August 15, 2017

Listening tips

In the video below, you will find 3 listening tips. To learn more about listening, have a look also at this research on listening. When you think about what is important in order to listen well, what do you think is missing?

August 11, 2017

The Morteratsch glacier in Switzerland is melting

Like most alpine glaciers, the Morteratsch glacier in the Eastern part of Switzerland is melting.

March 25, 2017

10 Fragen wenn du ein YouTube Video machst

# 1: Warum würden deine Familie und Freunde das Video teilen?
# 2: Beantwortest du im Video Fragen, welche Menschen gestellt haben?
# 3: Wie kannst du Menschen, die das Video anschauen, so gut helfen, dass sie sich involvieren / mitmachen?
# 4: Was ist zwischem diesem Video und anderen Videos, die du gemacht hast, ähnlich? Beispiel: Benutzt du in allen Videos, die du machst, immer ein Wort / einen Satz, an welchen Menschen sich erinnern?
# 5: Für wen machst du die Videos, die du machst? Beispiel: Für junge Menschen die in Pop Musik interessiert sind.
# 6: Wie kannst du auf einfacher Weise viele Videos machen? Welche Art von Videos sind das?
# 7: Handelt sich dein Video um ein Event, das jetzt populär ist, z.B. ein Lied / Song das momentan populär ist? Oder handelt sich dein Video um etwas, das immer relevant ist, z.B. wie man gut zuhört?
# 8: Wie kannst du ein Video so machen, dass auch neue Zuschauer es wertvoll finden, ohne dass sie vorige Videos von dir auch anschauen müssen um etwas zu verstehen?
# 9: Welche andere YouTubers könntest du in deine Videos einladen?
# 10: Das Video, das du machst, handelt sich das um etwas, für das du dich wirklich interessierst? Bist du wirklich inspiriert von dem, was du machst?

March 02, 2017

Significant technological changes are here. What should regional employment agencies do?

The other day, I came across an interesting LinkedIn update by Mel McCall that included this great article by Megan Beck and Barry Libert. What struck me was not least this sentence: "Don’t fight the progress of technology. Machine learning and AI have the ability to improve outcomes and lower cost - so don’t fight the robots. Welcome the change in your industry and work to make it fruitful and complementary." 

Reading the article, I came to think of the point that Stehen Hawking makes that we all need to accept the strong impact of technology on the world of work. Also, I came to think of this talk by Martin Ford about what the rise of robots means for how we work. I learned, for example, that technology is having a disruptive impact in more or less all industries. Technology can help increase productivity considerably. New industries get created, for example as possibilities to combine technologies increase, and as needs, people have, develop in different directions. To give an example, think of how the Internet / social media / apps combined with mobile electronic devices have changed the ways we learn, communicate with, and involve each other in work we do. 

Last November, I was honoured to have the possibility to participate at a couple of very interesting brainstorming sessions in small groups during a Smart City Zürich event. When I reflect on this event and think about hackathons such as the #makezurich hackathon, the #openfood hackdays, the strong growth in involving / including citizens in city development as well as how other online platforms such as brainfloor, atizo and jovoto are used to generate ideas for numerous initiatives, I think about an explosion in new work possibilities. 

Thinking about these phenomenal innovation initiatives, I find it  applaudable that both companies, universities and cities openly make resources available - thereby enabling a large number of people to use their creativity and knowledge to solve problems we have in the world. And this is, indeed, what is needed right now. In this brilliant blog posting, for example, John Hagel explains that we are seeing a "mounting pressure to accelerate learning" to create more differentiated offerings for various niches. 

During some interesting conversations I had with people working on the federal level, the cantonal level as well as the city level / community level / municipality level in Switzerland, I learned, for example, thisIn this period of relatively strong change, people as well as platforms like the ones mentioned play important roles in helping people move from a to b. What should regional employment agencies do in this time of change? Reflecting on this question, I came to think of these 3 ideas:

Idea # 1: First, let's trust each other and help each other feel safe
It seems as if not least the technological changes, that are happening around us, are pushing forward several changes in our lives. 3 examples:
  1. Work life seems to be merging with private life, as people use technologies to work / communicate with each other anytime and anywhere. 
  2. Work seems to be merging with learning, as the number of changes - not least technological changes - encourage us to learn all the time. Have you thought about how you learn well / how you like to learn
  3. What men and women do seems to be merging. In other words, we continuously see less strict divisions of tasks that women and men do.
To tackle these changes happening around us, we need to trust each other and help each other feel safe.

