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A More Productive Happier Life with a Daily Flight Plan and Q4 Calendar

Daily Flight Plan for Happier Balanced Life - Big Idea Toolkit from Delightability

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Time is Limited

You have less than 3 months until the beginning of the new year. The 4th quarter can be your most productive time if you are prepared. Paying attention to your daily priorities and limiting work in process will help you to focus and get more done. Whether you use the Big Idea Toolkit or not, you can benefit from the free Daily Flight Plan to keep your calendar top of mind along with your daily priorities. Think you have more than 13 priorities each day? Ok, then use two Flight Plans. But, remember if you have too many priorities, then you have no priorities. Don’t confuse a constant state of being busy with actually making progress.

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau

 

Links to previous blog posts about the Daily Flight Plan

Is Your Flight Plan Ready for Your Small Business? 

Free 2014 Daily Flight Plan with Q3 Calendar and Big Picture Reminder for SuperHeros

Free 2014 Q2 Calendar Tool to Make Daily Living a Little Less Argh

Free Q1 Calendar Tool to Make 2014 Sing

 

You are Better than a Cat, Right?

You can get more stuff done with todays tools, devices, and connections than several of your equivalent selves could get done, even a few years ago. There is no match for what you can do. But, if you’re not careful you could also get caught up in the superstorm of noise, social media, polarizing politics, or chasing the latest internet meme. I’m not saying you should eschew all things social, especially entertaining cat videos. I particularly like the cat in the shark suit riding the Roomba. If you use the daily flight plan you’ll be more focused on your work and obligations, but you’ll also be sure to include among your priorities things in your personal life. That’s the point of the little 3 legged stool icon on top to remind you. There is much to do of significance and I hope that you’ll help make it happen. We all know that the cats won’t be doing much, except maybe posing.

Greg-Olson-author-image - The Experience Design BLUEPRINT - Delightability - The Big Idea ToolkitGreg Olson is the author of The Experience Design BLUEPRINT: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healthier Organizations. See the Book and Author Summary PDF or find the book on Amazon. Read the reviews and see what others are saying.

Category : Blog

A Sticky Note Calendar to Feel More in Control of Your Personal and Work Life

the PlayBook wall saver edition from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability LLCThe PlayBook from the Big Idea Toolkit is the place to make work visible and feel in control of your personal and work life. The PlayBook calendar reveals more than a list of dates and events. Sure, you can see the current date, week number, quarter and year on this annual wall planner. But, the PlayBook also tells a story of where you are going and what you have to accomplish to get there.  Best of all, you can use ordinary sticky notes to configure your PlayBook calendar to organize yourself or your team around activities, tasks, and deliverables due by projects, customer, or week number. Simply write a task on a sticky note and affix it to the PlayBook in the week number that it’s DUE. Now you can take step-by-step requirements and calendarize them for execution. The 20 x 30 inch wall saver PlayBook is included with the Big Idea Toolkit.  For those that are sporting more wall space and want to build a bigger plan there is the larger format edition of the PlayBook, 24 x 44 inches, sold separately.

Move beyond your ordinary wall planner. Get the PlayBook calendar and go from “to-do” to “done.”

Category : 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

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

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

Your Big Idea – Stop Dabbling and Start Making an Impact

idea lightbulb cup and conversation - the Big Idea Toolkit from Delightability, LLC.I want to share a fresh perspective to the thinking that appeared  in a recent New York Times opinion piece, titled The Elusive Big Idea.

Most people are not deep thinkers anymore.  I believe this to be especially true of the younger generations that can find all of the answers (right or wrong) on Google and text Mom, Dad, or a friend first and think for themselves second.

Our ipods and pads, crackberries and computers have not solved basic human problems that exist in families, the work place, and communities. While our devices and social networks can connect us to more people, across more geographies and across time, they are not a substitute for thinking, great conversation, and taking action.  For that you need to step away from the computer screen, be a better storyteller, and have better conversations.

As Morpheus said in The Matrix, “There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.”

We all see the possibilities for improvement at work, in our associations, club, non-profits, churches, government and even our families.  But, too many ideas are not fleshed out with good authentic dialogue and many more are stillborn, never to take shape or have their impact felt in the world.  We need better tools and a new approach.

