Tag Archives: change

Our Crash Courses are the Way to Go

One of our unique services at Creative Communication Network is our ability to offer training on important topics based upon the information that we derive from books that we present at the First Friday Book Synopsis.

We call these Crash Courses, and you can look for the first offering, focusing upon Change and Innovation very soon.  Don’t miss the opportunity to register for this first course.  We will send an e-mail to you that announces the date, time, location, and method for registraiton.

In these Crash Courses, we take principles from several best-sellers on a particular topic and transform these into skill-based activities, facilitated discussions, assessments, and self-reflection.  You won’t find anything else like them anywhere.  We are putting the final touches on this first course right now.

We have  two major components in our first course on Change and Innovation, with these objectives:

Part One:            Creative Thinking

Objective 1:      Identify strategies to actively seek out and hire people with diverse backgrounds and thinking styles

Objective 2:      Explore steps to effectively manage resistance to novel or experimental proposals

Part Two:             Demonstrate how to develop processes, products, and services.

Objective 1:      Describe how to evaluate new opportunities unconstrained by existing paradigms but keeping an eye towards organizational goals

Objective 2:      Identify and describe steps to maintain the organization’s competitive edge with breakthrough solutions and disciplined risks.

In this Change and Innovation course, we draw upon principles from these books that we have presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis, and others:  

Kelley, T., Littman, J., & Peters, T.  (2001).  The art of innovation (lessons in creativity from IDEO, America’s leading design firm).  New York:  Doubleday.

Kelley, T., & Littman, J.  (2005).  The ten faces of innovation : IDEO’s strategies for defeating the devil’s advocate and driving creativity throughout your organization.   New York:  Currency/Doubleday.

Mauzy, J., & Harriman, R. A.  (2003).  Creativity Inc.: Building an inventive organization. Boston:  Harvard Business School Press.

Sutton, R. I.  (2002).  Weird ideas that work: 11-1/2 practices for promoting, managing, and sustaining innovation.  New York:  Free Press.

Tharp, T.  (2003).  The creative habit:  Learn it and use it for life.  New York:  Simon & Schuster.

Look for information about this course really soon! 

We hope you make plans to join us.

“Different – and Better” is the Best Kind of Different

Here are the options:  Things can stay the same.  Or, things can be different.

If they are different, here are the options:  They can be different – and worse. (this can be bad, or it can be good).  They can be different – and just different (this might be good; it could be bad).  Or things can be different – better. (this is almost always good).

I would like to make the case that they can all be good.

If things are different – and worse – then you can say, “we gave it a shot, and it didn’t work; so, let’s go back to what we were doing, and good for us for giving it a try.”

If things are different– and just different – this can be good because it gets people into the habit of experiencing “different.”  And since we live in a very fast-paced era of change, the more we get accustomed to the experience of different, the more we “practice” different, the better we are at handling more that is different. And, rest assured, more different, rather than less different, will be the norm.

If things are different—and better — this is almost always good.  Better is good!

Are you seeing different in your work, in your life?  I hope your different is different – and better.

And, what can you do different – and better?

Start — now.  It is always a good time to do different – and better.

Choose One:

different – worse can be good, can be bad
different – and just different more likely to be good than bad
different – and better most likely to be better

“You Don’t Need to Embrace Change” – Some Advice You Won’t be Reading These Days

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

Bob Dylan: The Times, They are a Changin’


The jury is in.  There is true consensus.  The times, they are a changin’…  and because they are, everyone in business; everyone with a career; everyone! has to change a little (or a lot) to keep up.

Business books, plural, all seem to find a way to say this.

In Get There Early:  Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present Using Foresight to Provoke Strategy and Innovation by Bob Johansen (Institute for the Future), we are reminded that we live in a VUCA world:
the VUCA world of (VUCA originated at the U. S. Army War College – the graduate school for Generals-to-be):  Volatility; Uncertainty; Complexity; Ambiguity.

