Friday, 6 June 2008

Newsletter Issue 150, June 2008

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 150, June 2008
Hi guys,
We continue Anita Attridge's article on organisational culture in That’s How We Do Things Around Here, Part 4 below.
We take a quick look at Nissan's Pivo 2, a revolutionary micro car. 
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That’s How We Do Things Around Here, Part 4

In the fourth part of Anita Attridge's article on organisational culture, we look at at adjusting to culture and observing culture from within.
Starting a New Position: Adjusting to “How Things Are Done Here”
Up to this point, we have focused on finding out about company culture before accepting a job offer. But what can you do on the job to learn even more? If you start from Day One on your new job to quickly learn about the “way things are done here,” that will ease your transition. How well you fit in will be established in the first few weeks, so learning the culture—as it is, up close and personal—is as important as learning policies and procedures. To be successful, comply with both formal and informal expectations. Pay attention not only to what needs to be done but how it should be done. Every new employee knows he or she must figure out what must to be done, but you may not achieve desired results if you don’t also figure out how it needs to be done. “What” needs to be done includes: • the objectives or goals I need to accomplish • my work priorities • the technologies and systems used • the information I need to accomplish my job • the resources available to me “How” the job needs to be done relates to the culture: • How do people work: independently or collaboratively? • How are decisions made? • Who needs to be included in the decision-making process? • What is important to senior management?
Case Study: Jeff & the Intersection of Two Paths
Jeff was excited about his new position as VP of Human Resources at a prestigious consumer products company. At his previous job Jeff was known for his creative ideas and ability to develop HR programs to meet business needs. He enjoyed identifying and solving problems, had a lot of ideas and worked well with his staff and clients to incorporate their ideas. He worked with senior managers to ensure that his solutions would work in their areas within budget and headcount. After a few months on his new job, Jeff felt that he was not making progress and that he was not being well received. He ran into continuous roadblocks about his ideas. He was told that he was moving too fast, even though he thought he was moving too slowly. Jeff’s Five O’Clock Club Coach asked him to watch and listen more carefully as to how his peers operated in the management committee meetings. He then noticed that his peers always asked for permission before staring new projects. There was usually a lot of discussion about if the project should be done instead of how. Once the project was approved, each step was reviewed in excruciating detail. When Jeff was ready to initiate a new project, his coach convinced him to discuss his ideas with the management committee, even though he thought it was a waste of time. At the meeting, he suggested implementation of the project. After much discussion about whether the issue should even be addressed at this time, a decision was made to go forward. Although he was hired for his creativity and innovation, Jeff saw he would need to spend much more time gaining project approval, as well as approval for each step. He was now in a consensus-driven culture in which executives didn’t have much freedom to make decisions.
Leaning about the Culture from Within: Observe
Now that you’re on the job, observation and networking are keys to your success. Discover the unwritten rules of organizational life in your new workplace. Observe:
  • Who talks to whom?
    • Do people interact with others at all levels of the organization?
    • Do people primarily interact only with their manager and peers?
  • What language do people use when talking about their work?
    • Do they use acronyms or terms specific to the organization? If so, learn these rapidly.
    • Do they use more easily understood terms?
  • What is the preferred means of communication?
    • Email?
    • Telephone?
    • In person?
  • What is the style of written communication, via memos and email messages?
    • Are they formal?
    • Are they informal?
    • Are the messages usually brief?
    • Or are they detailed?
  • Who is copied on the communications?
    • Are numerous people copied?
    • Are only people directly involved copied?
  • How are meetings conducted?
    • Are they formal with agendas set prior to the meeting?
    • Are they informal with agendas developed or shared in the meeting?
Case Study: Steven: Waiting Alone
At Steven’s former company, everyone was expected to be early for meetings, the meetings started on time, and latecomers were not welcomed. When he moved to another company, Steven was always the first to arrive for meetings, which never started on time. No one seemed to care that people wandered in 10 or 15 minutes late. He found this irritating, but when he voiced his concern he was told, “We don’t start meetings here until everyone is present.” Steven learned to accept that meetings would not start on time at his new company because “that’s the way we run meetings here.”
In the next newsletter, in the fifth and concluding part of Anita Attridge's article on organisational culture, we look at at networking as a method for learning about culture from within, and some advice from veterans.

