Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Creating Chatter Pulse history

The Chatter Pulse AppExchange plug-In for Salesforce Chatter only starts collecting history at the time of installation. Chatter Pulse does not retroactively create history; however, we can populate Chatter Pulse history using the APEX Data Loader.

This post discusses one possible way of creating history, based on Chatter Posts and Comments created prior to the installation of Chatter Pulse being.
Fig 1: Chatter Pulse History, prior to import


Download and Install APEX Data Loader if not already installed. It is important to point out that the Chatter API changed in the Summer ’12 release, therefore you should use APEX Data Loader, version 25 or later.
Creating FeedItem History:

1. Launch APEX Data Loader

2. Click Export, then enter the user name and password for your Salesforce Org

3. By default, only Salesforce’s core objects will display. In order to see everything, including Chatter objects, click the “Show all Salesforce objects” option. Doing so will display a host of new objects including FeedItem and FeedComment.

4. Select Feed Item (FeedItem), chose a target file location and name such as c:\extracts\FeedItemHist.csv, then click Next

5. Select the fields: ParentId, Type, CreatedById, and CreatedDate, and add a filter to exclude any system generated Chatter (Type not equals ‘TrackedChange’) and click Finish
Note: For larger Orgs, you may also want to add a date filter to exclude history that is over 6 months old.

6. Review the resulting file to check for any abnormalities.

7. Go back to Data Loader in order to load the resulting CSV file (from FeedItem) into Chatter Pulse (CP_Chatter_Pulse__c)

8. Click Insert, Log In to your org and click Next

9. Select the object Chatter Pulse (CP_Chatter_Pulse__c), making certain not to confuse this with Chatter Pulse - Groups, and click Next

10. The system will tell you how many records exist in your import, Click OK

11. Click Create or Edit Map and map your fields as follows:

  • CREATEDBYID – Chatter_User__c
  • CREATEDDATE – Reporting_Date__c
  • PARENTID – Related_Record__c
  • TYPE – Update_Type_c

12. Click OK, the click Next
13. Choose a directory for errors and success files and click Next
14. Click Finish

Creating FeedItem History:

The structure of FeedItem and FeedComment are very similar, basically we will not repeat steps 1-14, this time using FeedComment as opposed to FeedItem

1. Extract the fields ParentId, CreatedById, CreatedDate, and CommentType from the  FeedComment object. No need to do any filtering on Type this time around, SFDC does not create any auto-comments. However, again, you may wish to filter comments based on date in larger orgs.

2. When inserting the records into the Chatter Pulse object, the field mapping is slightly different (TYPE vs COMMENTTYPE):

  • COMMENTTYPE – Update_Type_c
  • CREATEDBYID – Chatter_User__c
  • CREATEDDATE – Reporting_Date__c
  • PARENTID – Related_Record__c

VoilĂ ! You now have history in Chatter Pulse!

Fig 2: How's that for growth!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Forthcoming Force.com Enhancements (Summer '12)

Looking forward to the Summer '12 release of Salesforce.com this comming weekend. Here is a quick rundown of forthcomming features available to administrators and developers:

Visual Workflow Enhancements
  • Build reusable flows - flows can call other flows
  • limit and sort your queries against Salesforce records
  • Sort is available for Dynamic Choices
  • Cloud Flow Designer button bar now has icons instead of text
  • Copy and Paste elements in the Cloud Flow Designer
  • Tighter security for Flow Finish Behavior 
  • Customize the look and feel of your flow’s interface using CSS classes and Visualforce flow attributes
  • Choose between a plain or rich text editor to create content 
Visualforce Enhancements 
  • Two additional attributes for the Visualforce component: showPublisher and feedItemType
  • Boolean showChat attribute to turn on/off Chatter Messenger
  • Optimized PDF generation
  • Describe support in APEX (dynamically generate the SOQL)
  • Additional referential integrity
  • Disable Development Mode button

Developer Console Enhancements
  • Syntax highlighting colors comments, numbers, strings, reserved keywords, primitive data types, variable declarations, and references
  • Performance Trees now show as part of the stack in the System Log view
  • Create and Delete workspaces
  • Easily navigate through your tab history using buttons
  • Overlay a diagnostic output on the run without instrumenting the code
Schema Builder Enhancements: Now Generally Available

Permission Sets Enhancements
  • Permission sets include an assigned apps page: specify which apps are visible to users with the selected permission set
  • Permission sets, like Profiles, can now determine what tabs settings a user has: Default On = Visible; Default Off = Available; Tab Hidden = No Access
  • Ability for Developers to create apps to query and manage Apex Page and Class access programmatically which are in line with their security policies.
  • Ability for Developers to build, package, and distribute administrative applications using visualforce with apex classes that not only query permissions but also manage those rights and their assignments to users
  • “Customize Application” permission is no longer required to edit users’ access to Apex classes and Visualforce pages
Security Enhancements
  • Verify a CA-signed certificate’s expiration date by clicking the certificate’s label
  • SMS-based identify confirmation is now available for all users, providing additional identify confirmation when needed
  • Bearer OAuth access token is now supported
  • Specify the HttpOnly attribute for your session ID cookies, restricting session ID cookie access to browsers only
  • Setup pages now include protection against clickjack attacks, aka: user interface redress attacks
Sharing Enhancements
  • Custom objects can have separate org-wide defaults for internal and external users (Pilot).
  • Partner Super User Access
Search Enhancements
  • Improved Article Search Relevancy (Service Cloud)
  • Improved File Search Relevancy (Chatter)
  • Improved Global Search Scope and Ordering
Relationship Field Enhancements: Added functionality to both the Lookup and Master-Detail relationship field types.

