This is a must watch to anyone who talked about or tweeted anything related to Kony 2012.
This also reminds me of the time when, after I flew back home to Canada, some industrious people decided to do the same thing with MY videos.
They screened this video at the very school it was filmed at. The local reaction? They loved it. You don’t know how happy that made me feel.
I’m sorry but #Kony2012 has got my goat still. The reasons its annoying me are probably because I was at World Vision too long and its rubbed off on me.
Whilst there are now numerous people with views for and against the campaign - what concerns me the most is that this is likely to breed a whole new trend of campaign by upstart charities and NGOs where advocacy is good enough, and its up to others to do the hard part of making a difference to the actual people suffering.
Sure its easy to do campaigns around sexy topics like child soldiers, but where was the world when people were dying from the horn of Africa food crisis last year, or the Pakistan floods. Instead we were captured by Japan who actually said they didn’t need the dollars, but we gave anyway.
So why did we give, and why do we care about Kony? Because it makes us feel better, and more importantly there is something in it for me.
Like my previous post #kony2012 is a t-shirt worn by celebrities that you can buy and be a part of the in crowd. And on top of that your funds, apart from making you feel good about yourself, go to our next film which is coming soon to a town near you.
Advocacy without action is pointless.
When it comes to aid, be effective not noisy. Make a real difference, and take pride in seeing real action and impact. It will be much more satisfying
Keith vs the #kony2012 T-shirt - Not available in stores (or don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story as long as it is for a good cause)
Today #kony2012 has taken over the internet. The guys from Invisible children who are gifted storytellers and film-makers have made a 30 minute film that has gone viral today and has moved onto the mainstream media with Network Ten going to show the film in its entirety tonight.
However whilst the story is dramatic, convincing and something does need to be done. There are a few facts that Invisible Children left out. I have read two articles today which I will quote in full below as I believe they are important views.
First from a fairly balanced source:
Passport: Foreign Policy Blog
Thanks to an incredibly effective social media effort, #StopKony is trending on Twitter today. The campaign coincides with a new awareness-raising documentary by the group, Invisible Children. FormerFP intern Michael Wilkerson, now a freelance journalist and Ph.D. candidate at Oxford — who has lived and reported from Uganda — contributed this guest post on the campaign. -JK
By Michael Wilkerson:
“Joseph Kony is basically Adolf Hitler. He has an army of 30 000 mindless children who slaughter innocent people in Uganda.”
“#TweetToSave the Invisible Children of Uganda! #Kony2012 Make Joseph Kony Famous!!”
“Kony 2012,” a video posted by advocacy group Invisible Children to raise awareness about the pernicious evil of Lord’s Risistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony, has already been viewed over 8 million times on Vimeo and more than 9 million times on YouTube (and surely more by the time you read this) since its release this week.
It would be great to get rid of Kony. He and his forces have left a path of abductions and mass murder in their wake for over 20 years. But let’s get two things straight: 1) Joseph Kony is not in Uganda and hasn’t been for 6 years; 2) the LRA now numbers at most in the hundreds, and while it is still causing immense suffering, it is unclear how millions of well-meaning but misinformed people are going to help deal with the more complicated reality.
First, the facts. Following a successful campaign by the Ugandan military and failed peace talks in 2006, the LRA was pushed out of Uganda and has been operating in extremely remote areas of the DRC, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic — where Kony himself is believed to be now. The Ugandan military has been pursuing the LRA since then but had little success (and several big screw-ups). In October last year, President Obama authorizedthe deployment of 100 U.S. Army advisors to help the Ugandan military track down Kony, with no results disclosed to date.
Additionally, the LRA (thankfully!) does not have 30,000 mindless child soldiers. This grim figure, cited by Invisible Children in the film (and by others) refers to the total number of kids abducted by the LRA over nearly 30 years. Eerily, it is also the samenumber estimated for the total killed in the more than 20 years of conflict in Northern Uganda.
As I wrote forFP in 2010, the small remaining LRAforces are still wreaking havoc and very hard to catch, but Northern Uganda has had tremendous recovery in the 6 years of peace since the LRA left.
So why is “Uganda” trending on Twitter?
