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Unlocking Potential

I’d like to think this is one of my superhero skills. Maybe it’s because of the mentoring work I do. I am often trying to figure out, with the individuals in the company’s I mentor, or simply the individuals I meet, how to unlock their potential. A lot of the time they are young people, my children or those of my friends, or those at schools where I sometimes go to talk. I am often trying with my own self. So even if it isn’t, this post and DanelDoodle can serve as my call to action for it to become so. Maybe it works for others too.

Potential is often related to enthusiasm and I’m a natural born enthusiast so that may be one of the reasons I’m so enthusiastic about potential.

But honestly, I do think you have to have some kind of enthusiastic streak about you, if not in general, then at least for the area in which you are trying to unlock potential. This goes for yourself or for others you are trying to help.

You could probably succeed through sheer determination or doggedness. But your odds of success are exponentially increased the more enthusiastic you are about what you are doing and how you can get the best of yourself or others while doing it and getting better at it.

It is through my enthusiasm that I often inspire myself and others, so I am told, to attempt something that they thought might not be possible. Or to try harder to unlock the potential necessary to overcome a blocker or challenge in achieving something.

In this last point I am reminded of the famous Winston Churchil quote:

Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.

Sir Winston Churchill

So, whether you are doing it for yourself or for others, be enthusiastic about it. But the key point is to unlock potential.

Tap into the boundless in yourself and everyone, not to succeed at everything necessarily because that’s impossible and unnecessary, but never to succumb to the dumb inertia caused by doubt.

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The Business Impact of Employee Experience on Customer Experience

I am working on a new trend report covering this topic in part and this is based on the work I do (disclosure) – more on the report here: Employee Customer Experience Connection. One of the primary assumptions I’m exploring for the report is that effectively driving a positive employee experience has interrelated benefits on the customer experience too. And as we all know, the customer is king so this seeming interrelationship would seem a slam dunk and of great interest.

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence of the interrelationship, but I am not finding a huge amount of concrete evidence of this based on research. Still I am convinced and persist in my efforts. This post is in part an exploration of this and I am also trying to get others’ views so please take part in the poll at the end 🙏

This Forrester report on the The Total Economic Impact™ Of Microsoft Viva was commissioned by Microsoft. These kinds of reports are pretty standard for many technology vendors to try and justify, as the title suggests, the economic impact of using the technology. I thought this would be an excellent start since Microsoft Viva is an employee experience platform launched by Microsoft not too long ago – more on it here: Employee Experience and Engagement | Microsoft Viva.

I have pasted a relevant piece from out of the report below (the diagram and section after it in yellow). This piece covers the benefits that derive from improved business outcomes. It seems natural to have expected that of the many benefits covered in the report (see full list below), this one would contain something to do with impact on customer related outcomes, like revenue growth, increased satisfaction and loyalty, reduced churn or improved retention, etc. Not so much. Although you could assume some indirect impact, like getting to market faster means customers can buy the product sooner and therefore incremental revenue is realised sooner, it’s still not what I am after.

Most of the benefits, like the many others (which are notable), are very much focused on internal metrics. I discuss this at the end of the post.

All benefits covered in the report:

  • Faster Onboarding Process
  • Improved Productivity from Content and Expert Discovery
  • Improved Employee Retention
  • Time Savings for Operations Teams
  • Improved Business Outcomes – see detail below
  • Unquantified Benefits
  • Flexibility

Improved Business Outcomes

Evidence and data

Enriching employee experiences resulted in better business outcomes, including better product development, greater innovation, and increased revenues. The Viva suite influenced key performance indicators such as time-to-market, product market fit, and utilization rates by tying actions to outcomes. Each app additionally improved employee competency, engagement, and motivation. This benefit increased with extended deployment, higher adoption, and tighter integration with Viva Goals to focus people. Achieving these benefits required business process redesign, leadership development, and change management.

The head of program management in software shared that Viva Goals enabled the launch of a product in eight new regions in fewer than four months, which would have taken nearly two years otherwise. Not executing this launch would have left millions of dollars in deals on the table.

