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Where do ideas come from? June 7, 2012

Posted by wooddickinson in 7 Habits, Change, consulting, executive coaching, executive leadership, family coaching, Family Crisis Group, FCG, Hope, Life Coach, Neurobiology, shared vision, Systems Thinking.
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I was watching a YouTube video of Tony Faddall addressing the question, “Where do ideas come from?” For Tony the answer was FRUSTRATION. I think that’s a great source for someone involved in engineering. My daughter was in the Apple Store a couple of weeks ago with her new iPad. What she wanted to do is create a document and have it be on a cloud so she can update that document from any computer where the file resides. I’m a writer so this seemed elemental. But currently it can’t be done in a transparent fashion. The tec helping her said that he understood her concept and it was a good idea. Well Duh. We all live with frustration in our daily lives and it is getting worse.

I’ve noticed over the last year a disturbing trend in large corporations. For instance, our KitchenAid trash compactor has been broken most of time while my maintenance contract was ticking away. The rest of the time we just sat thinking about calling the repairman. So when I got the renewal contract in the mail I called KitchenAid service and told them the situation and suggested they should give me another year on my contract for free. Now what I just did was ask the person on the other end of the phone to walk to the moon. So, the answer I got was “Impossible.” No way. We don’t do that. Ever.

So with the challenge set, I went on a mission to get the “impossible” done. I called supervisors and got the same Impossible. Now my wife had been around with them before so she had a number for someone in the corporate office. I called her and suddenly the impossible became possible.

This super negative ‘there’s no way in hell’ attitude seems to be permeating business. When I ran Dickinson Theatres I’d ask the receptionist to direct all complaint calls to me the President/CEO. I had fun solving their problems and keeping a happy customer. I guess that’s old fashioned.

Frustration? Yes it breeds ideas and sometimes a smart person may solve the problem if he/she doesn’t get fired for doing so. Now I’m a creative guy. I write movies, short stories, books and do photography. These ideas come from a bit different place. What I say is, the day dreamers in the room will probable have an idea and do something great. Those who couldn’t daydream if they tried need not apply.

I find my ideas come from a convergence of information that at first may not look related. I also love the “what if…” game. The point is creativity is not just the property of a few but the property of all no matter if it’s computer design or programming or painting or writing a novel. Here is a good LINK to start.

For you writers out there a fun tool is The Observation Deck.

The number one biggest helper in the creative department is curiosity. My computer defines curiosity as a” strong desire to know or learn something.” Curiosity may have killed the cat but it truly is the well from which ideas flow.

I’m sorry but… April 14, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in Change, Hope, shared vision.
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I listened to the news today and that, along with the speech made on April 13th by Obama, leaves me feeling very pessimistic about this country. Once again the Democrats wage war on “wealthy” Americans. The problem as Obama sees it, we don’t tax enough and we can keep spending at the current rates as long as we justtax people more.

OK…tax those that own small businesses and tax those who invest in the economy and take the risk, monetarily, to help drive the economy (that ultimately creates jobs). Just have the Feds create more jobs instead. Let’s just ramp up the old class warfare argument. I have to ask, where is the bipartisan? When did it become a crime in the USA to make money? Don’t people who make money spend it? If they don’t then aren’t jobs lost and local economies hurt?

Call me stupid but I don’t see how raising taxes on anyone works. It promotes the idea that middle class people and poor people (especially those who are unmotivated to work) should get part of the success of hard-working Americans who have made a few bucks.  I’m not talking about our billionaires in this country or even those with 10 million and up in assets. Does anyone really think a person who has saved up 2 or 3 million dollars through hard work are “the rich!”

Why oh why can’t we just for this one time seriously cut government spending. Roll it back to pre 9/11 levels. Defund all non-essential and repetitive programs. Yes, The National Endowment for the Arts and NPR are non essentials. I’m an artist, writer, filmmaker and I have never used any federal money. States can offer tax credits (again back to NOT paying taxes) to attract filmmakers.

I do believe that true solutions to problems are usually simpler than the solutions dreamed up and implemented. The same is true here. End the IRS, stop federal taxes both personal and corporate, institute a national sales tax and I bet you’d have more than enough money. I know, the problem is EVERYONE would pay tax now. This would hurt the poor. Right? Well they are being hurt now with state and local sales tax. Exempt food and other essential items. This way everyone pays even all the gray market workers. Even the criminals!

Taking away the deduction for giving to non-profits by really wealthy people will hurt all those agencies trying to help society. Giving is already down. Go ahead and remove an incentive. You might say the rich should give regardless the deduction. Do you? The government by its tax rules shape how we act. They want us to save they create IRAs and 401Ks. They don’t want us to buy a house, remove the mortgage deduction.

Just think about it. Republican or Democrat I don’t care. I’m an independent and I’m sick of the excuses.

Union Woes February 23, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in Change, shared vision, Systems Thinking.
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A rally of the trade union UNISON in Oxford du...

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According to Yahoo! News (HERE) The governor of the state is trying to save $165M.  I’m sorry but we must face facts.  There isn’t enough money and enough taxes to counter this kind of problem.  It runs ram-pet through all states and the Federal Government.  The current answer is Tax more, Spend more, pass the buck to our children.

I’m not speaking a political opinion just recounting facts.  Now the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on 1/21/2011 the union membership information for 2010.

