Mobile is Simply More

It is easy to fall into the pattern of thinking that our mobile devices are interchangeable with other electronics. But is your iPhone really the same as your PC or MacBook Pro or even your iPad? Just yesterday, a co-worker mentioned that they had purchased laptops for their for grandchildren for Christmas. When visiting after the holiday, the grandchildren brought the laptops to show their proud grandparents they were using them. In a subsequent visit, the laptops weren’t to be found. Why? Their mobile phones could do it all. Our world is becoming mobile first.

In another conversation, this question came up: What would you give up first—your television (and cable) or your mobile device? Most people present said television. Those who said mobile device often had to think long and hard before answering.

Other than the obvious reasons of convenience and form factor, what else contributes to these devices being so indispensable? One answer is that there are combinations of features that just don’t exist on other platforms. First there are attributes of the device itself:business-582912_1280

  • All-in-one functionality. Calendar, notes, camera, recorder, weather, contacts, maps, music player, web access, etc.—it’s all there.
  • Easy to use, maintain and support. The App Store makes it a breeze to obtain new tools or content.

Most importantly, these features are combined into applications in new and unique ways. The user experience is unlike that you can get on any other platform. Here’s a recent example.

I was away from the office and forgot that I should have approved time and expense reports before heading out. Using the Microsoft Lync application on my phone, I was able to see that a colleague, Tom, was online and available. Using the voice-to-text function, I asked him to approve the expenses for me. Tom did so and then reminded me that I would still need to approve his. Darn, now what? Well, I saw that our controller was online, so I messaged him asking if he could approve Tom’s reports. Poof! In less than a minute, I no longer had to worry about the negative impact of my forgetfulness.

This combination of mobility, convenience, integration of corporate tools and the text-to-voice feature (not available on the desktop version of Lync) was and is a winner. Clearly, a good mobile platform is so much more than a replacement for something else.


Weekly Download 15.3

download-150965_640Here’s a recap of news and notes from around the Web that caught my attention over the past week or so.

Explaining Net Neutrality to My Dad. Revisiting this important concept to remember why it matters.

Seven Habits of Optimistic People. Optimism can be mastered like any other habit, yielding significant improvements in quality of life.

Some Thoughts on Hope, Cynicism, and the Stories We Tell Ourselves. This story resonated from the beginning.  It went down a slightly different path than expected but then came back together. I feel that I’ve been overly cynical lately and focusing too much on dysfunction. Having read this article, I will take the suggestion to better balance critical thinking with hope. In a nutshell:

“Critical thinking without hope is cynicism. Hope without critical thinking is naïveté.”

I have heard stories of the reinvention of India’s HCL Technologies.  Here is the CEO telling the story.  Consider the Value Zone, where “Value is created at the interface of our employees and our clients.” If this is true, what is the business of management?

Morning Star throws out the traditional org chart with its structure that has replaced manager-management with peer- and self-management. See The End of Bureaucracy: When Nobody (and Everybody) is the Boss.


To Choose or Not to Choose?

If you’ve ever had lunch with me, you might have observed my style of ordering. Usually I make a selection quickly, because I probably picked the restaurant, know what is good, and don’t need to seek out “what else they might have” in order to make a solid choice. Frequently, I’ll say “I’ll have whatever he/she is having, ” even if you haven’t ordered yet. Why? Because whatever I get is probably good enough. To me, the meal is more about the experience of who I’m with and why than the food.

Recently I found a post-it note where I wrote “Sheena Iyergar / the power of choice.” I don’t recall why I wrote that at the time, but when I found this quote from her book The Art of Choosing, it struck home:

“There is nothing wrong with saying, ‘I’d like less choice,’ or ‘I’ll have what you’re having,’ or even ‘I choose not to choose.’ In fact, sometimes these are the best things to say. We need to rethink the assumption that every opportunity to choose among options is an opportunity to improve our lot, to inch closer to our dreams. We need to learn that choice is not just the activity of picking X over Y but the responsibility of separating the meaningful from the trivial, the disheartening from the uplifting. Choice is a powerful and motivating idea, but the choice does not solve all our problems or meet all our needs. Sometimes choice isn’t enough, and sometimes choice is too much.”

Which choices are worth making and which ones are just distracting? What is meaningful? Are you consciously choosing when you choose?

Additional readings on choice:

How to make choosing easier

Sheena Iyengar on the Power of Choice — and Why It Doesn’t Always Bring Us What We Want

The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two


Is it Time for Email to Go Away?

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Has email lived its useful life? Recently articles* about new products such as Slack and Facebook at Work highlight the emerging second generation of social business applications and ponder their usefulness. Will they replace old guard products like email, or create a new space? Even IBM is getting into the game. Their offering, Verse, was touted as “a new way to work” in recent TV commercials that aired during the NFL divisional championship football games.

My opinion? Who knows what will happen. I recall writing about this very topic about 10 years ago—clearly, “if” and “when” are difficult questions to answer.

Email’s inherent problems are many:

  • It grabs our attention, not necessarily in a good way. With a LIFO approach, each new message pops up on our screen and announces itself. It interrupts our thought process and begs for an immediate response.
  • It’s not easy to manage. Questions abound. What do I need to store in folders for future retrieval? What needs to be followed up on? What responses am I waiting on from someone else? In the end, the size of our inbox and the amount of care and feeding it requires creates stress.
  • It doesn’t have a memory, making it hard to find/file/recall/share with others after the fact.
  • Email isn’t designed for collaboration. Attempting to share back and forth and have a conversation leads to unwieldy, long conversation threads.
  • It simple does many things poorly, namely transferring files, generating notifications, knowledge sharing and document management.

The new tools are certainly exciting, but how well they can mitigate and replace the challenges of email is yet to be seen.

*Additional reading:


Life/Work Integration

Work to live or live to work? That is the question. Work to live is the trend du jour. After all, who is going to admit that they live to work? But why do we have to choose—can’t we have both? There will always be people who espouse one extreme or the other, but I’m willing to bet that most of us are somewhere in the middle.

Work often gets a bad rap, but there are many reasons to value work other than needing the income and benefits. Work has a positive impact on physical and mental health and self-esteem. It also provides a rewarding sense of connectedness.

The key for finding what is right for you and not feeling a need to justify your choice is balance. While commonly called work/life balance, I prefer to call it life/work integration. Sometimes life requires more, sometimes work requires more. In today’s “always connected, always on” world, demands for your time and attention are, by necessity, fluid.

In a June 16, 2014 blog post, I commented, “Here’s a simple tenet for balance and happiness that I keep in mind: know what you love and love what you do. Living to work is not a privilege that comes easy.” But don’t take my word for it. Many great leaders feel the same way.

Photo by Mark Baker

Photo by Mark Baker