Using several organisers for writing

I have just read Filohacker’s ( 14March, 2014) great blog on using leather organisers for the writing process which provides a fascinating insight into the sociomaterial ways of working with a set of what is essentially writer’s notebooks. I agreed with his comment that notebooks just don’t work for me. I can’t stand cheap notepads and the btter ones seem to require beautifully crafted, world-class quality writing. Look at this Smythson notebook and you will understand my point:


I commented on Filohacker’s blog:

Excellent article. I firstly like the notion of ‘sentient feel’ where you keep with the beauty of the croc material. One can just imagine the pleasure you get just from picking up each file. This must certainly be one effective way of getting over procrastination to write. Secondly, the ‘side by side’ method looks a good one. Through this you can see an advance in your ideas, as well as holding on to the original ideas just in case. Thirdly, the cognitive trick of using different coloured pens appeals. Overall, I am reminded of Professor Harry Scarbrough’s notion of ‘knowledge in bits’, where, as human beings, we gather snippets of knowledge on particular themes and these build to form our framework of understanding on a theme. You certainly seem to have cracked this! I had one question…where do you write?

Looking forward to his reply.

What is a game in gamification?

There are many varieties of ‘game’, and although there are some shared characteristics, not all of these apply to every kind of game (Callois, 2001).

Salcu and Acatrine (2013) cite Huizinga’s (1971) notion of the magic circle ‘a physical/virtual boundary that divides the world of the game from the real world’ which ‘separates the game world from real world (ex: soccer field), and while in the circle, the game rules matter, not the rules of the real world. The challenge and the opportunity for gamification is how far into the circle the player voluntarily goes. If the player feels that the constraints in the circle are realistic, he/she will be motivated to play’ (p770).

So game players play games. Again, Sacu and Acatrine help in inthe delineation betwen the two: ‘Callois (2001) described “play” as being the expenditure of exuberant energy, whatever is done spontaneously and for its own sake, and free movement within a more rigid structure. Play can be understood as “a type of human experience regardless of the particular activity the individual is engaged in, and not a form of distinct human activity with clear boundaries” (Cantaragiu and Hadad, 2013, p. 835). The gamified sense of play seeks to create a zone of fun and exuberant energy for the player within a contained environment.

Fullerton et al. (2004, p. 5) consider the game as being “a closed formal system that engages players in a structured environment and resolves in an unequal outcome”. It contains a series of meaningful choices and a domain of contrived contingency that generates interpretable outcomes. It is a problem solving activity, approached with a playful attitude. A game is a set of choices, which lead to certain outcomes. The path chosen to lead to the outcome involves an element of freedom – play’ (P770).

Caillois, R. (2001), Man, play and games, The Free Press, USA.
Fullerton, T., Sawain, C. and Hoffman, S. (2004), Game Design Workshop: Designing, Prototyping, and Playtesting Games, CMP Books, San Francisco.
Huizinga, J. (1971), Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, Beacon Press, USA.

Gamification…HR are slow so do they need help?

One area of HR innovation I am becoming increasingly interested in is in the notion of ‘gamification’. Gamification involves ‘the use of game elements and game design techniques in a non-game context’ (Deterdinget al., 2011, p9).

Whilst gamification is proving popular in many arenas, its use is slow to be adopted in HRM/talent management. This is not surprising. A Spring 2013 study and annual survey of 130 HR executives (the Global HR Barometer survey) by CapGemini Consulting revealed that the overall digital maturity level of HR processes is low and that HR is lagging in the use of digital technologies generally. They found that 75% of HR and talent managers believe their companies are behind the curve in the use of internal and external social networking technologies, with only 26 of Fortune 500 companies offering a mobile-optimized job application process and only 26% of talent acquisition leaders reporting that their organization uses workforce analytics well during the hiring process. Very few organizations have established best-in-class digital processes to interact with current and potential employees.

The CapGemini Consulting report takes a positive stance on gamification, reporting that such techniques incorporating the effective use of digital platforms can dramatically improve learning outcomes, and ‘enhancing employees’ ability to learn by as much as 40%’. NTT Data uses gamification to build critical leadership skills among its employees. Their “Ignite Leadership” game ‘enables employees to experience a variety of leadership scenarios and offers them the opportunity to learn more about new management subject areas and the role they aspire to. It allows them to collaborate online with their peers, get instant feedback and be recognized for their game — all the while increasing their visibility as potential leaders’ (2013, p5). Impressive results have been reported, with the “Ignite Leadership” game leading to a 50% increase in the number of employees taking up team leadership roles, compared to traditional training and coaching methods.

