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Where do ideas come from? June 7, 2012

Posted by wooddickinson in 7 Habits, Change, consulting, executive coaching, executive leadership, family coaching, Family Crisis Group, FCG, Hope, Life Coach, Neurobiology, shared vision, Systems Thinking.
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I was watching a YouTube video of Tony Faddall addressing the question, “Where do ideas come from?” For Tony the answer was FRUSTRATION. I think that’s a great source for someone involved in engineering. My daughter was in the Apple Store a couple of weeks ago with her new iPad. What she wanted to do is create a document and have it be on a cloud so she can update that document from any computer where the file resides. I’m a writer so this seemed elemental. But currently it can’t be done in a transparent fashion. The tec helping her said that he understood her concept and it was a good idea. Well Duh. We all live with frustration in our daily lives and it is getting worse.

I’ve noticed over the last year a disturbing trend in large corporations. For instance, our KitchenAid trash compactor has been broken most of time while my maintenance contract was ticking away. The rest of the time we just sat thinking about calling the repairman. So when I got the renewal contract in the mail I called KitchenAid service and told them the situation and suggested they should give me another year on my contract for free. Now what I just did was ask the person on the other end of the phone to walk to the moon. So, the answer I got was “Impossible.” No way. We don’t do that. Ever.

So with the challenge set, I went on a mission to get the “impossible” done. I called supervisors and got the same Impossible. Now my wife had been around with them before so she had a number for someone in the corporate office. I called her and suddenly the impossible became possible.

This super negative ‘there’s no way in hell’ attitude seems to be permeating business. When I ran Dickinson Theatres I’d ask the receptionist to direct all complaint calls to me the President/CEO. I had fun solving their problems and keeping a happy customer. I guess that’s old fashioned.

Frustration? Yes it breeds ideas and sometimes a smart person may solve the problem if he/she doesn’t get fired for doing so. Now I’m a creative guy. I write movies, short stories, books and do photography. These ideas come from a bit different place. What I say is, the day dreamers in the room will probable have an idea and do something great. Those who couldn’t daydream if they tried need not apply.

I find my ideas come from a convergence of information that at first may not look related. I also love the “what if…” game. The point is creativity is not just the property of a few but the property of all no matter if it’s computer design or programming or painting or writing a novel. Here is a good LINK to start.

For you writers out there a fun tool is The Observation Deck.

The number one biggest helper in the creative department is curiosity. My computer defines curiosity as a” strong desire to know or learn something.” Curiosity may have killed the cat but it truly is the well from which ideas flow.

From John Lester April 22, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in 7 Habits, Change, consulting, executive coaching, executive leadership, Hope, Life Coach, Neurobiology, shared vision, Systems Thinking.
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This next section is a reply I received from John Lester, a member of the group. I think this shows how wide an interpretation can be made of the same material. If you are running an organization and I think my way and John his then we are not aligned in our vision, mission and goals. That isn’t to say we all have to be 1984 robots; I’m talking about core values.

You and I can agree that education is important so the problem comes in the “how” it will be done. If you think about I bet most confrontations you have in your life are based more on methods not meaning. That’s why as a leader you focus on outcomes. Tell a worker, this is what I want at the end of the day. How you do the task, I don’t care just don’t break the law. This is a form of delegation focused around trust and respect. Many of us want to micro-manage the person doing the task. In that case, just do it yourself. If the point is to gain more time for other tasks and promote pride in the team then micro-manage is out.

I’ll go more into delegation later but for now here is John’s reply:

Mr Wood Dickinson appears to have a misunderstanding regarding the concept of proactivity. He states that “much of what the 7 Habits proposes is false”. Self determinism, group determinism and pan determinism are all demonstrably down to earth practical objectives.

It is temporarily sad that his “continued research” has led him up a dead alley, but at a later date he is likely to discover that his research was not wasted, only clouded by his own misunderstanding.

Each person’s proactivity is nothing more than their own current reality, which is the same as the implementation of their beliefs as they gradually convert dodgy beliefs into eventual knowledge (personally experienced certainty). Every time we cycle through the Seven Habits (or through any other experience for that matter) we finish up drawing conclusions. These automatically combine with our previous realities, changing or consolidating our beliefs and our operating basis at the same time.

