Blog is on pause, but please do enjoy my tweets :)

Why societies stay the same? - Keirsey Temperament Sorter

At the moment there is a huge fuzz about Enkeli-Elina, a semi factual teenager who was bullied in school and committed suicide. For some reason majority of discussion is concentrates on the possibility that the story is not totally fact. The sad side is that all positive discussion about bullying in schools is forgotten and nullified by the discussion about "the truth".

When reading the twitter feed about the case, I couldn't help but to think what my colleague said some time ago. He told me about Keirsey Temperament Sorter that uses Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
Keirsey types are roughly based on two scales. First is abstract vs. concrete and the other is cooperative vs. pragmatic. When these two scales are crossed, result is 2x2 matrix with following temperaments: Rationals (pragmatic and abstract), Artisans (pragmatic and concrete), Idealists (cooperative and abstract), and Guardians (cooperative and concrete).

The temperament type that dominated the #enkelielisa discussion were Guardian Administrators. They are eager to support old ways of thinking, they need a strong value base to protect and they are concerned with responsibility and duty.
Administrators are the directive Guardians. Their most developed intelligence operation is regulating. The attentive Inspectors and the expressive Supervisors are the two role variants.
Inspectors reliably examine the people and products that fall under their tutelage—unobtrusively ensuring uniform quality and demanding that certain standards of conduct are maintained.

Supervisors are strong believers in rules and procedures, and they prefer tried methods to experimental ones.
I dare to say that guardian administrators are that group of people who try to maintain status quo and fight against the change. The continuous war waging between conservatives and liberals is done between guardians and rationals. -It is a matter of how much guardians are able to grow, that determines the world we live in.

Test your type here:

And the truth? Teenage girls in Finland are committing suicides in growing pace. Often doing well in school and being bullied because of that or their looks.

Extending of working careers - for real

Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy (MEE) has established a important goal to have the best working life in Europe in 2020. Simultaneously there is a need to extend the working careers of Finnish citizens to bridge the sustainability deficit. A strong lobbying favors to raise the retirement age and sadly only little political support to seek alternative ways to solve the issue.

Raising of retirement age is like giving a medicine for headache, that is caused by a bullet in the head. I claim that there are two major problems among working age Finnish people that need to be solved anyway - and that those issues will solve a large part of the working career extension target.

The more urgent of these two problems is to improve the working life as MEE intends.

Already regulations and support cuts rush students to graduate and go to work earlier. Also it seems that the youngsters face symptoms of burn out already in elementary school.
Pressure works only into some extent and after that people start cracking. Finnish Student Health Service considers that 25% of university students have problems with their mental health. It is terrible to see how many people around me has experienced burn out or is on the way or recovering. Healthy, motivated and highly skilled workers experience periods of lowered capability work, sick leaves and even hospitalization. This is the reality - and this must have affect on the effective working careers.

Four principles should be the most important knowhow and goal for Everyone in Finnish labour market - both employees and employers:
1) Identifying continuous stress,
2) understanding its effect on health,
3) knowing how to relieve it and
4) adjusting the work to get rid of harmful stress.

The the other issue that is not so simple to change. Finnish education system.

Finnish elementary education system has been praised internationally and for good reason. It has kept kids as kids and taught them equally good basics to stay healthy and grow to be effective Finnish labour. It has even taught them the best way to relieve stress - outdoors and exercise.

After the elementary school something goes wrong. I have completed two degrees and I claim that half of the courses was unnecessary. Although I am generalist of my nature and want to know everything - the other half in both degrees was still totally useless (sorry teachers).
Finnish higher education targets to make age groups of Leonardo Da Vinci's year after year.
I wonder what Raimo Sailas would say, if we could extend the working lifes with two years in most of the professions?! And I bet 20 yo younsters make more work than most 67 yo elderlies..

