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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 Monday Morning Meeting
Monday Morning Meeting #63

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


This week, we’re hanging out in Orlando with 2000+ friends at ILTACON: “the premier legal technology conference for professionals undertaking initiatives in support of the practice of law.”

We’ve built twenty-seven facilitated “Collaboration Sessions” that use our tools and methodology to help attendees from nine different communities of interest (like innovation, knowledge management, or IT) engage with their peers, share their best ideas, and design their post-conference action plans.

I’m also delivering a new workshop called “N.S.F.W. (New Skills for Work): How to pitch faster, innovate smaller, fail bigger, change easier, meet smarter, critique better, and ask more. It is an hour-long overview of some of the coolest things we’ve learned (and stolen) from our great customers. Here’s a link to the presentation.


I’ll kick off the links portion of the newsletter with one many of you sent me last week: Harvard Discovers That PowerPoint is Worse Than Useless:

The entire concept of PowerPoint is apparently misbegotten, according to a recent Harvard study cited in Forbes, which found that "PowerPoint was rated (by online audiences) as no better than verbal presentations with no visual aids. (Ouch.)"

Consider that for a second. You audience will be just as happy with your presentation if you do it without your slides. Which means the time you spent building the deck was basically wasted.

Here’s an interesting benefit of working quickly:

If you work quickly, the cost of doing something new will seem lower in your mind. So you’ll be inclined to do more.

Speaking of working quickly, how would your email inbox change if everyone replied using only five sentences?

In this article titled The Technology of Kindness, I found a passage that reinforces why in-person interaction (at home, at work, and in meetings) is more important than ever:

People’s ability to connect is the glue that holds our culture together. By thinning out our interactions and splintering our media landscape, the Internet has taken away the common ground we need to understand one another. Each of us is becoming more confident about our own world just as it drifts farther from the worlds of others. Empathy requires us to understand that even people who disagree with us have a lived experience as deep as our own. But in the fractured landscape of social media, we have little choice but to see the other side as obtuse, dishonest or both. Unless we reverse this trend and revive empathy, we have little chance of mending the tears in our social fabric.

I really like this icebreaker question (from the link I shared last week):

Kids today will never understand the struggle with what?

Leaders: You can’t make people change. But you can create an environment where they choose to.

Finally, a useful negotiation tip:

When you talk numbers use odd ones, numbers that end in zero feel serious.


"Ignore any advice that tells you you are going to miss something. Every mistake I have ever made in business, marriage, and personal conduct was because I thought if I didn’t do or get this now, it was never going to happen.” — Terry Crews

“It’s not how well you play the game, it’s deciding what game you want to play.” — Kwame Appiah

Monday Morning Meeting #61
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Welcome to another edition of the Monday Morning Meeting: A weekly collection of Filament news, tools you can use, and interesting ideas that will help you think differently about your week ahead.


OUR SPRINT SPACE IS OPEN! Our new Sprint Space is open for business. If you’re looking for a creative space to work with your team for a week or a month — and might appreciate some Filament services to help you — check out our new Sprint Space.


This one comes from a Meeting Design Sprint we hosted in July:

At the end of every meeting create two lists: “The Decisions We Made” and “The Decisions We Need.”

On the first list, capture the specific decisions you made in the meeting and the details for each.

On the second, capture the decisions you need from elsewhere in the organization and then assign the responsibility to go “find” that decision (along with the when, the who, and the how) so your team doesn’t get stuck waiting on someone else.

Every time the leader of your team has a meeting with her leader, she should bring your team’s master list of “Decisions We Need” with her so she can ask for the decisions and/or help finding them.


Here’s an interesting exercise to spur innovation on your team that has many similarities to our Five Futures exercise.

At your next team meeting, pull out a pad of paper, turn to an empty page, and divide it into three columns. Each one corresponds to a question relevant for innovation:

  1. “What is the existing practice/the recipe for success/the way we’ve always done it at our organization?” Jot your thoughts down in the left-hand column, including the key beliefs or assumptions underlying the practice. Then look critically at each of them and ask yourself if any are on the verge of becoming anachronistic or obsolete.

  2. “What market shifts, external forces, or technologies might threaten the elements of our operational status quo?” List these in the middle column.