This is what in part, spurred us to create the Big Idea Toolkit.  The Toolkit helps you to get organized so you can get more important stuff done and make a bigger impact, whether that is for you, your family, work, or your community. It is intentionally designed to force dialogue and leverages the way our brains do their most innovative work.

the Big Idea Toolkit - How it Works - from Delightability, LLC.Whether you work alone or in a group the Big Idea Toolkit gives you a place to:

  • capture ideas
  • get organized
  • execute

The Big Idea Toolkit provides a common big picture with a clear path forward and a playbook of what to do next that keeps everybody motivated and moving forward. Using it or something like it is your best chance to make an impact and realize the possibilities.  So, whether your idea is a big one or a small one doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you makes its impact felt in the world.

Good luck – there is much to make better in this world.

Category : Blog

4 Reasons You Don’t Move Forward – and How to Overcome

In spite of inspirational songs like “Live Like Your Were Dying” and movies like “The Bucket List”, most people won’t act until its too late.  They’ll continue to let opportunities pass them by, only to be realized by others.  Truth is, those “others” aren’t any smarter, but they do have better habits.  Here is how to level the playing field and get your fare share of opportunities. Know thyself.  Understand the reason you don’t move forward and then make a choice to either overcome it or accept it.

If you’re going to be a slouch you should at least be an informed intentional slouch.

And if you are a “doer” then perhaps it’s your duty to help somebody else get out of their own way.

As part of my book research, I’ve been asking people from all walks of life now for some time what holds them back from whatever it is their wanting to do.  I’ve heard several different flavors of answers, but they can be summarized by the list of 4 below.  If you really have a reason you believe doesn’t fit to these 4 please chime in.  I’d love to know.

#4 – values or beliefs are not in alignment

You might recognize this as  “I’ve reluctantly signed up to do something” or “You were really good at coercing me but I never really was committed.”  This reason is usually cited when we don’t move forward on somebody else’s idea or initiative.  You simply don’t believe in “the cause” or the value of getting it done.  Reaching the final destination doesn’t resonate with you so much.   Sometimes people want to fantasize about reaching the Utopian end state but they don’t really have any intention of doing any real work or making a contribution.  If you find yourself in this camp saying “work – that is for the others,” or “a person should… “, then some intellectual honesty is in order.  Simply come to grips that you are a fantasy doer or know what you value and stop committing without follow through.

#3 – lack of resources

This oft cited paralyzer is a Red Herring easily spotted by asking yourself or others what resources are needed.  Then systematically break down and eliminate each resource needed – this is an obstacle removal technique.  Many problems can be reframed to requires a different set of resources, those within reach.  Also, there are those resources that you don’t have now and those that you don’t have in the future. Solve today’s problem today and tomorrows problems tomorrow.

#2 – fear or lack of courage

This reason for inaction is more easily understood when the person not moving forward is part of a larger social context.  When you have to rally the herd and get others moving there is a certain risk that goes along with that.  It is much easier to not lead the way, blend into the crowd, and wait for somebody else to take a risk and be responsible.  This is a well researched and documented area of social psychology called the bystander effect. But when others are not involved,  it become squarely about you.  You may have been conditioned to fear failure or you’re in an environment where failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

Failure can actually be a good thing, especially in small doses.  That’s what experiments and prototypes are for!  I worked in the Boeing Wind Tunnel for 5 years. We ran many experiments to detect failure and make improvements at a small scale because the human and financial costs of mistakes at scale are so enormous.

Besides failure, some people also fear the destination of success and all its accoutrements.  To overcome inaction and to combat many of the subconscious and conditioned avoidance behaviors it is good to create new habits.  You can easily do this by adopting a habit practice sheet (free download) and by creating conscious action triggers.   Action triggers can have a profound power to motivate people to do the things they need to do.   The reason, according to Peter Gollwitzer, a New York University psychologist, is that action triggers eliminate the need for conscious deliberation by making people “pre-decide” what they are going to do.  In this they program themselves to protect goals from tempting distractions, bad habits, or competing goals.

an example of the Big Picture from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.#1 – lack of clarity

By far this is the most popular reason people don’t move forward that I’ve encountered. They simply don’t know how to get started or what the next step is.  They are overwhelmed by the myriad of choices and possibilities.  You can hear them saying to themself, “Where to start, where to start.”  They may be so overwhelmed they are unable to articulate what they want or think they need.  Often, others have trouble helping people in this state – instead they usually prefer to give them time and space to “get it together.”  Creating the Big Picture can go a long way toward unlocking what the brain already knows but is unable to express.  Sequencing your Big Idea into Chunky Steps along a path with a clear vision of the payoff seems so simple… and it is. But have you actually done it? You want to create your next “Aha” moment, give it a whirl.  Better yet, help somebody else do the same.

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..

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