What We Want Matters

By | Emotional Intelligence, Blog, Brain, Culture, Dysfunction, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Marketing for Peace Builders, New Posts, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Platform Building, Presentations, Privacy, Problem Solving, Relationships, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Technology, The Future & The Singularity

We as a society of consumers, publishers, advertisers, and owners have failed to understand fully the radical implications of the communications schema we now live under with the presence of the Internet.

When almost everyone in the world has access to a keyboard, a microphone, and camera, almost everyone will become a publisher.

But, someone must fund that publishing in order for it to be seen by an audience willing to be changed by its presence in the world.

And while publishers may fail to understand the relationships between awareness, advertising, persuasion, publishing, and creation, consumers do themselves a disservice when they pretend that what a third party–wedged between them and the publisher–wants doesn’t matter.

There are multiple parties to consider in this transaction that is now going on at scale in the world right now:

Publishers are people (and sometimes organizations) who want to publish. They create, comment, click, like, share, and otherwise either participate, or validate, an opinion, a fact, or an idea through their actions.

What publishers want is a platform upon which to publish and attention from the audience they seek to impact.

Consumers are people who want to consume. They passively watch, applaud, share, click, like, and otherwise take in the opinions, facts, and ideas that publishers create.

What consumers want is to consume. Preferably without much action or engagement on their part and with as little friction as possible.

Owners are brands, organizations, and community builders of all types and stripes who want to own a piece of the communication real estate that the Internet has created. Owners create and own.

What owners want is to get paid for their work, their creativity, their cleverness, and their time spent building something for others. And they want to get paid as quickly as possible, as much as possible, as often as possible.

Advertisers are organizations, buyers, creators, and others who seek to intersect themselves in between owners, publishers, and consumers, ostensibly for the benefit of publishers and owners, but in reality, for the benefit of themselves.

What advertisers want is attention, awareness of the products, services, and processes they are seeking to persuade consumers. And they want it at scale, with as little friction as is possible.

There is little alignment between all of these parties (even though there is often confusing overlap), as the Internet has fractured and atomized the 20th century’s mass media, mass audiences, mass attention, and mass awareness.

With this lack of alignment comes confusion, misunderstanding, miscommunication, and at the end, scandal, corruption, mismanagement, and further erosions of public and private trust.

The best alignment is the type that removes the middleman from the interactions between the publisher and the audience and gets the publisher and the audience aligned.

The worst alignment is reflected in what is happening right now.

We as a society have gotten the Internet we asked for; dare I say, the Internet we wanted.

Now, at the beginning of yet another unraveling, a further atomizing and erosion inflection point in the overall communication culture, it’s time to ask for, and to want, something better.

Scale Problems

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Advice, Blog, Brain, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Dysfunction, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, New Posts, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Reconciliation, Relationships, Stress, Virtue, Workplace, Workplace Development

Teutonic organizations believe that size makes up for persuasion.

Small organizations believe that persuasion makes up for size.

The problem in both organizations is scale, not properly understood.

Because your organization, your team, your personality, or your project is large, that doesn’t mean that persuasion is something to be abandoned. Persuasion at scale to get me to follow the rules, be compliant, or go along with the program, must not be abandoned in favor of the use of power and authority.

Because your organization, your team, your personality, or your project is small, that doesn’t mean that persuasion is the only thing to consider. Appealing to power or authority to get me to follow the rules, be compliant, or go along with the program, is sometimes a tool that works to ensure future engagement.

Be sure of three things to determine the balance in your organization:

  • Be sure of how your size (small or large) is perceived by others in the market.
  • Be sure of how your persuasion tactics have been effective (or haven’t been effective) in the past.
  • Be sure of how you have used (or misused or failed to use) power and authority in the past, and in the present, to move the market.

Otherwise, when your organization follows a rule or regulation to the letter, creates a method of persuasion that falls on deaf ears, or makes a move that benefits the organization but not your customers or fans, don’t be surprised when the push back is unexpected.

Network Leap 3

By | Emotional Intelligence, Blog, Brain, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Google, Leadership, Networking, New Posts, Problem Solving, Relationships, Social Communication, Social Media, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Stress, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Website

Most people don’t see it.

Confusing the primacy of what we can see, touch, taste, and feel, closes our human perceptions to the potential financial and monetary value of what we cannot measure and codify with our five senses.

This is evident in the primacy of the use of relationship networks in every aspect of our lives.

We cannot touch connection, though we can experience a story with other people.