  3. “What can we do about these impending disruptions you’ve uncovered?” For each one, use the right-hand column to note some preemptive action you could take. Sometimes you’ll want to tweak an existing practice to render it “disruption-proof.” Other times you’ll need to toss it out and start from scratch.

Stuck? Give this idea from Seth a try:

When you’re feeling stuck with your project, grab three index cards. On each card, write down an element of the project that, if you invested time and money, would change for the better. If those three things happened, if those three elements improved, what would happen to your project? Okay, now that you’ve got all three… what are you going to do about it?

Some advice on advice:

Only take advice from those people who are experts, who have recently done something similar and who were perhaps a little unwilling to give the advice. This might mean they simply weren’t thinking about it before you asked them. Spontaneous advice will often be superior to the advice someone has been giving for some time.

I’ve bookmarked How to Be a Better Writer to come back to again and again when I’m stuck in my writing. So many simple ideas, but here’s a favorite I’ve already put to use:

In your last pass, change the font to something unfamiliar. Then change the font size. When you’re familiar with a piece, your eyes gulp whole passages and you miss typos. New fonts focus your eyes on each letter.

Here are nine interview questions that would provide some great conversation starters for your current team. Imagine asking this one and then blocking an entire day to “see” their answers:

If you had an entire work day with no meetings, obligations, or interruptions – what would you do?

This is a sobering reminder from Tyler Cowen that we’ve all got to put the work in:

Recently, one of my favorite questions to bug people with has been “What is it you do to train that is comparable to a pianist practicing scales?” If you don’t know the answer to that one, maybe you are doing something wrong or not doing enough. Or maybe you are (optimally?) not very ambitious?


"The world is not made of atoms. It is made of stories." -- Muriel Ruykeser

"The real difference between telling what happened and telling a story about what happened is that instead of being a victim of our past, we become master of it." — Donald Davis

"A lost coin is found by means of a candle; the deepest truth is found by means of a simple story." — Anthony De Mello

Monday Morning Meeting #60

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


OUR SPRINT SPACE IS OPEN! Our new Sprint Space is open for business. If you’re looking for a creative space to work with your team for a week or a month — and might appreciate some Filament services to help you — come on down and check out our new Sprint Space. We’re really pleased how it turned out, and will share some pictures next week.


If you’re looking for a great morning routine for your team, borrow an idea from the Japanese and do a Chorei (a morning standup focused on motivating everyone to have their best day):

Every team is different, so designing your own Chorei should be a collectively creative process. Take suggestions from your team on what they’d like to try as a group activity in the morning. Here are just a few out-of-the-box ideas:

  • Include a 3-minute standing meditation or visualization from an app like Calm or Headspace.

  • Nominate a handful of people each day to share a personal goal they’re working towards. In many Chorei, this is considered “speech training” for employees.

  • Have a rotating inspirational mini-speech from leadership.

  • Crowdsource interesting industry headlines or tips from relevant news to share knowledge.

  • Track towards a shared company goal with a daily progress chart.

  • Do a team chant or cheer, or maybe just yell really loud!

In the Five Elements of Effective Thinking, authors Edward Burger and Michael Starbird suggest a better way to think about failure. Fail in Bite-Sized Chunks:

The next time you face a daunting challenge, think to yourself, “In order for me to resolve this issue, I will have to fail nine times, but on the tenth attempt, I will be successful.” This attitude frees you and allows you to think creatively without fear of failure, because you understand that learning from failure is a forward step toward success. Take a risk and when you fail, no longer think, “Oh, no, what a frustrating waste of time and effort,” but instead extract a new insight from that misstep and correctly think, “Great: one down, nine to go—I’m making forward progress!” And indeed you are. After your first failure, think, “Terrific, I’m 10% done!” Mistakes, loss, and failure are all flashing lights clearly pointing the way to deeper understanding and creative solutions.

Are you looking for a new business idea? Check out the Houston newsletter. Once a week, they share five real problems people would love to solve. It is an interesting read.

Some two-thousand year old wisdom from Marcus Aurelius:

Even if you’re going to live three thousand more years, or ten times that, remember: you cannot lose another life than the one you’re living now, or live another one than the one you’re losing.

