Sunday, October 4, 2009


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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Journey of Adaptation

(photo by James Neeley)

"Sharing knowledge is not about giving people something, or getting
something from them. That is only valid for information sharing. Sharing knowledge occurs when people are genuinely interested in helping one
another develop new capacities for action; it is about creating learning processes." - Peter Senge

Peter Senge is the director of the Center for Organizational Learning at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is known as the author of the book The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. He is a senior lecturer at the System Dynamics Group at MIT Sloan School of Management and founded the Society for Organizational Learning.

According to Senge "learning organizations are those organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together." He argues that only those organizations that are able to adapt quickly and effectively will be able to excel in their field.

In order to be a learning organization there must be two conditions present at all times. One is the ability to design the organization to match the desired outcomes. To do this, the organization must quantify and specify the desired outcome, craft a vision. The second vital condition is the organization's ability to recognize when the strategic direction of the organization must shift from the initial desired outcome and adapt to the new desired outcome. An organization must be able to recognize this need and to adapt. Organizations that are able to do this are stable and excel.

Being this type of learning organization is a choice that requires intention, discipline, design, and leadership.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mission Statement for Structure

(photo by Pondst)

The keystone is the crowning piece at the apex of an arch, locking all of the other pieces in place. The weight of all the other structural stones is supported by the keystone. Similarly, the mission statement is the structural glue to all other elements of school culture. The mission statement becomes the deciding criteria, a pivotal lens, for all decisions with one simple question: does this idea, this project, this person support the mission? The mission statement is like the keystone in an arch, the critical element of the organization's architectural structure.

The mission statement is the solemn promise that you as an organization of people make to your customers, asking for their trust in your collective performance on that promise on a day-to-day, consistent basis throughout your environment. Collective – that means everybody, top to bottom, in the system, making good on the promise, everyday, consistently. Thus, the whole organization needs to become mission-driven: dedicated and focused on fulfilling the promise laid out by the mission statement.

A good mission statement has to be purposeful, meaningful, specific, concise, and clear. A clear message means that it is understood clearly, not that it was just sent clearly. The sender is responsible for the understanding of the message. The mission statement must focus on what you will do without fail for your customers. For a school, that means answering what are you promising to do for your students and their families? For a hospital, that means answering what do you promise to do for each patient and his loved ones? For the U.S. Federal Court Clerks, which I helped craft a vision and mission statement recently, that means answering what to you intend to do to assist and serve the public?

The mission statement is action-oriented. Your promise should have action verbs – develop, instill, create, inspire, support, serve, meet, etc. The regional U.S. Federal Court Clerks make this promise: to serve the public and support the court with a commitment to excellence.

(We promise) To ____________ whom by doing what, how?

That is the basic construction. Your promise might have multiple components. Here is how you know if you have too many: can you recite it easily from memory? Can your teachers? Can your parents? Can your students? This is a must because it is essential that we all know what we come to school to accomplish every day. A good target length is no more than 20 words.

The mission statement is not a description of who you are and what you believe. The mission statement is a promise of what you will do, if given the opportunity.

Here are some examples of promises companies we are all familiar with have made:

Google To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

3M To solve unsolved problems innovatively.

Southwest Airlines To provide the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.

Marriott Hotel To make people who are away from home feel they are among friends and really

When you make a promise, you are expected to work to fulfill it. You have asked the permission of the person to whom you made the promise to trust you to deliver, to perform. The critical action set up by the mission statement, therefore, is performance. A mission-driven environment is one in which everyone is committed to making good each day on the stated promise. The whole culture, it follows, must be set up to encourage and support mission delivery. This is terrific news because the whole culture can be infused with a dynamic sense of purpose and intention.

As other stones extend from the keystone, other elements of the organizational culture are integrated with the mission statement. The core values statement articulates the values that you collectively rely on, hold dear, as a community. The vision statement speaks to your future, articulates what sort of environment you intend to create and what you intend it to look like.

I like to create two additional written statements to the organizational architecture that both derive from the mission statement: your mantra, which is a short phrase that encapsulates how you will fulfill your mission, like Nike’s Just do it. The mantra keeps everyone on track and motivated. I also like to craft a position statement that outlines what you do best that is unique from all other competitors in your industry.

As organizational structure, we are talking about written statements that all fit on one page, all built upon the mission statement, the promise to the customer. These statements give the culture architectural structure and guidance. This type of organizational design is worth every bit of time, money, energy, and intellectual resources to have everyone literally, emotional, and energetically on the same page in performance expectations.

For the money, for the effort, for the long term sustainable results: mission statement and performance. Making a promise and fulfilling it. Telling the story of why that mission for your organization. Painting the picture of what the world will look like as a result of your fulfilling your mission. Telling the stories of how you fulfill your promise in big and small ways with many different customers everyday. And, becoming known in your community for walking your talk, embodying your mission and relishing the integrity and pride that comes with that reality everyday for every member of the organization.

Mission. Promise. Performance.

By the way, a great reputation markets itself. Focus on being your best self as an organization and you will have a myriad of authentic stories to tell of the difference you make in the neighborhood, community, and world.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What is Shared Understanding?

Shared Understanding is knowing the rules, objectives, and boundaries of the pursuit. It is the rules of the game. It is knowing the spirit and culture and protocol of the game. Shared understanding is a state of being that is derived, not left to accidental and wishful thinking. Shared understanding is about renewal and alignment.

Creating shared understanding is not about doing what we have always done because we are not in the environment that we have always been in. Our context has and will change again and again. Our environment is fluid, unpredictable, dynamic and unavoidable. To reach our destiny, we must traverse the environment as it is, not as we would like it to be. We must be fluid, unpredictable, dynamic, ever present, and watchful. We must always be on the lookout.

The three critical pieces that create shared understanding in an organization are the vision, the mission, and the values. These three structural components must be unique to your organization, well defined and articulated, and authentic. How do you accomplish that? Different organizations accomplish it differently, but the best way is to imagine your way forward. The best way is to use the collective wisdom of your organization to imagine its full potential, its utopia. Imagining your future requires recognizing the demands of the larger context in which your organization operates, assessing the skills, knowledge, and mindset of your organization currently and asking what needs to change now to result in our making this vision a reality.

What are the specifics of imagining? The specifics of imagining are active thinking skills and active emotional reasoning: questioning, observing, pushing, probing, wondering, synthesizing, connecting, realizing, creating. The work of imagining is asking what to do we do? Why is it necessary and important? Does the world need us to do this? How does it change the world? How does the world value what we do? How do we value what we do? Are we sure? Is this exciting? Do others care? Do we care? How can we do it differently and better than anyone else? What do we need to believe in and do in order to make our dream for the future come true?

Once the organization has done the difficult yet necessary and invaluable work of imagining their future, crafting a vision and mission, and articulating their values, everything else - all decisions, actions, words, focus, etc. - derive from these guiding statements of possibility, purpose, and particular project criteria. This development work creates shared understanding because it lays out where we want to do, what we want to do, and how we will do it with integrity, in a way that reflects out fundamental beliefs and values.

These three components become the beacon that guide the way forward.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Who's "in"?