Let us look a little closer, though. NTT Data actually offers gamification processes to clients, so it is hardly surprising that they have success. Here is an item from their web pages:

Strong business performance depends on motivated and engaged stakeholders. That’s why adoption of gamification to boost productivity, encourage collaboration, and problem solve is on the rise. In fact, Gamification uses game design principles to modify or drive employee or customer behavior through meaningful incentives, a sense of purpose, and fun. Yet, for gamification to be successful, organizations must have clearly defined business objectives and a roadmap for application deployment and adoption.

NTT DATA can help. Our gamification team, made up of game designers, application developers, and behavioral psychologists, creates highly engaging experiences that can change the game in core areas of your business, including IT, finance, HR, and marketing.
We combine proven experience in enterprise IT strategy and development with innovative and creative insights about how to change behavior using game mechanics, such as leader boards that encourage friendly competition, points and rewards that motivate employees and customers, and avatars that encourage collaboration.

We work with you to plan and execute your gamification strategy, from objective-setting, game design, and proof of concept to the development and hosting of your gamified application, using our Ignite Game Platform.

Ignite is a robust and configurable cloud-based gamification platform that enables us to quickly configure and host a gamification solution that maximizes ROI for your organization.

So, once again, HR/talent managers behind the curve? We know there are reasons: HR is always seen as an on-cost so getting funds for innovation is difficult; current HR systems are not integrated well to other organisational systems; senior management get very nervous about social media and other technologies like gamification impacting on the employer brand and lack of data drive insights as the norm preclude innovative development of technologies for HR/TM (see CapGemini report for more detail, 2013, p6+). As we can also see from NTT Data’s blurb, developing HR innovation systems in areas such as gamification may revolutionise performance management and appraisal and other areas of talent management, but it takes a highly specialised, hybridised disciplinary team to carry out the design, development and implementation work.


CapGemini Consulting (2013) ‘Using digital tools to unlock HR’s digital potential.’
Digital Transformation Research Institute, Accessed 5 February, 2014 at

Deterding, S., Dixon, D., Khalled, R. and Nacke, L. (2011) ‘From Game Design Elements to Gamefulness: Defining Gamification’, in MindTrek ’11 Proceedings of the 15th International Academic MindTrek Conference: Envisioning Future Media Environments, 28-30 September 2011, Tampere, Finland, pp. 9-15.

NTT data, company web pages on gamification at:

Salcu, A.V. and Acatrinei, C. (2013) Gamification applied in affiliate marketing, Case study of 2Parale. Management & Marketing Challenges for the Knowledge Society 8 (4) pp.767-790.

Narratives people live by

Today in church the preacher’s approach was one we have come to expect in terms of structure, including prayers, hymns, bible readings, sermon and prayers of intercession. Also included were the usual biographical introduction and several personal narratives as illustrations. After one hour we knew his personal circumstances (married), details about his grandchildren and the stages they were at in school, his personal work history (ex-lecturer in science) and how many aspirin tablets you could get out of a large bag of aspirin (50,000). He also analysed two bible readings and linked them to the narratives as he went along. Impressive.

So what were his talents? In knowledge terms he knew many scientific facts, had a good memory for biblical references, narrative capability and presentational capability (although his slight nervousness reduced any flair or charisma there might have been there).

This Sunday in church the preacher drew upon many personal narratives to link to the biblical meta-narratives we all knew. By the end of the one hour-long service, through his interspersions of personal stories and narratives, we knew his personal details (married, retired science lecturer, grandfather and his sadness not to have seen his one child actually come into tne world) and how many aspirin tablets you could make out of a large bag of aspirin chemical materials (50,000).

For organisational researchers, narrative analysis is well established within studies of organisational life. A church can be taken to be an organisation, and their preachers are their ‘staff’ for whom storytelling is integral to their ‘work’. The work of scholars such as Boje, (2001), Gabriel (2000) and Rhodes and Brown (2005) are useful here. Narrative and storytelling are useful tools for human interaction (Herrmann, 2011), they have been used to examine shared sense making in both classic cases (Orr’, 1996, 2006) and contemporary studies, such as ‘Picture Perfect? Exploring the use of smartphone photography in a distributed work practice Katrina Pritchard and Gillian Symon in Management Learning (published online 20 May 2013 DOI: 10.1177/1350507613486424).

Another aspect of the preacher’s personal narrative was the surprise story about his angst at missing the birth of his child.  Critical life events can involve a reframing of one’s very value system – what is important in our lives.  In organisational life, crucial events call for managers to learn what has been situated in practice, maybe for some time, and taken for granted by the person and their colleagues in the organisation. We need to be aware that these crucial events offer, often triggered by life-changing situations/conditions, offer valuable experiential learning (Kolb, 1984 is an oft-cited scholar here) or, as other put it, situated learning, which emphasises learning within the work context.

