Monday Morning Meeting #19

Welcome to another Monday Morning Meeting.  Grab your coffee and check out a few things we think you'll like.

Such a great question from Hugh via the Great Work Study:

What difference could I make that other people would love?

Looking for your next book to read?  Kooba is a nifty book recommendation search engine with a great interface and some AI secret mojo behind the curtain.

This one's not about work, but if you grew up in the late 70's you know you'll read this:  Meatballs, an Oral History.

Some sobering reading for parents: Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?  Related: Your Smartphone Reduces Your Brainpower by Just Sitting There.

Jim McGee's been thinking about all the new "productivity" tools we quickly pick up and then fail to optimize:

In trades and crafts, the most experienced and effective practitioners would never invest in cheap tools or materials. Learning to use those tools and materials effectively is the work of years of deliberate practice. The strategy shouldn’t be any different if you are manipulating ideas than if you were manipulating clay. But the marketing and deployment of software rejects these hard won lessons. Software fame and fortune is built on promises of simplicity and ease of use, where ease of use has been interpreted as ease of getting started and minimally productive. We’ve all become facile with learning the first 5% of new tools and services. We’ve been led to believe or we pretend that this is enough. Few among us are prepared to invest in pushing further. Fewer still belong to organizations willing to support this investment.

Want a motivational tip for your facilitation toolbox?  Get people to think in sets:

Simply present assignments, requests, or items as arbitrary sets, rather than as individual units.  New research reveals that people are irrationally but effectively motivated by the idea of completing a set, even if it means working harder or spending more money—with no additional reward other than the satisfaction of completion and the relief of avoiding an incomplete set. Imagine arriving at your boss’s summer BBQ and presenting her with five beers in a box designed to hold six. No matter that your favorite craft beer store permits you buy bottles one at a time. Chances are you’d still buy six, just to fill all six spaces in the box.

Here's a way to get inside the mind of DaVinci:  peruse one of his digitized notebooks.

Finally, we're launching a new newsletter at Filament called -- you guessed it -- the Monday Morning Meeting.  Look for details next week.



Monday Morning Meeting #18

Welcome to another Monday Morning Meeting.  Here are some things we hope will inspire you to do better work this week.

Remember, asking someone "What do you do?" when you first meet them signals that your interest in them depends upon their answer. More here.

Who wouldn't want to play with these creative geometric magnetic toys?

A great look at how six-week sprints can help your team get stuff done.

Speaking of getting stuff done, here's an introduction to using Kanban at work.

We've been using a few of these simple icebreakers from IDEO.  A favorite is 3 Things in 3 Minutes:

Everyone partners up with someone, ideally a person they don’t know well. Each pair has three minutes to discover three things they have in common that go beyond the obvious, like “We’re both in this room together” or “We’re both wearing glasses.” After three minutes, everyone shares what they’ve learned with the group. Discoveries get pretty specific and have ranged from “We both have an adopted 11-year-old daughter from Guatemala” to “Our moms went to high school together in Detroit!” 

Though written from a teacher's perspective, this is right on for all learning environments -- including conferences and meetings: I stopped lecturing because I want my students to learn.

We don't have to lecture. We don't need to lecture. Lectures suck, because teachers do too much and students too little. Lectures are ineffective. The educational system is ripe for disruption. Disrupt it. Shift the old paradigms. Believe That You Have The Power To Change The World And Use It Often.

Lots of good ideas in this article on design thinking, but job one should be:

Create a team as diverse and international as the clients you serve.

More on the importance of diversity:

Most organizations haven’t evolved to create an environment that embraces the diversity of their people,” says Saxena. “Which places an additional burden — or you can even think of it as a tax — on the folks who have to strive to fit in with the prevailing culture. They basically have to be someone they’re not at work, and that’s exhausting.

That's all for now. See you next week!

Monday Morning Meeting #17

Welcome to Filament's Monday Morning Meeting. Here are a few of the things we'd like to share to help you make this week a good one!

Just because we have more ways to communicate than ever doesn't mean we've gotten better at it:

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  – George Bernard Shaw (via Swiss Miss)

Solving problems forward isn't always as effective as solving them backward.

It is not enough to think about difficult problems one way. You need to think about them forwards and backward...  Let's take a look at some examples. Say you want to improve innovation in your organization. Thinking forward, you'd think about all of the things you could do to foster innovation. If you look at the problem by inversion, however, you'd think about all the things you could do that would discourage innovation. Ideally, you'd avoid those things. Sounds simple right? I bet your organization does some of those ‘stupid' things today.

Here's a great list of team-building games.  You've likely heard of many, but here was a new one for me:  

Team Building Game #20: You Get One Question

Come up with several scenarios in which a person would be chosen to do something. For example, it might be a new job hire, marriage, leading an organization, or commanding an army. Ask each team member to come up with the “perfect” question — but only one! — that should be asked of a person that would determine if they were the perfect fit for the scenario. Have each team member write their question down. When all scenarios have been covered, discuss the questions as a group and see what each team member thinks would be the perfect question.

Purpose: Team members quickly learn how each other thinks differently. The perfect question that each comes up with will reflect their motives and what they think matters the most. This is an excellent way to lead into a discussion on how team members determine who is capable and who they will follow or trust.

