Monday, December 29, 2008

What Did I Do All Year?

It seems like a good time to ask that question, right?

  • Spent January and Febuary in India, Singapore and Bali. Taught, watched classical dance, ate great food and spent time with good friends.
  • Was certified in DISC Profiling at Ken Blanchards in San Diego. Totally abused the champagne brunch at the Hotel Del Coronado with Angie, Tomo and John.
  • Was certified in Six Thinking Hats in Phoenix. Visited Taliesen and Sedona.
  • Taught in beautiful Tucson. Hiked the desert country.
  • Was certified in Leadership Challenge at Sonoma Learning Systems in Sonoma, California with Brent and Ken. Drank a little wine.
  • Taught a number of sessions in Yokohama, Japan. Sang some karaoke with Haemi-chan.
  • Started my Masters in Adult Education. Completed 5 out of 13 courses by the end of the year.
  • Worked with Nancy Duarte (author of Slideology).
  • Went to Los Cabos. Spotted whales, coyotes, and Ryan Seacrest. Released baby turtles to the wild.
  • Worked towards certification in High Tech Speaking.

Turns out, this was (in the words of Tori Amos) a "Pretty Good Year".

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Rambutan, Rambutan, My Kingdom for a Rambutan...

We're usually in Asia around this time of year.

This year, however, we have no plans to cross the Pacific...

That's a bummer, because right now I'm in the mood for some rambutan.

Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I decided to read about rambutan.
In my search, I found this (FREE) 59 page guide, "Fruits in Thailand". 

This'll get you wanting some sala, tamarind, or my favorite - Pomelo.

Download and enjoy!

Image courtesy of RedDogRambutan

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Countdown II

Whenever I get bored, I start drawing these little buddhas.
Last year, I decided to make a Christmas card out of them.

Hope you have a happy holiday!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Countdown I

It's going to be quiet Christmas here, as Angie went back east to visit her parents for the holidays.
When she returns, we'll head to Hawaii to celebrate the New Year with The Bangles.

In the meantime, I'll be hanging out in San Jose, working on some projects.

At work, I'm finishing up a comic-book version of one of our classes.
At home, I'm continuing a massive scanning project (I've sent all my slides to ScanCafe, but all the B&W negatives are left to me - I'm at 2000+ so far). It's a slow, but extremely rewarding project, as I get to look back at my friends and experiences.

I love photography, as it gives me an opportunity to capture images of the world I love, and omit images of the world I don't love.
If anyone ever wonders what the world looks like through my eyes - I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard "What world do you live in?" - they can just look at my images (

For example - Angels are everywhere in my world.
I took this photo in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico - so Feliz Navidad!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Restroom Iconography III: Japan

This is a no-peeing zone...

In a country where a man can heed natures' call just about anywhere - in an alley, in a bush, by the side of the road, off the end of a train platform - it's rare to find a place where you can't relieve yourself (just another reason why I love Japan).

Here, however - in a Tokyo parking lot by a pachinko parlor in a neighborhood close to Asakusa Temple - peeing is prohibited.

There is much to admire about this icon: The realistic pelvic thrust, the dotted stream, and of course the strategic placement of the cross line.
I also will give extra points for going with a square versus the usual circular red 'no' symbol.

It's a sign of my maturity that I didn't steal the darn thing (it would look great in my office).
And a sign of my immaturity that I regret that I didn't steal it...

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's Venntastic I

I am unabashedly stealing from Jessica Hagy, so see go her site, Indexed...

That said, Venn diagrams are a great visual communication tool, so I sat down a couple of weeks ago and exercised my brain by creating some.

I love the saying, "Every villain is the hero of their own story", so that is a natural my first Venn diagram.

I'll post more over the next few months.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Restroom Iconography II: Hawaii

Here's the 2nd in my series of photos that capture creative restroom icons around the world.

This one is from Hawaii.

Unfortunately, my notes don't indicate where these restrooms are.
If you know, please share...

