Monthly Archives: March 2014

Partnership Vacuum

My role at Readify is pretty diverse. One day I can be up to my elbows in technical detail and other days I can be focusing on business relationships. I’m pretty sure that my technical background influences the way I look at business relationships.

I tend to look at relationships in terms of mutual benefits. The best partnerships are formed where both parties can put something into the relationship that the other really appreciates and can benefit from. Every so often I talk to organisations where the benefits don’t align to a great need on one or both sides of the relationship. In this situation the potential partners should agree to part ways and invest no further but keep the door open to future collaboration, but what can happen is a kind of “over politeness” where neither side are willing to admit that they see no benefit in a formal partnership. The result is the creation of a partnership with no activity at its centre, creating a kind of partnership vacuum.

Moving forward I’m going to try to be better at calling this out when I see it. The cost of not avoiding partnership vacuums is exertion of effort trying to create artificial value where no natural genesis exists.



OneNote vs. Evernote vs. Google Keep

Comparing OneNote and Evernote might be missing misreading Microsoft’s intent behind recent announcements.

OneNote has gotten lots of attention this week when Microsoft release OneNote for Mac. Microsoft also made OneNote free for Windows users and is opening up a cloud API for integration.

This recent activity has prompted many to compare OneNote to Evernote. Evernote is a popular third-party note taking tool with great support on most platforms.

While the effects of the announcement may impact Evernote, I suspect the real target is Google Keep. Google Keep is part of a much larger ecosystem of productivity tools by Google, including Google Drive.

All three products exist within an important category that I call “memory augmentation”. They are distinct from traditional productivity tools such as word processors and spreadsheets. They allow for the capture of unstructured (or lightly structured) detail.

I have been a OneNote user for years, and enjoy the pen input capabilities on Windows. But that power is useless without ubiquity of access, and that is what the OneNote announcement provides. Google needs to step up here and start providing access to their services on Windows Phone and Windows if they want to compete.

Writing Engaging Yammer Posts

The first sentence of Yammer posts should capture the essence of your topic to better engage your audience. If you don’t, summary representations of your post risk having their message hidden below the fold.

I work in an organisation that is taking advantage of Yammer. This tool can help lift the burden on e-mail volume and increase collaboration by being more open.

When I make an internal announcement I prefer to make it on Yammer because I can see feedback and dip in and out of the conversation.

Posts on Yammer lack a dedicated subject field. This might seem to be a critical flaw in the service, but I have come to appreciate it. When a Yammer post gets displayed in summary form only the first few chunks of text are visible. This is true of e-mail notifications and digests, mobile applications and the Yammer Inbox.

This means that posters to Yammer need to capture interest in the first sentence of their post. If you waffle you risk having the message missed in the stream of content on the enterprise social media tool.

I have found this constraint to be a blessing in disguise. My flowery writing style has begun to change as a result. This teaches me that constraints aren’t always negative. Sometimes they have positive consequences as the following articles can attest.

  1. Embrace Constraints in Getting Real by 37signals (now Basecamp)
  2. Why Innovators Love Constraints in HBR by Whitney Johnson
  3. Constraints Drive Innovation by Jim Highsmith

Recently one tool that has helped me deal with this constraint is Hemingway, a simple web-based app. Hemingway analyses text and reports what grade level you are writing and other characteristics. The following screenshot is an earlier version of the text in this article. You can see for yourself how the content has evolved.


Perhaps one of the lessons I need to relearn is brevity, and with that I will end my post.