  • Lookups: Added the ability to make them required, or to restrict the deletion of a record that is the target in a lookup relationship. Also added the ability to enable cascade delete when a target record is deleted
  • Master-Detail: Added an attribute to the field that will allow children in master-detail relationships to be re-parented to another record
Object Limits: New object limits page: shows details about your usage of customizations on an object

Apex Code Enhancements
  • Perform DML operations such as create, update, and delete on Permission Set sObjects
  • New methods have been added that perform strict parsing when deserializing JSON content
  • The limit of callouts (HTTP requests or Web Services calls) for each method execution in a batch Apex class has increased from 1 to 10
  • New instance methods have been added to System.Type: getName, newInstance
  • Sort Lists that contain non-primitive data types, such as sObjects or user-defined types, using the List.sort method
  • Active query cursor limit per user has increased from 5 to 50, so SOQL queries in your code are less likely to reach the cursor limit and cause errors
Database.com Online Help: Find all Database.com related videos, workbooks, and developer guides in the portal located at docs.database.com

Database.com as a Heroku Add-on: Heroku users developing any apps in Ruby & Java can now connect that app to a new database.com free org directly from the Heroku Add-on Catalog or Heroku CLI. They can even bind to an existing database.com org.

Chatter  Rest API Enhancements
  • Files resource (includes the primary UI functions in the Chatter Files Tab)
  • Use an existing Chatter file as the source of a user or group photo
  • New property formattedAddress returns the address formatted for the logged-in user’s locale
  • isDeleteRestricted property indicates if a feed item can be deleted.
  • NotAMemberPrivateRequested is a new value available for the Group Member role payload
  • Flatview sorting parameter for feeds
  • User recommendations payload enhancements
  • Build CTI systems that integrate with Salesforce without the use of CTI adapters.
  • Create customizable SoftPhones (call-control tools) that function as fully-integrated parts of Salesforce and the Service Cloud console
API Enhancements
  • Multiple API Enhancements to support the enhancements to Chatter Answers, Data.com, Knowledge, Permission Sets, Live Agent, Relationships, Flow Designer, and Reporting and Dashboards
  • SOQL OFFSET lets you specify the starting row of the result set your SOQL query returns
  • Retrieve your organization’s customization information using the Metadata REST API so that you can read your organization’s metadata
Site.com Enhancements
  • Site.com permissions are now a combination of the user’s license and their assigned role at the site level
  • Import folders of assets and maintain the folder structure in the site using ZIP files of the content
  • Modify the default div tag of panels, repeaters, repeater elements, custom code, and content blocks using the updated HTML Tag property
  • View publishing history for their sites, including date, publisher, and detail information for each activity related to publishing
Additional Force.com Enhancements
  • Slimmer formula compilations
  • Recent items in setup
View the Summer '12 Release Developer Preview here on YouTube:

For users of NA1, NA6, NA7, NA8, and NA9 your instance will be upgraded the weekend of June 1.

For users of NA2, NA3, NA4, NA5, NA10, NA11, NA12, and NA14 will be upgraded the weekend og June 8.

All other users should check the release maintenance posting on http://trust.salesforce.com/trust/status/ for details.

Forthcoming Salesforce.com Enhancements (Summer '12)

Looking forward to the Summer '12 release of Salesforce.com this comming weekend. Here is a quick rundown of forthcomming features available to end-users:

Collaboration Cloud
  • Resharing of any status updates and group posts (Similar to re-tweeting)
  • Enhancements for easier publishing of Chatter posts
  • Ability to add a Chatter gadget to VisualForce pages
  • Chatter Messenger now Generally Available
  • Files are now included in Data Export
  • Enhanced Chatter Email notifications (Just ask and SFDC listens)
  • Upload multiple files at once
  • Files in My Groups filtering
  • Automatic supression of "old" posts (45+ day old and have not comments or likes)
  • Brandable Chatter UI for force.com using Connect in APEX (Pilot)
Sales Cloud
  • Migration from Customizable Forecasting to Collaborative Forecasting
  • Optional enabling of Quotas in Forecasting
  • Shared Activities - Relate tasks to multiple contacts
  • Email approval enhancements
  • Product selection enhancements (Maintain product selections across multiple pages of products, A-Z shortcut selection of products, display > 25 products per page
Service Cloud
  • Chatter Answers for Service Cloud
    • Improved posting and flow
    • Incorporate Answers as a tab in any portal
    • Chatter Answers Moderator enhancements
    • Brandable Chatter Answers for external sites
    • Facebook login for Chatter Answers
    • Chatter Answers reputation
    • Privately answer questions that are linked to Cases
  • Live Agent Enhancements
    • Desktop notifications to service agents
    • Multi-skill routing on chat buttons
    • Live Agent Supervisor Page
  • Case Feed Page - Single place to see all key elements of a case
    • Case highlights
    • Case attributes
    • Multi-channel contact information
    • Case feed and filters
    • Case followers
  • Custom buttons on the case feed
  • Jump links on the case feed
  • Printable view for the case
  • Additional case feed enhancements
    • Multi-select and Dependent Pick lists
    • Case feed now available in VisualForce Pages
    • Configurable email notifications
  • Service Cloud Console Enhancements: Custom Console Component display
  • Knowledge Enhancements
    • New workflow action "Knowledge Action"
    • Track article history (customizable)
  • Joined Reports Enhancements
    • Cross Block Custom Summary Formulas let you calculate values across multiple blocks in a joined report. 
    • Charts on Joined Reports let you get data from multiple blocks on the same chart.
  • Reports Tab Enhancements
    • Drag and drop capability to move reports and dashboards 
  • Dashboard Enhancements
    • Directly edit a dashboard component to specify the groupings and summary fields
    • Define dashboard components directly on the dashboard
    • Combination charts are now available for dashboard components
  • Cross Filtering is now available on all objects in Campaign CRTs
  • Enhanced Mobile Dashboards iPad App
    • Browse recently viewed dashboards, or ones you’re following
    • Search for dashboards
    • View individual dashboard components, highlight their values, and drill into underlying reports
    • Email a dashboard or an individual component to others
    • Access recently viewed or followed dashboards offline
  • Touch.salesforce.com (Beta)
    • Provides real-time access to Salesforce information/data on your touchscreen mobile device.
    • HTML5 solution for Tablets + Phones, optimized for mobile devices.
    • GA expected in July/Aug 2012 timeframe
    • Currently supports Contacts, Accounts, Opportunities, Chatter,  Activities and all custom objects.
    • Currently GA for iPad, Beta for Android.
  • Salesforce Mobile for Android tablets.
    • Generally Available with Summer '12
    • Integrates with native Android features
  • Data.com Clean: Provides additional Dun & Bradstreet fields for accounts, including D-U-N-S Number, NAICS Code, NAICS Description, and more
    • Report on data quality and relevantly with deep insights on customers
    • Target and remove duplicates leveraging reports and analytics
    • Fill and complete records with automated jobs to fill in incomplete records
  • Data.com Premium
    • All D&B fields available to Corporate, plus over 70 additional D&B fields for accounts
    • Includes D&B Companies tab, which lists D&B Company records for all accounts you’ve added from Data.com.
  • Additional Data.com Enhancements
    • D&B data now part of Data.com Clean
    • Industry Selector allows users to find contacts and companies across multiple industries and at any level of the industry hierarchy
Here is a collection of YouTube videos which discuss some of the new features:

For users of NA1, NA6, NA7, NA8, and NA9 your instance will be upgraded the weekend of June 1.