The previous image I shared displayed a very loose interpretation of the international icon for a human figure.

This one, on the other hand, embraces the rounded, bland figure that we're all familiar with and dresses it up with a grass skirt, coconut bikini, and frangipani flower.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Learning with the Primacy-Recency Curve

People who remember things aren't just lucky. 

They usually have strategies that help them remember.
So carrying around a horseshoe probably won't help you remember, unless it reminds you of the Primacy-Recency Curve.

Like a horseshoe, the Primacy-Recency Curve is 'U-shaped'.
The Primacy-Recency Curve maps our retention of information over time. It says that we typically remember the first and last things we hear.

How can you use this? Well, as a presenter, the Primacy-Recency curve suggests that you should state your Most Important Point at the beginning and repeat it at the addition.

As a teacher, you give an overview at the beginning and a review at the end.

As a learner, you should study the most important or most difficult parts first, and then review them at the end.

*'horseshoe' image by dmitry poliansky

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Five Finger Facilitation

Here's one of my favorite facilitation strategies.

It's called "Five Finger Facilitation".

Trying to reach consensus with a team?
I hang this image on a poster or draw it on a white board.
And ask everyone to raise their hand and show their feelings.

Sometimes, folks are arguing, when they are all above a 3!
So, rather than trying to get everyone to say yes, I just want to get everyone above a 3 (assuming of course, that at least a few are at 4 or 5 - if not, discuss further).

Anyone below a 2 is now approached this this question - "What would it take to get you to live with it?"
That's a lot different question that "Why don't you like it?", or "What would make you change your mind?".

You can continue to float proposals and keep asking for a 'finger check', until you get everyone to three.
Try it!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Three Ways to Make Your Resume Get My Attention

Are you stressing over your resume?

If you are, I have one tip for you. 
Your resume should be a list of achievements - not a job description.

Too often, I see bullet points that read: 
  • Repaired High-Tech Equipment
  • Led Project to Repair Broken Stuff
  • Maintained Optimal Alignment of Customer Perspective
  • Responsible for Major East Coast Sales Account

Excuse me, but "yaaaaaawwwwwwn"...
When I see your job title, I know what you're supposed to do.
Your resume is a scorecard. Tell me the results!

It's simple. You:
  1. Reduced something (costs, defects, cycle time, etc),
  2. Increased something (revenue, profits, customer satisfaction, etc)
  3. Eliminated/fixed something (cancer? the line at the frappacino machine?)
  4. Or created something (for example, I invented the virtual frisbee - Catch!!)
  5. Or a combination of the above (invented a doohickey that eliminated a whatchamacallit, which reduced costs while increasing revenue - Yay!)

If you didn't do any of the above, I'll assume you just showed up every day.
Good luck selling that.

All right, let's pretend you did at least one of the above five, since the alternative is too depressing.

All you have to do is document your achievements on your resume.
Here's a few ways to do that.
  1. Quantify it: This is the easiest. You just need the numbers. Increased sales by 30%. Decreased downtime by 11%. Eliminated customer wait-time by initiating self-service fountain.
    Oh, but you say you cannot quantify how much your customer loves you...
  2. Get a Reference: LinkedIn is great for this. Get someone to say how great your are, and then quote them in your resume! Delivered "quickest response of all our contractors" (see reference on LinkedIn). It's that easy.
    Wait, you're really good, but no one knows it yet?
  3. Share a Work Sample: You can use Visual CV, YouTube, or your own website. Are you a great presenter? Post a presentation on YouTube. A great writer? Attach a white paper to your resume. I'm shocked at how few people do this...

Is that clear? 
Don't tell me. Show me.
Show me data. Show me a reference. Or show me a sample.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Where Am I?

It's one of my pet peeves of travel:
'International' hotel design.

While I think it's supposed to convey sophistication, it only implies a lack of imagination.
When I wake up, I like to have some visual cues as to where the hell I am... but most hotels don't give me those cues.

