Become a Sprinter at Any Age!

Key Point: Nike’s breakthrough slogan, “Just Do It,” was brilliant. It promoted and celebrated the principle of forward movement without seeking permission or being burdened by judgment. While all of us are not necessarily naturally great athletes, we are all athletic in the context of moving… “Doing it.” Trying something! The same concept applies to life and business overall if one opens themselves to the idea of celebrating the principles of prototyping or testing. So, in the spirit and inspiration of Nike, allow me to introduce you (if you haven’t already met) to the process described as the SPRINT! 

Too often we are bitten by the notion of perfection or burdened by the old fashioned limitations of traditional project management. There are numerous problems related to this way of thinking. Many times building to “perfection” involves a big investment of resources before testing or prototyping whether our idea or solution is workable. We assume “requirement gathering” is sufficient for product or service development, and eventually, production. Everything has to be “right” before we make a move to full production and often the first time a customer is really introduced to a product or service is when it’s offered to the market. The risk associated with this framework is that the size of the bet can become very big. Large investments of time and/or money connected to big bets on the risk reward continuum can be scary. We are better off under that scenario to stop or do nothing. Or we “bet the farm” and hope our market customer research was right and the eventual product is a reasonable facsimile of what we intended. This is where the SPRINT process comes into play. 

In the spirit of moving with speed and rigor, what if we embraced the learning of the folks at Google Ventures (GV)? At GV, they’ve run what they describe as sprints with companies like NestFlatiron Health, and Medium—to help them enter new markets, design new products, develop new features for millions of users, define marketing strategies, and much more. Over the last few years, teams around the world have adopted this system of sprinting. (They’re collecting their stories at SprintStories.com). In their book, naturally entitled SPRINT, the authors (Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz) introduce a very detailed and specific five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers. They boldly and confidently describe it as a “greatest hits” of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and more.

Sprint

Character Moves: 

  1. The idea of more speed, agility, and rigor that dramatically improves the time and investment for a successful outcome has evoked much attention over the last few years. The five day print process developed by GV is just one of many such methodologies; most with common process elements (for example, agile/design thinking). The key thing is to learn the principles underlying these fast/agile processes and try testing them  (regardless of which process best suits you) BOTH in and out of work situations. 
  1. Try focused and fast testing/prototyping all kinds of stuff before making the big bet. This applies to whether you want to make fly fishing a hobby, start a business, or try out ideas in your work area, and more. Try sprinting! It’s aerobically and financially healthy. 

Sprinting in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: I like this concept. Nothing is worse than dwelling on an idea for too long and never executing. I don’t believe that in this day and age customers/clients will only accept a one-and-done pitch. The best ideas seem to be tested regularly, grow, evolve, change and develop a winning format through trial and error. Who performs better? The person who hits the track and sprints right away, or the one who puts off training because they’re spending a bunch of time and money saving up for the best running shoes? No matter what’s on their feet, I’m willing to bet the first one winds up in better shape.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Spiders, Pain and Happiness

Key Point: We can learn so much from spiders. Our chief economist, Todd Hirsch, wrote a new book entitled “Spiders in Space,” (which will officially be released at the end of April). The author tells a story about NASA taking spiders into space to see how they would react to zero gravity. Of course, spinning a web is based on gravity and spiders have been doing that the same way for more than 200,000 years! So, these unsuspecting spiders now find their home on the international space station and there is NO gravity. Now THAT’S disruption. For a while, they are disoriented and have a heck of time. The webs are a mess and the spiders are struggling. Then, one day they seem to regroup and amazingly learn to spin their webs in zero gravity. As Todd tells the story, they teach themselves to web from the corners out in windshield wiper fashion. They transform and invent a new web spinning process. Todd points out under similar circumstances, we humans would have likely formed a task force, eventually insisting the astronauts take us back home. 

