The 21st century is characterized by one dominant trait — self-determination. Gone are the days of mass production, economies of scale and standardization typical for last century. We, as a people, have a deep sense that it is our privilege to “make” ourselves.
Many times in my career, I tried to “make” myself only to be shunned. In 2000, for example, I jumped from Salomon Smith Barney to Merrill Lynch with the goal of dreaming a new dream. I wanted to challenge myself and grow but when I approached my managers about a new opportunity, they told me to stay put. So I switched firms.
By 2005, having been Institutional Investor-ranked for eight years straight, I again felt ready for a new learning curve. When I approached management, I heard the same script: “We like you just where you are.” This time, I took my dreams and walked out of the industry.
Much of the corporate world is not open to allowing us to work toward our dreams. (read more…)
One of the hardest times to find a taxi in busy downtown metropolitan areas, at least in the pre-Uber era, is when it’s raining. Studies conducted in London, New York City and elsewhere have shown that the meaningful uptick in rider demand during inclement weather is not matched by taxi availability. Soggy would-be riders are often forced to stand in the rain for a protracted period before being picked up, assuming that they get a ride at all.
The obvious question is why? Why wouldn’t cabbies be out in droves on days like this, looking to grab as many customers as they can and pad their income? A number of theories have been advanced to answer this question. One is simple supply and demand. A fleet of taxis cannot exist in an on-demand economy. It has to be built to meet the standard demand in order to be fiscally viable. When demand reaches unusually high levels, there is no place to draw available drivers from. (read more…)
“The Simplicity Cycle” provides a roadmap to help people make good decisions about complexity in the things we design and use. One of the ways it does this is by examining the different phases of a project and highlighting different tools for each phase. In this lesson, we’ll look at four key verbs to be aware of as our projects move through the typical stages of development.
At the beginning of a project, the key verb is “to start.” That is neither as obvious nor as easy as it sounds. Instead of taking a first step, we sometimes distract ourselves with superfluous activities that prevent rather than support stating.
We procrastinate and hesitate, unsure where or how (or whether!) to begin. We may feel overwhelmed or unprepared, so we spend our time and energy doing something else, anything other than starting. We optimize our paperclip collection. We shuffle documents around. (read more…)
Disrupting. Everyone’s claiming to do it and oh how it’s grabbed our attention lately. In fact, at the moment, it is one of the most used, trendiest and overly stated buzzwords of recent years. To disrupt is to drastically alter or damage something. Applied to business, it translates to change and innovation.
While the surge of creativity is fantastic and companies are out disrupting, the real question is who is actually disturbing?
You see, there is a difference.
Although both imply innovation, with varying degrees of radicalism, disrupting is more internally focused. Disruption tends to focus on how an organization can make a great external impact by what it’s doing. You could say that disruption is more assumed by those who are allegedly doing the disrupting. They are out to disrupt through their creations. Although disruption is a huge step toward improvement and breakthroughs, it lacks the provoking factor.
Disturbing is more externally focused, posing a question at something. (read more…)
The internet can’t seem to make up its mind about who coined the phrase “chase two rabbits, catch none.” Some people say it’s an old Russian proverb, while other attribute it to an anonymous Navajo wise man. Me, I’m pretty sure that piece of advice originated with the great hunter Elmer Fudd, because whoever came up with it clearly did so during rabbit season. Or was it duck season?
Regardless of its provenance, the rabbit saying is a good principle to keep in mind when we design things. Just as a pair of rabbits will readily elude capture by heading in opposite directions, conflicting design objectives lead to empty hands Whether we are building a strategy, writing code or creating a PowerPoint presentation, a distracted design will not satisfy any of our goals. The plan will be muddled, the code won’t compile, and the charts won’t communicate. Usually this is because chasing too many rabbits makes things more complicated than they need to be. (read more…)