Nothing Experiences or Something Experiences

Recently, a friend of mine told me about a concept his wife (a sociology student) discussed in one of her classes. The discussion focused around experiences we have in everyday life and whether those experiences are nothing experiences or something experiences.

Nothing Experiences
are those experiences that we can do without being present. For instance, we can go to McDonald's order our food, wait for it, eat it and leave and never really feel engaged in the experience. It's such a routine experience, that (at least for some) it becomes a nothing experience.

Something Experiences are those experiences that evoke our presence when we encounter them. There is something about the experience that calls us out of cruise control and into the present moment where the experience is happening. Artists, of all mediums, have a rare ability to create art that draw us into the moment.

The best organizations, whether profit or non-profit, big business or church, all look to create something experiences. The best organizations create products and services that call people out and into something better, something immediate and sustainable.

So, the next time your discussing your customer, or client base, ask yourself this question:

Do our customers or clients experience something experiences when they are in our presence?

Better yet, ask them.

Nothing Experiences or Something Experiences2007-10-30T12:49:41+00:00

Apple Seems OK

With all the woes of the iPhone release, Apple seems just fine. OK, better than "just fine."

From the Wall Street Journal:

    Oct. 22, 2007

Apple's net income surged 67% as sales jumped to $6.22 billion. The company sold 1.1 million iPhones during the quarter, and iPod shipments topped 10 million. Sales of Macintosh computers were also strong.

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It just goes to show you what can happen when vision (the ability to see) meets great execution.

Amazing.

Apple Seems OK2007-10-24T09:01:53+00:00

Beyond Good Ideas: Collaboration (part four)

This is the fourth instillation in the continuing saga of collaboration.

Sarah was one of the most dominant leaders I’d ever met. She asked me to coach her because she had recently received feedback about her leadership style. To say the least, her leadership style was overbearing, if not downright aggressive. As I walked into her office, I sensed the space reflected her personality and her leadership style. The sparse arrangement of furniture suggested everything flowed from her desk outward in a monologue-like fashion. Sarah gave orders. Period. I sat down.

Sarah began. “I need to collaborate and I want you to teach me how.” She then proceeded to spend the next 30 minutes talking incessantly about how she had to do everything and no one else on her staff was competent. Well, OK, there were competent people, but she just couldn’t seem to light a fire under them. Occasionally, I would stop and ask a question; each one of my questions was lost on Sarah. She would simply jump right back into her rant. I wondered if she noticed my eyes glazing over? I wondered if she noticed anything?

Sarah then proceeded to share her plan for how I could help her. She explained everything she thought I should do to help her collaborate with her staff. She also told me what I needed to do to help her get her staff in gear. By the end, she’d given me the whole game plan. After sharing my job description with me, she paused and asked, “Well what do you think?” I smiled at her and said, “You’re right, you don’t know how to collaborate.” In the silence of the next few seconds, Sarah had a bit of an epiphany that set her on a journey of change—one she’s still on to this day.

Here’s the deal: Leaders who formulate the mission in their minds and then announce it to the team, in hopes that they will be inspired by it and lend their energy to it, are unlikely to stimulate any type of collective discovery process. Conversely, leaders who include others, as many others as possible, in the discovery process, create a far better long-term collaborative environment. Here are three concrete steps you can execute in order to create a truly discovery based mission. Remember, the more a team discovers together, the more the team will collaborates their way to effective execution.

Beyond Good Ideas: Collaboration (part four)2007-10-23T09:34:16+00:00

Matt Wertz and the New Way Everything Works

I've recently found a great musical artist. His name is Matt Wertz. His music is fresh, passionate and remarkable. What's more amazing is his commitment to independence--that is, remaining free from the machine of corporate marketing. Here's a snippet from his bio:

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When artists reach the level of success that Wertz has, they often use that platform to garner a record deal with a major label. But as his career has grown, so has his confidence in the independent machine that fuels it. “I love being independent,” Wertz says. “If I succeed or fail, it’s not based upon someone else’s decisions, but my own. I like the freedom and ownership that comes from keeping things small and in-house.”
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Just goto iTunes and listen for yourself. Wertz is as good as anyone else in his genre--actually better than many. He could easily break into the "machine."