We cannot see engagement, though we can engage in active listening and experience the positive effects of someone listening to us intently, and the negative effects of someone ignoring us.

We cannot see the value in a relationship, but we can feel with our hands and our emotions the ways in which people grow in relationship transactionally with us.

We cannot see the cruft, bad feelings, negative emotions, and life experiences where the relationship didn’t “work out” as transactionally as we would like, which often creates in us a sense of caution at getting back into relationships and connections.

We have all observed the causal outcomes of the impact of things we can’t see (relationships) and have experienced the power in maintaining and growing connections (networks) to people who may—or may not—be able to “help” us advance in the world.

We all know someone who has gotten a cake job, attained a plum position, or moved up the ladder of an organization, not through technical skills, but through the value of human connection.

Most people don’t see it.

We cannot directly observe the functions of the Internet.

We cannot directly observe how information spreads through bits and bytes and is translated into images, text, and videos.

We cannot directly observe how those videos, texts, and images impact the mind and change the perceptions of the receiver of those messages, but we all accept the reality of these changes happening.

We cannot see how searching for information on the Internet, using a tool such as Google, unites us as disparate people in a communal desire to connect, engage, and to grow our interests, our curiosities, our agreements, and our arguments.

Most people don’t see it.

But Google does.

Think about it: Google as a search engine tool proves—in a form monetized at enormous scale—that the networks of connections matter more for making money, making more connections, making products, making ideas, and making services than anything else tried in human history up to this point.

But there’s an upper limit to that knowledge.

Trapped by the confines of the box in your pocket (i.e. your mobile phone) or the box in your house (i.e. your TV or desktop computer) or the box in your briefcase (i.e. your tablet), there’s a hardware limit to a software solution.

There might not be a software solution to the problems that people have, but in the 21st century, Google (now Alphabet) is going to do its level best to break out of the boxes it is currently trapped in, and prove that networks between people in the physical world, can be scaled and monetized just as easily as they were through a search function.

Google sees it.

Do you?

[Opinion] All Others Bring Emotions

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Blog, Brain, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Culture, Dysfunction, Leadership, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Problem Solving, Reconciliation, Relationships, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Stress, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Truth

Pursuing the chimera of “Big Data,” means little in the face of human irrationality and unpredictability when the impact of emotions is removed from the analysis.

Emotions are everywhere, and all around us, driving our reactions to events, our desires to record and document those events, and our drives to connect with each other.

But there is little appreciation of the impact of emotions, as the explanations for people’s individual and corporate reactions to conflicts and strife, have been reduced to little more than economic reasoning (Marxism), or scientific surety (Darwin, et.al).

Neither of which explain the passion of emotions, the irrationality of people at mass, or the unpredictability of human reactions. We desire this predictability (or at least governments and corporations do) to control and direct desirable outcomes; not to grow and enlighten people about themselves.

Instead of gathering ever more data points, arguing ever louder about whose facts are more truthful, or dismissing ideas that we believe are irrational, maybe instead, it’s time to do a deep dive into the oldest of all drivers of conflict in human beings:

  • Envy
  • Anger
  • Lust
  • Gluttony
  • Greed
  • Sloth
  • Pride

They used to be called sins.

But in an era of economic causation, and fetishized data gathering, we dismiss the power of ancient drivers, psychological and otherwise, at our continued peril.

[Advice] Conspiracy Theories

By | Advice, Blog, Brain, Dysfunction, Education, Networking, New Posts, Old Posts, Persuasion, Platform Building, Problem Solving, Relationships, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Truth

The standing rule is that people tend to most easily believe in conspiracy theories that they create; and tend to reject the conspiratorial thinking of others.

The trouble with our concerns about fake news, is that they come from a place where critical thinking has been reduced in favor of playing to (and supporting) audience attention spans that rival those of hummingbirds.

The long read, the long form content, the long movie; the challenging idea, the scientific journal, the complicated path to learning a new language; these are all in competition against TL;DR (too long; didn’t read), the 30 second cat video on YouTube, the 6 second looping Vine video, or the easily shareable click-bait article.

Audiences have been convinced by both marketers, and journalists (just marketers in another way) that their thinking and content consumption choices are sophisticated. That they are able to sift through biases consciously (without relying on assumptions and inferences from facts not in evidence), come to rational conclusions, and then act on those conclusions to co-create an orderly world.

Oh, but were that so.

