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Simplicity, Complexity, Simplexity, & Complicity

by Rick Baker
On Jul 15, 2010
I get a kick out of words.
In 2008 Jeffrey Kluger published his book 'Simplexity'...
When the words simplicity and complexity were blended they came up with simplexity.
You can learn about simplexity at Wikipedia.
On the other hand, they could have chosen complicity over simplexity. You can learn more about complicity by Googling the letters “e, n, r, o, n”.
Around the same time Jeffrey Kluger was publishing Simplexity, ie, May 2008, I published a blog titled 'Seeking Simple'.
I am now reading Kluger’s Simplexity book… actually, I have just started it.
When I am done the book, I want to see if it has altered my going-inthoughts…which are along these lines:
  • Everything is simple and everything is complex, it depends on how our minds are working when we 'experience' the things
  • The way our minds work is heavily influenced by our genetics, our past experiences, and the situation at hand
  • Our desires, particularly our short-term desires, influence how we experience things
  • To a lesser degree, our longer-term goals influence how we experience things
  • Our emotions regularly dictate how we experience things
All that said, we have the ability to choose how we experience things:
  • We can choose to view things as complex or
  • We can choose to view things as simple.
That's one of the premises that holds up the mini-philosophy I call 'Seeking Simple'.  The other premise is – we can boil things down and find their essence.
When we choose to Seek Simple and we boil things down to their essence many experiences become easier: corporate culture, communication, marketing, training staff, problem solving, etc.
More on Seeking Simple and Simplexity in future blogs…


Beyond Business | Seeking Simple!

Secrets from the BRAIN

by Rick Baker
On Jul 13, 2010
On June 23rd, Lorie Saxby gave a very-educational presentation to our Kitchener-Westmount Rotary Club.
Lorie Saxby, PhD is the co-author of Secrets from the BRAIN and she is President of Working Brain Associates Inc. www.loriesaxby.com
Lorie delivers workshops and training to people seeking to improve work performance by tapping into brain science. Based on the many questions asked at the end of Lorie’s talk it is clear her insight will benefit not just business people but also their relatives and friends: for example, consider anxiety around public speaking.
In an earlier blog, I wrote about Executive BrainSmarts, the 7 key frontal lobe executive cognitive functions identified by Lorie Saxby: Focus, Initiate, Plan, Organize, Shift, Monitor, and Regulate.
In this blog, I will summarize the feedback loop Lorie described during her presentation…and please refer to pages 26-29 of Secrets from the BRAIN …an excerpt from Page 28:
While the Executive BrainSmarts are interrelated, they fall into a continuous and ongoing feedback loop that allows us to gauge our progress and revise action plans accordingly.
The Executive BrainSmarts Feedback Loop consists of 3 phases:
Prepare: to begin our work tasks we use our Focus & Initiate Executive BrainSmarts
Perform: to perform our work tasks we use our Plan, Organize, & Shift Executive BrainSmarts
Check: to check the impact our actions and emotions have on ourselves and others we use our Monitor & Regulate Executive BrainSmarts
For a copy of this informative book, please visit www.loriesaxby.com
More about Executive BrainSmarts in future blogs…


Brain: about the Human Brain

About Writing a Business Plan…a note to a friend

by Rick Baker
On Jul 8, 2010
As promised, I'm writing to provide a summary of content for a mini business plan. By "mini business plan", I mean something much more like an executive summary than a detailed MBA-style document. I mean paperwork designed to be well-received by potential funders.
As a first step, I am forwarding what Guy Kawasaki recommended for a business plan executive summary. The following is an excerpt from his book, 'Reality Check', pages 33-34.
1. Problem. What pressing and important problem are you solving or opportunity are you addressing?
2. Solution. How are you solving this problem or tapping this opportunity?
3. Business model. Who are your customers and how will you make money?
4. Underlying magic. What makes your company special?
5. Marketing and sales strategy. What is your go-to-market strategy?
6. Competition. Whom do you compete with? What can you do that they can't? What can they do that you can't?
7. Projections. What are your financial projections for the next three years? What are the key assumptions and metrics to achieve these projections?
8. Team. Who is on your team? Why are they special?
9. Status and timeline. Where are you now and what are your major, close milestones?
Guy Kawasaki thinks these are the most-important things potential investors want to know. And, investors have a very-limited interest in things outside these topics or an avalanche of details at the early stage of discussion.
Guy is not that keen on using Powerpoint, however, when it is used for 'funding pitches' he recommends a 10-slide limit.
I think it is better to start with brevity...and build content carefully. I'd suggest writing out answers to Guy's questions under each of the 9 topics. Then you can add (selectively add) more details. I suggest limiting the entire mini business plan to 4-1/2 pages...1/2 page for each of the 9 topics. Less is better. And, I suggest leaving white space on each of the pages...make sure about 1/3 of each page is white.
I'm suggesting the white space for 3 reasons: (1) it makes it easier for you to highlight most-key points, (2) it makes it easier for the reader to write notes, and (3) it will stand out from the stuff written by others, signalling you have your pen under control.
And when this is coupled with a quality personal presentation it confirms you have more to say but don't want to bog others down with unnecessary or untimely details.
Later, when you prepare a presentation you can make it align with the mini business plan. If you use Powerpoint then you can have one slide for each of the 9 topics.
I have written a number of blogs that cover similar territory, using different words. We ask a lot of questions during our strategic planning training...starting with questions like those discussed yesterday.
For example, please visit the series on "7 Powerful Answers". That series is an example of our "CEO Thinking”. When you visit my blogsite – www.activestor.ca – go to the Search tool and type the words “powerful answers”…that will take you to the blogs.
You could consider our Spirited questions after you have answered Guy's questions. [or vice-versa] Our questions require more interpretation than Guy's...that is, our questions were designed for one-on-one discussion while Guy's were designed for a book.
I hope this helps.


