Murano Glass, Venetian Restaurant, Grand Canal

24 02 2013

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

We lunched on the banks of the Grand Canal.





the business of Venice

24 02 2013

When you think of Venice, you think of canals, obviously. But other than the canals, there are no motorised vehicles in Venice. No cars, motorbikes, trucks. Nothing. And the narrow laneways lead to steps and bridges, making any form of wheeled or motorised vehicles impractical. So how does the business of Venice get done?

Given the difficulty of traversing the streets of Venice with wheels, everything goes via the narrow and sometimes crowded canals. An excellent documentary called Venice 24/7 looks at the practicalities of life in Venice – including street names and numbers that are non-continuous, making finding addresses for emergency services vey difficult. (I was unable to capture a fire brigade boat, but Venice 24/7 also follows the fire brigade.)

My other big question, is how on earth have they retrofitted an electricity grid system, running water and sewerage in an ancient town with established buildings, water all around, sinking an average 1cm per year into the mud flats (but not evenly), and regular flooding that also fills the basements and ground floor rooms of buildings, houses, hotels and shops.

???????????????????????????

Delivery boat on the Grand Canal

??????????????????????

And this is how goods and supplies are delivered to and from shops and businesses – handcarts. (above and below)

??????????????????????

??????????????????????????

Police boats (above and below)

??????????????????????????

??????????????????

Water taxi

??????

Delivery boat unloading in the narrow canals

??????????????????????????

Police boat in dock

??????

Early morning hand-cart deliveries, as the garbage waits to be collected (also using hand-wheeled trolleys)

??????

TNT postal deliveries

???????????????????

Delivery of building materials – sand, concrete, bricks – also comes via boat

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Water buses

??????

More early-morning deliveries – preparing for the day before the tourists are up and about and the canals are crowded with gondolas. Note the crane on the boat furthest away, for unloading heavy goods.

????????????????????

Buses leaving bus-stops on the Grand Canal.

????????????????????

The boat on the left is the Magistrato Alle Acque – Servizio Informazione (Magistrate of the Waters)

???????????????????????????????????????????????????

A row of Ambulance boats in dock near the hospital (above) and an ambulance on its way to a job (below)

??????????????

????????

Waterbus driver – or pilot? captain?

??????????????????????

Bus route around the Islands of Venice

??????????????????????????????

Coast Guard

????????????????????????????????

prison guards





Venice in the evening

23 02 2013

?????????????????????????

Piazza San Marco, with its distinctive pink (Murano) glass street lights.





Let me ask you this……

23 02 2013

When I was at secondary school, there was a girl in my year called Alison. There were a lot of very clever girls in my year (it was a girls’ school so no clever boys), but Alison was acknowledged as the brightest of us all. Not only was she academically clever, she was also musical, sporty, unassuming (her parents made her ride her bike to school every day), obedient (she wore a helmet years before it became the law) and most importantly of all, nice. And as well as being very very bright, she also worked very hard. We might have liked her less if she had aced all the tests without working at it…except that she was also very nice.

Years before NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) became a “thing”, I knew about modelling – paying attention to the way others behave in order to take on qualities that you admire. And what I noticed about Alison was that she asked a lot of questions in class.

Alison’s question-asking meant a few things. Firstly, she was paying attention and understanding what was being said enough to formulate coherent questions. Secondly, she was adapting the information to make sure it “fit” into the way she thought about things. So if she was told information in one style and that style wasn’t her dominant style, she would ask questions in order to understand it from her dominant view. And thirdly, that she had a high level of curiosity, which exceeded the information she was being told.

And so I learned that asking questions was a good way of learning.

Fast forward two decades, to another question-asker. This time my boss. Now this woman taught me a lot about strategic thinking and organisational thinking. Again, the key was questions, this time questions to lead and direct people, questions that reframed the problem, and hence the way people were thinking about the problem, jump-started them in a new “track”, questions that gave people short-cut ways of memorising and understanding what they were doing at each level of strategic planning.

The key was….

1. Mission statements: WHY? (and sometimes WHAT?) (Why do we exist, what do we want to achieve / what do we do?)

2. Strategic / executive level : WHAT? (what are we doing?)

3. Operational level : How? (give that exec have told operations WHAT to do or WHAT goal to achieve, operations needs to sort out HOW they will do it / HOW they will achieve the goal.

The power of asking the right question goes further. A well-chosen and well-timed question can pull people out of analysis paralysis (what should we do, why do you want us to do that, what are the alternatives, what if we make a mistake, what are the pros and cons of each possibility, etc) and into HOW are you going to do this? This question skims over the quandary and directs thoughts to action. It can also empower people who aren’t sure if they should do something by essentially directing them to do it. Devil’s advocate questions can open up new expanses, and break down the barriers that contain thought, give permission to consider the (previously) unthinkable.

Does questioning work for you?





Hellooooooo…..is there anybody out there?

23 02 2013

A few years ago I lectured in public relations / communications. I was seeking some guest speakers from communications in various industries and decided, as an exercise, to make contact wit them via their websites.

Each of the organisations I made contact with was a fairly well known one in the local market, and included not-for-profits, educational, scientific and government organisations, each of whom had a specific communications section and a need to promote themselves.

