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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
The Monday Morning Meeting #70

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.


In the last month, we’ve been working with a few customers on a new strategy model designed to be more adaptive than the traditional “set-it-and-forget-it” five-year strategy. It’s early in this work for us, but because we’re not afraid of sharing our “shitty” first drafts, I wanted to give you a sneak peek at how our Question-Driven Strategy (TM) model works:

  • An organization’s Question-Driven Strategy is built around 3-5 Transformative Questions (TQs) that, if answered well, will drive the organization to extraordinary results.

  • A good Transformative Question never has a single answer but is designed to generate hundreds — if not thousands — of potential ideas, experiments, pilots, projects, and (ultimately) initiatives from people across the organization.

  • Each TQ is “owned” by a team with three key responsibilities:

    • Translate the question so every part of the organization can answer it. For some, the question may remain in its original form, but for others, the question may need to be “right-sized” so it better connects to the work some do or the influence they wield.

    • Once the question fits each team, help them complete this statement: “We’ll know our team is answering this question well when we ….”

    • Manage the various experiments and pilots across the organization and let leadership know what’s happening where (we’ll share a dashboard for this soon).

  • The organization’s leadership is tasked with different responsibilities, including:

    • Ensuring that everyone knows why it is important to answer the TQ well.

    • Creating the rule book so each part of the organization knows what they can do (and spend) in their efforts to answer each question.

    • Watching (but not interfering in) the experiments and pilots, and then deciding which pilots become funded projects and which projects become well-funded initiatives.

    • Identifying and tracking organization-wide metrics for each question.

  • But why not ask dozens of questions? The small number of questions is necessary for two reasons:

    • First, because everyone in your organization should know its TQs (and to paraphrase Syndrome from The Incredibles, “if every question is transformative, then none of them are”), and

    • Second, because the entire organization won’t work on them all at once, but rather focus their entire attention to finding better answers for one TQ at a time. With four questions, you might focus on one each quarter and with five, you might think in 10-week chunks.

  • Every year, the initial stakeholder group reconvenes and revisits each question. Some questions will be evergreen while others might fall off the list to make room for more important ones.

We know we’ve got a ton of work to do on this, but we’ve built all the tools and the methodologies for the first Question Design Summit. If you’d like to be a guinea pig (for a discount, of course), let us know.


Finally caught up on my reading this week, so I have lots of links to share. I hope you enjoy them all — or at least find one or two that help you this week!

Can an organization have too many “good” ideas? Perhaps:

The “innovation funnel” where a lot of ideas are whittled down to a precious few — should contain two major filtering stages: one where you get rid of the bad ideas and then another where you toss the good ideas that aren’t quite good enough to justify a thinner spread of resources, a greater diffusion of focus, and possibly a more complex customer experience.

Before you default to the belief that a meeting is the best place to make a decision, remember that meetings are hard:

Meetings are inherently risky enterprises, mobs in waiting, more susceptible to passions, pieties, persuasion, and manipulation of all kinds and degrees than are the individuals who participate in them. Meetings begin with the same risk of injury as a motor vehicle containing a steering wheel at each passenger seat.

This cartoon of the Four Horsemen of the Brainstorm from Marketoonist couldn’t be more perfect.

We often use the Fibonacci Sequence to help “price” experiments because the gaps between the numbers — especially as they get bigger — force hard choices. That’s why I really love this insight on ranking opportunities (and rating job candidates) from Kyle Maynard in Tim Ferriss’ Tribe of Mentors book:

My biggest shift came after listening to a successful CEO talk about his philosophy for hiring people. When his company grew and he ran out of time to interview people himself, he had his employees rate new candidates on a 1–10 scale. The only stipulation was they couldn’t choose 7. It immediately dawned on me how many invitations I was receiving that I would rate as a 7—speeches, weddings, coffees, even dates. If I thought something was a 7, there was a good chance I felt obligated to do it. But if I have to decide between a 6 or an 8, it’s a lot easier to quickly determine whether or not I should even consider it.

Seth tells us to Open the Cookies:

Put a bag of cookies in the break room and it might sit for days. Open the bag and leave it out, and within an hour, all the cookies will be gone.

We are happy to take a tiny slice off the thing that’s being shared, but we hesitate to open the bag. The same is true with all of the initiatives in our culture. Design, movements and ideas are all trapped, waiting to be opened, and then the rest of us will happily pile on.

Open the bag.