Here are Four Hotels in Four Countries around the globe. Nice rooms. Nice hotels.

But can you tell me where they are?
I bet you can't.

Let's list all the possible places where the visual cues could be placed:
  • The Floor - carpet design, fabric, or wood
  • The Walls - color, texture, pattern, paper
  • Lamps
  • Furniture - bed, chairs, tables, etc.
  • Art - vases, paintings, carvings
  • Fabrics- bedspread, curtains, pillows

These hotels either ignored the possiblities, or shopped at the kind of bland interior design shop that could be found in the back aisles at Sears.

The question I always ask is, "Why?"

Is it really easier to buy fake French furniture than to souce local materials?
Are there still travelers who want every hotel room to be the same for consistency sake?
It can't be because this makes people feel at home... whose home looks like this?

Here's a free idea for hotels trying to differentiate themselves:
Hang two digital frames in each room. Let guests (maybe just members?) log on to the website and pick their art.

In Hawaii, I can choose Kim Taylor-Reece, Vintage Hula posters, upload family photos, or - if I'm really lame - pick from the 'cute cat collection'.
In Japan, I can choose from Hokusai, vintage Kurosawa posters, scenes of Mt. Fuji, or geisha.
And you can always have the default Monet's lilies, for people who don't want to think...

As ESPN's Bill Simmons would say, "Someone needs to make this happen"!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

One Must Tear Off One's Own Head..

It's a doll revolution...

Elvis Costello + The Bangles is a good thing.
I'm rocking to "Doll Revolution" right now.

We're heading over to Honolulu right after Christmas to celebrate the New Year with Susanna and the Peterson Sisters - a little Manic Monday and Walking like an Egyptian while we avoid the Hazy Shade of Winter in Waikiki at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort.

Really, I can't think of three bands that would be more fun (emphasis on the word fun) to ring out the old year with...

*image courtesy of

Friday, December 12, 2008

Every Day a Surprise

I'm often asked, "What was the best part of living in Japan for 8 years?"

I can't possibly pick just one thing - so my stock answer is this:
Every single day that we lived in Japan, we saw something - sometimes small, sometimes big - that we'd never seen before.
That's not an exaggeration. Every day. 

It might be a hamburger served on rice buns (I don't mean buns made of rice, I mean rice formed into buns - if that makes sense). It might be a man walking his pet chipmunk. It might be an ancient ceremony. It might be a tee-shirt that says, "Happy Love Clams". It might be a man marching around a festival with no pants (as my buddy Martin is pointing out in this photo from the Yokohama Matsuri).
You just never knew.

Often, our surprise would come in the form of a TV show or a movie.
If you've only watched movies by Kurosawa and Ozu (and you should see these), you have no idea what kind of wonderful weirdness is manifested in Japanese cinema.

Sometimes I worry that Japan is becoming too Western - but I shouldn't worry.
Here's a trailer for a new movie in Japan, called "Love Exposure".

If you have delicate sensibilities, don't watch. 
It features a priests son who, apparently, is the Bruce Lee of 'upskirt' photography. If that doesn't make sense now, it soon will.

If you want to advance your view of the Japanese beyond stereotypes of samurai salarymen and dutiful housewives, watch these five Japanese films.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Restroom Iconography I: Mexico

Maybe it's my fascination with the human figure.
Maybe it's my interest in graphic design.

Maybe I'm just odd...

Whatever the reason, I am unreasonably delighted when I encounter a restroom with an atypical male/female icon on its' signboard.

I found this elegant icon outside the ladies room at the Marquis Resort in Los Cabos. I was waiting there for my wife (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).

I'm not sure that Frank Lloyd Wright had restroom signs in mind when he said, "God is in the details". At the same time, I'm pretty sure he'd approve.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sales versus Purchasing - The PICOS Battleground

The last, but certainly not least, of hues values is "Offerings, not Products".
Sometimes, I jokingly refer to this value as "Selling Sucks" - sometimes, it's not a joke.