I am really enjoying Mark Manson‘s book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fu*k.” He points out that “happiness” is a verb more than a state of being. I agree with that. It comes essentially from the satisfaction of moving forward by solving problems. His view includes the premise that instead of asking ourselves what we want in life, we might be better off asking ourselves the question: “What pain are you willing to experience in your life?” “What are you willing to struggle for?” That will tell you more about what you really care about, and are willing to do. Happiness comes from struggling and resolving challenges or problems. Many of us desire all kinds of things, and frankly have no real commitment to do what it takes to get there. Our hopeful “what if?” eventually becomes “what else?” In the end, we really don’t want the “what if?” very much. Joy comes from the continual struggle to get to some desired future state and so do results. How much pain do you want to sustain? Really? Then do something about it NOW. 

Manson has another very practical tenet I really like. He calls it the “Do Something” principle. If you’re stuck or in a rut, do something; almost anything. That will often propel you. Start moving. If you wait for inspiration and motivation to act, inertia may very well win out. Forward action leads to inspiration, and then motivation. The spiders did not wait to be inspired or motivated. They just started spinning, one failure after another, and then one time – bingo, real progress! That’s inspirational and the motivation to keep acting. Spin!

Character Moves: 

  1. If you feel like you’re entering “zero gravity,” stop hoping to return to the past. It will not happen. Go forward and enjoy fighting through it. Why would you rob yourself of happiness? 
  1. Do something… Keep spinning… One day, voila! And you get to do it again. How fortunate we are to have these problems? Like the lesson from the Pixar movie “Inside Out,” joy and sad go together. So do problems and happiness. 

Spinning happy webs in The Triangle, 

Lorne

One Millennial View: Ha, when people say they’re afraid of spiders, the last thing you’d think they’d be most intimidated of is their tenacity… But unfortunately for many, forcing oneself to actually “do something” is scarier than eight legs and a little venom. If you’re stuck, I bet your “spidey senses” are already tingling and you already know that you need to figure out how to spin that web again.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Turn On the Radio

Key Point: Organizations are currently working in parallel streams of reality and in almost different “centuries” at the same time. There is a work revolution going on; some say it’s the fourth industrial revolution. Emerging institutions like Singularity University and leading companies are helping to bring an exponential mindset to advanced organizations and their leaders. Companies like ours are flattening out, looking to drop decision making to the most appropriate levels, facilitating unprecedented forms of team work, moving at lightening “start-up” speed to get things done, helping people integrate work and life, and much more. This includes huge investments in people and feeding their insatiable curiosity and hungry growth mindset. We are getting rid of restrictive and backward thinking like seniority based holidays and sick time. People work from where the need to in order to achieve the best results. Everything in organization design and people/technology systems is about driving a high adaptability and results quotient, while we become obsessive about delivering relentless value so that customers FEEL we are indispensable. This is stimulating, hard, and even mind-bending work. It is necessary for survival and not some goofy egalitarian system gone wild. We are constantly looking to disrupt ourselves for a greater good! (And yes, of course, we are committed to being sustainably profitable). 

At the same time, I talked to someone recently who works for an organization where people could not get top leadership permission to turn on the radio in the “shop,” because workers might get distracted or pampered. Everyone knows working while listening to music results in a downward shift in productivity? Huh? People work in places just down the road from us where they still punch time cards. Or leaders genuinely still believe that people are out to screw them and have to be watched. I know employees who work for “bosses” that believe they ought to “kick ass” everyday and “recognition is for sissies.” Some organizations still require people to ask for permission to act like an adult. They believe people are replaceable and simply just a necessary component to running a business. If you ask the people managing those organizations what their purpose is, they will often describe what they transact at, rather than passionately outlining a deeply important reason to exist. Their “vision” is most often defined by EBITDA or revenue/net income (or the ever elusive “exit strategy”). Up-sell, cross sell, spin sell are part of their everyday vocabulary. And many of these companies are very financially successful, sometimes for decades. My question is, for how long? 