Unfortunately, it looks like meddlesome details like where Kony actually is aren’t important enough for Invisible Children to make sure its audience understands. The video, narrated by Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell, says its purpose is to intensify pressure on the U.S. government to make sure Kony is brought to justice this year, and as the message broadcast throughout says, what is important is simple: Stop Kony.
Among other emotive shots, the video features Russell’s attempt to explain the LRA to his toddler son, enthusiastic (and mostly white) volunteers putting up posters and wearing Kony 2012 bracelets, and some heart-wrenching footage of children who walked for miles to sleep in a safe place at the height of the LRA’s power in Northern Uganda. The latter comprised much of Invisible Children’s namesake first film and brought the organization to prominence.
But in the new film, Invisible Children has made virtually no effort to inform. Only once, at 15:01 in the movie, over an image of a red blob on a map leaving Northern Uganda and heading West, is the fact that the LRA is no longer in Uganda mentioned, and only in passing:
“As the LRA begain to move into other countries, Jacob [one of the children filmed in Northern Uganda in 2003] and other Ugandans came to the US to speak on behalf of all people suffering because of Kony. Even though Uganda was relatively safe they felt compelled to tell the world that Kony was still out there and had to be stopped.”
That’s it, in a 30-minute movie. And with both the graphic and reiteration of how awful the LRA is, you might think reasonably “move into other countries” meant expanding rather than fleeing. In any case, the focus, seconds later, is on Invisible Children’s activities in the U.S. at the time, not what was happening back in Africa. I can see why some of P. Diddy’s followers might be confused.
Award-winning Ugandan journalist Angelo Izama is among those not thrilled:
“To call the campaign a misrepresentation is an understatement. While it draws attention to the fact that Kony, indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in 2005, is still on the loose, its portrayal of his alleged crimes in Northern Uganda are from a bygone era. At the height of the war between especially 1999 and 2004, large hordes of children took refuge on the streets of Gulu town to escape the horrors of abduction and brutal conscription to the ranks of the LRA. Today most of these children are semi-adults. Many are still on the streets unemployed. Gulu has the highest numbers of child prostitutes in Uganda. It also has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis.
If six years ago children in Uganda would have feared the hell of being part of the LRA, a well documented reality already, today the real invisible children are those suffering from “Nodding Disease”. Over 4000 children are victims of this incurable debilitating condition. It’s a neurological disease that has baffled world scientists and attacks mainly children from the most war affected districts of Kitgum, Pader and Gulu.”
Along with sharing the movie online, Invisible Children’s call to action is to do three things: 1) sign its pledge, 2) get the Kony 2012 bracelet and action kit (only $30!), and 3) sign up to donate.
There is intense criticism out thereover Invisible Children’s finances, including that it spends too much money on administration and filmmaking, while still touting its on the ground NGO-style projects. Also, apparently it’s never been externally audited. I’m going to stay out of that, other than to say you can check out IC’s own financial disclosure information here.
What worries me more is that it’s unclear what exactly Invisible Children wants to do, other than raise a lot of money and attention. Here’s Russell in the video (21:40):
“We know what to do. Here it is, ready? In order for Kony to be arrested this year, the Ugandan military has to find him. In order to find him, they need the technology and training to track him in the vast jungle. That’s where the American advisors come in. But in order for the American advisors to be there, the American government has to deploy them. They’ve done that, but if the government doesn’t believe the people care about Kony, the mission will be cancelled. In order for the people to care, they have to know. And they will only know if Kony’s name is everywhere.
So the goal is to make sure that President Obama doesn’t withdraw the advisors he deployed until Kony is captured or killed. That seems noble enough, except that there has been no mention by the government of withdrawing those forces — at least any I can find. Does anyone else have any evidence about this urgent threat of cancellation? One that justifies such a massive production campaign and surely lucrative donation drive?
There are many reasons uninformed and oversimplified advocacy can cause trouble, and Siena Antsis catalogues some of them here, noting that Invisible Children expertly “commodifies white man’s burden on the African continent.” Buy a bracelet, soothe some guilt.
But as researcher Mark Kersten notes, after “stopping Kony”, then what? Or what if the activism just results the the 100 U.S. advisors staying but no Kony?