Nissan's Pivo 2

After reporting the ghastly stats on increasing SUVs in the last newsletter, I thought you may be interested to know the latest on alternatively powered vehicles.
Tata, a car manufacturer in India, has a JV with a French company (Moteur Development International Enterprises SA, or MDI) to manufacture MDI's air car in India. Amongst the numerous electric car manufacturers, GoinGreen's G-Wiz electric cars are a hit in London, where the company has sold over 1,000 units, making London the electric car capital of the world (G-Wiz is designed in California and manufactured in India). However, it is the Nissan Pivo 2 that is a real stunner. It has gone from artist concept in 2005 to real concept car at this year's motor shows in Europe.
The Pivo's futuristic design incorporates large doors for easy access to the cabin and large windscreens and windows for high visibility. Using a small Lithium-ion battery and small - but very highly spec'd - inverter, the Pivo has some other great innovations. It has a unique rotating cabin so you turn the car's body in the direction you want the only door to open, making the use of a reverse gear absolutely obsolete. The wheels can turn 90 degrees, allowing the Pivo to drive sideways for easy parking. There is also a "Robotic Agent", an AI car interface that you can conversations on just just about anything car related (ie basic functions or more advanced functions like where the nearest parking spot is). Designed to make journeys less stressful, conversations with the Robotic Agent can be held in English and Japanese.
And on top of all that, the Pivo looks like a cutsie-pie version of Japanese Manga. Check it out at

Store Sent Outlook Mail with Original Message

When you reply to an e-mail, Outlook stores a copy of that message in the Sent folder. In no time at all, your Sent folder can end up with thousands of messages, and looking for a specific message a while later can take a very long time indeed.
One solution is to tell Outlook to save your replies along with the original message. If, like me, you automatically route all your messages from certain people into specific folders (eg into the John Doe folder), you could arrange to save all your 'reply to' mail with the original message, as follows:
  1. From the Tools menu, choose Options
  2. On the Preferences tab (which should be selected by default), click E-mail Options in the E-mail section
  3. Click Advanced E-mail Options at the bottom of the Message Handling section
  4. In the Save Messages section, select the In Folders Other Than The Inbox, Save Replies With Original Message check box and then click OK three times to return to Outlook. And Outlook will now apply this setting to all of your personal folders.
NB: Outlook will continue to save all replies sent from messages in the Inbox in the Sent folder, but will now save all your replies with the original message and not in the Sent folder only when the original message is in a folder other than the Inbox.
If, however, you want to only save some reply to messages in the original message folder, then the answer is to use Rules. See the next newsletter to find out how to do that!

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you:
  • VSE, Visual Studio Express. Freeware scaled-down version of Microsoft's Visual Studio development environment toolset, still reasonably functional. Microsoft describes it as "free, lightweight, easy-to-use and easy-to-learn tools for the hobbyist, novice, and student developer."

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys
Over the next few newsletters, we are going to look at all you can do with Alt and letters. This time it's J & K:
  • Excel, Word "Go to Subject field when sending E-Mail" Alt & J
  • Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Word "Check the names in the To, Cc and Bcc fields against the Address Book while sending an E-Mail" Alt & K
  • Outlook "In Word as email editor mode only, check names" Alt & K
  • Outlook "Display the Task menu " Alt & K
  • Word "Preview a mail merge document" Alt & Shift & K
  • Word "Start AutoFormat; use to format paragraphs while working in a document" Alt & Ctrl & K

Hot Linx
If you want to keep up with the latest of the latest of the latest gadgets around, then this Australian site is for you. Check out
Bored? Want a new desk game to while away those telephone calls? Then check out Koozac at
For those of you wanting to calculate their carbon footprint, check out BP's calculator (NB - use Australia as NZ is not on the list) at
On the move? Want to take all your fave applications with you as you go? Then is the website for you to get all that software in a takeaway version, loaded on your memory stick.

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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