Monday Video: Small Gestures Are Worth It

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Via Bernie DeKoven on Google+ comes this fabulous video about how the South African hamburger chain, Wimpys, rolled out their new Braille restaurant menus. Bernie has the talent for finding things that make me smile, but this one goes deeper as well.

I was tempted to use U2’s amazing video of their song about Martin Luther King (1984) as for my “Monday Video” as today is the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday here in the US. But I like the actions of the Wimpy video. Actions that speak, as they say, louder than words. Watch first:


The opening bit is “small gestures are worth it.” In all my years facilitating and leading, the story of the ACTION almost always comes back to small gestures. It may be big or small ideas that get us going, but the small gestures get us there.

My early geographical community leadership work found legs when I learned things like mirroring to better hear and understand what others were saying – usually with a small gesture that started with eye contact, leaning in to listen, and paraphrasing to work towards understanding. When I first started facilitating online around 1997, the simple act of welcoming and reciprocating opened up the magic of text based asynchronous conversation. As I returned to more face to face meeting facilitation, again the gestures of showing that I was listening, of helping make the act of “being heard, seen and loved” central to group interaction proved powerful. More powerful than any method or tool.

I’m sure you have stories of the power of small gestures. I’d love to read them in a comment or through a link. ūüėČ

Sometimes small gestures take the tiniest amounts of thought and energy. Sometimes they are deep, profound gifts (like placing sesame seeds on a bun to spell in Braille.) What I know, is they are worth it. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Questions That Frame Responsibility

I subscribe to the Strachan-Tomlinson Question of the Week email which sends out a provocative question (or form of question). They get me thinking and help me with one of THE most important facilitation/leadership/working skills I know of: asking questions. I’m not great at asking questions and am always seeking to improve my practice.

I have been intrigued by questions that help frame responsibility in a group, rather setting up an expectation that the convenors, facilitators, leaders, whatever — are responsible for everything. That is rubbish. This week’s question does that for me:

Question of the week | January 11, 2012

Ask “What is one thing you do not want to see happen
in this session”

This question enables participants to voice their concerns and contribute to norm setting in a group. Responses may also yield potential insights for the facilitator about previous group process experiences of participants. To bring this discussion to a positive conclusion, ask participants what they need to do to avoid what they don’t want to see happen in a session. This will result in people setting positive norms for working together. See Making Questions Work, Chapter 4, “Questions for Opening a Session”, p 88.

This reminds me of a question Peter Block¬† asked at the Nexus for Change gathering in 2008. It was something to the effect of “if this meeting (project, etc) were to be a failure, what would your role be in that failure? The guts of these questions all point to the idea of everyone getting “skin in the game.” Owning it. Not simply applauding or rejecting from the side. IN THE GAME. It is too easy to sit back and criticize. It is harder to foster the conditions, to create the invitation and ask the questions that get them to engage and own it. That’s why I like these questions.

For more on questions and methods that encourage ownership and responsibility, see:

Updates from Communities and Networks Connection

I’m continuing cleaning up and adapting my ¬†technology configuration¬†this week. Here is part 2!

I confess, I don’t pay nearly enough attention to all the good things flying past me, including things on my own Communities and Networks Connection. In case this is new to you, this is an aggregation project led by Tony Karrer. He set up a system that lets me curate content from a wide variety of bloggers interested in communities and networks (If you¬†aren’t¬†on the list and want to be, drop me a line!). Tony just let me know that¬†Aggregage, the platform that powers has some new features that are now on the¬†¬†Communities and Networks Connection. ¬†Announcing the PERSONALIZATION ENGINE! That means that Communities and Networks Connection now allows you to sign-up and have your content personalized based on their interests. You can sign-up via the “Personalize Your Content” button on the right side of the interface shown on the right side of the picture on the right (right, right?).

