The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


Are Microsoft Turning Into Samsung?

I always laughed when people blamed Microsoft Powerpoint for bad presentations.

The idea that this program was purely responsible for you choosing to write 15,000 pointless words on a page in small font.

Sure, it had limitations … sure, it could encourage a certain ‘look’ for what you wanted to present … but fundamentally, that was on you, not it.

Don’t get me wrong, for a tech company … I’m shocked at how bad their user experience is.

If you think their classic platforms are bad, you should see the utter shit show that is a parents account on X-Box.

Or Microsoft Teams.

Oh my god, how can a company that can so carefully and considerately design an X-Box controller for those with disability make such a shit show of everything else.

I literally don’t understand it. Honestly.

Teams is the most user un-intutitive experience I’ve ever had.

Things don’t make sense. Things are unnecessarily complex. Things are hidden.

And yet, instead of fixing this – it seems their focus is to land-grab the video collaboration market, regardless if people like working with it or not.

You can’t go a week without being told Teams now offers a new feature.

Some – as you can see from the photo above – are relatively big things.

Most, aren’t.

A range of tools/functions that seem to only cater to the most niche or nerdy of Teams users.

It all feels like Samsung phones.

When you start one up, you see a bunch of apps that seem to serve no purpose whatsoever other than to be able to say you can do something with it that no one will ever want to do something with.

Ego rather than value.

And here lies the problem with Microsoft …

They claim all they do is about aiding collaboration, but in practice, it appears they have no understanding of how teams – or humans for that matter – actually work together.

For all the efficiency they claim they want us to be able to operate at, they are – arguably – making us more inefficient, either by making things more difficult than it should – or needs – to be, or trying to push us to answers without any capacity for giving the situation some thought to make things better.

And maybe that’s the next gen of their business model.

A desire to make efficiency about quantity than quality … a way to help their corporate clients keep their staff costs lower by not allowing any one individual to rise while also giving them more opportunities to sell tools, like their new AI model which will be incorporated in many of their products.

Yeah … I know, I sound like a conspiracy nutcase and I don’t really believe this is the reason, which means it’s something far worse.

They make for what they wish we did rather than who we actually are.

Or said another way, innovators of control, rather than efficiency.

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A Reminder That Wealth Is Not A Sign Of Smarts …

So a few weeks ago, Elon Musk posted this.

What the hell …

The irony is anyone who tries to claim penis size is a symbol of status and superiority is an idiot … most often while being in possession of an appendage that is the size of a drawing pin.

As if losing billions on Twitter wasn’t embarrassing enough … his ‘feud’ with Zuck just makes him look like a more desperate version of Tom from Succession, just with less quality one-liners. Hell, he has made Zuck look good, which up to 6 weeks ago, seemed as likely as making Putin look a cuddly, compassionate grandpa.

I’m not doubting Musk is smart in some things, but the more he acts like a petulant child, the more I am in doubt what those things are.

Seems like he may be the billionaire in this story …

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We Are What We Need Or Dream …

Scams.

They’re bloody everywhere.

SMS. Email. People knocking on the door.

There seems to be three types …

The hopeful … which is sending the same thing to tons of people and see if it will stick.

The too-good-to-be-true … which is promising untold riches for a fraction of investment.

And the invisible … where it has been so well planned, you may not realise it’s happened until its happened.

While I understand how the latter works – having once been a victim of it – it’s amazing how often the first 2 do.

Part of that can be down to blinkered greed.

The belief we’re all ‘special’ and while friends may think it’s a scam, they stick with it as it reinforces what they’ve aways felt about themselves.

Until it doesn’t.

The other group are people who are desperate – whether financially or lonely – so they take part in a desperate bid to escape their own personal hell.

So while its easy to laugh at people who we think have been stupid, the reality is there are always mitigating circumstances that add to the scammers success.

And nothing shows how successful the crims are by their exaggeration. Look at this …

For just NZ$400, you can get a ‘guaranteed’ NZ$7800 every month.

EVERY MONTH … where do I sign?

But the scammers aren’t completely stupid, so they’ve added a picture of Elon Musk.

Now whether that’s because he’s super rich or is OK with losing billions – as demonstrated with Twitter – is anyone’s guess, but given they’ve bought a ton of ads all over Facebook and other social media channels means they think it makes what is one of the most ridiculous financial investment promises in history, legitimate.

And you know what, it seems it has … which is a great reminder for the marketing community that while customers are often much smarter than we give them credit for, they rarely adopt the logic we like to think/claim they do because ultimately – and here’s the big reminder – they buy for what they’ve need, not what we want them to need.

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Small Kids. A Big Tax Deduction. Apparently …

Have a look at this …

What the absolute fuck?

I honestly thought it was a spoof when I first saw it.

But no … it’s deadly serious.

A visual of a kid who can’t be more than 3 … holding an adult-sized tennis racket … on a full-size tennis court … with a headline that suggests this is a company that can help your child become a professional athlete.

And if the idea of pushing a 3 year old to be a pro isn’t horrible enough, you then discover it’s a bloody private wealth company promoting that they can find tax benefits for sending your kid to a private school.

That’s right, your kid is a tax write-off.

The absolute fuckers.

