Michael Michalko is one of the most highly acclaimed creativity experts in the world and author of the best sellers Thinkertoys (A Handbook of Business Creativity), ThinkPak (A Brainstorming Card Deck), Creative Thinkering (Putting your Imagination to Work), and Cracking Creativity (The Secrets Of Creative Genius). As an officer in the United States Army, Michael organized a team of NATO intelligence specialists and international academics in Frankfurt, Germany, to research, collect, and categorize all known inventive-thinking methods. His international team applied those methods to various NATO military, political, and social problems and in doing so it produced a variety of breakthrough ideas and creative solutions to new and old problems. After leaving the military, Michael facilitated CIA think tanks using his creative thinking techniques. Michael later applied these creative-thinking techniques to problems in the corporate world with outstanding successes. Michael has provided keynote speeches, workshops, and seminars on fostering creative thinking for clients who range from Fortune 500 corporations, such as DuPont, Kellogg’s, General Electric, Kodak, Microsoft, Exxon, General Motors, Ford, USA, AT&T, Wal-Mart, Gillette, and Hallmark, to associations and governmental agencies. In addition to his work in the United States, Michael has worked with clients in countries around the world.
Here is an excerpt from my interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: Before discussing any of your books, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?
Michalko: My mother was my greatest influence because she taught me by example that your life and happiness are determined by what you choose to or refuse to do.
We do not choose to be born. We do not choose our parents. We do not choose our historical epoch, or the country of our birth, or the immediate circumstances of our upbringing. We do not, most of us, choose to die; nor do we choose the time or conditions of our death. But within all this realm of choicelessness, we do choose how we shall live: with purpose or adrift, with joy or with joylessness, with hope or with despair, with humor or with sadness, with a positive outlook or a negative outlook, with pride or with shame, with inspiration or with defeat and with honor or with dishonor. We decide that what makes us significant or insignificant. We decide to be creative or to be indifferent. No matter how indifferent the universe may be to our choices and decisions, these choices and decisions are ours to make. We decide. We choose. In the end, the meaning of our own life is decided by what we choose to do or what we refuse to do. And as we decide and choose, so are our destinies formed.
Morris: The great impact on your professional development? How so?
Michalko: While in the military I observed that the more an expert one became in an area of military specialization, the less creative and innovative that person became. The paradox is that people who know more, see less; and the people who know less, see more. Consequently, the majority of the generals had a fixed mindset about what is possible and what is not. The creative and innovative solutions to military problem came from the youngest noncoms and officers who still had open minds.
I discovered the same paradox in civilian life. An example of this is when Apple Computer Inc. founder, Steve Jobs, attempted, without success, to get Atari and Hewlett-Packard interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer. As Steve recounts, “So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary; we’ll come work for you.’ And their experts laughed and said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t gotten through college yet.”
It seems that once a person has formed an expectation concerning the subject being observed–this influences future perceptions of the subject. Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., thought the idea of a personal computer absurd, as he said, “there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocketry, was ridiculed by every scientist for his revolutionary liquid-fueled rockets. Even the New York Times chimed in with an editorial in 1921 by scientists who claimed that Goddard lacked even the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high school science classes. Pierrre Pachet, a renowned physiology professor and expert, declared, “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”
If we experience any strain in imagining a possibility, we quickly conclude it’s impossible. This principle also helps explain why evolutionary change often goes unnoticed by the experts. The greater the commitment of the expert to their established view, the more difficult it is for the expert to do anything more than to continue repeating their established view. It also explains the phenomenon of a beginner who comes up with the breakthrough insight or idea that was overlooked by the experts who worked on the same problem for years.
Morris: Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow? Please explain.
Michalko: The realization that most educated people have a fixed mindset that encourages robotic thinking and determines a person’s outlook and behavior. Think of the fixed mindset shaped like an upside down funnel. At the wide bottom, there is a wide variety of different experiences. At the top, there is the narrow opening which represents a fixed mindset that superimposes itself on all the experiences. Once people with a fixed mindset have settled on a perspective, they close off all other lines of thought. Whereas, a creative thinker’s mind is shaped like a right side up funnel with the narrow opening over one experience. At the wide top there is a wide variety of different ways to see and think about the one experience. This represents a creative thinker’s growth mindset.
