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About Me

I am the "IBM Collaboration & Productivity Advisor" for IBM Asia Pacific. I'm based in Singapore.
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Where is my trusted system?


In the beginning was my Time System serving as mobile trusted system (and status symbol) and the world was good. My local storage was handled by Mappei which happened to have a 43 folder module more than 25 years ago and an ingenious way to deal with folders. The world was good.
Along came a rapid sequence of PDAs from Casio, Sharp, Psion and finally the original Palm Pilot. With all of them I spend quite some time to create my printout routine to keep my Time System updated. For the Mappei reference system I didn't find any good replacements. Scanners were either to slow or to expensive and the databases where the documents ended too rigid (tagging wasn't invented yet). Then I discovered Lotus Notes and initially used Haus Weilgut's CRM and standard document libraries to keep electronic information. Since necessity is the mother of invention I wrote tooling for Syccess Easy Office that could pull arbitrary PDF into Lotus Notes and deal with Fulltext extraction and meta data (I actually wrote multiple versions. In one I used a tool created by a student which you still can download). The world was good.

eMail was replacing mail and fax and the inbox became more and more important. eProductivity now helps to keep track of references, projects and commitments. The world was good.

Along came the social net and Facebook, Twitter, RSS/ATOM suddenly established new input/output channels. IBM Activities allow to share commitments. Evernote wants to be your reference system and Todeledo and RememberTheMilk want to track your commitments. All of these on a dual screen desktop, a laptop, a tablet and a mobile phone. And the world wasn't good anymore.
When I encounter something interesting I want to capture and process it. Evernote is very good at capturing, but lacks in GTD functionality (so it is suitable for the reference). Also I might want to share that information in Connections, Delicious, Digg or my Blog. Or a comment I make on a Facebook wall also triggers the recording of a new action. Currently I end up with a lot of copy and paste.
IBM tries to rectify this with project Vulcan where a single page can stream all input channels and the sharebox provides the unified output channel, so there is hope (I wonder how they will include Facebook and the other public networks). So the brave new Social Business world poses quite a challenge to GTD practitioners. This opens again then question how GTD needs to evolve from personal to Social Productivity. Sharing is still not easy.


Little Linux GTD Gem

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On my Ubuntu 10.10 Gnome desktop I use Docky for my "Application Dock". It can be run "Apple style" horizontally - or taking advantage of wide screen monitors vertically. As most Linux tools it is highly customizable. Besides links to applications and documents Docky can host Docklets, that do all sorts of useful things. One particularly interesting docklet for GTD aficionados is the Timer Docklet. It allows with a simple mouse wheel scroll to create a timer and run it.
2min Docky Timer
So tracking "2 minutes or less" is just a click away. Installation with:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:docky-core/ppa
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install docky

(You can install Docky also from the Ubuntu application catalogue, but I'm too lazy to deal with the GUI. Once you know the command line is so much faster). You will find Docky in Applications - Accessories and can set auto-start in the preferences.


