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If you can not come up with a new idea then figure out a new way to use an old one.

by Rick Baker
On Mar 29, 2017

The Thinking Behind the Tweet

In fact, many experts report this is the key to innovation. Recently, I bought a book on this topic titled ‘Borrowing Brilliance – The Six Steps To Business Innovation’. Here is a link to the book www.borrowingbrilliance.com

Tags:

Borrowing Brilliance | Creativity, Invention & Innovation | Ideas | Thought Tweets

Many Business Leaders Struggle With Meshing Work

by Rick Baker
On Mar 23, 2017


In his audio-book 'Die Empty' (2013), Todd Henry talks about 3 types of work and 4 types of people.

I find his concept useful as a Seek Simple tool. 

This concept provides a new perspective on Spirited Leaders' philosophy: Business Contains Only 3 Things - People, Processes, & Situations.

According to Todd:

  • Mapping includes work such as strategic planning
  • Making includes the work of delivering products and services, creating value
  • Meshing includes self-development work and work Spirited Leaders define as borrowing brilliance [putting curiosity to work]
and Todd sees 4 'productivity profiles'...
  • Developers are people who engage in all three types of work
  • Drivers are people who do Mapping and Making work but no Meshing work
  • Drifters are people who do Making and Meshing but no Mapping work
  • Dreamers are people who do Mapping and Meshing work but no Making work
Here's a Spirited Leaders' conclusion, based on observing hundreds of local business leaders: many business leaders struggle with Meshing work. And, coupled with this, many business leaders fail to understand the importance of Meshing work so not only do they not do it themselves but they also fail to inspire their followers to do it. As a result, many business people fail to grow to the point where they are able to put their talents to full use. Also, without the benefit of Meshing work many business people struggle with handling change let alone leading change. These people-process shortfalls explain why many businesses cannot keep up with their competition.

...and that's an argument in favour of life-long learning.

Don’t be Passionate about Shorthand Abstractions…they have no Integrity

by Rick Baker
On Jan 12, 2017

Over the last few years, I have written and talked about the communication problems that happen when business leaders use words like Passion and Integrity to lead/encourage/inspire people to be the best they can be at work. The words Passion and Integrity are laced with double entendre and have been overused and misused to the point of obfuscation. Put another way, these two words have been clichéed to the brink of uselessness. Their use has evolved and become mostly bad habit.

Like many of the words and phrases we exchange with one another, the words Passion and Integrity are shorthand abstractions. You can also think of these two words as troubled memes. The words Passion and Integrity have been passed down the generations and passed around the tables for so long and by so many that intent and meaning have been bastardized as happens in ‘telephone games’. 

Business leaders should exercise care when they communicate, especially when they use shorthand abstractions that are likely to touch sensitive territories including personal values, morals, emotions and powerful feelings. 

Why should leaders take greater care when we use shorthand abstractions?

Here’s some thoughts from Tor Norretranders’ –

“That is also the point with abstractions. We want them to be shorthand for a lot of information that was digested in the process leading to the use of the abstraction but not present when we use it. Such abstractions have depth. We love them. Other abstractions have no depth. They are shallow, just used to impress the other guy. They do not help us. We hate them.”

Article – ‘Depth’ by Tor Norretranders, Science Author. An excerpt from John Brockman’s edge.org inspired book ‘This Will Make You Smarter’, (2012)


PS: Yes - interesting use of the shorthand abstractions ‘love’ and ‘hate’ in the quote above. That goes right to the heart and brain of my message here.

PPS: Yes - much of what we communicate has the forms of both shorthand abstraction and bad habit. That's why we provide definitions of words and explanations: this is one way to help people understand what we are trying to communicate. 

 

Controlling the common littlenesses of human nature

by Rick Baker
On Aug 29, 2016

William MacDonald described Benjamin Franklin as a man who could control the common littleness of human nature1. It is clear MacDonald had tremendous respect for the special gifts Benjamin Franklin brought to Mankind, as a citizen of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the United States of America…and the rest of the world.

When MacDonald talked of Franklin controlling the littlenesses of human nature, he was describing Franklin’s innate ability to understand the littlenesses housed in himself and other people and adjust himself in order to get around those littlenesses so he and others could accomplish great things. 

By the mid-1700’s, when he was less than 50 years old, Benjamin Franklin had become a worldwide phenomenon…a true polymath…a true leader of men…a true leader of thought...a leader in scientific thought...a true hero.

Franklin’s accomplishments are mind-boggling.

As examples:

By his early 20’s Franklin was a self-made business success.

By his late 40’s Franklin was recognized [worldwide] as a gifted scientist.