There is a workaround for this, but it needs a cultural change. I figure that most of the professions do not require min 3 year education for the employee to be proficient in one's work.
I cannot remember that I would have shown my papers to anybody since I graduated. It seems that papers are not actually needed if you know what you are doing. In a way degrees and papers are just another form of industry that give authorizations. Maybe the time for universities as a education for masses starts decaying? This excellent article (in finnish) questions the need for universities if their original purpose of developing thinkers has shrunk to sharing diplomas to the masses.

Under the hood of Pinterest

Hi there (good folks of Pinterest),

the link that you provided to re-open my ticket did not work, hence the email:

Reactivation did not work this time either. Or it did .. until I tried to log in again:
Your account has been deactivated, but your pins are safe and sound.
Please contact Support and we'll get you pinning again soon.

1) So please do something to release this burden of my email/username
2) Why on earth "are my pins safe and sound"? I deleted my account to remove them! Why do you keep that information?! Really!!

Bureaucracy award for finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health

Finnish government should receive a bureaucracy award for its tremendous success on the area of ensuring equality on mental health issues.

Recently there has been two cases that underline these achievements:
Once again a man killed his family and after that himself. Nobody really knows why, but he tried to get in care just before the killings but didn't have one more paper to get approved in.
Another case happened just after that, a man who had wanted to get into care killed a random teenager by knife just to get the attention to get into care.

Neither of these cases really imply that these men would have enjoyed or wanted to end up to these dramatic conclusions. What is really peculiar in these cases is that they both seeked help, but were turned down. Stories of how difficult it is to get into care are already numerous and I assume these events will continue happening.

It is hard for me to understand why government does not add up the numbers and take a serious attention to the mental health issues. It is not just about suffering people, it's also about their victims, their families and money.
Yes I said money. Government is using huge amount of brainpower to figure how to lengthen the working years by restrictions to maintain the national economy and nobody is taking seriously proposals about improving the working conditions and mental health support.

People want to be productive and healthy. Enabling those is more effective than restricting the retiring and care.

Top managers fail to understand complexity?

Nokia along other big companies has tried a bunch of different strategies on it's way including touch, services, Maemo, Meego and QT. Seems that big organizations can only handle one -ism or vision at the time. The need to renew strategies completely can lead in ditching all parallel scenarios while striving for optimal beauty of a chart or simplicity of communication.

So why do these visions and strategies change so fast? It might have something to do with what I discussed in my last post about how leaders create a vision and keep up their reputation.
Creating a vision is a crucial competence for a leader. When things go wrong (stress rises narrowing the line of sight and lowering the willingness to discuss) the urge to form a strong vision can become the last straw to keep up the reputation, although the vision might be personally driven or not just good. When the vision is set, leaders competence is measured in how well the strategy is implemented - no matter what it is.

Adapting to new situations is crucial, but evaluating when a strategy is based on actual situation and when on personal drivers can be difficult. Stupidity should be easy to detect, but we want to believe in people and their decisions - to trust that there is a good reason behind every decision.

Employee centric leadership?

In my projects I could usually guess what the user thinks and wants, but in several cases, I wouldn't be accurate enough. That's why I practice user centered design against my natural way of thinking.
When I say natural, we come to the theory how I believe big leaders think:

Every profession is a combination of competence, reputation and vision.
As a designer, my job is to bring up the vision of the user need. In doing this, I might feel myself as a bad designer for the fact that I'm not competent to create the vision without asking the common people and I could believe that the fact lowers my reputation as a designer.
-In this respect being a designer is easy. Nowadays there is a managerial need for user centric design and you don't need to make excuses for their expert investment needing external support.

Being a big leader on the other hand, might not be as easy. I claim that employees are the information source for leaders, like users are for me. Unfortunately, there is no model for employee centric leadership - just the normal specialist model, managers on areas of engineering, markets and accounting try to keep up their good work and reputation by delivering insight, no matter how unsure that might be. And what would happen to the reputation of the leader, if someone heard the the grand vision is formed on regular workers opinions?

