Transition to BE-ing@Work in Practice

apple heartAs a result of my research, I have immense respect for the wearable technologies potential to enhance both physical and cognitive function as well as the current limitations.  Completing a PhD takes a toll on the body and mind. I consider myself lucky, as I have many of the tools available to me to monitor this impact and the recovery.

I was profoundly struck by the irony of what now feels like a near miss, just days prior to graduation. Had it not been for the passive capture of my heart rate on my AppleWatch, I would not have been able to share the data with my doctor electronically when things went sour. He was able to both diagnose and prescribe remotely without delay. The issue resolved, but I am now more aware of the benefit of tracking vital signs passively for prevention. I became my own research subject, yet again.

I have shifted my attention back to the wearables, apps and other innovative tech based interventions that complement our wellbeing goals. The book BE-ing@Work is still in the works. As I collect more stories, best practice and insight from the field, I will be ready to share it. In the meantime, I am sharing my research at a few upcoming events. I will be speaking at Virgin Pulse, Thrive Summit 2016, In Boston next week. I am also booked to speak at the Employer Health and Benefits Congress, in September. I hope to see you there and hear your stories about technology and wellbeing in the workplace.

In the meantime, I am working on sharpening my knowledge in corporate wellbeing strategy by getting certified as a Corporate Wellbeing Specialist through Corporate Health & Wellness Association. There is a lot happening in this space from the HR benefits side that can apply my research and crosses over from social strategy and organization change.

Very soon the BE-ing@Work website will be launched. This will have more exciting details about the specifics of social tech and wellbeing in the workplace, new research projects and more. In the meantime, you will still find that here a lot of other things that I have worked on over the last few chapters.

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Balance ➜ Perspective ➜ Productivity and Wearable Technology

PorchingReturning to flow in writing can be a challenge after a pause away from finger to keyboard.  The unexpected result of a minuscule creature’s bite forced pause and reflection on my dissertation as I recovered from the symptoms of Lyme disease.  Whatever the cause, I welcomed the gift of reflection and perspective breaking my myopic trance of data and theoretical analysis.  Amidst the constant flow of Summer’s visitors, I was able to try out my thesis and analysis on a wide variety of audiences and settings.  This is an attempt at explaining my evolution of thought and practice, to return from the obtuse academic speak to the clarity of language understandable beyond the realm of scholars.

I explored various angles to express the connection with wearables as social technologies. Despite this connection being obvious to me, in my admittedly myopic state, was not so for others. Wearables allow for an intimate and multi-sensory connection to individuals. They provide both incoming (ie. sensors that track heart rate and motion) and outgoing signals (ie. updates, beeps or vibration alerts). This connection creates a greater understanding of how we engage with the systems in which we exist, as well as how to best manage the relationship for sustainability of both individual and the system. For example, stress triggers, sleep patterns and idleness are known physiological challenges that impact psychological behavior.  Wearables provide a access to data that potentially enable users to modify negative patterns of behavior.

The buzz of my research on wearable outcomes  lead curious visitors to me.  I listened and observed the reaction to my Apple Watch (the one device I wore) and the conversations it brought about.  With fascination, I observed my own behavior as to how I engaged with the device and what it meant to me.  I watched and listened as others shared anecdotes of their experiences in correlation with their wearables.  Between the design feedback, health changes and lifestyle impacts I was impressed with how many, how and who was being impacted by wearables. It was another moment of discovery of the data beyond the study data being far more interesting and worthy of exploration. That said, these conversations were not part of my study and hardly academic in nature. They took place on the porch over wine and sunsets. Nonetheless, I became excited again with the possibilities for where it all will lead.

The momentum of excitement over the potential for improved quality of life and health as social technologies mature is taking form.  It is in its infancy, yes, but nonetheless the wave can be felt.  It is only a matter of time, patience and inevitable innovation before the technology will be integrated into our systems seamlessly.  The acceptance of the benefits to global and individual health and wellbeing will eventually outweigh the fear of ingestables and embedded devices, their data and even the systems that utilize the data. Remember, it was not that long ago that we wondered why we would want a smart phone (user penetration nearly at 80% in US, up from 9.6% in 2011).

