Volume #77 - July 2012

Hard to believe the year is half over and we are rocketing towards 2013, but it’s true.

During the first quarter I had the absolute honor of:

  • Working on over 33 projects.
  • Visited 29 cities
  • Worked with 17 different clients in 11 different industries.
  • Launched the new Dazzling Blue strategic platform
  • Made the first major update of the Repeatable Successful Acts platform.

I have structured July to allow me to get some long overdue Creative Ventures projects COMPLETED:

  • The new web site will launch in late July or early August following a much more simplified model.
  • The blog will be re-launched with the web site coming on line.
  • Podcasts will become a new feature on the web site.
  • The latest strategic platform, The Idea Factory, will get some finishing touches put on it for the clients already booking the program for the 4th quarter.
  • My first eBook will be done all about the Laws of Creative Ventures.
  • A huge Dallas-based project and a trip to Chicago will round out what I have planned, but as plans go, they never really follow our expectations, do they?

All our knowledge merely helps us to die a more painful death than animals that know nothing.

-Maurice Maeterlinck

During a recent question and answer session, a young professional asked me what the most disappointing aspect of what I do is.  Great question and one I answered in a single heartbeat:

When organizations embark on a well thought-out strategy, when they feel a commitment to the idea and the structural support to make the idea REAL, when they commit significant resources, and then, for no apparent reason other than organizational laziness, they allow the idea to die.

Keep in mind, new strategies are elements of change, and we have all read countless treatises on change management and why most change dies horrible, embarrassing deaths.  I have been involved in magnificent projects that had extensive work, that had bucket loads of money tossed at them and that resulted in simple, powerful and elegant strategies with well-planned aspects of application.  They had the classic model in place:


  • A common language 
  • A common, shared vision and direction delivered by skilled leaders
  • A common structure


Yet I have also participated in well-designed ideas that have died miserable deaths.  Not because they weren’t strong ideas.  Not because they would not have had a significant positive impact on the organization.  Not because something happened that rendered them obsolete before their launch.  Not for any of those reasons, but for one much more simple and insidious, a lack of TRUE commitment from the very same leadership that “green lighted” the ideas’ launch in the first place.

I can remember being involved in such endeavors and during the development process thinking, “This is really significant.”  I felt a sense of accomplishment. I knew the company and the industry.  I was involved in identifying the weakness the new system or idea would strengthen.  I was confident the idea would stick.

The new idea had a companywide announcement.  Leaders were called together to go over the “launch plan.”   Intranet announcements were made.  Newsletters were developed.  Office meetings took place to announce the new plan.  Expectations were set.

But then, as the regular busy-ness of business once again gained all of the company’s attention, it pushed the new idea to the sidelines.  After all, we need to service our clients, we need to sell product, and we need to do stuff, right?  And so, a major new idea gets pushed to the sidelines.

How did the new strategy get pushed to the sidelines?  What the hell happened?  Here are three typical stumbling blocks:
  • Culture
  • Commitment
  • Accountability
Cultures create expectations.  Even dysfunctional cultures do a great job of creating astonishing  expectations efficiently within their own their model.  Culture often disguises the problem.  People assimilate to the expectations that cultural patterns develop.  Have you ever heard, “This is a great idea, but in a couple of weeks we will be right back where we are now?”  Or, “This is just the idea of the moment.”  Cultures are the most difficult element to take on in making change.

Commitment is a time sensitive issue.  If you want immediate changes and don’t see them, it’s easy to trash the idea.  Commitment must recognize the distance between cause and effect.  Significant change happens in that space, and a lack of appreciation for that space creates abandonment issues.

Accountability (i.e., the lack thereof) is the worst aspect of dysfunctional cultures.  I don’t get it.  We agreed to the idea, the form, the schedule, but as soon as something goes just a little askew nobody does anything.  The idea starts its death cycle.

Here are a couple of suggestions to quell the death of a good idea:

  1. It’s Not an All You Can Eat Buffet:  Start and STAY with small doable steps.  Then connect the steps to the desired outcome.  Forget about Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG’s).  Instead look for pieces that can create impact.  Extraordinary is found in small steps.
  2. Shout From the Highest Towers:  Leaders need to stay in constant communication around the idea or goal.  If everyone knows they are committed and accountable, things start to happen.  Show them the journey is in constant motion.  Here we were, here we are now.  Provide a sense of “leadership urgency.”
  3. Double Your Trouble:  If your culture has a history of “ready, fire, aim,” think about increasing your due diligence around the new strategy/idea or program you are launching.  I’m not talking about fact paralysis but instead about adding a layer of scenario building or whatever exercise helps plant the idea as impactful to outcome.
It is much better never to embark on a major new strategy initiative than to launch and then retreat to the point where the idea becomes nothing more than a shadow of its original intent.

THE WEARABLE COMPUTERThe totally cool guys at Google X Labs have come up with a portable, wearable computer in the form of eye glasses.  The idea, called Project Glass, gives you a pair of funky glasses equipped with software and a camera that will give you fast information displayed right above your eyes.  Project Glass is expected to make its public debut in 2014.  If you think texting has caused a few traffic accidents, just wait for these.  I wish they had made them look a little more like Wayfarer’s!


TECHNOLOGY TAKES ACTION:  Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death for infants under the age of one, and the third leading cause of infant mortality in the US.  A creative technology team at Winona State University has created a thin sleeping pad called Cloud Monitor which measures a baby’s breathing and heartbeat.  Data are synched to a computer to alert parents the moment the baby’s data are abnormal.  Here’s an idea, smart people making a difference!


OUCH, APPLE TAKES A BITE:  Samsung is a major casualty in the patent wars that Apple launched to protect its iPhone and iPad devices.  A Court has issued a preliminary injunction banning the sale of all Galaxy Nexus phones and Galaxy tablets.  The court found that Apple proved it would prevail in court based on the merits of its patent case.  Since U.S. courts don’t issue these types of injunctions lightly, it does not bode well for Samsung for either the long or short term viability of its mobile devices.  A weird aspect of this case is that Samsung is a major producer of components for Apple products.  It seems that bite in the Apple logo is not just for the Apple, but also for those who mess with their ideas.

Interested in these ideas?


You can contact Steve at or give him a call at 972-490-7717.
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Steve Harvill • Office: (972) 490-7717 • Cell: (972) 345-9480 • Fax: (972) 386-9569
15615 Regal Hill Circle • Dallas, TX 75248