Leveraging Disruption to Fuel Innovation, Anthony Warren, Ep.31

Have you ever wondered why some entrepreneurs and organizations fail, while some thrive through chaos and manage to drive innovation? Join my discussion with Anthony Warren, founder of Apitra Innovations, an organizational development and workforce innovation consultancy based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Anthony shares 5 tips to help you innovate through chaos.

Connect with Anthony by shooting him an email.
Head over to Anthony’s profile page on LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/anwarren/).
Visit Anthony’s website apitra.com (note…his site is currently going through a few updates).

MYNDDCAST on Spotify
MYNDDCAST on Stitcher
MYNDDCAST on Google Music Play

MYNDDCAST Moment, Emergent Behaviors

Do these 3 things to bring about a multitude of desired behaviors and their benefits to your organization. Many desired behaviors are emergent behaviors. This means we spend too many resources in a narrow lane seeking their improvement. Rather, we can (and must) look to core behaviors and skills that will bring about our desired behaviors. If you desire increased team creativity, collaboration or contribution, or if you seek specific improvements such as Increased Quality in Customer Service, High Impact Meetings or Increased Utilization of Time , are you focused on the proper human and organizational development?

Uncommon Solutions

Two powerful words voiced by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and heard most mornings on NPR segments they support. Living in Central PA as an entrepreneur, but working outside those boundaries, I feel the powerful tug of war between common and uncommon.

The Kauffman Foundation: Uncommon

Products & Services: Being an entrepreneur in small town USA can mean hanging a shingle promoting your efforts to bring the common to the community. We all know the common things. They are the services and products that a large population of humans seek or need frequently. The uncommon can feel risky, NEW and strange. Should I open that Art & Team Bar in a culture of drive-through coffee drinkers? Be too uncommon and the entrepreneur can feel the sting of common mindsets. See, that’s the point about being uncommon. It makes us, the consumers, reevaluate our needs and think deeper about what can benefit us. Is the same old, same old good? Bad? Just meh? When entrepreneurs kick us out of our comfort zones and into a new mindset….we all win. The uncommon wins!

Approaches & Tactics: Common extends into organizational structures and cultures as well. That old, dusty Vision Statement hanging on the wall is common. It’s ignored, but common. Having our Monday morning meetings, common. Ineffective, but common. Teams of people attempting to work together with little to no effort put into understanding ourselves, each other or how our unique blend of attitudes and behaviors impact organizational performance. That’s common. Not great, common. Bad actually. But common. Just like the convenience and comfort of hitting that drive through for a cup-o-joe, we get caught in a drive through mindset of work culture. “It’s not healthy, but it’s quick and we KNOW how to do it.” Pretty soon, we’re ordering an extra this or that in cultural terms. One day, we add a side of team in-fighting, or how about a crushed spirit or two? No harm no fowl. We were in line and while we’re here, why not. The common. We all know what the common drive through routine results in. Unhealthiness. So yes, the common Approaches & Tactics for organizations result in the same.

Developing an organizational mindset equipped for our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world can become common, but for now, it is uncommon…and lovely…….and needed.

If you didn’t click through to the article on the Kauffman website listed above, here is a powerful quote:

“You should not choose to be a common company. It’s your right to be uncommon if you can. You seek opportunity to compete. You desire to take the calculated risk, to dream, to build, yes, even to fail, and to succeed.”

— Ewing Marion Kauffman

This is my challenge to every organization, be uncommon. Craft a Vision that is INSPIRING. Build a Mission that is worth doing repeatedly by the HUMANS who have joined you. Get to know your fellow teammates beyond ritualistic hellos and goodbyes and thank yous and awkward high fives. Be committed to being uncommon for those you serve because they NEED you to be uncommon, but may have no idea what that looks like. That’s your job. That’s OUR job.

Want to be uncommon, and awesome. Connect with me to bring MYNDDSET services to your organization. Together, we’ll MAP, ADVANCE and TRANSFORM your culture. We’ll be UNCOMMON together.

