10/26/2006

The Toyota Way of Innovation

Sanjay Dalal at Creativity Driving Innovation in Business has an interesting post entitled Toyota's Innovation Factory.
"How does an organization implement one million new creative ideas each year? And become a perennial top ten profitable companies of the world. And achieve market leadership while relentlessly pursuing perfection and delivering some of the best new innovations the world has ever seen."












Sanjay's article describes:
  • Toyota's three guiding principles for driving innovation
  • three blockers of innovation
  • ten practices for making innovation happen
Definitely worth a read, as is Sanjay's Six Ways To Find Innovation.



posted by Mike at 6:31 PM 0 comments links to this post


10/25/2006

Why Can't I Control My Feet?

[Originally posted at 100 Bloggers]

While looking for some music to write change management assessments by, I wandered over to the Internet Archive and stumbled across a live performance by the Rebirth Brass Band. I defy you to listen to more than two songs while sitting completely still! Here's a phrase I never thought I'd type - hot tuba licks - but they've got 'em. Infectious energy is the best way to describe what you'll hear, so if you need a mood enhancer, give them a listen!

My dad graduated from high school in 1956. He had an prodigious collection of 45's from the 50's. He gave my younger brother an old 45 player, and for some reason 3-year-old Phil became fixated with Fats Domino's "I'm Walking". I'm sure he played that platter several thousand times. So when I heard it today I almost fell over! It was a literal sonic blast from the past!!

Enjoy these boys from New Orleans...The Rebirth Brass Band!



posted by Mike at 10:11 PM 0 comments links to this post


10/23/2006

Wrath of the Football Gods - One Year Later

Last November, Spooky Action broke the news about a curse on the Green Bay Packers
"Green Bay Packer Fans: Do you get the feeling the Pack is cursed this year?

I have good news and bad news for you.

The bad news is that the team IS cursed.

The good news is that the curse could end as soon as 2007."
The specifics of the curse:

"I don't like what I'm seeing here. At least they didn't include a team beauty salon. But they're turning this place from a stadium teams used to fear into the Green and Gold Resort and Day Spa. Those guys are about this far away from invoking my wrath!"




Time passes...



"That's the last straw!!"

"What?"



"See that little plaque in the middle there?
It marks the fact that we are standing in Harlan Plaza!"





"But isn't he still alive?"









"Very much so, but he and Sherman are going to get the Moses treatment for all this. They'll never get to the Promised Land of football. In fact, they'll never win another playoff game!"






So here we are, roughly one year later. Let's catch up on events since...



"So Vince, how's that curse of your working out?"



"Not too bad, Curly. In fact, we're right on schedule to return to the playoffs in 2007. Mike Sherman got his walking papers after last season, and Bob Harlan is still planning to retire at the end of this season. With this year's team at 2-4 with 3 home losses, I'd say the playoffs are out of the picture for this year. The only part of the prediction that didn't come true, thankfully, is that Brett Favre decided to return even though Sherman was gone."









"Um, Vince, 2-4 and winless at home...I'm having a hard time figuring out how they get to the playoffs next year."








"Despite the fact that they've got a roster full of rookies, a whole new blocking scheme, a whole new coaching staff, and one healthy experienced wide receiver, they've been competitive in all of the games but one. The blocking is getting better each week, the defense is starting to gel, and the kids on the roster are stepping up. I've got them penciled in to finish the season 9-7, but out of the playoffs due to those early losses. I orginally thought they'd end up 8-8, but after watching that Monday Night Bears-Cardinals game, I'm convinced that the Packers will beat the Bears at Soldier Field the last week of the season. On the strength of that performance (and the lack of dominant NFC teams), I see Favre returning next year to lead the Pack back to the promised land in 2007!"





"I hate to throw cold water on this little green and gold fantasy, but my Monsters of the Midway drubbed your Packers 26-0 at Lambeau Field on opening weekend! You got some nerve predicting the Packers will win at our place in December!"











"So Papa Bear, how did a Cardinals team with a first-time-starter at quarterback cut up your vaunted defense? Admit it, you used up everything in your bag of tricks to help your guys pull off that victory. A team with a sharp short passing game and no-huddle offense will do even better. And if Arizona's turnstile defense can shut down your offense, I think our chances are pretty good."







"Oh yeah? I think our boys will kick your collective asterisks around Soldier Field!"








"You crack me up, Halas! We'll talk again after the season is over and see who was right."











"So remember Packer fans. The glory days are coming back, and sooner than most of you think!"



posted by Mike at 9:31 PM 0 comments links to this post


10/19/2006

The Awesome Destructive Power of "Them"

Normally you ask a question before you answer it, right?

David Maister, never one to bow to convention for convention's sake, recently asked "How Did You Lose Your Innocence?" referring to people adopting cynical attitudes:
"I have been doing a lot of client work in the last few weeks in many countries, meeting people young and old in professional businesses.

My message is one of the economic benefits of optimism, professionalism and high standards, but it is met most often with a dejected, beaten-down cynicism.

