An Open Letter To My Audience

An Open Letter To My Audience


Firstly, a big “Thank you” to you, my audience for your continued attention and participation.

But just why do you choose to listen to me? I mean, what needs are you trying to get met? Here’s some options folks have shared with me over the years:

Insight. As in “Oh, I hadn’t thought of it like that. But now you’ve mentioned it…”

Perspective. As in “Oh, I hadn’t thought to look at it that way. But now I do, I can see…”

Useful new ideas. As in “Oh, we hadn’t thought of that before, but that idea could be useful to us…”

General curiosity. As in “I’m curious about stuff – and maybe I’ll learn something.”

Entertainment. Not that I’m a comedian or entertainer. Don’t look to me for laughs or a dance or a song. I don’t even have a particularly sparkling personality or charisma. Some folks do find thinking-out-loud entertaining, I suppose.

A break from work. We all appreciate a break.

My boss told me to read it. Sympathies.

Push or Pull?

Whatever the reasons, most folks in my live audiences just turn up and play the blank slate. That’s to say, they seem to want me to PUSH information at them. Which is a choice I respect. But there are other choices. Like coming prepared, for example. Specifically, coming prepared to PULL information. I have an extensive blog, I’ve written papers and been videoed, I tweet a bit. I always feel disappointed when folks turn up not having any real fore-knowledge of what I’m talking about. Which, btw, is most people, most of the time.

It doesn’t really bother me having to introduce my material before getting to the meat of meeting folks’ needs. God knows I’ve done that often enough. But it’s not very stimulating for me, and more importantly it leaves so much less time for helping you folks get your specific needs met.

So, if you’re thinking about being in my audience any time soon, would you be willing to give a little thought as to whether you’d like to make some preparations, some study, beforehand? Would you be willing to think about whether pulling information might work better for all concerned? Would you be willing to give some thought as to how we might work and learn together? It would help me meet my need of providing you with the best possible value in our limited time together. And maybe it might help you get more of your needs met, too.

– Bob

  1. Marc said:

    Hi Bob,

    I understand your post as an invitation to give feedback. So here goes.
    I read your blog regularly as it is consistently makes me think about subjects that are dear to me, that might be relevant to my work or matter philosophically about life in general. The first four of your motivations above apply to me.

    I appreciate that you make the effort to frame your issues, especially because it also allows me to share your thoughts with people who are less familiar with this domain. I’d be happy to go read a bunch of links if you want to spare yourself the effort, but it would make your posts less accessible to newcomers to the field of “improving the work”.

    Cheers, Marc

    • Hi Marc,

      Thanks for joining the conversation.

      Not really a request for feedback (this time!). More an invitation for folks to think about their own needs as members of an audience (not just mine) and how better get those needs met.

      When I was a lad it seemed fashionable to study. Not so much these days, it seems.

      – Bob

  2. I choose to listen to you because you’re quite an interesting chap. 🙂

  3. I come for entertainment. I see you poke sticks in the hornets’ nest on a regular basis and I see the mixed reactions that come out (my own included). I’m not sure why you choose to poke but I enjoy the challenge.

    I’ve met you a few times, I’ve even attended at least one of your sessions on Rightshifting a few years ago.

    I’d love to understand your true motivations for quite often being provocative – particularly for someone who speaks out often for non-violent communication. Sometimes the provocation seems quite violent. Is that passion, cynicism, trolling or simply trying to spark thoughtful discussion? (something like ritual dissent without everyone knowing the rules?)

    I’ve seen you be a fool and put down people I know personally claiming they don’t have a clue when clearly you’ve missed their context and local challenges. I’d love to see you make a real difference somewhere, have a visible success story to share and everyone to talk about how great things are as a result of your input rather than see you continue to fight the system (or that’s how it appears from where I sit).

    Either way, I enjoy what you have to say. Plenty of it I disagree with personally, some I agree with and some just doesn’t mean much to me. A big part of this is that I don’t have the same context as you. My experiences and beliefs differ and whilst I’ve been broken by bad experiences, I can see the value (or perceived value) in most things people do and choose which battles to take an active stake in.

