Book review – The Club by Christy O’Connor

The book is based an account of 12 months activity in the Clare GAA Club, St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield.

I read The Club over the Christmas Holiday. The book is based an account of 12 months activity in the Clare GAA Club, St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield.

The Book appeals to me on several fronts: as a book about amateur team sports, as a book about the GAA, and, to a lesser extent, as a book about dealing with personal challenges.

I have played on lots of teams over the years – be that rugby, cricket or golf. I have captained a number of teams. I have also coached or mentored teams. And I have participated in club committees across a range of sports – committees all made up of members giving freely of their time. All of those experiences have included highs and lows, rewards and frustrations. Christy catches most of this in the book – power hungry committee members, frustrated coaches, family loyalties, passionate team talks, failed training sessions, elation after great wins, competing demands on people’s time, the beauty of the game itself.

On the GAA front he brings out a number of issues – pressures on finances, importance of youth structures, competing demands for dual players, competing demands from other sports for players, the physical element of the game of hurling, the impact of the County Championship on Club sides (often prepared and ready to go – only to have matches put back to accomodate County matches). There is also some flavour of the tensions between new and old within the organisation.

In terms of personal challenges he experiences tragedy in his own life – and in some respects turns to what he knows, sport, as an escape (or perhaps to buy himself time as he deals with it). You also get some insight into the demands that senior club and intercounty sport put on the players and their loved ones. I did not feel the book dealt effectively with the group dynamics within this group of players – in fact to some extent that seemed to be missing in this particular group in this particular season. Great emphasis was put on winning the championship in memory of a player who died suddenly. If anything the book demonstrates that this is not enough to pull a team together to to drive to winning a championship.

I think sports people in general will enjoy the read – and empathise with many of the events and outcomes. I would not limit recommending the book to GAA people – in fact I think most GAA people will be only too familiar with many of the challenges, the highs and the lows.

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Tapscott on future of newspapers

New models for newspaper business

Arianna Huffington talks to the media during h...
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Been working my way through Tapscott and Williams’ excellent ‘Macrowikinomics‘.  Good Chapter (11) re ‘The Demise of the Newspaper’.  Favourite topic of mine – as an avid consumer of news (both on and off line).  And in may respects this chapter speaks to any business – you cannot stand still, you cannot just put up walls – you must change with the times, adapt, provide what the market wants (or thinks it wants).

Good, simple advice for news executives:

  1. Familiarise yourselves with the technology being used by young people
  2. Forget about making money from commodity news
  3. Develop unique value proposition e.g. The Economist
  4. Provide rich multimedia experiences
  5. Support/ enable/ lead collaborative innovation e.g. The Guardian

In the chapter he reviews a number of interesting developments including the success of the Huffington Post, the survival of investigative journalism e.g. Propublica, possible roles for journalists as curators.

I believe the game is only now really moving on for newspapers – as smart phones, tablets and internet TVtake a real grip.

And the current initiative out of Ireland, Storyful, is another excellent example for news media execs looking for innovative thinking and use of current and emerging technologies including cloud computing and semantic web.

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rethinking corporate education

Need to look at collaborative education across enterprises

Have been reading Macrowikinomics, Rebooting Business and the World – by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams.  They include an excellent chapter: Rethinking the University: collaborative learning.  I also recently watched Ken Robinson’s excellent animation: RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms.

Both the chapter and the book have left me thinking about how we deliver education/ training in the corporate or enterprise environment.  Tapscott & Williams and Robinson are arguing for new approaches in education.  These changes are being seen, to different degrees, in different educational institutes.

Web 2.0 and social networking platforms have presented wonderful opportunities for business’s to engage in collaborative processes – within their own organisations and, perhaps more importantly, with people and entities outside the enterprise.  However is would seem to me that enterprises should now be looking to change their own approaches to education – to increase the collaborative content of corporate education.  This would apply both in the case of internally delivered education/ training and training delivered by professional institutes of education.

Do you know of good examples of collaborative education being employed in industry?

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‘Glimmer’ – a review

Review of ‘Glimmer’ by Warren Berger – the subject is Design

Just read ‘Glimmer – how design can transform your business, your life, and maybe even the world’ – by Warren Berger.

Main focus of the book  seems to be Bruce Mau and his approach to Design – of his philosophy re Design and its place in the world.

The ‘Glimmer Principles’ are:

Ask Stupid Questions, Jump Fences, make hope visible, Go deep, Work the metaphor, Design what you do. Face consequences. Embrace constraints, Design for emergence and BEGIN ANYWHERE.

The book and the examples are built around these principles.

There are basic entry level introductions to a number of frameworks and concepts e.g. Doblin Inc.’s five phases of a consumer experience: attraction, entry, engagement, exit, extension (pp 134-137).

As someone who has been involved in BPR for many years now I could certainly relate to the principles referenced.  Asking Stupid Questions and Going Deep are critical to any effort.  I think current focus on lean processes in start ups also echoes many of the ket principles, in particular Make Hope Visible and Face Consequences – in the context of maximising learning/ experimentation with the potential users of the solution.

In summary, I found the book more to be an interesting introduction to Mau and a number of other Designers rather than a ‘how to’ type book.  In this sense I found the title a little misleading and the book a little disappointing.  On the positive side the book is a call to action for everyone to put on their Designer Hat – that design is not something limited to a small few creative types.