Value of Diversional Productivity

I’m doing it right now. Well, I believe I’m doing it right now.  I’m being productive.   Or, is this a diversion from what I really should be doing.? No, this is what I’m supposed to be doing.

I saw a real interesting tweet by Chris Brogan a couple last week  ago – it says “Gotta run.  Face down doing work.”  Wait a sec.  Twitter isn’t work?  Then, why is every imaginable business and millions of  consumers and business people on it?   And, god forbid, during normal business hours.  Outrageous.social-web

We’re loaded up with social web today.  And, like it or not, consciously aware we’re doing it or not, we’re seeing activity increases across all demographics daily. 

Whatever your online flavor, there’s an appetizing application.  You know – article commenting, twttr, facebook, linkedin, youtube, support communities, associations, wikipedia, etc etc..  And why?   Because we’re social beings and like it or not, we’re drawn to it without even knowing that we’re drawn to it.

Back in 1999, we thought the web future would be about eCommerce.  We were right because eCommerce has continued to grow every year to the point that we’ve generally overcome our fears of credit card fraud and purchasing apparel among other finished goods without testing it first.  Online purchasing saves time vs. going to the mall, using our cars less, and allows us to find the lowest price.  Furthermore, for brands large and small, the battle to develop the best web stores is as intense as ever.

We were wrong because the most dominant web usage is now social interaction.  In fact, businesses and organizations are moving swiftly to allow buyers and window shoppers the opportunity to engage in conversations with folks they don’t know in order to make a decision.  In 2001, we’d say “wow, this site has reviews”.  Today, we say “what do the reviews say”.

In fact, there’s a whole ton of social ways we’re using the web now, and becoming the way we do business.  Why?  It’s becoming the norm.  It’s fun.  It’s always on.  And, for whatever strange reason, we don’t mind interacting on the web with people we don’t know…hiding behind our handles of course.  Some of my favorites:

  • Sports Talk – used to only occur on radio.  Now, it’s part of every article, event, game.  And, fans can generate the news just as fast as the reporters… basis for the BleacherReport.
  • Travel – where to go, where to stay, weather.
  • Food – sharing recipes, cooking tips.  I like to eat.
  • Product Support – getting expert assistance on all these gadgets that are infusing our home and cars.
  • Innovation – able to give product feedback directly to manufacturers and distributors.   Fast and convenient.

And, tons of other non-monetary needs:  family, law, career and business management, eradicating snails and gophers, ailments, or advice on pets.  All of which resolve challenges in my life, make me more satisfied with products I own,  and most of all saves me time.   Socially, we seem to take pride and self-satisfaction in giving and helping others, and the social web has evolved to provide that net.

But, perhaps the greatest social web interaction which I believe has enormous returns and the real reason for this article kicks off today with “Selection Sunday”.  Ahhhhhhhh. 

March Madness.  The Big Dance.  The NCAA Hoop Championship.   The envy of all other sports championships, but no matter, ’cause we all tune in.  It used to be a cut-out from the local newspaper, but now, we can do the pool online, compete, automatically score, join private and public groups, and chat to our heart’s content.   And, the rage grows.

However, Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, the big employee productivity know-it-all firm will put out its anuual article on Monday or Tuesday of this week and state how much corporate productivity will be lost as a result of March Madness.   No thanks to you for bringing up the negativity of it all.  Where in your equations does the value of employee communication come up?  It appears you’re turning your back on what it really means.

ncaa-2009-big-dancePooh on you, Mr. Challenger.  This week sparks great hope across the country as we cheer for the underdogs, Alma meters, mascots, uniform colors, or whatever tips your fancy.  The real returns are the wide range of online (and sprinkling of offline) pools that sprout up everywhere in this great land.  The result is camaraderie, rivalries, trash talking.  Yup, good old interaction.  A break from the mundane — something we all need right now.

In the workplace, coffee shops, sports bars, online chat rooms, news sites, and anywhere where folks meet, it’s a tme to lift up and have a conversation about a non-work topic that speaks of fun and excitement that is just priceless.  And, in a time of economic in-prosperity and generally ill news everywhere we look or go.   It’s a time for  3pt prayers, buzzer beaters, unforced turnovers, big rebounds, high flying dunks, and team spirit. 