To be fair to salespeople, though, there are also times when purchasing sucks.
Last night, I attended a short seminar on the PICOS (Program for the Improvement and Cost Optimization of Suppliers) program. This program was developed at GM. It has since spread to other industries.

PICOS is disguised as a 'six-sigma' or 'lean' approach to collaboration between vendors and customers for mutual cost reduction.
In reality, it's a program in deception. PICOS bares no resemblance to true collaboration and mutual benefit, like you would see and experience in Japan. I participated in many of these collaborations, and they feel nothing like PICOS

Here is a summary of the PICOS Method.
There are a number of points in this paper that show the antagonism present in the negotiation, from the purchasing side.

  • "Be prepared indirectly and under pressure to bluff and lie."
  • "Destabilize each supplier's people with many urgent meetings and many demands for information."
  • "Set new deadlines for suppliers to meet but defer decisions to increase their anxiety."
  • "Offer exaggerated growth and future order quantities as bonuses."
  • "Know your potential winning suppliers and their competitors inside and out before you begin to negotiate and play first and second tier suppliers against each other."

The underlying message here is to decide which vendor is best and then beat them up as much as possible or create the worst relationship with the best vendor.

I worked with a couple customers who used PICOS or PICOS-like programs, and I can tell you two things.
  1. If your customer is beating you up, they've already decided to buy you. Hold your ground, if you know you are the best alternative.
  2. Karma is a bitch. Anyone who refuses to acknowledge the golden rule (in work or life) will eventually pay the piper. And it's fun to watch.

Points of Power

Here's another commonly used tool from my toolbox.

Points of Power comes from Ken Blanchard, Susan Fowler, and Laurence Hawkins' "Self Leadership and The One Minute Manager".

It's a useful concept and an exercise that I often use in my coaching sessions.

This model defines five points of power:
  • Position Power - the traditional power of title and position
  • Task Power - having the keys to the stock room, coordinating the schedules, shipping authority, etc.
  • Personal Power - charisma, charm, empathy, etc.
  • Relationship Power - customers, friends, family, connections, etc.
  • Knowledge Power - any knowledge you know, languages, skills, etc.

Take a few minutes and make your list.
Write down as many examples as you can of the powers you possess under each point.


When you're done, ask yourself three questions:
  1. Are you surprised by how many powers you have? Many people are.
  2. Are you depressed by how few you have? Join the club.
  3. Finally, how can you build up your areas of weakness? Make a plan.

I have a colleague who was trying (unsuccessfully) to get work down with Asian partners.
When we did this exercise, we found that he had a lot of power, but almost no relationship power. It turns out that this is the most important power in Asia.
So, he got on a plan and spent some time building more relationship power.

What's your plan?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pictures from Mexico

Angie at Playa Santa Maria

The best of my photos from 10 days in Cabo San Lucas are now posted on my photo site at

You'll find surf, sand, sunsets, some skin, pelicans, turtles, a mission, ceviche, margaritas, turkey legs, christmass goodies, and a hummingbird in a pear tree.


The Facilitation Diamond

If you're at all interested in teamwork, thinking, creativity, decision-making, or facilitation - you should read "Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making" and keep it on your shelf for reference.

The book is full of good stuff, but my favorite tool in the book is the Facilitation Diamond.
Everytime I schedule a group facilitation, I have a pre-meeting with the session sponsor.
In the pre-meeting, I draw the Facilitation Diamond on the white board to show how the session will progress.

