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Never let “being realistic” get in the way of real problem solving

The good folks at xkcd always have something useful to say. Too many problem solving efforts are sabotaged when someone decides to redirect the conversation towards “being realistic.” 

Realistic Criteria

xkcd: Realistic Criteria

I’m planning on posting this little gem somewhere close by to remind me to view these requests more skeptically. 

When is a request to “be realistic” an honest effort to advance a problem solving effort and when is it a covert effort to derail or delay?

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Twelve years at McGee’s Musings

Still here. Not so many posts here over the past twelve months.

Working on making that change.

When I started this, blogs were pretty much the only way to share your thinking. A lot more choices today, although of late the emphasis seems to have shifted more toward ‘sharing’ than ‘thinking’. Both make the world a better place; striking the balance isn’t magically easy. 

Two efforts have cut into my capacity to share here. Each is moving into a phase where the balance is shifting to a more even split between thinking and sharing. Each will generate footprints here.

The first was finishing and publishing Think Inside the Box: Discover the Exceptional Business Inside Your Organization (WCG Press, 2013). This was a joint effort with my friend Tim Nelson.

My favorite (i.e. most ego gratifying) bit of feedback so far came from Richard Koch, author of The 80/20 Principle, in a review in the Huffington Post. Here’s what Koch had to say about the book:

I’m really excited! I’ve just stumbled across the best new technique for boosting the performance of any business. And guess what — the method is brilliantly retro. But even trend-setters and worshippers of the new new thing can’t afford to ignore the technique. Quite simply, it’s the best strategic display since the BCG Growth Share Matrix.

Richard Koch, Author of The 80/20 Principle:
review in the Huffington Post  – 08/05/2013

You can learn more about the book and the work behind it at Insidethe8020box.com.

The second effort has been work on developing a business/service concept called Collaborating Minds. It’s an effort to create a hybrid between what we know about large technology-augmented groups and high-performance teams. 

So, stay tuned. 

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Wise advice—hard practice. Do the work—share it.

I discovered this in the usual way—by ignoring the advice and following a trail of breadcrumbs that started on Facebook. I’ve paired this talk by Neil Gaiman with a related one by Ira Glass below. I wanted to have both of them ready to hand when I needed some encouragement and a kick in the ass.

Gaiman’s closing advice: ‘Be wise, because the world needs more wisdom. And if you cannot be wise pretend to be someone who is wise — and then just behave like they would.'”

Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012 from The University of the Arts (Phl) on Vimeo.

 

(Via Neil Gaiman Says It Better (Video) | On Being.)

Here is Ira Glass with a similar set of observations and advice:

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Poking effectively on complex systems

Here is a brief clip from an interview Steve Jobs did in 1995 while he was at Next. It neatly captures an important attitude about dealing with complex systems:

Whenever you poke at a system, the system pokes back. If you grew up with siblings, you learned this at a visceral level. 

Too many of us take a limited lesson from those experiences; we come to believe that we are powerless in the face of a larger, more powerful system (or sibling). The better lesson, which Jobs embodied in his life, is to seek places and directions to poke where your impact can be amplified.

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Eleven Years and Counting at McGee’s Musings

Yesterday marked the eleventh anniversary of the first blog post on McGee’s Musings in 2001.

In two weeks, we’ll practice the American version of democracy, choose a President, revolution will not occur regardless of who wins and, despite the rhetoric, life will go on. We (the U.S. and the rest of the planet) will still face a variety of wicked problems. 

Getting smarter about how we work as individuals, teams, crowds, competitors and the like remains a priority. My efforts in that regard haven’t yet worked their way to visibility here, but they will. Being part of the conversation is important. Listening is half of the process (maybe more). 

As always, my thanks to all of those who’ve been part of the interesting conversations that have taken place over the past year. 

KM Chicago: Collaborating Minds: Solving Tough Problems with a Unique Team

David and I will be talking about the work we’ve been doing on collaboration at next week’s KM Chicago meeting. We’re looking to have a highly interactive session. 

