Volume #75 - May 2012


It seems that every month I begin this newsletter with what a wild travel schedule I had and how interesting and challenging our projects are.  Sounds like a broken record, but it is the truth of my business.  I will share a few:

I headed to Chicago for two days of introducing Repeatable Successful Acts to 5 different groups.  Thanks to one of the worst storms in Dallas history, it took me 22 hours to get to Chicago!  I was stuck on a Super 80 sitting on the tarmac through two hours of unbelievable weather:  a dozen tornados touching down, hail the size of golf balls (I kid you not), and wind that lifted the wing of the plane up and slammed it down, followed by some passenger screaming.  Quite the travel experience.
After a quick stay in Dallas I had the honor of facilitating a strategy I helped design for one of my favorite clients.  Imagine having the courage to allocate resources to plan a meeting where you invite your eight most important clients to a beautiful location with the sole purpose of getting their input on how you are doing and what they think of your core strategies.  These types of ideas make this company one of the top in their industry.

Two days at home and then off to Hawaii where I introduced the Elegant Simplicity strategic platform to a brand new client.

Then hop the red eye home so I could get to kick off a week-long creative learning experience for a Dallas-based client that build their creative teams with week-long immersion experiences.
Next was my second offering of Why We Love the Movies, delivered at Southern Methodist University.  I now have added a business section to this program and have three clients scheduling it to use as a value-added program for their top clients and their wives.  What started out as a charity idea is now gaining business momentum with film as a foundation!

The airport beckoned again and we were off to the Bahamas to introduce the Repeatable Successful Acts platform to a brand new client.

See what I mean?  Hectic, fun and challenging! 


The Law of Everything

Everything has its limit - iron ore cannot be educated into gold.

-Mark Twain

One of my all-time favorite thinkers is Albert Einstein.  In 1955 as he was dying, Einstein was still working on what he termed the “theory of everything.”  It was the pursuit of the idea that there was a way to explain and thus link together all the interactions that create physical phenomena.  Albert was not the first to attempt to solve the need to know everything:  Archimedes had tried to describe everything from just a few axioms.  The one thing about everything is it seems to be impossible to deal with.  Mark Twain was a pretty common-sense thinker, too.

This brings me to one of the Creative Ventures Laws (I have a series of Laws that I operate from, based on my 25 years of working with companies and organizations):  THE LAW OF EVERYTHING.  Here is how it goes:

Despite your skills, knowledge, confidence and experience – YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING.

Attempting Everything Leads to Nothing.

I run into this mistake all the time and recognize it immediately, based on my own (bad) experience.  When I started Creative Ventures I made the assumption that the more I did, the more value I would create.  So early on I took on “everything from Viking funerals to screen door repairs!”  It didn’t take long for THE LAW OF EVERYTHING to teach me a lesson.  Now I do only three processes:  presentation, education, and application (my consulting).  These three fields of expertise allow me to apply my core story, SIMPLE, POWERFUL and ELEGANT.

Last month I was starting a simplification project dealing with a client’s sales process and client experience.  As we began the process of creating the “experience map,” it became clear to both me and my client that their sales process/client experience was out of control.  Now it was still generating sales, but its size and apparent goal of having the sales process literally do EVERYTHING was choking full sales potential.  By pushing the sales force to administrate, market, follow up, budget, attend meetings and conference calls, fill out an endless stream of reports, management was stopping the sales professionals from selling.  Sound familiar?  It should.  Research by Business Insider showed that most sales organizations have created sales processes so filled with “stuff” they are actually limiting their own success.

The  Creative Ventures technique of mapping, or creating a visual journey in any process or system, rapidly connects everyone involved in a simple, powerful and elegant understanding of the issue.

No sooner had I begun the simplification process for the client’s sales force when I had the opportunity to start a similar simplicity project with the support staff for a large pharmaceutical company.  Guess what?  They had their support staff doing EVERYTHING for EVERYONE.  They not only did the sales force support, but somehow their tasks had leaked over to accounting, human resources, scheduling and so on.  They were doing EVERYTHING... and getting nothing done.

Try this simple exercise.  Take a look at any department or division that seems to be struggling.  Map out every thing that department does and look for opportunities to create focus around the actual intent of the original design.  Has the desired outcome gotten away from you?  Have the responsibilities grown to the level of encroachment?  Can you find a way to move toward core impact and not the “bucket” mentality of throwing everything into one place because it’s just easier?

Bottom line, focusing on EVERYTHING will usually get you nothing!


CONSTANT LEARNING:  John Maeda is the king of simplicity and the president of the Rhode Island School of Design.  John was recently unexpectedly thrown for a loop when the strategic plan endorsed by his board of directors was met with a complete no confidence vote from his faculty.  One year later his revised plan passed with an 80% approval rate.  The difference?  He credits a piece of advice he had received from his pal John Jay at the Wieden+Kennedy ad agency:  Life is visceralGet off the computer and connect with real people.  Hey, everyone, a shared voice can create magic!


NICE NEWS FROM THE ECONOMY:  One of my favorite economic newsletters is the fantastic Wells Fargo Daily Advantage.  Here is some unexpected good news.  Surprising analysts, the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index rose from 53.4 in March to 54.8 in April, when a decline to 53 had been expected. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. Most of the components advanced, with strength coming from production, new orders, and employment.


ENGAGED EMPLOYEES = SUCCESS:  A recent Gallup survey result produced the story “Employee Engagement is Prime Indicator of Strong Financial Performance.”  It seems the more involved everyone is, the more they contribute.  Hmmm.  Strategies promoting employee engagement can be directly linked to higher percentages of corporate goals reached.  Engaged employees are more productive, more profitable, more customer-focused…heck, they are just plain better!  So.  What strategies do you need to look at with your teams?  Try to find the right metrics to relate to accountability.  Create communication strategies that connect departments.  Develop programs that provide opportunities for growth and continued education.  Let’s see, “more productive, more profitable, more customer focused?” Might be worth the effort, huh?

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