Repetitive Redundancy and the Search For New

Search Help By misterbisson on flickrI’ve been reading a lot of new blogs lately.

Not really sure what I’ve been looking for, but I feel like something is missing. I feel like I’ve been reading and writing about the same thing over and over (and over).

So I’ve been surfing around reading a bunch and really good stuff in the interwebz – most has been around topics not related to my core areas of IT and  technology.

I worked my way through tons of blogs and read some great posts…but there was something in my subconscious gnawing at me.

I wasn’t really sure what that something was until later when I jumped over to my Hootsuite tab to take a glance at what was going on in twitter-land. The stream looked kind of slow and repetitive so I jumped over to one of my saved CIO & IT streams that I like to look at for ideas for new posts and it seemed repetitive to me too.

And then it hit me. I realized what I’d been searching for. I was searching for something new.

That’s what my blog surfing was all about. Something new. New insights. New stories. New directions.

And my CIO / IT twitter stream helped highlight it for me.

Why?

With no disrespect meant to anyone on the stream, what I was seeing felt like the same thing I’ve been seeing on the stream for many months. Lots of people talking about the same things. Cloud computing. Virtualization. IT Leadership. IT Innovation. Alignment. Etc Etc.

Don’t get me wrong…all excellent topics and all worthy of discussion…but I don’t see anything new out there. Nor do I see any real change happening. I see a lot of people talking about the need for new thinking, re-thinking and innovation in IT. I see people talking about aligning business with IT.

But…all things that have been talked about for months and years. Has there been any real progress on any of these topics?

Oh sure…I’d like to think there are plenty of people out there making these things happen in the real world…but I haven’t run across anyone really talking about the “new IT”. I haven’t seen anyone talking about the real-world implementation of the Re-imagined IT group. I’ve yet to see any new case studies or new stories about real-world IT groups taking the reigns and leading innovation within the business or recreating themselves to make the ‘new’ IT a reality.

Am I just missing these stories? Or…are those stories just not there? Perhaps all of us blogging and tweeting about it are just talking amongst ourselves while the real IT pros out there are keeping their head down and doing their jobs to the best of their ability.

So…what’s my point with this post?

Its not really a critique of the IT & CIO bloggers and twtitterers….er…tweeterers….er…twits…er whatever the name is. Not at all….I love reading these guys. Heck…I love writing about IT, the New CIO and other topics. I grew up in IT and technology and will continue to write about these topics.

But I have to ask….is it doing any good?

Is the stuff I’ve been writing about, thinking about and reading about for the last few years doing any good? Are we making any difference in the ‘real world’? I’d like to think we are but for some reason I keep seeing the same topics repeated year after year.

That repetition tells me that most in the IT world are working too hard to ‘keep the lights on’ and a lot of what is being written about is ignored. Does this mean all of us bloggers and writers are just talking amongst ourselves? Or are we just not hitting the topics that real-world technologists and IT pro’s are looking for so they can do their jobs better? Or…am I just missing out on the real deep case studies from those companies that are doing the things we are all talking about?

I realized what my subconscious was telling me. I’ve been subconsciously searching for something new. New topics for IT. New Topics for CIO’s. New topics in marketing / technology. New topics for you and for me 🙂

I’d love your thoughts on the subject…what are some new topics that you’d like to see covered in IT, Marketing, Project Management and Technology?

Image credit – Search Help By misterbisson on flickr

Chris Brogan on Writing

I’m a big fan of writing and I’m always working on improving my writing. I read everything I can find about writing and am always on the lookout for new thoughts on how to improve my writing.

I found an interesting take on the subject written by Chris Brogan titled “Cultivating a Writing Habit“.  Great post…jump over and read…I’ll wait. 🙂

Chris’ approach is a fairly simple method: Read, Write, Write.

  • Read – Read more.  Read everything you can.  Read things that you wouldn’t normally read.
  • Write – Write all day regardless of whether you are in front of a computer or with paper…write in your head.  Think about what you can write and/or how to reword something.
  • Write – Write daily. Write often.  Write as much as you can.

Nothing earth shattering here but Chris does gives us a glimpse into his writing regime.

