Digital Tools for the rest of us.

Digital tools are there to make our work life more easy, more efficient, more enjoyable. But a lot of them are very complicated, and there are a loooot of them, so they become more of a distraction.

I’m a big fan of those new ways of working and like to experiment with them. Sadly, a lot of time, tools don’t work out in a real life company that is not a trendy tech-startup. So I gathered the most basic tools that help you in managing your work, collaborate with colleagues, share files, get things done,… that actually work in an environment where not everybody is a digital native.

Enjoy ‘Digital tools for the rest of us‘! Share if you like!

2015 Work resolutions

Yes, that time of year, so let’s look forward!

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Share more

Yes, that is primarily with you out there! Colleagues, blog readers, friends. Not because sharing is caring, but because sharing is a gift (of which the value is being defined by the receiver and not the one that gives it btw), so I’ll refrain myself from asking myself to much the question: is this relevant?! It’s up to you to decide on that one.

Doodle/sketchnote: practice practice

Inspired by my friend Nele from london linger & the great book from Mike Rodhe. Yes! Visual is the way to focus your brain on the main message & learnings.

As a little extra: don’t worry about making mistakes, drawing in non-erasable inkt,… : Practice makes perfect and you can always say Sorry afterwards, start over or just ignore your mistakes altogether.

Put your name on it!

Putting your name on it makes it personal. It’s not about taking credit (sometimes it should be!), but about putting your heart into it and taking responsibility for the results. Of your work, of your dreams, of your ideas,… Fully agree with Seth Godin.

Don’t RUN, move with a quick pace!

At work that is. If you are late: deal with it.

Keep up the willingness to LEARN.

I believe the willingness and ability to learn new skills quickly might be my most valuable competence. So let’s focus on the things I’m good in to make the difference (instead of putting to much time and effort in those ‘development points’).

Look people more in the eye.

Apparently, it helps to show confidence 😉

Here we go, up to a great 2015!


Extra:  The Unofficial Goldman Sachs Guide To New Year’s Resolutions

7 habits of highly effective people: 7 learnings in 1 visual.

I am a firm believer of getting inspiration from books. They have a lot of advantages compared to other forms of learning:

  • They are cheap – For the price of one class-room or in-house training, you can buy books for the rest of your professional career.
  • You can easily pass them on (And share your thoughts on them).
  • You can skip parts (You know the feeling when you are in a classroom training and the first 3 hours are on topics you already know a lot about).
  • You can access them everywhere (hey, I’m living in a country with Blackout potential ;-)).
  • They typically go more in-dept than blog-posts.
  • But off course, you need to remember what is in there, so sometimes you need a quick recap of knowledge. That’s why doodling the main learnings of a book can come in handy.

My latest one is an old one: The 7 habits of highly effective people (by Stephen R. Covey). Down in one image!

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Minimum Awesome Product

Minimum Awesome Product

Creating a new product or service can take years. More and more companies however move away from the “don’t launch it until it’s completely finished, retested and out of date” approach. They go for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach where a working but ‘not ready for mass production’ product is launched towards a small group of customers in order to help further developing the product.

In that context, a new question arises:

“What about a kick-ass product”?

The risk with MVP’s is that what makes a product truly remarkable – more often than not – lies in the details, in how remarkable the elements of the products come together in a design, a use, a service experience,… With a MVP, you will only deliver the core of the new product or service, which is most of the time not enough for a real WOW experience. And by only offering this, you also tend to focus on getting the core better when working with the first customers. They evaluate what they get (the core capabilities) and by default they will give you feedback on how to make that core better by adapting it better to their needs. Only in rare cases, they will focus on the things that are not there or that they are not (yet) aware of (the details, the design, the packaging, the unclear element of a new kind of usage,…).

So how to tackle this issue without going again towards the old model of developing a product forever?

What about a parallel route? You push your MVP product in the process with customers to focus on shipping a real product as soon as possible. At the same time, use a small group (or even individual) to add some magic to the existing MVP product. Why not use a designer, an outside consultant, one of your top sales guys,…?

