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Volume #80 - October 2012

Fall is normally the time of year when I slow down a little.  But with the economy taking some consistent baby steps forward companies are looking to leverage some ideas that have lain dormant, and my calendar reflects this increase in positive attitude.  Here are some examples of my brand new projects:

  • Strategic Planning:  I have four new strategic planning projects from different clients in completely different industries!  It is always an exciting challenge when the scope of business varies so radically from client to client.  The good part is that the application of the Elegant Simplicity process does NOT vary, which allows me to contribute to the planning right out of the gate.
  • Why We Love the Movies:  More companies are planning client appreciation events in the 4th quarter, and my new entertainment and learning program that revolves around the movies is getting a ton of bookings!  Such fun!!
  • Education:  One of the areas that companies immediately cut when times get tough is internal education and training.  This always amazes me, because this single investment can create the most profitable leverage imaginable.  When customers shift their buying habits, it is seldom due to the product’s decreasing in quality, but instead because the relationship sours or declines.  Well trained and educated staff deliver the best and highest results.  Just ask Zappos.  I have major teaching and curriculum design projects on the table in the areas of thinking, communication, and simplicity.
Moving Van

Now the biggest news!   Creative Ventures is on the move.  After almost 25 years in Dallas, Creative Ventures, Steve and Laura, are moving everything to Austin, Texas.  This has been in the works for a long time but finally became a reality in September.  The move will happen in mid-October with a new address:  

109 Top O The Hill

Lakeway, TX 78734-5234

Phone number to follow!

With the move, my hectic travel schedule, and the rest of life that seems to keep happening, October is going to be the most exciting month in a LONG TIME!


"Think simple" as my old master used to say, meaning reduce the whole of its parts into the simplest terms, getting back to first principles.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Toothpaste Aisle

Like the waves of a big Pacific storm, complexity continues to crash against our shores, overwhelming just about everything we do.  From trying to catch up on our TV viewing captured in our DVRs to the more than 50 brands and flavors of toothpaste that grace our supermarkets, “more” is becoming the universal voice.  As the world continues to increase its acceleration we find ourselves tempted by everything.  Speed clashes with complexity, and there we are,  in constant recovery mode, never feeling a sense of purpose connecting to outcomes.

Do you think it’s just you or your boss?  Klaus Schwab, founder and chairperson of the World Economic Forum, recently spoke about the incredible level of burnout among world leaders.  It’s not just you that complexity is killing, it’s everyone.

In the past two months I have had the honor of being involved in significant strategic planning in industries ranging from major chemical distribution to insurance, from financial services to food and beverage.  My role: to bring a big picture sense of simplicity to what is becoming a more and more out of control process, the idea of strategic planning.  

The bigger and more complicated frameworks that get created around strategy become silent killers that rip away strategic discipline, the key need for successful organizational movement.  

What is the role of strategy?  It is to ensure that processes, systems, and ideas allow an organization to achieve its goals.  Simple, huh?  Umm, not so much.  Oh, everyone wants their operation to be simple.  They lust for Apple’s centric oath of simplicity (they still have less than 60 items in the product line), but they are not sure how to get there, and once they see the path, they often lack the true commitment to walk it.  I call this a lack of “strategic discipline.”  Simple spins on an axle of discipline.  That’s what makes it so damn hard to accomplish.

Here are three problems to watch out for in your quest for “simple:”

  • The “shiny” new idea:  After you have invested time and resources in the creation of your strategy, you will face the temptation of “Oooh, now what’s that idea?”  Stick to the plan.  When you see a new idea of value, record it, but don’t let it suck your energy away from the strategic imperative.  I have seen countless great, and I mean great, ideas launched only to see them die the slow death of distraction.  This is the where the difficulty of STRATEGIC DISCIPLINE comes in.  Strategically significant strides come when an organization sticks to its guns!
  • More is always better:  NO!  More is the death of good.  The Law of Abundance states, “More is not better and better is not best.”  Is this idea the BEST you have?  If not, back away.  How do you know?  ASK.  Ask everyone involved.  Most organizations can’t recognize their best because they don’t ASK.
  • This is the first time I’ve hear of this:  What?  How is that possible?  Simple.  There was no PRE work prior to the strategic planning event.  To get the highest and best use of everyone’s time, create a PRE-MEETING workbook.  Let your selected team get started before the event.  Let them “hit the strategic ground running.” 
Really big egg
Heads with signs in front

Nike, IKEA, Apple, and Vanguard operate at the center of simplicity.  Perhaps the call of “simple” is becoming louder.  Maybe, just maybe, simplicity will become a company imperative for you.  Let’s hope so, because without a firm commitment to this ideal, your ability to impact your world will look like the toothpaste aisle at Wal-Mart!

No hands in self driving car

“OFFICER, I WASN’T DRIVING:” California Governor Jerry Brown has just signed a bill that would legally permit automatically driven cars on the road.  The law would require the DMV to draft rules that would govern automatically driven cars by 2015.  This is a big fat boon for Google as they have a fleet of these types of vehicles that have logged more than 300,000 miles without an accident.  This is great news for celebrants of Cinco De Mayo and St. Patty’s Day, as they will have a guaranteed designated driver.

Louisville Slugger bat on carpet

IT’S GOING, GOING, GONE! :  I love this idea!  One of America’s most iconic brands, Louisville Slugger, was looking for a way to increase market recognition in a world where, despite their reputation as “America’s Bat,” regulations around bat construction have turned almost all baseball bats equal.  After the 2011 World Series, Louisville Slugger and their advertising agency came up with the idea for a scavenger hunt called “The Drop.”  They would hide 45 commemorative bats around St. Louis honoring the World Champion Cardinals.  They connected the event through a very strategic use of social media and created near bedlam for baseball fanatics.  Their Facebook “talking about this” went up by 834% and has helped create a model that Louisville Slugger will be rolling out around the country!

15 gold coins stacked

WE ARE OPENING OUR WALLETS:  Back to school spending exceeded expectations with the K-12 grade crowd spending over $30 billion, a substantial number, but add the spending for college kids and you hit over $80 billion.  Next, Halloween is coming up, and this year a record 170 million Americans will get the scare of spending a projected $8 billion on tricks or treats.  Then, the Chicago marketing firm ShopperTrak is projecting a 3.3% increase in Holiday spending this December.  That’s a respectable projection considering the still shaky position of the economy.  With about 70% of our GDP coming from consumer spending, who knows, things might just be looking a shade brighter!

Interested in these ideas?


You can contact Steve at steve@creativeventures.com or give him a call at 972-490-7717.
See more at creativeventures.com and stephenharvill.com

Steve Harvill • Office: (972) 490-7717 • Cell: (972) 345-9480 • Fax: (972) 386-9569
15615 Regal Hill Circle • Dallas, TX 75248