A Technique for Producing Ideas, by James Webb Young

Written in 1939 by an accomplished ad-man of the early 20th century, A Technique for Producing Ideas survives the test of time because it taps into insights we know intuitively but find difficult to articulate, understand, and therefore, to fully leverage to our advantage. We’re all in search of ideas, of new and innovative breakthroughs for the myriad of challenges before us. An in that search, we’ve experienced the process that Young describes, which gives weight to the simple but profound structure he outlines. Granted, this is a thin book. Perhaps a “Who Moved My Cheese” of it’s day. But a … Read more

Strategy starts with a goal

If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s hard to plan the best route. A goal is a prerequisite to strategy. Too often we delve into solutions at the outset of technology project discussions or any sort of planning exercise. We rush into this because the goal seems clear and obvious. But when you take some time to define and discuss the goal, lots of questions arise. When initially stated, most goals are vague. It’s great to have a good high-level vision of the future and a general ambition toward something lofty. But good goals are specific and concrete. They … Read more

Clear and precise communication

We always want to be clear. Sometimes we want to be precise. When we’re discussing low-level, concrete issues like technical specifications, we need to be precise. Most of the time, though, we need to read between the lines. We need to understand what’s not being said explicitly, what’s not being well-articulated, what’s motivating someone to try and shape an outcome. Illogical and irrational The world is not a logical place and it’s not filled with rational people. This is the major flaw in economic theory, and it can be a hurdle in how technical people approach problem solving. We like … Read more

The comfort zone and baby steps

In my keynote presentation at the CIO Perspectives event earlier this week, I tried to provide insight into what slows down CIOs and IT folks in general from being more active on social media, with the hope that motivation could be found through this insight and more people from IT would get “out there” and involved in these new platforms. Two years ago, I wrote a post on why CIOs should get hands on with social media. The reasons remain relevant to this day, but my argument was weak because it’s simply a logical argument that doesn’t recognize what’s really … Read more

Change your little corner of the universe

Big, systemic change doesn’t happen in on fell swoop. Nor does it happen overnight. Nor can you do it alone. Rather, little change is the path to big change. And “my boss won’t let me” is no excuse. Take a few minutes to watch this video clip from an interview with Seth Godin entitled “How do you change the system when you don’t have the power?” The video is embedded below. You can also get to it via this link.

Ctrl Alt Delete, by Mitch Joel

Reboot your business. Reboot Your life. Your future depends on it. So argues Mitch Joel in his new book, Ctrl Alt Delete, a follow up to his earlier work on the world of new media, Six Pixels of Separation. Where Six Pixels of Separation showed you the new world order emerging, Ctrl Alt Delete is a wakeup call to help you recognize that it has arrived. Joel says we’re in a sort of business purgatory now, so it’s crucial that you do the things that will get you to the promised land. And that doesn’t mean tacking on some social … Read more

A Leader Sees Greatness in Other People

Leadership is not about you, it’s about them. And it’s not about them being led by you. It’s about them being great. A leader sees greatness in other people. You can’t be much of a leader if all you see is yourself. -Maya Angelou Leadership is about possibilities. It’s about a better future, built together by using everyone’s best effort. A great leader will bring to the table a compelling vision of the future that serves a greater good and inspire others to help make it a reality.

Situational Awareness

Leadership is not linear. It’s not what they teach you in school. Case studies are artificially neat and clean. Rather, good leaders have honed situational awareness skills that constantly absorb, process, and adjust to changing dynamics and variables. They recognize the complex system of politics, individual motivations, group dynamics, external forces, and technical matters as well as their ability to react to and influence those variables as situations develop. We bring clarity to things by setting goals, understanding and communicating objectives, and laying out a logical path forward – project plans with milestones, dates, and resources assigned. That’s all crucial, … Read more

Take 20 minutes to learn the best presentation tips

What are the attributes of a good presentation and how can you adapt them to the next one you develop? Below are three links – two videos and an article – that clearly and concisely lay out some of the best presentation tips and simple truths about great presentations. The first video teaches us that: You’ve got to tell a story Go low tech in the preparation phase (don’t start off in PowerPoint!) For design, less is more Rehearsal is perhaps the single most important aspect of preparation (that’s often overlooked) The second video (that deconstructs the Steve Jobs presentation formula) … Read more