Solving world problems via games

Believe it or not, there are people in the world who never played online computer games.

And there are people who spent on such games more than 10,000 hours before reaching age of 21 …

I didn’t have very positive image of computer games in general, including online games, but this presentation opened my eyes about so many opportunities there are about how  to use experience from virtual world for solving the real world problems … just watch.


Improvisation – risky, last choice when nothing else fits or a target, tactics that we can improve and can make us better leaders?

I have just seen this short video from MIT which says quite the opposite of what I have heard so far: improvisation is risky tactics, something that we do when prepared stuff doesn’t work or doesn’t fit. Well, it’s not so uncommon to realize that the speech we have prepared, or the class we designed or the tactics we have drafted doesn’t fit … then it might really be handy to be good in improvisation … and not only in those cases 🙂

10 steps to curated news RSS feed with no costs

Almost three years ago, I have sit with Pete Shelton, colleague from IFPRI, to set up RSS news feeds filtered for specific topics. We have used Google News and Google Reader. Unfortunately since then Google little bit complicated the process of making RSS feeds based on tags, but it still possible, which I have recently verified. Somebody may find it useful so here is how I did it:

1. First you create Google News search for the key word(s) of your interest: 


2. Then take the RSS of the page that was generated: 


3. You will get a RSS feed page (XML) – copy the URL and paste it to your Google reader (it can possibly work also with other readers, but I have the pathway fine-tuned for Google reader only): 


4. In your Google reader, click on subscribe and place the URL of the RSS feed and click Add: 


5. Now the fun part starts: you have now your RSS feed in the Google RSS reader. But you want to select just some news for the filtered RSS feed (e.g. to insert to your website). Here Google messed up because it disabled the straightforward filtering process by public tags. but it is still possible

Assign the specific tag e.g. ‘website’ (or whatever you want to call it, but remember it is case sensitive!)  to everything that you want to appear in your filtered RSS feed: 


6. Your tag will be private, and Google won’t allow you to make it public directly. Even the feed is private. However, there is a way to make the tag and its feed public.

Install this script – Make a tag public – it can be in Chrome or Firefox – follow the instructions on the site. In case of Chrome you may need to install first Tampermonkey as Chrome doesn’t allow scripts other than Google’s own.

Then refresh or go to Google Reader and you shall see new [PUBLIC] button on side of ‘SUBSCRIBE: 


7. Click PUBLIC and select your filtered items tag from the list [in this case it is ‘website‘]. Click OK, and your filtered items will become public


8. In reader, click on settings and ‘Reader settings’: 


9. Click on tab ‘Folders & tags’ where you can see that your tag ‘website’ is now public:  


10. Click on ‘view public page’ and you get the view of the feed in Google style. 

Click on atom feed and you will get the XML that can be embedded into your blog or website: 

Indeed much more can be done with RSS feeds in Yahoo pipes – (re)ordering; further filtering; merging or splitting  of feeds, but that’s for another post 😉

Reflection on facilitation of a meeting for community of practice missing the direction

After quite a while, once again I have participated in a facilitated meeting as a participant instead of facilitating it. It was AgNIC (Agriculture Network Information Center) annual meeting, and the facilitator was Jerinyl Veldorf from Library Organization and Development, University of Minnesota.  I liked her approach and decided to write a summary that can be of use in the future.

AgNIC is in a changing point of its history and needs to redefine where to focus in the future. There were many new faces in the meeting, different interests, different level of knowledge and level of engagement.

Facilitator started with SWOT analysis in a World Cafe arrangement – about 50 people in the room split into eight groups (practically running SWOT twice in parallel). Instead of moving the groups around, we have moved the flip charts, and it worked pretty well. In the end, each group that started a topic summarized notes from the flip chart (in some cases more than one) and one person from the group presented the key points in the plenary.

The next task (after a coffee break) was to define possible new mission and key outputs for AgNIC. We all ‘brainstormed’ our brains and presented the ideas to the group around the table (again groups of 6-7 people). The challenge was to come to a mutual agreement/consensus, so if even one person didn’t agree with what somebody else proposed, it wasn’t included in the report flip chart. Then the two parallel groups merged (coming from eight to four groups) and compared their ideas (flip charts) trying to reach consensus as in the previous activity. Final four reports were sticked on the wall, and each participant voted with five dots for the most attractive mission statement and outcomes for AgNIC (DotVoting).

Finally came the time to propose concrete action steps. Jerinyl used Card collection & sorting: each of us got a number of PostIts to write down specific action points/steps, keeping in mind earlier defined mission and key tasks for AgNIC. Again we were eight groups separately sticking the PostIts on the wall, grouping them and defining commonalities for each group in two words – verb & noun. In the end, each group presented the outputs – usually two words describing specific activity – example: ‘setting standards’. Two people were capturing all these outputs in parallel in two flip charts, filtering duplicates and linking similar action points. In this way, we have arrived in about 20 quite tangible action points.

Unfortunately, this was the end of the process, and the next steps will happen through email or online communication, which makes me bit skeptical.  Personally I think it would have been better if we had 1/2 or 1 more day is available. Selected group of people would work overnight on those 20 action points – including some more details/ideas from the PostIts. And in the following day small groups would work on very specific small projects, assigning responsibilities, tasks, timelines, priorities …. However, I have to say, I was impressed by smooth progress and tangible results of the process setup by Jerinyl.  I have very much enjoyed the day and got inspiration for my future facilitation adventures.

