Frankly, I love it. What's not to like - sun, sea and rum-based drinks...? And I have fond memories of doing the stuff that became my first book here nearly a decade ago...
Our session today (see pic) seemed to go well enough (even though we did it twice back-to-back) . Some great interaction from folk in the audience with the subject matter and with each other like we intended and a real sense of them being prepared to risk a different kind of session. Thanks to everyone who participated - either online, in conversation, in the room or any combination of the above.
Some folk will undoubtedly go away frustrated that the crowd whose views we were trying to make sense of did get things wrong (I think it'd be fair to say that our wiki hasn't covered all the ground there is and some of the views at least are worth challenging...). But that's the nature of the beast...and really the point that there can be no expert view that trumps all others, no one individual or small elite who exclusively "know" the right answers...
Right now I feel it was a debate worth having and an attempt to 'unconference' the conference worth pushing for. More experiments on format to come, I hope. Many more.
I just wished we'd done the things with the chairs...
Couple of observations about the conference this year:
i. the mainstage seems more interesting in general than last time. Less sales pitches...and more talk-starting pieces (Hackworthy's piece on speed should be good)
ii. the mood of delegates seems to be even more progressive than I thought last year: more folk than ever admitting the old game is up and keen to rethink/rework/remodel (though still it seems a minority)
iii. the cosmopolitan nature of the delegates is really striking (e.g. the twitterfeed seems to be dominated by non-English speakers...)
A House of Commons Committee learned today that c 1000 bags still manage to go astray at T5 each day...
Having had airlines/airports lose my bag more than a few times (including an Easyjet check-in staff member who didn't tag the bag), I know how annoying this can be. Always reminds me of what Neilan says:
it's not like they're a bunch of florists, doing this for the first time...hoping to cover up mistakes with some white lilies...no, schlepping people, bags and planes to the same place at the same time is the airline business!
Whatever else they do, airlines and airports are supposed to do this. And just this. Forget the shops and the lounges and the parking scams.
Yet, like so many other businesses they choose to pretend that technology (computerised systems) and pseudo-technology (new business processes) will make performance better (think about the NHS computer system as an example) when the truth is - less glamorously but nonetheless obviously - staring them in the face: it's the people in their own businesses who are the means to deliver higher performance. Southwest have done it again and again - it's the only airline case study that every manager today has read (and rightly so)
Stelios knows it. Colleen knows it. You and I know it. So why do we always go for the tech solution first? Think Neilan's right. It's the lilies...
Lots of stuff in the UK media today about the BMA (British Medical Association)'s proposed plan to reduce teenage smoking.
Most of you would probably agree that it's worth while creating a climate that reduces the likelihood of smoking being as widespread in the next generation as it has been in previous generations: whether you're a recovering smoker like myself and even you've never taken up the noxious weed, you'd rather your kids didn't get the habit.
Lots of good social policy work is already in place - for my money the legislation which reduced the availability of smoking locations is likely to have had a significantly greater effect on the incidence of smoking than the endless educational communication campaigns (it took me an awful long time and exposure to any number of these campaigns to do anything about my smoking).
Of course, there's a big debate here about where to draw the line between what authorities deem right and where citizens have the right to choose what to do but what strikes me is the clueless approach of the BMA to mass behaviour and how to go about shaping it.
Part of the appeal of smoking to young recruits is its agreed social significance: a cigarette is proper social object, reeking of rebellion - indeed, the more outlawed the better. Smoking remains a "brilliant" thing to do with your mates (it's relatively cheap and easy thing to participate in), the more so if it p****** your folks, teachers and other grown-ups off. Smoking is cool because we all agree it is (even though we know it's v bad for you). And even more so because you disapprove. Not being seen doesn't reduce the illicit appeal of narcotics...It's the fact your mates do it that makes it cool and it's going to take a long time for the social disapproval to move on.
Sure, manage the supply end (with legislation, fiscal changes and the like) but trying to shape what movies are acceptable is just silly. Time methinks for those shaping social policy to get with the Herd...
Personally, I find the sight of birds flocking, fish shoaling and cattle herding awesome (literally, so)
It's the rapid change of direction, the scale of the multitude way - a scale way beyond my ability to spot individual agents - the scale of the wave of living creatures moving and twisting and turning in 3D over a wet flat English countryside. Movement with form, fluid form.
Readers of HERD will know that I've written about this before - how similar mechanisms are at play in human behaviour (on- and offline) and how the same kinds of algorithms used by Craig to describe flocking behaviour in animals also work (c/o Dirk et al) to describe human behaviour.
Part of the reason for this kind of insistence, I suspect, is that each of us can't get past the fact that he/she is just one of these agents, seeking to understand the flocking for our own perspective and imagine that all the other agents are just like we are, and do as we (like to think we) do...we all spend far too much time with various means of getting inside individuals' heads...when we could explain so much of human behaviour and its changes through understanding the underlying mechanisms of the crowd - the large scale interaction of individuals with each other
It's really hard to see things from the crowd's perspective (hence the "awesomeness" of the crowd), to deny what our own minds tell us about how things work and to accept that it might be more about "us" and less about me or you. But it does explain how frustratingly unpredictable humans are - how "slippery" consumer behaviour seems...(as Andreas suggested last Thursday)
Try it - if you accept that this is how things work it will change how you approach your work as a manager, a marketer or someone creating things for either of these.
Just realised a nuance of the individuals gag that I've not highlighted before - I've focused on the "individuals" bit..
(You know the clip, I've used it loads of times to explain the "Illusion of I" - how it seems that each of us decide on our own, but in fact are largely influenced by those around us, without us knowing).
Brian: "You don't need to follow me, you don't need to follow anyone...you've all got to work it out for yourselves..."
It's the followers and the following - those willing to be influenced - and NOT the Influencers we need to focus on if we want to have any "influence" over the behaviour of folk.
at individual peeps' door, while wanting a "system" to make mass co-operation possible in the car-parks etc. And lots of folk at WARC seemed to want to talk about things rather than people - networks, 'Influence" and so on.
For me, the business highlight of the week was JP at 2gether08 sitting on folding chair on a bare stage and just talking - as a simple Mensch to other similars - about what he recalled of the Cluetrain 10 years on, what it meant to him, how the authors typically misunderstood each other. But above all, how it still resonates with him today.
And the key insight he pointed to? It's all about the people and not the technology.