One of the biggest issues with a simplistic “Stop Kony” message is that discussions of Navy Seals or drone strikes are inevitable when patience runs out with Ugandan-led efforts . But what about the dozens or hundreds of abducted and brainwashed kids? Should we bomb everyone? Will they actually stop fighting after Kony is gone? What if they shoot back?
Coming back to the “Kony 2012” video and its celebrity endorsements, what are the consequences of unleashing so many exuberant activists armed with so few facts? Defining Uganda in the international conversation by issues that are either geographical misfires (Save northern Uganda!) or an intentional attempt to distract the international community (Death to the gays!), do a disservice to the many critical problems Uganda has.
In addition to the problems of poverty and nodding disease Izama highlights, Uganda is barely (if at all) democratic, and the president Yoweri Museveni ushered himself to a 4th term last year, taking him to over 25 years in power. Corruption is rampant, social services are minimal, and human rights abuses by the government common and well documented. Oh, and oil is on the way.
Stopping Kony won’t change any of these things, and if more hardware and money flow to Museveni’s military, Invisible Children’s campaign may even worsen some problems.
Here’s to hoping Kony hands himself in tomorrow and that the fear of the U.S. “cancelling” its LRA-hunt support is misplaced. But if the most impactful the result of Invisible Children’s campaign is to cause millions of viewers to think Northern Uganda is a war zone, even if it’s not their intent, it’s hard to defend.
Next a more direct opinion:
We got trouble
I do not doubt for a second that those involved in KONY 2012 have great intentions, nor do I doubt for a second that Joseph Kony is a very evil man. But despite this, I’m strongly opposed to the KONY 2012 campaign.
KONY 2012 is the product of a group called Invisible Children, a controversial activist group and not-for-profit. They’ve released 11 films, most with an accompanying bracelet colour (KONY 2012 is fittingly red), all of which focus on Joseph Kony. When we buy merch from them, when we link to their video, when we put up posters linking to their website, we support the organization. I don’t think that’s a good thing, and I’m not alone.
Invisible Children has been condemned time and time again. As a registered not-for-profit, its finances are public. Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services (page 6), with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production. This is far from ideal for an issue which arguably needs action and aid, not awareness, and Charity Navigator rates their accountability 2/4 stars because they lack an external audit committee. But it goes way deeper than that.
The group is in favour of direct military intervention, and their money supports the Ugandan government’s army and various other military forces. Here’s a photo of the founders of Invisible Children posing with weapons and personnel of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends them, arguing that the Ugandan army is “better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries”, although Kony is no longer active in Uganda and hasn’t been since 2006by their own admission. These books each refer to the rape and sexual assault that are perennial issues with the UPDF, the military group Invisible Children is defending.
Still, the bulk of Invisible Children’s spending isn’t on supporting African militias, but on awareness and filmmaking. Which can be great, except that Foreign Affairs has claimed that Invisible Children (among others) “manipulates facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony — a brutal man, to be sure — as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil.” He’s certainly evil, but exaggeration and manipulation to capture the public eye is unproductive, unprofessional and dishonest.
As Chris Blattman, a political scientist at Yale, writes on the topic of IC’s programming, “There’s also something inherently misleading, naive, maybe even dangerous, about the idea of rescuing children or saving of Africa. […] It hints uncomfortably of the White Man’s Burden. Worse, sometimes it does more than hint. The savior attitude is pervasive in advocacy, and it inevitably shapes programming. Usually misconceived programming.”
Still, Kony’s a bad guy, and he’s been around a while. Which is why the US has been involved in stopping him for years. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has sent multiple missions to capture or kill Kony over the years. And they’ve failed time and time again, each provoking a ferocious response and increased retaliative slaughter. The issue with taking out a man who uses a child army is that his bodyguards are children. Any effort to capture or kill him will almost certainly result in many children’s deaths, an impact that needs to be minimized as much as possible. Each attempt brings more retaliation. And yet Invisible Children supports military intervention. Kony has been involved in peace talks in the past, which have fallen through. But Invisible Children is now focusing on military intervention.