Project Management Isn’t About Tasks, It’s About Relationships

Crack open the PMBOK, the Project Management Book of Knowledge, and you’ll learn a TON about Inputs and Outputs.  You’ll learn about creating value for your stakeholders, with differing needs and priorities.  And you’ll learn about process.  The process of Project Management (PM) often attracts people and more so organizations to the field of study.  Have a large effort to accomplish?  Look to PM to help…it makes sense.  But PM is nothing on its own, it’s the people (us) that make PM live.  People build relationships.  When we SEE things that relate, we have the potential to take action to foster or prohibit that relationship.  That’s what PM is all about.

When we take action to foster a relationship, we see a new reality, an undiscovered pathway toward something larger IF we build on that relationship.  If we see harm based on a relationship, we also have the potential to take action to prevent that relationship from growing into an equally, less desired situation.  Notice, I haven’t mentioned PM as an effort to manage tasks.  There’s a reason for that.  While the PMBOK is about the driest read you’ll find, the value in the information is what you do with it.  If you can SEE that PM is about building relationships and not tasks, each paragraph can have a profound impact on your work and life.

Why is this distinction, PM as a relationship effort and not a task management effort important?

  •  We too often get stuck on what to do first.
  •   We  ask “Where are we?” more than “How are we?”

Here’s a great podcast from Todd Henry with David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done.”  They discuss the reality of how difficult it is to identify and act on the first thing we need to do to accomplish a larger effort.  If you’ve ever felt stymied when taking on a new project, you’ve been there.  That feeling of being trapped behind the “What do I do first”? wall is terrifying.  The effort seems SO big that knowing where to start seems impossible.  What I’ve learned over the years when creating something out of nothing (a project) is NOT to focus on what I believe are the first tasks, rather, focus on the first relationships that come to mind.  Who cares about this project?  A human relationship.  What systems will be impacted by this project?  Technical and/or process relationship.  What finances will be changed to address this project?  A cash flow relationship.  I could go on.  The point is, I think about the relationships as a way of helping decide WHAT (a task) needs to happen first.  The tasks evolve easily from this effort. Some would say organically. If the tasks aren’t developing, you haven’t thought enough about the relationships.  Keep digging, the tasks will come.

Last evening I watched Jurassic World for the second time.  Actually, a scene in the movie inspired this post.  Claire is flying in the helicopter with Mr. Masrani and he turns and asks “How are we doing?”  Claire being the stalwart manager she is proceeds to answer “Our year-over-year profits are up, while our visitations remain stagnant.”  That wasn’t what Mr. Masrani was asking so he asked her again, “Yes yes, but HOW are we doing? Are the guest and the animals having fun?”  Claire stumbles but offers the satisfaction rates of the visitors and explains they don’t have a way to measure if the animals are having fun.  Claire, responsible for managing tasks, had become SO focused on the WHAT and the WHERE (status), that she was blind to the “how”, the impact, the feelings, the RELATIONSHIPS.  In the end, glossing over those relationships would be the park’s doom.  Hopefully, that level of project failure isn’t something we all experiences in our work.

What can we do?

  1.  Adopt the mental model that as a PM you are responsible for managing relationships.
  2. Recognize you will oversee tasks, but those tasks should be built around relationships.
  3. Trust that HUMAN relationships are key in all PM efforts.
  4. Use practices and a PM tool that fosters relationships over tasks management.  My tool of choice, monday.com
  5. Use practices and tools to create ideas based on relationships.  My tool of choice, Plectica.
  6. Develop the skills to explain HOW your project is progressing by using storytelling.  (Feel free to email me for information on services and online courses I’ve built with my professional development partner.)

Thanks for reading.  If you have questions or additional thoughts, I would love to hear from you.


Mark is CEO and founder of THINK’ID8.  THINK’ID8 helps organizations build transformative systems to help grow programs and internal capacities.



Project Management: A New K-12 Core Subject

By Mark T. Burke

Project Based Learning (PBL), Graduation Projects, team, short and long-term projects, these are all common educational frameworks in our K-12 schools.  I call them frameworks because they are more than “assignment types.”  Yes, students are assigned projects.  But, those projects are not isolated activities.  They are connected (or should be) to previously acquired knowledge and skills as well as lead toward new knowledge and skills.  And, projects are often interdisciplinary.  Math is connected to science, science to social studies, social studies to art, and so on.  Projects by definition in our K-12 school systems are from my perspective:  “Opportunities for students to connect a variety of subject knowledge to build solutions to complex problems.” 

