Archive for the 'Research' Category

Right Brain people will be a-head in the future is one of the best internet resources I’ve ever come across for short, powerful and interesting inputs on a broad cross-section of topics that loosely fall into the categories of Technology, Environment and Design (TED). Most inputs have a future focus, and one of the themes I’ve often picked up on has to do with what we’ll need, as human beings, to compete in the future. Interestingly it’s not going to be only each other we have to compete against, it’s also going to be technology.

This is not unprecedented either. Over the last 200 years or so, many countries around the world have seen their workforce move from Industrial type activity to Service orientated activity. One statistic I’ve seen has the US population moving from a 98% industrial type workforce (1820) to just 2.5% (2000). There’s no doubt that technology’s new focus is in the service industry, as computers and machines take over roles people have filled. Call centers, processing departments, flying planes, medicine, education, tourism (think GPS and augmented reality), etc, etc.

So how do we compete? What will we do when technology replaces us once again? The response of many is that it will never happen, but it has before, and there’s no reason to think it wont again.

Dan Pink is a contributor at If you’ve seen him on TED then you’ll know his talk on re-thinking rewards and motivation. I was recently alerted to another short input of his on YouTube, via a friend on Twitter (@MJH1004)

In this input, ‘Education and the Changing World of Work, Pink suggests that left brain activity has dominated the way in which we’ve worked up until now. Of course, those of us with dominant left brain abilities have succeeded in this particular paradigm. Technology, however, is stepping into left brain spaces, leaving a massive need for right brain abilities (it will be all that’s left for us to do). It’s our right brain that is creative, sees opportunities where our left brain doesn’t. People with dominant right brains are the most valuable in this new world of work, suggests Pink.

Dan Pink isn’t the only one suggesting this. Another great TED input (my favourite) is by Sir Ken Robinson (recently released his book, The Element) talking about whether Schools Kill Creativity. He makes similar points.

Of course all the right brained people smile a little at this thought. They’re the ones who struggled at school and university. They’re the one’s who’ve battled to get ahead in traditional business models. They’ve been on the fringe for a long time. Labeled as outsiders, the weirdoes, the dreamers, the impractical, the nice-to-haves when you’re smoking a doobee, but the not-so-nice-to-haves when you’re trying to run the world. The idea of an about turn on who’s valuable into the future is an attractive fantasy for right brain dominated people. Let’s hope they dream less about that day, and instead work out how they’re going to capitalise on it : )

Here’s Dan Pink on Education and the Future World of Work.

Posted by Barrie Bramley on May 17th, 2010 .
Filed under: Research, Talent | No Comments »

The challenge of multiple communication channels

One of the challenges the internet has created is an unthinkable number of channels through which to broadcast. Of course none of us make use of every channel, but there is always someone using a channel we’re not. And so if you want to communicate to them the days of taking the attitude of ‘you just come to us’ is over. Chances are, because they’re not engaging with your channel is that they don’t even know about you. And so if you want to find them, you’ve got to insert yourself into their space. It doesn’t end there, because each channel requires a different format for your content. You don’t just write an article or record a podcast and hope it translates easily into each space. No! You’ve got to take whatever you start with and continually adjust it to whatever context you’re going to post it to.

And if you’re like me, then you’ve got a headache just thinking about the ‘how’ of taking your message to as many platforms as possible. What I have learned is that the ability to do this is getting easier and easier (in terms of tools available), and the more I learn about new channels the more competent I feel and become in my distribution efforts.

With that as a pre-amble, let me tell you about my latest adventure….

I took the e-zine article (Five Practical Steps to Retain Talent) that I produce for TomorrowToday each month (it gets sent to around 11 000 people via e-mail), posted it onto our blog, built a short presentation and built a video PodCast. The video file was then uploaded to iTunes and YouTube.

I don’t know if this sounds like a lot to you? It exhausted me. Took me 1.5 days to work it all out, learn new skills and get it all to a place I was reasonably happy with. Of course next time around it’ll take far less time and in my experience always better quality.

Here’s the video below from YouTube.

Posted by Barrie Bramley on April 16th, 2010 .
Filed under: Generations, Research, Stuff, Talent, Video, Work | No Comments »

Radical Parenting

Found this website, Radical Parenting, this morning following up some Twitter feeds.

Looks like a differently put together web site for parents in that you’ve got mostly, as far as I can see, teens writing. So it’s not an adult to adult site, it’s a teen to parent site. Very nice concept.

Seems to have had some good coverage and one of the articles I read was worth the read.

Go here if you want more.

Posted by Barrie Bramley on March 13th, 2010 .
Filed under: Research, Stuff | No Comments »

Communities and their peeps

I’ve become increasingly curious about the different types of people one finds in communities. and I wondered if there are others out there, equally curious, who are able to contribute to the list I’m about to create? Of course I may be misguided in this adventure, and perhaps you could set me on a more accurate and helpful path?

Having worked in various community based organisations, from Churches to Schools, from Community Committees to Anti – Child Abuse Forums, and now most recently attempting to be an active parent in our daughter’s school, I have observed that there are particular categories of people, who for varying reasons play out very different roles.