Imagine a mud puddle waking up one morning and thinking, “This is an interesting world. I find myself in this hole and I find that it fits me perfectly. In fact, it fits me so well, it must have been made to have me in it. Everything is fine and there is no need for me to worry about changing anything.” Yet every day as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up, the puddle gets smaller and smaller. Yet the puddle frantically hangs on to the notion that everything’s going to be all right, because the puddle believes the world is what it is and was meant to have him in it. The moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise.
People with fixed mindsets are like the mud puddle. They were taught by authority figures that their genes, family, education and environment have determined their destiny, and they, like the atom, just are. Many of them were taught that they are not creative. Consequently, they believe they are a certain kind of person and there is not much they can do to change that. They might be able change some small things but the important part of who they are can’t be changed.
It was this realization that encouraged me to research, write and teach the importance of understanding these cognitive mindsets, how they influence us and how we can easily change the dynamics of a mindset and change the way we think and see things.
Morris: To what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have accomplished in life thus far?
Michalko: What I learned from observing and listening to academics in college was their curious tendency to assimilate new information into their pre-existing views. Their mental image of the established view interferes with their perception and understanding of new ideas and concepts. In the case of real life, physicists could not see Einstein’s theory of relativity because of their established, accepted view. For years, they tried to incorporate his view into the established view without success.
Experts always try to assimilate new insights, ideas and concepts into their view. What happens in real life is, despite ambiguous stimuli, people form some sort of tentative hypothesis about what they see. The longer they are exposed to this hypothesis, the greater confidence they develop in this initial and perhaps erroneous impression, so the greater the impact this initial hypothesis has on subsequent perceptions.
Suppose an expert has an established theory about the danger of boxes and their effect on human life and the environment. The theory is that boxes might be harmful and the use of boxes should be regulated. Now, suppose that I leave a box on the floor, and my wife trips on it, falling against my son, who is carrying a carton of eggs, which then fall and break. The expert’s approach to an event like this would be that the best way to prevent the breakage of eggs would be to outlaw leaving boxes on the floor. As silly as this example is, it is analogous to what is happening in the world of global warming. If you survey the history of science, it is apparent that most individuals who have created radical innovations did not do so simply because they knew more than others. One of the most important experiences Noble laureate, Richard Feynman, had in his life was reading a copy of James Watson’s typescript of what was to become his famous book, The Double Helix, about his discovery, together with Francis Crick, of the structure of DNA. Feynman had become unproductive and began to believe he had run out of ideas. The discovery Feynman made was that Watson had been involved in making such a fundamental advance in science, and yet he had been completely out of touch with what everybody else in his field was doing.
As told in Watson’s classic memoir, The Double Helix, it was a tale of boundless ambition, impatience with authority and disdain, if not contempt, for received opinion. “A goodly number of scientists,” Watson explained, “are not only narrow-minded and dull but also just stupid.” Feynman wrote one word, in capitals: DISREGARD on his notepad when he read that. This word became his motto. That, he said, was the whole point. That was what he had forgotten, and why he had been making so little progress. The way for thinkers like himself to make a breakthrough was to be ignorant of what everybody else was doing and make their own interpretations and guesses.
So Feynman “stopped trying to keep up with what others were doing and went back to his roots, comparing experiment with theory, making guesses that were all his own.” Thus he became creative again, as he had been when he had just been working things out for himself, before becoming a famous physicist in academia. While this is an important lesson for science, it is a supreme lesson for any discipline where “current knowledge” can be dominated by theories that are simply incoherent.
Make your own interpretations of your experiences to shape your own beliefs and concepts about your world. This is the lesson Feynman called the most important of his life. This is the lesson I learned during my college years.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Michael cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
Psychology Today Blog: Creative Thinkering
Facebook Fan Page
American Airlines is in the news every day. And most of it is not good news.
We have read about union issues, negotiation struggles, bankruptcy, customer service issues, and a host of other maladies about the airline.
But, in the Dallas Morning News Business section on February 22, 2012, there is a great article about how American provides free legal service to deserving citizens. You can read the entire article here.
The article features Marjorie Powell, who is an assistant general counsel at American Airlines. She oordinates pro bono work for the carrier’s 40 in-house attorneys. American was among the first corporations to implement a formal pro bono program. American requires each lawyer to complete ten hours of pro bono work each year.
