Idea Surplus Disorder #47

In this issue, a Filament framework to kick off every meeting, why strategy and planning aren't the same thing, the pursuit of useless knowledge, logic boxes, crayons, cheese, robots, Ferris Bueller, and more.

Idea Surplus Disorder #47

Good morning all – and happy 2024! I promised this edition last week but caught a bug while traveling. I hope you all were able to get your year started off without me. ;-)

Over the next several issues, I'm experimenting with a few additions to Idea Surplus Disorder that I hope you'll like. This week, I'm sharing a favorite Filament framework with an embedded video and downloadable worksheet you can print and use in your meetings.

Meetings, Methods, Tools + Training

At Filament, we begin nearly every meeting with a simple exercise that prompts everyone in the room to share what's on their mind and helps us set the course for the day ahead. It's called I Wish, I Wonder, I Worry, and here's how it works:

  • We give each participant a half-page worksheet (embedded below) and a marker. The limited size of the card encourages brevity and clarity of thought.
  • Next, we ask the room to consider a topic connected to the purpose of our meeting, such as, "As I imagine our next three years ..." or "As we launch this project ..." and then ask everyone to quickly write their responses to these three prompts:
    • I wish we would ...
    • I wonder if we could ...
    • I worry that we won't ...
  • After 3-4 minutes, we select a volunteer to share their thoughts on just one of the prompts they choose (vs. answering them all). This person then picks the next participant to share, creating a chain until everyone has had a turn. We encourage participants to stick to their written thoughts to make the exercise go quickly.
  • We conclude the exercise by acknowledging the shared ideas and appreciating everyone's input. This is a great opportunity to highlight common themes or interesting insights that emerged.

This simple yet effective exercise is a great way to kick-start a session, ensuring that every participant begins with a sense of involvement and purpose. Try it out in your next group gathering and see how it transforms the dynamics of your meeting.

I Wish I Wonder I Worry Video

Ideas + Insights:

Strategy and Planning are not the same thing:

I find strategy and planning to be treated as substitutes. In particular, planning is consistently utilized as a substitute for strategy. In this substitute capacity, planning is always called strategic planning because every organization knows that it needs something with ‘strategy/strategic’ in its title.
Strategy is the act of making an integrated set of choices, which positions the organization to win; while planning is the act of laying out projects with timelines, deliverables, budgets, and responsibilities

Strategy is your Future Competitive Advantage, but it has a shelf life. Every year, you need to challenge the key assumptions you've made and ask these three questions:

  • Are our customers adding new types of firms or going to other firms for new capabilities?
  • What are our key competitive advantages that we believe we have and are they truly advantages today or are they anchors that hold us back?
  • If we were to start our company today with all our assets and no constraints except law and science, given everything we know what would our company look like?

The usefulness of useless knowledge (from 1939!):

Throughout the whole history of science most of the really great discoveries which had ultimately proved to be beneficial to mankind had been made by men and women who were driven not by the desire to be useful but merely the desire to satisfy their curiosity.

Are you stuck in a logic box?

The logic box is what you find yourself in when you think you are making analytically solid choices among various options but haven’t understood that the overall concept is misguided or flawed. There may be many defensible reasons that one possible choice is clearly better than the others. But the area in which you have chosen to operate is in the wrong box.

Find more breakthrough ideas with walks and talks:

A walk-and-talk is a moveable salon. A small group of people walk together for a week, having casual conversations side-by- side during most of the day…By the end of the week, every person present has walked about 100 km and has had deep conversations with all the others.

I love these tips from the book How to Talk to Anyone:

  • Pretend your eyes are glued to your conversation partner’s with sticky warm taffy. Don’t break eye contact even after he or she has finished speaking. When you must look away, do it ever so slowly, reluctantly, stretching the gooey taffy until the tiny string finally breaks.
  • Don’t flash an immediate smile when you greet someone, as though anyone who walked into your line of sight would be the beneficiary. Instead, look at the other person’s face for a second. Pause. Soak in their persona. Then, let a big, warm, responsive smile flood over your face and overflow into your eyes. It will engulf the recipient like a warm wave. The split-second delay convinces people your flooding smile is genuine and only for them.”

Instead of measuring your 2024 success in a pass/fail format like we do with our laundry (is it done or not?), think about them in a cycle:

We're used to going, is the laundry done or is it not done? Your laundry exists in a cycle. You have clothes that are clean in the closet. You have clothes that are on your body. You have clothes that are dirty on the floor. you have clothes that are dirty in the hamper...That's a cycle. It's ok for any of it to be in that cycle.

There are many great suggestions in these 100 tiny changes to transform your life.

Fun Finds

Words of Wisdom

“Health lies in action, and so it graces youth. Let us ask the gods not for possessions, but for things to do; happiness is in making things rather than in consuming them.” – Will Durant
"Don't worry about being the most interesting person in the room; just try to be the most interested person in the room." – James Clear
"You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." — Martin Luther King Jr
“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.” – Austin Kleon
"The longer I live, the more deeply I learn that love — whether we call it friendship or family or romance — is the work of mirroring and magnifying each other's light." – James Baldwin
"You can always tell someone to go to hell tomorrow." – Tom Murphy
 “Never block the road to inquiry." – Charles Sanders Pierce
“Pride is a funny thing. It’s enjoyed most by those who deserve it least." – Josiah Bancroft

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