Social: Driving the new organisational brain.


Everything is designed to grow and everything is evolving at a rapid pace, including the way we work.

Social has the ability to transform behaviour. The killer experience of connecting through technology and the networks that have emerged in the last decade is staggering. The real magic for me is seeing the human aspects of technology come alive even more through intuitive and user centred design.

This progression of social is rapidly accelerating in the enterprise social network (ESN) world as products like Yammer and Salesforce Chatter work to sync the social fabrics that we are a part of and adapt them to the work environment.

As we step away from the traditional working model of 1-to-1 and towards 1-to-many, it’s not just about surfacing SMEs and providing a platform for knowledge exchange, it’s about creating a central organisational brain and a unified community.

These ESNs represent the edge: where the organisational brain is smarter and it’s capacity to make an impact goes up. They are nurturing the next organisational brand.

It is vital that we help guide that leap in the organisation, both through the people within it and communities that are a part of it.

This facilitates the evolution for human impact, organisational impact, and community. When people are empowered to use and do things, they are more likely to create this impact.

To grow, it’s about listening to people in the network, supporting and guiding them in the right direction and empowering the organisation to maximise impact.

Generating a mental map of Melbourne

Similar to Manhattan, the Melbourne CBD is a network of streets, a grid. Once you become familiar with your surroundings you can wander around, turn endless corners and still be aware of where you are. And yet, you can still stumble upon a new lane way or discover a whiskey bar on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

The experience of exploring the city with headphones on and being guided by a Google map is familiar to most of us – our destination recommended by Foursquare’s Explore feature or a tip from a friend, the journey of getting there drawn from Google’s multiple layers of data.

The challenge of finding new coffee in the city is a unique one. A write up on Broadsheet drew my attention to Little King Cafe, the map guided me up Flinders Lane and through the arch ways of St Paul’s Cathedral. Now when walking from the Bourke Street end of the city I simply wander in that direction, sometimes diverging from the path, but always ending up at my desired destination.

Mental models generate their own map of the grid, not made up of geological surveys and sensis data but the unique experiences and memories that lay hidden away in our subconscious.

Little King Cafe is now a part of my mental map of Melbourne.

Maps have meaning because they filter out all the chaos in the world. How different would Melbourne be seen through the cognitive views of its inhabitants? Maybe our routes would be different, some landmarks forgotten and others elevated (Starbucks would be omitted).

Of course, the only way to expand our mental data set is to explore.

Cyborg swagger


verb [no obj]

How one presents him or her self to the world. Swagger is shown from how the person handles a situation. It can also be shown in the person’s walk.

While I was in New York I met up with a mate from Nashville for the first time. He was confused by my initially reserved demeanour, it didn’t seem to match the public face he had become familiar with on Twitter.

This could be the same for a lot of us. If I’ve never met you before, I may not deliver my typical swagger right up front.

I brought this up with a friend in Melbourne. He made the observation that I “write about big things online.” He was describing the extension of myself online, my cyborg self.

My digital self is less scattered. It’s confident, direct and clear with it’s intention. It’s the best version of my analogue self.

Until recently I was slightly critical of two individuals who present a certain level of arrogance online. They do,  but they also live their truth. They maintain their online selves in the same way they do offline and there is a remarkable honesty in that.

So onward I go, committed to making my digital and analogue self one and the same when I turn off the screen, because ubiquitous swagger is awesome.


Washington Square Park.

I just picked an awesome $3 breakfast, a coffee, ice cold bottled water and bagel from a street vendor. It’s 7:35am. With no particular direction in mind, I found myself walking through a quiet SoHo, still deep in slumber. I soon wandered into the beautiful Washington Square Park.

The sun is out, the bench is empty. I can pull out my pocket notebook and take a breath.

I am surrounded by a three hundred and sixty degree ring of greenery and I have every intention of enjoying the warm rays on my skin before the sun takes full effect.

