. Yeah. It was that check. Yeah, exactly. And it was like, yeah, you’re right. Absolutely. That’s but often that’s the way it ends up. Isn’t it? You you adopt the creativity and agility of the bigger corporation and they adopt the sort of the lack of whatever that you might bring to the Chris: table. I was thinking, actually, when you made that you made that point about mergers and we talked about the edge effect in the desert meeting, meeting the rainforest or whatever it might be. And I was thinking actually the reason why mergers often fail acquisitions, certainly acquisitions often fail is because the jungle, which is the desert and the desert says you’re a desert now on the jungle. Doesn’t know how to be a desert, but it’s suddenly, Oh, you’ve got to behave like us. And. It’s just, you’ve lost the opportunity to say, okay, what’s the grace of the happens in between was that what’s. And, but that’s not how we work, because as you say, people they fixate on being successful in the way they always have. And often it’s a ego driven thing to think I was successful because I was like that. And that’s why you often see. Managers or people being bought into an organization, then they go, okay. I was successful over there and I did a, B and C, and now we’re going to do a, B and C or B, and I’m going to be successful. And they obsess about doing a, B and C, but they don’t realize that somebody else was doing D somebody else was doing E effort happened before they turned up, and all of these things made that circumstance happened, but they just concentrate on the things that they did. So it’s that it’s ego driven process. Isn’t it where people think that they were in control of their situation and that’s why they were successful. And that’s why they’re going to make this change happen. And they don’t appreciate that. Actually, there was a whole complex then going on around them. That was part of their success or whatever. But you Matt: don’t get the next job if you say. Yeah, no, but that last one, it just, obviously I’m going to change to me, do stuff. And I, my, my great hero in all that I’ve done in the second half so far of my career is gently the the. The Douglas Adams character who basically just randomly does stuff until things eventually hit into some sort of mode. And whilst I don’t completely follow that train of thought approach, that there’s a little bit of actually needing to be able to let some randomness and serendipity happen and then pick out what’s working, which is completely unacceptable as a way to be able to sell a. Business service, but it’s probably what’s happening in most cases. Anyway. So w we talked about these groups and different groups and the challenges of them working together because, culture and power and all these, but what are the ways to overcome that? What are the things that we do to be able to allow magic to happen at the boundaries, as opposed to the bad stuff? Roland: So if I can just introduce another kind of buzz word into the conversation. So collective intelligence, which is, the property of groups to be greater than the sum of the parts essentially, or the individuals within them, the sort of the core principles are wet, and most groups let’s face it as we’ve talked about are yeah, not necessarily smart or intelligent, least not not it’s not guaranteed to be the case. Diversity and independence, two interrelated concepts, but first of all, When faced with any question or problem you want to hear from different perspectives freely, without too much influence from each other, at least to start with, you want people to answer the question in the way that they’re able to answer the question that requires and sorry to be a bit fluffy here on a technology kind of podcast, psychological safety people need to be able to say if, if they disagree with, the direction that we’re going, or if they think a different technology might be a better technology or whatever it might be. And so these cultural things are really important, but also, so having those diverse perspectives, probably getting people to work maybe individually together. So this kind of concept of working alone together, I think is quite powerful. And then. Synthesizing aggregating and banking the stuff that you agree on, and then really spending time on the stuff where people have different perspectives. Sometimes you just need to agree to disagree. Sometimes you need to hammer it out and see who wins the argument. And, there’s a number of different approaches. I think there’s some very practical methods. I think a lot of it is about, yeah. How are you tee up the conversation or the, the culture, some of it is about how you facilitate the process. And some of it is just basic rules and behaviors that it’s okay to say. I don’t know, that ego thing that you’re talking about, Chris, that, or, being honest, Matt, about that, your successes in your last job where, you know, largely down to a flute, if indeed that is a modicum of truth, I think we can all relate to that. Somebody said to me recently, vulnerability is an ability. So the ability to show. Weakness or uncertainty or is, can be very powerful if done in the right way. Obviously some cultures, some organizations will completely hammer down and crush that, but I think that is ultimately self-defeating so. If you’re interested, we wrote a 220 page collective intelligence handbook with the United nations in Nesta, which has a whole bunch of tools and techniques and methods, which hopefully is pretty practical in amongst some of this more conceptual stuff that I’m talking about here tonight. Matt: So some of the stuff you talked about there sounds like it might be easier in some. Cultures than others. And that the particularly if you take the us individualistic and the UK individualistic business style, which I think is prevalent in a lot of organizations in the UK and the U S and maybe a bit less. So in parts of Europe, maybe in some of the forest in particular cultures, much less. So because do you see different abilities Roland: within this? Yeah, no, absolutely. My last company, we worked in about 25 different countries and we definitely brushed up against some challenges in a couple of different countries, just based on predominant culture. There’s I think it’s a Malcolm Gladwell book. I can’t remember which one where he talks about a plane crash that happened where. I think it was like Indonesian pilots were being told not to land the plane by bolshy American air traffic controllers. And the, I don’t know if it was Indonesian actually, but it was, they were so deferential the Korea. Yeah, they were deferential. And they bloody crashed the place and they knew they were running out of fuel and yet they couldn’t quite bring them back. And, thankfully in the world of air crashes, they document this stuff and they try and learn lessons from that. But too often, those sorts of mistakes happen and they just get buried and forgotten about. Yeah, there’s definitely massive cultural differences. I’m trying to think of a personal example. I’ve done a lot of work in South America and Columbia in particular where I didn’t speak terribly good Spanish, which didn’t really help, but also Yeah anyway, sorry. There’s a much longer story there, which we probably have time for tonight, but anyway, yeah we can, I’m up against some cultural challenges, shall we say? Which which took us a long time to iron out. But yeah, I learned so much from that in quite a painful way, but but it was yeah, it was a kind of brilliant lending experience in the most painful, possible way. If you catch my drift. Chris: But even in the UK and America and that’s, it, there’s a hierarchy. There’s a kind of, there’s a way that people are used to working and being comfortable, working at a different slot. The kind of way that you’re talking about maybe a higher state of entropy in, being happy and happy to work at that level. That’s quite rare. And it’s, people drift back then don’t they, to break the, to be a metaphor, but I do, they they want to return to more structured ways of working often. If you if they’re not supported and don’t feel safe or they don’t have that next place to go to in those less structured environments. Roland: I don’t know if it’s relevant, but my dad’s American, my mom’s German. So I’ve grown up in a mixed household with different cultures. And I think that has informed my fascination with this in-between space because I am by definition, a product of a sort of in-between culture. Yeah. Having grown up in the UK. So there’s a kind of third culture to throw into the mix there as well. And, British and German cultures, aren’t that different compared with, career than American, for instance. But there’s still plenty of room for misinterpretation and misunderstanding. But yeah, within that, it is something amazing as well. Matt: So you talked in the introduction about some. Big decisions. Oh yeah. And then you teased us. I come on. Roland: One was I was toying with, I know we’ve spoken about this, Matt, I think, but one was, I toyed with the idea of writing a book a couple of years ago, and then I actually hooked it around a few publishers and had some interest, but anyway, I turned it into a podcast rather than a book and I’ve been enjoying doing the podcast, but I think I’ve actually been writing a newsletter to the community that I’ve helped to found and build over the last two years that I send out every two weeks and actually not every week, but some of those are pretty good. So I’ve actually started pulling those together. Thinking maybe there’s some something I could pull together here. I don’t know if it’s as conventional as a traditional book, but that felt quite exciting just to think, Oh, maybe I can do something with that. The other thing, which is a bit more tangible, but I was actively looking to merge my company with another company. And once this podcast go out tonight I’m G I’m going to say it. So I’ve decided not to do that. I was toying with that idea and I’m not going to do it. It’s going to be announced tomorrow too. So you’re getting a scoop. Not that I think anyone listening to this will particularly care, but yeah, no, it was an interesting opportunity. It’s a company I’ve worked with for a number of years and we were just flirting with each other. Should we do something more meaningful together? And for various reasons, we think now’s not the time. But that, that for me personally, and for my tiny little organization is actually a big. A big deal and a big decision, not least what do I do next? Cause I was, we’ve spent a number of months exploring this opportunity and I, as you tend to, when you’re making a big decision, you talk yourself into, this is the future that you’re designing for yourself. So yeah. But I’ve decided not to do that, or we’ve collectively decided not to do that. And so I now need to figure out a slightly alternative future, but, we’re all in that situation to a greater or lesser extent. So that’s not necessarily, you mean deliberately Matt: creating liminal States for yourself. Cause that’s what that sounds like. Roland: I think there’s something in that actually. Yeah, I think there was something in that I think I’m not quite fully pro I haven’t fully processed it. There’s a fascinating guy called Dave Snowden. I don’t know if you know him. He’s developed this complexity framework. Super smart guy. They’ve got this technique, which sounds really annoying, but I think I can see how it’d be really useful, where they run workshops, where people are discussing a problem or a challenge. And naturally what we all try and do is try and solve that problem and come to some kind of solution that’s inevitably in our nature. And they deliberately poke people for longer than feels comfortable. So they don’t jump to solution mode, but they sit. Uncomfortably with the the lack of resolution for longer, because it’s, I think the theory, as I understand it is the longer that you sit with that kind of discomfort, the more deeper insights or better solutions that ultimately come from that, I think you can take that to a ridiculous, extreme, so you need to, that needs to be balanced, but yeah, I think to some extent I may be doing that to myself as well. Yeah. Do you do that? Sorry. Is it just me? Matt: I think the idea of being able to create different futures. I don’t know whether it’s the lack of completer finisher in me or whether it’s just the sense of boredom, but the idea of being able to have. You did it. It’s if you, I don’t know if you go for a job interview to be able to be successful in a job interview, you really got to be able to imagine yourself in the job. I think, I don’t think it’s possible to be able to, you’d want to worry about a job interview process where you go in thinking, I don’t really want this and come out of it have a few days. Yeah. But still not really wanting it. But yeah, no I’ve, I, one of my least successful jobs today has been exactly that But there’s a. Th there’s something about being able to get yourself into a mindset where you go, no, this is where it’s going to be. And I think particularly the whole thing about what is an entrepreneur and what is it to be entrepreneurial? Th there’s the the kind of Elan Musk model, which is the single, I’ve just got one idea. And I’m going to follow that, whatever, even if the whole world thinks I’m an arse Roland: I, he doesn’t just have one idea though. Does he sorry to cut three ideas. He’s got three. Yeah, but Matt: he’s got three ideas and he’s a prolific arse. That’s true. But the th but I think there’s actually a much more Yeah, it’s the thing about massive growth type entrepreneurs, which is, do you want to be able to do this just to make the thing as big as possible, which is the Ford or the Musk or the Zuckerberg or whatever. And then there’s actually the, what most entrepreneurs are, which is people who get by. And I don’t think you get by having one massive idea and then rigorously following it, you do that by constantly tinkering and adapting. And does this work or that work and it’s not about, and success shouldn’t just be measured. I don’t think, especially, I think coming back to your point about how do we fix the longer term issues around climate change, wherever it doesn’t come through. Massive growth. Roland: Yeah. There’s definitely something in that. Sorry, Chris, I don’t know what your thoughts are on this. I just I personally, it w it’s a cliche, but, it’s it’s about the journey, not the destination, isn’t it. I much prefer to have an interesting journey. And certainly when it comes to job or work stuff, I quite often get bored quite quickly. Once, once everything is fixed and certain that’s not where I. I’m at my best, I totally get that’s necessary and needed. And other people maybe prefer that kind of certainty. That’s just not the sort of where I like to spend my time. And yeah, just sitting with that kind of discomfort for a little bit longer, other interesting stuff, just can emerge if you pay