As we enter a new year of a new decade, have you Ever thought about how effective your plans are At helping you achieve your objectives? Winston Churchill once said: “Plans are of little importance, But planning is essential”.
Have you also wondered whether alternative strategies Might produce better results to get you there faster? And how the plan will go down with the rest of the team? Planning is one of the riskiest activities we undertake (And with the undertaker is where many plans end up!) Wherever you are, it’s never too late to start planning!
How can we give our plans the greatest chance of success? Aside from Churchill, many great leaders have determined That is is the planning process that is most valuable. The end-result of a published plan being far less important. Yet without setting your sights on creating the latter, The former is very unlikely to happen!
Some people (like me) think in pictures Other people prefer words or spreadsheets. So it is important that the plan is gamed-out From a number of different views or perspectives, Each one providing valuable insights into areas That might cause problems down the line.
Involving the wider team from the outset is vital. A plan that has no buy-in from them is bound to fail. It is the planning process that gets the buy-in By negotiating key friction points on the way ahead. Yet too much sharing can also be counter-productive Leading to too many cooks spoiling the broth.
In our modern-day world of information overload, Artificial intelligence, social media and fake news, It is ofttimes difficult to understand Where things are going and where they might end up. The planning process is more important than ever, Even though the plan will end up being pretty worthless!
If you would like to book a free 15-minute slot In the month of January 2020 (no strings attached) To discuss a plan you are currently working on So I can give you three valuable ideas To make it a better plan, then please book me here: https://calendly.com/gameyourplan/three-ideas
There are too many things going on. I’m stressed, RED with anger And getting over-emotional I can’t do everything! I’ve got burn-out! PLEASE HELP ME!
The future’s bright, The future’s ORANGE So they used to say! Time to get a grip! Recast my ambitions And create a new future
How best to do that? Listen to myself and others For a while. Don’t rush! GOLDEN friends who know me well And care about me: they know the answers It’s all going to be fine!
Step into the circle, the WHITE zone Take a break. Get some rest. Sleep in. Then – Move around. Walk outside. Eat more plants. Enjoy life! Life’s for living, not for stressing!
It’s time to get creative! Write out a list of all I want to do Like the colour PURPLE, What am I passionate about? Which small projects can I get underway NOW That will help me to achieve my dreams?
No point in feeling BLUE More complex things require the help of others Important things need to be negotiated So things end up as WIN-WIN Don’t rush it! There’s an underlying A collective intention that needs uncovering.
And then all becomes lined-up. All becomes clear! Time for action! GREEN light for go! Action with clarity and purpose No one can stop me now!
Picture the scene. A young child who has done something wrong. A parent standing tall over the child looking on in disgust or anger. The young child cowering, knowing that they should not have done it – whatever the act was. The parent erupting: “You did it on purpose, didn’t you?”
Doing something on purpose, in this case, is doubly bad. It adds to the criminal act because it was “on purpose”. It is the difference between manslaughter and premeditated murder. Somehow, when a crime is committed, when it is done “on purpose”, then it is so much worse and carries a heavier penalty.
Picture another scene. A company gets amazing results. Profits are up. Revenues are up. The workforce has high morale. The CEO is asked: “Why are you are doing so well? How did you make so much profit” He or she answers “Our primary objective isn’t to make a profit – although it is nice to make a profit so we can develop better services for you. The main reason that we are doing so well is that we are all in service for a higher purpose”.
Think of some recent technology successes: Google and Apple. Each one highly profitable, yet much more importantly, each one serves a higher purpose. “Do no evil”. “Putting a ding in the Universe”. Interestingly, in its early days, Microsoft had the mission of putting “a computer on every desk and in every home”. In 2013, Microsoft changed its mission to “morph from a software company to a devices and services company”. In doing so, their purpose became clouded (literally) in confused corporate-speak and financial engineering. As soon as the purpose (or mission) is framed in terms of profit or puts shareholder returns above everything else, the writing is on the wall that the organisation to become less successful.
