Archive for the ‘TED’ Category

WIIFE (What’s In It For Everyone)

July 26, 2011

This morning after I woke up, I had this nagging thought about why I am doing all this work for myself. Will it benefit me now or down the road? Will anyone else benefit? Is the underlying method that evolving something that could be called “open” if I’m also selling something to support it? I needed to take a step back and see what was motivating me. What was the point of it all?

  • WIIFMe – An individual wants a better life, though some may struggle with the idea of leapfrogging those who already have it better
  • WIIFMyKids – A parent wants a better life for their children, but may not feel like they can be part of the solution because their own school experience was miserable and ineffective
  • WIIFMyParents – A smart kid wants a better life for their parents, not after they leave home, but now, when the kid is still around to help and benefit themselves
  • WIIFMSpouse – A wife who stayed at home while the kids were yound may not feel ready to re-enter the workforce when jobs are scarce, because she could be reducing the opportunities for her husband
  • WIIFOurSchool – A taxpayer may feel like they have done enough over the years, paying for their own kids to attend school, but want to help the next generation get good jobs in the community
  • WIIFOurCommunity – A resident may look at the surrounding neighborhood and want to do something, but where would they start
  • WIIFOurChurch – A church goer may want to do more than one service a week, with occasional dinners and social events, but how do they channel their effort into activities that reflect their faith
  • WIIFMyEmployer – An employee may want more than coasting along toward retirement and a pension, but how do they tell their supervisor or manager that they have ideas that would improve products or attract new customers
  • WIIFMyEmployees – A business owner may worry about meeting the next payroll, but not be willing to share their concerns with the people who work for them
  • WWIFOurCustomers – Businesses (owners and employees together) may feel they have value to provide to customers, but may not understand how to develop products and services

Everyone wants something for themselves, and can only thing about something for those near and dear to them when their own issues are addressed. That is where I think my method will shine, because it works the same way at every level, no matter who is using it. A phrase I came up with a while back was debabelization, which means nothing more than removing the confusion about how we do things so we can focus our attention on what we are doing.

If someone has spent time on their own dreams for the future and conquered one or two small but seemingly impossible goals, wouldn’t they be more supportive of the efforts of those around them. Wouldn’t a business be able to tackle something really difficult if  20% of the employees had the same vocabulary for identifying and implementing change? Couldn’t a parent help a child if they had started working on some dream of their own.

Why do things by ourselves? Why not leverage proven methods from manufacturing and engineering that can be applied in a simple but elegant framework, to turn impossible into nothing more than hard work?

That’s what I’m going to do. Anyone who wants to help needs to identify themselves so we can start meeting in person and talk about how I think this would work. I will contribute the environment and some of the content, but I want to make the rest of it open to those who live nearby. When we figure out how to get this idea to work, I think we will have something that other communities will want to know about. That would mean job opportunities for those who helped get things started. I’ll be busy working on the next thing we do together.

So there it is. Tell me what you think. I tried to make it as vague as possible but that will change, for those who come forward to help.

Anyone want to help me change the world, one small rural school district at a time?

Ideas Building On Ideas

June 29, 2011

Yesterday down by the pool, I was trying to watch a TED talk by Charles Leadbeater. It was recorded back in 2005 and posted in 2007. I can’t figure out how to add a link from my iPhone so you’ll have to work it out yourself until I get back home and update this.

Anyway, here I am typing on my wonderful little keyboard watching text show up on my iPhone screen right there in the WordPress application. I bet it is even saving my updates every minute or so because the regular online version works that way. And why would an iOS version work any different.

(Excuse the aside, but someone out in the lobby of the atrium just started yodeling, making me want to get up and join them. But I suspect it will wake Mother. Guess I better stick to my task for the evening.)

Anyway, about three minutes into this talk by Charles Leadbeater, he starts talking about how “pro-am” efforts are changing product development. Very serious amateurs are coming up with ideas and just making them work. His description of collaboration hit me a different way, and made me remember some ideas I had when I was still working for a big company. No one there could understand them then and I suspect that even with Facebook and Twitter as examples I could quote now, they still wouldn’t get it. It’s something so innovative it boggles even my mind, and that is saying something.

Anyway, the idea builds on the current set of tools I want to build for individuals, and is only possible because of what will happen when a few dozen people have mastered the discipline required. That is when the magic happens, in several different ways. See how many of these ideas you think are impossible, and then stop for a moment and realize I am only sharing the ones I am not worried anyone could steal. Part of my confidence is that no one would ever believe I could find twenty people who would want to work as hard as I think we could work. Another part is that the initial premise is so far beyond the experience anyone has seen even on an extreme reality program. And that starting point is what we show people who are still outside of our reality distortion field.

Does the concept of this interest you?

I have no idea, so let’s try a little test. If the premise I have suggested above is something you want to hear more about, just add a comment to this blog posting. If more than three people want to hear more, I will say more about this. If not, then it isn’t time, and I will have learned something.

But trust me, if we ever make a movie of this, it won’t be anything like “The Social Network”. It will be a lot more fun and it will happen a lot faster. And doing it with friends or interested bystanders would be something I think we could test, if only to validate the basic principles.

Anyone want to find out more? Or am I talking to myself?

Traveling Light

June 26, 2011

Tomorrow morning I drive to the airport for a two week vacation with my mother and sister. Under normal circumstances, I would take my MacBook Pro 17, my iPad, my iPhone, my iPod Nano, half a suitcase full of books to read and notebooks to write in. But I need to test out my new tool in a way that others may be using it in the future. So I’m going to be using the tool a little but testing the method in handwritten notebook. I figure that if I can’t do it on paper myself, what chance to I have convincing anyone else to do it that way. When I leave get in the car tomorrow, I will only have three books, my iPad and iPhone, and an analog version of my FileMaker Pro application. And I’ll have several of my favorite pens.