But of course the "machine" is dying

The machine is dying because there are more and more Matt Wert's in the world who are able to reach their audience. They reach their audience first, becasue they are damn good at what they do, and second because of the web's ability to provide little ole Matt (and me and you) with the tools needed to find, nurture and retain an audience.

I published three books in the machine.  At the end of the day I found that the machine is full of great people who are plugged into the matrix--trapped by rules and policies that don't favor people like little ole me. So, I've decided my next book (and hopefully every one after that) will be outside the machine. I'm joining Matt in keeping it "in house." Maybe you should too.

So what does Matt do to stay "in house" and yet build a great brand and following. Just go to his myspace page and you can see it for yourself.

1) He is massively connected, both to other independent artists and his fans
2) He has fun
3) He lives life and works
4) He uses web 2.0 tools to create an image that is just as appealing as the one the machine would produce (actually his is more appealing because it is more authentic in nature)
5) He has ways to connect you to himself and connect himself to you
6) He has great music

Matt Wertz and the New Way Everything Works2007-10-20T07:22:47+00:00

Ride the Waves of Your Market, Organization and Life

Yesterday, I was in California with a colleague. Since we were close to the beach, we stopped and stared at the water for a few minutes. As I watched the waves form and fall, I noticed a few surfers  trying to catch the forming and ride the falling.

As I watched, I thought about organizations, leadership and life. My colleague, more enlightened than I, simply enjoyed the moment. I had to make a metaphor out of it. So here it is:

Organizational situations, markets, team circumstances and (yes) life itself is like surfing. You have a part to play and the wave has its part. The wave forms and falls and you learn to read the moment, wait for the right timing, get up on the board and ride (execute well), and then let it all go as the wave ends. Then, you swim back out with your board and do it all again.

  • So, how's your ability to read the forming?
  • How well do you time the moment its time to act (get up on the board)?
  • How's your riding (execution) these days?
  • How well do you celebrate and enjoy outcomes even if they are not what you thought they would be?

What waves are forming and falling in your organization and life?

Surfs up

Ride the Waves of Your Market, Organization and Life2007-10-19T14:10:13+00:00

Mastery: A long walk in the same direction

A friend of mine gave me Eric Clapton's new CD, Complete Clapton. When she handed it to me, I thought to myself, "here is one man's life work." Amazing. The years of mastery all contained in a box CD set. Of course, it's not all contained there, but it is surely representative of greatness.

Eric Clapton will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest guitar players of all time. His skills are unrivaled and he has become the standard by which other great guitarists measure themselves. When I think of Clapton, I think of mastery and all that is found in that idea.

For me, the simplest definition of mastery is taking a long walk in the same direction. O sure, the sheer magnitude of one's gift plays an important part in mastery. But nothing can replace a focused intention developed over many years of practice and development. Clapton's CD is a manifestation of a long walk.

So what are you becoming a "master" at in your life?

Mastery is an important quality for all of us because first, it  creates expertise (in an area), and second, it ties our work together with an overarching theme. When we look back on our life and our work, we can hold it in our hands like Clapton's CD.

One practice that is critical to the development of mastery is focus. In a day and age when options and choices seem endless, focus is a rare commodity. Focus is the path to mastery because it continuously turns our wills back to the discipline needed to become great. It also challenges us to stay with something long enough to enjoy the benefits of the hard work.

Since focus is so critical to mastery, here are a ways to cultivate focus:

    * Exercise (and don't stop until your allotted time is up)
    * Read a novel (to the end)
    * Stay with your current task 20 minutes longer than you think you can
    * Look into the eyes of someone you love

Mastery: A long walk in the same direction2007-10-16T08:01:42+00:00

Collaboration: Beyond Good ideas (Part 3)

I recently sat with a team that was using innovative thinking to uncover their next big initiative—and the projects that would surround that initiative. There were small toys to play with on the table, and a lot of brainpower focused on imagining and developing what was next. This included laughter, hard thinking, tough questions, disagreement, dialogue, epiphanies and a palpable energy that filled the room.

I loved being a part of this moment. I knew that this team had a far better chance of making it to true collaborative execution (which they did), because the collaboration began before the work did. Or, another way to say it: The collaboration began with discovery rather than with doling out work assignments. As I left, I felt a charge of energy course through my own body. This is how we are supposed to work together. This is what we long for on a consistent basis.