attention to it. Sorry, I’m conscious that I’m sounding a bit cryptic, but I’m also still processing the decision that I’d been making as well. So yeah, Chris, what do you think? What are your experiences of good or bad job interviews and the journey versus the destination? Chris: Oh, I haven’t done that many where I. Haven’t really wanted the job one or two and you’re right. It’s completely different. You shouldn’t be it. You shouldn’t really be there. You’re doing it for the sake of it. I think what I tend to do is I will put off a decision, not because I don’t know what the decision is likely to be, but because I don’t like the idea of something being settled and options being closed down, even though in reality, the passage of time will make that decision. For me. I like to think that I’ve still got all the options. I like to think that I could still become, a space man or a fire firefighter if I want to. Even though I’m getting rapidly older and fatter and I’m less likely to be any of those things. But also I think absolutely being in those kinds of places where you’ve done, you’ve got things settled and everything’s ticking along and that’s the last place I want to be. Oh, and also frankly, once I’ve done a job, I don’t want to do it again often. I’ll say, okay, I’ve done this and now I’m going to go and get another job, which is the same and I’ll think, Oh, I don’t want to do that anymore. I’ve scratched that itch. And that’s why I think I’ve moved around and done different, never completely different because you can’t do that. We’re not, I’m not some kind of poly polymath who can jump from one, one, one completely differently, do things or another. But I have found myself very much not wanting to do the same kind of thing again, because. What is there to do? What’s the challenge or what’s the, where’s the itch. That’s a scratch. Roland: I’m totally the same. I, I’d probably make more money if I, Oh yeah, just repeated the same thing again and again, and optimized for efficiency, but that’s and I saw a guy, Roger McNamee. Have you heard of him? He’s one of the early investors in Facebook and he wrote a book called very critical of Facebook a couple of years ago that I read. And he’s one of these kind of Silicon Valley insiders old timers and on the boards of lots of different companies. And he was saying the whole, Silicon Valley mindset is to optimize for efficiency. It’s all about squeezing out inefficiencies. And so you cut in a way you can’t blame people for for what the outcome is. Cause that’s what is valued by, the investors and the whole culture. But he was saying, what if he’s also a sort of amateur keen musician, I think, and he was saying, you don’t. You don’t value a piece of music just because it’s brief. Cause you got through it quickly, it’s about enjoying it in the moment, the best bit of a piece of music normally isn’t just cause it comes to an end, as quickly as possible. So he told that anecdote more, more eloquently than I did, but but it’s true. What if we optimize for optionality? What if we optimize for creativity or curiosity? I think that’s ultimately more fruitful and interesting. And God knows where we’re having to redesign. I read an article today saying the pandemic is a portal to a different future. Again, rather high faluting language, but. We need to redesign things in new and different ways. Whether we want to return to some kind of normality that went before, or whether we want to design, a radically different world that is net zero and all these kinds of massive challenges that we face. And it, the solutions that got us to where we were, aren’t the ones that are going to get us to where we need to get to. So I think that’s why I think liminality is a very sort of timely and interesting concept because I think we’re all in different spaces, in different ways and different parts of our lives in transition almost all of the time. And so it’s, I think it’s part of the skillset, even though it’s it’s a pretty hard one to describe and codifies, as you can probably tell from. My somewhat incoherent ramblings on this podcast. Outro Matt: So that’s the end of episode, 180 more or less. We’ve got through it all without any references to dance. I think I’ve just blown it. Nevermind. Roland, thank you very much for joining. It’s been fascinating conversation. What does the week ahead open up for you in the realm of possibility? Roland: So I’ve got some Some planning to do in light of the kind of bigger decision I made last week which I’m quite excited about it frees up some time in my diary to, to think about that on a more mundane, but I’m quite excited about this level. It’s my daughter’s 10th birthday. So we’re going to have a now obligatory zoom birthday party, so need to come up with some vaguely fun party idea so that I’m also recording my own podcast with a guy called I think it’s Christian bushes. I need to double check his surname around serendipity. So that’s linked to some of what we’ve talked about. So I’m looking forward to that and and yeah, we’re planning the final showcase of our South African inclusive innovation accelerator that I talked about briefly which is coming up in a couple of weeks and that’s going to be quite a big deal for us. Work to do on that as well. So a busy old week, one way or another. Matt: Wow. Yeah. We’ll put links to liminal and to your podcasts and stuff on the WB 40 podcast page for this Chris how’s your week ahead Chris: looking. Yeah this week is actually quite an exciting week because I shall be checking the mining rig in my garden because I think I’ve just about reached the oil and I expect to get about 10,000 barrel. No, I’m not doing any of that, but you say the same thing every week. So I thought I’d say something different. No, live in times where basically the same thing happens every week. But so I’ve got a new customers that onboarding this week, which is always exciting cause he gets to learn about another company and what they’re trying to do and how they’re trying to do it and all the characters within that. So that’s great. Fun. And and also I’m looking forward to receiving, I’ve got I was doing this weekend, actually. I was building a robot kind of thing that I’d got for Christmas for my daughter as a present. And it’s like a little got, I might BBC micro bits in it and you program the micro bit and it’s got all sorts of ultrasonic sensors and light centers. But it needs it’s all been tethered to the computer with cables because it didn’t have a battery, so it needs a battery. So that’s coming. So now this week we’re gonna have it skidding around on the floor and all sorts of wonderful self automated things. So that’s going to be good fun. So that’s this week, but Matt, what are you going to be doing? Matt: I am going to be tending the service design committee of my organization. Because we’ve got to a point now where we’re understanding that doing service design probably involves having oversight from the committee. That’s responsible for the services that we offer, which is a good step forward. And I Also going to be kicking off a data modeling exercise, which I’ve puts a supplier in place to do. And I am. Unbelievably excited about, because I basically worship at the the church of VF card. And if it ain’t got a conceptual data model, it’s dead to me. So actually being able to go through the exercise of working out what the data is we need as an organization to operate and where it currently sits is actually gonna be a massive step forward. And it makes me very happy. But there, again, lockdown could be getting to Chris: me one of the other, I can’t imagine anything more to do, frankly, but good for you. Matt: Good data modeling is a beauty to behold. It really is. I think it’s a very underrated thing. And with all this nonsense about data scientists and what have you we lose sight of that data today. If you don’t know what your data is, you can. You can drown quite frankly in a data Lake not literally. So yeah, that’s the week head. Good. Roland, it’s been a wonder and a pleasure. Thank you. We have Julia Hobsbawm joining us next week, so she’s going to be talking about simplicity. Which is going to be, I’m sure, fascinating as well between now and then you can catch the the back firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget. Now there is a full index of all the speakers that we’ve had and some cryptic information about what they might’ve spoken about over the last four and a bit years. Wonderful resource to be able to idle the way. The hours that you spend staring at your windows, wondering when it will ever be that you’re allowed out again. Between now and then have a lovely week and we’ll see you next week.
42 minutes | a month ago
(179) How to IT Strategy
On this week’s show we are joined by Richard Sage to explore the murky world of IT strategy. You can subscribe to Richard’s newsletter at https://resage.substack.com/ And there is more about his IT Strategy course here: https://howtoitstrategy.com/ This week’s show transcript: Intro Matt: [00:00:00] So once again, we find ourselves on the precipice of another show. It’s been a week. How was it? [00:00:09] Chris: [00:00:09] Hi, it’s been a, an interesting week. Lots of going on. Again, I, me pretty much, like I say, every week, actually new customers to talk to and getting ready for what’s coming this year in terms of our events and things like that. [00:00:23] I think one thing that I’ve noticed this week is that if I wanted to a meeting’s postponed and I think more, the story of this month is that it’s taken people a bit longer to get up to speed and to hit their straps than maybe they had considered. I think the the impact of, of lockdown, the reality, and everybody could go away for Christmas and, and and pretend it was, it was. [00:00:47] No, everything was normal. And then just the impact of coming back and starting uni a year in a very different way to last year, like the events that we’re doing now, obviously our, our, our virtual, which is which we’ve been doing that for a long time, but this time last year, they weren’t. And the fact that is that, that we’re, we’re still doing this round differently. [00:01:10] And I think everybody’s a little bit. Discombobulated and not deciding, not just us, but everybody. I talk to you. So yeah, I’d say it’s been a slow staff for everybody that I’ve, unless they’ve been there a hundred, some insane deadline, which some people are unfortunate to have to do, but yeah, it’s been a, it’s been a funny putting, wondering how about yourself? [00:01:30] Matt: [00:01:30] Yeah, I, I think it, I can relate to that. It feels like people are just exhausted and nobody’s really willing to say. No, well, you know, year or this knackered and people need to start saying that, I think because otherwise people are going to seriously burnout. So yeah, it’s I think, yeah, it’s, it’s been a weird, so although on the same token with is week four of 2021, and it feels like about month four, but you know, that’s the way it goes. [00:01:59]My week has been How’s my weight been. I’ve been doing some discussions and writing a little bit about the difference between people who think in terms of maps and people who think in terms of lists, which is kind of shaping, it’s sort of thinking out loud, working out loud around how I go about influence within my organization and a realization that whilst I like to work mostly in a. [00:02:22] Two dimensional realm with space and diagrams and watery maps and all that jazz. Quite a lot of my colleagues and quite a lot of my senior colleagues are very list driven. I also realize that my wife is as well she’s program manager. That’s what they do. And I, I’m starting to perceive this world where there is a difference between people who perceive things in terms of relationships on two dimensions and those that see them in. [00:02:50] A list form, maybe a bit more, one dimensional, but very much more sort of task and forward focused. And the challenges there are in being able to allow both of those groups to better communicate with each other and come to agreement on things. So that’s been interesting. I also learned how to make Ginza. [00:03:07] Which is very exciting. A birthday present that I got bought by difference breached and Caroline was to Yuki’s kitchen. She did yesterday evening went to the the Asian supermarket in Kingston on Saturdays, prayer. It’s great fun. You go through shelves. You’ve got no idea what most of the things are and learn how to make those little Japanese dumplings Goza which is surprisingly easy and delicious. [00:03:33] And it’s one of those things where like the, the, the, the The covering for a geezer, which is sort of a noodley type thing. It’s not like a dumpling, like our kids spend these aren’t dumplings, dumplings are things he put on Stu, but it’s one of those things where it’s been like, it’s very much like pastor actually, but until you know how to make it, it feels like magic and voodoo because it’s so unlike anything that I’ve normally cooked before, and then you learn how to do it. [00:03:57] Oh, that’s clever. And I feel empowered. So I’ll be making more and Yuki’s kitchen. If you want to do something of an evening cookery class is doing things like sushi and Goza and ramen and all sorts of stuff. And it’s a really nice way to spend 90 minutes in your kitchen, but with a group of people, all learning has to do something new, which is It’s fab. [00:04:20] So there you go. Anyway, this week as well, joining us at Richard Sage, how’s your last seven days been? [00:04:25]Richard: [00:04:25] Hi yeah. Interesting. I’ve sort of a lot of what Chris was saying was sort of resonating with me in terms of I’ve had a lot of conversations. In the last seven days about people feeling like they’re not making any progress, I’m like, Oh, bloody house, nearly February. [00:04:44]And I don’t know. It almost makes me think that, especially in the company I work out, you know, January is the start of the new financial year as well. I guess this is full of other organizations, but it’s almost like this is a period of aligning the iron filings. Like, so, you know, a lot of my colleagues are like, Oh, I’ve just seemed to have spent loads of time talking to people about stuff that we want to do and not doing the stuff that we want to do. [00:05:07] And I think my reflection that is actually that’s, I think the natural ebb and flow of the months of the year, and it’s quite natural to sort of have a bit of a reset post-Christmas. And. And take some time to maybe agree what we’re doing for the rest of the year. So yeah, lots of, lots of conversations. [00:05:25] And I think the other point Brown, the sort of fatigue I think is definitely there. I sort of had quite long break over Christmas, but actually you know, I still feel fatigue. [00:05:37] Matt: [00:05:37] A business you work in is in the, in the the holiday world. Is this normally a very busy time as well? Yeah, as you’re basically selling. [00:05:46] Richard: [00:05:46] Yeah. Basically it normally goes boxing day through to pretty much the end. The affair is peak booking period. And then obviously summertime is your peak staying period. And you know People seem to be reasonably optimistic. So bookings are okay because I guess people are thinking, okay, we’re all going to be faxing up the wazoo soon. [00:06:06] And then it’s partly time and holiday time in quarter two and onwards. And you know, who knows that might be true. Here’s hoping. [00:06:15] Matt: [00:06:15] Yeah, very much. Yep. Good. Well you’re joining this for the show this week and we’re going to be talking about themes around strategy and technology strategy and digital strategy and, and business strategy. [00:06:27] So I think we should probably get on with that. Main Interview Chris: [00:00:00] So this week, as we said, we’ve got Richard Sage with us. And I’m really looking forward to this because I’ve been reading Richard’s newsletters for awhile because which is your doing it strategy. Right. And you’re, you’re, you’re, it’s something you’re obviously passionate about and you’ve been publishing. [00:00:20] Kind of interesting snippets and thoughts on how to build it strategy for a while. It’s something that I do you know, kind of professionally, it is working with organizations to figure out often how they’re going to form an it strategy or what, what they’re going to put into it. And therefore I have read a lot in, but just a few weeks ago, late last year I did another research piece where I read loads and loads of it. [00:00:44] Strategies now is. Amazed at how little common ground there was really in sort of that kind of sections they had or what they thought was important. So it’s an interesting subject for me. And I wonder given that you’ve been doing this for a while, how long have you been doing it? And I, Richard, what’s your, how long have you, how many emails, newsletters have you published? [00:01:05] So [00:01:05] Richard: [00:01:05] I started in in my that was the, the first sort of newsletter. And you had been doing roughly about three a month on average since then. So yeah, I mean, so. I mean what my background was, obviously, as a, as a CTO at the moment, I’m responsible for the, for the it strategy previous to that, I was a consultant doing it strategy as well. [00:01:31] And then previous to that, I was in organizations helping create it strategy as well. So it’s a, yeah, it’s an area of interest. I find it really interesting thinking about strategy and thinking about long-term owl. It can, you know, No challenge and enable businesses. So I figured it would be a useful area to sort of, to delve into I had a bit of a wreck recognition that I’ve got some knowledge and experience in that area. [00:01:59] And so maybe, you know, and, and I’ve also made some mistakes in that area. And so maybe some of that learning might be, might be useful to people. And and I’ve also sort of recognize that it’s a. Bit of a learning exercise myself, you know, by writing stuff, I’m sort of reconfiguring how I think about things and challenging myself. [00:02:18]So that actually, it helps me be more effective in my role when I do, you know, formulate or refresh strategies as well. And my other sort of thinking around. Why are doing suffer and it stretches a bit of a serendipity engine, I guess. I can’t remember who used that term, but have that at somewhere in terms of putting something out there, creating something and then good things happening off the back of it, such as coming on this podcast to talk about it strategy. [00:02:44]And then the, I guess the final sort of reason behind One is to talk about like strategy as a purely mercenary. One of, you know putting this newsletter out, hopefully it provides some value. I’m also in parallel creating a course. Hopefully some people will find that valuable and pay for that and that will get some money in the kitty. [00:03:03] Chris: [00:03:03] Okay. Well that makes a lot of sense. So so when you, when you started and what made you want to do a blog, what made you want, want to. Was there, was there a particular thing that you said, right, I’m going to do this, or was it maybe the end goal of creating a course? Did that come first and think about, well, how am I going to get there? [00:03:21] What was the, what, what prompted you to actually start? Yeah, [00:03:24] Richard: [00:03:24] I mean, I’m, I’m sort of interested in in just thinking about, you know, my career and, and and Joe, where I’m always sort of thinking ahead of where, where am I going? What am I doing? So in terms of, you know, Doing a blog to help cement. My knowledge is just beneficial to me right now, but also potentially in the future. [00:03:43]And also thinking about other potential revenue streams. So I’ve got other, you know, once I’ve completed the course and hopefully sell it, if that works well, then I’ve got some other ideas. Which might provide which I might build on, on that which might provide, you know, another revenue stream at some point in the future alongside my my job. [00:04:04] Okay. [00:04:04] Chris: [00:04:04] So one of the things that’s always interested me about about a strategy is how many times especially in, well, I say larger organizations, but I think it can happen in many organizations when somebody is asked to write a strategy, It’s almost as a kind of maybe it’s a to trust you. So we feel comfortable that you’ve got a plan, but once it’s done, it’s kind of a, it’s about a theater and then it can be put to one side or if it’s you know, KPMG or something like that. [00:04:34] It’s a, it’s an enormous piece of you know, lots of, lots of pages that get put in a drawer. And it’s just there to show that you’ve got one. When the auditors come round, what is the. What’s your feeling on that? You know, how many it strategies are really valid or useful documents and what can we do about the ones that are, [00:04:53] Richard: [00:04:53] yeah, I mean, I’ve, I’ve definitely, you know, hands up, been involved in creating lighting strategies that probably fall into that quite sort of I don’t want to be negatively or sort of cynical view of what an IOT strategy is. [00:05:07]You know, and I guess those are. Ones where it might just be a reaction of Oh organization, doesn’t have a strategy border asking where it is going often, you know, probably because they’re unhappy with where it is going. And certainly when, when I was a consultant that was often the story you know, the consultants, including myself, were brought in to help. [00:05:32] The incumbent create an it strategy because the board weren’t comfortable that they were getting the value from it that they wanted. And that’s never, that that scenario is never a particularly positive one. Certainly often for the, for the incumbent, so involved for that. So that’s certainly a scenario for me like the, the value. [00:05:51] Yeah. Where it strategies are valuable is around your polyps about influencing but also being able to influence, influencing near the board or investors and about clearing a path. So by setting a direction, you’re, you’re, you’re saying what you are going to do, and obviously very either implication or explicitly what you’re not going to do. [00:06:14] It can unlock investment as well. And it gives you a guidance to be able to say no to stuff, which I think is really important. And from a, an it team perspective provides a direction for the team. So I don’t quite know how you would provide direction for a team without having a clear strategy or something masquerading as an it strategy. [00:06:34] Matt: [00:06:34] There’s something quite interesting about that. That point about where you get people in to do strategy about whether it’s done in house. And I’ve never really made this link before, but I’ve always found it a bit odd that senior leaders don’t create their own strategies because surely if senior leadership is about anything, it’s about being able to define, set and execute strategy. [00:06:56] But actually is something that you do for a bit. And then it’s the definition and the creation of it is one part, the selling of it is another. And then the execution of it is the bit that usually takes the time. And actually those are quite different sets of skills. So I can see actually, maybe. Externally delivered strategy is not as daft as an idea as I’ve maybe thought it has been. [00:07:19] Richard: [00:07:19] This is just the one I actually, one of my first newsletters was about, you know, do you need a consultant to to create an it strategy? And my great answer in summary was it depends. So, you know, if so, if, if you’re an incumbent it leader in an organization and actually the reason why you’ve got a consultant in is because the boat don’t have confidence in youth and you’ve got bigger problems. [00:07:41]And you’re probably going to be gone within a very short period of time. If however, your an incumbent it leader in an organization and and your proactively going, actually I need some expertise bringing in and controlling that expertise to help you craft a better it strategy to help challenge your thinking. [00:08:00] Then that’s a really positive and more likely to have a positive outcome approach. Yeah. So, yeah, I guess that’s sort of two simplistic distinctions of, I guess, you know, that there’s one where actually outside help probably is a sticking plaster over a more fundamental issue about the relationship of the it leader with the stakeholders. [00:08:24]And then there is one where a surgical use of experienced people. Controlled by that incumbent leader. So it’s not, you don’t just end up with a load of you know, big four slideware. That’s just recycled from company to company. That can be a really positive thing. [00:08:45]Matt: [00:08:45] Probably a useful point at this let’s define strategy because I think it’s a term that has many. [00:08:53] Interpretations for you? What, what’s the core elements of a good strategy it or otherwise? [00:09:01] Richard: [00:09:01] Yeah, I guess it’s funny. I was literally quoting this stuff to someone today in terms of there’s a I can’t remember the name of the book. Something like how to play bass by Lafley and Martin. And it talks about a. [00:09:13] Cascade of five connectors and reinforcing choices. So it talks about w w what’s our winning aspiration. So you might call that the strategic vision you know, where will we play? How will we win, what capabilities need to be in place for us to win. And then fifthly, I think it’s what management systems are required in in the broadest sense of systems and measures. [00:09:37]So that you can monitor the, the capabilities of delivering what they need. I think that’s quite a nice, succinct way of thinking about it. Yeah. And then I guess there’s the sort of remote sort of strategies coherent has coordinating actions and policies and resources. As you know, is another good way of thinking about it so that when, when people say strategies to me, that’s immediately where my, my mind goes. [00:10:01] Chris: [00:10:01] There’s something along those lines that just before we started recording, we were talking a little bit about how you about business strategy and IC strategy, and often what you do when you go into an organization, you find that. They wanted it strategy, but they don’t really have a business strategy or not something that you can work with. [00:10:20] So then as a consultant, you end up essentially drawing out that business strategy in order that you can then provide a technology strategy that supports it. And my, one of my questions has always been. People always say that they’ve got, you can always get some kind of group run the idea, whether it be we’re going to grow this business, you know, everybody wants to grow their business. [00:10:42] Okay. So that’s a, that’s a nice, simple one. Or we’re going to be more profitable or, you know, we’re going to diet, we’re going to get, we, we currently do this. We’re going to add this and this and this to our portfolio of services, whatever it might be. But then I say, you’re going to grow right. [00:11:00] Generally speaking, I’d just say, okay, fair enough. So you’re going to grow. And the market is the market growing particularly well, no market. Yeah. Unless you’re in a very unusual place. Your market’s probably about the same as this year as it was last year. So if you’re going to grow, you are going to have to take business from somebody else. [00:11:16] And that’s how that’s, that’s a, that’s a truth. So what are you going to do? What are you going to say to their customers so that they give you money instead of them? What is it? And when you get down to that and people say, Oh, well we’re cheaper or faster, or where we’re, you know, we’re cleaner or we’re nicer, or, you know, whatever they’re going to say to say, well, why should that guy give you his money rather than him just carrying on using the last guy? [00:11:46] Makes a big difference. Just, just that simple question. [00:11:49] Richard: [00:11:49] Yeah. And that’s where often you. If people haven’t thought enough about it, you get the sort of the party stewards of, Oh, well, we’re, you know, we’ve, we’ll have the best people and, you know we’ll we’ll understand the customer and Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting because there’s that point isn’t aware of sort of, you know, it’s important to have aspirations, but they need to end up with being coherent and being actionable, you know? [00:12:14]You had the, I can’t remember who said it, but if your strategy is making statements where the opposite of the statement, isn’t also a really good idea, then you’re maybe not making a decision. I don’t know whether that makes sense. [00:12:29] Chris: [00:12:29] Yeah, that’s a bit like this. You know, if, if somebody says something and the, and your response is waltz or duh, you know, or that’s not really something, yeah. [00:12:42] Richard: [00:12:42] We’re going to deliver great customer service really. Oh, right. So the alternative that is a valid, valid strategic option is that you’re going to deliver really shit. So attended with three alerts where what’s on your podcast, but yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s yeah. It’s yeah, it’s delivering a really bad customer service, a strategic decision that you want to make tonight. [00:13:04] Yeah. [00:13:05] Matt: [00:13:05] Yeah. I suppose there’s Maybe not at that extreme, but for some organizations that there are those choices to be made. It’s the worst is when the platitudes take over. And they’re all saying, they’re doing one thing, but the reality is another. So if you take, I don’t know train operators, for example, I remember my old mate of mine. [00:13:23] Dan is worked in the train industry for all his career and yeah. I think it was the Welsh railways and the they’d got to the state where the customer service was being talked to wear it as a thing. But the reality was that the trains were being held up mostly by customers because customers would