Blog

A Dozen Reasons you Need a Lightweight Business Planning Tool Like the Big Idea Toolkit

hand with sticky notes and the big idea toolkit logoIt doesn’t matter if you are gainfully employed and need to explore the newest path to revenue,  a solo-preneur forging your way in a terrible economy, or a wanna-preneur that’s contemplating starting a business, you need a way to flesh out and communicate ideas and to build a simple plan. I’m not talking about the dusty templates that litter the Internet and application software by the droves. I’m talking about crafting something that lives beyond your bound document, something more dynamic, that connects to customers, a calendar, your livelihood and purpose. For that, you need something like the Big Idea Toolkit. Sure, I’m biased, after all I created the toolkit. But, I did say something “like.” The point is the world moves quickly and you need to as well. I’ll bet on the pony that running the race as opposed to the one in the stable that’s still working up the race plan.

Remember if you don’t continuously innovate in a sea of change, you could get BlockBuster’d out of business.

 

Here are a dozen reasons to use a Lightweight Business Planning Tool like the Big Idea Toolkit

 

    1. You need to quickly convince yourself and others you’re idea is worth following
    2. Your plan will need to evolve once you get started
    3. You need to continue to show visible progress to stay motivated
    4. You need to capture ideas that will come at times inconvenient and from unlikely sources
    5. You’ll want to explore quickly the opportunities that you can reliably act upon
    6. Your applied actions in the marketplace speak louder than your stagnant words buried in a plan
    7. To stay sane, you’ll need a system to balance delivering value, promotion, operations, and a personal life
    8. Opportunities will pass you by if you take too long to act
    9. You’ll need to observe, listen, and learn from customers
    10. If it’s worth doing, you probably need to enroll others
    11. You’ll need to run experiments to test ideas for value
    12. You need a plan that gives the opportunity to build better habits and practice because practice makes perfect, not training
    13. You’ll need to hold yourself accountability or involve somebody else that will

Oops that’s 13.  Oh yeah, and you can’t be superstitious either because black cats need love too and your biases will ultimately limit your opportunity.  Remember technology will not save you and the timing goddess will ultimately decide your fate. If you don’t believe this talk to those that are graduating from college now as opposed to the lucky grads that carved their way ahead of the dot com bubble burst.

Remember the marketplace will punish paralysis by analysis and the big formal unseen plan more than it will the action junkie that has more conversations and creates sustainable customer value sooner. Find a balance and pray for the timing goddess to cast a shining light upon you.

Category : Blog

When your ‘What if…’ is worth pursuing

Wouldn’t it be cool if …

 

cars with false securityI ask that “What if…” question often. Most people have and do ask that question or some variation of it. Most don’t do anything about it, but those we label entrepreneurs are the doers with courage enough to set themselves apart from the herd of dreamers.

I’m an entrepreneur. In my last software business, I was the first investor. I spent $25,000 of my hard earned after tax dollars. I did this so that an adviser and another strategic investor would feel comfortable investing too. They didn’t ask to see the roadmap or seek to see the Big Picture. They simply sought comfort much like a tailgater in a long line of cars in stormy weather. It wasn’t any safer but the co-investment had the illusion of security.

Prior to that I was an intrapreneur. I worked for a company that spent in excess of $1,000,000 developing a product that we later found out was promised to the customer at a price below the company’s cost. Once that little fact was revealed the project was shut down and the executive responsible, ushered to the door. But, before our project was permanently put on hold, many of us had been feverishly working on the hardware, software, and industrial design, crafting what we thought was going to be a new reality for our customer and for our company.

In both of these scenarios the conversation should have been very different, but it wasn’t. It turns out the tools to have a better conversation weren’t that great at the time.

More PowerPoints and more spreadsheets and drinking from the same Kool-Aid didn’t produce a better truth or a better outcome.

I fear that the more hyperconnected we become, with faster, better, now, it seems that we get further from the underlying need to have a great conversation. Perhaps, we don’t want to know the truth; we rather like illusion.

One great use of the Big Idea Toolkit is to fully explore and communicate the Big Idea. Remember, if your big idea can’t be proved out using the Big Idea Toolkit and sticky notes, then it won’t prove out with real customers either. It might be that you spend $249.95 on visual communications tools like the Big Idea Toolkit but, ultimately you save much more than that and much heartache and time along the way.

