Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

The end of passwords

Anne says: The best password is…… NO password!

That’s according to the MIT Technology Review article about 10 breakthrough technologies for 2022. They define breakthrough technologies as:

“…the technological advances that we think will have the biggest impact on the world in the years to come.”

We’ve written about the password issue over a number of Friday Faves (here, here, and here) and we’ve mainly focused on the need for stronger passwords and 2-factor authentication. But we also know that still – after so many years – that passwords like 123456 (or even 1234) are the most common, followed by birthdates, pet names or family member birthdates and names. One of the flaws is the reuse of a favourite password – that’s usually the one you remember easily! We’re also told to change our passwords regularly, use longer, stronger (more obscure – impossible to remember) ones. Or a password manager. Don’t write them down and carry them with you. Don’t add them into your phone contacts under the name Passwords. Lots of don’t do this or that!

What I love about this article is the approach and the solution! If passwords continue to be a problem, let’s get rid of them! Enter facial recognition, biometrics, personal identity providers or authentication apps.

But wait – is this new?? Nope – it’s available right now. Apple has facial recognition – and after the recent iOS 15 update, it recognises you with a mask! Google has an authenticator app. Organisations are using authenticators like OKTA. Then why isn’t ridding passwords more common? Ask the tech companies. Or perhaps we need to start demanding the elimination of passwords and the use of new technologies to replace them!

PS. And while we’re waiting for these changes to be ubiquitous – please take a moment and update at least 3 of your key passwords (NOT with the same word!).

PPS. After you’ve updated your passwords, take a moment to explore some of the other breakthrough technologies – there’s some awesome innovations on the near horizon.

Read: https://www.technologyreview.com/2022/02/23/1044953/password-login-cybersecurity/

Shopify exec: The 4 secrets of successful digital-first companies

Jakkii says: Once upon a time I lived in Ottawa (the capital of Canada, for the geographically challenged). I moved there not all that long after Shopify was founded, but long enough that hiring was picking up and a number of people I knew and know already worked there or went on to work there – a number of them still do. It’s been wildly successful and, as a company from my adopted hometown, my interest is always piqued by stories about or by the company and its people. Naturally, this one, which blends my interest in Shopify with my much bigger and broader interest in ways of working, caught my eye immediately.

In it, Shopify’s VP of Employee Experience, Michael Merola, discusses their shift to being a fully remote company after the pandemic hit (they made the decision in May 2020). He offers four ingredients to success – a much better terminology than the headline’s promised “secrets” given none of these are at all secret, or even new. That said, I think there’s always value in hearing directly from companies who have made significant changes to the ways in which their people work, and learning what they believe the top drivers of success for them have been (so far).

You can read Merola’s thoughts on the four key ingredients for going digital-first (or Digital by Design, as he calls it) in the article, but here’s my take:

  • Prioritise freedom and flexibility
    Just yesterday I said to Anne that one of the most valuable aspects to me of working at Ripple Effect Group has long been flexibility. And that’s the type of flexibility Merola is describing here: the genuine autonomy and freedom to structure my workday, my work week and, frankly, my work life around what works for me at any given time, on any given day. This of course also requires that I am working with and supporting the needs of our clients, too, and judging what’s required to deliver on a project – flexibility is a two-way street.

  • Continue to value in-person connections
    I agree with this, as I certainly think there is social and business value in having at least some face-to-face interactions, but I think there needs to be balance and nuance here, particularly if you’re working in or with teams that are spread out geographically, as ours is. Getting together may be impractical and expensive, and so it may not be feasible for your organisation or your team – or at least not very often. And, of course, we do need to remember that covid hasn’t disappeared, and we ought to allow space for that, particularly as not everyone’s experience of covid has been the same, nor is everyone’s personal risk (or even risk appetite) the same.

