This month's issue: The Value of Curiosity.
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Simple. Powerful. Elegant.

A Newsletter from Creative Ventures

Issue #103

Big News

A quick few things from Creative Ventures: 
  • Colin Has been engaged to deliver a keynote address on our generational strategic platform THE MILLENNIAL UPSIDE: The Impact of Generational Leverage, next July at the magnificent Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, CA. 
  • Steve recently had a great interview published in a national magazine, and you can check it our here.
  • We will be introducing THE NEXT LEVEL ACADEMY in the next few months. THE NEXT LEVEL ACADEMY will be the home for all of our educational programs. 


  The Art of Decision Making

Decision making does not lend itself to certitude. 

-Jim Leach

No company or entrepreneur ever wants to walk away from a potential project, especially when the project has the possibility to be interesting or, heaven forbid, you NEED the project...but we find the "walk away" often the best decision we can make. 

Why? The need to walk away almost always involves the lack of someone, somewhere being able to make a decision. This will sound familiar. You are engaged with a vendor or client around a project, you have meetings, conversations, you make project details, and the conversations are positive. "This looks great, we'll get back to you shortly." You send follow up emails and make calls. The client says, "It's on the agenda at our next leadership meeting." Sound familiar? Welcome to the "maybe cycle." 

Dante, in The Inferno, describes the first level of hell, Limbo, as sorrow without torment. That's kind of like the maybe cycle. The maybe cycle is a direct result of the inability to make a decision. Despite all of the data, references, and in-depth discussions, no one can say yes or no. And those are the only answers, yes or no. 

So, what's the problem? Let's try this: 

  • Risk - There seems to be a philosophy that decision-making should be as risk-free as possible. Huh? Every decision, from budget issues to personnel assessments, is inherently full of risk. Why? They happen in the future, and the future is wholly unpredictable, filled with a myriad of variables. You need to learn where your risk comfort level is and apply that risk understanding to your decision process, but if you are looking for a risk-free outcome, you'd better stay in bed. 
  • Data - In the world of immediate information and the ability to actually find a needle in a haystack, data can be your Achilles Heel when it comes to making a decision. You want more and more data around the issue. You find it's easy to delay a choice when you are at the bottom of an avalanche of facts and statistics. You need to know when you know enough to assess the potential outcome. Don't let data become judgement. Remember paralysis by analysis? 
  • Starting Points - Decisions are always about tomorrow, but you should know your today. Current reality is the right starting point for decision making. Where are you right now? All choices have a beginning. Temper your forward vision at the beginning. Look at where you are, then decide how the outcome will be impacted by the decision. Lots of decision-making get stalled by starting with tomorrow and not today. 
So, what can I do to help with our decision-making process? 


Do This!

A Process: Most companies are sloppy decision makers and, believe it or not, are often just "winging it." Here is a simple decision making process we use: THE FILTER. Create a simple filter of 1-3 parts that each problem or issue must pass through to get an affirmative decision, a yes. We recently were consulting on designing a new value add strategy for a client and used these three parts for our filter:
  1. Does it give us a competitive advantage? 
  2. Do we have the budget capacity to implement the idea?
  3. Can we actually DO IT? Some ideas sound great, but we don't know how to do it. 
Pass through these filter points and the idea gets moved to the DO IT phase. Keep in mind, we can do no more than three ideas at a time. If you want a copy of our filter decision template, send us a note. 

Trust Experimenting: Some projects and problems are BIG! If the "whole" risk is terrifying, break it down into pieces and launch the new idea one piece at a time. We are involved in a number of learning initiatives, one of which is huge, involving a wide range of content and delivery challenges. Instead of launching the entire project, which is full of risk, we "thoughtfully reduced" the scope and elected to test the program in two markets. This mitigated the risk and will allow us to judge the impact and make any adjustments that will be needed. 

Avoid A Vacuum: Though I am not recommending a committee structure (the place where ideas go to die), I am advocating sharing your thoughts concerning your decisions. If you want a failure formula, have the person responsible for the idea also make the decision on the idea. A study by Deloitte Consulting found this single practice resulted in a 75% failure rate of decision-making. Find a model that allows you to exchange ideas around a decision, but keep in mind most successful choices are made by one person after hearing respected opinions. 

I chose and my world was shaken. So what? The choice may have been mistaken; the choosing was not. You have to move on. 
-Stephen Sondheim



Reading the Web:    I'm an avid reader. I read everything, Kindle, books, magazines, web-based content, and I listen to podcasts. Though the Kindle is as elegantly simple as any form of reading, the web-based stuff, not so much. Considering this is the golden age of writing on the web with more authors and publishers than any time in history, you would think someone would make the web-based stuff as easy to access as a Kindle book. Enter, an aggregating site that recommends new and classic non-fiction from around the web. Longform uses a readers feedback formula to select content, creating a wonderful resource for all good stuff on the interweb!

Good to Keep Following:   Have you noticed that all the companies that are listed as great examples are always the same? Apple, Zappo's, and Southwest Airlines are used regularly to cite everything from innovation to progressive cultures. You know why? Because they are worth following! Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly makes a strong case for the reason they stand tall as a modern corporate success story with these aggressive ideas: Revamp the frequent flyer program to make it more passenger friendly. Expand the focus on business travelers by expanding service to more major airports. Go international. Provide resources that support our unique culture. Maintain our focus on low fees. How do you measure these kinds of ideas? Southwest flies more passengers than any other US airline!

TV is Still a Big Thing:  Ask a group of people how many of them watch a lot of TV and hardly anyone will raise a hand, but ask how many of them own a big screen, hi-def, surround sound system and they will all salute. Why is admitting to watching TV such an embarrassment? The average adult between 25 and 34 watches 26 hours of TV a week. Comcast recently announced they actually added subscribers for the first time in 6 years! TV's latest battleground is in ideas liberating their content for all media devices. At 6 p.m., the great convergence occurs between TV, the internet, and mobile devices. Big TV thinkers are looking for opportunities actually to simultaneously gain participation with social media or apps. TV ain't goin' away!
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