Literal Thinking

Real stories of workplace follies

Archive for the ‘WOTM’ Category

Waffle of the month

Posted by A Friend on 22 April 2009

Waffle Some of our more regular and observant visitors might wonder what the WOTM category is all about. It actually stands for “waffle of the month”, and it’s the license we give ourselves to go a bit off-topic every once in a while. We did promise in our very first post that we’ll “keep the waffling to a minimum”, so readers can expect the waffling to just only be once a month.

Joining Twitter

We joined twitter last month. We joined merely because everybody seems to be talking about it, but over a month on, we’re still not quite sure how to use it most effectively. Our preliminary conclusion is twitter – social media in general, in fact – can potentially be a great business tool, but it may not be for everyone.

So while twitter can and should be included in marketing mix considerations, we probably won’t lose too much sleep if we can’t make it fit into our model. A possible folly is for people to just latch on to it because it seems to be what people are talking about these days and lose a lot of resources just getting it to work right for them.

Playing with site look and feel

We are still constantly playing with the look and feel of the site. We added, and then removed, a tags widget on the left sidebar as it looked too cluttered for our taste. We added Clustrmaps at the bottom of the right sidebar, mainly to give us a (free) indication of where our visitors are coming from. We did not expect visits from China and India to be so high, at least relative to the rest of the world; but thinking about it now, it probably makes sense just with their sheer volume of internet users.

We also added the new WordPress twitter widget on the right sidebar. This widget is fairly new and WordPress seems to still be working on some kinks here and there. But we trust Wordress to eventually get this right, so we’ll just leave it there. Last but not least, we’re experimenting with comment threading, another fairly new feature provided by WordPress.

“Sample Us” page

Just introduced this week is a new “Sample Us” page. The page contains links to seven previous posts, intended to give new visitors a feel of what this blog is about. The page is probably a bit unnecessary at this stage, considering that the blog is only a few months old.

But we received some feedback that the top menu bar looked a bit barren with just two items there, and we just could not think of anything else to add. We aim to update the page with different sample posts at least every two months so longer-term, we think it will prove good value for new visitors.

Dilbert

Finally, one of our workmates found out last year (by spying on our email) that we subscribe to the Dilbert daily strip, and she thoughtfully gave us a Dilbert desk calendar for Christmas. It was our first time to have a Dilbert desk calendar, so we really appreciated the gesture. And then we found that the strips in the calendar are two years old (we even read an exact same strip we have plastered on our wall)!

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Blog carnivals

Posted by A Friend on 12 March 2009

Carnival Blog carnivals are blogging communities that regularly collect blog articles about a particular topic and publish magazine style blog posts that include links to all the collected blog postings. Each carnival edition is written and edited by a volunteer blogger. Some carnivals are maintained by just one or a few bloggers while others, in true carnival fashion, move from one blog to another per edition. Each blog carnival has its own publication frequency: some are published as often as once a week, but most have monthly editions.

Hosting an edition of a blog carnival is good for the volunteer blogger, if they have the time and inclination to do so. Bloggers recognize the effort required to produce just one edition of a blog carnival, so the host blogger generally gets a lot of goodwill from blogger contributors. Some contributors whose articles are included in the carnival may also write posts in their own blog about it, so the host blogger can potentially get a lot of visitors directed from other related blogs; and some of these visitors can become regulars.

For a blogger contributor, blog carnivals are a great way to get exposure into a wider audience; so a lot of bloggers are regular, enthusiastic contributors to blog carnivals. Hosts of more established carnivals would also generally be bloggers with an already established following, so click through traffic is almost guaranteed.

Take our blog for example. We have a very young blog, and we consciously decided that submitting articles to blog carnivals would be a great way for us to get our name out there. So far, we have two blog posts published in carnival editions: our post on personal responsibility was included in the February edition of the leadership development carnival, and our post on project signoff points was included in the 25th edition of the carnival of project management. These two posts currently have the highest individual page views in our blog.

But most importantly, blog carnivals are great for blog readers. Each edition of a blog carnival is generally a collection of the best individual blog posts on a particular topic. This is so because it is in the interest of blogger contributors to only submit their very best work, as this will often be the basis for the initial impression of first time visitors to their blog (not to mention that blog carnival editors generally only allow one contribution per blogger per edition). So the reader is virtually guaranteed of a good online yarn on their favorite topic!