Their websites we pretty good. They outlined who they were, their mission, what they did, and provided a range of resources and information that was well targeted to their stakeholders and audiences.

I emailed them using their general contact information on the website. And the response rate was around 10%.

So to recap – they were legitimate organisations, they had a need to communicate, they had communication staff and I was offering them an opportunity to come and speak to a group of students who might be potential users / customers / donors or volunteers.

Sometimes communications is about the basics. There is no point in a fancy campaign, social media, mega-dollars for a clever campaign if you don’t ANSWER YOUR EMAILS!





Viva Venezia!

2 02 2013

?????????????????????????

It’s been a while since I posted – and even longer since I posted something on travel.

In October 2012 I travelled across the north of Italy, starting in Venice, then travelling to Verona, Milan (with a side-tripe to Lake Como) and then to the gorgeous Cinqueterre.

Venice is, it is true, very touristy. But I love touristy places. Being surrounded not only by locals, but by travellers from the world over. I love that everything is there, available to the tourist, when you want it. Being able to wander around and just pick a restaurant when you are hungry without having to book in advance. I love the touristy shops, displays and the sightseeing, all available and on tap. And I love that everyone is so patient with my very poor language skills – after all, I am unlikely to get fluent in every language for every place I want to visit.

And we were lucky enough, arriving in the beginning of October, to miss the height of the tourist season, when Venice is packed, but still got good weather.

Venice, like all the best tourist cities, is a city for walking. Yes there are the famed canals, and a multitude of water craft to choose from – the very expensive gondolas (85 Euro for a 40 minute tour through the canals, with specific sights pointed out – Casanova’s House, Marco polo’s House, Mozart stayed there, etc), the comparatively cheap water buses and easy to use (20 Euro) or water taxis. However, having experienced all of these, wandering through the back-streets of the city centre will show you the sights as you (and, it has to be said, hundreds of other people) discover quiet canals, picturesque bridges and charmingly distressed buildings.

And of course, high-end shopping. Every designer worth their salt has a shop in Venice. Quite how they manage to save their stock and their shop-floors in the regular flooding – well I don’t know. But window shopping in this town is amazing.

Venice is also known for Venetian glass – or more accurately, Murano Glass. The Island of Murano is one of many that make up the city of Venice. A scenic water bus journey of about 50 minutes, or if you are in a rush, a water taxi of about 10 minutes, away, and a variety of glass techniques, glass blowing, and much to buy from museum grade pieces to cheap necklaces and tiny glass animals.

Below is selection of some of the best of my many (many) photographs of Venice.

Enjoy!

??????

Tables with a water view…..

VeniceVenice sinks at about 1cm per year, so the buildings are constantly under strain as they sink unevenly into the mud.  Many Venetian buildings have damaged facades from centuries of slow subsidence, which only adds to the charm.

??????????????????????????????????????????????The famed Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal.  Note the traffic on the Grand Canal, where slow moving gondolas do battle with water buses, water taxis, private vehicles and the Venetian equivalent of trucks – boats moving everything from building supplies to retail goods to post office delivery trucks.

????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????????????????Gondola station on the Grand Canal.  There is a centuries-old law that says gondolas must be black.

??????Water buses leaving and approaching the floating bus-stop at the Rialto Bridge, on the Grand Canal.

??????Traffic on the Grand Canal, lined with restaurants and gondola stations.

.

????????????????????Gondola Station.

???????????????????????????????????????????View along the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge.

??????Parking lot for gondolas.  Just to the left around the corner is the Hard Rock Café.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Piazza San Marco, viewed from a gondola.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Another view of Piazza San Marco from the gondola

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????One of many quiet canals, viewed from under a bridge.

?????????????????????The Island of Murano, where Murano glass is made.

?????????????????????Shops in Murano.  The entire island seems to be glass shops, souvenir shops, and restaurants.

?????????????????????Main canal in Murano Island.

?????????????????????Main canal in Murano island

?????????????????????Murano

?????????????????????Murano.  We had lunch at the restaurant on the right, under the white canopy.

?????????????????????Canal in Murano Island, taken from a bridge.

?????????????????????Murano

?????????????????????Canal in Murano Island, taken from a bridge.

???????????????????Gondoliers ply their trade on the Grand Canal near Piazza San Marco.  Photo taken from a restaurant.  Note how many people are in the one gondola out in the water.  Given the price, this is not a bad solution!

???????????????????Gondola station near Piazza San Marco

????????????????????????????????????????????????????Detail of one of the shopping arcades that line Piazza San Marco.

?????????????????????????Basilica San Marco, and tourists.  A moth after we were here, the entire piazza was underwater in one of their frequent Acqua Alta – which appears to be a very high tide.  News photographs showed people in bathers floating over the top of the chairs in the foreground.

?????????????????????????Tourists in Piazza San Marco, and the very distinctive pink glass street lights.

????????????????Gondola station near Piazza San Marco (another photograph taken from a restaurant table).

??????Venice is a town for walking, with narrow laneways, stepped bridges over smaller canals, occasionally opening up to massive stone churches, elaborately decorated (above and more detail below)

??????