I’m interested in the why, how, where, what of all of this. I’m interested in who are the most useful, and who are the most destructive? Who makes a positive change, and who just makes noise? I’m interested in whether they’ve all got to be there to define a healthy community, or is it worth attempting to highlight this data for more people to join some groups and leave others? I’m also interested if these groupings play themselves out in business, or is it a community ‘thang’?

So here are some of my observations. For sure it’s not a definitive list, it’s just my list for today. To hopefully be added to, edited, and some even deleted tomorrow:

The Car Park Mom’s

This category is one I know has an official title. The rest below get my title, but this group, internationally, is known and can be identified by those in the community. They’re the ‘moms’ (and certainly include dads in spite of the name) that are accused of bitching and moaning, gossiping and criticising anything and everything that goes on. It’s suggested if you want the low down on anyone and anything, all you have to do is insert yourselves into this group and you’ll have all the data you need.

But what value fo they offer? They’re certainly intimidating in their togetherness, their volume of information (no matter how accurate) and therefore the ‘power’ they have in a community. Are they listened to by those with ‘real’ power? My feeling is that this group forms because they’re not listened to, don’t have a voice, feel powerless, and therefore attach themselves to this group in order to feel some sense of an ability to effect the change they’d like to see.

I often wonder if they see what others see? Are they aware of their label? And if so are the OK with it?

The Invisible Influential

I know from many of the community based organisations I have worked and participated within, that there is always a small but invisible group of very influential people, who are almost always behind the scenes, and enjoy an extra-ordinary ability to make things happen with very little effort on their part.

They don’t always move in a herd. They can often be very insulated and isolated characters. They’re the ‘God-Father’, the Illuminati, the decision makers behind the decision maker that we suspect are there, but just can’t prove.

My observation is that they get into this space because of one of the following or a combination of, wealth, position within the community, ability to get impressive things done, have a very big lever by way of something ‘dark’. This could be damning information, a real reputation that creates fear, etc.

The Tireless Workers

This group are often idealists. They trust the system, the processes and the elected leaders. They’re actively engaged. They volunteer to assist in making things happen. They have their own opinion, but will often allow it to be superseded by the wants and wishes of ‘the community’. They’re positive, cheerful, up-beat. The cynics look down on them as ‘push-overs’ and accuse them of being naive. But the truth is, that without them, most communities would come to a grinding halt.

Perhaps their biggest fault, is that, because of their enthusiastic involvement they can keep a bad idea, process or leadership body ‘alive’ far longer than it should ever have lived for.

I suspect that once they get ‘burned’ they step outside and join the ‘Car Park Moms’?

The Blah

There always seems to be a group (and it can be the majority) who just get on with it. They’re not concerned with who’s in charge and what they’re attempting to do.

They pay no attention to the Car Park Moms, and they think the Invisible Influential are the creation of the Conspiracy Theorists. They’re grateful to the Tireless Workers, but they’re not going to put their hands up and join.

They seem to be pre-occupied with things outside of the community, or inside of themselves, but whatever it is, community is somewhere down their priority list. They really don’t seem to care much, as long as their world isn’t impacted too severely. They’re here, but they’re not. They’re in, but they’re out. At times they even seem completely out of touch with what’s going on.

Group X…

So there are four groups I’ve observed. There must be many more? As I write this I’m aware there have to have been others who have done a truck load of work in this space? These groups apply to countries (it is a big community after-all). Politicians must be interested in them, therefore, someone has been funded somewhere to describe them, in order to win their votes. If anyone does have a couple of signposts for me to check-out, I’d be grateful.

Like I said, I’m just curious.

Posted by Barrie Bramley on February 11th, 2010 .
Filed under: Research, School | No Comments »

Sleep Cycle iPhone app could be a winner

Yesterday while browsing the iTunes App store I came across a little beauty called ‘Sleep Cycle’. Read a review here. Cost me around R10, and it very cleverly ‘apparently’ monitors your sleep pattern and then sets the alarm off somewhere during the last 30 minutes of your sleep, during that sleep period where you’re in your most awake state.

How it does it is with the iPhone’s accelerometer. You place your iPhone under your sheets near the top of your bed, and as you move during the evening, this app picks up that movement and tracks what depth of sleep you’re in. As you get 30 minutes away from your wake up time, it chooses a ‘light sleep’ moment to set the alarm off. It threfore saves you from waking up as a grizzly bear because you had to get up in a ‘deep sleep’ zone.

Very kewl idea and concept. Who couldn’t do with one of these? However, we tried it on Leish last night and it didn’t work. it did pick up that she got out of bed during the night to check on the girls but other than that nada.

We haven’t given up, the jury’s out and we’ll give it another bash tonight. One tiny kewl feature, and you wonder why other digital alarm clocks don’t do this – is that it keeps a record of your sleep volume. So once you activate it, to when you wake up is stored and you get to build a history of your sleep over a week, month, etc.

