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Always follow your passion! Really?

I just finished uploading 100 documents to a platform and assigning them to someone for review. A very operational task. It had to be done. It's definitely not something I enjoyed doing.

While I was doing this task, I was reminded of some self-help and productivity books I've read in the past. Many of them stress the important of 'doing what you are good at', 'following your passions', 'doing what you find important', etc. You should stop doing all things that don't fit into these categories.

Of course this advice is important and useful. There are many people out there that have never really thought about these things and do their work because they happen to do that work. This can easily lead to stressful situations or even a burn-out.

On the other hand, is this advice realistic? If I would follow this advice I wouldn't have done the upload work today. I would have just left it there for someone else to do. As if there is someone out there tha…

Fundamental and practical advice to help you select the right technology

In the business book category there are two types of books. On the one hand you have books that serve a relatively easy solution to a problem everybody knows is way more complex than the book tells us. Usually the author doesn’t have actual experience with the topic he/she is writing about. The book is largely based on interviews and other books. The author pulls these together and provides the reader with an overarching model or list of learnings the reader can apply.

I’m not saying this approach is wrong. I regularly read these kind of books and enjoy doing so. But when I’m done I’m usually left with the feeling that the inspiring story is far away from the real complexity I have to deal with.

On the other hand there are books which are clearly written by authors who have been or still are there. They clearly know what they are writing about, don’t provide easy answers or simple 1-2-3 steps to success approaches. These books try to help in your real situation and provide loads of p…

Thinking about working together

Working together is great - most of the time. I really enjoy working with other people on tasks, instead of alone. Usually it's more fun, we get to results faster, the results are better, etc.

But how often do we give 'working together' some thought? What I see is lots of time is spent on who should we work with and for ("who are our stakeholders?"), when the work should be done and what the objective of the tasks is. But how often do we think about the 'how' of working and what this means for the 'what' and 'when'? Deliberately thinking about how we are working to get better results. I think we should do this more and recently a great report was published to help us all do this more.

Martin White recently wrote an interesting research paper about 'working together'. First I thought it was 'only' about meetings, live and virtual. And if the report was just about meetings, it would have been valuable enough. My experience is…

A story about connections, search and blogging

So I recently met a new colleague who had worked at Merck & Co. and shared his experience with using a expert finding and knowledge sharing platform. He reached out to me to find out if we have a comparable platform, so he could use that to meet his needs.

I was curious which platform he had experienced. But he wasn't sure. So I googled a bit during our call - of course I told him I was googling, I don't want to be rude and divide my attention between him and the web... - and there is was. A clear blogpost from 2009 about Merck's experiences with an internal knowledge sharing platform. It also described the underlying technology.

What's so special about this? Several things:

The power of (Google) search. It still continues to amaze me how easily you can type in a few words in a search engine and find what you're looking for. In this case what I was looking for popped up in the first three results.The power of blogging. I found what I was looking for in a blogpo…

Asking more questions

Why don't we ask more questions? Or maybe you do, but I should ask more questions.
Recently I encountered a problem I couldn't solved. So I reached out to colleagues to understand if they had answers. They didn't.

Then I thought: should I post my question on Yammer or Twitter? Yammer could work but I had basically already asked the relevant experts within the company so I thought that would be a waste of time. Then Twitter maybe? To be honest, I find the engagement on Twitter pretty low. When I started using Twitter asking a question could get you lots of answers. Now Twitter is more of an update platform and less of a question platform. At least that's how I see myself and others using it.

Well, then I thought I'd post my question on Quora. Good 'old' Quora. I've always loved Quora. A very focused and smart platform with lots of people just waiting to answer your question. And Quora suggests potentially relevant people from your network and outside of…

Twitter Lists: the key to using Twitter?

Recently Twitter updated its web and app interface again. Nice and round this time. One thing I was disappointed about is the fact that Twitter did nothing to make Lists more visible and accessible. If you don't know what a List is, you can find more info about them here. I blogged about how I use them several times as well.
Twitter Lists is simply a way to organize all the people you follow into... lists, of course. The way you use a List is up to you. You can put people on a list based on a topic they relate to, their importance, whether you've met them in person, etc. By having Lists you can focus on the people you want to follow, instead of just going through all the updates of all the people you follow. Lists help you follow more people than you can process and focus on the people who you really want to listen to and interact with.

When I tell people about Lists I'm surprised how little people know they exist and use them. On the other hand people that bail out of Tw…

Creating more redundancy

Recently I blogged about redundancy. At the end of the post I mentioned I would share how I try to create redundancy in my life. I think a key way I create redundancy is a good work-life balance. I’m deeply convinced working more that 40-50 hours per week is unhealthy and inefficient. Having time to be with my family in the evening and weekends helps me be creative and efficient during work hours.
Some other ways I do it are: Go out to jog or mountain bikeRead a good bookBlock time in my agenda to think deeply and without interruptionsWork from home (less distractions and traveling)Don’t plan anything, just see what happensGo on vacation – of courseVisit a conference ;-) Do you have others ways to create space in your life? Let’s learn from each other.