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The Filament Blog


We all suffer from a profound case of “Idea Surplus Disorder” at Filament — and we think that’s a good thing. Here are some of those ideas we’d like to share with you.



Monday Morning Meeting

It has been a few weeks since our last MMM, but we're back with some great meeting ideas, tips, and tricks for you this week.

Over on our blog, we discuss a simple framework for prioritizing ideas: Easy, Hard or Expensive:

Easy ideas are simple and cheap, won’t meet much resistance in your organization and don’t require lots of approvals, meetings or arm-twistings to implement.

Hard ideas can seem simple or be cheap (in theory) but will also take lots of time, effort or organizational “heavy lifting” to get off the ground despite their relative lack of cost.

Expensive ideas can be either simple or hard but have the added baggage of being costly to pursue and implement.

Adrian Segar explains why meetings are a mess (and how they got that way). The whole article is worth a read.  Here's his take on the terrible conference lecture format:

We find it hard to stop conference lecturing because it’s the dominant learning modality to which every one of us is exposed during our formal education—i.e. school—before adulthood. Being taught in school, however inefficiently, via lecture about the amazing things humans have created, discovered, and invented indoctrinates us to believe that lecturing is the normal way to learn. That’s why we continue to inflict lecturing on conference audiences. It’s what we’re used to, and, sadly we’re mostly unfamiliar with alternative and more effective learning modalities that are becoming more and more important in today’s world.

At Filament, we think our meetings help everyone be smart, but if you're stuck in a traditional brainstorming meeting, these nine tongue-in-cheek tricks to appear smart in brainstorming meetings are a hoot. (If you need 91 more, go buy the book).

Zenstorming tells us how to improve the quality (and quantity) of a team's ideas by  using the A.C.E. technique.  Here's how they apply it to the question, "What can you do with a brick?"

A: Look at various Attributes:  So, what are the attributes of a brick, or any object for that matter (I realize there is some overlap between these but sometimes it helps to call the attributes different things)?

C: Look at alternate Contexts:  Put the brick into various contexts and you’ll be surprised how quickly the ideas start flowing.  Is it a yard, a different planet, an imaginary place, a street, a kitchen, an operating room?  Are these contexts cold, hot, well lit, dimly lit, windy, calm, etc.?  All these variables will impact the types of ideas you come up with.

E: Look at Everything (not the whole thing): Finally, what can we change – modify, add, subtract, etc. from any of the above attributes, components, systems or sub-systems to make it useful?  (Place these in various contexts to multiply the power of this exercise.)  Look beyond it simply being a block held at arms length.  Re-imagine it!

We love using card decks here at Filament. Check out these "Know Yourself" cards from The School of Life. Very nice!

Finally, this article from the NYT on teaching children emotional agility has lessons for expressing emotions in the workplace -- and especially meetings -- we should all heed.  Just replace "child" with co-worker and "family" with workplace:

Feel It. While it may seem obvious to feel emotions, many families focus on pushing away negative emotions. “When we’re saying ‘don’t be sad, don’t be angry, don’t be jealous, don’t be selfish,’ we’re not coming to the child in the reality of her emotion,” she said. “Validate and see your child as a sentient person who has her own emotional world.”

Show It. Similarly, many families have what Dr. David calls “display rules” around emotions — there are those it is acceptable to show, and those that must be hidden. “We see expressions like ‘boys don’t cry’ and ‘we don’t do anger here,’ or ‘brush it off,’” she said. “We do it with very good intentions, but we are teaching that emotions are to be feared.”

Label It. Labeling emotions, Dr. David said, is a critical skill set for children.

“We need to learn to recognize stress versus anger or disappointment,” she said. Even very young children can consider whether they’re mad or sad, or angry or anxious or scared. “Labeling emotions is also at the core of our ability to empathize. Ask ‘How do you think so-and-so is feeling? What does their face tell you?’”

As children get older, she adds, we can talk more about emotional complexities. “We can be simultaneously excited and anxious and frustrated, and we also need to learn to recognize that in other people,” she said.

Watch It Go. Even the hardest emotions don’t last forever. Dr. David suggests helping your child to notice that. “Sadness, anger, frustration — these things have value, but they also pass. They’re transient, and we are bigger than they are. Say, ‘This is what sadness feels like. This is what it feels like after it passes. This is what I did that helped it pass.’”

That's it for this edition of the Monday Morning Meeting.  We'll see you next Monday!