Such a powerful phrase it is, then. “On Purpose”. It shows premeditated intent. Driven by purposeful desire, it can create extraordinarily beautiful things. It also drives people to follow great leaders – not because of the ego or personality of the leader, but because the whole tribe/team/organisation believes in a higher purpose beyond the power of a single human being. It is why great religions have such enormous followings. Abraham, Buddha, Christ and Mohammed. Each, in their own way, started a religion which today still have many followers.
Purpose also drives revolution and could be seen as the lifeblood of change. The events in Paris last week were a tragedy, attacking the French libertarian belief system to its core. The repercussions are still to be played out in terms of hardening European borders, increasing the checks on people travelling to and from Europe as well as the need to control the mass migration to Europe from North Africa and the Middle East. In some cases, it is a cash of ideas, ideals and purposeful intent. In another, it is driven by a desire to find a better life for yourself and those who depend upon you.
However hard it is to imagine a cause is so strong for someone to want to blow themselves up in martyrdom, history shows that there is nothing new to such an extreme act. Religions are full of martyrs – often given god-like attributes after their demise. For someone to die “on purpose” or in total alignment with their belief system is somehow at the extreme end of heroism and martyrdom.
Back to the first scene that I started with at the start of this piece. What is most interesting is whether you saw yourself as the child, the parent or an onlooker? Think about it!
At an individual level, many of my close friends in their late forties or early-mid fifties are in transition from a full-time career in corporate life to a much less secure “portfolio career” in post-corporate life. Is it at times like this that you really do question your own purpose in life. You think “what is this all about?”. “Why did I spend over 10/20/30 years working for such-and-such a cause and end up with …..?” It is a time for reflection and searching for a deeper meaning in your own life so that it can become more purposeful.
In thinking about your own purpose, I like to think of an analogy with the Global Positioning System or GPS. I used to do offshore sailing back in the 1980s and early ‘90s – when the navigation was all based on charts using pencils and compasses and triangulation to work out where you are. How the world has changed! Via the GPS system, you can now know exactly where you are – even if it is thick fog outside. A Guiding Purpose Statement (or GPS) should do the same for you at major transitions in your life.
Over the next few weeks, I am creating a programme to go deeper into some of these ideas. If you would like to find out more, please do email me at: lorne(at)objectivedesigners(dot)com and I will send you an outline of what I am thinking about – plus a few questions that might help us create something that is a bit different and special.
The main purpose is to create a group that can support folk as they transition from a more structured (corporate) part of their lives to a portfolio career where you have to take more personal risks and seek deeper meaning in what it is you do and how you express yourself. I’ve been through it myself – and have some lessons I would like to share – but I am sure many readers will also have equally valid ideas and suggestions to help others through this period of their lives.
By the way, on my search for more meaning and purpose, I have come up with my own GPS: “To help people communicate more effectively”. It helps me to bridge my interests in telecommunications, media, marketing and conversational flow between systems. I’m currently refining it to be a little more tangible, but it will do for the moment. If I can help you in this mission – or, indeed if you can help me become more effective in my mission, please also email me!
Steve Jobs became the iconic figure standing in a black turtleneck sweater introducing the next wave of Apple’s innovation in the noughties. Year-in, year-out, Apple perfected the pre-launch leaks, the launch itself and the post-launch record-breaking. It is difficult to find another company that has done this so well and with such theatre.
The challenge with online businesses is that the drama is more difficult to choreograph than pulling the world’s best tech journalists into a Silicon Valley theatre. And yet there are many principles that can be carried over into the online world that work in the same way. It goes something like this:
Pre-launch Information > Launch “Theatre” > Post-Launch Compound Growth
I have had the fortune of studying under a person for the past year that seems to have perfected the online product launch. So much so that many, many other successful online coaches, consultants and trainers copy his techniques. His name is Jeff Walker and his product is called the “Product Launch Formula”.
Once a year, Jeff generously presents his methods and approach in a set of three free online courses (which will be available for the next week or so) to those who are interested in learning more about this fascinating subject. The third video also contains a very valuable Product Launch Blueprint which you can download and use in your own business. It is a step-by-step guide that gives you a great framework that gives your clients fantastic value even before you launch your product!
I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to online internet training – but I honestly have to say that Jeff is possibly up there with Steve Jobs when it comes to that cool, Californian way of explaining complex ideas in really simple ways that mere mortals (like me) can understand.
