Posts tagged “Feature Article

Sounds Extreme

Posted on December 10, 2017

Share

The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum sits on New York’s Upper East Side in a renovated Andrew Carnegie mansion. When Carnegie purchased the land in 1898, it was more than a mile north of what was then considered fashionable society and many levels removed from the deafening steel mills that accelerated his fortune. It seems he wanted space for a garden. On a sunny Sunday morning in October of this year, the Cooper Hewitt galleries are quiet with only a few visitors at such an early hour. I break the silence by tapping a few keys on a dot piano in the Designing with Sound exhibit. The notes present a stark reminder of how sound surrounds us, how sound influences us, and how sound is often most noticeable in its extremes – the overwhelming excess in its presence or…

Future You

Posted on January 8, 2017

Share

My best personal planning occurs when I consider the context of my situation – past, present, future – and act in the best interest of my future self. In its simplest form it’s asking, will I tomorrow be pleased with the decisions I make today? Especially as New Year’s resolutions start to fade into post-holiday realities, I encourage you to plan – and progress – the optimal future you. The Past Recognize the connection of past decisions to present situations. Personal histories in health, in education, in career, in relationships, etc. are too frequently rationalized in hindsight, rather than fully related to the present. In financial hardships, for example, the real villain is often the victim’s past self. The point is not to beat yourself up…

Peer of One

Posted on September 10, 2016

Share

My team was calculating benchmark comparisons for a client, and I called an abrupt mental break. Really, how similar are these peer companies? Is Ford the same as General Motors? Coca-Cola and PepsiCo? Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Citi? Are company components – like people, process, or technology – commodities to be easily transferred? How much of one company would need to be replicated elsewhere in order to produce similar results? Yes, we can compare metrics to identify and apply best practices in domains, but ultimately an organization has its own history, culture and structure at a point in time. It has only one true peer…itself. “…if you want to rework Matisse, you’ll just be a bad Matisse, that’s all.” -Donald Judd It’s similar with individuals. Your specific personality, choices…

Pattern or Prison

Posted on January 2, 2016

Share

I often see patterns in my clients’ (and my own) actions. While mental shortcuts may be helpful to speed decision-making and reinforce comfort zones, they can lock you into unnecessarily tight boundaries. At worst, extremely patterned behavior imprisons thinking, actions and results. Let’s consider three patterns – deferring to planning, precedent or power – that often entrap decision-makers. “What you do as an editor is search for patterns, at both the superficial and ever deeper levels – as deep as you can go…Putting a film together is, in an ideal sense, the orchestration of all those patterns.” –Walter Murch Prisoner of the Plan This prisoner spends an inordinate amount of time setting an overly complex plan, and once it’s set, he never changes it. So much…

How Many Rooms?

Posted on December 26, 2015

Share

I like to use a room analogy when discussing change. It goes a little something like this: Picture yourself walking into an adjoining room that is exactly the same as the one you’re currently in…except for one thing. You get to pick one thing to change. It could be an artifact, a person’s presence, new information, whatever…add, alter or remove. Same thing as you walk into the next room…one more thing. How many rooms would you need to pass through to reach your ideal state? Would you spend more time in some rooms than others? Is there a final room? What can you do now to bypass rooms? It’s a positive (and less morbid) spin on Bill James’ thinking about capacity for action and steering away from situations:…

Reverse Rationalization

Posted on October 26, 2014

Share

Anything can be explained in hindsight. Children often have wonderfully complex excuses. Partners frequently summarize the end of long-term relationships in very simple terms. Our minds constantly generate and rationalize desires. The timing difference is interesting…how we think in the moment versus how we think looking back. “I’m interested in how people understand things in present tense, and not how they tell the story back to themselves in the past. That’s why I’m not that interested in interviews. People create these narratives of themselves, and it becomes a kind of locked path. All the uncertainty and danger and risk and decision-making are ripped from the telling.” –Laura Poitras I occasionally see project teams make two separate sales pitches. The first is in advance of the…

Collect, Edit, Showcase

Posted on June 30, 2014

Share

Much of my consulting work (the work within the work, so to speak) involves collecting, editing and showcasing information. The more successful the project, the more likely each of these processes has been well planned and executed, even if they are only underlying activities within the project. Collect Gather information relevant to the question at hand. Understand the context, obtain qualitative and quantitative data (note: the most challenging step in data analysis is usually getting the data) and review opinions from a wide range of sources. Consider the source of the source. Compare to prior experiences, existing knowledge and recent trends. Begin to analyze and fill in gaps. Edit Perform analysis iterations using an appropriate framework. Understand the evolving conclusions and messages. Prioritize and conduct further research. Focus…