“The Three-Minute Rule” by Anthony Tjan (Harvard Business Review, 22 January 2010). Let’s look past the trying too hard title and focus on bottom line — context. Nearly everything from web design, ad design or a phone conversation, to buying a product or using service – exists within context. Furthermore, it’s crucial to keep in mind that the context is often not yours but theirs. So, as has been mentioned here quite a few times before, be sure to add Context’s twin Empathy to your checklist.
Essential pull quote:
These situations illustrate the narrow-mindedness to which it is easy to fall prey. In the Thomson example, we were thinking of ourselves as a data provider, though we were really part of a broader workflow solution. We failed to realize the importance of customer context over our own product capability. In the cross-selling and shopping-basket examples, the three-minute rule reminds us that rearranging the context of a shopping experience to better meet customer patterns can be extremely effective. Customers seek solutions, but it is likely that your offering is only part of one. The three-minute rule is a forcing mechanism to see the bigger picture and adjacent opportunities.
Understanding context is certainly important, but to truly interpret it correctly one must also have a healthy supply of empathy.
“Using Checklists to Prevent Failure – Interview of Dr. Atul Gawande” by Harvard Business IdeaCast (Havard Business Review, 22 January 2010). This 15+ minute audio interview is going to save you hours, if not days as well as avoid excessive stressful moments. A classic case of what should be obvious and second nature is really a handy reminder. Thanks doc!
In a nut shell: Think ahead, develop a plan, keep it simple, write it down, communicate, get and keep the rest of the team on the same page, avoid getting bumped off track by refering to the plan but be flexible.
Further proof that more often than not best practices are not rocket science.
“Bill Gates Sets Out His Global Charitable Goals” (NPR.org, 25 January 2010). As a supplement to yesterday’s post, here is a link to Mr. Gates being interviewed on National Public Radio’s (NPR) Talk of the Nation.
For the most part Mr. Gates’ perspective is global. He does however mention during the inteview that s in the United States the two biggest issue his foundation is addressing are helping teachers and online learning. Contrast this with the fact that Uncle Sam’s approach has lead to a system where only 60% of the students who start high school actually graduate. The irony comes when one considers how many massive corporations jump through tax loopholes to avoid paying into the system and then those same outfits also expect to have a well educated work force available so they can be even more profitable.
Is the system just dented and bent, or broken and in need of a complete makeover?
“2010 Annual Letter from Bill Gates” by Bill Gates (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 25 Janueary 2010). While certainly not an oracle, Mr. Gates, former Microsoft head honcho, is well established and well connected and needless to say very very wealthy. If you’re curious about what’s ahead then invest some time in Mr. Gates’ thoughts. In short, good economy, bad economy or New Economy, we have a lot of work to do.
In the event you don’t make it to the last page, Bill says:
I have decided to take the notes I make after taking a trip, reading a book, or meeting with someone interesting and pull them together on a web site called www.gatesnotes.com. This will let me share thoughts on foundation-related topics and other areas on a regular basis. I expect to write about tuberculosis, U.S. state budgets, creative capitalism, and philanthropy in Asia, among other things.
What is interesting is that many of The Gates’ concerns are resource and/or “head count” driven. Yet, there is little mention of population and population control as a means to helping solve some of these problems. We’d all agree that technolgy can be a wonderful tool, but let’s not forget about (changing) good ol’ fashion human behavior as a means to a better ends.
“Frequently Asked Questions About Google Wave” by LifeHacker.com (www.LifeHacker.com). Wave – some love it, some don’t, some don’t know what to think, and finally others have yet to try it. Regardless of which category you fall into this article and associated comments (which are always insightful) should help you decide where you are, or maybe where you should be on this H2O based subject.
Have you tried it? And … ?
Wired magazine (www.Wired.com) has collected a series of articles on failure. The title of the grouping is, “How To Fail: Screw ups, disasters, misfires, flops. Why losing big can be a winning strategy.” Take some time, these are sure to put the value of “R&D” into proper perspective.