"He won't share with me." Human nature. We see it in young kids all the time. And, we see it in adults all the time. It is impossible to create a cohesive team if members of that team are not willing to share. Some people might not share because they are unskilled at sharing. That is workable. But unwillingness is not tenable and will keep the leadership team bound in various uncomfortable, ineffective, and time-wasting ways. Unwillingness is nuclear waste: toxic, dangerous, and highly destructive.

Here is how the reasoning flows: Does any member of your team display an unwillingness to be open-minded and learning new ideas, habits, ways of thinking?

If yes, is this unwillingness overt or covert? If a team member's unwillingness is overt, you are lucky. Cause and effect reasoning is pretty easy to apply to overtly counter-productive behavioral and emotional ways. If a team member's unwillingness is covert, be careful because the covert, passive aggressive actions - inspiring and manipulating the back channel conversations, feeding the grapevine, talking a happy game in the meeting and not following through - are manifestations of power. Power is little Johnny who gives his younger brother the toy to play with, but decides to give him a punch along with it while Mom is not looking. Little Johnny's and Little Susie's who do not like to share grow up and come to work.

People create a community of shared leadership by being intentional about creating a community of sharing. They intend to share the responsibility of leadership, the process of leadership, the learning of leadership, the actions of leadership, the reach of leadership. The team has to mutually commit to figuring out what our team means by "shared" - what it looks like on a day to day basis, what we understand it to mean, how it defines our thoughts and actions, how we create systems to reinforce what we want to happen in our relationships.

The process to convert a patriarchal view of leadership that is grounded in position on the organizational chart has many stages. The best place to begin is to start with the realization and intention that a team that shares the responsibility for the future of the organization will be able to accomplish and maintain more than one single individual. The first step: intention.

The second step is a question: Who's "in"?

Who's "in" is important. The people that are "in" need to be courageous. They need to risk the discomfort of being vulnerable and intimate with their team members. They need to be curious and open-minded, willing to learn as they go, sometimes in a public way. They need be willing to be wrong and to fail because learning anything new includes replacing old ideas with new, more useful ones. They must learn to reflect because only through reflecting on our own thoughts, skills, and mistakes do we learn.

Being "in" requires a lot, mostly commitment, passion for the cause, faith in the journey, and trust in your team members because they will be your fellow travelers.

Are you "in"? Know what that means, what it entails. And, know that if you are not "in", you are in the way.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What is Shared Leadership?

Leadership is a combination of mindset, behaviors, skills, and a cause. Leadership, thus, is more like an attitude than it is a position. Anyone, regardless of their position in the organization can exert leadership. To me, leadership is kin to "voice" because this deep calling bolstered by skills and behaviors motivates everything you do. Every action reflects, speaks, "gives voice" to the cause and its urgency.

Leadership can be shared when many people unite their strengths, perspectives, skills, and passions toward the same cause. Shared leadership, thus, propels a mission or a vision. It is in the uniting of our unique skills and interests and strengths that we bring full force to the cause.

Shared leadership is a collective undertaking to accomplish a shared vision. Shared leadership requires teamwork but it is deeper because each individual is intentionally working to exert leadership which includes improving his or herself in effective ways so that one's participation and contribution are at their fullest potential.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What do Leaders do?

tiannamen square Pictures, Images and Photos

First and foremost, leaders challenge the status quo. They interrupt what is going on now in order to influence the future. Leaders look to the horizon, the end game, deep into the future and ask what will get us there? They question everything.

Managers, by contrast, ask how can we keep current things going, or how can I maintain the status quo? Managers embrace the status quo, not stand up to it.

Aspiring and working toward a future vision requires a lot of things of the leader. Aspirational leadership requires detachment. Many people benefit and are complacent about the current state of being. A leader who desires to innovate and adapt to the needs of the future must detach from the emotional grousing of the people who admire the status quo. To accomplish this detachment, a leader must have confidence, courage, and commitment about doing the right thing for the sake of the future. This commitment and courage to doing the right thing are the internal resources a leader draws upon as many people work to keep things as they are.

The powerful image from the revolution at Tiannamen Square in 1989 makes the point that a leader can emerge from anywhere. This unnamed man stands on principle, courage, commitment, and hope for a better future for China. He stands strong despite risk of personal injury. He stands before the rigid, powerful status quo, the Chinese government so wonderfully epitomized by the might of the tanks. As we remember from watching the coverage, this one stand off disrupted and created many protests throughout the city.

A leader protests. He declares the status quo as unsafe, objectionable, unsustainable, unsuitable for the needs of the future. He expresses in many ways, as many as are needed, a vision for the future that is more relevant. A leader acts. She stands up and leads that first step toward realizing the future and invites others to join in. In these ways, a leader transforms.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What is Leadership?

We usually know who the leaders are, or we assume we do, from their positions in the organization. We know who is the CEO or who is the Head of School or who is the leader of the marketing group. But, I think too often we assume that the person in that role is a leader, the only leader. I also think that too often we confuse leading with managing. Management is not leadership.

Management is the act of situating the details of a program or idea that is already in place. Managers focus on tasks. They work to get things done. Managers have people whom they manage -- subordinates, "people in my division." Managers are usually not leaders. Managers perpetuate the status quo.

Leaders have causes, ideas that they believe are right and necessary. Leaders focus on people not tasks and checklists. Leaders work to inspire people to be their followers and to help them accomplish the objectives of the cause. Leaders inspires with their vision and their passion. Leaders are following the force of a vision, a right choice, and they expect challenges and hurdles along the way. Leaders do not shy away from conflict, instead they see conflict as necessary to inspire more and right followers. Leaders are not people who seek stability and sameness because leaders are in touch with the ever-changing nature of their environment and the importance of their cause in making a difference in the world.

The table above from provides a nice comparison of leaders and managers.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My half time Pep Talk for 2009

created for 24 hours of Innovation event

I work with independent schools. In the first half of 2009, their worldview has been disrupted dramatically due to the shift in the economic climate. While this new environment is stressful and exhausting because each leader is having to work hard to understand the New Normal, I think this environment presents many unique opportunities if you can see them, if you can sell them to your organization, and if you have the courage to implement them. Big if's because they all involve fast and furious adaptive thinking.

1) The most important conversation to have and act upon internally and externally right now: how do we create value for our users? Sounds easy enough? Who are all of your users? What are their wants and needs? What are their unarticulated wants and needs? What are their current value expectations? Are they purely transactional? How can you exceed them? Can you make your value arguments authentically - will the user experience what you say he or she will? Can you seed value thinking throughout the organization, top to bottom?

2) The second most important conversation to have right now is how can we do more with less - across the board in every department, every employee, every job function etc etc.? This calls from expansive creative thinking and most organizations are not well-practiced in thinking or creativity. Not practiced in thinking because schools are habitually bad about running on automatic pilot and their industry model has been unchanged for decades. Not practiced in creativity because besides being status quo guarders, school leaders/people are dangerously risk and change averse. Ask why not? a minimum of 50 times a day! You will benefit from it. New efficiencies are necessary and good.

