Snapshots of Lutetia – Centre Pompidou


From the roof of the Centre Pompidou you have stunning views over Paris. Especially yesterday, with the constantly changing weather, the views were spectacular. And of course the museum inside was wonderful as well. The Alexander Calder exhibition is very interesting. The dedication this man had for his ingenious pieces of art is inspiring. And for parents of artists-to-be: there are some of his drawings at age 8 or 9. There might be hope for your little prodigy. This time we didn’t take much time for the permanent collection, but it is definitely worth visiting.

The Miracle of Flying

The miracle of flying
never seizes to amaze.
It starts out on the runway
with the gathering of pace.

And then, defying gravity
when the wheels lift off the ground;
climbing to cruise altitude
hearing the jets’ powerful sound.

Breathtaking views from way up
where everything seems small:
the cities, lakes and mountain;
even the biggest wars of all.

Then to touch down back on earth
and make the amazement count.

The Mircale of flying

Snapshots of Lutetia – Brocante Batignolles

Sunday Brocante

Spending a Sunday browsing antiques and art at a brocante. How more Parisian can it get. Even the dog liked it, especially when the sandwich and crepe seller accidentally threw a flake of baked jambon cru in his direction. He didn’t want to leave.

The Brocante in case, is on Place Batignolles, till March 27, I believe.

Song Story 8 – Mistral Gagnant

Whatever seminars you’ll go to, or topical books you’ll read, there are some parts of a culture that are recorded in songs. Not necessarily protest songs, or songs with a message, but real pop-songs. Some have become part of the culture reference framework. In The Netherlands for example, there is a song that most people associate with the last round in a bar. In a lot of bars, it was the last song played before closing time. The songs title roughly translates into “It’s time” and it tells of what happens at closing time in… a bar.
Another type is the nostalgic song, where someone tells us about how it used to be. Mistral Gagnant by Renaud is such a song. It is the story of a man sitting down with his kid and telling about how it used to be. The main point of reference is candy. The Mistrals Gagnants where little paper bags, filled with this powder that frizzles when you put it in your mouth. In each bag there used to be a small paper with a word on it. If the word was “Gagnant”, you’d won another bag.

Another Big Greve Coming Up

Next Thursday there will be another big greve in France. Last time I decided to take no risk and work from home. Afterwards it turned out that going to the office would have probably not been a big problem. So I am still figuring out what to do. Considering the weather, the Velib and working in a park a good options. But my mind is not yet made up. What will you do?

Another big greve in Paris next Thursday; what will you do?


How to put Yammer to good use in your company

Now, collaboration and crowdsourcing might seem like typical web2.0/consultant/techie jargon, but I will give some examples to put a bit of clarification to that jargon-use. Consider that I work for a globally operating company. We do roughly the same type of work all over the world, which means that we have a lot of expertise and knowledge, sometimes with some variation into niche-areas, spread over several countries. The total sum of these colleagues can be seen as a ‘crowd’. Now say that I have a question on a certain subject for which I do not have the expertise in my team, and no one in my direct network has access to this expertise. I can post my question to yammer, and there is bound to be someone out there, who either is an expert, or knows one. In the couple of days I am using yammer, I have seen several cases where someone got an answer or a contact within less than 30 minutes. To me, that is quite an efficient form of crowdsourcing.

The next example is about collaboration. If you want a tool like yammer to be put to good use, it will immediately work when the user community is small and full of early adaptors that are paving the way. But at one point there will be an explosive growth to a huge amount of users. And remember, this is aimed to be a business tool. So, to keep the usage a bit efficient and clean, you might want to set up a set of guidelines and rules on how to put the tool to use. So, in our yammer community someone suggested to draw up a Code of conduct and invited the other users to join in building it. And a group of people did, using Google docs to share the document and all put in our thoughts at the same time. In quite a short period, we managed to have a very good first draft. Not only was that an example of successful collaboration, also it was a lot of fun.

Most of the talk about social media and how-to is around brand building and marketing. But with tools like Yammer and Google docs, there is also a very operational benefit of using this tools in a business. I think the important move is to start using it and experiment with what works and what not, for your business. And if you have the size of our group, see if there are some of those early adaptors using it, and facilitate the usage. Capture their experiences and put them to good use to capitalize on the vast amount of knowledge that can be easily made accessible.

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Snapshots of Lutetia – Gare du Nord

Gare du Nord

The Grandes Gares of Paris say something about the centricity of the city. Nowadays, one can take a direct train from the North to the South, but not so long ago, you had to go via Paris. And there was no chance of not changing trains, and taking a taxi, metro, bus or whatever to get from the station of arrival to the station of departure. For Paris was the destination and start of all voyages. And so it still more or less is. The TGV’s from Lille to Lyon go around Paris, and not through it. And if you are in Paris, and have to go to say Strasbourg, you go to Gare de l’Est; but if you’re going south, you depart from Gare de Lyon. A true Parisian once told me that around the Gare Montparnasse was a big community of people from Brittany, for the Gare Montparnasse was ‘their station’. We Dutch have therefore adopted the Gare du Nord, although I have to say that on the rare occasion that I go up to NL, I more often take a rental car than the Thalys.

Snapshots of Lutetia – La Fayette’s Dome

La Fayettes Dome

The Grandes Magasins in Paris are extraordinary buildings. Two of them are located on and near the Boulevard Hausmann: Printemps and Lafayette. Both department stores originate form the late 19th century, but their flagship stores were both either renovated or rebuilt in the 1920’s. They have more in common, apart from the assortment of goods for sale: both are Art Nouveau-styled, and both have stained glass Domes. The one pictured here is from La Fayette. If not for shopping, a visit to these magasins is worth your while for the architecture and the view from the roof alone.