The Lucky 100 – How Big Can This Thing Get?

Expanding CircleMaybe you started off as a startup. Or perhaps you joined a venture team in a giant corporation. No matter what kind of founders were in that first circle, if you’ve been successful, you’ve been growing. Congratulations. You’ve surmounted all sorts of challenges by now. So why does it suddenly feel so…difficult?

That exciting, innovative, exploring feeling just doesn’t seem to be there any more. It’s not like the old days, when you could gather all these stakeholders into one small circle (and in fact, some of them were wearing two or more of the hats). Now you can’t seem to get the kind of cohesive idea-making you once did. So maybe you’ve made a few decisions within the inner circle, and you’ve been rewarded with pushback, complaints, or alienation.

Our experience is that the lucky 100 is a time of huge growing pains. Each time you hit that number, whether it’s when your team grows to 100, or your circles total another 100, or you add 100 new customers, something great happens. And yet…you need an adjustment. Not necessarily a reboot, but a new assortment of tools, or how you use the ones you have, to make it easier to learn from each other, communicate, and collaborate.

Fortunately, there are a host of great techniques, tools, and templates that have been developed to make this possible. They work for all sorts of groups, teams, and organizations, be they public, private, or not-for-profit. You’ve heard from us before about how excited we were to be part of making the Conteneo Decision Engine work for Participatory Budgeting. We can put this, and a host of other very useful implements, to work for you as well. As we help you reconnect everyone, you’ll start to recapture that feeling of being on top of it all, when you were still in the small circle. Before you know it, you’ll start to wonder if there’s any limit to just how big the ideas can get.

 

 

 

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For a Fresh Start, Start with a Clean Slate

April is a month of rebirtClean Slateh, renewal, and fresh starts (although as the snow continues to fall in Nova Scotia, it seems that including “spring” in that list may be an overstatement). The first quarter has come and gone, and now you’re either evaluating those great ideas you came up with in January, or you’ve given up hope that they will come to pass. Is it too late for a fresh start?

It’s never too late for a reboot, but for new ideas to take hold, it’s important that they not be crowded out by the same old, same old. That calls for a clean slate. Clean slate thinking allows you to ask the question, “what if we were building this new thing from the ground up, without any of the constraints we experience in our current business?” One technique we like to use is one we apply regularly in our own business. It’s an Innovation Game called Remember the Future. In our adaptation of this game, we imagine the new offering, or activity, or expansion at the height of its success. Then we look back, figuring out all the steps we took to get there, without considering the impacts or effects of what we’re doing now. That lets us really see the possibilities. Then, and only then, do we explore what we would have to change or not do, to make it happen.

This kind of thinking is only possible with an attitude of abundance. Scarcity thinking forces us to hang on to what we have, and to fear what we might have. So clear off your slate, imagine what your business or product could be, and kick that reboot you’ve been toying with into high gear.

Thinking clearly,

Megann and Steve

Drucker: Stop Doing Something Old

Melting SnowThe late great Peter Drucker said that if you wanted something new, you had to stop doing something old.

Not everyone celebrates Easter and the octave of renewal that goes with it, but many cultures do herald the arrival of spring as a time to renew, refresh, rejuvenate, and set new plans for growth. However all these new plans and ideas do have a way of piling up – and how do you choose which ones to tackle first? It’s difficult to resist the urge to try and simply layer the old on top of what we’re already doing. Or simply revert to the old way, because there doesn’t seem to be room for new right now. Old feels comfortable. Old feels familiar. We know how Old works. So how to break out of old and take Drucker’s advice, in order to embrace the new?

Not finding a place for that great new idea in your organization? Repeat after us: “Trying something new just isn’t a priority for [me/our company/our team]”. Feel good saying that? We thought not. So how do you prioritize? In our office and with our clients, we like to use metaphor-based games like Innovation Games ® to get to the root of problems like these. This isn’t a single-stage process, but here are the steps we like to use:

1. Set the goal for where you’d like to be at a specific time in the future (remember, be SMART – specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound).

2. Determine the activities you’ll have to do to get there.

3. If any of these are new activities, figure out where they will put a stress and strain on you, your team, or your company in terms of resources.

4. Are there any current activities that aren’t getting you to the new objective, and, if you dropped them, would free the resources you need?

5. If so, start there. (Prioritizing on a matrix of which are easiest versus costliest to stop will help).

What are you waiting for? Even here in Atlantic Canada, the thaw has begun. Get a spring in your step, drop something old, and embrace the new.

Refreshingly yours,

Megann and Steve