10 hacks to stop busyness

Keeping oneself busy is probably the most important value of our time. Busyness surpasses religion, materialism, individualism, and even social media presence. It seems that being busy, busyness (business), gives us respectable status and signals effectiveness.

For many years, I also fooled myself to be stressed out about my output until I realized that I just simply didn’t have to be busy.

Look, I know the statement above might seem like another cheap woo-woo-NLP mind trick, but refusing to be busy really worked for me without having to compromise my productivity even the tiniest fraction. As a matter of fact, I got more productive and content as the busyness stopped.

If you also want to stop being busy, you might want to give the 10 points below a try.

1. Breathe

As basic as it gets, breathing is the only real urgent and on going process in our lives. In all its urgency, it can also relieve the sensation of urgency.

While simple, intuitive and shallow breathing alone will take you most likely pretty far, mastering how to breathe right will gain you control over the stress levels and sense of urgency, no matter what the situation is.

All in all, articles and books about breathing could easily stock a library, but keeping it simple, in the event of excess stimuli or if you just want to calm down, inhale deep, but in about half (eg. 4 sec) the time you exhale (about 8 sec).

2. Clear to-do from waste

Look at your to-do list (granted, you keep a list of to-do’s in the first place!) and cross out all of those tasks that are not backed by your values. There are no universally right values, so if, for example, vanity happens to be one, you need to serve that value and act accordingly.

3. Set clear objectives for working

Set clear goals for the day that are derived from what you have planned for the entire week and/or month rolling down from 3 month, yearly plans, and longer term plans. Not only will a plan help you get things done, but plans will also take you where you want to go. Clarity over to-do increases locus of control and let’s you feel less busy.

4. Get sh*t done. Don’t procrastinate.

Well planned if half done -but remember, only half! As planning helps so much in all the different ways, fulfillment comes from actually completing something. No excuses, just start delivering and manage your task backlog wisely. Only very seldom makes it sense to procrastinate, so don’t make lousy excuses for yourself.

Having already crossed out all unnecessary task right from the top and having your hands on the actual to-do, refrain from excess quality and attack the tricky tasks with zeal.

At the end of the day, look at all the things you have done, appreciate your achievements, and start priming yourself for yet another rear-end-kicking day ahead. Sense of progress and achievement also boosts locus of control.

5. Guard your time. Be selfish if necessary.

Time is our most important asset. Even the almost almighty money cannot touch it, so treat it accordingly. Life is too short for garbage entertainment, bad books or lousy music. The only one to keep yourself from being exploited is you. Less is more.

6. Get rid of clutter

Clean table tops, roomy closets, organized cabinets, and simple wardrobe will  make your day to day life easier in so many ways. While you don’t have to spend so much time getting with and by indifferent stuff, less clutter around also spares your decision making capacity for the important stuff.

While aiming at minimalism, you’ll find a lot less craving for sugar too. This is about reaching clarity over a busy mental landscape.

7. Stay off sugar

Sugar is probably one of the most addictive but also lethal substances. Despite its dangers, we are bathed in sugar partially to sooth our stressed out, depleted ego.

Yes, sugar apparently restores a depleted ego, but as the sugar rush ends, you’ll find yourself worse off than before topping up your glucose levels. In desperate need of sugar, opt for fruit as there is also fiber to level the rush.

8. Meditate

This article alone packs a whopping 76 scientific benefits of meditation, so it might be a little daring to dismiss the potential of meditation.

Some might think meditation requires dissolved bones to reach out-of-this-world zen-master yoga poses and ability to levitate, but it’s nothing like that. Again; breathe. Be mindful. This is the part where you don’t have to perform! Allow also negative feelings to emerge. Zen over haste.

9. Sleep

Sleep deprivation will take you to your final rest early. Life is also quite simply a bore when you are tired as sleep deprivation reduces so many aspects of your physical and mental health.

Eating too late, too much and too heavy/sugary will destroy your sleep. In addition to bad eating habits, consumption of alcohol in the evening, even by modest quantities also prevents you from reaching the deeper phases of sleep.

In order to facilitate good sleep, go to bed early and leave all digital devices out from your bedroom – or at least vicinity of the bed. Really, stay off that blue light! Internet will wait for you until the morning.

10. Smile

Let go of that frown on your face, replace it with a smile and see how everything changes, not only inside you but also around you.

On a universal scale, as you will be most likely totally forgotten in 100 years time, you might as well relieve yourself from all the pressure that it was all about you. Don’t take life so personally. Just enjoy this short period of insignificance and enrich everyone crossing your path. We are already there.

Do you think I missed something essential?

If not, goodbye busyness. Hasta nunca.

Why I don’t follow the news anymore

To begin this small piece of writing , I have a small confession to make: I have always found reading newspapers something of a chore. This by itself has puzzled me quite some time, because I think I am naturally curious about everything and I really do want to keep up with things.

Maybe I have some kind of case of dyslexia that just somehow makes reading hard for me, maybe I have not been able to teach myself enough patience to sit down and concentrate, maybe I have developed this inclination towards this “move and do” that it’s hard to take the time to stay still and read.. Citing my significant other on her endless yet ever brilliant one liners: God only knows,  but she/he won’t tell.