It may be that Stephen Covey, by suggesting that “Be Proactive” is the first Habit rather than the last, confused the entire subject. Even a new born baby has a high level of animal need reaction (proactivity) and security need reaction (proactivity), plus a high level of demand for relationship (proactivity). Proactivity is the point from which every process begins its next cycle.

A Perfectionist Personality (such as a religious evangelist or a religious terrorist has a highly consolidated and totally locked up proactivity that leads both of them into their own personally chosen form of hell.

Similarly a predominantly Carer, Promoter, Romantic, Observer, Questioner, Adventurer, Asserter or Peacemaker Personality will have their own appropriately self prejudiced proactivity. The ultimate proactivity is to synergise all of these nine differing “godlike qualities” into each person’s own unique personality. This is what religious people call salvation and psychologists call self realisation.

Stephen Covey is not actually teaching anything new. He is teaching ideas that are as old as Pythagoras (500 BC) and Plotinus (500 AD) in a very modern down to earth practical manner.

Mazlow taught exactly the same principles with his Seven Universal Needs. The psychologists who specialise in Enneagram Studies teach exactly the same principles. The Seven Deadly Sins and their corresponding Seven Heavenly Virtues are teaching the same thing. Only the practices vary. It seems likely to me that Mr Wood Dickinson only taught practices and that he has never understood the universality of any of the many seven step principles.

I trust that Mr Wood Dickinson will tell us specifically which of Covey’s ideas he considers to be false. I hope he will also explain his (presumed) research into more than just Covey’s Habits. Maybe his experience will enable him to explain why Mazlow’s Seven Needs, The Psychologists Seven Psychological Types and The implied steps of the International Standards Organisation’s Quality Management System Model ISO 9001 are all also false.

Regards

John Lester
MSc. C.Eng. M.I.Mech.E., F.C.Q.I

Questioning the 7 Habits April 20, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in 7 Habits, Change, consulting, executive coaching, Hope, Life Coach, Neurobiology, Systems Thinking.
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I wrote a small comment on a LinkIn group for 7 Habits that challenged two of the core ideas Dr. Covey teaches. First the theory of Determinism and second that Habit 1 “Be Proactive” isn’t real. This started with a question posed by Phyllis, the leader of the group.

It took me a whole year to read and digest the book–7 Habits of Highly Effective People. How long did it take you and what did you learn from it?”

What I wrote was this: I read the book in 1993 and started teaching it in 1994. I’ve come to the realization through a continued study in human behavior, psychology and neuroscience that much of what the 7 Habits proposes is false. Indeed there are some great common sense ideas in the book but there is no such thing as “Be Proactive” and deterministic psychology was thrown out 10 years ago. Sad that success forces one to forsake continued research and hold to poor behavioral models just because you can’t say, “I was wrong, here’s how it works. I think. We know so little about the true functioning of the brain that saying you understand how the mind works is just a joke. Let’s be serious. Just the minds consistent use of metaphor through language cuts us off from The Real. We can never see anything as it really is. If we could we couldn’t withstand it and surely we’d die. Read the book “Into the Wild,” for an example.”

Then I received a message from a member named Ravi: On 04/18/11 10:05 PM, RAVI GOROWALA wrote:

Wood Hi,

Would you like to elaborate on  “but there is no such thing as “Be Proactive” and deterministic psychology was thrown out 10 years ago.” For me this is important as I have never come across this kind of criticism and being open minded I would like to explore this further.”

I started to answer his question and I found it was going to take a bit more space than what I usually use on LinkIn. I decided to answer with a blog post so everyone can ponder it. I might mention that I am working on a book that will update the 7 Habits type framework into modern day theories and practices. The ideas here are part of that work.

Dear Ravi,

I’d be glad to explain my views. I was very deep into using 7 Habits personally and in my company. I started my own journey in 1993 and have read and listened to the 7 Habits probably 50 times then in 1994 I started teaching  it. I taught 100s of people.  I helped in designing and implementing what is now called “7 Habits for Associates.” I was profiled in Dr. Covey’s book “Living the 7 Habits.” Now to your question, I have kept up on changing psychological models over the years. I do this to advance my own development.