I’ve advised many executives and entrepreneurs and the ones that make a bigger impact are the ones that slow down, in order to speed up.

If after purchasing the Big idea Toolkit, you need some facilitation or coaching, please let me know. If I don’t have time available, I’ll at least recommend another coach.  Good luck entrepreneurs and doers!

Category : Blog

Try to Unthink that Thought – Just Try

debbie faas golden nugget paintingA friend of mine, Chuck Frey wrote an article about the Painter’s Technique a while ago. It really resonated with me so I commented on it.  It has doubly resonated with me over the last week since my artist friend Debbie Faas validated the painter’s technique is in fact a real phenomena that she experiences.  She knows firsthand since she just lived a 5 and 1/2 week painting journey commissioned  by a Seattle technology company.   I also had the opportunity to share the Big Idea Toolkit in a Tools roundtable with the local chapter of the Institute of Management Consultants.  In that discussion, every person in the room realized that ideas come at times sometimes inconvenient, even the day after your big strategic plan is completed.

What do you do with a good idea that comes at the wrong time?

Simply put – you cannot unthink a thought.  Your brain will continue to wrestle with it, good or bad even without your trying.  Mike Dooley notes this in his email signature of his daily Notes from the Universe where  he says, Thoughts become things…choose the good ones.

In the Big Idea Toolkit, this is precisely why we have a PlayGround.  When you get an idea, put in in the PlayGround.  Whether it advances immediately or ever, the brain will continue to build on it and create new possibilities.  If your PlayGround is shared with others, ideas pay dividends. Chuck’s original article appears here.

the PlayGround from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.Here is my comment on his article restated.   I hope this inspires you to create and share your PlayGround.

Chuck, this article really resonates with me. I am a big believer in the power of visual thinking. Like John Medina says in Brain Rules with Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses.  I use mind mapping software to organize and see connections when I’m working alone. But when I’m collaborating with others, need to work quickly and communicate or see the Big Picture, then I use tools from the Big Idea Toolkit. http://www.thebigideatoolkit.com This has the added advantaged of the large format (20 x 30 inch visuals), multiple real time input (everybody on the team can write on a sticky note), and spatial adjacency (I can see each poster/board at the same time) . I like computers and all things digital but there is a time to be digital and a time to be in the real world – which is and always has been analog. @markjl – yes big hand drawn = better.

The painters technique really makes sense to me. Ben Franklin and Thomas Edison solved problems by cat napping similarly. It allows your brain to continue to work on things while you’re away. There is a related powerful phenomena – spatial adjacency. Think of an art gallery experience that unfolds as you enter each room. Each passage you enter reveals a new splash of style and color. You naturally do a quick scan before your eye settles in on something of interest. Compare this experience to the same art being presented slide by slide in a PowerPoint presentation. In the former the brain benefits from spatial adjacency and in the latter suffers from the lack thereof. If you want to imagine yourself to better possibilities you need to get bigger, and get adjacent. Then, let the painter technique unfold as you seemingly “check out” for a while from one piece and then “check back in” to the canvas of your choosing.

Category : Blog

Productive living is about project management not time management

The thing about time is it will pass you by, whether you are busy, idle, wholly aware of it, or completely oblivious to the seconds ticking on.

Ultimately, we all suffer from time poverty because the number of hours in the day are fixed. Like the law of conservation of energy – energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change form, we can’t create more time we can only make it useful by what we do with the time we have.

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”  Benjamin Franklin

We care about time management because we are trying to cram more things done into the little time we all have.

The key to getting more stuff done is to have the right mental models, tools, and processes in place. Highly productive people aren’t necessarily lucky or smarter than you, they simply have built better habits. You’ll need better habits, no matter which system you adopt or invent.

Most people don’t manage complex projects with huge risks that need to be mitigated, involve many stakeholders, or have project life cycles that span years and geographies. Luckily, for most of us life isn’t that complicated. Most of us have to simply juggle between our various personal and professional actions, deliverables, to-dos, and calendar events. The trouble is it isn’t that simple and one tool probably won’t do the trick.

“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”  Henry David Thoreau

Here is an assortment of tools and principles that I find useful and how I use them.