The IT executive for workplace IT experience in professional services said that Viva improved time-to-deliver by enabling employees to quickly surface exemplars and best practices. The IT executive also said that Viva Insights creates focus time, which “has been a game changer and gives people time to concentrate on delivering more value to the company.”

The COO in electronics said that Viva Learning helped drive employee retention through increased engagement and motivation. This avoided hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in annual lost revenue because product engineering attrition delayed new product launches.

The product owner in CPG said that Viva Topics helped with cross-team collaboration and learning. This directly increased shared knowledge and knocked down silos, which ultimately improved R&D potential.

Modelling and assumptions

For the composite organization, Forrester assumes that:
It realizes $6 million in incremental revenue annually due to faster time-to-market.
Thirty percent of faster time-to-market is directly attributable to Viva.
There is a 45% gross margin applied.

Risks

The following factors may impact other organizations’ realization of this benefit category:
The value of faster time-to-market for the organization.
The extent to which Viva is leveraged to drive innovation and development velocity.
The organization’s average gross margin.

Results

To account for these risks, Forrester adjusted this benefit downward by 20%, yielding a
three-year risk-adjusted total PV of $1.6 million

Why are employee and customer experience outcomes not better aligned?

Read some of the articles I have curated or written on about the interrelationship of these two fields, either on the landing page at the bottom, or at the beginning on the landing page itself, where I crunch some numbers about the potential value of the market combined. You will see that there is a lot being said about this.

What is a struggle is to find verifiable, quantified, research backed evidence. I’m not sure why but let me hazard a guess or 2:

  1. This is not a thing and it is not a trend, i.e. employee experience has no bearing on customer experience and outcomes related to the latter. I struggle to believe this but must accept it’s a possibility.
  2. We are not there yet and the scientists and researchers have not cottoned onto this yet so have not done work on it yet. This is more likely the case.

I’m not giving up. I believe in this. At this stage, short of the type of evidence mentioned above, I’d love to just get some validation. Please let me know what you think and answer the poll below. If nothing else, it will ensure me I’m not going mad and others agree 🤪 Also, if you have come across any evidence, please share it in a comment.

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SenseMaking from the Web

This post is an aggregation of recent articles that I have collected over at Flipboard on my magazine there. It captures great sense making from others, in other words, great articles from other sites I thought worth capturing and sharing. Curating good articles is a discerning process and I’ve automated the delivery of it in WordPress using a Power Automate Flow to achieve this – more on that here.

Empower and energize employees with Microsoft Viva | Microsoft 365 Blog

Posted on September 23. Work trend index pulse report When employees thrive, companies flourish. Microsoft Viva, the first integrated employee experience platform for the …

Looking at 320 pitch decks, here’s what science tells us works best

Posted on September 23. Investors are spending 24% less time looking at pitch decks in 2022, compared to 2021. On average, you have just under three minutes to convince them to take a meeting with you. In fact, for decks that fail to raise funding, investors give up in just 2 minutes and 13 seconds. That’s not a lot of …

How Neuroscientists Use Brain Breaks to Boost Creativity at Work

Posted on September 22. Back-to-back meetings, endless screen time, long hours—the human mind is poorly designed for the typical workday. Neuroscientists take a different …

In Europe and beyond, Microsoft’s Work Trend Index Pulse Report provides insights into how employees, leaders see hybrid work – Microsoft News Centre Europe

Posted on September 22. In France, the UK and Germany, as in the rest of the world, the last few years have brought profound changes in how we work. Microsoft’s latest Work …

Understanding Microsoft’s grand vision for building the next generation of apps

Posted on September 21. What Microsoft Collaborative Apps are and why they matter: An explainer. Over the past couple of years, Microsoft has introduced a grab bag of new …

Digital innovation and employee experience: making the connection

Posted on September 21. DXC and Pfizer leaders discuss the topic in an article by MIT SMR Connections

Adopting the Innovator’s Mindset

Posted on September 19. Too many innovations fail because they’re solutions looking for problems — not the result of a disciplined process.

