Bruce Silver: BPMN Method & Style, Mindmap for Level 1

I currently think a lot about the automation of workflows. Therefore, it is not surprising that I read about the topic. And as usual, I try to create a mindmap to be able to remember what I read. Depending on my time, more mindmaps will result from this book. This mindmap is capturing (what I think) are the essentials for the first model (Level 1) of the method of the author. The mindmap can be downloaded from my webpage.

10 Common Happiness Mistakes

I just read a blog entry from Gretchen Rubin on common happiness mistakes (http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/2010/11/10-common-happiness-mistakes.html) and suggest that you read it as well.

In general, I can recommend to look around on her site. The web side is a resource full of interesting thoughts. Have a look at her “Happiness Project” book. It contains a structured approach to happiness! Further interesting reads are her secrets of adulthood (http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/secrets-of-adulthood.html) or her twelve personal commandments (on the left side on the page)

Introducing Evernote Site Memory

Did it ever happen to you that you said: “I have read something about this in the web?” Where you ever curious what it was? Let me tell you: in the last year I was always able to find it again. How? I no longer rely on bookmarks to find pages I was interested again. Bookmarks can become outdated. I store the whole page content!

I added a new gadget to my blog. The Evernote Site Memory button allows you to store my blogs quickly in your Evernote account.

What is Evernote? Evernote became my searchable memory, my external brain. If you are a knowledge worker like me you would often like to remember the content of the page you’ve once read. A friend at work wanted to tell me something about the a specific IT topic. He went and looked up all the bookmarks he had tagged with the topic. Of five pages one was still accessible. He was only able to provide me with a 5th of what he thought was worth remembering on the topic. I would have been able to provide all five pages.

Evernote allows you to store any webpage (in fact any data) into a repository. Right from the browser. Once set up you only click the Evernote button and the page is saved. You can than search within Evernote and find it again. You can browse or search search for a word within the content, like “GTD”. Evernote does even an OCR scan on your pictures, recognising text in the picture. Next time you want to find a picture of a mindmap, I hope you put it into Evernote. If it says “Crucial Conversation” on the mindmap Evernote will find it for you. Evernote can be accessed in a web only manner, or with a client on your computer.

Actually, Evernote does more than storing web content for me. I scan in my paper stuff nowadays. Since I pay for the premium account (45$ a year), Evernote does OCR on my scanned PDFs. Looking for an old bill? Thames Water? I just type in “Thames Water” and it comes up. I use it with a Fujitsu ScanSnap S300M. The combination is fantastic: scanning of several pages takes only seconds. Within a minute, I can start searching within the document. At home. And through the web if I am currently on holidays.

Are you interested? Well, just click the green remember button with the Evernote elephant logo and start memorising. Enjoy!

[Update 30/09/2010]: Now I get my personal results included in every of my Google searches: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/EvernoteBlog/~3/Q3kxfLvda8s/

Creativity by John Cleese

John Cleese on creativity on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/v/zGt3-fxOvug?fs=1

Key lessons for me:
* The unconscious mind is working in your favour – if you let it.
* We don’t know where our ideas are coming from.
* You need boundaries in time and space to be productive/creative
* “To know how good you are at something requires the same skills as it does to be good at that thing.” And this has implications…

The Elephant and the Rider

From time to time you come across ideas that make a strong impression on you. Often enough, it takes a while to fully understand that the information took such an important role in your life. But you realise that you come back to the idea and find it useful. Useful to interpret certain aspects of your life.

One of these ideas in my life is the elephant and rider metaphor. I nearly missed this great blog entry of JD Meier, because it happened that I only got aware of the metaphor by reading a follow-up blog entry the other day. I strongly recommend these two entries. (And I do recommend to follow the blog of JD Meier.)

To describe the idea in my own words: An elephant rider is generally able to direct the much larger elephant. But s/he won’t be able to do that against the will of the elephant. In such a case the elephant will follow its own needs, leaving the rider in a helpless position. This relationship can be used to describe your rational mind (rider) versus your feelings (elephant). Did you ever try to change an unwanted behaviour? How often did you give in to your feelings and gave up on your (new year’s) resolutions?

You won’t be able to succeed in your personal goals if you can’t bring your emotions in line. If it is your will against your emotions you will loose. You will have to influence your emotions if you want to change yourself, ie change unwanted behaviour. You might be able to get your elephant on the road with will power, but you will were out, eventually.

Why is this idea so interesting to me? Because it suddenly helps you to understand the world better. Why a positive attitude is paramount for changing a behaviour. It tells me what I did wrong so many times.

Take Change or die! from Patrick Mayfield. I saw his presentation a while ago and it made an impression on me. He referenced the work from Alan Deutschman and took bypass patients as an example. According to his statistics a shocking 90% of patients are not changing there unhealthy behaviour (smoking!) after an bypass surgery, ensuring the next life-threatening situation in a few years. Why? Rider vs. elephant! The fact that you will die soon can’t be translated into the language of the elephant. The patients knew they had to change but they didn’t do it. A second study showed a far better rate of behavioural changes after focusing on positive emotions. For the second study people were given positive attitude to a behavioural change by connecting the change (give up smoking) with things they would like to do: playing with grand-children, being able to walk for an hour, etc. Being able to do things that create positive emotions does the trick. This is the language of your elephant, and is therefore influencing the elephant! This approach aligns your emotions with your abstract thinking and gives your rides the tools to stay on track. Focus on the positive aspects of the change.

Did you ever realise that people are not acting in a logical manner? I think I know why. The elephant is stronger. People do what feels right, not what they know is right. And if you want to do what is right the metaphor might be able to help you. Please let me know if you have more examples.

Strategy vs Utility

Martin Fowler, one of the most influential people in the IT area, voiced once again an interesting opinion. You can read the full article here: http://martinfowler.com/bliki/UtilityVsStrategicDichotomy.html

In short, he says that you should be aware whether an IT project is just a utility or an strategic differentiator. The part that made me write this was his opinion on utility software. He phrases it like this:

My view is that for a utility function you buy the package and adjust your business process to match the software.

I haven’t heard it that radical. But after some thinking, I agree. I guess in many cases it is easier and cheaper to make changes to your processes than to develop the perfect software for your current process. I would even expect that utility software is designed to support best practise. You might implement best practise in an non-strategic area just by adjusting your processes around standard software. 

Moving On!

Yesterday, I left once again Oxford. Four years of time spend in Oxford are finally history. No further visits planned.

I took my chance of this last weekend and had once again a close look. It is such a lovely town. A great place to live. My life took some great turns there… Thank you Oxford! And of course a big “thank you” to all the great people I met there. I learned so much from you.

Oxford is one of these amazing places where people are coming together. So many people are coming for a few months or years. They are eager to meet other people. They come with so different backgrounds and ideas. Some stay and add to the mixture. Others lived in Oxford all their lucky life.

I also enjoyed the rich cultural program. I personally loved the Catweazle Club (http://catweazleclub.org/) best. It has now even spin-offs in NY, London and Brighton! Do I need to say more?

So, it is time to let go. Take what was best, learn from the not-so-good and relax. It is not so much about where you live, it is about how well you know yourself. As long as you know yourself, you will be happy. But it helps when you like where you live: Copenhagen, here I am! 🙂

Creativity Methods

While my MBA we discussed the relationship between innovation and change in the context of our module “Organisational Innovation and Change”. The module discussed concepts like paradigms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradigm) and the difference between difficulties and messes (see TROPICS Test from McCalman and Paton (2000): Change Management: A Guide to Effective Implementation).

One element that kept stuck with me is that change does happen anyway and you should embrace it to your advantage. In case you are interested in creativity techniques have a look at this page: http://www.mycoted.com/Category:Creativity_Techniques

I got the link today from Christine. Thanks a lot!