KM Chicago: Collaborating Minds: Solving Tough Problems with a Unique Team: ” Thursday, August 30, 2012 Collaborating Minds: Solving Tough Problems with a Unique Team At 5:30 on Tuesday, September 11th, join Jim McGee and David Friedman at KM Chicago’s monthly meeting to hear a progress report on ‘Collaborating Minds’, their unique problem-solving venture. This meeting will be especially productive in person, but participation online is also available. See details on the right.   As Jim points out, we continue to make progress in developing tools to support the efforts of teams to conduct complex knowledge work. At the same time, we are deepening our understanding of what differentiates highly effective teams from average teams. But these two streams of progress rarely intersect.   Collaborating Minds is the business concept that Jim and Dave have developed that functions at that intersection of complex knowledge work and highly effective teams.    Collaborating Minds tries to answer three related questions:

1. Given what we know about high-performance teams and current social technologies, can we create a virtual high-performance team with several hundred members?

2. If such a team existed, what kinds of problems could it solve that are currently unsolved?

3. Is there an acceptable business model to sustain that team over time?

On September 11th Jim and David will tell us what they’ve learned to date and will lead participants in a design collaboration that will help shape Collaborating Minds’ next stage of development.

Headshot DavidFriedmanDavid Friedman is passionate about problem-solving and about relationship building as fundamental human activities. That’s why he’s developing Collaborating Minds. He wants people to be much more productive and enjoy themselves much more too. He writes about collaboration at Positive Structures.  David was a partner at McKinsey & Company (a global consulting firm) and through his firm Bridgewell Partners has advised professionals on growing their practices through systematic relationship building. You can contact David here.  

 

 

McGeeJimHeadshot 20120807Jim McGee is an expert in knowledge management and knowledge use. He also knows a lot about technology, and about where technology and knowledge work intersect (or should). That’s why he’s a founder of Collaborating Minds. He’s been writing about these topics since 2001 at McGee’s Musings. Jim was a founder of Diamond Technology Partners (a technology and management consulting firm) and has been, among other roles, a faculty member at the Kellogg School at Northwestern University. You can contact Jim here. Posted by KMChicago at 5:15 PM “

Celebrating NASA’s Curiosity

I didn’t last until 1:30 EDT this morning, but this is still worth sharing

An awesome accomplishment. Shows what is possible if you put in the work in math, science, and engineering classes.

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C-Level coaching from one of the best

Allan Cox was doing C-level coaching long before anyone called it that. He’s just released a new book Whoa! Are They Glad You’re in Their Lives?, which condenses his advice. Characteristically, Allan has designed the book to gently encourage us to do the work and the reflection we need to realize the benefits.

Worth a look.

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Rethinking organizational functions and components in a freelance economy

An story on NPR this morning about Grind, a new co-working start-up raises some intriguing questions about where organizations may be evolving in an increasingly freelance economy.

 

GrindOfficeSpaceNYC

JaegerSloan: Workers share office space at Grind, a co-working company in New York City. Those who want to use Grind’s facilities are vetted through a competitive application process.

April 10, 2012

The recession brought widespread unemployment across the U.S., but it also prompted a spike in the number of freelance or independent workers.

More than 30 percent of the nation’s workers now work on their own, and the research firm IDC projects the number of nontraditional office workers — telecommuters, freelancers and contractors — will reach 1.3 billion worldwide by 2015.

Typically, freelancers get to choose when and where they work. Many opt to set up shop in “co-working” arrangements, where they can rent a cubicle and other office resources by the day or the month.

It was once a relatively simple process to sign up with a co-working site.

But now, more companies are adopting a selective approach known as “curated co-working.” One such company, New York City’s Grind, requires an application — and you have to be accepted to get started.

That means some would-be co-workers will find they don’t make the cut…

For Freelancers, Landing A Workspace Gets Harder : NPR: by KAOMI GOETZ

(Someday I will produce a rant about the overuse of the word “curated.”)

Two interesting questions come to mind:

  1. How will the application and profile process evolve? We are all social animals. We also have a pretty solid understanding of what differentiates successful groups and successful teams. As freelancers and as potential co-workers, will we become more mindful about how we manage our associations?
  2. Grind is testing the hypothesis that there is value in filtering the freelancers who will have access to their space. Is this a leading indicator that the physical, social, psychological, and economic functions of the organization can be effectively decomposed and rearranged in new formats?