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Microsoft Viva keeps growing – roundup of latest announcements

I have some new announcements to share on this subject, or should I say Microsoft has (disclosure) and the full details are captured in this blog post: Empower and energize employees with Microsoft Viva | Microsoft 365 Blog. In this post I just wanted to capture a few things I think are particularly noteworthy, especially the completely new announcements.

Viva Pulse

The Viva Pulse announcement includes the opportunity to join our Viva Pulse Customer Advisory Board Program – you can read about it in the post and sign up here: Viva Pulse Customer Advisory Board Program Sign Up. There is a lot of interest in this area form HR departments and if you are in one and interested, it would be wise to jump in there before it becomes oversubscribed. Also check out the People in Microsoft Viva announcement and more on that here – also of interest to HR types: People in Microsoft Viva – Putting people at the center of the employee experience. – Microsoft Tech Community.

Note this is not the same as what Glint will do when it is integrated into Viva (see announcement) but not entirely unrelated. The one will be for managers (Pulse) the other (Glint) for HR leaders.

Viva Amplify

This is an entirely new module announced covering employee comms (hence the yellow background). I’ve covered the use of a Teams App Template called Company Communicator before, see posts below (), which attempted to address this need, amongst others. See Viva Amplify as the successor to Company Communicator, on steroids 💪This is a hugely exciting module and I think internal comms teams everywhere will be champing at the bit to get their hands on it – you can apply to be in the Viva Amplify preview program so get signing up.

How to run a Hackathon for Microsoft Teams and Power Platform

Internal Communications is more important than ever but missing a trick

Considering Microsoft Teams as a Platform – get started with App templates

Viva Sales

I have also spoken about this module before (see post below ) and this announcement just gives more info on features and confirms that it will be GA (Generally Available) October 3rd. As part of this announcement comes the point that it is not going to be free for Salesforce customers, only D365 customers. More on the announcement here: Reimagine selling with Viva Sales – Microsoft Dynamics 365 Blog

Microsoft Viva goes vertical – sales productivity module announced

Viva Connections

To streamline the Viva experience and help employees start their day on track, the new Viva Connections home experience will bring all the Microsoft Viva apps and services into one place.

For those that want a single entry point for Viva modules and/or an Employee Hub (a concept many customers are keen to achieve), I think this is a really good development.

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Launching a business in a recession – 3 of 4 – Pre-Launch

This is a post in a series of four detailing how you can start a business during a recession (find them all eventually under the startup innovation tag). I think it is a commonly held view that we are about to enter into or are already in a recession. For whatever reason you are thinking about starting a business at this time, I am helping a startup on a similar path and thought I would share what I am thinking about to help them (more on my mentoring here). The focus in this series is the really early stages prior to launch and the emphasis is on how to do things on the cheap ;)

You could go all out with a launch from the get-go where you prepare everything in stealth mode and then when ready, you launch fully to the market. Or you could take a more measured approach where you start in semi stealth, i.e. you don’t disclose all details of your product or service, but you do go live with some basic details online. I prefer this latter route because you can make your online presence minimal until you are ready to share more but still have that work for you. The benefits are multiple in that you can start to build awareness and get crucial feedback before the formal launch.

Landing page


SeedProd is one of the more popular website builders and is used by many startups.

It comes with many templates, including one for landing pages, this being the standard way to have a minimal presence that can still work for you. Typically, you will communicate that the full product/service is coming soon but you can start to build awareness and anticipation for what’s to come and brand.

This is by no means the only tool you can use; in fact you don’t even need to use such a tool. With WordPress for example, you could use the full site editing tools that are now available.

Research


The next stage is to gather feedback from visitors and potential customers on key elements of your intended product/service offering.

Why not add a simple poll or survey on the landing page. There are many options for this and one such option is Microsoft Forms.

Whatever you do, keep it simple, that’s why I suggest a poll, rather than a long-winded survey. And try keep visitors on the page instead of sending them somewhere else to fill out the form, e.g. embed the poll.

