August 15, 2015

Do You Know Your Thinking?

The challenge we all have is we attempt to understand the world by looking for similar knowledge or events that we can build on. Words build on words you know. This works well for hunter-gathers who need to find food and avoid predators. However we have several weaknesses and biases in our thinking.

We interpret information in a way that confirms our pre-conceived notions. This is known as confirmation bias (us thinking how smart we are). If it doesn't fit or we don't understand we will ignore it. Needless to say we aren’t always that smart. Look at the low success rate of predictions.

“Thinking Fast and Slow” talks about how much energy it takes to think deeply. Our mind saves effort by learning rules of thumb and routines to make decisions automatically. Have you ever gotten to work and not remembered how you got there? Unless you had a close call or an emotional event most of the trip is ignored.

Emotions control our decisions. Ray Gery teaches ,“What we think about determines how we feel. How we feel determines what we say or don’t say and what we do or don’t do.” Often we make the decision and then think of way to justify our decision.

As humans we do not easily understand the very complex subjects like the Europe’s economy and how to fix it. We simplify, ignore what we don’t know, and come up with a few fixes that we hope will help. Heard we are probably wrong more than half the time, yet we really like to be right.

What is the first step to better thinking? Humility. Realize you need input from other people.

Second realize it is a thinking moment, and take your time to really understand as much as you can. Detail as much data as possible. Data driving decisions are more likely successful.

Keep learning every day. That way you are prepared when you really need to learn something important.

We can do better, we owe it to ourselves and the world.

August 8, 2015

3 Networking Secrets

Being self-employed had to learn how to network. Being naturally shy it was difficult at first until learning these secrets.

1. Act as the Host/Hostess
Help someone prepare, show someone around, tell them where to find the registration table or bar. It is natural to start conversations with the people you help.

2. Ask Questions
People like talking about themselves. It is natural. So asking their name (and repeat it soon), what they do, how does the customer benefit, why they like their job, and who is their best prospect? After talking with you the good listener, they are ready to hear you and help.

3. Treat Everyone as Your Peer
Realized this week have done this my whole life with everyone from presidents to the new hire. Everybody is wired to be concerned about their own status with their neighbors. By being your equal they feel comfortable, and so are you. 

The secrets are all based on focusing on the other people and their needs. Not focusing on our nervousness and neediness. By being human we make better connections and get customers and friends.

Networking is helping other people get what they want. Everyone offers valuable services and products including you. We add value when we connect people, which is why we network. By helping others we get what we want.

August 1, 2015

Values Manage Your Career

Your work is strongly affected by how you feel about it. The more important you think it is, the more value and purpose you see. Drives us to be better.

My work is driven by these values:
1.      Make the World Better.
2.      Think (Disruptively)
3.      Productive Work
4.      Help Others
5.      Mastery, Meaning & Wisdom

#1 Make the World Better is influenced by Bill Boeing’s value “To Improve the World”.  Want leave the world a better place because of what I do. Henry Ford, Elon Musk, Thomas Edison, Rick Warren, Monet, Robert Schuler, Napoleon Hill are a few of the people we respect because of what they have done improving the world.

#2 Thinking Disruptively does not mean I want attention or to annoy people. What it means is we can always serve the customer better. Using new technologies, materials or applying old skills in different ways. There is always a better idea and way. Think about it deeper, ask tough questions, and share your insights. 
Note: disruptive thinkers often pay a high price for not appearing to be a team player. My solution is to explain the why behind questions, be very nice about it, and to execute my work for the team.

#3 Productive Work means creating and maximizing value for customers. Metrics are often used to manage work, but the wrong metric can lead to mediocre results. Focus instead on continuous improvement, reducing waste and organizing efforts.

#4 Help Others is charity and doing good for family, friends and people around the world. The small things done for others will be more rewarding and important than any payday. Serving coffee, washing dishes, picking up trash, and teaching are personal examples where the reward is not financial.
When I was broke figured we should give 10% of our time to charity. Work 40 hours a week equals give away 4 hours a week. Much better than another night watching TV shows or working unnecessary overtime.