“Accept Defeat: The Neuroscience of Screwing Up” by Jonah Lehrer
“Stay in the Game: The Fall and Rise of Alec Baldwin” by Scott Brown
“Learn to Let Go: How Success Killed Duke Nukem” by Clive Thompson
“Time Your Attack: Oracle’s Lost Revolution” by Daniel Roth
“My Greatest Mistake: Learn From Six Luminaries” by Wired Magazine
“Accidental Art: Three Alternate Histories” by Christoph Niemann
For those who like to look up at the stars then “Six Luminaries” is the obvious first read. Other than that, just dive in. Don’t be afraid to pick the wrong one. And for those of you who like to believe that the key to success is perfection. Well, you’re making a big mistake.
“How To Bounce Back: The Last Drop” by Miles Austin as told to Charles Curtis (ESPN Magazine, December 2009). First, to the non-sports fans out there please excuse the sports “analogy” — but it works. Second, for reasons unknown to mortal man & woman, this (brief) article was only in ESPN’s print edition. No, AU value add today. That time is being invested in typing this in for you.
It’s a receiver’s most egregious sin: dropping a pass when he’s wide open. But that transgression might actually be a necessary evil.
Just ask Cowboys’ wideout Miles Austin. The way he tells it, his bobble during the first half of Dallas’ Week 5 win over Kanas City helped him break the franchise record for receiving yards. That day, he went for 250 yards, 234 gained after the drop. Since then, Austin has averaged 17.4 ypc (yard per catch) and scored 4 TDs (touch downs). We asked the four-year vet how he used his big mistake to come back big.
“Right before halftime, Tony Romo threw a fade pass to the corner of the end zone. For some reason, I lost concentration and didn’t stick my arm out for enough. The ball went off my hands, and immediately, I thought, I have to lock back in. Mentally, I treated the moment like the game had started over. Luckily, the worked. For the rest of the day, I attacked the ball and tried to reach out and grab the ball before it hit me.”
“When I drop a ball I think I should have caught, I focus more during practice the week afterward. For example, right before Wednesday practices, we run what’s called pat-and-go. To warm up, the quarterbacks will throw a few fade routes to us. That’s a point where you could easily lose focus, but that’s when I try to concentrate more on the looking the ball in.
“In Week 9, against the Eagles, Romo threw the same type of ball to me on the opposite side of the field. I looked it on and caught it, the same way I wanted to catch the one I missed the month before. That turned out to be the game-winning touchtown”
We all drop the ball. We all make mistakes at work. We all make resolutions and then have transgressions. The point is, don’t get sucked into the black hole of a past you can not change. Just get up, learn your lesson and keep going. Also be sure to forgive your “team mates” when they drop the ball too.
“Think Beyond Your Means” by Robert S. Levin – Editor-in-chief (The New York Report Magazine, 23 December 2009). For one reason or another it’s been somewhat slow starting this year in finding material to blog about. Not to worry, Mr. Robert S. Levin uncorks another bottle of bubbly inspiration. This was his Letter-from-the-editor in the latest issue so it’s a quick read. No need for pull quotes, etc. required.
Also, kudos to NY Report for beta launching their new web site: http://www.NYReport.com. As small biz resources go, this outfit consistently provides “good stuff”.
“How the 2010 Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leaders were chosen” by Ellen Fanning and Mari Keefe (Computer World, 7 December 2009). Before you side step this article with, “But I’m not in IT” or “I’m not a CIO” — pause that thought for moment. Dismiss the “IT Leadership” bit and look at this grading scale from these four perspectives:
1) Consider these as leadership qualities that are universal, not just for IT.
2) You don’t have to be at the top of the org chart to be a leader. This is especially true if you want to get to the top of the org chart.
3) In many cases, these criteria also apply to brands, not just individuals. How well does your brand lead? Or not?
4) Finally, instead of “were chosen” substitute “will be chosen” and adjust your resolutions for the year ahead as you see fit.
Which of these dozen or so characteristics do you value most in a leader? What characteristics did Ms. Fanning and Ms. Keefe miss? Who is your leadership hero?
“The future is a gimmick” by David Weinberger (KM World, 1 Jan 1 2010). The parties are over and it’s back to reality – cold, non-stop reality. But let’s not be foolish and try to break into a full sprint from a dead stop. It’s always smart to loosen up a bit. As you sip your coffee and gear up for 2010, consider this article toe touches and jumping jacks. Enjoy!