Bonus Tool/Service: Lead Management

A final stage to consider is adding some kind of lead generation component. At its simplest this could just be a way to get visitors to provide their contact details so you can reach them when you are ready to launch and they can be informed of this and more besides.

The easiest way to do this is to put a simple, single field form on the site to collect email address.

But the crucial thing is what you do with that lead afterwards and many tools offer ways to manage the lead from first contact. You could integrate website efforts with other lead generation efforts via social media too. Most important is that you can automate the entire lead journey through various stages, including many follow-up efforts.

Here again there are a plethora of tools available to you. I use Mailchimp and have found it to be a superb tool covering many of the elements mentioned above.

NOTE: Consider using a lead magnet, also commonly called opt-ins, freebies, or swipe files, are valuable free pieces of content that you give to people in exchange for an email address.

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Framing your customer success efforts for success

In your customer success efforts, especially when you are going deep with several high touch engagements, you have to think about how to spread yourself for maximum effect. It may be exacerbated when you have several customers each with several engagements. How do you choose what will benefit the customer the most with scarce resources and achieve your goals within your organisation? I have a simple framework and here it is below.

It’s pretty simple really, which is a critical component of any good sensemaking framework 🙂

Scale of impact

What potential does the engagement hold for making an impact, this is the central question.

To answer this, you must first look to the customer engagement and what it is trying to achieve.

If it’s framed in terms of the right business outcomes, you are off to a good start.

If those outcomes are quantified in the right way, you should be able to tie in your engagement activities to those outcomes.

If the scale of impact is high in terms of achieving high returns and the customer holds these returns as a major priority, you are on a good path.

Ability to influence outcomes

This is a kind of sanity test. I mean you can nail the aforementioned activity on scale of impact perfectly but if you have limited means of achieving what you’ve identified, it’s no good.

Your ability to achieve the right business outcomes could have as much to do with resources on your side as those on the customer’s side. Or your organisational intent or that of the customer, or some other blockers that may prevent you from achieving the right outcomes.

So think carefully not only about why and what you want to achieve but also how. If the latter is missing, this should be a major factor in reaching the next point.

Prioritised solutions

You could use a scoring mechanism to help in this task but that’s probably not necessary. You should be able to tell just by plotting the engagements into a visual multidimensional matrix, focused on the two activities covered by two axes – as per below.

This is not rocket science, just sensible thinking. Good luck with your customer success engagements 💪💥

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SenseMaking from the Web

This post is an aggregation of recent articles that I have collected over at Flipboard on my magazine there. It captures great sense making from others, in other words, great articles from other sites I thought worth capturing and sharing. Curating good articles is a discerning process and I’ve automated the delivery of it in WordPress using a Power Automate Flow to achieve this – more on that here.

The Value of Content: Subscriptions and the Passion Economy | Digital Marketing Resource Hub

Posted on September 9. Have we now reached the point where the average internet user accepts that good content is worth paying for? Host Will Francis and digital marketing …

The Rise Of The Rundle: A New Trend For Subscription-Based Services

Posted on September 9. Two longstanding trends in business might be merging, createing a new way for us to purchase and consume. When it comes to poorly branded concepts in business, the “rundle” is high on the list. It’s the brainchild of the very outspoken NYU professor, L2 founder, serial podcaster, and occasionally …

Creating Shared Value

Posted on September 9. The capitalist system is under siege. In recent years business has been criticized as a major cause of social, environmental, and economic problems. Companies are widely thought to be prospering at the expense of their communities. Trust in business has fallen to new lows, leading government …

3 Ways to Maximize the Benefits of Hyperautomation

Posted on September 9. All businesses should explore any opportunity to streamline workflows and speed up production. Hyperautomation (i.e., using technology to allow any processes to run without manual intervention) is a chance to give your business process automation efforts the jolt they need to reach their full …

Can humanity be recreated in the metaverse?

