28 February 16 -

Super8: Eight intriguing articles from February.

Working in a digital environment, it’s essential that you’re open to change. You have to be prepared to constantly evolve, to re-evaluate your approach, and to embrace new ways of thinking and doing.

At the same time, it’s important to be wary of deadlines, days, weeks and months. There’s always something important in the datebook, lingering on the horizon.

When I raised my hand to curate this edition of Super8, and cast my eye to the month of February 2016, I realised that these two worlds had collided.  It’s rare that a calendar month throws up the opportunity for change, or that a date allows for innovation. But the planets have aligned, and this month I’m taking Super8 into bold new dimensions. It’s one small step for Super8, and one giant leap (year) in 2016.

So, in honour of today being the 29th of February (and the fact that we can work, rest and play for one day longer than usual), I’m bringing you the finest assortment of articles that my fellow Augies could find – plus one.

It’s not just a leap year, but the chance to take a leap of faith. An opportunity to redefine Super8 for the month of February.

Welcome to February’s edition of Super8 Super9!

1. How Netflix reinvented HR.

business + culture

Five years after co-authoring Netflix’s seminal bible of company culture, Patty McCord takes stock of the impact it has had, and explores the tenets of the original approach in more detail.

With some excellent ‘behind the scenes’ thinking and examples of the ideas in practice, this article provides some fantastic further insight into the popular Netflix philosophies. If you’re a fan of the celebrated Netflix culture document, then this is well worth a look to complement your reading of the initial text.

In short, it’s an ideal read for anyone (leaders or otherwise) who is looking for a way to improve and inspire positive team culture. Also check out the original slide deck that started it all.  It’s been viewed a lazy 14 million times on SlideShare.

2. 100 great books to read in a lifetime.

content + growth

Here at August, we love a list, a top 10 or even a top 100 (thanks Triple J). In this article, Darius Foroux, author of ‘Massive Life Success’ and founder of Procrastinate Zero, reveals 100 books that are worthy of anyone’s bucket list.

There’s a healthy dose of self-help material, alongside works from a few classic novelists. The natural question is: how many of these have you read? And what will make your top 10?

With the Labour Day long weekend and Easter fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to lose yourself in a new page-turner, whether it’s paperback and dog-eared or back-lit on the Kindle. And, if you’re not the type to read 100 books? The article’s peppered with some excellent quotes that make it a great read anyway. Like this gem:

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

3. The value of consistent design.

design

Joe Toscano’s article explains the importance of aiming for consistency in UI design, and the phenomenon of creating designs that users will appreciate even if they don’t necessarily notice the effort involved. The idea is that ‘invisible design’ is impactful, because it means the process involved in the user’s experience is seamless. Joe provides some excellent tips on how this can be achieved.

In presenting the idea that ‘consistency saves time and money’, the article also links out to another piece describing how the team at Sales Force use defining principles to drive design decisions. Decisions made in regard to look, feel, and general consistency of experience – when these are considered early in the process and in depth, it frees up time that’s better spent in development and testing, rather than revisiting decisions in meetings.

4. Sweden steals the Super Bowl.

growth

The Super Bowl is America’s biggest show. Like the players that suit up for the actual game, Super Bowl Sunday is big, it’s fast, it’s loud and it’s full on.

So how do you cut-through all of the white noise as a marketer? It takes something incredibly expensive, or it takes some seriously enlightened thinking. Volvo went with the latter, thanks to a multi-award winning campaign from Grey New York.

This clip shows how the Swedish car manufacturer managed to pull off the greatest ‘interception’ the Super Bowl has ever seen, at Super Bowl XLIX. It was achieved with simple ingredients. Just take $60 million USD in paid advertising (from other brands), the power of social media an ingenious idea, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

It’s a video that’s sure to put a smile on your face, just as it did mine. To introduce it, I’ll use a quote that comes from one of the other articles I’ve featured in this issue of Super9:

“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”

If you’re after some creative inspiration, take a few minutes to view this triumph of lateral thinking, and get acquainted with a touchdown of Twitter marketing.

