Recap of a few recent presentations

Over the last couple of months I have been fairly busy on the speaking side of things.  Here is a quick look at some of the topics I have been talking about:

Negotiation

A few weeks ago I delivered a guest lecture at QUT in the postgraduate Negotating Across Bordersclass.  This was a really good session that was supposed to last 30 minutes, but ended up going for 90 as we dug into my experience negotiating in the real world – house purchases, complaining to teleco’s, pay reviews and more. 

OfficeDevCon09 – Getting Productive (and getting a return) on Microsoft Office and SharePoint

This session was delivered at the community run OfficeDevCon conference, which this year was held in Brisbane.  Great turn out (not a spare seat in the house)… although I did get some feedback that the session was “Too Interactive”…

 

View more presentations from Paul Woods.

TechEd Australia – OFC102 - Productivity for the IT Pro, and The Productivity Myth (TechEd Online Tech Talk)

Microsoft TechEd Australia rolled around again this year on the Gold Coast, and I was lucky enough to not only  be a speaker in the Office Track, but also recorded a short video on my earlier post – “the Productivity Myth” with Alistair Speirs.

View more presentations from Paul Woods.
The tech talk recording on “The Productivity Myth”

The productivity myth

This post has been boiling up in side me for a long time…  born out of the frustration of watching friends, family, workmates, associates, management, businesses, training providers, productivity gurus… in fact everyone getting the productivity thing wrong.

<puts on flame proof jacket – this might will polarise some people>

Here are a few simple facts that I am sure you will agree with that will set the context for what I am about to talk about.

  • No matter how hard you try, you always have too much to do, and not enough time to do it.
  • No matter how hard you try, almost every meeting you walk out of at work, you leave knowing you could have spent your time better.
  • No matter how hard you try, you can not seriously tell me that you actually work at at 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 or 100% of your best when you are in the office.

Let’s talk about increasing productivity…

When people are looking to “increase their productivity”, most flock to productivity gurus and their simple, yet complicated systems.  These systems are all very clear when you read them in the book (purchased in an Airport bookstore for $19.95), but when you try to put them into practice you usually find that they cause you to be less productive.

And I will be honest.  I have been there.  Religiously I scan the bookshelves for the magic productivity bullet every time I have 5 minutes to spare in an airport/bookstore/amazon.com.  Here are a few of my experiences…

Productive meetings? MYTH!

There is the one book about getting the most out of meetings.  Great.  The idea is fantastic… of course I want to get in, get the information/actions I need and get the hell out.  But guess what?  To achieve that meeting utopia you are relying on everyone else in the meeting to feel the same way. 

And we all know that the chances of that happening exponentially decrease as you add more people around the table.

In fact… more than 2 people (and in some cases more than one!), and I am fairly certain that you are wasting your time.

Productive work environment?  MYTH!

I love the ones about setting up the perfect work environment.  You know what I am talking about – make sure that your desk is pointing in the right direction – your pens (two blue, one black, and one red) are in the right spot just beside your stationery holder – your filing cabinet is of the two draw variety (with appropriate Foolscap Manilla folders and hanging  and within 1.2m of the centreline of your swivel chair.

They are a great way to sell more office furniture.  I wonder if anyone has actually gone to management and demanded office furniture reform throughout their multinational based on some unquantified position that productivity will improve.  Pity it will only work for those who are between 5’6 and 5’8 tall who perform the same ‘robotic’ tasks (sorry to all those full time filers out there!)

Productive workload management? MYTH!

What about GTD?  I have tried Getting Things Done – and it worked. 

For about a week. 

Then, like most I am sure, I lost track, I lost focus, I got distracted by… you guessed it… ACTUALLY DOING WORK.

GTD definitely has its merits in helping you organise how you are going to tackle the work you need to tackle (if you are one of the few in the population who can maintain a steadfast focus on the system)…

But all that GTD is doing is removing wasted time between tasks (or making sure you only have to do what you have to do).  There is still a big fat hole in that productivity story…

How about we actually DO SOME WORK?

How do you complete the WORK you need to complete in a more productive way?  How can you get the outcomes and the deliverables you need to deliver more efficiently and effectively? 

GTD can’t help you with that (unless you are a manager and are delegating work). 

What about productivity for those at the bottom of the corporate hierarchy?  The ones who are micro managed.  The ones that are project managed.  The ones that sell, service and deliver to your customers

The people that productivity systems just don’t (and can’t) work for?

This is my problem with productivity as we know it…

Everything you see is ALL about managing your workload, not actually completing it!

The worst part is, this is breading a workplace full of what I like to call “The Teflon Army”.  You know exactly who I am talking about – the ones where nothing sticks.  Always delegating work, always passing the buck. 

But to members of the Teflon Army, they are just being productive.  It is funny though, they will always have the time to tell you just how busy they are!

So what is the solution? 

Well first we should define what we are trying to achieve.  To me, in today’s information economy we are all trying to do two things, and two things alone.

  1. Capture our ideas/experience/expertise… and
  2. Share them like crazy!

Simple as that.  If you work in an office today – that is all you are employed to do. 