I thoroughly recommend that you try to watch Jeff’s three videos over the weekend so that you can go back to work on Monday to put a few of them into practice (or into your plans) to help you launch your next product, project or set of ideas.
Last Thursday, I had a meeting with a business colleague. We had only met once before – but somehow the energy felt really good between us. Conversation flowed. Ideas bubbled to the surface. Creative spirit abounded.
During the conversation, it became apparent that I had talked in our previous meeting about intuition. I had forgotten this – but it is something I have recently become very interested in. In summary, it’s the idea that the world is far too “mental” and that many have lost touch with their intuitive guidance system – based around the heart. I’m also a strong believer in the idea that everything is connected.
And so it was, just by chance (as happens when browsing the internet) I came across this video below:
I don’t know too much about the organisation behind the video – but just love the overall theme, messages and visuals. It somehow helps us to remember things we have forgotten or lost – so we can get back into the life-force and remember who we are.
I got into a discussion with a friend yesterday about religion. You know the sort. It became a discussion about basic beliefs and ideas about what had happened in the past with facts that neither of us could prove. I capitulated, not wanting to tread on ground that was sacred to them, yet still holding true to my own beliefs. In past times, I might have argued the point. But I was tired and did not see the point.
It got me thinking about this religion and holiness and that sort of stuff and reminded me of a phrase my father used to say to me: “All great religions die with their founder”. He was a spiritual man with his own religion. He is now dead. So I suppose, in his own way, he was right.
In so many things in life we seek out the differences. And religions are often a major culprit. If you believe in one version of history and someone else another, then you are different. You have different religious beliefs and are not of the same system, creeds, language etc. etc. And even within a religion, there are sub-sectors, different interpretations and different organisations supporting them. Yet what is common between religions is far more powerful than what makes them separate.
And so it is also true in the business world. We have finely-tuned sensors to work out if another company is a competitor or a potential “partner”. What are the “differentiators” that make you special? We have defined a set of rituals for ignoring or attacking other businesses. Just as in human relationships, these reactions can be commanded on a whim. Defined by tiny variations in perceived behaviour or circumstance. Individual differences are to be highlighted. Sameness is boring.
Yet there is a counter-force which is found much more commonly in nature. This is the unifying force which finds similarities and which seeks out common ground in any given situation. It requires a different way of thinking and a different way of feeling about a situation. More inclusive. More holistic. More local.
I am not an economist. Nor will I argue the pros and cons of globalisation in this short piece. Yet it seems to me that with all the rational arguments for globalisation and free-trade markets we have lost the ability to balance the world with this holistic energy – because responsibility has been taken away from what makes sense at a local level. We could blame Adam Smith and his ideas on how to increase the quantity of pins produced in pin manufacturing – so aptly celebrated on the British £20 note:
It is as if the new religion of global banking and global economics has become the new church which must be obeyed. Making money at the expense of making things whole, rounded, sensible and appropriate at a local level. With differences, of course, but much less important in this context. Much less expensive, for sure, because it does not carry the burden of national or international overheads.
And so it was that I was browsing a book, “The Nature of Order”by Christopher Alexander, one of the greatest architectural thinkers of our time. He describes wholeness as a series fifteen ideas or factors which are represented in the diagram below:
The Elements of Wholeness by Christopher Alexander
So, I wondered, with these fifteen design ideas, what would a new bank look like? What would a new economic system look like? Globalisation ideas don’t fit very well with concepts such as “Boundaries”, “Local Symmetries” and “Inner Calm”. Then again, that shouldn’t be too surprising!
If you are a wordsmith, you will notice there is a lot more in common between the words HOLINESS and WHOLENESS. The only difference is that makes the first unique is the letter “I” and the second that has the letters “WE”. Not that I am pushing one over the other, but it makes you think, anyway!
I was very privileged last year to submit evidence to the House of Lord’s Communications Committee on their report “Broadband for All”.