Such a great icebreaker from Rob Walker’s Art of Noticing newsletter:

Imagine you could devote a year to researching someone’s biography. Who would your subject be?

If you’re trying tof igure out the futue, look to the past. in this compelling essay, author Morgan Housel looks at Three Big Things that are shaping our future — and all have roots in WWII.

Good advice from Julia Galef:

When something goes badly, I don’t automatically assume I did something wrong. Instead I ask myself, “What policy was I following that produced this bad outcome, and do I still expect that policy to give the best results overall, occasional bad outcomes notwithstanding?” If yes, then carry on!

Next time you’re preparing for a one-on-one with someone who reports to you, don’t ask “How can I help you?” Ask one of these things instead (and here’s why):

Asking “How can I help you?” puts a burden on the employee. You’re asking your direct report to do the heavy lifting of figure out how you should be doing your job better as a leader. There are plenty of better questions you can ask – questions that, no doubt, require a little more thought ahead of time to come up with. For example instead of asking, “How can I help you?” try asking:

  • What do you find challenging about my management style

  • What aspect of my work do you think I can do a better job?

  • Do you think I’ve been a little micromanaging with how I’ve been following up on projects?

  • Have I not been as cognizant of reasonable timelines, like I should have?

  • Would you like more or less direction from me? Why/why not?

  • What’s a recent situation you wish you handled differently? What would you change?

  • When have you been annoyed, peeved, or bothered by me and something I’ve done?

  • Could I be doing a better job outlining the vision and direction for where we’re headed?

  • Am I giving you enough information to do your job well?

Complexity is like a leak in your roof. It starts small. But over time, it does real damage. And once that damage has begun, it’s hard to stop. Best not to let it in in the first place.

One of the reasons we’ll occasionally do a “Stupid Idea Wall” in our meetings:

Not all ideas are good. These include yours. If you have a “great idea” that everyone thinks is stupid, don’t push it. The others will also have stupid ideas. If you’re pushy about yours, they’ll be pushy about theirs and you’re just going to get into an impasse. If the idea is really good, maybe it’s just in the wrong place. Bring it up later…. maybe they’ll like it next month.

Finally, don’t forget to play.


“I think what I like most about listening is that I disappear.” — Gordon Hempton

“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; Some blunders and absurdities crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Don’t undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible.” — Edwin Land

“Instead of buying your children all the things you never had, you should teach them all the things you were never taught. Material wears out but knowledge stays.” — Bruce Lee

“Never let the guy with the broom decide how many elephants can be in the parade.” — Merlin Mann


If you’d like to receive the Monday Morning Meeting in your inbox every week, you can subscribe here.

The Monday Morning Meeting #69

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.


Last week on Twitter, I shared a rant about “talking-head” innovation conferences:

Can we stop talking about innovation and do some of it? If you need to be inspired to innovate, by all means, go to a conference. If you're ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work, do hours of powerpoint presentations really give you the kick in the pants you need?

How much better would your "innovation" conference feel if you built it around insight discovery instead of information delivery? Imagine centering your attendees' energies on collaborative co-creation while substituting days of conversations for days of presentations. Curate a list of 10-20 TED talks, books, magazine articles, and blog posts that you tell your attendees to read before they arrive. Then dig in. Do work. Share and collaborate. And if you must have presentations, save them for the end of your event, to be delivered by your attendees as they share the things they learned and the projects they're about to kick off with their new-found collaborations.

But, but, but ... some people won't show up to a creative, problem-solving conference without a promise of speakers. Good! The people who demand an agenda filled with presentations given by the usual suspects aren't innovators anyway. That doesn't mean there isn't room for thoughtful sharing of new ideas and lessons-learned by and from people who've "been there/done that," but if the speakers are the only ones guaranteed an opportunity to share their ideas, you've built nothing more than an innovation theater with "actors" on stage reading their lines to an audience who's capacity to innovate matters less than their ability to pay to attend.

Also, if you’d like to build a better online bio, you might learn a bit from this Venn diagram.


Novelist Cormac McCarthy also edits scientific papers, but this advice for writers is appropriate for nearly everyone:

Use minimalism to achieve clarity. While you are writing, ask yourself: is it possible to preserve my original message without that punctuation mark, that word, that sentence, that paragraph or that section? Remove extra words or commas whenever you can.

Inject questions and less-formal language to break up tone and maintain a friendly feeling. Colloquial expressions can be good for this, but they shouldn’t be too narrowly tied to a region. Similarly, use a personal tone because it can help to engage a reader. Impersonal, passive text doesn’t fool anyone into thinking you’re being objective: “Earth is the centre of this Solar System” isn’t any more objective or factual than “We are at the centre of our Solar System.”

