Who *will* let the dogs out?

Who will let the dogs out?

When things fail – what do you focus on? Whose fault is it? What did I learn? Where do I go from here?

I woke up in my retreat rental on Lanakai beach in Kailua Hawaii and was just sitting down to a perfect breakfast of pineapple and mango I cut fresh that morning. Then I got a text message, the kind that I hate to get when traveling. Somewhere along the lines there was a hitch in my plan for taking care of my dogs. Normally I have a great system for while I travel and it’s no problem. This time – a mix up left me with a hole in my schedule starting… tonight!

I could have spent a lot of time working out who to blame, including finding ways to blame myself and the beating myself up for it. But instead I too a deep breath and focused on moving things forward. A few text messages and phone calls later everything was on track again. And I was on my way for a nice run and swim on the beach.

Failure happens. We don’t set out to fail, but it happens. When it does what you focus on is your choice.

  • Whose fault is it? This is not usually a helpful place to start. Perhaps there is some learning there – but mostly this leads to the blame game. Figuring out who to pin things on just takes time – time sitting in the failure.
  • What did I learn? A much more helpful question. This one is worth spending a little time on and usually leads to good insights. Careful not to subvert this back into blame like “I learned that it’s Joe’s fault”. Focus the learning on what you learned for next time.
  • Where do I go from here? This is the sweet spot. The sooner you can get to this the better. No matter what has failed, you are going to go into the future. So focus on what you want that to be. Take what you learned and turn it into what you want to happen. Focusing on where you are going and getting into action makes all he difference.

In design thinking we need to be resilient to failure, accept it, move past it and keep going.

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

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Blog NOW!

When you have an idea what do you do? Where do you start? Why do you stop?

Bias toward action is a key principle of design thinking. You need to DO not THINK to be a design thinker.

Step 1: For instance – this blog. I decided to write it and then opened up Drafts on my ipad and started typing. I have enough blogging experience to know that it’s the posts, not the theme that makes a blog a blog.

Step 2: Once I had two of them written – I needed a place to post them. But I was just heading out on another trip. Good thing I had my phone in my car. I created the blog in the cab on the way to the airport.

Step 3: Drafts has a great feature of being able to do “actions” on what you type. So in about 30 seconds I had an action “Send to Design Thinking Life” which sends email to my blog as a post.

Step 4: Post. They were already written – all I had to do was send them while sitting in the lounge eating yogurt peanuts and individually wrapped cheese.

Step 5: Write another post. Realizing how much I use design thinking every day gives an endless set of topics for posting. So while I drink a complementary champagne from my upgrade to business seat – I will reflect on my bias toward action.

As my friend Bernie says – “all reasons are bullshit”, and once you know that – there is no reason not to start. Now!

What is your idea waiting for action?

GO DO IT!

Prototype Yourself

What do you do? What are you as a minimal viable product? How can you get that across in 30 seconds? In 3 minutes? In 30 minutes?

Personal branding has been a buzzy topic for several years now. As you move farther into the Information Age, working with others, collaborating, and communicating who you are and what you has become a critical business skill.

So, in some sense, we all have to sell ourselves to others. We have to sell others on our ideas. We need to get them on board.

As a consultant I need to let people know what I can do to make them more effective, more creative, more… something. And that means explaining to them how experiential activities feel.

The reason Prototyping is part of the design thinking process is that it gives the user a chance to experience the idea in a tangible way and give feedback. Using low-resolution prototyping can be a great way of explaining your idea or yourself.

So I use low resolution versions of what I do to introduce them in a real way. That can be a short user journey story, a quick exercise, or a small group interaction with a few people around a conference room table.

If you can develop low resolution ways to show your idea to others it can help them understand it an a deeper way and get them more engaged. That can make all the difference on getting them on board with you.

Give it a try, try again.