For users of NA2, NA3, NA4, NA5, NA10, NA11, NA12, and NA14 will be upgraded the weekend og June 8.

All other users should check the release maintenance posting on http://trust.salesforce.com/trust/status/ for details.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chatter Pulse for Salesforce.com

Behold, my third and most diabolical AppExchange App...Chatter Pulse. Peform trend analysis on Chatter use

Just cleared the security review and is now live on the Salesforce AppExchange. I conjured Chatter Pulse while working on the previous solution "Adoption Trendz". Chatter pulse is similar in that it continues the concept of leveraging a secondary reporting object to collect statistics for later analysis with Salesforce Reports. Unfortunately, getting at Chatter data is a bit trickier than standard objects. Currently it is not possible, and realistically impossible to report on anyones Chatter usage.

Chatter Pulse solves this riddle by leveraging triggers on both the FeedItem and FeedComment objects. Basically any time a user posts on comments on a post, a record is added to the "Chatter Pulse" table.

Since the user object behaves a bit differently, I needed to created a third trigger on User to round out the tracking on general status updates.

Check out a brief walkthrough on YouTube here:

Unfortunately you cannot currently access "Likes" through the API, so I will have to table tracking those types of interactions. I will likely focus on what we might be able to do with Chatter Files.

Chatter Pulse can be installed from the AppExchange and is free of charge. Click here for details.

Also, if you would like to get involved in the future development of Chatter Pulse or Adoption Trendz, join me here on GitHub!

Monday, May 14, 2012

TED Talks: How to beat a patent troll

Drew Curtis, the founder of fark.com, tells the story of how he fought, and beat, a patent troll. Along the way he shares some nutty statistics about the growing legal problem of frivolous patents.

Discipline: Business Law
Lecture (iTunes): Drew Curtis: How I beat a patent troll
Great speech from Drew Curtis of fark.com. He tells the story of how he was sued by a company called Gooseberry Natural Resources for allegedly infringing on one of their patents.

The patent was for, get this, sending news stories by email. Gooseberry also sued Yahoo, MSN, AOL, Reddit and others.

Mr. Curtis stood his ground and fought back...his final offer "How about nothing!"

He recommends 3 things:

  1. If you can, don't fight the patent, fight the infringement. 
  2. Make it clear that (a) you have no money, or (b) you'd much rather spend it on your own lawyers fighting this than giving it to the troll.
  3. Let them know you'll make the process as annoying and as painful and as difficult as possible.

Time to fight back against frivolous lawsuits, don't negotiate with terrorists!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

McGill University: Mintzberg on Managing

Management expert Henry Mintzberg has played a major role shaping the world’s concept of managing. According to him, CEO bonuses need to disappear and companies should promote “communityship”.

Discipline: Management
iTunes U Course: McGill University: Making Headway
Lecture (iTunes): Mintzberg on Managing

Reflection: Professor of McGill and one of the worlds foremost experts on management. He identified the need for the practice of management base don some of his early studies of managers. Managers are interrupted very often. This is not planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling, rather its about keeping your head above water.

Management is neither a science nor a profession, it is a practice. While the content of what you are dealing with changes, the practice of management remains the same.

Strategic planning is an oxymoron, people solve little problems which snowball into big ideas. His example was Ikea, where they had several employes trying to fit a table into a car. The reasoned if we can't get this table in the cas, how will our customers? The result was shifting to sell their products in knock-down packages which you assembled at home. This is now central to Ikea's "strategy".

In the mid-1990, Mintzberg changed his focus to management education, specifically the MBA program. He thinks that it is not possible to teach anyone solely in the classroom. Based on this, he created the IMPM: The International Masters Program in Practicing Management and other programs, IMHL, and eRoundtables.

The eRoundtables sound very interesting, they pair up eMBA students from around the world and connect them togethers to discuss contemporary management issues.

Very good short program, I look forward to exploring IMPM further!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Entrepreneurs: Social Entrepreneurship Panel

Discipline: Entrepreneurship
iTunes U Course: Academy of Achievement: Entrepreneurs
Lecture (iTunes): Social Entrepreneurship Panel

Reflection: This is a 3-part series on iTunes-U recorded at the 2007 Achievement Summit in Washington, D.C. In this panel discussion, Wendy Kopp, Mike Feinberg, Kirsten Lodal, Jon Schnur and Billy Shore discuss their involvement with nonprofit organizations and how they are making an impact.

I made the mistake of initially thinking that this discussion was going to be related to social media. Fortunately I kept listening and found the discussion enlightening. Wendy Kopp discusses her Teach for America organization, how she founded it and how she keep s the organization moving forward.

Mike Feinberg got his start with Teach for America and turned around and founded his Knowledge is Power Program "KIPP". Now in over 100 schools across 20 states. This is a really exciting program and produce some fantastic, measurable results.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

TED Talks: Designing objects that tell stories

Discipline: Design
iTunes U Course: Reimagine the Designer
Lecture (iTunes): Yves Behar on designing objects that tell stories

This is the final segment in the iTunes "Reimagine the Designer" course. This has been a very fun diversion from my normal day-to-day. Typically I do not think traditional designer thoughts, however I feel the need to spread Design Thinking into my work. Design is not a disciplin that should be left to "designers", rather something that we should lace into the things we do , whether it's traditional design, writing, learning, programming or whatever.

In this presentation, Yves Behar focuses beyond the skin of objects to create a lasting partnership with clients. Some of his monumental designs are the Mini Couper watch, with its face that changes from horizontal to vertical to allow you to check your watch more discretely, the Herman Miller Leaf Lamp, or the Jawbone headset.

