Etikettarkiv: industry

Networking yourself [to a new job]

I’m following this Coursera MOOC on “International Leadership and Organizational Behaviour”, #ILOB and I quite enjoy it. Although I don’t really know about the academic endeavour and value with these classes new learning is always positive.

Today’s lecture is about the Impact of Social Networks on Organizations and Groups, it speaks about different types of networks – strong vs. weak, closed vs. open etc. But I wonder, does it (= networking) work? And if you find yourself in a surrounding aka network and you’re the odd man out what good will a network be to you? In my own situation e.g. it is no secret that I’m looking for a new job and that I come with a good experience and competencies to execute in the jobs I apply for. Only I seem to exist in some Boy zone, that is Brussels public affairs in IT, and even if I turn over backwards I will never be male so I literally don’t fit in. This is not a criticism, it is stating facts of human nature, I believe that the correct academic term is Homophily, i.e. we bond easier with people whom are similar to ourselves. But with result is that unless we dare to go outside the famous box our network will look as ourselves. From a sheer business point of view that while a closed network like this will offer good ways to collaborate, higher trust etc., closed networks like these will also see lack of innovation, high redundancy in competencies and so on. Of course, I understand that there are two in any connection and I am entirely open to the fact that I’m the weak spot in any [future] relationship. Then the question is – what does that say about me? Maybe I haven’t invested enough in my network? Possibly. Like so much in our lives networks are earned, it could be that I haven’t earned my network. On the other hand none of “my” contacts have just landed in my lap.

I’ve always been a firm believer in “keeping shut and getting the work done” and that this will eventually pay off in more interesting jobs, tasks and better remuneration. Yes, I admit there are limits to my altruism and both the landlord and myself like the concept of paying the monthly bills in full, every month. An old-fashion concept I know, but one that I like because well, it works. But no, not so. Apparently I have to look at my wide network as a strategic asset. Dear me, these a people I’ve passed a good time with having coffee or so, but now they are suddenly an asset. I find it all a bit disconcerting, because while I don’t mind helping out as much as I can myself when someone asks for help I dislike the notion of being an asset. And if I dislike this it is easy to assume that so does my counterparts.

So while I understand that No Man is an Island I’m remain a bit uneasy of the concept of regarding my fellow human beings as assets. And to balance the giving and taking. Or am I maybe over thinking the art of networking?

Expelling the fear in communications

In her excellent piece on IT change communications, Theresa Stinson, lists “Expel the fear” as one integral part in any change communication roll-out. And how right she is, getting to test e.g. the new software is an important step to overcome any reticence to change in the organisation.

But this advice is equally valid for other types of IT related communications, I’m thinking about when the “customers” are the IT specialists. Before I move on I’d like to state one thing: I love working with engineers. They are solution minded and are often very enthusiastic. True they more often than not display this enthusiasm by speaking to you in four or five letter acronyms, but the enthusiasm is there and I can take their engineering speak and turn it into something non-engineers understand. And this is where the (expelling) fear come in. Very often I get the reaction from the “IT guys” that the text I have prepared is too high level. At occasion I have been accused of treating the target groups as idiots, and more often than not I have been told that the text is not “techie” enough.

So, what do I do? It should come as no surprise when the answer is: it depends on the audience. One thing I rarely do however, is to rewrite the text so it becomes “techier.” Of course I correct errors, but that’s it.

And, why don’t I listen to the wishes of the customer? Isn’t a fundamental quality in any customer facing job? It isn’t arrogance, trust me, I normally work with colleagues that will forget more about their subject matters than I will learn, I don’t in any way doubt their technical knowledge. But when it comes to communications I’m the specialist. And I also base my advice on many years of pitching journalists whom all have one thing in common, they are pressed for time and need to quickly identify if there is something newsworthy in the material I provide.

I remember in particular one customer that got so incensed I actually made a bet with him. It was regarding a newsletter I had produced and it is true it was high-level but I was convinced ,this was the way forward. I had taken 50 pages Rational Rose schematics and turned them into 1,5 A4 document and I attached the technical specifications. The bet went along the lines: if the stakeholders are upset its my fault, if they are good with this, it’s your sunshine. The result? An astounding success, and for the first time in the life of the programme the developers got much-needed feedback from the stakeholders. In all honesty the doubting programme manager did acknowledge that my way forward was the good way forward. The crux of the matter was the attachment. While many of the stakeholders were very senior managers and only read the short text, they for the first time ever knew whom to forward the technical specifications to.

So yes, expelling the fear is a large part of our job as communicators and sometimes an attachment is what’s needed to move ahead.

Affirmative action for Women in the EU – No, thank you!

The other day I attended an event in Brussels. In a networking town like this, and Washington DC, that is nothing unusual. It was an industry event, so people representing their companies working with public affairs and in IT and Internet in general. So relatively ”new” industries. That isn’t anything exceptional either. No what was so exceptional was that of the maybe 50 people present four (4) were women. Of which one woman was married to one of the guys attending the event.