At this point, I open my toolbox and we decide which tools will work best.
I use seven (or so) sections to the session:
  1. Opening: Go over the agenda. Share the diamond flow. Perhaps a quick exercise.
  2. Diverging Activity 1: Present traditional or evolutionary ideas.
  3. Diverging Activity 2: Stimulate non-tradition, revolutionary ideas.
  4. Transition: A break or a brain-cleansing exercise.
  5. Converging Activity 1: To narrow the multitude of ideas to some actionable ones.
  6. Converging Activity 2: To chose the best one (or 3 - 5 ideas).
  7. Closing: Decide on next actions

I have large posters of the image above that I label with the tools that we'll be using. I hang these as the session agenda. 
It allows everyone to see a map of the energy flow for the day.

Here's a pdf that outlines the method in more detail.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Slow? No kidding...

Given the standards that people set each day, it's pretty hard to do something so stupid as to impress me. However, one of my neighbors has managed to do so.

As I drive home from work today, in heavy commuting traffic, the sun sets.
I pull into our housing complex and turn a blind corner, where I see a sign next to the road.
It reads "SLOW - Children at play".
When I turn the corner, her children are literally playing in the road, spilling out of their garage.

There are (at least) three things wrong with this situation:
  1. This woman cannot find a better place for her kids to play than in a road or garage? In a complex with a green space 100 feet away? In units that have fenced-in back yards? In a neighborhood with 2 nice parks within a block?
  2. They can't finish playing by 5 o'clock when all the commuting traffic is arriving?
  3. She keeps them playing in the dark, hoping her little yellow sign will suffice?

I can only assume she has really good life insurance policies on her two girls and doesn't like them all that much.

*image from daily ha-ha

Let's Stop Meeting Like This - Information vs. Action

I've been keeping a list of activities that strengthen me and activities that weaken me. At the top of the list of things that weaken me is the word "meetings".

I did a quick thesaurus check for 'meeting' and found:
conference, assembly, summit, seminar, consultation, get-together, gathering, convention, and board (bored) meeting

Damn... none of those sound very sexy, do they?

Here's a little 'rule of thumb' I invented for testing meeting agendas. 
Ask how many of the items on the meeting agenda are actionable, and how many are informational.

In order to keep me engaged in a meeting, the ratio should be 80% actionable and 20% informational. Otherwise, just send me an email with the information... okay?

Of course, that's not the case. I've audited a fair number of meetings, and the informational items always (yes, always) make up more than 60%. 
Sorry, but that's some sleep inducing shit...

So, here are two suggestions:
  1. Go for the 80/20 mix. 80% of the items on your agenda must be actionable.
  2. Don't use the word 'meeting'. Personally, I'm starting to use the phrase 'jam session'.
    Other ideas are 'festival', 'carnival', or 'workout'. If you're in a more adventurous culture than mine you might try 'orgy'. Yeah, I'd attend an 'idea orgy'...

'yawn' image by Jean-Pierre Knapen

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Facilitator's Toolbox Updates

I've updated the The Facilitator's Toolbox.

Changes include:
  • The addition of the Conscious Competence Model
  • More links to my writings about these tools
  • And external links for many of the tools that I haven't written about yet.

Play... Reflect... Learn!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Book Review: "Don't Shoot The Dog" and the Ten Laws of Shaping

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've been interested in behavioral training since my visit to Sea World's "Trainer for a Day".

While relaxing in Cabo San Lucas, I finished reading pioneering dolphin trainer Karen Pryor's "Don't Shoot The Dog": a must-read for anyone who teaches, trains, or learns (and yeah, that pretty much covers everyone).

Title: "Don't Shoot The Dog"
Author: Karen Pryor, 
Genre: Behavior, Psychology, Training, Animals
Summary: to quote the book's subtitle, "The New Art of Teaching and Training"