THINK’ID8 PM Tools for K-12

Looking at the most popular trend today, PBL, there are several definitions.

“Project-based learning is a dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge.”  Edutopica (https://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning)

Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge.” BIE (https://www.bie.org/about/what_pbl)

The trend is certainly valid.  Exposing K-12 students with real-world problems to solve is a fantastic educational framework.  In fact, I believe all work students complete should serve as some type of a valuable output to something bigger (more specifically defined than simply getting a good grade or earning a diploma).  While we in education space have spent time developing what PBL (and projects overall) should include and provide, more thought is needed in regards to actually managing those projects.  Yes, we can guide students through the work for a project using a series of reflection and inquiry questions.  But, in order to work on a project OVER TIME, students need a structure to stay on track, communicate progress, share results, and determine project success.

Many may not know that Project Management (PM) is a field of study.  PM dependent industries exist across our economy.  These industries require highly skilled PMs (those who have earned degrees or are specifically PM certified).  I don’t want to trivialize the field of PM study but for K-12 students, there is no need for a complete PM certification program.  In fact, I believe use of a good PM tool can meet many of the PM needs for students.

I use DaPulse for all of my client-based work. The more time I spend in this tool, the more I recognize how valuable the tool would be in a K-12 environment.  The tool provides a simple to use interface for listing tasks (Work Breakdown Structure), documenting dates (Earliest Start Dates, Earliest Completion Date, and any other customized date), notes (Status, text based updates), people (Responsibility Roles), and more.  For each task, a complete communication channel can be created for the team including comments, updates, files and even social media style “reactions.”

Why are these features important?  Because they point to the valuable skills we should be spending time addressing as we support students on the PBL journey. If teachers simply added a tool such as DaPulse into the workflow of their PBL opportunities, and explained the core features, students would be exposed to topics including:

  • Planning:  Breaking down complex tasks into a set of actionable, measurable efforts.
  • Inputs:  Assimilating information valuable to the start and ongoing management of the project.
  • Time Estimation:  Determining the efforts to complete the tasks requires thinking about the effort and relating it to efforts the student is familiar with.  This requires extrapolation.
  • Status:  Updates require tracking and communication.
  • Reporting:  Developing stories and showcasing data.
  • Outputs:  Showcasing real products.

If these topics are not directly addressed, PBL and projects overall, exist as assignments to be completed and checked off like compliance issues.  If a PM tool is used in the classroom, students have a hands-on method of teaching themselves about the value of planning and ultimately results.

Another reason to support growth in PM skills is the direct relationship to possible careers.  PM skills are in growing demand.  For more information on this topic, please review this report from PMI (The Project Management Institute, the world’s leading PM Organization).

How have you taught PM skills or used a PM tool to benefit your students?

Leading Creatives and You’re a Sole Proprietor

For ten years now, I’ve had the difficult job, probably my MOST difficult job, of leading a team of creatives.  That team is a team of one.  And, I am the team.  I’m not boasting.  I’m saying it like it is.  In my past, I’ve had the pleasure of working with and leading teams.  I’ve had some successes and a TON of failures in those efforts.  For the past ten years though, I’ve earned a “Leading Creatives” badge and I want to share.

My first task has been to learn what a creative is.  That started with a lesson in what creativity is.  I long thought creativity was all about inspirational moments and butterflies flying around my brain creating vibrant ideas with pixie dust.  Ahh…no!  Creativity is the result of THINKING.  Deep thinking, scientific thinking, computational thinking, social thinking, systems thinking and other labels are fine.  Thinking, and the resulting ideas are the foundation of a creative’s work.  Creatives can’t wait for a moment to be inspired.  Ideas won’t just appear at the wave of a wand.  So, what we do as creatives to ensure ideas CAN happen is my next lesson.

