The very story of a ‘No’…


I recently heard some friends, uncomfortable, blaming themselves for having accepted a task they did not want to do. It was not the first time, they knew they would regret it, but they said yes and – guess what – felt upset about it. The question that came to me, straight, was : what would be the path for a light and illuminated ‘no’  ? A ‘no’ you would be comfortable with and would wear with a smile. Here is my fist take.

What are the conscious reasons why you would say no, in working situation, when you have the choice.

First. You don’t like the task – or you don’t like the person you would have to work with.

Second. You like the proposal, but you have other things to do, more urgent.

Third. You are neutral but don’t get any benefit for doing it.

Whatever. First, second, third. You should not be ashamed for any of those reasons. Cause you have the right to follow your own agenda. Working on things and with people you like, having a personal objective, or wanting to get a benefit from your work. Money, reward, fame, repeat after me, you have the right to expect something from the time you are spending working. So if you have the choice, saying no in one of those scenario, is highly recommended.

Fourth case, where you would say no. Your first intuition yells ‘SAAAAY NOOOOOOO‘ – and you don’t know exactly why. Do you have to decide ‘no’ ? I’d say yes. I mean yes, you should decide that you won’t do that. Because you have to trust your intuition – unless you are in a bear mood and you perfectly know your judgement is altered, in which case, you should defer your decision. But in normal situation, your brain is able to analyze a situation in a heartbeat and give a diagnostic : shitty situation, beware danger, really don’t feel it, never ending story coming, unreachable goal…You usually feel it. Unless the request is coming from an unknown person, on an unknown topic for an unknown deliverable. In that case you should decide either that you are not the right person to do that stuff (which means say no), or you should request additional information, delay your answer, in order to have all those clear and known.

Now that you understand the reason(s) why you want to say no, between you, yourself and your brain, the next question is.

Do you have to tell the people that your final decision is no ?

I guess it depends. I am the kind of person saying no and explaining why. A one sentence answer, with enough details to make sure I am understood (and not hated), and keeping for myself the backstage stuff, the various pro and cons. But I recently had a cool conversation with a friend of mine (@valvert) and he suggested that sometimes, when you are in a specific dynamic, with limited resources and managing important challenges (yes, that guy is organizing e-commerce events and need to deploy a-lot-of-energy), in that special case, stopping a second to tell ‘no’ to someone has some disadvantages : you loose your time and energy, breaking your positive dynamic, and eventually, you loose a chance to have that person subscribing to your own project and vision. That is a story I can understand.

There may have other strategies and I am curious to know yours ! In the end, each of us has to find its own method, depending on its energy, communication skills, ability in conflict management and mood.

Why is it important to understand the very story of a “no” ? Because understanding your decision (I am not going to do that because that guy puts on knees anyone working with him) and identifying what will be your explicit answer (dropping an email saying that you are too busy to spend energy on that project) makes you stronger. Then, you are confident that your decision was not a caprice. You made an explicit choice that will be easier to defend, if required. In addition, if any of the decision making parameters change, you will be able to change your mind with no friction. All benefits for you !

An aside question came to me when I wrote that post : how do we learn in our society to say no ? As a french girl, going at school, I don’t remember when I was taught how to say no. I had some kind parents, taking time to explain me the life, the good, the bad, (well, their version of it, that I later amended). As an adult, I still have the feeling that saying no is an offense. Thus. The real open question to me stands in when are we able to construct our “no” skills. A next post may deal with that…

Note : picture from

Tech, Web and Society in W3C

Blowball II - M.C. Escher

It has been several years I have been involved in W3C.The ten thousands of hours of discussions I had with some of my W3C colleagues, mates, folks, peers, were deadly interesting. We were covering the technical web, but all the stuff coming with it. The web and the society. The technology as a tool, that anyone can handle and use, following its own rules, follow its own goal. We discussed about the reliable and equal web. But. What does it mean to maintain a reliable web, for all ? What does it mean when a group of people decides to develop technologies to break it ? What does it mean to break the web ? You know, all those questions that do not directly fall in the basket of W3C – after all, it is only a technical standardization body ! Since one year, I was convinced that this was  a missing dimension in W3C. And something happened. Slowly by slowly, this idea came on the table. Why not creating a place for the W3C members to exchange on the potential impact of the technology developed in W3C ? Why not keeping an eye on the way the web is used today, and debate on the potential impact on policies ?