I’ll quote:

“In 2010, 7.6 million public sector employees belonged to a union, compared with 7.1 million union workers in the private sector. The union membership rate for public sector workers (36.2 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private sector workers (6.9 percent). Within the public sector, local government workers had the highest union membership rate, 42.3 percent. This group includes workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as teachers, police officers, and fire fighters. Private sector industries with high unionization rates included transportation and utilities (21.8 percent), telecommunications (15.8 percent), and construction (13.1 percent). In 2010, low unionization rates occurred in agriculture and related industries (1.6 percent) and in financial activities (2.0 percent). (See table 3.)” Source: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm

What is obvious is more of us are not in a union than those who are.  No one cares much about private sector unions even though they do effect the cost of goods, it is the public sector (government workers) that the voting public should be worried about.

Public policy has been to bend over for public sector labor unions thus driving the cost of government into the stratosphere. Now unions are not the only reason we have out of control spending on the local, state and federal level but it is a significant part.  Here again we have a minority holding a majority hostage for political gain.

I understand we are talking about peoples lives but consider the fact that all the non-union workers, employers and corporate risk takers that drive business growth have no such protection.  They are villains and takers.  Especially management even though these people create the jobs the union folks fill.  When the unions should be supporting management so the company is successful they act as a drain possibly driving the company out of business. All that happens to the union employee is lay off or getting fired.  The business owner’s life is ruined by a business failure.

I’m not going into the corporate greed argument always pulled out of the hat because almost all businesses run honestly.

Now, what does all this mean?  Looking at current trends in societal anger about tax and spend I can for see a revolt against the public sector employees and the politicians who support them.  This could get bloody because unlike taxes where workers say, “Let the rich pay,” this will be their own jobs on the line. The workers will have to pay.

It’s obvious to all of us that state and federal governments are bloated.  Departments are too large, spending is out of control and staffing to expansive.  When a politician tries to get a grip on this just look at Wisconsin to see the reaction.  All unions rally behind government employees even though we as a nation can’t afford them.

This country is on a collision course and many people are living in a fantasy world when it comes to this issue.

Top 10 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Writing a Business Plan November 23, 2010

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Writing a business plan is often a crucial first step to getting your start-up off the ground. A good plan can help you raise money, recruit members of your management team, set your marketing strategy and, perhaps best of all, refine your thinking. A plan riddled with errors? That can sink you. Here are 10 mistakes that entrepreneurs frequently make when crafting their business plans, according to Akira Hirai, a consultant in California who advises start-up companies on elements of business-plan writing, including competitive analysis and financial forecasting.

Being All Things to All People

You cannot expect a business plan to appeal to every possible audience. With this in mind, try to pick one business model, and to focus on one industry or one problem. Otherwise, you risk spreading yourself too thin, and potentially creating a sprawling plan that makes a bad first impression.

Being Boring

If a potential client gets two pages into your plan and is bored, that’s a terrible sign. It is important to have the reader interested right from the executive summary on the very first page. And don’t neglect your cover page: a well-designed logo never hurts.

Measuring the Size of the Market Too Optimistically

Although it may seem impressive if you project vast markets and the potential for huge sums of revenue, outsize financial estimates often appear gimmicky to investors. Worse, big numbers often make you sound as if you don’t know what you’re doing or how hard it will be to penetrate your target market. Don’t make big promises unless you’re absolutely sure you can keep them.

Lacking the Confidence to Sell Your Product

In an effort to portray confidence, too many business plans ignore the competition that a new business will face. Doing so betrays a lack of sophistication. Few if any ideas face zero competition. Even if your concept is completely original, you should take into account forces that compete with your product or service, including different solutions to a problem, different ways that customers might choose to spend their money, and inertia in the marketplace.

Repeating Yourself Too Much

Avoid repeating a few catchphrases and a few simple ideas in ten different formulations. Nobody wants to hear the same thing over and over again. Be sure to keep your plan’s fundamental message consistent throughout, but employ creative language and appealing imagery to flesh out your ideas.

Using Too Much Jargon

Remember that not everyone in business is familiar with cross-industry lingo. If you have a background in a specific industry – this is especially true in science and engineering – try to use simple, specific, and concrete phrases to describe your business. Rely on general terms that most everybody will understand.

Not Being Consistent

Eliminate contradictions. Make sure that the information in your plan is consistent — that, for example, a financial chart deep within the plan does not undermine a fact used in an earlier section. Make absolutely certain that every fact about your industry, the market, and key competitors is accurate and readily verifiable.

Failing to Incorporate Feedback

Presenting a business plan about which you have not received feedback is an easy amateur mistake to make. Remember: Presenting to a top investor a draft business plan that contains silly errors or gaps in logic is worse than presenting no plan at all. Try reaching out to a few friendly contacts who have vetted business plans in the past before you begin to share it with qualified potential investors. However….

Taking Too Many Perspectives Into Account

…Do not go so overboard in anticipating lines of questioning or identifying possible flaws in your thinking that a reader will have a hard time following the narrative thread. Make sure you address some likely investor objections, but balance the desire to be clear-eyed with the overall objective, which is to make a persuasive pitch.

Failing to Acknowledge the Competition

Successful plans come in all shapes and sizes and formats, so don’t worry about crafting one that looks and reads exactly like every other plan that’s out there. Your goal isn’t to fit in; you want your business plan to stand out. Remember: If you create a proposal that expresses your idea and your personality, you will be more comfortable and confident when you are called on to present it.

Inc.

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