Have you ever wondered where the weather comes from? Sure you did!
Oh, I do not mean that everybody is investing their time and effort into studying meteorology (however some really are), but there are many people that are simply curious about what's around them – and the weather is surely around and all the time. But even if you do not have time or mood for being curious, you may be surprised from time to time with what happens outdoors. It may be something like one really freezing day followed by a warm period, as it has been at my place not long ago or even a snow in July as it happens in the mountains. It means that you have some expectations of how the weather should behave, hidden inside.
Of course, we are being educated one way or the other. Some of us react well on school education and remember what we were taught in our young years, but not so many of us, as it is quite difficult to imagine the weather on a blackboard or in schoolbook words. Some prefer self-education, which unfortunately means more books and diagrams. The majority is probably continually hearing the weather reports, with attention or unwillingly, where someone describes low or high pressure regions, fronts, wet or dry air masses and things alike, convincing us that he knows what he is talking about.It always seemed a bit abstract to me and really too static, drawn with cartographic symbols on the screens, arbitrarily appearing here and there. At least it was giving a clue what to expect and what's important, but it wasn't the weather itself.
The problem, you know, is in its movement and scale. Weather starts in every stone, field or building radiating and absorbing heat, and in the air flowing around it, taking and giving back the warmth and moisture. It never stops, constantly interacting with other and another things, going out of our sight and coming from the places we don't know. It goes high up to the stratosphere and far away to other continents. This is the reason why it's that hard to predict what it will do, as we can feel only the part which have a close contact with us.
Fortunately, what comes to our aid, is that nowadays we have access to the multiple eyes in the sky, watching everything for us and seeing the invisible things around the globe all the time. Forgive me the fun of these grandiloquent words – what I mean is great visualization made by Cameron Beccario (with help of the many, I suppose) that is available at https://earth.nullschool.net webpage. It shows real, current (as well as a bit of future) movement of all the atmosphere and oceans. Looking at it in the Earth scale or just some region, we can really picture it as a river of air flowing constantly around the globe, with its whirls and twirls. It really has no end or a beginning and carries warmth, water and whatever else it takes from one place to another.
Sometimes I just wonder, if (or when) we will be able to picture other things like that. What is also (or even more) interesting and probably also that complicated is the world of people. We are all around the globe and we constantly interact with each other, passing knowledge as well as emotions to each other, which influences us and makes us more or less the global community. And it changes all the time. It gets complicated even on the local scale, in a city or a company, which makes human resources specialists seen quite important these times. It gets really unpredictable on a global scale making all of us more or less worried or intrigued. But the problem is that we can really feel only the part which have a close contact with us.
What would make it possible to picture societies in reality are such eyes that could see all of us and see the important things about us. That's what we are trying to make available at Hypersoft and show in still very local way in Omnicontext Analytics. It's a long way to get global, but maybe sooner or later we will be able to really picture ourselves and see the weather.
My online activities
Today, it is decided, I make a list of my main daily activities on Internet:
Every one of us is able to produce such kind of a this list depending on his self, his experience, life, habits, priorities, etc. We use and we create data every day. Every single day, every one of us is precising his user profile by adding his latest electronic experience. We have been entered this web 2.0 and then this social network period. We are pushed to make connections, to create content, to "like" or to comment.
In a volunteer way or not, you leave traces and connections on internet.
Indeed, with an easy mail, I make connection with someone, famous or not. But let's be definitive, with Internet, I make connections all the time, with people, known or not from me, close or far. Whoever you are, wherever you are, if you
Makes you belonging to a group, an implicit community.
And I am not talking about connections made on purpose (friends, followers, address books …) which make you part of an explicit community.
Remember? Birds of a feather flock together. Finally, it is so easy to understand. And it is so old. What is new is the fact that is so very fast! Why would you not accept it? Be proud of you, be proud of your communities.