What would happen if we live based on the assumption that I cannot know - I'd better ask?
The natural bottle neck becomes the capacity of listening and finding out. The very same problem I face every day - just like different levels of management.

Skills can be trained, but not attitude

Attitude is more important in the job interview than skills claims Mark Murphy in Forbes article Hire for attitude.

Yesterday I had a chat in the bus with some youngsters pondering whether they will have sufficient skills for their summer jobs. I commented, that nowadays in most roles learning new and adapting constantly to new environments has become a skill. In my post What's your true profession? I referred to how organizational changes in Nokia made all positions anyway new and the speed of adapting to new environment was crucial. -It might be, that these guys willingness to learn new stuff is the key competence and ticket to new kind of roles that others cannot asses so fast.

I see Murphy's article also linking to my earlier discussion about tacit and explicit challenges in organization. Explicit challenges as known issues can be learned and trained, but how to train or even discuss something so tacit as an attitude?
-Murphy's answer is that you can't.

Are technical and soft skills less important than attitude? Why?

It’s not that technical skills aren’t important, but they’re much easier to assess (that’s why attitude, not skills, is the top predictor of a new hire’s success or failure). Virtually every job (from neurosurgeon to engineer to cashier) has tests that can assess technical proficiency. But what those tests don’t assess is attitude; whether a candidate is motivated to learn new skills, think innovatively, cope with failure, assimilate feedback and coaching, collaborate with teammates, and so forth.

Soft skills are the capabilities that attitude can enhance or undermine. For example, a newly hired executive may have the intelligence, business experience and financial acumen to fit well in a new role. But if that same executive has an authoritarian, hard-driving style, and they’re being hired into a social culture where happiness and camaraderie are paramount, that combination is unlikely to work. Additionally, many training programs have demonstrated success with increasing and improving skills—especially on the technical side. But these same programs are notoriously weak when it comes to creating attitudinal change. As Herb Kelleher, former Southwest Airlines CEO used to say, “we can change skill levels through training, but we can’t change attitude."

Personal touch

Today I received a letter from Gässling. First I had no idea about the reason, but I soon realized. Also pretty soon the letter made me smile. In the end I was laughing despite that they just had informed that their original ambitious design had failed in few cases and they were sending me spare buttons.

I have been writing about how an error in service or product should be mended for the customer.
Attached pic tells a story how personal touch can make a difference when something goes wrong.

Naturally personal touch requires actual use of personality leading big companies being hesitant with that kind of approach. Fresh exceptions can be found among recent web startups. They boldly use language that is both approachable and clear for users.

Mending an error smoothly is proved to create even more loyal customers. I cannot evaluate this case objectively, but clearly I'll be happy to change my buttons in case something really happens to them and will not hesitate to buy my next pair of underwear from Gässling =)

How to bridge research to development?

How to transfer insight from research to actual R&D?
While rearranging our bookshelf I ran into a research I have carried with me apparently ten years. It sure has been an interesting topic, but my friends theoretical approach for semi interesting topic just haven't crossed the reading threshold.

The other day I had a good chat with my old boss about an action to bring academical research closer to companies by recruiting a agent inside the company delivering the latest news into companies.
I don't want to say that this Tekes program will fail, but there has been several attempts to enhance the technology transfer from research to development. -In a way we concluded that so far the best method has been individuals that are that much interested on a certain topic that they become specialists and champion on an issue. This is also one topic where 10% of innovation dedicated working hours could be used.

What hit Nokia - Elop or mediocre Middle Managers?

I have been repeatedly asked that what killed Nokia. I thought I'd better do the analysis now, when I still remember something about it. Tomi Ahonen writes exhaustively how incompetent formal Microsoft executive ruined it all, but I have to disagree with Ahonen that much, that there were also other reasons than just Elop.