Quo vadis Yammer?

Yesterday (Apr 25) I had an opportunity to participate in Yammer on tour event in San Francisco. It was really an eye opener for me. Currently Yammer has over 5million users and it’s growing in speed of approx 1/4 of a million/month.  If I got it right, it seems that through online social networks we are now witnessing several  paradigm shifts (which are reflected in some upcoming Yammer’s features:

  • The rise of ‘consumerization‘ of enterprise  software = enduser decides
    • due to the fact that today a common employee (enduser) can pull the technology/software that suits him (from the cloud) without waiting on what the management decides and company implement is the utmost usability check – will they adopt or not?
    • Yammer’s CEO presented scheme summarizing, that while in 1990s most companies had their stuff and applications ‘on premises’; in 2000s ‘on clouds’, what leads nowadays is what he called ‘Fremium’ –   limitless number of choices that we all have (Indeed resulting in fragmentation of content/knowledge)
  • Yammer is presented as ‘The new Intranet‘ –  transforming intranet to ESN (enterpse social network)
    • on cloud (instant, no upgrades, low costs)
    • social (people centric – by people for people)
    • mobile (fully compatible with mobile devices, pads etc)
    • viral = voluntarily adopted
    • Social network is about SPEED = sharing now, not tomorrow
  • Yammer acquired One Drum – platform that carries a Microsoft Office app that allows users to edit Excel, Word and PowerPoint documents with colleagues in real time, the feature that is expected to be added to Yammer in Summer 2012. Another new feature that will come in few months is Sync – access to Yammer files from desktop through a shared folder – drag and drop synchronization with the Yammer cloud and coworker desktop
  • Yammer’s Universal Search really works – universal search feature is being released in these days –  which will through individualized search algoritm provide better match for our searches
  • PREMIUM groups – yammer-active teams can upgrade without waiting until (if) the whole company decides to upgrade. Premium features include more space for sharing files, possibility to moderate content and membership, mark files and pages as ‘official’ (e.g. final versions), enable external file sharing, etc.
  • Yammer feeds can be embedded practically anywhere (but I understand that content will be visible only to those who have login credentials for given Yammer group/feed)
  • Yammer guys also see as one of the keys to their success Mobile Apps so they continue to work on apps for all Iphone, Android, Windos Phone and BlackBerry.
  • Philosophy of Yammer is not to rip & replace existing enterprise systems (which costed companies tenths of thousands of dollars), but instead integrating & migrate to yammer (with those most common platforms – e.g. Sharepoint or Microsoft Dynamics) and customizing (see all yammer apps at

 Changing from Intranet to ESN (enterprise social network) indeed is a paradigm shift, which requires thorough preparation. Four keys were mentioned as necesary for social success:

  1. PLAN – roll out and sustain, define where you go, even if the way how to get there changes while ‘on the road’
  2. TEAM – compose team with complementary skills
  3. Create AWARENESS
  4. Governance

As an example was discussed Yammer’s adoption in Deloitte:

  • Deloitte has roughly 190,000 employees in 50 countries
  • One team made experiment to replace email by yammer (nobody from the team wanted to return to use email after one week)
  • Nowadays Deloitte’s Yammer has 50,000 registered users with in average 8,000 msgs/week (seems like 80:20 ration is true here as well)
  • Used AFA concept: Aim – Fire – Adjust

and few learnt lessons/tips:

    • Communicate early & often
    • Adoption needs a lot of attention – it doesn’t happen on its won
    • Expect skepticism
    • There is no wrong way to use Yammer
    • Keep rules to minimum
    • Nurse group of champions (early adopters?)
  •  Three mentioned strategies to speed up adoption:
    • ‘Make them do it’  –  involve managers/directors
    • ‘Make it fun’ – contests
    • ‘Remove other legs’ (cutting other comm channels or letting them naturally die)

Relationship is Conversation‘. If you are not having a conversation, you are missing an ocean of opportunity.

Some interesting resources:

* did you check recently Yammer feature list? No? do so – ever growing list of functions applications and tools at

* Aragon Research: Special Report – The social enterprise

Will social media kill off the intranet in years to come? 

* Yammer blogpost about the event itself and the links to PPT  and other resources –

Where are photos from my Flickr used?

Are you curious about who, where and how uses pictures from your Flickr? yes, me too 😉

Indeed one simple option is to Google ‘Flickr’ and your Flickr ‘user name’. Dig little bit deeper (not just first 10 results) and you may discover surprises.

Other option is to go your Flickr account stats => Referrers and follow incoming links. Usually most referrers comes from Flickr itself, Google, Bing and Yahoo search (and Google, Bing and Yahoo pictures), but bellow are usually few links going to specific referral sites. The sad thing is that you can only see referrers  for one particular day (use arrows on sides of the date to check other dates) and that you can only go about 40 days back.

It seems that at this moment Flickr doesn’t offer more aggregated or older statistics for referrers.

do you know more? please suggest.

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