Why you should come up with at least 1 bad idea today

Below is a blog post from Daniel Pink

Why you should come up with at least 1 bad idea today

Many of us know that one secret to generating good ideas is producing bad ideas.  But if you look on your bookshelf or visit the best creativity and productivity blogs – or even ask Mr. Google “how to come up with bad ideas” —  you won’t find much guidance.

Thank goodness, then, for the brilliant and irrepressible Scott Adams. In a recent Wall Street Journal essay, the Dilbert creator borrowed from his experience as a television writer to suggest one of the best creativity exercises I’ve encountered.

Here’s his explanation:

I spent some time working in the television industry, and I learned a technique that writers use. It’s called “the bad version.” When you feel that a plot solution exists, but you can’t yet imagine it, you describe instead a bad version that has no purpose other than stimulating the other writers to imagine a better version.

For example, if your character is stuck on an island, the bad version of his escape might involve monkeys crafting a helicopter out of palm fronds and coconuts. That story idea is obviously bad, but it might stimulate you to think in terms of other engineering solutions, or other monkey-related solutions. The first step in thinking of an idea that will work is to stop fixating on ideas that won’t. The bad version of an idea moves your mind to a new vantage point.

In the piece, Adams uses the bad version process to suggest some provocative (and hilarious) ideas for reducing the US federal budget deficit. But the broader technique can apply to just about any creative stumbling block.

So give it a try. I think you’ll find that it’s not, er, a bad idea.


Are You Focusing on Women in your Business?

Are you focusing on women in your business? In the article Forget Cinderella, Find Fred Astaire by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, she wrote:

In these early years of the third millennium, the roles of women have changed dramatically and the gender balance of our global economy is shifting below our feet:

1. In 2010, women became the majority of the US labor force (51%)

2. Women now represent 60% of university graduates in developed (and many developing) countries

3. Women make most of the purchasing decisions in everything from cars and computers, to real estate and tourism. They also are majority of Internet users and dominate the leading social media websites.

4. They start most of the new companies created each year in the US.

5. The number of wealthy women in the U.S. is growing twice as fast as the number of wealthy men.

6. Women represent more than 40 percent of all Americans with gross investable assets above $600,000.

7. Forty-five percent of American millionaires are women.

8. Sixty percent of high net worth women have earned their own fortunes.

9. 80% of the jobs lost in the US in the current recession were lost by men. Three quarters of the jobs created in Europe since the year 2000 were filled by women.

10. Fortune 500 Companies with more gender balanced leadership teams outperform their peers financially.

All of these factors unite to create a huge and unmet opportunity: the massive arrival of women into the same economic roles as men. A whole part of the human population has been (rather suddenly) added to the sum total of human potential, innovation and creativity—for the very first time. And this shift is often seen as interesting but not paradigm-shifting. Yet it has consequences.

Number 3 women states are making most of the decisions in real estate. Are women also making the major decisions in the building supply industry, i.e. windows and doors?

She also writes about women in the economy:

Women: the massive arrival of women into the economy and the resulting shift in gender roles and power, and the growth of the sum total of human intelligence.

Does your business model consider women as decision makers?

Download the article here:  Forget Cinderella, Find Fred Astaire

The world’s worst boss

That would be you.

Even if you’re not self-employed, your boss is you. You manage your career, your day, your responses. You manage how you sell your services and your education and the way you talk to yourself.

Odds are, you’re doing it poorly.

If you had a manager that talked to you the way you talked to you, you’d quit. If you had a boss that wasted as much as your time as you do, they’d fire her. If an organization developed its employees as poorly as you are developing yourself, it would soon go under.

I’m amazed at how often people choose to fail when they go out on their own or when they end up in one of those rare jobs that encourages one to set an agenda and manage themselves. Faced with the freedom to excel, they falter and hesitate and stall and ultimately punt.