Image of Calendars, Planning, and Electronic Organization Tools put in perspective - Delightability LLC

The Distracting Idea

First Principle – Ideas often come at inconvenient times.
Tool I use – I separate ideas from execution using the PlayGround to capture ideas and the PlayBook to document what I’ve committed to. Periodically I review all ideas and then decide if I’ll add them to my PlayBook. I don’t let the “idea du jour” distract me from what I’ve already committed to.

Sight-line to the Future

The PlayBook is where I track the next 90 days or so by week. I show all of my major events, milestones, and the deliverables that I need to create or big actions I’ll need to track. It is fast and uses sticky notes so I can reconfigure it if I change priorities. I have a more granular view on my paper calendar but the PlayBook keeps me tracking to my overall plan and most importantly, makes work visible.

Good old Fashioned Calendar with a Twist

In addition to the PlayBook calendar, I also use an electronic calendar. In my case I use Google calendar on the computer and my phone. Because the electronic calendar is poorly configured, not instantly glance-able and lacks the “doodle” factor I also carry a printed calendar that I can capture notes on or affix a sticky note to. I have a paper calendar for each week and also note the week number. This is a feature you can turn on in Google calendar by the way.

Making Communications Visible is Key

I configure SMS alerts for reminders tied to my electronic calendar. I also use Highrise as a CRM tool to track prospects and assign future f/u tasks which are emailed to me as a reminder. But, for the week I’m in I print a communication/follow-up sheet. This sheet shows the person I need to follow up with, what I need to provide them, and whether the communications will be phone, face-to-face, email, or direct mail. If you meet many people you are likely creating a card graveyard on your desk. I was too, before I adopted this system.

Print or Electronic?

Second Principle – the best answer is usually “It Depends.”
If you use your phone as your calendar and you are talking on your phone then you are blind to your calendar. If you need to add a note, do it directly in your printed calendar, so you don’t have to write it down twice. Also, in the event your phone is in need of a charge, you’ll still have your weekly plan, right there in plain sight.

Spatial Adjacency is Good for your Brain

If you keep your old calendars and communication/follow-up sheets you’ll be able to review them at a glance while eating breakfast or celebrating a job well done. Your brain will likely recognize patterns and see new connections. These insights will spawn additional ideas and you’ll know what to do with them because you read this post and followed the First Principle above.

This may seem like a lot of items but if you build a success system and good habits to reinforce your system, then it will be more natural to use it than to operate randomly, poorly execute, suffer from time poverty, and ultimately didn’t-get-it-done-itis.

Learn more at the Big Idea Toolkit website and blog.

Category : Blog

So… what did you learn?

Start Stop Continue Review - Delightability LLC

Here is the situation.  You’ve just completed that latest software build or that big fundraising event.  You’re going full steam ahead to the next opportunity.  You’re at capacity so you don’t really want to spend time talking about the past, especially those things that didn’t go well.  And you certainly wouldn’t want to have difficult conversations with colleagues. We’ve heard the cautionary tales about Look Back – Fall Back, Negative Target Fixation, or Don’t Trample my Elephant.

Sometimes you have to slow down, in order to speed up.

 

Project Meeting Event Debrief from Delightability LLC

But, the other side of this is your next project will only be as good as your last project, plus “what you do different.”  If you don’t learn anything  then you’re not likely to do anything different. You wouldn’t intentionally enter your next assignment with your biases, blind-spots, and developmental needs all exactly where you left them at your last project, would you?

There are 3 tools that are easy to use that can speed your individual and group learning so that you can be a higher performing team even if that team is only “me, myself, and I.”

Visit the Feedback and Learning page to see how to use these tools and download the full size PDFs for free.

 

 

 

 

Category : Blog

Pies, Pants, and PlayBooks -Will Your 2012 be any Different?

Seems we arethe PlayBook -Delightability LLC all busy making plans to do something different. You may have plans to work off grandmothers pumpkin pie, get ahead at work, or spend more time volunteering. We purchase calendars, wall planners, and gym memberships – anything to help us reach our goals.

the PlayBook -Delightabiity LLCIf you are looking to get more accomplished in 2012, you may want to start by replacing your planning calendar with the PlayBook. You can keep on doing the same old thing, but you’ll not likely fit into a slimmer pair of pants.