Idea # 2: Use social media to help each other learn
Currently, the regional employment agencies are represented on a central website. That is ok, as information, that is helpful for people, is provided on the website. However, this central solution could be complemented by decentralized solutions. Every single regional employment agency could create its own social media accounts. This initiative would open up for differentiation, for creative solutions, for more initiative and drive, for more innovation.

In this regard, people, who work for regional employment agencies, could adapt what they do, so it - even better - fits the world of work and how people live their lives. For example, people who work at regional employment agencies could spend more of their time communicating on various kinds of social media. That is where people are. A part of this social media work could be telling stories about what is going on in / around local communities. What are people doing in different shops / companies / schools etc.? How are people in the communities helping each other live better lives?

Idea # 3: Help people discover their values
When a person, who needs help, comes to a regional employment agency, the first thing, that could happen, could be a conversation about what his or her purpose in life is. This starts by a coach asking the person questions that help him or her discover his or her values.

Below are some additional research about what we can do to rethink recruitment / rethink how we create value for each other / rethink rethink how we can involve each other in more intelligent, useful ways:

February 19, 2017

How can we hack farming? #openfood

During the #openfood campaign and hackdays in Lausanne and Zürich in Switzerland, I heard / read / saw relatively little about people working on hacking / rethinking / improving farming. There was one initiative, though, that I found fascinating: OpenFarm, using which you can see on a map where local food producers are located. Read more about it here and here.

In this posting, I would like to offer some more inspiration on farming innovation - in terms of research I have done on the topic. What interests me is not least how we can use technology to create more value in farming / agriculture. Just so you know it, I grew up and have lived in cities for most of my life, so I have relatively little experience with farming / agriculture. In other words, please go a little easy on me when / if you give me feedback ;-) Happy reading.

February 16, 2017

How do you use the Internet to combine food ingredients in surprising / unexpected ways?

Did you know that chocolate and blue cheese share at least 73 flavour compounds? I learned that as I read this article article in which Barnaby Skinner shared on Slack during the Open Food Hackdays challenge. Reading this article, I also learned that the average number of ingredients in a recipe is around 8, and that we - using apps such as foodpairing and/or food2vec - can learn to combine food ingredients / flavours in surprising / unexpected ways.

I need to admit, straight away, that I do not do much experimenting when I am in the kitchen cooking food. Usually, I stick to recipes I know, for example good old Danish meatballs. I have been making those for years in more or less the same way. I learned how to make meatballs by 1) watching my mother cook them, and 2) searching on Google to find out how others make meatballs. However, I would think that with useful apps that help us quickly combine food / food ingredients in well tasting ways, I would sometimes try out some new things / new combinations. And my readiness to try out new combinations of food ingredients would, I think, be determined by how inexpensive, simple, and well tasting it would be to acquire and combine food ingredients. 

Reading this article, which Barnaby Skinner also shared on Slack, and reflecting on what food go well together, I learned that ingredients in European and North American cooking cluster together, and that ingredients from Asia cluster together. That was not such a big surprise to. However, as I looked a little closer at the similarity map in the article, I noticed - to my surprise - that for example on the left hand side, there are some unique combinations that span across continents. As you can see yourself, when you let your mouse roll across the map, scallion (East Asia), carrot and olive oil (Middle Eastern), mushroom (Eastern European), and Thai pepper (South East Asia) cluster together. Being interested in what is unique / what is innovative / what we can learn from different countries around the world, I found that quite fascinating reading.

Do you know some interesting, well tasting combinations of food / food ingredients that you would like to share?

February 13, 2017

Measurements can tell a story. What story will you tell?

Reflecting on the work #makezurich participants did with different sensors and doing some research about why measurement is important, I stumbled upon this sentence here: Measurements can tell a story. I found the expression quite captivating. Why? For example because I have learned that it can be very helpful for us to see measurements as feedback to use for continuous improvements

Doing research about storytelling for some time, not least inspired by Nicole Bittel and other storytelling experts, I learned that telling stories - negative as well as positive ones - can be quite useful in helping shape and make sense of changes. Negative stories can be effective in getting our attention, shaking us out of our daily routines and complacency. And positive stories can, for example, show us how to solve problems in creative ways and bring back beauty in our lives. Great stories such as this one by Wienke Giezeman about building an open Internet of Things Network for everyone in Switzerland touch our hearts and help us understand what the changes are all about.