During the most recent weeks I have noticed myself totally neglecting the daily newspapers, even if I have a wide variety at my disposal. And it’s not only the newspapers, the news on TV are losing their grip on me too. Searching my soul, I found multiple reasons for this.

All we care about is your click

When ever the wider audience gets excited about a particular topic, be it yet another political scandal, a polarizing question over tolerance for acceptance, equality or what ever celebrity stunt, the media smells the drama and the volume of clicks in the air (I know, they have to make money too). This thirst for clicks results in putting -by looking at the end result- probably around 90% resources in the headline and 10% in the actual story. Click and disappointments follow.

News -not really.

Freely explained and according to my understanding, the definition of a news is something that does not comply with the previous expectations. Once the media is on to something, it feasts on draining the topic bone dry ..and even with only dry bones left, you can still take a couple swings at it, just to be sure. In the mean time, the angles to the story are totally over exploited already. Coming back to the definition, is this really news anymore?

Hit’n run

After leaving the remains of the carcass, there is no looking back. Who cares about Ukraine anymore? The immigrant problem seems to resonate far stronger with the audience. Zika has also some promising gender angle for the people to get all aggy about.

Nancy is live and kicking

Psychology Today claimed in their article “Why do we love bad news” that in media 1 positive news is being outweighed by bad news 17 fold – yes, 17! Whilst there appear to be many fascinating reasons for this, I just care about all that negativity. Not wanting to turn my back on the plight of the world, negativity catches on creating a snowball effect. Recession, anyone? All in all, there seems to be too much negativity, people victimizing themselves, and not understanding how fortunate they are. Therefore please, leave me out of the information loop, thank you very much.

Is this really necessary?

What doesn’t stop to amaze me, is how people find gossiping over mostly below average, sometimes average or rarely even above average people, a politician or not, interesting altogether.  Fair enough,  you might find some logical reason behind busting a presidential candidate on womanizing and extramarital relationships (former US Senator Gary Hart might be the forerunner of this area, with Clinton. DSK etc. following his trail), but sometimes the populism and thirst for drama just gets too far. Politicians easily get a proper beating if they are in the outs and seriously don’t mind their step.

What happened really?

Not supporting the Russian or any other pushy super power agenda, it would be interesting to know what really happened in Ukraine minding that eventually things tend to be very complicated. If nothing else, University years taught me source criticism and some years back, I had a lunch with a Russian colleague of mine that made me think about the true state of affairs in military conflicts with multiple actors having different interests.

Back then, the Georgian crisis was on with Russian tanks on the soil of a country that was considered sovereign. The news coverage in the west was totally judging the Russian action in Georgia. Nobody in the west, however, seemed to be paying any attention what Mikheil Saakashvili was hustling there.

Generally regarding the Russian fares, let us not forget that the Russians still have significant minorities in many former soviet countries, which makes things complicated in many ways. Same problem applies to other problems too.

It’s is hardly ever either this or that and the only thing you can be sure about is uncertainty. Related to the impact of the news on us, an interesting thing that I learned not too long ago from a Freakonomics podcast “How to be less terrible in predicting the future” is that best forecasters in the world tend not to follow on news either because of the judgement bias.

Ok, enough talking. How about doing something about this?

We are masters in pointing out problems and as a victim of extraordinary surroundings, complaining about the wrongs of life. A major source of frustration to me is when a problem is brought to my attention and no one acts on it. We just talk about it and then we leave the scene without anyone taking any concrete action points. By the way, does this sound like a typical business meeting to you? To me it does and it really grinds my gears.

The biblical cord to my bubble.

In the end and in order to avoid totally enclosing myself in a barrel, care free from the plight of the world, I still actively follow certain news podcasts. Also, as sort of temptation bundling, I promised myself to strech watching the 10 o’clock news. As I have got better used to stretching and the 35-year tension in my hamstrings is slowly but gradually relieving, Thing is, that I am not sure anymore which side of the bundle is supposed to make the other part acceptable.

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Virtually possible

Not too long ago during the last winter, I had to commute across the city with public transport for a conference. It was a stressful journey in contrast to my typical walk, run, or peddling a bike to work with all that noise, disorder, tight spaces, unsaid excuse-me’s, coughing ‘n sneezing, braking and accelerating, pollution, bad air, sweat etc.

Despite the relative discomfort of my journey, the most striking discovery was related to the colossal kinetic energy involved. A good bit of it seemed like a perfect waste of resources (incl. time) in a very unsustainable manner. I mean, look at a person alone in a private car: does it really still take a 1 ton steel cage to move 70-80kg around?! Yes, if we say so, but I think there are options. Altogether, I couldn’t stop myself from to wondering that wouldn’t it just make more sense for all these people stay home and work from there?

THE NEXT PARADIGM SHIFT IS HERE

By far and large, in the global private sector business teleconferencing has been an essential part of communications for a good decade. It’s not hard to put the numbers together to find out how much companies save on travel expenses by reducing flying. It also saves time which is our most valuable asset.

The more recent shift in Finland however, has started to promote remote presence even if the physical interaction would take place relatively close, even the meeting room next door. There are many detailed reasons for this.

Undeniably, technology has had naturally something to do with this change, but most importantly the real paradigm shift seems to have taken place in working culture that has started to take baby steps away from 19th century industrialization work time management.

