December 2014

Getting Innovation Done, Being The Champion

2014-12-12T13:54:54+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , |

Bringing to life programs and ideas that create innovation often requires persuasion. New ideas can be perceived as risky, dangerous, and create the “unknown.”

Seth Godin, offers a recommendation to help get the lever pulled that helps to create the change you’re looking for.

Below is what Seth shared:

Goals, Strategy and Tactics for Change

The Goal: Who are you trying to change? What observable actions will let you know you’ve succeeded?

The Strategy: What are the emotions you can amplify, the connections you can make that will cause someone to do something they’ve hesitated to do in the past (change)? The strategy isn’t the point, it’s the lever that helps you cause the change you seek.

The Tactics: What are the actions you take that cause the strategy to work? What are the events and interactions that, when taken together, comprise your strategy?

An example:

Our goal is to change good donors to our cause into really generous donors. Our strategy is to establish a standard for big gifts, to make it something that our good donors aspire to because it feels normal for someone like them. And today’s tactic is hosting an industry dinner that will pair some of our best donors with those that might be open to moving up.

If you merely ask someone to help you with a tactic in isolation, it’s likely you won’t get the support you need. But if you can find out if you share a goal with someone, then can explain how your strategy can make it likely that you’ll achieve that goal, working together on a tactic that supports that strategy is an obvious thing to do.

And it certainly opens the door to a useful conversation about whether your goal is useful, your strategy is appropriate and your tactic is coherent and likely to cause the change you seek.

A tactic might feel fun, or the next thing to do, or a lot like what your competition is doing. But a tactic by itself is nothing much worth doing. If it supports a strategy, a longer-term plan that builds on itself and generates leverage, that’s far more powerful. But a strategy without a goal is wasted.


Great advice, as always, Seth!

August 2013

Don’t Manage Like a Stooge, Look Before You Leap

2013-08-01T12:48:12+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , , , |

We are all in a hurry with our businesses.

We all want results immediately.

Because of this, we often act immediately without taking the time to think-up alternate ideas or think thru the implications of what are about to do. Something is better than nothing, right? This is thinking tactically, not strategically. We confuse activity with productivity. There’s a difference.

I’m ripping off yet another Seth Godin post to reinforce this idea. He says it brilliantly.

Stoogecraft

You probably have better things to do than to analyze the basic trait of the Three Stooges, so I will do it for you.

They have impulse control problems.

It’s not that they are evil or even particularly selfish. No, the challenge all three Stooges face is that they do whatever comes into their minds, immediately. If they want to lash out or poke or twist, they do. If they think it might be effective to make money running a plumbing company, they don’t consider, they merely do it.

Stoogecraft is what happens when people or organizations in power do what feels right in the short run without thinking at all about the alternatives or the implications. It’s the result of fear or boredom or a misplaced focus.

Every customer service horror story is an example of stoogecraft at work. Every business development deal gone awry because of personalities, greed or miscommunication is a result of the same thing. When we don’t say what needs to be said, postponing it for later, we’re playing the Stooge game.

Humans being human. People who can do what they want doing what they (think) they want.

Short-term thinking used to mean a rake to a face. Now it leads to dead ends, broken promises and success avoided.

Thanks, Seth!

Three Stooges &copy C3 Entertainment Inc.

May 2013

The Path To Amazing Runs Through Not-Yet-Amazing

2013-05-24T11:43:28+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , |

Not_Yet_Amazing

“If you set your bar at “amazing,” it’s awfully difficult to start…” today writes Seth Godin.

He continues…

Confronted with the gap between your vision of perfect and the reality of what you’ve created, the easiest path is no path. Shrug. Admit defeat. Hit delete.

One more reason to follow someone else and wait for instructions.

Of course, the only path to amazing runs directly through not-yet-amazing. But not-yet-amazing is a great place to start, because that’s where you are. For now.

There’s a big difference between not settling and not starting.

Great advice, huh? Keep working at it. Sticktoitivity. You’re only where you are “for now.”

[Article by Seth Godin, Diagram by Idea Sandbox]

August 2012

Seth Godin Says: How To Run A Problem-Solving Meeting

2012-08-18T18:10:16+00:00 Categories: SandBlog, solve|Tags: , , , , , |

Here’s a complete rip-off of today’s post from Seth Godin. Great to have Seth playing in my sandbox.

This is a special sort of get together, similar to the meeting where you organize people to figure out the best way to take advantage of an opportunity. In both cases, amateurs usually run the meetings, and the group often fails to do their best work.