Posted on September 9. Today, the internet is a mostly 2D platform that we consume through a screen. It is a command-line prompt for the reality we live in. Instagram posts, Tiktoks, text messages, emails and voice memos are all digital artifacts things people create and receive in the physical world. But this will …

How Microsoft Digital improves its own Employee Experience—and yours—as Customer Zero – Inside Track Blog

Posted on September 9. Anyone who has been around the technology industry for a while is familiar with the concept of “dogfooding.” “Eat your own dog food” is a phrase that …

Product-Led Growth Companies Find a New Way to Serve Customers

Posted on September 7. • Data, AI, & Machine Learning • Strategy • Business Models • Quality & Service • AI & Machine Learning • Automation • Technology Innovation Strategy subscribe-icon …

How Employee Experience Can Transform Customer Experience

Posted on September 6. Sound the alarms! Everyone is talking about customer experience and digital transformation. For some, this is an exciting conversation and others it …

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Why globalisation is still important despite headwinds and here is how to leverage it

I’ve just returned from a week in Japan with colleagues from all over the world – the featured image has yours truly pictured in one of sessions we held 😎 I look after Microsoft Japan’s global accounts in EMEA (disclosure) from a customer success point of view – these are global companies with regional operations outside Japan. The last global connection we had was in late 2019, pre-pandemic. I’ve been doing this particular role coming on 5 years, the latter years it’s all been done remotely due to the pandemic of course. Even before this, most of my roles have been regionally or globally focused (in startup or established company) so I write with a degree of experience.

Some context for a modern day global organisation

The opening paragraph sets the scene. Here’s more.

I also work very closely with colleagues in North America and Asia Pacific who look after the same customers with their regional operations there. They also attended this session. The attendees also spanned multiple technology workstreams, many of them highly interdependent. Finally, we had attendees from Japan who look after the customer in their home country.

As you can imagine, this made for a very complex set of meetings. The fact we had been working together remotely for many years helped but it was amazing how the physical setting accelerated things and helped overcome much of the complexity.

Of course much background work happened by some very talented organisers before the week started so that helped too. We also had many attendees that couldn’t make it so this was a hybrid event as they attended remotely, another added layer of complexity.

The purpose of all the conversations and meetings were many fold but chief amongst them were to answer the following questions:

  1. How can Microsoft support our customers better in their global operations and to achieve their goals?
  2. How can we achieve our goals with these accounts by collaborating within Microsoft better, globally?
  3. How can we reconnect and reignite our relationships and network for better outcomes, again globally?

I make these points just to set the context of how globalisation works at the company where I work. Clearly I cannot share specific details and this also does not get to the heart of what globalisation is, where its at, why its important and how it can work best. For that see the next sections.

I also want to recognise that the organisation I work for is pretty exceptional. There are a lot of global corporations and organisations that work on a similar scale but not that many, that they are pervasive. Nor do many of them have the kinds of resources, wealth and capabilities that Microsoft have with a presence in 190+ countries around the world.

You could see it as the standard for the global organisation.

Globalisation headwinds

For this you should look at this article on HBR: The State of Globalization in 2022 (hbr.org). The pertinent piece for me is this one, the authors’ conclusions:

The growth and geographic reach of international flows can rise and fall over time, but the fundamental drivers of success in global strategy remain unchanged. The similarities and differences between countries define the landscape for international value creation, and the task of the global strategist is to navigate the opportunities and threats presented by both the bridges and the barriers between markets. As the landscape shifts, global strategies must be updated, but managers should avoid the costly overreactions that tend to follow major shocks to globalization.

The death of globalisation has long been talked about, since way before Trump happened to the world and Brexit, with their distinctive anti-globalisation and nationalistic stances.

Despite all of the negativity and barriers to globalisation I am as optimistic as the authors of the HBR article conclude their piece. Here is why 👇

The need for and means to leverage globalisation

The world (i.e. the planet) is getting smaller.

More and more people are filling it, we are increasingly bumping up against each other. No longer can we assume that what happens in one place will not effect another. Climate change is a great example of this – we are all in it together.

Although global travel is down, we are more interconnected than ever before. Technology helps us to connect and collaborate. This removes some of the barriers that used to be in place for us to be able to work with colleagues, customer and partners beyond our borders.