Acting as spearheads, a few but significant companies by size and challenging industry characteristics have gone from “Everyday physical presence absolutely required! to total “We don’t care where you work just as long as you do. This change in mentality can be also seen in the way office spaces are being redesigned; more flexible spaces for ad-hoc collaboration and less fixed work stations with a someones name firmly on it.

Obviously, some people find tele and video conferencing uncomfortable for many reasons, be it unfamiliarity with the tech and equipment involved, impaired and saturated information exchange, or the demand for more organized way of running meetings.

Surely, I don’t exactly love remote meetings myself either, but they have started to make sense in increasing amount of different cases. We just have to adjust to new ways of connecting. Maybe random pre-conference mingle over a cup of coffee takes place in a virtual chat room instead? In our private lives this is very much already so, if you look at the popularity of online dating for instance.

..AND THE FUTURE?

Curiously enough, last autumn there was a some sort of a public strike in Finland. I cannot remember who and what specifically was in the center of it, but nevertheless it caught enough momentum to firstly make the transport labor unions support the strike and thereby put the entire nation to its knees.

Personally not belonging to any labor union, I was working that day and had to scoot through the city for a meeting. I was kind of worried about the other working half of the country having had to take their own cars to commute and thereby making downtown too thick of a mess to pass through within a decent time. Give the extraordinary circumstances, I decided to leave early.

What I feared to be a perfect disorder, it turned out that my assumptions and fears of total congestion were totally wrong! In fact, it was beautiful. No traffic, no hustle or bustle – nothing! Apparently people had decided and also been given a permit to stay home in fear of total logistical chaos.

All in all, that day made me realize, how profound the change of remote presence will have in the society. Granted, it’s difficult to imagine natural, on-site human interaction being replaced entirely by virtual meetings. Furthermore, some professions, like a nurse, a plummer, a barber, or a cook, require physical presence but they mostly needed around because of the needs of other people. Someone staying home will have a multiplicative effect on others. No people, no services and vice versa.

..AND AFTER THE FUTURE?

After all these years, I remember walking out from the movie theater after having seen Matrix and feeling amused about that sci-fi action blast. I really liked the movie, however not because of visionary projection of the future, but because of the story that still those days appeared as just wonderful fantasy. Virtual reality seemed simply too far away to be considered seriously.

When Matrix came out in 1999, the world was in general terms getting more and more connected, but only in kind of a blind 1-to-1 fashion. To further elaborate on what I mean with blind, I am not only talking about us being limited to voice and short text content wise, but more significantly despite increasing amount of mobile (feature) phones people were not online.  Today, digital consumer owns 3,64 connected devices on average!

In terms of producing content, we have Nokia Ozo at the sending end of appropriately fast network and VR equipment like Oculus at the receiving end. We might be closer to the Matrix than it seems. 

The Name Game

The other night, on our way to the movies, one of my very good friends finally delivered the news of having had his family name changed. In the course of the change, he reclaimed an old family name with both noble prestige but also a fascinating story of exceptional bravery of a soldier offering his horse to a king on a battle field. All in all, the name itself is so wonderful and so totally out of this mediocre world that I have wished this to happen for so many years. In all fairness and throughout these years, I, not only once or twice but probably hundreds of times, amused myself to play with the idea of my friend taking back their old family name and start branding himself from head to toes with embroidered family initials and code of arms – just like in some peculiar Wes Anderson movie.

With our nationality still incubating, a lot of Finns had their family names converted in decadent fashion to a Finnish version in masses along the way from the late 19th to early 20th century in the midst of rising national romanticism. Nowadays having your name changed seems to result from more typical themes: getting married, shaking off some family legacy you don’t want to be part of anymore, artsy excentricity, or who knows what. Sometimes people getting married adopt a new name for both of the victims, maybe to strike a compromise (yes, we like these lose-lose compromises more than butter!) or because they think having two names is or will be confusing for their children.

My own name has always been a bit of a challenge for me – first name especially: Arto (origins perhaps in Celtic Arthwr – a bear), in name fashion trends typically a name for men twice my age (yes, still, even if time goes by -haha..) My name feels to me as if somehow something that I know have had with me all the time but I still cannot really pin my name down to properly own it – as if it was my shadow. Alternatively, try closing your eyes and describing something so familiar and personal to you as your own fingers one by one, highlighting their each individual characteristic. I cannot (- not even if I have tried picturing them so many times with my eyes shut as a gateway to hypnagogia, but that’s another story). Coming to think of it, maybe I have this familiar yet distant relation to my name because of the difficulty or even impossibility to define oneself in the truest sense. In fact we seem to be moving targets to ourselves, constantly evolving, growing.

Putting characteristic charged name tags on others, on the other hand, might be more natural for us due to simple need for consistency commitment and predictability. This also goes back again to why family names used to matter so much until we broke away from small village communities to global scale. Back then, when our social expossure was limited to smaller communities, the your name was important to tell others about your origin (both family and also region), acting as a certificate, classification, and maintaining feodal order. Additionally, there were not too many people in Finland some centuries ago so it provided also useful information to strive for more ample in gene pool – at least in theory, that is. Despite having suffered inflation over the times, name still matters. For example in Finland, Swedish family names still spell old money in people’s perception and prejudice.

