Need to get more done? Try this tip from Scott Berkun:
Here’s a test to help sort how your attention is working for you. Make a list of all the things you read, check, skim, or browse every day (Include every gadget or device you use once a day). Make a second list of why you’re spending your attention on them. What are you trying to achieve or feel? Rank the first list based on the second. Then cut the first list in half or by one-third and see what happens.
I couldn’t resist posting this. It will be on the back of a bowling shirt. More details tomorrow.
A 1997 study found that when people create visual diagrams, they use about 6 to 12 visual elements, or “nodes” to describe a system.
What’s interesting to me is that this is true no matter what tools they used and regardless of the complexity of the system.
Dave suggests that the ways people create diagrams is related to the ways people understand diagrams from others. His thoughts:
1. People construct “mental models” when trying to understand how things work
2. Most mental models seem to be made up of 6-12 components
3. A diagram with more then 13 components will probably not become integrated into people’s consciousness as a mental model
To me, that means that if you want your system to be understood and integrated into people’s thinking as a mental model, you had better boil it down to a simple picture.
If you are a lawyer that uses diagrams to communicate with clients (or juries), you should take another look at your materials and see if you can simplify them. Maybe Bill Gates should take the same advice:
In this slide alone, I count almost 40 components — and I’ve seen a lot of trial graphics that are a whole lot worse.
Writing about 10 ways to get more ideas, Rajesh Setty shares a gem that should be in every lawyer’s toolbox:
4. Harness the power of association
The more you associate things the faster you will get new ideas. Knowledge arbitrage is one way of associating things. Here is a simple way to develop your association muscle. List all the people that are close to you in your network. Also list their current projects and interests – basically list what matters most to these people. Once you have this data handy, whenever you meet a new person, see if there is a match in the interests of the new person and one of your earlier contacts in your network. If there is a mutual gain possible, connect these two people without expecting a gain.
The hidden benefit from the above mentioned approach: The more you do this, the higher the chances that the power of reciprocation will kick in and more people will be introduced to you. The more new people in your life, more fresh perspectives they will bring into your life. In turn, more new ideas will flow in.
This is one of the best ways to keep your existing clients happy and to get more. Can you go though your client list and compile your clients’ current projects and interests? Do you collect this information in your intake process? You should.
Sean D’Souza gives some advice on raising prices in The Price is Never Wrong. A comment to the post caught my eye:
Adam Kayce writes: Darn good point. Every time I’ve raised my prices, not only do I make more money (which is nice), and not only do I seem to get more business (also very nice), but two other things rise, too: what you call “respect”, and “business self-esteem”.
People see me as more of a professional, the more my rates increase. It’s all perceived value.
But also, as I charge more, I give more – and I see my work as more valuable. That’s the business self-esteem rising. I believe it, so I embody it, and the value of the work increases. Great cycle.
I’d never thought about how pricing relates to business self-esteem before. What do you think?
“If you’re a Scanner, you are a very special kind of thinker. Unlike those people who seem to find and be satisfied with one area of interest, you’re genetically wired to be interested in many things. Because your behavior is unfamiliar — even unsettling — to the people around you, you’ve been taught that you’re doing something wrong and you must try to change.
“But what you’ve been told is a mistake — you have been misdiagnosed. You’re a different creature altogether. What you’ve assumed is a disability to be overcome by sheer will is actually an exceptional gift. You are the owner of a remarkable, multitalented brain trying to do its work in a world that doesn’t understand who you are and doesn’t know why you behave as you do.”
I know I am.
I pass on this interesting survey (pointed out by Rob May at BusinessPundit) that suggests that one reason women earn less may be because they prefer the “sure thing” of a fixed salary instead of a riskier (but potentially higher paying) performance-related pay package. What does this say about the partner compensation model in law firms?
I’ve been jonesing for a second monitor since I moved to California (I had a dual monitor setup in my law office). Adding a second monitor to your computer can increase work efficiency by leaps and bounds, and is probably the single best technology “tweak” you can make to improve your productivity.
Now that I’m coming back to St. Louis, and will be setting up a permanent home office, I’ve been on the lookout for a second monitor (or even a third) for my dream technology setup.