It’s certainly time to reread Ronald Coase’s The Nature of the Firm. I might also take a look at Jay Galbraith’s Designing Organizations and Bob Keidel’s Seeing Organizational Patterns.

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What’s on your must see list of social media for digital immigrants?

I’m giving a talk next week to the North Shore Interest Group of the Harvard Business School Club of Chicago. The announcement is below.

We’ll have Internet access and about 45 minutes. What would be on your list of must see items? Must know stories? Most useful perspectives?

The comments are open for your input. Or you can send me a tweet at jmcgee. Let me suggest “#NSIGtour” as a hashtag.

HBS Club of Chicago: “NSIG Social Media – A Cook’s Tour for Digital Immigrants

NS IG Breakfast Thursday, April 12, 2012 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Max & Bennys, Northbrook

Social Media – A Cook’s Tour for Digital Immigrants

“Why would I want to share what I had for lunch and why would anyone care?” (remark overheard at multiple cocktail parties, country club locker rooms, and faculty lounges generally uttered by gray-haired executives and other digital immigrants in a cautiously disdainful tone of voice)

Starting near the elections of 2008, social media in all its forms has dominated the discussions and pontification around digital transformation that has been underwaJVMHeadshoty since the Internet boom and bust of the late 1990s. Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Yelp, LinkedIn, Apps, iPhone, iPad, Android, and other new terms POP up in otherwise ordinary conversations. Television news anchors read random tweets as polls close and well-informed pundits sit idly by. Bootleg videos taken on smartphones document citizen uprisings in the Middle East, but only after they are smuggled out of the country using technology designed and supported by the US Government.

On April 12th, the North Shore Interest Group will take an interactive Cook’s Tour of the social media landscape led by early digital immigrant, Jim McGee. Although Jim can pass as a digital native, he understands the reservations and concerns of those who find this new world to be seriously foreign territory. We’ll visit the landmarks and the coming attractions of this new world. We’ll also explore some of the ruins.

We’ll learn:

How to travel safely. How to look less like a target. How to stake out a basic clueful presence in the new world. And how to recalibrate our existing crap detectors to better separate signals from the digital noise. About Jim McGee Jim McGee is the Managing Director of New Shoreham Consulting, a Senior Partner with the Transforming Healthcare Consortium, and co-Founder of Collaborating Minds, an effort to hybridize high-performance teams and crowd sourcing principles to attack complex and wicked problems. He was also a co-founder of Diamond Management and Technology Consultants.

For over 30 years, Jim has been helping organizations make more effective use of information and communications technologies. He’s attacked these problems as an entrepreneur, senior executive, professor, author, blogger, speaker, systems developer, designer, architect, and consultant. His blog, McGeesMusings.net, focuses on technology, organizations, and the management of complex knowledge work. Jim is also the co-author, with Larry Prusak, of Managing Information Strategically.

Jim has a Doctorate in strategy, technology, and organization from the Harvard Business School, an MBA in strategy from the Harvard Business School, and a Bachelors in Statistics, from Princeton University. He’s an Adjunct Professor at DePaul University, and formerly was a Clinical Professor at the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University. Please sign up in advance. With enough R.S.V.P.’s we can order the buffet. Thanks for supporting the North Shore Interest Group!

DATE: Thursday, April 12, 2012 TIME: 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. LOCATION: Max & Benny’s (Brookside Shopping Center), 461 Waukegan Road, Northbrook COST: Please prepay now through the club website HBSCC members and their guests (with prepaid reservation): $20.00; HBSCC members (without prepaid reservation): $30.00 HBSCC Patron and Patron Plus Guest Pass members: FREE! Non-members of HBSCC (with prepaid reservation): $30.00

Reservation deadline: Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Click here to buy tickets!!!

Membership: Join the Club!

CANCELLATION POLICY:  All cancellations must be received within two (2) business days of the event or the attendee who made the reservation will be charged, regardless of participation, due to costs associated with the reservation.   NORTH SHORE INTEREST GROUP FUTURE DATES: We meet the second Thursday morning of every month. If you would like to present or have a suggestion for a presenter, please contact Alan Minoff.

Alan Minoff, MBA 1970 North Shore IG Chair minmich2312 AT comcast DOT net

Thanks for supporting the North Shore Interest Group!

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