Paul Cooper

Paul Cooper writes this blog for SMS

Industry Director, Health & Government

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  • 25 years - that's more than you get for murder!

    A funny thing happened the other day - I turned 25 years with my firm. I didn't start out intending to stay so long. I recall one of the founders who first interviewed me saying "think of our journey together as being like going on a train trip together...we will share a carriage for possibly a few years and then go our separate ways on different tracks – as friends." He left after a couple of years...but I stayed on, and I'm so glad I did!

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  • Asking the Smart Questions of Big Data

    I was recently interviewed on radio as member of a panel on the topic of the usefulness and future directions of Big Data. I made several references to the need for the individual to be in control of their privacy parameters.

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  • Six ways to gain the most benefit from your online learning experience

    by Paul Cooper. I completed a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) this last week, I thought I'd share my top six learnings for those of you tempted to do one.

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  • 10 Tips for dealing with a Social Media Crisis

    I was recently asked by a client for our top tips for helping respond to a social media crisis.  Since there was not a great deal of information in the public domain, our social media team put our heads together (via our social networks of course!) and came up with these tips.  Feel free to share them but please provide a link-back to this blog so we can see who is finding them useful.

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  • Big Data in Health - Opportunities & Challenges

    The federal government will release a big data strategy this winter, via the office of the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).  It will be of great interest to see what issues AGIMO will raise in the paper.  As an attendee and workshop facilitator at the AIIA Big Data summit this week, I gained first hand views in the Health Workshop stream of the opportunities and issues of Big Data in Health.

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  • Forget about HAL, bring on the AGENTS

    by Paul Cooper. An ex client and now good friend John Zelcer sent me a link yesterday and it was bang on a topic I have wanted to blog about for a while.  He sent me a link to a vision of the future developed by HP over a decade ago.

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  • Flexibility Rules

    by Paul Cooper. I was talking with our SMS Agile coach Martin Kearns today and the topic of resilience versus robustness came up.  There is a bit of thinking out there on this topic.  One is by Dave Snowden, who says that “moving from a system designed for robustness to one that supports resilience represents a significant strategic shift.

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  • The Frog, the Fly and the Consultant...

    I was in restaurant for a team lunch yesterday and some of our people were pushed for time and wanted to get our orders underway. The waitress though, did not pick up on these signals and went methodically through the process of bringing a wine list (5 mins gone) even though I had already asked her to bring the house white and reds in carafs.  Then she disappeared even though the team had read the menus and wanted to order – despite me trying to tell her we were ready.  When she returned ten minutes later she told us the kitchen was now busy and we might have a wait! Not very good service. 

    So what’s this got to do with Frogs? And bugs? And consultants?

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  • 10 ways to get your message across (Or how to speak softly and get heard more effectively!)

    Let me start with a story: the other day I was in a meeting where someone in a position of authority was banging the table (literally) to make a point. However, instead of being a really powerful moment, I observed that the reaction of most people in the room was to shut down, with eyes cast down and I wondered just how clearly his point had actually been made.

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  • Enough of multi-tasking…these days Im going for multi-purposing

    Well there’s been enough learned and anecdotal commentary about the dangers of multi-tasking for me to change my ways! And just today a colleague was sharing her story about the impact to productivity, and cause of her feeling tired was the frequent shifting of focus on multiple tasks.

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  • We are back in the age of Oral History

    I was reading a book on a plane the other day that had been on my shelves for a few years: It was “Parallel Thinking” by Edward De Bono. As usual, Edward tries to get the reader to think more creatively than our usual education system has taught us. He calls our approach to learning (I am paraphrasing a little) the legacy of the Gang of Three: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. He praises their contribution to our reasoning system in the West, then condemns them for their legacy of success resulting in our narrow adversarial approach to thinking – the approach called Critical Thinking is where we tend to look linearly at problems and choose either/or yes/no actions and to try to boil things down to the “truth” by arguing narrowly.

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  • The artisan model of work: the benefits to our working lives – get on board!

    At a recent alumni event at our consulting firm, I was struck by the wealth of experience and camaraderie contained in a collegiate network of professionals and how this network winds all through our professional lives – like a healthy grapevine. Sometimes we find ourselves competing, but more often we are collaborating or sub-contracting our efforts to each other. It got me reflecting on how artesans work – and how this might relate to the professional working world of the future. I first came across some discussion of this in a book by Bill Gates where he talked about some aspects of creative working in his book entitled “Business at the Speed of Thought”, first published in 1999.