#5 Mastery, Meaning and Wisdom means not only developing talents, but also teaching the next generations to do those skills. When involved in solving problems with people, often taught how I did it to my co-workers. It leveraged my knowledge, made the shop more productive, and freed me to tackle new problems.

What do You Value? 
Spend a little time thinking about why you do more than just enough, or where you care more. Your values guide you towards the career you will love and excel at.

July 25, 2015

Clearing Your Mindset

Reading about Critical Thinking and Intelligence Analyst work.  Why? Because in a world that is always changing you have to be able to adjust your thinking. Look at things from different perspectives. See what has been done before, and think about other ways to create something new or solve a problem.

Coming up with the same solutions is a path to being outdated, stuck and competing only on price. This is the path to irrelevance and obsolescence.

Seeing the World.
How we see the world is shaped by our assumptions and perceptions. This is an issue because we see only what we expect to see. This mindset is formed from our education, training, viewing, reading and experiences.

There is nothing wrong having a mindset. We all have mindsets. But they can limit what you learn, think about, and the answers you come up with. This is why we work in teams and workshops with people of different responsibilities, professions, and backgrounds. To build a bigger diversified pictures.

The other thing to realize is teams often are as limited as we personally are. Groupthink is a truth we must face and overcome.

Problem Solving Errors
Initial analysis, ideas, and solutions are anchors that can prevent us from going further. They are strong and it takes more information to overcome our snap judgments.

This is why you often see teams trying to solver the wrong problem. They don’t realize they have jumped to a conclusion based on their experience. Have often seen managers blame production people for quality issues and just change the worker.

My saving grace is blaming the system, not the people involved. Allows me to see a bigger picture before trying to define a problem. The problem may have be out of tolerance parts, worn out tooling, bad design, machine wear, chips in the fixture, weak clamping force, and insufficient training.

My weakness is being stuck on one solution, the ‘best’ one. Was especially true when I was young. Experienced co-workers would often want ‘plan B’s to follow. I was try this and adjust if it does not preform as expected. Did not explore options as well as needed. My mindset has changed from learning more about mitigation. 

Mind you often simple problems are often resolved with the first solution. Complicated issues having more risks and less predictable results require us to look deeply, create multiple ideas, and mitigate everything.

A tentative hypothesis is the enemy of new hypotheses. How long does it take you to change your mind?

This comes from our mindsets, and we need to get past our limits to the best of our ability. Especially when dealing with ambiguous situations.

How do We Clear Our Mindset?
Being disciplined and have a checklist is a great start. You want to have a method to follow to not skip steps.

Research the Issue
Who is complaining? Why? What are the consequences?  Costs? Who is affected? What will be the effect for the customer? Effect for their consumer? Collect as much information, data, view points and issues as possible to mitigate.

Use an Organized System to Collect Possible Solutions
Do not overlook anyone’s ideas. Often we can ignore people because they don’t have the credentials. One of the best cost savings involved with came from the material handler and floor sweeper. Great ideas come from anywhere and we can build on them to make them better.

Rank and Prioritize Solutions
Get as many solutions together. How much will it cost to enact them? How much time will it take? Which issues do these solutions solve? The best solution is usually a combination of ideas and methods beyond the initial proposal. Don’t forget the quick fix has to be followed by a permanent solution.

Follow up
Failed solutions are often incomplete implementations. Other issues come up. Orders and new tooling have delays. Project manage plans until they are complete. Save solving the same issue next year.

More reading: 
Psychology of Intelligence Analysis - online book on critical thinking, written by Richards J. Heuer of the CIA

July 11, 2015

Daily Responsibilities vs Bigger Thinking

Which is more important to your success?

  •       Doing a good job every day?
  •       Planning a project?
  •       Accuracy and Detail?
  •       New marketing campaign?
  •       Solving Customers problems?
  •       Creating a New product or service?

 Truth is we need to do all daily and big picture items well to stand out and help our companies compete. Everything is important to succeed.

You have to do your work and know how it fits in the company’s plans and purpose to understand which decisions you need to make. Then you can lead teams to grow your business.

Really enjoyed the Fast Company article and recommend you read it.

Remember we don’t have to choose being average, but can choose to be the exceptional person you were created to be.