ALIGNING PEOPLE & TEAMS WITH THEIR GENIUS
The moment when there's no more staples in your stapler always comes unexpectedly. You know that moment when you are in your flow, you turn to staple some documents and you feel within your hands that the gentle resistance that indicates a well staple stack of paper is gone... Perhaps, this is an opportunity to design a stapler that displays when you are almost out of staples!
Books are about spreading ideas and growing in some ways from it. One of the way we "spread ideas" the most is by sharing with people around us quotes and passages that moved us from something we read.
A simple feature that online book stores and publishers could add to their books is the ability to share exerpts from a book with others as a promoting tool for the book (receivers could rate, comment and of course purchase the book) and even a feedback tool for the author on what resonnates with his readership.
Tools that allow sharing and caring for an audience will do so much to spread worthy ideas.
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When fire burns in your gut,
notice what you've learned.
Notice the heritage running/
Fire, down under - must be - something - to worry - about
> a lot.
Notice you learned that feeling the fire down under
meant you must drown your heart,
notice how slowly you learned the killing game.
Slowly too, I discover…
Your fire will not burn you the way you think
that fire, brings pain.
Perhaps, it was scary for those around you
but that fire is light.
So notice the messages through distortions
calling you, begging you, imploring you
to learn to live
I wrote this in response to Penelope Trunk's great post on creativity and productivity.
The way you channel strength and vulnerability in your post is remarkable! It makes your writing fresh and authentic.
Beyond goals, I find the real inquiry that creates more focus (and engagement) lies in discovering what values are truly important to us. Sometimes, just reviewing those values during the week makes a huge difference to realign ourselves and find what is truly meaningful in our goals.
So I would say that it is sometime hard to stick to the "A- to do list" when our goals are not really an expression of values we have determined or discovered for ourselves. I would even argue that we must let space for the sublime to feed more and more the mundane. So that when you write your to do list, answer to a post, coach, wash the dishes (the mundane), you feel the connection to something sublime that only you could have come up with.
This great article from the New York Times inspired me to learn more about the concepts of content and value as applied to the entertainment world.
Value and content were once the same thing. After all, if television said it was good for us, surely it was, right? But as most of us realize, things have changed - and so too have the concepts of value and content.
In the past, the very people who determined content were often the same people establishing what our values would be. They did this by telling us that their content was valuable. We had no choice. They even set the time we needed to watch or pay attention. This has changed profoundly.
Executives worry constantly about content for their new media platforms, and I realize how the executive mindset has not changed. The progressively emerging reality shows that people will be willing to pay for value as opposed to prioritizing content. Content is simply not necessarily valuable anymore! This is nothing new! But our current media context reveals the lies we have to buy into.
Every time you are willing to let go of being right: love ends war (thanks Anant). Try it at work, try it in with your relationships, try it everywhere.
I answered a series of questions posed by Sally Hogshead's (trust me, she is beautiful!) clever survey about the 7 triggers that make humans and their messaging fascinating. Her argument is that all of us have certain traits in us (some active, some dormant) and that we can explore ways to make them more explicit. My primary trigger is vice, the secondary is lust and the dormant trait is trust.
Without having read the book or spent money buying it, I have already received great value from the author, who put this book together. To me, what's becoming clearer each day is that there is an open field to offer products and services that are not about the offerings, but about the value of what is received. For example, what if publishers where more concerned about the emotional and human value, the collateral benefit to customers buying their books, rather than the selling of the book.
Perhaps, when you are selling books, you are not so much in the business of printing, distributing, or arguing over the evil of e-books. You are in the business of moving people, to help them grow, to inspire them. What if a publisher was doing everything he could to understand the impact of his books on people?
I bet that no matter what business your are in, you could put a greater emphasis on those who are being touched by your services and products. Perhaps, changing your entire mindset to see beyond the current end result, so you can track how in the long run, people are actually transformed positively by what you offer.
One of the great things about the recent evolution of the web is the extended ability we
have to share what matters to us and what resonates with us. In a way, the way
validates our human needs to inspire and inspire other.
I recently bought Mindsight from Dan Siegel on the Amazon kindle application for the
iphone. Surprisingly, the reading experience on the iphone is wonderful and one of the
simple features I enjoy the most is the ability to highlight and take notes in the text.
Not only does it allow me to browse through the text to see where I indicated interesting passage, but it also allow me to look at all the highlights and notes I took while I was reading, at the
When I read a great book, something I deeply enjoy is to talk about what I am reading
and why not share my experience with other. Why not offering, as a way to spread the
word around a book, the capacity to share passages of the book (say 5 passages per
book) through different social network. The quote could come with a connection to the
book’s blog, Facebook page, to the author’s twitter account, to Amazon, Borders, etc.