A question for you: What story will you tell with the measurements you help make with different sensors? An example: What story do you want to tell when you use a bicycle counter to measure how many bikes are moving from a to b on a certain street? Or what story will you tell when you measure what people think and/or feel about sounds coming from the street?

February 09, 2017

#openfood hackdays in Lausanne and Zürich

At the open food hackdays in Lausanne and Zürich on February 10th and 11th, more than 300 people with many different backgrounds will work on developing new solutions for a transparent, efficient and innovative food industry based on open data. To learn about what is going on and participate, you can, for example, use the hashtag #openfood.

I learned that to help make innovation happen - including developing applications and innovative projects aimed at improving people's diet - the database can be a helpful tool. In this regard, knowing more about what we are buying / eating can help us develop more healthy eating habits. Think, for example, about how you may change your buying habits / food consumption habits when it is easy for you to get information about how much sugar there is in various cereal products.

The open database includes data on more than 14,000 barcoded food products sold in Switzerland. The database is programmatically accessible through an application program interface (API). The API, which is a system of tools and resources in an operating system that enables developers to create software applications, is important because it will allow an ecosystem to develop around the food data. A good API makes it easier to develop a computer program.

Doing some more research about open food data, I came across the website What I find innovative about this website is, not least, that it is made by everyone. Anyone can add any product from their kitchen. Any person, who wants to, can get involved in the work. As I was searching on the website for products in Switzerland, I noticed that more than 16,000 products have already been added by different people.

To find more data related to food, try also stopping by at

February 08, 2017

3 short stories from the #makezurich about how we learn

3 short stories from #makezurich about how we learn:

Story # 1
During #makezurich, I had the possibility to chat a little with Pance and Phaki, who work for Netcetera and whose ancestors come from Macedonia and Sri Lanka respectively. I learned, for example, that people, who work for Netcetera, like to use skype to communicate with each other as well as with external people they solve problems with. I also learned that they use Plaza, an intranet solution / internal social network developed by Netcetera using which people can, for example, document work using wikis. It was great to experience that to learn from / engage with people, Netcetera associates also use a variety of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Story # 2
Malik and Said, who come from Algeria, studied / study in Turkey, Spain, and Germany. Malik explained to me that when he studied in Turkey, he liked that he could speak informally with teachers / professors and learn with them individually / in small groups, for example over a cup of tea. He mentioned that the informal way of learning in Turkey - including calling professors by their first names - was very different from what he was used in his home country Algeria, where teachers are addressed by, for example, Sir and last names. Being a student in the Turkish education system, Malik also liked, as I understood it, that he had the freedom to choose what he wants to learn. At the hackathon, Malik and Said learned, for example, in these ways.

Story # 3
Participating in the #makezurich hackathon, i was positively surprised about the use of Slack. I found the use of Slack useful to get information what is happening in the different projects and to communicate with people. Watching how Pance, Phaki, Malik, and Said work and listening to them, i also discovered that all four of them like to use Google search to learn.

February 07, 2017

How do we organize? Experiences from #makezurich

In this short video, you can get a little impression about how people participating at the #makezurich hackathon worked. Both individually as well as in small groups of 2 to x people, they learned / developed / made things - standing up, sitting down in different ways, and moving around.  

Writing about the #makezurich hackathon, Walter Bernet correctly pointed out in his interesting article that hackathon participants shy away from the use of hierarchies. As there are several problems with hierarchies, it is understandable that people try out other ways of organizing to enable that work can be done in more agile ways. It is fascinating to experience how people move to organizational forms through which they can be more productive, work more creatively, and create more value for more people. In this regard, it was, I believe, a wise decision that representatives of several companies participated at the #makezurich hackathon to learn from how the many young hackathon participants work.