Finally, try to write the best version of your paper: the one that you like. You can’t please an anonymous reader, but you should be able to please yourself. Your paper — you hope — is for posterity. Remember how you first read the papers that inspired you while you enjoy the process of writing your own.

Sound advice for building a better meeting culture from Al Pittampalli:

If you don't receive an action plan from the meeting I invited you to attend, you have every right not to attend my next one. Part of the obligation of the Modern Meeting is that if you want attendance, you must reciprocate with an action plan. That plan should include at least the following: What actions are we committing to? Who is responsible for each action? When will those actions be completed?

Want to pay better attention, pay less attention to other things because your brain uses filters, not spotlights:

The attentional searchlight metaphor was backward: The brain wasn’t brightening the light on stimuli of interest; it was lowering the lights on everything else.

A necessary reminder fo all of us to remember from time to time: We are all confident idiots:

For poor performers to recognize their ineptitude would require them to possess the very expertise they lack. To know how skilled or unskilled you are at using the rules of grammar, for instance, you must have a good working knowledge of those rules, an impossibility among the incompetent. Poor performers—and we are all poor performers at some things—fail to see the flaws in their thinking or the answers they lack….

Because of the way we are built, and because of the way we learn from our environment, we are all engines of misbelief. And the better we understand how our wonderful yet kludge-ridden, Rube Goldberg engine works, the better we—as individuals and as a society—can harness it to navigate toward a more objective understanding of the truth.

The writers really reached for their acronym, but I personally like FAST goals better than SMART ones.

Goals should be embedded in frequent discussions; ambitious in scope; measured by specific metrics and milestones; and transparent for everyone in the organization to see.

I can’t wait to use the OneLook Thesaurus more. It “lets you describe a concept and get back a list of words and phrases related to that concept. Your description can be anything at all: a single word, a few words, or even a whole sentence.”

This chart should be in every single grocery store near the apples.

After looking at these pictures, I wonder if we need a chalkboard somewhere at Filament (and a mathematician).

This is good news for Filament: The ideal age to start a business is much older than you think!

Smile more, it is better for everybody.


"It is simply this: do not tire, never lose interest, never grow indifferent — lose your invaluable curiosity and you let yourself die. It's as simple as that." — Tove Jansson

“Knowing what must be done does away with fear.” — Rosa Parks

“To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated.” — James P Carse

”One becomes weary only of what is new” — Soren Kierkgaard

”People know what they want because they know what other people want.” — Theodor Adorno


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Monday Morning Meeting #68

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.


We're working on a complete Meeting Toolkit and Meeting Design Offering (contact us if you’d like to improve your internal meetings) and have built a super-useful Meeting Preparation Worksheet (.pdf) you can use. We’re also creating a collection of meeting tips like this one:

Next time you're hosting a video conference call and waiting for everyone to dial in, share your screen and put up an icebreaker question (like this one) everyone can see. It helps new callers instantly jump into the conversation while you wait for everyone to arrive.


We all know there’s more than one way to innovate, but did you know there are 15?

Such a good idea from C. C. Chapman’s Amazing Things Will Happen:

Take out your notebook and write “Way to Go!” at the top of a new page. Under that, write down everything you’ve done in the past three weeks that made you feel good. Perhaps you got up early and hit the gym, successfully cooked a new recipe, or managed to push through a task that had been hanging over your head for too long. If it made you smile, write it down.

Here’s a great reminder about what CEOs should do:

The formula for the perfect CEO has been hiding in plain sight for the past 35 years, and it is this: “The job of an executive is to define and enforce culture and values for their whole organization, and to ratify good decisions”. That's it. Not to decide. Not to break ties. Not to set strategy. Not to be the expert on each and every topic. Just to sit in the room while the right people make good decisions. And, if they don't, send them back to try again.

Also, this bit on values is also worth a read:

By the way, useful organizational values come in the form of tradeoffs: giving up one nice thing in order to get some other nice thing. Wishy-washy values like "respect your co-workers" aren't really values, because nobody would ever pick a value like "don't respect your co-workers." Respecting your co-workers is just basic civility. By the time you have to write it down, you've already lost. Put it in your HR policy somewhere, not the top line. A real value is something like "tell the truth, even when it hurts." Or "deliver the software on schedule, even if there are bugs." In both cases, one can legitimately imagine valuing the opposite.

