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Showing posts from January, 2020

What Comes After I Don't Know?

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There is a lot we don't know. Not only is knowledge increasing over time giving us more to learn, it is impossible for a person to know everything. We can pick and choose what we learn. We have our interests and what we are required to know for our jobs or our families.

There are many questions we get asked where the answer is, "I don't know." What happens next is where the true value comes.

First there is the information where you don't know and you don't care. Some people might be asked this week who the starting quarterbacks are in the Super Bowl. For many they don't know and they don't care. That information is of zero value in their life. If the information provides no value to you, then not caring is an okay response.

The other clear area is when it is information you need to know. Information vital for your job, knowing when you have to pick the kids up, or what time your meeting is. If you say I don't know for these your response is going …

Why Do We Add Complexity To Prevent Mistakes?

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I started listing to an interesting podcast call Cautionary Tales. I love listening to good stories where you have an opportunity to learn. One episode really got my attention talking about when the Academy Awards mixed up the winner and announced the wrong movie as Best Picture. It was all about how sometimes you put systems in place to catch an error but they actually cause the problem.

In talking about that mistake the speaker talked about Charles Perrow, an author who brought about a concept that explains how sometimes we try so hard to prevent a mistake that we end up causing it.

Every time we try to prevent a mistake, we put a process or system in place to catch or prevent the error. But for every process and system we put into place we make the whole endeavor more complex. Where you have more complexity you have more opportunities for failure. Perrow talked about how some systems are vulnerable to catastrophic failure to the point that it is all but inevitable for a failure to …

Are You Playing Checkers Or Chess?

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The game of chess is fascinating, it is really quite simple in concept, yet it can be extremely complex and nuanced. I myself know how to play chess, but I'm not very good at it. The great players can see 20 or more moves ahead as they calculate out their strategy. I'm probably in the 2-3 moves ahead if I'm lucky. Beyond the game itself, the concept of chess is one that is well known. In sports or business, someone that is good at planning and seeing multiple steps ahead is referred to as a chess master.

What I've been noticing a lot lately is how we often talk about things like it is checkers, when in reality it is more like chess. For instance, I've been working on framing my basement. The concept is pretty simple, nail some 2x4's together so they are 16 inches apart and secure it into place. Easy to understand, but it takes time to measure and level and square up everything. There are details much deeper than the initial concept you have to know. I also noti…

Make Sure To Refuel Before You Are Running On Empty

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It has been a tough week for me, putting in more hours than I normally do and working a lot over the weekend. I'm not complaining, it comes with the job and sometimes there is just more work that needs to get done. It isn't a regular occurrence and I really like my job so you do what is needed.

What I noticed is how off I felt today. Feeling like I'm forgetting information I shouldn't or just not being able to focus like I normally can. It really shouldn't surprise me though, because my tank was on empty. As I sat down to write this post I looked back through the nuggets I find on the Internet and of course this tweet popped out at me.
If we are always available, we aren’t worth much. All of us need down time, think time, rest, time to reflect & pray. We give out of the overflow, not out of the fumes of an empty tank. — Michael Catt (@MichaelCatt) January 16, 2020 It didn't hit me last week when I saved it but I'm not surprised I did based on how releva…

Why Is Delegating So Hard?

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Delegation is a concept heard a lot in the business world. Most people think of it as the boss dumping the work they don't want to do on their employees. It can certainly happen that way, but I think it is far more complex. Delegation is getting a team to work as efficiently and effectively as possible. It becomes less about getting rid of work and more about  having the person that is best suited for a job doing a task. For instance, I know how to open Photoshop and I can do some very basic things. I am not going to be quick about it and the product I produce nobody would want. Taking longer for a worse product is the exact opposite of what we are aiming for. If I have a project that needs design work, I need to delegate that to a Graphic Designer, it is more efficient and effective. Learning to delegate involves knowing the skills and abilities of the people on your team and being honest about what you aren't good at.

Delegation is also about time, there is a transfer of kno…

Knowing When To Go Fast And When To Go Slow

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Going fast or going slow - is one more important than the other? We are told to take the time to think through things. Don't over analyze. Jump on an opportunity. Don't rush into a big decision. Which one is it?

I was recently watching a basketball game and the commentary was around the skill of the point guard. He is amazingly quick, with or without a basketball. But what they really took note of is how he could slow things down when needed. It was his ability to go fast or go slow that kept the defense on their toes.

Baseball is the same thing when it comes to pitching. The most successful pitchers are those who can change the speed of their pitches but make their arm motion look the same. The hitters then don't know how to time their swing.

You know the lesson coming. There isn't a rule on when to go fast or slow, it is about knowing when to use both effectively that will make you more successful. I see it in my work where there are times that it is important to slo…

Where There Are People There Is Friction

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I'm guessing you are a person who has to deal with other people in your life. I know there are a few people that choose to live a reclusive lifestyle, but chances are they aren't reading this. For the rest of us we have other people we deal with.

Parents, children, spouses, co-workers, friends, family, classmates, teammates, and even the people you pass on the road or in a store. I did some quick research on interactions per day, and like any topic there were too many studies to count. Generally speaking it looks like the average number of interactions per person per day is between 10 and 25. I did a quick recap of my day and I counted 35 people I interacted with. Above average, but probably nothing compared to people that work in retail or customer service positions. However you count it we interact with a lot of different people.

All of those interactions and all of those people lead to many opportunities for what I will call friction. Many interactions can be positive, but …

Read To Lead

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One of the most common New Year's resolutions you will find up there with exercise, eating healthier and managing finances better is to read more. I am a big believer in reading. There are countless concepts and ideas that I've used throughout my career, with my family and in relationships. I also believe any time you engage your mind in learning something new it is like exercising your body. Learning something new opens up possibilities and connects seemingly unrelated concepts.

Every year many aim to start reading more than they did in the past but have a hard time reaching their goal. Setting a goal is easy, where many fall down is setting up systems to turn their goal from a fantasy to something realistic. The two most important things you can do is set a time each day you are going to read and set the number of pages you will read during that time. Reading 10 pages a day will get you through most books in a month. I know you can read 10 pages a day, depending on what work…

A New Year - A New Word For 2020

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As we start a new year it is the time I reflect briefly on the past year and I look forward to 2020 and what I want to accomplish. Each year I have ideas for goals but I choose to focus on One Word that helps encapsulate what I want the year to be. You can read more on my One Word page that has links to more information about the concept.

My word for 2019 was ruckus, which I think was a perfect fit as I look back, but it wasn't what I thought it was going to mean. At the start of 2019 I thought I was going to be a disruptive force to bring about some positive changes and get some high value tasks completed. But, it turned out I wasn't always going to cause the ruckus, sometimes I was going to have to endure it. If you look up ruckus in the dictionary it means a disturbance or commotion. Part way through 2019 I lost my job, if that doesn't scream ruckus what does? But that ruckus set into motion changes I'm very grateful for. It wasn't how I expected the year to end…