The young woman to my left appears to be my carbon copy: bottled water, a black pair of TOMS shoes with bare feet resting on the ground and notebook in hand.

As I focus my attention away from my bench counterpart, I notice that the flowing water from the fountain that sits within the centre of the park is serving as the soundtrack for every person in the park but me.

The Civil Wars have now been removed from my ears, I bid farewell to their sweet Alabama harmonies.

Removing the audio barrier between myself and the park creates a different kind of awareness.

I have opened my ears to the song of water, a light breeze and yoga classes on the grass just a few meters away. This makes me appreciate that this beautiful morning is not my unique experience.

Observing the people that that have chosen to spend their morning here is a beautiful privilege. It is another moment driven by serendipity and sweet luck.

Today the comfort of my iPhone is turned off. It’s so easy to hesitate and plan, but where is the fun in that? How else would I have ended up here?

I would not have spent a day simply drifting through Williamsburg, surveying the incredible street art. I would not have met Rob, the freelance Android developer who acted as my walking spirit guide through the Brooklyn startup spaces.

After feeling completely present in this moment and armed with just a pen, notebook, cash, credit and ID, I feel ready to explore again.

A stream of consciousness from @bluebottlenyc

My favourite thing to do is pull out my Macbook Air in a cafe and let words flow through. As powerful as caffeine, the experience feels natural and cathartic.

I”m a little over halfway through my US adventure which thus far has led me to Seattle, WA where I spent time with the US Deloitte Digital crew and inhaled my body weight in caffeine, Seaside Heights, New Jersey and New York City.

After what feels like a fleeting five days in New York, I now find myself sitting at a table at Bluebottle Coffee in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

It could be the Fleetwood Mac playing softly in the background, the comfort of awesome coffee or the dry humour of the barista standing behind the bright red La Marzocco espresso machine, but this is the first time that I have written since arriving in the country nine days ago.

It”s quiet here. There is a tinge of sunlight making it”s way through the open shop front, just enough to provision the large space with a subtle radiance. People walk in and out but no real crowd forms. Bluebottle is situated on Berry Street, a stone”s throw away from the main strip and crowded wifi cafes of Bedford Avenue. The word I use to describe this place is “chiller”.

After hustling through Chinatown, knocking back scotches in TriBeCa and shopping on Broadway, this is a rare moment of perfection.

A communal table, a fedora, a $3.75 coffee and the sense that nobody gives a fuck.

I now realise that I have just under two more weeks to explore the city, to become a little more familiar with it”s anatomy and to understand the allure of the constantly beating heart of New York.

It had to be the fedora.

Finding flow in an analogue moment.

It’s cold, wet and grey in Melbourne. When you drive just an hour out of the city and journey through the winding roads, there is a small coastal town with a bakery, a general store and a recently renovated hotel with a uniquely Australian bill of fare.

As soon as I step foot out of the car I reach my flow state – this is either life’s greatest moment or its most common experience.

My week in the city interfaces with a weekend of back roads, highways, beaches and wineries that serve as a backdrop to this town.

Temporarily free from the internet and concrete with just a mobile command centre, I find myself present in a prolonged moment of ease. I wander the town, breathe in the fresh air, inhale the coffee and amongst the quiet.

This is the benefit of a customised life of technology enabled connectedness. Being connected to the grid is how I choose to live most of the time, but having the freedom to rest hard means returning to the city restored and alive, ready explore the edge.

It”s all connected. These analogue moments are crucial to maintaining a truly present mind in my networked life.

You don’t care, you just scribble stuff.

Jon Chambers is the Creative Director at Deloitte Digital, Seattle, WA.

He showed me his sketchbook at dinner last night. I asked him to tell me about this drawing.

“Really early on when I was in school I learned that if you draw with a ballpoint pen you don’t think about “Can I erase this?” You just draw. You don’t care, you just scribble stuff. I started that drawing just scribbling stuff and then it turned into that. I think that’s important, just getting outside your mind and “Oh my God, can I erase that?”…just draw it. Perfection, it’s overrated”

Opportunity to disrupt.