Fast forward to some of his designs to the $100 laptop. Making technology available for kids that are fun and approachable.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

TED Talks: Can design save newspapers?

Discipline: Design
iTunes U Course: Reimagine the Designer
Lecture (iTunes): Jacek Utko designs to save newspapers

A short but eloquent presentation from Jacek Utko, a Polish designer fixed on revolutionizing newspapers through Design Thinking. While his presentation is only 6 minutes long, the powerful story speak on many different levels.

Here in America is seems that the newspaper is going the way of the buggy whip. Not so in Eastern Europe where designers like Jacek Utko are rethinking the way that newspapers look, flow and feel.

As opposed to text-centric designs of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc., his approach is blod fresh designed that engage the reader. If newspapers provoked this level of emotion in the US, I would still be a subscriber, alas I am reclined to my headline snippets on my iPad and micro-stories flying across twitter.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Entrepreneurs: Michael Dell

Discipline: Entrepreneurship
iTunes U Course: Academy of Achievement: Entrepreneurs
Lecture (iTunes): Michael Dell

Michael Dell's presentation at the Academy of Achievement is from 2008. I have met Mr. Dell and he seems like a very down-to-earth kind of guy, that is except to his security attache. :)

Michael gives a great talk, focusing on the early days of Dell and how he formed the company in his dorm room at the University of Texas.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Entrepreneurs: Steve Jobs

Discipline: Entrepreneurship
iTunes U Course: Academy of Achievement: Entrepreneurs
Lecture (iTunes): Steve Jobs

This is an earlier keynote by Steve Jobs, given in 1983 when he received an award from the Academy of Achievement. This is a fun an energetic presentation from a much younger Steve Jobs.

The late Mr. Jobs speaks of how we must retain our sense of things not being good enough. He is really speaking to how we, as a society, need to continue to grow. He also focuses on how we should not measure our wealth based on how much money we have, rather by how much we impact those around us.

This can be achieved by experiencing different things and doing things that are out of the ordinary. Later in life you can draw upon these experiences and solve problems in different ways than your contemporaries.

Inspirational words from an outstanding man.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

TED Talks: Tracking the trackers

Not specifically related to my personal self-education journey, however I was compelled to write a quick post on how you are being tracked without your knowledge. This is scary stuff, particularly if you have kids.

In his presentation "Tracking the trackers", Gary Kovacs discusses how you are being followed today by advertisers in the name of personalizing your web experience.

A few weeks back, my wife mentioned how she was seeing a particular trend in the ads that were being displayed while when was on the internet. In her case she kept seeing ads for Disney Cruises, Hyatt Hotels and a few other travel related items.

Ad personalization is fine and in many cases helpful. However I do not wish to be tracked by anyone. Not that I am doing anything wrong or illegal, but this is not information that I am knowingly giving away and I do not know who I am giving it too and their intentions.

It is not too far fetched to imagine a scenario where I upload some family photos, blog about a vacation, etc. In unrelated use of various websites, I then research some property tax info, update my vehicle registration and perhaps do some shopping at the local Home Depot. With the trail of user behavior left behind on various web servers, it would be theoretically possible for an unknown person of company to create a profile on me: I have 2 kids (from my photo sharing), drive a 2005 Chevy truck (from my car registration), own property in a specific location (from my tax research). In addition, all of the about parties can potentially share data with each other and know where I actually live, based on my IP address, etc.

I am not comfortable with this, further, when they start tracking my kids activity I get very upset, very quick.

Time to fight back, Gary Kovacs mentions a browser plug in called Collusion. This is a great tool for visualizing who is tracking you. Here are some additional tips for actually blocking the tracking behavior:
  1. Highly recommend NOT using Internet Explorer or Apple Safari. These are the default browsers for Windows and Mac respectively. I do not find that either has particularly good extensibility capabilities. Stick with either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox
  2. Collusion: As Gary mentioned in the video, this tool will help you visualize how you are being tracked and likely make you feel quite angry in a short amount of time.
    • For Google Chrome, the current version is 1.3.0, go to the Chrome webstore and search for Collusion or do a Google search for "Collusion for Google Chrome"
    • If you use Firefox, the current version of 0.16.3, go to the addons.mozilla.org and search for Collusion or do a Google search for "Collusion for Google Firefox"
  3. Ad Blocking
  4. Opt out of Google tracking
  5. Clean up after yourself  
    • From time to time you will want to use a tool like CCleaner to tune up your PC or Mac. You can also use this tool to clear out the cookies from all your browsers.
    • In addition, you can selectively choose which cookies you want to keep and which ones your want to ditch
As time allows, I will try to make some simple videos on how to configure all these tools. Hopefully to make it easier for everyone to take control of their privary.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Entrepreneurs: William Coors

Discipline: Entrepreneurship
iTunes U Course: Academy of Achievement: Entrepreneurs
Lecture (iTunes): William Coors

This is a older recording of a presentation made by William Coors from 1981. Beginning in 1961, grandson of Adolph Coors, served at Chairman of the Adolph Coors Company of Golden Colorado. While it was not his life's passion, it was Adolph Coors's dream that his grandson would one day lead the company.

He began work at Coors in 1939 and took to reigns of Chairman in 1961. William Coors lead the company through an unpresented period of expansion.

Friday, May 04, 2012

TED Talks: finding design in the details

Discipline: Design
iTunes U Course: Reimagine the Designer
Lecture (iTunes): Paul Bennett finds design in the details

Notes and Reflection: We have the need to reconcile what the big wants and what the small needs. The "big" being the company or government or country or whatever.

Brining together the small to help facilitate the big.
Small is the new big.

The blinding glimpse of the bleeding obvious.
We often overlook what is going on around us.
Mr Bennett points out a large health care organization that he was called in to work with on improving the patient experience. Putting themselves in the patient position,the saw the obvious, the patient was starring the ceiling for an unbearable amounts of time.

They then started prototyping a few simple things, putting a mirror on the gurney so the patient case who was pushing them around and doing simple things like decorating the ceiling. And other things like changing the floor pattern as they entered the room. In other cases they put simple white boards in patient rooms to write notes to the patient...cheerful notes.