My hope and encouragement is for every entrepreneur out there to fiercely attack and put these backward organizations out of their fat, lazy, margin rich business. Look at companies that have high margin and yet have lots of friction and go after their market with a vengeance. Define a higher purpose, and be obsessively compulsive about real value for your customers. Measure how much you’ve helped and made a difference to them rather than squeezing them for every sales dollar. Your most important sales pipeline are crazy, happy customers that will publicly want to associate their brand with yours. Develop a people first system that attracts teammates who care about customers and the purpose of the business as much or even more than you!! And, right from the beginning, put in the latest technology and processes that make your customers literally say… “Wow.” Be relentlessly committed to having customers line up, metaphorically or actually for your product and service. Now here is the fun part: Create a business model that makes you 10x better than your competitors. This is not fantasy. It’s what the best entrepreneurial companies are doing! If you’re not willing or able to be an entrepreneur, then go work for someone who is. Stop working for people that treat you as a replaceable part because they will gladly oblige; it’s just a matter of time. Also, the “Christmas party” and mysterious annual bonus is NOT reflective of an advanced company. Here is a situation where size does NOT matter. A five person electrical contractor can apply all the modern leadership and reflect a great culture just as much as Google, Facebook, or ATB. Some might argue it’s even easier. 

Character Moves:

  1. If you haven’t already, join the revolution! You’re worth it! Become part of and fiercely contribute to something you deeply care about, and be sure that organization also deeply cares about the authentic, unique you! 
  1. Remember that you’re already an entrepreneur in a lot of ways. You likely are always looking to make things better (and not just a little better, but insanely better)!!  We are BIG VERBS! Be 10x big and think 10x BIG!

Tuned in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: I’ve never worked directly in sales, but I know that if I was selling I’d have to completely, 100 percent believe in the product. I would have a tough time selling anything I didn’t fully understand, buy into, or hold dear. That said, an important question might be: Could you sell yourself your own job? Why is it worth 40 plus hours a week of investment to you? Or do you just own it because it’s better than nothing? First question: Do they even let you listen to the radio?

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Culture Cast Podcast 10

CulturePodcast

Hey Character Triangle fans! Listen to this latest Culture Cast podcast featuring Lorne Rubis and Lynette Turner, where they discuss the blog “I Love Purple Chicks.” The big 1-0! Double digits! Being receptive to ideas, no matter where they come from, is a key leadership trait. And this naturally leads to the idea that people can be leaders at every level of an organization. This episode explores the idea that this trend is inescapable and how if you don’t find a way to paint your chickens purple, you’re going to be somebody’s buffet. Please listen via Soundcloud and iTunes and don’t be shy to comment and give us a rating (preferably 5 stars), it really helps us out! 

Listen to it on SoundCloud here.

Listen to it on iTunes here

Enjoy! 

 

 

Lorne Rubis

Lorne Rubis

The constant in Lorne’s diverse career is his ability to successfully lead organizations through significant change. At US West, where he served as a Vice President / Company Officer, Lorne was one of only seven direct reports ...
Read more about Lorne Rubis

Listen to Lorne's latest podcasts

Confidence, Patti Smith and Dylan: Failing authentically

Breathe fire: Leading and inspiring ourselves

Asking for feedback: The why

Taking on a new role: Lorne's journey

Lessons from Dot: Integrating technology into workplace culture

 

The Character Triangle Companion

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The Character Triangle

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Character Triangle

Our character is exclusively ours. We define it by how we think and what we do. I believe that acting with Character is driven by what I call the Character Triangle.

What, exactly, is the Character Triangle (CT)?

The CT describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values:

Be Accountable: first person action to make things better, avoiding blame.
Be Respectful: being present, listening, looking again, focusing on the process.
Be Abundant: generous in spirit, moving forward, minimizing the lack of.

Read more about the Character Triangle

 

Be Accountable

Be Respectful

Be Abundant

Free Resources

Tools

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Mind Your Own Business Radio – with Debi Davis, WLOB 1310 AM, 3/10/12 radio interview of Lorne Rubis

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