Business Plan: Writing Plans | Communication: Improving Communication

Did you ever wonder…

by Rick Baker
On Jul 6, 2010
…why being described as “stunning” is a great while being described as “stunned” is not?
…if people who watch horror movies are more inclined to embrace Change?
…how many substances behave like water, shrinking when heated and expanding when cooled?
…if the Internet will commoditize trust?
…why Saturn got those pretty rings while the rest of our planets did not?
…when the Greeks first used Arabic numerals?
…if it is sheer coincidence that the greatest modern physicist was named after one beer glass?
…if there is only one word in the English language that ends with the letters “mt”?
…why the Sun isn’t getting a bit more blame for global warming?
…if Dog The Bounty Hunter could catch Osama Bin Laden?
…why whoever made up our alphabet messed up the letter “w” so badly?
…why Evolution hasn’t come up with something less violent than the sneeze?
…if the bottled-water market is saturated?


Beyond Business

Innovation & Creativity

by Rick Baker
On Jul 1, 2010
During a recent strategic-planning session we discussed corporate Values and Culture. I mentioned Spirited’s corporate Values are: Courage, Confidence, Conviction, and Creativity. I also mentioned each of these words had been defined, discussed, and described in blogs…because it’s risky to use words unless those words are understood.
This meshes with our philosophy: Values – Culture – Communication – Value
Some discussion and lots of thinking about innovation and creativity ensued.
So, now I am writing to share more of my thoughts…
About Innovation
Do some search-engine exploration. Or, check LinkedIn questions & answers. If you do this then you can find hundreds of definitions of innovation, perhaps dozens credited to Peter Drucker alone.
A couple of years ago, I blogged about Innovation
In that blog, I proposed the following definition for Business Innovation:
Business Innovation [def’n]:
a thing done or provided to add value by solving a customer’s problem or satisfying a customer’s need
That definition of Innovation still works for me.
But – perhaps that’s because I have drawn some clear lines between Innovation and Creativity.
What’s the difference between Creativity and Innovation? And, how do I define Creativity?
First, Innovation and Creativity have two very important things in common.
Each is
  • heavily grounded in Imagination and
  • closely tied to Change.
Creativity and Innovation also have in common, but to differing degrees, elements of Surprise. I argue Creativity contains more element of Surprise. In some cases the element of Surprise is too great to be tolerated [apparently they placed Marconi in an insane asylum when he created the vision which led to wireless communication]. In other cases the element of Surprise shows up in revolutionary art forms [such as the jump-shift of Picasso’s art and Mozart’s music].
While, to my knowledge, Napoleon Hill did not present arguments in this direction, I believe his description of the two types of Imagination - synthetic imagination and creative imagination - provides an excellent way to describe the difference between Innovation and Creativity.
Here is an excerpt from Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, (1937):
Synthetic Imagination – Through this faculty, one may arrange old concepts, ideas, or plans into new combinations. This faculty creates nothing. It merely works with the material of experience, education, and observation with which it is fed. It is the faculty used most by the inventor, with the exception of the “genius” who draws upon the creative imagination, when he cannot solve his problem through synthetic imagination.
Creative Imagination - Through the faculty of creative imagination, the finite mind of man has direct communication with Infinite Intelligence. It is the faculty through which “hunches” and “inspirations” are received. It is by this faculty that all basic, or new ideas are handed over to man. It is through this faculty that one individual may “tune in” or communicate with the subconscious minds of other men.
My point is: when we have successfully used what Napoleon Hill called synthetic imagination the result is a thing of Innovation and when we have successfully used what Napoleon Hill called creative imagination the result is a thing of Creativity.
In simplest terms:
  • Innovation is adjusting or repackaging existing things.
  • Creativity brings new things.
Napoleon Hill described, as many others have done since [using different words], how to go about the processes of developing skills related to both synthetic imagination and creative imagination.
The process he outlined for developing skills related to creative imagination will not be well-received by some...perhaps many. For example, some people firmly believe Creativity is something you are born with...or not born with. That is, Creativity cannot be learned. Other folks, my favourite being Edward De Bono, prove through training Creativity can indeed be learned.
And, what about that Infinite Intelligence thing Napoleon Hill talked about? Some will be very comfortable considering that to be God. Some will be extremely uncomfortable with the whole chapter of the book.
Regardless, few will argue against the existence of the amazing human experience we call “hunches”.
That alone provides enough common ground for explaining the difference between Innovation and Creativity.
With all that and much more considered:
Innovation happens when we think. Innovation happens when we consciously engage the logical and deductive workings of our brains...and we might as well call that thinking process and the brain parts used in that thinking process our synthetic imagination. So, we can revise our definition of Business Innovation as follows:
Business Innovation [def’n]:
arranging old concepts, ideas, or plans into new combinations to solve customers’ problems or satisfy customers’ needs
Creativity happens when “flashes of inspirations” or “hunches” come to our consciousness. Since it is nicer to think each of us possesses a level of creativity and it is nicer to think each of us can learn to be more creative...we might as well call “inspirations” and “hunches” gifts of our creative imagination. So, we can define Business Creativity as follows:
Business Creativity [def’n]:
using “flashes of inspirations” or “hunches”, the elite gifts of our imaginations, to solve customers’ problems or satisfy customers’ needs
  1. The definitions of Innovation and Creativity contain the phrase to solve customers’ problems or satisfy customers’ needs. The phrase is a qualifier, intentionally added to draw attention to the fact business innovation and creativity must serve a purpose and that purpose must be tested in terms of ‘value added’ as perceived by customers. This is required under the Values–Culture–Communication–Value philosophy, which is introduced at http://www.activestor.ca/post/2010/06/17/Do-family-businesses-have-better-values.aspx
  2. Napoleon Hill link  http://www.naphill.org