He then points out several simple discoveries that were made through watching the tags around you. Velcro from burs, reflectors on the highways from cats eyes, etc. using these as opportunities to create and improve.

Finding yourself in the margins.
Looking to the edge of things. Look wide and use your peripheral vision. At the time, nurses hand a handed device for data entry. However by watching the nurse in action, they saw that nurses often held the hands of patients to keep them calm and comforted. They came up with a new device with a simple thumb scroll, something acquired eventually by the Blackberry.

People design their own solutions. Wether it's the pole in the street or a line in a corridor or wrap the string from a tea bag around the handle of the cup.

Having the beginners mind
Children don't think about solutions the way the adults do. Put yourself in the mindset, literally of a child. Hanging things from the bottom of a table makes sense for a child would not initially make sense to an adult.

Making battles big enough to matter but small enough to win
Where do we start, how do we start... When they were designing a pump, they needed to look at portability and the ability and ease of use before ascetics

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Adoption Trendz for Salesforce.com

My second salesforce.com AppExchange App just finished it's journey through security review and is now live on the Salesforce AppExchange. Adoption Trendz collects usage stats on the CRM objects that you specify each night and serves up the trends in a nice dashboard.

Here is a detailed video on how it works and how to customize it for your needs.

Let me know your thoughts and where I should take the app next.

TED Talks: When ideas have sex

Discipline: Design
iTunes U Course: Reimagine the Designer
Lecture (iTunes): Matt Ridley: When ideas have sex

Reflection: in his opening words, Mr Ridely discusses how bleak the world seemed during the 1970s and he points out that none of the predicted events actually happened. We did not have a global famine, the population did not overflow, we did not run out of oil, and we did not experience a global nuclear war.

He then correlates this to the evolution of the species and how this is because out ideas "had sex" and took on the benefits of multiple sources.

He discusses the tools of prehistoric man vs the confection of ideas and solutions making up modern tools like the mouse.

In an asexual species, the stronger mutations beat out the weaker ones and only one wins. However in a sexual animal, the traits resulting from multiple sources Adam indeed live on.

He believes that the same can be said for ideas. He points out that this is because of the exchange that is possible with humans and only seen in humans. He recalls that Adam Smith stated that "no man has ever seen a dog make a fair exchange of a bone with another dog". While there is some culture in some animals, parents handing down traditions from parent to offspring, these cultures of animals never expand or grow.

This habit of exchange is uniquely human and raises the standard of living for our species. In 1817 David Ricardo documented that if Adam can make a spear in 4 hours and an axe in 3 hours, whereas Oz takes 1 hour to make a spear and 2 hours to make an axe, one would think that Oz does not need Adam, he is better at both. However, with the exchange process, Oz can make 2 spears in 2 hours, and Adam 2 axes in 6 hours, through exchange (trade) they are both better off. Instead of spending 7 hours making an axe and a spear, Adam has spent only 6 hours working and making 2 spears in 2 hours Oz can work only 2 hours and they are both better off when they trade. In addition, when they start specializing, they both will naturally get better at their tasks.

This saving of time is prosperity.

He discusses a similar set of facts related to the improvements we have achieved as humans in making 1 hour of reading light. Today vs 1950s vs 1880 vs 1800.

In the past you had people literally working for you, however today there are literally thousands of people working for you. These are the people who make the coffee for the guy who work on the oil rig to drill oil for the guy who drives to work, etc... This same phenomenon is not found in other species, animals only work for the benefit of their colony, not the species as a whole.

Both sides of the sex help benefit the other, hunters benefit gatherers and gatherers benefit hunters. They raise each others standards of living.

There is no evidence that Neanderthal man shared between sexes nor between groups. However eventually early man started trading thousands of years ago. We see this as we have found widespread of tools in archeological digs. We also see that when there is separation of groups, the species can actually regress (Tasmania).

Further, today we take simple things for graded that we do not even understand. For example, almost nobody can make a pencil from scratch. Most people can' mine for graphite and fell trees and mull the wood, etc...

He wraps up by saying that what we have created is a collective brain and we are all just nodes in the network, the neurons of the brain and incrementally benefiting all humanity.

The cloud and crowd sourcing is helping accelerate this rate of innovation...brilliant!

Monday, April 30, 2012

TED Talks: Creativity and Play

Discipline: Design
iTunes U Course: Reimagine the Designer
Lecture (iTunes): Tim Brown on creativity and play

Notes and Reflection:
This is the 2nd presentation that I watched as part of my ongoing self-education program, file this one under the heading of Design.

Mr Brown starts by taking the audience through a simple exercise, drawn the person next to you in 30 seconds. His point is that many adults apologies for the bad drawings of their neighbor whereas children would be quite proud of their art. This test was based oh the research of a man named Bob McKimm, McKimm says that this is because we fear the judgement of others, this fear holds us back.

Many design firms try to create an environment that encourages people to play and to take risks. Friendship is a shortcut to play and this allows us to take creative risks. Things like dinosaurs and slides at the Googleplex, grass huts and caves at Disney Pixar, etc. Tim brown then has the crowd shoot finger blasters at him from the crowd to make an example of this type of play (hilarious).

Playfulness helps us get to more creative solutions, helps us work better and makes work fun.

Kids are more involved with open possibilities, this type of thinking is needed in design today. He then cites the example of kids playing with the box at Christmas and not the toy. This is because a box offers infinite possibilities, whereas the toy only offers one.

His next audience exercise is to have everyone make something out of 30 circles on a piece of paper. He is more interested in quantity of solutions as opposed to quality. He cites that few people draw the Same thing in all of the circles, or variations of the same theme. This is because as adults we edit ourselves and create artificial rules such as "being original".

It is hard to break out adult habits. You get better brainstorming when you post the rules of brainstorming.

The average child spends as much as 50% of their time building. We can use is type of play through prototyping. Tim Brown shows off some great ideas that emerged from this type of play. However this is lacking from most workplaces today. Prototypes, even very simple ones, allow us to test and get rapid feedback.

What about designing something that is not physical? This can be done through role playing. Acting and acting workshops and very beneficial. However the adult nature of us dispels this, again we look to children to understand what happens. At times designers put themselves though an experience. Could be flying in an airplane or being a patient in a hospital.

