All posts by Trevor Merriden

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About Trevor Merriden

Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

Why short words work best

There is no doubt. Short words have a power that long words do not. Phrases with short words stick in our heads. We repeat them back – they touch us because we know what they mean. It’s not just the stuff of the big speech – always best spoken simply: “New Deal”; “Peace in our Time”; “Don’t ask, Don’t tell”; and “Yes, we can” – but of the best ads too: – “Just do it”; “The King of Beers”; and “It’s the Real Thing.”

Too many of us hide behind long words. It gives us short-term power over others – and we assume that others admire us for “knowing” more than they do. They don’t. How can they if they don’t know what we’re trying to say?

My plea to you, when you write, blog, or speak today is to drop all long words for short ones, the sort used by most people. See if you can get through the day doing this. You won’t be able to, but you will learn a lot if you try. Look into the eyes of those you try to reach and you will know straight away that you need never use a long word again when a short one will do.

(PS Every word in this article has only 1 or 2 syllables. Except that last one…)

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

At The CIPD Learning & Development Show

I am heading off today to the CIPD Learning & Development Show at Olympia today. It reminded me of an excellent presentation recently from the CIPD’s Andy Lancaster for their Leaders in Learning network. Performance, he told us, is now the primary driver of Learning and Development. The challenge is how to move L&D from focus on learning to a focus on performance. The CIPD noted that there are now FIVE performance based roles in L&D. Three are with us already, while two are emerging.

Already here

1. Performance Detective – orange segment below – ascertains the performance challenge to be tackled

2. Performance Architect – designs a solution (and not necessarily a learning solution, if not relevant to the performance challenge)

3. Performance Master Builder – builds the solution to maximize performance and within resources and time constraints

Emerging roles

4. Performance Game Changer – makes sure that any solutions become embedded – there are two main sub roles here a. Project Manager and b. Communications – often these are not done by L&D in traditional organisations but need to be to embed success.

5. Performance Tracker – Effective measurement of performance – also not an easy role to fulfil.  The focus is solely on improving performance metrics.

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

Clear messages and great stories shine through

Clear messages and great stories always shine through

There’s no world shortage of content – and yet quality content has never been scarcer. I have been, am and will always be unashamedly passionate about the value of great content for business. But you can – and must – pay lots of time and attention to it.

Why? It’s important because it sets the tone for everything that happens afterwards. The services that you sell are central to any successful business and the simple, clear and direct messages you send out about them is the way in which you let the world know.

Notice I wrote “messages” in that last sentence – not the “media” you use. The media we use to convey messages have changed greatly in recent years. They will change some more – media will come and media will go – but clear messages and great stories will outlast them all.

There’s no world shortage of content – and yet quality content has never been scarcer. I have been, am and will always be unashamedly passionate about the value of great content for business. But you can – and must – pay lots of time and attention to it.

Why? It’s important because it sets the tone for everything that happens afterwards. The services that you sell are central to any successful business and the simple, clear and direct messages you send out about them is the way in which you let the world know.

Notice I wrote “messages” in that last sentence – not the “media” you use. The media we use to convey messages have changed greatly in recent years. They will change some more – media will come and media will go – but clear messages and great stories will outlast them all.

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

Do you know how to “stop” time?

Have you read “The Art of Stopping Time” by Pedram Shojai? I would encourage you to do so – I got it at Christmas and it’s been a revelation to me.

As we hurtle towards another weekend, thinking about the things we have or haven’t done, it’s easy to be too tired to think, too stressed to focus and less effective than we want to be. And if our work then encroaches into the weekend, we start to feel guilty about the time not spent with loved ones.

The book has a compelling premise – the need for a more positive perspective on the unforgiving flow of time. Without it we lack a real sense of enjoyable purpose, rather than a fear of deadlines and failure.”

Shojai’s goal, therefore, is to nudge us towards “time prosperity” – having the time to accomplish what you want without feeling compressed, stressed or hurried. If it sounds like mindfulness, then it is, except at the extreme practical end of that particular spectrum.

The book has 100 short essays which contain habits in which you literally learn to “stop” time. Some habits will stick, some won’t – and that’s OK. Just take the ones that mean something to you. I did and I feel it’s working well for me already. Have you read it – or do you have another book you swear by?

