Are You a Force Multiplier?

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multiply

On most days, my To Do List seems longer than the Nile River.  It contains everything from the quotidien (remember the milk!) to the critical — tasks that trigger serious consequences. On days when it seems like I add two tasks for every one I complete, it can be tempting to focus on the noisiest ones.  What are noisy tasks?  The tasks with the most pressing deadline or the most vocal sponsor. And so it goes, racing from one due date to another, with barely enough time for a breath much less a moment to consider the true results of what I am doing.

Writers on productivity, time management and strategy have told us for a long time that we should focus on the IMPORTANT not the URGENT. That’s excellent advice.  However, I’ve recently started thinking about another lens through which to view and prioritize tasks:  Will the completion of the task (or project) act as a force multiplier?

To understand this better, let’s spend a moment on force multiplication.  The military calls a factor a “force multiplier” when that factor enables a force to work much more effectively.  The example in Wikipedia relates to GPS:  ”if a certain technology like GPS enables a force to accomplish the same results of a force five times as large but without GPS, then the multiplier is 5.”  Interestingly, while technology can be an enormous advantage, force multipliers are not limited to technology.  Some of the force multipliers listed in that Wikipedia article have nothing at all to do with technology:

Now come back to that growing To Do List and take another look at those tasks.  How many of them are basically chores — things that simply need to get done in order to get people off your back or to move things forward (perhaps towards an unclear goal)? How many of them are (or are part of) force multipliers — things that will allow you or your organization to work in a dramatically more effective fashion?  Viewed through this lens, the chores seem much less relevant, akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, while the force multipliers are clearly much more deserving of your time and attention.

The challenge of course is that the noisy tasks grab your attention because others insist on it.  They want something when they want it because they want it.  They may not have a single strategic thought in their head, but they are demanding and persistent.  So how do you limit the encroachment of purveyors of noisy tasks?  One answer is to limit the amount of time available for chores.  To do this credibly, you’ll need to know where you and your activities fit within the strategy of your organization.  If the task does not advance strategy, don’t do it.  Or decide upfront to allow a fixed percentage of your time for chores that may be of minimal use to you, but may be important to keep the people around you happy.  Another approach is to get a better understanding of the task and its context.  If your job is to copy documents, one page looks much like another.  However, it matters if the document you are copying contains the cafeteria menu or the firm’s emergency response guidelines. Finally, you need to educate the folks around you.  With your subordinates, do your decision making aloud — explaining how you determine if a particular task or project is a force multiplier. With your superiors, ask them to help you understand better the force multiplication attributes they see in the tasks they assign.  (This will either provide you with more useful contextual information or smoke out a chore that is masquerading as an important task.) Finally, with the others, engage them in conversation. When you cannot see your way clear to handle their chore, explain your reasoning.  They won’t always be happy about it, but they will start learning when to call on you and when to dump their requests on someone else.

Of course, the concept of force multiplication goes far beyond your To Do List.  Do your projects have a force multiplying effect on your department?  Does your department have a force multiplying effect on your firm? These are important questions for everyone, but especially for people engaged in the sometime amorphous field of knowledge management. Sure, most of what we do helps.  But do we make a dramatic difference?  If not, why not?

[Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds]

Written By: V Mary Abraham

Anonymous members speak out about WikiLeaks’ fundraising tactics

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In the past, Anonymous has been among the most supportive of WikiLeaks and the mission behind it — which is still halfway true, but since everything seems to have funneled off into the ‘one man Julian Assange show,’ the majority of the hacktivist group no longer embraces the site.

AnonymousIRC released a statement on Pastebin yesterday, shortly after announcing their withdrawal of support for WikiLeaks via Twitter:

The end of an era. We unfollowed @wikileaks and withdraw our support. It was an awesome idea, ruined by Egos. Good Bye.

WikiLeaks is funded entirely through donations — which is fine, according to Anonymous, but the problem is how it began demanding users to donate money in order to access any content at all.

Since yesterday visitors of the Wikileaks site are presented a red overlay banner that asks them to donate money. This banner cannot be closed and unless a donation is made, the content like GIFiles and the Syria emails are not displayed.

That’s a great way for any donation-driven service to pull in a ton of donations in a short amount of time, but like Anonymous has already said, it clearly demonstrates that WikiLeaks’ primary focus has changed from releasing information and serving its users, to just another money-making scheme.

“The idea behind WikiLeaks was to provide the public with information that would otherwise be kept secret by industries and governments. Information we strongly believe the public has a right to know,” the statement said.

“But this has been pushed more and more into the background, instead we only hear about Julian Assange, like he had dinner last night with Lady Gaga. That’s great for him but not much of our interest. We are more interested in transparent governments and bringing out documents and information they want to hide from the public.”