All knowledge is ultimately, self-knowledge, Bruce Lee
Now I have the power to know to which communities I belong to, I should feel more relaxed and secure as it helps me to define myself easier. I can complete what I know about me with what I know about my communities. Obviously, having contacts with members of my communities and share information brings me a lot to learn about me and how I can react or manage different situations.
In order to bring to its users easy, fast and meaningful answers, Hypersoft is currently experimenting some Community Discovering algorithms. You may know more soon about existing logics or logics coming from weeks of research.
Our engineering team is currently computing performance scenarios in order to lower necessary time for calculation. Obviously, imagine how complex it is to determine the most realistic list of groups in a 200.000 people set. Yes, indeed, we are talking best combination among thousands and thousands and thousands … combinations, which is a lot to process.
So stay tuned.
I think we all agree that it is easy and fast to decide for 4 nodes; isn't it? Let's try with something a little bit more complicated, 35 people exchanging mails between them.
Teamwork is a tricky thing. While personal effectiveness alone is a difficult matter to understand, coupling people into well working teams had been always giving specialists a real headache.What's the problem? – you may ask. If there's a work to be done then divide it among group members and get to it, instead of debating! Here comes well-known question about how long it will take to dig one water well for a well-motivated group of 10 people with shovels…
We may really be not quite aware of the range of the problem here. Note, that people are working in teams not even for ages but for millennia and efficiency was a real question of their survival in the past. We should already be expert in that, but are we?
Past time cases show how extraordinary, as well as how devastating, can be the result of team cooperation. We all know the story about small, well-motivated division of 300 Spartans that had stopped the Persian Army in spite of being completely overwhelmed by them in numbers. Not exactly winners in a strict sense, but treated as such in history, they were the team that amazes us even now.On the opposite side there was a typical example of armies – huge organizations that should crave for a good teamwork, though they seem to desperately avoid a real one. The structure and ranks system make each function being always managed by one person, by principle of discipline forcing the others to just obey and not to contribute.
However, this one-man responsible approach may not look as such a bad idea if you look at other (in)famous example of military teamwork, which was American "Bay of Pigs Invasion" on Cuba in 1961, where CIA collective decisions had led to an epic failure of the operation. They seemed to be the worst possible choices from available ones, although they came from a team of most professional and outstanding specialists in the field and mostly included US president in their meetings.In this case the most important reason of teamwork failure came from the very fact that the participants were so respectful, that their opinions were judged and favoured not by their concepts real value, but by person's position. Instead of forcing right solutions, participants were busy finding ideas that didn't contradict others. Honesty and expertise were buried deep under overmuch esteem.The only positive effect of the whole operation was that it made the weaknesses of a teamwork so obvious, it triggered intense scientific research of the problem (as well as serious funds availability).
In today's world most of the work that needed common cooperation, like agriculture or industrial production, traditionally managed by simple tasks division among many workers, became automated. The importance of huge armies also decreases, as people, slowly and unevenly but gradually, start to understand that it is much better to talk before attempting to fight.What gets important are creative tasks that require real team cooperation and positive thought exchange. How do we all respond to that? You can see it all around - if there's any problem or decision to make or even just a new thing we encounter at work, we invariably say: Let's make a meeting!(If you are one of these persons, this decision tree can be a good hint.)
Talking seriously, there is quite a lot of practices that succeed in supporting innovation and cooperation in many offices, like rapid development cycles, user-centered design, open office layout or flat hierarchy and autonomy, to name some of them. They work so well, that they are being spread between companies and their divisions in many countries for an amazing effect they provide. But what really lies behind them and allows people to work and cooperate creatively?
Short cycle of development idea, that came up from a start-up culture, in its core bases on taking more chances on a new approach and accepting failure as a way of learning and innovation. Other practices facilitate team's internal communication and avoid organizational obstacles. These are not always easy to implement, as some companies could see trying to transfer them to other cultures as shown in Pamela Hinds research.