I have known Powell for more than 25 years. Always bright and insightful, she had a remarkable career transformation, starting with dance as an undergraduate student, to communication as a master’s student, and then on to law school. She is quite a success story, and her featured picture and article in the newspaper is quite deserving. I wish she had more time to tell her story to people who feel down-and-out. She has demonstrated that you can do anything, if you put your mind to it, and decide that is what you want to do.
American is not alone. You will read in the article about other companies that do this, such as Exxon Mobil and AT&T.
I hope you find this as refreshing as I do. Not only is this good news about American Airlines, but also, good news about corporate giving and social responsibility. And, it is great to see good news on the front page of the Business section for a change.
What do you think ? Let’s talk about it really soon.
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Michael Michalko, author of business classics that include Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius (2001), Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques, 2nd Edition (2006), and Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work (2011).
Here are [seven of] 21 suggestions, recommendations and habits to help you kill your creativity, guaranteeing that you will never come up with a good idea. If used by supervisors effectively, they are also guaranteed to kill creative and innovative thinking throughout an entire organization.
To read the complete article and check out countless others. please click here.
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1. Always think the way you’ve always thought. When confronted with a problem, fixate on what you were taught about how past thinkers solved it. Then analytically select the most promising logical past approach and apply it to the problem, excluding all other possibilities.
2. Be focused. The key to logical, linear thinking is knowing what to exclude from your mental space. Exclude everything that is dissimilar, unrelated or is in some other domain from your subject. If you want to improve the can opener, only study existing can openers and how they are made. Then work on improving what exists.
3. Always do what you’ve always done. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. This will minimize surprises and mistakes. We are all a product of our experience. Stay within your comfort zone and don’t waste time and energy exploring what people in unrelated areas do.
4. Don’t embarrass yourself. You are labeled and categorized by your personal history, I.Q., and education. Don’t embarrass yourself and your family and friends by pretending to be something you’re not. Always remember an atom is an atom and cannot be anything else. Neither can you.
5. Know your limitations. Most of us do not have the genes, family history, intelligence, or education to be creative. Listen to your inner voice when it tells you that you are not creative. Play it safe. Do not take risks. If you work for yourself, don’t break what is not broken. If you work for someone else, remind yourself that you don’t get paid to create ideas. Be happy receiving a paycheck.
6. Be skeptical. Whenever an idea is offered, analyze it, criticize it and judge it. Never defer judgment. Be skeptical. Look for reasons why it can’t work or can’t be done. Take pride in being the devil’s advocate. Where’s the data? The research? Where’s the evidence it can work? What’s the history of the person who suggested the idea? Always remember people equate skepticism with wisdom.
7. Always listen to the experts. They spend their lives studying their subjects and know what’s possible and what is not. You do not. Respect their expertise and follow their advice religiously.
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To read the complete article and check out countless others. please click here.
Michael Michalko is one of the most highly acclaimed creativity experts in the world and author of the best sellers Thinkertoys (A Handbook of Business Creativity), ThinkPak (A Brainstorming Card Deck), and Cracking Creativity (The Secrets Of Creative Genius).
As an officer in the United States Army, Michael organized a team of NATO intelligence specialists and international academics in Frankfurt, Germany, to research, collect, and categorize all known inventive-thinking methods. His international team applied those methods to various NATO military, political, and social problems and in doing so it produced a variety of breakthrough ideas and creative solutions to new and old problems. After leaving the military, Michael facilitated CIA think tanks using his creative thinking techniques.
Michael later applied these creative-thinking techniques to problems in the corporate world with outstanding successes. Michael has provided keynote speeches, workshops, and seminars on fostering creative thinking for clients who range from Fortune 500 corporations, such as DuPont, Kellogg’s, General Electric, Kodak, Microsoft, Exxon, General Motors, Ford, USA, AT&T, Wal-Mart, Gillette, and Hallmark, to associations and governmental agencies. In addition to his work in the United States, Michael has worked with clients in countries around the world.
Find out more at http://www.creativethinking.net.
How and why to cope with a leadership evaluation and development crisis to produce more effective leaders
As Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis suggest in Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls, leaders define themselves by their choices. They assert that what really matters “is not how many calls a leader gets right, or even what percentage of calls a leader gets right. Rather it is important how many of the important ones he or she gets right.” They go on to suggest that effective leaders “not only make better calls, but they are able to discern the really important ones and get a higher percentage of them right. They are better at a whole process that runs from seeing the need for a call, to framing issues, to figuring out what is critical, to mobilizing and energizing the troops.”
