Seth Godin refers to Edgecraft as the furthest edge we can embrace without losing a connection to our super fans as we innovate. The feature, benefit, service must be remarkable. It is challenging to know when we have entered the realm of edgecraft . A tripwire to seek is when we start asking lots of questions. If we are on a mountain ridge, closing on the summit and dangerous weather approaches, we begin to evaluate our options. Is reaching the summit responsible? Can we get to the peak back to safety in time? How fast is danger approaching? What if we misjudge the elements, is there an alternative plan?
If we present a program or product decisions that everyone agrees represents our mission without raising anxiety and curiosity, we are not close to edgecraft. There is nothing wrong with mission centered work, we want to acknowledge it is not pushing boundaries. However, if we propose an activity that makes us uncomfortable but appears aligned with our Magnetic North (purpose, vision, mission, and values), then we might enter into robust debate. Perhaps part of our deliberation centers on the right balance between making our service better versus safer. Edgecraft is personal to every enterprise. A solo violinist is not capable of producing the same depth or sounds as an symphony. However they can be remarkable for their individual style and sound.
When have you practiced edgecraft? What were the results? How did your super fans respond? Does your community still retell the story of your edgecraft work? What questions did you ask of yourself? Why did you preserver?
What mountain summits beckon in 2021? How committed we are to reaching these peaks will determine the depth of the wayfinding we deploy. As Seth Godin reminds us when working on something remarkable, why are we doing it, who is it for, and how does it work.I send best wishes to the adventures ahead.
But today, value isn’t created by filling a slot, it’s created by connection. By the combinations created by people. By the magic that comes from diversity of opinion, background and motivation. Connection leads to ideas, to solutions, to breakthroughs.
It is the new points of view, the uncommon connections, the different perspective that make our collective service more remarkable. Be powered by uncertainty to ask questions. Be inspired by those generating movements in foreign lands. Be willing to share with those we have just met. Be willing willing to wayfind. Assume best intentions. Be connected by a shared vision.
With more flexible schedules, there are expanded opportunities to attend webinars and online conferences. Yesterday, I participated in the Real Skills Conference presented by Akimbo and Seth Godin. I entered the Zoom session with a bit of anxiety. How do you deliver customized content to two thousand people from fifty countries? The team at Akimbo is remarkable and ready to deliver. After a brief introduction and a short inspirational story by Seth, we split into twelve sub-conferences sorted by birth month. The December breakout had two hundred attendees and two coaches who provided content-rich guidance. Employing framing questions that oriented around four chapters, they delivered excellence. In each chapter, we were automatically directed into rooms with four participants. Each group of four had five minutes to reflect on each question before returning to the December sub-conference to interact with the coaches. I found myself connected with geographically diverse individuals. They were working on projects such as launching a just published book, leading a software engineering team, directing a coffee roasting company, being a rock star parent, saving a community through nonprofit fundraising, connecting the world to better nutrition, and writing a book on cybersecurity systems.
I was able to gain a valuable platform to assist in my consulting work and identify a specific skill to amplify my future work. The sense of isolation during social distancing was quickly removed. I recommend Akimbo highly, and there are numerous workshops available. Second, professional and personal development does not need to stop during our physical distancing. Online platforms, when used dynamically, provide an excellent platform for education, engagement, fun, and a connection.
Beachside buoys bobbing in the gentle swell. Generic white versions spotted most frequently, random versions marked with colorful bands interspersed, and then the bust of a cowboy smoking a cigar. Those walking along the shore stop to point and for a photo. Alone this buoy is woth a glance. Surrounded by a myriad of unremarkable buoys it is worth a picture and a remark. Seth Godin amplified the value of surrounded by our competitors.
Seth Godin is the master of keeping it simple. I borrow his expression ‘doing the work that matters’ frequently. Seth’s blog post simplifies the difference between choices and decisions and our confusing of the two. We encounter choices in our real-time wayfinding process. What if we streamlined our efforts by making quick choices, so we open bandwidth to focus on the decisions that matter. Make a game of choosing by spinning a wheel, asking the opinion of the next person we encounter, selecting the adventurous route, or going left. Decisions impact the work that matters and requires time and information. Which TSA security lane to stand in at the airport is a choice. Which person to join you for a month-long expedition is a decision. Make time for the decisions that matter, few remember how quickly you navigated TSA, but many benefit from your decision to commit to the mission.
A template for a spinning wheel if you are game to choose differently.
Seth Godin suggests that we can define super fans by identifying people who would miss us if our cause ceased to exist. Said differently, who would contact us until they got answers when no one showed-up. I believe there is a footnote to defining the super fans tribe. There are those who would sincerely miss us and the remarkable services we provide. A sub-group exists. Individuals who believe we owe them something so they might continue to advance their own cause. The super transactional tribe. Those who confuse business, discounts, frequent flyer status for loyalty. The people who interact with our cause because they get something that has less to do with achieving the mission than it does with inflating their standing.
These two groups run on parallel tracks when an organization is in growth mode. It is hard to distinguish super fans from super transactors. When the organizational lifecycle plateaus or a dips the interest of the two micro-tribes reveals itself. Super fans inquire what fuel we need to continue the journey. Super transactors fight to for the perks and benefits that came with their exchange of money for service.
Super fans and super transactors are powerful allies and critical to an enterprises success. Understanding their motives is essential if we choose to embrace and reward them. If we can only cultivate one tribe, super fans will endure longer than super transactors.
Quick action required if you want to take a self-paced online course taught by Seth Godin (and wish to benefit from the discount). I signed-up and look forward to sharing observations. I previously participated in his Skillshare course and found it very productive.
Online courses are like a bike sharing program. You can ride as far and as fast as you want. Pick-up and drop-off when you please. Or keep walking as a perfectly reasonable alternative.
Seth Godin’s asked: What are you willing to give up today in exchange for something better tomorrow? Next week? In ten years?
The immediate place this resonates on most social sector agendas is during the financial report. How often has the balance sheet driven the mission of an organization? When did doing what is right become the brave thing to do? Are we perpetuating a problem so our coffers stay full or are we willing to tackle obstacles while acknowledging that our efforts may or may not work?
In my experience, while brainstorming during long-term visioning exercises the most frequent organizational wish list item: an endowment/reserve fund (bigger endowment if one already exists). It is not always the first thing mentioned but once the words ‘endowment’ are put forth there is a chorus of support. As if the idea of financial security is more important than solving the very problem/furthering the opportunity the enterprise was founded to address. Protecting the organizational shield outranks the desire for great quest. Yet, I am short on stories about the knights of the roundtable who stayed home and collected membership fees.
Some people will risk a lot in pursuit of long-term progress. Embarking on the journeys that are uncertain. This is the edge where we should be planning. Being self-sustaing but unremarkable is not original. Far too many groups have traveled the path and their legacy (at best) is a mountain full of treasure guarded by a dragon and off limits to almost everyone.
What are you willing to give up today? Why does it matter?