We are surprised when someone self-directed arrives on the scene. Someone who figures out a way to work from home and then turns that into a two-year journey, laptop in hand, as they explore the world while doing their job. We are shocked that someone uses evenings and weekends to get a second education or start a useful new side business. And we’re envious when we encounter someone who has managed to bootstrap themselves into happiness, as if that’s rare or even uncalled for.

There are few good books on being a good manager. Fewer still on managing yourself. It’s hard to think of a more essential thing to learn.

Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan

Cover of "Horse Soldiers: The Extraordina...
Cover via Amazon

I fished another good book: Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan by Doug Stanton.

Below is an excerpt where two soldiers take apart an engine because they flooded the engine crossing a river.

After dinner, they walked outdoors and flipped on headlamps, and Michaels and Black began taking apart the first Gator’s engine with a screwdriver on the Leatherman tool Michaels wore in a leather holster on his belt. They removed the engine’s head and set it aside to dry and covered the open cylinders with a tent made from a tarp they carried, so the pistons would be protected if it rained.

They slept on the packed dirt floor in the house wrapped in their poncho liners and were up at dawn, putting the engines back together.

This feat was amazing to me.

Second Year of LumberTribe

Lumber piles in Ottawa, Canada.
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve written many posts over the past two years. Below are the top ten from 2010:

  1. Note-Taking Tools
  2. Checklist Manifesto
  3. Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA)
  4. How to Set Up a Sales Tracking Process
  5. Historic Lumber Slump: Look at 2009 Totals
  6. BatchGeo: Spreadsheet to Google Map
  7. Challenging Lumber Dealers Business Models
  8. Housing Starts vs Carloads of Lumber
  9. Challenging Lumber Dealers Business Models
  10. Housing Supply What Do All the Number Mean

Thank you for your support over the past year.

Betsy Ross and the Making of America

The Birth of Old Glory by Edward Percy Moran (...
Image via Wikipedia

I enjoyed reading Betsy Ross and the Making of America by Marla R. Miller. She explains some of Betsy Ross’s legends. Below is an excerpt from the book which compares the flag she made to the size of her house.

In 1810, Claypoole(Betsy Ross) also contracted for six l8-by-24-foot garrison flag the military installation at New Orleans, which she delivered in January. The enormity of this order is breathtaking. Even one flag of this size required a tremendous amount of labor. (For some sense of this size flag, look around your own house; few living rooms today could even accommodate a flag of these dimensions. Betsy’s whole home around this time occupied just 468 square feet per floor; an 18-by-24-foot flag unfolds to 432 square feet.) Each article demanded some twenty-four feet of seams for each of the thirteen stripes (and these seams were felled, which means the length was stitched twice), not to mention the assembly of the canton, the application of the stars, and so forth. In all, each flag required more than one hundred thousand stitches. And of course that was to make just one; the full order demanded some six hundred thousand stitches. Betsy’s six flags joined two dozen drums and fifes as well as another dozen snare drums for the installation (made by the Philadelphia upholsterer Thomas Jaquet), as well as boxes and barrels of saws, axes, nails, window glass, some five hundred yards of mosquito netting-all destined for the Gulf Coast fort.

Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA)

According to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity was released on April 15, 2010 by Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. For the first time since 2006, remodeling spending is on the rise. The annual growth is 4.9%

Check out Lumbertribe’s Dashboard for other industry indicators.

What is Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA)?

The LIRA was created to provide the home improvement industry with a timely and accurate estimation of changes in spending activity by homeowners, as well as an estimate of near-term activity, with a horizon of three quarters. On a quarterly basis, the LIRA tracks the annual volume of homeowner expenditures in home improvements and repairs from the C-50 series using the four-quarter moving averages of several indicators that are associated with homeowner maintenance and improvement activity. The annual rates-of-change for the input components of the LIRA are lagged differentially, meaning that they have a different timing relationship with home improvement spending. This relationship was determined by evaluating which lag produced the best correlation with annual rate-of-change of homeowner remodeling expenditures. The input variables were then weighted according to their correlation with the C-50 series and their volatility. Finally, the components were integrated into one four-quarter rate of change that constituted the LIRA.