Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

Do you know better?

Just watching the comments fly over at Nathan Yau’s blog, Flowing Data, which follows from a post by a giant in the field, Stephen Few who was commenting on the work of another name in this space David McCandless, it occurs to me that the Web 2.0 ideal of collaborative communities is perhaps further away than some of us think.  Nathan Yau and the Flowing Data community are all interested in doing better work around data visualisation.  Stephen Few and David McCandless are both immensely smart and successful thought leaders.
– So why isn’t the flurry of comments bringing great ideas to improve the delivery of insight through easy to use interfaces?

I like to think that I will (or rather I am always aiming to) consider opposing points of view when working through a problem – Tufte and Few books sit side by side on my bookshelf.  Having a fairly eclectic reading list hopefully helps me consider a range of viewpoints as well. But I know this is something I can always work on.

One of the things I most admire in a leader is someone who knows what their blind spot/ weakness is and who has a consistent strategy in place to ensure that it doesn’t hurt their team’s delivery. I am generally in awe of facilitators who can work with a room of people who are at each other throats but can bring them to a an agreed point of view.  I am always impressed when people can build on the ideas of others and grow them into something great.

The quote that goes with this is a no brainer of course: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

But maybe it’s bigger than that. What if we all need each other to continually build on all of our ideas if we are going to make it. Data visualisation is not world hunger, but maybe the principles of everyone working together bringing success for all is at the core of our very future.


PS. “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society” – Vince Lombardi


Get on Board!

17 September, 2010 Leave a comment

Ants (or sometimes more accurately, the colonies they form) are truly amazing.  Capable of incredible feats of engineering and teamwork (check out the tunnel structure in the 1st video).  Much of this is due to their ability to follow orders and work for the good of their colony, often as a priority over their own safety. But sometimes ants get in badly wrong because of just this strength (the 2nd video below is an ant circle or vortex, which is what happens when all the ants accidentally end up following each other – to their own exhaustion and death usually).

Ants Working Together & Ants Working Together

Having just come through the 9th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the western world spent some time remembering these events, but others used the opportunity to raise their own beliefs and conspiracy theories that centre on those events.

Say whatever you like about the conspiracy theorists for Sept11 (or more generally), but they do represent an important feature that separates people from ants – some of us will question things even though there is a strong belief in a particular direction.

So……Think about the last time you were swept up in a massive initiative that was, even from very early on, an out of the park home run. It was probably a really simple idea that had built up great momentum – a juggernaut by the time it reached you…….Did you ask any questions (or chase down the answers to them) before you were caught up in the enthusiasm for the initiative?

Given my focus on performance and key performance indicators,  I find it very difficult not to ask myself a few questions about anything I see. – What is the ultimate goal here? How will we know that this initiative has been successful?  What targets have been set for this initiative to achieve?  How does this initiative align to other key objectives?
– People with different backgrounds/ perspectives will ask different questions based on their experience and the relevance of the initiative.

Asking those sorts of questions can be tough (on both the asker and askee) but the answers and the discussions they stimulate can make an initial good idea into a much stronger collaborative idea.


PS: ”In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock”  – Thomas Jefferson

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