Graphically, there is a lot of potential to make the spread a real call to action that would
entice new sales.
Through such a marketing strategy, there is a real potential to help books do what they
do best, which is to go viral and touch the people around us. When we read a great
book, we want to share it with others. Publishers have a chance to make it easier, while
abandoning their old ways about intellectual property.
I was talking with two great colleagues of mine over lunch when we started talking about inner radiance and personal strength. To put it simply, we started talking about super powers. As straightforward as it is, many people you will meet over your next business/personal meetings will have no idea what their super power(s) is/are.
For instance, a few weeks ago, I was meeting with a senior vice-president about an upcoming project in New York. When asked about the role I could see myself playing, I became unclear, losing the focus of my message. Luckily, I will have another chance at making clear what power I could bring to the project, but we don't get to have a second chance everyday.
As much as you can, do the work of listening to discover what your strengths are. Don't go for the obvious strengths, remember how every superhero has distinctive traits that make him indispensable and remarkable. With every team I worked with, I used a number of tools to get to know them better and almost always, I used Strength Finder as a tool to build self-awareness and collective emotional intelligence that leads to the acceptance that everybody in the team brings some type of super power.
When it is clear to you know what your strengths and special gifts are, spend time condensing them into a few words. My superpower for instance is to connect people to what's truly great in them. I am also great at linking ideas, making them grow and see the potential behind them. In short, I am a great connector, of people and of ideas.
You will have numerous unplanned opportunities to share with other what your superpowers are. Do the precious work of clarifying what these special strengths are to you, the world needs your super powers, starting with you!
We all have blind spots. Right now, just because of the way you are positioned in the space you occupy, your point of view, literally is limited. Between two people in the same room, the person who has the larger perspective is likely to make better decision, ask more astute questions and provide a richer context on what she sees than the one with less perspective.
One way to quickly expand your perspective or reduce your blind spots is to find in your entourage someone who will play the role of sounding board. It can be a friend whose judgment you value, a professional consultant, or even a skilled therapist, whom you evaluated and trust. The idea is to explore with someone else, through open feedback. It's a great way to practice receiving feedback and in the meantime opening your perspective to unexpected point of view.
When facing a difficult problem or though knot in a relationship that does not see to go away no matter what you do, it can be disarmingly simple to open up to the perspective of someone you know, who does not know you too well so they can remain objective. I bet that a lot of the stuff we find difficult in our life and our business is connected to blind spots we will never discover unless someone is ready to hold the mirror for you and give you feedback. It's a reminder that we can't do it alone.
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In this great article about Microsoft culture of innovation, we are witness of the pitfalls of a workplace that grew allergic to creative collaboration and its devastating effect on their ability to innovate. What can be done about it? I don't see any chance for a collaborative culture to exist if there is no place for debate and no collective maturity (that starts from the formal leaders of the organization) about the importance of conflict as a source of discovery and growth.
As in a relationship, the inability to use the energy of conflict and debate to create breakthroughs will lead the organization to power struggles without a connection to the collective welfare of the group. It then all becomes about you or worse about your group, your department. We see how internal power struggle within Microsoft slowed down their process to a point where years later, the Ipad was able to propose to the market a product that much more compelling, although Microsoft had tablet computer out in the market 10 years ago!
There is a great value at adding to the indicators of success for your group, your project and even your small team a qualitative appreciation of your collaborative culture. It can be as simple as a scale from 1 to 10. You can even ask your colleagues to do the same and use the results to start a conversation about improving the collaborative culture. Sure there are governance and other high-level corporate approaches to trigger a more collaborative place in bigger companies, but I am almost certain that Microsoft had these corporate governance structures in place.
Sometimes, it is about something much more simple. Assessing where you are, where your team is when it comes to collaboration in connection with innovation? Figuring out how to improve on the some of the findings. From how you brainstorm as group, to what type of meetings gets mostly organize and what is the employees evaluation of the utility of the meetings your team goes . These can all be qualitative indicators to help you get a better sense of how to navigate away from creative destruction.
Here is an excerpt of this article in the NYT:
"In January, the chef Jason Neroni of Blanca, north of San Diego, blasted back at anonymous critics who had posted negative comments on Yelp.com. “Yelp is for cowards,” he tweeted, who don’t have the courage “to say anything while in your restaurant.”
