Issue #42

In this edition: innovation hours, new skills for work, product strategy, acronymed frameworks, dying jobs, ancient maps, worldwide sunsets, zombies, and more.

Issue #42

Welcome to Filament's Idea Surplus Disorder newsletter. I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving, and I apologize in advance for adding another email to your sales-offer-ridden inbox (Pro tip: use Sanebox).

In this edition: innovation hours, new skills for work, product strategy, acronymed frameworks, dying jobs, ancient maps, worldwide sunsets, zombies, and more.

I’m Matt Homann, the founder of Filament, and I’m glad you’re here!

Innovation Hours with Matt

If you've got a challenge to solve and want to experience my Idea Surplus Disorder in person, I'm opening up five "Innovation Hours" next Friday (12/8). Click here to grab a time with me.

My only ask is that you commit to donating the value of the time with me to a local nonprofit helping families during the holidays – and you can wait until after we meet to determine what that value is.

Free Meeting Workshop Tuesday

We've refined our full-day Meeting Mastery Workshop and are offering a condensed version at tomorrow's New Skills For Work. You'll learn simple ways to improve all of your meetings. Sign up here.

Ideas + Insights

I'm thinking of using this ICBD framework to help our team set their 2024 goals:

ICBD—or Intentions ("I'll devote 40% of my time to this project"), Concerns ("I’ve been having supply chain nightmares"), Boundaries ("No answering emails after 5:30 pm"), and Dreams ("If we're successful, we’ll create a product that solves a big problem for customers"). ICBD helps team members clarify how everyone is actually showing up in the work.
This is key, because these feelings and opinions aren’t often made explicit from the jump; they can be left unspoken, which makes it tough to nurture clarity and alignment. When a new project kicks off, it might feel like a misuse of time to explore everyone’s wishes and worries. But making space for that kind of sharing can boost trust and alignment—and even help a team illuminate its purpose and strategy. Because if you’re expecting top-notch cross-functional work, you first need to clarify the goals and hopes of those doing the work.

There's lots of meat in this overview of the seven lenses of product strategy.

Forget just swinging for the fences. Build ABC Goals instead:

  • "Make sure you have three goals: An A Goal, a B Goal, and a C Goal." Soon after the race, I realized that the core principle behind the system applied well beyond running.
  • For any arena of life, you can create an A Goal, B Goal, and C Goal. On days when you feel great, you hit your A Goal. On days when you feel ok (most days!), you hit your B Goal. On days when you feel bad, you hit your C Goal.
  • The ABC Goal System removes any intimidation or guilt: As long as you hit your C Goal, you're making forward progress.

PACE is another way to think about goals and planning that comes from the US Military. You need a Primary plan, an Alternate, a Contingency, and an Emergency. Here's how PACE works in case the zombie in the parking lot wants to eat your brain:

  • Primary: Check the parking lot for zombies before you park
  • Alternate: Run away from the zombie
  • Contingency: Hide from the zombie and wait for the cavalry
  • Emergency: Blast the zombie

Research shows that introducing lower-quality offerings can increase the sales of your higher-margin premium products.

Even the best jobs are only good seventy percent of the time

If you have a great job you will find yourself questioning three days out of ten what you are doing, why you are doing it and if you are any good. The reasons for this are three-fold. First, do recognize that you are being paid for what you do and the more you are paid the harder the job is and the problems and troubles you must deal with. Often the challenges or the situations or the people you have to deal with require you to steel yourself with increased resolve. Second, if you have a great job it is one that is growing you and sometimes throws you challenges that require you to build new muscles and do new things. Learning is never easy and if you are growing there will be days that the pain will feel more like a signal that you dislike your job rather than you are building new expertise. The best jobs have flow which is a combination of competence and challenge and sometimes the challenge can be quite daunting. Finally, we are all living in a time of great change, chaos and velocity which is filled with uncertainty. The most relevant and most transformative industries are in the eye of the storm and this can make a day at work feel like a day in the high-speed spin cycle of a laundry machine. And with today’s health, economic and social challenges, one often longs for a pause or rewind button.

Here's a deep dive into the anatomy of (nearly) every design thinking workshop.

How many other professions will come to the same realization about the end of coding as this author did?

When I got into programming, it was because computers felt like a form of magic. The machine gave you powers but required you to study its arcane secrets—to learn a spell language. This took a particular cast of mind. I felt selected. I devoted myself to tedium, to careful thinking, and to the accumulation of obscure knowledge. Then, one day, it became possible to achieve many of the same ends without the thinking and without the knowledge.

If you need to find some more creative solutions to a problem, try Pointstorming.

Restauranteur Danny Meyer shares his Five Steps for Fixing Mistakes:

First, be aware you made it. If you're not aware, you're nowhere. Number two, acknowledge it. Number three, apologize for it. Number four, act on it. And number five, apply additional generosity. And we have found time and time again, this happens all day long, because again, restaurants just like everything else in life are just a series of mistakes. 

There were a few new ones for me on this list of facilitation-related books.

Fun Finds

Words of Wisdom

"Invest in your opportunities, not your problems." – Peter Drucker
"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it" – William Arthur Ward
"The creative adult is the child who has survived." – Ursula K. Le Guin
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” ― George R.R. Martin
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them." – John F. Kennedy
"Our deeds, no matter how insignificant they may feel, are replete with meaning, and of vast consequence, and that they constantly impact upon the unfolding story of the world, whether we know it or not." – Nick Cave
"Knowledge is not a substitute for ingenuity, merely an accelerant." – Claire North
"Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least." — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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