Innovation: Finding The 3rd Alternative

There are two quotes on innovation that I came across recently that I liked and wanted to share:


The first by David Ben-Gurion:

If an expert says it can’t be done, get another expert. 


The second by Shimon Peres:

When you have two alternatives, the first thing you have to do is to look for the third that you didn’t think about, that doesn’t exist.

Both of these smart thinkers understood that solutions and innovation means breaking previous paradigms and thinking outside the box.

They got it absolutely right! 😉

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Two Things To Know

There are two things to know.

  • Know-how:  That’s knowing how to do things yourself.
  • Know-who:  That’s knowing who to go to to get everything else done. 

None of us is perfect.


We each have strengths and weaknesses.


No one has all the answers–despite some big egos out there!


That’s why we all need each other.


Knowledge is great, but networking magnifies your potential many times over.


These are two things you definitely want to know. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Spider Man D.C.

This so reminded me of…

Spider Man, Spider Man, Does Whatever A Spider Can.


Veterans Day must be a great day to get your windows washed. 


Or to spin a web of intricate proportions in D.C. politics. 


Either way aside from the windows, what of significance is actually getting resolved in our partisan capital?


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Prevent Problems From Becoming Crises

I heard this saying and thought it was good:

Problems that are left unattended have a habit of becoming crises. 


I suppose problems exist for us to confront and deal with them, so we can grow ourselves. 


– There is no running from problems.


– There is no hiding from problems.


Problems can follow you with better than laser-guided GPS and they will find you out.  


The only option is it face the challenge head-on and the earlier and more productively the better. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

That Decisive Qualitative Edge

So I am reading this book called “Israel’s Edge.”


It’s basically about their elite genius program, “Talpiot,” in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).  


Each year the program accepts only the top 50 out of 100,000 graduating high school students for a 9-year commitment. 


There are the mathematicians, physicists, and computer scientists that help give the IDF the cutting edge in military R&D and other innovations. 


These are the brain trust behind Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system and Trophy tank active protection system and many more both military and industrial advances. 


This program was born after the almost disastrous 1973 Yom Kippur War where Israel misjudged the intelligence and the advances in their enemies capability and almost lost the war. 


I like the philosophy of General Yitzhak Ben-Israel who understands the importance of challenging the status quo and looking differently at critical situations and avoiding confirmation bias:

My method is not to look for supporting evidence. I look for refuting evidence…you see one white swan, then a second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. You still can’t conclude that all swans are white…nature builds us to be inductive, to make generalizations from past experience…this standard way of scientific thinking can be limiting and destructive.”

Instead we must be continuously curious, think outside the box, be creative, and innovate. 


Especially, where we don’t have a quantitative advantage like with Israel surrounded by many enemies, then we must rely on a very sharp qualitative edge. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

The Goal is Automagically

Wow, I couldn’t believe that this is a real word.


Automagically.


I thought my colleague was using it as a gag. 


But when I asked Dr. Google, there it was. 


Automagically – Automatically + Magical


It refers to the use of computer automation and how when well-implemented it seems almost like the process is magical, ingenious, and oh, so easy. 


So this is the goal for us that all our processes and efforts should be poof–automagically done and  there it is! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Leading Change

I heard a great presentation on change management.


Some highlights I really liked:


– U.S. Army War College in developing high performance leaders seeks to develop competency to operate in an “VUCA” environment:


Volatile

Uncertain

Complex

Ambigious


– The key is NOT to get “emotionally/amygdala hijacked” where our “reptilian brain” in response to threats jumps to:


Fight, Flight, or Freeze


– Instead, we need to manage change methodically as “transitions” (which are personal and emotional) so that we understand that:


Every Ending is a New Beginning


(G-d does not close one door without opening a new one for us.)


–  When one thing in life comes to an end, this is where there is enormous potential for growth in:


The Reinvention of Ourselves


Release the emotions and be ready to move on!


– In short, it can be difficult to accept change unless we realize that:


Problems = Opportunities


And this is the critical place where we can try new things and learn and grow. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Solving Computer Problems

Funny T-Shirt on solving computer problems:


Does it work?


Did you screw with it?


Does anyone know?


Can you blame anyone else?


This little flowchart seems to capture so many issues in the office like:


– Accountability


– Problem-solving


– Doing the right thing


Oh, maybe that’s a different flowchart. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

This Is The IT Help Desk

This was a funny true story that happened recently. 


Someone found a roach walking around their desk in the office. 


Not knowing who to call…they call the (IT) Help Desk.

Hello. What is the asset number on the device you are calling about?

Asset Number! You don’t need my asset number.

Well, what is the nature of your problem?

I’ll tell you what my problem is. The problem is that I have a cockroach walking around on my desk!”

Ah, do you know that you are calling the IT!!! Help Desk?

Ah, yes I do. Can you give me the number for who to call about this roach?

Ah, you are calling the wrong number. Why don’t you try finding out who your facilities person is?

Facilities person! But you guys are the Help Desk! Can’t you tell me how to get help to get rid of this roach? And by the way–where there is one, there are definitely more.

Ah, We don’t typically handle roach problems, but thank you for calling the Help Desk. {{click}}


I know many organizations are moving to Enterprise Service Desks where you can call and get help for all sorts of issues at work. 


Even then, I wonder if the employees answering the line will be trained in who to call to get a Roach Motel or some Raid. 


Perhaps this is the next evolution of support.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Having Those Difficult Conversations

Took an interesting class recently in having difficult conversations.


These are the conversations you need to have about performance, accountability, expectations, bad news, conflict, and so on. 


Often these are the conversations we tend to avoid, because we don’t know how to have them without making things worse where things get emotionally charged, people become defensive, things gets misinterpreted, and they get escalated. 


And it’s even more difficult when there is a discrepancy in power between the people having the dialogue. 


But it is important to have the critical conversations in order to solve the underlying problems!


Often problems are rooted in that we judge others too quickly and erroneously, or we just don’t have all the facts. 


The data points we do have get filtered, interpreted, assumptions are made, conclusions are drawn, beliefs are adopted, and actions are taken that may be wrong (reference: The Ladder of Inference by Chris Argyris).


The key to having a productive conversation is to explain the issue and the impact, acknowledge your part in the problem, describe the desired outcome for the relationship and the work, and most importantly, give space for the other person to respond.


We need to get the other person’s point of view, including the data points that we may have missed or misunderstood, generate options, and agree how to solve the issue.


Unfortunately, there are times when the other person digs in and isn’t open to working on or resolving the problem, in which case you may need to decide whether to grin and bear it (i.e. live with it) or leave the relationship, because it has become too unproductive and toxic. 


The instructor said it well: This is about problem-solving. But life is too short to deal with jerks!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)