do nasty things like hold the doors when the train was about to leave, which was meaning that the train would get delayed, which means that they all get penalized because of the fact that they then had fines to pay because they weren’t meeting. [00:13:52] Occasions as a franchise operator. And it was a despised ruling circle of despair where the, the, you know, the, the staff thought that the biggest single problem where the passengers and the passengers thought that the staff bloody awful, because they’d been treated by. Them terribly because they were viewed in that way. [00:14:12] And so, but all of that came about because I’m sure there was somebody, some somebody for the wealth rowers were say, we pride ourselves in our passenger service, but they weren’t actually doing anything about it. And at that platitudinous statements, if you just got there aspirational thing without any, any real indication about how you will execute it, it actually can become very self-destructive. [00:14:36] Chris: [00:14:36] Yeah, I’ve got a client at the moment. And we were talking about the fact that they’ve got they need to make some changes to their it structure and the way they deliver. And partly it’s because I think they’re doing too good, a job. Everybody gets their problem fixed in no time at all, but it costs too much. [00:14:51] So how do they degrade it in a way that can save them money, but is also manageable from a [00:14:59] Richard: [00:14:59] that’s pretty, pretty interesting is the, is the CFO like responsible for it? [00:15:04]Chris: [00:15:04] No, it’s, it’s a bit more complicated than that in this organization. But yes, I, I know where you’re coming from. [00:15:11] Richard: [00:15:11] Yeah. Is it just, just that it it’s just a cost center, is it? [00:15:14] Yeah, it’s not it’s not revenue generator or, you know, that, that sounds like that’s the sort of narrative that seems to be at play [00:15:22] Chris: [00:15:22] that. Yeah. I mean often when you get a CFO’s in charge of it, that that’s, as you say, it’s so much of how, why should I pay for this? You know, w w tell me, tell me what this is costing me and why? [00:15:34]I think often the question they’re asking that question, and you’re trying to do those things. Part of the question you’ve got to ask yourself is what is the value of getting this stuff done in, within, you know, an hour and what is the cost of not doing it? And then, you know, in some businesses. So if you’re the NHS, for example, you might be, you might have all been, we’re gonna drop the call time from 10 minutes to 20 minutes. [00:16:02] But if somebody can’t see patients in that time can have a serious effect. So you’ve got, you know, it’s a, you’ve got to think of the value in the ho in the round, rather than, rather than just in the, you know, we have to employ two more. First line staff or whatever, it’s not, you know, these things, but then again, when a business is, is under pressure and it’s under pressure, right. [00:16:23] It can’t afford for the money to go out the door. So something has to give [00:16:29] Matt: [00:16:29] there’s sometimes also though I. I’m sure I’ve spoken about this on the show before, but I see it as context of Trump cards that get played in organizations that can also be good indicator of the, the underlying tacit strategy. [00:16:45] Maybe you should think about this, like culture or other things. You’ve got an explicit strategy and a tacit. Yeah. Strategy and where the Trump cards are played. So I’ve seen and worked in organizations where the shareholder is the Trump card. And if somebody says that we need to do this because the shareholder value, that means just do it. [00:17:04] There’s no real debate to be had about this. I’ve seen it in privately held companies where the, the chairman the design agency I worked for for a few years, the, the chairman there, if, if Gary said something. Not if Gary actually said, but if it was said that Gary had said something, then Gary, the chairman that, that flow, if Gary said the client Wanted something then that really, that was a double chump I need to really actually have, should have already done it twice. [00:17:32] You know, it shouldn’t be waiting around, hanging around for anything to happen. And I wonder how many times actually, in organizations, people we use the Trump card of one of the key strategic imperatives for my experience tends to be much more actually Trump cards are people and people with power. [00:17:51] Then they are, we have to do this because of profitability and actually being played in that kind of way. It’s interesting as to whether the, the explicit strategy really is what’s going on implicitly in day to day operation. [00:18:05] Richard: [00:18:05] That’s interesting in terms of, because I’ve definitely seen scenarios where the, you know, the Trump card has been a person. [00:18:12]But also when the Trump card has been like the concept of a person, like, you know, when you’re like, Oh, well the business wants this to happen. Like I’d always imagined, like there’s some sort of Jabba the hut, like creature. There’s called the business that exists. Then it’s just our and you know, dictating things. [00:18:33]But equally, equally, I think sometimes organizations can fool themselves into, you know, what we’re really customer centric. We do loads of research. And then that becomes the sort of dictatorial voice of like, whoever owns that relationship with your, you know, your, your use of your researchers or whatever, then owns the the new Trump card which. [00:18:56] You know, maybe it’s slightly less problematic. If it, if it’s grounded in, you know, in good ethical research but maybe it can also be used. I guess what we’re talking about is about power. Isn’t it. And, and that can be held in wielded in various different ways. [00:19:15] Chris: [00:19:15] So, okay. Let’s just think about them a little bit about. [00:19:19] Formats and how who’s going to read it and why it’s right. So I, when I was doing my research last year, and, and this plays a little bit into Matt, Cohen’s early on about list people and map people. When I did my research, I looked, I saw all sorts of things in it, strategies, some of which, some of which were more common than others. [00:19:42] And what I started to think of. Okay. Who’s the audience for this document? So it might be shareholders. It might be the managing director or the board. It might be the customers might be interested up to a point. It might be the supply chain would be interested because they want to know how we know how you’re going to evolve your tech so that they can interact with you more efficiently and do their service. [00:20:06]Your it team would, should be interested in it because they should be, they should be involved and interested in, you know, even if they’re not involved in creating it, they should be in it directly. They should indirect, indirectly informative and they should be interested to know what on earth is they’re heading towards right now, because you’ve got all these different. [00:20:29] Audience is they need to be spoken to in different ways and they need to be spoken to it with, with different words and different styles. But often we just write one document and that’s it, that’s the it strategy got on with it. And is that the right thing to do? And how do we, how do we break this up and make it? [00:20:45] So it’s actually relevant to lots of different people with lots of different, you know, some people are just interested in that bit and some people are interested in this bit and some people are interested in the same bit as those people, but they want to see it in a different way. So how do we deal with that? [00:21:01] Richard: [00:21:01] Yeah, that’s it, as soon as possible, I think. Right. In terms of those, those sort of stakeholder groups that you talked about, I guess there’s, you know, simplistically, there’s the up ones, whether that’s board or shareholders, there’s the internal ones as in like your team, whereas your it team going, I guess, you know, suppliers potentially as well. [00:21:20]And yeah, and across, in terms of those, you know, What am I doing for my marketing team? What am I doing for my, you know, for like HR team? What am I doing for my finance team? And I guess for me, like you do need to be able to boil down something into a, into a single document that at the very least addresses the needs of those stakeholders to a greater or lesser extent, like I’m going to be more interested in pleasing, you know, my board than I probably am. [00:21:51] My opposite number in, I know the team, you know, I still need to cause, you know, cause that might undermine something that I want to achieve, but but there’s a, I guess a priority order there. The approach I’ve taken is previously is if there is one strategy document, but then there, there is engagement that is absolutely tailored to, you know, to draw out and summarize. [00:22:16] That you know, Hey marketing guy, I have addressed your needs and you th this is how this is how I’m going to address them. So I guess there’s, yeah, once I guess it’s I was going to make some sort of really bad biblical analogy of like, there’s, there’s one Bible, but maybe various different additions. [00:22:32]I’ll stop there before I plus feed. [00:22:36] Chris: [00:22:36] Yeah. W we’re going to have the church on a bucket for not getting the truth and various yes. [00:22:48] I think it’s a, I think it’s a struggle because you know, you think about it is digital strategy and whatever that is and it strategy and business strategy and they’re, so they’re becoming so merged now. You can’t make a decision in business anymore. Once upon a time, we used to say, you know, You’d have the, the great and the good say, well, you must have your it director on the board and never all it directors them were banging on the door saying, I must be on the board because you can’t possibly take a business decision without understanding the technology implications. [00:23:20] But that now is not just about the technology implications of a business decision, but it’s also. Why should you make this decision? Because these are the options you have because, because technology right now, some of that technology, maybe isn’t, or even shouldn’t be owned by the it department and the CIO, maybe, you know, maybe some of it should be in the marketing team and somebody, it should, some of it should be in the procurement team or whatever, and therefore, Maybe the it strategy just has to get, it has to be boiled down to a much smaller thing and everybody else has their own technology, part of their own strategy. [00:24:00] Who knows? I don’t know the answer, but we’ve got to be a bit more aware that this isn’t, this isn’t like 10 years ago when it’s not even like five years ago, this has got to evolve really quickly. 10, [00:24:13] Matt: [00:24:13] 10 up. Technology works. I think a number of different levels now that isn’t it, because you’ve got the traditions, which has been like machinery, the kind of plant, the capital investment that you make for stuff to be able to produce things. [00:24:27] And it used to be the most of that production was about the back office. So it was about producing numbers of finance or the payroll, or document. But increasingly the last 20 years, it’s been starting to become machines to be able to deliver. The front service that the, the actual things that the customers use in some cases it is what the customer consumes in many cases is mediated through, but then there’s also a whole sway the technology. [00:24:56] And I think this has been really brought home in the last year that there’s, there’s the machinery stuff. And then there’s the, the technology, that’s more like language. That is there purely as an enabler to enable people to communicate with one another. And that, that, I don’t think they actually, traditional I-Team models are very good at managing any of that stuff because that isn’t, it doesn’t fit with type process. [00:25:21] It doesn’t fit with the machine model of the organization. It’s much more about the organism of the organization and it would be like saying, well, we need a centralized team to be able to control language. Which of course, any comms team where they’d put their hand up and go that’s us and go, no, no, no, no, no, no normal language. [00:25:39] And the, you know, the, the different modes of what we do, I think too much, actually we thought that the, the two modes of therapy, the bi-modal stuff, but gardener. Pumped out that was all about, you know, old fashioned technology and new fashion technologies or framed in technology, not in the use of it, but I think there’s, there’s definitely distinctions between technology that is used to be able to manage and control process, which could be old or new. [00:26:03] And that, that is used to manage the communication and the collaboration between people, which is again, old or new from email all the way up to whatever the latest plug into Microsoft teams is. And. So actually the breadth of what we need to do within a technology strategy, if technology strategy itself is separate from the organization, strategy is massive because it’s not just like it was, which was put servers into server room, turn servers on keep servers. [00:26:35] Cool. [00:26:37] Richard: [00:26:37] Yeah. And I think the thing for me is, is it’s going to. The crap analogy coming up again, you know, the, you know, for every organization is, is a jigsaw puzzle, the actual demarcation of, you know, where the, where the it strategy, a jigsaw puzzle ends and the digital one begins. And the business one begins, I think is different depending on the organization. [00:26:59] So someone’s asking you the other day. Oh yeah. My organization I’ve got digital strategy. How does my it strategy fit in? I’m like, well, I can’t answer that question. Like generically I’d need to understand, you know, what is the scope of your digital strategy? You know, what is the landscape of your organization to be able to really answer that? [00:27:20]Cause it, it may be, it may be different. And because the breadth and depth of, of what it is now does touch so many areas y’all can think of areas of. Yeah, the organization I work in where actually it’s a, it’s a customer service team that own a particular bit of technology. And what I need to do is be cognizant of where I add the most value. [00:27:41] So is that working for people? Is it working for the, you know, for, for my colleagues and their customers now? Yes. Great. That can, that can continue. I’ll focus my air, my tensions on other priority areas. And I will keep, keep an eye on that area. And if it’s not working because something changes strategically or or we, you know, I’m thinking, you know, there’s a, there’s a channel management bit of software in my organization. [00:28:07] That’s primarily owned by customer services. Actually, if our strategy changes and we need to, you know, Do something new with channels, then actually that’s