Jeffrey Cohn and Jay Moran suggest that many (if not most) organizations define themselves (for better or more often worse) by their evaluation and development of effective leaders, by how many of the important calls their leaders get right when deciding whom to hire, whom to promote, and whom to support. As they explain in the Introduction, they devoted decades of research to develop a model for effective leadership. They share in this book their response to the question posed by the title. More specifically, they identify and then rigorously examine seven leadership attributes that are the most vital: integrity, empathy, emotional intelligence, vision, judgment, courage, and passion. No news there. What caught my eye and what, I think, will be of greatest interest to other readers is what Cohn and Moran offer when explaining “how to decode and connect these attributes…how they fit together. Our breakthrough insight is an overall framework for making leadership selection decisions.” These are among the “smart calls” to which Tichy and Bennis also refer.
Think of the challenge as a “puzzle” and the attributes among the most important “pieces.” How to put all the pieces together? Cohn and Moran devote a separate chapter to each of what they characterize as the seven “building blocks,” then reveal in Chapter 8 “A Better Way to Choose Leaders.” The information, insights, and recommendations provided within the book’s narrative are research-driven, primarily by interviews of more than 100 CEOs and other leaders. For example, those among the “A-C group” include Lance Armstrong, Jeff Bezos, Bono, Richard Branson, Michael Capellas, Richard Clarke, Jerry Colangelo, and Delos (“Toby”) Cosgrove.
Other resources include decades of research conducted by James Kouzes and Barry Posner;also, various leadership development programs (e.g. AT&T, Allianz SE, McKinsey & Company, “New CEO Workshop” at Harvard Business School, Harvard’s Kennedy School, and Team USA). They also picked the brains of thought leaders such as the aforementioned Tichy and Bennis as well as James MacGregor Burns, Daniel Goleman, K. Anders Ericsson, and Roger Martin.
Of course, it remains for each reader to determine what is most relevant among the abundance of material provided by Cohn and Moran in their book. The same is true of another recently published book that I also hold in very high regard, The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else, in which George Anders focuses on expert talent spotters in three broad sets: the public performance worlds (e.g. sports, arts, and entertainment), high stakes aspects of business (especially finance and the information economy), and “heroic professionals” of public service (e.g. teaching, government, and medicine). “It’s easy to see how they operated, but it took a while to understand why.” What he learned is shared in this book. For example, with people as with organizations, “the gap between good and great turns out to be huge,” perhaps as much as a 500% difference. The financial implications are vast and substantial.
All organizations needed leadership at all levels and in all areas. Although the two books take different approaches to an immensely complicated and critically important subject, executive talent evaluation, each can be of incalculable value to those who are guided and informed by the material provided. In fact, I highly recommend that both be read and (preferably) re-read, then frequently consulted by every one involved in an organization’s recruitment, hiring, onboarding, and leadership development initiatives.
Adam Bryant conducts interviews of senior-level executives that appear in his “Corner Office” column each week in the SundayBusiness section of The New York Times. Here are a few insights provided during an interview of John Donovan, the chief technology officer at AT&T since 2008, who learned a lot about the subtleties of team-building earlier in his career. He says he found that “giving credit away, deflecting credit, was an effective thing to do.”
To read the complete interview as well as Bryant’s interviews of other executives, please click here.
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Strive for Results, Not for the Accolades
Bryant: What were some early leadership lessons for you?
Donovan: There are certain characteristics that give people a start — and for me, I remember starting to use them when I was named captain of my hockey team. I think after that it becomes practice. I think those characteristics are the ability to set a framework that makes sense to people, and being articulate. You can look at the landscape, characterize it and set a framework for action, then be able to articulate it clearly. You have to have antennas for picking out what’s really important.
So you have to have those basic skills and be a good pattern recognizer. I was always good at those problems where you go “two, four, six, eight, what’s next?” And you start to put those skills together and then, like anything else, you get better with practice.