The theories of determinism are really poorly represented in the 7 Habits. Dr. Covey talks about 3 of them, Environmental, Genetic, and Psychic. In the study of human behavior there are at least 9 major deterministic theories. The basic set is:

Causal Determinism: This psychology is based on the assumption that there is an antecedent for every event to happen.

Logical Determinism: This is the outcome of the notion that whatever is proposed about the past, present or future fall in either of the categories: True or False.

Metaphysical Determinism: As per this determinism, every event is caused by necessity and for a reason.

Biological Determinism: This thesis is based on the belief that all behavioral patterns and desires are controlled by nature through factors such as genes.

Nomological Determinism: As per this psychology, the future events are to some extent propelled by the combination of nature’s laws and events factoring the past and present.

Psychological Determinism: This is a view that is purely based on rational thinking and human instincts that control our desires.

Behavioral Determinism: This ideology is purely based on the reflex actions that have been governed by the environment and surroundings.

Environmental Determinism: This psychology is based on the theory that physical conditions of an environment determine the culture of a region. To be precise, every human instinct is controlled by the stimulus response theory.

Fatalism: This is a significant determinism psychology that says everything in the universe is governed by fate and there is no control over it.”   quoted from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/determinism-psychology.html

Beyond these theories you also need to factor in Reciprocal Determinism Psychology and Free Will Determinism Psychology. I’ll let you dig those up on your own.

Now to tell you why these models fail I’ll quote a blog entry I came across that I thought was particularly insightful. You have to remember that determinism on the surface is a philosophical question. The scientists can try to quantify it and catalog it but at the end of the day it’s still philosophy. I can just as easily build a case for Jacques Lacan’s philosophy of psychoanalysis and philosophy as explained by Slavoj Žižek, who translated Lacan’s work and added to it by using popular culture.  Language itself serves a need for building metaphors of real objects so when we look at the world we see it through a screen of language.  Artists many times attempt to pierce this screen and peek into “The Real” and bring a bit back in their work for the rest of us to learn from. To live in “the real” would kill us. Again, I reference “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer.

Arguments Against Determinism

Determinism for me is irrational. Here’s why.

Published on February 9, 2004 By EFalgui In Philosophy

I have been thinking about the reasons why I am so against determinism. For me determinism is just plain wrong in the sense that we have no choice in anything that we do. Another thing is that if everything is already plotted out then doesn’t that destroy the point of taking responsibility for our actions.

People argue that if God is all knowing then how would it be possible for people to have free will. My response to this is that God knows all the paths that are possible. Because there is more than one possible path to life, we have the power to choose our own way without taking Gods omniscience into question. Anyway I have been thinking of some more arguments and these are a few I found against determinism.

Determinism is self-defeating. A determinist insists that both determinists and non-determinists are determined to believe what they believe. However, determinists believe self-determinists are wrong and ought to change their view. But “ought to change” implies they are free to change, which is contrary to determinism, since how can one change what is already determined. =P

Determinism is irrational. C.S. Lewis argued that naturalistic, complete determinism is irrational. For determinism to be true, there would have to be a rational basis for their thought. But if determinism is true, then there is no rational basis for thought, since non-rational forces determine all. So, if determinism claims to be true, then it must be false. Do you get it?

Determinism destroys human responsibility. If God is the cause of all human actions, then human beings are not morally responsible. One is only responsible for a choice if there was free will to avoid making it. All responsibility implies the ability to respond, either on one’s own or by God’s grace. Ought implies can. But if God caused the action, then we could not have avoided it. Hence, we are not responsible.

Determinism renders praise and blame meaningless. Similarly, if God causes all human actions, then it makes no sense to praise human beings for doing good, nor to blame them for doing evil. For if the courageous really had no choice other than to show courage, why reward it? If the evil had no choice but to commit their crime, why punish them? Rewards and punishment for moral behavior makes sense only if another did not cause the actions.

Determinism leads to fatalism. If everything is determined beyond our control, then why do good and avoid evil? Indeed, if determinism is right, evil is unavoidable. Determinism destroys the very motive to do good and shun evil.

