300 Words, 2 Minutes – New Site

300 Words, 2 Minutes – New Site

300 Words

Well, it looks like 300 Words, 2 Minutes is actually gonna be an idea that sticks around a while.

To save some wear and tear on my gentle Logorrhea readership, I’ve moved 300 Words, 2 Minutes to its own site, here.

You can also follow along with the hijinks, here on these following channels:

Thanks to everyone who has given their kind and thoughtful feedback on this new content. I’m having a lot of fun with it, and I hope everyone continues to find it engaging, and useful.

300 Words, 2 Minutes: GSD

300 Words, 2 Minutes: GSD

300 Words

What’s the secret to Getting Stuff Done?

The first step is not to conflate being busy, with being productive. Being busy is all about appearances, and focusing on how much time we’re spending on our efforts. But being productive is solely about performance. Results.

The key to being consistently productive is to establish good work behaviours. I recommend the following:

  • Planning: Never start a task or project until you completely understand your deliverables. This seems entirely self-evident – that is, until you have to redo work because you didn’t understand all the requirements, or you misunderstood your assignment.
  • Measurement: Agree upon milestones and metrics before starting work. Understand what “being successful” actually means for your project. How do you know if you’re making progress, if you can’t quantify what you’re doing, how far you’ve come, or how far you have to go? You can’t understand, what you can’t measure.
  • Collaboration: If you have a question about your project, ask. When projects begin to lag, team members not understanding their assignments are usually high on my list of things to investigate. This is especially true for younger workers – they often don’t seek out help, or know when to seek outside help.
  • Reflection: Set periodic breakpoints, to stop and ask yourself “am I working on the right problem?” If you’re not, stop what you’re doing, refocus, and begin again.
  • Communication: My number one secret for successfully Getting Stuff Done, the first time ’round? Communicate, communicate, communicate. Did I mention that you need to communicate?

So: Plan ahead. Measure your work. Collaborate with others. Constantly and continuously reflect upon what you’re doing. Communicate. These foundational work behaviours will give you more than a fighting chance at escaping the “Culture of Busy”, and allow you to finally Get Stuff Done.

Go, and be you.

300 Words, 2 Minutes: No Shortcuts to Success

300 Words, 2 Minutes: No Shortcuts to Success

300 Words

Twenty-five years ago, I worked on an MS-DOS Point-of-Sale system, or POS.

Our POS device was designed to support multitasking, network messaging, fuel dispenser control, credit card readers in the dispensers, and a handful of other serial devices – devices like cash drawers, customer displays, and barcode scanners.

It was an app written to work atop an operating system that was definitely not designed to handle what we threw at it.

I earned my serious, hardcore developer stripes on that system, writing my fair share of interrupt controllers, network protocol queues, and terminate-and-stay-resident drivers – as did some of the most talented developers that I ever had the pleasure of working with.

As I mentioned, a core function of our POS system was controlling fuel dispensers.

Now, it would be nice if all makes and models of fuel dispensers used the same type of wiring, shared the same communications protocols, or had the same feature sets.

No such luck.

An early design decision we made was to use a 3rd party “universal black box”, programmed to abstract the control of all manufacturer’s fuel dispensers, so that we could focus on higher-level fuel functions, like authorizing and cashing out transactions at the pump.

We learned – unfortunately – that our “black box” approach gained us zero actual advantage. We spent way too much precious time, simply trying to understand all the least-common denominator compromises that our “black box” solution made – time that we could have much better spent understanding the pumps ourselves – which was what we really should have been doing all along.

When a feature is supposed to be core to your platform, or critical to its operation, you have to own it completely. 

It’s a lesson companies are still learning today.

There are absolutely no shortcuts to success. 

Go, and be you.

300 Words, 2 Minutes: Ideation

300 Words, 2 Minutes: Ideation

300 Words

“Blue-skying.” “Spitballing.” “Brainstorming.” These phrases are often used synonymously for the concept of “Ideation.”

Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas.

Habitually creative people have a repeatable system for going about being “creative.”

Some go somewhere quiet to contemplate. Some simply block out dedicated time, to work on their craft. Others do their best thinking, by taking long walks; while still others have their “Eureka!” moments in the shower, or on the way home from work, in the car, or on the subway.

Innovation and creativity don’t occur by accident. They are fostered through practice, repetition, and long experience. Learning by doing. Creating good habits. Having a system to get your mind focused on the problem at hand. Removing everything and anything that doesn’t contribute to what you’re wishing to achieve from your field of view.

My favorite Ideation method is to start mentally cataloging what I want to get done for the day, while on my way to get my morning coffee. In fact, the idea for 300 Words, 2 Minutes actually came to me while sitting in my car at Starbucks.

Maybe for you, it’s sitting around a table with your team, and posting stickies on the wall. Or it’s renting out a hotel room for the weekend, to get away and work without being interrupted.

Regardless of the approach you take to getting your creative juices flowing, you should think about Ideation as an ongoing, habitual process – and not just counting on “getting lucky.”

Create a system that works best for you, and your team. Having a structured, repeatable process for Ideation is perhaps the best hedge against the “innovator’s dilemma”, and will keep you atop your game – so that opportunity and preparation can coincide, to create something truly remarkable.

Go, and be you.

300 Words, 2 Minutes

300 Words, 2 Minutes

300 Words

I’m kicking off a new feature, called “300 Words, 2 Minutes.”

Each day, I’m going to do my best to share a couple of minutes of insight – on topics covering business, entrepreneurship, marketing, education, technology – and, sometimes, just something personal.

A short podcast will accompany each day’s segment, so that you can consume the content the way you want – on your commute, working out, or just sitting at your desk.

I thought I would kick off the very first 300 Words, 2 Minutes with a few thoughts on Getting Started.

I know a lot of you have some really great ideas, or life-long passions that you haven’t acted upon, simply because you don’t know how to get started.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret – nobody is ever going to tell you “now is the time to be awesome!” “Hey – time to quit your job and go all in on that great startup idea!

If you’re waiting around for that invitation to start living your passions, you’re going to wait around forever. There won’t be a mystical sign from the Universe that says “now is the time!

You simply have to take the plunge, and start taking concrete actions toward your goals. Take a class. Start a side project. Collaborate with a local non-profit.

The same holds true for gaining life and work experience. There’s always a first time for everything. Many of the projects that I took over the years involved technologies and experiences entirely new to me at the time. In fact, these were some of my most lucrative projects.

Growth comes from putting yourself at risk, and taking on new challenges.

You won’t know where your boundaries are, until you decide to go find them.

I look forward to sharing 300 Words, 2 Minutes with you tomorrow.

Go, and be you.