That said, if there’s a situation where someone else needs to lead, and it’s working, that is A-O.K. I don’t feel a burning need to be in charge, and I don’t feel that it’s a bad thing to follow when the right things are getting done. So in some respects, I don’t have the innate drive that certain people have about control and ownership and leadership. When I left Silicon Valley, a lot of people bet me that I wouldn’t last at AT&T. They figured that because I’d been a C.E.O. before, I couldn’t go work at a big company where you have bosses, and you don’t control everything.
It really isn’t even a consideration for me. I just derive great satisfaction from a well-played plan. As a matter of fact, I have an aversion to situations where credit is showered upon leaders. Those don’t sit easily with me. Maybe that’s because I was one of 11 kids in our family. I love engaging, but I don’t like the compliments, with somebody saying, “Hey, great job.”
Bryant: Other lessons?
Donovan: The first thing I noticed very quickly early on was that hard work is central to what you do, and that’s not any magic or science. I said, “Well, if I start today, and I outwork everybody, then the only question is the starting point.” So I figured that if I work really hard I can be in the top 5 percent in any field. It just gave me some comfort to say, O.K., I’m going to do fine financially, so I shouldn’t make decisions based on money. My objective should be to gain the broadest set of experiences I can, and just try to drill deep everywhere I can. And so I played the game for breadth. Early in my career, I bought businesses, fixed them and sold them. Some went well; some didn’t. I did some home development. I was in sales. I went back to business school.
A lot of people work hard to get ahead, and I recognized early on that it’s a differentiator. I just figured that there was a certain amount of this that’s just raw tonnage.
Bryant: What else?
Donovan: I worked at Deloitte, and became a partner there. That’s probably where a lot of my development occurred as a leader. There were simple things around teams. I developed team skills because I started to engage in deliberate deflection of credit in an environment where it was all about credits. What I started realizing is that people appreciated when you played for the result, and not for your role on the team. So I learned there that giving credit away, deflecting credit, was an effective thing to do. I think I learned a lot of subtleties about teams and how you assemble teams.
Bryant: Can you share some more insights on that?
Donovan: If you figure there’s a karma pool out there floating around for credits, you have to stop playing for credits. I remember the day I realized that, and that I probably never again needed to involve scorekeeping in anything that I did.
Bryant: What are some questions you ask when you’re interviewing job candidates?
Donovan: I always ask questions about what words people would want on their tombstone. So I’ll ask, “If your professional colleagues were going to put three words on your tombstone — I mean literally three — what would those three words be?” And then the follow-up question is always the one that surprises people. I will then ask, “Instead of three, what’s the one word?”
I’ve tried to assemble teams with people who were grounded enough, and comfortable enough, to be able to have these kinds of conversations. When you find people who have that sort of grounding, then it can be about the problem you’re working to solve together, and not about the person.
The leadership part for me now is so much more about game planning than about the role that I play in the game plan. I love the opportunity to take a role that I had and give it away to another team member, and the team result is as good or better. I sort of see myself over time as needing to play the game less, but I’m becoming better at getting even better results by that combination of the right framework and the right people in the right positions.
Bryant: Back to your tombstone question. What’s the one word for you?
Donovan: When I was young, the one word for me was “smart.” I wanted it to be “leadership.” I wanted it to be “inspirational.” But it was smart, and smart is an individual, lonely thing. When you get it on a tombstone, it feels like an island. I’d like to say that it’s “wise” today, but I don’t feel that I’ve accomplished that yet.
Bryant: The other two words?
Donovan: I do think they would be “inspirational,” and “leader.” I’m proud that I can inspire people. I think there are a lot of people I’ve worked with who have burned extra oil, but I don’t think at the end of the day that inspiration is measured in terms of me getting more from them. I think it’s about a better result that we can all share in.
Bryant: How did you make the transition to a big company like AT&T?
Donovan: So when I came to AT&T, I was standing on the shoulders of giants in the industry. I was going in to lead a group that, frankly, I wouldn’t have been qualified enough to join as a junior person.
But let me start with the process I went through. I went to my direct reports and I said I want the 16 smartest people in the technology organization. It’s not about titles. I don’t want any diplomats. I don’t want any process people. And I called them the Tech Council. I still have it today, almost four years later. I rotate people in and out. I gave them several hours a month. Rules of the road are that you’re not allowed to report back to anybody you work for — what is said in this room stays in this room.