Military intervention may or may not be the right idea, but people supporting KONY 2012 probably don’t realize they’re supporting the Ugandan military who are themselves raping and looting away. If people know this and still support Invisible Children becausethey feel it’s the best solution based on their knowledge and research, I have no issue with that. But I don’t think most people are in that position, and that’s a problem.
Is awareness good? Yes. But these problems are highly complex, not one-dimensional and, frankly, aren’t of the nature that can be solved by postering, film-making and changing your Facebook profile picture, as hard as that is to swallow. Giving your money and public support to Invisible Children so they can spend it on supporting ill-advised violent intervention and movie #12 isn’t helping. Do I have a better answer? No, I don’t, but that doesn’t mean that you should support KONY 2012 just because it’ssomething. Something isn’t always better than nothing. Sometimes it’s worse.
If you want to write to your Member of Parliament or your Senator or the President or the Prime Minister, by all means, go ahead. If you want to post about Joseph Kony’s crimes on Facebook, go ahead. But let’s keep it about Joseph Kony, not KONY 2012.
~ Grant Oyston
Grant Oyston is a sociology and political science student at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. You can help spread the word about this by linking to his blog at visiblechildren.tumblr.com anywhere you see posts about KONY 2012.
These are some pretty strong views/critiques of the #Kony2012 campaign. However after reading it I want to shift tack a bit and talk about a bugbear of mine.
Charities seem to be becoming dominated by a influx of shampoo marketers, feature documentary filmmakers and internet marketing and social media gurus. What these people are good at is running a campaign that can get reach and awareness. What many have found however that working in the charity sector is hard. There often isn’t a ‘product’, the content is hard to get and when you do get it isn’t that sexy, and consumers don’t get ‘value’ for money. The ‘Whats in it for me’ isn’t there. Apart from being hard, it can be boring producing the same old ads to try and guilt people into donating.
Unfortunately there is a growing trend amongst organisations to say that its okay to bend the facts a bit (or omit some important ones) as long as we achieve the overall goal - then if we stick enough calls to action around the place and come up with some trendy merchandise we’ll be successful.
No doubt there are some really talented people - filmmakers, designers, marketers and no doubt they have good hearts and no doubt they will look good in a sexy, funky, t-shirt as they sit around the office and have coffee with celebs and trendsetters but to get to the core think about the children.
I agree with Grant Oyston (2nd quoted post above) that film making shouldn’t really be a program cost. I just think that if you are asking people to contribute to a cause and advocate on an issue because you asked them to be completely honest - don’t leave any openings for criticism.
I have read Invisible Children’s official response which is here
I’m still concerned by some of the responses including the finances chart
According to their own chart only 37% of funds went to the field.
This response was also worrying:
RE: WHY WORK WITH THE UPDF IF THE LRA IS NO LONGER IN NORTHERN UGANDA
The LRA left northern Uganda in 2006. The LRA is currently active in Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and South Sudan. Invisible Children’s mission is to stop Joseph Kony and the LRA wherever they are and help rehabilitate LRA-affected communities. The Ugandan government’s army, the UPDF, is more organized and better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries (DRC, South Sudan, CAR) to track down Joseph Kony. Part of the US strategy to stop Kony is to encourage cooperation between the governments and armies of the 4 LRA-affected countries. The LRA was active in Uganda for nearly 20 years, displacing 1.7 million people and abducting at least 30,000 children. The people and government of Uganda have a vested interested in seeing him stopped.
It sounds like they either hope that the countries would work together (and that’s not their responsibility if they do or don’t), want to allow the UDPF to cross borders to hunt down Kony, or believe he was there for so long they deserve some payback. Its an odd argument given they are already saying that the other countries are under resourced - if this is so and you want to fund military activities against an army filled with child soldiers - why not work with the countries in need.
Overall this is an amazing successful campaign, and it will make a lot of people feel good about themselves but it may not have any tangible results apart from making Kony and Invisible Children and its founders famous.
When it comes to many of the systems that I am the project manager for the development of, I am clueless on how to operate them. Ultimately my job is not to know how the system works and I’m not a user of the systems either, instead my job is to make sure that the project is delivered on time, on budget and meeting all requirements.
However this means that I can also be a great tester for the basics around a project.
Today was a great example. We are at the early stages of a project at the moment and are just setting up the test environment. The staff developing the project were beavering away, when I decided to log into to the system to see what progress was like.
