Creative Ventures Newsletter
Volume #99 - May 2014

April was an odd month for Colin and me.  Two large consulting projects kept us in the office and limited our travel to between Austin and Dallas.  Sometimes our three-part value model of presentation, education and application (consulting) get heavily weighted on one part, and consulting was the big player in April.  In April we needed uninterrupted office time to complete our projects and spend some much needed time on active internal ideas.  We also had a series of meetings with new clients to define the scope of the projects in discussion.  Though I am not at liberty to give specifics around our client consulting work, I can give you a general idea on the subject content.

The Client Experience – Of all the chaos careening around your business, one element of control is your client experience.  You are the master of how your clients experience you, and that is one of the key ways you can differentiate your business from you competition’s.  You may have similar products, but your client experience can create market separation.  You should be spending significant strategic time on this aspect of your business.

Value Formulas – A company’s position within its market revolves around creating value.  Value is found in a wide variety of company elements and often has a lot of unseen leverage.  By taking a critical, independent view, we often can find simple and powerful ways to leverage and increase value with minimal budget impact.

Internally we are working some exciting new ideas:

  • We are updating the web site with new content and images.
  • We are adding new video clips from some of our latest ideas.
  • We are developing our Repeatable Successful Acts platform into a video series.

Our presentations are getting creative makeovers with brand new content. May has us back on the road with trips to, Dallas, Minneapolis, Orlando, Atlanta, and Boston!


Time changes everything. That’s what people say, but it’s not true. Doing things changes things. Not doing things leaves things exactly as they are.

[Dr House]

House pretty much sums up why organizations embark on training programs.  They want to do something that will change the way things are, and a good idea seems to have better trained people doing the things you want changed.  Makes pretty good sense.  In fact, organizations spend around $180 billion a year on that very goal, despite about 70% of all corporate training failing to accomplish significant change.

There are tons of studies to support the idea that training has some real problems.  Dr. Eduardo Salas at the University of Central Florida did a 20-year study into corporate training and found supportive evidence to back the dismal impact most training has on participants, including the sobering statistic that  about 90% of new skills are lost within a year.  OUCH!

No field gets as much money thrown at it as does LEADERSHIP.  In fact, so much has time and effort has been focused on this elusive aspect of business that most of its meaning has been siphoned out.  I have had the privilege of being involved in leadership training, both as a designer of curriculum and content as well as a teacher for over 25 years.  My understanding and beliefs have been reshaped countless times.  Why?

F=ma.  That’s Newton’s second law of motion, force equals mass times acceleration.  It’s a LAW of motion.  That means it happens every time.  In English, the subject and the verb must match.  It’s a hard and fast rule of our language.  But try finding any law or stone-etched rule about leadership.  They don’t exist.  Leadership may be one of the most subjective topics in history.  This gives leadership a kind of amorphous nature.

Leadership doesn’t fail because people don’t know stuff about it.  There have been over 20,000 significant pieces written about leadership over the past 8 years.  There are books ranging from the leadership skills of Attila the Hun all the way to Z Theory from Japan.  So, why does leadership training fail?  Here are a few reasons:


  • There is a huge gap between what we know and what we do.  The focus on leadership training is usually centered on knowing rather than doing.
  • You can train a lot of different skill sets, especially ones that have a kind of quantifiable nature, but leadership slips past traditional training tactics and when forced into a rigid model, fails.  Leadership skills are more a developmental process than standard training acknowledges.  It’s harder to package and sell.
  • Companies don’t really know what they are training for.  They have trouble assessing their leadership needs.

So, is there an answer?  I’m not sure if the concept of an answer is the way to look at it, but I do think there are powerful methods that can be identified.  These methods form our approach to enhancing leadership development (yep, there are three):

  • Begin by understanding what you want.  Are you looking for team leaders?  Do you need creative design minds to lead product development?  Do you need sales leaders?  Though some of the foundational elements might be the same, it is good to build any training or development to the desired outcome.  Assess your needs.
  • Deliver your leadership development in the context of what they will be doing.  It can’t be all theory.  We are drowning in leadership theory.  To impact your company, training needs to be practical, to bridge the dreaded gap between what we know and what we do.  Examine the patterns formed by defined successful leadership, and create content that hits on those patterns.  Our core ideas come from a two-year study into the leadership patterns in seven successful companies.  We focused on what they were DOING.
  • Lastly, the programs need to have lots, and I mean lots, of application to idea elements.  This means there is opportunity to apply an idea, to connect thinking to outcome.  At its core, leadership is an INTERACTIVE practice.

Will those three steps build the ultimate leadership program?  Sorry, they won’t, but what they will do is give you the opportunity to succeed.  They will create a favorable junction of planned circumstances.  They will give you a fighting chance to see leadership become your effective skill set.  It will give you the right “doing” to provide the change you are looking for!


CHANGING THE FACE OF TV:  At the forefront of a major creative shift in television has been HBO.  With the tipping point success of their pinnacle series, The Sopranos, every other network was challenged to come up with the creative quality needed to compete.  Now we have everyone from Netflix to Xbox competing for your viewing time.  The development of the limited series is the latest entry and again was led by HBO’s (really creepy) True Detective series.  By creating a short run series they can lure big name movie stars and first rate writers and directors.  Fargo, on the FX network is new entrant as is American horror story.  Both fans and stars can invest without a long term (remember Lost?) commitment.  It will be exciting to see what comes next!


TEAM APPROACH TO BIG IDEAS:   Richard Branson is never one to be at a loss for new ways to do things.  He has just formed The B Team, a rotating group of international CEOs whose goal is to make business work better.  The “B” is to signify a secondary way to look at the global impact of business in hopes of finding new ways to think, connect, and perform.  It will start with a series of “challenges” that will be tested within the companies that form The B Team.  Some of the first members include Blake Mycoskie of Tom’s Shoes, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, and Kathy Calvin, president of the United Nations Foundation. 


GOOGLE BUILDING THE FUTURE:  Google just purchased Titan Space, a maker of high altitude unmanned aircraft.  It is believed they will integrate the technology of aircraft that can remain airborne for 5 years, with high altitude balloons used to implement Project Loon. Project Loon is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online after disasters.   Project Loon is designed to create a global community of internet connectivity.  2/3 of the world has no access to the internet.  Already tested in New Zealand, Loon is currently in testing in Central California.  Wow!

Interested in these ideas?

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Office: 512-712-5279

Steve Harvill • • Cell: 972-345-9480
Colin Harvill • • Cell: 214-794-1777