Below is The Earl of Selbourne’s summary of what needs to be done from his speech on Monday evening when the report was debated in the Lords:
The Earl of Selborne: My Lords, I join others in thanking the chairman, my noble friend Lord Inglewood, for the way in which he chaired the committee and introduced the debate today. From the speeches that we have heard, it is clear without doubt that the future of our economy will depend to a large extent on our ability to connect to broadband throughout all communities and sections of the population. It is not just about wealth creation and social cohesion. The ability to participate in healthcare and whole tranches of public activity will depend on connectivity. The Government must have a policy, and the Government are right to have a policy, but perhaps, as we have said in our report, they have been preoccupied by one aspect, which is to try to be the leader in Europe on superfast broadband.
The first priority has to be to achieve connectivity. If you have excluded populations, you will have a social divide and a lack of social cohesion. The Government need not worry about speed. That will follow. There are not very often market failures when it comes to cities. I therefore agree with those who have said that to spend money on improving superfast provision in cities is not something that the Government need to worry about if the market can do it itself. But there will be market failure in remote areas, where the costs of pushing out the broadband structure are too great. There will be market failure where the incumbents have an advantage, which inhibits other incomers who can help to provide some of the very many solutions that will be required to get this connectivity to all parts of the population. That is something that we are failing to harness—the undoubted innovation and enthusiasm from local communities, small and start-up companies, all of which would have a contribution to make. We go into some detail in the report. It gets pretty dense, I admit, when we talk about things such as passive optical networks and physical infrastructure access. But this is the key to it.
At the moment, we have what my noble friend Lord Inglewood called “the only show in town” for many rural areas. Whether we like it or not, because it is in the very nature of broadband to have high fixed costs, low marginal costs and great economies of scale, inevitably the incumbents will have a strong advantage. I think that we should be proud of what BT has done. It has improved enormously, by technical innovations, the ability to provide broadband on the existing infrastructure. Of course, it is rolling out broadband at great speed. It says that it hopes to achieve 90% coverage by 2017, but that immediately begs the question as to whether in national terms that is a satisfactory objective. I would certainly say, particularly as I am from a rather remote corner of the rural community and likely to be one of the 10% left out, that it is not satisfactory. So let us see what we can do to achieve that connectivity well before 2017. I do not think that anyone has mentioned yet the 4G mobile broadband technology, which is very soon to be with us and will certainly provide greatly enhanced mobile internet access to areas within adequate connectivity.
There are many different contributions to be made. The case for government involvement and public funds to be deployed rests, as I say, on achieving this reduction of the digital divide. The long-term solution will, ultimately, be fibre to the premises and the home. As others have rightly said, the cost of rolling out fibre to the home is exorbitant. We have a temporary solution, and a good one—the BT solution of fibre to the cabinet. It achieves the objective of reducing dramatically the costs. Usually, you have copper or some other connection from that cabinet. But whether BT likes it or not—it is in something like denial over this—it has the disadvantage that it does not provide open access, as I would understand it. In other words, as a local access network provider, you cannot simply move in with a compatible bit of machinery, stick it in there and do what you are trying to achieve. It is not an open access hub, as we have tried to demonstrate. That is where you come back to the technology of the passive optical network, which is a bit of a fix, as those will know who have read the report with great care. It certainly does not achieve what some of those independent service providers would have hoped for.
I think that the Government should ask quite firmly that, for the next tranche of money, which we hear will come in 2015, there should be proper open access. It is not beyond the wit of man. Clearly, there is no great financial advantage to the incumbents to roll out proper open access, but that is what is needed. If it is what is required, that is what will happen. It must be future proofed. We know that the technology changes dramatically fast. We know that some of the existing solutions, including the cabinet, will not stand the test of time for very long, but the fibre-optic cable will. Ultimately, it will be able to handle this vast amount of information. Therefore, we must make sure that as we improve the broadband infrastructure, we have the ability to upgrade and upgrade. That is why I say that, frankly, the cabinets are not very easily upgraded. You have to go back to the exchanges and think again. That is why we should look on them only as a temporary expedient.