The physical devices themselves are not necessarily making the change.  The potential change results from the ability to improve wellness through greater accuracy and communication of data using intimate sensors, signals and apps.  Individual wellness improves the system’s ability to be productive.  The challenge of becoming one with the tech ecosystem is understanding the human factor of systems. Social technologies provide a window into how systems interact with one another, as well as a channel for that engagement.  Finding the optimal balance will benefit everyone.  We have a ways to go, but I am hopeful.

I happy to see that I am not alone in my thinking.  The latest issues of Harvard Business Review focus on Rethinking HR and Design Thinking. Outside Magazine’s interview with Jay Blahnik on the Apple Watch provided a rare view into Apple’s integrative approach to wearable and app development aimed at improved quality of life and productivity.  I look forward to fully emerging from writing the final pages of my dissertation to contribute to the discussion.  Until then, this is a brief exercise to get my fingers moving on the keyboard.  The exercise of allowing myself to fully “be” while recovering and enjoying the company of family and friends has provided me the perspective needed to produce the final pieces.

Allowing room for pause and perspective has not only provided clarity in the findings of my research.  It is an integral part of the process for the system to find balance that makes room for the seamless integration in the future.  In presence, being mindful of ourselves and device usage so the benefits outweigh the risks is key.  Placing the Watch in “do not disturb” or even to removing it completely, breathing the fresh air and enjoy the company of an old friend can be a blessed gift of perspective and productivity.  So now back to writing the final chapter of my dissertation and designing the role of CBO (Chief Being/Balance Officer).

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Reflections from Wisdom 2.0

Be wise, be sillyOne of the most beautiful things about Wisdom and Mindfulness is what it brings out in people.  It has been a long time since I laughed so hard my belly hurt and smiled so much my cheeks ached.  This, all in the midst of profound learnings quiet inspiration and deep thought.  Did I get what I expected out of Wisdom 2.0? Why, yes indeed and more. Despite not being in (my usual) network and share mode, I met some amazing people with brilliant minds and fascinating stories.

To be clear, this was about research for me.  My intentions were, at least, that.  I’m in the depths of writing my doctoral dissertation on Wearable Technologies and Presence in the Workplace.  I was drawn to the speaker list (half of who’s books are included in my literature review).  I attended with my student hat on, intending to understand how wisdom and mindfulness are being adopted into organizations.  All my (book) research was pointing to corporate wellness programs.  What I was excited to see what that it, the Mindfulness Movement, was driven from a much more grass roots level.  Of course, for it to be accepted and supported (in other words given a budget) it had to show value for money.  The ROI through some form of metrics (performance, decreased absenteeism and presenteeism, engagement…).

The advocates and ambassadors of Mindfulness are breaking into the domain of leadership.  Listening to Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO, we all secretly wished that we were working for such an enlightened and authentic leader.  As he lead the chorus “Sitting by the dock of the bay,…” we imagined ourselves part of his camp.  Ming Tan, Google’s Jolly Good Fellow and founder of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI)gave us pause to the potential for extending these practices to other organizations with joy.  It is easy to get excited by the potential of conscious leadership and business practices when lead by such compassionate and wise leaders.  It is neither simply fluff nor driven by health related issues.  These guys mean business, with heart.

Some take-aways that I especially appreciated

  • Christine Carter (Happiness Expert) “Don’t lean in if it means leaning out from your sweet spot.”
  • Tristan Harris (Google, Product Manager) “Consumer demand can drive design change with the metric: time WELL spent.”
  • Adam Gazzaley (Neuroscientist) Innovation using video game mechanics can provide neurocrossfit for our plastic brains
  • Sherry Turkle (author) “The unedited life is most fulfilling”
  • Fred Kofman (author) “What is good for you doesn’t always taste good.”
  • Meng Tan (SIYLI) “Business at its best reduces suffering.”
  • Julia Hartz (Eventbrite Co-Founder) “say YES”

Next time I attend Wisdom 2.0, I will have finished my research and dissertation.  I hope to have something that will be worthy of sharing there.  But even more so, I look forward to taking the opportunity to be more present and enjoy the more extensive offerings in lectures, workshops and yoga that I missed this round.  Today I return to writing and research mode with a new

Note: Some of you may have seen me there and felt a twinge of frustration as my head was focused down on my iPad, rather than at the stage from which wisdom bestowed.  I was listening, far more deeply than you realize.  For me this my way of mindfully and creatively capturing the experience and learnings.  My Wisdom 2.0 sketchnotes album is below, and feel free to enjoy, share and download them if you like.