You work in a call centre?  You need to capture all the ideas, experience, and expertise in your head about the business and its processes, and then share it like crazy with the customer who just called you.

You work in a cubicle producing reports?  You need to capture all the ideas, experience, and expertise in your head about the best way to present this information, and then share it like crazy with your key stakeholders.

You are a CEO?  You need to capture all the ideas, experience, and expertise in your head to set a vision for your organisation, and then share it like crazy with the people who need to make it a reality.

So how can you capture and share in a more productive way?

You might not realise this, and it may shock you (especially if you love buying and getting half way through reading productivity books), but EVERYTHING YOU NEED to increase your productivity by at least 100% right in front of you.

That’s right.  All there in front of you.  100% increase.  Guaranteed.

Well… let me rephrase that.  You have the tools you need.  There is one thing that is missing – the knowledge to extract as much value out of them as you can.

And that is what frustrates me sooooooooooooooooooooo much.  Everyone has the opportunity to get so much more out of their work day.  To do more with the same, or even better… to do the same with less.

Everyone has the opportunity to get work OUT OF THE WAY so you can focus on what is really important in life!  You know – those things you never have the TIME to worry about.  Friends… family… actually enjoying life!

Let me ask you a few more questions:

  • Do you know how to use the 20% of features in Microsoft Office / Open Office / Star Office / Google Apps that have the potential save you literally HOURS every week?  Like the feature that has been in Word since 1992 that will change your world and save you time every time you use it.  The one you could use EVERY TIME you create a document.  The one that has been sitting right in front of you, staring at you for almost 18 years and you still don’t know about it!
  • Do you know how to use the features of your desk telephone or mobile phone to connect with people in the most efficient way?

I will let you know the truth.  You don’t.  No one does.  And again that is what frustrates me.  We have these great tools at our fingertips, and yet NO ONE USES THEM!

The problem?  Probably the start of another rant – training and communication.

Training courses are great and telling you about ALL the features, but they don’t tell you how to actually use these tools to be more productive!

It doesn’t take a 5 day advanced Word course (@$2500 a pop) to be productive with Word. 

And when was the last time someone ran through with you some of the productive features of your desk phone – you know, the ones that help you connect with people to SHARE YOUR IDEAS!

Seriously, how many times have you been sitting there twiddling your thumbs as you wait watching someone struggle to connect a conference call?  Me? EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!!!

I am going to put some numbers out here.  This is gut feel.  There isn’t any empirical evidence.  This is purely based on what I know from watching the people around me.

It takes 20 minutes to learn the 2% of your favourite “productivity tool” that will get you 50% of the potential productivity impact.  It will take you an hour to learn the next 20% that will get you 80% of the potential productivity impact to tool could have on your day.

The rest… well… is just being unproductive.

Do you agree?  Do you disagree?  Follow me on twitter @paulwoods, and make sure you comment below.  I am ready to start a productivity revolution – and I need your support.

Paul W

2009 Microsoft MVP Award

This morning I received an email from Microsoft…

Dear Paul Woods,

Congratulations! We are pleased to present you with the 2009 Microsoft® MVP Award! This award is given to exceptional technical community leaders who actively share their high quality, real world expertise with others. We appreciate your outstanding contributions in Word technical communities during the past year.

The Microsoft MVP Award provides us the unique opportunity to celebrate and honor your significant contributions and say "Thank you for your technical leadership."

Toby Richards

General Manager
Community Support Services

My first thought… It must be the first time anyone has said Thank you for your technical leadership”  to a Marketer! :)

Seriously though, I am very honoured and humbled to be presented with this award – officially for my contribution to the Word 2007 community through my little pet project – http://www.thenewpaperclip.com/.   Thank you to the folk at the MVP program at Microsoft, thank you to Alistair who I am sure is behind my nomination, and thank you to the almost 300 000 people who visited The New Paperclip last year to overcome their challenges with Office 2007.  This is for you!

First it was 30percent.com.au, now 50percent.com.au

So the other day I wrote here about a new site that we have launched – 30percent.com.au – which is all about the Government’s proposed 30% Investment Tax Break for small businesses and general business.

Well tonight during the Budget, the unthinkable happened.  They changed it to a 50% tax break for small businesses, and extended the time that small businesses are eligible for this unreal tax break!

So if you are not looking for information specific to the 50% Small Business Investment Tax Break, you can find it all at 50percent.com.au.

… and my experiment in small, fast, and low cost online entrepreneurship continues :)

Introducing 30percent.com.au – your guide to the 30% Investment Tax Break

If you are an Australian business owner, a business person, or just someone interested in entrepreneurship, you will more than likely have heard of the Federal Government’s proposed 30% Investment  Tax Break.

For those who missed it, back in February, our Prime Minister (Kevin Rudd), as part of his economic stimulus package announced the Small Business and General Business Tax Break.  Essentially, it means that if you are a small business (with revenue less than $2 million /year), you can claim an additional 30% tax allowance for investments in eligible tangible assets over $1 000.  Any other business can claim the allowance as long as the investment is over $10 000.

The catch is, that the investment needs to be made before 30 June 2009, and the asset needs to be installed and in use by 30 June 2010.