The Advisory Board and the W3C team have been working on the creation of the Technology & Policy Interest Group. A group which will be open to W3C members, a group which will gather state of the art on topics such as deep linking (or can we forbid to reference a resource), DMCA-like challenges (or how to allow researcher to stay on the legal side, while researching on the web, and thus potentially hacking it) and Surveillance (you know, government and companies monitoring all and everything). And this is, as a starter. The Tech & Pol  Interest Group, chaired by Jean François Abramatic, ex W3C CEO, will work in a W3C-member-only mode and will deliver some Analysis. Analysis is a new format, to avoid saying the group will deliver Note or normative Recommendation. First, those Analysis may be only a collection of problem, a list of solutions, and it will be up to the directors, with members consultation to do something from that.

That Interest Group is a fantastic chance to have a place to discuss those important topics, to have the craftsmen and craftswomen of the web, exchanging on technology impact, all together, and potentially raising the question on which type of web we want for all.

The creation of the Interest Group depends on the support it will gain in the W3C membership, and on the number of objection its review will collect. So, if you think this group is a good idea, and if your company is W3C member, I can only encourage you to ping your AC rep and tell him/her what you think…


Illustration: Blowball II – M.C. Escher



Girls, promote your success


Dolores peacock costume


Few months ago I wrote some thoughts I felt important to share with girls in tech. It was about killing usual culture, that refrains some girls (but also boys), from being free and natural at work, like feeling miserable or sorry for no reason. I now realize that part of girls (and boys) success in tech, is also about promoting correctly their achievement, realization, contribution. This may be a general worker problem, not a gender problem, but it seems to me that girls tend to forget more that special part of our job : promoting our success. This stroke me when I heard a colleague of mine commenting after a presentation I gave on a successful project ‘Well, Virginie, wonderful, that was clear and understandable, as usual, thanks you so much’. I did not have the feeling that I was outstanding, I just made my job. But I just got from that remark that promoting my work was beneficial for me and for the project. But the key is to do it efficiently.

What does it mean to promote efficiently ? It means building a message, adapted to your audience. A message, that will not get them lost, and overload them with inappropriate details. Of course it depends on the context, audience, and topic. Working on technology innovation scouting, meeting lots of people and companies and having to report different aspects, from market to strategy and technology, I had to think about my own classification on what to say to whom, and when. That classification might not be universal, but you can get the principles, depending on the context. Here it is.

But first. Never ever. Whatever is the situation, never ever get into the direction of sexist joke and naked girls (or boys), footbalistic analogy, Apple and Google systematic reference. This is forbidden – if your plan is to stay credible. While this may be the easiest way to have people with you, this is simplistic. And by avoiding reproducing that simplistic view of the world, you do not really miss anything, you just show you worth more then that.

Jump on opportunities. You meet the right person in the corridor, you need her or his advice, don’t miss it. Target one sentence and one smile. That is teasing time. You’ll have to say what is stake, which solution you believe you should go and make your request. Then smile and be silent to get an answer. Note for weird people : I am not talking about hot seduction attitude here, but just staying tuned, kindly.

The people agreed to meet you and you have time. It’s serious stuff, here, you are consuming time from some people. They have to know why you are here, what you are talking about. And to do so, I recommend to stay high level, talk strategy, express the key notions, expose the frictions, list the market actors and suggest solutions. And, because, you need to keep them happy with you, you can make jokes (aka, be relax and smart, alright, not making bad bar jokes). You must keep some time for concluding, making sure everyone agrees on the solution (action plan, next steps, …). That is normal communication rule. But (and that is the key point). During all this interaction. You should say ‘we’, when it was a team work and say ‘I’, when it was your own work. Don’t dilute your contribution, be transparent-cristal-clear about it. That is key to value your work.