In As the Future Catches You:  (How Genomics and Other Forces are Changing Your Life, Work, Health, and Wealth), Juan Enriquez:
If it seems like your world has been topsy-turvy over the past few years…  Consider what’s coming.  Your genetic code will be imprinted on an ID card…  For better and worse.  Medicines will be tailored to your genes and will help prevent specific diseases for which you may be at risk…  It all starts because we are mixing apples, oranges, and floppy disks.
Many are unprepared for…  the violence and suddenness with which…   new technologies change…  Lives…  Companies…  Countries…  Because they do not understand what these technologies can do.

In The Extreme Future: The Top Ten Trends That Will Reshape the World for the Next 5, 10, and 20 Years by James Canton, CEO and Chairman, Institute for Global Futures:
Everyone needs to think differently about the future, a future that is riddled with change, challenge, and risk.  It is a new kind of future, not the steady plodding of progress from one moment to the next, punctuated by brief bursts of innovation that characterizes much of history.  Now we face a post-9/11 future.  The future of our lives, of our work, of our businesses – and most of all, the future of our world – depends on us gaining a new understanding of the dizzying changes that lie ahead.  I call this future-readiness.

And, to look at a direct “holy mackerel, what’s going to happen to my job?” concern, in Innovation Is Everybody’s Business:  How To Make Yourself Indispensable In Today’s Hypercompetitive World by Robert B. Tucker:
Simply working harder will not be enough.  Relying solely on your functional skills and expertise will not be enough.  And even accumulating more years of experience on the job will not be enough.
The underlying issue is this.  The system wants to eliminate your job.

I could go on and on. I’ve read hundreds of business books over the last 13+ years, and not once have I read a book that says this:

“You don’t need to embrace change.  Just keep doing what you’re doing, the way you are doing it now, for the next few years.  You’ll be fine.”

Not once.

And I am ready to state something close to an absolute:  if you think your job, your career, your company, your organization, will stay pretty much the same; or, if you think you can do what you need to do to be successful in your job without learning anything new, without preparing yourself for pretty unsettling change(s) – then you are living in fantasyland.

The jury is in. The times, they are a changin’.  And the more we get with that program, the better off we will be.

But, oh, we do not like change.  We do not like preparing for change.  We do not like acknowledging that change is necessary.  We do not like admitting that change is upon us.

But it is.

The times, they are a changin’…

Let’s Try Something; Let’s Try Something Different; Let’s Try Something New

In the book The Art of Innovation:  Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm by Tom Kelley, we find this simple suggestion:

Observe real people in real life situations to find out what makes them tick…

This is step # 2 in the IDEO five step methodology:

The IDEO five step methodology…
#1  Understand the market.
#2  Observe real people in real life situations to find out what makes them tick…
#3  Visualize new to the world concepts and the customers who will use them.
#4  Evaluate and refine the prototypes in a series of quick iterations.  Plan on a series of improvements.
#5  Implement the new product for commercialization.

This week, I’ve had a chance to do a “ride along” with an account manager for a client (in preparation for some training sessions).  I watched, listened, and learned.

As we talked afterwards, it was clear that a new pair of eyes (mine) could see some things that someone constantly in the midst of an endeavor misses.  Not because of a lack of desire to see – but simply because it is tough to see what is always in front of you.  Thus, the wisdom of IDEO’s approach:  they always start by going out and observing real people, at work or at leisure, with real products, in their own settings…

As I observed, I thought of some recommendations to make.  Some of these are in fact “new.”  Some are, in fact, quite old – you know, the tried and true, but so easily ignored or forgotten.

So, I am preparing a list of “try these” items for our client.  I think it could be valuable.

Now, it’s your turn – and my turn.  Conduct a “ride-along” with yourself.   Yes, it very difficult – to look at and observe your own practices, to look at what you are doing, or not doing, with a new set of eyes.  (It is easier for an “outsider” to see what you have become oblivious to).  And ask these questions, all in the quest to do your work better:

• What can I try?

• What I try that is simply different?

• What can I try that is new?

This much I do know – there is a competitor lurking right around the corner that will offer some of these different/new approaches.  You may as well be the one to come up with them yourself.


You can purchase my synopsis of The Art of Innovation, with handout + audio, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.