Many times during my latest trip I was told things like: 'David. It would be very nice to have your ideals: to believe that the managers with the highest integrity get the best work and the highest profits out of the group they manage. But don’t task-masters and slave-drivers also get results?'"

A great question; but one that David himself answered two weeks before in Us and Them:
"The September 4 issue of The New Yorker contains an article about a researcher, Spelke, who studies babies and infants to try and detect whether or not there are gender differences in how our minds really work.

What I found most stimulating of all in the piece was the following Spelke quote: “Nobody should be troubled by our research, whatever we come to find. Everyone should be troubled by the phenomena that motivate it: the pervasive tendency of people all over the world to categorize others into social groups, despite our common humanity, and to endow these groups with social and economic significance that fuels ethnic conflict and can even lead to war and genocide.”"
And six days before in It's THEIR Fault!:
"Something happens to me whenever I give speeches. At some point, when I am doing what I was hired to do and explaining how the people in my audience could perform their roles better, someone always sticks their hand up and says: “It’s not us, it’s them!”"
Spooky Action regulars, Charlie Munger, and Bob Cialdini know what's going on here. For those that might need a refresher, let's bring in the boys from How to Make Important Decisions.



If you haven't seen it in a previous post, there's something funny about this picture. The boys are marching in the wrong order, right?

Nope.

Ogg, representing your r-Complex reptile brain - the fight-or-flight brain - has seniority over the others. Ogg's world view is simple:
  • Prey -> Them
  • Predator -> THEM
  • Mate -> Us, for now
Thag, the guy in the middle representing the right brain, is designed for pattern-matching. Your Thag-brain is constantly grouping people, whether you consciosuly want to group them or not. A recent study (sorry, couldn't find the link in 5 minutes of search) showed that the more multicultural a society, the less trust their was. As educated/sophisticated as we fancy ourselves, Ogg and Thag will naturally categorize/stereotype people. The only thing Oleg, our left brain can do is to influence the categories into which Thag will classify people. Categorizing involves "is like" and "is not like" comparisons. As you might guess, "is like" filters the categorizee into the "us" group. An "Is not like" match puts the categorizee into the "them" group.

This categorizing process isn't inherently problematic. After all, survival of the species relies on Ogg's ability to categorize male vs. female, human vs. [everything else].

The real problem is false attribution of group characteristics to an individual. Our Thag-brains, being good pattern creaters and matchers, naturally devise characteristics for any group we create. Sometimes they're logical conclusions of empirical observations: "Packer fans love the new Lambeau Field" (not a universal).

More often, they're generalizations based on observations of a single member of the group: "My boss didn't approve my suggestion for enterprise-wide radical aromatherapy. All managers are narrow-minded neanderthals!" And to the person who formed that thought, all managers will forever be sloped-foreheaded subhumans. Even if she is the sweetest, generally-non-judgmental person she knows. Sure, a string of non-congruent pleasant experiences with a single manager will allow her to "unlump" that individual from the neanderthal group, but everybody else in the group remains stuck there.
"Alphonse isn't like any of those other managers. He's special. He understands us."
And suddenly one of them becomes one of us.

So what, you ask?

It turns out that we treat "us's" very different from "them's". Our Thag-brains feel a connection to and responsibility for the "us's". And our Thag-brains feel an aversion to and wariness of those "them's".

And all the while your logical left brain doesn't know that your Thag-brain is doing this. You SAY you don't care if someone is a Minnesota Vikings fan, but are you subconsciously discriminating against people wearing purple and yellow (a potentially false grouping!)? Most likely, you are. Sorry. Don't feel bad; you were born that way, and your brain wants to work that way.

But there is a problem. Your Thag-brain treats each "them" as a member of a group, not as an individual.

So what to do?

In dealing with people, force yourself to focus only on the "is like" patterns. How does this person fit into "us"? Start by viewing them as an individual. They're a human being - very general "us". If you're talking to them, you share a common language! Keep building from there. What are their life aspirations? Chances are they want to leave the world a better place than they found it. Hey, so do you! You may not agree on the specifics, but now that you know you're both trying to do the same thing, you have incentive to cooperate. Can't agree on the big stuff like global warming? Maybe there's a smaller idea on which you can agree, like that Packer superiority meme. With some effort, there should be some basis on which to form an "us" relationship.


Boy, is that ever true! After several decades of them-classifying practice, I'm still in the training wheels stage of conscious us-classifying. Here's an easy game almost anyone can play. The next time you get into the car to drive somewhere and become annoyed by another driver's antics, consciously try to imagine what you have in common with that person.
  • "I've done that same Oh-there's-my-turn-let-me-cross-four-lanes-at-once-without-signalling maneuver myself."
  • "Hey, look, she's been to Wall Drug, too!"
  • "He's probably got a lot on his mind. I can relate to that!"
Start small and it will get easier.

Earlier this year I said that Kathy Sierra's 'Crash Course on Learning Theory' post was the best blog content of 2006.
"Go read the only Crash Course in Learning Theory that you'll ever need.

But wait! There's more! In addition to the crash course post, Kathy created a companion PDF Study Guide!"
Up until a few minutes ago I was still convinced of this.