Collaboration begins when a team or an organization works together to discover a mission or initiative worthy of their attention and the organization itself. The mission may be a long-term objective, taking quite some time to accomplish. It may be a three-month initiative that moves a strategic business unit forward. Or, it could be a three-day retreat that helps to realign a guiding team’s thinking about what matters most. Whatever the mission, collaboration begins when the team charged with collaboration discovers that mission together.

The point: Discovering what to do (a part of the mission) together makes it more likely that the group will actually follow through and do it. Or, finding "it" together makes accomplishing "it" more likely.

Start your collaboration with a collective discovery process and you'll see the group's energy soar.

Collaboration: Beyond Good ideas (Part 3)2007-10-12T10:59:46+00:00

The Zune II. Why?

Microsoft announced the next generation of the Zune. Yawn.

Here's a snippet from the article:

Gates and Allard will likely touch on the company's long term commitment to the platform. While many analysts have considered the Zune a flop so far -- the company is only selling 1 Zune for every 25 or so iPods sold -- Microsoft is determined to make its mark in the industry.
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My question is, why? I'm fully aware of the fact that Apple could, over time, lose market share on the iPod--with the right influences converging "against it." But come on. Is this really a good strategic move for Microsoft? How about making a couple more of your products remarkable? That might be a better place to put time, money and energy.

Ya know, I'm in pretty good shape. And I suppose if I worked really hard--endless hours of crunches, I suppose I could have some version of a six pack (OK, maybe a 2- pack). But, is that really how I want to spend my time?

Is the Zune really worth it?


The Zune II. Why?2007-10-07T06:44:41+00:00

I just had the most amazing piece of bread…do you what you’re really good at doing

I'm writing this morning at a friends house outside of Belfast. Sure it's hard, but I'm up for the challenge. A few moments ago, I took a break and headed out for water and a latte. Up and down a small street of shops I walked. I happened on the "bread" shop. All they make is bread. Just like the meat shop, three doors down, that simply cuts and sells meat. That's a couple of doors down from the whine shop, that sells great wine. I could go on.

I bought half-loaf of bread made just a couple of hours ago. A walnut-apple loaf. It looks like bread should look. It feels like bread should feel. I took a bite. I wanted to kiss the baker, but I was already back at the house where I'm writing.

Maybe there really is something to doing what you're best at. 

I just had the most amazing piece of bread…do you what you’re really good at doing2007-10-05T03:13:00+00:00

Taking your shoes off doesn’t change your weight by that much

I'm currently in Belfast, Ireland doing some work (and some not-work). It's tough, but someone has to do it. Yesterday, a friend of mine took me to a gym so I could run. Next to me, on a different treadmill, was a young woman in her mid-twenties, I'd say. She finished running a bit before me. As she got off the treadmill, she made her way to the scale to weigh herself. I watched her take a deep breath and step on. By the way, she wasn't fat in the least.

She got on the scale, looked down and just stared. About 30 seconds later, she stepped off the scale, took her shoes off and stepped back on. Inwardly, I laughed because I've done the very same thing. I felt like yelling out to her, "That's not going to do it for you."

As I refocused on my run, I began to think about how easy it is to fall into the trap of taking off our shoes. When I fall into the "taking off the shoes dysfunction" I thinks like this:

If I take off my shoes, I weigh less.

Of course, this isn't true. I weigh exactly the same, whether my shoes are on or off. But, taking off my shoes makes the scale go down--and that makes me feel better. Trouble is, it's a false measurement.

In life, and in organizations, it's easy to feel good about measurements that don't matter.

For example, take a leader who's doing a big "sales job" on her team about a not so good idea. The  team doesn't say anything negative about leader's idea (spouted out in a meeting), so she assumes they like it. Actually though, the team didn't just avoid negative comments about the idea, they didn't say anything at all about the idea. The truth is, no one wanted to challenge the leader because no one wanted to fight her. But she goes on her way convinced the silence (the metric) was a positive metric of acceptance. But, it wasn't. That's like taking off your shoes to weigh less.

So, what metric might you, or your organization, be all excited about that really don't matter at all?

Cheers!  

Taking your shoes off doesn’t change your weight by that much2007-10-04T13:10:59+00:00

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Written by Dave Fleming