But we can’t sit back and believe that it will all just work. My getting to Japan to work with far flung colleagues reaped untold benefits but it came at a cost. I’m not talking about monetary costs, although they were substantial. I’m talking about the effort required to get clearance and visas, the time it took and the toll on energy and then what was required to make things work. It was all worth it in the end but we have to make an effort to make globalisation work.

It needs diversity.

I don’t mean the tick box of corporate responsibility. I mean diversity of thought. The more of us from different backgrounds, experiences and skills that get together, the better will be our solutions. I’m convinced of this.

None of us individually is better than all of us together. Especially in complex environments, it makes sense to understand solutions that can transcend ideology, cultures and habits.

People of all natures and type coming together to discover solutions that effect and benefit us all is beautiful to behold.

Physical interaction is still the gold standard.

After two years of virtual meetings, it has been so good to be together. The outcomes are better, as I’ve observed. The closeness, the energy, the vitality adds a palpable improvement.

But remember what is better about physical meetings and don’t try replicate what could be done virtually. I think the pendulum may have swung so far the other way after 2-3 years working mostly remotely, it has built some ingrained habits that are difficult to lose. The result can be ineffectiveness and inefficiency.

The best way out is through.

I learned even more about the fascinating culture that Japan represents in this recent trip (more on my Instagram account). What I didn’t need to learn was about the state of the Japanese economy. This has been written about endlessly starting with their so-called lost decade in the 1990’s which some posit goes much further.

The point is that Japan has to reinvent itself to again become a powerhouse of innovation and global leadership that it once was. Nothing speaks to this fall from grace as much as Sony’s loss to Apple in the audio wars in the late 1990’s. I used to work at Sony because I saw the potential it had then to dominate in the category and wrote about it briefly here: The end of ownership and the rise of usership.

Sony had everything it needed to win. Hardware (it dominated with Walkman), content (it owned several of the major Hollywood studios and music companies) and software, although this was perhaps where it was at its weakest. Still Apple beat it with the iPod and then iPhone.

This article by McKinsey (Japan’s globalization imperative) was prescient in that I hear a lot of the same things now. Which means that it is still an imperative. And the only way out is through stringent application and adherence to the belief that this will help.

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SenseMaking from the Web

This post is an aggregation of recent articles that I have collected over at Flipboard on my magazine there. It captures great sense making from others, in other words, great articles from other sites I thought worth capturing and sharing. Curating good articles is a discerning process and I’ve automated the delivery of it in WordPress using a Power Automate Flow to achieve this – more on that here.

How “Corporate Explorers” Are Disrupting Big Companies From the Inside

Posted on August 25. A unique breed of entrepreneurs is creating innovative ventures — without launching startups or chasing VC funding.

Meeting fatigue is an IT problem. Here’s how async can help

Posted on August 22. The role that meetings (especially virtual ones) play in undermining employee engagement is well-documented. They frustrate us, bore us, and …

The remote work revolution is already reshaping America

Posted on August 22. The coronavirus pandemic set in motion a shift to remote and hybrid work that is quietly reshaping American economics and demographics. While the fine women and men at U.S. statistical agencies are still grappling with how to measure this astonishing transformation, a host of academics and other …

How Co-Working Spaces Lead to More Innovation for Tech Startups

Posted on August 21. For tech startups wondering where to locate their new companies, here’s one suggestion: Set up shop near another tech startup, preferably one that isn’t in the same business. In a working paper, researchers from Harvard University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute …

Identifying Unmet Needs in a Digital Age

Posted on August 18. Innovation is all about finding and filling people’s unmet needs. But even innovators and organizations renowned for their scanning capabilities often have trouble perceiving and correctly interpreting those needs. Drawing on their work as researchers, teachers, and consultants, the authors outline …

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Content automation and Microsoft’s new OneNote Dictation tool

Creating content is really hard. I’ve been blogging now for the last 15 years and I can tell you, any way I can find to make it better, faster and more efficient, I will do it. So in this post I’m going to share why it’s important and what I’m doing in this area. This post was mostly dictated with some manual intervention from me. And I start the automating in this post with the new Table of Contents block announced recently which lists the main points I’m covering.