Rethinking Getting Things Done - GGTD

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I'm a big fan of David Allen's GTD and its implementation in Lotus Notes eProductivity for personal productivity. Staying on top of my commitments and priorities surly helps to keep blood pressure and frustration levels at bay.
Lately I started wondering: what's next? GTD is one of the techniques (like principled negotiation) that work even better when your counterparts use it too. So I thought how would GGTD need to look like: Getting Group Things done?
Musing about that opens an interesting set of questions around collaboration culture. It appears to me that "who can task whom with what" is one of the biggest enterprise taboos once you leave the realm of a call center.
An indicator for the sensitivity of that topic is the low use of group tasks in most organisations. If I remember correctly being able to send a task instead of an eMail is available in Lotus Notes for a decade. However I hardly see that in practise. Even my boss rather sends me an eMail with a request: "I need this and that report until this this deadline" than making it a task (could be an UI issue?). On the other hand, we do use Lotus Connections Activities quite a bit including the To Do functionality there (which opens the other can of worms: task list fragmentation).
So the question is: what are the "rules of engagement" for requesting more formal actions? Unstructured/informally task assignments happen all the time: "I need... Could you... Please provide ...". This is why one of the most used buttons in my use of eProductivity is "Copy into new Action". The list of questions is rather long (but far from complete):
  • What level of collaboration and trust allows me to create an action for you?
  • Does a task have the stigma of a "command" rather than being a "request"?
  • Do I need a mechanism to "suggest" an action?
  • Would I share my (GTD) project(s) with you or state the classifications I made?
  • What mechanism are acceptable to signal completion of actions and follow-on actions?
  • Would I give you anytime access to the list of topics I want to clarify with you? How would formal and informal workflows reflected in GGTD?
  • A decade ago I implemented the first version of EasyOffice that featured contextual workflows. Every correspondence (read: GTD project) had a person "currently in charge" with complete visibility for all project members. It would suggest "typical next actions" based on the project meta data. Would that help in a GGTD context?
  • One cornerstone of GTD is the trust I have in the system. If I participate in a group driven system, can I extent my trust there? Can I trust the participants and can I trust the technology?
  • What needs to be done to retain that sense of "I am in control" for all participants?
  • Will a shared task system make me liable for all my actions?
Looking at all these questions I see parallels to the introduction of calendaring and scheduling. I still encounter organizations and individuals who refuse to use a scheduling application since they don't want to be "machine driven" (My rule: you want my time, you send an invite. I do not copy meeting dates from eMails to calendar entries). So a lot of smart thinking needs to be done to get this right. And there is a next frontier: EGTD (make your guess what that means).


GTD in Singapore (or close by if you like)

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I love GTD. I'm a happy user of eProductivity (currently not so happy with myself, but that's a different story for a different day). Over time I got introduced to David and his team. In a recent conversation with Michael Dolan, the Director Coaching Services in DavidCo, he mentioned that DavidCo is planning to dispatch a coach to visit Singapore in the near future to serve an existing client. This presents the unique opportunity to engage DavidCo in a Corporate Seminar, get top quality Consulting and personal Workflow Coaching. Indicate your interest by contacting DavidCo.
As preparation I strongly recommend to read the book and try eProductivity.


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What is your setting for "Check eMail every x minutes"?

Closely linked to



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What happens when a GTD expert and a Domino guru work together?

A Jam about Notes, Domino and GTD. Eric will release eProductivity for Lotus Notes soon and is starting to collect ideas for future versions. (Warning to your inner procrastinator: your days are numbered!). Registration required.


Procrastinator Professional and (e)Productivity

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I confess: I'm a professional procrastinator! I'm full subscribed to JIT as an excuse to do things in the very last minute. Whereby "last minute" must be understood in a tropical sense: anything 5min before the deadline to a month after. Of course that is not very healthy and requires (self)correction. My therapy of choice is GTD. There are great places to get advice and insights, even in the real world.
I got myself a note taker and I'm ready to rumble. While David Allen offers awhite paper for GTD with Lotus Notes I was looking for something more sophisticated. IBM's Brett Philp has a version. However Brett is busy with other things and I was looking for more. Finally I got in touch with Eric Mack. He offered me to get on his closed beta for eProductiviy. I'm a happy camper since then and enjoy the functionality tremendously. During the beta Eric and Ian picked up all feedback eagerly and it is great fun working with them. The template went in a few weeks from a R6/7 look alike to a R8 styled productivity beauty. It already features a complete set of GTD capabilities. I love the weekly review coach. Stay tuned I'll share more over time.


This site is in no way affiliated, endorsed, sanctioned, supported, nor enlightened by Lotus Software nor IBM Corporation. I may be an employee, but the opinions, theories, facts, etc. presented here are my own and are in now way given in any official capacity. In short, these are my words and this is my site, not IBM's - and don't even begin to think otherwise. (Disclaimer shamelessly plugged from Rocky Oliver)
© 2003 - 2017 Stephan H. Wissel - some rights reserved as listed here: Creative Commons License
Unless otherwise labeled by its originating author, the content found on this site is made available under the terms of an Attribution/NonCommercial/ShareAlike Creative Commons License, with the exception that no rights are granted -- since they are not mine to grant -- in any logo, graphic design, trademarks or trade names of any type. Code samples and code downloads on this site are, unless otherwise labeled, made available under an Apache 2.0 license. Other license models are available on written request and written confirmation.