Determinism is unbiblical. Theistic opponents to determinism offer several objections from Scripture. Defining free choice as “doing what one desires” is contrary to experience. For people do not always do what they desire, nor do they always desire to do what they do (Romans 7:15-16)”  Source Located at – http://boogerschnot.joeuser.com/article/7155

This is all philosophical of course but it does show the common sense reasons why determinism is a failed concept. It’s easy to google the decline of determinism and read about the current state of affaires. I’d recommend google scholar so you can find credible sources of information based on research.

Now, Habit 1 Be Proactive. Before there was 7 Habits this word was rarely used.  The first time it appeared was 1933. Now it’s a cliché.  Proactive as it’s really defined refers to some form of anticipation of actions before they happen and this anticipation can guide choices that improve the chances of more effective outcomes. A proactive choice is installing a sump pump before the rain floods your basement or planning what you’re going to do when on your next vacation now, not when you get there.

To act with proactivity as Dr. Covey explains it is tied together with the idea of stimulus and response. If a certain event happens you don’t react instead you create a space between the stimulus and your response where you make a choice as to what your response will be. I’m not saying that certain people have the capacity to think before they act but I don’t think it is a learnable skill.

According to psychologistWorld.com:   Stimulus Response Theory

“Stimulus Response Theory is a concept in psychology that refers to the belief that behavior manifests as a result of the interplay between stimulus and response. In particular, the belief is that a subject is presented with a stimulus, and then responds to that stimulus, producing “behavior” (the object of psychology’s study, as a field). In other words, behavior cannot exist without a stimulus of some sort, at least from this perspective.”

Now please note that in this citation the comment “at least from this perspective” is used. That’s because there isn’t any hard evidence that a specific stimulus will produce a specific response. I’m not talking about things like, you smell good food and you suddenly want to eat or you are drowning so you fight and flail around even hitting rescuers. Certain actions or say reactions are part of the brains Default Network. This network kicks in to help moderate certain actions. You see two 5 year olds playing tug of war with a bottle of ketchup and don’t think twice about it but if it was two 25 year old males you would become alarmed. The Default Network doesn’t start functioning until about age 13.

Reactions that happen outside of this Default Network happen because of special circumstances in a persons life. Look up B. F. Skinner and the Skinner Box. Back in the 60s this was the truth. Like Pavlov, you ring the bell and the dog drools and comes to eat. The problem with this is, sometimes they don’t. Why? Well Skinner et. al. really didn’t want to deal with that issue so they relegated these events to error. But there was a reason that it happened. It’s cognition.  The rat thinks, “I don’t want to run this maze right now.” The rat has no self-awareness so it can’t tell you why but we do.

Back in the 70s and 80s maybe later the feeling was the rat was making a choice. This proves a connection between stimulus and response. But that’s not true. Everything is a choice, after a fashion, but the reason for the choice may have nothing to do with the stimulus itself. It just appears that way. I hear a tornado siren and run to the basement. Another person hears the same siren and ignores it while a third person runs outside to see if there really is a storm. None of these actions are a direct response to the siren. They’re a response to an emotional state that is hard-wired into the brain due to past experiences.  I may not be able to do anything but run to the basement. Events in my life started the wiring in my brain that built a pattern of behavior and all the proactivity in the world won’t change it. If this is predicated on an unnatural fear of storms then I have to make a decision that this reaction bothers me and I want to change it. Then I probably go through exposure therapy to ease the emotions, allowing me to clip the wires and put in new ones. Once that’s done I don’t run to the basement unless I want to.

Neurobiology is showing us that the brain has a lot of plasticity and this process of rewiring is possible.  Dr. Covey tells us to use our imagination to grow proactivity then use that proactive muscle to change how we respond to events around us. Ask yourself this question, if I smoke can I make the choice, at the moment when I want a smoke, to not have the cigaret? Ask any smoker. I used to smoke and I’m here to tell you I decided to cut all the wires connected in my brain that brought on the urge to have a cigarette. This had to happen well before I was in the heat of the moment and it hurt. It took two years to get over the habit. I didn’t smoke during that two years The nicotine addiction was nothing compared the the brain rewiring I had to do so I’d never smoke again.

