Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thinking Strategically

Our learning team with author Steven Stowell (2nd from right)

The phrase 'strategic thinking' is one of the more dangerous phrases in the business lexicon.

Everyone says it.
Everyone agrees it's important.
Everyone nods a lot when discussing it.

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure that no one has the same definition in mind...

I'd suggest that strategic thinking belongs with 'pornography' in the "I don't know how to define it, but I know it when I see it" Hall-of-Fame.

Because of this, I was pleased to see that Steven Stowell had a book called "Ahead of the Curve: A Guide to Applied Strategic Thinking". Steve co-wrote two of my favorite coaching books - "The Coach" and "Win/Win Partnerships", so I felt pretty confident that Ahead of the Curve would have some great insights.

I wasn't wrong. Ahead of the Curve addresses strategic thinking - with a little 's' - for everyone. In Steve's mind, a decision about buying a house or choosing a college is a strategic decision - so everyone should have some strategic thinking skills.

It's a great point, and a really good book.

We brought Steve in last week to lead a workshop for us, and then we received certification to teach the course. The workshop was fast, practical, and interesting. The attendees learned a lot.

Steve is an excellent facilitator, and a truly generous soul - with both his time and his knowledge. If you're looking for a course on everyday strategy, I would recommend checking out Steve and his company CMOE.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Restroom Iconography XII: Santa Clara, CA

Yes, it's time for another addition to my ongoing collection of restroom icons.

This one comes from "La Paloma", our favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant: home of amazing chorizo con huevos, excellent flan, a dozen camarone dishes, and my favorite long island iced tea.

Oh yeah, and a very, very cool staff.

Anyway... we've been going there for over 6 years now, but I hadn't shot the restroom icons until tonight.

This, of course, is the restroom for senoras and senoritas.
Everytime I shoot one of these, I worry that a woman will open the door and scream, just as I'm shooting the photo.

It hasn't happened yet, but it's inevitable, isn't it?

On the other hand, it might actually be worse if I caught a photo of some dude exiting the mens room, while I'm shooting the horn-tootin' hombre here!

I guess that's just proof that to be an artist is to take risks?

Ah, yes... We must all suffer for our art...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Get out of your shell

Walking throught the woods of New Jersey, I found this beautiful turtle shell.

Beautiful... but the turtle was dead.

I'm a big turtle fan, so this was sad - but also a reminder that staying in your shell doesn't guarantee anything.

We read every day about people with amazing houses and pathetic lives, so enjoy what you have.

And get out of your comfort zone once in a while!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Customer Delight: Carved in Wood...

A couple of weeks ago, my colleagues and I were certified to lead the program "InsideOut Coaching". At the end of the session, we were told, "Your certificates will be mailed to you."

Okay... cool... no big deal, we thought.

Today, I received my 'certificate'.
In a box.
A heavy box.

When I opened it, I found the etched piece of furniture shown above.
Seriously... it's not often I'm left speechless (trust me)... but this did it.
If that wasn't enough, there was an personalized letter from our coach - George Knight.

Wow... wow... and wow!
Attention to detail. Delighted customer. Name your buzzword.
But we were definitely buzzin!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Book Review: Rules of Thumb by Alan M. Webber

I love Confucius. And Sun Tzu. And Tom Peters.

I love profound little learning nuggets, so when I saw a book titled "Rules of Thumb", I bought it immediately.

Title: "Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Your Self"
Author: Alan M. Webber

Genre: Business
Summary: The cofounder of Fast Company Magazines shares 52 insights that he learned from the best...

Favorite Quote: Here are my three favorite rules from the book.
  1. Rule #11: Speed = Strategy
  2. Rule #23: Keep Two Lists: What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you up at night?
  3. Rule #34: Simplicity is the new currency.

Strengths: A quick read. Clearly written. A number of good stories.
Weaknesses: Of the 52 rules, only 5 were 'a-ha' to me. Too many of them seemed like a Tom Peters remix to me. If you're going to respin old standards, you had better write brilliantly. Mr. Webber writes functionally, not brilliantly.

Conclusion: If you've never seen a book like this, you'll probably enjoy it. Otherwise, flip through it in a bookstore.
Post-it Flags: 6 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.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Reading, Reading, Reading...

One great thing about vacation is that I get to catch up on my reading...

This week, I've read:
  • Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod
  • Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
  • Metaphorically Selling by Anne Miller
  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Rules of Thumb by Alan M. Webber
  • What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith

I learned something from each of these, but if I had to pick two of these to recommend, they would be Made to Stick and Ignore Everybody.
If you're not sure if either one is right for you - take a look at their excellent websites