He has a point! Although I love eating in restaurants, there are too many times where for a reason or another, when the experience was either awful, or there was a suggestion I felt would improve things for the owner, I did not act on it. To make it even clearer, one of my neighbors owns a restaurant close to our home and despite observing from going to her restaurant that some adjustment could make a difference in the success of her place, I still feel uneasy when I see her, unable to open up to her. After all, preparing food for people, even in some really bad restaurants, can be a labor of love and who has a heart really wants to crush a dream!
Here is my take on Neroni's comment, he is right, most of us are cowards! But I see an opportunity for restaurants, other type of organizations and even you in your own personal life. How easy right now is it to get real feedback, good or bad from the people you work with and from those you serve? Why not to make it really, really easy for people to give you feedback and complain or rave about what you do? There is an opportunity to offer your customers, restaurant patrons and others, new, easy and compelling ways to tell you what do they think about you.
Here's one simple proposition that you can make yours: why not creating a board of honor, that could be seen by all of your clients? You could show feedback from customers that made a real difference in the way you deliver your service. You could start raving about clients who respond to what you do, good or not. Nobody expect you to be perfect,but people love to see you improve.
Imagine if you can start doing this at home!
There is a fundamental difference between a clown and a buffoon. A clown's motivation is to attract laughter, to act in ways that will make you laugh. In direct opposition, the buffoon, a different style of clowning is here to laugh at you, to make fun of you and even to insult you. He is getting away with it because he smiles all along, constantly, grimacing his way into the world. He is ridiculous, but it is in his absolute disobedience that sits his power. Because what drives his behavior is the need for food (any kind of food) and cheap sex (if he is lucky!) . The buffoon is much less likable than the clown who despite his fringe and outcast appearance, is constantly looking for love and approval.
Both archetype (among others) exists in us as the exist in the psyche of your ideal audiences. Both have strengths and weaknesses that must be kept in our awareness. When you work on a project to spread an idea, it can be useful, in the context of making your idea stick, to determine if the identity of your project is more clown or buffoon. This approach can give you useful creative insights as to what tone to give your work depending of your intention to provoke to shock or cajole to surprise.
What critics and observers (most) don't understand about Apple's latest move is that the Ipad is announcing a new era of information mobility and the leaders at Apple understand the shift in action. They realize that real digital mobility will not be achieved through mobile phones and smart phones as we know them now; although, the communication tools they provide are indispensable.
Real mobility, (sorry Nokia!), will be achieved by new tools that will truly allow a link to the growing Web, everywhere, conveniently. In 5 years, we will find incredibly awkward to open a laptop to work and explore the web. Even a netbook in its actual form will feel clumsy. The Ipad, no matter what it's success will be, is accelerating this new transition for the user.
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This was a surprise because what I had not realized until then is how ineffective most hand dryers are. We could create the Angie's list of hand dryers in restaurants, airport washroom and other places all around the world and I sense that the global evaluation of users would not be positive. We need a global revolution in hand dryers, because I realized through my experience yesterday that we came to not expect much from them.
When it doesn't work, it's expected. When you have to press 5 times on the activation button and your hands are still soaking wet, it's expected. We are just not surprise by these poor performances, but yesterday was different and I started to ask myself why?
Was it because the designer who work on the prototype actually test it? Was is that they had the end-user in mind and therefore manage to calculate how much time you need with a certain amount of water to dry to average human pair of hands? My sense is that they did not built it just to make a profit, but somehow they also cared about the people who were going to use their product.
What about you? It's great to come up with a solution, but what space to you give to empathy in your conceptualization? When do you start to think about the user of your product, the audience of your presentation, the people that your foundation is going to help, the assistant you are delegating to? If you care, you will think about them sooner rather than later.
Even before we could decide on it, right in the virtual or real womb of our mothers, we were already growing and evolving as unique expressions of a common diversity. Before we even consciously knew that we were a singular manifestation of life's creative force, creativity was circulating at rapid speed in us . During the process, small and big mistakes were possible; yet many of us beat the odds and manage to be carried out of a human belly and into the world.
Several voices, one of them belonging to Sir Ken Robinson, have recently called for a radical new approach to education. The common theme from this collective call is that our openness to mistakes in the work we are trying to do linked to our growing ability to accept perceived failures has an integral part of a creative approach to life, has become something crucial. In other words, we need to adopt a mindset that puts the ability to learn from mistakes and the openness to make a lot of mistakes has a fundamental part of the creative mind of our children, our business and our collectivity.