Enough examples, I hope you get the point. There is no being proactive. What there is initiative. Through the use of my initiative I was able to stop smoking. What I do is look at the current theories of human development, interaction and actions that are supported by science not opinion. For instance one of the mainstays of 7 Habits is the “Maturity Continuum.” The idea that we mature along a continuum which begs the notion of growth is a major part of the material. But I challenge that because we are born into the most important interdependent relationship of our lives. Babies are dependent and independent and interdependent and it happens all at once. No continuum.

There are a lot of good ideas in the 7 Habits but it is rusty and today you need to separate the wheat from the chaff. For a lot of people that isn’t easy. I commend you in seeking beyond and growing as an independent thinker.

Top 10 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Writing a Business Plan November 23, 2010

Posted by wooddickinson in consulting.
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Writing a business plan is often a crucial first step to getting your start-up off the ground. A good plan can help you raise money, recruit members of your management team, set your marketing strategy and, perhaps best of all, refine your thinking. A plan riddled with errors? That can sink you. Here are 10 mistakes that entrepreneurs frequently make when crafting their business plans, according to Akira Hirai, a consultant in California who advises start-up companies on elements of business-plan writing, including competitive analysis and financial forecasting.

Being All Things to All People

You cannot expect a business plan to appeal to every possible audience. With this in mind, try to pick one business model, and to focus on one industry or one problem. Otherwise, you risk spreading yourself too thin, and potentially creating a sprawling plan that makes a bad first impression.

Being Boring

If a potential client gets two pages into your plan and is bored, that’s a terrible sign. It is important to have the reader interested right from the executive summary on the very first page. And don’t neglect your cover page: a well-designed logo never hurts.

Measuring the Size of the Market Too Optimistically

Although it may seem impressive if you project vast markets and the potential for huge sums of revenue, outsize financial estimates often appear gimmicky to investors. Worse, big numbers often make you sound as if you don’t know what you’re doing or how hard it will be to penetrate your target market. Don’t make big promises unless you’re absolutely sure you can keep them.

Lacking the Confidence to Sell Your Product

In an effort to portray confidence, too many business plans ignore the competition that a new business will face. Doing so betrays a lack of sophistication. Few if any ideas face zero competition. Even if your concept is completely original, you should take into account forces that compete with your product or service, including different solutions to a problem, different ways that customers might choose to spend their money, and inertia in the marketplace.

Repeating Yourself Too Much

Avoid repeating a few catchphrases and a few simple ideas in ten different formulations. Nobody wants to hear the same thing over and over again. Be sure to keep your plan’s fundamental message consistent throughout, but employ creative language and appealing imagery to flesh out your ideas.

Using Too Much Jargon

Remember that not everyone in business is familiar with cross-industry lingo. If you have a background in a specific industry – this is especially true in science and engineering – try to use simple, specific, and concrete phrases to describe your business. Rely on general terms that most everybody will understand.

Not Being Consistent

Eliminate contradictions. Make sure that the information in your plan is consistent — that, for example, a financial chart deep within the plan does not undermine a fact used in an earlier section. Make absolutely certain that every fact about your industry, the market, and key competitors is accurate and readily verifiable.

Failing to Incorporate Feedback

Presenting a business plan about which you have not received feedback is an easy amateur mistake to make. Remember: Presenting to a top investor a draft business plan that contains silly errors or gaps in logic is worse than presenting no plan at all. Try reaching out to a few friendly contacts who have vetted business plans in the past before you begin to share it with qualified potential investors. However….

Taking Too Many Perspectives Into Account

…Do not go so overboard in anticipating lines of questioning or identifying possible flaws in your thinking that a reader will have a hard time following the narrative thread. Make sure you address some likely investor objections, but balance the desire to be clear-eyed with the overall objective, which is to make a persuasive pitch.

Failing to Acknowledge the Competition

Successful plans come in all shapes and sizes and formats, so don’t worry about crafting one that looks and reads exactly like every other plan that’s out there. Your goal isn’t to fit in; you want your business plan to stand out. Remember: If you create a proposal that expresses your idea and your personality, you will be more comfortable and confident when you are called on to present it.

Inc.

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