You are on stage, in a conference. You may not have anything to learn from me if you already made the decision to be on stage. The only recommendation I would give is : build your talk like a story. You need a ‘fil rouge’, you need little anecdotes, you need surprise (taddaaaaaa, here is my program, wouaou, here is my design…). For the others. And if you are just thinking about applying for a conference talk, I would say that you should not hesitate anymore. Conferences are key event to force you to be synthetic and clear. This will give positive visibility to your project. And conference organizer will make their best to help you to be good on stage (it is their interest). Finally, you will be able to re-use your talk elsewhere. You just need to find the right conference, with the right audience.

You need to talk about your work, but... I know you want everyone to know that while going go from SuperProduct v1.3 to HyperProduct v1.4, you made some choices, you managed some shit, you were about to be killed by 2 engineers, and had to dance with your enemy, but… lets admit that, sharing those details in a decision meeting, or while reporting about your project success will not help you. You are professional, you are managing correctly your tasks and making decisions. That is why you are getting paid. But the good news is that you will have to leave evidence of your work. Digital archive, for voluntary and curious colleagues, or to have it somewhere for later reference. In this archive, you can play with all the secret details of your work. You can use your every days professional life vocabulary and habits. Acronyms, architecture, references to geek literature, bugs number, product version, test suite, clickable urls, little stories of your battles, multi-bullet points slides, matrix (with titles), text with different policies for super cool effects, resource planning, exhaustive list of participants, detailed figures… And this is the only place where you should play that game of entering into the boring details. Right ? Unless someone weird ask you detailed questions about it…

My 2 cents, hoping it will make you going out and showing your technical work to the world…

[Musée] Un regard sur Visages



Marseille. La Vieille Charité, dans le quartier du Panier. Quartier bobo-prolo. Un îlot cerné par la cathédrale de la Major, le MUCEM, l’Hôtel Dieu et le Boulevard des Dames. La Vieille Charité bonifie avec le temps. Ancien hospice, elle accueille un centre de poésie, une librairie, un bistrot sympa, les Musées des Arts Africains, Océaniens, Amérindiens, et des expositions temporaires. En ce moment, Visages. (more…)

UnionWeb, une petite fédération qui pourrait bien devenir grande !

unionweb4-630x224Cette semaine, un petit évènement a eu lieu à Paris. Un petit évènement qui pourrait bien être le début de quelque chose de grand. UnionWeb a été lancé. UnionWeb est une toute jeune fédération qui vise à réunir les acteurs du web, quel que soit leur statut : individus, auto-entrepreneurs, salariés, PME, association, école, personne morale ou physique, tout le monde peut devenir adhérent est bénéficier de l’énergie positive qui se dégage de cette initiative.

Les acteurs du web sont légions aujourd’hui. Ils forment un ensemble fragmenté, réunis au sein de courants ayant des objectifs distincts. Ces courants animent de différentes façon la vie économique et les débats liés au numérique  en France. Les traditionnels : Syntec Numérique réunit les entreprises du numérique incluant également une branche Femmes du Numérique [1], le Conseil National du Numérique, composés de membres nommés par le gouvernement, conseille en matière de stratégie numérique [2]. Les formes un peu innovantes : la Fing (Fédération Internet Nouvelle Génération) qui supporte des initiatives croisées avec des acteurs publiques et privés sur l’innovation [3]. Les associations : Netexplo, un acteur incontournable sur l’observation de l’impact du web sur nos sociétés, soutenu par les grands groupes du CAC40 [4], Social Media Club qui fédère les acteurs qui s’intéressent aux réseaux sociaux et stratégies digitales, avec des bureaux à Paris, Marseille, Lille et Rennes [5], ou encore GirzlInWeb qui soutient et promeut l’entrepreneuriat féminin [6].