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

Optimism is a choice

A new week: Are you feeling optimistic – or pessimistic? How are you feeling right now, as you read this? It’s good to be aware of how you feel, but don’t become a slave to your view of the future. It creates the script for what will actually occur.

In truth we are all both optimists and pessimists several times a day, faced with different situations. Whenever something “happens to us” we have a choice to be one or the other. What is more interesting is the way we come to our perspectives. The brain invents a “counter fact” to events – an alternate scenario our brains create to help us evaluate and make sense of what happened. It could be “Well it could have been a lot worse” or “That’s pretty unlucky” – or anything in between.

This goes on to influence far more than one’s attitude to an individual event. Those who pick positive counter facts open their minds up to a whole range of subsequent perceived benefits to spur their motivation further. Research shows that people with positive counter facts have more successful careers, relationships and even live longer. For this reason alone my usual sense of optimism is deliberate and pragmatic, rather than wishful.

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

Better Collaboration = Greater Business Value. It’s an Equation, not a Coincidence.

Are your collaborative efforts with workplace colleagues all show and no substance? How good are you really at collaborating in the workplace? And what stops you from collaborating more? I’ve not met anyone who will tell me that collaboration is a “bad thing”, but they also tell me they and the businesses they work in struggle in going “further” with collaboration – or even understand why they should.

Humans have been collaborating with one another for many thousands of years – but in a very, very limited way. Now, technology – the key driver behind most of major recent changes in our daily lives – has become the reason “why” this will soon change. Technology’s march means that we miss many opportunities every single day to collaborate more closely in the way we work and learn from one another.

Everyone instinctively “gets” collaboration – but very few know how to talk about it or develop it in a workplace context. That’s also now changing – because it has become clear to me recently that those that do have enjoyed a rapid increase in extra business value. I know this, because I’ve been worked with highly collaborative teams that go on to do more, earn more – and enjoy themselves more.

Better Collaboration = Greater BusinessValue. It’s an Equation, not a Coincidence.

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

Are you missing the obvious?

This weekend, ask yourself this: Am I missing something really obvious? It can be really good to stop and think about this. Three things occurred to me the other day:-

  1. How little we stop and look at the things right in front of us. With the exception of our phones, how often do we stop and look twice at everyday objects, the buildings we pass every day – or even those we claim to hold dear?
  2. When we do something routinely, how often do we think about doing it in a different way? We are so often told we can’t do things well if we do it “that way”, but how can we know if we don’t allow ourselves the time to find out?
  3. And how often do we actually do things differently on an everyday basis? Whenever we do, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that we discover so many new and beneficial outcomes that we hadn’t previously even thought about.

So whether you take a different route in the car today, try out that new restaurant or stop and look around you – I urge you to go and do something – anything – differently today. And every day from now on. Time to take the blinkers off.

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

3 questions to get social media clarity

Have you ever felt bewildered by the number of social media and online community options you have? I have, though I now have 3 questions I can use to cut through the fluff.

Where are your buyers – or others you want to influence? If they really don’t use online communities, then don’t use them. It’s simple. Don’t though make it an excuse for inaction – there are few business or leisure interests for which this is still true. Concentrate on one main channel through which your community prefers to operate.

What do they want? Your community could be the quickest and most comprehensive resource you will ever have ever have for understanding all sorts of trends affecting the way your community thinks and acts. So ask them for their views to find out more.

Why should they want to engage with you? You want him or her to share their views and their questions. To do this though, they need to know that the content you are sharing is about the issues that directly affect them. What can you do to make them feel comfortable?

Ask yourself these questions and clarity will come.

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

High-speed collaboration the way forward for Ferrari and friends

Last weekend’s British Grand Prix was really exciting to watch – I love this time of year, when Wimbledon, The Open, Test cricket and the Tour de France all jostle with it for attention in the summer sporting calendar. It also reminded me of an excellent talk given earlier this year by Tanja Levine, director at Ashridge Executive Education. Formula One is often seen as a very self-contained world, but appearances are not always what they seem. Tanja has helped Ferrari develop a high-speed approach to collaboration, via a consortium approach with other companies to solving digital challenges.