Favorite Quote:  Instead of a quote, here are her ten laws of shaping behavior:
  1. Raise criteria in increments small enough that the subject always has a realistic chance for reinforcement.
  2. Train one aspect of any particular behavior at a time. Don't try to shape for two criteria simultaneously.
  3. During shaping, put the current level of response onto a variable schedule of reinforcement before adding or raising the criteria.
  4. When introducing a new criterion, or aspect of the behavioral skill, temporarily relax the old ones.
  5. Stay ahead of your subject: Plan your shaping program completely so that if the the subject makes sudden progress, you are aware of what to reinforce next.
  6. Don't change trainers in midstream: you can have several trainers per trainee, but stick to one shaper per behavior.
  7. If one shaping procedure is not eliciting progress, find another; there are as many ways to get behavior as there are trainers to think them up.
  8. Don't interrupt a training session gratuitously. That constitutes a punishment.
  9. If behavior deteriorates, "go back to kindergarten": quickly review the whole shaping process with a series of easily earned reinforcers.
  10. End each session on a high note, if possible, but in any case quit while you're ahead.

Strengths: Entertaining and clear with excellent examples.

Weaknesses: No photos?

Conclusion: As I said earlier - a must read for teachers, trainers, and learners.
Follow all these steps and you might get this result (a dolphin even I can ride!).

Post-it Flags: 37 flags

* Each time I find an interesting quote, model, image, or idea in a book, I mark it with a Post-it flag. The more flags, the more value I found in the book.

Friday, December 5, 2008

What's Your Motive?

I received my latest edition of "Core Motive" magazine yesterday.

It's the magazine of the International Color Code Association.
The Color Code is an assessment tool that deals with your core motive.

There are four types:
  • Red = Power
  • Yellow = Fun
  • Blue = Intimacy
  • White = Peace

You can take a free assessment at

It isn't a tool I use a lot, but I find it useful.
My engineer brain demands statistical validation of a tool before I rely on it (that's why DiSC is my most common tool).

At the same time, Dr. Rick Williams of CMOE shared a great metaphor when he picked up a book and held it in front of me, "Let's say that from the front is your Disc Profile. From the side is your Meyers Briggs Profile. From the bottom is your Color Code. From the side is your Wilson Social Styles. All together, you get a three dimensional portrait of a human being. Without one, the portrait is incomplete."

No one who knows me would be surprised to find out that my core motive is "Fun".
One of the reasons that I love Thailand is that a favorite word of theirs is "Sanuk", which means fun. When asked to do something, a Thai will often ask, "Is it sanuk?". That's always been my #1 question.
If it isn't fun, I won't do it.

Take the Color Code assessment and see what your motive is.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Losing Flow...


I'm auditing a sales course today and learning a lot.
Unfortunately, I'm not learning about sales.
Instead, I'm learning about flow... and how to lose it.

Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi
identified 'Flow' as the happy place where challenge and skill reach an equilibrium. As your skills grow, the challenge should be increased.

When your skills are lower than the challenge, you get anxious and demotivated.
When your skills are higher than the challenge, you get bored and demotivated.
In the mid-range, time flies, you are energized, you learn, and you are 'happy'.

You can guess where I am right now (with most of the attendees) - below the line.
Why? The challenge is not meeting the skill of the group.

We have a lot of sharp folks in the room right now, and they're being asked to listen to a lecture.
Have you ever had to sit for three hours, listening to somewhat talk about things you already understand? I bet you have...

Please don't do it to others.
Engage the audience early. Challenge them to an appropriate degree. Have them do things!
Or they'll lose flow... and you'll lose them

Five Great Quotes about Presenting

Here are some of my favorites:

  • "It's not about having a 'good story', there is no such thing - stories are simply good or bad in the telling."
    ~ that presentation sensation by martin conradi and richard hall
  • "The only reason to give a speech is to change the world"
    ~ John F. Kennedy
  • "It is not faults that kill a talk. It is a lack of virtues."
    ~ Dale Carnegie
  • "Designing a presentation without an audience in mind is like writing a love letter and addressing it ‘to whom it may concern’."
    ~ Ken Haemer, AT&T
  • "Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening."
    ~ Dorothy Sarnoff

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Storyboarding for Success

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'm rewriting one of our workshop manuals in manga/comic book format.

While I was in Cabo San Lucas last week, I continued work on the project.