I immediately ran into problems. Problems that didn’t impact the developers due to their advanced permissions. The problems took about an hour to fix as once we fixed one thing we stumbled onto the next one.
However it did raise the fact that the best tester is often the person that knows nothing. They will test the way they think things should be done, not the way you have designed it to be used. And its not just usability issues, often they will come across permissions issues, and other fundamental issues that just aren’t present when ‘admin’ users operate the system.
So next time you test, as the person who knows nothing to be involved, it will likely bring the most significant issues to the surface.
I am a fan of the humble donut. By humble I mean a donut that may be glazed, maybe have some chocolate or strawberry icing, or be a plain jam donut - no nuts, custard, creme or other stuff.
Donuts were a big craze a few years ago with the introduction of Krispy Kreme to our shores. I remember reading about traffic jams around the Narre Warren store and here are some excepts from articles at the time.
First in for the big bite - 29 June 2006
DIEHARD doughnut lovers have created a traffic jam in Narre Warren at Krispy Kreme, being prepared to queue for hours for the world-renowned sugar fix.
Last Thursday the US doughnut maker opened its first Victorian store at Fountain Gate with dozens of people camping overnight in a bid to be the first in line.
Thornbury resident Claire Campbell was first through the door on foot, while Cranbourne’s Nathanael Stegmann and David Findlay, along with Kyle and Giang Nguyen and Ronnie Reed of Narre Warren, were first to park in the drive-through
The News spoke to drivers from as far away as Yarraville and Thomastown on the opening morning who were prepared to wait in the long queue to stock up on doughnuts and coffee.
A spokesperson for Krispy Kreme said that visitors from Canberra, country Victoria and New South Wales had also come down for the opening.
Police, traffic controllers and security were called in to monitor the queue of cars waiting in the 24-hour drive-through and those braving the cold and choosing to queue on foot.
The long lines continued well into the weekend with hundreds of cars still in the drive-through at 2am on Sunday.
Sergeant Pat McGavigan of Casey Traffic Management Unit said police had spoken to drivers from as far away as Hoppers Crossing, Heidelberg, Coburg and Altona.
He said Overland Drive had become extremely busy and the opening had created traffic chaos.
Sgt McGavigan said Krispy Kreme had put a lot of planning into the opening but the turnout had far exceeded expectations.
He thanked motorists for their cooperation.
There were even stories of donut scapling
Scalpers on the bake - 29 June 2006
DOUGHNUT scalpers have reportedly cashed in on Krispy Kreme’s popularity.
Narre Warren police have received unconfirmed reports that some scalpers have been trying to sell individual doughnuts for as much as $10 to $20 each to those braving the long queues.
The doughnut chain opened its doors in Narre Warren last Thursday and since then people have queued for up to six hours to purchase the sweet.
Acting Senior Sergeant Nicholas Vallas of Narre Warren said police were yet to confirm the scalping reports but said there had been no assaults, collisions or serious crime following the store opening.
The Narre Warren store has already broken many Australian Krispy Kreme records since opening its doors and doughnuts from the company’s Dandenong head office and New South Wales stores have been trucked in to keep up with demand.
A spokesperson for Krispy Kreme said they did not condone the purported scalping.
“Krispy Kreme does not condone this behaviour and we have Krispy Kreme queue marshals and security on the ground to monitor this.
However despite massively expanding in the years that followed demand for the Krispy Kreme american style cake donuts didn’t live up to the company’s expectations and in October 2010 they went into voluntary administration. However like other US brands that have struggled in Australia such as Starbucks and Baskin Robbins, they have hung on in Australia with their better performing factor stores such as the original Melbourne store at Narre Warren surviving and continuing their presences at Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane airports.
Krispy Kreme wasn’t the only donut company to struggle with local competitors such as Doughbuoys also failing
However that may all be changing with a recent discovery that 7-eleven (a franchise that seems to be going from strength to strength in Australia) has introduced Krispy Kreme donuts. This looks like a great move for Krispy Kreme and a winner for 7-eleven too.