We are not just kids staring at computer screens, we are participants in a digital world.

This digital world serves as a meeting point between the space of flows and space of place. It is a communication interface between these two entities and constantly recombinant.

As digital natives we have bypassed the mainstream to become the first hand content creators, sharers and curators in a space that is anything but scarce.

Look no further than the global reach of the viral #Kony video which has amassed over 100 million views and made the Ugandan rebel leader a household name.

We have the opportunity to share ideas, become thought leaders and cause a disruption.

Let’s not pass it up.


We are the product designers for a digital world.

I spent today conducting product testing.

I just watched this video by Wilson Miner, he was responsible the now famous re-design of the Apple website in 2006 and is currently heading up the design team at Rdio.

Miner talks about the twentieth century and how the cars themselves didn’t change that much, instead, we built our environments around them. Furthermore, he describes how objects are simply empty vessels that we fill with our own lives.

As designers we have the opportunity to design more than an interface – we are a new generation of product designers for a digital world.

Wilson Miner – When We Build from Build on Vimeo.

The archetype.

I spent eighteen hours with one of my close friends over the weekend. We talked lot, watched a video about how we shape environment through design and spent Monday morning at a Melbourne cafe writing.

In the afternoon I met up with another close friend. We watched Clueless, drank tea and talked about the Alannah Hill Autumn/Winter 2012 Collection.

One is a dentist and the other works at a start-up. One will affectionately call me a nerd for when I tell her about this post, the other will push me to achieve peak performance by spending the entire morning writing with me, disconnected from the web.

Both women are strong, accomplished and light hearted with distinct personalities. Both have unknowingly shaped me in some way.

What I”ve just noticed is the awesome feeling of owning up to these different sides and not pretending to be one colour.

We do not fit into a single archetype. Instead, we thrive in contrasting environments.

We are agile, complex and multifaceted.


Last night I had the privilege of spending an uninterrupted evening with a close friend. We effortlessly wove together a complex web, talking at length about family, relationships, edge living, interface design and women as leaders in the workplace. We also ate pizza and watched Mean Girls.

Somewhere between Lindsay Lohan and a chi machine session, the subject turned to scars. Physical and unseen, we all seem to have them. Some can be lasered off, others are chronic with scar tissue that will never fade.

My scar has been both visible and concealed. It bled profusely for four years and is now mostly healed.

It still opens up occasionally but I have learned how to to manage it:

  • I surround myself with a support system
  • I develop daily standards and try to live up to them
  • I build structure and adapt to chaos in parallel

The mark it left behind is an unreasonable mindset married with an acute self awareness.

Imagine for a moment wanting to dive out of the plane right now, you just need a designated mark to land on. You’re also aware that when you dive out the plane that the mark could always move.

Eventually I won’t need the mark. That boldness will come with time.

This is how I treat my scar. I don’t put a band aid on a bullet wound and expect it to heal. I remove the debris, dress it and let it mend.

I’m sitting at a table at Monk Bodhi Dharma with Cole. I am highly caffeinated.

From Boulder to Birmingham with my dad.

Emmylou Harris – Boulder to Birmingham

When I was eleven years old my dad introduced me to Emmylou Harris. He taught me that Harlan Howard famously described country music as “three cords and the truth” and that this album broke that cardinal rule.

‘Pieces of the Sky’ on vinyl is still our jam.

When I was thirteen he took me to Boulder because of this song. We spent the day walking around the town, talking about music and life.

When I was twenty-one I wrote a thesis about country music. I talked about this song.

This morning my parents were getting ready to head down to the beach for the weekend and this song shuffled onto the speakers. It triggered a heated debate about the ethereal vocal in country music. He says Emmylou, I say Vince Gill.

Thirteen years have passed and we are still talking about Emmylou Harris. My dad is awesome.