We then started with a list of all the things that were broken, stupid, idiotic, what’s killing innovation, from 16 really bright people who were willing and able to tell you the truth. And if you look at some of the things that we’ve done in our innovation program, a lot of the seeds were born in that room. And so we built a profile that started with the ugly truth, and that’s kind of where we had to start from.
When I came in, I was led to believe that we would have an innovation problem. And I learned very quickly that we did have an innovation problem, but we didn’t have an invention problem — and that’s important.
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Adam Bryant, deputy national editor of The New York Times, oversees coverage of education issues, military affairs, law, and works with reporters in many of the Times‘ domestic bureaus. He also conducts interviews with CEOs and other leaders for Corner Office, a weekly feature in the SundayBusiness section and on nytimes.com that he started in March 2009. In his new book, The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed, (Times Books), he analyzes the broader lessons that emerge from his interviews with more than 70 leaders. To read an excerpt, please click here. To contact him, please click here.
Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy
The CEO’s Strategy Handbook: How to Create, Sustain and Accelerate Profitable Growth
The Upside of Turbulence: Seizing Opportunity in an Uncertain World
Here are ten of 101 ways Melissa G. Wilson suggests to help you become much more successful, no matter what the economy is (and isn’t) doing. They are especially helpful during tough times. Wilson is certain you will benefit from the strategies, based on decades of research and development as well as success and failure, “the joy of victory and the agony of defeat.” They’re practical; they’re easy; they can be implemented immediately and quickly; and best of all, Wilson asserts, “They really work!”
To check out her website and all 101 “ways,” please click here.
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1. Become a Networlder. A Networlder, unlike a networker, has 10 or fewer key people they consider partners. These partners are participants in regular exchanges of emotional support, information, knowledge, promotional support, as well as leads and referrals for new business or career opportunities. The focus of Networlding is on mutually beneficial exchanges with like-minded and like-valued people. The great thing about Networlding partnerships is that they are fun and get results three to five times as fast as traditional networking relationships.
2. Create a Primary Circle. We all have networks. We just don’t necessarily realize it, and we spend most of our time with a few people. Networlding is about becoming aware of our network and consciously creating exchanges with a few people who become our Networlding partners in a primary circle. Social science research states that we can’t communicate regularly with more than 15 people. Primary circles, therefore, we have found, are no larger than 10 people.
3. Initially, you only need one Networlding partner in your Primary Circle. In an extensive study we did with 200 executives, we discovered that the majority of people connect with only five Networlding partners once a month, every month. This means that even one person with whom you share similar or complementary values and who is ready, willing and able to become a Networlding partner, can create a whole new world of opportunities for you and you for them.
4. Find Networlding influencers for your Primary Circle. We define Networlding influencers as people who know how to influence and are ready, willing and able to do so for you and others with whom they Networld. For example, you might know people who are in your industry who are highly influential but are not Networlding influencers because they keep their power to themselves.
5. Put others in Secondary and Tertiary Circles. Again, whether you consciously do this or not, some people will fall into your secondary or tertiary circles. People who might go in a secondary circle are those who are not, right now, ready, willing or able to exchange with you once a month. These are people, however, with whom
you should stay in contact. Tertiary circles are for almost everyone else, because you never know who might become a good partner later and vice versa.
6. Become a Networlding influencer. You can be someone who is not at the top of your field, but because you are willing to practice influencing—connecting people together who have not yet met but who should meet, you can quickly become a top influencer, creating many opportunities for yourself.
7. Spend 80 percent of your relationship building time with your Primary Circle. We know this is counterintuitive but once you have found those 10 or fewer great Networlding partners, spend the majority of your time focused on your partners and your “collective” gain. This will make all the difference in achieving better business opportunities, faster.
8. Treat each person you meet with uncompromising respect. Networlders are zealots of respect and integrity. They are like the knights in King Arthur’s Roundtable. They care about creating relationships of honor.
9. Be proactive rather than reactive. Reactive people wait for a request to refer someone; proactive people are out there creating opportunities for you. These are people who will put you in a primary position in their networks and will actively work to find you new opportunities. Do the same for them.
10. Follow-up promptly after face-to-face meetings. Email or call quality contacts you meet at networking gatherings promptly after an event to remind them of your initial meeting. Let them know you enjoyed meeting them. Focus on the appreciation you have for the original meeting and mention that you would like to stay connected. This is not a time to “sell” your services or products, but rather, a time to grow and deepen the connection around the relationship.