Tony has explained it well on his site, so I’m quoting the master. He refers to his own aggregation site,¬†eLearning Learning¬†

Now with personalization it’s even better. The picture below gives a sense of what’s happening:


Curators handle finding the best sources of content.  The system then uses social signals such as those coming from Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, delicious as well as clicks and views.  These are compared to averages for the source and also looks at who is providing the signal, how often they signal things, how often they signal for that particular source, etc.  Those aspects existed before and it does a good job of finding great content.  You can read a bit more about these aspects in eLearning Learning Launches New Features.

What’s new now is that the site allows you to sign up and provide your Twitter and LinkedIn information.¬†¬† The site will look at your activity on these sites and the content of what you share.¬† It will use that to find interests as well as to cluster you with other users who are like you based on interests and sharing.¬† You can partially control your interests via the Subscription page as shown below:


This will change over time based on your LinkedIn and twitter activity.  You can always visit and manually select interests as well.  You can read a bit more here: Personalization Explained.

The system then can combine three pieces of information to figure out what will be most interesting to you:

  • Social signal score ‚Äď are people in the audience finding it interesting
  • Topic match ‚Äď does it match up with your interests
  • Like sharing ‚Äď are individuals who are like you sharing this

The system uses these to both rank things on the site and to generate Daily and Weekly newsletters.

The reason that I’m most exited about this is that I partly use eLearning Learning to make sure I don’t miss things that is good content that is relevant to me.¬† Now with personalization, it is even less likely that something will sneak by.

I also personally like the format of the new newsletter.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

So I’ll add my pitch – give it a try and let me ¬†know what you think. In the mean time, here is the best of Communities and Networks Connection¬†2011

Hot Topics for 2011
2011 (4593)
People (2501)
Social (2225)
Share (1603)
Sharing (1603)
World (1555)
Change (1546)
Networks (1534)
Community (1515)
Difference (1467)
Business (1431)
Development (1425)
Management (1349)
May (1324)
Media (1298)
Information (1296)
Open (1240)
P2P (1220)
Learning (1191)
Groups (1181)

Visual New Year’s Resolutions from Woody Guthrie (and Steve)

I meant to post this 10 days ago — natch, but here it is…
Take a look at these new years resolutions from Woody Guthrie¬†which came via my friend Steve, who is really smart and seems to resonate with the universe in some mysterious way. ūüėČ

new years resolutions from woody guthrie - omenti

I don’t do resolutions per se. But I have been cleaning my office. ūüėČ And blogging more! (At least until the travel ramps up again.)

Happy New Years!


P.S. See Diego Leal’s New Years video here: ¬†

New Year, New Technology Configuration

Cleaning the messy office. Cleaning closets. And reviewing my personal technology configuration. In my current case, I’m talking more hardware than software! That’s what I’ve been doing over the slow weeks of early January before client work tends to kick in (and yes, I’m available!)

After cleaning up my office (lots of paper recycled and still two drawers of articles printed off from the net that I can’t quite let go of, organizing accounting stuff, etc…) the next thing I had to deal with is my internet service. I’ve had DSL, orginally through the beloved Speakeasy, but now part of Megapath. I loved the localness and great customer service of Speakeasy, but after about a year of their VoIP service for my phone I started having problems. And they said I needed to buy more bandwidth. I was stubborn. They sold me the package based on the level I bought and it SHOULD work, right? So I dithered for another year, contemplated moving to Quest Fiber, but once CenturyLink took over the complaints scared me away. That left me with Comcast. Sigh. I resisted for years. But we have Comcast for TV service (I am married to a television fan). ¬†So after researching, I took the plunge.

But, if I canceled my old Speakeasy internet and phone for my business, I still needed phone service. Comcast pitches the old “six months at a reasonable price,” then it¬†balloons. And I don’t use my phone THAN much. So I decided to follow the advice of Eugene Kim (now at his new venture, Groupaya) and port my business line to GoogleVoice, then use the OBI110 device¬†(Amazon associate link – full disclosure)¬† to bridge Google Voice to my regular phone handset (not needed the computer to be on for calls). There are a few little twists to this process, which Eugene has generously captured on his wiki. This link is particularly helpful if you have to port a land line into Google voice via a mobile line, as Google does not port land lines.