Thinking about my own name and the society, I hear this subtle rebel yell inside me. At the end of the day, I am obviously more than my name – not just a label put on me because of social rules and norms of the society.

I am me. 

Therefore, next time my ID’s expire (they all do on a same month in a couple of years), I am seriously considering to change my name. Why? Mostly because I can, but also because eventually I don’t think it matters with what name I appear in some databases.
Not necessarily that much because of the cheaper-than-a-parking-ticket name change administration fee, but more over the fact that I have to bear that name with me for the next five years until my ID’s expire the next time, my new name might as well bring some delight every time I have to present it (Thank you Jonas Kjellberg for reminding me about the necessity of delight!). If you have good suggestions about my new name, like my all time favourite “Hey You” or more current Robert “Bobby” Digital, drop me a proposal and you might just put a name on me!

Red Hammer

You have probably come across the Red Hammer test where you are presented a set of mathematical problems one after another, with increasing level of difficulty. After the set of problems, you are being asked to think about the first color and tool that comes to your mind: “red” and “hammer” will come out from 98% of us. Are we really that predictable? What’s happening here?

Brief explanation to the typical response above is that firstly, red and hammer the paradigmatic options – the ideal or standards in their own categories. Secondly your conscious mind just ran out of steam in the working memory department and allowed the automated part of your mind take over. This exhaustion of the conscious mind is called ego depletion or maybe at least partly more describingly decision fatigue.

THE TWO PARTS OF OUR MIND

I bet many of us reflect on our taken actions and reactions, especially when we got ourselves in some kind of a conflict with our surroundings. Be it a that edgy email that just absolutely had to be sent before leaving work or the quarrel with your partner about where to have dinner on a trip, there are plenty of typical situations we tend to fall into time and again. Personally, it just strikes me occasionally, how impulsive my reactions sometimes are – the steady foundation rock I was supposed to be, why am I so unpredictable to myself?

As briefly mentioned above already, our minds can be divided into two parts – or systems, as Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, fast and slow calls them. There is the automated part of our mind, System 1, that is like the subconscious autopilot. This part of our mind is activated with the most trivial tasks, like brushing our teeth or even riding a bicycle. The System 2 on the other hand, is in charge of actions that for some reason require more focusing, conscious decisions, or logical thinking, like comparing over different insurance options or preparing a budget for the next year (-or at least it should be in charge!). Our genes, personal characteristics and experiences dictate pretty much when to use either of the two systems.

OUR MIND IS BORN LAZY

All in all, we like to stay on autopilot whenever possible and save working memory to the most critical and mentally demanding situations to better secure our survival. This means that we favor by default everything we are familiar with; the surroundings, the people, the food etc. The implications of this reach far and wide.

Now, I am not saying this is right and I don’t want to give excuses for intolerance, but by our nature we are less inclined to accept strangers within our society. The more prejudice you are, the more unfamiliar people will stress your conscious mind and when your ego is finally depleted, frustration and even anger will emerge. For those who have difficulties understanding this and feel a bit of “well, that’s not me” self righteous, let me ask you if you ever had that feeling during a stressful work day that you just wanted to exclude or not engage with one of your colleagues not speaking your native language in your lunch company?

THE MARSMALLOW TEST AND SELF CONTROL

Ego depletion is obviously very closely related to self control, self discipline and further beyond our ability to do work that requires long term commitment. Now, you probably have heard about the Marshmallow Test (check our this hilarious video on kids participating this test!!) and how a simple behavioral characteristic observed in the test can determine with great probability how a person will do in school, how they will score in tests measuring intelligence and overall success later in their life. This is probably why in the realm of defining factors of personal success, conscientiousness is being considered the single most important factor of the Big 5 – the personal traits that define your success in life.

While the mechanics of self control seem to be fairly multi-faceted and complicated, in order to keep this blog within reasonable scope, let us settle just listing some things that have got to do with how some people just seem to be able to for example succeed on a diet challenge better than the most of us. These characteristics are strong internal locus of control (~ I am the master of my own fate), persistency, positively reinforcing experiences, realistic self-reflection, and the ability to set realistic goals.

WATCH OUT FOR CONSCIOUS BIASES!

With the “Red Hammer” test my immediate reaction right after amazement was that if it is so easy to predict my mind, it must be as easy to take advantage of it for example in the context of impulsive buying behavior. While buying a new shirt or a lipstick will not probably drive you into personal bankruptcy, you have to be more careful with our mental exhaustion with bigger decisions like buying a flat or a car – sometimes we tend to forget and be blind to the scale of things, you know.

I shouldn’t be probably saying this, because I admit taking advantage of ego depletion among other psychological factors buying a cars or a motorcycles and watch out for them as a seller. Conducting business like this is not about grace or fair play and especially with more significant things, I prefer not to do business with the people I know.

GOOD USES FOR YOUR AUTOPILOT

Macolm Gladwell explains in his book Blink, how our unconscious mind can be useful in many situations, like certain level of decision making -even in some more complicated situations. Apparently there is a lot of computing that takes place behind closed doors to our conscious mind and sometimes without being able to give specific arguments, we just know things. The trick is obviously when to trust our instinct and when to it might be subjected to some sort of evolutionary biases – like consistency and commitment or liking bias.

