An interesting tool for travel planning.
Interesting take on Theory of Constraints
Kathy Sierra talks about an Ultra-Rapid-Design Party with some great brainstorming tips that I’m going to shamelessly steal for my Idea Markets and Innovation Retreats. Here’s how she describes it:
Forget focus groups. Forget endless meetings and brainstorming sessions. Throw an ultra-rapid-design party, and do it in a single day. This approach exploits the wisdom-of-crowds through a process of enforced idea diversity and voting, so no consensus, committee, or even agreement is needed. And it’s way more fun.
The Product Design Dinner Party takes 9 people, a pile of diverse “inputs”, and has each of the 9 people voting on–and pitching–one another’s ideas to continuously reconfigured groups of 3 people, letting the best ideas rise to the top. The process is a little complicated, but it’s derived/modified from an existing rapid-prototyping design I’ll talk about later in the post.
Go to the post for a step-by-step guide. Definitely worth a try.
Bert Decker has a great (and easy) tip to improve your next presentation: Use Black Slides. According to Bert, a blacked out slide (as opposed to justing hitting the “B” key) accomplishes three things:
1. Clear the screen. Once you’re done with the picture, graph or supporting information, you want to remove distraction, and go to a black slide so you can amplify, tell a story, or make an additional point, etc.
2. Black out the screen. Simply put, so you can walk in front of the projector. Almost all meeting, board and conference rooms are poorly designed so that they have the projector screen right in the middle of the room or stage. It should be at the right or left, so YOU can be in the middle. After all, YOU should be the center of your presentation, not your slides.
3. Totally change your mindset. Change he creation and emphasis of the presentation. This is by far the most important of all, and needs it’s own paragraph.
NYT article on the perils of multitasking. The money quote:
In a recent study, a group of Microsoft workers took, on average, 15 minutes to return to serious mental tasks, like writing reports or computer code, after responding to incoming e-mail or instant messages. They strayed off to reply to other messages or browse news, sports or entertainment Web sites.
There are some other good studies mentioned in the article. Worth a read — if you’ve got the time.
Not sure where the legal ethics gurus come down on this one (I think I can guess), but Google has now rolled out a Pay-Per-Action advertising service, which requires you to pay only if the user completes a clearly defined action after clicking on an add — such as buying something, joining a mailing list, etc. Pricier than AdWords, but much more bang for the buck.
Giving a 1 percent raise boosts employee job performance by roughly 2 percent, but offering that same money in the form of a bonus that is strongly linked to a job well done can improve job performance by almost 20 percent, finds a new Cornell study on the relationship between pay and performance.
A quick tip for meeting the family of a decedent at estate wrap-up time, courtesy of Tricks of the Trade:
If you have to interview a grieving family after a death, a good question to ask is: “Did he have a good sense of humor?”
This will almost always shake the family out of their grief, making it easier for them to talk to you, and bring up an anecdote that really shows the character of the dead person.
If you want to see some best-in-breed presentations, check out Slideshare’s World’s Best Presentation Contest. Slideshare is an online, presentation sharing application. Worth a look.
Readers, I need your help. I’m designing an intensive, two-day, innovation-focused law firm retreat that I can sell to medium and large firms. Before it goes “live” I need to do it at least twice to iron out the kinks and make it hum.
Here’s what I’d like to do:
Let me know if you are interested. You can e-mail me at Matt@LexThink.com if you or your firm would like to participate. Thanks.
Hugh at Gaping Voidingvoid recaps some “lessons learned” in his first two years of working with Stormhoek winery. Just a few of his points should resonate with anyone (including lawyers) trying to build an amazing business:
14. We can make this as lucrative and as intellectually stimulating as we want to. The ball is in our court.
16. What’s driving innovation and sales on our end is not a technological issue, it’s a cultural issue. Get the right culture going, and the tech looks after itself.
17. When I started working in the advertising business as a young buck in London, back in the late 1980s, Bartle Bogle Hegarty were considered the best game in town, even if they were not the biggest agency. Every young advertising student aspired to have a gig there one day, everyone daydreamed of one day having John Hegarty return their calls. The were considered the Praetorian Guard. Within two years from now, I want every smart, driven young person in the wine trade to be thinking the same way about us. That to me would be a far more worthy definition of “success”, than how many cases we sell.
The next St. Louis Idea Market is April 16th at the Lucas School House. I’m abandoning the CollectiveX Networking Site we’d been using, and instead posting it as an event on MeetUp.com. Here’s a link to sign up.
The Techshow Blogger Pub Crawl is all set. Here’s a map of the crawl with the times for each stop. Here’s the agenda:
7:00 pm Start at the Sheraton Hotel
7:00 - 8:30 Lucky Strike Lanes, 322 E. Illinois Street, directly across from the Sheraton.
8:30 - 9:30 P.J. Clark’s, 302 E. Illinois Street, in the same building as Lucky Strike.
9:30 – 10:30 DeLaCosta, 465 E. Illinois Street, a swanky new bar just down the street from P.J. Clark’s.