On one monitor, I’d have EverNote on all the time. I recently rediscovered this great program and have jumped head first back into it. It is essentially a digital doodle pad that resembles a huge, endless spool of paper. You can drag and drop nearly anything in to it, and it is an AMAZING note-taking/list-making application. If you can forego some of the bells and whistles in the $34.95 TabletPC “plus” edition, it is even free. I haven’t even scratched the surface of what it can do, but I’m already hooked!
On the second monitor (and since this is my dream setup, I’m running three monitors here), I’d have my trusty MindManager Pro with Gyronix’s Results Manager open. For me, there is simply no better way to flesh out ideas and keep track of them than with this combo of fantastic products. Pricey, to be sure, but if you pay attention to this blog, I’ll have an announcement soon telling you how you could win both.
On my third, and primary monitor, I’d have Outlook running in the background with my web browser (Firefox) in the foreground. If you use Outlook, you have to try Anagram. Outlook seems naked to me without it.
Once I get the new setup up and running after the LexThink Lounge, I’ll post some pics.
Here’s a great management idea I’d never heard before from The Window Manager himself:
One of my tasks when I worked at Texas Instruments was to do a “weekly”. For those of you not familiar with this little management tool, this is a bulletized memo that lists the tasks you accomplished for the week, the tasks you are going to do the following week, and what your upcoming schedule looks like, particularly if you’re traveling. It also might include short summaries of customer meetings or market data that was picked up in the field.
My manager collected the weeklies of everyone under him, picked the “best” bullet points, and sent a weekly to his manager. His manager collected the weeklies from HIS people, picked the best bullets, and sent a weekly to HIS manager, and so on up the chain. At twenty-two, I thought it was an accomplishment if one of “my bullets” made it into the VP’s weekly since it had to percolate up three or four layers of weeklies to make it to that level.
If you work for (or by) yourself, do your “weekly” on Friday, put it in a drawer, and then review it on Monday. However, instead of listing the tasks you accomplished, think a bit bigger. List the things you are proud you accomplished, and things you have to do next week that will make you proud and/or happy when they are done. If you are lucky enough to have a support group, share your weekly accomplishments with one another.
Ever have a client that’s has a problem you are struggling to solve? Here’s a tip from Noise Between Stations that could help:
When you’re trying to solve a problem and you’re stuck it’s because you’re trying to solve it in your head. Just as you can do simple calculations in your head but need a calculator for everything else, you can’t solve tough business problems in your head.
When you draw, build, write, or use something that is physical, your physical senses help you understand more about the situation. You more fully understand the problem than if you only thought about it. Financial analysts do this by writing calculations on the back of a napkin or playing with numbers in a spreadsheet. Designers do this by sketching on paper or carving foam in the shape of a product. Engineers do it by combining parts they have on hand to make something new.
It’s important to ignore how well you’re doing what you’re doing, because that will distract you from accomplishing the goal. This may go against our usual inclinations to do things “right.” We’re taught to think things through and carefully design a solution. But when you’re stuck we need to overcome this tendency. Free your mind from all the rules you normally follow. Pick up the pencil and just sketch.
You might even use techniques you know to be incorrect because they help you move more quickly. This is good. The are only two guidelines here:
1. Do it quickly
2. Create something tangible
I can’t recommend this tactic enough. When I was mediating custody disputes, I used huge easel-sized 3M Post-It notes to sketch out custody scenarios with my clients. I’d draw a month’s worth of days in a grid, and would give each client their own big Post-it to diagram their ideal custody situation. Often times, once the parents got up and put marker to paper, they broke out of their mindset that a reasonable custody arrangement couldn’t be negotiated.
If you have an office or meeting room, take down some of your diplomas and expensive art work and instead throw up some big Post-it notes (or a whiteboard) on the wall and see how many more client problems you’ll solve.
I have been using my HP tc1100 Tablet PC alongside a Sony U71 for a few days and the solution I have chosen to keep them in sync is FolderShare, a free (in beta) service from the Windows Live offering from Microsoft. FolderShare claims to be a simple solution to keep multiple computers in sync no matter where they are, provided they are connected to the web. I have been using it and so far I am very happy with the service and how well it works.