Assertive Curiosity – Igniting Passion at our workplace

by Rick Baker
On Jun 29, 2010
Dale Carnegie, in The 5 Essential People Skills, educated us about assertive curiosity. Assertive curiosity is a multi-faceted concept, described in 10 elements.  www.DaleCarnegie.com
If we want to summarize these 10 elements in a single word then that single word would be ‘passion’.
You may recall, I was asked, “How can we build passion into our workplace?”
Here is another answer: building a culture of assertive curiosity is a way to build passion.
Dale Carnegie Trainingsuggests 10 elements for building assertive curiosity at our workplace:
  1. Remember assertive curiosity is an emotional as well as an intellectual experience. Assertive curiosity is more about passion than about gathering facts. It is about teaching ourselves how to learn in ways that are meaningful, memorable, and effective. It is about conveying to your co-workers an excitement about learning.
  2. See yourself as both a student and a purveyor of real knowledge. Gather information from within and outside your field, striving to have leading-edge knowledge. Be dynamic about it, bridging the gap between theory and practice. Become an authority. Be comfortable saying, “I don’t know” [which is a mark of true authority] and couple that with an intention to find out.
  3. The operational/interactive component of assertive curiosity involves listening, questioning, being responsive, and remembering each human being is different from every other. Find the best in people. Ask the right questions and want to hear the answers. Seek the opinions of others. Find out what people think.
  4. Assertive curiosity involves being curios about and interactive with people without having a fixed agenda. Adjust to accommodate others’ interests. Be confident enough to understand other people’s ideas may be better than your own. Be a patient teacher. Share information about yourself in order to inspire others to share their personal information. Share your dreams.
  5. Work at having an appealing personal style. Be theatrical. Be interesting.
  6. Develop a fine sense of self-deprecating humour…to attract and engage others. Remember, both curiosity and humour thrive on the pleasure of surprise.
  7. Recognize what other people want to learn and also what they need to learn. Then, be creative as you work to spark their curiosity. But, be sure to have no agenda and have no expectation.
  8. Your company culture, as a whole, must support assertive curiosity. You must have visionary leadership coupled with tangible resources throughout you organization.
  9. Assertive curiosity should be mentored by senior management. Make curiosity a factor in employee performance appraisals. Provide training about curiosity. Reward curiosity.
  10. Build fun into your workplace.
If we work on these 10 things then we will ignite passion at our workplace.

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