Les villes ont également leurs propres dynamiques. Avec des évènements ponctuels  tels que des startup week end, des hackaton, ou des barcamp. Il existe également plusieurs conférences qui adressent les problématiques du web en général telles que Web In Lorient, Paris Web, Sud Web, Web2Day à Nantes, web-5 à Bézier, Futur En Seine à Paris … L’innovation digitale se focalise souvent autours de lieux tels que des incubateurs ou des lieux de co-working  (Silicon Sentier et le réseau des cantines). Par ailleurs, cette carte se déplacera encore lorsque l’initiative des Quartiers Numériques lancée par Fleur Pellerin se déploiera à Paris.

Un réseau solide et distribué. Un des défis de UnionWeb sera de construire un réseau solide et distribué sur le territoire français. Toutes ces initiatives privées et publiques créent aujourd’hui de l’innovation, de la valeur, des réseaux formels et informels. Cependant ceci n’est pas suffisant. L’économie du numérique représentera une part non négligeable de nos richesses de demain, et c’est donc pour cela qu’il faut se préparer et s’organiser. Une fédération est un excellent moyen de renforcer un réseau d’individus riche et innovant, sur la base de valeurs de partage et de solidarité. Car c’est ainsi que Magali Boisseau et Marie Laure Vie présentent UnionWeb lors de la soirée de lancement qui a eu lieu le 12 Juin. UnionWeb a pour vocation de réunir les adhérents, de les aider à monter en compétence, de les accompagner sur leurs projets et de mutualiser les réseaux des individus. Les premières actions proposées seront  des rencontres composées de lightening talks et d’ateliers pratiques. Le partage par le biais de e-learning fait également partie du plan, pour tenir compte de la distribution des adhérents sur tout le territoire. Le programme des actions d’UnionWeb évoluera sans doute puisque la fédération est en période de recrutement, mais la proposition est d’ores et déjà intéressante.

Souhaitons que cette initiative prenne sur notre territoire et donne lieu à de belles rencontres !

Pour en savoir plus sur UnionWeb :

– Soirée de lancement vidéo, storify, slides, communauté

– Interview de Magali Boisseau sur Good Morning Business

– Trouver UnionWeb :  site web et Twitter @UnionWeb

Linkographie :

[1] Syntec Numérique : site web et Twitter @syntecnumerique

[2] Conseil National du Numérique : site web et Twitter @CNNum

[3] Fing : site web et Twitter @La_Fing

[4] Netexplo : site web et Twitter @Netexplo

[5] Social Media Club : site web et Twitter @SMCFrance

[6] GirlZinWeb : site web et Twitter @GirlZinWeb

[Mots] Jetlag

A bout de souffle, il ouvrit les yeux brusquement. Le premier panneau qu’il aperçut à travers la vitre crasse indiquait : Amphitheatre Parkway. Lettre blanche sur fond vert. Où était-il ? Oui. Le taxi filait sur la route 101. Au volant, un indien, à l’anglais bondissant. Rien en comparaison des amortisseurs de son antique Chrysler. Siège en sky, fenêtre tremblante. Ses oreilles sifflaient. Et vibraient aussi. Un vrai chantier miniature. Ses genoux se cognaient à chaque changement de file, ses jambes sans force ne suivaient pas la cadence. Il referma les yeux. Taxi, avion, un second, taxi. Encore vingt heures de voyage. Il eut un bref haut le cœur. La fatigue. Une étrange sensation d’avoir oublié quelque chose, quelque part. Les prochaines heures lui semblaient insurmontables.