Playful exploration, playful building and role play are some of the ways designers can us Elay in their work.

1. Play is not anarchy, there are some rules, even in child's play
2. There are rules about when to play, transition is necessary.
3. We need trust to play, and there needs to be trust to be creative

Sunday, April 29, 2012

TED Talks: Tim Brown urges designers to think big

Discipline: Design
iTunes U Course: Reimagine the Designer
Lecture (iTunes): Tim Brown urges designers to to think big

Notes and Reflection:
Mr. Brown is an excellent speaker, I enjoyed his talk from, TED Global 2009, very much. He begins by reviewing several of his own projects that were marginally successful, however are now obsolete. He discussed how what passes for design these days is really inconsequential. While various designs may look pleasing to eye and somewhat useful, but few are ll that "important".

He informs us that somewhere along the way, design got small, where it used to be very big. Designs at the time of the industrial revolution were epic, and not days we are overly focused on cool looking housewares.

He the discusses the Great Western Railway, designed by Islambard Kingdom Brunel. One of his greatest designs, he wanted to create the experience of floating across the countryside. Tis presented many unique design problems, long tunnels and bridges. But he did not stop there, he imagined a continuous travel system in which passengers could embark in London and disembark in NYC.

We need to start thinking big again, leveraging Design Thinking. Important: Design is human centered.

For example: Conversion Sound has created a system where people in remote parts of the world can leverage a PDA and some software to fit a high quality/low cost hearing aid, whereas in the west we rely on skilled technicians. They started with people, instead of technology.

Instead of thinking what to build, build to help think.

Rapid prototyping is of key importance.

Innovations by the Arabin Eye Institute in India, where they were able to greatly reduce the cost of manufacturing intra ocular lenses through rapid prototyping and innovative thinking and low cost CAD/CAM prototyping software.

Design Thinking is now actively engaging the consumer through various participatory systems.

Change: In times of change we need new alternatives and new ideas. While Brunel worked during the height of the industrial revolution,, we now find ourselves in the midst of a new revolution and must thinking differently.

We need new choices and Design Thinking gives us a new way of thinking. Instead of defaulting to a typical conversion approach, whee we make choices based on what we have available, we need to be thinking we a new Divergence approach to creat entirely new ways of doing things. Explore new alternatives, new solutions and ideas that have not existed before.

The first step is understanding the question: what is the design brief?

For example the Acumen Fund is trying to sole the issue of getting clean water to remote and poor parts of India. As part of the process, they teamed designers and investors up with different water treatment organizations. Through workshops and a competition they developed many new ideas for delivery and transport. Some of these ideas are just getting underway.

In summary, design apples to just about everything and should involve everyone. Search Twitter #CBDQ for some of the interesting conversations related to what Design Thinking can be applied to.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Decision Making: Attitude and Motivation

DisciplineDecision Making
iTunes U CoursePepperdine University: Organizational Behavior
Lecture (iTunes)Attitude and Motivation

Notes and Reflection:
For the next portion of my iTunes U-based continuing self-education I am searching for programs related to Decision Making. The title and synapse of this course are compelling, unfortunately the audio quality is very poor and I think the the course level is a bit to introductory.

The instructor is good, however the microphone placement if a bit off and even with the sound turned up all the way to 11, I can barely make out what he is saying. No good for mobility and certainly no good on the treadmill.

The first 5 mins of the session are purely overview of the course and can be skipped. In addition the next 10 mins is dedicated to individual group discussions and can also be skipped. Basically you can jump right to 16:10 for the actual lecture to begin.

The basics of is talk is attitude and motivation.
  1. Frustration: negative force that is infectious within an organization, This can be brought about my many situations but heavily impacts overall attitude
  2. Cognitive Dissonance: Conflicting Ideals - Misalignment between behavior and attitude. For example, people smoke but know its bad for them 
  3. Discussions on Organizational Values 
He wraps things up with a discussion regarding Southwest Airlines. What people feel about the company: Inexpensive, Good Service, Flexible, Desire to focus on the customer, Only Airline actually making money, Efficiency, Not-Overly focused on high-quality, much more focused on value.

Interesting discussions, but with the quality of the audio, I am going to have to pass on this one.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

TED Leading Wisely: Measuring what makes life worthwhile

iTunes U CourseTED Talks Leading Wisely
Lecture (iTunes)Chip Conley: Measuring what makes life worthwhile
Alas, my last post in my self-paced "Leadership" course is complete. In this presentation, Chip Conley questions what it is that we are working for and how this relates to our lines.

He channels Abraham Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs, something that I have not pondered since the late 80's, and demonstrates how he applied this to measuring employee satisfaction in his businesses. Chip breaks the hierarchy down to simply: Survival, Success and Transformation.

Survival: Physiological & Safety (Tangible)
Success: Social/Belonging & Esteem
Transformation: Self-Actualization (Intangible)

94% of Managers believe that intangibles are important yet less than 5% actually have a way of measuring them.

Quote from Albert Einstein: "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that can be counts be measured counted". Chip goes a bit beyond this statement and figured out some way to track things like happiness.

Chip goes on to discuss his trip to Bhutan and how he came to learn that "create the conditions for happiness to occur" as part of their culture. Taking this as far as measuring their GNH: Gross National Happiness. This as opposed to most Western countries focusing on GDP.
Very interesting discussion, I look forward to reading more from Mr. Conley.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

TED Leading Wisely: Why work doesn't happen at work

iTunes U CourseTED Talks Leading Wisely
Lecture (iTunes)Jason Fried: Why work doesn't happen at work
Jason Fried presents a compelling theory the the office is not a good place to get work done. His argument is that while in the office, we spend far too much time being interrupted by meetings, phone calls, email, IM, etc., that we can't actually focus and get anything done.

Jason suggests that work is like sleep, in that there are several stages that we go through. When sleeping our body goes through phases until were are in a stage of very deep, REM sleep, and this is where the body can recover from the day. He goes on that we would never say that we got a good night's rest if we were interrupted every few minutes or even every hour.

We get our best work done, as we get deeper we can get into work-mode, uninterrupted.

