Idea Garage Sale and Spring Cleaning

As I’m finally getting settled into my new place, I’m no longer surrounded by boxes and piles of "things" that need to be put away.  I still have, however, piles of ideas, bookmarks and links that have been residing in my head or my "to blog" folder. 

So, like I’ve done before, I’m throwing them up here in a kind of Carnival of the Leftovers, Part Duex:

Some quick thoughts:

On Interstate 44, all the way from the Oklahoma Border to St. Louis, why is it necessary to have mile makers EVERY 2/10’ths OF A MILE?  You can actually see the next mile marker as you are passing the previous one.  Stupid.  Seriously, how much money did it cost Missouri taxpayers to do this? 

Why must we walk in circles?

And if we’re walking in circles, let’s at least make a cool map.

Cool Idea Number One:  Start a Swing for the Fence award.

Cool Idea Number Two:  Bathroom Bingo:

During the tour [of the otherwise unspectacular church building] we were also shown the restrooms. As the pastor opened the door to the ladies room (it was empty), we stepped into an oasis. Plush walls and carpets, gorgeous faucets, changing rooms, and a spa-like atmosphere gave a new meaning to the word "rest-room." The men’s room was almost as impressive, but with slightly less floral patterns.

The pastor said they chose to spend a significant amount of money on the restrooms instead of anywhere else in the building because they were convinced that the return on investment would be higher than anywhere else. He’s probably right.

Cool Idea Number Three:  Name Tags that Do More.

Speaking of Ideas (from an amazing essay):

Pay attention to the idea that won’t leave you alone — this is taken from Paul Hawken’s Growing a Business. Sometimes an idea catches hold of you and you find you can’t put it down. Pay attention to that! Just start working on it. Can’t get yourself to do anything on it? Move on. Find yourself waking up out of bed to write down new ideas about it? That’s a good one to choose.

If you keep your secrets from the market, the market will keep its secrets from you — entrepreneurs too often worry about keeping their brilliant secrets locked away; we should all worry much more about springing a surprise on a disinterested market (anyone remember the Segway?). To quote Howard Aiken: "Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats."

Immediate yes is immediate no — does everyone immediately tell you your idea is great? Run away from it. If the idea is that obvious, the market will be filled with competitors, and you’ll find yourself scrambling. One good test: when the New York Times Magazine puts out its annual "Year in Ideas" issue, is your idea in it? Then don’t do it. You’re already too late.

Burning down the professional service firm?  The Phoenix of Professional Service Firms.

Open up your own firm’s Idea Market:

Rite-Solutions has created an internal idea stock exchange where employees can suggest the company invest in new technology, enter into a new business channel, implement a cost-efficiency initiative … etcetera. Submitted ideas become mock stocks and employees read an “expect-us” (not a prospectus) detailing how the idea can benefit the company. These ideas-turned-stocks are then listed in the Rite-Solutions “Mutual Fun” board where every employee is given $10K in stock market fantasy funds to buy, sell, and trade in the ideas they believe Rite-Solutions should focus on.

Find your firm’s Innovation Fulcrum:

What’s the number of product or service offerings that would optimize both your revenues and your profits? For most firms, it’s considerably lower than the number they offer today. The fact is, companies have strong incentives to be overly innovative in new product development. But continual launches of new products and line extensions add complexity throughout a company’s operations, and as the costs of managing that complexity multiply, margins shrink. To maximize profit potential, a company needs to identify its innovation fulcrum–the point at which an additional offering destroys more value than it creates.

Goal Granularity:

The second key takeaway was the impact of the goal granularity to successful collaborations.  Said another way: collaborating around a shared mission can be much less effective than collaborating around a shared project goal.

Corporate Lawyers, are you ready for this world:

Capitalism normally does a good job of aligning the needs of buyers and sellers. Make a better widget and the world is yours. Capitalism is built from certain legal and financial building blocks. Contract law, tort, competition law. Property rights. Stable currencies to enable exchange of value over time as well as space. Freedom of expression is part too — the message “better widgets! over here!” is an essential part of “the market”.

But I feel we’re not there yet. We’ve created many new “ownership” and “transaction” technologies over time. Limited-liability corporations, partnerships, co-operatives; equities, debt and derivatives.