Some time ago, when Roger Federer was still playing tennis, there were these discussions why he had started to lose games, even if by all measurable numbers he was supposed to be still on his prime. One of the speculated reasons for his less than optimal performance was that maybe he had gotten too conscious over his game. -What if I fail to throw the ball high enough and I serve an embarrassing double fault? For an athlete, competition is not the time for self reflection or self doubt, it’s ideally the time to just be let your will to win carry you unconsciously in a state of flow to do exactly the same thing you have carefully practiced over a million times.

Also, what can be a bit counter intuitive, an exhausted and clustered, foggy mind can be good for creating new ideas. In our mind there is a certain order in the world, but when we get tired, the relations between different things become weaker and there’s  a possibility for innovation with new of ideas and solutions.

FINALLY, HOW TO AVOID OR CONTROL EGO DEPLETION?

In the end ego depletion and self control is like a muscle. It get’s tired when you put enough strain on it. While it is probably possible also to build strength in avoiding ego depletion, in a sort run it is easier to focus on using your limited mental resources right. Below you can find some of my top tips:

  • Get to know yourself. There are many personality tests out there to get you started on an important journey.
  • Try to make the most demanding tasks when your spirit is high and you have most of your mental capacity available. Early birds use your morning for the most demanding decisions and night owls respectively the latter phases of the day.
  • Learn how to breathe right and control your breath in stressful situations
  • Eat right and keep your blood sugar steady throughout the day.
  • Take time to recover from stress – a walk in a forest in uneven surfaces typically works well for instance. It’s been scientifically proven that even a walk in a park helps to reduce stress!
  • Meditate on frequent basis -for me also running (alone, without music or other distraction) counts for meditation
  • Secure good quality sleep
  • Don’t get stuck pondering endlessly on all different options of a decision. Unless it’s better to procrastinate, follow your instinct to make a decision, take the first step, and don’t look back.

Do you think there is something essential missing from the list above? Minimalism maybe?

Performance from compassion

Compassion and performance might be a pair of words that in the history of corporate world by intuition, do not seem have shared a correlation until the very recent times. However, for example with the results from Google’s massive 5-year project Aristotle, trying to find the makings of a perfect team, the most common perceptions of how to reach top performance have gain new insight.

Despite all assumptions and beliefs it seems that it’s not about the right mix of people or creating internal competition among peers or groups etc. It’s about establishing a good social connection between people. It’s about compassion.

While Google might have hit the headlines with their discoveries to attract even the attention of the wider audience, in fact similar findings around the positive impact of compassion have been discussed in the field of work psychology increasingly throughout at least the last year or so. Google just went a little further to talk about psychological safety, but at least in my books, essentially they all tell us the same story.

COMPASSION AND EMPATHY

So what is compassion after all and what has empathy got to do with it? Obviously, the two previously mentioned are closely connected, but the main difference is that while empathy refers to the ability to feel the emotions of another person and mentally walk a mile in their shoes, compassion (“to suffer together”) makes you understand the suffering of others and gets you motivated to help relieve that suffering. Naturally compassion drills down into many sub-categories. If you are interested in those, have a look at Paul Ekman’s Taxonomy of compassion.

WHY DO YOU NEED COMPASSION? IT’S JUST BUSINESS, RIGHT?

Firstly, no, it’s never just business and it’s not just the issues that have conflicts. It’s the real people that have to deal with each other and it is at most of the times very personal. Remember, you cannot argue about facts and those are not personal. Opinions and interests on their behalf can be subjected to argument and they are always personal. In a healthy environment you are allowed to have arguments and even conflicts, but you should never lose the feeling of mutual respect and trust.

I guess you can intentionally find logical answers to explain just about anything, but thinking about it, putting emphasis on compassion at work makes sense. In a safe environment, there is simply less energy being consumed in safeguarding yourself from your colleagues and thereby more energy left to deal with your actual tasks.

Additionally, in a healthy compassionate environment one can feel safer to venture out trying new things without having to fear failure to death. All in all, building a “fail fast” culture is one of the most desired states for a modern team.

Furthermore as one of the most important aspect related to the importance of compassion and psychological safety, I discussed ego depletion in one of my previous blogs Red Hammer. In short it’s a big factor in what ever we do and I recommend every curious mind to get familiar with that topic.

GETTING IN SYNC FOR BETTER RESULTS

All in all, I was pretty amazed to find out about some results of an experiment in this brilliant Finnish science podcast, how a pair of strangers performed a task more efficiently together after they had been swinging together just a couple of minutes in sync.

When you look at team sports, you can find a lot of training and preparation methods using this angle, be it the synchronized warm up drills, coordination training or getting mentally prepared for competition. Take a look at this Jordan commercial, and especially towards the end of it to see what I am talking about.

You can obviously get in sync in a lot of ways. Even if it would be fun and kind of amusingly inappropriate to sing a song together in the beginning of a team meeting, also a short tour de table on something personal appears to do the same trick. Don’t force it though as not everyone is willing to speak about their personal things at work.