Some of his points are compelling, other are downright hilarious. Towards the end of his talk, Jason suggests that as managers, we need to call a "no-meeting-Thursday", at least monthly, if not weekly. No meetings, no phone calls, nothing. This way people can come to the office and have the ability to focus for a full day without interruptions.

In my career at Salesforce.com, one of my customers is Facebook. As an organization, Facebook subscribes to this same theory and in practice...it works! At Facebook, many managers frown upon meetings, loath Powerpoint and prefer to exchange ideas in hallway conversations or around many of the public open spaces.

This type of environment keps the ideas flowing and is one of the many reasons that people love working there.

TED Leading Wisely: How to make work-life balance work

iTunes U CourseTED Talks Leading Wisely
Lecture (iTunes)Nigel Marsh: How to make work-life balance work

My Notes:
In this brief presentation, Nigel Marsh presents the realities of today's business place. Offices are constructed and well equipped with the latest technical gear, yet nobody can get anything done at work.

Why? Too many distractions and far too many meetings. Nigel too a year off of work to spend more time with his family and found that work-life balance is quite easy when you are not working :).

All the discussions about, flex-times, casual Friday and maternity leave mask the real problem that many professional vocations are incompatible with work-life balance. People work long hours at jobs they don't like, to make money that they don't need, to impress people they don't like. Going to work on Friday's in jeans and t-short is not going to resolve this issue.

Government and corporations are not going to fix this for us. Never put the quality of your life in the hands of a corporation. All companies have the need to get as much out of you as possible. We need to be responsible for setting the boundaries in our lives.

We need to be careful in selecting the timeframe in which we consider work-life balance. Nigel goes into a humorous description of his ideal day and how impossible this utopian world would be.

Later he goes into a description of a day where he needed to pick his youngest son up from school. He leaves work a bit early, takes his son to the part, then pizza and some reading. His son responded to this by saying that this was the greatest day of his life...ever. His point being is that its the little things that make the difference. You don't need to spend loads of money and go to a resort to have a great day, its the little things that make the difference.

We need to change society's definition of success as "he who dies with the most money wins" to something more enlightened like judging the success of a person by "a life well lived".

Outstanding words!

Monday, April 23, 2012

TED Leading Wisely: Why we have too few women leaders

iTunes U CourseTED Talks Leading Wisely
Lecture (iTunes)Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders
My Notes:
I am almost all caught up on recording my notes from the TED Talks Leading Wisely series. I have been listening to the series while walking my dog each night and have fallen in the habit of not posting until a few days later. Now that I am all caught up hopefully I can be a bit more diligent about recording my thoughts immediately after  listening.

Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and studied at Harvard business school. Mrs. Sandberg gives a great presentation and her passion for encouraging more women to enter into, and remain in, the business world is obvious.

Mrs Sandberg notes that while women have made great strides over the years, things seem to have flat lined since 2002. Of 190 heads of state, only 13% are women and in the corporate world only 15% of the C-level positions are held by women.

She maintains 3 points to correct this:

  1. Sit at the table: Women statistically underestimate themselves when compared with men. "Believe in yourself and negotiate for yourself. Own your own success."
  2. Make your partner a real partner:  Society puts more pressure on boys to succeed than girls. We need more balance.
  3. Don't leave before you leave: Don't enter the workforce and be pondering your exit for marriage and kids, until it is time to make that change
Mrs Sandberg makes some great points and I am thinking about this as it relates to raising my 2 daughters. What can I do to help them succeed?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

TED Leading Wisely: Listen, learn ... then lead

iTunes U CourseTED Talks Leading Wisely
Lecture (iTunes)Stanley McChrystal: Listen, learn ... then lead

My Notes:
In this segment from TED, retired 4-star general Stanley McChrystal shares his experiences about leadership from his years of service in the military. General McCrystal provides us with insight into the military mindset.

During his special forces service during the mid-1980, field leadership was very different from what it is today. In the past, military leaders served on the field of battle, however nowadays leadership is provided to troops in remote parts of the world, via satellite uplinks, email, real-time chat and other "new" forms of communication.

General McCrystal explains that technology has forever changed the field of battle, and today's military leader must be able to provide guidance using technology. In addition to the technology, the style of management has evolved from top-down to bottom-up. He explains that this natural evolution is aided by listening and learning.

As a business manger, you might not be up on all the latest technology, however in order to remain relevant, you must adopt the communication style of your employees and follow similar "new" thinking.

As I reflect on his speech, I am thinking about today's remote and mobile work-forces and how we in the civilian world must adopt as well.

Very inspiring words from a inspiring American.

TED Leading Wisely: Institutions vs. collaboration

iTunes U CourseTED Talks Leading Wisely
Lecture (iTunes)Clay Shirky: Institutions vs. collaboration
My Notes:
Fantastic presentation from TED 2005, Clay Shirky discusses the historic approach to getting something done, create an institution, either for profit, not-for profit, governmental, etc., then create a management structure, define your institutional goals and start going. Many time, the goals of supporting an organizational structure get in the way of doing what the organization was established to do.

The rise of the internet, and social media in particular, offer a new way. Clay presents the Flickr, the photo sharing website. This type of system crowd sources the activity of collecting photographs, then adds the notion of tagging to allow the community to organize itself. Tagging was popularized by another social site, http://delicious.com/.

The result is spectacular, goals can be achieved faster, cheeper and with more democracy. The example being Flickr vs. professional photographers. The pros charge to be sent to a given location ,then only "see" what they happen to see. This vers the community approach where different individuals provide different insights to the same event.

This is a particularly amazing time to be alive, we are transitioning to a new way or working, much more cooperative than ever before.

Interesting personal parallel, my company launched a corporate service called Chatter a few years back which plays directly in this same space. Open, social and mobile.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

TED Leading Wisely: Our loss of wisdom

iTunes U CourseTED Talks Leading Wisely
Lecture (iTunes)Barry Schwartz: Our loss of wisdom

My Notes:

Fantastic speech by Barry Schwartz. Mr. Schwartz begins by discussing President Obama's inaugural speech. He did not encourage us to spend our way our of the recession, or to “trust us and invest”, rather he appealed to virtue and said that “we must put aside childish things”.