When public money is distributed to extend the commercial network, as is happening at the moment, the Government should insist on the long-term solution. We took evidence from a particularly impressive consultant, Mr Lorne Mitchell, who is setting up a community scheme in Goudhurst, Kent. I think he was the first to put it to me how important it was for local groups to be able to access the middle mile and to get the backhaul back into the infrastructure. He said that the key to the problem is the openness of the middle mile, which is the connection back to the internet. If this can be designed in a way that gives each community a chance to get to one of these community hubs, it would be a massive leap forward. That is precisely what the committee report has tried to promote. I think it makes a lot of sense. However, the government response simply quoted a report which said that it was unrealistically expensive to have hubs in every community, and so it would be if you were to launch it all overnight. However, ultimately, it would be no more expensive than the cabinets. It is the same technology but it is a question of making sure that when you roll out the hubs, you do what you are not doing at the moment with the cabinets, and that is making them available to all. To say that they will cost far in excess of the funds available to the Government at present, as the government response does, simply misses the point. If the Government can fund any hubs such as cabinets or exchanges, they should be accessible to the community and to other providers. This simply requires a change in specification, not a change in the scale of funding.
I hope the Minister will recognise that, however impressive BT’s record of rolling out broadband is—it has, indeed, been most impressive—the interests of the BT shareholder and of wider society, particularly the 10% in rural communities who will remain without adequate connectivity in 2017 if present policies are continued, are not always the same.
There is a much better and fairer way to make the UK’s telecoms infrastructure truly open and competitive – and also give much better value-for-money to the government’s interventions. The Lords highlighted the way – but the vested interests put a cloud over the path. Many assume because BT Openreach is called “open”, then it is open. It is not. Never has been. Never will be. Clever marketing.
In spite of many other schemes being “rolled-up” by the BDUK closed scheme where only BT can win, we are letting the Government and the English Counties inject the biggest single donation to BT’s balance sheet in a lifetime. Definitely not the best way to invest government money. Definitely not an open debate in the House of Commons on how to do it differently. Only in the House of Lords.
I am really pleased to say that we were told this week that the Goudhurst Broadband scheme that I presented to the Communications Committee is still going strong – with great support from Kent County Council and our Local Parish Council. You can find more at one of my other blogs: http://www.goudhurst.net I also blog about the final 10% (last point above) at http://www.finalninth.com – so for those who wondered what I do outside writing Thursday Thoughts – then this is some of it!
Let’s hope the Lords’ Report continues to be read and championed and that Monday was not the end of the work of trying to develop a new set of really good ideas for next generation internet access distribution for the UK.
The older I get, the more I believe in coincidences. And one of the strange coincidences that I have recently discovered is that there are a set of stories that are told in slightly different forms all around the world – as if they all had their roots in one story told many thousands of years ago. A fine example is the Story of the Broken Pot:
Once upon a time there lived a woman called Truhana. Not being very rich, she had to go yearly to the market to sell honey, the precious product of her hive.
Along the road she went, carrying the jar of honey upon her head, calculating as she walked the money she would get for the honey. “First”, she thought, “I will sell it, and buy eggs. The eggs I shall set under my fat brown hens, and in time there will be plenty of little chicks. These, in turn, will become chickens, and from the sale of these, lambs could be bought.”
Truhana then began to imagine how she could become richer than her neighbors, and look forward to marrying well her sons and daughters.
Trudging along, in the hot sun, she could see her fine sons and daughters-in-law, and how the people would say that it was remarkable how rich she had become, who was once so poverty-stricken.
Under the influence of these pleasurable thoughts, she began to laugh heartily, and preen herself, when, suddenly, striking the jar with her hand, it fell from her head, and smashed on the ground. The honey became a sticky mess upon the ground.
Seeing this, she was cast down as she had been excited, on seeing all her dreams lost for illusion.
Idres Shah in his book “World Tales” (which is where this story came from) notes:
“The tale is called a number of things like – “The Girl and the Pitcher of Milk”. Professor Max muller remarks how the tale has survived the rise and fall of empires and the change of languages, and the perishing of works of art. He stresses the attraction whereby “this simple children’s tale should have lived on and maintained its place of honor and its undisputed sway in every schoolroom of the East and every nursery of the West.”
“In the Eastern versions, it is always a man who is the fantasist and whose hopes come to grief: in the West it is almost always a woman. The man generally imagines that he will marry and have a son, while the woman tends to think of riches and marriage.”
