personal

Reading list 2016

Below are a list of books I’ve read in 2016. For the first time ever I have a commute so it will be interesting to know if I get much more reading done as i’m mostly on a looong bus ride. You can see my 2015 Reading list or 2014 reading list2013 reading list and 2012 reading list.

  1. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! finished 4th Jan paperback. A very enjoyable collection of stories and worth a read.
  2. Ecommerce Bootcamp by Kurt Elster and Paul Reda finished 6th Jan ebook. A book about getting started with the Shopify retail platform. A few gems in here but not much for me.
  3. Fatale Books 1-5 by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, finished 17 Jan graphic novel. A series about “Jo” who can’t help but  hypnotise men who are all after her and therein lies many deaths and heartbreak.
  4. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott finished 3 Feb paperback. A great read for non-writers/writers
  5. Poke the Box by Seth Godin finished 7 Feb hardback. This is a re-read for me. A short rant on starting and finishing.
  6. War with the Newts by Karel Čapek finished 2 Mar paperback. This book came recommended by a secondhand book seller and it was very well written. This could really happen…
  7. A Room of One’s Own by Virgina woolf finished 28 March paperback. A very different style of writing (or maybe the small typesetting made me read it differently) that kept me gripped. I will now be seeking out more of her work.
  8. When you Dead, You Dead by Guy Martin. A brief insight into the  year of Guy’s life as a truck fitter, TV presenter doing crazy challenges and a motorcycle racer.
  9. What to do when it’s your turn: and it’s always your turn by Seth Godin. Finished april 2016
  10. David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. May 2016 hardback in New Zealand
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Museums, technology

Get your museum digital skills started in 3 steps

As we rapidly approach 2016 i’m still amazed at how many people (organisations are people right?) say they are still yet to get started with “digital”. I’m also still reeling over a comment from a chatting with strangers at the Making Digital Work conference back in October in which I was told “it’s alright for you Zak, you are a senior manager so you can do what you like and make it happen”. That comment hurt me, not personally but my sense of championing “digital” for everybody. I wasn’t always a “boss – who lets not forget has a boss who has a boss and so on”. But I disgress. YOU, yes YOU can do digital. You simply start. You don’t need permission from anybody in your organisation. Pssst people actually like it when their colleagues get stuff done for them.

Here is how I would start to do digital today (1hr to 1 week):

Step 1:Google your organisation

Log out of your google account and search the name of your organisation. What results came back? For me it is our website, followed by a Wikipedia entry about us and then trip advisor.
Both Wikipedia and trip advisor WANT you to use them. Setup an account, review their guidelines and start to review entries. When you spot an error fix it or in the case of trip advisor write a reply to any comments that have 2 stars or less.

There is a good reason that Wikipedia and trip advisor show so highly in the Google results and that is because so many people use them. And you also using it will get your work in front of the many people looking at those websites. You’ll immediately be improving your organisations customer service by keeping an eye on these two website and the wonderful thing is you just did it without a committee. If you don’t feel empowered to even do this then I suggest you leave your employer and I’m not kidding.

Done that? You have just earned your first digital badge and it took less than one hour.

Step two: Simple – copy what others are doing

Organisations like mine recruit people with lots of experience and/or potential. As at this stage I assume the digital team is YOU you probably don’t have others to bounce ideas off. I look at it as an opportunity as there is nobody to tell you no. Instead of giving up, copy what others are doing, that’s how I started. Watch and copy how they respond to tweets, negative comments on Facebook or trip advisor etc. This approach lets you piggyback off much more experienced people and only costs you a bit of time. If you can I also suggest you attend as many of the free evening meet ups that nerds like me speak at throughout the country. You rock up to a pub, buy a drink and listen to a variety of people who love digital so much they want to spread the word or share a problem. I know rocking up to an event on your own is difficult but that tingle of fear is only in your head. You don’t even have to talk to anybody if you don’t want to, just smile and politely clap after the talk.

Step three: Read the GDS service manual

The Government Service Design Manual is the blueprint about how to start and scale a digital service. The brightest minds in the land of digital have produced this resource for YOU to learn on the shoulders of giants.

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Museums

How Can I Help?

In my old role as Head of Digital, when I was asked what I did it was easy “I help people to use technology”. My latest role is a mixed bag of things and I’ve spent the first *gulp* 11 months stumbling around with awkward answers to concisely say what I do. My new remit is far reaching and covers nearly all of the service even if I don’t directly hold responsibility. It is much more than being the money guy who prefers to DO rather than talk about strategy. However as the months have flown by I’ve started to feel that ” How can I help?” is a pretty accurate and easy to say sentence.

so if you want Bristol museums, arts and events, film office and more to help you – don’t be a stranger … how can I help?

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Museums, Retail

Wrestling with retail

One of the biggest opportunities for us to earn income and support the service is through retail.

We have two shops that in effect are starting from scratch.

Add a higher than ever achieved income target.

Install an affordable EPOS till system – which i’m told won’t work and i’ll fall on my face.

Watch people shop. Watch them some more.

Talk about retail to anybody who will listen.

Help turn the shops around.

DO the work.

 

 

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Museums, Notes

Accepting mistakes

During a recent interview I asked the hopeful job seekers across the table from me “Can you tell me about a time you’ve failed?”

The reason that I asked wasn’t to make them squirm, although they did, but to better understand how the individual views making mistakes along the road to success. 37signals say that failure is overrated and I’m inclined to agree in principle. All the cool kids say “fail fast” which is fine when nowt is at risk. I don’t want to fail giving our visitor a highly satisfying visit. I don’t want to fail to meet my income target (Over £1M) and lose staff as a result. BUT me and the rest of the team WILL make a ton of small mistakes. Making mistakes is not the same as failing. We need to have a goal in sight and get there, but I’m sure that by accepting and adapting after a mistake WILL make getting to our goals a reality. Fear of making a mistake will lead to failure.

A few recent mistakes I’ve made:

  • Ordered 200 bespoke mugs too quickly and now I have 162 still unsold
    Assumed Shopify saying it works offline without testing in detail which means the till drawer won’t open if we lose connection…
  • I didn’t include staffing recharges in my monthly budget forecast

How would you have answered?

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