Realising that if I don’t write a blog post my head is probably going to explode, I guess that’s the reverse of writer’s block isn’t it?
So, I did it. I’m psyched. Actually, Dip.Psych‘ed to be specific. My little jamboree of academic qualifications now includes science, engineering, education, technology, theology and psychology. For the latter, I am grateful to Dr Mike Hollier for the inspiration and encouragement to turn my lifelong interest in psychology into something all together more focused, formal and useful, and to Anthony Finbow for providing me with the space and platform to enable me to pursue it. They also enabled me to turn Redcatco from half of an idea in my head, into a business that provides communication infrastructure to over 250,000 people, in more than 50 countries, for some of the largest and most profitable businesses on the planet. That definitely wasn’t something I had on my personal roadmap back in 2007.
It has been an amazing journey, and it has only just really started. Studying with the Open University has been an incredible adventure in itself. I’ve got to know many inspiring fellow students who have broken through all sorts of obstacles and challenges in order to pursue their dreams and passions. It has been humbling at times, realising how tiny the challenges I face are, compared to those that others have already overcome. It has also shown me what can be done with the technology that I love so much. Learning at a distance, sharing and managing knowledge on-line, using the Internet as a learning platform, and blending all of that with ‘real-world’ interactions. I’m proud to have been a part of it. And, finally, I can read (and just about understand ;) ) the research papers on Positive Psychology that have fascinated me these past few years. I’ve even had the chance to meet Marty Seligman and many other researchers on the way.
What next? Well, work sucks. No, really, it does, at least the kind that goes off in most modern, knowledge-driven businesses. My hope for the next part of my journey is to fix that for as large a number of people as I can manage. Work should be enjoyable, perhaps even fun! It should be social, rather than anti-social; it should flow, rather than jar and judder. Most of all, it should be purposeful – informed and encouraged rather than demanded and enforced.
Focusing people on results and team achievements, rather than obscured organisational rules and the pursuit of individual survival, provides a way to unlock a huge amount of value for many businesses – and hopefully a cheerful amount of value for myself and those I get to work with along the way! It is once again possible to make work both ‘visible’ and ‘social’. Then make it a team-lead, rather than the structured-process model that stifles innovation. SocialOptic has got off to an amazing start. Our first product, Milestone Planner, has outgrown one data centre and is gradulally colonising a second, with customers across half a dozen countries already. Every time I look at our management dashboard, more users have signed up. There is much to add to the service, but every time I talk with people from the user community, their passion and enthusiasm for how it enables them to work gives me a buzz. The second product is already more than paying its way too, providing insight into team progress, employee engagement and customer satisfaction for some great organisations.
2012 looks like it is going to be a fantastic year. Yes, there will undoubtably be curve balls, it wouldn’t be life if there weren’t any. But I’m psyched. I’m really psyched.