5. Is big data getting too big?

growth

Ever struggled to get your head around the scale of data we’re dealing with in today’s digital environment? Bytes, megabytes, terabytes, gigabytes…Godzillabytes?! This video provides an excellent and accessible overview of the phenomenon, and offers a simple way of putting the whole affair into perspective. For example:

8 pieces of binary code = 1 byte. For argument’s sake, if one byte was a single grain of rice, then Google has enough rice (data) to cover the entire East Coast of the USA.

And if that’s not crazy enough? Our demand for data is still growing exponentially. Is ‘big data’ getting too big? Are we collecting too much? Join Dr. Joe Hanson as he handles these questions with aplomb in this excellent retro-overview.

6. Google is testing solar-powered drones to supply 5G Internet from the air.

Innovation

This article is the perfect storm: drones, solar, 5G, spaceports and Google.

Or, it could be the outline of a screenplay for an upcoming Michael Bay film. However you look at it, one thing is certain: these are some incredible technological developments that are redefining the way we access and engage with information.

Referred to as Project Skybender, the initiative will enable us to locate data at a blindingly fast speed. But I think there’s also a lingering sense of the ‘Big Brother’ phenomenon (which, incidentally, features in George Orwell’s 1984 – one of the ‘100 great books you should read in a lifetime’).

‘The aircraft is using millimeter-wave technology to communicate, which has been touted as a way to deliver high-speed Internet, with speeds of several gigabits a second possible. This is 40 times faster than the technology used in 4G today.’

Welcome to the future!

7. Why you should choose a good attitude.

Business

If you ever find yourself standing in the kitchen at the August offices, you’ll see it on our wall. A simple little piece of paper with a simple little message.

‘Choose your attitude’.

It’s one of the principles that help govern the way we work. Because, you can always control how you respond to a situation. Whether you’re facing a problem, a troublesome brief, or a difficult emotion, choosing a good attitude is often a key part of achieving a good outcome.

In this article, short enough to flick through on your mobile, Andrew Merle reminds us that:

“Attitude is a decision that we make every day (and oftentimes throughout each day), and choosing to have a good one builds relationships and opens doors like few other habits or behaviors can.”

If you’re struggling with an issue, take the time to read this piece, apply some of the suggestions, and see if it helps to improve your situation. If you haven’t seen it before and you’re a fan of the ‘choose your attitude’ approach, then you have to check out fish philosophy. It’s something we strongly believe in – so much so that we’ve blue-tacked it to the wall.

8. What kind of hosting do you really need?

design + content

This quick read explains the different types of hosting available, in simple terms, and offers an insight into the key things you should consider when deciding upon the right hosting setup for your website.

Written from the perspective of a non-technical person, it does a good job of establishing some basic pros and cons. You’ll also find a list of some valuable questions to ask when the time is right.

Free, shared, collocated, dedicated and VPS. If you’re unsure as to what each of these terms refer to, or you’re struggling to identify how they’re different, this is a great place to start.

9. Transitioning to agile.

design + content

With a newly appointed certified Scrum Master in our office, the agile methodology has been something of a hot topic over the last few months. This reflection piece from Rex Lester, Scrum Master, identifies that a key part of moving to agile based methodologies is a culture change.

‘On the surface it would appear quite easy to transition an organization to Agile, but you shouldn’t underestimate the strength of resistance you may encounter. Not many people have worked in a truly Agile environment, so there may be a fear of the unknown or “how it’s done,” and a compulsion to stick with what they know — i.e., Waterfall.

On the whole I found that the developer community seemed to be more outward looking and receptive to change. Most bear the scars of previous projects and are willing to give Agile a go.’

In other words, adopting an agile methodology isn’t just one person’s role. It should be the responsibility of the entire organisation. Still, as an individual, the more you know about agile, the better equipped you’ll be to adopt the thinking. Read and learn!

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And that’s that. Nine of the best from the month of February. If you’re keen for even more awesome articles, then don’t forget to sign up below to receive Super8 in your inbox and via monthly eDM.

As always, if there was something that offered you a little bit extra in this leap-year month – by increasing knowledge, adding a skill, or enhancing your perspective – add it to the comments below. We’d love to check it out!