    Regardless, I enjoy the engagement, the challenges to every-day thinking and watching others being drawn into the swarm.

    • Me? A Fool? Deffo. Long may it continue. I have a Pig’s bladder on a stick and a hat with bells on and everything. 🙂

      I hope the entertainment you find is meeting your needs.

      Horses. Water. Etc..

      – Bob

  4. schmonz said:

    I’m in your audience because I started seeing some of your tweets re-twoth, then followed and subscribed. I found (and continue to find) your ideas valuable because of where I’m coming from and where I want to be going. Where I’m coming from: a career as a developer, in which I’ve always agitated for the working conditions I think I need, and sometimes had my needs met. Where I want to be going: a career as a coach, making myself useful to others who are trying to have their work-life needs met. In fact, I’m about to go coach my first team, and cautiously excited to find out exactly how useful I might be to them. So I’m a reader because you offer ideas about how to be useful that I find useful, because your writing stretches my brain in a way that it wants to be stretched.

    With that bit of context about who I am, you might guess that I’d be willing to do some advance reading and thinking, especially given a small nudge in a particular direction, and you’d be right. 🙂

  5. I also interpreted your post as a request for feedback (although I did see your comment that it’s not). However, I have a need to give feedback in this context and hopefully some comments that are useful for you…

    In the beginning I think I followed you for your RT’s but thought a lot of what you said was “crazy talk” and “unnecessary provocation” (especially when it came to some of my sacred cows/people/…) – remember – that was a few years ago!!!

    Obviously, over the years of actually reading some of the books (like Nonviolent Communication: a Language of Life – still going, but well in to it), watching a lot of background videos (I like them) and reading a lot of seminal articles and papers yourself and others have referred to by the greats such as Deming, Ackoff, et al… I obviously see things a lot differently and can relate to most of what you are saying and why you have issues with various “systems”.

    This has been and is a long journey for me because you’ve got me to question a number of fundamental beliefs and assumptions that I had (being a Solution / Enterprise Architect demigod near the top of the food chain ;). It was recently when working at a pure Waterfall organisation I saw all the waste (including people 😦 that was incurred, followed by the fantastic Lean Kanban UK conference where I really think I’ve tipped a point on a number of levels that gives me a deeper understanding – but that’s after a number of years!

    To get back to your post (actually, I never left it ;), I think you’re at a very different place than a lot of us and one thing you may want to consider is the time it takes to get to that place – almost no-matter where most people are coming from. So although it may “seem” that people have not read anything – maybe they did, but just couldn’t integrated it yet?

    You have a “framework” and seem to be expressing it in a non-linear way (through a blog) which is probably fine for “information magpies” like me, but for some this may be slightly confusing and fragmented. The mind craves stories, and at the moment, you don’t seem to have a clearly articulated story…

    How to do that? One concept I liked, which Paul Klipp put up on that wiki ages ago was around introducing concepts in different timeframes, i.e.

    X in 1 minute
    X in 10 minutes
    X in 1 hour

    Maybe you could do something like that? Looking at the event – the 1st AMP link is great – something people can digest in a few minutes. The next one is however a bit shotgun – yes, it’s all the posts you’ve done on the AMP, but they don’t tell a fairly linear story. Again, it’s the problem of the amount of background that (I think) is required to _understand_ what you’re saying.

    Anyway, I for one am much looking forward to The Antimatter Principle in December and will be as prepared as I can be for it 🙂

  6. I actually like to think, and you give me that opportunity in every post I can recall. Usually I find myself in violent agreement with what you say. When not, I puzzle with it longer. Despite that I like to think, my brain mostly does two things. It brings associated thoughts to mind, and it rationalizes what I did, either what I just did or what I did a while back and just got confronted about it.

    At 72 I now seldom hear a parent asking “What are you doing?” but I still try to ask myself anyway. Here it is reading to contemplate how things could get better. The frequency of feeling compelled to respond to your postings is a complement to the obvious value of what you have to say. With fools, I only need to ask a rude question or two. With careful and generous thinkers, I seek to extend the discussion in some useful way. I doubt that my skill at that comes close to yours, but I enjoy the effort.

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