Innovative Concepts

End-User

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When we forget about the end-user, our design is likely to be flawed.  We no longer ask the right questions and adopt an empathetic mindset.  If we build a trail, open to hikers, bikers, and equestrians but leave overhanging boulders and rock slabs that cannot accommodate a horse and rider, we are saying ‘this is not really for you.’  The design may have been intended as accessible for multiple user groups, but the construction crew was not thinking about one of the user groups when they built the trail.

How might we avoid building for an end-user but forget to hold their needs above ours?  What is convenient during planning and construction might result in unnecessary barriers and frustration for the user.

Curiosity Helps Detail that Matter

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A decimal point sinks a submarine

After reading the above article, you know that somewhere early in the design phase, someone made an error.  A small mistake in the context of all the engineering required to build a submarine.  However, the fact that nobody caught the error means that the final design and fabrication created a very expensive anchor that will now rest on the ocean floor if not fixed.

If we embrace the assumptions that everything that was completed before our part of the project was accurate and correct, then we are in for a few surprises.  Nobody intentionally hands us the error-strewn project.  Our willing to revisit the work we inherited often gives us a greater appreciation for the depth of thought but also the embedded faults.

We are better for the proof-readers, editors, curious minds, and insightful questions.  A culture of curiosity builds on that which went before and hopefully identified the moment we made a wrong-turn or fateful decision.

Sometimes

Sometimes we must step back before going forward.  Sometimes we should descend before ascending.  Sometimes our immediate direction of travel is not our final heading.

Real-time assessment of our performance needs context.  There are moments when we are traveling below parameters, but for a good reason.  If we manage by the numbers, we miss the opportunity to understand our surroundings and seize the opportunity.  Wayfinding is our greatest asset, why not embrace it?

 

 

The Bigger Conversation

SWOT analysis is a fundamental activity during many retreats.  They are visually pleasing and quick to focus conversations.  It is easy to understand why they endured.  Today I read a new process for facilitating a SWOT.  The mindset is compelling.

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Performed in isolation, the SWOT offers a myopic view of the world.  It is our self-evaluation.  We may believe we are memorable conference presenters because of our witty narratives but do we really know?  Unless people walk out of the room during our presentation, or there is a sudden rush of new audience members, it is hard to assess how we are trending. 

SWOT is an instrument.  An opportunity to facilitate conversations.  The greatest gift is getting to the human element.  What are the behaviors and interactions we are fostering?  We may have the most beautiful facilities, the best thank you gifts and a polished social media presence, but if our values are misaligned with our actions, then it is hard for anyone to build trust or take action on our behalf. 

If we use the SWOT to discuss the relationships we are building with those who need what we have to offer, there is an opportunity for a robust conversation.  If we use the SWOT to establish an arbitrary ranking, it may miss the highest return on investment, a discussion about how we can be of service.

Behind the Storm

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Behind the storm is a sunset.  An opportunity to orient to the horizon that guides us towards what is important. 

“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.” – Rene Daumal

It is not an adventure if you know you can finish…

Screen Shot 2019-08-11 at 6.29.32 PMThe Barkley Marathon is a backcountry ultrarunning competition consisting of 100+ miles of unmarked trails outside of Wartburg, Tennessee.  The race is considered one of the most extreme events, with just 15 finishers since 1989.  The course is a 20-mile loop and navigated in both directions, with a 60-hour time limit.  The documentary, Where Dreams Go to Die provides a glimpse into the epic confluence of unsustainable endurance meshed with sleep deprivation.  If you complete three laps, you have unofficially finished the ‘fun run,’ and that is considered a high honor in the running world.

What makes Barkley remarkable?  The failure.  Participants drop-out before completing the first loop.  The course devours half the field before two laps.    An event that embraces and celebrates defeat is considered the pinnacle of ultrarunning.  The stories and legends strengthen the myth and mystery. 

What experience would we offer if fans accepted failure in exchange for an extraordinary adventure?  What can we learn from Barkley?  Which failures have given depth to our stories?