Zen is you – Be.

Is hyperconnectedness still a thing?

Posted in development, ideas, stress relief, values by dave225 on March 12, 2011

Someone passed this article to me today: http://www.scribd.com/doc/6910385/Abuse-of-technology-can-reduce-UK-workers-intelligence . This is how I know I’m out of touch. People are still email junkies?

Think about how you sometimes get really interesting ideas in the middle of the night. Why is that? Because your brain has begun to turn off. It’s flushing out thoughts, clearing out the junk. Well, okay, that’s not science – but my point is that if we’re always turned on, we don’t stop long enough to have new thoughts. Clarity and insight can’t be forced and can’t come without stepping away from the hyper-connectedness.

Some of the most productive, most innovative work I’ve done has come from taking walks with a colleague, sitting alone quietly on an airplane, chopping wood, digging holes, etc.

Allow time for your brain to work for itself, rather than being fed more information.

Shutting down now. Going to bend some wire around a pencil or something …


Give the people what they want. Or …

Posted in ideas, impact by dave225 on March 1, 2011

I don’t watch the news. Because I don’t learn anything useful from it.

But someone told me that this morning’s news was about the storms we had overnight. So the lightning that I saw at 5:00am was in fact real. Luckily, we have some commentary this morning about how we nearly had weather conditions that could have been exciting to talk about.

I don’t blame the media for this drivel. Weather excites people. Charlie Sheen excites people. The news has to deliver something people want to see, or … Or they won’t watch it? Kind of a losing battle – give them dreck because they want it or give them substance that they won’t watch. Anyway, not really the media’s fault, the public’s appetite for useless content. I’m just glad the media manages to sneak some substance in there when they can.

But what if … What if the media could bring the same kind of excitement to local innovation, culture and community that they can bring to weather and sports?

There is


much going on in this city that’s truly exciting. Instead of “Did you get woken up by thunder?” or “How about those Bucks?” as obligatory smalltalk, how do we use the local media to rally around what we *could* make this city about? (BTW, my vote is “Barrier Free Columbus” – an environment of “can-do” whether you’re starting a business, getting an education, finding a job, a home, a support network,…. there is a structure here to remove barriers to whatever you need to do.)

It’s not the media’s fault that people gravitate toward loud noises and shiny objects. But I challenge them to put a sheen on local progress. It’s all marketing, you know.

Solve Problems by Asking, not Telling

Posted in ideas, objectives by dave225 on January 15, 2010

“What you need to do is …”

Here’s my problem of the day with Twitter:  looking at most tweets, I see people proposing (to whom, I’m not exactly sure) solutions to the world’s problems.  Reducing the problems to easily-solved contests that are met by spouting platitudes like, “No more bonuses for Wall St. until …” or “Provide health coverage just like they do in (whatever country)” .

So why haven’t the decision makers just looked to Twitter to fix things?  The answers are there, and they’re so simple!  Well, for the same reason they haven’t solved the problems in the first place – everyone has an answer.  Who has an earnest question? (I ask rhetorically. J)

Instead of presuming to know enough to spout off a solution, what if people started asking questions?  “Why do we need Wall St bonuses?  What would happen if the financial community cleaned house and paid salaries competitive with other industries?”   At the least, the people asking the questions might learn more about a subject (if they care to listen to the response.) But possibly, the people responsible for solving the problem may think of the problem in a new way – particularly if a naïve question demands that they defend something that they take for granted.

All this musing led me to the real point.  It’s easy to criticize popular media for not asking enough questions.  But is there a problem-solving methodology buried in this premise?  Beyond the simple “ask ‘Why’ three times” idea , “what if” scenarios, Pareto analysis, Ishikawa, Decision Trees, etc…  is there a more formal methodology and workflow that uses questions to solve problems?  Something that ties all of those methods together, but is more formal than using “expert judgement” to determine which method to use at various stages.  E.g. ‘Use X method to obtain output in the form of ______, which is used as input into Y method.’

What if I started to formulate one?  No – wrong question… Where can I find such a thing?  Why doesn’t exist if it doesn’t?  How would I go about documenting and testing it?


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Collaborate to Elevate

Posted in ideas by dave225 on October 29, 2008

Not making traction on an idea? Feeling in a rut? Or are you kicking ass and taking names and still want to elevate your game?

Nah, I’m not going to tell you why collaborating can produce a better result. You know that. But think about how it can produce a better you. A better me. A better us. Hugs all around. Seriously though – think of collaboration as co-mentoring and team building. By collaborating to synergize ideas, we also change the way we think about the goals we’re trying to reach and, in effect, we not only tap into our colleagues’ experience on the current project, but hopefully we take some of that experience with us.

Collaboration comes in all shapes and sizes, and again I will not bother to describe the various people and methods you can tap into. But I will take this opportunity to plug a local resource and an upcoming event:

  • Columbus Tech Life is gathering steam as the network for Columbus self-starters to meet and discuss ways to make great things happen in central Ohio. I’ve started a page on the Columbus Tech Life wiki to ask some questions about collaborative problem solving. Because it’s great to talk about this stuff in a blog, but when do we make it real?

  • In that spirit, I’m organizing an unconference to see how the local professional community can help us all advance our goals by problem solving via networking and collaboration. In this unconference, we will look at real problems that we’re trying to solve or goals we’re trying to reach, and we’ll work as a group (or as small groups) to complete something real.

