Category Archives: Friday Fun

Fashion 2.0

I have just spent far, Far, FAR too much time footling around designing dresses at http://www.styleshake.com. It’s a site where you can design a dress, choose the fabric, and have it made up to your exact measurements give or take a centimeter. And all for ludicrously reasonable prices and delivery in 10 days1.

Style Shake

Style Shake

Let’s get the business-related observations done with before we lose the people who don’t like the eau de œstrogen wafting around this post.

First of all, what a bloody genius use of the internet; the perfect example of something that simply could not be done without the web. Even better: the site works well, which is more than can be said for most design-your-own-whatsit sites.  I do hope business model pays: I’m a bit of a seamstress myself and it’s hard to see how they could get the things cut and sewn for UK wages. I really want to see their production line. (I am such a process geek). I’m also intrigued by their design software which presumably drives their pattern-cutting software in a reverse of the wire-frame-to-rendering process used by the computer graphics and special effects industry.

I am fascinated by just how varied the end results can be given a limited range of design elements (fabric colour, shape of the neckline, length of the skirt, etc).

Style Shake: Bold Bodycon Style Shake: Darling Daywear Style Shake: Office Edge Style Shake: Star Sensation Style Shake: Style Noir Style Shake: 1940s Allure Style Shake: Three in One

I guess it’s like lego, the real limit is your skill and imagination.  And boy have people done some interesting things with their limited pallet, as you can see from scrolling through their photographs and favourite designs.  Be careful though, there’s  some eye-watering fugliness in there too.

I guess it only goes to prove that StyleShake’s rather awesome software doesn’t make you Christian Dior any more than MS Project makes you a Project Manager or PowerPoint makes you good at communicating.

Have a go – you know you want to.


1 – Mind you, I’ve not had the chance to use the site yet – my first instinct was to blog, but come next payday … Back to post

Change for change’s sake

It’s all too easy to forget that light is a wave when you spend all day thinking about it as a particle.

Just a quick thought on  business fads and fashions.

You’ve noticed how one year’s wisdom is the next year’s folly?  Of course you have. This applies to language as well as passing management fads:  Problems became Opportunities became Challenges, and so on. A lot of the time we are right to be cynical about these attempts to change how we think, but I surprised myself on Wednesday with the idea that there is real merit in these shifts of language.

Yes, these these changes in terminology are trite: Workers and  Staff become Resources who become Colleagues who become Associates. And so on.  But to some extent this crude rather Orwellian approach to shaping our thinking is effective, for a while at least.

The real benefit doesn’t come from framing a particular concept or relationship in a specific way; I think the real benefit comes from the time when both concepts are in use.  It comes from the  act of changing the language.

I’ve been  on a Lean course this week, and this thought came to me when we were discussing adding value for the customer.

It the unsophisticated past, say the 1970s, ‘the customer’ was the person who paid over their own good money for your product or service.  It was a contradiction in terms for Public sector organisations to have  customers. The Revenue had tax-payers, Railways had passengers, Local Councils had rate-payers, Dentists had patients, and so on.  How quaint that all seems now.

In the mercantile 1980s when ‘public service’ were dirty words these relationships were reframed by asking the question:

Who is your customer?

Suddenly the public sector had customers.  And so did those people deep in the heart of corporates, like IT or HR or Facilities or Planning. If you didn’t deal with actual customers, you treated other departments as ‘internal customers’ and spread enterprise throughout the enterprise.

It worked. It shifted the nature of those relationships and changed how people thought about them.  But in the process, it made it easy for those internal departments to ignore the harsh reality of who actually pays everyone’s wages.  The baby went out with the bathwater. We were so busy thinking of light as a wave we forgot it also behaves like a particle.

So then Lean came along and said:

No, no. The customer is the punter who buys your product or service.  No matter how far back you are in the organisation, everything you do should add value to the external paying customer.

This draws everyone’s attention back to the original rather old-fashioned idea that the organisation exists for one purpose only: to sell things at a profit.

But…

… both views have merit.  And both enable good behaviours as well as fostering bad ones.

The time when an organisation is deliberately changing its language is the time when both views are in the open and being discussed. Once the language settles, the nuances of both terms disappear. So I think there is merit in change for change’s sake, once in a while at least.

As I said, I surprised myself with that conclusion.

And because it’s Friday and this post is about manipulating corporate bullshit, here’s some fun with bullshit and jargon: http://startupista.com/corporate-bullshit-generator/

Hourglass

I know I should blog.  I have posts in draft waiting to be proof-read and posted. I have other posts in draft waiting for me to finish the activities they are reporting on.  I have posts in my head, waiting to be drafted.  I have drafts in my head waiting to be blown away.

I’ve been busy. 2010 is going to be a year of change.  First of all, my husband has got an unmissable career opportunity which involves us moving to Edinburgh, and since I am a remote worker in a team that’s based in Edinburgh it’s pretty peachy for me too. However, moving in my case involves selling my house, and selling my house involves tarting it up. So I spent most of Christmas stripping wallpaper and painting and decorating, and I have a parade of workmen scheduled for January (ha ha) and February. In the gaps between contemplating paint colours, I am thinking vague thoughts about my dissertation.

Oh, and it’s snowed a bit which has slowed things down.  Had you noticed?

Have a pretty picture of the garden and the view.

Cold Snap in the Garden

Cold Snap in the Garden

Thank goodness for VPNs and NetMeeting.

I’ll finish one of the drafts over the weekend and bang it up on Monday. In the meantime, please imagine an hourglass hovering over this blog and a susurration from the hard drive.

Friday Faces

A little bit of odd fun on a Friday, courtesy of  St Andrews University – upload a picture of your smiling face and have a play.


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