To end this post, below are some active blog carnivals that you might be interested in:

    Carnival of Personal Development – blog carnival related to personal development, personal finance, and personal health
    Carnival of Project Management – blog carnival focused on program and project management
    Carnival of the Vanities – this blog carnival claims that no topic is off-topic, but only “superior posts” are accepted
    Carnival of Trust – blog carnival that broadly tackles “trust” as a principle in business and politics, among others
    Corporate Vigilance – blog carnival that spotlights the rights and the wrongs of the corporate world
    Customer Service Carnivale – blog carnival dedicated to helping business people become more aware of the importance of customer service
    Leadership Development Carnival – blog carnival related to leadership, management, executive development, coaching, human resources, succession planning, and organizational development
    Personal Power – blog carnival related to personal power, self development, motivation, and self improvement

We based the list on various search terms some of our visitors used to get to our blog, so we hope that you find at least some of them useful.

Posted in Blogging, WOTM | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Blogging for money, vanity, and personal development

Posted by A Friend on 28 February 2009

Blogging Badge A few weeks ago, we facetiously left a comment over at the Creative Energy Officer blog that reasons for blogging can pretty much be narrowed down to two: money or vanity (or both). It was meant as a joke of course, but when we were forced to think about it more when the blog author followed up on us, we realized that we were probably closer to the mark than we initially thought.

A lot of people make money off the internet these days and a whole lot more have attempted to. We don’t have a statistical backup, but we suspect a good number of those making money and attempting to make money off the web do so through blogging. The internet has experts and wannabe experts who can tell you all the essentials about this. The only point we want to stress is that blogging for money is not only restricted to getting ad revenues from your blogs. A lot of bloggers use their blogs as extensions of their brands or platforms to demonstrate subject matter expertise. Lorelle on WordPress is a good example of an ad-free blog that most likely generates a lot of business for its author.

We also claimed in our comment that those who do not blog for money do so for vanity. Blogging is a cheap and easy way of putting your voice out there for the world to listen to, and we are in no doubt that bloggers at least get some sense of satisfaction when they know that people visit their blogs. We know we do, and though our blog is only a couple of months old, we have already caught ourselves a few times unhealthily obsessing about visitor statistics.

Regardless of the reason, we suggested that readership is essential to the survival of a blog. A blogger can only talk to him or her self for so long and if readers don’t follow, the blogger will eventually lose interest and the blog will die a natural death.

We admitted in our comment that we probably fall in the vain category. The blog platform that we chose does not allow advertisements, so we’re definitely not here for ad revenue. The nature of our blog requires us to post anonymously, so we can’t be here to promote ourselves or our services, either. Finally, there’s the vain act of addressing ourselves in the plural form.

But a really important reason why we started this blog is for our own personal development. While the slogan we chose for the blog, “Real stories of workplace follies”, may sound a bit negative, our focus is not so much about the mistakes made, but the lessons that can be learned from these. We firmly believe that the best life or business lessons are learned from negative experiences. Of course, one does not go around aiming to fail. But as one of our all-time favorite poems states, “Success is failure turned inside out, the silver tint of the clouds of doubt”: there are a lot of opportunities we can derive from failure, we just need to know how to.

One way of truly learning from a negative experience is to try to objectify it. This is essentially what we are attempting to do in the case studies that we present here. We try to step back and strip the emotion from the experience, and attempt to present the cases with just the bare essentials. We understand that perfect objectivity can never be accomplished, especially when we are personally and intimately involved in the experience, but we try to get as close to it as we possibly can.

The blog is fairly young, and we have so far only been focusing on presenting the cases. At the end of each case is an implied question of what went wrong and how things could have been done better. As the blog grows (and we hope it continues to grow), we are aiming to also write posts about the learning derived from the cases. After all, the whole point is to learn from the experience.

Posted in WOTM | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Literally speaking

Posted by A Friend on 9 January 2009

We are launching this blog to present real stories of workplace follies. It is not our intention to name and shame. If some of the stories we present might strike you as too close to home, please consider that it is most likely merely circumstantial. After all, quite a good number of us are repeat offenders of the same workplace mistakes.

We will also be presenting some higher profile stories, often about easily recognizable business circle names, mainly sourced from the news. In such cases, we will only be restating (perhaps with some editorializing) what will already be publicly available information, so we will feel no shame in naming the organizations and individuals concerned.

The name of the blog represents what we believe is one of the most common reasons why even the most well-meaning people fail at work: a dogmatic adherence to accepted or learned business practice, without fully understanding or appreciating the principles behind these.

Finally, we may occasionally waffle on about the mundane and the irrelevant (like what we are doing now). We can only ask for your indulgence, even as we promise to keep the waffling to a minimum.

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