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Melissa G. Wilson is one of the world’s leading experts on the development of individual and community networks as a means of growing and accelerating brand loyalty inside and outside organizations. For more than a decade Melissa’s organization, Networlding, has provided exceptionally successful viral and relationship marketing programs for organizations like AT&T, CNA, Motorola, and Disney.
Here’s what I’m trying to say: we don’t yet know how to do everything we are trying to do. And that can be a real problem.
The totals are now beyond what most of us could have only imagined — and feared. The total number of gallons of oil that have spewed into the Gulf from the BP disaster has probably surpassed 200 million gallons (The figures are not precise — I did the math from this web site). This is 18x the number of gallons from the Exxon Valdez disaster. It seems like such a long time ago that Tony Hayward, and Haley Barbour, and others, stated that the Gulf was a big ocean and would easily disperse the oil harmlessly. They were, sadly, wrong. We have learned that lesson the hard way.
And the new iPhone is running into turmoil that is building day after day. Partly because, in my opinion, AT&T was not yet ready to provide the infrastructure for all that technology. It was too much innovation and implementation too soon. The capacity to execute can not quite keep up with the needs of the era, with ever more challenging products and projects. Consider this excerpt of AT&T CTO: ‘We will move heaven and Earth’ to improve our network by Anthony Ha (full article here):
When VentureBeat Editor in Chief Matt Marshall got a chance to ask AT&T Chief Technology Officer John Donovan a few questions on-stage, he asked what kinds of issues are holding back network quality. It’s a little bit of everything, Donovan replied. With a flood of new chipsets, phones, and applications, the traditional device testing and rollout methods have “broken down.” In addition, AT&T recently faced a shortage of the components needed to improve its network.
“I’ll tell you the things it’s not been,” Donovan said. “It’s not been capital, it’s not been conviction and commitment.” AT&T “will move heaven and Earth” to meet its customers’ growing data needs, he said.
I have blogged before (a few times) about the formulation from Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto, re. the two great problems: ignorance and ineptitude. Here’s the key quote:
We have just two reasons that we may fail.
The first is ignorance – we may err because science has given us only a partial understanding of the world and how it works. There are skyscrapers we do not yet know how to build, snowstorms we cannot predict, heart attacks we still haven’t learned how to stop. The second type of failure the philosophers call ineptitude – because in these instances the knowledge exists, yet we fail to apply it correctly This is the skyscraper that is built wrong and collapses, the snowstorm whose signs the meteorologist just plain missed, the stab wound from a weapon the doctors forgot to ask about.
For nearly all of history, people’s lives have been governed primarily by ignorance.
But there is a third problem, one that does not quite have a name yet. Let’s call it the “we can’t keep up” syndrome. Maybe it is a subset of one of the two by Gawande. But it presents a unique challenge to the modern business environment.
It is not entirely new. In the early days of television, there were television set makers dependent on television networks dependent on television makers. It was a circle of interdependency, a complex set of interconnections, with officially disconnected but very interdependent companies needing every company in the mix to keep up. And keeping up was tough.
Just in the last year, television stations have switched to HD, needing the cable channels to provide slots for their new HD channels, with the cable channels needing the stations to broadcast in HD. Everything is so interconnected, interdependent. Everyone has to succeed for anyone to succeed – one has to succeed for all to possibly succeed.
And then, the ripple effects. There is now no doubt that people working in companies with much better safety records than BP are paying the price for BP’s failures. Jobs are leaving the Gulf for other oceans across the globe. The moratorium, which many object to (but – can you imagine if a second well had this kind of disaster right now?) means that costly equipment has to go where there is work. And then the equipment will be run by a new set of workers.
But here is the deal. Companies, entire industries, need to learn, adapt, innovate as they go…and it is tough to keep up.
Maybe the problem is not incompetence. Maybe the problem is not ineptitude (though there were serious mistakes made). Maybe it is simply that we are in a perpetual growth/innovation/need-to-get-it-right era, and there will always be a need for version 2.0 and 2.8 and 7.0 in nearly every arena.
If all it means is that I have to wait for the next software update on my iPhone, I’m ok with that. But if it destroys the environment on the Gulf Coast for hundreds of miles, then it becomes a much more serious matter.