I’ve tried FolderShare a while back and was impressed. When I go back to multiple computers again, I’ll be sure to give it another whirl.
Here’s a must-read article from Wired, that shows how technology has made us less productive. Some quotes from the story:
Workers completed two-thirds of their work in an average day last year, down from about three-quarters in a 1994 study, according to research conducted for Day-Timers, an East Texas, Pennsylvania-based maker of organizational products.
The biggest culprit is the technology that was supposed to make work quicker and easier, experts say.
“Technology has sped everything up and, by speeding everything up, it’s slowed everything down, paradoxically,” said John Challenger, chief executive of Chicago-based outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
“We never concentrate on one task anymore,” Challenger said. “You take a little chip out of it, and then you’re on to the next thing. It’s harder to feel like you’re accomplishing something.”
1) Do your slides contain mostly bullet points?
2) Do you have more than 12-15 words on a slide?
3) Do your slides add little or no new info beyond what you can say in words?
4) Are your slides, in fact, not memorable?
5) Are your slides emotionally empty?
6) Do your slides fail to encourage a deeper connection to or understanding of the topic?
7) Do your slides distort the data? (That’s a whooooole different thing I’m not addressing now)
8) Do your slides encourage cognitive weakness? (refer to Tufte)
A “Yes” to any of those could be a huge red flag that something’s wrong.
If you’re still committed to slides, or if you’re certain you need them, here’s my favorite overall recommendation: Put each slide on trial for its life. Ask it to defend itself. Show no mercy.
As I finish up my preparations for the ABA Techshow, I’ll be giving my slides another once-over. I’ll post them up by tomorrow.
I’m back in St. Louis for a few days, trying to sort out some living arrangements when my time in California comes to an end. I’m also closing some open loops on a few projects I’m working on. I’ll be back blogging with a vengeance on Friday.
If you’re shooting for second place, your strategy is determined by the market leader.
- “You must discover the essence of the leader and then present the prospect with the opposite. (In other words, don’t try to be better, try to be different.”
Russell Beattie reminds us to focus on the bottom line:
But say you do have something cool, and your new innovation has that 10x improvement that a new service needs to really take off. Not that there’s a lot of this out there, but still. You can create a new website, fill it with all the goodness in the world, be good to your users, and be a good netizen and use every open standard there is while you’re at it, if at the end of the day your users didn’t put money into your bank account, it’s a useless waste of time for everyone involved. I mean, hey, if you want to create the next non-profit service like Wikipedia, all the more power too you. But if you want to get VC cash, an office in downtown Palo Alto, do a bunch of development, attract lots of users and pretend you’re a business? Then act like one, create something of real value and make some real money from it.
If you haven’t got your invitation for LexThink! Lounge yet, don’t worry. Nobody has. We are putting together our list, checking it twice, and plan on sending invitations out next week. Still didn’t get one, let us know you’d like to come. E-mail me at Matt@LexThink.com and we’ll see what we can do. We only have room for 100, but may be able to open up the event at 9:00 pm or so for one heck of an after party.
I’m still laughing at this video. Not entirely work safe. Hilarious.
If you want to understand how children today use the web (primarily MySpace), and the implications for professional service providers (or just for parents), read Danah Boyd’s paper, titled Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth Heart MySpace.
I have to admit, I’m intrigued:
One single system to run your business.
No need for other enterprise software nor middleware.
No need for hierarchies nor information tree structures.
No need for management to run the workflow.
Enter the future at your own pace, start small or big.
Refine your business model and processes continuously.
And yes, you’re not the first to utter unbelievable, bollocks, bullshit, etc. under your breath.
We like that, leaves us only one task: Prove that the system actually works.
Would that not be kind of cool if we did?
FRONT PAGE DISCLAIMER: This is no system for the timid or the ones looking for off-the-rack solutions. It requires hard work, creativity, rethinking of business models and a strong stomach, just like business should be. It can be frustrating. A system for the few.
But then you may beat the heck out of your competition. That’s what the system is all about.