I am observing in my life that the ability to recognize mistakes, to be open to learn from them becomes pivotal for whoever wants to build and nurture intimate relationships that are truly nurturing. It's interesting to notice that through this perspective, conflicts and other "failures" in our relationships can potentially become gateways to unique and creative approaches to resolving our difficulties. When we become truly curious, courageous; facing the conflicts and hardship in our relationships, we give our creative mindset a chance to grow and look at things from a new perspective. Sometimes we stay in relationships that are destructive for us, because of that fear of failure (social, psychological, ancestral, etc.). We have yet to realize that the first territory of creativity can be found in our own life.
On this Valentine day, are you staying connected to people who won't admit their mistakes, no matter what? Are you allowing mistakes and failure into your life or trying to be perfect? Sometime, the best creative decisions is to let go, and you can only do that when you accept that failure is part of the creative process, each idea, venture, projects, relationship doesn't always work. If you remain open to failure as a creative engine of change, you realize that mistakes truly happen and that the are sources of profound transformation.
You and I have probably seen hundreds of live presentations. From the high level CEO address to the most intimate team project presentation on PowerPoint or Keynote, to the creative director's take on the new show in pre-production. To this day, I am still amazed how small details can make a big difference in your next presentation and improve the power of your message. One of my great mentor in this area is Garr Reynolds from Presentation Zen.
For example, when we are regularly looking at the screen (to read the content of the slide or just to have a reference of where we are in our presentation) as oppose to connecting with the audience, we undermine both the message and the audience. When you show care for what's on your screen more then your public, it feels like a dead conversation between a screen and a human being; therefore you exclude us, the audience. Moreover, when you have a difficult message to put across, you lose your audience in a very short time. So here is my personal take on helping your message to stick.
Abandon bad animation, bad clip art and bad graph. The world doesn't need more pie charts, it's needs more connections! Unless it is really well done, outdated or poorly designed visuals distract your audience and seriously undermine your message. Humans, even without any graphic design training are becoming increasingly aware of the power of visual cues. Go for simplicity by exposing less in words and evoking more with simple, well done images and physical visual cues.
To promote a more direct contact with your audience, use a wireless remote presenter like this one to gain full control of the slides you are presenting. It seem obvious, but I still see high level presentations or by marketing agencies where people have no clue of the power and the simplicity of such a tool. When you control your slide's transitions, you no longer have to say to that person at the back of the room that nobody sees "next slide please!". It removes the focus on the slide and puts it back where it belongs, on your message.
Last, whenever possible, find a small table or a stand discreet enough to put your laptop on, in front of you and opposite to your audience. This will be your screen of reference, supporting your message and helping you to keep the focus on your audience as oppose to the screen behind you.
Remember, the slides are supporting you in delivering your message, not the other way around!
More importantly, the JCCH asked me to give a presentation inspired by their 2009 year's theme: "Dare", ("Osez", in French).
I don't like to tell people what to do so there was no way I was going to come up with Welby's 10 commandments! Nevertheless, it gave me the opportunity to look back on my professional and personal contributions; and share some observations about what continue to help me grow and dare.
7 observations - not a recipe - to dare!
I notice that when people get a little bit of seniority into an organization, they start to feel too busy (or too important!) or both to leave a greeting message on their voice-mail themselves. Traditionally, it was a sign of high status to have your secretary leave a message in your name, stating "hi, you have reached the voice-mail of xyz Director of abc, this person is not available now, but leave a message...". I think it's just not a good idea anymore (and probably never was) and here's why:
- It suggest that you delegate a lot of irrelevant/low purpose tasks to your staff
- It sends the message that you don't know how to operate your voice-mail
- It shows that you neglect how important your own voice is, in establishing meaningful connection
- Frankly... we want to hear your voice and get an impression of who you are!
In larger organizations (and in smaller one too!), information between departments can be hard to get (red tape, gridlock, poor collaborative culture). We just have a natural tendency to hold on to information while we are working on the projects we are starting and developing.One way that can work to be an agent of change in your organization, is just to make up part of the information to the people you need the information from. In essence, when you need to have some information to move your contribution forward, you can share what you know and fill the gap with information that's as plausible as you can come up with, or that you know in absolutely false. Most of the time, the people concerned with your note will react by presenting the real and updated information.
According to this report, tens of thousand of people are at risk of dying in Haiti because the country is facing a perfect storm of calamities. Key transit roads have been destroyed or severely damaged, the State infrastructure of the country, mostly concentrated in Port-au-Prince literally collapsed, the only airport is overwhelmed by the need; in addition, the densely populated area (3 million people approx.) makes the challenge of helping by providing basic food, water and shelter, an immense project.
