Beware the Power of Dark Scrum

Agile project management needs to be aware the power of dark scrum. Scrum is an agile methodology for managing development projects — mostly software projects but increasingly used in other fields needing flexible and innovative project management solutions. Working in small increments of time (sprints), the scrum teams deliver in predetermined increments, with measurable goals and the flexibility to learn and pivot on the fly.

Scrum goes dark when agile flexibility and teamwork are undermined unreasonable expectations, creating dissension among team members and stakeholders, and turning quick, agile moves into awkward stumbles.

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Buying in the Hot Toronto Condo Market


Is it a good time to buy a condo?  More and more people are asking themselves this, looking to break into one of Canada’s hottest housing markets, or to downsize their empty-nest homes.

And the answer is frequently yes.

These days a condo makes sense from an investment point of view – even when housing prices dip in the city, condominium values tend to remain strong and even increase. And the condo-building boom in Toronto continues.

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The Man Who Would Be King

Who says print is dead? While it has definitely taken a backseat to digital media, it still has specialty uses for when marketers want something tactile, with value, that they can put into people’s hands as important keepsake and selling tool.

A case in point is the magazine-style publication I helped to create with branding agency 52 Pick-up for Bianca, a condominium being developed by Tridel in Toronto’s New Dupont district. The magazine serves as a city guide for prospective buyers, showing them the kind of the lifestyle they would enjoy here, with outstanding cultural, culinary and shopping attractions.

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Minding Broken Hearts

UHN cardiologist Dr. Heather Ross says cardiac patients using technology to monitor their own conditions are less likely to be readmitted to hospital. PHOTO By THOMAS BOLLMANN

Mobile technologies allow high-risk cardiac patients to look after themselves at home

Patients at high risk of cardiac arrest can now be closely monitored at home through a smartphone app that transmits vital signs to their health-care team. An increase in weight, for example, may prompt an intervention call from the doctor’s office, says Dr. Heather Ross, a cardiologist at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at University Health Network, which is implementing the mobile technology.

“We find out the patient had dim sum or pizza – something that is notoriously high in salt content. His weight goes up as a result,” notes Dr. Ross. “It becomes a teachable moment for the patient.”

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Women Connecting to Women

Photo by Penn State.

Sometimes life is too good not to share it with the right friend. But if you’re a woman and find yourself away from your usual social networks — travelling solo, for example — then you might forego that trip to the hot new restaurant or show. And you’d miss out of one of life’s memorable experiences.

If you’ve ever said to yourself, “I’d love to do that—if only I had company,” you can now quickly and easily find it with a smart, new soclal networking app called Wengage, just in the process of launching. (Example of  blog content created for the site.)

Drawing on sophisticated algorithms, the app can help you find the company of another woman who shares your interests, for social occasions that can include meeting for a meal or drink, going for a workout, doing a sightseeing trip — you name it.

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Blogging as Part of Your Content Strategy

Blogging continues to be an important part of many companies’ content marketing strategy. In order to work, the blog posts need to be published on a regular schedule and targeted to specific business objectives. I have worked with clients and their SEO houses to develop calendars of ideas, with firm publication dates that ensure a regular flow of focused content.

How the blog is used as part of a larger inbound marketing strategy, or works in conjunction with social media posts and marketing e-blasts or newsletters, also must be part of the planning and strategy.

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Branded Content Shouldn’t Be Fake News

Understandably, “advertorial” – the overlap of advertising and editorial – has a bad rap. The practice started at newspapers and magazines going back to the first half of the 20th century. Publication writers would create bylined articles in an editorial voice for advertisers.

The pieces read like and looked like regular editorial content. They sought to pull the wool over reader eyes about a cozy relationship that violated the church-and-state, arm’s length relationship of editorial and advertising.

The practice then popped up in other media, with infomercials, for example, playing on radio and televisions.

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The Rising Tide of Water Activism

The trouble with many worthy environmental causes is that they try to scare the hell out of people. It may be true that if we don’t act now the planet is doomed, but put that way the problem is too big for most people to cope with and so they tune out.

When Stan and Mariam Gibson founded Ecologos, in 1998, a charity now completely devoted to water concerns, they raised the alarm about issues ranging from water pollution to oceans choked with plastic. They experimented with different approaches to their cause, including organized civil actions and social media campaigns.

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From Soaring Cloud Forest to Sun-Drenched Beach


To promote the luxury villa property rentals of LaCure, I continue to write a series of e-blasts to travel agents and potential clients directly. Destinations and experiences are tied into specific selling seasons. The short, evocative copy has to pair well with the gorgeous art. For this e-blast, we are selling the eco- and adventure travel charms of Costa Rica:

View two oceans at once from the top of a volcano. Hike rainforests ringing with howler monkey complaints, dancing with colorful morpho butterflies, opening to misty crater lakes. Choose your adventure – eco or pulse pounding – in this stunning biodiverse paradise.

Watch surfers carve perfect waves from your place on a perfect beach, a short walk to your majestic villa with its soaring spaces – the perfect way to experience the tropical warmth and bounty of Costa Rica. . . . See the e-blast here.

Write for a Cause


Writing for charities and non-profit organizations has its own rewards. Modest fees are compensated by the chance to help support a worthwhile cause, with built-in material for great storytelling.

But in doing work I really enjoy for a national at-risk youth charity and a U.S. educational foundation, I have found that the writing is as much about brand, image and money as it is for any corporate client.

The United States apparently has more than 1.1 million public charities. And Canada boasts an estimated 170,000 charities and non-profits. All of these organizations need to differentiate themselves and relate how well they do their missions to get increasingly scarce public and private funding.

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