Newsletter
Volume #76 - June 2012
HAPPENINGS
Here’s a surprise:  I spent a lot of time on the road in May.  The interesting part was that it was kind of a "new client" month, as my work included starting three projects for three brand new clients.  It’s a fantastic privilege to have an opportunity to work with new clients and to reinforce existing relationships with my current client base.
  • I bounced around Florida working on Repeatable Successful Acts sales projects and introducing the Dazzling Blue strategy to new clients.
     
  • Then it was a big Dallas-based project launch followed by a quick trip to Minneapolis for the debut of Dazzling Blue for one of my largest clients there.
     
  • I had the distinct honor of once again working with 250 sixteen-year-old students who are developing their leadership skills as part of the Hugh O’Brien Youth Organization (HOBY).  This is one of my favorite volunteer projects of the year.  Their enthusiasm and spirit of involvement are palpable, and their questions are always challenging.
     
  • I had a fantastic chance to teach Interpersonal Communications to a brand new client in New York.  It was a great success, and this relationship has the potential of developing into something very special.

Not only is June full of travel and projects already on the books, but I have BRAND NEW programs ready to leave the storyboard phase and move into production.

IDEA

I take risks. Sometimes patients die. But not taking risks causes more patients to die. So I guess my biggest problem is, I've been cursed with the ability to do the math.

-Dr. Gregory House

I was first introduced to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s titular consulting detective Sherlock Holmes when I was in 8th grade, and after a voracious attack on the books, I was hooked forever.  I have loved every incarnation of the character, from Basil Rathbone’s black and white movies, to the fantastic Jeremy Brett on PBS, to the superhero persona of Robert Downey Jr.’s movies, to the absolutely wonderful Benedict Cumberbach Sherlock in modern day London. But one of my favorite flavors of the character has been Hugh Laurie as the medical detective Dr. Gregory House from House MD.   

House was based on the Sherlock Holmes character, from his best (and only) friend Dr. Wilson (Holmes’s Dr. Watson), to sharing the same address of 221B Baker Street.   My addicted watching habits of House are well known by people who read my writings and attend my programs.   Laura and I have attached ourselves to various TV shows and characters over the years…Northern Exposure, The West Wing, Boston Legal and The X-Files have all been favorites…but there was something different about our love of House.  Over the years clients have graciously sent me all kinds of House gear, from t-shirts to the legendary foreign round object (FRO), the big gray and red tennis ball he tosses around while thinking.  Since May 21st was the last episode of the House series, the culmination of a great eight year run, I decided to write about some of the many things I learned as a fan (really a fanatic, marked by “excessive enthusiasm and uncritical devotion”).

THINKING IS A VALUED USE OF TIME:  Often House would chase his team out of the office with the command “Get out, I have to think.”  This was a significant activity for House and a critical part of his diagnostic genius.  He would bounce his FRO against the wall or sit silently studying the symptoms listed on the whiteboard.  As a scientist, I have always valued thinking, and House reminded me that taking time to really look at an issue often results in discovery.

SOLUTIONS ARE FOUND WHEN COMBINING SOLO THINKING WITH TEAM THINKING:  Though House kicked out his team to engage individual thought, he NEEDED them to vent through the complex issues surrounding the damn weird illnesses that seemed to congregate in New Jersey.  The team effort of throwing out ideas and bouncing around the energy that they create is essential to great creative processes.

YOU HAVE TO SEE A PROBLEM TO UNDERSTAND A PROBLEM:  The whiteboard in House’s office was an essential tool in saving lives on the show.  Each symptom made an appearance on the board as part of the problem-solving process.  The team looked at the problem not only as patient-manifested symptoms but as a list of issues impacting the solution.  I live by the storyboards on the special glass walls in my office.  Every idea and solution I develop comes from literally “seeing” the problem.

CRITICISM IS KING:  One of the reasons most brainstorming sessions fail (and they do) is that most companies don’t understand the nature of critical conversations.  On House, the brainstorming sessions were laced with abnormally harsh and most often insulting criticism.  I’m not advocating the “You’re a moron” approach (though I have many times been tempted), but a critical analysis is a good thing for idea development.  At Pixar they have the GRIND, a distinct process that peels away each layer of a story idea, exposing it to critical analysis from every angle possible.  The result (so far) has been 28 Oscars and over $8 billion in box office revenue.

I will miss my Monday nights with Laura and Dr. House, but I am grateful for the incredible and consistent quality of the show and look forward to our next thinking character’s show!

NEWS

EVERYONE CAN DO SOMETHING:  There is a new movement afoot with regard to giving back, to contributing to the bigger picture, and it requires only a tiny bit of your time.  “Micro-volunteering” is a new concept that provides opportunity for people to contribute small bursts of time to various charity projects.  This is perfect for those who don’t have lots of time to volunteer but want to do something.  Micro-volunteering creates work that involves as little as 15 minutes at a time and gives employees a feeling of real engagement in making the world a better place.  To get started with a micro-volunteering project at your workplace, try www.sparked.com or www.catchafire.com.

 

ALL ABOARD TO SPACE:  The private sector is taking over outer space.  Well, not ALL of outer space.  Space Explorations Technology docked its Dragon space ship with the International Space Station, becoming the first PRIVATE company to dock with the space station.  This now opens the gates to commercial space travel, initially to supply the space station with personnel and supplies.  How many air miles will those guys get?

 

WE WANT TO TRUST:  The 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer examines trust in four key institutions -- government, business, media, and NGOs -- as well as communications channels and sources. This is the 12th year of the study and it provides key insight into where we WANT to put our money.  Traditional media and online search engines are the most trusted sources of information for people searching for general news and information, new product information, news on an environmental crisis, and company announcements. Traditional media, TV, newspapers, and magazines are still the most trusted sources of information, according to the Barometer, BUT among 18 – 29 year olds, digital media is the most popular source for general news and information.  Check out the data at http://trust.edelman.com/

CONTACT
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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