Whilst the announcement was welcomed by many, the fact of the matter is that the legislation that makes it a reality – the Tax Laws Amendment (Small Business and General Business Tax Break) Bill 2009 – still hasn’t passed through the parliament.  This has lead to not only hesitation, but also confusion in the business community.

I saw this as a great opportunity to build some content that helps reduce that confusion, and gives Australian business owners – small business owners in particular – enough easily understandable information that they can confidently have a conversation about the tax break with their accountant.  The outcome – 30percent.com.au

It is also an experiment in small, fast, and low cost online entrepreneurship which I will blog about at a later time.  Obviously there is a little design work to do (which will happen over the next week), but getting the content flowing was the first goal.

Aussie business owners – I am keen to hear your feedback on 30percent.com.au – email me paul@paul-woods.com with what you like and what you don’t like!

Ummm… Hi there

I can’t believe it.  It has been 163 days since I last posted here – how embarrassing!

I was going to give you all an update on what has been happening over the last 5 months, but I started writing it and to be honest – it wasn’t that interesting!  Work hard, play hard pretty much sums it up!

No need to dwell on that though – lets look at the future and plenty more posts on marketing, technology and entrepreneurship!

Paul W

Presenting at OfficeDevCon08

Last weekend Kerrina and I took a little side trip down to Sydney.  I had the opportunity to present at an event called OfficeDevCon08 about all things Office 2007.  It turned out to be a great community event, with somewhere between 100 and 150 people attending at Microsoft Australia HQ at North Ryde.

I delivered two presentations.  The first presentation was about comparing all the different business productivity suites that are out there in the market.  I called it the “Office Suite Smackdown!”

The second presentation I delivered was all about the frustrations that we all face when we first move to Office 2007, and how to avoid them.  I called it (funnily enough) “The 10 Most Common Office 2007 User Frustrations, and how to avoid them”.

Make sure you check the presentations out (thanks to SlideShare.net!) – however due to my presentation style they might seem a little confusing without me jumping around in front of a projector!  If you want to dive deeper into all things Office 2007, especially if you are looking for help – check out my site over at www.thenewpaperclip.com.

By the way.. a big hello to Microsoft MVPs Lucy Thomson and Glen Millar, as well as Microsoftie Alistair Speirs for their sparkling repartee over beers on Saturday night :)

Where have I been?

Yep… I have been pretty slack recently.  Especially where this blog is concerned.

To start with – work has been very busy recently.  Which is a great thing – but unfortunately when push comes to shove deadlines at work mean less time to post here.

Another reason why is that we have been overseas for a good part of this quarter.  32 days away from Australia touring Canada and the US – which was absolutely amazing.

We wrote about our travels on our “Northern Exposure” blog – http://holiday.paul-woods.com, and if you are keen you can catch the top 250 or so photos on Flickr.

One piece of advice for anyone thinking of taking 5 weeks leave…  it takes about 3 weeks to get your motivation back at work!  So make sure anything important gets done before you go!

The final reason why things have been slow on the www.paul-woods.com front is that I have been posting my thoughts fairly regularly on Twitter – 140 characters at a time.  You can follow me too – @paulwoods is where you will find my riffs on marketing, technology, and life .

So what is coming up for Paul?  Stay tuned for more.

Photosynth at the Amberley Air Show

Last weekend our local Air Force base (RAAF Amberley) hosted the semi-regular Defence Force Air Show. 

Usually I would just take a heap of photos of flying aircraft and leave them on my PC to have a look at every now and then, but this time I thought I would experiment with Microsoft Photosynth

For those that don’t know, Photosynth allows you to create 3D representations of environments with the photos that you take.  Pretty cool (Very cool infact!). 

I tried two different strategies to create the perfect Photosynth.  First was to walk around the static displays taking as many shots from as many angles as possible.  If only I had actually read up on how Photosynth “Photosynths” Photos.  I thought it matched edges.  But in fact it matches textures.  I had thought it would work just like a panoramic photo, but it didn’t.  Instead of getting away with a 10-15% overlap, I really needed 50%!  Bummer!  Oh well, here are a few examples that kind of worked.

(TIP – if you use what look like forward and back buttons on the top right hand side of the boxes below you will see all the different synth sets created, not just the photos in the synthiest part of the synth… if you know what I mean!)

Static Display of Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster and Two United States Air Force Fighters

Inside a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster

Walking around a Royal Australian Air Force P3 Orion

 

After spending 3 hours walking around the static displays (some multiple times), the flying displays began.  I thought it would be a great opportunity to see if I can do the “lazy mans photosynth”  I planned to take plenty of photos of aircraft as they flew past, and because it was a beautiful day with a great blue sky – I figured Photosynth would love these photos. 

Well it kind of worked – not across 15 or 20 frames like I hoped, but more like two or three.  You can see my examples below.

I think if I upgrade my camera from a Canon 300d (which does something like 3fps from memory) to something a bit faster (like 12 frames per second) this might work.

Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster in flight

 

Are you playing with Photosynth yet?  Have you tried anything out of the box like the “lazy man’s photosynth”? If you have I would love to see how you have gone.