Archive | September, 2014

Tom Mix and Old Blue

21 Sep

tom and old blue 1918

This is a rare photo of the original cowboy star Tom Mix and his horse Old Blue taken in 1918.

They were a legendary team. Tom famously did all his own stunts and trick riding back when kids and adults thronged to the flickers to catch every thrilling serial.

There’s two reasons for this post.

One is about teamwork and the other about online learning.

Teamwork we understand. Online learning is different.

It’s not difficult to see that online learning is like the early days of Hollywood pre sound. It’s still in its technological infancy.

Like when the talkies were introduced, where many big stars couldn’t make it in the new medium. A few big stars had squeeky voices and it was the end of their careers.

Others transcended the medium and understood how to use their voice to maximum effect.

Online learning works when we understand how lonely it can be for the learner and how they interact with content.

Interact is not just a bunch of documents.

What we save in traditional face to face resources should be used to develop interactivity.

and take time to personally interact with your learners.

Give them some love not just pdf’s and a slick site

Ugly potatoes and brilliant creatures

14 Sep

ugly potato

Business theory is frothing to the brim with strategic models on how to do things. These models have been thought through by the illuminati of business schools the world over. From Harvard to the McDonalds Hamburger University there’s lots of best practice to take on board and execute (sounds like a film about Blackbeard.)

But how about this. How many businesses just happened. Somebody did something and voila – there’s a business. Let’s call them ugly potatoes. They’re organic after all.

And then it gets bigger because there is a demand. More offices, people, equipment … visits to the bank.

Then come the managers who become directors of strategic areas like finance, marketing, R&D. They want and need to impose some kind of order on the ugly potato.

Meanwhile the founder/s and original people (the brilliant creatures) are caught in the middle. They know they need order and strategy but sometimes it hurts. Order can kill creativity.

I’ve seen it a few times. The painful journey from ugly organic to smoothly strategic.

How is this managed?

I love ideas but I also love order. I like breaking out but I also respect process.

Like my kid … I tell him to play his PS3 but also do his study. Balance it out. Yeah right!! Well I try.

Lots of businesses travel from ugly to smooth. From garden markets to supermarket shelves. From crusty and dusty to smooth and waxen.

Be mindful of the brilliant creatures and the ugly potatoes.

Organic food tastes better.

Somerset Maugham, the tiger and Raffles Hotel

7 Sep


Creativity seems to be a buzz word these days as is happiness. For us white bread types both can seem like butterflies in a strong breeze – now you see them and now you don’t. Try to capture them and they’re gone.

Now take W Somerset Maugham for instance. He was creative undoubtedly. Still considered one of the great short story writers ever. If you haven’t done so, read some of his ‘south seas’ stories like ‘Rain’ for instance featuring the morally questionable Sadie Thomson and monsoons that drove people crazy. Often set in exotic places like Pago Pago and Apia when the copra trade and rubber plantations were booming – the islands full of boozy ex pats and over zealous missionaries with sin on their minds.

I was lucky enough to stay at Raffles Hotel in Singapore before they modernised it. There was a suite there named after Maugham and one called the Conrad suite. They both stayed there regularly. There was a snooker table in a colonial space where it was rumoured that the last tiger in Singapore was shot. “Jolly good show. Got him right between the eyes!” Definitely not correct these days.

So Maugham, Raffles, tigers … and creativity of course.

You can set up a room with toys and games tables for creative thought. Or you can’t. How do you capture creativity? 

More importantly … how do you monetize it?

Publishing is a business like the movies or games. You don’t get published if you don’t have a market.

There has always been creativity in business. They just didn’t use the term so much.