Vantage Point: January

Jan. 24, 2014, by Ella Saltmarshe

NETWORKS: In 2014 the Point People will be undertaking some great network projects, so I’ve been swotting up… In Harvard Business Review, Michael Schrage makes the case for taking a network approach, “tomorrow’s organizations are going to give as much thought and care about investing in network effects as they do to new products and services”, while at Gigacom Stowe Boyd argues that network performance is fast becoming the most important determinant of employee success: “I am made better by the sum of my connections, and so are my connections.” Over at Forbes, Empact founder Michael Simmons argues that it’s not size that matters... -- rather than gunning to have the biggest network, you should focus on how to connect different clusters, brokering information between different communities, convening and introducing. This was one of our key motivations in setting up the Point People. Here’s some of Michael’s wisdom…

 “In order to be an effective broker, you must continually fight against the comfort and validation that comes from staying in one group.”

“Brokerage is more than just a tactic to be deployed. It requires a completely different way of seeing and being in the world that is often uncomfortable. Being deeply connected and respected while having a high status in a single network feels good. On the other hand, being a broker means pulling from diverse perspectives that may seem conflicting. This requires intellectual flexibility. It means often being an outsider. It means less stability.”

A big thanks to network-broker extraordinaire David Hodgson for bringing these and a zillion other great articles to my attention.

MINDFULNESS: The new year has brought with it a lot of new work. This is great. And it means that not-going-crazy, is now top on my to-do list. I’ve been using mindfulness apps to help me with this: the brilliant Headspace in the morning to set me up for the day, and Buddhify for when I’m combusting in front of a screen in the afternoon. Suddenly Mindfulness is everywhere I look (sadly mostly in the external world, but he ho, it’s early days) – the writer Julie Myerson talks about how Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy changed her life. During a long overdue catch-up with old friend anthropologist, Dr Jo Cook, I discover she’s now focusing on Mindfulness Therapy, and even MPs are getting in on the action, with weekly mindfulness meetings. Ommmmmm.

MONEY: 2014 is the year that I combat my cretinous financial habits. After years of desperately trying to avoid anything that came in a brown envelope, humming loudly when people started talking about pensions and only dealing with the stacks of unopened bank statement bi-annually armed with a bottle of wine, I’m turning over a new leaf. Books like Prince Charming isn’t Coming have been invaluable. As have very practical tools like Home Budget for tracking your expenses (yup, I do now) and Money Dashboard for managing your bank accounts. It turns out I’m not alone, financial illiteracy is a big problem for women across the world. A new wave of entrepreneurs are rising to the challenge – from people like my friend, Courtney Van de Weyer who has recently set up Cambridge based Ms Moneta to the amazing MyBnk, which delivers finance education in schools.

POETRY: I went to the Poetry Book Society’s TS Eliot Prize readings at the beginning of January. It reminded me that I LOVE POETRY. So here’s my pick of the poets. If you can, buy their beautiful books. Poetry needs all the support it can get! Maurice Riordan, Michael Symmons Roberts, Dannie Abse & Anne Carson