Monthly Archives

December 2015

The Poison Of Expectation

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Have you ever been on public transport and seen someone eating a really pungent snack that made the entire area smell? Recently I sat opposite a guy who had a burger that embodied that description. He evidently thought it was appropriate to bring a stinking, greasy burger onto a packed commuter train. Would you ever dream of doing such a thing? Me neither.

Our expectation of what is reasonable frames our opinion of other people’s actions. In our intrinsic desire ultimately for the world to work within the confines of our perspective, we spend a considerable amount of time frustrated at other people, other environments and other versions that do not fit our standards. This is The Poison Of Expectation.

We judge all the time. Someone isn’t driving well enough. We could drive much better. Someone is walking too slowly. We always know when to walk slow or fast. Someone’s house is way too messy. Ours is never that messy. We would never let it get into that state. Taking a smelly burger onto a packed train? Disgraceful, we would never do that. And now, assuming all citizens have the right to their own opinion, perhaps the people, who are accused in the above, also have an expectation of us that isn’t being matched. We’re too busy judging to know that, of course.

Maybe burger man thinks it’s fine if others do as he does? Common courtesy is fine so long as you can define what common is and what courtesy is? These are subjective terms. Your personal hygiene standards may not necessarily be the same as the person sitting next to you on a 13-hour flight to the other side of the world. I have found.

But why is expectation a poison? After all, we’re allowed to expect certain things, right? Well, the poison isn’t about having personal aspiration; it is assuming that everyone would do what you do. The poison gets to work when we simply can’t understand how someone has done something against our expectations, as we are basing our opinion solely on our own standards. This narrow lens creates an almost guaranteed level of confusion in our heads.

The Poison Of Expectation creates toxic fumes so we get more frustrated. It designs itself to move our focus from what matters. Even when we try to pull away and think objectively, the poison knows you will ultimately base your judgment on your own opinion, and by doing so, you keep feeding the poison.

The antidote to this is a tough one as it takes reasoning of other people’s actions to disable the poison. Chuck D from Public Enemy once said, “If you can’t change the people around you, change the people around you”. Chuck’s advice suggests two things:

1. To try and change the people around you (by educating, advising, helping or setting a different example)

2. To literally change the people you are around (by moving away from those you are unable to do the above with)

So, if burger man disgusts you, move carriages. If Captain Slow refuses to drive differently, change route. If our adjacent passenger isn’t aware of the concept of washing, switch seats, use nose plugs or, (if you’re brave), offer them your deodorant. Whatever you do, the one thing that leads to an endless negative vortex is to allow The Poison Of Expectation to eat you up inside. People are different. It’s rare anyone will have the exact same standards as you.

Taken as an excerpt from ’Business Poison’ available from Amazon as a paperback and for kindle: http://jonathanmacdonald.com/books/

The Privacy Dilemma

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We are living in a world where our trust can only come from respect of citizen privacy (preceded with credibility, authenticity, consistency and positive interactions).

Many companies, Facebook being a current example at the time of writing, exist in an ongoing dilemma, which is something I get asked about often.

What it boils down to is this:

What if the most private information is the most valuable?

Do you:

A: Find even more subtle ways of getting it whilst keeping an increasingly suspicious public at bay?

Or:

B: Put citizens’ privacy under their own control in an honest and decent way?

If the answer is B, then people’s private information can only be gathered with their permission, which is therefore mandatory for understanding preference (which enables us to commercially communicate more effectively).

Elsewhere, a variety of tools enable you to run a diagnostic scan of your Facebook information to see what is secure and what is open to the public.

For some, the process is fairly simple and locking everything down to just ‘friends’ is do-able, however: do you absolutely trust everyone you ever added on Facebook to be so scrupulous with your information?

Do you know for sure that they won’t post a party picture elsewhere on the net?

We are simply scratching the surface of the Privacy Dilemma and as I have said many times, this is one of the main differentiators between the winning tools, platforms and channels in the future and the resources that get turned off en masse.

The multi-billion dollar valuation of Facebook looks seemingly indestructible but actually, their handling of the Privacy Dilemma leaves them, in my opinion, in a very fragile state.

There once was a site called ‘Your Open Book’ where one could scan all the public information that had been leaked by Facebook via a search engine. In this search engine you could enter anything from ‘my boss’ to ‘rectal exam’. All the results were actual, real information that was publicly available, until it got removed from the web.

Around that time there was a ‘Quit Facebook Day’ on May 31st 2010 but only 12,877 committed to quit.

Why such a low number? I think it’s a combination of:

  1. A lack of awareness amongst people about how their information is being used
  1. A lack of awareness of groups like the one featured above
  1. A lack of understanding about what could happen if your personal information is out in the open
  1. A lack of caring about the above

None of this moves me away from my view of how important this is and yes, I’m sure it’s in the early stages of public awareness. I predict it will grow to be on the main agenda.

I’m not pushing for the closure of Facebook but whilst I have breath in my body I will campaign for the right of citizens to be in control of their own private information. I believe it is a basic human right and is central to our identity.

If you are thinking of innovating in the social network space, my free advice to you would be to differentiate around the issue of privacy. If you can still make the business model work, you will ultimately be better placed than the giants of today. And as we can see, some of the giants are really bad at keeping information private: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/worlds-biggest-data-breaches-hacks/

The wider issue is how to change the behaviour of the other parts of a value chain, eagerly looking (and paying for) more and more personal information.

Ultimately, the dollars go where the people go; therefore it’s down to every single one of us to stand up for ourselves and change the industry from the outside.

Taken as an excerpt from ’28 Thoughts On Digital Revolution’ available from Amazon as a paperback and for kindle: http://jonathanmacdonald.com/books/