Il essaya de se détendre mais son corps était déjà mou. Flasque, aussi. Une vague de détails détestables l’assaillit. Ceux qu’il évitait soigneusement de noter dans ses moments d’intimité. Son poids.  Ses cernes. Ses rides. Ses poils du nez. Indomptables. Fallait-il vraiment vieillir ? Devait-on vraiment mourir ? D’épuisement, oui, sans doute. Une série d’évidences s’imposât à lui. La vacuité de ce voyage. La futilité de ses récentes conversations. Il se sentait loin de tout, à l’opposé de lui-même, et certainement pas au bon endroit. Même les yeux fermés, rien n’allait. Ses pieds gonflés et chauds, ses épaules glacées, ses cheveux fouettant de manière insupportable ses tempes. Son squelette lui semblait être un montage de bâtons épineux mal ficelés.

Il chercha un peu de réconfort dans le souvenir de quelques moments habituellement agréables. Cette grande brune, qui lui avait un peu trop souri pendant le dîner, la veille. Ses enfants qu’il prendrait dans ses bras avant la fin de la semaine. Rien. Il se sentait vide. Il observa le visage des inconnus au volant des imposantes voitures que son taxi côtoyait. Un passager par véhicule, une file infinie de pare-chocs. Le monde était-il devenu fou ? Il sut ce qu’il avait perdu. Le sens. Le sens de tout cela.

Un nouveau panneau. Blanc sur vert. SFO Airoport 10 miles. Ensuite, 6 000 miles en vol. Le voyage serait long.

Note : Lire les autres textes littéraires sur ce blog

Enterprise 2.0 is looking for Super Heros !

super-hero-by-D-BoyarrinI am quite interested in social media, and grabbed for you during the Microsoft Tech Days how implementing such practice in large companies could be a challenge. Orange Business Services witnessed during a session about successful deployments of internal social media, this week, based on the Plaza project deployed in Orange and its digital consulting activity.

Context. OBS made a short reminder about social media in large companies, highlighting how hard it is to accommodate old management based on hierarchy, with the new spirit of open and collaborative 2.0 world. Daniel Gonçalves from OBS consulting reminded that most of the underlying principles required to establish a social media framework were already familiar to IT managers with people directory, document sharing, and collaboration enablers. Social media is just a mean to integrate all that experience in one tool, with turbo user experience, as users have a rich profile, can join community and follow and work on their reputation.

What is at stake ? It is demonstrated that all together people can be a smart as few experts. There are different reasons why a company would like to be smarter : to have more collaborators involved, to find new objective or new direction for the company, to boost innovation, to boost information exchange and learning. In Enterprise 2.0, to reach such goal, you develop communities of people. And for that, you need to have a good project team to roll out the plan.

Will the project leader fail ? Well maybe. From OBS experience, there are few things project managers should know to avoid committing suicide during the project :

– Social media learning takes time and takes your time;

– Do not under estimate the coincidence – hard to admit that 50% of campaigns success is viral, meaning coming from a propagation that you do not understand or predict;

– If naturally your company does not have the spirit of sharing and collaborate, you may have trouble to become a success stories in TechDays one day – it may happen but it will be seriously harder for you;

– Adoption of new tools requires that they are understood, and that their positioning is clear compared to others tools (I hate duplicating operations for my boss, right, so please if you give us two tools, convince me they do not overlap);

– There will be a hard battle happening between social media used for private circle (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) and the great social media you plan to roll out. Great effort on the design and usability will be a must. Especially if your early adopters are already web 2.0 oriented;

–  90/9/1 is the contribution rate in communities, for 90 social media observer, there are 9 social media punctual contributor, and 1 social media regular contributor – one, yes, 1 on 100 people will post in information, so pray it will be relevant;

– The contributors are diva : they must know what is their interest to contribute, they must be confident using the tools, they wanna know the rules of the game, they must have fun, they must be sure their boss will appreciate it… You want them to give their best, you need to nurse them;

– The new technology adoption has very well known cycle : everyone speaks about it, people enrolls end contributes like hell, and 3 month after your dashboard indicates one comment per week. As such you need to inject your energy at the right moment and try to maintain engagement from the users.