Importance of content

First a small note on content creation and why it’s so important? This deserves an entire post but let me just say that content is important if you want to create attention and be found, and fresh content is the most important in this regard. So regularly creating new content is something to strive for and that is the hard part. That’s all I’ll say on this for now.

Automation

I’ve written several posts around automation and I’m using several tools to automate the way that I blog. Here’s a post written with the help of Writesonic, an AI tool that takes suggested prompts from you and generates content. You can tweak that content and I had to do about 40% of that in the post. I thought it was pretty good. But the percentage of input that I had to provide was not ideal, I felt. I also felt it took away too much input from me, at the same time. I guess this balance is just something I would need to get used to.

Another way that I’ve tried to automate things is by curating content and sharing it with readers. I’m using Microsoft Power Automate to bring content in from the web through an RSS feed and automate blog post creation. This is working really well and here is where I explained the process.

Hacks and shortcuts

There are other ways to make content creation easier that I’ve discovered. One way is through automating processes within the tool that you use. I use WordPress for example and for my featured images in every post, I use a plugin to create default featured images, based on tags I assign to a post. With WordPress I also use the copy post or page function if I’ve got a really good format that I want to reuse for a new post. It words kind of like a template. The other thing I do with WordPress is create reusable blocks of content which I use frequently in posts. Finally, with Jetpack Social, I automate the sharing of posts to social media. All these activities shave many minutes on my publishing process and it all adds up.

Speech to text

Now onto the main point of this post, which is the use of Microsoft’s OneNote dictation tool, it’s just been announced. As I mentioned at the beginning, this post was mostly dictated by me, although there has been some manual intervention. I have to say I’m really impressed with the speed and the accuracy of the translation. One thing I would suggest is to take out the auto punctuation (do that in settings), because this adds full stops in when you’re pausing, and it’s probably a little too much and fast. Otherwise, I’m really impressed and this post has taken a very short period of time to create and check. I’d say that I dictated about 85% of this post and the rest was manual intervention.

If you consider it and use it in the same context (to create written content) then read my conclusion for some pointers.

Conclusion

I’m going to use this function more for future posts. One thing I have to say, I did use some bulleted points to guide my dictation and I would suggest you do the same. It’s important to have an outline for your posts and not just “shoot from the hip”. So in other words, some upfront preparation. Having said that, it’s also very useful to have your raw thoughts captured and then be able to improve and enhance them manually.

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Choose carefully how you spend your time

I love this quote by Annie Dillard from her book The Writing Life, which I read not too long ago – here is my review if interested. It’s as spartan and to the point as her prose.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

Annie Dillard

I thought it would be really good to capture that sentiment in a DanelDoodle. This may become a design for a T-shirt so I’d love to know what you think by rating it out of 5 stars below.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The significance of this simple thought cannot be understated. It’s so true on many levels, beyond the context she was referring to, writing.

It’s true that your life is bult by tiny habits that accrue day by day by week, etc. Eventually they become your life.

It’s true that you should also guard against what you spend your time on and with who.

Annie Dillard goes on to write so eloquently on the subject that I thought it worth sharing here.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern.”

Dillard emphasizes the value of presence in living a good life:

“There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet.”

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Launching a business in a recession – 2 of 4 – Branding

This is a post in a series of four detailing how you can start a business during a recession (find them all eventually under the startup innovation tag). I think it is a commonly held view that we are about to enter into or are already in a recession. For whatever reason you are thinking about starting a business at this time, I am helping a startup on a similar path and thought I would share what I am thinking about to help them (more on my mentoring here). The focus in this series is the really early stages prior to launch and the emphasis is on how to do things on the cheap ;)

Branding is not highest on the priority list when starting a business, but it is when launching and if you intend to have any kind of presence, even if it is minimal as you will see in later posts, you will need to look semi-decent. In other words, you can create branding that is not final but at least it looks good enough for initial activities. For this, these services that I cover in this post will more than do, and do not have to cost the earth, if anything.