When you work on shipping your version 2 of the MVP product, just add the WOW elements (as they are not linked to the core of your product, this should be rather easy). Imagine how delighted your first customers will be if they see that both their requirements were met in your new release and a magical tough has been added.

Minimum Awesome Product (MAP): Delivered!

Habits of successful artists – Spark 10:  Lead a tribe

Leading means taking risk, standing out from the crowd, do something for the first time, ship it and convince others to follow you. It takes a great deal of courage, a great idea and a risky execution.

Courage: doing something new is by definition an uncertain business: No benchmarks, no best practices telling you what to do. Just you, your brains & intuition.

A great idea: It all starts with this. Being able to have something that creates a new kind of value to at least one person or organisation.

Risky execution: As the idea itself never represents any real value. It’s only by putting it to use that you will create an impact. Going out into the real world and leaving your whiteboard is always risky: in the real world, you can actually brake things 🙂

Go out, be brave & lead!

Habits of successful artists – Spark 4: Fail often.


  1. Lack of success.
  2. The neglect or omission of expected or required action.
  3. The action or state of not functioning.

Failure is apparently no longer an option. People and organisations are becoming more afraid to fail than of not to act.

Indulge me in making a case for some kind of failing…

First: people as a species are not good in risk estimates. We tend to overestimate the probability of events that in reality only have a very low chance of occurring (some scientific reading for a change). That should already make you more at ease with falling into analysis paralysis. There is probably always one more check you can do before you actually move over to action — in order to make sure you have covered every base — but in reality, the subject of your extra effort probably will never occur in the first place.

Second: there is failing and failing. I want to make the case for quick and controlled failing.
Quick as in: don’t waste 70% of your resources on analysis, because in the end you will not only have no resources left to actually make something happen, you will also have noticed that you lost that much time that reality (the basis of your initial assumptions) has changed in the meanwhile .
Controlled as in an environment with limited impact and monitored (to enable you to learn and tweak).

Third: To really create something extra-ordinary, to go where no man (m/f) has gone before, there is no guidebook, so the change you can either calculate the outcome upfront or — just by good luck — end up with something perfect the first time, is close to 0% (which shows some interesting light on point one of course).

So set up a controllable place that enables you to fail… often!

Extra: Now is the time to start failing. The last decade is failure open for some setback (just look at the use of the word in the image below ;-)).


Habits of successful artists: Spark 3 — Speak in Public.

(Part of a series based on inspiration from Seth Godin’s ‘The Icarus Deception’).

Speaking in public. Most of us don’t like it be default. You are out in the open, vulnerable and very open to criticism.

However, you should do it for multiple reasons.

It helps you in making your idea grow.

You might be the most creative person in the organisation, a good idea can always become better (more practical, more taken into account the limitations of the real world,…), and probably others in your organisation can you help identify the parts of your idea that need some tuning.

It gives other people drive.

People just love stories, we all want to feel the vibe of being part of something good. Even the most rigid people will feel a little (invisible to the outside world off course) chill if they witness the next big thing to be.

It helps you sell your idea.

A brilliant idea is useless until it is shipped. Chances are that you need other people to help you ship (get a budget, get access to a trade channel,…)

Somehow, the art of selling trough speaking is not as present in modern business life as it should be.

Personally, this is one of the modern business skills I need to work hard on, because getting the message through is the only way forward. It strikes me even more now how some people don’t see the importance of developing this skill. Even for sales people and marketeers, who be default are ‘selling’ on a daily base, this seems to be the case.

So a warm outreach: ‘selling your idea’ is not an objective, it’s a skill!Go get them!

Habits of successful artists: Spark 2 — Say thank you in writing.

(Part of a series based on inspiration from Seth Godin’s ‘The Icarus Deception’).

The art of saying thank you is probably both the most cheap and underestimated gifts (in both professional as personal environments).