Between those milestones he had:

  • created a mastermind, gathering intelligent friends to philosophize, share ideas and create practical solutions to Philadelphia's problems [his Junto, also known as the Leather Apron Club]
  • created time-management/personal-organization tools and decision-making tools...his pioneer work in this area lives on in legacy, for example - 'Franklin Covey'
  • co-founded an early [if not America’s first] subscription library
  • co-founded an academy that became the University of Pennsylvania
  • led the community movement that funded the first paving of roads in Philadelphia
  • built an international printing empire by creating partnerships, funding & franchising a series of strategically-located print shops 
  • built a successful newspaper - the Pennsylvania Gazette 
  • created a bestseller – 'Poor Richard’s Almanack'
  • created Philadelphia’s first volunteer fire brigade
  • taught himself French, Italian and Spanish languages
  • served as Philadelphia's postmaster
  • invented the Franklin Stove, an energy-efficient heating system still in use today…then refused to patent it because he felt he had benefited from others’ inventions so others should benefit from his

Of course, Franklin was a well-respected civic and provincial politician…long before he became America’s political representative to other nations prior to, during, and after the American Revolution.

Yes – Franklin was one of the 56 who risked the gallows2 by signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

And, of course, Ben Franklin did that experiment with a storm, lightning, a kite and a key…and he invented the lighting rod and the best methods of installing it. This invention illustrated to the world that electricity could be controlled, to a degree, by Mankind. That illustration helped introduce a new era of scientific thought and experimentation that is still advancing today. And the lightning rod saved countless lives and reduced, on a world-wide basis, damage and loss of property caused by lighting fires.

On top of these things, Franklin was a commissioned Colonel who built a series of fortresses to protect Pennsylvanians from the French and Indian invasions in the mid-1700's, He personally led Pennsylvanians into battle against these invading forces...he led peace talks with the native Indians and, after the war had ended, he ensured the protection of peaceful Indians from unruly Pennsylvanian mobs.

Benjamin Franklin did much more than these things.

Here's another sampling...

Franklin left Boston at the age of 16, venturing out on his own to Philadelphia. He was a vegetarian during his teenage years. He understood the value of character and he practiced character-building ‘virtues’ throughout his life. This practice started when Franklin was about 20 years old. Somehow, he was wise well beyond his years. Somehow, he understood his ‘littlenesses of human nature’ and he committed to removing his own to full extent he could accomplish that goal. Benjamin Franklin worked on that throughout his life, for over 60 years. Franklin's desire to design and build his character along strict guidelines allowed him to control many, but not all, his ‘littlenesses’. He was candid about his shortcomings and he took a humble stance on his amazing accomplishments. 

Benjamin Franking is a man worth studying…and his practices - his good habits - are certainly worth emulating. 

It is never too late to start emulating heroes.

 

Footnotes

  1. 'The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin:  Now First Printed in England from the Full and Authentic Text', (1905)
  2. These are words Napoleon Hill used to describe the ‘founding fathers’ of what is now the U.S.A. 

Manufacturing Sector Contracts: what you don't know...

by Rick Baker
On Aug 14, 2012
Manufacturing Sector Contracts: what you don't know...will hurt you. 
 
What's bad - manufacturers in Ontario continue to leave money on the contract-table and accept the burden of a transfer of risks. We have seen evidence of this on many occasions. 
 
What's worse - we've encountered a resistance to advice on how this problem can be remedied. Frequently, we have heard responses like "That's just the way it is" and "We can't do that in our industry". 
 
What's worst - a good number of Ontario manufacturers are no longer in business, at least in part due to their refusal to accept contracting advice. Poor contracting practices - narrow-focused negotiation and industry-sector-biased negotiating - and failure to borrow better practices from other sectors has contributed to the reduction of the Ontario manufacturing sector.
 
Ontario can and will do better.
 
There's no question - many Ontario manufacturing companies can do a better job of negotiating major contracts.
 
Here are some bullet points to consider...an objective 3rd-party view on contracting:
  • When you restrict your thinking to your industry sector, or even to industry in general, you leave money on the table or expose your company to extra risk
  • When you do not know and have confidence in your differential advantage you are negotiating on weak legs
  • When you believe you are negotiating from a position of weakness...then you are [so, terminate that thinking]
  • Borrow brilliance and better negotiating practices from other industry sectors and from commercial sectors...seek out different perspectives
  • When you approach RFPs with a limited-possibilities mindset you open the door to problems
  • Major companies utilize a variety of people to explore and test contracting boundaries...not just company executives and [in-house and 3rd-party] lawyers and accountants
  • Major companies combine thorough contracting processes with creative thinking processes
  • It's time to get back into auto-sector work...but, this time use enhanced negotiating practices
What do you think?

Tags:

Borrowing Brilliance | Entrepreneur Thinking | Sales

Thought Tweet #505

by Rick Baker
On Jun 22, 2012

Thought Tweet #505 How do you adjust your thought process to tackle the next task, as it arrives?

 

The Thinking Behind The Tweet

This is something worth thinking about: you could ignore it and just 'do what you do' the next time a task arrives; you could create, with intent, a process to follow when you switch from one task to the next; perhaps, you could have a ritual like golfers use when they approach the ball.

Tags:

Borrowing Brilliance | Thought Tweets

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