Parking Lot Full of Ideas

So conducting large meetings is not often easy. 


People have their own concepts as to where they’d like the discussion to go.


Yes, agendas help keep the meeting focused. 


And a good facilitator enforces meeting discipline. 


Some people think that any deviation from the agenda is like taken a sudden left turn or driving off the cliff. 


But you don’t want to throw away the baby with the bath water. 


It’s important to jot down good ideas or follow up questions that come out in the discussion even when they are not immediately relevant. 


That’s where the “Parking Lot” comes into play. 


A flip chart or whiteboard to capture the important thoughts for follow up afterwards. 


While parking lots are needed to take certain things off the table immediately in order to focus on accomplishing the meeting’s objectives, they are not junk yards for people’s input. 


Instead, they are a place to park the stray thoughts and then to actively follow up on these after. 


No question is a dumb one, and no idea isn’t worth considering. 


Parking lots can be full of these and they should be parked and then taken for a spin around the neighborhood.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What’s Old And New

Old and New.jpeg

Just want to share a quote that a colleague said they saw recently displayed at the Kennedy Center:

“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” 

 – John Cage

Perhaps, it’s not what’s old or what’s new that is scary, but simply what is unconstrained evil in men’s hearts at any time or place. 

It’s the age old fight of good over evil, and when evil gets the upper hand, even if just for a short time, it can be the most unbelievable and frightening to face off with. 

Let’s give new ideas plenty of opportunity as long as they are based in kindness, compassion, and humanity. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Let The Genie Out

Lantern

I thought this was a very cool genie lantern on display at the Magen David Sephardic Synagogue last evening for the lecture on Women Poets of Morocco.  


Of course, people gathered around joking about whether, as legend has it, there was a genie inside. 


They asked, what do you have to do to try and get the genie out to make your three wishes. 


Well of course, they say you have to rub the lantern–where the heck did that come from?


Me being the curious jokster that I am just picked the lantern up off the table and flipped the top open!


Low and behold, it was completely empty–no genie to be found. 


Needless-to-say, I was quite disappointed hoping for an I Dream of Genie lady to magically appear or for a flying Persian magic carpet to whisk me away somewhere exciting.


Then I thought, perhaps someone else got to the lantern first?


And darn, they say you can’t put the genie back in the bottle!


A great notion when it comes to transparency, freedom of ideas and expression, no repression…but when you still are waiting for your three earth-shattering wishes then perhaps you still need to find your magic lantern. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Pen From A Puddle

Pen
You know how ideas just sort of come to you…



Well, major innovations that have changed the course of history haven’t really happened that way. 



All innovation and development start from somewhere–usually where G-d or someone else has left off–and then we take things a cycle forward. 



In the Wall Street Journal, James Ward describes how the simple yet profound ballpoint pen was invented. 



Not until 1899 was it founded giving everyone the ability to write away with a ball at the point (a ballpoint) that rolls and dispenses the ink with ease. 



The ballpoint pen was invented by Liszlo Biro of Budapest. 



Observing that in printing presses the machine cylinder could only roll ink back and forth, however for everyday writing people needed an all-directional mechanism. 



So what happens…



Sitting at a cafe and thinking, he sees children playing with marbles.



And one child’s marble rolls through a puddle of water. 



The marble leaves “a line of water in its wake.”



Boom…the idea for the ballpoint bearing comes in being with “minute grooves” in the pen head to draw the ink to the tip and unto the paper. 



With further experimentation, the famous Bic (Cristal) pen named after Frenchman, Marcel Bich, was born in 1959.  It has a “hexagonal body (inspired by the shape of aa traditional wooden pencil) and instantly recognizable lid”–since it’s launch, more than 100 billion of these pens have been manufactured and sold!



By the way, remember the hilarious commercial for the Bic Banana Ink Crayon Pens (watch here to laugh a little).



So in both instances of the invention of the pen, the developers found other things in their environment from which they learned and then they applied it to something new (in one instance the child with the marble and water, and in the other the shape of the good ‘ol pencil). 



