Tech PRose

February 15, 2011

McKinsey says information overload not good for creativity, best decision-making

Filed under: Philip Anast,Social Media — techimage @ 8:00 am

“Information overload” is a term that has packed on the pounds, both literally and figuratively, over the years as smart phones and social networking tools have pervaded workplaces in just about every realm of industry.

Management consulting company McKinsey delivers some contrarian, yet scientifically based, recommendations for the use of social networking tools in an article entitled, “Recovering from information overload.”

The article is targeted to executives and their unique requirements and responsibilities; however, I think any person in a management or worker role can benefit from its implications.

Since the article is lengthy, I will summarize its three key points:

  • Multitasking is a terrible coping mechanism, leading to less productivity and poorer decision-making
  • Self-discipline and setting reasonable expectations are the antidotes for information overload
  • Our behavior sets the tone and tenor for people we work with and for the overall productivity of an organization

The writers assert, “In practice, most of us would probably acknowledge that multitasking lets us quickly cross some of the simpler items off our to-do lists. But it rarely helps us solve the toughest problems we’re working on. More often than not, it’s procrastination in disguise.”

Management expert Peter Drucker is invoked and quoted in the article, although he wrote his book “The Effective Executive” at a time where there were few communication tools at one’s disposal:

“’Most of the tasks of the executive require, for minimum effectiveness, a fairly large quantum of time.’ Drucker’s solutions for fragmented executives—reserve large blocks of time on your calendar, don’t answer the phone, and return calls in short bursts once or twice a day—sound remarkably like the ones offered up by today’s time- and information-management experts.”

I think an important takeaway from the article is that Twitter, Facebook LinkedIn, blogs and other social networking mechanisms are tools, and not ends in themselves. At the end of the day, the tasks we perform must lead to greater outcomes and not just a lot of extra stuff or superfluous activity. While the tools play an important role today in communicating with business influencers, partners and customers, we need to keep the big-picture in mind and think through whether what we’re doing benefits ourselves and the organization. Keeping a perspective on the best ways to use tools and their frequency lead to greater fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment based in reality.

It seems that taking time for creative reflection and the processing of information around us can make for more thoughtful decision-making. Those activities certainly inspired some of the greatest literature in the world – from Homer’s Iliad to Shakespeare’s classics – without the benefit of a laptop or a tweet.  We should do no less for the betterment of our organizations and the constituencies we serve. 

– By Philip Anast

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January 25, 2011

Innovation vs. Invention

Filed under: Philip Anast,Technology Industry — techimage @ 4:15 pm

Chicago Innovation Awards co-founder Tom Kuczmarski writes about innovation trumping invention in his most recent Bloomberg Businessweek column. In a very cogent and simple way, he delineates the differences between invention and innovation, and urges governments and the private sector to support innovators, the true harbingers of change and economic growth in society. His approach got me thinking about Tech Image’s own public relations methodology for helping technology companies reach audiences and differentiate themselves in the marketplace. While it’s easy to talk about technology for technology’s sake and the cool features that often accompany new hardware, software or services, a PR practitioner worth her mettle illustrates the ways in which a technology helps people – be it through greater productivity, creativity, security, job fulfillment or an enriching life.

Kuczmarksi writes, “Spending time at the front end on what the marketplace needs, rather than trying to build a slick marketing campaign around a nifty invention that nobody cares about, is such a certain way to succeed that a business plan can include the guarantee of new revenue streams courtesy of innovation.”

A company considering PR to further its goals should keep this in mind when engaging a PR firm. The PR experts should be talking from the perspective of a constituent and underscoring the benefits derived from a product or service, rather than telling the company’s story strictly in the organization’s own lingo or from its point of view.  If they aren’t, then such an approach should give the company pause about engaging with that firm.

– By Philip Anast

January 7, 2011

Strategic Thinking

Filed under: B2B,Philip Anast,Technology Industry — techimage @ 9:04 am
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Consulting guru McKinsey & Company gives large and small companies alike food for thought in 2011 on whether one’s strategy is passing the test of time

Taking its 10 tests can drive dialogue and debate, two healthy and necessary activities for any organization that seeks to grow and manage competitive threats.

— by Philip Anast

May 24, 2010

Monk (Seasons 1 and 2)

Filed under: Philip Anast,Reviews — techimage @ 10:12 am

MonkAlthough we didn’t watch “Monk” during its eight-year run on USA Network, my wife and I were recently turned on to the program and love it!  Tony Shalhoub plays Adrian Monk, an obsessive, compulsive detective from San Francisco.  While one of the best law enforcement officers in the Bay Area, he is compelled to leave the force following the murder of his wife, at which point his phobias and obsessive behaviors border on the pathological (e.g. he needs a hand wipe every time he shakes someone’s hand).

The show begins a couple of years following the tragedy.  He is a private consultant to the department and is accompanied whenever he is outside by his private nurse, Sharona Fleming, played by Bitty Schram.  Also in the Series are Captain Stottlemeyer, played by Ted Levine, and Lieutenant Disher, played by Jason Gray-Stanford.

While the show follows a formula for detective series (the murder occurring in most cases before the show’s theme song/montage), writer Andy Breckman and his team are very creative in their story lines.  They make you really think and draw you in to the plot lines, much like the Poirot Series on A&E built upon the mystery novels of Agathie Christie.

Monk has an uncanny ability to see and perceive what others don’t on a murder scene.  One of my favorite episodes in the Series is “Mr. Monk and the Airplane.”  While having an extreme fear of flying, Monk is forced to fly to accompany Sharona during a visit to New Jersey to see her aunt.  Monk sees a woman tip-toeing to kiss her husband in the terminal, but on the plane, she stands eye-to-eye with him.  Even when others don’t believe Monk, his ability to remember facts and cull an encyclopedic brain serves him well and is the difference between foiling a murder plot and the murderers going free.  I won’t spill the beans on the episode, but the sequence is quite plausible – as are most of the shows.

If you need a good murder mystery, “Monk” serves up hours of entertainment and cerebral exercise.

Reviewed by Philip Anast

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