Where do ideas come from? June 7, 2012Posted 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.
Tags: Apple Store, Business, Business plan, change, Compactor, Consulting, Creativity, Dickinson Theatres, executive coaching, Feedback, Frustration, hope, IPad, KitchenAid, life coach, neurobiology, Philosophy, Professional, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Startup company, Think, Wood Dickinson, YouTube
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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.
Systems Questions February 18, 2011Posted by wooddickinson in Change, consulting, Systems Thinking.
Tags: Business, change, Climate, Company, Consulting, Feedback, Harley Davidson, Isaac Newton, Positive feedback, Professional, systems thinking, Think, Wood Dickinson, Work
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|COMMENT FROM BLOG POST: System is often sensitive to events around itself and people handling it. To build a system, the future needs to be presumed or projected with all sorts of possible trajectories, I would like to ask you some questions regarding the same:
a) Is it possible to anticipate such trajectories?
Some time back I received this comment and I’d like to explore it a bit. To be clear systems are part of the natural order of things. The solar system, the life cycle of organisms, atomic structure and so on. All these things and really everything is comprised of some sort of systemic force.
There are times we are fully aware of this. Say the gravitational system as described by Sir Isaac Newton. This system was used to get us to and from the moon. Now man made organizations are structures that we put together and the truth is, we may not do a very good job. If we don’t acknowledge systems then we are working blind and can’t even begin to guess the outcome. But we try.
Even simple things like a teenager starting a lawn mowing venture to make money for college contains systems. One of the primary drivers behind systems is the feedback loop. If the boy cuts the grass well but never trims around the trees, he may look at the grass and think, “Job well done.” The client on the other hand looks at the whole yard and notices right away the grass around the trees hans’t been trimmed. He thinks, “Sloppy and lazy. I need a new boy to cut the grass.” What we now have is a closed system.
One good explanation of this idea is:
“A system, then, is a set of things that affect one another within an environment and form a larger pattern that is different from any of the parts. The fundamental systems-interactive paradigm of organizational analysis features the continual stages of input, throughput (processing), and output, which demonstrate the concept of openness/closedness. A closed system does not interact with its environment. It does not take in information and therefore is likely to atrophy, that is to vanish. An open system receives information, which it uses to interact dynamically with its environment. Openness increases its likelihood to survive and prosper. Several system characteristics are: wholeness and interdependence (the whole is more than the sum of all parts), correlations, perceiving causes, chain of influence, hierarchy, supra-systems and subsystems, self-regulation and control, goal-oriented, interchange with the environment, inputs/outputs, the need for balance/homeostasis, change and adaptability (morphogenesis) and equifinality: there are various ways to achieve goals. Different types of networks are: line, commune, hierarchy and dictator networks. Communication in this perspective can be seen as an integrated process – not as an isolated event.” - cited from UNIVERSITY OF TWENTE (http://www.utwente.nl/en)
Simply if the boy doesn’t open up his lawn mowing system to include a feedback loop that he can access entropy will claim his business and he will be looking for another way to make money. This would be a rather simple system, something like this:
This is a closed system that doesn’t allow any feedback so after time the homeowner will get tiered of the bad job and fire the boy. The boy’s business collapses.
Now to ignore that this system exists is fatal so one element needs to be added to save it
With the feedback element added the boy asks for feedback from the client before he goes home. The owner says the trimming needs to be done and the boy makes adjustments to the system and the systems grows and stays alive.
Now this is a simple example but it is a starting point. This theory is useful in business to family relationships. Map the system and you can see where problems are then add the proper feedback loops to allow correction to the system.
So to answer the first question about predictability, yes you can gauge the result of certain process by mapping the system BEFORE you start and check it constantly for errors and keep correcting so the feedback remains useful. Harley Davidson has a very specific process for chroming it’s parts. This process must be mapped out so feedback can come at the critical time to avoid putting faulty parks on a bike. It can also indicate changes that need to be made to the process so it expands and becomes more effective and cost efficient.
As to the second question, yes complex systems may have many various subsystems. Each part must add back to the whole so if a certain subsystem seems to be failing one possibility is to end that part of the process or redesign the system to incorporate that subsystem somewhere else. You can’t just let a subsystem fail and ignore it. One of the primary reason to use systems thinking is so you have feedback loops in place to help guide the people working the system and allow a natural change process to take place.
Top 10 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Writing a Business Plan November 23, 2010Posted by wooddickinson in consulting.
Tags: Business, Business plan, change, Consulting, Entrepreneur, fear, Small business, Startup company, Target market, Think, Wood Dickinson, Work
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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.
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.