3) The world has changed and no industry is immune. This is not a disputable idea anymore! Look at GM, Chrysler, the newspaper industry, book publishing, etc. What are the destructive forces nipping at your heels that you just don't want to see? Time to face the nightmare! I would be asking this every week and trying hard to adapt to the many New Normals that are emerging proactively and strategically. I would look to young and pliable companies like Google and Linux and Wikipedia and new pricing models/partnerships like Priceline to see how they think and build new organizational intellectual capacities that are more aligned to the needs of the new economic marketplace.

The first half of 2009 is a great wake-up call for the education industry. Those that work to solve the puzzle, will benefit greatly for many years to come. Those that play the victim role are creating their own future.

Act wisely.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Slipstream - Facebook Opens a Door, an...

Facebook seeking to be ubiquitous connector


Slipstream - Facebook Opens a Door, and Start-Ups Rush In -

    • In a loud and proud public announcement, it said it didn’t care whether its members visited at all.
      • I go there about once a week. Otherwise all my posting and corresponding is done through other tools. comment by Jamie Baker

  • “We believe we are giving people a better way to share more information in more places, and we actually expect it will allow Facebook to grow significantly,” said Ethan Beard, Facebook’s director of platform marketing.

    • With each of these fashionable Web start-ups trying to become the essential platform for social dialogue on the Web, it has been a battle royal, and one of the most interesting and odd technology competitions since Microsoft and Netscape fell over each other to give away their browsers in the first browser wars.

      • “We’re competing with Facebook using their data, but we are also helping them by offering their users another way to see their friend’s data and interact with it,” Mr. Le Meur said.

        • Seesmic is hardly alone. TweetDeck, a budding business of the London engineer Iain Dodsworth, has more than a million users and also blends together Facebook and Twitter feeds

          • “Checking your stream on your phone becomes oddly addictive,” Mr. Kumar said.

            • Executives at Facebook say that as the premier social engine of the Web, it will ultimately find a way to make money. For example, it could choose to transmit ads along with the activity streams of its members, and perhaps split the revenue with the developers, though it says it currently has no plans to do so.
              • Read more »

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                Posted via email from jamiereverb's posterous

                Slipstream - Facebook Opens a Door, an...

                Facebook seeking to be ubiquitous connector


                Slipstream - Facebook Opens a Door, and Start-Ups Rush In -

                  • In a loud and proud public announcement, it said it didn’t care whether its members visited at all.
                    • I go there about once a week. Otherwise all my posting and corresponding is done through other tools. comment by Jamie Baker

                • “We believe we are giving people a better way to share more information in more places, and we actually expect it will allow Facebook to grow significantly,” said Ethan Beard, Facebook’s director of platform marketing.

                  • With each of these fashionable Web start-ups trying to become the essential platform for social dialogue on the Web, it has been a battle royal, and one of the most interesting and odd technology competitions since Microsoft and Netscape fell over each other to give away their browsers in the first browser wars.

                    • “We’re competing with Facebook using their data, but we are also helping them by offering their users another way to see their friend’s data and interact with it,” Mr. Le Meur said.

                      • Seesmic is hardly alone. TweetDeck, a budding business of the London engineer Iain Dodsworth, has more than a million users and also blends together Facebook and Twitter feeds

                        • “Checking your stream on your phone becomes oddly addictive,” Mr. Kumar said.

                          • Executives at Facebook say that as the premier social engine of the Web, it will ultimately find a way to make money. For example, it could choose to transmit ads along with the activity streams of its members, and perhaps split the revenue with the developers, though it says it currently has no plans to do so.
                            • Read more »

                              ( )

                              This message was sent to you by Jamie Baker via Diigo

                              Getting too many email alerts? Change your email alert setting preference here.

                              Posted via email from jamiereverb's posterous

                              The Lubin Files: Annotate the web with Diigo. A Technology Review

                              Check out this website I found at

                              I am liking Diigo. It has helped me learn to enjoy reading on the web. In fact, I am liking it so much that I transferred all my Delicious bookmarks, so my devotion is feeling pretty permanent at the moment. (That was rather Yogi Bera-ish!)

                              Posted via web from jamiereverb's posterous

                              The Lubin Files: Annotate the web with Diigo. A Technology Review

                              Check out this website I found at

                              I am liking Diigo. It has helped me learn to enjoy reading on the web. In fact, I am liking it so much that I transferred all my Delicious bookmarks, so my devotion is feeling pretty permanent at the moment. (That was rather Yogi Bera-ish!)

                              Posted via web from jamiereverb's posterous

                              Tuesday, April 28, 2009

                              Collaborate for Better Results

                              I work as a consultant. It is difficult for me to find just the right adjective to pinpoint what type of consultant, as in a management consultant, or a business consultant, or an IT consultant. I am okay with that. In fact, I think the ambiguity of it all is a great barometer for finding the type of client that I want to work with. If the person I am talking to does not have the mental patience or the listening skills for me to fill the blank, it is just as well in my book because I don’t get on well with people whose whole world has to fit rigidly and neatly in little mental categories and boxes.

                              Last night I was filling out the bio portion for a conference presentation. I put “innovation consultant” because that is what I am most interested in right now, and that is what I think is needed most right now as all types of businesses figure ways to align to the New Normal of our economy.

                              I was in New York a few months ago. At the place I stayed, The Pod Hotel, I made all of the reservations by email. No talking to anyone, no repeating all my info a few times, no waiting as the checking of dates etc happened on their end. I sent in a room request, my dates, my non-smoking preference, my ETA, and in a few hours, I was welcomed as a soon-to-be guest. As a former boutique hotel owner, I was wowed because I could imagine the freedom that this email reservation system created for the hotel and their employees not having to be slave to the phone, yet still not missing business. This was a small innovation, inexpensive, yet radical in its disruption to hotel reservations system as we know them.

                              Consultants get a bad rap. I am sure some of it is justified. But, some of it is hubris and short-sightedness. Some people are DIY at heart, even if their DIY effort yield a lesser result. They cannot cede control. This is a type of hubris that is hurtful to self and to system.

                              There are some excellent reasons to work with a consultant especially if you are considering change and innovation as a competitive necessity. Consultants are detached from the politics and emotional baggage of your system. They can see through the “if we make that change, Susan will have her feelings hurt.” Building systems in deference to people who won’t or can’t adapt is not only bad business, I think it is irresponsible and unethical, placing all the rest of the stakeholders’ needs and desires and aspirations as a lesser priority.

                              Consultants are not comforted by the status quo and complacency in your system. They are not deriving their sense of identity and security from maintaining the same protocol as some of the internal people are.

                              What consultants can do is help the pathways for communication and service delivery develop strongly and effectively and for the human element to adapt to support and enhance those pathways. Consultants cans see things that everyone else cannot see because it has been part of the backdrop for so long. These things can be negative things like the first impression an area makes on the senses (sight, smell, touch, hearing..) and positive things like the stories that are in the midst of what you do and the heroism with which you do it. Consultants can push the limits of discussion that go on in all areas of your endeavor because their questioning is free from power politics and not harnessed by social mitigation. This can have many expansive effects including more elevated and focused dialogues, new insights, less delusional escapism, less guarding of the status quo.

                              Consultants can also have more expertise in a specified domain like innovation or knowledge-sharing or systems which you might need but does not reside in the talent within your system.