Nurses in the Buurtzorg networks / communities / teams have demonstrated that organizing in small, independent teams can make sense, help create more value for people and save money in the process. Listening to what Wienke Giezeman explained at the #makezurich hackathon, I was impressed about how many The Things Network communities around the world have developed within a relatively short period of time. I understood that within and across these global communities, work is done in a network like way - using various Internet tools / media like Twitter, WhatsApp, Slack, Skype as well as a variety of physical locations. During the #makezurich hackathon, I learned that people worked both from their homes, at MechartLab, at Impact Hub Zürich, on streets, and on their way from a to b. 

During the #makezurich hackathon, I also discovered that microteams with just 1 or 2 persons got very far and produced good results in a relatively short period of time. Thomas Amberg, for example, did some fascinating work on developing a tool using which we can measure what people feel about noise happening around them. Also, I discovered that this team of two young people did some great work in developing a solution to measure air quality.

How do you like to work? As you experience it, what are great ways of organizing work?

February 06, 2017

Many different languages were used at the #makezurich hackathon

Many different languages were used during the #makezurich hackathon last week. I heard people speaking with each other in English, German, Swiss German, French, Italian, Spanish, and TamazightListening to people, I learned that - in general - when people express themselves in their native language compared with a secondary language, they can express themselves more precisely. That said, I also found out that with language and translation apps such as Google Translate and Duolingo, that are continuously improving and getting more useful for people, we can learn about words / expressions faster and better. Malik, for example, told me that when he moved from his native country Algeria to Spain to study, he learned to communicate in Spanish using, for example, Rosetta Stone.

Participating at the #makezurich hackathon, I also learned that we need to think broader when we think languages / communication. In this regard, I found out that coding / programming languages are quite important languages through which people can express themselves and understand what other people want to say. In addition, consider how the increase in the variety of emoticons we can use as we communicate with each other on several apps has made it easier for us to express our emotions.

Some additional inspiration about languages:

February 02, 2017

Internet of Things means changes. How do we learn to adapt?

With the development of the Internet of Things, nearly every object you can imagine will be connected to the Internet. That means that, globally, billions of things will be connected to the Internet. In this posting, this posting, and this posting, I read that, increasingly, we can use our smartphones / tablets / notebooks to, for example,

  • turn lights on and off,
  • lock and unlock doors
  • roll the window blinds / curtains up and down,
  • increase and lower room temperatures,
  • get a notification if the refrigerator door is open after x seconds or if the stove is still on after y seconds - even if no pan / pot is on the stove.
  • get a notification when someone rings the doorbell.
  • find out - due to sensors in lights - how much and how a space is being used. With this information, technology can help us, for example, turn off lights in locations that are not being used or inform us where, in particular, we need to use the vaccuum cleaner and mop to clean.
In this Internet of Things world, new kinds of tasks / new kinds of work will be developed. This means that we need to continuously learn to do new things and do things in new ways. In this regard, I would like to ask you how you like to learn? What are your favourite ways of learning? What do you do when you want to learn something new?

February 01, 2017

How can we improve recycling solutions using sensors? #makezurich

At a #makezurich event the other day at Impact Hub Zürich, I had a fascinating talk with a couple of people from India. They had some brilliant ideas, I think, related to recycling. I understood that they wanted to measure, for example, when containers at the recycling spaces / "Sammelstellen" are ready to be picked up. During a short brainstorming session right in front of boxes with different sensors in one of the workshop rooms at the event space, we ping-ponged a few ideas about what sensors would be relevant to use for the task.

One person had an idea to use some kind of a light sensor that measures when things, that people put in the containers, have reached the top of the containers - meaning that the light from one side of a container to the other side of the container would be permanently interrupted / blocked. Another had an idea to use a sensor measuring weight. As we chatted about this idea, we talked about that that would probably work quite well for glass. However, for metal recycling, such a sensor would probably not be optimal, as different types of metal have different weight.

Reflecting on this little talk about ideas, my thoughts are that the need to do something in this recycling area / field is there. In other words, I would think that with a smart sensor solution / Internet of Things solution, the number of times that trucks drive through cities every week to empty containers could be reduced. That could free up time for recycling professionals to do / learn about other things that create value for people - and thereby increase the quality of life for everyone.