Krispy Kreme can now focus on what they are famous for - the donuts - rather than the overheads such as rental with being a retailer. People already go to 7-eleven for snacks and Krispy Kreme is a perfect fit. It becomes a slurpee type product. People may get frozen drinks in many places, but people are still going to 7-eleven for the premium product that they see slurpee as. I see Krispy Kreme the same way - you can buy donuts from anywhere but you can go to 7-eleven and get a Krispy Kreme.
So Krispy Kreme may be making a come back - and I hope it works out. They are unfortunately the temptation that may continue to keep me from losing weight.
I know this is a topic that lots of people have posted about this, (see this google search for some other posts)
If you are do busy, where is the space to allow your mind to run, and think of new ideas, reflect on past experiences, reinterpret information and generally become inspired.
Often the time that we call procrastination, apart from giving the brain a rest from the task at hand, is used for gaining knowledge, engaging others, or being creative.
The key to procrastination is to utilise the value of procrastination i.e. act on the idea, allow the creativity to impact the work you do, and solidify relationships.
Ultimately the time spent procrastinating may be worth more that the task you were completing at the time.
I am someone who is extremely late to the addiction that is Zynga’s Words with Friends. Being not really a facebook person - or a social gamer in the past for that matter - there was really no incentive for me to start playing. Ultimately what got me started playing is seeing the app be popular in the Android marketplace on my phone.
I wanted some more games to use and felt like a word game would be good. I also knew that some of my friends were players so I should be able to play against people I knew.
After playing for a week or so, I noticed a few things that can help you in the real world:
- Its all about making use of the tiles your dealt.
Whilst there is a lot of skill involved in knowing lots of potential words that can be played, there is chance involved in the tiles your dealt. Ultimately its about make use of what you’ve been given the best way possible.
- Look for all possible opportunities, not just the obvious ones.
Its really hard to keep a handle on all the possible opportunities to play on the board especially when you can make multiple words at once. Thinking in these multiple dimensions at once is difficult but can pay big rewards.
- Being first can give you a big advantage.
Whilst Words with Friends is not a race, being the player who finishes their tiles first can be the difference between winning and losing. In a game I was playing I was behind the whole game. My last word would have tied the game but because I finished first I received the value of whatever tiles the other player hadn’t played. This ended up being the difference in the game which led to me winning and the other player losing.
- Build relationships
One of the best things I found about Words with Friends so far is the random opponent option. Right now I’m playing with three different random opponents. Engaging with random people may come to something or nothing but there is no fear, cost or reason not to play against people you don’t know on what is a level playing field.
- Knowledge is power
The more words you know, the easier it will be to win at Words with Friends. Same in life or business - usually the more you know the easier it will be to win at your chosen field.
- Practice makes better (not perfect)
The phrase is supposed to be practice makes perfect, in my experience it makes you better - it helps you to improve. The more you play Words with Friends the more words you learn, and the more opportunities you see.
- Strategy is not about control - prepare to react
Whilst you may have a strategy, you are playing another competitor who will will need to react too. You can’t control them and you can’t have a strategy that assumes that things outside your control aren’t going to happen. You need to be able to be flexible and react successfully to your opponents decisions and actions.
These are just a few of my early observations. There are probably a lot more that I’ll find if I keep playing it. Any I missed or you disagree with?
Last night I received an indecent proposal. At least I thought I did. No I wasn’t in some casino, or seedy bar or nightclub, this proposition came via my home inbox that I share with my wife.
The sender was “Mr & Mrs Smith” the subject “We’ll pay you to sleep with us”.
Before I go any further, what would you think if you saw this email in your inbox?
Have I been looking at dodgy sites? (I haven’t)
Scammers of Phishers?
Here is the email in question:
So its a marketing email, and the copy of the email is insignificant, especially for a text based email. Don’t know if the call to actions are very clear but there isn’t anything especially good or bad with the body - it didn’t get me to click through though.
I think however the first mistake they made is the most critical one. Simply that this is what I saw in my inbox
Now whilst I probably opted in to this email at some point in the past, I definitely haven’t received any email from them recently. (I actually checked if I had an account with them and hadn’t clicked on the verification email - so I don’t know if I opted in or not - benefit of the doubt that they haven’t simply created accounts using a third party mailing list as it may just be that I forgot that I signed up.)