Innovation comes from perseverance (from Kevin Ashton’s How to Fly a Horse):

Creating is taking steps, not making leaps: find a problem, solve it, and repeat. Most steps wins. The best artists, scientists, engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and other creators are the ones who keep taking steps by finding new problems, new solutions, and then new problems again. The root of innovation is exactly the same as it was when our species was born: looking at something and thinking, “I can make this better.

I picked up my copy of The Art of the Idea again this week, and the random page I opened contained this gem:

It’s incorrect to think that bureaucracy only exists in the finance or procurement department. It’s at its thickest when any idea crosses any border. The moment a new thought leaves its home base, it’s viewed with suspicion. That suspicion takes the form of a filter, and that filter, if not carefully managed, turns into bureaucracy. The integrity of an idea can’t be honestly interrogated if it’s surrounded by resentment because it came from somewhere else.

Keri Smith’s How to Feel Miserable as an Artist captures sage advice of what NOT to do when you’re building something new, including:

5. Undervalue your expertise.

9. Do whatever the Client/Customer/Gallery Owner/Patron/Investor asks

10. Set unachievable/overwhelming goals. To be accomplished by tomorrow.

A bit NSFW, but this “meeting” candle smells like it could have been an email.

Speaking of smells, I was weirdly fascinated by the tips in this post about How to Smell:

Scent is so neglected in human experience. I think it’s largely because we walk on two legs, and use our hands to examine things. We just don’t spend much time down where the smells are. It makes me sad, because there’s a whole world of olfactory experience that’s never instantiated. If I ask someone about their day, people will tell me what they saw, and maybe what they heard, but almost nobody tells me what they smelled. And if someone does mention smell, it’s almost always because something smelled either disgusting or delicious. The world is so full of smells, of so many kinds, but hardly anybody notices. I’d like it if more people engaged with the world through scent.

Finally, here’s why we draw at Filament (from Jonathan Levi’s The Only Skill That Matters):

As Homo sapiens, we’re especially adapted to learning in ways that are vivid, visual, and experiential. Scientists refer to this as “the picture superiority effect.” And though many of you have been led to believe that you’re an “auditory” or “tactile” learner, the truth is, we are each naturally gifted at remembering pictures. What we’re not so naturally gifted at is learning from boring lectures or dense textbooks. Heck, we only invented writing systems some five thousand years ago, and the average person couldn’t read until a few hundred years ago. Evolution is an all-powerful mistress, but she’s not a fast-moving one.


“The best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them.” — Ernest Hemingway

“You can never change only one thing.” — unknown

If nobody learns from the past, then there’s no point in raking it up” — Billie Holiday

“The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful ones know that the most unprofitable thing ever manufactured is an excuse.” — Jay Samit


If you’d like to receive the Monday Morning Meeting in your inbox every week, you can subscribe here.

Monday Morning Meeting #67


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.


If you’re interested in a creative, innovation-themed holiday party for your team and/or your customers, shoot us a note. We’ve got some dates open in December, and we’re cooking up some cool ideas for full-day, half-day, and evening events.


While in Toronto last week, I heard a term I loved: Pronoia, which is the opposite of paranoia:

Whereas a person suffering from paranoia feels that persons or entities are conspiring against them, a person experiencing pronoia feels that the world around them conspires to do them good.

We’d all be better off if we were a bit more “pronoid” ever day.

Speaking of language, I loved this nugget from Nicholas Carr’s Utopia is Creepy about the origin of the word Serendipity:

[It] slipped into the language 250 years ago, in 1754, when Horace Walpole, the novelist, coined the word in a letter he sent to an acquaintance, the diplomat Horace Mann. Walpole was inspired by a Persian fairy tale called “The Three Princes of Serendip,” about a group of royal travelers who “were always making discoveries,” in Walpole’s words, “of things which they were not in quest of.”

I wonder how we might find a way to turn building these cotton-ball launchers into an activity for Filament?

Don’t ask for feedback. Ask for advice, instead:

Why is asking for advice more effective than asking for feedback? As it turns out, feedback is often associated with evaluation. At school, we receive feedback with letter grades. When we enter the workforce, we receive feedback with our performance evaluations. Because of this link between feedback and evaluation, when people are asked to provide feedback, they often focus on judging others’ performance; they think more about how others performed in the past. This makes it harder to imagine someone’s future and possibly better performance. As a result, feedback givers end up providing less critical and actionable input.