In past jobs, I would spend the majority of my time tracking things that needed to get done.  I had spreadsheets of operational efforts that I would monitor and make notes on.  I would walk around (you know, that Manage by Walking around method) and talk to people.  I would ask how they were and about their work.  I could come back and fill in my sheets.  Tracking was king.  But, over time, tracking became my worst professional enemy.  It filled my days, but was it filling a purpose?  As a sole proprietor, I’ve learned the answer is NO.  We often fool ourselves into thinking being busy operationally equals value.  As a team of one, I can say, being busy means little.  Productivity means nothing if we equate it to keeping up with the influx.  We must get to the point were we are managing, that’s right, managing our creativity to ensure we are moving forward, innovating, ideating, evolving…CREATING.

So, how?  I think of two things to guide my day.

Be Pragmatic & Product Oriented

Being pragmatic as a creative means building an actionable, adaptable plan for everything I do. I use a project management tool for all of my work with clients and personal projects.  Clients expect me to be creative or they wouldn’t hire me.  For my own work, I don’t have much time, so I need to be efficient.  I once heard a quote by an famous author (I forget who).

“I have to be creative Monday through Friday, thank God it happens each of those days at 9:00am.”

I love this quote.  It’s how I feel every day.  I have to be creative, it’s my work.  If I had to wait for inspiration or the butterflies to feel inspired, oh man…I would be in trouble.  Leading creatives means kicking off creative efforts as needed.  “Ok gang, let’s create.”  That statements makes me cringe, but it is real.  Work begins each day and that’s reality.  So, creativity needs to do the same.  In my project tool (monday.com), I have a goal when I start something new.  I capture the first task quickly.  I don’t think about all the task, just one.  I type it in, add an ESD and ECD (earliest start date and earliest completion date) and then I add a few notes.  Typically by then, I start to map related tasks. I don’t worry about dependencies, or order, priority, urgency or any of that at this point.  I just capture tasks that represent relationships to other tasks that support the goal.  If there are three, there are three tasks. If there are ten, I capture ten.  When those thoughts seem complete, I start on task number one.

If I’m doing this work more closely with a client, we do this work together and build a shared understanding of the tasks.  We hold each other accountable for efforts and take ownership of specifics.  When our ideas end at that time, we break and get to work.

In either case, is the plan right?  Well, the definition of a project is “an effort that is new and has not been done before.”  So, yes, the list is right as far as we know.  I trust it.  I use it for all it’s worth.  I obey it and do what it says.  But I am it’s boss.  I change it as needed.  But, I don’t devalue it by ignoring it. I don’t delete items without considerable thought.  I don’t let it limit me or the work.  I add what is needed and consider additions deeply. I keep the creative work in focus and appreciate the power of the PM tool to keep the details out of my head and in clearer view in print.

Being Product Oriented means each day, I produce a product, a complete or incremental version is the goal.  Products are things that are tangible and could be delivered to a customer at some level.  When working with clients, I just think “what can I show them today that is different than yesterday?”  This is where my philosophy of just keeping up with operations isn’t valuable comes from.  Even in the most operationally oriented work, creatives strive to build a product that looks different today than yesterday.  Maybe it’s a report, a dashboard, a narrative about the day’s events.  This is what makes leading creatives hard yet rewarding.  And, as a team of one, playing both roles incredibly complex yet fulfilling.

There’s more to my story than this.  But, I wanted to share the starting point.  Much like my creative effort, my first task was to share the big picture.  With that complete, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and to build on these ideas.




Big Ideas, Micro-Learning

Supporting K-12 means my summers are busy. As schools and support organizations prepare for the upcoming academic year, they look to capture BIG ideas to share with staff, students and the community when they return.  The BIG ideas form frameworks for greater organizational goals.  Performance goals, cultural shifts, community building, Vision-Mission work, are great examples of topics that make sense to tackle over the summer. The problem is, most K-12 organizations have less staff contact over the summer, not MORE. And, these topics deserve and require time to weave into an organization.

Enter Micro-Learning.  Yep, I believe Big Ideas are well suited for Micro-Learning delivery.  It may seem counter-intuitive, after all, BIG ideas,, such as cultural shifts, aren’t going to be successful if they are approached as training events.  As organizational leaders know, BIG ideas take daily practice to become new norms within an organization. They must be pervasive and felt by everyone.  For this reason, I see micro-learning environments as incredible ways to launch BIG ideas.

