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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 #66


Welcome to another edition of the Monday Morning Meeting: your weekly collection of Filament news, tools you can use, and interesting ideas that will help you think differently about your week ahead.


Good morning! We’re headed to Toronto this week for a trio of workshops. One of our techniques is this method to rethink the hour-long keynote:

On the agenda, the keynote is given an hour (so it looks familiar to those too afraid of big changes), but it is broken down differently:

  • Minutes 1-15: The speaker gets 15 minutes to make their three key points. They can use slides if they want, but it is best to limit the number if you can.

  • Minutes 16 - 20: Once the speaker's 15 minutes are done, the room gets 5 minutes of silence to contemplate what they just heard and complete the worksheet. This is ridiculously hard for extroverts but loved by introverts. It is OK if some take out their phones, though only a few will.

  • Minutes 20 - 40: After the silent time is over, each table gets 20 minutes to talk with one another about what they just heard, what they liked, etc. Ideally, they'll follow the framework from the worksheet, but not terrible if they do a bit of networking, too. During the table time, the speaker can roam around the room and engage one-on-one with audience members who have specific questions. However, each tables' key deliverable during this period is ONE question they'd collectively like to ask the speaker.

  • Minutes 41-60: Finally, for the last 20 minutes of the hour-long keynote slot, each table can ask their question of the speaker. If you have a lot of tables, obviously you'll only pick a few, but every table can still submit their question for the speaker to answer later if they're able. In case it’s not obvious, the reason the table must ask a question collectively instead of allowing individual questions is to eliminate the long-winded, self-important audience member from asking their 5-minute, "I'm so smart, don't you agree" question that bores the rest of the room to tears.


We received another great testimonial last week from a law firm leader we’ve been working with for a while. Here are the highlights:

In early 2018, I became the CEO/Chairman of the Firm. One of the first things I did was call Filament [because] I wanted to change the traditional law firm retreat—like not having any Firm internal report out or financial presentation. Matt and his team came to our two offices prior to retreat, interviewed many of our employees and attorneys, and helped develop the direction for the retreat—Building A Future Focused Firm.

We are a 75 year old mid-west law firm that is looking to what the practice of law looks like in 5 and 10 years. Matt’s pre-work and work during retreat got all of us out of our comfort zone and talking about innovation and experiments and that if we try things and they don’t work out that it isn’t bad—a tough pill to swallow for lawyers who either win or lose. The team building and synergies coming out of that retreat were unparalleled to prior retreats. We spent time at that retreat among shareholders and associates talking about shaping the future. We were discussing and solving our problems—not our clients’ problems. We were also able to listen and learn about each other professionally and personally. I watched the group break up into teams and listened to the table discussions. It was exciting to see and hear all the collaboration and great minds thinking about a then 74 year old institution and planning for its success in the years to come.

We adopted and implemented several of the experiments that came out of that retreat. We are moving in a new direction and we’ve entrusted Matt and his team to be part of this new vision. We have work to do but the time, attention, support and feedback from Filament have been invaluable to me as the CEO.


What if you did all your weekly meetings on one day?

Does your organization spread out its functional meetings throughout the week, thinking that it’s best not to take up too much of any one day? If so, let us suggest that you do just the opposite. Pick one morning or afternoon, and host ALL of your functional and project meetings back-to-back. This allows everyone to get in a meeting mindset and flow, and frees senior management to spend the rest of the week out in the marketplace. (via Verne Harnish’s Scalling Up)

Speaking of meetings, NerdWallet’s CEO Tim Chen recommends leaders cancel their “most useful” meeting:

“The meeting everyone hates is the large meeting, the one that’s only useful to the meeting owner. This person is often the CEO. And often the meeting consists of going around the room and giving status updates. The meeting owner feels great about it, but everyone else is rolling their eyes, bored to tears thinking about how 'this could have been an email.’ So, I pulled the plug. Don’t waste anyone’s time. Find someone you trust and ask them directly: Are you getting anything out of it or should it be canceled entirely?"

Stop trying to motivate your team:

Motivation is not a thing we give to people – motivation a thing people already have. Employees inherently have energy, ideas, gifts, and talents that are worth being shared with the world. We, as leaders, simply need to get out of their way and create a space for that energy, ideas, gifts, and talents to thrive.

The question we should ask ourselves isn’t, “How can I motivate my team?” but rather, “How can I create an environment for my team members to motivate themselves?”

If you’re emoji-challenged like me (and use a Mac), here’s a great tip: Control + Command + Space reveals an emoji keyboard. Who knew? 🙀

Poet Mary Oliver cracks the code on innovation:

Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

For better memories, sleep after good experiences and stay awake (for a while) after bad ones.

The waking brain is optimized for collecting external stimuli, the sleeping brain for consolidating the information that’s been collected. At night, that is, we switch from recording to editing, a change that can be measured on the molecular scale. We’re not just rotely filing our thoughts—the sleeping brain actively curates which memories to keep and which to toss. [So] sleeping soon after a major event, before some of the ordeal is mentally resolved, is more likely to turn the experience into long-term memories.

To build a better “rhythm” for collaboration on your team, balance active interaction with individual work.

Stuck? Try drawing 30 Circles:

Take a piece of paper and draw 30 circles on the paper. Now, in one minute, adapt as many circles as you can into objects. For example, one circle could become a sun. Another could become a globe. How many can you do in a minute? (Take quantity over quality into consideration.) The result: Most people have a hard time getting to 30, largely because we have a tendency as adults to self-edit. Kids are great at simply exploring possibilities without being self-critical, whereas adults have a harder time. Sometimes, even the desire to be original can be a form of self-editing. Don’t forget — good artists copy, great artists

Here’s a collection of culture decks, mission statements, etc. from companies around the world.

Finally, a solid reminder that it is never too late to start.


"In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd." - Miguel de Cervantes

"When nothing is sure, everything is possible." - Margaret Drabble

"The culture of an organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate." - Gruenter and Whitaker

“By all means break the rules, and break them beautifully, deliberately, and well.”
— Robert Bringhurst

"Progress comes from caring more about what needs to be done than about who gets the credit." ― Dorothy Height


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