10:30 – 11:30 Dick’s Last Resort, 435 E Illinois Street, a fun bar right on the river.
11:30 – ????? Lizzie MacNeill’s, 400 N. McClurg Court, right next door to the Sheraton.
I hope you can make it. Sign up here (or just join us on the Crawl).
I am heading to Chicago this morning for ABA’s Techshow. This afternoon, I’ll plot a course for the First Annual Techshow Blogger Pub Crawl, and post it here. We’ll meet at 7:00 pm in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel and Towers and hit 4-5 bars within walking distance. If you are going to be in Chicago for Techshow, or live there and want to join us, please sign up here.
Oh, and don’t worry if you can’t join us at the beginning. When I post the schedule, I’ll let you know what bars we’ll be at (and when), so you can join us in the middle or the end.
ABA’s Techshow is just around the corner, and we need to do something to get the bloggers together. Since there’s nothing formal planned for us, I’m organizing the First Annual Techshow Blogger Bar Crawl. We are going to meet in the Sheraton Hotel’s lobby at 7:00 pm on Thursday, March 22nd and head out on a walking (and drinking) tour of the neighborhood. I’ll have more info on the places we’ll be soon, but expect to hit between three and five bars. I will enforce the schedule, so if you can’t make the beginning of the crawl, join us along the way.
I’ve set up a Techshow Bar Crawl page here to register. Cost is free. See you next week!
How about implementing “No E-Mail Fridays” at your office? Check out this ABC News article to learn why it may be a good idea.
Just noticed Google’s Local Business Center. It allows you to add your business’ name, address, etc. to Google’s listings. It also allows you to offer coupons. A must-do for all small businesses — including law firms.
Here’s another fantastic Parent Hack that could work wonders in an office setting:
My 7 year-old son can be particularly stubborn and no matter how much we beg, plead, or reason with him, he stands his ground. Sometimes I resort to bribery. He likes puzzles so I came up with puzzles to help him do certain things. It started the summer before Kindergarten — he already knew how to tie his shoes, but claimed that he “forgot” how over the summer since he wore sandals all summer. So I found a pair of running shoes that he wanted online (I used Zappos.com) and printed out two full-sized pictures. One was in color and the other black and white. I then decided that I wanted him to tie his shoes for two weeks on his own before I would buy him the shoes he wanted so I cut the colored picture into the appropriate number of “puzzle” pieces. Then every time he tied his shoes on his own he earned one piece that he could tape onto the black and white picture in the correct spot. When the puzzle was complete we ordered him his shoes.
What are the goals for your office, and what is an appropriate reward when the goals are met? Can you make a huge "puzzle" for your workers to complete as they reach appropriate milestones?
If you are looking for something cool to give to your clients, try to find someone who makes this (courtesy of Autoblog). It is a feature on the new Renault Twingo, and may not be for sale, but if you can find it and give it away, you’ll be the talk of the conference. I know I want one.
Gorb allows, even insists on, anonymous comments and ratings about an individual. Like someone? Hate them? Tell Gorb all about it, using their handy Ajax slider to rate them from 1 – 10 in their professional and personal lives, and leave written comments as well.
According to Gorb:
The professional marketplace in general is inefficient when it comes to distributing information about a person’s reputation. Many of us often make daily decisions based on relatively few inputs, some which are poorly validated. When these decisions begin to form the basis for our perceptions about others that we don’t know, it should be no surprise that there’s a hit-and-miss nature to this “off-line” system!
On the other hand, many of us also use people that we know very well as references to gather information and make decisions about others. The GORB aims to leverge reliable professional references and personal opinions to provide a balanced and widely adopted “online” rating system, that allows us to gauge the reputations of one another.
What do you think? Would you or your firm tell your clients about The Gorb and ask them for an anonymous review of your services? Why or why not? What are you afraid of?
Quick tip from Parent Hacks that would work for office personnel too:
Our nanny does a lot of our food shopping for us. It’s something for her to do with the baby, and she likes helping out. Usually, I give her a chunk of cash that seems like enough to cover things, and then she gives me the change along with the receipts. Last week it occurred to me that I should just pick up gift cards for her to use! She usually goes to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Both of these places sell gift cards (as do most supermarkets). I can put a big lump sum on each card, and then she no longer needs to worry about keeping my cash separate, etc.
My friend Scott Ginsberg (who has some really cool things up his sleeve, BTW) shares this really great way to connect with someone who doesn’t live or work close by. I’ll let Scott tell the story:
A month ago, I got a surprising email from a woman named Lena West.
Lena lives in New York, which explains why I was so surprised.
See, she invited me to have lunch with her.
A VIRTUAL lunch.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Well, I buy you lunch from your favorite delivery place. Then we eat while chatting on the phone for an hour.”
Hmm. Cool idea.
So, last week we did it.
And our Virtual Lunch rocked.
