The saga of bluetoothing on an X60s

So yesterday I spent most of the day with Lenovo’s top support engineers trying to figure how to pair a Motorola Bluetooth headset (the H700) with my new X60s.

Bottom line — the support team were wizards at reforming how my machine’s Bluetooth drivers are configured — but I am unable to achieve the goal of using the headset with Skype through the machine. Who is to blame? Well, we were able, after four hours of serious fiddling and diddling, to get the headset to work on a Skype call, but it was so problemmatic that we have to point the finger of blame at the headset after reading the Skype forum and other users’ negative experiences in getting this particular borg-set to work with any machine.

The eye opener for me, in light of my post last week about my philosophy on tech support, is that the complexity of peripheral compatibility with XP and any particular hardware platform is maddening and almost overwhelming. The support team — as I protested that I was killing their productivity — said they have to assume that there are other people out there like me, who, when they buy a Bluetooth enabled Thinkpad will come to expect that their Bluetooth headset will work with it. And not to listen to iTunes, but to use VOIP. I may be on the front lines of the problem, but gauging from the depth of technical analysis performed by users on the Skype and Thinkpads.com forum, there are a lot of people spending a lot of time trying to figure out what should, in theory, be a simple out of the box experience.

The other insight from this experience is that the intelligence and expertise is out in the user community. We need to figure out how to plug into that expertise, leverage it, and learn from it. Our tech gurus are googling outside of the internal knowledgebase to find solutions just like the “rest of us”, the challenge is how we can help enable that, contribute to it, and learn from it.

I’ll continue the Bluetooth-headset-Skype-X60s experiment later today with another Bluetooth headset (non-Motorola) to see if I can achieve success. If not, then my next move is to go to a Bluetooth dongle. Following that, it will be time to call Skype for a solution.

If anyone has sorted this one out, please speak out. I want to make sure we get this one right.

I just lit up my Foldera account

I received my beta account from Foldera and have just up my account. Excellent job on the part of the U/I team for building a sleek initialization process, help screens, and how-tos. Now to start playing. I won’t blog on the process and start posting screen shots, but as someone who was looking at the alpha three years ago, I am very impressed by the progress of the tool. Thanks to Michael Sampson for getting me set up.
[disclaimer: I am on Foldera’s advisory board and have been since 2003. I hold shares and options in the company.]

Corporate Journalism

As an ex-journalist inside of a corporation, I’ve been giving more thought lately to a concept I dubbed “corporate journalism” when I joined McKinsey & Co. six years ago. While my initial assignment was to create an online experience for the firm’s clients, a site focused on so-called “horizon” technologies, the popping of the dot.com bubble doomed that initiative — woefully named — TomorrowLab — and I soon found myself wondering if I’d have to crawl back to Forbes.com and debase myself to get my old job back.

One McKinsey partner, Lowell Bryan, evidently saw some value in keeping me and a former PC-Week colleague : Rob O’Regan on the payroll, so we were re-pointed in the direction of a problem that had been nagging the firm since Powerpoint overtook Word as the Firm’s preferred communications medium. In the good old days, a McKinsey consultant would share his or her learnings with the rest of the firm by writing up a white paper sanitized to keep any one specific client’s identity confidential. That document, which took several forms, could hold huge intrinsic value to the firm if it contained a framework or solution that could be reapplied to another client’s problem.

Alas, along came Powerpoint, which, when combined with McKinsey’s famous “up-or-out” policy, which gave the average consultant an expected tenure of little more than two years, meant a huge amount of the firm’s knowledge was being lost. Once the topic of admiring case studies by the Harvard Business School for its pioneering efforts in the new science of “knowledge management,” McKinsey was confronted with a huge loss in its institutional wisdom due to the pernicious evils of Powerpoint and the high degree of ongoing turnover. The expertise wasn’t getting written down — Powerpoint requires a presenter to narrate the pretty waterfall and boat charts — and moving to a horizontal, presentation formation meant the old vertical Word documents of old; those classic narrated case studies which could be read without the guidance of the original author, meant the firm was losing its edge.

Bryan understood this and stepped up to the plate to reform the system. My job (and O’Regan’s) was to provide some journalistic instincts to the process of figuring out how to “capture” (that was the verb) what was locked inside of the heads of the Firm’s partners and consultants before they made the transition to the real world as the CEO of a company like Enron or IBM. Continue reading “Corporate Journalism”