And so it was, last week, I was visiting Telefonica’s incubator (which they call an Academy) in London. There are 19 startups (or eggs) being hatched – each into what will hopefully be new chickens. However, given the statistic that over 65% of companies fail in their first two years, I could not but think the question as to which ones might be successful, and which ones not. Which ones would hatch and which ones would be eaten before hatching? Talking to the head guy there, he said that it was surprising that some of the start-ups that showed no hope four months ago are now doing really well – and others that showed great potential have somehow stumbled. Each of the eggs will be moved out from the Academy at the end of March – and I wish them all the best of luck in moving from the egg stage to the chicken stage!
Oh, and just to round off this Thursday Thought, I visited my own beehives on Monday to give them some sugar cake food. All was well – each of the six hives had bees! I just hope they will all survive through February and March. No honey in the pot yet, but I still dream that their stories will make me rich and famous one day!
I am going to be exploring the power coincidence in a lot more detail in the coming months. If you are on Twitter you can read the regular tweets and observations on coincidence and business by following my new Tweet stream @coinmark.
Story from: “World Tales” collected by Idries Shah published by the Octagon Press 1991 – page 27
Picture – Copyright iStockPhoto – I bought it and if you want to use it you should buy it too!
The ability to seek and identify structures, patterns and designs below the apparent surface of experience is the secret to success in communication, relationships, accelerated learning, languages, and many other things besides.
Someone asked me the other day why I chose to call myself a designer, rather than a consultant and I told them the story of the Tinsmith. The story originally came from an order of the Sufi’s called the Naqshbandi Order. Naqushbandi quite literally means “designer”.
“Once upon a time in a city far far away in a time long gone, a tinsmith was falsely accused of a crime he had not committed. Being poor and without any powerful friends to influence the judge, he was imprisoned.
He was given a wish before being sent to the cells and he asked that he be allowed to receive a rug which should be woven by his wife. In due course, the rug was made and delivered to the prison. Upon receiving the rug, the tinsmith prostrated himself upon the rug, day after day, to say his prayers.
After some time, he said to his jailers: “I am poor and without hope and you are wretchedly paid. But I am a tinsmith. Bring me some tin and tools to work with and I shall make small artifacts which you can sell in the market – and we will both benefit.”
The guards agreed to this and presently they and the tinsmith were both making a profit from which they bought food and comforts for themselves.
Then, one day, when the guards awoke to find that the cell door was open and the tinsmith was gone. Some spoke of magic or perhaps a miracle because no prison in this kingdom had ever been escaped from.
Many years later, a convicted thief confessed to the crime that the tinsmith had been accused of. As a result, the tinsmith was pardoned and two weeks later the tinsmith and his family reappeared in the city. The governor of the province heard of the tinsmith’s return and summoned him to his palace.
The governor asked the tinsmith what magic he had used to make such an impossible escape.
The tinsmith replied “My wife is a weaver. She designs rugs, mats and carpets. She weaves patterns into the wefts and warps of her fabric.”
“By design, she found the man who had made the locks of the cell door and got it from him, by design.”
“She wove the design into the rug at the spot where my head touched in prayer five times a day. I am a metal-worker and this design looked to me like the inside of a lock. But I lacked the materials to make a key, so I made a business proposition to the guards, by design. I then used the materials that the guards provided me to make many small artifacts, including a key that would unlock the cell door.”
So, by design, I escaped.”
“We are all born with a brain”, said the tinsmith. “When we begin to understand the patterns and structures of our thinking, we can start to liberate ourselves from the enslavement of our limitations.”
Story adapted from the book: Sufis: The People of the Path: The Royal Way by Osho – Chapter 5 – Design within Design
A good friend and regular reader, Anthony, sent me the link to a great anonymous blog a few weeks ago – Farnam Street.
Yesterday, they pointed to a brilliant set of rules on how to write a short story by Kurt Vonnegut:
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things-reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
There is another video which is even more worth watching on the Shape of Stories:
It got me thinking about how we all love stories, the ups and downs of life, the drama unfolding, the game(s), the chase, the great ending!
Please share any insights or thoughts you have on this great subject below!