innovation

Small Steps To Solve Big Problems

There is a proverb that says “You eat an elephant piece by piece” This is an approach that you can use to tackle some of life’s goals and challenges in 2014. It’s good to set big goals at the start of the year. The enormity of the goals can be overwhelming if you don’t apply wisdom. There is a common story in which Jesus fed 5000 from a boys lunch of 2 fish and 5 loaves. How did he do it?

“For they were about 5000 men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by 50 in a company” – Luke 9:14

Let’s look at simple practical steps of solving a big problem:

1. Know your problem – the problem in this instance was hunger
2. Establish all the facts – the depth, height and width of your problem. They counted 5000 mouths to feed
3. Sit your problem down. A problems looks big if you “look up” to it. Look down at your problem
5. Organise your problem into small chunks. The 5000 was broken down into groups of 50

You may be facing a big problem or goal to today. Relax – problems gravitate towards solutions. You are a solution bringer. Go ahead and solve it!

Declaration

I am a problem solver. I create an opportunity for the supernatural to happen in my life by being organised. No problem is too big for me to solve. I am ready and equal to every task and challenge.

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Life Lessons – Keys To Securing A Great Future

The future is guaranteed. You have all you need today to do better tomorrow. Really? Yes! You have it all within you. Phone maker Blackberry has been struggling for the last few years. In 2008, the company had a market value of over $80 billion. As of now, it’s only $3.1 billion today. Sad! Blackberry made some serious strategic mistakes. It kept its app ecosystem closed and the whole operating system proprietary. Its strategy was to go for corporates and lock them in long-term contracts – it completely ignored the emergence of strong demand for consumer smart phones and cross platform apps such as WhatsApp, Viber and open operating systems such as Android.

They failed to create a future for their business because they had limited vision. If I was to sit with the Blackberry Board this is what I would share with them to be architects of the future of their business. I would ask that they wear three types of goggles to see things differently:

See Before – Telescopic Vision

Each one of us has given you the gift of foresight. This is the ability to foretell and forth tell your future. You are the best prophet for your own life. To outsource your future to political analysts, government, economic analysts or employer is at best naïve and at worst irresponsible. Chart your own course. The decisions you make today are the input into your future. The life you live today is a result of what you did or did not do yesterday.

To create your future you need to have telescopic vision. This means anticipating the future and positioning yourself for advantage. The best way to create your future is to be preemptive and proactive. You set the context of what happens to you, how it happens and when it happens

See Beyond – X-ray Vision 

Foresight alone is not good enough. You need insight. A prophet with insight can predict the future, but without insight cannot decode or understand it. While foresight makes you anticipate the future, insight is the ability to understand issues. It is the ability to join the dots, identify relationships and underlying currents. Even in business, you can not just do a SWOT analysis alone, but use other tools such as PEST analysis, BCG Matrix to get a grip on contextual issues and your business drivers. Things are not what they appear to be. Make sense of the nonsense. Shed light on the darkness. You need to have a different perspective, incisive analysis of issues and an investigative probing of challenges. The future is in you. Apply your mind, your intellect and spirit and see the future beginning to unfold before you.

See Bigger – Magnifying Vision 

A good prophet does not see all doom and gloom. To look into the future with eyes of fear distorts your vision. One Caleb from ancient Israel, once went to spy on the land of Canaan. He came back and said, “Guys, what a land, lets go for it”. Those who were with him said “Don’t even start”. They were afraid. But not Caleb.  Even at 85 years Caleb asked for a whole mountain of land because he had the energy to work on it. What audacity! He had foresight and insight so his vision was big. How about David vs Goliath? Everybody thought “Goliath is so big, we can’t get him”. David, thought, “Wow, Goliath is so big I can’t miss him!”. A vision of courage magnifies opportunities while diminishing threats. There is so much global inflation, liquidity and credit crisis, employment woes and more. So what? With the gift of foresight and insight you look before and beyond all that. You do not quake with negative energy and do nothing, but itch with positive energy to do something.

Create your future today – see BEFORE everyone else and see BEYOND everything else, the great future beckoning.

Your Thoughts Attract Your Desire

What you perceive, you will conceive. What you conceive you will achieve

A few days ago I was traveling with a team from work. We passed through a place where I buy my favorite Aloe Vera. I really wanted to grab a few bottles but we were out of time. I didn’t talk to anybody about it, I thought about it. Some few minutes later, a colleague just said ” O I have got your favorite drink” pulling two ice cold bottles of Aloe Vera from their bag. I was dumbfounded. I was reminded of this scripture:

Ephesians 3:20
Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams] —

A few points I want you to think about:

1. Your thoughts are a forcefield – they attract that which you desire
2. What you ardently DESIRE will TRANSPIRE
3. Solutions and answers gravitate towards the area of greatest need, but your heart needs to be ready to receive
4. What you PERCEIVE, you will RECEIVE
5. Your life goes in the direction of your thoughts

This week I wanted to challenge you to think the right thoughts. Create an atmosphere for possibilities and answers by meditation on the positive, the good, the lovely and the pure. There is no thought too small, or too big – this principle of thought works the same all the time.

