Archive for the 'Humour' Category

Wildwood retreat

Keith April 22nd, 2011

So just over a month ago – just after landing back from my few days in Brisbane - I spent a few days down at Wildwood Retreat in Pennyroyal Valley with twelve other people.

We came together to talk about – and experiment with – various tools and techniques of group facilitation.  The retreat was arranged by Viv McWaters (@vivmcw) and Johnnie Moore (@johnniemoore), who had also just flown in from a couple of weeks of facilitation in the Solomon Islands and other places.

As much as it was about learning and doing stuff, it was about relaxing and having fun. I was there as Matt Moore (@engin_eer) had invited me. (Thanks, Matt!) Although I did already know some of the other people there, it was also a great time of meeting new people. It was also the first time that I had picked up a guitar for over a year – Geoff Brown (@geoffbrown3231) very kindly didn’t protest when I borrowed his every time he put it down!

Wildwood was a bit run down, as it was actually on the market, and the owner was no longer resident on site. The catering was excellent, and the location marvellous, but the nights were getting cooler, and the wood fire heating was rather short of fuel. Some of us tracked down some wood, and Geoff kindly wielded the splitter. Given my experience with wood fires at Blackwood, I got the Coonara going on the first morning there, and kept it stoked up for the duration. (For which I was christened “fireguy” by Johnnie.)

One of the highlights was the evening that I was sitting around fiddling with the guitar (or guitaring, I guess), and Johnnie suggested we improvise a song. After a bit of work, we got a chorus going, and improvised as many verses as we could as the others came into the room – and then ran away to the other end of the room as quickly as they could!

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Expect the unexpected

Keith January 21st, 2010

I was tweeting from a presentation on storytelling on Tuesday.  Shawn Callahan of Anecdote led the session, and listed the key elements of an effective story:

  • Simple – It doesn’t have to be sophisticated – you hear it once and you get it.
  • Unexpected – It throws you a curve ball that you weren’t expecting.
  • Concrete – It has names and actual events.
  • Credible – It sound real.
  • Emotional – It gets you in the gut – impactful stories evoke at least one strong emotion.
  • Transport – It transports you to where the story took place - you can feel the experience.
  • Human – It happens with real people.

I have quoted Charles Savage here before: “Innovation is like humour – it occurs at the intersection of the expected and the unexpected.”  The same principle applies to storytelling. 

One fantastic little story I heard a while ago that embodies these principles is a vignette in Bill Bryson’s book In a Sunburned Country:

In the 1950s a friend of Catherine’s moved with her young family into a house next door to a vacant lot. One day a construction crew turned up to build a house on the lot. Catherine’s friend had a four-year-old daughter who naturally took an interest in all the activity going on next door. 

She hung around on the margins and eventually the construction workers adopted her as a kind of mascot. They chatted to her and gave her little jobs to do and at the end of the week presented her with a little pay packet containing a shiny new half crown. 

She took this home to her mother, who made all the appropriate cooings of admiration and suggested that they take it to the bank next morning to deposit it in her account. 

When they went to the bank, the teller was equally impressed and asked the little girl how she had come by her own pay packet. 

‘I’ve been building a house this week,’ she replied proudly. 

‘Goodness!’ said the teller. ‘And will you be building a house next week too?’ 

The little girl answered: ‘I will; if we ever get the f***ing bricks.’

Life Explained

Keith September 30th, 2009

OK, so it’s not original – but I rather like it. Received by email from my son:

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village. A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish, and asked how long it took him to catch them.

“Not very long.” they answered in unison.

“Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?”

The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.

“But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children, and take siestas with our wives. In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. We have a full life.”

The tourist interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”

“And after that?”

“With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”

“How long would that take?”

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years.” replied the tourist.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards? Well my friend, that’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the tourist, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks, and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” asked the fishermen.

“After that, you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends…”

And the moral of this story is: know where you’re going in life – you may already be there!

Clancy on video

Keith November 5th, 2008

Well, as promised threatened, a video of “Clancy of the Knowledge Flow” is now available on YouTube. (If you want to skip the introduction, the music starts at 1:40 into the video.)

Read more about this on the previous post here, or go directly to the full list of the lyrics.

Clancy of the Knowledge Flow

Keith October 21st, 2008

One of the highlights of this year’s actKM Conference was the Collaboration Cabaret. This is well documented on Serena Joyner’s site.

My contribution to this was a musical item.  It was introduced something like this:

Australia actually has a long history in Knowledge Management.  Over a hundred years ago, we had two key practitioners in the field – ‘Banjo’ Paterson and Henry Lawson.  They did some ground-breaking work in conveying knowledge of life in rural Australia to the emerging urban environment. 

They collected knowledge using Anecdote Circles (around the campfire) and delivered it as Springboard stories, often published in a major Knowledge Management publication of the day, The Bulletin magazine.

Tonight, we will look at one of Banjo’s key archetypical characters, Clancy of the Overflow.  Clancy works in an ideal environment as a drover.  The Narrator is contemplating his lot in his “dingy office”. 

We are updating the story: how would these knowledge workers fare in today’s collaborative environment?

To find out, read the full lyrics.  Breaking news: The video is now on YouTube here.

Practice makes perfect

Keith September 25th, 2008

I wrote earlier this year about “Practice, Communities and Technology“.  This post stressed the importance of the “practice”: 

For a CoP to be successful, the community must become part of the practice itself… the community needs to become part of how they do their job.

People in an organisation will just not do things that aren’t part of their job accountability and that they see no point in doing. 

Just today I hit on a really neat metaphor to illustrate this…

Ares

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Alas…

Keith September 3rd, 2008

yorickcard.jpg 

“… I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.”

(If you are out there, Yorick, I hope you don’t mind me posting this.  I’m not making fun of you, but I do wonder about your parents’ taste in names…)

When a cartoonist manages a restaurant

Keith September 1st, 2008

Scott Adams – of Dilbert fame – owns and operates a restaurant.  He also writes a blog.  In a recent post, he outlines a number of initiatives he has introduced to increase his competitive edge, to some extent borrowed from Internet marketing techniques.  In summary, these are:

  • The lunch menu has been rearranged to rank dishes by popularity.
  • Monday night (normally the slowest night) is now Game Night.  Bring your own board game, use one of theirs, or play the Trivia questions on the big screen TV at the bar.
  • Sign up online for the Networking Lunch, and have lunch with five randomly-selected strangers.
  • For an instant party, bring your own iPod.  They provide the private room, food, dance floor and the iPod DJ sound system.  They’ll even play your photos on their laptop and big screen TV. (Almost forgot to add this item!)

Neat ideas – where else could you apply this sort of thinking?

What about the workers?

Keith August 28th, 2008

Now everybody wants one:

Mistake makes ‘iPhone girl’ a celebrity

“A Chinese factory worker has become a celebrity after her smiling face was accidentally loaded onto an Apple iPhone and shipped to the other side of the world, her employer has said.

“The unidentified worker flashed a smile and made a peace sign to a co-worker whose job was to test the device’s camera in the southern city of Shenzhen, said a spokesman for Foxconn, which assembles the phones for Apple.  The woman’s colleague apparently forgot to delete the photo from the phone, which was sold to a consumer in Britain, who posted it [to MacRumors.com] on the Internet, Foxconn spokesman Liu Kun told AFP on Wednesday.”

Apparently Apple have no plans to adopt this as standard practice, but this raises an interesting question:

“As one person wrote in an Internet post: ‘It would be great for every Chinese worker who makes your iPhones to take a snap of herself or her factory friends … a hello from a person you would never otherwise meet.  Globalisation in practise.’”

A new social networking technology?

Monkeys – a reflection on how we do things

Keith August 7th, 2008

Start with a cage containing five monkeys.

Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it.  Also, set up a system of cold water sprinklers over the whole cage.

Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs to climb towards the banana.  As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the monkeys with cold water. The monkey will leave the banana alone and try to get away from the water.  Turn off the spray.

After a while, another monkey will make an attempt with the same result. Pretty soon the monkeys will get sick of getting wet, and will stop any of the monkeys from attempting to climb the stairs, even though no water sprays them.

Keep this up for several days.

Now, remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one.

The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. Even the previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm. Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.

Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked.

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