Storyboarding is the easiest way for me to do this. It triggers my right brain by forcing me to think visually. It also forces me to simplify my concepts.
So, I sat by the pool with a pad of post-it notes and sketched out my ideas.

The workbook opens with a quote from Confucius - "If you must play a game, know the stakes, the rules, and the quitting time" - so you can see here that I sketched some ideas around that.

The post-it notes are great, because I can move them around, insert or delete ideas and images, or redraw one without wasting the other pictures.
Once I drew the storyboard, I went to Microsoft Clip Art and grabbed some images that matched my storyboards. Eventually, I'll acquire some more exclusive images or shoot my own, but the Microsoft art is free and represents a good start.

Here is my 'manga' version of the Confucius quote.
Had I started at the computer, it would have probably taken more time, been less clear, and less creative.

The next time you create a presentation or document, try storyboarding first. You might be surprised by the results.

One other way to utilize your storyboards, is to just import them directly into your document or presentation.
This image that depicts "Stereotypes vs. Generalizations"
could be cleaned up in Photoshop and easily dropped into my presentation.

Lawrence Lessig, PowerPoint, and Copyright(wrong)

Edward Tufte will be in San Jose on December 11th. Mr. Tufte is the author of Death By PowerPoint. He's ornery, but smart. I highly recommend you go to see him.

The internet is full of rants regarding the brain-disabling capabilities of PowerPoint.
What's not nearly as easy to find, however, is a successful use of PowerPoint supporting a coherent message.

One of the most famous examples on the net is this one - Free Culture - by Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford Law Professor and surprisingly countercultural thinker.

The use of PowerPoint here is radical (unless you think using 243 slides in 31 minutes - one every 8 seconds - isn't radical), and totally effective.
Beyond that, the message - that innovation depends on borrowing and building off the past, and that the freedom to do that is disappearing - is one you should hear and care about.

If his message resonates with you, you can download the entire (352 page) book for free.
Highly recommended...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Freakonomics and the Real World

"Knowing what to measure and how to measure it makes a complicated world much less so."
-Freakonomics - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

Interviews for strategic planning reveal that many executives believe they lack
a) 'enough data' and/or
b) 'useful data'

This seems, to me, to just be an admission that they can't figure out what the data means.
Will more data help? Doubt it...
And what is 'useful data'? A proven answer?

Why don't more companies hire statisticians?
Probably the same reason why they don't hire philosophers and anthropologists.

"We kill what we fear, and we fear what we don't understand"

Monday, December 1, 2008

From Cabo: Time to Fly

Took one last walk of the beach this morning, before packing and heading to the airport.
Our local pelican was kind enough to pose for us.

Conscious Competence - A Path of Learning

One of the most-used models in my toolbox is the 'Unconscious Competence' Model.

I find it to be an excellent model for cultural dealings.

When I first went to Japan in a state of Unconscious Incompetence, I made many, many mistakes that I only became aware of later.
I wasn't nearly humble enough, or quiet enough. I was also waaaay too casual.

I remember pointing out - at a Toshiba business meeting - that a female Toshiba engineer had a Winnie the Pooh pen. "Pooh-san", I cheerfully remarked. Needless to say, I drew silent stares in return.

Then I moved into the state of Conscious Incompetence. This was the stage when I kept wearing my shoes into the wrong places. I knew better, but I would always catch myself three steps into the wrong area. Bad Glenn! Bad!

Gradually, I reached Conscious Competence. I got the shoe culture down. I stopped pouring soy sauce on my rice. I didn't get lost on trains. But, I always had to think about it.

Finally, I reached the glorious state of Unconscious Competence (in at least some areas). Unfortunately, it was just in time to return to the U.S.
Now I found my unconscious skills allowed me to say 'Hai' to Americans, suck wind when I needed to say no, and stand around like an idiot waiting for taxi doors to open automatically.

Ah well, it's the journey that matters; not the destination.