TRUST

You have to be able to trust others to achieve your goals better
You have to be able to trust others to achieve your goals better

Of course, you need to establish trust first to be able to share things about your private life with your colleagues. It also helps to have at least some common experiences outside work to lower barriers between people. Gathering around a shared hobby would be one of the most ideal activities to start building the required relationships for an open and trusting environment.

With virtual teams becoming more and more common, it’s necessary to put higher emphasis on building trust within the team. Having the team meet physically at least once in the early stages of forming a team is essential to lay a foundation for those meaningful bonds and deeper relationships.

Now, what are you waiting for? Get compassionate immediately and start performing better!

Meta training day

The constant theme of the Friday Training Days (TM someday perhaps?) seems to be that they hardly ever give live up to their expectations. Nevertheless, the hand full of training days have never disappointed me though, they just turn out different.

Initially I was supposed to spend the afternoon with a good friend of mine, who is the CFO at Puuilo, but basically solved some of the problems up front, we were supposed to get down and dirty with on my actual training day. My host budged over an important meeting and we agreed to reschedule.

The morning agenda held though as I had promised to go to Fujitsu with my central banker hat on, for a breakfast session discussing cloud services (O365 and Cloud PBX). This was sort of an intentional left handed hip shot, not even aiming for the bulls eye. In Finland, whenever you get yourself into a certain area of expertise, you quite soon come to realize the restricted amount of players on the pitch. The subject matter experts might hop from one company to another, but typically same faces remain when it comes to gathering around a certain subject itself.

All in all, I find it interesting to sneak in as an outsider and just observe the dynamics of the group. All those worn out business one liners, side remarks and familiarity spells to me as social capital, sort of an internal hard currency of this particular group. Obviously, I am also looking for talent and inspiring characters, getting into a conversation with an expert over a topic I am less familiar with, and try to learn something new from the event altogether.

The eyeopener of the day however, was still probably the commute to the morning event. Crowded morning buses, trains, and all that hustle and bustle. It made me really appreciate once again the possibility to walk to work. Maybe because of the days agenda on communication tools (Skype etc.), all that kinetic energy involved just to ensure physical presence (note, no guarantee still for mental presence!) just does not make sense. All in all, I saw so much waste (Lean), that it made me sick. More about this maybe a little later on in some of my blogs.

Having returned from the morning session, the rest of the day I spent basically writing about digitalization – a topic that admittedly causes mostly frustration within me. As a skeptic, my initial fears of it turning out to be another fad when it comes to waking us up from the hibernation of comfort seems to  be true. Instead of real, actual, and fundamental change it seems to just produce a lot of self explaining talk – the kind of discussion makes me want to turn away from the news.

Generally and throughout the last week, I have been trying to establish more organized approach and create a strategy regarding this social entrepreneurship of creating presence in the web. Having come to terms with the rules of this blog game there are a lot of open questions in the air, like

What do I want to achieve with my social presence in the web?

How far am I willing to go and make a number of myself to make a sale?

Appropriate alter ego or real me? What to discuss openly? Where to draw the line of personal business?

Should I stay true to myself and write about the stuff that I want in the tone that I want or go pop for some cheap kicks?

It’s not like there are not enough bloggers already so who cares about this anyhow? Is this an effective use of time?

How to maximize quality and impact with optimal resources?

All you “Bloggers” (damnit, this one is a diffult to swallow for me – calling myself one too) probably know this business.

Fortunately, in the evening we got together with bunch of guys to go to sauna, eat and take some brews. Talking to an entrepreneur friend of mine Timo Sorri, the CEO of Havain about these things shed some hope on sticking to the knitting for a longer haul.

You don’t become a good writer by accident. There is no easy way out, no quick win. I realized this also by looking for some photos from my archives through the years to be used as illustration to my site.  Still not knowing too much about good photography, I was able to see  clear progress. I learn when I do. 365-project appeared to be the clear apex of the learning curve. There is no magic in it, it is about putting in the hours.

Mental note:

Excellence and becoming legendary is not about making a hand full of sprints, it is a question of persistence and consistency.

No time to waste. I better get to work.

Kultapossukerho – luojan kiitos.

Elokuussa 2016 maamme laatujournalismi nosti syleilyynsä maailman neljänneksi vanhimman keskuspankin kokeneemman virkamieskaartin eläkejärjestelyt. Kultapossukerho oli napakka osoitus siitä, että klikkimiehellä on tuloskausi auki.

Julkaisu paljasti taas kerran herrojen irstaat metkut. Matopurkin kantta raottamalla tupsahti ilmoille paljon kiihkeää mielipahaa, jonka epä-evankeliumia yhtyivät ylistämään monet oikeamielisyyteensä rakastuneet digisaarnamiehet. Syyllistäminen vaikutti kieltämättä pintapuolisesti oikeutetulta.

Asiaa jonkun verran mietittyäni, virkamiehen matalammassa eläkeiässä voi olla myös tässä tilanteessa loogisesti järkeä. Meidän pitää ensin päästä kuitenkin näkemään suomalaisia liikkeellä pitävän voiman -kateuden- yli. Esitän alla kaksi pääkohtaa väitteeni tukemiseksi.