If you don’t know Chris, look him up…he’s quite well know in the Social Media world and is considered to be one of the SM experts.   He’s a prolific writer and his blog posts are always well thought out and well developed…definitely someone to listen to on the subject of writing.

There are some excellent tips on Chris’ blog…great ideas for improving your writing (and mine!).

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Dealing with Darwin

Ever see a book in the bookstore that catches your attention and you realize it was a best-seller sometime in the past?  You realize you never picked it up to read it and decide that you should?

That’s what happened when I ran across Dealing with Darwin: How Great Companies Innovate at Every Phase of Their Evolution by Geoffrey Moore.

I heard about this book when it was released in 2005 and always meant to read it…but just never did.  Whilst perusing the local Half-Price Books, I decided I’d pick it up and read it…because I’m a book nerd, there is a dinosaur on the cover and I saw what I thought were fractals in the book! 🙂

I got the book home and started reading…and I made it to page xii in the preface to the paperback edition before realizing I may have made a mistake buying this book.  What happened?

I read this passage:

The key message is simple. In order to achieve competitive advantage in a commoditizing market, one must innovate so dramatically as to create definitive seperation between your offers and those of the low-cost commoditizers. That means selecting a vector of innovation that can set you apart and investing intensely along that vector…

Huh?  The key message is simple but the author makes the message difficult to understand.

Why didn’t Mr. Moore just say: To gain competitive advantage, you need to separate yourself from your competitor by choosing an innovation path and investing in that path.

After reading this passage, I was very very skeptical about the rest of the book.  Especially after this passage immediately following the above one:

Extract resource from context to fund core.

What does that mean?

There are some great ideas in this book but those ideas are often overshadowed by verbosity (as shown above) and/or using contextual language that makes little sense outside of the context of the book.

The book does do a good job of outlining the different types of innovation (e.g., disruptive, product,platform, etc). The author does a good job of describing the process of looking at the marketplace to determine how to attack innovation. The framework that Moore lays out is very useful and intriguing and is worth studying in further detail. Again, the author does know his stuff.

That said, the book is a difficult read.  If you are serious about innovation and competitive advantage, you should read this book..but be prepared to re-read many pages/sections.  I found myself stopping every  few paragraphs and trying to comprehend what I just read.

Is there anyone out there that has read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it?   Am I being to harsh on this book?  Could it be that I’m getting cranky in my old age? 🙂

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Zinsser’s Writing to Learn

For those that caught my review of Zinsser’s On Writing Well, you may have noticed that I mentioned picking up Zinsser’s “Writing to Learn“.

This book is an easy read and is worth picking up if you’re interested in writing.  The book is less of a discussion of ‘how’ to ‘write to learn’ and more of an overview of ‘why’ you should ‘write to learn’.

The book is full of examples of good writing in many different topics.  The majority of the book is passages from authors in various fields surrounded by Zinsser’s commentary on why the passage is worth including.

I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this book like I did On Writing Well, but it is worth reading for those of you who are interested in the subject.

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On Writing Well

I just finished reading the 30th Anniversary Edition of On Writing Well by William K. Zinsser and I’m wiser for having read it.

I can sum this book up easily/quickly with this sentence:

If you want to improve your writing, buy this book…then write write write.

What a great book!

Up until this book I thought that writing ‘serious’ non-fiction was something for other people to do…those people with a better command of the english language that I.  I now realize that non-fiction doesn’t have to (and according to Zinsser shouldn’t be) a dry, boring tome.  Non-fiction can be fun and take many forms and styles.

Another thing I learned: Writing is hard….and it should be!  There are many times on this blog that I’ve done some ‘stream of consciousness’ writing and hit the “Publish” button and then later realized that I could have done so much more with the post if I’d just thought and did  some rewrites.  According to Zinsser, if you find yourself struggling with a piece you are writing, that means you are doing it right.

In this classic, Zinsser destroys the notion that a writer is someone ‘special’.  Anyone can write and write well.  But, it takes practice practice practice.

If you do any sort of writing or want to write, go buy this book immediately.  It’s only $11 at amazon but will bring you a hundred times that in value and knowledge.

I enjoyed this book so much, I bought Zinsser’s “Writing to Learn“…look for a review of that book soon.

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