To make a bigger impact you need the courage and conviction to try something different. Get started in the right direction. Take the challenge, compare your calendar to the PlayBook and select the tool that will make your 2012 a success.

Category : Blog

Eliminate Last Minute Surprises at Your Next Event

the Game Plan -Delightability LLCEvents are great, but…

Celebrating, educating, fundraising, no matter what the objectives, there are many great reasons for having a successful event, but it can be complicated by last minute surprises. As an event planner you want a better way to get you and your team organized and not let things fall through the cracks.

Eliminate Blind Spots

Checklists and templates are good to insure against over confidence, but fail to make sure everybody is on the same page and don’t eliminate blind spots. Unless there is a Big Picture to connect it all, people will get lost, you’ll burn precious time and your event will not live up to its potential.

Better Events with the big Idea ToolkitYou can’t do it Alone

A better way to plan and execute events is to use the Big Idea Toolkit, a large format visual planning system that helps teams to capture ideas, get better organized, and ensure excellence in execution.

To ensure your next event lives up to its potential, download the free Poster.

This large Poster shows how the using the step by step approach of the Big Idea Toolkit ensures your next event will lives up to its potential.

Category : Blog

Visual Real Time Collaborative Project Management Tool


Successful project management is more about good discussions, clear deliverables, and commitment to a common path forward than it is about a piece of software.  History is full of big projects and accomplishments that predated the existence of the software industry.  Turns out that successful project management is about humans, psychology, communications, process, accountability, and many other things that sometimes get substituted with meetings, reports, tiny unreadable schedules, and much finger pointing, blaming and shaming.

Even project management professionals with certifications struggle to make the customer come alive inside the organization they work with and have productive conversations around a common big picture.  If you are a project management pro ask yourself if you’ve ever been on a project that failed.  Chances are, if you’ve been around the block a few times, you have.  Common tools of the trade do little to excite and enroll others.  As it turns out, exciting and enrolling others is much of what successful project managers do.    I like this infographic that project management pro, Olga Sa, created where she indicated that 90% of project management has to do with communications.

Better Project Management using the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.
Not surprisingly, the Big Idea Toolkit can be used to better manage projects.  Here is an infographic of better project management using the Big Idea Toolkit.  Please check it out and if your so inclined we’ve love to hear what tools and methods you use in managing your projects large and small?  Also, how are they working for you?

If you are into Scrum and Agile methods you might like this related post on the For Doers blog: Is your product or service on a path to irrelevance?

 

Category : Blog

the Big Idea Toolkit – 7 Visual Thinking Tools for Innovative Teams to do their Best Work

the PlayGround from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.The Big Idea Toolkit  include 7 visual thinking tools that leverage the way innovative teams do their best work.  People need a place to capture ideas – that is the PlayGround.   If you are like most people you already have sticky notes chock full of ideas, notes, and reminders.  Well, the PlayGround gives you a space to capture them and share them with others.  Other might even build upon your ideas.  The PlayGround is where ideas live.

Sometimes I feel better just getting my ideas down – even if I don’t do anything with them.

 

the Situation from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.Jumping to execution too soon without understanding the Situation, or being mindful of  the Audience can consume resources, burn cycle time, and create strategic drift.  Not being in tune with your audience can create lackluster products, messages, and experiences that don’t feel connected or live up to their potential to satisfy and delight.

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.  Lewis Carroll

 

the Audience from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.Explicitly identifying your audience can help you to connect with them and make the customer come alive inside the organization.  This taps the natural empathy of your employees, volunteers, and others that interact directly with or influence the experience that customers have with your organization, its products, services, and brand.

My play was a complete success. The audience was a failure.  Ashleigh Brillant

 

the Big Picture from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.We live in a world more connected than at any other time in history, yet we lack tools to have more productive, energizing conversations that are results oriented and free of our biases.   Using the Big Picture calibrates people to the same reality, it helps to communicate the big idea and then tie that idea to the expected impact.  It allows people to participate in building, seeing, and sharing, the big chunky steps of how to get there.  If you find yourself in the trap of having more and more email “conversations” but getting less and less accomplished, you or others around you, might not be seeing the big picture.