What is also mentioned in most of the reports I read in the past few days is how fear of violence from looting by criminal groups and from the exhausted population in need, is making the process of delivering food even slower. After all, it would be counterproductive to send aid workers in situations where the risk of random violence complicates an already dangerous work context.
Considering the reports and the expertise of the aid workers, I would like to argue that although it is undeniable that what the Haitian population urgently need right now is water, food, shelter and basic security, there is something as important that's never really mentioned in such catastrophic situations. I would argue that Haitian needs empowerment and that one way to do this would be to involve elements of the population in the effort. Nowhere did I read that aid organizations are planning to use what I would call "natural leadership" within the Haitian population.
I can imagine that as part of the efforts, a number of individuals are named responsible for a group of people, accountable to them while supporting the aid workers in their efforts to help the population. Even in such a dire situation, there are already some leaders, known and unknown ready to rise to the challenge despite the terrible condition and help the fellow countrymen. My message is simple, aid workers have a crucial role to play in the next 72 hours; and a powerful message to send to the Haitian population would be to identify, name and hire a number of local individuals to help accelerate the effort. I think that such initiative could open new field of intervention in catastrophic natural disaster and impact on the need for social innovation, even in such desperate situation.
Haitians, like any other human beings, are proud and resilient. Right now, a number of local individuals, who are on the ground and suffering with the rest of the population, who have or don't have any formal education, who can or can't read, who are from the right or the left, are ready to rise to the challenge and help the aid workers and help people around them. For too long, the Haitian population has been told what to do, has been told to wait for their turn. This is an opportunity to send a bold message and connect Haitians to their higher collective destiny.
I love bagels and Montreal is fortunate enough to have one of the best place on earth to buy them. Ever since I am a teenager, I develop a passion for finding and using the best tool possible to complete my favorite tasks, and I fond out that there was nothing better than a knife bread to halve a bagel... That is until today, because I couldn't find the knife bread (or perhaps I was too lazy to look for it in the dishwasher!), I decided to use a fish knife and discovered that it was doing an even better job than my usual tool!
It's an obvious lesson, but one worth reminding ourselves. The tools we use to create the most impact in the world are not always the ones we think of. Perhaps, we tend to use the same set of tactics, convinced of their effectiveness and comforted by experts and label validating that these are the best tools to face that particular challenges. There is real value lying under experimenting using unorthodox approaches and tactics to solve problems we usually tackle the same way, time after time.
RT @freshmoco: Fanciful, magical, fragile glass creations, Focus the Unknown Crystal by Christian Haas http://t.co/aEfYDBEfsy
RT @designtaxi: Street art-style ads remind people that prostitutes are also mothers http://t.co/Yd5MuLvxFb
RT @carmelelise: Let the overachieving NYC children's lemonade stand olympics begin. http://t.co/4aFcf5kA21
Who’s Doing the Learning? http://t.co/lW8T9eqFxE
@DanaBrass so lovely to hear from you! Yes the soft opening went beyond our wildest dream. Thanks for your good words. Hope you are well x
RT @CreativeFlats: Unreal@NickKristof: More Americans die from guns in 6 months than from 25 YRS of terrorism & Iraq, Afghan wars combined …
RT @BiIIMurray: No matter how baddass you are, if a child hands you a plastic phone, you answer it.
RT @JanelleMonae: Thinking of you Oklahoma. Thinking hard and praying. Man.
A trim leads to a hardcore MJ fan! Waiting for a cut, hearing Man in The Mirror... (@ A Cut Above The Rest) http://t.co/Tavj6ti2kj
Time flying! 4 days left to MJ ONE 1st dress rehearsal. Gaining perspective in one of my fav place in LV. (@ eat.) http://t.co/6gTuZ2dHDI
Enlightening! What education should foster and stem from! Diversity, curiosity for the world and local empowerment! http://t.co/6lZvlFMjEn
To resist or not to resist? http://t.co/mWbJskjVBQ Thanks Matthew Whelan for sharng this!
"A Conversation About Being Busy Is Barely a Conversation at All" good read http://t.co/ilDQs8pM0n
@hannahdreier lovely to connect today. Thanks for coming and share the inspiration!
RT @lagorio: Just seeing this. Wow. @heyfeifer @BostonMagazine May cover of @BostonMagazine, made of shoes worn in the marathon. http://t.c…
RT @AnnieHorth: Vraiment joli,bravo @callaparis: Blown away by the beautiful window displays of Comptoir des Cotonniers in Paris🌸🌺🌹 http://…
RT @CreativeFlats: Love it!! Many Thxs to @SuzanneDimmaHH for cov. our Old Mtl realisation "Small But Chic Studio Apt. " @HouseandHome ht…