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Despite what everyone seems to be saying, lack of ‘resources’ is almost never the actual constraint.

Your real constraints are:

  • Lack of Creativity
  • Lack of Imagination
  • Blind Acceptance of Inefficient Processes
  • Lack of Focus
  • Poor Planning
  • Lack of Direction
  • Lack of the RIGHT People
  • …and the list goes on.

The truth is, ‘Lack of Resources’ is an excuse. It is a rug under which we sweep the dirt of inefficiencies, incompetencies, and poor processes. Heck, I’d even go so far as to say that we use the excuse of ‘Lack of Resources’ to foster, support, and encourage our bad habits.

Sure, getting more people is easy, but doing the right thing (and attacking the items in my list above) has the higher payoff in the long run.

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Don’t get me wrong…Anticipation can be a good thing, but, as with everything, it must be treated as a calculated risk.

I often think of the long lines that form outside of Apple stores before the release of the latest and greatest iDevice.

Once the doors open, two things are guaranteed to follow in a very short time:

  1. Apple is going to make a lot of money in a very short time.
  2. The internet is about to be abuzz with news links and blogs detailing the disappointments experienced with the new device (What do you mean the maps aren’t accurate?!?!).

It seems like, once some people get their hands on the newest iDevice, they focus their entire energy on finding every flaw with it.

Now, this may be an extreme example, but it is played out everyday (albeit, on a much smaller scale) whether you realize it or not:

It starts with the first add or the first media leak…basically the first time someone hears about a new service or device: they start dreaming about it. 

The danger in dreaming is that people start to imagine their use of the device or service. They start ‘dreaming-in’ features that may not exist, they start ‘dreaming-in’ applications for which the actual device/service may not be acceptable, and they may even ‘dream-in’ a level of usability that the device/ service may not have yet achieved.

When they receive or experience the new device/service, it is already under scrutiny: being compared against the perception that the individual has had ample time  to bake up in their minds.

There is a reason that unexpected gifts make us happier than expected ones (When you get an unexpected bonus you are happy and surprised; when you are expecting a certain dollar amount, you just get upset at how much the government takes away from it and lose focus of the extra money you have received).

So, if your goal is to make a lot of money in a short time (like a new movie), you can use audience anticipation as a great tool to achieve your goals, but, if you want to avoid criticism (or focus on maintaining a lasting seller-customer relationship), you must approach anticipation more delicately (ensure product/service features are explicitly laid out to prevent ‘over-dreaming’, etc.).

…and I think this is one of the biggest causes of the great division between Employees and Management.

If you’re having back problems, you wouldn’t buy more of the chairs that you already have, so why, when projects are running behind schedule, do we require more meetings (which detract from productive time) or try to throw more people (outsiders to the current project) at the problem (which require the project ‘insiders’ to slow their work to catch their new counterparts up on the tasks at hand)?

Again, I defer to the law of extremes:
-if you threw a million people at your problem would it go away? Most likely not. You would have a smaller, core group working and a much larger group just standing around.
-but, if you put someone who was extremely talented on the job, how would your job look? It would most likely be completed in a timely manner and to a high degree of quality.

So, which will you choose?

Finding quality people and making more productive meetings is hard, but the dividends pay off in the long run.

The end of an era

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No more daily blog posts?!?!?

Yes, my friends, we’ve hit the end of an era. I’ve found an area where I’d like to devote a little more focus, so, as my time is not unlimited, I’m going to have to back down from my current post-a-day pattern.

Rest assured I’ll still be posting as I come across interesting things, but I just can’t keep the same regularity and pursue my other passions.

Thanks for all of the continued support with my wacky endeavors, and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop with all of my future adventures (I’ll also be opening up a support group for those of you who may begin to suffer from withdrawals)!

Thanks again!

-Jim

WARNING?

Let’s be clear: This is not how you make a warning label when you want it to be followed; this is how you make a warning label when you’re trying to avoid a lawsuit without regard to the well being of your users (or maybe if a government agency is requiring it).

There is a warning label similar to this on my son’s Graco combination changing table/playpen. I was looking for the safe load weight (to ensure that the changing table would not give out below him), and, much to my dismay, this information was not provided on the warning label.

What was present on this warning label, however, was a warning to parents to not leave their kid in the play pen with the changing table attached or else the child could strangle themselves. Now, let’s examine the steps needed for a child to strangle themselves in this manner…The child would have to:

  1. Stand in the playpen
  2. Reach outside of the playpen, and depress the two locking pins on the changing table supports (which is difficult for me to do)
  3. Lift the posts of the changing table portion out of the holes in the playpen
  4. Place their head over the edge of the playpen
  5. Replace the changing table portion poles into the corresponding holes in the playpen

Compare that to the steps needed to exceed the weight limit:

  1. Place a kid who is too heavy onto the changing table

When creating warnings, companies need to figure out what questions the customers have and what actions the customers are likely to perform incorrectly (which cannot be corrected with design).