Why leave the laptop at home? Because if I take it with me, I might be tempted to change things while I am away. I already know that the current version of my tool is painfully slow to use on the iPad, but maybe that perception comes from having a full keyboard and a second monitor for my laptop. Will I be happy with the iPad and a wireless keyboard, typing on the tray of my seat in coach? If I’m not, I’ll get out the notebook and my favorite blue Pilot Precise V7 and scribble some notes.

But sometime tomorrow, I hope to draft a blog post in my application and be able to drop that into WordPress tomorrow evening. I might even write a couple of posts so I don’t have to think about what to say Tuesday or Wednesday. It will be busy those days, and Thursday as well, because my 88 year old mother will be swimming in the Senior Games. She won Gold and Silver medals in 2009 at the Palo Alto games, but may have less luck this time. A bunch of girls from the 80-84 age group “aged up” into her bracket, the 85-89 group. One of them does the 50 yard freestyle in less than a minute.

Mother is going to have a great time however, as we had shirts made for the three of us saying “Reigning Gold Medalist” so everyone is clear on her results in the past. I suspect we’ll wear the shirts all the time even after the event is over, so she has a chance to talk about it when people see us.

Life is funny sometimes. Here it is, twelve hours before I need to be at the airport and I haven’t started packing. Everything else is ready to go, but I haven’t even picked out which suitcase I need to use. I want to take as little as possible, but the second week we’ll be in Pasadena, California visiting cousins. Our brother is coming down with his family from Seattle, making it a mini-reunion. How does one pack for Texas and California when it will be 60 degrees here tonight, and raining? I hate hot weather, and have no idea what I will want to wear when I get there.

I suppose I could try the strategy that a recent TED speaker used. She only takes underwear when she visits a new place, then buys all her clothes at thrift shops as soon as she arrives. Of course, she has a fashion sense that call pull that off. What is an overweight 62 year old guy going to do at a thrift shop, other than ask about how well the clothes were washed before they were offered for sale?

Am I over my head taking a trip with so little in my suitcase? I suppose I need to find out and just get on with it.

If I’m not back tomorrow, it will probably be due to slow or minimal wireless access at our hotel. I can’t imagine writing a post on my iPad and forwarding it to my iPhone so I can post it that way, but if push comes to shove, that is what I will try.

And with that, I’m finished. Good night to you all. Sweet dreams.

Being Wrong

June 22, 2011

Kathryn Schulz gave a superb talk at TED back in March, 2011. I just watched the video and will be buying her book later today. If you go watch the video now, what I’m going to say next will make more sense.

Okay, I’m going to assume you just had your perspective adjusted by her talk. Consider this idea I had a few months back.

  • I am a failurist. I learn new things about myself and the world around me by welcoming the opportunity to fail. I am no longer striving to be perfect, but I am striving to change.
  • I think other people would be much happier and maybe more productive if they embraced the possibility of failure as a cost for success. Doing the same old things and getting the same old results isn’t going to help you in the future. You need to try and perhaps fail using ideas that others have tried and gotten to work. They didn’t get them to work right away; they failed a few times. Get on with it.
  • To help all of us get better at being failurists, I’m going to start a new category on this blog, calling it the Failurist Manifesto. This post will be the anchor that attracts people into that domain, where I intend to (and perhaps fail at) sharing my experiences as a failurist.

That’s all I have to say today. I need to go out and help my wife organize our compost pile. I suggest you do something similar, and go play with the rich organic material that was once your leftovers or lawn.

Recognizing Leverage As It Happens

June 14, 2011

Late yesterday afternoon, I was doing something unrelated to my new business idea when I realized a way to solve something that hadn’t really been an issue, but might have a lot of leverage. I had noted on some of my comments for the habits I do each day that they were a duplicate of some other habit I also do each day. One was a substitute for the other, but I didn’t have any way of tracking these events.

I won’t explain the technical solution, but this morning I wrote something to implement the idea I wrote down last night as I was getting ready for bed. It only required one new field to establish the relationship, and another field to count how many times it happens. I thought I could get away with just two relationships, but it turns out I need six. However the benefits will be significant once I have a few weeks of data.

Here is what I’ll be able to see when that time comes:

  1. How frequently specific things are leveraging each other
  2. How significant the insights I get doing one thing are when it is leveraging something else seemingly unrelated
  3. How much of my day is spent doing two or more things at the same time

Is this significant? Maybe not. But I connected the dots on this yesterday when I watched a TED video by Jessi Arrington, where she talked about wearing nothing new. Her approach to fashion is to buy her clothes at thrift stores, and her strategy is so brave as to actually travel to another city for a week and only take underwear. She buys everything else when she gets to a thrift store at her destination. The outfits she had for her week at TED were very striking and vibrant. But it made me realize that is what I am trying to do. I’m opening a thrift store for ideas and processes. Or maybe I’m providing a thrift store for ideas and processes. I’ll give people a place where they can come in and browse for one kind of thing and find something for another purpose that might work well or even better.

I have so much fun being retired. It isn’t that much different from my best times at what I retired from. But I’m not sad they didn’t appreciate what I was doing, or understand what I could have done for them if asked. I get to do all this for myself now. And the manager I’m working for now, just little old me, is much harder on me than any of them were. Because my current manager knows what I can do, and he is expecting me to achieve things no one ever asked of me before.

Does that relate to where this thought started? I think it does. I didn’t notice how many things connected to each other until yesterday. There are 109 tasks in my agenda for today. I think 80% of them will get done, even if getting done is only a minute or two. But today I’ll be able to look back and see how many of those things leveraged some time that was spent on something else. That never happened before.

Could you say the same for your day when it is over? Show me your data.

In a couple of weeks, I hope to show you mine.