Yes, you read correct – out of 50 people, 3 were women working in the industry. And this is a fairly normal room in this town.

I find the figures remarkable and the situation so wrong I can’t begin to explain. And probably shouldn’t because, to quote President Reagan “You can’t print what I think.” But I still don’t want legislation remedying this.

Why don’t I want legislation to deal with this unbalance? First of all, affirmative action is discrimination, it departs from the principle that equal rights are always right. Affirmative actions leads to polarization, collectivization, and identity politics. Should increasingly educated women, all over the world, which on our own merits, sometimes against all odds, made it through tough educations be discarded in a future where men find it increasingly difficult to keep up? Because, one must see that affirmative action goes both ways.

These irrelevant criteria – gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, the list is endless, which helps individuals to advance their careers, will also be the defining criteria should this individual fall. Individual skills won’t matter, these criteria will still define the individual and spill over on the group as such, i.e. a woman gets on in her career to through affirmative action, if she fails ALL women become incompetent. Affirmative action also suppose that individuals are exchangeable which clearly we are not. So, in my case, as long as we have a woman on our team, we’re fine. Does that even begin to sound right to you?

Finally, there is the minor detail about property and private ownership, a privately owned company, indeed any company shouldn’t be required to hire any one else than the person they believe can do the job.

Still, 3 professional women in a room of 50 professionals seems, well – unbalanced.

Bilar – Cars

Nu när dammet håller på att lägga sig i SAAB-Spyker affären undrar jag ändå litet. GM som inte kan göra bilar, säljer ett bilmärke, som inte gått med vinst på 30 år, till en liten biltillverkare utan säljnätverk, för att den senare skall tillverka stora lyxbilar, baserade på 150 gammal teknik. Inte hyridbilar, inte elbilar, utan bensin-och dieseldrivna lyxbilar.

I USA och Frankrike har regeringarna stött konsumenterna och bilindustrin med bra inbyten (cash for clunkers) och tagit chansen att få en nyare bilflotta. I Frankrike krävde regeringen att biltillverkarna behöll största delen av tillverkningen i Frankrike. Något Carlos Gohsn på Renault har fått erfara. Han ville stänga och flytta flera fabriker, men fick på pälsen och företaget måste nu ha 60% av all tillverkning i Frankrike. En företagsekonomisk boja om något. Fast franska regeringen har i och för sig inte sagt hur länge man måste behålla tillverkningen i Frankrike.

Mest oroande i hela SAAB-affären är att de nya köparna inte talar om nybilstillverkning. I alla fall inte öppet, i stället skall man fortsätta att producera bilar som är byggda på GM-teknik. Man talar heller inte om utveckling av ny teknik – jag måste erkänna att jag har svårt att se hur stora lyxbilar är framtiden. Fast det är klart – undren med undren är att de händer.

Här i Frankrike är det inte heller mycket till ny teknik i bilbranchen. Man håller på att introducera etanolbilar och Renault har utvecklat elbilar i samarbete med Israel. Men än så länge är det inte direkt massproducering man talar om.

Det motoriserade hjulet, och så småningom den massproducerade bilen har gett oss en större frihet än någon annan mänsklig uppfinning. Flexibla persontransporter är helt klart en av de viktigaste frågornar vi står inför. Men ligger framtiden verkligen i en 150 år gammal uppfinning?


Now, when the dust is settling in the SAAB-Spyker deal, I allow myself to wonder slightly. GM a car manufacturer that don’t know about cars, sells a car make, that never made any surplus, to a small car manufacturer, without vendor network, so the latter can manufacture luxury cars based on a 150 year old invention. And they will not manufacture hybrids, not electric cars, but gasoline and diesel luxury cars.

In USA and France the governments has supported the consumers and car industry with good deals when buying new cars (Cash for Clunkers) which has resulted in a newer car fleet. In France the government demanded that the manufactures would keep their factories in France. And they meant it. Something Carlos Gohsn learned the hard way when he tried to close a factory and move the manufacturing to a cheaper country. The government intervened and now 60% of their total production must remain in France. Talk about being financially hand cuffed…The French government hasn’t timed this measure though.

Most worrying in this story is that the new owners don’t really speak about manufacturing new cars, at least not in the open. Instead they are talking about continuing to produce GM developed cars – maybe it was needed for the deal to go through? Nor is there any talk about new technology – I must admit I find it difficult to see how large luxury cars are the future. But on the other hand – the wonder with wonders is that they happen.

In France the automotive sector doesn’t show much innovation either. They are introducing ethanol cars and Renault has developed cars in co-operation with an Israeli company. But this far we don’t speak mass production.

The motorised wheel, and in due time the mass produced car has provided us with more freedom than any other invention. Flexible transport of person is clearly one of the biggest issues we stand in front of. But does the future really lie in a 150 year old invention?