                              Consultants can make great ad hoc members to your strategic thinking teams. I love working with leaders and managers to influence and enhance their thinking because through them, the whole system can be stimulated. If the leader and the manager are not open to expanding, the best consultant in the world cannot create desire where fear has taken root.

                              Monday, April 20, 2009

                              Where Do Ideas Come From?

                              This is an interesting question to think about. Obviously ideas can come from a lot of places. But, I think there are some conducive actions and mindsets that we can cultivate in ourselves and in our habits such that we can become more likely to have ideas come.

                              First and foremost, it helps to be open to less control in your beliefs.  If you think you have it all figured out and you have your life situated just so - efficient and safe, why do you even need a good idea because you have it all figured out.  Instead I think you have to loosen your control and dependence on the status quo and be open to new ways of thinking, doing, and being. You have to be interested in the future and interested in having a voice in designing it. You have to be willing to question assumptions and to honor different paths and solutions to life's challenges.  You have to be willing to ask the non-obvious question, the deep question, the difficult question because it is from those rich, searching questions that full, authentic answers comes. Asking the right question is key.

                              Second, you have to learn to see. You have to stop encountering the world on automatic pilot and consciously disrupt your automatic thoughts, habits, and reactions.  When I am feeling stale and stagnant, about to be subsumed by status quo and mediocrity, I intentionally turn the subtleties of my day upside down.  I use my non-dominant hand to brush my teeth. I stop drinking coffee and fix herbal tea as my morning drink, which I don't like doing but because it is a conscious and willful act on my part I am in touch with the purposefulness of the disruption.  I drive into town via a different, inefficient route through parts of the city that I never cruise. I listen to my kids' CDs on the way instead of NPR.  All of the above happens in the first hour of being awake and the effect is that I tell my brain to wake up and start scanning for information because the routine is not happening today.  I proceed with intentional disruption for the rest of the day, continuing for a week or so.  And, I pay attention to the different thoughts that I have, and I record them all day long, not manipulating them at this point, just recording them knowing that they can fit somewhere.

                              All the time while I am making the insignifica of my life conscious, I am open and sensory aware to see and experience everything in a new way.  In my interactions with people, I don't react to what is said or done. Instead I play scenarios in my head that take in the bigger picture.  If someone says something snarky or superficial in a meeting, I rewind their tape in my head and try to get in touch with what their whole day and whole life must be like. What do they value? What limits have they created for themselves and those around them that causes their behavior? What fears have caused them to stay in the safe land of superficiality where everything is nice, or the tightly controlled regimen of efficient detailed plans that keep life's divine spontenaity at bay? I try to figure the right questions to ask and to imagine as many answers as possible, not deciding on a right one, but exercising my creative imaginative brain muscle, developing my sense of empathy and compassion. I think with my heart in this moment, keeping my head out of the picture because it wants to defend and judge.

                              Another way to nurture the possibility of an idea is to hang around people and places that like and value ideas and learning.  This is easy to do these days thanks to blogs, Twitter, video chat, and a regular stream of email with lots of people.  What do you think?  I ask lots of people this about lots of topics all day long.  Here is what I think, what am I missing, what can you add to help build a bigger idea, what might I have discounted or overlooked

                              Having an idea that has possibility to me is about building, one perspective and bit of wisdom upon another, thinking about each component part at a time and intentionally guarding against automatic, routine, expected, easy answers that are habitual. To me, the easy, obvious defensive answers are laziness taken root in the mind. Those aren't ideas, those are habits. Weeds. 

                              One place to hang out with ideas is Ideablob where micropreneurs have an ideafest, telling the world about their ideas in hopes to find production partners.  Another fun place to hang is Quixoting, a blog devoted to thinking out loud in public about stuff.

                              Why not?

                              We forget to take time in our busy lives to question the everyday, and it is in the questioning of the everyday that the next new thing that makes the everyday better, easier, more meaningful lives.  We just need to take the time and effort to prepare ourselves for ideas to come everyday.

                              Chat: Google Talk: jamiereverb Skype: jamiereverb
                              My wiki:

                              Able to Judge and Adjust

                              In his blog post today Seth Godin poses The Question that is among the most vital few questions for sustainability planning. Godin asks this:

                              How would you manage or market differently if you knew that you had to hit the brakes, and hard? Slowing one thing and speeding up something else.

                              Godin takes a look at a few of the industries where we are seeing first hand that they are not asking and answering this question. Like newspapers:

                              Prediction: there will be no significant newspapers printed on newsprint in the US by 2012. So, you've got two and a half years before the newspaper industry is going to be doing something else with the news and the ads, or not be there at all. Does that change what you do today if you work in this business?

                              Newspapers are so busy defending the status quo of their business and its model that they have lost sight of the right question? They don't like the future so they are working hard, pretending that it does not exist, or that they have effective control over it. They are not nimble. They are not wise. They are not courageous.

                              The American auto industry: same status quo defenders.

                              The American music industry: same status quo defenders.

                              The American education industry: same status quo defenders.

                              Innovation is needed desparately in all of these areas and more in order to sustain their ability to continue to deliver their goods and services to a interested customer base.

                              Can you anticipate the future, see what its major challenges and opportunities are?

                              Can you accept that the future is controlled and dictated by the desires of the customer and the protocol of the marketplace, not by the desires of your organization and its people?

                              Can you stop what is old school and determine and implement what is needed for 21st century relevance?

                              If not, so sorry. Someone else who is already doing all of these things will scoop up your customers. This will happen in plain sight while you are busy writing a press release that spouts your greatness of yesterday and your dedication to past prevalence.

                              Like Seth Godin suggests, it is about braking and accelerating down a different path that is relevant to the customers' future needs, wants, desires and the cultures current means of communication and connection.

                              Be sure that you are asking and acting toward the right question and the right vision of the future in order to be sustainable, relevant, and around.

                              Wednesday, April 8, 2009

                              Defending Against Creative Destruction

                              In this article published at the Huffington Post, Christensen makes the point that managers must defend the perimeters of their business, especially the low end. The really hard part of disruption is when the disrupting competitor can come in the market at the price point of free. It is hard to compete with free. Free allows one to dominate a niche without threat of new entrants. See what Google does and Craig's List.

                              This article is worth the read and pondering time.

                              (Lovin' that Diigo helps me annotate my reading.)


                              Clayton M. Christensen: The Past and Future of General Motors

                              creative destruction. Manage the low end to defend against disruption. Innovate constantly and quickly.

                              • How did GM, Chrysler, and Ford get in this mess? It is the result of a competitive attack called disruption, which began in the auto industry in the 1960s. When an entrant competitor attacks the low end of any market, the rational reaction of the incumbent firms is to abandon rather than defend it -- because the low end is the least profitable of their possible investments. Rather, the pursuit of profits causes the incumbent leaders to move up-market, towards bigger, better and more profitable products
                                • and when they can enter the market with "free" like Craig's list, you are really in trouble. comment by jamiereverb
                              • Lest the journalists who assembled the newspaper in which you're reading this believe they are immune from this phenomenon, their newspaper's advertising revenues are being disrupted by Google and Craigslist -- and on-line news is disrupting its readership numbers. Disruption is how Canon attacked Xerox; how Wal-Mart and Target bested the department stores; how Southwest drove so many major airlines into bankruptcy; how Sony defeated RCA, and how Apple crippled Sony.
                                • and how charters and virtual learning will upend schooling comment by jamiereverb
                              • Disruption is the causal mechanism behind the "creative destruction" that Schumpeter saw so pervasively at work in capitalist economies.
                                • It's when growth stops because you're being disrupted that managing becomes really, really hard, and as a result most disrupted companies simply disappear.
                                  • Detroit with the Ghost of Christmas Future

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                                    Monday, April 6, 2009

                                    Recession Wisdom from Tom Peters

                                    I have been reading, watching, and following Tom Peters since the mid-80s. He has consistently delivered a perspective on business and management that is not watered down or sugar-coated and works from the articulated assumption that every person and every company should do their absolute best, attain their fullest potential, and THEN SOME! He is one of the few writers that I allow to scream at me from the page, like the tough and expectant love that spews from a drill sergeant. Why? He wants me to be better and do better.

                                    Here is Tom Peters' recent list of how to survive the recession. We are 17 months in and its is highly likely, we have a ways to go as we re-align our economy to 21century needs and processes. I like this list because it is expansive and one can find many things to focus on and work on which keeps one's minds from focusing on worry and anxiety and catastrophizing. Pick two per week. Really think about them, mull them over and see how they shake out for your situation in your life and in your work. Then, act! That's what I am going to do - find a way to make the rough spots a source of strength and conditioning that will separate me and my organization and the value that I offer from the herd, in good times and bad.

                                    Thanks Tom!

                                    From Tom's Blog

                                    I am constantly asked for "strategies/'secrets' for surviving the recession." I try to appear wise and informed—and parade original, sophisticated thoughts. But if you want to know what's going through my head, read the list below:

                                    You work longer.
                                    You work harder.
                                    You may well work for less; and, if so, you adapt to the untoward circumstances with a smile—even if it kills you inside.
                                    You volunteer to do more.
                                    You always bring a good attitude to work.
                                    You fake it if your good attitude flags.
                                    You literally practice your "game face" in the mirror in the morning, and in the loo mid-morning.
                                    You shrug off shit that flows downhill in your direction—buy a shovel or a "pre-worn" raincoat on eBay.
                                    You get there earlier.
                                    You leave later.
                                    You forget about "the good old days"—nostalgia is for wimps.
                                    You buck yourself up with the thought that "this too shall pass"—but then remind yourself that it might not pass anytime soon, so you re-dedicate yourself to making the absolute best of what you have now.
                                    You eschew all forms of personal excess.
                                    You simplify.
                                    You sweat the details as you never have before.
                                    You sweat the details as you never have before.
                                    You sweat the details as you never have before.
                                    You raise to the sky the standards of excellence by which you evaluate your own performance.
                                    You thank others by the truckload if good things happen—and take the heat yourself if bad things happen.
                                    You behave kindly, but you don't sugarcoat or hide the truth—humans are startlingly resilient.
                                    You treat small successes as if they were Superbowl victories—and celebrate and commend accordingly.
                                    You shrug off the losses (ignoring what's going on inside your tummy), and get back on the horse and try again.
                                    You avoid negative people to the extent you can—pollution kills.
                                    You eventually read the gloom-sprayers the riot act.
                                    You learn new tricks of your trade.
                                    You network like a demon.
                                    You help others with their issues.
                                    You give new meaning to the word "thoughtful."
                                    You redouble, re-triple your efforts to "walk in your customer's shoes." (Especially if the shoes smell.)
                                    You mind your manners—and accept others' lack of manners in the face of their strains.
                                    You are kind to all mankind.
                                    You leave the blame game at the office door.
                                    You become a paragon of accountability.
                                    And then you pray.

                                    Tuesday, March 31, 2009


                                    G.M.'s CEO Rick Wagoner leaves after 9 years of struggle. Under his leadership since 2000, G.M. stock has gone from $70 per share to $4. Their brand is perhaps tarnished beyond repair. In the New York Times article, "The Steady Optimist Who Oversaw G.M's Decline", Michelene Maynard describes Wagoner address to company employees just six months ago at G.M.'s 100 year celebration:

                                    "Dressed in a gray suit and a yellow, blue and white striped tie, Mr. Wagoner said: “So, what’s our assignment for today and tomorrow? Above all, it’s to demonstrate to the world that we are more than a 100-year-old company. We’re a company that’s ready to lead for 100 years to come.”

                                    So, he had the right idea - to build upon a great tradition and great hundred years of performance and to heed the lifeblood importance of leading for sustainability, so where did he go wrong? I can't help but feel sickened by the tremendous costs of mismanagement, no matter how well-intentioned that it was.

                                    Were they paying attention?

                                    Where was GM when the gas crunch of the 70s happened. You remember? The one where Toyota entered the market with the marveled Corolla? Even John Updike's hero Harry Angstom bought one. Didn't GM suspect that consumer preferences might be driven by gas prices then? GM seems to be really incapable at anticipating market trends and customer preferences and delivering products that satisfy need.

                                    Did they value innovation?

                                    I have always heard about all the great car innovations being worked on in Detroit but the roll out schedule is something like 5 years on a product. Markets change completely in that amount of time and for the life of me, I can't understand why they have always taken so long to get to market with a sexy, innovative, in current demand product. Innovation experts all agree: get a product to market fast and innovate after launch based on user feedback. Seems to me GM has a daddy-knows-best hubris in their product selection and no sense of urgency in putting desired new products out. In fact, seems like they would tweak a design, brand it, and expect customers to not notice that it was not that different from past models.

                                    Can't they add?

                                    I cannot understand how GM over the years has allowed their labor costs and their unfunded future liabilities to get SO out of control. They torpedoed the company. How sad and paradoxical for all the people pushing for those untenable wages and benefit packages because with G.M. broke, the jobs and pensions disappear. I am shocked at the self-interested and short-term thinking of all of the masterminds involved over the years.

                                    Sustainability for G.M. is a joke because of the preponderance of issues that they keep solving in the same way as before. Re-considering and re-thinking all aspects of their business with a blue sky vengance is what they need. They are bound by a fixed, insular, corporate mindset that has strangled them.

                                    Saving them? At what costs? Seriously, imagine the continued years of costs of carrying them for a 100 years into the future, especially if they don't change their thinking.

                                    Hey G.M.: the market wants an affordable, efficient, green car with a sexy design and a pleasant sales experience that is respectful, honest, and transparent, and they want it yesterday.

                                    Take note of the Fiat 500, Smart car Passion for Two, and Tata Motors little number. They can do it, why can't you? seriously?

                                    Saturday, March 28, 2009

                                    Diet Matters to the Brain

                                    'Look Dad! It's everywhere' my son said with a smile as he showed me the most recent issue of Wired and the article in it about the brain. Often he sees me reading something in the popular media about the brain and the efforts of our science community to figure out how this organ works. Sometimes those articles are about how to supercharge the brain by doing something like the following simple actions:

                                    Brush your teeth with the opposite hand.
                                    Learn to read upside down.
                                    Learn to play a musical instrument.
                                    Eat an ounce of nuts every other day.

                                    I also frequently reference one of my most battered books: SuperFoods by Stephen Pratt and Kathy Matthews. This book has become my guide book to eating to change my biochemistry and slowing down the aging process. I try to eat healthy food including what might be good for my brain. Considering my interest in the subject, I jumped at the chance to attend the following lecture recently at The Urban Child Institute:

                                    "Food For Thought: What to Eat for a Better Brain"

                                    This presentation sponsored by The Urban Child Institute and the UT Neuroscience Institute consisted of two talks:

                                    "Nutrition and the Developing Brain" by Dr. Patricia Wainwright, Professor Emeriti in the Dept. of Health Studies and Gerontology at the University of Waterloo in Canada

                                    "Eat Smart: Your Brain Reflects What You Eat" by Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, Professor in the Dept. of Neurosurgery and Physiological Science at UCLA

                                    The lesson from these two speakers: Diet matters.

                                    Wainwright stressed that diet really matters during gestation and the first few years of life when the majority of brain development occurs. Seemingly insignificant dietary omissions during pregnancy and early childhood may cause brain malnourishment that may having lasting effects that do not surface for years.

                                    Gomez-Pinilla talked more about the importance of certain micro nutrients and exercise. He believes certain foods lead to a healthier brain. He mentioned several of the superfoods including salmon. He said that he didn't think organic foods were worth the price. He preferred eating the right foods rather than taking supplements.

                                    Hearing these two scientists talk makes me realize that while much is being learned about the science of the brain, even more is unknown. The brain is a vast frontier. It also occurred to me that if I had to rely on what I had learned in school about nutrition, I would be eating a lot of the wrong foods. With regards to diet and nutrition, as with many things where our world's understanding is significantly changing, continuing to learn is paramount. Life-long learning is important.

                                    Monday, March 23, 2009

                                    Weekend Update

                                    What I did this weekend:

                                    The weekend effectively started on Thursday morning with extraction of eight wisdom teeth. Check off another milestone in the journey of parenting twin daughters. It was a great opportunity to reflect on that journey while the two usually high energy kids lay like sleeping lions after a bull's eye hit from a dart gun fired by Marlon Perkin's trusty sidekick Jim Fowler. The house was indeed unusually quiet. My two almost 18 year olds don't seem to have much wisdom. I wondered how wisdom teeth got that name? Wikipedia explains that it is believed to be because they appear at a wiser age than the other teeth. No real surprise there but interestingly, Wikipedia also references an article about the successful harvesting of stem cells from wisdom teeth last year in Japan. I don't think wisdom comes at the same age those teeth appear. Rather it is accumulated along life's path. There is a lot of thought lately about life's path in our house. The two dental patients should know where they will attend college in the next few weeks.

                                    So while the patients recovered, Jamie and I went to hear words of wisdom from someone that is a bit further down life's path: Jane Goodall. It is not often that I get a chance to hear a lecture by someone that I remember reading about in a 3rd grade textbook almost 40 years ago. As is becoming the norm for me, I heard the familiar encouragements about following your passion and questioning the norms, success achieved from outside the establishment, challenges to the traditional roles of women, sustainability. When you start looking for them certain themes are everywhere. As humans, we notice such a small percentage of what is there to see.

                                    Goodall spoke as part of the Vanderhaar Symposium at Christian Brothers University. Congrats to Anthony Siracusa on the Student Peace Award he received prior to Goodall's lecture. This award was given to Anthony for his work at Revolutions Community Bike Shop. Along with that work Anthony has generously shared his passion for biking by mentoring my son as a bicycle mechanic. Anthony departs soon on a year long trek to study biking cultures around the world as a Watson Fellow. Anthony has become a leader of the Memphis biking tribe. Anthony's blog about his trek.

                                    Speaking of tribes, I wrapped up the weekend by learning about another huge tribe. I took my mom (and dad) to see Hats. Hats is the musical about the Red Hat Society. A few years ago my mom told me about a group that she had joined: The Red Hat Society. The RHS is a fun loving social organization for women over fifty. I had never heard of it and didn't give it much thought at the time. Recently I received a direct mailer about the performance and thought my mom would enjoy it. When we arrived for the show most of the audience were elderly women wearing red hats. A Google search reveals that this tribe is 1,500,000 strong. Each member pays a $20 annual membership fee. I marveled at the marketing genius of the musical. This is certainly geared at a specific niche. Come to find out the society commissioned the musical. RHS has numerous other money generating products and ventures but the Google search did not reveal much about the Red Hatters from the traditional business media. I am reminded that I need to always pay attention. You never know where the next inspiration is coming from.

                                    That Google search did reveal that researchers at Penn State University are conducting interviews with Red Hatters as part of a study that is researching the link between play and happiness. 'Play' is one of the 'six fundamentally human attributes that are essential for professional success and personal fulfillment' outlined in Dan Pink's A Whole New Mind. Pay attention.

                                    Friday, March 20, 2009

                                    Something to Ponder

                                    I am not sure where I read this last week - (that is one of the problems if you read a lot, not being about to pinpoint everything) - but I have been thinking about it a lot. So, I share this as something to ponder in a big way as it relates to big things, and in a big way, as it relates to the little things in daily life.

                                    Here is the thing: "These days the medium is the message."

                                    What do the many mediums that I utilize personally and professionally and even intimately express about who I am, how hip I am, how knowledgeable I am, how intentional I am, how caring and sensitive I am, how interested in a relationship I am, how dedicated to quality I am, how disciplined I am....I could go on and on. These are the questions I have been asking and answering across my own life spectrum. It has been a rich and enlightening thinking experience.

                                    I suggest you take this found and profound statement, and do the same. See what happens.

                                    Thursday, March 19, 2009

                                    High School Newspapers Going Social

                                    Tomorrow's newspaper editors, in whatever form newspapers survive, are in high school or college today. That is interesting to think about. So, the short of it will be this: the goal and passion to do good quality journalism will stay the same, but all aspects of the delivery format and the whole sense of timeliness will, or really has, changed.

                                    This article in the St. Louis Dispatch, available for me on, talks about the shift that is starting to happen in high school journalism:

                                    "There's no doubt that's the trend for youth journalism, to both post and consume online," Mitsu Klos said. "This is obviously the next and necessary step for them, to make the information available where (students') social networks are."

                                    Know the audience and meet them where they are? Uhh........what is new about that? I mean, really?

                                    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

                                    Guy Kawasaki on School Innovation

                                    In his keynote address at the National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference in Chicago, Guy Kawasaki offered one of his famous 10 Things lists. Explaining that schools should prepare young people for living, not just for entrance into college, below is what Kawasaki wishes schools would teach kids so that business people won't have to once these young people enter the world of work and the reality of life. This list might serve as a Reality Check for schools!

                                    1. Teach students how to figure out anything by themselves.
                                    2. How to explain anything in 30 seconds.
                                    3. How to do a one-page report.
                                    4. 10-20-30 rule of PowerPoint (see above).
                                    5. Optimal length of an e-mail is five sentences, without an attachment.
                                    6. How to survive a meeting (basically you get what you want out of the meeting and then you park your brain).
                                    7. How to run a meeting (start on time, end on time, involve as few people as possible).
                                    8. How to work as a group (the solo brilliant person doesn’t work in business).
                                    9. How to negotiate win-wins.
                                    10. Learning is a process not an event. It’s a lifelong process that is not limited to school.
                                    What would be in the harm in preparing kids for their futures instead of perpetuating the traditional notion of school? Is it just our discomfort with changing, doing something different from what we have always done? Be honest!

                                    Guy Kawasaki on Innovation

                                    Guy Kawasaki, plain-spoken serial entrepreneur and legendary venture capitalist recently gave one of the keynote addresses at the National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference in Chicago. Drawing from his books The Art of Innovation and its newer iteration Reality Check, Kawasaki outlined 10 things to realize and incorporate into one's habits, mindsets, and behaviors to be innovative. To fully appreciate Kawasaki and his work, one has to understand the tacit assumption from which he operates (it may be tacit but it is loud and strong: INNOVATE OR DIE!)

                                    Strive to do the following:

                                    1. Make meaning. "The people who wake up in the morning wanting to make meaning usually succeed. The people who want to make money usually fail. Those who perpetuate good things, cause good things, or end bad things – those are the innovators." Kawasaki illustrates this with the Nike ad aimed at women. The ad sells the idea that when you exercise, you empower yourself. Nike turned two pieces of cotton and rubber (shoes) into efficacy, liberation, and power. Nike is making meaning out of shoes. They are selling self-empowerment, not shoes.
                                    2. Make a mantra. "Most organizations make mission statements and most mission statements suck!" By contrast, a mantra is no more than two or three words." Kawasaki's offers examples of mantras he would adopt based on places he frequents. Wendy’s should be “healthy fast food;” Nike stands for “authentic athletic performance;” eBay represents “democratization of commerce;” and Target could be “democratize design.” Kawasaki suggests that a bad mission statement creates a bad company vision.
                                    3. Jump to the next curve. "Don’t be satisfied battling it out on the same curve as all of your competitors." Kawasaki suggests doing what they can't do. Macintosh created a whole new curve, not a slightly better DOS computer. The telephone was not a slightly better telegraph, it was a whole new curve. Most organizations define their business on the curve they’re on. If you truly want to be innovative, it’s not about doing things 10 percent better – jump the curve to do something 10 times different and better!
                                    4. Roll the DICEE. All innovations share the following elements.
                                      Depth: Create great products and services that are revolutionary
                                      Intelligent: Someone has anticipated what’s necessary
                                      Complete: Not just the leather and steel and glass of the car – it’s the totality of the experience, it’s the Lexus experience.
                                      Elegance: The beauty of the industrial design.
                                      Emotive: Generate strong emotions – people love what you do or hate what you do, but they are certainly not indifferent. The worst case is that people don’t care about what you do.
                                    5. Don’t worry, be crappy (which Kawasaki readily admits is a blatant rip off of the Bobby McFerrin song). If you wait for perfection, you’ll never be ready to act. Act first, improve later. Too many organizations and people have analysis paralysis which costs us time, money, creativity, and market share, all of which lead to a death trap.
                                    6. Polarize people (emotiveness). Many organizations try to be all things to all people, which inevitably produces mediocrity. Don’t try to anger people, but do not hesitate to alienate a group that you can do without.
                                    7. Let 100 flowers blossom ("stolen from Chairman Mao"). For example, Apple's original goal wasn't to spark a new desktop publishing industry, but it did encourage many software companies to write programs for the Mac. Apple Computer would have died if the Aldus Corporation hadn't developed PageMaker for the Mac in 1985 – thus expanding the Mac beyond a simple word processor or spreadsheet tool.
                                    8. Churn, baby, churn (yes, another song rip off – thank you to the Trammps!). To be an innovator, you need to be in denial. Ignore the bozos who keep telling you it cannot be done. Then listen to customers to see how to fix your product. Fix it, ship it, listen. Then, start again: fix it, ship it, listen. It is a never-ending process.
                                    9. Niche thyself. You want high uniqueness and high value. If you’re a great value but not unique, then you always have to compete on price (i.e., Dell Computer). If you’re only unique without value, you’re just a clown – you own a market that doesn’t exist. If your product/service is neither unique nor valuable, quit! You want to produce something that is unique and of great value to the customer, like the Smart car, which can park perpendicular to the curb, among other things. Determine what is unique about youand make sure your uniqueness is of value.
                                    10. Follow the 10-20-30 rule. Create a maximum of 10 slides in a PowerPoint presentation; deliver it in 20 minutes; the optimal size font is 30 points.
                                    11. Don’t let the bozos grind you down. Rich and famous parses to “lucky” not necessarily smart. "If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at who he gives it to." So watch for Bozosity. Take a shot of Bozosity to inoculate yourself against it.
                                    So, now you have the list. What to do with it? How to use it? My suggestion is to sit down in a quiet environment. Close the door, or better, go to a new place where you can be free of all distractions and have a serious one-on-one conversation with yourself. Ask: what is keeping me from believing or embracing this suggestion? Where am I on a scale of believing this and how can I influence a stronger understanding of this concept? In other words, take a serious inventory of where you are and what you need to do to move forword. Why? Remember: Innovate or die. That applies to us as organizations and us as individuals in organizations.

                                    Sunday, March 15, 2009


                                    March Madness! We wait for it every year at our house. Even though we don't really pay attention to basketball, until about the first of March, my three children, my husband, and I look forward to picking names out of the hat to see who has what teams and how they will fare, playing through the brackets.

                                    The NCAA Division 1 Men's Tournament is the best kind of bracketology - 65 select, highly capable teams competing via an exciting process of elimination. Winner takes all.

                                    You might ask what kind of other bracketology is there? Bracketology is actually a synonym for reductionist thinking, and it was featured in a 2007 book, The Enlightened Bracketologist: The Final Four of Everything. I thought this was an exciting concept and went to the bookstore intending to buy this book. Upon looking at it, even thought it was well done and fun, I did not purchase the book because narrowing anything down to a single best, only one winner is antithetical to what I believe in and how my mind works.

                                    Reductionist thinking is logical, scientific reasoning. It is binary, built on either/or, better or worse. It is the process of winnowing. Too often we consider reductionism as the only true logic and the only sound way to make decisions.

                                    Reductionism lacks imagination and intuition. Reductionism does not make room for ambiguity and paradox, both of which are more apt and reliable in explaining and understanding complexity. Therefore, reductionism, as I see it, provides not only a false sense of security, power, and progress, it develops a false picture of a situation because it over-simplifies.

                                    I favor a more radiant, imaginative thinking process that embraces both/and, sometimes, in this case, and for right now as descriptors. Radiant thinking seeks to make connections and associations, to spread out ideas and assumptions in order to expose gaps and create space for invention and innovation between structures.

                                    When does bracketology work? Only after a long season of practice and play, as each team that makes the tournament knows. Their season record and conference play earns them a Bracket invitation. In working with ideas and concepts, use bracketology only after a long season of play and practice in expanding and experimenting. Don't narrow or rush the important imaginative work of problem-seeing and solution creation.

                                    Friday, March 13, 2009

                                    Manage your Word of Mouth

                                    Jackie Huba of The Church of the Customer blog posts an interesting question regarding the economic value of word of mouth referrals from existing customers. She asks, "Do you know the referral value of your best customers? That is, do you know how much revenue is generated from customers who refer you, and how much revenue is lost from those who recommend against you?" Huba offers research Satmetrix has conducted in the wireless communication industry. It is great to be able to get specific.

                                    Here, however, is my specific enough answer to her question:

                                    Your best customers' referral value is priceless! Learn to harnass it!

                                    Paying attention and managing your word of mouth is worth a lot to your business, regardless of what sort of business you are in. Knowing your influencers, evangelists, and promoters is vital to spreading good will and making the case of your value-added. These people are in effect your volunteer sales force. They can promote and validate from the user's perspective. In addition, they can create positive conversations to diffuse or neutralize any negative word of mouth that is swirling.

                                    Once you know who your influential customers are, engage them, educate them, include them, marshall them, appreciate them, validate them, reward them, support them, etc. etc. etc. - get the picture? If you have to ask why, start at the top and read this post again.

                                    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

                                    Schools Are Boring Because We Designed Them To Be Boring

                                    Denizen Hotels will become a cultural epicentre at each of its destinations, cultivating community within its walls. Eclectic, social and humbly authentic, each property within the brand will be smart in design, cultural in character and sensitive in service delivery. Developed as an international intersection of business and pleasure, Denizen Hotels will redefine how guests stay and play. With innovative check-in technologies and in-room comfort controlled at the touch of a button, Denizen Hotels destinations will harness the best and brightest design and technology to provide a seamless guest experience for the modern traveler.

                                    The above description is from an email I received from Hilton Hotels announcing their newest brand, Denizen. A denizen is an inhabitant, or someone who has been granted residence in a foreign country, or, more casually, someone who frequents a place, like a bar would have its local denizens.

                                    What struck me in reading this hotel description was how schools should strive to accomplish the same end goals in their environments. Below is my re-write for a school. I am naming my school Right On! because that is what a school should feel like to the kids and parents that experience it.

                                    Right On! School will become a cultural epicentre in each of its classrooms at every grade level, cultivating community within its walls and outdoor learning spaces. Eclectic, social, and humbly authentic, Right On! School will be smart in design of its learning practices and learning spaces, cultural in its learning focus, and sensitive in its service delivery to both students and parents. Developed as an international intersection of work and play, Right On! School will redefine how students learn, play, and build relationships that span the globe. Right On! School will define how parents and teachers learn, support, and guide children. With innovative technologies and in-room physical and emotional comfort controlled as determined by the needs of each individual learner, Right On School classrooms will harness the best and brightest design and technology to provide a relevant preparatory experience for the modern learner and his or her parents.

                                    In the top right corner, the circled exclamation point, would be their logo because, even though children have to be in a contained place that we call school, it should and can and is most effective when it is exciting!

                                    Monday, March 9, 2009

                                    Upholding Catholic Values After Conversion to Charter Schools -

                                    Charter Schools could find themselves in greater numbers and offering more value because of the values they can offer and can teach and live out. Great to see!

                                    Posted via web from jamiereverb's posterous

                                    Tuesday, March 3, 2009

                                    Aid Critical to Fulfill New Jersey’s Public Preschool Plan -

                                    If we were to have a universal, high quality, enriched experience for every child to develop learning readiness and effective social skills, just think of the potential and capacity we are developing for all of our schools, all of our communities, and all of our futures. Just imagine!

                                    Posted via web from jamiereverb's posterous

                                    Review Site Draws Grumbles From Merchants and Users -

                                    So, what won't we Yelp given a little more time and more saturated mobile tools? We as consumers yelp about our experiences all the time, but our current megaphone extends to our play lot, our email list, our coffee group. Add high speed global connectivity, no filters except your personal idea of civility, and unarticulated criteria and you have a management nightmare for any business trying to deliver a high quality experience, service, or product. Tomorrow's question, that will be here in just a few minutes is how can we develop some positive Yelp? Or, just pretend Yelp doesn't exist, and that will develop its own category of Yelp.

                                    Posted via web from jamiereverb's posterous

                                    Beale deals with latest drinking problems — blitzed birds : Local News : Memphis Commercial Appeal

                                    Be ware of drunk flying birds! I see them everywhere near where we live downtown!

                                    Posted via web from jamiereverb's posterous

                                    Monday, March 2, 2009

                                    In Denver, Residents Lament the Closing of a Newspaper -

                                    Is this the first domino? How fast will they fall? Why couldn't they see it coming?

                                    Posted via web from jamiereverb's posterous

                                    Monday, February 23, 2009

                                    Passion and Story

                                    What did you do this weekend?


                                    Hats off to Brooks Museum and Indie Memphis for collaborating to bring Momma's Man to Memphis. This indie film was touted as well-received at Sundance in 2008.

                                    Attended a lecture by Nobel Laureate Jody Williams ('97 Peace) at the University of Memphis.


                                    Viewed the sell out screening by On Location Memphis of the 2009 Oscar-nominated Shorts and Animated Shorts.

                                    These three events highlight for me two points:

                                    1. Everyone likes a good story. Good stories were plentiful during these events.

                                    2. Success can often be achieved from the outside by tapping into one's passion.

                                    Momma's Man was made outside the realm of major Hollywood studio establishment. This unsettling film is about a man's return to his childhood home and his internal struggle to escape beyond the orbit of childhood and family that he finds himself drawn back to. While that is a thought provoking aspect of this film, the story that I found most fascinating was the actual story of the film's genesis. I like to watch films to see the locale which often becomes a character in itself. The locale for Momma's Man is a 40 year rent-controlled Tribeca loft that was very cluttered. That loft was the seed for this movie. The filmmaker wanted to film there to document this loft because it was his childhood home. Once into the project, he couldn't imagine anyone else living there other than his parents, so he got them to play the parents in the movie. Although fictional, Momma's Man is very autobiographical.

                                    The audience at the Jody Williams lecture seemed as much interested in her story as in the facts or policy details of peace. She was a temp-worker making $13,000/year in 1985. Passion for antiwar movements that she developed in her youth led her down a path to the Nobel Peace Prize. Along the way, she found that she needed a change and was totally unclear about what that might in 1992. Five years later, she received the Nobel award for her efforts which resulted in an international treaty to ban land mines. She did this by working outside the normal governmental and diplomatic channels. While Ms. Williams is well educated, unlike other Nobel laureates that I have heard, the most dominant impression she made was not of her mind but of her heart.

                                    Only one of the ten films nominated for an Oscar in the shorts categories was from the US. That alone illustrates that these films come from outside the Hollywood establishment. This cornucopia of short films by simply being short lack commercial potential. These filmmakers were advertised as the 'up and comers'. They are putting in the required time to master the skills of a trade for which they have passion. Could the ease of availability of the technology required to make a film be cracking the barriers to entry?

                                    So my lessons of the weekend:

                                    Put in lots of hours working on your chosen passion and learn to use the magic of story.