Archive for the ‘business’ Category

How to turn a period of absence from work into a Product

May 13, 2014 Leave a comment

My kids have reached an age where smart answers are the order of the day.  When told to “do nothing, then” in response to protests over not being allowed on the DS/XBox/iPad/Disney Channel etc. they are quick to respond in a smarmy voice, “it’s not possible for me to do nothing…I’m still breathing.”  You know the sort of thing, I’m sure. Don’t get me wrong – they are both avid readers (which just contributes backchat!)


As annoying as it is, there is a lesson their audacity and I draw a parallel with people returning to work after a “period of absence”, myself included.  I’ve been privileged enough to meet many people at various workshops, mentoring events and job seeker groups and observe their vulnerability and trepidation in selling themselves back to the corporate world.


However, it usually takes only a few minutes of conversation to get onto the small businesses they have run, the positions of authority they have held in local authority, community or charitable organisations and the mentoring or support they have been providing to other peers, friends or dependants.  Like my kids, it seems that it is almost impossible to do nothing during a so-called period of extended absence from work, but many of us end up feeling that way. My understanding is that there seems to be value gap between the things we may have been doing for little or no pay and the things that we “perceive” sit clearly on our career path.  Essentially, we are able to turn the skills and language of our chosen career in the corporate world into products – on our CV, Linkedin profile and various other channels – but may feel lost when trying to “productize”  these other low worth activities.


Often these roles involve managing people, developing processes and best practice, mentoring, managing books, accounts and finances, coordinating multiple resources, writing communications materials, dealing with suppliers, developing marketing materials, dealing with clients and a host of other activities.  Organising a team of four to complete the Oxfam Trailwalker has taken huge amounts of time and planning and we all know that establishing routines and working disciplines with kids can be more complex than many corporate projects we’ve worked on, but we find it difficult to define these things in corporate terms.


My advice is to take the time to discuss the period in question with friends and peers and make a bulleted list of the activities that you’ve done.  Then write them out in a short CV for similar role, as if you were applying for a similar job.  Compare this CV with your corporate version and see how the language differs.  Take time to appreciate where the skills, pressures and achievements are similar and how your approach to completing the task has enhanced your ability to do it again in any environment.  Now create a new entry on your corporate CV listing the things you have done in this most recent stage of your career, as products and in the appropriate corporate language and be prepared to talk about them.  It’s important that we recognise that these activities have enhanced our skills and will add value to the next assignment.

Very much like my kids inability to do nothing, aging alone contributes huge amounts of value to our ability to  interpret, manage, evaluate and make better decisions every day.

If you like this article, please show your appreciation by sponsoring our Oxfam/Gurkha Welfare Trust Trailwalker Team:


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How to Make a Stakeholder Map ― Leadership Thoughts

September 16, 2013 Leave a comment

How to Make a Stakeholder Map ― Leadership Thoughts.

3D printing: From dental braces to astronauts’ seats | The Economist

September 6, 2013 Leave a comment

As with all transformational technologies, 3D Printing’s impact is not predictable

3D printing: From dental braces to astronauts’ seats | The Economist.

What Value Do Consulting Firms Add to a Business’ Operations?

September 3, 2013 Leave a comment
Categories: business, Consulting

Absence of hot air promotes Cloud buildup at The 2nd Cloud Circle Forum, 2010

July 9, 2010 Leave a comment

On a sweltering Circle Line journey home, devoid of oxygen and desperate for non-condensing moisture, I find the time to reflect on the 2nd Cloud Circle Forum, 2010. The phrases ‘utility computing’, ‘paradigm shift’ and an ‘infinite number of monkeys-aaS’ play feverishly on my mind, psychotropically altered by the 36 degree heat and near suffocation. Yet thinking beyond my current Dantesque predicament, the days events were an altogether cooler and more inspiring affair.

The 2nd Cloud Circle Forum delivered well balanced and thought provoking set of presentations to an appreciative community of business leaders and IT professionals. In contrast to 2009 Cloud events, the unfolding story of Cloud computing now seems less anecdotal, even if overuse of the term has left it poorly defined for that critical C-level audience. The speakers did an excellent job of slicing and dicing cloud into its various enterprise flavours and layers, each cautious to highlight (in true British tradition) that their definition was by no means the definition.

Several of the presentations focused on the very real risks involved in undertaking a Cloud initiative and on the cautious and risk aware manner that they should be approached with. It was reassuring to hear this degree of transparency from vendors and an indication of the ongoing maturity of Cloud based approaches and those operating in that space. This was reinforced by an undercurrent of inevitability, removing the need for the frantic evangelising seen over the last 3 years. As consultants and vendors grow their portfolio of projects, case studies and clients and observe the timely and considered response of Cloud providers to the concerns of the business community, their sell is becoming easier and more demonstrable. Efficient utilisation of technology, business agility, reduced TCO and reduced time to market are all easy sells when the magnitudes of improvement are demonstrably large. So what’s the hold-up? A few of the obvious concerns covered were security, compliance and contractual terms and conditions. But as some speakers pointed out, the high degree of focus on these issues over the last 5 years in the outsourcing and managed services space has resulted in the inevitable hardening of technologies and frameworks resulting in Cloud security offerings that potentially eclipse in-house capabilities. On the contract side, the first Cloud Law International Summit took place in London in Feb 2010, demonstrating a serious acknowledgement of Cloud by the legal community. That’s not to say that the complex issues of international jurisdiction, information ownership, auditability and compliance have been solved, wax sealed and filed, but at least lawyers know the triple word score (aka ‘fee’) for each mention of Cumulonimbus in any correspondence…and where there’s a fee…

On a more serious note, corporate procurement was cited on more than one occasion as a major blocker to the adoption of Cloud. This is reinforced by one comment that bringing Cloud concepts to the non-IT C-level community has been of limited success. This inevitably reduces Cloud initiatives to an exercise in IT cost reduction on a project by project basis and limits its inclusion in the business strategy, where its real potential for returns and benefits lie. For some vendors, the biggest challenge is getting this key message into businesses at a level where the appropriate change initiatives can be adequately sponsored.

In terms of timing, this early stage of Cloud maturity is second only to the timely completion of the Ark by early cloud evangelists, Noah and Sons. The combination of the global recession, the coming of the second stone age (ok, age of austerity) and the currently out of season green agenda are driving businesses to think in different and innovative ways to rapidly develop new products and services, increase collaboration and deliver rapid, low cost scalability to expanding and contracting business divisions – approaches enabled, supported and enhanced by Cloud deployment.

So what’s in store for the IT department? This is an interesting discussion that comes up in coffee breaks at all business technology events. My conclusion? Cast them out into the business, mute, unwashed and draped in sackcloth. The worthy will return in silken robes and carried aloft, a champion ready to lead the campaign to extract the very business essence from every last asset, grinning vendor and hand wringing consultant that dares utter the word ‘value.’

In the meantime, The Cloud Circle team continue to stimulate the community, facilitating the necessary parley to deliver bloodless and engaging Cloud forums. The final word – it’s evolving all around you at an alarming rate – find out more at Septembers event.