1. SUOMESSA ON PALJON NUORIA TYÖTTÖMIÄ JA VAKAALLE TYÖURALLE PÄÄSEMINEN ON MONILLE VAIKEAA.

Niinpä:

Miksi pidämme vanhempaa virkamieskuntaa väkisin töissä, kun olisi nuorempia, joiden pitäisi päästä ja jotka haluaisivat töihin?

Lisäksi, käsitykseni mukaan ja nopeasti järkeiltynä kaikki maksavat kyllä ainakin teoriassa oman eläkkeensä (palkastaan -vai?), mutta virkamies huonosti omaa palkkaansa – se maksetaan tietenkin veroista. Julkisella puolella palvelusvuodet tekevät tyypillisesti myös tehtävänsä:

Millaiset ovatkaan vuosikymmeniä virassa olleen henkilön palkkakustannukset ja muut kumuloituneet luontaisedut suhteessa juuri työelämään astuneen vastaaviin?

Kokemusta ei tietty ole mielekästä näiden uraelinkaaren päiden välillä verrata, mutta ehkäpä kovaa vauhtia muuttuvassa maailmassa tilanne tasoittuu nopeasti, lyhyehkölläkin työkokemuksella puhuttaessa relevantista kokemuksesta.

Härskisti yleistäen myös muuntautumiskyky sekä vaikkapa digitaidot  ovat monesti vanhemmassa työvoimassa huonot. Jotkut ovat kaiken kukkuraksi vuosikymmenien itsensä laiminlyönnin seurauksena fyysisesti sairauslomalta toiselle synkkänä pinnistäviä raunioita. Heikoissa kantimissa oleva kuppi vuotaa helposti yli. Niinpä:

Kuinka tuottelias on raskautuneeksi itsensä ajanut, henkisesti työuransa luovuttanut virkamies?

Lohduksi mainittakoon kuitenkin; asenne ratkaisee, ei ikä.

2. PALJON KAIVATTU MUUTOS JA DIGILOIKKA JULKISELLA SEKTORILLA TULEE VASTA, KUN VÄKI VAIHTUU.

Ihmistä ajaa tietenkin omat intressit, WIIFMjoten:

Kukapa sahaisi tietoisesti oksaa, jonka päällä istuu – ihan vaan solidaarisuuden ja muiden edun takia?

Minä vastaan tähän: Ei kukaan.

On toki paljon muutakin. Esimerkiksi julkisella sektorilla virkavuodet merkitsevät ainakin hallinnossa paljon ja organisaatiokaaviossa edetään tyypillisesti siististi jonossa. Valtaa on myös työyhteisön jäsenien välille muodostunut sitkos, joka voi saada aikaan päätöksenteossa ihmeellisiä vääristymiä. Jos haluaa pysyä urakehityksen hitaasti liikkuvassa jonossa, on strategisesti fiksumpaa vältellä vaikeita, epäsuosittuja päätöksiä.

Muutosten edellä sisäisten, pinttyneiden valtarakenteiden on murruttava. Tuo murtuminen vaatii monesti tai ainakin helpottuu poistamalla konservatiivisia vastarintapesäkkeitä yhtälöstä.

Tähän lisättäköön julkisen sektorin työsopimusten luonne ja kompensaatiomallien staattisuus. Saadaan aikaan virkamiehen ethos. Sen mukaan riskinotto ja erinomaisuuden tavoittelu ei virkamiehenä kannata. Syy on yksinkertainen: ajurina ei ole kepin vastapainoksi minkäänlaista porkkanaa.

Niinpä lopulta:

Annetaanko kultapossukerhojen kuitenkin vaan olla?

Ollaan iloisia työsuhteidensa suosimien puolesta ja toivotaan, että nämä poikkeukselliset edut tuovat saajilleen onnellisen elämän. Ehkä se onni säteilee meille itsellemme vielä takaisin – joku vaikka tervehtii reippaasti rapussa!

Innovation thrift shop

Maybe about a month back, I had some spare time on one of my FTD’s and I got invited to visit Uusimaa Innovoi event at Urban Mill in Otaniemi, Espoo. By looking at the the event presentation headlines, the general idea was focused on the today’s new working models, new methods and cooperation. Working on the questions of this area pretty much every day, I decided to go and have a look what the commotion was all about. Would it be yet another case braggadocio with little impact at the end of the day? There was only one way to find out.

To be honest, it was a pretty random event. You had a bunch of 3D-printing wiz ‘kids’ printing miniature demo items, there was a bicycle start-up company (also using 3D-printing tech), some laser scanning scientists, municipal representatives, etc. Not to make the other participants any less important, but for me, the real attraction of the carnival, The Nordic Frugal Innovation Society, was naturally at the back of the hall – just like milk or bread in any given super market.

Admittedly also, as I was evaluating the previous night the possible usefulness of the event and coming across the term frugal innovation, I had to look it up. After a short research and understanding the basics of the ideology I felt a jolt of excitement bursting out with cheerful laughter. Yes, this is so fundamentally me and even more so what I have been starting to shift more towards to. Why had I not seen or heard anything about this before?

After spending an inspiring and engaging 20min or so at the TNFIS stand with Venkata Gandikota, the Founder and President of the Society, it was one of those discussions after which you actually wanted to share contacts with someone to get in touch with them later – and not just because it’s customary.