He then discusses the standard job requirements of a hospital janitor. The janitor’s job description discusses various tasks, primarily related to physical labor around the hospital. Mr. Schwartz points out that not a single item on this list mentions other people. He continue by sharing several stories of highly regarded janitors who went above and beyond their job description to make a patient or family more comfortable, or to otherwise help those dealing with difficult situation. In many cases these actions were not specifically part of that janitors job or in some cases were directly opposed with that persons assignment for the day.

These people have the moral will to do good by others and the moral skill to figure out what doing right means. Practical Wisdom: Know when and how to make the exception to every rule.

His next story discusses how a father accidentally gave his son Mikes Hard Lemonade, without knowing that it contained alcohol. This man was arrested, shortly jailed, and separated from his family for several weeks. All parties involved in the case indicated that the were just following the rules.

Scott Simon shared this story on NPR back in 2008 and said "Rules and procedures may be dumb, however they spare you from thinking". As a society, when things go wrong, we reach for 2 things: rules and incentives.

The truth is that neither rules nor incentives are enough.

So what can we do? Celebrate moral exemplars. We need to strive for practical wisdom.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

TED Leading Wisely: How to use Experts

iTunes U CourseTED Talks Leading Wisely
Lecture (iTunes)Noreena Hertz: How to use Experts
My Notes: 
Economist Noreena Hertz believe that as a society, we have become over-reliant on experts. Relying too much on experts can be limiting and potentially dangerous. We need to start further democratizing the decisions we make.

In support of this argument, Mrs. Hertz suggests that doctors often misdiagnose patients, surgeons make mistakes.

Her stance is definitely controversial, and In my opinion, her message can easily be misinterpreted. She is not saying that we need to immediately dispel anything that experts say, however she is saying that we need to start thinking more for ourselves. As evidence, listening to her speech, or anything on TED or any type of higher education, might be misconstrued as relying on an expert.

I believe that we should listen to what she has to say, take this as rational input to the decision making process, yet ultimately make our own decisions.

A good parallel read for this would be the book "How to Lie with Statistics" by Darrell Huff. This book was a recommended read on Josh Kaufman's "Personal MBA" site. Similar to Mrs. Hertz's argument, this book, published in the mid-1950's points out how easily we can be misguided with poorly researched statistics, biased sample groups, etc.

Monday, April 16, 2012

TED Leading Wisely: The surprising science of motivation

iTunes U CourseTED Talks Leading Wisely
Lecture (iTunes)Daniel Pink: The surprising science of motivation

My Notes:
Daniel Pink is a fantastic speaker, dynamic and commanding. I can't wait to watch more of his presentations.

After some comedic, self deprecating, opening statements, he explains The Candle Problem. The Candle Problem was an experiment designed by Karl Duncker in 1945 wherein the subjects of the experiment are presented with a box of thumb tacks, a candle and some matches and instructed to affix the lighted candle on the wall using only the materials provided. 

The results were that some attempted to thumb-tack the candle to the wall, this fails as it breaks the candle. Others tried melting some of the candle wax and using it to attach the candle to the wall. This also fails.

The best solution provided was to empty the box of tacks, tack the box to the wall and use it to hold the candle.

Mr. Pink then goes on to explain a similar experiment, by Glucksberg, in 1962. In this version of the experiment, one group of people were told that their experiment will be used to set a baseline time for average completion of the experiment. The second group of people were told that they would receive various amounts of money, as an incentive, based on how quickly they completed the task. In addition, in this version of the test, the tacks were removed from the box.

The 2nd group of people completed the task much faster than the control group. Glucksberg reasoned that that while incentives played a factor in people rapidly completing the task, removing the tacks from the box also removed some of the perceived constraints of the task.  Glucksberg goes on to explain that this "stress response" effectively shuts down the creative thinking and problem solving areas of the brain.

Daniel Pink reasons that incentive plans, bonuses, commissions and the like, actually demotivate people in their work-lives. However this is the way business in America works, "There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does."

  • As long as work-tasks only involve mechanical skills, bonuses work as expected. Higher Pay = Better Results
  • Once the tasks called for rudimentary cognitive skills, a larger reward led to poorer performance
What human being actually want is Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.
  • Autonomy: The urge to direct our own lives
  • Mastery: The desire to get better and better at something that matters
  • Purpose: The urning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves
For example: Google has what they call 20% time, where a Google can take 20% of their time to work on what they want. The result is that roughly 1/2 of the products that come from Google came from this program.

Daniel wraps by by reiterating that there is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.
  1. 20th century motivators (incentives) do work, but only in a very narrow set of circumstances.
  2. If-The rewards often destroy creativity
  3. The secret to high-performance is the drive to do things because they matter
But we can fix this and change the world.

TED Leading Wisely: How great leaders inspire action

Discipline: Leadership
iTunes U CourseTED Talks Leading Wisely
Lecture (iTunes)Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

My Notes:
How do you explain the success of some people and the nonperformance of others?
  • Why is Apple so innovative? Year after year they are more innovative then their competitors, yet they have the same access to technology and human talent.
  • Why is it that Martin Luther King led the civil right movement? He was not the only person who suffered in a pre-civil rights America and was not the only eloquent and public speaker of the day.
  • Why were the Wright Brother able to achieve flight when others were better funded and better qualified.

There is something else at play. There is a pattern followed by those that are successful. Simon Sinek calls this "The Golden Circle".
  • Everyone knows what they do.
  • Some know how they do it. Differentiating value proposition, Propitiatory process, etc. 
  • Very few know why they do it. (To make a profit is not "why", rather this is a result) What is your cause, purpose or belief? Why should anyone care.
Most think from the outside in, however inspired leaders and organizations think from the outside in.

For example:
  • Most manufactures in the PC business: We make great computers (what?), they are beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly (how?). Want to buy one?
  • Apple: Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo and thinking differently (why?), we do this by focusing on beautiful design, ease of use, and user friendliness (how?), we just happen to make computers (what?), want to buy one?
People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

This is why people are more than willing to buy a computer, MP3 player, phone or tablet from Apple. It also explains why Gateway failed at making flat-screen TVs and why Dell failed at making MP3 players (2006-2008) and phones (2010-2011). While both were qualified to make these products, yet both failed.

The goal is not to do business with anyone needs what you have, the goal is to do business who believe what you believe.

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