When audiences can pick their own personalized access to “knowledge” and can choose their own “facts” then news that comes from sophisticated marketers (some former journalists) and content creators, becomes the coin of access to the conspiratorial realm. And social cueing, confirmation bias, and attribution activates individuals in the audience to create their own, publicly viewable, and socially shareable conspiracy theories.

Not about aliens landing at Roswell.

Not about the Illuminati running the world.

Not about a rising one-world government.

Not about a coming cashless society.

But conspiracies about stolen votes, illegal voting (and voters), racialism, economic injustice, Big Pharmaceutical companies poisoning vaccines, Big Agricultural companies poisoning seeds, Big Banks ceasing to be allowed to failed, Big Governments seeking to curb natural rights, Big Faith seeking to curb libertine tendencies, and on, and on, and on.

This type of conspiracy theory mongering is particularly subtle and insidious, because it plays on the mistrust and biases audiences already have built in to their world-view and thinking, but it does the play at scale, and one-to-one. This creates a feeling of community (we’re in the know) while also creating a feeling of persecution (we’re on the outside of everyone else).

And people should have expected it. As more knowledge, has become more accessible to the common individual (if you have a smartphone in your pocket with Internet access, you have a supercomputer) we have been encouraged to embrace the conspiracies we like, share them with our friend circle, and then sit back and wait passively for reality to match our frames and worldviews. And when that doesn’t happen, we go back, double-down, and start the conflict cycle.

Mass media (led by the collapsing and panicking journalism field) is complicit in this as well, seeking to drive audience attention to ideas and concepts that are spurious, but that also generate clicks. This is because mass media content production can’t figure out (at scale) how to get audiences to pay for something they can get anywhere for free, but it’s also driven by the ego-based desire to be seen, be acknowledged as an expert, and to grow the network and personal brand of the content creator at the expense of the market, and the audience, gaining new knowledge, or being challenged in any meaningful way.

Fake news—and the environment that allows conspiracy theories to metastasize—is not going to go away. The echo chambers of social platforms are too powerful, with too many voices, too many passive audience members, and too many exclusively self-interested actors.

What is going to have to change is, as always, the hardest piece: Individuals are going to have to decide what they will absorb, what ideas they will believe, and they critically reject other ideas, based on objective evidence and proof.

But if individuals (and audiences) could do that effectively, the placebo effect long-ago would have ceased to be effective.

Network Leap

By | Active Listening, Advice, Blog, Brain, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Culture, Entrepreneurship, Google, Leadership, Negotiation, Networking, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Platform Building, Relationships, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Stress, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Truth, Website, Workplace, Workplace Development

The deep revelation of the revolution called the Internet, is that it continues to demonstrate that networks are the most valuable resource that an individual, a corporation, or a government possesses in order to leverage innovation, change, and advancement.

Of course, during the height of the Industrial Revolution last century, no one understood how to measure the revenue generated by any kind of network (personal or professional), but everyone knew somebody who had gotten hired via a referral, or who had made a purchase from strong word-of-mouth.

The Internet shows the power of such networks virtually (have you bought an online course lately?) even as it erodes the networks between people in the “real” world.

This is a particularly troubling realization for organizations built at scale, i.e. “real world” companies, from old line manufacturers (Ford) to healthcare companies (name your national hospital conglomerate of choice here).

The fact that a network matters more than physical size, monetary resources, access, etc., on the Internet is the main reason why corporate mergers (i.e. AT&T + Every Other Media Company You Can Name on the Planet) won’t do much to increase the overall market share of individual eyeballs and mass audience attention. The mass approach doesn’t work (because of the network impact of the Long Tail) and such mergers are the flailing attempts of declining industries to remain relevant in the face of the only thing that scales from individual to individual.

The web of the network.

Some sectors are provincially beginning to understand the impact of the presence of the network in the physical world, with the growing talk around the Internet-of-Things. But this is just the beginning.

The fact that the presence of the network matters more than the size of the network, is why Google will eventually get out of the search business altogether (probably around the middle of this century or so) and be the first Internet based company to burst from your computer or mobile phone application, out into the physical world.

Search matters less and less when the network matters more and more to accomplishing revenue, connection and growth goals at scale. Sure, Facebook may “win” the networking wars against search in their own little walled garden, but Google is planning on escaping to larger territories in the physical world where the presence of a network generates more revenues, because of the inability and myopia of Industrial Revolution based organizations to appreciate the impact of a network at scale.