We just don’t have the mechanics to deal with a networked world and mass-participation in that network. Municipal networks are controversial because the only co-ordination mechanism is the force of government and the state. This is crude and dangerous; we contaminate the network with the power to tax, and the centuries of fighting we’ve undertaken to limit and mollify that urge.

Legal technology vendors, are you ready for this one:

In the summer of 2006, twenty-somethings will be busting out of graduate school [or law school] powered by a brand new set of productivity tools. Think about the jump from typewriters to word processors. Think about how, in the 1980s, our parents had to struggle to learn to use spreadsheets like VisiCalc and Lotus 1-2-3. We are on the verge of experiencing a jump in the capabilities of office tools that is just as significant as the jump that occurred when the first PCs landed on people’s desks. Why is this jump so big, and what does it have to do with the class of 2006? What are these people capable of? Well, to begin with, for most of them, the internet has been around since before they started high school.

The average MBA graduates in 2006 are not just knowledge workers. They are capable of being highly networked internal entrepreneurs and innovation creators. Their ability to connect is not just about email, BlackBerries, text messages and voice-mails. They are intimately familiar with all those tools, but ultimately, expertise with those one-to-one connectivity tools is just the price of admission.

What makes these new graduates so effective is their ability to work efficiently with large virtual teams and their amazing ability to maximize the power of their personal networks.

Real Estate Lawyers and Agents, are you ready for this one:

Take a few more bricks out of the anticompetitive walled garden real-estate agents have built around their unearned 6 percent commissions. The Times reports today on the imminent and much-anticipated launch of Zillow — a site from the founder of Expedia with big backing that will provide more open data on home prices — and throws in other sites aiming to break up the real-estate gang: Redfin, which will allow online bidding and negotiation, and PropertyShark, which takes listings in 15 cities. Add these together and you have the means to knock agents out of pricing and listing and negotiation.

Great Advice:

From Mike McLaughlinSadly, too many of us fail to create compelling and understandable descriptions of what we actually do for clients.To keep options open for serving a wide range of clients–across industries and business processes–consultants risk a loss of clarity in their marketing. The result: no one knows what they do.

From Kathy SierraRisk-aversion is the single biggest innovation killer, and of course it’s not just Microsoft that’s been infected. Taking risks is… risky. But if not taking risks is even riskier, then WTF?  …  Blogging has not made this easier… if anything, the idea that a gazillion bloggers and commenters (or even ONE loud one) will seize any opportunity to find fault with your ideas and attempts can dampen one’s willingness to be brave. So here’s my quarterly reminder to all (me included) that if you’re not doing something that someone hates, it’s probably mediocre.

From Scott Ginsberg: BE the change you want to see in the world. Be brilliant at the basics. Be the first one. Be the only one. Be unforgettable. Be interesting. Be a sleeper. Be that guy. Be the world’s expert on yourself. Be better than yesterday, but not as good as tomorrow. Be confident enough to be humble. But be somebody who reminds everybody of nobody else in the world.  AND DON’T wish it was easier, wish you were better.

From Pamela SlimDon’t be influenced by either side of the feedback pendulum.  Try not to get too excited when people are giving you raving accolades.  In the same vein, try not to get too upset when they give brutal criticism.  You need to have a very clear sense of yourself and remain focused on what your business is and how it will add value to your customers.  If you try to please those that think you are great, you can get paralyzed trying to live up to an impossible standard.  If you try to please your detractors and "fix" what they think is wrong with you, you will come from a place of unworthiness.  Learn from all feedback and keep a steady course towards your long-term vision.

From Marcus BuckinghamFind out what you don’t like doing and stop doing it.

Here’s another favorite quote:  "When you’re done with square one, pick it up and take it with you."  Horse trainer Linda Parelli (found  here)

Anyone else got some ideas they want to get rid of?  Tag them :

Now, back to the basement, I’ve got a bunch more stuff to give away.

2 Responses to Idea Garage Sale and Spring Cleaning
  1. Robert Millard
    June 14, 2006 | 6:34 pm

    Thanks for the reference! Rob.

  2. jessica kardon
    June 15, 2006 | 12:58 am


    I really enjoy reading your blog. If i were you i would go to and submit thie blog and let thousands of others see it for free. well i look forward to all the updates. thansk again!!


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