I just shared Photomath with my daughter: scan almost any textbook math problem with your phone’s camera and it’ll generate a step-by-step solution instantly.

I’m still processing this one, but lots to chew on in this piece by Jonathan Zittrain about how AI might be more dangerous to humankind when it is right than when it is wrong:

Most important, we should not deceive ourselves into thinking that answers alone are all that matters: indeed, without theory, they may not be meaningful answers at all.

Want to experience more things in a shorter time? Learn to shrink the quantum of experience:

“Instead of reading a book, read a wikipedia article. Instead of eating a cup of ice cream, eat a spoonful. Decreases turnaround time, which both reduces procrastination and also allows me to decide whether I want to go deeper.” This tip encourages me to follow my curiosity, but reminds me to start with small bites.

Here’s how to reach out to someone who’s career you admire:

Highlight what makes you interesting. Successful people like connecting with other interesting people because it feels like fun, not work. And yet so often they’re approached by people taking the role of supplicants, who only want to ask questions and glean wisdom. It’s flattering at first, but with enough volume, it can become exhausting. So one secret is to position yourself as a peer who is notable in your own right.

Finally, I think you’ll be inspired by this beautiful letter from Hunter S. Thompson to a friend about goals. It is absolutely wonderful.


"There are no right answers to wrong questions." — Ursula K. Le Guin

"What people think of as the moment of discovery is really the discovery of the question." — Jonas Salk

"The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions." — Antony Jay

"We need to look hard at the stories we create, and wrestle with them. Retell and retell them, and work with them like clay. It is in the retelling and returning that they give us their wisdom." — Marni Gillard

“If you’re opening a hot dog stand, you could worry about the condiments, the cart, the name, the decoration. But the first thing you should worry about is the hot dog. The hot dogs are the epicenter. Everything else is secondary.” — Jason Fried

Monday Morning Meeting #59
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Happy Monday! Welcome to the July 22nd edition of the Monday Morning Meeting: A weekly collection of Filament news, tools you can use, and interesting ideas that will help you think differently about your week ahead.


VENTURE CAFE CORPORATE INNOVATION EXCHANGE: The Filament Team is heading to Boston in October to facilitate the RE: IMAGINE Corporate Innovation Exchange, a three-day conference we’ve built with our friends at Venture Cafe.

OFFERINGS COMING SOON: We’ll have our BOGO (Buy One / Give One) Sketch Session up on the site this week, along with a new Meeting Design Sprint offering.

THE SPRINT SPACE IS NEARLY COMPLETE! Look for a Sprint Space announcement next week. We’ve taken Matchbox Design’s old space and turned it into a super creative innovation space you can rent by the day, week, or month — and you’ll get a mix of our services with each engagement.


PREPARE BETTER FOR YOUR NEXT MEETING: Trying to plan your next team meeting? Here’s a Meeting Preparation Worksheet we created during our Meeting Design Sprint a few weeks ago. It is part of a full Meeting Kit we’re working on.


What would you give for an “Untouchable Day” each week where you can focus without meetings, interruptions, and calls? Here’s how to do it:

How do I carve out Untouchable Days? I look at my calendar sixteen weeks ahead of time, and for each week, I block out an entire day as UNTOUCHABLE. I put it in all-caps just like that, too. UNTOUCHABLE. I don’t write in all-caps for anything else, but I allow UNTOUCHABLE days to just scream out to me.

Why sixteen weeks ahead? The number of weeks isn’t as important as the thinking behind it. For me, that’s after my speaking schedule is locked in — but, importantly, before anything else is. That’s a magic moment in my schedule. It’s the perfect time to plant the Untouchable Day flag before anything else can claim that spot.

On the actual Untouchable Day itself, I picture myself sitting in a bulletproof car surrounded by two-inches of thick impenetrable plastic on all sides. Nothing gets in. Nothing gets out. Meetings bounce off the windshield. Texts, alerts, and phone calls, too. My cell phone is in Airplane Mode all day. My laptop has Wi-Fi completely disabled. Not a single thing can bother me… and not a single thing does.

Forget talent, hire for curiosity:

The world is changing so fast and in so many ways that we need leaders who are equally curious about how to create customer value as they are about creating social value as an enterprise.

Part ways with your organization’s Heretics:

This kind of employee, and we have all seen this up close, is negative about the Company and disses the management, coworkers, the board, the strategy, the workplace, and everything else under the sun. But for some reason the heretic prefers to stay and be miserable than to move on and find another place to work that is more to their liking. My friend states in his book that you have to part ways with heretics in your company, regardless of how talented they are, how connected they are, and even if they are protected in some way. You have to find a way out of the heretic mess.

It is hard for us to agree with this more: Why a Monthly Offsite is Crucial.

Remember “Opposite Day” in grade school? Austin Kleon shares his approach to writing that would work for organizations trying to build something new:

Making a list of everything stupid and idiotic that someone else is saying and then sitting down and trying to articulate the exact opposite.

Disruption Starts with Unhappy Customers:

The fastest way to grow is to offer something that your current customers, those most loyal to you, would gladly pay for if you provided it and that, by virtue of them acquiring this new offering, it would make your original product or service even more valuable to them. And here is the catch: the new products that are launched do not need to be better than those of the established companies to be successful. As long as new products have synergies for the customer, they will likely get adopted.

Can’t wait to put this together.

A list of books for every age (literally).


"Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo" — John Sinclair

It’s okay — in fact, it’s better than okay — to make mistakes, really big mistakes sometimes.… That strikes me as where all the good stuff happens.” — Melissa Harris-Perry

“If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset (‘what can the world offer me?’) and instead adopt the craftsman mindset (‘what can I offer the world?’)” ― Cal Newport

"Great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart." — Mencius (Meng-Tse)

“No matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter who your audience is: 30 percent will love it, 30 percent will hate it, and 30 percent won’t care. Stick with the people who love you and don’t spend a single second on the rest. Life will be better that way.” ― James Altucher

Monday Morning Meeting #58
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Welcome to the 58th edition of our 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.


MEETING DESIGN SPRINT: We just wrapped four days with a group from Purina helping them rethink and redesign a handful of their most important (or painful) meetings. It was so much fun that we’re going to turn it into a two-day workshop designed for teams looking to reset their meeting culture. Look for more here in the MMM next week!

JURY DUTY WEEK: I’m off to do my civic duty this week so I will be off the grid for a bit. I hope to be wrapped up by Thursday afternoon so I can attend …

FILAMENT FRIDAY ON JULY 19TH: We’ll be doing another Filament this Friday (on July 19th). If you’d like to work with us, share a challenge you’re working on, and/or offer a bit of help to others who might appreciate a hand, you can RSVP here.


Don’t throw away your innovation budget:

Why innovation, and why now? What does success look like? What’s the future vision for our company, and how should innovation contribute to that? Where are we facing the biggest market threats—in the short term or the long term? Will innovation provide services to core business units or will it build new subsidiaries? Your innovation portfolio and your teams will naturally evolve over time, but you can control that evolution by intentionally defining the purpose of the team and the outcomes that they need to deliver.

Looking for a way to encourage innovation throughout an organization? Give out a “Get Out of Jail Free” card:

Give every member of your team two GOJF cards at the beginning of the year. The cards should be personalised to each individual and they are strictly non-transferable (unlike in the game where you can buy or sell them). The idea is this. If you try an initiative which is aimed at improving things for the customer or the business and the venture fails for any reason whatsoever then you can play your GOJF card and no-one can blame or criticize you. You can still analyse what happened and how things might have been handled differently but the card means that the person responsible cannot be blamed for what went wrong. The emphasis is on learning lessons not apportioning blame.

Basecamp (a company I really admire) shares their unique way of working in an online manual originally built for employees titled Shape Up. I can’t wait to dig in and see what we can borrow for Filament! I really like the way they believe Important Ideas Come Back:

It’s easy to overvalue ideas. The truth is, ideas are cheap. They come up all the time and accumulate into big piles.

Really important ideas will come back to you. When’s the last time you forgot a really great, inspiring idea? And if it’s not that interesting — maybe a bug that customers are running into from time to time — it’ll come back to your attention when a customer complains again or a new customer hits it. If you hear it once and never again, maybe it wasn’t really a problem. And if you keep hearing about it, you’ll be motivated to shape a solution and pitch betting time on it in the next cycle.

I can see how using a version of Academic Choice Boards might be a better way to build a conference agenda.

This might be obvious to many, but the framing really struck me — especially as it applies to building better team dynamics and collaboration habits: Designing Your Life Starts with Designing Your Days.

Tyler Cowen shares a list of the intentional things he does to get better every day (he calls them his “Intellectual Practice Strategies.” What would be on your list?

There’s some tough love in this article, Is Your Management Style Killing Your Business — specifically around innovation:

Existing top-down management styles lack the openness necessary to spur innovation; instead being mired in institutional politics, sunk cost arguments, incremental thinking, and an “not invented here” bias.

Ethics lessons illustrated (built?) with Lego bricks.

Infogram looks like a pretty cool tool to create slick infographics, slides, dashboards, etc.


"Growth and comfort do not coexist." — Ginni Rometty

"We need to accept that we won't always make the right decisions, that we'll screw up royally sometimes - understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it's part of success." — Arianna Huffington

"Great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart." — Mencius (Meng-Tse)

"Creativity, as has been said, consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know. Hence, to think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted." — George Kneller

"It isn't the incompetent who destroy an organization. The incompetent never get in a position to destroy it. It is those who achieved something and want to rest upon their achievements who are forever clogging things up." — F. M. Young

Monday Morning Meeting #57

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


FILAMENT FEATURED ON FOX2: We appeared on Fox2 news last week. Here’s a link to our (brief) segment with Kim Hudson.

WE’RE BEGINNING OUR “OFFERINGS” SPRINT: We work in 10-week sprints to better focus on a single goal at a time. We’ve just begun our new “Offerings” sprint. In the next ten weeks, we’ll launch three new offerings, including this one that’s on our to-do list already:

BUY ONE, GIVE ONE SKETCH SESSIONS: We’re creating a “Buy One, Give One” Sketch Session for companies and organizations who need some help visually thinking through a challenge, new idea, or offering. Clients describe Sketch Sessions as a creative mix of innovation, coaching, consulting, brainstorming, and visualization. Here’s how it will work:

  • Schedule a two-hour Sketch Session at Filament with me (Matt Homann) and our incredible artist Todd Bauman and we’ll work with you and a small team to draw out your challenge(s) and help you explore ways to solve them.

  • After the session, you’ll get a great visual of the challenge we discussed along with the ideas and action steps we discovered.

  • After your Sketch Session, you can “give” another one to a non-profit you support and we’ll do a free sketch session with them.

FILAMENT FRIDAY ON JULY 19TH: We’ll be doing another Filament Friday on July 19th. If you’d like to work with us, share a challenge you’re working on, and/or offer a bit of help to others who might appreciate a hand, you can RSVP here.

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ELEPHANT, SQUIRREL, ZOMBIE, PORCUPINE: Inspired by an exercise called Elephant, Dead Fish, Vomit invented by Airbnb (and shared in the wonderful book Rituals for Work), Elephant, Squirrel, Porcupine, Zombie is a group conversation “tool” designed to nurture more honest dialog among people who work together. Here’s how to use it:

During every all-hands meeting, carve out time to discuss the following:

  • Elephants: Big things people are worried about but not talking about.

  • Squirrels: Things that might be distracting the organization or team from focusing on the work that matters most.

  • Zombies: Old issues, projects, or ways of working that never seem to go away.

  • Porcupines: Touchy subjects that might be hard to handle.

We’re in the process of turning each of these into a card people might hold up during our meetings when they feel the group has encountered an elephant, squirrel, porcupine, or zombie. We expect they’ll help our groups have deeper conversations to help them get past the barrier each one of these entities poses.

What are the elephants, squirrels, porcupines, and zombies in your organization?


I was finishing up Kevin Kelly’s The Inevitable and was hit by this passage about how the extraordinary things we might have see once in a lifetime are now are new status quo:

Every minute a new impossible thing is uploaded to the internet and that improbable event becomes just one of hundreds of extraordinary events that we’ll see or hear about today. The internet is like a lens that focuses the extraordinary into a beam, and that beam has become our illumination. It compresses the unlikely into a small viewable band of everydayness. As long as we are online — which is almost all day many days — we are illuminated by this compressed extraordinariness. It is the new normal.

