I was doing an online navigation course aimed at those racing mountain marathons but the parallels with business and personal life were clear.
“Lots of people keep their map in their bag and only get it out after they are lost. Elites always keep their map to hand.”
Any map, be it an Ordnance Survey 1:25k or a personal/business/product roadmap, needs to be immediately available at the point of wayfinding decisions.
Any amount of availability friction increases the likelihood that you’ll press on regardless – when short on time – without checking your course and therefore make directional errors.
It can of course be a bit of a flow killer to consult the map when you are making fast progress; running down a mountain or otherwise.
But, anyone who has mistakenly descended 250 metres in the mountains before realising they have to regain that height on tired legs – or made a similar business/personal decision that’s taken them in the wrong direction – wasting valuable energy and momentum knows how quickly directional errors can compound.
The guidance from the world of elite mountain marathon winners is instructive:
Print and laminate just the portion of the map you need for the particular race so you can keep it handy in all weathers.
Check your position on the map regularly.
Practice checking so it becomes super quick and second nature.
Ok, that’s great for running in the mountains but what about business/personal maps?
In the pre-COVID-19 face-to-face world, the formula was simple; print and display a massive version of the roadmap prominently in the office, take hard copies to all meetings, and evangelise relentlessly.
The formula for the remote working world needs some tweaks – here’s what I’ve found works so far:
Print a copy and stick it on a wall in your home office – this is your ‘in any weather’ copy that will survive wifi outages, laptops overheating, kids messing with your router, and those digital overload moments when you crave something analogue to just scribble on.
Pin the latest version somewhere digital with high organisational visibility e.g. internal wiki. Searchers can self serve with zero friction and casual passers by may take an interest.
Always keep the file open on your computer so you can easily share your screen during video calls.
Mercilessly include a copy in the appendix of any remotely related presentations! (no one’s printing those packs anymore so there’s no wasted paper).
Schedule regular time to deliberately review your/teams’ direction and progress; cadence will vary but I’ve found 15-30 mins weekly works well.
Your map will be well and truly out of your bag and you can course correct before you get lost.
People (esp GenZ) increasingly want their work to have a positive impact (not just £££)
At least initially, AI is being used to supplement (rather than replace) humans: ‘co-creation’:
AI-generated fortune cookie sayings are entertaining “Today is a good day to carve marble”
Banana & bacon do go surprisingly well together in cupcakes (an AI-generated flavour combo) – but, for now, we still need a human baker to tweak quantities and produce
Therefore, the ability to work alongside the machines is key – perhaps leveraging their computational/combination power for idea generation and then filtering the results
“Remember, there’s always a human inside the machine” Be it human thinking/empathy factored into an algorithm or a real person within a company/system.
The social impact of this tech disruption is real but often not very visible e.g. subtle/slow shifts in gender/regional balance
Lily the selfie-taking robot doesn’t care if you are in the middle of your keynote – she will interrupt anyone – she has an important job to do – now smile for the camera 🙂
“Alexa, ask Dominos to feed me” works! Consumer tech is super excited about voice-first (think smart speakers/siri/Alexa etc.)
Neural networks are already producing eye-opening results. Try entering partial song lyrics into this gem and see what you get
RECURRING THEME: why hasn’t productivity increased with this amazing tech (in our pockets)? My thought – we just haven’t got the hang of it yet – e.g. simply being more deliberate with how we use our time
In the ideal space for facilitating meetings you can write on every wall. Ideas emerge from the recesses of our brains into the world for all to visualise and interact with. Pictures do tell thousands of words. And people love getting up and moving around. Plus, the cost of mistakes is zero; just wipe and start again.
The reality is that most meeting rooms I encounter have a pretty measly setup; one small flip-chart and a whiteboard if I’m lucky.
So now I carry this cunning innovation; Magic Whiteboard is A1 size flip-chart paper that sticks to any surface (static charge) and is wipe clean. It instantly turns any meeting space into a facilitator’s dream.
Cycling in dark, cold and rain to work through central London. Passed by a Bentley. Glanced sideways. Looked warm and comfy. Next car past was a Porche, then another, then another. Looked around for the Top Gear film crew. Rough calc of £200k+ in 4 cars. And me on my Halfords bike in the rain.
And it hit me. I wouldn’t swap places for all the tea in china. I’m happy with me, my life, my beautiful wife, my newborn daughter, my choices, my priorities, my struggles and my shortcomings.
No sour grapes, no envy, just ambivalence. In fact, if I’m completely honest, there was a little grin. I smiled. Awesome car, I thought, but you’ve been mugged. That car is making up for something. The car marketing squad have sold you a dream that isn’t yours. In the Top five regrets of the dying no-one mentioned cars. Did they?
Our priorities define us. They shape our actions, habits, character and destiny. Best make sure they are really our priorities and not the marketing man’s or anyone else’s.
Cycling to work through London. 8 miles each way and plenty to take in. Cyclists leaving the train station starting from cold. Balancing the desire for a brisk tempo to generate some warmth with eyes and brain that adjust slowly to the early morning darkness..
Traffic is sparse and good tempered at 7am – no-one is late yet.
The park is full of runners, fitness clubs, walkers. Cycle lanes busy with the sounds of derailleurs, chains, sharp intakes of icy morning air and occasional bells warning errant pedestrians.
It’s the traffic lights where you notice it. Cyclists are not immune. The jostling for prime position, ignoring a red, taking a shortcut on the pavement. To gain an advantage. Over whom? Or what?
I know my PB. 34:03 in the morning and 40:19 in the evening. I know my average speed. The app on my phone tells me when I have set a PB for the ride or for one of the segments. Sometimes it tells me I am “King of the Mountain”. Ha! In London.
I can’t help wondering how many of the daily commuters I pass are also watching the clock. And how this alters our behaviour in subtle ways. The tight overtake, squeezing through a gap, the token indication manoeuvre.
Personal Best – it feels like a misnomer. Personal fastest – yes. But what about personal safest? Personal happiest? Most enjoyable? Most scenic? Smoothest? Fewest lights? Least traffic? Most variety? Most smiles from taxi drivers?
What you measure is what you get. Be careful out there.
Commuting home on the tube… Listening to an old Zane Lowe podcast about the Beastie Boys (downloaded automagically overnight). Reminds me of my very first cassette – Licensed to Ill. I check Spotify and download the whole album using the train station wifi.
Now on the train I play the album. The opening riff from the first track reminds me of Led Zep’s “When the levee breaks”. Never noticed that before. (Too young back then?) Search for the original on Spotify to compare. Ah yes, LZ not on Spotify… What’s this?
Google search confirms the BB track has a direct sample. We all know that everything is a remix anyway, don’t we?
I write a note to get my ideas straight and retrace my tech/app/connection & curiosity steps. How did I stumble upon London Philharmonic? Blog worthy? Maybe not. But a good test of the WordPress mobile app.
What’s the point? Tech as an enabler for serendipity? Or how commuting ‘dead time’ is now up for grabs? Does it matter? Something eloquent about hyper-connectivity. Wait, about to head through Shiplake – goodbye data…