Sunday, December 20, 2009

Looking Back (2009)

New Year's Eve: a good moment to look back at the year that passed and try to draw some conclusions. A friend of mine said once, "failure doesn't matter, it's only lessons to learn from". I agree with him.

Many people say that 2009 was a bad year, because of the economic depression, because of the shortage of jobs, because of the increased stress. I wouldn't call it bad, but difficult. The optimism that characterized 2007-2008 was harder to find. Many companies changed their strategies and rhetoric, switching from the confidence and growth-oriented speeches of the previous years to cost reduction policies or even lay-offs. For employees, the situation got tense. People are more afraid they may loose their job as management is putting more pressure on efficiency. Tension is floating in the air in many corporate environments. I will not argue here whether this is counterproductive or not, but I dare to say that even though employees are more focused on cost reduction and  usually tend to do their jobs more carefully, the amount of innovation and involvement has, somehow, decreased (I read such a statistics somewhere that, based on what I see around me, I am inclined to believe). People seem to have lost something from their excitement about their work as many of them have switched to survival / cautious mode. Everyone is waiting for the recession to go away and to see the labor market flourish again. News reports show that the quality of life has decreased in 2009. Has it or it's just the feeling that something bad is about to come and it's waiting around the corner? While for many it is, indeed, much worse, for others, who may have no apparent reason to complain, the months-long anxiety and the rumors surrounding them seem to have shaped in a negative way their mindset.

Since I am an incurable optimist, I say that most of the anxiety is in our heads and in the way we look at things (Arguably, right? Yes, for sure, and I will, probably, get a lot of criticism for the previous statement). If I take only the facts though, at least in my case, there hasn't been a decrease in the economic level or a substantial increase in the amount of hours I spend at work. I have experienced a lot of pressure though (but I would have probably experienced it in other conditions as well) and, sometimes, it affected my mood and my overall perceived happiness. For me, 2009 has been a year of many changes. Strictly factual, I would characterize 2009 as a moderately good year, because, most of the time, change presented unexpected opportunities (or, at least, it brought hope for the better).

We, as humans, don't cope well with change as it throws us into uncertain territories. We get anxious in front of the unexpected and most of us perceive it as frightening but, if we keep our eyes open and realize that something bad might happen anyway, maybe we could enjoy life a little more. For many, including myself, it is not always as easy as it is to say it, since it means a lot of energy, strong emotional balance, strong will and determination. As the false economic security feeling of the previous years is lost somehow, some turn to other values in life in search of balance and security. Is this good? Is this bad? I don't know and I don't have the slightest desire to debate it here - I guess it's just a normal, human, response to the turbulent environment.

2010 seems to be even blurrier than 2009 so what I wish for myself is equilibrium. I wish to always find strength to pass beyond all obstacles and seize the opportunities that lie past them. I wish to maintain a clear vision about what I want to achieve and have the will to achieve it. I wish that, at the end of 2010, I'll be a better man, more experienced and more knowledgeable, more warmhearted and at least as confident and optimistic as I am right now.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May the joy of the season fill your hearts with happiness and warmth!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Disconnected Thoughts

The difference between a dreamer and a person of great success is that the latter actually does something to achieve his / her dreams.

Focus is slowly shifting from efficiency and order to extreme motivation, adaptability and innovation. Since we need to invent new ways to serve our customers, we need to find those people who are desperately motivated to do it (and keep them motivated :p).

The effectiveness of a research report is inversely proportional to the thickness of its binding - Todd Wilkens (Adaptive Path). I'd extend that to that the effectiveness of any kind of report or document is inversely proportional to the thickness of its binding :D

We are not our target audience! When we build a product, we need to understand the needs, the emotions and the ways our customers are doing things. We are not developing products for ourselves but for a wide range of people, with a diverse range of feelings and backgrounds and we need to see who they are and honestly empathize with them as persons, not as consumers.