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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Indirect Economy, Direct Benefit

I was sitting in a board meeting when the subject of sponsors came up. It has come up in several organizations, actually. Usually goes around the table and then doesn’t go anywhere.

When all is said and done a lot more is said than done.

The refrain is we’re outa money, they’ve got money. Let’s get us some of that money.

I’ve sold sponsorships, some inadvertently, and the key is knowing what you are providing and how someone else can use it. Those inadvertent sponsorships occurred when I didn’t know the sponsor had the need. However, the sponsor did when they heard what I was providing. I was clear on what I was providing.

If you’re outa money, it’s often because you haven’t defined what you are providing so that partners and customers can want it. Heck, you may not understand it, really.

Getting that initial deep understanding of the real benefit I am providing makes appealing to other, different stakeholders quicker and easier.

Nobody’s going to sponsor anything because it’s really important to me.

What is the best thing you offer the world?

Interested in Knowledge Work?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Wrong Perspective

In the last 90 days I’ve seen more than ten promising organizations shut their doors. They just didn’t see a way to continue.

A couple blamed a lack of monetization strategy. They couldn’t find a get rich quick scheme.

Several others said they had key contracts winding down.

I suspect the other two bored themselves to death.

What I noticed was that they all made a change to increase efficiency, curtail constructive time wasting.

Each had found a promising new service to deliver, then turned it over to a fulfillment team. That fulfillment team decided that their work created the value and therefore all revenue was theirs, which meant work expanded to require the resources available.

Which meant there is no hope for further work.

Some time ago, I started the second fulfillment factory for a national marketing firm. Previously I had played a role in developing our systems at the main office. My second attempt delivered the same results in less time and at one third the cost, which caused distress among the HQ crew.

I endured a rash of audits, inspections, and threats before the owner told his minions to back off.

Why did it take an 800 mile move to cut our costs by over 60%? Actually, we had to get space, vendors, and new customers. It would have been a lot less effort at HQ, but it also wouldn’t have been possible. Too many people had the wrong perspective.

Clayton Christensen says look out below for disruptive competition. A corollary is to figure a way to reduce cost and improve service every week to stave off disruption. If I don’t figure it out, some other guy will.

Part of improvement is working with prospects to define an offering they want more than what they are getting. That’s not sales, that’s self preservation. I figure that’s over 40% of value.

Joy’s Law – The real talent pool.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Square, Triangle, Circle

I admire artists and always wanted to draw. I’ve bought books about different sides of the brain, kits for drawing, cartooning, sketching, and a continuing stream of implements.

Yesterday we went to Ed’s 2 hour class So You Think You Can’t Draw at Plaza Art and got slung into the mainstream.

I’ve gone to many free seminars for technology, financial products, services, philanthropies, and government. I’ve even designed a couple dozen. This was the best one I’ve ever seen and here’s why.

Ed was standing at the front of the room, but his ego didn’t join him. He passionately wanted to share what he considered the fastest way to start drawing, and he wanted us all to get it before we ran out of time.

Yes, it was a demonstration, because he did everything he wanted us to do. But we were all with him, step-by-step. I drew over 40 sketches in an hour and a half.

Toward the end, we started playing “Stump The Artist,” asking how he would draw anything that interested us. He would draw it and we would draw it. There was not a previous artist in the audience.

What was the secret?

There were several. First, I admired how Ed quickly gave us a new context for understanding what we were about to do. I had wanted to do this for years. In five minutes he made me believe that this time I might be successful.

Drawing is primarily about seeing. I had read and heard that before, but I didn’t know what that meant.

Ed shared a discipline of seeing things as made up of three shapes, the square, triangle, and circle. He showed us how to combine these three shapes to form complex objects. He showed us that adding dimension could turn a square into a cube, a circle into a tube or a sphere.

He gave us three minutes on perspective when we needed it, an artist’s view of paper, and the top dozen uses of a drawing pencil. He showed us his favorite tools, and explained why he liked them.

Finally, he shared how we could get good, asking us to draw 20 objects in the next day. He said he would be around the store if we wanted to come back and show him what we had done.

Based on how far I had come under his care, I took the pledge and by 9 o’clock that night, had another 27 sketches completed. Did a fairly complex building front this morning, just to see if the magic was still there.

He didn’t try to sell us anything, although I was fortunate to be able to purchase his complete kit. You haven’t lived until you’ve played with a tortillon.

So why did this work?

In hindsight, Ed passionately wanted us to become fluent artists in less than two hours. He carefully chose what to tell us and the order of instruction so we could learn as fast as we could absorb it. I’m sure he knows other things that are impressive, but his goal was to have everyone create a body of work that would give them confidence and a desire to continue. He was starting a relationship.

All we had to do was show up. He took care of the rest.

I’m ecstatic just for what I can now draw. The unexpected benefit is a new model for communication and joy.