Ignore these rules at your peril:

  1. Only the minimum number of people should participate. Don’t invite anyone for political reasons. Don’t invite anyone to socialize them on the solution because they were part of inventing it–people don’t need to be in the kitchen to enjoy the meal at the restaurant.
  2. No one participating by conference call… it changes the tone of the proceedings.
  3. A very structured agenda to prevent conversation creep. You are only here to do one thing.
  4. All the needed data provided to all attendees, in advance, in writing.
    At least one person, perhaps the host, should have a point of view about what the best course is, but anyone who comes should only be invited if they are willing to change their position.
  5. Agree on the structure of a deliverable solution before you start.
  6. Deliver on that structure when you finish.

I agree with Seth when running a problem-solving meeting, save for a few additions:
No. 5 – “Having a point-of-view about the best course” – The best course should be based on goals and constraints identified prior to the beginning of the meeting.

Goals such as: “In today’s meeting we want to conclude with five new potential names for the company.”
Constraints such as: “Names need to be real words. Need to align with our brand. Need to be easy to pronounce, etc…”

When it comes toward the end of the meeting, refer back to these goals and constraints as filters.

April 2011

Making Decisions With A Coin Toss

2011-04-08T10:26:15+00:00 Categories: SandBlog, solve|Tags: , , |

While it may be a nice way to choose who gets the last cupcake or which side of the field your team starts on, the coin flip can seem like a pretty flimsy way to make important decisions.

But, what do you do when you’ve gathered all the possible data and know all the possible facts? At some point, it becomes counter productive to spend additional time and money seeking additional insight.

As Seth Godin explains in his post today, “When there isn’t enough data, when there can’t be enough data, insist on the flip.”

What Seth doesn’t write – but is part of his current messaging – is that seeking additional data until the cows come home is a way to procrastinate. The problem isn’t so much lack of data, but fear of taking action.

Sometimes we hide behind ‘needing the facts’ so we can keep putting off what we don’t want to do.

Here’s a slightly shortened version of Seth’s post with more details…

Insist On The Coin Flip

Very often, we’re challenged to make decisions with too little information. Sometimes, there’s no information–merely noise. The question is: how will you decide?

Consider the challenge we faced when setting the pricing for a brand of software we were launching in 1986… Should these games cost $29, $34 or $39 each? My bosses and I had one day to finalize our decision for the salesforce.

…We had no graphs, no history, no data. We were the first in the category and there was just nothing significant to go on… We talked for an hour and then did the only intelligent thing–we flipped a coin. To be sure we had it right, we double checked and flipped two out of three. The only mistake we made was wasting an hour pontificating and arguing before we flipped.

This is also the way we should settle closely contested elections. We know the error rate for counting ballots is some percentage–say it’s .01%. Whenever the margin is less than the error rate, we should flip. Not waste months and millions in court, we should insist on the flip. Anything else is a waste of time and money.

Or consider the dilemma of the lucky high school student with five colleges to choose from… Once you’ve narrowed it down and all you’re left with is a hunch, once there are no data points to give you a rational way to pick, stop worrying. Stop analyzing. Don’t waste $4,000 and a month of anxiety visiting the schools again. The data you’ll collect (one lucky meeting, one good day of weather) is just not relevant to making an intelligent decision. Any non-fact based research is designed to help you feel better about your decision, not to help you make a more effective decision.

One last example: if you know from experience that checking job references in your industry gives you basically random results (some people exaggerate, some lie out of spite), then why are you checking?

When there isn’t enough data, when there can’t be enough data, insist on the flip.

By refusing to lie to yourself, by not telling yourself a fable to make the decision easier, you’ll understand quite clearly when you’re winging it.

Once you embrace this idea, it’s a lot easier not to second guess your decisions–and if you’re applying to college, you’ll free up enough time to write a novel before you even matriculate.

(From Seth Godin’s post “Insist On The Coin Flip” published 8 April 2011)

February 2011

Pick Your Place, On Purpose

2012-07-06T10:34:15+00:00 Categories: create, grow, SandBlog, solve, think|Tags: , , , , , |

The most up to date list of locations can be found on the Places page within Brainstorming Tools section.

You have to love when someone “makes your case” – that is – says or supports something you believe in as well.

Today’s post by Seth Godin makes the case that space matters.

This supports what I call the 3Ps of brainstorming and strategy meetings: people, process, and place. The most successful and productive meetings are a result of pulling together the right people, using the right process, hosted in the right place.

People and process? Most of us prepare for this. Being even more deliberate will improve our meetings. But the majority of us are way off when it comes to place.

We don’t consider the space. We don’t pick the place on purpose. When hosting an off-site, we get the space for free at the hotel where we book our rooms.

