Downloadable Tools

My clients often ask for electronic versions of the tools we use together.

Execution: Dashboard template (google docs spreadsheet) | (excel)
dashboard template thumbnail

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Big Rocks in First

How do you make sure you accomplish what really matters? Put the big rocks in first!

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Best Employee Feedback

From Verne Harnish:

Best Employee Feedback — based on columns 1 (Core Values) and 7 (Individual KPIs and Priorities) of the Gazelles’ One-Page Strategic Plan, the best feedback process is:

  1. Every employee is able to objectively answer the question “did I have a good day or week” because their specific performance KPIs are visible and priorities reviewed at the weekly meeting. Usually in the form of checklists, spreadsheets, dashboards, etc.
  2. Leaders tie ongoing praise and reprimands back to the core values e.g. “thank you for immediately following up that customer request – this is key to maintaining Ecstatic Customers.”

If these two things are constantly going on, the quarterly and/or annual feedback process isn’t as necessary. More importantly, weekly feedback gives everyone time to make course corrections.

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Publish Negative Results

Recently I’ve been listening to the Talking Machines podcast, a show about machine learning. The machine learning community has a wide variety of researchers in academia and tech companies doing theoretical and applied research to try to solve hard problems (e.g, How can we tailor medical treatments specifically to your DNA?).

One of the tools the community uses to keep pushing forward in specific ways is through contests. The Netflix Prize is a good example of this, where Netflix awarded $1 million to the best team to improve their recommendation algorithm. Contests are great because they motivate many teams to work on the same problem in a way that un-focused research doesn’t.

Another tools the community uses is academic conferences. Researchers write papers describing their methodology and results, those papers are judged for quality and originality and the best are selected for presentation and publication in the conference’s proceedings. This helps researchers build their reputation and satisfies the universities employing these folks (publish or perish).

The problem is, there’s no one publishing negative results (failures).

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. —Henry Ford

I have not failed 700 times. I’ve succeeded in proving 700 ways how not to build a lightbulb. —Thomas Edison

Without publishing failures, everyone has to independently discover all those ways that don’t work. Imagine Edison had been working in parallel with dozens of others working on the lightbulb problem (he was!). Since he had no way to let others know about his failures, nor any incentive to do so, all of his peers (competitors, in a way) had to repeat those same 700 failures (or maybe they gave up before getting that far), a terribly inefficient progress mechanism.

This may be all fine and good when you think about your competition. Why would you want to help them, anyway? But what about internally, inside your company? What happens to failures? Do you fire the people involved, reassign them to your version of Siberia, quietly bury the project and hope word doesn’t get out? If you do any of these things, you’re replicating the inefficiencies described above.

Instead, why not publicize those negative results internally, giving others the benefit of learning what one more thing that doesn’t work? You could literally publish stories of these negative results in an internal newsletter, start a failure wall (stencil the Thomas Edison quote on a blank wall and tape a Sharpie nearby and watch what happens) or come up with your own creative way to encourage people to learn from failures, their own and others.

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Hire Me, Nemo

HireMeNemoPostersIf you want to work for a design firm that’s all about authentic marketing, simply sending your resume like everyone else simply won’t do. Thomas Bradley pulled off a guerrilla marketing campaign on a blog he created for that purpose and did manage to get hired. Five years later, he still works there.

Are you cultivating a culture people lobby to become a part of?

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New podcast about the potential threats posed by artificial intelligence

ConcerningAICoverI’m co-hosting a new podcast series called Concerning AI.

We’re concerned. Should we be? Should you?

Some topics we’ve recently covered:

Come take a listen and let me know what you think.

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Save money by paying higher wages

Many business are penny-wise and pound foolish when it comes to saving money on labor costs. For a great example of a company doing the opposite, see Paying well saves Costco money.


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more Story Selling

Following up on my Story Selling post:

There are some standard plots Nick covers in this video: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, Rebirth, etc

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more Smart Tribes

Following up on my Smart Tribes post:

Chistine Comaford’s Feedback Frame (starts at 2:02 is this great interview video):

  1. What’s working is …
  2. What I’d like to see more of is …


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