Big Ideas aren’t usually associated with TONS of content.  In fact, using too much content hinders inculcation of big ideas. Big Ideas are just that, big, often simple ideas.  But, they’re BIG because they have significant impact on an organization and, here’s the BIG one, they are in no way easy to tackle.  Most times, Big Ideas will require changes in behaviors and habits and we all know how hard those are to influence.  If we’re going to change someone’s habits, we can’t confuse them with a ton of content.

Micro-Learning is all about the micro and the learning (I know, that’s not very original).  I see the micro aspect of Micro-Learning as a descriptor for three important items. Content, focus and delivery.  The Learning component of the name means the course must get the users thinking and building new knowledge.  Simple. Present an extremely focused content set and ensure learning. Micro-Learning.

I like to design micro-learning as a story.  To make an impact, a story can’t go on and on and on. When we tell stories, we tend to be concise.  When we write a course, we tend to go on and on and on…you get the picture.  Story writing provides a platform to connect emotionally with our audience, lay out the needed information in simple format and let the user imagine themselves being triumphant (ie…paint a picture of what life will be like after the change in habit).

Most Big Ideas will change teams, not just a single person.  So I like to include practice points within Micro-Learning courses that require teams to think together.  I don’t have time to go into the details around practice and assessment here, so just imagine great micro-learning as a component of your team’s day.  Big Idea, Micro-Learning.  I use questions that get teams thinking about how things will work after they change their habits.  Using this technique, you get teams to create their own new reality, their own new habits.  Over time, they start to SEE the shifts based on the Big Idea.

I know I skipped a lot of detail.  Big Idea, Micro-Learning….I followed my own rules. If you have a big shift to make, think small, keep the instruction focused, tell a story, get your team to build their new reality and repeat.  And keep repeating…Big Idea, Micro-Learning.



If you would like to talk to me about designing your Big Idea, Micro-Learning experience, send me an email.  Take care all.




Doers Unite…and Change!

By Mark T. Burke

Monday morning. You go to your place of work.  You prep for the day.  You casually meet your fellow co-workers as they do the same.  How are you thinking about your day?  About your week?  Do you start to think about all the “things” you have to do?  File this. Submit that. Talk to Matt.  Meet Deanna.  Attend meeting XYZ.  If this list sounds familiar, you’re not alone.  In fact, you’re probably like most others in your organization.  You’ve become a first class DOER.  And…and this is the scarier thing, your work culture is most likely supportive of your “doer” status.

Are you a Doer?  Think more about accomplisments.
Are you a Doer?
A “doer”  in this case is someone that does things to get through their days, their weeks, their years.  A doer has the mental model that their job…no, scratch that…their WORK is about DOING.  “If I do this, then that, and get this done and take on that, my WORK is good.  My job is safe.  Life is good!”

There’s nothing wrong with being a doer.  Doing is very important to an organization.  Doing gets the job done.  I’ve covered this in a course on Entrepreneurial Spirit I built a few years ago.  We must all balance “Thinking, Building and Doing.”  The issue is that work cultures can take the path of becoming based on doing, thus eliminating the THINKING and the BUILDING.  A doer work culture sidesteps the purpose behind doing for all but a few.  In a doing culture, a few people know why things are being done while the masses go about doing random, disconnected tasks to support the intended accomplishment.  Job trumps WORK in this case.  

Doing a good job is important. But doing good WORK is more important.

Incremental shifts can move mountains.  So for today, your (our) task is to shift thinking from penning a “to do” list to building desired accomplishments.    This is our time to unite and change for the better.  Thinking about accomplishments shifts our thinking to the more important efforts.  It gives us a yardstick to measure our minute-by-minute efforts.  By keeping our accomplishments clearly focused, we won’t get lost in the mundane tasks of the day.  As you begin this shift, share your efforts with your team (your boss and those who report to you, your clients, your customers). Help your organization shift from being a team of doers to a team focused on valued accomplishments, valued WORK.

How do you keep focused on your accomplishments?