Canva


Canva is such an amazing tool for designing just about anything and you don’t have to be a designer to use it.

It comes with many templates, including for logo design which is probably where you will start with your branding efforts, this plus fonts and colours.

You can even build a brand kit from what you have designed using the templates. Much is available for free, but I pay for that little more flexibility – check pricing here.

Fiverr


Fiverr is a marketplace for design resources where you have a whole world of freelance talent at your fingertips.

From Graphics & Design, Digital Marketing, Video & Animation to much more, you can find someone to do the work for you at a price point that works.

I generally start with basic designs in Canva and then take them to a pro designer on Fiverr to tweak and get professional artwork as required.

Bonus Tool/Service

Behance is the world’s largest creative network for showcasing and discovering creative work. It has now been acquired by Adobe but it remains free and open source and you can use it for a great many things, even to find designers or freelances. But I use it for inspiration.

You can filter your search by many different options and as you can see in the screenshot below, Logo Design is one of them. Here you get a vast array of inspiring designs from some of the world’s best creatives.

A good idea is to have an idea of what your logo should look like or represent and then do a word search for the term that best represents that. You can also just use Google if you want to broaden things further.

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SenseMaking from the Web

This post is an aggregation of recent articles that I have collected over at Flipboard on my magazine there. It captures great sense making from others, in other words, great articles from other sites I thought worth capturing and sharing. Curating good articles is a discerning process and I’ve automated the delivery of it in WordPress using a Power Automate Flow to achieve this – more on that here.

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Outputs To Outcomes: Why It’s Time To Stop Measuring Productivity

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Posted on August 8. Graham WilkinsonChief Innovation Officer Kinesso and Matterkind Global “Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and …

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Launching a business in a recession – 1 of 4 – Business Planning

This is a post in a series of four detailing how you can start a business during a recession (find them all eventually under the startup innovation tag). I think it is a commonly held view that we are about to enter into or are already in a recession. For whatever reason you are thinking about starting a business at this time, I am helping a startup on a similar path and thought I would share what I am thinking about to help them (more on my mentoring here). The focus in this series is the really early stages prior to launch and the emphasis is on how to do things on the cheap ;)

First off just to say that the topic of this post, business planning, is not necessarily something you can do on the cheap. Nor should you. If there is any one activity that you should spend money on, it should be this one. That’s because this is probably the most important one. It sets the tone for all your other activities and is the one that sets you up for success or failure. Having said that, you can get away with some free tools which I will cover. But the real trick in this area, is the framework, method and thinking you use – not so much tools as with the other topics, as you will see.

Business Model Canvas


A simple framework for defining your business, no need for lengthy business plans no one reads and besides, brevity forces focus.

Useful to also visualize and communicate a simple story of your business model to founders, employees and investors alike.

Use the canvas to explore new business models whether you are a start-up or an existing business. Some elements/tools require payments.

Jobs to be Done


JTBD is a framework to guide your perspective and innovate through a different lens. Especially if you need to transform and disrupt (product, company, industry – select as needed), this is for you. It requires you to replace a solution lens with a problem lens. It contrasts seeing the world of innovation through the lens of what the company is doing (a product perspective). It advocates seeing the world of innovation through the lens of what the customer is trying to get done (a problem perspective).

Lean Startup


Lean startup is a methodology for developing businesses and products that aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning. Lean startup emphasizes customer feedback over intuition and flexibility over planning. This methodology enables recovery from failures more often than traditional ways of product development.

Bonus Tool

Microsoft’s Whiteboard is a digital application that functions like a traditional whiteboard, but is hosted virtually. Digital whiteboards can integrate with other video conferencing and screen sharing platforms to allow for collaboration even when you are not physically in the same room – crucial for remote teams. It has many templates to choose from and allows whiteboards to be saved in shareable files for easy access in the future. It is these templates that provide an easy way to guide your thinking but of course you can bring in any methodology you want to the tool. It’s free for students and educators or you get it as part of your M365 license (work or personal).