Hate the bedroom in the children's book Goodnight Moon?  You're not alone.


Need some good 70's stock photography to go with that awesome powerpoint?  Retronaut has got you covered.

Some super tips for scaling yourself as a leader.

And finally, a great story about the power of asking "why" more than once:

Some years ago, there was a big problem at one of America's most treasured monuments -- the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC. Simply put, birds -- in huge numbers -- were pooping all over it, which made visiting the place a very unpleasant experience.

Attempts to remedy the situation caused even bigger problems, since the harsh cleaning detergents being used were damaging the memorial. Fortunately, some of the National Parks managers assigned to the case began asking WHY -- as in "Why was the Jefferson Memorial so much more of a target for birds than any of the other memorials?"

A little bit of investigation revealed the following:

  • The birds were attracted to the Jefferson Memorial because of the abundance of spiders -- a gourmet treat for birds.
  • The spiders were attracted to the Memorial because of the abundance of midges (insects) that were nesting there.
  • And the midges were attracted to the Memorial because of the light.

Once they turned the lights on an hour later at the Memorial, the midges were gone (along with the spiders, birds, and all the poop) -- proving that asking "why" enough times can clean up a lot that smells in any situation. ;-)

See you next week!

Monday Morning Meeting #16

Welcome to another Monday!  Here are the cool and interesting things we found this week.

Who doesn't love free stuff? has free stock images, videos, fonts and sounds.  Pretty cool!

In case you wondered why nobody is taking your well-meaning advice:  Why we dismiss negative feedback.

Looking for things to improve in your business?  Identify things people still do with spreadsheets and make them better.

Is your business' roadmap (the things you're going to be building, implementing or improving soon) public?  Maybe it should be. Here's how Buffer does it.

Curious where Ideas Come From?  Here's a short film about the mysteries of inspiration featuring thoughts on the subject by David Lynch Robert Krulwich Chuck Close Tracy Clayton & Heben Nigatu Ray Barbee Lulu Miller Susan Orlean and a couple of kids named Mason and Ursula.


Six reasons why you should hold multi-day events.

Here's a never-ending list of design-thinking reads.

And finally, some sage advice from Jeff Bezos:  Always make it Day One:

In a recent letter to his Amazon shareholders, CEO Jeff Bezos gives a lay of the proverbial “Day 1” landscape, while warning against the stasis of “Day 2.”

He says that a company can never stop being a start-up and believes that company leadership need always think like they did on the first day. “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

The letter is a powerful reminder of the importance of staying focused on your clients. For instance, marketing of a company is never about the company’s products or services per se, it is always about how those products and services fill the wants and needs of the ultimate customer.

Have a great week. See you soon!

Monday Morning Meeting #15

Welcome back to another MMM! Here are some of the cool things we've come across since our last time together.

Ten New Rules for Brainstorming Without Alienating Introverts gives some solid tips for keeping your brainstorms introvert-friendly, including this one that we use at Filament all the time:

4. Impose a moment of silence . . . After the recap, declare a three-minute period of silent reflection for everybody to write down their thoughts. This will give the introverts a chance to process what they’ve heard. Then, when the brainstorm is opened up again, the newly joined introverts share their ideas first.

A great acronym to end every meeting with: W.W.D.W.B.W? It stands for "Who will do what by when?"

Not just for kids! Ten Outdoor Art Projects that are Easy to Clean Up could make for some fun team building on a hot summer day.

If you're tired of changing the conversation every time "blockchain" comes up, read this super-simple guide to the technology poised to take over banking, contracts, and lots more: A Blockchain Explanation Your Parents Could Understand

Stories play an important part in any great meeting. Here are Pixar's 22 Rules to become a phenomenal storyteller.

In case you're wondering: How did Awful Panel Discussions Become the Default Format

I wasn't expecting The Five Universal Laws of Human Stupidity to be so profound, but they explain so much about so many things (especially Laws 2 & 4).  Read the entire article, but here are the laws to get you started:

Law 1: Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

Law 2: The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.

Law 3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

Law 4: Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.

Law 5: A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.

Finally, something to keep in mind when you're trying to get everyone on the same page:

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
– George Bernard Shaw


Matthew Homann
Monday Morning Meeting #14

Welcome to another Monday Morning Meeting!  Let's get started.

We do a ton of facilitation here at Filament, so we love this definition from Martin Gilbraith:

The word facilitation is derived from the Latin ‘facile’ which, simply translated, means ‘to make easy’.  A facilitator is, therefore, someone who makes something easy for others. 

Camp looks like an amazing conference that always seems to conflict with something else on my calendar, so I've never gone. However, that won't stop me from loving their "How to Convince Your Boss" resource on their website. Super well done!

Some interesting thoughts on sloppiness:

Sloppiness is one of the enemies of efficiency. And to fix it, we need to understand it. Its source isn’t laziness. It’s misplaced idealism: the belief that the important things don’t connect with the details; the conviction that concern with little things means you cannot be looking at the big ones too. So, rather than try to terrify ourselves into paying greater attention to the apparently small stuff, the better fix is to get a more accurate vision of things

Why do we work in small groups so frequently here at Filament?  Once groups get larger than seven, they become dramatically less effective.

The Links: