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Low Cost of Failure

An interesting concept I learned from Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody” is how the internet now enables a ‘publish first, filter later’ mentality.  Which means that most people are launching new ideas, business models, websites, etc. all the time even though many of them never really take off.  But it’s kind of okay if they don’t work because it didn’t really cost anything to launch them in the first place.

In the olden days (a couple of years ago) you had to have everything exactly right before you launched a new initiative, or wrote a book, or created a video because you had some significant transaction costs associated with producing something.  So companies and individuals had limited opportunities for implementing changes based on funding.  But now, with low transaction costs, you can produce practically anything from your home office.

So that’s what people are doing.  And if it doesn’t work, big deal, I can produce something again tomorrow.  And whatever I produced that didn’t work, it just sits out there on the internet getting filtered by search engines.  There are millions of items out there that have probably never been seen by anyone. (Like this blog.)

This low cost of failure allows people and corporations to try more things and new ideas without the risk of sunk costs.  With no risk, the only thing stopping you is your belief that you can do it.

So believe, and produce.  Eventually, one of your ideas is going to be wildly successful.

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Shared Experience

hike

The best way to build tight relationships is to share a stressful experience or accomplish a great feat together.  Then what can you do with tight relationships? 

Just about anything.

So just don’t talk about teamwork.  Lead a team to make something happen, then you’ll have a great team.  Great – meaning you’ll have built a foundation of tight relationships that enables the team to do the impossible.

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Help!

I walked through the wildwood, and what did I see
But a unicorn with his horn stuck in a tree,
Cryin’, “Someone please help me before it’s too late.”
I hollered, “I’ll free you.” He hollered back, “Wait-
How much will it hurt? How long will it take?
Are you sure that my horn will not scratch, bend, or break?
How hard will you pull? How much must I pay?
Must you do it right now or is Wednesday okay?
Have you done this before? Do you have the right tools?
Have you graduated from horn-savin’ school?
Will I owe you a favor? And what will it be?
Do you promise that you will not damage the tree?
Should I close my eyes? Should I sit down or stand?
Do you have insurance? Have you washed your hands?
And after you free me – tell me what then?
Can you guarantee I won’t get stuck again?
Tell me when. Tell me how.
Tell me why. Tell me where…”

I guess that he’s still sittin’ there.

By Shel Silverstein

Smart people can think of a lot of details and ramifications of certain actions, which is probably why we need them (the smart people).  But sometimes too much thinking about the bad things that haven’t happened yet can stop the good things from happening.  We call it, “analysis paralysis” a disease most prominent in engineers.

So if you want “Help” from the good ideas that are in the people all around you, then don’t be like the unicorn… who’s still sittin’ there.

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Somethin’ New

They say, “Come up with somethin’ new
And everyone will buy it.”
So I came up with a paper umbrella,
But no one was willing to try it.

And then I came up with reusable gum.
It seemed such a pity to waste it.
Then I came up with some mustard ice cream.
Nobody bothered to taste it.
So now I’ve invented a plug-bottom boat.
It’s just what you need, there’s no doubt,
‘Cause if any water should ever splash in,
Just pull the plug – it’ll all run out.

 

By Shel Silverstein

We probably get a chuckle from some people’s ideas in the same way we might laugh about the ones in this poem. But a good leader will let others run with them and learn for themselves whether the idea is good or not.  If it doesn’t work, they’ll know soon enough.  

 

Leadership is about surfacing the internal motivation and drive from individuals, and the quickest way to squash that drive and loyalty is to say, “that won’t work.” 

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Change Agent

The other day I heard a presentation on How to Be a Change Agent.  It was good material on how to lead and champion changes so that they are effective and stick. A lot of the content was from “Managing Transitions” by William Bridges and we learned the difference between ‘transition’ and ‘change’.

One exercise that was particularly powerful for me was a personal change that the presenter asked us to implement in order for us to really experience change and gain an understanding of what people are going through when someone causes a change to their normal processes.

He told us to switch the contents of our pockets.  Put the stuff in your right hand pocket into your left hand pocket and vice versa.  For those who didn’t have pockets (or stuff in them) he asked them to switch their watch to the other wrist.  Then he said that we have to try and keep it in this new place for one week.

It seemed very trivial, but I played along, and right away I began to experience the annoyance of the change.  I always keep my keys and phone in one pocket and my wallet in the other.  After I switched, it kept driving me crazy.  But I recognized the purpose and tried to learn from the experience.

It was eye opening because every time I was inconvenienced, only because it was against my routine, I realized how people might feel about a change that was imposed on them where they don’t really see the benefit over the old way they used to do things.

This was true experiential learning for me.  We’ll see if I can keep it up for a week.

You should try it.

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What is a Micromovement?

microYou know what a ‘movement’ is – people who are passionate about a particular subject who try to ‘move’ their ideas or concept forward.  They do this by talking about it among themselves, discussing every nuance, applying it to different situations, telling stories about it, and sharing it with others so they can get more people to join them.

But people mistakenly have the perception that a movement must be a large group of people who are changing society, or the government, or major institutions.  That may be true, but those kind of changes didn’t start out that way.  And aren’t there other changes that need to be made, or ideas that should be spread? Like within your family, or your neighborhood, or your school, or your work?

If you are working with more than one person, and you’re trying to make a difference or spread an idea, then you have a micromovement.

So go create more micromovements, a whole bunch of them, then maybe some day one of them might become macro.

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Follow the best

If you want to learn something, might as well follow the best. Check out Seth Godin’s blog at sethgodin.typepad.com

Then buy his latest book, “Tribes: we need you to lead us”