Can’t Say No

November is National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo). This post is part of my post-a-day challenge. I have picked a theme for the challenge: song titles. These songs have been featured on live albums from KEXP (an awesome alternative radio station in Seattle), so at a minimum you will hear some great music.

The most important element of creating change is making the change easier for the person or groups that have to make the switch. You create a situation in which someone literally can’t say no.

When I thinking of “can’t say no,” I imagine a sleazy used car salesman. “I’ve got a deal you can’t turn down.” But of course you can turn it down. There are a thousand different places you can buy a used car from and you may have serious concerns about the reputation of the salesperson and what implies about the condition of the car.

What I love about the framework laid out in Switch is that we learn how to make changes easier and this more likely to take root. I’m so excited about this book I am teaching a lunch and learn at work – taking co-workers through the framework and then leading an exercise where we use the framework to create change in the participants lives. I’ll share as much of that as I can.

For today’s post, I wanted to simply provide the framework. Hopefully this get’s you interested in creating changes and learning more about Switch.

The metaphor used throughout the book is one of someone riding an elephant. The rider is the rational side of all of us. The elephant is the emotional side. The rider is calculating and prone to worry. The elephant is emotional and can overpower the rider.

  • Direct the rider by:
    • Finding bright spots (small wins or successes)
    • Scripting critical moves (give details regarding how the change happens – specific behaviors)
    • Point to the destination (why is it worth changing?)
  • Motivate the elephant by:
    • Find the feeling (help people connect emotionally with the change)
    • Shrink the change (make the change seem smaller)
    • Grow your people (give others a mindset of growth – changes are possible)
  • Shape the path by:

I hope you find this outline useful and enjoy the book as much as I have.

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Wating for the Great Leap Forward

November is National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo). This post is part of my post-a-day challenge. I have picked a theme for the challenge: song titles. These songs have been featured on live albums from KEXP (an awesome alternative radio station in Seattle), so at a minimum you will hear some great music.

The past year has been a time unlike any other in my life. I’ve been working so hard to create change and deliver results. A year ago I would have expected my efforts to have paid off in spades by now. The humble coconut has helped me to rethink my expectations.

It would be difficult to visit a tropical isle without seeing a few coconut palm trees. The trees stand tall, rising to over thirty feet. The fruit of the tree is heavy, since a full sized coconut can weigh three pounds. Almost every part of the fruit could be used for something. The coconut palm will produce over thirty coconuts a year – almost 100 pounds of fruit. To summarize, the coconut palm produces a lot of fruit and the fruit is highly valuable. But here’s the catch – it takes time. Coconut palms don’t bear fruit immediately. It takes 7 years for a coconut palm tree to bear any fruit.

Imagine that you have planted a coconut tree outside of your beach house. It is growing taller and taller. You can see evidence that it will one day bear fruit, but at the present time you cannot see any coconuts. What would you do?

Naturally, you would continue to nurture the tree and watch it grow. This progression towards fruit is slow and steady. There is no great leap forward. Just daily progression towards fruit.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Suzanne Pellican in June of this past year. I was introduced to her by some of my friends at the d.school. Suzanne and her colleagues at Intuit created a group called Innovation Catalysts and have done some amazing things with innovation and design thinking. (My friend Roger Martin tells the story here in the Harvard Business Review.)

I sat down for coffee at Intuit’s headquarters in Mountain View and began to tell her about some of my experiences over the past year. I told her about my life changing experiences at the d.school and how we were starting to implement design thinking. I mentioned the small wins we were seeing with behavior and culture shifts. She smiled the entire time I talked. I was a newly planted tree and I desperately wanted to bear some fruit. And then Suzanne gives me a reality check.

“You are at the start of a seven year journey. When we started Innovation Catalyst we told everyone it would take us seven years before we would see a payoffs.”

“Seven years? Really? I want to change things right now and I want it to be easy and fun,” I thought to myself. I just smiled right back at Suzanne.

It turns out she was right. Change is hard and it takes time. But don’t mistake a lack of fruit for a lack of growth. I believe I have grown more this year than any other in my working career. I have written more, read more and grown my network more than the past ten years combined.

Just like the coconut palm, I am convinced that fruit is coming. Like Suzanne predicted, substantial changes will take time, but I am committed to continue to grow.

I believe the lesson from Suzanne’s journey was to be patient as those around you grow. Nurture the tree and value growth. It takes a lot of patience to see and taste the fruit.