Accusations on the burning platform memo are valid, but Symbian had already been burning for years. It was like a fireplace that keeps the house warm, but must be watched. More or less the memo peaked the crisis both externally and internally. Despite the crisis, the issue of what was the pothole that caused the decline of the competitiveness and consumed majority of the R&D resources, has not been discussed. Here I name a factor that hasn't been accused before: middle management.

I have several posts where you can find me reflecting this very topic, but in very general level. Now to be more concrete, I'll list few major reasons why Nokia among other big organizations failed:

Culture of finding problems, risks and saying no.
Engineers are taught to find problems. Under pressure, stress can create impossible obstacles out of ordinary challenges. If company culture does not support positive approach of accepting both the challenges And the cruel facts which might follow, the Culture of No get's into speed and managers prefer to make anticipated setbacks easy for their teams and themselves.

Culture to support innovation.
Despite Elop accused his employees of failing to deliver innovation, good proposals never stopped flowing despite repeated setbacks. What explains these contradicting views could be explained by having a highly innovative employees and a middle management cutting the wings of the proposals. According to Johtopätkii, creativity consists of competence, motivation and commitment which were in order thanks to the good reputation of the company among earlier recruits.

Making good work.
Everybody wants to make a good work. It's a matter of what you measure. If project has multiple stakeholders, everyone of them wants to optimize their part of the project. Abstract example; if sourcing, project manager and finance do magnificent work, the result can be poor hardware, hasty design and lousy experience. The need to make good work is also connected to fear of mistakes and to the pressure of getting good results to keep your job.

Pressure and fear.
Before starting in Nokia I had experienced two lay offs and been part of terminating two contracts, but I still thought that it was a unusual situation. Lay off waves in Nokia came more often than once a year. Even a single wave has a huge effect to the motivation, self esteem and effectivity - and repeated more so. Also reorganizing, replanning and the mistakes along with the corrective actions consume a huge amount of time and resources. Further if management anticipates new waves, they try to do extra good work and to say often no, which leads paralyzing the other half of the company.

Lack of vision.
Before Nokia seemed to know what was it and where it was going. But during the great rush Nokia had around the time first iPhone launched, they had focused on money and productivity. When readjusting the organization and portfolio to face the new challenge, mission and vision was replaced by an internal disputes about whether to rely on it's true competences. (Competencies that had already producticed the first touch screen smartphone four years before Apple, but was cancelled due the lack of managerial trust.) Or to make fast correction move and glue the touch onto the existing platform and rely on the ridiculous services agenda.
After that the vision has been jumping from side to side, which enabled the next point.

Rise of the career opportunists.
The questionable character in humans is that when things seem hopeless, they face up and hope that some extraordinary force turns everything good again. In Nokia this meant getting new talent to lead things. Positions started to slide outside of Finland due to the appeal of London and Silicon Valley. What happened was that new people started repeating old stupid mistakes, but now their accent was sexy and their designs rocked - at least on paper. Unfortunately when the faith is strong and you made the hire, seeing the truth takes usually way too long.

A job too well done?

In the morning I made our regular oat porridge and while rinsing the pot I started to think that how far the qualities of oat flakes are tuned to enable easy washing of the pot.

Sometimes doing a really good work can end up ruining the rest of the process. Lately I been pondering how to open up this paradox with an example. This might not be the best of examples, but I promise to discuss this issue further in the next post about What hit Nokia.

If I ever got an assignment to develop a better porridge, I would probably consider rinse-ability as one of the most important issues to solve. Likely I would find it as a pain point in user research and likely that would be something what I could develop and the management would like it because it could be easily measured..

Totally other story might be that is it wise.
People might appreciate actually more organic, unprocessed flakes.
But that wouldn't be my business - so most probably I'd end up overdoing and ruining the whole point of eating oat porridge.

Results reflect the working environment?

Sometimes it can be difficult to justify why nice functional environment is important for designers.

At those moments you can discuss whether a top musician would be expected to enjoy a karaoke bar or further - to do work in such.