Her presentation, made at the inaugural MERIT Summit in Barcelona to over 200 HR and L&D and senior business school figures earlier this year, highlighted a number of business challenges facing Ferrari as it recently approached its 70th anniversary. In particular, how could Ferrari prepare employees for a future where the only certainty seemed to be uncertainty and disruption? And how could it turn the digital environment to its advantage?

Ferrari chose Ashridge (part of Hult Business School), to help it find a way forward. Two things quickly became clear. Firstly: innovation and new ideas needed stimulation and fresh thinking from a diverse mix of outside corporations and not just from existing Ferrari employees. Secondly: as the new digital world touches every function and hierarchy, any collaborative approach between businesses would need an equally diverse range of experiences from tech disruptors, thought provocateurs and future millennial customers, as well as senior executives.

The concept of a consortium community to share knowledge, experience, failures and solutions at its heart. Businesses as diverse as Puma, Unilever, Uber, Tiffany & Co, Deutsche Telekom, Merck and Coca-Cola became involved in working on innovative new digital futures for other businesses as well as their own.

One important feature was the way in which the collective brainpower of the consortium group was used, through sharing failures and barriers (and not just success stories) and the use of the programme’s virtual team collaboration space, before, during and after the programme.

The full story is covered in more detail elsewhere for those who want to find out more. It’s fair to say though that the Digital Futures Programme is itself highly innovative, with a strong emphasis on live, immersive and collaborative learning for the benefit both of those working for Ferrari and its partners. Regular readers of my blogs will know this is just the sort of thing to get me excited and it has become embedded in my mind as a great example of good inter-company collaboration.

Ferrari says it has learnt a lot from others – and the others say the same thing. The programme now has a consortium group of 20 organisations who have emerged with tangible and measurable ideas to strengthen their businesses. A senior executive from GM Merck says: “It was amazing to be able to get a hugely diverse team to work on [our] digital case challenge. It yielded many new innovation ideas on how to design and leverage digital innovation and new business models. I took many ideas back home to my team, which we will follow up.”

This initiative has, at its core, been about been about partnership and allowing those previously outside to tap into the brainpower of consortium learning. So why not look outside your own business – and give a deeper level of inter-company collaboration a try?

Tanja Levine spoke about the Digital Futures Programme at the inaugural Merit Summit in Barcelona earlier this year. The next Merit summit will be held next January 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

Never forget how far you have come – how 20 middle-aged Dads learnt to just keep going

Two weeks ago, we had a pretty big adventure.

By “we” I mean 20 middle-aged men from Garden Fields Cricket Club, from #StAlbans, #England, enjoying highly variable levels of fitness. We decided to walk for 3 days, 66 miles (over 106 km) and just under 9,000 ft of climbing – and descending again (think Scotland’s Ben Nevis twice – and then some).

To say the walking the route was tough was something of an understatement – it was brutal …however, we also had lots of fun and stories to share as we walked – never a dull moment – and, of course, lots and lots of blisters.

We did all this to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital and Children’s Charity in memory of Maisie Ryan of Garden Fields JMI School. Our children all attend this school – and when Maisie died suddenly aged 6 last year, we felt we needed to do something to honour her memory. So we came up with the idea of the walk and set a highly ambitious £20,000 fundraising target.

For a very long time, as we were planning our adventure, it really looked and felt as though we would fall flat on our collective faces in fundraising terms – we were nowhere near where we wanted to be. Yet, somehow, with the help of 450 separate donations – from not only our wonderful friends, family, colleagues, but also many complete strangers and a little extra help from the wonderful UK Gift Aid tax break – we have crawled slowly on and on and on. We now stand proudly and look back down our metaphorical mountain at close to £22,000 funds raised in total.

So the point of this week’s post is to encourage any one out there who feels frustrated; who has had a bad day, week, month or even year; who doesn’t feel that they are progressing; to stop, reflect and look at the view. You probably have climbed higher and travelled further than you may have realised.

Celebrate what you have already achieved, before you focus on what you have not. Then just keep putting one foot in front of the other and tick off the small steps on the way to big progress. And let’s not forget that the journey is at least as important as the finish line: just as we did on the walk, you will travel with amazing people and meet some incredible and generous people on the way. So just ….keep … going!!!

By the way, yes, there is still time to support us … Please click on the link for more details … and please share the post if you want to as we enter the last week or so of our fundraising drive. We’d love you to help us take a few more steps before we finish.

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.