Situated learning claims that our understanding of learning can’t be isolated from the social context where organisational practice is enacted but we can also argue that learning can’t be isolated from individual’s life condition where reframing is often required.

Writing deadlines

My fixation today has been about writing deadlines…my own and those of my professional doctoral students. My own because I am a week late returning reviews of other academics’ journal articles and others because missing deadlines on doctoral documents can have a catastrophic impact on the eventual result….even to the extent of missing the final ‘drop dead date’ for doctoral submission of the final document(s).

Here are some comments provided from Richard Nordquist entitled ‘Writers on writing’ (

I know that a deadline can be both life and death to a piece of writing and that death is sometimes preferable. It depresses me utterly to see children being forced to finish a piece of writing when they’re sick of it, lacking in inspiration, and getting negative feedback in writing conferences. No one forces me to finish my writing, and I’m a published writer, so why should any writer be ruled in such a manner by someone who doesn’t own the writing anyway?
(Mem Fox, Radical Reflections: Passionate Opinions on Teaching, Learning, and Living. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1993)

I do not know any writers who write without deadlines, or who write at all before there is a self-imposed or external deadline. There must be some, but they are few indeed. Whenever I stop giving myself a deadline–a minimum number of pages by a certain hour on a certain day–then I stop writing. Without deadlines I do not write.
(Donald Murray, A Writer Teaches Writing. Houghton Mifflin, 1985)

Anything with a deadline is automatically more important than something without.
(Rowena Murray, Writing for Academic Journals, 2nd ed. Open University Press, 2009)

If you work alone, you really need to want to write because it calls for self-motivation . . .. I once read that 80 percent of writers need a deadline and only 20 percent don’t. If you are writing on spec, without a deadline, you’d better want it.
(Aline Soules, “Networking and Serendipity in Publishing.” Writing and Publishing: The Librarian’s Handbook, ed. Carol Smallwood. American Library Association, 2010)

Deadlines and money. If I didn’t have a deadline and never received payment, I wouldn’t write at all.
(Fay Weldon, interviewed by Alan Stevens. MediaMasters: Insider Secrets from the Big Names of Broadcast, Print and Social Media, ed. by Alan Stevens and Jeremy Nicholas. Bookshaker, 2009)

One huge aid to the writing-rewriting dynamic is the deadline. It forces savage action. Like form or design, the deadline is not a prison to creation. It offers a promised release from the self-created prison of indolence, of not writing.
(David Morley, The Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing. Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Thank God for deadlines. . . . You need a deadline and a beastly editor who insists that you keep it.
(Ann Haymond Zwinger, “Field Notes and the Literary Process.” Writing Natural History: Dialogues with Authors, ed. by Edward G. Lueders. University of Utah Press, 1989)

Carole Tansley

Lessons from an ad man

I have Steve Boese’s blog post delivered every week and he makes some great comments about talent management, and here he talks about that well-known leader of the North American advertising agency, David Ogilvy, and what fourteen years of running his ad agency taught Ogilvy about what ….the ‘top man’ in the organization should consider his primary responsibility:
[Ogilvy said] ‘After fourteen years of it, I have come to the conclusion that the top man has one principle responsibility: to provide an atmosphere where creative mavericks can do useful work.’

Steve comments:

‘Like much of the insights in ‘Confessions’, Ogilvy doesn’t really knock you out with how incredibly profound or ground-breaking his thinking on management was. But if you pause to consider that he was postulating about this idea of management as an enabler of creative accomplishment back in the early 60s then the observation seems a bit more meaningful.

Face it, 50 years later it is pretty easy to find any number of management and leadership gurus and though leaders advising the very same thing. Find the best, most creative and talented minds. Carefully construct an atmosphere where they can and will be motivated to work on what drives them. And finally, be brave and smart enough to stay (enough) out of their way.

A simple recipe for success, no?

Ogilvy had it figured out in 1960. How long do you think it will take the rest of us to catch on?’
..obviously, creatives are the main talent pool in the advertising industry but it’s a good point to reflect on for other industries.


Why your identity will soon be a total construction..


I read this on TLNT Daily’s email today in their article called ‘9 ways HR and recruiting technology will evolve over the next 4 years’ and it was pretty chilling:

Social capabilities integrated into the platforms

When a candidate applies for a position, a HR manager or hiring manager will see the application and their social profiles as an integrated aspect of their application. For example, it will show what company the candidate worked at, the recommendations they received while at that position from his or her LinkedIn profile, recent tweets, and Facebook wall posts. (by Sudy Bharadwaj, Jackalope Jobs).

Go and visit your Facebook pages… have a Spring clean!