Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A SPARK of INNOVATION!


Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom!  Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding! Proverbs 4:7 (The Message)
Don’t ask me why but recently I was reading an article on “analogies”. It was a good article but what really caught my attention was a remarkable story inside this article about how observation led to innovation.  An interesting and true story about the Ford motor company in its early years and how a process from another industry sparked an idea that revolutionized building car engines.

How is a Ford Model T like a dead cow?


By 1913, the Ford Motor Company had a lofty goal of producing two hundred engines per day, but its process remained inefficient, involving workers who fetched parts from multiple bins and moved them around on hand trucks.

One day, Bill Klann, a Ford employee whose colorful resume included working for a streetcar company, a blacksmith, a machine shop, and a shipbuilder, took a trip to a Chicago slaughterhouse. There, he saw a model of industrial butchering efficiency: animal carcasses moved by on overhead trolleys, while a series of butchers performed specialized tasks in sequence as the carcasses advanced. As Klann watched this bloody symphony of movement, he had an analogical epiphany: dismantling something (a carcass) was fundamentally similar to building something (an engine); therefore, adopting a moving assembly line at Ford would increase productivity and reduce costs.

“If they can kill pigs and cows that way, we can build cars that way,” Klann told his boss upon his return.

His boss protested. The differences seemed too pronounced: what could be more different than flesh and machinery? “Here you’ve got something else. You’ve got this and that and pistons and rods,” said his boss.

“It’s the same thing,” insisted Klann.

Klann prevailed, and the moving assembly line wound up a signature of Model T production, exploding productivity and enabling the company to cut the price of the car from $575 to $280. Ford doubled its market share in mere years.

Klann saw through the superficial differences between slaughtering animals and assembling cars. There, at the heart of both processes, lay an underlying structural analogy waiting to be exploited. Seeing Ford’s success, it took little time for almost every other industry to imitate, creating what is estimated to be “trillions of dollars of growth in virtually every industry.
_______________

As I have contemplated this story I have thought about how innovation occurs and believe this story highlights one of the keys.  In our human nature we tend to analyze problems with filters that are familiar to us (our work, family, education, region of the world, etc…) but as the story of Bill Klann emphasizes we need to be open to being observant and curious enough to seek solutions outside our normal “box”. 

Here is something I am going to challenge myself and our team to do;  Take time once a month to observe other companies, people, and strategies outside of our industry to see if we can apply and adapt ideas observed to what we do.

Who knows maybe we will come up with a revolutionary idea or simply solve some of our challenging issues.  Either way I think we will broaden our knowledge, gain wisdom, and expand the possibilities for what we do next.



Reference article by David Zax:  http://www.fastcompany.com/3037014/my-creative-life/how-steve-jobss-mastery-of-analogies-sent-apple-sky-rocketing

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Balancing Act.....


The great use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.  — William James

What we do, how we do it, and how that affects others has been top of my mind lately.  We (me) are sometimes so occupied with the “numbers” we forget the “why” behind what we are doing and only focus on the bottom line.  Don’t hear me saying there is anything wrong with the bottom line.  It is VERY important!  After all we can’t do the “why” without it and somehow we have to balance both.  But often what I have experienced is what I would call the “fear factor” of this balancing act.  The “don’t look down” or you will fall / fail factor which then paralyzes us to the point we don't do anything well.

I read something recently from Seth Godin and I am completely in agreement.  It said this; I am more afraid of settling — I am more afraid of not giving what I can give — than I am afraid of doing it.

So when we’re sitting quietly, there’s a debate we have to have with ourselves, which is:
“What is my work?” and “How can my work have more impact?”

You see I don’t think we start by asking — I think we start by giving…and once you get hooked on that, then I believe doors open — doors open because your work will precede you.



Saturday, September 6, 2014

Don't go it alone......


We all want to succeed but if you are like me you may feel a lot of times like I am shooting myself in the foot when trying to accomplish my goals.  