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

 

the Game Plan from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.Breaking down the big picture into smaller executable steps is what  the Game Plan is all about.  The chunky steps in the big picture can be broken down into smaller steps that are more easily executed on.  One of the reasons why people don’t move forward is a lack of clarity.  The Game Plan breaks down each big chunky step from the Big Picture into more manageable, own-able, deliverables that can then be discussed and assigned to different team members.  It reduces blind spots and helps you to confront reality.

Our ambitions will always exceed our ability to execute, given the available level of resources.

 

the PlayBook from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.When your ready to commit to doing something you need the PlayBook.  That is where execution lives – it gives you a site line into events and milestones across the year as well as the view into deliverables/actions/owners over a rolling 90 day view.  Turns out that most teams don’t have much clarity beyond 90 days, so why fool yourself with giant, non-dynamic plans.  The calendar is a key component to the PlayBook since everything that you do and will do, happens in time.  It again uses ordinary sticky notes and is easily reconfigurable as weeks expire and deliverables are accomplished.  If you miss a deliverable – it is no longer a surprise.

Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else. Peter F. Drucker

4 blocker exampleWhen each person on the team uses a weekly  4-Square Personal Action plan you’re on your way to building habits that ensure excellence in execution.  Print a 4-Square Personal Action plan each week, fill it out, and take it with you as you go about your personal and professional business.  While the PlayBook may be shared, the 4-Square Personal Action plan is uniquely you.  In fact, using it alone, even without the toolkit will enable you to be more clear about your commitments and get more important stuff done.  It is a free download, so take advantage of that.

I want to make a dent in the universe. Steve Jobs

 

We’ve love to hear what tools you use to capture ideas, get organized, and ensure excellence in execution whether you work alone, as part of a larger team, within a silo or across silos.

 

Category : Blog

Does Your High Performing Team Have a Different Mental Space for Ideas and Execution?

The highest performing teams don’t need “team building” events because they are already a higher performing team doing the many little things that make the team flow and work well together. Like a good Jazz trio they have a rough plan but can improvise and work off of each other as necessary. Resorting to trust falls and wailing on each other with padded sticks won’t make a low performing team soar.

We’ve found that high performing teams are fully engaged and have a different mental space for dealing with ideas versus working the execution of the plan. We’ve incorporated these realities into the Big Idea Toolkit by including a PlayGround and PlayBooks.

the PlayGround from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.The PlayGround is where high performing teams capture and share ideas. Embrace the notion that ideas can come from anywhere and will often come at times inconvenient. If you still boast an annual planning cycle then you’re probably blind to the best idea which may come the days following the completion of your annual planning. Being blind to ideas that could move your company forward can be detrimental and may serve to disengage the employee or partner whose ideas are ignored. Funny psychological thing is, it is more important to have your idea captured and heard than actually implemented. People like to be heard, respected, and valued. Ignore this reality and you are a dead brand walking.

You know the old adage, ideas are a dime a dozen. Well, in the internet age, they’re actually even cheaper, they’re free. Ideas are great but unless acted on they’ll make no impact in the real world. That is what the PlayBook is for.

Publishing a shared PlayBook reminds a high performing team what they have committed to.

Publishing a shared PlayBook reminds a high performing team what they have committed to. Shared commitment and visibility are prerequisites for excellence in execution. Actions, deliverables, owners, and dates provide the team with clarity on the who, what, and when of execution. Using a weekly 4-Square Personal Action plan further individualizes the PlayBook deliverables so each team member knows what they are doing each step along the way.the PlayBook with a High Performing Team - from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC

Using the PlayGround and PlayBooks helps a team to form productive habits that will help them to make a bigger impact in the world. Use them alone or as part of the complete Big Idea Toolkit and pretty soon, your higher performing team will be celebrating yet another win. And… when you do if you want to celebrate with some trust falls or a stick fight, more power to you.

Category : Blog

About Us

Like you we get ideas. We are all idea people. The Big Idea Toolkit was born out of our recognition that people have ideas but get stuck at all stages of bringing those ideas to life. We hope you find this toolkit and site gives you a nudge, a process to follow, and inspiration to make your ideas a reality. Thank you to our clients who told us - "You guys should make this a product available to others." We are Delightability, LLC and we believe if you Delight Customers - Success will Follow. more..

Support

If you have questions or need some help please email us or call us at (206) 356-8811