going to be a new area of focus. So yeah, I go, yeah, I’m answering a question really about by saying, you know, it depends, [00:28:26] Matt: [00:28:26] but in that actually, maybe there is also one of the big challenges that the industry has, which is because of its, its tradition in engineering. [00:28:36] Do we have people who can think ambiguously enough and cope with the ambiguity of all of this complexity. When, if you look at the tradition, it’s all been about best practice models and that certainty of follow the process and the way in which, you know, the whole agile movement over the last 20 years, which supposed to be about being able to cope with complexity and ambiguity has been railroaded into, if you just follow this method, everything will turn out. [00:29:06] Right. Which we all know is nonsense. And so there’s something there about actually. And in comparison to other support services where, you know, finances w with putting aside that, you know, the black art of of management accounting, And if you just look at the basics of it all, it’s, you know, it’s fairly, you know, what’s going on. [00:29:28] It’s fairly routine. It’s all about following Lauren, you know, process with HR very much. Similarly, I think for it to a great extent, we’ve got this thing that is so ambiguous. [00:29:42] Richard: [00:29:42] But I think that that’s where actually, you know, you can bring some Ang you know, some, you can try and bring some clarity to the ambiguity from lighting strategy perspective by, you know, you know, I’m just thinking about your previous strategy. [00:29:56] I wrote, I talked about it needing to be a competitive weapon and that was you know, it’s a potentially a meaningless phrase, but what it meant was. We are going to focus on areas where we can help the business compete. We’re not going to focus on areas where there isn’t, you know, the, the machinery stuff, the, that you mentioned, actually, we can get someone else to do. [00:30:16] We’re not going to sell more by doing that ourselves. And then it helps yeah. Making some mistakes. I think some distinctions like that help simplify the decisions that you’ve got to make, I guess in some way, I don’t know whether that makes sense. I think [00:30:30] Chris: [00:30:30] so that what you said earlier about, it depends by some of the top of the organization you are, but made me think a little bit about technology companies. [00:30:37] So maybe even software companies where you’ve got you’re producing an ERP system or, or, or whatever it might be. And in that, for instance, if you think about some of the people now, and I’ve met some of the people who are CEOs at big technology companies, and you think they’re going to be like the greatest CIO that ever lived and actually. [00:30:59] That their, their role is quite limited, right there, computers on desks. Are they working? If the software that’d be, people need to do their jobs, working, all the, all the cool stuff is, is what the business is. Right? So in your it strategy, in that role, you would be talking about keeping people working, and you’re the person that gets called when the broadband doesn’t work or the. [00:31:25] Or the phones don’t work or whatever. And maybe that’s where, where a lot of it is heading because actually the, the technology is just now out there. And it’s not a, it’s not the responsibility of a CIO or an it director anymore because it’s necessarily owned elsewhere. And maybe we’re seeing that kind of. [00:31:47] Well in some industries and maybe, maybe a growing trend that will be for the, it remit to sort of go back down to the basics and just keep everybody working. [00:31:58] Richard: [00:31:58] Yeah, it’s interesting. Yeah. I mean, I think, yeah, there’s a, there’s also an argument for actually yeah. That CIO role to be the, the architect of, of an ecosystem that might, you know, that some parts of that ecosystem might be being owned in different areas. [00:32:15] But you’re the one with the holistic view, making sure that actually, how, if, if there’s an investment here in a certain system that it feeds the, you know, the feet of the data flows that need to be over here for the other system. So I think that that role of you know, architects, but equally at the same time, it could just be that CIO role is a you know, is just a procurement and contracts manager. [00:32:37]You know, which is thought that. Fills me with dread. [00:32:43] Chris: [00:32:43] I think for a lot of people, it would, but for a lot of it directors that I’ve known of, but that would be perfect. [00:32:51] Matt: [00:32:51] And for a lot of organizations today, actually, maybe that’s what they need. But again, as you say, it’s much more about context. Outro Matt: [00:00:00] So we are at the end of episode, 179, which of course, apart from the inevitable Sid Waddell impersonations for next week’s show, which I know Chris you’re particularly looking forward to. , what occurs for you now between this point in that? [00:00:21] Chris: [00:00:21] Well, I’ve got an event that’s coming up, so. And as I said, at the top of the program, we were talking about being different this year, from last year. [00:00:29] So that last year I was doing this event in in. Well, we did Kevin Hagan one day and we did start her in the next day. And that was, yeah, it’s always nice to visit those places today, tomorrow. No, rather Wednesday I’m doing an event, which is ostensibly in the Nordics, but also in the Benelux looks at the same time. [00:00:46] So this is covering, you know, Belgium and Holland, as well as Sweden and Denmark and all those places. But of course, I’m doing it from the comfort of my little room here, so everything has changed, but we can. We can not cover them more places from, with one event, which I guess is which I guess is progressive assault. [00:01:04] So that’s what I’m doing this week amongst other things. What about your [00:01:09] Matt: [00:01:09] email? So I’m bringing actually some data consults people in, into the organization over the course of the next week or so to do some work, to be able to as just through, you know, the form filling stuff of new suppliers, very exciting. [00:01:23] And a Thursday and Friday this week is Paul Armstrong’s TBD event. Which I’m hoping my diary won’t be completely cut out. This is the problem with these online event. Things, is that because you’re exactly the same place as you would be as if you were doing work in the virtual office, you find that buckers keep putting meetings in, but a hope to it make some of the TBD event. [00:01:49] I can’t remember what the B stands for, but it’s technology and the D is disruption and he has a remarkable. Wide range of speakers. I think Rory Sutherland is speaking. I think he’s got people from all of the big social networks there and various other bits and bobs as well. So I’m looking forward to being able to make as much of that as I can. [00:02:11]And Richard, what’s your week ahead looking like, [00:02:13]Richard: [00:02:13] So it’s interesting. You mentioned data consultants cause that’s a conversation I’m having as well. I think, yeah, there’s some opportunities to get some expertise. Into help us with, with some of our identify other opportunities for, for our data and doing some work around some more investment. [00:02:32]And we’re doing some interesting work around obviously as with everyone last year was And opportunity for learning. And we’re, we’re sort of taking some steps to sort of cement some of that stuff, whether that’s around, how, how we’re helping people remote work or or how we’re taking some of the learnings where we’ve challenged some assumptions about how we can operate our business. [00:02:54] And we’re, we’re making some changes off of that. So I’m trying to frame the last year in as positive way as possible, but yeah. Yeah, that’s sort of my week. [00:03:04] Matt: [00:03:04] Excellent. Well, thank you again for joining us. This is a great conversation out this very confusing world of of technology strategy and yeah. [00:03:13] So help me, which is good. So I thank you, Dan, Chris, you and I will see each other again next week. I believe, I guess next week is Roland Harward. He, of Liminal. Which should be very good. So between now and then thank you for joining us. And we will see you next week.
45 minutes | a month ago
(178) The Socials
On this week’s show Chris and Matt talk about why big tech social networks have been in the news again. Chris is also quizzed on his tech company history knowledge. This week’s transcript: Introduction Matt: [00:00:00] So just the two of us this week very sadly Charlotte G who was supposed to be joining us. Isn’t able to we’ll be getting on to getting her onto the show as soon as possible. But it’s just you and me this week. How are you Christopher? [00:00:14] Chris: [00:00:14] Well, very well, really. I mean, it’s been a, it’s a shame that Charlotte can’t join us, but when I’m looking forward to when we can get her on, because that’s a good conversation. [00:00:24] And other than that, it’s been a week. It’s been a funny week. Really? Actually, I can’t remember much has happened last week since we spoke. I mean, It was fine at work. Lots of lots going on. Today was one of those days where nothing went right. In terms of average, just about every call or meeting that I had planned got canceled or moved, and other things came in as kind of, well, we really need to do this now to to fill it. [00:00:51] So it was a bit of a. That one of those days where it was quite good actually then the day I got quite a lot done, but it wasn’t what I expected to get done. And. Then later this afternoon I was going to take my California OT because I forgot to do the MIT because it got extended during the last lockdown. [00:01:12] And then, because I took it out of my calendar, I’d kind of forgot about it. So it’s quite egregiously passed or it hasn’t been anywhere. So it was not really been a problem. And when I went to get in the bachelor of flight and so that was a, that was a disappointment. So so that was all exciting, exciting for, you know, five to 10 minutes, but then that’s all resolved now. [00:01:31] So now tomorrow will be fine, but yeah, one of those days today, how about you? [00:01:37] Matt: [00:01:37] I can’t believe that it’s only the end of week two last week of 2021. It feels like we’ve been back at least a month. It’s yeah, it’s a strange time. The continuing challenges of homeschooling. I got into a very interesting conversation with Michael Rosen on Twitter last week after having a day of Oh God. [00:01:59] Adverbials, which is well, I say it’s a branch of grammar that I was never taught in school. I was never taught grammar at school children in the seventies and eighties. We weren’t taught grammar. So I needed the level that my ten-year-old seems to be being taught at the moment. [00:02:12] Chris: [00:02:12] I agree with you. [00:02:13] Right. I don’t remember. I remember learning about I’d know. And, and Oh no. See, my vocabulary is is, is fighting even now, but That there are things that my kids learned with primary school that I didn’t learn until, well, probably I learned them myself, you know, as I got older and I didn’t, I never learned them at school, but I remember, I do remember vividly being in primary school and there’s teachers about nouns and verbs and adverbs and all that stuff. [00:02:41] I’m thinking to myself, I have no idea what all this is about, and I have no interest in it as well. It’s not, it’s just what it’s just, I never learned it. You know, one of them is a kind of action word. One of them describing [00:02:54] Matt: [00:02:54] words, describing words, herbs are doing nano verbs. Is it, is it [00:03:02] Nothing. So anyway, the interesting bit from Michael Rosen was his, his take on it. And he’s somebody who is a, he’s an author, a poet, someone who studied English is that it’s basically cause there’s all this stuff came in and Michael Gove, God rest his soul if only he were dead. And the, the, the trouble with it is that these sorts of rules of grammar were designed for being able to study dead languages, particularly Latin. [00:03:26] And if not ancient Greek, and it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever because they are generalizations. They’re not rules, they’re not equally applicable. I found out relatively recently that the split infinitive, the the thing at the beginning of star Trek that people get so uppity about, if they’re into that sort of thing, to be able to go in, no man has gone before or whatever it was. [00:03:46] Actually that’s not a law. It’s just, it’s a stylistic suggestion. And you’re quite willing to be able to break it. Spent the only bit of grammar I’ve, I’ve learned how to be able to do for reasons that Farsi detail to go into now. But. The, I mean, Michael was basically saying that this is all nuts because their teachings people really boring things at a very young age, which made no sense at all. [00:04:10] So just continuing with the the homeschooling and the English grammar is, is an interesting thing. Also being experimenting. And I might, well do a bit more experimenting on this very show with a piece of software called descript. That I was pointed out by Ronan Harvard. Who’s going to be coming up on a show in a few weeks time, and it’s basically a, a visual and text-based editor for audio that enables one to be able to do things at the click of a button that otherwise it’d be a monstrous pain in the bum to be able to do in particular, removing all of the. [00:04:46]Filler words, words that would say B U M or E R. And I’m going to spell it out because if, if the experiment goes to plan, I’ll have pressed a button and all of the, the filler words like that will have been removed from the speak show and we’ll see how it goes. Very [00:05:03] Chris: [00:05:03] exciting. Oh, yeah. I look forward to that. [00:05:07] It’s one of those chores that having does it a few things over the, over the years, removing earth, arms, Audi. I’ve said them now. So we’ll see if it takes them away, but removing them from somebody’s speech, which actually can make a, an interview sound a lot better. But it is a chore. You have to kind of look out for them. [00:05:28] You have to cut them out. Bit of a NL magic to get rid of those will be fantastic. I think I do, I’ll also take a little bit of exception to your dead languages thing. I think because Latin is the root of so many languages. If you do learn Latin, I believe it is easier to learn other languages that are Latin based and it can be useful. [00:05:50] Not [00:05:52] Matt: [00:05:52] in Latin. No, it’s not. It’s it’s dead. As in it’s it’s frozen. It doesn’t change. In the way that the English language is constantly changing, got through true. And that’s the point? It’s the differences between a language that is a museum piece that can be very valuable as museum pieces are, but you, you know, you wouldn’t want to make your lunch on something in the British museum. [00:06:13] Chris: [00:06:13] Well, indeed. And then the point about languages, as you say, does change. And it’s important that we recognize it changes. And as somebody who. Despite my lack of mastery of a couple of years earlier now, he’s always been really interested in the language and the different ways it can be used. [00:06:30] I you know, it’s nice to be able to see language values, but language languages is one of those things that you have to allow to change. And if you are one of those people that say, well, you must never use language in that other way. You are inevitably going to be drowned out by, by history and people do that with Americanisms. [00:06:49] They are, they say, well, you know, trashes and Americanism and garbage and all these kinds of things. Well, of course, these are all the reason that I made with my organisms is because they were taken to America as commonplace words in, in England. When, when the settlers went to America and they just moved on here, they hadn’t just had, they hadn’t moved on so much in America. [00:07:06] That’s it? And that’s the crazy thing. It’s a fascinating subject. [00:07:09] Matt: [00:07:09] It is bill, Bryson’s got a book which is all about the difference between English, English, and American English. And one of the really surprising things from reading that book is how many words that I thought were from English. [00:07:21] English actually were originally from American English and we’d adopted them. So it’s really not that clean cut at all. Anyway, there we go. That was, is a massive, great filler word I used. There’ll be interesting to see whether that one comes out. We are now I’m really conscious of it. And now I’m trying to be able to not use them in case they get cut out. [00:07:37] Who knows Liz Stoker would have a field day with this stuff. Wouldn’t she? Because actually you’re taking out context of the conversation that might actually be valuable in this conveying something without us knowing about it. [00:07:46] Chris: [00:07:46] Yeah. We could be boiling away. The very essence. it wouldn’t take [00:07:51] Matt: [00:07:51] much. So what we will be doing this week, we’re going to have a conversation about social networks and how they’ve been in the news a fair bit recently for one reason or another. [00:07:59] But before that, because we haven’t had one for a while and because I think you look like you need your brain stretching a bit we’re going to have a quiz. So you ready for that, Chris? [00:08:08] Chris: [00:08:08] I was born ready, man. You know that. The Quiz! Matt: [00:00:00] Okay, here we go. Christopher. I wanted to be able to see what you knew about history of technology companies. So I’m going to give you a list of six technology companies, a couple from the United States, four of them from Asia. And I’d like you to tell me the in chronological order of when they were founded. [00:00:23] Hmm. Okay. [00:00:24] So first one, Casio. [00:00:30] You better write these down because fighting memory happens to people my age and younger. So number one, Casio Casio yet, number two. IBM. Yup. Number three. Samsung. Yeah. Number four. Yamaha. Oh yeah. Number five, Fox com [00:00:54] Chris: [00:00:54] Fox who. [00:00:56] Matt: [00:00:56] Come home, the Chinese manufacturing company that make stuff for people like Apple. [00:01:01] Okay. And two NS. And then number six is Apple. So Casio IBM, Samsung, Yamaha, Foxconn. And Apple start the oldest first, [00:01:12] Chris: [00:01:12] please. Right? Okay. So I want to say too, I remember going to what’s that place near Winchester that, Hursley or something I remember going there and seeing that little tiny museum downstairs of the all IBM stuff and weighing machines and God knows what. [00:01:28] And so I’m guessing IBM is probably 1930s or something when it was, when it, when it might have started something like that. Casio. I know that’s that to me seems like an older business. That’s not older than IBM, maybe, but it seems I’ve got a feeling that’s quite an old business. Yamaha is quite old because it’s machinery and motor motorcycles and got, and all that sort of thing. [00:01:54] Fox com no idea. Never heard of it until you mentioned it. Apple quite young. So I I’m going to go for really, this is just going to be a gut feeling. I’m going to go Yamaha, Casio. IBM, Samsung, Apple Foxconn. [00:02:11] Matt: [00:02:11] So Yamaha. IBM [00:02:16] Chris: [00:02:16] Castillo some stuff. Yeah. I’m going to go Fox com and then Apple. Sorry. [00:02:23] Matt: [00:02:23] Okay. So the answers are, you had the oldest as Yamaha. [00:02:32] Yamaha was founded in 1887, jetting. It is the oldest. The, if you’ve ever noticed that their that logo is three tuning forks that they put on the motorbikes and all the rest of it it’s because they started off as a piano manufacturer. And they still make fantastic musical instruments to this day. [00:02:50] Okay. Next up you had IBM. IBM is the second oldest founded in 1911. Oh, [00:02:58] Chris: [00:02:58] there we go. I knew it was in fact now I think about it. I remember something to do with them. Yeah. 100 anniversary. I just didn’t. I just didn’t think it was that old. I just thought [00:03:09] Matt: [00:03:09] so you’re next up you had Casio. Casio was founded in 1946, just after the second world war, but unfortunately Samsung was founded in 1938. [00:03:25] Chris: [00:03:25] Okay. I got a feeling that Samsung was, was, was also older than That obviously it wasn’t making TVs and smart phones, but those you know, these companies, it’s quite hard to build a highly, you know, massively scaled manufacturing company from nothing. [00:03:43] Matt: [00:03:43] No. Yeah, absolutely. And Samsung was actually founded in the time when Korea was passed the Japanese empire. [00:03:50] There you go. Next up you had Fox con correct? 1974. Founding of that company. And then 1976 for Apple, which is the youngest of the loss of them. It’s very well done. No, it’s [00:04:03] Chris: [00:04:03] not, but for a stab in the dark, but I think my, my reasoning, so me through [00:04:10] Matt: [00:04:10] absolutely. It’s interesting. I find it actually, how old, so many of the companies that are so central to modern technology actually are. [00:04:19] I mean Casio falling away a bit. Yeah, I’m a horror, a massive in the music industry, but that they’re not ready now. So they used to Haifa and stuff. I don’t think they do much of that anymore. But you know, IBM still there 110 years old. [00:04:33] Chris: [00:04:33] It’s interesting. Isn’t it? And I guess a few of them, they came to our notice, you know, Casio probably in the 1970s and Samsung in the 1990s, probably the fact that they came to Western notice at that time, my colors are. [00:04:47]Perception a bit. And Chinese, I mean, there is not, I, I put Fox come later, is that there aren’t that many Chinese companies that, or that do that kind of thing, because it really wasn’t a, you know, China’s economy really wasn’t based on that, on manufacturing at scale of any sort really until. No well into the well into the second half of the 20th century. [00:05:09] So yeah, it’s it is interesting that the question is, you know, what happens next and what happens to these manufacturing companies and where do they go? And do we see the India or other places start to start to come through? [00:05:23] Matt: [00:05:23] And how many of the companies that are leading newer today will be around in 110 years time. [00:05:31] Chris: [00:05:31] Well amongst things for certain, we won’t be that to to notice [00:05:36] Matt: [00:05:36] might be anyway, pressing on. Social Media in the News… Chris: [00:00:00] So that I’m not, we’re going to talk about social media because it’s been a funny week for or a couple of weeks for social media and the way it reacts and sensors the output of various individuals and probably various individuals. We are essentially talking about Donald Trump and the people in his little retinue as they spread there. [00:00:25]Most the best way to describe it, the sort of lunatic ideas about the U S election, et cetera, for which they have, we ought to point out, give them this is responsible podcast evidence of to support their claims. Twitter, big girl spice because they Bund Donald Trump and they said, right, you can’t use Twitter anymore. [00:00:45] And then they, I think they actually banned him completely haven’t these are lifespan or something. Facebook removed him for something do achieve of bundle for two weeks or something because that’s the policy or whatever. And that’s then opened up a whole bunch of conversations about whose responsibility it is to send to people. [00:01:02] Was it right for them to do so? Should they have the power to do so? How does this fit in with a government regulation of social media, especially some of that which is being pushed through right now in the UK, as in other places that’s the online harms bill or I think they call it it’s it’s quite the kind of worms. [00:01:23] Isn’t it? [00:01:26] Matt: [00:01:26] Yes. Yes, it is. There’s, there’s, there’s a bunch of interesting things at play here. There’s the thing about if social networks for a long while social networks and, and others in that sort of space have argued that they are not publishers. They are merely platforms that the people who. [00:01:48]Put their content out on social media or the publishers, and therefore they have less responsibility for the content that goes out into their channels than say, a newspaper or a television channel would, and therefore leave us alone. It’s not us. It’s all the people using it. Even if what they do is hateful and incites violence. [00:02:07] And all of this is it’s a really neat media model because not only do you not have to really pay for your content, but then also you don’t get held responsible for the content, even when it goes out. And so it gets over a number of legal hurdles out and they keep saying they’re technology companies. [00:02:23] They’re not media companies. So when then Twitter and Facebook remove Donald Trump from being able to use those channels as a means to be able to speak directly to people slightly unmediated by the traditional media channels. There’s massive outro outcry by the right. There’s a bit of outcry for free speech people. [00:02:48] There’s a bunch of. Gnashing of teeth and wailing. And a lot of it seemed to be around how this is terrible, that these unregulated things we’re able to be able to exert power, to be able to describe who had the right to a voice and who didn’t. The thing that I find it a little bit ironic about that is that. [00:03:10] The traditional media have always had the right to be able to say, who has a voice and who doesn’t. And whilst they are having in the UK television and radio is regulated by a government sponsored regulator. I’ll come and with the BBC is regulated by Ofcom yet or not, but certainly there’s been rumors about that for a while. [00:03:30] And the BBC board of governors have regulated it before then. And newspapers are. Regulated by themselves, which is why the phone hacking scandal uncovered so much dirt within that world, because basically they weren’t being regulated whatsoever. The ownership of media is a bit dubious. The political affiliation of ownership of the media is mostly biased towards. [00:03:56] One side of the political spectrum and exert certainly control over setting agenda in UK politics. And that you, what you see often in the TV press is the T sorry, the TBN, the relationship with TV and the traditional press is that TV follows the agenda. That’s set by the newspapers and this close workings between the press and. [00:04:19]Political parties in particularly between most of the press and the conservative party. So the whole thing is basically there is no such thing as free access to speech at the scale at which networks are currently operating. Social networks are currently operating. This is unprecedented that we do have this, but it’s, it’s a complete anomaly in many ways. [00:04:38] And so it’s throwing up questions about how should they. Be regulated. Should they have the ability to be able to take people off air? And I think actually it’s interesting. Nobody really is talking much about that. Are they publishers or are they mainly plateau forms and there has been a little bit of thing going, particularly with Twitter in my head because I, I might occasionally have, you know, Thoughts that maybe people aren’t acting in the best of interests. [00:05:05] I’m wondering whether the delay in Twitter actually getting to this point, it was nothing to do with politics, but it was much more to do with the fact that Donald Trump was top. Top dollar box office for Twitter in particular. And he was a massive drawer and I who don’t follow Donald Trump and kind of missing the ability to watch what the raging ramblings are at the moment, because it’s not there anymore. [00:05:27] It’s a bit weird. And so there’s, there’s a whole bunch of dynamics at play within that. And it’s a bit of a muddle really, because. I mean the, the, the regulation of the press, I’ve just started listening to Ian dumps, listening and reading in dunce latest book, how to be a liberal. And he starts off with the the, the history of the philosophy of liberalism. [00:05:47] The idea that we as individuals have rights because we have sentence effectively and. How within the the, the formation of the three pillars of government, there was a central facet of the, both the American revolution and the French revolution. The idea of the separation of powers, particularly America, the separation of powers between judiciary executive and legislature that the, the free press was a vital fourth part of this. [00:06:13]And. The way in which traditional media has changed under the world of social networks is also leading to weird things because we don’t have a press quite like we used to. And we certainly don’t have things like local press, like we used to and the how holding a political activity to account, especially at a local level in the UK now is massively massively impacted by the fact we no longer really have local newspapers. [00:06:41] So, and all of that is it, all of these things are interrelated. So it’s a bit of a mess. [00:06:47] Chris: [00:06:47] It is, isn’t it because it’s really, it’s tempting to try and boil it all down and try and figure out where it all came from. But I think. I’ve been, as you’ve been talking, I’ve been going through that in my mind and I’m not sure it goes anywhere, but I remember the once upon a time when people started blogging and then you’d get a lot of journalists saying, well, of course, you know, you’re not proper journalists. [00:07:07] If you’re, you’re a blogger, you’re not a journalist. And and then over the years that’s become a little bit less. Easy for them to say, because some bloggers get enormous readership, or maybe now they’ve moved on to being vloggers or, or, you know, the podcast is even right. But there are people with them, an audience who have got that audience