Recycled Air

November is National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo). This post is part of my post-a-day challenge. I have picked a theme for the challenge: song titles. These songs have been featured on live albums from KEXP (an awesome alternative radio station in Seattle), so at a minimum you will hear some great music.

If you have read much of my blog, you know that everything I write is inspired by my experiences – a book I’ve read, a conference that I attended, a talk I am giving, etc.

But recently it feels more like recycled air. I’m ok with this as long as the original experience was a good one. There are probably bigger wastes of your time than reading my thoughts on a wonderful book (for example).

That said, I am aiming for more original content and less recycled air. Stay tuned.

Kissing The Lipless

November is National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo). This post is part of my post-a-day challenge. I have picked a theme for the challenge: song titles. These songs have been featured on live albums from KEXP (an awesome alternative radio station in Seattle), so at a minimum you will hear some great music.

The creation of art involves taking a risk. There is a real risk that what you make will be ridiculed by your peers, your friends and even your family. To truly appreciate art, you have to understand that the artist puts a portion of her soul into her craft. You should appreciate the risk that was undertaken, it’s not all about the creation that you can see with your eyes. There is real value in the journey because it is making the artist stronger. We learn much more from failures than we do from successes.

Showing art to those that don’t appreciate your craft is like kissing the lipless. It might have to be done, but the kiss is much better if the recipient has the appropriate anatomy to receive the kiss. In the case of art, that anatomy is the understanding of the pain and pleasure that goes into making real art.

Everyone can be an artist if you approach your work in an artistic manner. Help the artist around you out – appreciate their journey and be mindful of your own.

Brighter Than Sunshine

November is National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo). This post is part of my post-a-day challenge. I have picked a theme for the challenge: song titles. These songs have been featured on live albums from KEXP (an awesome alternative radio station in Seattle), so at a minimum you will hear some great music.

I met someone the other day that had a great smile. It was infectious. It was brighter than sunshine.

How you project yourself outwardly is more important than you think. I’m not one to advocate acting excited when you’re not. I believe in being true to emotions. But in the absence of a strong emotion, it’s difficult to go wrong with a solid smile.

You’ll spend well over 100,000 hours at work over the course of your life. Why not spend much of that time with a positive outlook and creating smiles on the faces of those around you?

See who you can make smile tomorrow.

Young Folks

November is National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo). This post is part of my post-a-day challenge. I have picked a theme for the challenge: song titles. These songs have been featured on live albums from KEXP (an awesome alternative radio station in Seattle), so at a minimum you will hear some great music.

I love being around young folks. In many cases, people younger than me push me with new ways of thinking and they tend to be more receptive to change. I love the optimism associated with those who are just starting out in their careers, or with my children, just starting out in life.

I want to say to them “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.”

The other aspect of young folks that I appreciate is that they need me. They may not always know that (especially my kids), but I have real life experience to share. I can contribute to their advancement in real and meaningful ways.

I want to be known as someone who cares about developing young folks. I have had (and continue to have) many people in my life who spend time mentoring me. I want others to count on me in the same way.

Surround yourself with young folks. Watch them push you and give back where you can.

Connect For

November is National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo). This post is part of my post-a-day challenge. I have picked a theme for the challenge: song titles. These songs have been featured on live albums from KEXP (an awesome alternative radio station in Seattle), so at a minimum you will hear some great music.

You have 600 friends on Facebook, 350 LinkedIn connections and 500 followers on Twitter. But do you have any connections?

Connections = community. Said another way, your connections form your community. One hundred years ago, you would have relied upon the community for much of life. Everything from the barn raising to the sharing of crops. You would have given as much as you took.

But how do you use your connections today? How do you contribute to your network today?

One the best books I have ever read about networking is Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi. Ferrazzi views his network similar to how he views tools that he has in his shed.

Every time he acquires a new saw or shovel, he thinks about who he knows that might also need to use the tool. When Ferrazzi sees a neighbor is doing some yard work, his mind goes to his shed. “What do I have that could help Jerry out?” He realized that the entire community can benefit from what is in his shed.

In the same way, we should use our network to help our community. Have you ever had the chance to meet someone and said “I think I’ll pass – I don’t think I would benefit from talking with her.” True, you might not benefit, but maybe the connection would be useful for someone in your network.

Acquire connections with the intent of sharing. Use your network for the betterment of your community. Challenge yourself and evaluate how much effective you are in leveraging your network for OTHERS.

You and I need to be reminded that this life isn’t all about us. Connect for others.