Please visit the wiki and talk about yourself! And if the unconference sounds interesting to you, express your interest here. .. Or give your thoughts on how you’d like to see it organized… Collaborate!


Posted in ideas by dave225 on October 6, 2008

I told my friend Lisa last week that working where I do is sort of a curse – it’s a great job with a great company of smart and cooperative people. I love it (most of the time.) And because my job is something I enjoy and a place where I can still develop professionally, I have no incentive to look for anything else. Which means that I’m not likely to find anything else. Which may eventually make me complacent. So I keep my eye on my profession and my marketability. But I don’t keep my eye on my other options – outside of my profession, my comfort zone, my universe. Maybe I could be a professional dog sitter, a tour guide someplace exotic, an artist, a window washer, a card shark or a drifter! I don’t know which of those things I’d truly like to be, if any. I don’t have any intention of finding out right now – because I really like what I do.

Maybe you’re in a different place. If you don’t like what you do, take a chance! Think about what you stand to lose versus what you’re losing every day. Can you adjust down your standard of living in exchange for … well, living!

To invert a quote from m’man (man?) Yoda who said, “There is only do and not do. There is no ‘try’.” I say, “There is no succeed or fail. There is only ‘experience’.”

My friends Pat & Dianne are in the process of selling their house, quitting their jobs and travelling the country. I don’t have the guts. I’m envious, but I like a bit more security than that. But what’s secure these days? Maybe there’s more security in not having to rely on your job being there or your house and possessions being there, but in just having the wits and the skills to live happily without being chained to the preservation of those objects. You know that passage about it being more difficult for a rich man to get into heaven than getting a camel through the eye of a needle? Well that’s what it’s about.

So for now I can balance putting in the hours doing something intellectually stimulating in exchange for the comfortable trap of “stuff” ownership – and I think there’s nothing wrong with that, especially in the land of uber-capitalism.

Time is linear, baby. You can’t go back and you shouldn’t wish ahead. So are you enjoying now?

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How are you helping?

Posted in ideas, impact by dave225 on September 14, 2008

That question has stuck with me for years… My next door neighbor, Marty was painting the garage one day when his son Ben (about 7 years old a the time) came running by, doing some childish nonsense.. whatever it was, Marty said to him, “Ben, how are you helping?”  Ben was a great kid.  That question was all it it took for him to realize that he was doing anything but being helpful.

I always wanted to make a bumpersticker that said, “How are you helping?”  Not just to get people to start thinking about whether or not they are doing enough to help, but because so many bumperstickers send a message of aggression;  And how is that helping?

So this past week, as the political campaigns have really started to ramp up and the candidate bashing has started to get ugly, I ask, “How are you helping?”  To whom are you pointing out the weaknesses of the other side’s candidate?  Are you singing to your own choir?  Are you engaging in battle with the other side?  You’re not going to win.  Bashing the candidates only make the other side hostile – it doesn’t change their vote.  And as for your own side, I once again call on Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.”  If you want to convice someone to vote for your side, discuss ideas.  Talk about what you think our society needs the most right now.  If you want to convince someone, convince them that your ideas are important.  If you get them to agree, they’ll see through the campaign bullshit and pick the best person to uphold that point of view.

And if you want to make an impact, you may need to go outside of your own neighborhood.  Although there are people near me who don’t share my ideals and won’t vote the way I vote, I know which way the scale will tip in November for my precinct.  It’s the electoral votes two hours away from me that have me worried.

You want to make a difference.  You can put a lot of time and energy into being active.  Yes, it takes a lot of energy to stay busy.  Work, work, work all day performing duties.  But the measure of impact is the output, not the input.  So how are YOU helping?

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Great Minds, part 2 …..

Posted in ideas by dave225 on September 5, 2008

Great Minds Think Alike!”  Whether that’s just something you say when someone else shares your idea or whether it’s conventional wisdom….. it ain’t true.

A great mind I know refuted this old saying with, “Great minds do NOT think alike.  That’s the definition of a great mind, isn’t it?”  Ha.  Right on!  Great minds may reach similar conclusions, but a truly great mind thinks independently.

You acquire a great mind by exercising the one you’ve got.  Question everything.  Learn what makes other people tick.  Turn things upside-down and imagine how things would work if they were bigger, smaller, inside-out, black, white, broken, mended, backwards …. Take the last hour of the day today to examine your current work – the stuff you were going to do anyway – and think about how you could do it without its most essential element.

For example, how might you write a blog post without language?  Well, you could resort to pictures… Now, you go…

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Great Minds, part 1 …..

Posted in ideas, Uncategorized by dave225 on August 29, 2008

“Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

It’s so basic that it may be too vague to start with, but I think this quote sums up a lot about being satisfied – in your job, in life, in general. The cornerstone to being happy is being positive; and ideas are naturally positive thoughts. Ideas are about creativity, dreaming big, collaboration and impact.

Become a visionary. And if you can’t directly affect your company’s strategy, go out of your way to understand it, adopt it, live it. The more engaged you become with the big picture – the vision, the ideas – the more you are helping to execute it and, in the long run, you will affect the vision.

And if you are a visionary – how well are communicating your vision? How well are you engaging and orienting your staff toward that vision?

I’m reminded of an obscure lyric: “It’s an ordinary day, I’m not getting paid to think. But thoughts still come from time to time.” No matter what your role is in an organization, you own your thoughts.

Be a great mind. every day.

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