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Giraffe airplane hero“Oh, and by the way,” is one of those love/hate phrases for me. It often comes just after I have accepted an assignment from someone, and right before he high-tails it out of the room in fear of my response.

Boss: “Joe, I’d like you build me a device that will allow a giraffe to fly.”

Joe: “Um, ok.”
Boss: “Oh, and by they way, you can’t use any known methods of flying.”

While it feels like a Dilbert strip in the making, I’ll show you how these seemingly unreasonable qualifiers have led to some great breakthroughs in thinking. I’ll also give you a tool you can use to help your thinking as well.

Continue Reading…

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Stop just stopDid you ever find yourself repeatedly using a phrase, only to later discover it is meaningless, misleading, or simply wrong? I find these phrases often have meaning when they first come out, but take the wrong road once the prevailing zeitgeist takes ownership.

Today, I want to ask all of you that are using the phrase “Fail fast, fail often” to stop. Having worked a significant time in the corporate innovation space, I hear this phrase several times a week. The idea behind fail fast, fail often is that failure creates learning opportunities. When these learning opportunities are done early enough in the product creation cycle they can help you avoid making bigger mistakes later, when the stakes are higher.

Great idea; mom and apple pie. But that’s the problem, it’s so mom and apple pie that it becomes easy to say without understanding the complexities of what it requires to implement.

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Head Full of Doubt

joe —  Sat 23-Sep-17 — Leave a comment
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Calvin  gun powderAh, wisdom – that wonderful state we each believe we have today but somehow lacked when we were younger. In most cultures wisdom is highly respected. For a creative person, which I consider every one of you, wisdom can be your worst enemy.

Many of you know that I am a Calvin and Hobbes fanatic. Something about a naïve boy and his imaginary tiger unabashedly taking on the wisdom of the world captivates me. Calvin is the heart of many a creative soul.

Bill Watterson, author of Calvin and Hobbes, is a fascinating man. His inspiring life-story of right versus might, retiring early, and holding to his principles is one that I highly recommend reading. One surprising revelation is that Watterson never considered himself an artist, at least in the traditional sense. Continue Reading…

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Breathe In, Breathe Out

joe —  Sun 3-Sep-17 — 2 Comments
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Bad launch
It’s not very often you hear an expert telling you “you’ve been doing it wrong your whole life,” especially when it comes to something as simple as breathing. Those are the words I heard two years ago as I started to have some problems with my voice. I learned that I am not alone in this Venn diagram. Roughly 90% of us are breathing wrong and with some simple changes we can improve a number of important things in our life.

It’s been two years since I was taught how to breathe properly and I’ve discovered that breathing shares a lot in common with thinking – most specifically problem solving. Breathing turns out to be an excellent model for problem solving and likely shares a similar failure rate. I use the term cognitive breathing to represent the tight relationship between breathing and thinking. That’s what we will be talking about today. More on that in a minute. Continue Reading…

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Brilliant kids test answersOur son, Jared, has always been mature beyond his years. He’s also the smartest person I have ever met – except when it came to some basic things that Beth and I take for granted. He just graduated from Georgia Tech in Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering with Highest Honors (Summa Cum Laude at other schools). Having taught over 500 students, he was voted the Teaching Assistant of the Year for all of Georgia Tech his senior year. He worked for three semesters in engineering co-op positions and even went to France to be a teaching assistant at the request of the professor teaching the class.

I tell you this not to brag (well maybe a little) but to offer context for what would be one of the greatest and most humbling lessons I have learned. It all started with a phone call during his Junior Year. Continue Reading…

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Someone is wrong on the internetWhen was the last time someone asked you for your advice on who to vote for President? I thought so. Why is it then that so many of our friends offer their advice when no one really wants it?

Because someone did.

The people that want it are the people that already agree with the post – no one else. Oh wait, there was one other person – that guy that loves to argue. I’ve already unfriended him. No one ever said, “Man I hope someone will come along today and convince me I am wrong.” I have never seen an opinion swayed as the result of those posts.

If you are posting information trying to persuade others to change their mind, there is psychological research that says that not only are you ineffective at changing opinions, you are hurting your cause. It is this research that demonstrates why all the tactics to bring down Donald Trump are failing.

On the paved highway known as rational thought, we humans have quite a few illogical exit ramps known as cognitive biases. These exit ramps are like Stuckey’s, we can’t explain nor resist the lure of a good pecan log roll. Continue Reading…

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How Matters

joe —  Fri 27-Nov-15 — 2 Comments
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Farmer in Field copyThe older I get the more I come to grips with how little I really know. Yet, the older I get the more I find others look to me for the answers. I actually had someone recently introduce me as an expert on a subject. Wow, that couldn’t be any further from the truth.

I have never liked the word expert. It goes into the pool of words like cloud, omni-channel, and platform – words that get recklessly bandied about to have lost any real meaning. Yet, rare is the week when I don’t hear someone labelling themselves as an expert at something. I am pretty sure this is why God invented the eye-roll.

I recall a friend’s breakdown of an expert.

Ex – Former
Spurt – A drip under pressure
Seems about right to me.

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