Link to flickr album for Sketchnotes from Wisdom 2.0

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I’m back, well almost.

It’s about balance. From the outside, I am often perceived to have mastered it, balance, that is. When inside, like most, I am challenged to my core. I did not pay attention to that which I preach, balance. As you might have already guessed, this is a reflection posting, but one that I thought worthy of sharing. I hope you will agree and find that it gives you reason to reflect and act upon your own balance.

You may have noticed (or not) that I have not posted much as of late. I have been following the sage wisdom of my elders. My mother raised me well enough to practice, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all.” Of course, I also believe too much “nice” sometimes has the same effect. My father said, “nobody listens once you start shouting.” I have been pretty good at keeping my cool despite it all. But recently I have discovered that the ocean doesn’t mind my occasional outburst (and it feels pretty good). Before you get worried (or not), know that I am indeed alive and doing well.

After seven years in Sweden, my health suffered from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and I needed a serious change. I mean this in every sense of the word, health (emotional, physical, intellectual…). I had forgotten how to smile, and was in need of a serious belly laugh. Being in my mid-40s (yes, a bit of mid-life stuff too), I knew something drastic had to happen.  It needed to begin with the physical “vessel” so that I could proceed with the rest. So, here I am, moved the family to California (kids here, my husband’s coming eventually).

First order of business, sunshine to increase the dangerously depleted vitamin D levels. Second, get active both inside and out. Third get social, meet new people and reconnect with my existing network. The first month was full of the usual logistics and details of an international move with two kids. Registered the kids for school and activities they would love. I signed up for Pure Barre to literally kick my bottom into shape. I brought music back to my life, both guitar and downloading some great playlists on Spotify.  I bought a used convertible to maximise sunshine and smiles while getting it all done.

All my meetings have been either on a hike or walk (no more lunches or fika – unless earned). I have reconnected with some wonderful friends and contacts and made new ones. The depth of conversation is remarkable when one has room for comfortable contemplation, silence. Walking side by side as you aim to a vista point provides just that. The shared memories that are created ensure a bond that cannot be matched by a hurried lunch and certainly not by meeting in a sterile office.

I am feeling amazingly sane and happy for the first time in years.  I am able to tackle whatever life dishes out.  This already tested by challenges to learn the emergency systems (separate ER visits for kid, dog and car all in one week).  So, yes, now it is time to get back to work.  It will not be full throttle at first, as part of my effort to maintain balance seeking the right amount.  But I am happy to say that yes, I am back.  My doctoral research is making great progress and I have a few projects in the wings.  You will be hearing from me again soon and there is some great stuff brewing.

You might ask what does this have to do with leadership in the new social paradigm or global social strategy.  Everything! Part of leadership and social strategy is authenticity and taking care of yourself so that you can lead, connect and share.

I hope you find this helpful in seeking your own balance.  Moving to California is neither the answer nor an option for most.  My point is to take action to achieve balance when it is completely lost.  Take care of the core so you can take care of the rest.  I expect great things from you all.  Perhaps on our next hike.

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10 Steps to Successful Co-Authoring

collaborationMy doctoral journey is full of new experiences, each its own journey into learning.  Most recently, and cause for my “silence” as of late: co-authoring scholarly work. Since completion of the piece, I have taken time to reflect on my own experience and hear the stories of others’.

To be clear, this was not the first time I have collaborated, and in many contexts I prefer working with others.  What makes or breaks a co-authoring experience and why was this one so challenging?  I came up with 10 factors to consider in the process that apply to co-authoring but also other forms of remote collaboration.  Some of these may be obvious, but I felt it was important to provide a framework from the baseline.

1. Know your co-author. Take the time to learn about them.  What are their interests, the skills that can contribute to the collaboration?  What is their availability and their life beyond the paper to create context?  This helps build trust and rapport as creates a baseline for understanding when “life happens.
2. Know yourself. Consider the same for yourself.  What are your interests and skills? What you can contribute and your availability.
3. Shared purpose. Understand the motivation for each contributor; both for the piece and why and how the piece will be used.
4. Define roles and responsibilities at the start.  These can be flexible as things come up in the process, but changes need to be agreed upon and clear.
5. Cloud Sharing. Determine where documents and supporting materials will be shared and accessed.
6. Regular meetings that are recorded with action items and deadlines.  Just like any process, knowing the next steps helps maintain the flow.
7. Define a clear outline / framework to work from.
8. Know where you are at. Determine structure for tracking changes and saving versions.
9. Readability. Writing styles can vary greatly; grammar, vocabulary, use of metaphors and images.  Determine the best way to have a shared voice that allows the styles to work together without disrupting the flow.
10. Humility on both parts.  Let the shared purpose determine the editing process, not personal opinion.  Respect others work, but also their revisions if they feed the shared purpose.