OK, I admit I have a massive problem with private schools. Education … good education … should be free for all. Not because I’m some socialist fool [though I am a socialist fool] but because the smarter the country, the more prosperous the country.

Education is an investment in a nations future.

I hate schools can be massive profit centres. That some have more money than Councils, so can buy land for their elite kids, that could otherwise be turned into homes or parks or anything other than another elitist space.

OK, so there are some exceptions.

If your child has certain learning difficulties, I would understand it.

As I wrote a while back, too many schools are forced to teach as a one-size-fits-all, collective.

Where kids aren’t actually learning, they’re being taught to remember.

It’s why I’m so grateful to Otis’ school with his recent dysgraphia diagnosis.

Where they see his potential, not his problems.

Of course, if that wasn’t the case … then we would have to find a school that would help him on his terms, not their schedule.

And as much as I am vehemently opposed to private education, I’d have to do it.

But even then, it wouldn’t be about elitism, but equality. A chance for him to have a chance.

And while I get all parents want the best for their kids, a child is not a tax write-off and while Apollo Private Wealth are trying to position themselves as the ‘caring and considerate financial partner’, their motives are as transparent as a greenhouse.

So while this ad was not meant as a spoof … it did show this company is a joke.

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The Systematic Destruction Of Knowledge And Expertise …

I appreciate that at my age, the title of this post may suggest I’m going to whine about companies overlooking people of a certain age for younger, cheaper, hungrier individuals.

I’m not. I get it.

Not only that, while age and knowledge have some level of interconnectedness … I’ve met countless young people who are bloody brilliant [not relative to their age, just bloody brilliant] as well as plenty of people with ‘experience’ who, frankly, aren’t.

What I’m talking about is the blinkered confidence some companies place in their people simply because they’re their people.

On one hand I suppose I should celebrate it, given its not that long ago that companies overlooked internal capability for the external shiny and new.

And while this post does not reflect any of the clients I specifically work with directly, I am seeing and hearing more and more companies go to this other extreme and worse … enabling a level of arrogance in their people that results in any objectivity they face – regardless of the knowledge and expertise of the person delivering it, let alone the desire to help make things more successful – as a threat.

Complicity is the name of the game these days.

Blind acceptance that whatever the person ‘in charge’ says, is right.

A belief internal employees are better informed about every topic than people who are experts in specific topics … so companies can feel great about themselves.

Of course, the issue with this approach is that when things go wrong – or don’t go right enough – everyone else gets the blame. Not just by the person in charge [which you almost expect] but by the company they work for, despite the fact the only reason they gave this employee the project is because they knew a bit more about a subject than senior management, so they saw them as [1] an expert in the field and [2] a cheaper option that bringing in external expertise.

Now you’d think the fear of this outcome would ensure people would stand up for what they believe is right.

Not because they’re arrogant, but because they know their experience and knowledge can disproportionally benefit the end result.

And some do. At least the really good ones …

But even they are under increasing pressure to go along with the whims and wants of certain people/companies … because the whole industry is seeing more and more work being handed to people and companies who simply say yes to whatever is wanted.

Or said another way, convenience and fawning is more valued then expertise, knowledge and standards.

Now of course, it’s human nature to believe we can do more than we actually can.

We all like to think we are ‘special’.
We all like to be acknowledged as important.
We’ve all heard the ‘fake it till you make it’ philosophy.

But the truly special are the ones who know that however good they are, having people around them who are better than them – in different fields – can make them even more effective.

It’s why the World’s best athletes have coaches.

It’s why the World’s best musicians have producers.

It’s why my brilliant ex-NIKE/FFI client, Simon Pestridge, said: “middle management want to be told they’re right. Senior management want to know how they can be better”.

The reason I say all this is that I recently reached out to one of the best organisational psychologists in the World. They work with the CEO’s of some of the most respected and successful companies in the World including Apple, NIKE, Ferrari and Electronic Arts to name a few.

This is what they said when I talked to them about what I was seeing:
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“I call them professional imposters and the reason so many succeed in corporations is because they target other imposters. It becomes a co-dependent relationship where they ensure their ego, status or promotion opportunities won’t be challenged.”

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To be honest, I was not shocked by their view, I was more shocked by the acknowledgment.

Of course, I probably shouldn’t be. It’s hardly a new phenomenon and we also had one of the most successful shows in TV history shine a light on it …

Succession was a celebration of the role of co-dependence and complicity within organisations.

As I wrote recently, Tom was the epitome of it.

But this post is about Tom before he ‘won’ [even though he is still a pawn to the real power] … this is about Tom when he just wanted to please to win favour. Where he thought nothing of being vicious and vindictive to those beneath him because he knew that didn’t just please the people above him, it let him feel he was above everyone around him.

And so Tom eventually gets promoted beyond his capability …

Where the illusion of power and external fawning is more important to him than pay checks.

Where his belief is he is superior to all, regardless of knowledge or experience.

Where his understanding of situations is the only understanding of a situation.

Yeah, it’s bleak. It’s fucking bleak. Because while Tom was fiction, Trump got to be President of America. And what makes it worse is we all see it. Hell, we’ve probably all been exposed to it. And yet it goes on.

If companies truly want to be great, then they’ve got to kill and stop rewarding toxic positivity … because value will be revealed when they allow more people to say no to them and they say yes to more people.

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