through various means whether it’s through fermions or foul. [00:07:32]But as you say those, those same the journalists and, and certainly the, the media companies have every single option they can take, they take to, to bash Facebook and Twitter and all those sort of things. They take done it because they see them as a massive threat. And just as once upon a time they saw blogging as a, as a kind of a threat or also it was a cheapening right. [00:07:54] Of what they did because the barrier to entry. To putting your thoughts down and publishing it for anybody to read had gone to zero and also the cost for anybody to read. That was also zero. So they were there, they were publishing what they were considered to be researched, high quality nuanced balance, whatever you like and charging a premium for that. [00:08:17] And. People were saying, well, why should I buy that? I can get this for free. And often let’s face it. You can look at all the bloggers and you can, you can say, well, okay, 70% of them are adequate or less, but the top that it was, if you can curate a list, you can get a lot of very good information. But the question is. [00:08:38] Who does that curation, who does that? Who does that work? And when it’s us, actually, maybe one day, we’ll like you and I both subscribed to tortoise, for example, which is I think is, is a decent efforts. Got some very good news news sources in it. I think they do a very good job of research into their stories. [00:08:55] Some of their stories have been extremely well justified, and, and, and you can see the level of effort that’s going into it. I have a, I also have a problem with tortoise and as much as it seems to me to be very, it’s kind of written by journalists for journalists. And then in a way that seems to me, there’s lots of, it’s kind of, if you read it in a metropolitan kind of educated mindset, it’s gonna make sense, but that’s, that’s the only thing that makes sense too. [00:09:25] And I, and I, that jars with me a little bit, so. The question about who you’re writing for, what are you trying to achieve? What’s the, what’s the, what’s your plan? Is all, they’re all valid in terms of what blog, whether it’s bloggers, whether it’s news organizations, but as you say, that ability for news organizations now, because, because, because the barriers of entry have come down completely, like we can do this. [00:09:50] I mean, it’s. There’s nothing, something that’s doing this, or we could go on YouTube. Right. And it would be even easier almost. And we could spare to crap to the, to the world and anybody could watch, nobody might watch, but anybody could watch that that’s that stranglehold, maybe that the, the media companies had on who could ask a question of the government or the prime minister has gone away. [00:10:15] Right. Knock us Rashford is a really good example. Right. So he’s got. He’s got a platform because he’s got followers and he’s famous, right? It’s not the most famous football by any means. He’s kind of, he’s a decent player and he’s played for number. This is not, he’s not probably charting or Gary Lineker or, you know, whenever these know gas going on, one of these players that would have been massive. [00:10:36] He’s a, he’s a good player with a decent audience, but he’s managed to get. Well, I not the prime minister to do pretty much everything he says, right. I’m waiting for the thing that he asked that the government to do that they don’t do, but I’m wondering what it would be that he would ask for that they, that they could deny. [00:10:55]And maybe it’s because of the power of his argument, or maybe it’s because of the subjects he chooses, but everybody is now in a position where they can sort of pick into their new source and they can pick and choose their influencers. And the question for the big. Those big aggregators. Cause that’s what Twitter is really. [00:11:13] It’s an aggregator. It’s an aggregator of 12 feeds from people. Facebook is an aggregator of conversations once upon a time, the BBC or the guardian or the Telegraph, might’ve seen themselves as an aggregator of information and, and, and they would go out and interview people. And I know it brings all this information together and it, the question is what are they doing there? [00:11:36] What’s that question? Those Benz five questions. You know, what part have you got? In whose interest do you exercise it? How can we take it from you? How did you get it all up? There’s another one as well. I can’t remember what it is, but if you were in a position of power, like Twitter, those questions apply to you. [00:11:54] How, you know, since, since you have this power, what, what, in what position do you exercise this power and on what we give them? What can we do about it? [00:12:06] Matt: [00:12:06] I think there’s tape. Two elements of it. And you talked about journalism and you also talked about opinion writers. I think one of the things with the era of Trump in particular, what we’ve seen is that there has been a move from journalism where people who are trained to be journalists are trained in being able to report not necessarily objectively, but based around truth. [00:12:34] And people who have opinion there to be able to spout opinions. So we’re speaking opinion. This show is about opinion. It’s not about necessarily objective truth. When we bring people into the show, it gives us an opportunity to find out about other people’s opinions, but it’s just opinion. There’s, you know, apart from the fact that we know that Yamaha is older than Apple it’s not often that we bring you hard edge facts within this, but we’re not proporting to the blurring of the lines between fact opinion and fiction that’s happened in the last 10 years and the accountability for that amongst social networks. [00:13:15] And the impact that social networks, because of the way in which they work is having on traditional media. So that the big hitting journalists now on the big titles, mostly aren’t journalists, they’re opinion writers. And actually at the moment we have in Michael Gove and in Boris Johnson, two opinion writers who’ve then got to the top of the political part as well. [00:13:41] And I wonder even actually, if they could have even begun to imagine, to have become in that sort of position of power in an era before social networks changing the way in which we perceive the difference between news [00:13:53] Chris: [00:13:53] and opinion. Well, that’s true. And we, we always see the end of people like that as some, some sort of glorious day where better, better will come, but we could have a prime minister and Alison Pearson or or Toby young or Julia Hartley brewer before you know it, right. [00:14:05] This isn’t, this is possible. Let’s, let’s hope that doesn’t happen. But these are, these are all possibilities. I think, I think there’s something, what you say is absolutely. Right, right. And that’s remember that Boris Johnson was ostensibly. Okay. He’s writing opinion, but apparently it was sent to sensibly. [00:14:22] He was writing it in an informed capacity about the European union. But once, once upon a time and he’s recorded her saying, you know, he, he would make this stuff up and then people lumped it up and it didn’t matter what nonsense he made up about the inefficiency and bureaucracy of the year. It would be seized upon by readers and they would love it. [00:14:41] And that’s why it was published. And when you publish those things in a, what you might call respectable paper, newspaper, then that has an effect. But then I guess, There’s always been this [00:15:02] tendency to believe what’s in the newspaper in a, in a, in a respectable newspaper. And you read the, the column by the health correspondent or the law correspondent or the motor and correspondent or the legal correspondent or whatever. And you. You say, okay, these guys know what they’re talking about. [00:15:20] And the only rejoinder to that would be maybe in the next week, that’d be an editor, a letter to the editor published saying when your correspondent talked about this, actually he was, or she was mistaken, whereas now they can be challenged and. Corrected very, very quickly by, by a whole sort of swarm of people say, you know, they can contact and publicly contact the journalist or the newspaper concern. [00:15:48] And I think what, you know, we will both have seen technology, for example, stories in the newspapers in the last 10 years that we look at and go there this down. Well, it’s talking about, and that’s because we happen to know maybe. More than the journalist who’s covering that because that they’re trained in journalism, not in tech, for example, and doctors will probably look at medical stories and go, they’d end up where they’re talking about because they’re trying to medicine and the journalist isn’t trained in medicine. [00:16:17] They’re trained in journalism, but happened to be covering medicine that may be of color to come to for many years, but they don’t have the depth of experience and knowledge of a doctor. But with me and you reading that column, we’ll probably take it as that was fine. We believe that because we, we don’t, we aren’t a doctor, but what we don’t realize is actually it’s all good kind of half, half baked, and it’s all educated kind of guests kind of stuff. [00:16:44] That’s been thrown together at the last minute for a deadline by somebody who has three or four facts and knows how to spin them out into 400 words. And maybe this is the right thing. Maybe, maybe it’s, it’s a good thing that we’re able to challenge. And we, haven’t got this powered vested in a small number of journalists anymore. [00:17:05] Matt: [00:17:05] So let’s think a bit then about the other side of what’s been going on with social networks and big tech companies over the last few weeks. And. Yeah. I mean, this is an ongoing story, but it’s particularly been highlighted with the news a week or so ago that Facebook we’re going to start to link data between WhatsApp, which is the messaging service that they have owned for quite some years now, but actually starting to link its data into the broader Facebook. [00:17:34] A world of data, and they’ve done this in the past with other things that said Oculus the virtual reality thing, you have to use a Facebook identity now to be able to log into that. And the gendered station is together. And the the WhatsApp news for quite a lot of people prompted a a level of soul searching about whether they should continue to use WhatsApp as a platform for what is described as being. [00:18:01] Secure messaging because the, the, I think that the thing was, well, how can it be secure if they’re then going to start to increase any tie these things together? And in fact our very own WB 40 WhatsApp group has now migrated on to signal as a result of that, a democratic process. And we’re now using a different platform and I’m one that proposed to not one, to have the ability to build lots of data about its users. [00:18:27] In similar sort of working models of that Wikipedia, I guess. W w how are you feeling about Facebook having all your data? [00:18:37] Chris: [00:18:37] Well, as somebody who doesn’t use Facebook really very much these days, I, I, I kind of soap in self-imposed or that a year ago, because I was just so depressed with everything I was reading on it. [00:18:49]But I haven’t deleted my account. And I, and the reason why I guess is because. Yeah, there are lots of people, or maybe I know for people who care about where, who I am and where I am, and therefore might want to be able to see that. But Oh, I have been extremely, I guess, concerned about Facebook for awhile and if I could delete it and it wouldn’t cause anybody else, any problem, I probably would the whole WhatsApp thing, I guess I’ve. [00:19:17] The one thing about WhatsApp, which is very good is that there’s always had that end to end encryption. You can, you can have a pretty good certainty that nobody not, nobody wants to read my stuff. Right. But at the end of the day, As that data is collected about it as an aggregated over years and years and years, who knows what that might use for today in future and whatever. [00:19:40] So if you can chip away at that a little bit, I think that’s nice. That’s worthwhile. So you think, okay, it’s good. Also what’s up really is useful. It’s usable and a lot of people have it, so it’s a good tool, but when it loses that intern, the encryption and say, or the, the. The trend is towards them, moving away from that. [00:20:02] And maybe, you know, we’ve seen lots of pressure from home secretaries in this country, for example, and, and, and elsewhere, you know, the security organizations around the world saying, give us a back door, et cetera, anywhere that leads to the potential for that happening. Ah, it just makes me feel uneasy from a, should we allow this kind of thing? [00:20:21] Should we just stop and let this happen? Or could we do something about it? Could we. We vote with our feet and go somewhere else. And that’s why I was very happy to move to signal and the WB 40 group, I’m not going to do what delete WhatsApp, but it’s still too useful for me. But the more traffic that can move, maybe that’s you know, it puns a flag in the ground and makes people think slightly differently. [00:20:43] So it’s, it’s hard to be absolute about these things, right? Because we live in a world where data is collected and shared and, and. Exploited in good ways, as well as negative ways. And we kind of have to get used to that, but it’s, I guess you just have to make value judgments each step. What do you think in that? [00:21:07] Matt: [00:21:07] I think it’s all about being able to understand value exchange and what things are worth. And for me, Personally. And I don’t think that this is a view that this isn’t a view that I think everybody should agree with because different people will have different views on it. I have data that is about who I am, what I do, where I go. [00:21:30] And if I were to go to a technology company and say, here’s all my data, would you like to buy it from me? They would say no. And if I say, please, and they really wants to get rid of me, they might give me a couple of quid. Because my data on its own, I don’t believe has any gray value where the likes of Google and Facebook. [00:21:54] And to an extent, Twitter, I still come back. I have Twitter has any sort of commercial model. I love it as a platform, but I just don’t understand how it could ever make any money. But where those platforms are where their wealth comes from. Is through the data of their users. But the key point for me is it’s not, they’ve bought my data so therefore, or they have my data and therefore they can make money from it. [00:22:16] It’s the fact that they have all of my data and all of everybody else’s and that the, the way in which they can make value from that is only an aggregate. And most that might mean that occasionally I get a bit weirded out by an adverse it’s put in front of me. It also means that when I start