Yes, Mr. Challenger.  Hope, diversion, interaction — all leading to better collaboration with our fellow colleagues and making new friends.  It’s priceless.   It’s time to dance.

Cal – Stanford Rivalry Takes on New Spin

With over 100 years of athletic animosity, it’s hard to imagine a match-up that feels dynamically different than earlier match-ups.  But, come Saturday Jan 17, Stanford’s Coach who’s now Cal’s Coach comes back to Stanford  to sit at the head of the visitor’s bench.  It’s bittersweet.  It’s really weird.  

Stanford fans will welcome Mike Montgomery back to his old stomping grounds with open arms.  If anyone boos, it will only be in jest.  He put the Stanford basketball program on the map.  Made it a winning program.  His predecessor, Dr. Tom Davis, was once quoted upon departing for Iowa., “Stanford will never have a winning basketball program”.   In comes Monte for 18 years.  

monte-3Monte’s Cardinal went to NCAA tournament 10 straight years between 1995 – 2004.  The only Stanford Coach to get the team to the Final Four, the closest that Stanford has gotten to the NCAA basketball championship since 1942.    Pac-10 Coach of the Year 4 times.  1991 NIT Champions.  Naismith Coach of the Year in 2000.  John R. Wooden Lifetime Achivevement Award in 2004.

Finally, after 18 years at the helm of  Stanford, Monte then became the first Stanford coach to jump into an NBA coaching job.  Some may say regrettably so, but after seeing where Cal is right now.  I say “no way”.   Monte has amazingly gone from one of the “can coach any college team he wants”, to one of those “I’m-not-sure-how-to-categorize”.  Upon arriving at Cal, Monte was not supposed to have any big man.  They’ve played big.  He wasn’t supposed to get along with Jermone RandleJermone Randle is on fire.  He’s taught the kids spacing, tempo, and play-making, all sorely missing from the Cal program for many, many years. monte-2

Unbelievably, Cal comes to Maples undefeated in Pac-10 play, 4-0.   This is one the best feel-good stories of the NCAA basketball season to date.  Very few polls had Cal ranked higher than 8 in the Pac-10.   And, any time a college basketball team is predicted to be real mediocre, and turns heads from East to West, you gotta throw some props.   Well, OK, with 1 exception…as long as it ain’t Duke.   Furthermore, Cal has won 9 in a row.  In the AP Top 25 for the first time since I can’t remember when.  And, tied for first place in the Pac-10 with Howland’s Bruins.

Meanwhile, Stanford, who was also tagged with mediocre season hopes, is a disappointing 1-3 in Pac-10 play.  Which includes two 1-point losses on the road last weekend to Washington and WSU.  And, in both games, the home team scored the go-ahead bucket with less than 10 seconds on the clock.   Stanford is in transition too.  And Coach Johnny Dawkins, who’s loaded with enthousiasm and eager to build a great program and legacy at Stanford, is just learning the ropes in his first season as a head coach. 

This could be an amazingly tight game where Stanford sneaks out a win.   Or, it could be the seasoned vet showing the newbie how to drive the school bus.    After all, Monte has actually done pretty well against Duke while at Stanford, including a come from behind win to knock out #1 Duke in the 2000 Pete Newell Classic.

I wouldn’t even want to bet $ on spreads, winner, loser, whatever.   And, just to put the rivalry into perspective.  This is not like Michigan – Ohio St.  Duke – UNC.  Texas – Oklahoma.  While there is hefty hatrid between the schools, particularly the whole public school on the side of a hill surrounded by hippies versus the private, pristine stuck-up campus on the peninsula, there is mutual respect for the education, research and thought leadership these fine universities generate on a consistent basis.  The Cal-Stanford rivalry is more like:

 “Stanford Sucks”

“No, Cal Sucks”

“Are we meeting for beers after the game?”

“Absolutely”.