Along this line of thinking, I recently read a great article by Bernard Marr a best selling author and performance coach.  The article focused on mistakes successful people DON'T make.

Here were a few listed:

1. Successful people don’t Avoid Responsibility
  “The price of greatness is responsibility.” –Winston Churchill

2. Successful people don’t Procrastinate "Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday." ~Napoleon Hill

3. Successful people don’t Follow Trends      “Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion”. –Jack Kerouac

But #4 was the one that caught my eye because it is such a trap for all of us and I have seen so many people fall and fail because they did not recognize it.

4.  Successful people don’t try to go it alone.

One of the most vital things successful people do is to surround themselves with other successful people. No man is an island, and having a network, a mastermind group, and surrounding oneself with experienced, educated, clever people can make all the difference between success and failure.

“Life is not a solo act. It's a huge collaboration, and we all need to assemble around us the people who care about us and support us.” –Tim Gunn

When Phil Jackson one of the most famous NBA players and Coaches of all time took over as head coach of the Chicago Bulls in 1989, he inherited a struggling team with one of the best players in the world—Michael Jordan. Still, he knew he had to nurture the rest of the team instead of focusing solely on its star. Phil had his players repeat this statement at every practice: 


"No man is an island. No man goes his way alone. What I put into the lives of others will come back unto its own.”

Proverbs 11:25 (The Message) says it this way:

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.

Good news; you and I don’t have to go it alone and the proven success and failures of people before us means we also don’t have to learn everything in the “School of Hard Knocks"
.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

GOOGLE WORRY.....

If you Google “Top Things to Worry About”  200 million results appear in .39 seconds to populate your web browser. 

I don’t know about you but I already felt like there were a million things to worry about so I don’t want to know about the other 199 million!

The first page of the search is a combination of a list of things to worry about “The 20 things we worry about the most” or “The 150 things the World’s smartest people are afraid of…” so there seems to be no end of things we can find to worry about.

Probably though you don’t need a list or a Google search, you like me probably already have some thoughts about this and your question is:


“When should I start worrying about this situation?"

Of course, the answer is, we should never start worrying.

I think we sometimes fool ourselves into thinking it's useful or unavoidable, but it's not.

Here is the truth about worrying:

- Worrying is not a useful use of your time.

- Worrying doesn't change outcomes.

- Worrying ruins your day.

- Worrying just distracts you from the work at hand    and from finding solutions to your challenges.

So what is the solution to worrying?

Here is some direction from 

Philippians 4:6-7 (The Message)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

I like it….hope you do too!


Monday, June 30, 2014

In over your head?






I recently read an inspiring article from Kelly Belmonte author of the book "Three Ways of Searching" that spurred on the thoughts of how we look at risk and experience.

Maybe using a water reference you have had this said to you before: You better be careful. You don’t want to get in over your head.”

Really?

Do these people understand how water works? 


Here’s the thing about water, how it functions with humans or other living things moving around in it: Swimming works better when there’s more water than there is swimmer. Ever try swimming in the shallow end, where the water is not over your head? Very difficult. At best, clumsy. Worse, you could be at risk of hitting your head on the bottom of the pool.

Sticking close to the shoreline makes for fun wading, but ugly swimming. You have to get out past the waves so you can bob around a bit.

Of course, all of this assumes the ability to swim, float, and tread water. Basic skills are necessary. But, simply put (and without metaphor), in the real world, when you want to grow in a particular area, you have to try stuff that feels risky, that pushes you past your place of comfort. Experience has to begin somewhere. Every expert at one time was a newbie, at one time took that first floppy fish dive out into deeper waters.

The secret about those voices urging you to keep in the shallows – including the one in your own head – is that they are simply speaking into their own fear to go out any further. But contrary to such fear-based advice, it can be riskier to try and look like you’re swimming with the big fish when you’re only flopping around at the shoreline with the minnows.

After all, once the water is deep enough that you must swim to stay afloat, does it really matter how deep the water is? 

DIVE IN! The water is fine :-)