Think Back, Think Forward

So yesterday I attended a colleagues’s leadership program graduation. 


There were about 20 people in the graduating class. 


One thing that I liked was that when they called up each person to shake hands and get their diplomas, each graduate was given the opportunity to say a few words. 


It was amazing to me how 20 people could give a thank you, what I learned, and what I will do with it speech in 20 completely different ways. 


20 people, 20 personalities, 20 ways of thinking and saying something. 


We really are all the similar to and different from one anther at the same time!


I remember one graduate in particular.


He talked about how the leadership program challenged him, and he said:

It made me think back, and it made me think forward. 


I loved that!


This is really what learning is all about. 


Reflecting back and using that to think forward–how to apply it, how to shape it, and how to innovate from it.


Thinking forward starts with thinking back to where we came from and all the lessons learned in our lives. 


It all starts at the beginning and it goes forward from there. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Perception Is Reality

Hook.jpeg

Sometimes, one person’s clothing hook is another person’s elephant trunk.


Or maybe it’s the other way around that some creative person looked at an elephant and thought:

“Oh my that trunk of his would make a great clothing hook.”


Life mimics art and art imitates life.


And that is flattery both ways. 


Either way perception is reality. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Left-Handed Screwdriver

Left-handed Screwdriver.jpeg

So I’m not so sure what is so funny about a left-handed screwdriver…


Except of course that there is no such thing!


The same screwdrivers work in both the left and rights hands. 


Duh!


But that’s what it is with some people that like to call what they are doing innovation or out-of-the-box thinking.


When really, what’s new to them is just regurgitation of “what’s old is what’s new!”


We can’t just work harder, rather we need breakthrough thinking to work smarter. 


But how many times do you really see smarter happening versus just a different flavor of the month introduced to score points or mark some victory laps. 


Real innovation or transformation means making a new way to screw things together and not just screwing it with a different hand.


Yes, most innovation is really individual small steps that end up in aggregate, making a great leap for mankind. 


Occasionally, someone really does invent the smartphone–now that was smart!


Be careful buying that left-handed screwdriver or into that new methodology for accomplishing great things until you know that it really isn’t more snake oil sold from someone’s bullsh*t soapbox–and that it is from someone with a very big mouth and a very little brain. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Wouldn’t You Like To Be A Govie Too

govie

Some people have a negative perception of government workers (“govies”).  


They think that it’s just a cushy job with a lot of free time and benefits. 


Sort of like the photo above with the lady streched out over her laptop, eyes half shut, and with the lightbulb above her head–thinking up great ideas for running the government and regulating the people. 


Ah, no–it’s not like that at all. 


Okay, maybe a little for some people. 


Having been in both the private and public sectors about 40-60 of my career, I can tell you that there is plenty of unproductiveness (i.e. dead weight) wherever you go. 


But there is also a lot of hardworking (some super hardworking) and really smart people too. 


Yes, there are meetings (lots of them) and paperwork (piled high), but there is also a good amount of out-of-the-box thinking and trying to figure out how to do more with the same or less.  


There is also some really big thinking like how to win the next Big One (i.e. war), how to protect the country from deadly terrorism, disasters, weapons of mass destruction, and cyber attack, how to partner with others around the world to achieve big ambitious projects and peace, how to colonize outer space, protect the environment, and improve the economy, healthcare, education, and so much more. 


Not all the big thinking is good thinking–some of it is unrealistic, biased towards this or that constituency, counterproductive, or even corrupt. 


But many govies really do want to do a great job and save the world!


If you think there isn’t plenty of hard work, passion, dedication–you’re wrong.


If you think, everyone is doing the right thing for the right reasons–your delusional.


Like with people all over the world, there’s a mix of good and some not so good, but overall, there is lots of opportunity to lead, problem solve, and do good and great things with real effect, nationally and globally. 


And if for that alone, being a govie is an amazing career move where you can have an influence on matters of tremendous importance and lasting impact. 


Wild perceptions and pictures can be deceiving–instead think about the hero that you can and want to be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Cool Cat Innovation

Cool Crayola Cat
This is pretty in pink, amazing. 



Look closely at this cat.