So far so good. I purchased the required cable modem as directed by Comcast (Motorola SB6121 SURFboard DOCSIS 3.0). Check. Bought a new router as my two year old router has been needed more frequent resets. (Linksys E3200 High-Performance ) Check. Scheduled install of Comcast 20MBS service for yesterday.  Check.  Clean out the stereo cabinet where I hope to put all this equipment (and free a little more room in my micro-office.) Check.

Delay leaving for meeting Sunday afternoon to be there when the Comcast tech arrived and … Comcast was a no show. Somehow, it seems, our appointment was cancelled. Now rescheduled for Thursday. Grrr. Am I going to regret this choice?

Today I still went ahead with the line porting. I got a cheap TMobile pay per use sim card, popped it in my old Tmobile handset (unlocked that I use for travel), and ported my business phone to my mobile. That took about 2 days. Today I started the porting process to Google Voice. Now I have to learn the ins and outs of GoogleVoice, how to get¬†voice mail¬†and all the myriad of options. Mamma mia. It ain’t simple.

Then I set up the OBI110¬†and tested my phone with it. The audio quality was terrible with lots of breakup, but I suspect this is an exacerbation of the problem I’m having with my VoiP from Megapath, so I can’t judge the sound quality until the new internet service arrives. Yes, I’m impatient. I also need to assess if the headset I’m using is fried, further deteriorating sound quality. I’m hard on headsets.

But wait- that’s not the only change. I have been frustrated a the current limitation of our home audio/video system. I want to stream music from my computer, I want to get rid of half the devices cluttering up our tiny living room and I want to bring more music into my daily life, not just when I’m at my computer. So we bought ourselves an 28th anniversary present of a Sony home music system (Sony BDV-E780W Blu-Ray Disc Player Home Entertainment System which we got on sale much cheaper than the current Amazon price – yay! But it still hasn’t shipped. Boo. ) which will replace the Roku box, the BlueRay DVD player, the old Onkyo tuner ¬†and trigger my husband to finally remove the VCR that isn’t working from the stack! The five small speakers will replace the huge, ancient (well used, loved and now not so great) speakers, freeing up more space in the micro-living room. We’ll be Freecycling the speakers.

The router I bought has a USB port and I plan to put a large external hard drive on that as my file back up (and if I can configure it with some of the constraints I’ve heard about Comcast) be able to access some of my key files from the road. Then I can also transfer all my audio library so I can stream to the new wifi enabled stereo and play on another remote speaker that, natch, came free with the stereo set. I understand that there are some format constraints with Sony (and which almost caused me NOT to buy it, but it was a weak moment, what can I say.)

The final part of my configuration update will be a new desktop. Since my computer is essential business equipment, I tend to replace it every 2-3 years, donating my old computer to Interconnection here in Seattle. They make it free and easy. Thank you, folks! I bought an iPad2 last summer – my first Apple product — and I hate to admit it, but I love it and use it. A lot. Which has me considering an Apple product to replace my pee-cee. For years, the money I invested in PC software was a major barrier, but I’m doing more and more in the cloud. I open Office much less often and everything else I can use on a Mac. So should I do it? What is the migration path? I have gone to the Apple store a few times considering MacBook pros hooked into my existing ViewSonic 21 inch monitor. Or the slimmer MacBook Airs. But to be honest, where I travel in my work, I rarely have secure places to lock up computers and I hate carrying that much money around. So I travel with cheap netbooks. So do I need a laptop? Why not an iMac all in one? SOOO many decisions. I have not decided on this last step and missed my December 31 deadline (for accounting purposes) so I’m sitting with the question. There is no urgency. It may, however, impact how I set up my remote drive on the hub. Hmmm…

It is no wonder my mom calls me every time she needs to change her tech configuration, or why my husband has me do most of it for him. This takes a lot of time and consideration.  Technology stewardship is not for wusses! Even for me, who helped write the book.

How do you manage your personal technology configuration? Any tips or breakthroughs? Please, SHARE!