When seeing this line most people would do one of three things:
- open, unsubscribe then delete
- open and read more
The subject line is however so polarising that is it worth the risk. My personal opinion is no. My first instinct was to delete, but my chosen action was option two. Not because of the email body, but its not the type of subject line I want appearing in my inbox when my daughter may be using the computer even if the email itself isn’t offensive.
Overall my view is that the email is ineffectual, the subject line can be interpreted offensively and it simply isn’t worth the risk. Then again as a prestige hotel and loyalty club maybe it fits in with their brand and audience.
What do you think? Am I being overly sensitive? Maybe I’m completely off the mark.
Back when I was at World Vision, I managed the Digital Channels group which became generally known as Digital. This group had its history as a team called web solutions, and for a range of reasons didn’t have the greatest reputation within the business prior to me becoming manager. Without going into the past, one of the key objectives given to me by my director at the time was to create a high performing team focused on delivering the best outcomes for the organisation (based on our expertise and knowledge of the digital space) rather than simply meeting the next great idea by disparate parts of the organisation. This coupled with the new business direction and overall objective (to be the leaders in digital engagement, traffic and revenue in the charitable sector in Australia) for the group meant that I had to assess our current team, identify new roles and recruit to fill these roles appropriately. Of course being a charity meant that I had a restricted budget and therefore had limited ability to offer attractive salaries (although salary packaging did help.)
I developed a particular strategy that I’ll describe here:
- Don’t go backwards - Don’t sacrifice knowledge or skills that you can’t easily replace, or would take too much time, money or effort to regain.
- Recruit First Round Draft Picks - Recruit staff that are competent, but can become superstars whilst you have them employed. Benefit from the growth and improvement in the person.
- If someone has a better opportunity elsewhere, wish them well and support them - This is hard, however if you care for your staff you have to do this - its being loyal to your people. Just beware - there may be tears involved.
- Recruit people who fit the team and the plan - not skills or machines that do stuff - People work better with people. People make teams, I made sure I recruited people I and my team would want to work with, that could add value apart from doing what was required. I didn’t want machines, and I didn’t want people that expected to be treated like machines.
Ultimately following this strategy paid dividends. It led to an extremely unconventional approach when recruiting staff where 80-90% of an interview is really about learning about the person. No trick questions, no technical tests and no psychological testing. I simply wanted to get a feel for who the person is and whether they were the type of person that I needed for the team. At the same time, it was important that people wanted to work at World Vision Digital - and this came from people seeing the work that we did and talking to staff that already worked in Digital.
Apart from standard recruitment practices, I recruited ‘friends of friends’ so to speak - often people my staff already knew. One person I recruited from another World Vision office when they came for a visit while they were on holiday, another I interviewed solely by Twitter DM, a third was only on the phone from the US. Others applied for jobs that they weren’t suitable for but that the were the right people for the team and for other as of yet unadvertised roles that I required so I placed them into the roles I needed.
Ultimately this led to a high performing team, that achieved a lot, took pride in itself and developed a real spirit and unity that was visible to people outside the team. (This did have its own consequences that I won’t discuss here.) It was however special.
The reason I write about this now is because I recently read this article about the hiring processes at startup Spool. Avichal Garg, co-founder of Spool writes on his blog about their focus on building 10x teams, not on hiring 10x developers.
I love this article - mainly because someone smarter than me has backed up my gut feel with some actually theory and then tested it in practice. I also love the roles he came up with and completely agree with them. We were lucky enough to have each of the seven roles covered although we were stronger in some areas than others.
- The Lead Engineer sets the technical standard. She will conduct the hardest interviews and will generally work technical magic. She will raise everyone’s technical bar. This is usually what someone says when they mean 10x developer.
- The Hustler will bend the rules a little when need be, find loopholes in a system, find people you need to find, hack together systems to extract data, and set the standard for just getting things done. She challenges everyone’s thinking about how to get things done.
- The Little Engine That Could refuses to lose. She manages to do great things through sheer determination. Sometimes she will tell you about this in an interview, but many times you will need to dig into someone’s background to get a read on this. She makes everyone else more driven, focused, and makes them believe great things are possible.