Lesson learned here: 



Watch, learn, experiment, learn, apply — change the world! 😉



(Source Photo: here with attribution to photosteve101)

Smartphone or Kitty Litter

Smartphone
Interesting…Bloomberg Businessweek ran a special anniversary issue with a countdown of the 85 most disruptive ideas (in the last 85 years), and guess where they think the smartphone fell in that?



#78!!! 



Right up there with the white board (#82) and good ‘ol high frequency trading (#80).



But not as important as get this…the corporate campus (#77), the VCR (#74), Kitty Litter (#73), Singapore, literally–{Uh, and how about Israel?} (#71), bottled water (#56), High-fructose corn syrup (#48), Air Jordan sneakers (#45), Napster (#43), and junk bonds (#7).



They ranked the smartphone so low in disruption, even after giving it a two-page spread with no less than 32 “things the smartphone killed” and they probably missed a few hundred!



There is no need to list everything the smartphone does for you, because you use these functions every moment of every day



To most people now, the smartphone is one of their most prized possessions and they don’t go anywhere without it and rarely do you see anyone not “on it.” (Uh, I know more than a few people who even dropped them in the toilet!)



Honestly, Businessweek…I think you missed the significance of the smartphone big time. 



Yeah maybe Starbucks (#68) and the Pill (#9) are competitors, but not as important or disruptive as Kitty Litter…shame on you!  😉



(Source Photo: here with attribution to Lonely Bob)

Everyone Participates

Suggestion Box
So very infrequently do suggestion boxes actually work. 



In the office, I remember when the suggestion box was put out and the biggest suggestion put into the box was to bring paper towels back to the bathrooms after these had been replaced months before with hand dryers, so the toilets wouldn’t get clogged up!



Most of the time suggestions boxes like meetings don’t get the participation and input needed. 



Today, in the New York Times, Phil Gilbert says that in the meeting room, “You’ve got the extrovert, the introvert, the know-it-all and the ambitious steamroller. No matter what the mix, there’s always someone who dominates the discussion, and others who defer to that person out of frustration–or worse, complacency.”



Truthfully, I think Gilbert misses the point–most people don’t speak up not out of frustration or complacency–but rather from fear…fear of sounding stupid, fear of people disagreeing with them, and fear of management retribution for saying the”wrong” thing.



In any case, his reflection on how some at IBM deal with this is helpful (although frankly I’ve heard this approach before and it was from a strategic planning class I believe, and not from IBM):



– Everyone writes their input on sticky notes.



– You go around the room where everyone contributes an idea and posts their note to the wall or board (and you keep doing this until ideas are exhausted). 



– The facilitator groups like ideas/sticky notes to start to form common theme and direction. 



– The group may go out and come back again for another round of ideas and input.



The point is everyone contributes to the discussion…no idea is a bad idea…and not one in the room is left to sit idly in the corner playing with their smartphone, daydreaming, or picking their noses. 



Through vetting and discussion, the best idea(s) become evident. 



I like how Gilbert ends his article emphasizing the importance of getting everyone’s ideas out there…”Once you know something, you can’t unknow it–you have to act.”



Knowing what everyone really thinks is half the battle. 



The other half is executing on the really great ideas that people come up with (Gilbert doesn’t address this). 



And again for that you need EVERYONE to contribute their talents…big mouths, naysayers, and do nothings begone! 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s All In The Execution, Baby!

Hope Change Peace Love
I took this photo on the left yesterday (while the one on the right is from a CD music set).



This lady was wearing this gorgeous shirt.



The words: “Hope, Progress, Change, Action. Yes we can Believe.”



Aroud it were the tie-dye colors emanating like the sun,



It is very inspiring!



I was reminded of a similar 1960’s slogan of “Peace, Love, and Rock & Roll.”



Also good stuff and especially with the cool VW brightly painted minivan–who doesn’t want that?



We all want great things from life.



The key is getting us from idea to execution.



Maybe not such a little thing, but that’s what life is all about! 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)