In contrast, when asked to provide advice, people focus less on evaluation and more on possible future actions. Whereas the past is unchangeable, the future is full of possibilities. So, if you ask someone for advice, they will be more likely to think forward to future opportunities to improve rather than backward to the things you have done, which you can no longer change.

I think this is such a brilliant idea to reduce food waste:

A Finnish super-market chain has instituted a “happy hour” for food. At 9 p.m., the stores slash food prices by up to 60 percent for hundreds of items that are set to expire at midnight.

Old XPLANE colleague and friend Matt Adams suggests we open our junk drawer from time-to-time for some additional creative fuel:

Start now — A junk drawer can be made of anything. It’s just important that it contains stuff [that inspires you].

Add often — Save interesting and inspirational items in your junk drawer. Let your curiosity drive you to discovery and wonder. Done right, adding items becomes habitual as opposed to a purposeful activity.

Take the time to open it — When you’re stuck or bored do some junk drawer rifling. It will pay off.

Expand your resources — When it’s full, make another. The natural evolution of a junk drawer is a junk shelf. Keeping things together in a loose organization of type or time will help.

I love Yarn because when you type in a word, name, or snippet of dialog, it gives you back a short clip from a movie or tv show iike this one.

We’re thinking about doing a Filament “Gift Guide” this year. If we do, I’m pretty sure a few of these Geeky Jerseys will make the list. Personally, I’m waiting on this one to come back into stock.

I’m really digging this newsletter that curates the best Twitter question-and-answer threads.


“The greatest gift you can ever give another person is your own happiness” ― Esther Hicks

"Everything great that ever happened in this world happened first in somebody’s imagination." ― Astrid Lindgren

“Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.” — Samuel Johnson


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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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Monday Morning Meeting #65

Good morning! After taking a week off for Labor Day, the Monday Morning Meeting is back! Did you miss us?

Building on a great summer, we’re rolling up our sleeves to prepare for a busy fall. Here are few things on our plate before winter arrives: delivering these three workshops in Toronto and Phoenix, creating a new strategy model for a local school district, facilitating a two-day collaboration workshop for a Fortune 500 client’s second-largest customer, putting the finishing touches on a “workshop in a box” that’s already been piloted globally, and building a facilitation workbook to support a soon-to-be-released book.

We also just created something simple we hope you like: a video collecting 30+ “bits of advice, best practices, or lessons learned the hard way” from a conference we just attended. Let us know if you have an event coming up where some “wisdom capture” might be useful.


If you follow us on Instagram, you know we post testimonials every Tuesday, but here’s one I couldn’t wait to share. It wasn’t sent to us, but rather forwarded by the sponsor of a Meeting Design Workshop we hosted earlier this year. It is lightly edited to preserve the anonymity of the sender:

I always considered my meetings to be purposeful, deliberate and always ending with next steps/responsibilities.

I went into the Filament workshop openminded not knowing what to expect but looking for nuggets of insights and perhaps even tools to use when having a meeting. What I didn’t expect was to walk out with a shift in perspective and a tool to drive an even more purposeful engagement.

I had decided to use my new insights/tools for my upcoming Strategy Planning Workshop. There would be a lot to gain if successful and a lot to lose if not. The long and short is that this first-ever workshop was a SUCCESS!

The meeting prep [ I learned in the Filament workshop] ensured that I had considered and thought through the meeting, engagements, flow. . . everything! Seriously, a game-changer. As a result of this meeting, there is more holistic team collaboration.

Attendees said that they can’t believe this hasn’t happened before and that they want to come to town for it next year.

YAY!!! We now have full team participation. Thank you so much for letting me participate.


How many agreements do you need to reach consensus in your organization? It might be more than you think:

When we try to reach an agreement in our meetings, the number of actual agreements that need to take place rises exponentially as more people are added to the group. With two people, you need one agreement for unanimity. With four people, you need six agreements. With a group of ten, forty-five agreements must be made to come to a consensus on anything.

From the “that idea is so crazy, it just might work!” file: an audio podcast on mime. I learned the astronauts were taught mime in case their communication devices failed?

I found this interesting take on “Services as Software” in Rob May’s InsideAI newsletter:

Everyone knows SaaS stands for software-as-a-service. The term came from the delivery and billing model that allowed users to just pay a fee and access software on a remote cloud computer, rather than buy and install in on their own servers.  I was thinking about it this week as I realized many of the successful companies I know in the AI space are selling "services as software.”