The cat is made of full sticks of Crayola Crayons (literally).



The crayons are vertical–base down and point up.



It’s brilliant rather than using the crayons to draw, the artist used the crayons themselves to put together a colorful cat (I also saw he made a dog and a guitar like this).



Very creative…novel…a different way of thinking. 



We need this cool cat thinking, and from everyone, to drive to solutions and for a brighter future–we can! 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Try Something New, Relax

So you work hard and play hard.You’re always in “on mode”.

Of course, it’s a 24 x 7 world.

Welcome to the 21st century.

Well it’s time to stop!

Take a time out.

Some time to think.

Enjoy life again.

Become a human being.

Here is your test: Go to Do Nothing for 2 Minutes.

– Your only goal for the next 2 minutes is to look at the ocean, listen to the waves and the birds, and relax–really.

– If you touch the mouse or keyboard, you fail and have to start over again.

See if you can do it.

See if you can calm your mind.

See if you can get off the treadmill.

See if you can free yourself from anxiety and pain.

When you can just do this–for 2 minutes, you’ll realize what you’ve been missing.

Now try Calm–no time limit this go around–you’ve earned it.

You’ll are better for it and your family, friends, and colleagues notice the difference.

It’s not a new you, just a rediscovered you.

Find and enjoy peace!

>Breakthrough Thinking and Enterprise Architecture

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Breakthrough thinking is at the heart of great enterprise architecture. Incremental improvements in the organization are one thing, but dramatic breakthroughs that take an organization to a whole new level is what EA dreams are made of.

Harvard Business Review (HBR), December 2007, reports on how to achieve this breakthrough in thinking.

Firstly, HBR contends that brainstorming does not work for a few reasons:

  1. No structure—“most people are not very good at unstructured, abstract brainstorming.” Outside the box thinking is too vague for people to really get their arms around the problem and provide concrete solutions.
  2. Data analysis is constrained—“slicing the data in new ways—almost always produces only small to middling insights…the contents of every database are structured to correspond to insights that are already recognized, not the ones that aren’t.”
  3. Customer requirements can’t tell the whole story—customers “can rarely tell you whether they need or want a product that they have never seen or imagined.”

So what do you do to get breakthrough thinking?

The approach “takes a middle path between the two extremes of boundless speculation and quantitative data analysis.

For example, “one question that can generate insights in any business is, “what is the biggest hassle about using or buying our product or service that people unnecessarily tolerate without knowing it?”

When you ask questions that create new boxes to think inside, you can prevent people from getting lost in the cosmos and give them a basis for making and comparing choices and for knowing whether they’re making progress.”

Here are some questions that drive breakthrough thinking:

  • “What is the biggest hassle about using or buying our product or service that people unnecessarily tolerate without knowing it?”
  • “How would our product change if it were tailored for every customer?”
  • “Which customers use or purchase our product in the most unusual way?”
  • “Who uses our product in ways we never expected or intended?”
  • “Who else is dealing with the same generic problem as we are but for an entirely different reason? How have they addressed it?”
  • “Which technologies embedded in our product have changed the most since the product was last redesigned?”

“The most fertile questions focus the mind on a subset of possibilities that differ markedly from those explored before, guiding people to valuable overlooked corners of the universe of possible improvements.”

From a participant’s standpoint, do the following to encourage breakthrough thinking.

  1. Selection—“select participants who can product original insights.”
  2. Engagement—“ensure that everyone is fully engaged;” provide incentives as appropriate. People are competitive by nature and a little competition can go a long way to idea generation.
  3. Group size—break the participants into groups of around four, since that group size encourages everyone to participate and not hide-out.
  4. Focus—set boundaries using preselected questions; “don’t worry about stifling creativity. It is precisely such boundaries…that will channel their creativity.”
  5. Results—At the end of the brainstorming, “narrow the list of ideas to the ones you will seriously investigate…nothing is more deflating to the participants of a brainstorming session than leaving at the end with no confidence that anything will happen as a result of their efforts.”

From a User-centric EA perspective, what better way to serve the users than by thinking how to serve them better with improved products and services? The chief enterprise architect should facilitate breakthrough thinking to create the target architecture and transition plan for the enterprise.