Conference space is provided when you buy the food package. Instead of booking rooms from people in the catering business, why not from people in the idea business? The strategy business? In your business?

Here is a partial list of places you can pick. Here in the US, in the UK, and some great spots in Holland. These are places that put the meeting and atmosphere first.

Purposeful Places

Destinations conducive for problem solving.

This list doesn’t include meeting space in hotel and convention centers. While they offer physical space, I have yet to find a hotel venue that is very inspirational.

North America

East Coast

Meet

(NYC, NY) – Dedicated space in New York where creative and business executives can gather to re-imagine their business.” Opened, 2008.

SoHoSoleil

(NYC, NY) – Offers many locations throughout the NYC area suited for meetings, photo shoots, videos and movie sets. Contact: 212-431-8224 or

Mid-America

Catalyst Ranch

(Chicago, IL) – Eva Niewiadomski’s place. Five rooms of fun. A well known – perhaps the most popular in the US – creative space for rent. Opened in 2002.

Eureka! Ranch

(Cincinnati, OH) – Doug Hall started with a mansion, and upgraded to a whole ranch. He has perfected the science of innovation. Opened in 1992.

Idea Loft

(Kansas City, MO) – Chuck Dymer’s PeopleWorks location. Because space matters.

Thinkubator

(Chicago, IL) Gerald Haman founded SolutionPeople a creativity and innovation training and development firm in 1989 and his creative meeting space – the Thinkubator.

SparkSpace

(Columbus, OH) – Mark Henson, chief imagination officer, offers space and programs to help businesses be more creative. He offers a great newsletter. And a surprise hidden on his voicemail system.
(Hint…. push "6"). Opened in 2000.

Canada

headspace

(Calgary, Alberta) – As the site reads… “Welcome to a different kind of creative thinking space. Headspace aids in the exchange of ideas by providing the most flexible, supportive meeting space in Calgary. By removing physical and organizational barriers, Headspace promotes dialogue, ignites collaboration and inspires creativity. The best thinking always happens when you’re in the right Headspace.” Opened in 2011.

United Kingdom

The Boardwalk

(Manchester, England) – a ‘light, airy, spacious, urban’ location. Managed by ?WhatIf!

The Old Laundry

(London, UK) – “At The Laundry you won’t find any hard backed chairs, grey Formica tables or migraine inducing florescent strip lights – we believe that to be the kind of setting which saps your creative energy.” Managed by ?WhatIf!

Europe

The Netherlands – Amsterdam

Heineken – The City

Book an inspiring room in the heart of Amsterdam. Heineken the City is the ideal location for a day of brainstorming, team building or meetings in inspiring surroundings. Our spaces each have a unique interior and their environment and offer you the newest in multi-media facilities. They have three rooms:

Hub Amsterdam

A membership-based work and meeting space. Located near Amsterdam’s Central Train Station. (No membership fee necessary). Hub has many locations across the world. (Click on “Go To Hub” from the site’s menu for other locations).

SPACES: Amsterdam

Spaces offers office space for rent in inspiring surroundings in Amsterdam. At Spaces you not only rent square meters, but supporting services of all kinds of your choosing, such a reception service, office equipment, technical assistance, and catering of your meeting. All at reasonable prices.  Spaces also has a restaurant, coffee bar and plenty of seating for an informal conversation. Rooms for small and large groups.

The Netherlands – Den Haag

Future Center – The Buitenhuis

Billed as an inspiring, creative, and innovative location to work on policy and organization issues.

(If you run a space I haven’t listed, I’ll be happy to include it in the Places section of Idea Sandbox.)

Below is Seth’s post today, in full.

The space matters

It might be a garage or a sunlit atrium, but the place you choose to do what you do has an impact on you.

More people get engaged in Paris in the springtime than on the 7 train in Queens. They just do. Something in the air, I guess.

Pay attention to where you have your brainstorming meetings. Don’t have them in the same conference room where you chew people out over missed quarterly earnings.

Pay attention to the noise and the smell and the crowd in the place where you’re trying to overcome being stuck. And as Paco Underhill has written, make the aisles of your store wide enough that shoppers can browse without getting their butts brushed by other shoppers.

Most of all, I think we can train ourselves to associate certain places with certain outcomes. There’s a reason they built those cathedrals. Pick your place, on purpose.

January 2011

Making Meetings More Expensive, Might Make Them Cost Less

2011-01-04T11:10:04+00:00 Categories: create, grow, SandBlog, solve, think|Tags: , , |

While I wouldn’t brand myself a meeting fairie, per se… Seth does a great job in his post today describing what Idea Sandbox does.

So if you need a meeting fairie, gimme a call!