What does this mean?  It means they sell you a task that is traditionally done by a human and then augment or replace the human with software.  You need task X done?  We do it at half price.  How do we do it at half price?  We scale our people by replacing many of their tasks with software. 

Why books don’t work (and what we can do about it):

Books are “surprisingly bad at conveying knowledge.” Read a non-fiction book, and within a few days or weeks you will have forgotten all but a few key points. Our basic error is to think that complex knowledge can be relayed efficiently just by means of words on a page. No. To take in information you need to read slowly, think deeply, take notes; return later to the book, revise it, test yourself or have others test you. This is the scholarly method, and it does work; but it has no part in the standard reading model.

Stop focusing on “great” and concentrate on “good enough” instead:

Good enough is a lot more probable than great. Good enough is a lot less angstful than great. And, the reality is that good enough over and again is precisely how you become great to begin with. Go big or go home and you often end up home. Go small, steady, and consistent over time and you end up with something big.

Love your AirPods? What signal does wearing them send to others?

AirPods are changing our behaviour, and not generally for the better. “They visually signal the wearer’s choice to perpetually relegate the immediate environment to the background. They create a soft but recognisable obstacle to personal interaction. They express potential distractedness in a sustained and effortless manner. You don’t have to look down at a screen to convey that your mind might be elsewhere. AirPods efficiently communicate your refusal to pretend to be fully present.

Finally, as we look to grow our team, Ed Catmull’s advice from Creativity, Inc. has been front of mind for me:

If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better.


”If things were simple, word would have got around.” — Jacques Derrida

“Anything you build on a large scale or with intense passion invites chaos.” — Francis Ford Coppola

"Always be prepared to think that experts are stupid. They often are." — Jane Jacobs

"We’ve all learned to answer email on Sundays, but none of us has learned to go to the movies on Monday afternoon.” — Ricardo Semler

”Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none is undeservedly remembered.”
— W.H. Auden

Monday Morning Meeting #64


Happy Monday! We’re back from Orlando (and a quick weekend to Portland, Oregon) and gearing up for some cool work leading a handful of workshops this week.

One of the highlights of our week at ILTACON was an hour-long session we built 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. Let us know if you’d like a version for your team or organization!


Building a “roadmap” for your organization’s future seems like a great idea, but…

The trouble is, the metaphor is misleading. Conventional roadmaps chart the way to real places; change roadmaps are about imagined destinations. They assume that change is a predictable process of simple steps in cause and effect, where the consequences build in a linear fashion.

A tool originally developed to represent existing realities doesn’t work well as a mental model for creating new realities...if the world is a complex adaptive system and consists of complex adaptive sub-systems, is it surprising that linear, deterministic, and static tools so often fail?

I’m totally going to put these to the test with my daughter: Questions to ask instead of “how are you?”

Wondering why it is so hard to invent things that are obvious in hindsight? Ponder why we waited so long for the bicycle:

First, the correct design was not obvious. For centuries, progress was stalled because inventors were all trying to create multi-person four-wheeled carriages, rather than single-person two-wheeled vehicles. It’s unclear why this was; certainly inventors were copying an existing mode of transportation, but why would they draw inspiration only from the horse-and-carriage, and not from the horse-and-rider?

I’m not quite sure how to describe Ludwig, but it looks like an interesting addition to every writer’s toolbox.

Lots to chew on in these leadership lessons, including:

Repetition won’t spoil the prayer when communicating with your team. You need to keep everyone going in the same direction. The entire team needs to know and understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Defining the mission, the goals, the objectives, and the path will help you keep everyone moving together. But once you define those points, you need to repeatedly communicate them all to the team over and over and over again to make sure it’s fully understood, remembered and kept front of mind. You can’t do it just once a year. Do it once a month!

and this:

If your org chart doesn’t make sense, then most likely….. neither does your org. And don’t optimize your org for one or two people and de-optimize it for everyone else. Set things up in a clear way that optimizes for performance and growth of the entire organization.

Gone is an ephemeral to-do list where your tasks disappear after 24 hours if you don’t complete them.

Seek is the coolest app I’ve seen in a while. It uses the power of image recognition technology to identify the plants and animals all around you. Practically magic!


“The only way to consciously deactivate a thought is to activate another. In other words, the only way to deliberately withdraw your attention from one thought is to give your attention to another.” ― Esther Hicks

“Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

"Always be prepared to think that experts are stupid. They often are." — Jane Jacobs

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