Saying thank you shows:

  • you took the time to truly look at the outcome (which meant both the end result was good en the task meaningful);
  • that the person helped you as a person (an not just did a task within the organisation);
  • you care enough to show your appreciation out in the open: people can keep your feedback when you write it down;
  • that you are willing to make it personal: write it down in your handwriting and it shows it comes from you, not from a computer with always the same font.

A thank you makes It just makes you feel good.

Mission for self: write a thank you note this week.
Mission for you: write one today!

Habits of successful artists: Spark 1 — Learn to sell what you have made.

Reading the book ‘The Icarus deception’ from Seth Godin, I came upon this list:

“The habits of successful artists”

  • Learn to sell what you have made.
  • Say thank you in writing.
  • Speak in public.
  • Fail often.
  • See the world as it is.
  • Make predictions.
  • Teach others.
  • Write daily.
  • Connect others.
  • Lead a tribe.

It stroke me with that much inspiration, that I decided to write one article on each (or try at least, no sense in sharing nonsense also). Easy peasy: in the order they appear.

First up: Learn to sell what you have made.

I couldn’t agree more. I’m the first to take blame, but being able to ship is in my opinion the key differentiating element for companies big and small. For some reason, in small companies, it seems like the natural thing to do. Probably because shipping there is the only way to generate revenue to pay for the cost you made. Off course, this is not different in large companies, but apparently, there is moment where companies come at a stage where the direct impact of not generating revenue right away is not that visible anymore. If you are big enough, there is no risk that you will not be able to pay your cost at the end of the week (off course, also this is an illusion, but perception is everything off course).

Another element might be that the (perceived) risk of doing some wrong is bigger in a big company than in a small. Putting it this way: if you are a one man company and you screw up big time, you need to find another job and you need to work during the week end to pay of some debt, if you are a company with 1000 employees and you screw up as a company, 1000 people need to find a new job and millions are lost for shareholders. And off course, most shareholders don’t like risk…

The only way out of this is to start putting a risk premium on ‘not shipping’, on ‘not doing anything’ or ‘doing as last year and hoping that the outcome will not be too much different’. In economical terms: this is not only the opportunity cost, but also the cost of loosing your first mover advantage or even the cost of becoming obsolete.

Whenever you think: I will not present these figures to my boss this week because it’s not what he wants to hear and I want to check some extra figures, force yourself to not only put into the equation your fear (Seth would call it ‘your lizard brain’), but also the cost of loosing one week time in adapting if you prove to be right…

Shipping this article now!

Also available on Medium.

Internal communication is not a business unit.

Typically, it goes like this: In small companies, internal communication is done by the owner of the company. It’s not in her job description (owner’s don’t tend to have a formal job description in the first place), she just feels the need to communicate to her company. All of a sudden, in larger companies, it becomes the role description of a dedicated person or even a whole business unit.

The people in this unit then can start the work of a miner. They constantly need to push all people in the organisation for information (Do we have a new product that we should push on the corporate website? Is there a new big client the CEO can use as a reference when talking to industry leaders? How good is the knowledge of all employees on corporate strategy?…). I can only begin to image how difficult their work must be. They are faced with a situation where every employee is their source of information on the one side (but nobody has off course the time to produce direct usable information) and the complete organisation is also their target group.

Off course, this is about knowledge and the thing about knowledge networks is that every single person has an interest in learning (getting knowledge), but not directly in sharing his own knowledge (because that off course takes time). As the value of the knowledge network is mainly defined by the individual pieces of knowledge in it and everybody seems to value the power of knowledge, we should try to push more the boundaries of the typical knowledge role of internal communication in large companies.

I would argue that ‘internal communication’ should not be the formal role of one or more people, it should be a part of the role description of every single employee. The role of internal communication should be transformed into a curating one:

  • enable the knowledge sharing and learning (through dead easy tools);
  • reward knowledge sharing;
  • create and archive of the most important knowledge;
  • create flows of knowledge exchange in all directions in the organisation.

Seems a lot more fun than bugging people for information also…

How is your internal communication team oriented?


Discuss also on Medium