As soon as we have more I’ll comment on this post. While I was reading up on the app, I found this slightly related cartoon that I thought worth adding in : )

Click here to go to Sleep Cycle App Web Page

Posted by Barrie Bramley on February 8th, 2010 .
Filed under: Fun, Research, Stuff, Weekend | 3 Comments »

Being an expert – what does it take?

My coleague Graeme Codrington sent me a mail link via Twitter today that discusses the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition. It’s a nice punchy overview of the 5-steps towards being an expert (starting as a novice) Well worth the read.

By looking at the five levels from a higher altitude, we can distill some common themes that emerge as one progresses from novice to expert:

  • Moving away from relying on rules and explicit knowledge to intuition and pattern matching.
  • Better filtering, where problems are no longer a big collection of data but a complete and unique whole where some bits are much more relevant than others.
  • Moving from being a detached observer of the problem to an involved part of the system itself, accepting responsibility for results, not just for carrying out tasks.

As I read it, it reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, where one of his chapters is dedicated to the concept of putting in 10 000 hours in order to be a world expert at something. It’s not 10 000 hours doing the same thing. I imagine that simply makes you an expert at monotony. It’s 10 000 hours of growth, development, stretch, etc, etc. 10 000 hours roughly translates to 4 hours every day, 5 days per week for 10 years. When you think, expecially, of sports champions, it does give some insight and perspective to the sort of investment they’re put in to get them where they are today.

I managed to get the PodCast of Gladwell being interviewed on 702. Follow this link to listen to the 10 000 hours exert.

Posted by Barrie Bramley on December 16th, 2009 .
Filed under: Books, Research, Stuff, Talent | 1 Comment »

Running changes the shape of your brain

Currently, running has my attention in a large way. To be honest it’s not as much the running, as what running stands for, that’s got me all focused and interested.

Some of it is the idea that shoes, in their current fancy form, are probably not good for any of us. So I’m trying to go barefoot wherever I can in order to see if the re-occurring knee injury I get from running, goes away faster, and whether it’ll come back?

Another bit is that if we were ‘born to run‘ and we’re not, what does that mean for us as a species? In the book I spoke about 3 posts earlier, I read that in societies where running is still practiced there is a far lower incidence of things like, cancer, anxiety, depression, and a whole host of modern illness.

In an article in the New York Times Health section, there’s some interesting research being showcased around running, anxiety and the impact of exercise on the human brain.

It looks more and more like the positive stress of exercise prepares cells and structures and pathways within the brain so that they’re more equipped to handle stress in other forms.

There may be more to running than certainly I ever imagined. The long run to freedom continues…..

Posted by Barrie Bramley on November 20th, 2009 .
Filed under: Research, Running | No Comments »

How to run Barefoot

living barefootHere’s an interview with Christopher McDougall, author of ‘Born to Run’ talking about running barefoot, the evil hiding in shoes and showing how to do it.

CNN Interviews Christopher McDougall about his best selling book, Born to Run

I’m inspired to see if all this barefoot running talk will stop my knee injury?

Posted by Barrie Bramley on November 17th, 2009 .
Filed under: Fun, Research, Stuff | No Comments »

Running Barefoot – a paradigm to explore

I recently borrowed a book from a mate called ‘Born to Run’. It’s one of those rare books I haven’t been able to put down. And I’m not a runner. It’s written by Christopher McDougall, and I’d describe it as the discovery of who we’ve always been when it comes to running.

Unless you’re an executive for Nike or Adidas, reading it will certainly challenge your running paradigm and what you’ve always believed about running and most definitely running shoes.

Essentially, reading ‘Born to Run‘ will cause you to have to confront your ideas about running shoes, as evidence is presented that suggest that they quite possibly do more damage than running barefoot. You’re going to have to read past halfway to get to the data.

One of the characters in the book is Barefoot Ted. The first American to be sponsored to run ‘barefoot’. There are some interesting links from his website.

I’m one of those runners (65%-85% of all runners every year) who gets injured when they run. My knee specifically, and the answer has always been better shoes. This book suggests the opposite. Take my shoes off and learn to run barefoot. So completely counter-running-culture. But when I read of the health benefits of running, and how healthy communities who have always run are, I’m determined to at least give this ‘new’ way (back to our roots) a large shot.

The other large theme of the book to impact me was running for running sake. Because we always have. There’s one section in the book that points out that running for most of us (certainly me) is about a goal. Fitness, winning, sexy body, etc. Cultures who have always run, ran because running is worth doing because it’s who we are.

Posted by Barrie Bramley on November 16th, 2009 .
Filed under: Fun, Research, Stuff | No Comments »

Article in The Star

I was published in The Star (South African newspaper) late last week on ‘diversity’. I’ve had a few requests from people who wanted to read it, but couldn’t find it online.

Our PR company (SimonSays Communications) scanned a copy and sent it through today. It’s missing one or two lines through the middle : ), but I’m fairly certain it’s still readable.

Click here to see the image (it’s a .jpg)

Posted by Barrie Bramley on October 5th, 2009 .
Filed under: Research, Stuff, Work | No Comments »