Surprising picture on how to make things even better comes from a Google team that research Google working teams (funny, isn't it?), trying to process and analyse all details about them and come out with recipe for perfect group that works like a dream.Watching groups with really good teamwork quality, they found some intriguing things. First they saw that every member of such group was talking equally long on their meetings – that was a simple fact. It was not by design or some group rule or by leader's management. Participants by themselves took care not to neglect anybody. Then it was found that communication concerns a lot of private matters. Their meetings were not very well "organized" – topics changed often and moved easily from team objectives to unrelated themes. In spite of that disorder, results were amazing in terms of innovation and progress.
The values that came as the keys in these groups were: understanding, trust and safety. Closeness that developed from sharing personal matters transferred to interest and care in professional tasks. This provided environment where all opinions as well as comments could be accepted but honestly judged. What is more important, it provided conditions for 'safe failures' that facilitate learning, thought sharing and lead to creativity.
If you think about it, this recipe was always known and sometimes intuitively used. The 'Spartans team' I mentioned earlier, could be a good example of that. Close personal contact, communication and apparent lack of fear of failure were their main advantages over their enemies. But it seems that people always tend to think that there must be an easier way. Is it that hard to trust each other?
Whenever we talk about personal success in today's world, we think about new ways to achieve it. We look for new ideas, approaches, opportunities and new tools. Is it really reasonable?
The positive answer is mostly based on the vision that the world is in constant progress. No matter how much we like to complain, it is obvious that knowledge and means accumulate and are being used for the best, (whatever this "best" means in particular case). It makes the chance to have an advantage. But if you do not get all the "news", you will be soon outdated and others will get your success. Cruel world, I would say.
Then what about "olds"? It wasn't so long ago, when people didn't like novelties but still some of them were really successful while some other not. People valued tradition and reliability over creativity. They focused on rudiments. Every apprentice would learn this the hard way in the beginning of his career and surprisingly seemed to appreciate it still after he became the master. Maybe this is what we should look for?
The positive psychology's answer to questions about success is mostly motivation but it's not that survival motivation that I mentioned earlier nor the severe external motivation imposed on us by rules and requirements. It is intrinsic reward motivation that comes from job well done and interesting problems solved. It is the gratification that comes from the work itself that triggers us the best to do things successfully and efficiently. It is called Motivation v.2.0 by Daniel H. Pink, an author of the book: Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, where he explains scientific research that lead to this conclusion, as well as the reasons why it is more important nowadays then it was in old times.I would add, that as this motivation stays with us, there is no reason to refrain from enhancing it by taking life into own hands with the help of Omnicontext™ Personal Analytics.
Then why so many of us aren't that eager to have their work done as soon as they can and doesn't get this satisfaction that easy? Why some of us even repeatedly put off what they should do or even what they have chosen to do? While motivation leads us towards our tasks, there are certain emotions, coming from our past, that stand in the way, providing obstacles and difficulties that act against our engagement. In spite of our rational attitudes, these emotions aren't easily controlled and become a real threat to our aspirations. Applying pressure doesn't really help, as these emotions are us, so the more we fight them, the more it hurts. The solution is a positive approach, rebuilding confidence and reducing stress. Surprisingly supportive, great book by Neil Fiore, The Now Habit, can help such people get on tracks with their productivity. Self-awarness and self-observation is a part of the process, so honest record of your daytime activities by Personal Analytics is an objective help.
The real success requires the best of us. That is why positive psychologists discover how to free the most creative and rewarding activity of our mind in a state called the flow. It was investigated in studies on great artists, successful athletes, martial arts masters and then described by Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi from University of Chicago, as well as by researchers at Harvard. The main characteristics of this state are: being calm but highly concentrated at the same time, disappearance of distractions from consciousness, guiding actions by immediate feedback, levelling challenges with abilities and the familiar concept of the activity being rewarding just by itself. The flow can be learned, allowing to reach the functioning on a genius level.
While positive psychology is relatively new branch of this science, it can be easily noticed that these ideas intuitively appeared in most of religious and philosophical systems for ages, in the form of meditation, self-knowledge or faith attitudes, thus being modernly researched reflections of very old concepts.
So, should we really look only for the "news"?