During the next couple of days we exchanged some thoughts online with Venkata. I became obviously fascinated with his work and ideas, but I also felt I wanted to get involved and provide help for his cause maybe learning something new on the side. With back and forth bouncing emails stretching beyond reasonable length yet still not yielding clear steps for action, I proposed to set up a workshop one Friday at Urban Mill and we agreed on the idea.  Great!

Like with pretty much all FTD’s, as the anxious wait and preparation the night before turned finally into the actual training day, the lapse was gone as quick as snapping fingers. The day was also mostly not what I had expected – this is typically the kick ass part of all FTD’s. However and not denying it, I felt I couldn’t add value much as our lively, free falling discussion pretty much stayed on the idea level – as with our emails -, but the thing is that you never really know what eventually comes out from situations and actions. Let it incubate.

In fact, our session demonstrated one of the typical problems of a FTD, where I cannot get enough traction to start helping because of not being clear about the vision to form a clear mission. Sometimes this is a communication problem, sometimes it’s a problem of trust and sometimes the vision itself is missing altogether. With a few FTD hosts however, like Insplan, we have somehow managed to get past this problem. This mutually beneficial cooperation is the ultimate state of flow, like a good improvisation with every single handover strengthening the story.

Also, not a FTD without the good ol’ folks at Don&Branco. This time me and my loud mouth had promised to join them in a coopers test – one of the most brutal physical fitness tests. I felt short in my target (3600m) covering only 3330m or so – btw pretty much the exact same result as on my 30th birthday and also being 20 years old in the military. I just seem to lack speed. Kalle Elo from D&B covered the spectacle over Periscope. Go check it out!

Getting this out of my system: Digitalization

Yes, I am reluctant to write about this one. However, not by lack of gravitation towards the topic, but simply because I think there is enough talking already and not enough concrete action.

About 99% of all articles and blogs discussing internal digitalization of a company seem to revolve around the same topics; top level engagement, culture change, demolish barriers and silos, lean, people centric IT etc. Some put more emphasis on one thing, some in other.

With than being said, if there is something I would personally need to highlight, is that despite the tech klang in the exercise, digitalization is essentially about the people and the culture. Some of you might disagree with me, but it is these previously mentioned two that make the digitalization initiatives the highest challenge.

Whilst the private sector have their own set of problems (in most cases related to their legacy one way or another), In public sector on their behalf, institutions are gridlocked with the lack of options how to make their labor adapt to the new demands. A bit of competition wouldn’t hurt either even if I am not a 100% privatization evangelist.

Trying to escape the sometimes depressive day-to-day questions of digitalization, let us take this topic to a few steps higher. Directly speaking, to me personally, digitalization is a small branch growing from a much bigger global or maybe even universal tree trunk. That tree of a phenomenon, is the decentralization of information and power.

In short the disruptors (non digital too) typically diminish the importance of institutions that previously have had the privileged to gather, control, access, and distribute information centrally. These institutions then typically exploit this privileged to information to their best interest. Exploitation however, is accepted as long as there are no other options.

With a disruptor changing the game, acceptance turns easily into resentment speeding up the change and maybe makes up the time lost in the losing battle of the old establishment. By the way, did I hear someone say something about the self regulating Finnish taxi association? Maybe you could turn to church for some pep talk – and don’t worry, you will not be alone. Others will follow, even institutions bigger and much holier than you.

Why are we talking about this now?

It seems that the society seems to change both gradually, but also in more significant leaps. Looking at the push factors, these bigger leaps are seem to be caused by advances in technology (technology: systematic treatment of an art, craft or a technique) and innovation.

You can reach as far back as you want to highlight the importance of some really fundamental concepts as the wheel, but maybe I should just pick out a few random examples like standardization started by Colt (sometimes it’s pretty obvious, I have an engineering background -too, that is) or the Gutenberg’s printing press.

The latest push towards another paradigm shift has the ever so amazing Internet as the head disruptor, with affordable technology as a mighty side kick and a lively entourage of their children IoT, Robotization, Mobile Devices et al. I bet this previously mentioned tough bunch is still gaining momentum, making me partly excited partly doubtful what will come out of this.

In the pull factor side on the other half to fuel the change, is most obviously greed. Looking at more concrete issues, perhaps one driver is the demographic structure of the western world countries having their dependency ratio turing belly up – or maybe we have finally started to worry about sustainability.

Where are we going then?

Whilst seeing a lot brighter future for example in enhanced telecommunication solutions to stop all unnecessary physical traffic of both people but also services and things (3D printing -another cliché, but let’s just say this for SEO sake, hah!) or in automation to free people from work more natural to machines – just like with steam engines, there are some really difficult questions to be asked about the distribution of wealth.

As the relation between capital and labor is destined to change, my thoughts seem to always lead towards some kind of unconditional basic income. Now, before getting all excited about not willing to support “slackers and other nogooders” on social support, please bare in mind that people with nothing to lose take big risks. If this issue is not being correctly addressed, the outcome will be learned the hard way.

Despite some possible setbacks and thereby also some inevitable misery on the way, in future I see a more open and equal society ahead that has restored our connection to our environment in a sustainable way.

Maybe the brighter future will make a good topic for a future blog! -what do you think?

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