I think I’ll have to agree with the group’s Pastebin statement — I’m all for establishing an online business or service and monetizing it to no end, but certainly not if you’re a not-for-profit organization who’s mission statement is to “bring important news and information to the public.”

Any organization – especially non-profit groups – needs funding to survive, but in the case of WikiLeaks, a fee shouldn’t be charged in order to access content — not if it wants to keep its credibility and supporters, anyway.

The banner has since been taken down, and Anonymous already made it clear that it still supports the original idea, and that it is completely in opposition to any legal action being taken against Assange;

It goes without saying that we oppose any plans of extraditing Julian to the USA. He is a content provider and publisher, not a criminal.

This whole ordeal could definitely cause some turbulence for WikiLeaks – a fair amount of content is believed to have been submitted by Anonymous in the past (including the recent Stratfor email cache).

So if Anonymous is cutting off ties to the organization, that could mean less information-leaks, and thus, less content for WikiLeaks.

T-Mobile Merging With MetroPCS

Last year T-Mobile tried to merge with AT&T but the deal was blocked by the FCC. Now T-Mobile and MetroPCS have agreed to merge in a $1.5 billion deal.There doesn’t seem to be much concern that the FCC will disagree with this deal, perhaps because the two companies combined will have a user base of 42.5 million, which will still be smaller than the #3 player Sprint‘s 56.4 million. Because the two companies have similar spectrum holdings T-Mobile claims the merger will allow them to offer better coverage. They also say they will continue to offera range of both on and off-contract plans.

r2d2b2g: an experimental prototype Firefox OS test environment

Developers building apps for Firefox OS should be able to test them without having to deploy them to actual devices.  Myk Melez looked into the state of the art recently and found that the existing desktop test environments, like B2G Desktop, the B2G Emulators, and Firefox’s Responsive Design View, are either difficult to configure or significantly different from Firefox OS on a phone.

Firefox add-ons provide one of the simplest software installation and update experiences. And B2G Desktop is a lot like a phone. So, Myk Melez decided to experiment with distributing B2G Desktop via an add-on. And the result is r2d2b2g, an experimental prototype test environment for Firefox OS.

How It Works

r2d2b2g bundles B2G Desktop with Firefox menu items for accessing that test environment and installing an app into it. With r2d2b2g, starting B2G Desktop is as simple as selecting Tools > B2G Desktop:

r2d2b2g bundles B2G Desktop with Firefox menu items for accessing that test environment and installing an app into it. With r2d2b2g, starting B2G Desktop is as simple as selecting Tools > B2G Desktop:

To install an app into B2G Desktop, navigate to it in Firefox, then select Tools > Install Page as App:

 To install an app into B2G Desktop, navigate to it in Firefox, then select Tools > Install Page as App:

r2d2b2g will install the app and start B2G Desktop so you can see the app the way it’ll appear to Firefox OS users:

 r2d2b2g will install the app and start B2G Desktop so you can see the app the way it’ll appear to Firefox OS users:

Try It Out!

Note that r2d2b2g is an experiment, not a product! It is neither stable nor complete, and its features may change or be removed over time. Or Mozilla might end the project after learning what they can from it. But if you’re the adventurous sort, and you’d like to provide feedback on this investigation into a potential future product direction, then they’d love to hear from you!

Install r2d2b2g via these platform-specific XPIs: MacLinux (32-bit), orWindows (caveat: the Windows version of B2G Desktop currently crashes on startup due to bug 794662 795484), or fork it on GitHub, and let us know what you think!

Also, try out the Wikipedia Mobile for Firefox OS application available on GitHub. You can see it in action here.

Google Glass, Augmented Reality Spells Data Headaches

Google seems determined to press forward with Google Glass technology, filinga patent for a Google Glass wristwatch. As pointed out by CNET, the timepiece includes a camera and a touch screen that, once flipped up, acts as a secondary display. In the patent, Google refers to the device as a ‘smart-watch. Whether or not a Google Glass wristwatch ever appears on the marketplace — just because a tech titan patents a particular invention doesn’t mean it’s bound for store shelves anytime soon — the appearance of augmented-reality accessories brings up a handful of interesting issues for everyone from app developers to those tasked with handling massive amounts of corporate data.For app developers, augmented-reality devices raise the prospect of broader ecosystems and spiraling complexity. It’s one thing to build an app for smartphones and tablets — but what if that app also needs to handle streams of data ported from a pair of tricked-out sunglasses or a wristwatch, or send information in a concise and timely way to a tiny screen an inch in front of someone’s left eye?