Safety is too important to leave to poorly formatted warning labels.

Marketing the Fringe

Here is a picture of my trusty bag of protein powder; what is the first thing you notice?

What really stands out to me (as they’re in bright bold colors and big font) are the “5lb. value size” and the “New & Improved Flavor” banners…even before I realize that it’s protein powder!

Actually, if you scan the bag, there are many references to the flavor (The top of the bag says “New & Improved BETTER TASTE!”, and, if you look closely, that medal at the bottom is also referring to the taste).

So, why so much hype about the taste? After all, the main point of the protein powder are the nutrients which cause the results, not the taste…

The answer is simple: because protein powder is protein powder. If you want people to buy yours vs. the other guy’s, you need to market the fringe.

If you walked into a store and had to choose between several identical containers of protein powder, each from different manufacturers, and they all only boasted about the nutrients in their protein formula and not about any of their peripheral traits, you’d be much more hard pressed to make a decision as to which one you would buy.

Now, the beauty here is that this same principal can be applied to a plethora of other situations:

  • What makes your fertilizer better than the competitors’ fertilizer? People expect fertilizer to be fertilizer, so saying “our fertilizer makes your lawn greener” is often a futile attempt. Is your fertilizer safer for the environment, your kids, or your pets?
  • What makes your restaurant better than your competitors’ restaurant? Again, folks expect your food to be good, so “our food is better” is seldom effective. Is your theme or atmosphere better? Is your method or approach to service better?
  • …and what makes you better than your co-workers? Your boss still expects you to get your work done, so what is it that really makes you different? Do you have a positive attitude that can’t be defeated? Do you have a knack for drawing people together? 

What is your fringe that needs to be moved to your advertising forefront?

…pretty please make it this one!!!

So I’m hijacking my own blog a little bit because I thought I’d have some fun:

A couple of days ago, I discovered Quirky.com.

Basically, you can submit an idea to Quriky, with a 140 character tagline and a bunch of pictures/drawings, and, if you get enough votes within 30 days and they like your idea, they’ll actually produce it (and you can get some royalties)!

 

 

Well, it sounded like fun, so I submitted my Flexible Spatula!

So, here’s my CALL TO ACTION: Please go to this link: http://www.quirky.com/ideations/275496 , and vote for my idea!!!

Now, let’s be clear about somethings before you all think I’m delusional:

I know that I will not get rich off of this idea. I also know that, if this idea is chosen for production, Quirky will get a little richer off of it…and that’s all fine to me.

I love the idea of their site because it brings to market a bunch of products that would otherwise not see the light of day: I didn’t mind devoting the ~40 minutes to draw my design or the ~20 minutes to submit it to Quirky, but I would mind the huge monetary investment into developing materials, creating mold plates, and establishing a good working relationship with China!

Also, they do well playing on the fact that most people are good initiators (they can come up with a plethora of great ideas), but most are awful ‘finishers’ (as this is the part of the job that takes MUCH more work).

On top of all of that, I could, and may, also do a separate post on their website design because it really is top notch (it’s easy to use and it even has a countdown clock for your 30 days that gets as detailed as the seconds until your idea is closed for voting to add to the sense of urgency)!

So, are you feeling inventive? Submit something to Quirky!!!

Shift in Perspective

I love motivational poster generators. They really have changed my life.

In honor of the first-gen iPad that I just ordered off of CowBoom.com for a slammin’ deal, I whipped up the following:

I used to ridicule my dad for his 2-finger ‘hunt and peck’ (or ‘seek and destroy’) method of typing…who would have thought that a few years later we’d all be typing with 2 fingers (let alone 2 THUMBS!) and thinking ourselves to be more technologically advanced than the 10 finger folks?!?

As funny as this is, I feel that it still begs the question: If we had deemed that 2-finger typing was far inefficient to our 10 finger typing, and we have whole high school and college classes and mail-order courses designed to teach you how to type with 10 fingers instead of 2, than why do we accept (and even seem to embrace) this 2-finger typing mandated by our newfangled technological devices?

Why, when we had a fresh palette (by means of a blank touchscreen) did we default to the traditional keyboard set-up/layout? I know that it’s familiar, and it has a quick learning curve, but is it the best way?

Maybe Google had it correct with Google Tap after all…

Flex-I-Spatch

Well, I had some more fun with Inskscape today, and I wanted to share it with you.

(I was very much inspired by Joseph Joseph. You should really check out all of their awesome gadgets!!!)

Without further ado, I give you the Flex-I-Spatch:

Thanks for looking!!!

FREE CAKE!!!

…and now you know what happens when you leave me alone with Inkscape and daFont.com.