Seth Godin, wrote today

What would happen if your organization hired a meeting fairie?

The fairie’s job would be to ensure that meetings were short, efficient and effective. He would focus on:

  • Getting precisely the right people invited, but no others.
  • Making the meeting start right on time.
  • Scheduling meetings so that they don’t end when Outlook says they should, but so that they end when they need to.
  • Ensuring that every meeting has a clearly defined purpose, and accomplishes that purpose, then ends.
  • Welcoming guests appropriately. If you are hosting someone, the fairie makes sure the guest has adequate directions, a place to productively wait before the meeting starts, access to the internet, something to drink, biographies of who else will be in the room and a clear understanding of the goals of the meeting.
  • Managing the flow of information, including agendas and Powerpoints. This includes eliminating the last minute running around looking for a VGA cable or a monitor that works. The fairie would make sure that everyone left with a copy of whatever they needed.
  • Issuing a follow up memo to everyone who attended the meeting, clearly delineating who came and what was decided.

If you do all this, every time you call a meeting it’s going to cost more to organize. Which means you’ll call fewer meetings, those meetings will be shorter and more efficient. And in the long run, you’ll waste less time and get more done.

Thanks, Seth!

May 2010

October 2009

Describe Solutions Rather Than Ask For Tasks

2017-03-01T11:56:19+00:00 Categories: grow, SandBlog|Tags: , , , |

Below is a word-for-word cut-and-paste from today’s Seth Godin’s blog post: “What do you need me to do?”

“What do you need me to do?”

This is a question that defines the person asking it. It is very different from, “here’s what you might need…”

If you ask people for the next task on the list, if you allow them to define the thing they are buying from you, you have abdicated responsibility. Your work product becomes dependent on the insight and guts of the person giving you an assignment. This is especially dangerous for consultants and freelancers, because the answer might be, “nothing.” Or it might be a paying gig that’s profitable in the short run but a career deadener over time.

Far better to reach a level of confidence and skill that you can describe solutions rather than ask for tasks.

Seth’s comments jibe with two concepts I’ve shared in the past.

(1) Don’t present a problem, show up with the solution.

I only needed to hear this once, it has stuck my entire career. Don’t just show up to your boss with the problem, offer a solution.

Goffus: “Whoops! Wanted to let you know, there is a misprint on the Grand Opening invitations!”

Gallant: “Listen, wanted to let you know… I spotted a misprint with the date on the invitations… that’s pretty important. I’ve contacted the printer, they can do another run for us and can still make our delivery date. Sound good to you?”

Who is going to get the promotion? What is even better, is if you arrive with the problem solved. (If you are authorized to spend the budget to re-print the invitations – do that, why wait?)

(2) Add Knowledge

When someone gives you an assignment – for example, completing the spreadsheet with your numbers – instead of just doing the minimum, see if there is a way to provide additional value through knowledge. In addition to the numbers, perhaps it would be better presented in chart form too? Maybe the spreadsheet is poorly formatted and could use some clean up? Perhaps there is a more efficient way to do the entire project online vs. emailing a spreadsheet from peer to peer.

These lessons apply to being a better employee, or being a better brand to your customers.

August 2009

Friendly Falafel

2009-09-25T15:05:29+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , , |

Maoz Logo

For lunch today, I popped into Maoz Vegetarian restaurant for falafel. It’s really good. (Seth Godin raves about the place – calls it the best falafel in the world!)

They serve fresh hot falafel, on warm pita bread, with delicious hummus, and let you slather on your own toppings. Always delicious.

An aside…

In Europe everyone takes cash, fewer vendors take check cards (or the ‘PIN card’ as they call it in Amsterdam), and even fewer take credit cards.

…back to the story.

When I ordered, I asked the guy at Maoz if they take the PIN card. I thought they did, but didn’t see the card reader. He said, “No, cash only.”

“Whoops!” I said, “I’ll be right back I need to get cash.” There is an ATM around the corner.

“No, no… don’t worry.” He said, like a caring mom… “Why don’t you eat first?” He didn’t want my hot falafel to get cold.

To me this was remarkable.

  • (A)He trusted me. He treated me like a person, not like a random customer or potential thief. He didn’t hold my food hostage until I paid him.
  • (B)He wanted me to have a great, hot lunch. Though I would only have taken two minutes to get the cash, he wanted me to eat it while it was hot.

So I ate, left, and haven’t gone back to pay!!!

Kidding.

As usual it was delicious. However, three additional things happened with this visit.

  • Lunch was tastier served by a “friend.” I felt welcome.
  • I’ll visit Maoz more than I otherwise would have.
  • And I’m telling you about it! Spreading the good word.