We Can’t Do Everything At Once. Literally, We Cannot Do Everything At Once – (insight prompted by Michele Alexander, The New Jim Crow)

We can’t do everything at once.  Literally, we cannot do everything at once.  And so, a lot that needs to be paid attention to; a lot that needs to get done; a lot that is important, maybe crucial; is simply never dealt with.  And the advocates of such concerns speak, and write, and yell, and scream, and yet, the issue is still ignored.

Because we can’t do everything at once.

There is a very old piece of folk-wisdom about this:  “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” And there is always a squeaky wheel, and the other wheels that need some grease simply do not get any until the squeak becomes almost unbearable.

I thought of this all this as I began to dive into the book The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michele Alexander.  This book is the selection for the March Urban Engagement Book Club (sponsored by CitySquare), a book club which focuses on issues of social justice and poverty.

Near the end of the book, Ms. Alexander writes this:

Change in civil rights organizations, like change in society as a whole, will not come easy.  Fully committing to a vision of racial justice that includes grassroots, bottom-up advocacy on behalf of “all of us” will require a major reconsideration of priorities, staffing, strategies, and messages.  Egos, competing agendas, career goals, and inertia may get in the way.  It may be that traditional civil rights organizations simply cannot, or will not, change.  To this it can only be said, without a hint of disrespect, adapt or die.

The book is an indictment of the new “caste” system in this country, a change that she backs up with an overwhelmingly clear argument, and data, like this:

There are more African Americans under correctional control today — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.

This presents a serious challenge to all of us interested in issues of social justice and racial equality.

But the quote from the book also presents a reminder to all “set in their ways, blind to reality” companies and organizations.  “Adapt or die.”

The Day Is Coming When Browsing At A Bookstore Will Be Just A Distant Memory… Like Borders, Are Your Days Numbered Also?

News item: Borders to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

I have shopped at bookstores since I was…  well, since well before I was old enough to drive.  I had my favorite bookstore in Beaumont, TX, in the Los Angeles area, and in Dallas.  (My favorite, of all time, was Acres of Books in Long Beach, a used bookstore that was, truly, acres of books.  Not attractive, dusty, “old,” wonderful!  It is now closed, as I read on Wikipedia).

When we moved to Dallas in 1987, I shopped at Taylor’s Bookstore.  A locally owned “small chain,” it’s location in the outer parking lot of NorthPark Center was ideal.  I could always park right in front, and get lost for a few hours.

The big national chain stores put Taylors out of business, and I switched to Borders.  For some reason, I always liked Borders better than Barnes & Noble – no, I don’t know why.  Just the feel of the store.

But I helped put Borders out of business.  Because, for the last few years, I have spent far more at Amazon.com that I do at the physical stores.  So, it’s partly my fault – but it is still sad.

The article in the Dallas Morning News describing the decline of Borders spends plenty of space talking about the failures of the company, like this:

The bookseller’s finances crumbled amid declining interest in bricks-and-mortar booksellers, a broad cultural trend for which it had no answers. The company suffered a series of management gaffes, piled up unsustainable debts and failed to cultivate a meaningful presence on the Internet or in increasingly popular digital e-readers.

The article seems to imply that Borders’ problems are significantly Borders’ fault.  But, let’s say that Barnes & Noble is better managed, better run, with its Nook, and on-line business, developed in a pretty timely manner.  Here’s the thing:  I’m loyal to Amazon on-line, and have never once even checked Barnes & Noble’s site.

And, it really doesn’t matter.  Here’s the future, from later in the article:

Online shopping and the advent of e-readers, with their promise of any book, any time, anywhere, and cheaper pricing, have shoppers abandoning Borders and Barnes & Nobles bookstores as they did music stores a decade ago.

“I think that there will be a 50 percent reduction in bricks-and-mortar shelf space for books within five years and 90 percent within 10 years,” says Mike Shatzkin, chief executive of Idea Logical Co., a New York consulting firm. “Bookstores are going away.”

“Bookstores are going away.” It’s a sad day.

And for this blog, which focuses on business issues and ideas and business books, here’s the question – are you in a business that can shift and change and adapt with the times, or are your days numbered also?