Your Manifesto is Your Compass

Manifest Your Manifesto

By Mark T Burke

Your Manifesto is Your Compass
Your Manifesto is Your Compass

Highly successful people have a clear compass that guides them forward.  That compass is not only clear to them, but clear to others.  It is visible, tangible, in sight at all times. Their beliefs and what they do each day, each minute, is manifest in a way that showcases the path you’ll take when working with them.  They decisively guide themselves and those they work with using that compass on personal and organizational journeys.  The compass eliminates distracting side trips yet allows for exploration and learning.  That compass is their Manifesto.

Developing a written, personal manifesto is a fantastic way to sort through your personal beliefs and make choices about what really means the most to you in your work and personal life.  A manifesto has a few key components.

  • Beliefs
  • Commitments
  • Principles

An example of one of my beliefs is:

“Build beautiful things.” 

I confess, this belief statement solidified for me after spending time reading and listening to Mr. Todd Henry, author of the Accidental Creative.  By the way, he has a great post on the value of building a manifesto.  And, it’s okay to borrow from others. In fact, we should.

Years before finding Todd Henry, I committed to building every product I could in a beautiful way.  Now, before you start thinking that is some lofty belief there Mark.  Well, look beyond the simple definition of “beautiful.”

“Build beautiful things” is my commitment to building products that are complete, finished.  Whether I am building a training, or a PowerPoint, or a spreadsheet for a client, my commitment to that work is to build it COMPLETELY.

“Build beautiful things” is my commitment to building products that meet a need.  That means I need to clearly understand the need and the expected end result.  If I’m working for a client, I want to know that what I produce will help them, serve a purpose and benefit their organization.  If what I build becomes a file in storage or a product on a shelf, we have more work to do.

“Build beautiful things” is my commitment to building things with design and human interaction in mind.  Functionality is an aspect of beauty that pushes me to create items that people like to interact with.

As you can see, a belief means a lot. The commitments and the principles develop naturally from the belief statements as you further share each belief.  Let’s deconstruct one of my statements above.

“Build beautiful things” (Belief) is my commitment to building products that meet a need. (Commitment)


  • That means I need to clearly understand the need and the expected end result.
  • If I’m working for a client, I want to know that what I produce will help them, serve a purpose and benefit their organization.
  • If what I build becomes a file in storage or a product on a shelf, we have more work to do. 

Manifesto work is ongoing.  A few years ago, I adopted the Serious eLearning Manifesto.  I won’t go into details here.  You can read all about those who authored it and promoted it from their website.    A copy of the complete manifesto hangs on my office wall beside my desk.  Throughout my days, I refer to it often as a way to focus my thoughts, to stay the course.  It is a compass that guides me.

Over the last few months, I’ve had a deeper desire to firm up MYMANIFESTO.  This will be my personal / professional manifesto guiding my work as I continue my journey.  I encourage everyone to think about the value of building your own manifesto, your own compass.  If you do, please share.

Go Ahead…give away your processes.

That’s right, give away your processes. But, they are my bread and butter you say.  No, they’re not.  I’m 26 years into my professional life as an educator, musician, trainer, instructional designer, project manager, entrepreneur, company leader and organizational developer and if I have learned anything, it is that you CAN and should give away you processes.  Your students, clients, reports, friends and family know it. Now, you need to know it.

Think of a process like a roadmap.  Give someone a map and watch what they do with it.  Some will frame it and hang it on the wall.  Others will grab hold and start an adventure of a lifetime.

Road Map Adventure of a Lifetime
How do you use roadmaps? Are they in frames on a wall or do you USE them to create amazing experiences?

I’ve been a process guy all my life.  I’m not sure why I am this way, but I love mapping how to do things.  My thinking is that if we have a clear process for something, we can do it really well and change it over time as needed.  I think I am this way because I want…no…need to get things out of my head and into some archived format for later consumption and application.  And, I think we (humans) just aren’t curious enough and if one thing can spark our thinking, it is process mapping.  To do it, we have to THINK.  We have to consider relationships, we have to take perspectives and build systems.  Wait…what?  We have to THINK?  Ok…side story here.