Greg Fraley shares an example of what to communicate to operational employees during an innovation initiative. Here are just a few of my favorites:

  • Innovation is part of everyone’s job. Yes, you’re busy focusing on your job description, AND, we need to innovate to survive, so, innovation is part of your job.

  • Not all ideas submitted will be acted upon, in fact, most won’t. We still want the ideas. When an idea matches our criteria, it will be made into a project. Some projects will make it through a pipeline, many will not. Projects are how innovation happens, and successfully implemented ideas work to help us make money, save money, improve safety, and/or sustainability. If we ask for your help with the project we expect you to make best efforts to assist.

  • You will be evaluated. Your contribution to innovation in terms of ideas, and assistance with projects, will be part of your eval. Because measuring is how we improve

Here’s a cool icebreaker for a roomful of strangers: Write a Collective Biography:

The short version of how it works: A group of people figures out what things they have in common. Are we all from the United States? Do we all like sushi? Do we all dislike the Boston Red Sox? Whatever you can come up with through asking questions and conversing. "Assemble your statements," Krouse Rosenthal wrote. "Call it your Short, Collective Biography." At this workshop, I gave the 10 groups of 10 people each just 10 minutes to come up with a minimum of three facts in common. These teams gathered people from different offices and departments who didn't necessarily know each other, so everybody had to start asking and interacting immediately.

I’m not going to lie, I kinda like this idea better than a vacation autoresponder:

To encourage employees to take real time off, the German automaker Daimler allows them to select an email setting that automatically deletes messages sent to them during vacation, lets senders know that the recipient will never see the messages, and encourages senders to email again after a specified date or to contact someone else. 

If your team needs a creativity boost, bore them first:

Once the [boring task] was over, each group was instructed to spend five minutes on a creative task: They had to come up with reasons why a hypothetical person was two hours late for a meeting. What the researchers found was that the bored group came up with not just more ideas than the control group, but more creative ideas than the control group, too. The quality and quantity of production was higher for people who were bored than those who were not.

I once had dinner at a table next to Teller (the silent partner in the magical duo Penn & Teller) and now really wish I’d have found a way to talk with him. He’s a former teacher, and shares some of the “magical” ways he engaged his students in this fascinating article.

Finally, here’s a pretty cool image from NASA of St. Louis from the International Space Station.


“Writing dignifies any turmoil it puts you through.” — Mike Sacks

“You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

“The best revenge is not to be like that.” — Marcus Arelius

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” — Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

“You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.” — Colette

Monday Morning Meeting #56
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Welcome to Filament’s Monday Morning Meeting: a mix of Filament news, the tools we use, and the interesting ideas to help you think differently about your week ahead.


Filament will be featured on FOX2 Monday morning between 9 and 10:30 am today. We’re not sure we’ll get a video to post, but if you’re reading this super-early on Monday, tune in to see Todd and I talk about better meetings.

Come join us for Happy Hour on Wednesday, as we head across the street to welcome The Last Hotel to the neighborhood!


We’ll be doing another Filament Friday on July 19th. If you’d like to work with us, share a challenge you’re working on, and/or offer a bit of help to others who might appreciate a hand. RSVP here.


Seth Godin explains how great presentations are a series of stories:

Don’t memorize your talk. Memorize your stories. Ten stories make a talk. Write yourself a simple cue card to remember each story’s name. Then tell us ten stories.

Though we also do a lot of purpose-driven nonprofit work at Filament, we agree with the sentiment that helping large companies innovate matters.

Here are ten ways to brainstorm ideas when your brain is fried. An interesting one is “Ignore your Superpower:

Whatever our unique skill set is (e.g., writer or designer), it’s easy for us to rely on those superpowers when trying to overcome a creative block. But sometimes it helps to challenge yourself to try a different (or totally opposite) approach.

For example, if a copywriter needs to beat out a story but doesn’t know what to say, messy storyboarding with stick figures can help them visualize it. Conversely, when a designer needs to communicate something visually but can’t think of an image, looking up the root definition of a word can inspire an idea.

A useful primer: The Difference Between Tylenol, Aspirin, Advil, and Aleve.

