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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.


Posts in Culture
In Defense of Generalists

Jorge Barba rises to the defense of generalists, and I think he's right -- and not just because I'm a generalist.  He calls out a problem we've encountered with our clients at Filament:

Today more than at any moment in time, organizations want innovation; but reject creativity. Think about that. The funny thing is the only type of innovation that comes from specialization is incremental, and that has an expiration date. The longer you improve the same thing, the fewer improvements you make. It’s why all organizational failure is self-inflicted: a failure of imagination that results from the curse of knowledge.


It takes a Generalist or jack of all trades to make connections across disciplines and stimulate creativity; the type that is disruptive and game-changing.

I also absolutely love his idea to create a "Challenge the Status Quo Day."

Resolve to Think 10x

The business world is littered with failed companies who've incrementally innovated themselves into oblivion.  It is no longer enough to implement a modicum of change into a staid organization because small tweaks to existing businesses might not survive the tidal wave of change heading our way.

At Filament, we're beginning to eschew the small "wins" when we work on strategy with clients and focus on big, home-run thinking instead. This article on 10x "Moonshot" Thinking helps explain why: you should think bigger:

Focusing on 10x improvements (in areas like cost, speed, performance, design, etc.) triggers a series of behavioral changes that are key to making a moonshot a reality.

Aiming for 10x causes a radical re-framing of the problem at hand. When teams approach a problem believing they can solve it, not just improve it, it uncaps individual and collective thinking.

10x thinking forces organizations to constantly prioritize innovative behavior, which is critical because innovation can’t just be whipped out when it’s convenient.

Shooting for 10x frees teams to throw out the rulebook when needed. Moonshots often can’t be built atop the current assumptions, tools, and infrastructures that got you to the problem in the first place.


The 47-Minute Meeting

If you can’t make your meetings better, at least make them shorter.

They lurk in every organization like sneaky assassins: ninja-like time thieves spying on your calendar, waiting to pounce on any open “availability” so they can plug it with an Outlook invite for an hour-long meeting you didn’t see coming.

The unsolicited invitations clog your calendar, giving you another back-to-back-to-back-to-back day with zero time left over to get real work done.

The moment others can change your calendar; your time no longer belongs to you.

Though you may not be able to keep others from taking your time, you can make it a bit harder for them to steal it.

Start setting 47-minute meetings.

First, few meetings need an entire hour. If you have a regular sixty-minute meeting, odds are you can focus a bit more and get it done in only forty-seven.

Second, by making your meetings a weird length, you force others to think twice (and do some math) before booking you in a back-to-back. The moment a meeting ends at 10:47, you’ve got at least 13 minutes before the next one because nobody else wants to invite others to a meeting that begins at 10:48.

Third, by beginning your 47-minute meetings at an odd time (like 9:37), you’ll buy some time before and after for both yourself and your attendees.

The 47-minute meeting isn’t rocket science, but by getting outside the box of hour-long meetings, you’ll retain some control over your calendar and regain some sanity in your work day.

Culture, MeetingsMatthew Homann
Trade Your Headaches

Unless you are among the small percentage of hyper-motivated and totally focused people out there in the world, you know you have at least one “headache” sitting in a pile on your desk or on your to-do list.  It may be that project you keep putting off, that client you hate dealing with, or that phone call you just don’t want to make.  No matter what it is, imagine how happy you’d be tomorrow if it weren’t your responsibility any longer.

Well, odds are your co-workers have similar “headaches” they face every day too.  Here is a way to cope: 

Trade Your Headache.  Every week (or month) get together with your co-workers and bring your number one headache with you.  Identify it, and then trade it with one that someone else brought.  Think of it like kind of a regular white elephant gift exchange.  Just make sure the same headache doesn’t get traded over and over again.

I’m certain you’ll be happier, and more motivated, working to solve a different problem or complete a different task than the one that’s been dragging on you for so long.  Let me know how it goes.

Ask Better Interview Questions

Online retailer Zappos is well known for its commitment to company culture and customer service, going so far as to offer new hires $2000 after their first few weeks on the job to quit if they don’t like their new jobs.  They also share quite a bit about how they hire so well, and have posted their Core Values Interview Assessment Guide (.pdf), which includes the interview questions they ask prospective hires.

Here are a few of their interview questions related to customer service:

  • What does great customer service mean to you?
  • In your last job, how did you know if your customer was satisfied?
  • Give an example of a time you went above and beyond, why did you do it? Any regrets?
  • What’s the best work-related compliment you’ve ever received?
  • What’s something that you did at work that maybe no one else knew about but you are very proud of?
  • Tell me about a time you came up with an innovative solution to a problem.
  • Tell me who you think is the most unconventional person you have worked with. Do you think they were successful? Did they do a good job?

Check out the entire list of questions.  Adding a few of these to your next round of interviews might help you to hire better lawyers and staff.

CultureMatthew Homann