These larger territories where networks aren’t as valued (yet) include the physical connectivity infrastructure of a city (Google Fiber), the physical place where individuals spend time commuting to work (Google Car) and the place where individuals spend the time connecting with others physically AND virtually (Google A.I. projects).

The fact that the network matters more than the technology facilitating the development of the network, is why virtual reality companies (Oculus Rift) and augmented reality games (Pokemon Go!) will be on the edges of individuals’ and companies’ radars for some time to come. The real “killer” app for both virtual reality and augmented reality technology will be the one that brings connectivity and an already established network into the new technology. And then pivots to connect that network to a larger, physical world.

For companies that can’t envision the leap to network based thinking (but who have executives and others on their cell phones texting, emailing, messaging, and otherwise building their virtual network constantly) here are a few suggestions:

Build the physical network between schools, industry, and government in your local town, or municipality. There is nothing less sexy or interesting than sitting at a table talking about how things were better economically in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, but that lament must be part of a larger discussion of expanding the web and the network using the same thinking and acting that individuals are doing virtually daily.

Realize that money is no object. Money is a story. Fear of change and resistance to the present reality and the future possibility are the objects. Recently the question came up in a workshop with an organization in transition “How do ‘crack’ the Resistance?” One way is to build trust. The other way is to change the thinking of the organization around what constitutes a “revenue generating” activity, and what does not.

Realize that there isn’t power in hoarding knowledge, access, or a carefully constructed network anymore. There isn’t power in hoarding money anymore (no matter how much cash on the balance sheets the Fortune 500 is hoarding). There isn’t even power in hoarding connections to politicians, power-brokers, or personalities anymore. The power is in sharing, reciprocity and building trust across boundaries, rather than busily building moats.

Or walls.

The full power of the Internet—in its ability to shape how humans build, how humans communicate, and how humans create network value—has yet to be fully explored.

We are at the beginning of a revolution.

[Advice] On Focus Past the TL;DR World

By | Active Listening, Advice, Blog, Brain, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Culture, Dysfunction, Emotional Intelligence, Facebook, Google, Media, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Problem Solving, Relationships, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Strategies, Stress, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Twitter

In a world of seven second attention spans, and stimulus reward systems based in electronic tools that update with vibrations, beeps and blinking lights, believing in the efficacy of the multitasking myth is mentally and emotionally deadly.

The organizations, teams, and even individuals who will “win” the future, who will be the most successful in the long-term, will be those that can focus on one thing at a time. They will also be the ones that allow their employees the ability to mindfully focus on tasks to accomplish goals and reduce the friction engendered by interruption, conflict, and poor communication. This is the place where our new tools can take us, such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, and even the internet everywhere and in every physical thing.

It’s going to take more than a few new tools to reverse the evolution of the human brain: A brain wired for stimulus, reaction, giving into impulse, and desiring the illusion of safety and stasis at the expense of everything else. Sure, mental and tool-based “short hand” may fool our brains into thinking that we are avoiding chaos and indecision, and encouraging stasis and security, but in a world where the short-hand for absorbing ideas we’re too impatient to deal with is “too long; didn’t read” we need more focus, not less.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Podcast] The Likely and the Comfortable – The Earbud_U Minute

By | Advice, Blog, Brain, Earbud_U Podcast, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Neuroscience, New Earbud_U Episodes, Old Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Podcast Episode, Strategies, Technology, Workplace, Workplace Development

There is a way that work realities are constructed that betrays a lack of understanding and acceptance of an uncomfortable, likely future reality; and betrays a comfort with creating a reality that is comfortable, but unlikely:

  • The comfortable reality is that employers keep hiring (albeit at a lower/slower rate) and that they keep on the people that they already have.
  • The comfortable reality is that college age students will continue to pile on massive student loan debt and the skills that they get in exchange for this debt will somehow be rendered relevant in the future economy.
  • The comfortable reality is that employees will continue to be compensated at current (and ever rising) levels as the technical skills that they exhibit continue to remain more relevant than the people skills that can’t be measured.
  • The comfortable reality is that all this technological and software advancement will remain nothing more than a meaningless side show with no value to a corporate bottom line, middle line or even top line.

Considering, pontificating and reassuring that “it’s always been this way and will always be this way” in the form of published bromides and policy assurances, calms the employee lizard brain (the cerebellum where fight/flight/freeze responses live) and such statements and actions soothe and serve to maintain the status quo in organizations.

The likely future reality is much, much more complicated. And scary.

