Collective Growth at Bilue

At Bilue we aim to do impactful work. We collaborate with clients, we encourage creativity and we deliver inspired solutions. Recently at our half yearly team day our CEO Cameron Barrie, urged us to pursue personal and collective growth in the year ahead. Cameron said connection is fundamental to the work we do at Bilue, but in order to truly connect and inspire others, strong communication skills are critical at both an individual and company level.

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Only 7% of communication takes place through words. Voice makes up 38% and body language a whopping 55%. It is essential to be aware of your body language and align how you present yourself with what you’re saying, in order to get your point across and inspire others to listen to what you have to say.

To this end Cameron invited leadership developer and coach, James Brett, to facilitate a half day training for the company in body language, connecting and creating rapport. Having worked in technology for 20 years, James is able to appreciate the synchronicity between understanding the problem space as a developer and understanding the problem space as a consultant.

It is our mission at Bilue to empower people through technology. When we present our inspired ideas the physical messages we communicate are potentially more powerful than the words we use. For example if we cover our mouth with our hands or stand with folded arms, our audience may not feel our message is genuine and they may not be convinced by what we say. If we are busy scratching our nose or stroking our chin, clients might think we are untrustworthy and unreliable.

Furthermore, understanding the problem space for our clients involves reading their body language and observing the visual cues they provide. James taught us about four levels of active listening, ranging from simply ‘downloading’ what someone is saying, to taking in content and observing body language ‘factually’, to more ‘empathic’ listening, and finally what he called ‘presence’ and so listening without having any agenda at all. To define the core problem our clients are communicating to us, engaging active listening and empathy helps us develop a deeper understanding of their thoughts and motivations.

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During the second half of our team day we were given the opportunity to put our increased appreciation for the power of body language and active listening into practise. Impro Australia facilitated a highly active session to loosen us up and take us out of our comfort zones. Working together in pairs or groups and individually, we were forced to think laterally and quickly on our feet. Encouraging us to have fun with communication, we were taught how to deliver a message with confidence and to embody excitement and enthusiasm.

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Marina, Annelise, Marcelo and Phill doing the “Arms, Double Figures” game

We were given exercises to challenge and extend boundaries by responding to spontaneous challenges. One of the most powerful games we played was the “Yes, But”, “Yes, And” game. Countering everything our partner had to say with “yes but” was surprisingly easy. Being on the receiving end of this was much more difficult and constantly having to defend decisions and come up with counter offers was draining in the end. When you apply “yes, and” to real life situations people feel heard and supported. When you apply “yes, but” it is deflating and shuts the conversation down. Having a potentially difficult conversation with “yes, and” is much more effective and people feel like they are part of the solution rather than the problem.

With our new perspective on communication and connection we finished the day in true Bilue fashion with an awesome party back at Bilue headquarters. Putting our new found confidence into practise, there was twerking, the cha cha and even some dirty dancing! Come Monday morning we needed just a little refresher on what had transpired the Friday before and then we determined to stay aware of our body language wherever possible. Feel free to point out if we are folding our arms and crossing our feet when we meet you. I’m confident we will get to it before you do and our expression will be open and confident within the blink of an eye.

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Rhys, Marcelo, Phill, Craig, Tom and Gary finsihing the day with a beer

Linkly #5 – Office must haves!

Linkly is a curated list of interesting products, topics and talking points from the world of design and technology. This week its all about innovative office products that inspire creativity and increase productivity.

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Stop watching the clock

We’ve all been there, sitting, watching the clock, waiting for time to pass. Tick tock, tick tock. Letting time cast its shadow over us, and rule our lives. Always looking for more time or for less time, time is never enough, or time is just too much.

Scott Thrift, Filmmaker and Designer, has produced an unconventional clock titled ‘Today’, that ditches the menial division of time into seconds that overwhelms. Instead Thrift seeks a more fluid perception of time. The Founder of ‘ThePresent’ lives in Brooklyn New York, and says the clock “is for people who have careers that are less about how many widgets you can make in an hour and more about the longer term thinking and being creative.”

I think the idea of re-framing time in this way serves as a gentle reminder to focus on the bigger picture, but whether or not the concept applies in a practical and modern utilitarian context is another matter.

 

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Alexa, what’s on my calendar tomorrow?

Amazon hopes to make your office smarter with the new Amazon Echo, personified through the word ‘Alexa’. Alexa offers over 1,000 features and skills that have been introduced since the virtual assistant’s very recent launch. While some features are better than others, Alexa can play your music, answer a vast array of questions, read you audiobooks, and cover the news. She can also control the lights switches, and even hail you an Uber!

Alexa’s exciting potential shines through Amazon’s Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), the opens up the technologies to third party developers and unlocks an endless potential for powerful integrations. In this way Amazon’s humble virtual assistant is at the forefront of the ‘Connected Home’ concept and could very well be the key to Home & Office automation becoming the reality we’re hoping for. Alexa is now a regular attendee in our Bilue boardroom.

Hot Tip: Ask Alexa if she can rap! 

 

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Shortcut the shortcuts

Most pixel pushers and software developers rely on keyboard shortcuts to maximise speed and efficiency when working. Keyboard shortcuts are fast, but what if there was something faster?

This finger-aware shortcuts system can detect how a single key is being pressed and can be configured to do whatever you want it to do. Pressing the letter ‘G’ with the index finger on your left hand would work exactly as you’d expect it would, but pressing it with the index finger on your right hand could perform an entirely different action. It could launch a google search, search a definition, or even copy and paste.

As humans become more computer literate, and children start to learn to type with keyboards at earlier and earlier ages, the potential for pushing the boundaries of human and computer interaction broadens. Interactions that were once incredibly difficult, such as pointing a mouse, and typing letters on a keyboard, are now second nature. This poses an fascinating question about the ways that humans will be interacting with technological interfaces 10, 20 and even 30 years from now!

 

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Shivering in the office?

Crank up the heat with a touch of a button. I for one, think this is genius. WristQue is a project from a group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who are creating a low-power wristband equipped with sensors that monitor how comfortable wearers feel to adjust temperature. Imagine if it knew you were in a particular meeting room at a certain time most days, it could set the preferred temperature before you arrive. Brilliant!

 

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Cleaner office air

This air purifier is designed to look better than the typical ugly plastic tower and, if you like, it can also grow a bunch of basil for your lunch. The EcoQube Air is essentially a mini-greenhouse, complete with lights and a soil-less hydroponic system that boosts air quality indoors. Better air quality = improved productivity!

 

 

 

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Level 1 520 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000

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