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  • Everything Connects

    The Amplify Festival 2011 has the theme “Everything Connects”. The emerging world shows this connectivity more and more, yet we are also becoming more aware that despite this connectivity it is possible to filter out the connections so that you have a self-reinforcing set of world beliefs and like-minded people to connect to. I call this phenomenon “micro-tribalism” and it has inherent dangers of narrow viewpoints, prejudice and diminishment of innovation.

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  • Where the ancient Greeks got it right AND wrong and what we can learn from this

    The other day I recalled the skit from Monty Python where one of the characters says, sarcastically, “What did the Romans ever do for us?” to which someone replies, “You mean, apart from plumbing, hygiene, good roads, transport, good food???”. After I finished giggling, the image got me thinking about the Ancient Greeks and how much we still owe to their insights. It’s a mixed blessing however, because we need to move beyond some of the ancient concepts that also can hold us back. Here’s my view.

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  • A user experience perspective…

    With all the focus on the Customer Experience these days, I thought I’d give a perspective coloured by a recent conversation. Yes – another story! It starts off with a story about PCs – but don’t worry – it’s all about the customer…

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  • Networking – it’s not a dirty word!!

    Have you noticed that one of the most disparaging things that you can say about someone is to say “oh yes, they’re a networker.” Perhaps that’s because we have an innate mistrust of those who try to get into our close friendships or inner collegiate circles under false pretences. Such activity is fake networking and not to be encouraged. I sometimes get a LinkedIn request from someone who vaguely knows me, and yet claims to be a “Friend” or even a “Colleague”. Then there is the increased blurring of lines between private and business networking – as seen with requests from business colleagues to be “Friends” on Facebook for instance. I personally don’t accept many of those requests as I like to keep a separation between work and private life.

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  • It’s not rocket surgery! (and other mixed metaphors)

    Let me start (as usual) with a story. When I was a boy, my sister proved to have a humorous capacity to unwittingly mix metaphors. She once referred to the difficulty of unravelling Ancient Egyptian texts as being about the problem of “talking in hieroglyphics.” We unkindly laughed at her choice of language. She produced many other wonderful mixed metaphors over the years, including the somewhat related “speaking in Braille.” Now that we are all much older, we no longer tease her – we just love those mixed metaphors!

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  • GOYA – The best (and only) methodology you will ever REALLY need

    Here’s a true story. More than 15 years ago, I was standing with a colleague at our corporate industry stand at a function. An elderly gentlemen walking with a cane came up to me and said, “Hello sonny. I used to work for one of the big consultancy companies. I want to know what methodology you use at SMS?”

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  • Life Lessons from my Barista: thinking like an owner

    A good coffee barista is a joy to watch – the one downstairs in our foyer (let’s call him Hank) is great.  What does he do well?  He scans the queue for his regulars, makes eye contact with each one, and with his eyes asks if it’s the usual, and whether you are staying in or want one to go.

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  • Securing your Privacy in the Digital Age

    As social media becomes ever more pervasive in our personal and professional lives there is a dawning realization that most of us are making it easy for our personal security to be compromised and even our identities may be stolen if we are not careful. The list of things to be careful about is never complete, but by tapping into the”wisdom of crowds” within the SMS team, here is our view on some simple steps you can take.

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  • Avoiding the HIPPOs – some stories on sharing wisdom & innovating

    In the last two days I have had a number of strange synchronicity events, and I finally realised the world must be trying to tell me something…and this is what I heard: Wisdom is everywhere, but it’s particularly powerful when related in stories and anecdotes. They can help us remain open to ideas and seeing things with new eyes. Let me share some stories today on this topic.

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  • Social Network Maintenance – an essential skill of Consulting 3.0

    In my previous blogs I have talked about the key differentiator of consulting today being the many-to-many relationships and extensive knowledge sharing enabled by social media.  But these things don’t just happen.  How can consultants best use the social media to help our clients and also help build their own professional brand?

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  • Finding stuff

    I’ve previously blogged about the need for consultants in today’s world to be both efficient at finding things out, but also good at using judgement over what they find.  In this blog, I want to explore a little on how to find things out.

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  • Consulting 3.0 – the nature and use of truth in the connected world

    One of the key skills of Consulting 3.0 is knowing how to judge information – determining truth versus opinion and knowing when you need one or the other. So let’s talk a bit about the nature of truth as a starting point.

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  • Consulting 3.0

    Here’s a question – is there anything different about the way consulting operates today versus in times past?

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