- The Teacher soaks up and disseminates information. A teacher is constantly learning new technologies or synthesizing large amounts of information. She then distills the critical points and actively shares them with others. She makes everyone more productive almost immediately. This adds up tremendously over the years.
- The Anti-Pinochio is willing to call b.s. on anyone, including the CEO. She is great at spotting b.s. and willing to ask questions of anyone. This keeps a team honest and a company transparent. This is different from being an asshole or a heretic.
- The Energizer Bunny throws herself into a task fully and doesn’t have an off switch. She gets everyone to give 100% and is so enthused that everyone else becomes enthused. She sets the bar for effort and make everyone want to work harder just so they don’t disappoint her. This extends outside work too. She’ll be the first person at the party, the last one to leave, and will make everyone have more fun every day. Happy, enthusiastic teams are productive teams.
- The Heart – this is the person on the team that everyone misses when she’s not around. She’ll bring cookies in for the office, she will remember birthdays, she will make people feel better when they’re down, and she will make people do great things because she’s just so lovable. People want to come to work to see this person everyday. Just having people look forward to showing up every day is a huge productivity boost.
On thing that is really clear is that there are definitely levels of these strengths and they are part of a person’s makeup. We had a range of people that I would have thought would have filled the role of ‘the heart’, but when we got a real ‘heart’ person the impact on the team was amazing. When she left (to return to the US for business school which is amazing for her - see rule 3) you could feel the heart had been removed. Others had ‘heart’ characteristics but the multiplier was not as strong.
For me this approach, will be tuned in all the other roles I have going forward. Even if I can afford the 10X technical person, I will always look for the person that can help me make a 10X team.
This approach also seems to be easier in digital. In purer IT the 10X person seems to be more attractive to many organisations - however I think they are missing a huge opportunity.
What do you think of my approach? And what role do you think you are?
Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about the concept of loyalty.
Loyalty seems to often be abused. Take the AFL for example. Often clubs claim that players should take less money in order to be loyal to their clubs - clubs that often have given them their chance in the league. The argument too often is focused on the stars of the league, when loyalty is tested by huge multi-million dollar offers. Stars of the past (such as Luke Darcy) criticise modern players for taking the money.
I’m more concerned about the other end of the spectrum. There are some players that have given their all such as former Melbourne captain James MacDonald. After years of hard work and dedication he was sent to an early retirement when the club changed direction. Also have a thought about the thousands of ‘role players’ that have been cut in favour of youth, recycling the list, or injury despite their dedication to the club’s success. The loyalty argument usually isn’t raised in these circumstances.
This example seems to translate well into the organisational setting. Organisations usually expect their staff to be loyal, and go above and beyond for the company’s success. If they leave an organisation for a better offer it is often seen as being disloyal. However organisations have a licence to be disloyal - they just have to pay a fee for it - this is redundancy. Now I am not being critical of organisations making staff redundant for valid reasons (real not making it look valid), in fact I have had the unfortunate job of making people redundant before. However in both cases I believe the redundancies were a win-win situation for the organisation and the individuals. The department was changing objective and needed to redefine roles - two particular roles were replaced with new roles - and whilst the individuals were invited to apply for the new roles both elected to take redundancies.
It is different when you have staff that may have been at an organisation for 15+ years. Staff with extensive tenure should always have value to your organisation (assuming performance issues do not exist). Their organisational knowledge and history is significant and valuable, and their skills required should be up-to-date given the organisation has had learning and development responsibilities over an extended period. So when staff with this tenure are made redundant due to organisational change or the grand plan of a new manager and executive, for me it raises a number of questions.
It is also a terrible business decision in the sense that often the redundancy that needs to be paid out is equal to or greater than a year’s salary. Basically you are paying to destroy knowledge that has built up over many years.
So why do businesses still do it? For some its a knee jerk reaction to financial issues, for others its restructuring or realignment, and all too often its just that there is a new sheriff in town and he or she wants to make their mark.
So whilst I value loyalty, I think loyalty can only be a personal value not an organisational one. Loyalty is special when it is shared, but it is extremely fragile.
Ultimately loyalty has its limits and almost always will break down - you just have to hope that you get to decide when the limit of loyalty is reached before someone decides for you.