Forget the “Minimally Viable Product” to validate your startup. Use the Riskiest Assumption Test instead:

A Riskiest Assumption Test is explicit. There is no need to build more than what’s required to test your largest unknown. No expectation of perfect code or design. No danger it will prematurely become a product.

A Riskiest Assumption Test puts the focus on learning. It is a candle in the darkness that allows us to move forward one step at a time. Once you’ve validated the riskiest assumption you can move on to the next largest one. Gradually building confidence in the viability of your idea.

The key to this is rapid, small tests. What’s the smallest experiment you can do to test your biggest assumption?

Heres something from The Stanford D School I couldn’t wait to share this week: Their Design Question Library with resources and answers to questions like “Where do new ideas come from?” and “Why do building, sharing, and testing a work in progress help you get to a good solution?

What might be even better? This Library of Ambiguity.

Looking for ways to reimagine your status meetings? Here are some solid tips.

These Google Art Zoom talks are super interesting!

I loved these mini-documentaries on Muppets creator Jim Henson.


"We should indeed keep calm in the face of difference, and live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity."— George Takei

“The most talented, thought-provoking, game-changing people are never normal.” — Richard Branson

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” — Dorothy Parker

“When you can do a common thing in an uncommon way; you will command the attention of the world.” — George Washington Carver

“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” — Oscar Wilde

“Perfection is no small thing, but it is made up of small things.” — Michelangelo


If you’d like to subscribe to the Monday Morning Meeting or check out older issues, you can do so here.

Monday Morning Meeting #55
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Welcome to Filament’s Monday Morning Meeting: a mix of Filament news, the tools we use, and the interesting ideas to help you think differently about your week ahead.


We had a great Filament Friday last week and are going to do it again on July 19th. If you’d like to work with us, share a challenge you’re working on, and/or offer a bit of help to others who might appreciate a hand. RSVP here.

We’re excited to sponsor XDThrowdown this Thursday. It is a series of competitive design thinking matches in front of a live audience at Brennan's Work & Leisure. Come join us — this is going to become a big thing!!


This is a pretty new idea, but check out why you might want to rethink “Change Management” and build a Change Advocacy Team instead.


Tired of the same person playing “Devil’s Advocate” in your meetings? We are too. Tim Sanders nails why:

I’ve never met devil’s advocates with many good ideas. Usually they are compensating for their lack of creativity by being nitpicky. Their negativity isolates them over time, as idea people eventually shun them. They end up with a point of view that’s anti-change, anti-risk, anti-new. Mostly I see “Can I play devil’s advocate for a minute?” as a form of asking permission to put someone on the defensive—a psychological form of bullying.

As someone who finds time for a 23 minute nap (seriously) nearly every day, I’m fully behind this sentiment: Take a Nap! Change Your Life.

We’re with Doulass Ruskhoff on #teamhuman here at Filament. A reason why:

“We have to spend time with each other that is not digital. Civic organizations, libraries and social institutions that pre-date consumerism are all viable alternatives. If we reacquaint ourselves without digital crutches, I believe we’ll be less afraid of each other. Turn off the TV and go outside and start talking to people and then people who are inside will want to come out and see what’s going on. That is a type of influence that is sorely needed. It is peer-to-peer influence and it is an innately human social order.”

Most businesses are not ready for AI.

If you think you’ve got to shake things up, it might be too late. Why? The best time is the hardest because the organizations who can leverage change best are likely suffering from Fat Cat Syndrome:

The evidence suggests that the best time to shake things up is actually when you’re doing well. That’s when you have the time, energy and freedom to innovate. But sadly, research shows that success often makes us complacent. Experts call it the “fat cat syndrome.” Think about a time when you’ve been at the top of your game. Did you really want to embrace something radically different? Of course not. You probably became overconfident in your recipe and resistant to try new things.

Need a quick brainstorming boost? Try the alternative uses exercise.

Finally, we’re nearing the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Here’s a site that lets you follow along in real time if you missed the original version in 1969.


"Every society honors its live conformists and dead troublemakers." — Mignon McLaughlin

“True happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving.” — Mark Manson

"If you risk nothing, then you risk everything." — Geena Davis

"Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary." — Margaret Cousins

"In all affairs, it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted." — Bertrand Russell


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