  • Remote work allows you to hire anyone, from anywhere
    Honestly, other than the legalities of hiring people who have a right to work where you’re located, this should be self-evident, but a peek at job listings in various places will show you it isn’t necessarily so in practice. Even companies who purport themselves to offer work from home or fully remote opportunities often have a specific city in which they want their people to live. While there might be some valid reasons for wanting this (such as valuing in-person connections and wanting people to be near to the head office to facilitate them), it does needlessly limit your talent pool. As an example, as someone who moved from a bigger city to a smaller city, I think about the talent that organisations that will only hire people in Sydney or Melbourne are missing out on being able to access in smaller cities around the country, let alone in regional areas. It’s not just geography, either – without offering flexibility and remote work, you may also be limiting your access to a greater range of people, such as people with disabilities or people who are juggling caring responsibilities with work.

  • Build culture with intentional, thoughtful design
    This is a biggie, as having the right culture is a key driver of success for both hybrid and remote workplaces – just as it is in fully co-located workplaces, and intentional, thoughtful design is really how we should be approaching culture no matter which modes of working our organisations utilise. Here, Merola offers some specific examples of what this means at Shopify, such as equipping people with good technology and equipment to ensure they’re best enabled to avoid “lags and glitches” in meetings (though, of course, your internet connection at home is also a factor, and Merola doesn’t mention whether they pay for high speed, high data internet for their people), and setting up and maintaining rituals that create shared experience and social cohesion, such as weekly Town Halls. He also recommends investing in your people through development. All great suggestions, in my view.

In a current climate where some businesses are forcing everyone back to the office while others think because they ‘survived’ through the crisis mode of remote and hybrid work the last 2 years that there’s nothing else to learn, Merola stating towards the conclusion that Shopify still considers themselves early on in their Digital by Design “experiment” and that they still have a lot to learn is refreshing. When we think we have all the answers is when we stop learning, growing and progressing, and I’d urge leaders and organisations to be open and honest with themselves about what they’ve learned, what they still need to learn, where they could improve, and where they could use some help. And, as always, if you’d like to talk about that some more, please get in touch!

I’ll leave you with Merola’s closing paragraph in case you don’t click through to the article for yourself, as I echo his sentiments:

Above all, I leave you with this: if your organization is able to work remotely, do it. Great culture and productivity have nothing to do with where office walls are located. Give your team the chance to build their lives on their own terms, and grant yourself access to the broadest, most diverse talent pool on the planet. Don’t just dip your toe in with a hybrid model. Go all in. Decentralize job opportunities. Focus on mission, not office. Prioritize people, not place. This is the future of work.

Read: https://www.fastcompany.com/90729862/shopify-exec-the-4-secrets-of-successful-digital-first-companies

Halo invades SxSW with a ‘swarm’ of 400 drones

Jakkii says: During SxSW in Austin this week, Paramount+ promoted new show Halo using a drone ‘swarm’ to create a QR code in the sky. The code was scannable, too, allowing people to point their phones and get more info on the spot. Of course, the drones did also take turns forming the Paramount logo as well as words, so you didn’t have to scan the QR code to know what it was about, but doing so would save you googling or searching social media for the #HaloTheSeries hashtag they put up in the sky, I guess?

It’s an interesting use of technologies, and certainly something to talk about, but there’s something a little bit unsavoury about the entire night sky for those in view of the drones being turned into a company’s billboard. Is it different to a digital billboard atop a building that has long, wide visibility? Maybe it’s arguable it isn’t, not really, and yet somehow it seems rather more intrusive and invasive. Perhaps it’s not likely to become the advertising of the future, but maybe drone swarms will eventually replace skywriting and aerial advertising in the form of planes dragging banners around the sky – an alternative which might be rather appealing with the current price of fuel!

Read: https://www.vulture.com/2022/03/halo-series-drones-sxsw.html

Friday Five

Five links you might find interesting this week:

Sydney Business Insights – The Future, This Week Podcast

From our friends at the University of Sydney Business School, this week podcast hosts Dr Sandra Peter and Professor Kai Riemer speak with Associate Professor Jevin West from the University of Washington about fake fact-checking videos and how they take disinformation to “a different level.”

Listen: https://sbi.sydney.edu.au/fake-fact-checking-and-disinformation/


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