  • The likely future reality is that technological and software changes in the industrial workplace structure and underlying economy will allow more advancement and innovation to be done with fewer employees.
  • The likely future reality is that employees will be compensated less and less (and at ever decreasing rates) until the gap in compensation between top individual organizational performers and the next employee down the line, will mirror the current growing wage gap between the upper class and the middle class in the overall economy.
  • The likely future reality is that college students with crushing debt will struggle to learn and integrate emotional and psychological lessons that the academic world did not see fit to teach them at $7.00 per hour jobs. Or that they did not deem important enough to learn in between the socialization and the outrage. All while paying back five and six figure loans.
  • The likely future reality is that employers will seek to replace people with algorithms, or computer programs, or software solutions and (at the end of the line) robots, who will demand no pay, no benefits and will have such incredibly high productivity that shareholders will be happy to fire humans as a reflex, even as their returns increase.

Writing, teaching, lecturing or even casually mentioning likely future realities activates the employer/employee/politician/administrator lizard brain and makes fear, avoidance and attack responses kick in at all levels of society, from the C-Suite of an organization to the office of the President of the United States.

True management and supervisory leadership requires clear eyed planning for likely future realities, as well as a sophsticated ability to persuade, cajole and even threaten employees, shareholders, and the public to face likely reality head on. Such leadership will create sustainable economic and social systems that will be antifragile, and able to sustain and evolve from unexpected shocks, rather than attempting to build redundant, robust systems, or constructing fragile systems that fall apart in a heartbeat when the next “it could never happen here” event, happens here.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Advice] Changing Our Approach to Distribution

By | Blog, Brain, Conflict Engagement, Entrepreneurship, Marketing for Peace Builders, Networking, Neuroscience, Old Posts, Persuasion, Platform Building, Strategies, Strategy, Technology

Content distribution is hard.

Changing Our Approach to Distribution

Really hard.

Here’s why: It’s really difficult to research content, write content and edit content without a commensurate plan to “get it out there.”

Here at HSCT, we looked at the distribution part of creating content as secondary to the problem of generating enough content to actually be of value in the virtual space that we occupy.

As we have learned more and more about the process of writing, we have had to learn more and more about distribution systems. In our estimation, for the conflict consultant, seeking to make a dent in the conflict space, there are a few distribution mechanisms for getting attention (and eyeballs) on their content:

Social media—Everyone knows that social media is a place of content curation and content creation, but many people (not B2B/B2C brands) don’t think about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or even Pinterest as being 2nd party distribution mechanisms.

Email—Everyone knows that email isn’t “sexy,” but it keeps right on moving along. Email as a method for B2B content distribution drives around 4% of all traffic to the HSCT blog, with over 75% of that traffic being new visitors.

Curation Options—Many peace builders (and other content creators) don’t focus on curation tools such as Flipboard and StumbledUpon, as well as Quora.  There are also secondary content creation options out there from Medium.com and LinkedIn publishing.

The “dark” Web—Sharing of articles, reposting and republishing of articles into private newsgroups (yes those are still around) and chat rooms (yes, those are still around as well) can be powerful connection drivers for the development of a peace builders’ content. We have found this is a growing area for our content, our approach and connecting people to our philosophy and business model.

Here at HSCT, we are using all of these methods. Our strategy is simple: Keep learning and researching, keep writing our articles, keep distributing our perspective and keep growing through distribution.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Opinion] Build Your Own House

By | Advice, Blog, Brain, Entrepreneurship, Facebook, Google, Marketing for Peace Builders, Media, Negotiation, Networking, Old Posts, Opinions, Platform Building, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Technology, Twitter, Twitter, Website

When living in a house that someone else has built, there is always a sense of something that could be better, roiling around underneath the veneer of “being comfortable.”

Walking around in that house, the renter (or person paying the mortgage) always notices nails sticking out, annoying rough edges and corners of door jambs and knobs, cabinets that are the wrong height and colors of the walls that are “off.”

But, most people put up with those irritations in a house, because…well…it takes a lot of technical—and emotional—knowledge, to design your own house, to your own specifications, that’s comfortable for you.

It’s the same thing with the houses that we have built on top of the virtually property space of the web: social media platforms, apps, websites and many, many other items.

Too many clever people in the web space complain too much and too loudly, about the houses they are paying rent to live in. And as clever as they are, they are not picking up a pen, a ruler and sitting at a slanted desk, to design and build something of their own.

In order to develop the web past where it is now, we need more clever people building houses, versus renting houses.

And the amount of real estate is always expanding…

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/