BUT recently I read Steve Pavlina's Soulful Relationships. Now I'm inclined to change my opinion. In his post, Steve provides a crash course in us-classifying and connecting. I tried to find a good pull quote, but you just need to read the whole thing.

Kathy's material is poweful; Steve's is transformational.

Imagine a world in which everyone adhered to Steve's principles.

Can you?

Together we will disarm the awesome destructive power of "them"!
(without having to resort to singing Kumbaya)



posted by Mike at 12:53 PM 1 comments links to this post


10/17/2006

Strande Spanks Barbarians (sorry, no pictures)

Blogfather Jon Strande to Capital One:
"Dear Capital One,

Thank you so much for continuing your correspondence, your persistence in this matter is to be commended. Most people would have given up on me by now, but not you. Your optimism that I may write or call you one day is astonishing... especially given the fact that I don't think I've given any indication that I will. I've been trying to figure out what I did or said that would cause you to have such expectations.

Oh, that's right. I didn't do anything.

Somehow you got my name... and you somehow feel that gives you permission to write me every week, sometimes twice a week. Somehow you feel that you have the right to waste my time. Somehow you feel you have the right waste all the electricity my paper shredder uses eating your junk. Somehow you feel that you have the right to waste the all that paper with your "generous" offers.

You don't.

If I wasn't interested in your service the first, second or 100th time you wrote me, what on earth gives you the hope that the 101st or more might interest me?

I do, however, have something (besides my wallet) that might interest you.. an idea: instead of spending all that money on mailing lists, paper, people stuffing envelopes, and postage, why not do something worth talking about instead? Why not randomly pay peoples bills for them (don't advertise it, just do it)? Why not commit all the cash you spend on marketing to prevent identity theft? Why not allow people to put a certain percentage of their "rewards" to some worthwhile charity and provide matching dollars?"
That last set of suggestions was blindingly brilliant. Bravo, Jon! And encore please!!



posted by Mike at 11:05 PM 5 comments links to this post


10/12/2006

Simple Template for Changing the World

Phil 'Make It Great' Gerbyshak pointed me to Scott 'The Nametag Guy' Ginsberg's free ebook 234 Things I've Learned About Creating, Delivering, and Marketing Speeches. Lots of fun stuff - 8 of the 234 are "Powerpoint Sucks" - should have been more - but one item leapt off the page at me:
"Ask yourself this question: "If everyone in my audience did exactly what I said, what would the world look like?" Once you have the answer, you have a template to follow. Then, just make sure everything you say gives your audience the tools they need to build that world."
Truly inspired advice for speakers, but what about the rest of us?

Managers?
"Ask yourself this question: "If everyone on my team did exactly what I said, what would the world look like?" Once you have the answer, you have a template to follow. Then, just make sure everything you do gives your team the tools they need to build that world."
Parents?
"Ask yourself this question: "If everyone in my family did exactly what I said, what would the world look like?" Once you have the answer, you have a template to follow. Then, just make sure everything you do gives your family the tools they need to build that world."

You get the idea. If you have a vision of a better world, don't just tell people about it. Give them the tools to make it happen! Not sure how to do that?

Why not hire me to help you? Or check out some previous spooky advice. There should be some inspiration in there somewhere, but do think about not just delivering a wonderful vision of the future, but delivering a system for realizing the dream!



posted by Mike at 8:56 PM 2 comments links to this post


10/10/2006

How Lenders Sell Mortgages

Dan Melson at Searchlight Crusade has a great explanation of the various scams strategies that mortgage lenders use to flip turn as big a profit as possible.

Go there and educate yourself, and check out the extensive links of related posts. You're bound to save yourself a wheelbarrow full of money...and since we don't live in the Weimar Republic, that's a very good thing!



And thanks, Dan, for your kinds words about the "How to Make Important Decisions" post!



posted by Mike at 5:11 PM 0 comments links to this post


10/09/2006

Carnival of the Capitalists at BusinessPundit

The third anniversary edition of the Carnival of the Capitalists is up at Rob's place. A lot of great bloggers have submitted items to this edition, so go over there and check them out!

[Ogg, Thag, Oleg, and the Underpants Gnomes all make appearances]

As for Rob's suggestion that Guy Kawasaki's "Why Smart Companies Do Dumb Things" could be turned into a series of posts, I would agree.



posted by Mike at 5:30 PM 0 comments links to this post


10/05/2006

We Are Not All The Same

In my consulting career I had the opportunity to get drop-shipped into many interesting I.T. organizations. Invariably, there were one or more team members whose value to the organization completely mystified me at first, but became abundantly clear over time.

New blogger Alex McCafferty at the SquirreLog has a post entitled We Are Not All The Same, which involves his experience as an African hot air balloon pilot and a bit of an epiphany regarding diversity of this sort.



Now if only I could have been drop-shipped into those I.T. projects via hot air balloon - that would have increased my effectiveness dramatically! I know it would have increased my job satisfaction dramatically.



posted by Mike at 11:12 PM 0 comments links to this post