When I take my reflections around experiences I have had with recycling in Zürich a little further, I realize that there is a relatively large need to design solutions that help make it easier for people to recycle things. In this regard, I recall that when I moved to Zürich in 2006, it took me quite some time to find out where and when to recycle what in which ways. Some examples:

  1. At supermarkets, people can recycle, for example, PET bottles and batteries in permanent location containers. 
  2. At some locations, people can recycle, for example, glass and metal products in permanent location containers. 
  3. At other locations, people can recycle shoes and clothes - put in a bag - in permanent location containers. 
  4. Recycling of paper happens every 2 weeks. To find out when to bring paper, you want to recycle, to a street where it is picked up, go to this link
  5. Recycling of cardboard happens once a month. To find out when to bring cardboard, you want to recycle, to a street where it is picked up, go to this linkThe cord / string to use for binding paper or cardboard together, you can buy at a supermarket. 
  6. To recycle, for example, broken stones or glas materials / products and metal materials / products, that are larger than what can go into the containers mentioned at # 2, go to this link and click "Cargo-tram". There, you can read at which tram stations to go in order to recycle what you need to recycle. Be aware that you need to walk to the "Cargo-tram" recycling stations with things you want to recycle.
  7. To recycle, for example, cables and other electronic products, go to this link and click "E-tram". It is also possible to hand in electronic products to be recycled at shops that sell that sell electronic products.

Examples of recycling solutions / recycling stations / "Sammelstellen":

January 31, 2017

What about seeing measurements as feedback to use for continuous improvement?

In this report, I read that measurements play a key role in the innovation process. To develop new and improved products and processes, we look for, for example, 
  1. improvements in quality or performance. It could be cleaner air. 
  2. reductions in inefficiency / waste. It could be a reduction in the amount of energy a lamp uses to light up a certain space. 
  3. use of new materials or techniques. It could be road materials that help us generate energy when we walk / drive on them.
To get this information, we need appropriate measurement support.

Reading this blog posting, I read that measurements help give us feedback to use for continuous improvement. Just as we all need to give feedback to our colleagues, users, friends, partners and other people around us, so we can help each other improve competencies, we need to get feedback from technologies so we know what is changing, how we are progressing / advancing. In this regard, I come to think of Duolingo using which we can get continuous feedback about how we are learning a certain language. When we listen to the feedback we get and change / adjust how we say / write words, it helps us get closer to mastery of that language.

I also come to think of the #makezurich innovation challenge about how to measure bicycle commuting using low cost sensors. Just as the feedback we need to get from the Duolingo machine in order to improve how we write or speak, we need feedback from a sensor about how many cyclists are driving down a certain street at what times during a day. Using that information, we will know more about how to adjust the size and/or quality of roads, light signals, and other surroundings in order to further improve the mobility experience.

At the #makezurich event on January 27th at Impact Hub Zürich and at a #makezurich lab session at MechartLab the other day, I had some interesting conversations with people working on the #makezurich bicycle commuting challenge, for example about how feedback from sensors / technology is communicated to people. During these conversations, I couldn't resist sharing impressions about a bicycle counter initiative I experienced. The bicycle counter, that counts the number of bikes which pass by, displays changes in numbers instantly. I learned that one advantage of such a bicycle counter is openness / transparency. And this openness will help advance innovation.

Photo source

January 29, 2017

#makezurich hackathon event

Reflecting on some very interesting chats I had at the #makezurich event on January 27th and on January 29th at Mechartlabi came to think about questions related to why we measure. Expressed differently, have you thought about what the deeper lying purpose is behind what you want to measure with different sensors? Doing some research about why we measure, I came across this posting. In it, I read, for example, that one reason to measure x could be that we would like to help people use capacity well. An example: How long time during the day is a parking space not being used? Why? Or how many different cars are occupying a certain parking space per day? Why? 

Another example: How many clothes can you fit into a certain closet, before it becomes too crammed? Thinking about this example, we could then, for example, ask: Why do we want to measure that? And brainstorming this question, we would perhaps come up with responses - and/or further questions - such as: Because we would like to try to help people

  • make it easier to get clothes in and out of the closet.
  • avoid that clothes become wrinkled.
  • get a signal when it is time to recycle some clothes.

To find out what the purpose of what you do is, i.e. why you work on the hackathon challenge you work / want to work on, check out the questions to discover your purpose mentioned below. In his thinking process, it may also be helpful for you to learn from these purpose examples.

September 23, 2016

Research about Switzerland

Some research about Switzerland. What would you add? What do you think is missing?