Will you succeed ? Hum… maybe. The good news is that if you reach the end of your project according to the key success factors that you hardly negotiated at the beginning with your sponsors … Oups ! Nobody told you that you need sponsors in HR department *and* lT department *and* top management? Well, if you are able to reach the end of the project, you are a super hero. Actually you should be a super heros team. OBS Consulting shared also some interesting operational advices to increase your chance of success as a project team. Reporting here the one I preferred :

– Set up a good team with transverse skills, including developers – as you will have to customize the solution;

– Have an iterative approach and an open mind as your users will ask you the killing feature you did not think about;

– Have some relay or ambassador locally to explain and drive adoption (yeah, I know we said you need to be best friend with your CEO, but also best friend of your communities, but remember, you are a super hero).

Speaking product. Finally a demo was made by Huu-Phuc Tran from Alsy, an OBS affiliate. This could illustrate the features of what Microsoft considers as a good social media product, Share Point 2013. I must confess that the module demonstrated were impressive in term of user experience: Creating profile, joining community, winning badges to manage reputation, checking activities, interacting with others.  All the basics were available, but it was demonstrated that customization would be required to roll out a serious plan.

In the end. It was clear to the audience that the challenge of social media in companies was residing in the needed transverse and collaborative efforts. Good luck to the enterprise 2.0 world, I think you have a lots of energy to spend.  Between you and I, I wish you’ll succeed, because as a user, I already love what you promised me.

Note : Picture ‘Super Hero’ by D. Boyarrin under Creative Commons –

Note : Other posts related to Microsoft Tech Days 2013 : Big Data, they unveiled the secret, Microsoft message to developers and A trip from a Digital Ocean to Orange’s Plaza [by Franck Martini].

Open Data – A postcard from France

Open Data – A postcard from France

Last week was held in Aix en Provence a public conference dealing with ‘Open Data and Citizen’ []. The conference, organized by Arsenic PACA @arsenicpaca and lead by Philippe Méda @merkapt, was an opportunity to hear major french actors in the open data area. Here is what I could capture from that open day, mixing conference, panelist discussion and active brainstorms.

Open data – origin and today’s mood

While the 120 people gathered in the amphitheater of Aix En Provence Library, named La Méjane, were very educated about open data topic, Valérie Peugeot @valeriepeugeot, from Orange Labs and Vice President of French Digital Council (CNNum),  took some time to remind major aspects of the open data movement. She recalled open data origin based on citizen requiring from their government and politic representatives a better transparency. First laws in the US to allow citizen to access data were made in1966, but since, the topic has greatly evolved, with the arrival of the digital, which has pushed the citizen requirement from ‘let us watch the data’, to ‘let us make use and circulate the data’. On which a number of governments have answered positively, from left to right and from Americas to Europe, with first success stories in Africa. (more…)

How I became digital !

This will be a Friday confession. I have been entering the digital world two years ago. Yes only two years ago. I mean, I started working with internet in 1994 when studying at the university, sharing with other researchers, flirting with my boyfriend via talk and mails, but I have been exploiting the digital innovation and social media intensively since 2 years. And I must say it changed my life – and probably the one of my relatives.What is it that is so attractive to make me jumping and staying in this area ?

Data and tools

Why am I on the net ? Because I am trying to understand where our world is going, what are the evolutions the human being is currently living and how it is surviving to it. Great program, is not it ? And if you wanna get that information, you may have interest to be someone in the digital arena, be someone to join communities, have the information coming to you or be able to build a common understanding with others. And tools are there. I should say user friendly, free and easy to manage applications are available here and around. How to create your digital identity, how to understand the other one’s, how to record or track data, how to curate information. All is here, one click far from you. And even if I have a bias view due to the security environment I have the default to work for, I am able to have a digital life using those tools, taking care of my own privacy and security. I am concentrating myself on Twitter, blog with WordPress, LinkedIn, and playing with and Klout – still trying to find what does those bring to me. But lets be frank, this is not tools that pushed me to stay digital. The others did. (more…)