to search for something I’ll Google, it gets me to where I want to be quicker than I can even think about it. [00:22:40] It means that I have the ability to be able to communicate with people across the entire planet for free in terms of, you know, no paid for cost at the point. And for me at the moment that is a value exchange that I’m happy with because I know that there is nobody sitting, pouring over my data, particularly because it’s just machines and it’s machines and algorithms. [00:23:07] And there might be a point at the future where somebody or something happens, sorry, and I will then go, Oh, I was such a naive fall, but I kind of think that’s unlikely. And the benefit that I get from all these remarkable bits of technology that my exchanges for data, that if I were to sell on its own would have no value whatsoever is worth it. [00:23:30] I get far more weirded out by the fact that people are experience. Have access to all that data about my financial history and I have no ability to give them permission and they have sought no permission from me to be able to monetize that information. And I get nothing back from it. Other than that creepy feeling, whenever you’re applying for credit, somehow that they might say no, which is a really, that’s a really, that for me is way more dysfunctional than the value that I get from a Google or from a Facebook. [00:24:01] Chris: [00:24:01] Yeah, I guess the only thing that worries me slightly is that this could come, it could become a kind of diabolic pact. You know, there’s kind of sold their soul to the devil. It all seems fine until the point at which you’re being load lower testicle first into the, into the molten lava lakes of Hades. [00:24:21] Matt: [00:24:21] Sorry, you bought me a cream for that. That’s [00:24:22] Chris: [00:24:22] good. I did. Didn’t I say you’ll be well-prepared you be moist. And I. I guess I understand what you’re saying. I think, I think you can venue one person to stay too. I think the people that, that did that quite a long time ago were people like Sainsbury’s right. [00:24:38] And who would give you essentially money or money off your shopping or? Well, [00:24:45] Matt: [00:24:45] yeah. And my point exactly is that was worth about 30 quid a year. [00:24:49] Chris: [00:24:49] Oh, well, because equity is to equity here. It’s not [00:24:52] Matt: [00:24:52] cause that could have, they could have just dropped their prices and not bothered with all that nonsense because they wouldn’t have had to spend all the money on the technology [00:25:00] Chris: [00:25:00] for the next year. [00:25:00] Yeah. Well, but the reason they did spend the money for the next card is they sold that data. They used it for their own purposes. Absolutely. But they sold a lot of it as well. And as you say, it wasn’t useful because they hadn’t that Valentine’s shopping to. They hope it was useful because they had. [00:25:15] Thousands and millions of people who shop shopping data and then they could sell it. So they made more money on that data. I remember somebody telling me who was working with Sainsbury’s then that then they did on Viceland, fruit and veg in a period of time in the nineties. So or maybe the early 2000. [00:25:32] So you can, I don’t know for the value of somebody’s data and you can recommend some for that. The question really is, as you earn a little bit, like you stay with experience, I mean, that experience aren’t getting the data from you. Aren’t they experiment getting data from financial institutions that tell them that, Oh yeah, you’ve got a mortgage and you, you know, you generally pay off, but generally speaking around Christmas when you go out in that bender, you you know, I forgot to pay it. [00:26:00] And the question is, Who owns your data? How can they use it? And GDPR comes along to try to regulate that. And it’s actually really, I mean, GDPR let’s face. It is not, it’s really worthy. And I support the of GDPR and I think it’s very important. But as legislation. It’s rubbish. And as much as nobody really knows what’s going on, nobody really knows whether they’re acting inside GDPR or not. [00:26:24] If we’re completely honest with each other. And therefore, if you could find a way of saying, well, actually, no, we’re not going to do it like that. We are going to prohibit anybody from holding personal data about you, but you will have, you will have a personal data store that you can give organizations permission to. [00:26:41] Access for the period during which your, your you’re working with them or you’re using them, and then you can turn it off. And at that point they must by law delete any information they have on you, but that, you know, but don’t worry company eight, if you ever need months data, again, he can press the button and open it up again. [00:26:59] That model is probably something that we need to get to, frankly. Yeah, it’s technologically very difficult and culturally quite difficult, given all the things that have gone before, but maybe we are, maybe we really are selling us all to the devil. Well, maybe we really do need to fix it in a way like that. [00:27:20] Matt: [00:27:20] Maybe the experience recently of what has happened with politics coming about in the first part of this conversation though, is maybe that’s the faster, the impact. Actually, what it does is it enables us to have Despicable individuals being able to speak until far too many people at the same time. . Outro Chris: [00:00:00] So that was an in-depth conversation. I was a bit old school. We haven’t done that for a little while. [00:00:05] Matt: [00:00:05] Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. It [00:00:07] Chris: [00:00:07] was. But nor shall we, because we’ve got a stellar lineup of guests, you know, you did a, an amazing thing this week, where you listed all of our guests for since the day we started this Merry little podcasting and there were 122, [00:00:23] Matt: [00:00:23] is that 122 people have appeared. [00:00:26] Well there’s, some of them are the same person. Cause a few people have appeared more than [00:00:29] Chris: [00:00:29] once. Well, you know what I mean? And we all, we all move and grow. Right? We’re different people in the future from the past. I reckon they’re all different people. And going through that list is really, it’s kind of eye-opening because every time I, you know, I was always sort of scrolling through it and you sent it to me and I looked through it and I thought I could remember the conversation. [00:00:47] Most of the time I can remember the conversation. And it takes you back to a time and a reason for having that conversation as well. We went, Oh yeah. Everybody’s been brilliant on the show, right? [00:00:59] Matt: [00:00:59] Yep. And we’re continuing that trend. So we all get Charlotte’s on at some point in the near future. [00:01:03]Hopefully everything is well with you, Charlotte. If you’re listening we next week have got Richard. Sage coming in, [00:01:10] Chris: [00:01:10] which is Sage. Who’s going to talk about it. Strategy. He’s got a a mailing list and a website that he runs that is co it turns out some regularly, really, really good stuff on it. [00:01:22] Strategy. And makes you think about, you know, how you’re going to manage different parts of an it organization. So, yeah, looking forward to talk to him about that. [00:01:32]Matt: [00:01:32] We’ve got, I think this is the right article Berlin Howard. Coming in to talk about his business liminal. We talked about liminality a few months ago, but he’s coming into to give us the full SP on it. [00:01:46] We’ve got Julia Hobsbawm coming on to talk about the simplicity principle and how within the world that we’re in at the moment, it’s a massively complicated world when he was things we’ve just been talking about now, how do you make your life manageable? We have got. Anthony, slumbers coming in to talk about, yeah, [00:02:05] Chris: [00:02:05] property what’s going on in what’s going on in the property market, you know, this business of moving to remote, working and how that’s affecting the, you know, the landlords and, and, and things like prop tech and what we can expect to see in future. [00:02:18] Matt: [00:02:18] And we’ve also got Edward , who is the head of the computer. I can’t remember the name of the publication, but apart the new statesman group, he’s formerly the head or the editor in chief at CIO magazine. And he’s going to come in and talk about what he’s up to now. And I think I’ve also got somebody to talk about the world of insurance tech in the next few weeks as well. [00:02:41] So I’m quite a lineup. Hey. [00:02:44] Chris: [00:02:44] Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, we’re going to have guests after guests. We’re not going to have the the chance to indulge ourselves with a conversation like we’ve just had for a wall Mount. So I hope you made the most of it. [00:02:54] Matt: [00:02:54] I did. And the quiz, I forget the quiz. [00:02:58] Chris: [00:02:58] No, they’re good. [00:02:58] Queers. I enjoyed that. Chris, what have you got coming up this week, Matt? [00:03:02]Matt: [00:03:02] We have got Oh, things, staff there’s a group of housing association peers. So CEO’s and other housing associations who meet up every self since we’ve got a meeting of that group one evening I have we’ve got, of course the risk panel. [00:03:19] And one of the things that we’re gonna be talking about is the housing white paper, which was published just before Christmas. One of the things in there is the the commitment from the government to introduce level of freedom of information. Similar to that within the freedom of information act for housing associations. [00:03:34] And one of the things we need to talk about in emerging risks for our organization is the impact of that. Because having seen freedom of information in government organizations the, the aim is good. The the way in which he gets manipulated by. People fishing for stories in the press and people trying to be able to do weird stuff with commercials is a little bit of a downside of it. [00:03:59]So yeah, that’s going to be there and the thing that’s yeah, that’s, that’s about main things that are in my head at the moment. How about you? [00:04:09] Chris: [00:04:09] Well, it’s another, another week back at work and gearing up for some events that I’m doing some presenting out. And of course these are virtual events that I’m going to be sitting in the same place as I am talking to you. [00:04:21] But I was just thinking about this time last year. I’d I’d already been to Vienna. I know there’s so much year I was in Istanbul. And if you remember, we recorded a podcast where, when I was in Istanbul and some people reported the most terrifying noise that happened during that. Do you remember that? [00:04:38] Matt: [00:04:38] Oh, yes, there’s a big motorbike or [00:04:40] Chris: [00:04:40] something, but it was that kind of out of context, but yeah, so that, so the, the world of the wilderness shrunk for me a great deal. So I’ll be presenting in Or rather I’m preparing for one event in which is ostensibly in Sweden and one which is extensive, but in Austria, but they will be doing the, from here. [00:04:58] So that’s, that’s, that’s my weakest is preparing some of those and doing the usual rally. So I’m looking forward to it. It’s it’s always good to be talking to people, even if it’s virtual. [00:05:08] Matt: [00:05:08] Absolutely good. Well I hope you have a good week. Thank you, dear listener for listening in hope you have a good week and we will see you again next week. [00:05:18]Bank here on WB 40.
45 minutes | 2 months ago
(177) State of Digital
On this week’s show we are joined by Adapt2Digital‘s Mel Ross. More information about the online networking session for people looking to provide online access to people can be found here:https://accesswy.org/digital-access-national-network-meet-up-thursday-14th-jan-1830/
60 minutes | 2 months ago
We’re back for a new year and a look at what technology leaders might need to be concerning themselves in the 12 months ahead.
41 minutes | 3 months ago
On this week’s show, the last of the year, Chris and Matt review the top 10 shows by download of 2020. You can find the originals here:10 – (160) Liminal 9 – (136) Homeopathic IT 8 – (146) Designing Home Schooling 7 – (139) Meetings, remote meetings 6 – (143) Socially isolated 5 – (155) Ducks on Wheels 4 – (134) Looking Back 3 – (158) Psychological Safety 2 – (135) OKRs 1 – (137) The Internet of Gnomes
54 minutes | 3 months ago
(174) Measure Me
On this week’s show Chris & Matt discuss the recent controversy around Microsoft’s Productivity reporting in Microsoft365, and also we see the (un)welcome return of our snappily-named feature The National Anthem of the Country whose annual energy consumption has just been surpassed by Bitcoin Mining. On December 16th we are having a party to celebrate the end of 2020. You can join us if you say hello over on twitter.com/wb40podcast
55 minutes | 3 months ago
(173) Lockdown Startup
On this week’s show we are joined by Sarah Weller and Jemma Jackson who share their experience of starting up their new business https://www.weareelement.com/ in the middle of a global pandemic.
60 minutes | 3 months ago
On this week’s show we talk with Professor Liz Stokoe about the science of conversation. You can read more about Liz’s work in her book Talk, and see her talk about it in this TED Talk:
47 minutes | 4 months ago
On this week’s show we are talking with expert CIO Mark Aikman about transformation and his new venture.
46 minutes | 4 months ago
(170) Work Pirates
On this week’s show we are joined by Michelle Minnikin from Work Pirates to talk about changing how work works. You can find out more about their next pirate gathering here:https://www.workpirates.com/gatherings
55 minutes | 4 months ago
(168) Advertising Culture
On this week’s show we are joined by Amy Kean to talk Advertising, Agencies, Events and the huge importance of diversity and inclusion. There is also mention of caravans. If you want to find out more about Amy’s DICE initiative, you can do so here:https://www.getdice.co.uk/ There’s also more about her Practice Makes UnPerfect programme with New Digital Age here:https://newdigitalage.co/2020/10/21/practice-makes-unperfect-starts-12th-november-2020/
50 minutes | 4 months ago
(167) The WB-40 Helpdesk
On this week’s show, Chris & Matt open up the WB-40 Helpdesk to answer some listener questions.
49 minutes | 5 months ago
(166) Data Based
On this week’s show we are joined by Edafe Onerhime who talks about the breadth of skills that an organisation might need to consider when thinking about upping their data game.
43 minutes | 5 months ago
On this week’s show Chris & Matt discuss whether it really is so surprising that Covid data is being fed through Excel.
48 minutes | 5 months ago
(164) Sound of Silence
On this week’s show we are joined by artist Steve Chapman to talk about his podcast project Sound of Silence.
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