8 Different Ways to Get Great Ideas

We asked eight innovative Stanford GSB alumni entrepreneurs including Kiva’s Jessica Jackley (MBA ’07) and Design Within Reach’s Rob Forbes (MBA ’85) to shed light on how they come up with their best ideas. From collaborating with others, to observing consumer behavior, to taking naps, read tips for boosting your creativity:

1. “Interrupt the logical mind and allow space to daydream”
“What inspires me is beauty and the human desire and capacity to create it. I listen to Glen Gould’s piano pieces or other acoustic music in the morning. My best ideas come randomly. I take naps and steam baths. You need to interrupt the logical mind and allow space to daydream.

Einstein said the theory of relativity came to him when he was riding a bike. The best ideas will not come from slamming three espressos and grinding it out, but rather at weird moments: in the middle of the night, when you are traveling on a train, when you are receptive to oblique inspiration and the suspension of disbelief. Zen teachers refer to this as ‘the beginner’s mind, where possibilities are many.’ We are all too finely tuned. Our mind uses us more than we use our mind.”

 

— Rob Forbes (MBA ’85), Founder of Design Within Reach and PUBLIC Bikes
Read the full interview

 

2. Listen and reflect
“Every real insight I’ve had has come from being a good listener. I need to have time for quiet reflection to digest it and consider how it affects me, to figure out my voice and how I can contribute to that story.”

— Jessica Jackley (MBA ’07), Cofounder of Kiva
Read the full interview

3. Expand the “adjacent possible”
“I have worked in so many different industries and niches: big companies, small companies, government, for-profit, not-for-profit, etc. For me, it is about expanding the adjacent possible. Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From, explains that the world is full of many possibilities, but only certain things can happen. Only by opening doors to new opportunities — a new adjacent possible — can you create what I call a palace of possibilities. I have more doors open — a larger palace of possibilities — than most people, so I can see connections others may not see. My best ideas come from this collage of experiences.”

— Denise Brosseau (MBA ’93), CEO of Thought Leadership Lab
Read the full interview

4. Don’t seek out great ideas
“Great ideas find you. I don’t think you find great ideas. As a venture capitalist, you don’t come up with ideas. The entrepreneurs come up with the ideas. It is a lot harder to be an entrepreneur than to be a venture capitalist. And the great ideas that lead to great businesses generally find the entrepreneur, not the other way around. The ones where the entrepreneur is looking for the idea tend to result in flips. Look at Microsoft. EBay. Dropbox. Airbnb. None of those guys was looking to start a business. The ideas just hit them. The great ones just know.”

— Lecturer Andy Rachleff (MBA ‘84), Cofounder of Wealthfront Inc
Read the full interview

5. Collaborate with others
“I come up with my best ideas by engaging and talking with other people. Great ideas are not solitary things. Feedback from other people is the best catalyst.”

— Trae Vassallo (MBA ’00), General Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
Read the full interview

6. Spend time away from your industry
“I get my best ideas when I get off the grid and detach myself from my industry. Spending time thinking about fashion, toys, or architecture frees me up to think imaginatively. It’s hard to be innovative when you are stuck in your own industry. You see artificial boundaries around what you can and can’t do.”

— Laura Ching (MBA ’00), Cofounder of Tiny Prints
Read the full interview

7. Observe consumer behavior and culture
“I enjoy observing consumer behavior and culture. I like to envision what could be, and I ask myself: Why isn’t this better? How could it be better? I start to play out that scenario in my head. The best ideas come out of pain points I experience in my daily life and based on what I learned of gaps in financial services at Progreso. I am already working on my next company.”

— James Gutierrez (MBA ’05), Founder of Progreso Financiero
Read the full interview

8. Free up your mind
“For some reason more ideas come to me when I am near water — even taking a bath. I just did a weeklong meditation retreat. Freeing up the mind is a good way to get to inspiration. We fill our lives with so little space. Inspiration looks for crevices to parachute into. The fewer crevices you create in your life, the less likely you are to have inspiration come through you. You need to allow yourself to be a vessel so that something can come through you.”

—Chip Conley (MBA ’84), Founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels