Nourish Your Team

Team Garden
(clockwise from top left) Peony, grape, rose, hydrangea

A healthy team is like a vigorous garden: it thrives in good conditions, and it can weather adverse conditions. Nourish your team regularly. Here are a few ideas that will help keep your team healthy.

Warmth

Your human team is hard wired to respond positively to warm communications. Research supports the idea that treating each other like people is what really matters: it leads to better employee engagement. Practice listening, caring, helping, smiling, eye contact and general friendliness, and encourage all these in your team. Think of the sun that warms the ground and invites seeds to sprout.

Light

Encourage individuals on your team to shed light on the contributions each of them makes. Retrospectives are a great time for this recognition, and there are many resources that can help you get started. Here’s one based on 360-degree feedback. It really can be as simple as asking each person to write one highlight of the past Sprint on a card, based on another team member’s contribution, and putting all the cards up on the wall for discussion.

Compost

Yes, I went there. The flip side of shedding light on the successes of the team is shedding light on the problems. Most people don’t want to go there, but you need to do it. In Scrum, introspection is a regular part of the team’s routine. With practice, the team becomes better at opening up and problem solving together. Think of the rose that thrives when a good compost is mixed in with the soil. All the decaying organic matter feeds the new growth.

Attention

The idea is to tend your team as you would tend a garden. Plants and people thrive when provided good conditions for growth. Check in regularly. Remove weeds. Water as needed. Be aware of individual traits.

Automagically Created Photo Albums

Here’s some very clever research from Disney into making photo albums automatically from all the thousands of photos we shoot.

I can imagine this technology being used along with geolocation APIs to create beautiful keepsakes of vacation trips!

logo-disney-research

Drones Herding Cows!

This is such a cute video. I’m originally from dairy farm country in upstate New York, so I have an affinity for this sort of thing.

From the research above, drones seem to be at least as effective as dogs for herding cattle … but clearly out of their league if you’re going for prize in cute:

By the way, Urban Drones (@UrbanDrones) is worth following for everything you ever wanted to know about drones. They’re active on Cyber Dust, where I originally found them. Here’s the link to use from your phone to add them: +urbandrones

More on drones

Pretty Visualizations From R, Explained

If you’re interested in learning what people go through to create beautiful graphics from basic statistical output, then spatial.ly is a site worth bookmarking.

This post, Improving R Data Visualisations Through Design, is especially worth reading. It has a handful of well-explained examples from geographer Dr. James Cheshire’s new book, London: The Information Capital. I haven’t worked with R, but data visualisation is dear to my heart. In a former life, I created animations in Flash to demonstrate things like data flows for a security network. If I ever delve back into that sort of work again, I will definitely count on Dr. Cheshire as a resource.

commute_flows_before_after

Flocks Of Drones At Disney?

Check out this report about how Disney wants to use drones in it’s theme park shows.

I imagined drones in theme parks for boring utility purposes. Use your phone to make order a drink while you wait for your table at a restaurant seat and a drone delivers it. Or drones that deliver water and other goodies while you stand in line for a ride. Or they would take tracking videos of you as you scream your head off on a ride.

I hadn’t considered drones as actors on an entertainment stage. These patents from Disney are eye-opening, especially the idea of using “flocks of drones” in a coordinated dance. The word flock makes me imagine drones that communicate to each other as they fly, but even if it’s only a flock that’s controlled by an operator on the ground it’s still awesome.

Glass: A Low Fidelity Prototype

I was fortunate enough to have been recently invited to participate in some early product discussions for a new application Hearst may be working on for Google’s Glass. It’s all very hush-hush, but I think it’s ok to share this much. I haven’t had access to the new hardware, so I did a mockup for myself, and wore it around my house, imagining what sort of messages and images I would welcome if they appeared just above my line of sight. Here I am, in all my serious, scientific goofball glory:

Low fidelity prototype for Glass applications
Low fidelity prototype for Glass applications

Fascinating Train Study

As the train slows down, the people appear to come to life. This was shot with a high speed camera from a train window, as the train was pulling into a station, then played back at a slower frame rate.

Graeme Taylor tells how he did it here: “Pointless, action-free and totally mesmerising” and I’ll stop the world.