I stayed in London last night, so decided to try something a little different and fly out of London City rather than Heathrow for my upcoming journey to Madrid. I think I’ve decided that this was a mistake. I was staying at R’s in Hammersmith, and the journey to City is much longer than it was in my head. In retrospect, Heathrow would have been much simpler; just a quick trip down the Piccadilly line.
I met Alexander Kjerulf, the self-titled Chief Happiness Officer (possibly one of the most cheerful and effusive people you’d ever meet) at euroGel 2006, where he was running a workshop. Now he’s coming to the UK to work with HP, providing consultancy on happiness in the workplace. There’s a competition running to win free consultancy for companies of 100 employees or less. If you work somewhere of that size, and you think your workplace could do with a few smiles, I’d strongly suggest taking a look at his blog entry on the subject.
I’ve recently taken to reading a lot more on-line - particularly as services such as del.icio.us have helped me to find high-quality content and more high-quality blogs come on the scene. This, of course, is the long tail of written content. One of the things I’ve noticed, though, is that as I read more and different things, I get more impatient with long articles. I hardly read non-fiction books any more, and fiction books almost never (preferring film).
Economists approach things in weird ways. I’ve noticed several posts on the more popular economic blogs recently discussing marriage, relationships, and sex: Are Husbands Really Like Potatoes? being a good example, as well as a discussion of polygamy. Tyler Cowen has even briefly looked at how nudity affects human behaviour (arguably not directly related to relationships, but it’s a fun read anyway). Given that I like the economic way of thinking (given my limited training), I thought I’d take a look at dating, something close to my heart as a bachelor.
Since meeting Alexander Kjerulf at euroGel 2006 last year, I’ve been following his work as the self-appointed Chief Happiness Officer with interest. He’s just released his first book, Happy Hour is 9 to 5. Alex is also one of the most energetic and inspiring people I’ve met. He’s kindly consented to be the first interviewee on this blog. I hope you enjoy it. AF: What first interested you about happiness at work?
I’ve written about synchronicity vs. asynchronicity before, but I wanted to revisit the subject because it seems to be so key to modern services; as more and more communication mechanisms evolve out of available technology and entrepreneurs' imagination, understanding customer’s usage patterns will be important when developing businesses around them. An excellent article by Gregor Hohpe, Starbucks Does Not Use Two-Phase Commit (included in Joel Spolsky’s Best Software Writing Vol. 1), is an examination of why understanding computer science concepts such as 2PC (and, I would argue, synchronicity) is important when engaging in business process engineering.
I went to a summit on Second Life and virtual worlds in Hursley today, hosted by Kevin Aires, Jack Mason, and Roo Reynolds - it’s becoming obvious that there’s a big buzz about Second Life both inside and outside IBM - a primary bit of evidence being IBM’s recent announcement of a $10m investment in virtual worlds such as Second Life. For obvious reasons, I can’t relate everything that was discussed.
I find it entertaining when people state ‘Walmart wants…’, ‘Ford thinks…’, or ‘BT needs…’. It’s quite painfully obvious that corporations don’t have feelings or thoughts. What is true is that people within them do. I’ve thought for some time that one of greatest contributors to a corporation’s success is when the thoughts of its people are aligned. Unaligned thoughts are unlikely to be useful. Aligned thoughts can happen by accident (less likely) or because of good quality leadership (more likely), but in either case it’s important to recognise that they are still individual thoughts.
IBM Hursley invited three final-year MEng students from Imperial College to give us presentations on their individual MEng projects today (mine, from several years ago, can be found here). They were: Marc Hull, who talked about his project on Balancing simplicity and efficiency in web applications. Marc’s work focused on improving the development of stateful web applications, and in particular on object-relational mapping in Java, in an attempt to allow more straightforward persistence of objects to databases.
I’ve just booked my ticket for Bill Clinton’s leadership seminar next Tuesday. Although my politics don’t align that well with his, I’ve nevertheless long thought he’s an intelligent man, and look forward to hearing what he has to say. David Millward from the Telegraph has also written about this.