PlayGround

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

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

the PlayGround – Making the Invisible Visible to Get More Done


example of the Playground from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.Chances are you have something wonderful tucked inside your computer – your big idea.  If your anything like me, you’ve started many idea files.  Chances are you’ve also written something down on a scrap of paper, sticky note, or back of the napkin that at the time was of prime importance.  You might have even interrupted a person you were talking to or abruptly stopped what you were doing to write it down, saying “This is a great one, hold on hold on, I’ve got to write this down before I lose it.”

And then… you don’t do anything.  The file gets saved to some weird recess of the computer that made sense at the time and the paper idea morsel goes somewhere, perhaps you’ll discover it later. Whatever that great thing was gets lost, only to be randomly and luckily recalled someday, if at all.

“Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.”
Sir Francis Bacon, English philosopher, statesman, spy, Freemason and essayist (1561 – 1626).

After all, inspiration has expiration and if you don’t make it visible, the great idea or initiative gets wafted into the corner of your computer or mind never seeing the light of day.  Sadly, no matter how great that momentary inspiration was, if it’s not acted on, will have no impact in the world – not for you and not for others.

Part of having a mind at ease is knowing you have place to stow and recall such ideas.  Everybody should have their own personal Innovation PlayGround – that place where ideas live.  And you don’t want that to be invisible.  You want to put you mind at ease then create a visible PlayGround that you can affix ideas to.  If you get an idea, write it on a sticky note and stick in in the PlayGround.  Get an idea related to another idea – great, lump those together.  Funny thing is, if you see these ideas in your PlayGround over and over again, you’re brain will continue to work on them, even when it seems like you’re not.  So if you want to get more stuff done in this world, then unhide your ideas and get them into the PlayGround.  Your brain will thank you and so will those you someday impact.

 


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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