Lena and I had an enlightening, energizing conversation for over an hour! We talked about websites we loved, books we read, places we traveled, you name it. Other than the obvious physical limitations, it was really no different than having lunch in person.
I challenge you to buy your best, non-local client lunch this week. Let me know how it goes.
I came across this article on Honda from an old issue of CIO Magazine and really liked the part about Honda’s focus on an interesting Japanese concept:
The collaborative environment at Honda is a byproduct of the company’s emphasis on the Japanese concept of the three actuals—go to the actual place, work with the actual people or part and understand the actual situation. Although it might seem unnecessary or impractical, adherence to the concept helped facilitate the efficient design of the ’98 Accord. When the designers weren’t sure whether a part they were designing could actually be welded, for example, they’d drive over to the manufacturing plant to ask a welder directly . A visit to the site about a specific problem not only prevents engineers from becoming detached from the actual process, it often yields insight into a completely unrelated and unforeseen issue, says Shriver.
I’d highly recommend implementing the same concept when working with clients: go to their actual place, work with the actual people, and understand the actual situation.
Lisa Hanneberg writes about the high cost of communication. Required reading (if you’ve got the time) before you send out that next e-mail to 50 people or schedule that next two-hour meeting. If you haven’t got time for the whole post, just think about this:
If your department budget was charged $100 for every minute you spent communicating, would you choose your words more wisely? It is likely that the costs are that high or higher.
I highly recommend this essay by Doc Searls on “Relationship Economies.” In it, he recounts a conversation he had with a Nigerian pastor about markets and transactions:
“Pretend this is a garment”, Sayo said, picking up one of those blue airplane pillows. “Let’s say you see it for sale in a public market in my country, and you are interested in buying it. What is your first question to the seller?”
“What does it cost?” I said.
“Yes”, he answered. “You would ask that. Let’s say he says, ‘Fifty dollars’. What happens next?”
“If I want the garment, I bargain with him until we reach an agreeable price.”
“Good. Now let’s say you know something about textiles. And the two of you get into a long conversation where both of you learn much from each other. You learn about the origin of the garment, the yarn used, the dyes, the name of the artist, and so on. He learns about how fabric is made in your country, how distribution works, and so on. In the course of this you get to know each other. What happens to the price?”
“Maybe I want to pay him more and he wants to charge me less”.
“Yes. And why is that?”
“I’m not sure.”
“You now have a relationship”.
Though price still matters in the developing world, the pastor suggested, relationships matter more:
It’s a higher context with a higher set of values, many of which are trivialized or made invisible when viewed through the prism of price. Relationship is not reducible to price, even though it may influence price. Families and friends don’t put prices on their relationships. (At least not consciously, and only at the risk of cheapening or losing a relationship.) Love, the most giving force in any relationship, is not about exchanging. It is not fungible. You don’t expect a payback or a rate of return on the love you give your child, your wife or husband, your friends.
Read the entire essay the next time you are deciding whether to focus your energies on attracting new clients vs. building stronger relationships with existing ones.
Roy Williams shares 10 Cheap Advertising Ideas in his Monday Morning Memo. My favorite:
10. Spray-Painted Signs. In the early 1970s, “Hamp Baker says Drive with Care” was spray-painted on car hoods salvaged from crumpled automobiles, then those hoods were tied with bailing wire to barbed-wire fences across the state. Nobody in Oklahoma had ever heard of Hamp Baker, but his name was soon a household word. When he ran for public office, he won by a landslide.
If I had a personal injury practice — especially in a rural area — I’d think seriously about giving this one a try. Just make sure you have your state’s disclaimer painted somewhere on the hood too. ;-)
John Moore passed on the Jack Welch Quote:
The three most important things you need to measure in a business are customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and cash flow. If you’re growing customer satisfaction, your global market share is sure to grow, too. Employee satisfaction gets you productivity, quality, pride, and creativity. And cash flow is the pulse—the key vital sign of a company.
If Jack Welch ran a law firm, do you think he’d abandon one, two or all three to focus on measuring billable hours instead?
When we launched retail, I got this group together, people from a variety of walks of life,” says Johnson. “As an icebreaker, we said, ‘Tell us about the best service experience you’ve ever had.’” Of the 18 people, 16 said it was in a hotel. This was unexpected. But of course: The concierge desk at a hotel isn’t selling anything; it’s there to help. “We said, ‘Well, how do we create a store that has the friendliness of a Four Seasons Hotel?’” The answer: “Let’s put a bar in our stores. But instead of dispensing alcohol, we dispense advice.”…”See that? Look at their eyes. They’re learning. There’s an intense moment – like when you see a kid in school going ‘Aha!’
There are two things about this quote that really hit home:
First, how many law firms ask the same question the Apple store designers did (Tell us about the best service experience you’ve ever had?), and actually modeled their firm on that best-in-breed service experience?
Second, how could a “genius bar” be implemented at your firm? Could you open that “bar” at your firm for walk-in clients? What if they paid an AppleCare-like fee to avail themselves of that service?
I bet you could make it work. Let me know if you need help.