Just a little creepy …

July 10, 2014

I suppose the best that can be said of the journey back home today is that everything ran to time.   My hotel last night was in sharp contrast to Monday night with a full suite in The Hotel Regina, a shame to waste on just one night and no visitors!  I had breakfast with Clayton Christensen and a rushing clash of agreement on the importance of theory.  I was briefing on Cynefin and SenseMaker® as we have a major client in common at the moment and it was a good session.  More on that in the future.  The day working with the top twenty and their coaches also went well, refining material to move into the top 200 in a few months time.   Always a pleasure to work with intelligent people who want to think differently.

I walked up to Paris Nord from the hotel that evening.  I knew I had eaten too much so the exercise regime will need to increase in the next few days and then to the Eurostar.   The lounge looks like some hardback to the 70s and lacks practicality, or healthy food for that matter then when I got on the train the table was broken and I had to let it rest on my knees to do any work.  With dinner that meant everything was sloped and in some cases slopped.  I raised it within minutes of boarding and was told if there was another seat it would be found.   I then started to notice just how dirty the carpet was and how worn the furniture.  Seen better days just about sums it up.   I tweeted both problems after no one returned to reseat me.  The meal was served without grace and I eventually drifted off to sleep.  

I then felt my arm being shaken and assumed we must be in London but no, it's the train manager who wanted to find out how I feel about my journey.  Again I made the assumption this was the normal customer care process that is normally form and not heart felt, but OK.  I said it was OK, but mentioned the reseating issue and the fact I had tweeted it.  I then (and only then) learnt that my tweet had been picked up, my name tracked down (not too difficult) and he had been told to seek me out.   He then wanted me to move, despite the fact we were now in England and would soon arrive in London.   It felt like a process had been triggered and he made three attempts to get me to move, which by then be more disruptive.

Now its a little creepy to be sought out like that, I half expected a tweet back given the way social media monitoring goes on these days.  That would have been a response in kind and I could have been asked what I wanted to do.  It really did feel like I was being subjected to some check list of actions that left little room for the personal.  I also started to get a little angry that I had been woken up in order for the check list to complete. I was also not wild about having to say three times that I no longer wanted to move, or for that matter to being lectured on how I should have contacted the train manager.    OK ten our of ten for responding this time but I note that my tweet and blog about the Monday fiasco (which had some helpful  suggestions) had had no response.  So maybe the process can only handle little things not the big problems. The power of social media is meant to enable conversation not simply trigger a process of interaction in limited circumstances.   A pity really, but you can see how something that should be natural, give some discretion to customer facing staff has now been sick stig-martyred to death, or a least to sterility.  

To add insult to injury (and I can't blame Eurostar for this) I got stick on the tube with a Bristol student trying to impress his girl friend after a break in Paris.  Twenty minutes on the Hammersmith and City line hearing all sorts of 'cleverness' had been seeking alcohol at Paddington.  Then horror of horrors I got onto the Swindon train to discover my reserved seat was co-located with the pair.  I started to tweet the experience.  The conversation about wine was excruciating, made worse by the fact that they were stuffing selves with Big Macs & fries covered in 99 varieties of sickly sauce.  I then found the girl friend reading over my shoulder; she did have the grace to realise that reading other's people's screens reduces your moral high ground in taking offence about what is being said about you.  I did resist taking a picture, there are limits to legitimate curmugeonality, not many but …

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

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