See, what I just offered is a roadmap, a process of sorts that I learned from two friends Derek and Laura Cabrera (https://www.crlab.us/).  They discovered HOW we think. For now, I’ll call it a process.  It has parts, distinctions, systems, relationships and perspectives.  They gave me this roadmap years ago.  I started my adventure the minute I unfolded the pages of the map.  And WOW…what a journey.  I’m still on it.  This is my point.  When we share our processes with others, our hope, our DREAM is that they will take it on a personal journey.

So here I am, a consultant. I help organizations make shifts, change, build programs, train their teams, and THINK, and I’ve got this asset I call a process.  Why give it away?

  •  Process as Promotion

I follow great examples across my interests such as IDEO and Todd Henry.  Both are examples of how people are willingly giving away process in order to foster deeper relationships.  In essences, process is the new promotional tool.  But, please don’t think I think of process sharing as a marketing gimmick.  Yes, it is a way to reach people.  As I mentioned above, some will take it, frame it and hang it on a wall. Others will EMBRACE it, live with and BY it and really make great things happen.  If someone does that with a process I share, I KNOW they will connect with me at a DEEP level.  Those are the clients I want to work with. How about you?  The wall hanger, or the adventure taker?  Who do you want as a client, partner, or trusted comrade?  Those who see value in the process, trust the process and will engage with you for a long, long time.

  • You and Your Process are Connected

Building on the point above, processes you build are a reflection of you.  When folks engage with your process and ultimately you, they bring value to you (and your company, organization, school, etc.)  Your processes and you are joined by DNA.  While many can use the process alone, without you, the process is missing something.  I often find myself creating new visuals (maps) of my processes for clients.  For example, I just finished this one.

The Evolution of SOPs
Process Value = Intended Solution Value

This process reflects HOW I work based on what I’ve learned from others, how I have fine tuned techniques to work for my style and how I am confident and comfortable leading or helping others.  The process is me, I reflect the process. We are a system.  So am I giving it away?  No, I am making a real connection with those who choose to connect.

  • Avoiding the Gloss Over Moment

Again digging deeper into the points above, what about the visual (the map) is special?  When clients ask “how do you do x?” or “how WILL you do x?”, I can describe the process to them.  These moments often feel like a stranger in a car has pulled up next to me on my walk to ask for directions to the local gas station.  At some point in my explanation, they gloss over.  I can see they’ve absorb 10% of what they really need to know to fulfill their goal of getting to the gas station.  I persist and attempt to simply in hopes I can raise their understanding to at least 50%.  I can see they’re trying to paint a picture.  In the end, they drive off and I have no idea if they made it or not.  I don’t want clients to have that experience.  First, I want to them to visualize in the now AND the future (for reference and sharing with others).  I don’t want them to have to remember a complex system.  In fact, I know if I ask a client to do so, they will more often than not NOT connect with me on an effort.  They’ll seek out a connection that supplied them with the needed visualization and memory aid.  Sharing that aid throughout a relationship cycle keeps us all from glossing over.

  • Processes aren’t Sacred.  Outcomes are. 

I will always cherish the outcomes of partnership efforts.  On the flip side, when I’ve shared processes with others, those moments are fleeting.  I’m not a process bubble gum machine from my perspective, yet I have had a prolific process development career.  I’ve worked both on personal and client driven process building.  Process building is like Monopoly money.  It has value if you play the game.  Otherwise, it’s paper in a box.  I’ve shared and built processes for clients they never put it into practice.  Why?  Because they didn’t value the outcome.  Odd right?  When we value process over outcome, we lose sight of the purpose of process.  Sometimes, process mapping is a act of compliance.  For example, Organization A has to document their procedures for licensure or code audits.  After they complete it, it goes on a shelf.  Staff go about their normal routine.  The process lives out its life without value.  Life goes on. Process dies.  Outcomes go unrealized.  When good enough is enough, when possible outcomes outgrow staff or organizational capacities, when moving from A to A+ is just too much work, sharing process without practice happens.  Too often!  So give them away…but be aware, they need you to ensure outcomes remain sacred.  Help them take their adventure of a lifetime.

I hope something here sparks your creative process building.  As always, please share your thoughts and even a process or two.