If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.
-Attributed to Zen Master Linji
I spend a lot of time in the lean space these days. Most of my work is with an advanced manufacturing company and we are busy designing pathways to lean.
Personally, I find that the design perspective in general opens me to a broader range of problems and solutions and, by extension, a more integrated approach than does the lean method. But, here’s what I really think. I think Taiichi Ohno, the founder of lean, was really answering a design question for his business: How do we eliminate waste (and thereby increase productivity) in a production environment today and for the long haul? [Read More…]
I was on the edge of starvation.
At least it felt that way, as I looked at my first protein in three days of foraging gently roasting on a stone just out of reach of the glowing red coals. Three garter snakes.
Later, I’d add the minimal meat to a broth of wild carrot, nettle, spring onion, and garlic mustard. The first taste of the finished soup would redefine nutrition in my mind forever. There’s no parallel to the feeling of nutrient dense wild food disbursing to a truly hungry body.
And yes, this was voluntary. I’d actually spent several years preparing for that trip. It was my first true wilderness survival experience and, little did I know, I was learning lessons in entrepreneurship at the same time. [Read More…]
We just closed on a capital investment plan for a business I advise. Feels good to think that things will be getting drastically better in the near future.
Drawing heavily on visual thinking and the strategies from The Back of the Napkin, I was able to create an awesome visual that compared two different investment scenarios. Based on the executive summary, I was able to pull out a set of variables that we had data for and draw up a graphic that really told a story.
In fact, it told such a good story, that our team gained an incredible insight into the businesses itself.
Here’s how we did it. [Read More…]
Dan Roam solves problems with pictures and closes multimillion dollar deals on doodles alone.
Me? As an eighth grader, I spent untold hours holed up in my room with pencil and sketch book when I should’ve been doing my homework. I did art photography through high school. I actually applied and was accepted to art school. I chose a different path but, every once in a while, I’ll become inspired and do some sketches.
The fact is, I frequently use whiteboards to illustrate what I’m talking about graphically. I’m one of Dan Roam’s “black pen people”, to be sure. But, The Back of the Napkin showed me just how far I could take it.
And it’s pretty exciting stuff. [Read More…]
Photo: Mac Surak
In improvisational theater, there’s a game called “Yes And”. Yes And provides a brilliant template for collaboration and ideation. Here’s how it works.
In “Yes And”, two actors have a conversation where every sentence begins with the phrase “yes, and”.
Me: “Yes, and that dog over there sure is a nice shade of green.”
You: “Yes, and I saw him eating garbage earlier.”
Me: “Yes, and I saw him wash it down with green beer.”
You: “Yes, and he’s an Irish Setter.”
“Yes And” is brilliant because it forces us to agree (“yes”) and to add something of our own (“and”). In other words, we’re always building towards something together. [Read More…]
Phew! I’ve got some serious reading to do. I’m trying to keep up a steady clip of 1-2 book reviews a week.
So far, so good. But my years-old copy of Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics is looking more and more interesting to me every day.
This week, I looked at Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick and today, Tom Kelley’s The Art of Innovation. I loved getting into the trenches with Tom. His view of IDEO from 2001 is really worth a look.
Things have evolved a lot since then, of course, but many of the challenges that design and innovation face still remain. Also, the foundations of design and innovation come across as truly timeless.
Even though I’m not sure that Thomas Edison was explicitly mentioned, it was clear that The Art of Innovation would have made him proud. I was constantly reminded that Edison was famously quoted as saying “I never even failed once. [Inventing the lightbulb] just happened to be a 2,000 step process”. Tom Kelley and IDEO’s version is to “fail forward”. [Read More…]
Why is change hard?
Have you ever tried to break a habit, only to have it creep back in 3 months later? I have. I’m going through that with running right now.
I go through three month cycles with running. First I’m up on it, then I’m down. I’m hitting the trails three times per week, then a dry spell. Apparently, I haven’t been sticky enough with myself.
Made To Stick‘s subtitle sums things up tidily: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. The book was a great read and, whether you’re trying to get new products, ideas, approaches, strategies, or methods to stick, it’s going to be a HUGE help. Read it, practice it, stick it.
Now, how do I apply it to the conversations in my head…?
Hm. Enough diversion. Here’s the review. [Read More…]
Photo: Trey Ratcliff, stuckincustoms.com; "The Surf in LA as Night Passes"
It took me years to learn to reliably pick out good waves as a surfer. After passing through my phase of beginner’s luck, I spent a lot of time and energy struggling to find the sweet spots, and watching more experienced friends pick them every time (as I got slammed on the head by the next water wall). The difference was often meager yards.
Once I learned to see them, I began to find them everywhere, in any type of conditions. And I’ve found that the same principle applies to just about anything I put my mind to learning. [Read More…]