I welcome your thoughts on what makes or breaks a co-authoring experience for you.
Note: The two co-authoring projects completed recently are quite different. One is to be presented at a conference in July by my co-author and the other will provide the research component to a documentary film.

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Reflections on Reflection

The greatest gift that returning to school to become a PhD has given me is the obligation and therefore license to reflect.  One classmate described it so beautifully as she fought for her moment in the bathtub. “I’m working” she cried as her husband questioned her actions.  Yes, those moments of reflection are equally and often more precious in terms of time well spent.  Opening up our eyes to the world around us, the people around us and to ourselves.  In slowing down long enough to reflect, I have improved my productivity and results.

I look at my clients that have to-do-lists a mile long, full of important things, schedules packed with meetings, balancing on a thread and missing their treasured moments that pass unnoticed or un-recognized.  I to do this, but am given a moment to pause and think about where I create value and what creates value for those around me before I leap.  I take a moment to reflect, and am thereby giving myself a chance to make better decisions about how to use my time.

Break it down to efficiency: my cost per hour, versus the cost to hire someone to do it (ie. fixing computer issues, bookkeeping, doing laundry, cleaning the house).  Others need work too, they can get it done faster and cheaper when I put these things into equations.  By the way, my weekends are worth much more than my office days as there can be no price put on quality time with my family and friends.

So I reflect and I even dream a bit about innovative and crazy ideas that would make life, mine and the world, better.  What is my role in this and how do I make it happen.  I imagine this is what Trine Grönlund means in her GoSlow Family movement.  Being crazy may not be required, but a little out of ordinary thinking might help.  I guess we could ask Simon Kyaga who looks at whether creativity comes from madness or is socially derived.  But I do think my best ideas come from reflection (often in the bathtub, in the car or in nature).  Perhaps this goes back to my Emersonian roots.  Either way, I am sure that there is a great deal of value to reflection, rather than reaction.

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The journey to PhD begins

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The journey has begun with an intense week of orientation into the Fielding Graduate University doctoral program for Human and Organizational Systems. In the next 3-5 years I will be digging deeper into my work with my Social Optimization Theory applied to Leadership in the New Social Paradigm from many angles. I am excited and inspired by the potential to learn, and grow personally while contributing to my field. Above are my sketch notes from the final session with advice for moving forward. I will share research results on this site and more as I come across interesting things of value for practitioners. Fielding provides a great balance between the scholar practitioner model which allows me to delve deeper while in practice.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you or your organization be interested in participating in or benefitting from the research.

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Patience, Patience, Patience

Picnic while searching for mushrooms in Huså

The best bit of advice I ever received was from my father-in-law during our wedding over a decade ago. He said the best way to make relationships last is “patience, patience, patience.” This of course, was said with his delightful smirk, knowing full well what this would mean at times. So I beg your patience as I settle into my new role of researcher, teacher and student as I commence my doctoral studies.

 

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Sharing of Self

I am reminded today of the challenge of balance between those whom we love and that which we love to do. I am truly passionate about my work and that makes it a pleasure. So much so, that I often get deeply immersed and lose track of time. It is a luxury to be able to do so. I often get so absorbed that I miss the little moments that pass by me, both good and bad.

I find great satisfaction in the genuine smiles and laughter of my children, and myself. It is far too rare that we catch ourselves in that intense, unavoidable belly laugh that comes from the soul. It warms the heart and brings new life to everything around it. I was blessed with a moment such as this as a started my day bathing in the Öresund Straights with my six year old son. As I arose from the water with seaweed on my head, he reminded me to laugh at myself and enjoy the silliness of the moment. Continuing my day with a smile on my face and a lightness in my heart, I am refreshed. I can laugh at my silliness and enjoy my seriousness. I am inspired by the women I interact with, the winks, the struggles. Thank you all for being an inspiration.

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