Thoughts on ways to improve the management of professional services firms

Friday, September 29, 2006

Interesting Posts - September 06

Photo: Gordon Smith, Saint Mary’s Peak at Wilpena, South Australia

It takes a little while to write major posts. In the meantime I thought that I would report on some of the interesting posts I have seen recently in my travels.

In doing so I am not covering those listed by David Maister in his recent Blawg Review #76 because they are best reviewed through David's summary.

Cross Cultural Issues

Nava Shalev has a good piece on her Global Relocation Portal, Dancing in a global world: How to build effective cross cultural partnerships, on cross-cultural issues. Those reading this blog or Personal Reflections, my personal blog, will know that this is one of my interests.

Importantly, some of the worst cross-cultural errors occur between apparently similar cultures both nationally (say the US and Australia) and within the professions (lawyers vs consultants) because differences are obscured by apparent familiarity. Mind you, mix in techno speak with, say, legalese, and all similarities are lost in semantic confusion!

Web Issues

One of my enduring interests is the way in which the web continues to affect service development, marketing and service delivery across the professions.

Web 2.0 has been of interest because I like what I see as the core concept, a shift from an environment in which the provider dictates what can be done to one in which the customer has more control. Like all new concepts it has spawned a whole series of sub-variants, in turn sparking a reaction from those who wish to argue that there is in fact nothing new about web 2.0.

This argument was well covered in a post on Dennis McDonald's blog Web 2.0 Doublethink is Alive and Well.

Dennis also had an interesting post on why Introducing Collaboration Technologies to the Enterprise is a Challenge . cazh 1 had a related post on The Law of Large Numbers - or, why Enterprise Wikis are Fundamentally Challenged. Both deal with the practical issues associated with the real application of new collaborative tools.

I must say that this has also been my experience. You would think that they would be a magnificent help in trying to coordinate a geographically and professionally distributed network like Ndarala. Set up a wiki on a topic and let the flowers bloom. The reality is that in the absence of coercion, something that is hardly possible in a network, busy professional will only particpate where they can see an immediate gain relative to the time involved.

Now here David Lee on eelearning has been trying something a little new. He has established a wiki as part of his blog, with the first one focused on web 2.0 applications. But what he has also done is to link it to some other tools. Now here he has done something very useful for those like me who are interested but do not claim great technical knowhow by providing a very useful applications summary. Go here to see what I mean.

Other Management Issues

Dennis Howlett has a short but interesting post on benchmarking, although I did wince at his description of consultants. After all, I am one! Dennis is not a supporter and makes some good points. I was a supporter. It can still be very useful in technical or process areas where the aim is to improve existing performance, but I have becoming increasingly critical of the approach because of the way it locks organisations into other people's past practices.

Something of a counter if partial view was presented by Tom Collins in morepartnerincome, the Juris blog in a discussion on the power of legal surveys. I think that it's all a question of balance.

In Adam Smith Esq Bruce had an interesting post, Does IT matter?, a post that links back to earlier web discussion. The hard part with technology issues, at least as I see it, is to drill down to the underlying management need. Just as lawyers provide legal answers, so technologists provid technology answers.

Not by Bread Alone

Life is not meant to be all work.

In Look and See, Gordon Smith continues his journey through outback Australia. The photos are wonderful, each accompanied with a short caption. The journey began on 29 August with an initial photo of Quilpie in Queensland - "Beyond Quilpie… there be dragons, red dirt, heat, dust and haze". Since then Gordon has posted a photo a day as he works his way down through the channel country through Birdsville into South Australia. He can now be found in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia.

For those from overseas as well as some of those in Australia's cities, Ochre Archives presents a sometimes irregular but always interesting view of the world centred on Phillip Diprose's property, Ochre Arch, at Grenfell in NSW.

Finally, Neil has a interesting story on New Lines from a Floating Life on the Australian artist David Humphreys, interesting in general but also because I find that David lives just three blocks from me. Those who would like to find out more about David can do so from his web site.

Correction: In the first version of this post I misread Neil's post and wrongly ascribed the devonshire street tunnel blog to David. I would have picked the error up had I checked the profile properly. Thanks, Neil, now corrected.


Neil said...

Thanks for the reference, Jim. One small correction, to quote an email from David: "This is another blogger who has been on to me
Perhaps you may find some of this of use in yours. MUST learn how to get into blogging."

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, Neil. Corrected.