Leaders Curate Ideas

You don’t make a great museum by putting all the art in the world into a single room.

That’s a warehouse.

What makes a museum great is the stuff that’s not on the walls. Someone says no. A curator is involved, making conscious decisions about what should stay and what should go. There’s an editing process. There’s a lot more stuff off the walls than on the walls. The best is a sub-sub-subset of all the possibilities.

It’s the stuff you leave out that matters.

So constantly look for things to remove, simplify, and streamline. Be a curator. Stick to what’s truly essential. Pare things down until you’re left with only the most important stuff. Then do it again. You can always add stuff back in later if you need to.

The inspirational words above come from the book Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of 37signals. If you don’t own it, you should.

The artwork below is by illustrator Mike Rohde.

Be a curator

Both are important to me, as they represent the role I began at Auxano four years ago today – the Vision Room Curator.

My role has expanded in many ways since 2012 – but at the heart of everything I do is the concept of curation. But I don’t curate things – I curate ideas, represented in the image above by the light bulbs. There’s a lot of ideas floating around in the world today – but only a few need to be turned on.

Being a curator may be my vocational role, but it’s also something every leader needs to practice.

What will you curate today?

 

 

 

Conquering Your To-Do List

Long to-do lists are guilt trips. The longer the list of unfinished items, the worse you feel about it. And at a certain point, you just stop looking at it because it makes you feel bad. Then you stress out and the whole thing turns into a big mess.     – Jason Fried, Rework

Lists and I have a love-hate relationship. I love to make them and I hate to get them done.

Before you write me off as a lazy sloth who never gets anything done, a little explanation. I live by my calendar – the one that resides on my laptop and magically updates itself on my mobile phone. All my work: regular daily duties, special projects (broken down by item), future projects, projects under development, projects that are just a few words – they are all on my calendar. That kind of list gets done.

It’s the other kind I’m talking about.

It’s possible to think of a calendar as a list, but I see lists in a different way. Lists are the different colored Post-It notes affixed to various surfaces of my workspace. They are the legal pads with a line – or a page – of notes about something I’m thinking about or working on. The very important lists are those that have made it to journal stage – a protracted, in-depth series of thoughts, actions, and ideas bound between two pieces of cardboard.

No matter what you call them, I suppose they are all lists of some sort.

With all these lists occupying space, it’s easy to fall into the trap described by Jason Fried above. His solution?

Whenever you can, divide problems into smaller and smaller pieces until you’re able to deal with them completely and quickly. Simply rearranging your tasks this way can have an amazing impact on your productivity and motivation.

Now we’re on to something! Instead of a list with 100 items on it, I can have 10 lists of 10 items each. The intent is that you can quickly move through the list and then toss it when it’s done.

Fried acknowledges that you still have the same amount of stuff left to do. But the smaller picture of a list with 10 items gives you satisfaction, motivation, and progress.

And that gives you a Done list.

Isn’t that your goal?

inspired by and adapted from Rework, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Rework

Be a Curator

You don’t make a great museum by putting all the art in the world into a single room. 

That’s a warehouse

What makes a museum great is the stuff that’s not on the walls. Someone says no. A curator is involved, making conscious decisions about what should stay and what should go. There’s an editing process. There’s a lot more stuff off the walls than on the walls. The best is a sub-sub-subset of all the possibilities.

It’s the stuff you leave out that matters.

So constantly look for things to remove, simplify, and streamline. Be a curator. Stick to what’s truly essential. Pare things down until you’re left with only the most important stuff. Then do it again. You can always add stuff back in later if you need to.

What will you curate today?

The inspirational words above come from the book Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier, the founders of 37signals.

If you don’t own it, you should.

The artwork is by illustrator Mike Rohde.

 

 

 

 

Long Lists Don’t Get Done

Start making smaller to-do lists. Long lists collect dust.

When’s the last time you finished a long list of things? You might have knocked off the first few, but chances are you eventually abandoned it (or blindly checked off items that weren’t really done properly).

Long lists are guilt trips. The longer the list of unfinished items, the worse you feel about it. And at a certain point, you just stop looking at it because it makes you feel bad. Then you stress out and the whole thing turns into a big mess.

There’s a better way. Break that long list down into a bunch of smaller lists. For example, break a single list of a hundred items into ten lists of ten items. That means when you finish an item on a list, you’ve completed 10 percent of that list, instead of 1 percent.

Yes, you still have the same amount of stuff left to do. But know you can look at the small picture and find satisfactions, motivation, and progress. That’s a lot better than staring at the huge picture and being terrified and demoralized.

Whenever you can, divide problems into smaller and smaller pieces until you’re able to deal with them completely and quickly. Simply rearranging your tasks this way can have an amazing impact on your productivity and motivation.

And a quick suggestion about prioritization: Don’t prioritize with numbers or labels. Avoid saying, “This is high priority, this is low priority.” Likewise, don’t say, “This is a three, this is a two, this is a one, this is a three,” etc. Do that and you’ll almost always end up with a ton of really high-priority things. That’s not really prioritizing.

Instead, prioritize visually. Put the most important thing at the top. When you’re done with that, the next thing on the list becomes the next most important thing. That way you’ll only have a single next most important thing to do at one time.

And that’s enough.

 

The inspirational words above come from the book “Rework,” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of 37signals.

                           If you don’t own it, you should. 

The artwork is by illustrator Mike Rohde.

Emulate Chefs

With the culinary art/leadership connection going on, and the fact that I’ve been rereading Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson’s great book “Rework“, I thought the following post from last year would be appropriate again.

You’ve probably heard of Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Rachel Ray, Paula Deen, Bobby Flay, Jacque Pepin, or Julia Child. They’re great chefs, but there are a lot of great chefs out there. So why do you know these few better than others?

Because they share everything they know.

They put their recipes in cookbooks and show their techniques on cooking shows. They want you to take what they have developed and make it your own.

Great organizations should share everything they know, too. Don’t be paranoid and secretive, but be open and generous.

A recipe is much easier to copy than a business idea. Shouldn’t that scare someone like Mario Batali? Why would he go on TV and show you how he does what he does? Why would he put all his recipes in cookbooks where anyone can buy and replicate them? Because he knows those recipes and techniques aren’t enough to beat him at his own game. No one’s going to buy his cookbook, open a restaurant next door, and put him out of business. It doesn’t work like that, but many organizations think that’s what will happen if others learn how they do things.

Emulate famous chefs. They cook, so they write cookbooks.

What do you do? What are your “recipes”? What’s your “cookbook”? What can you tell the world about how you operate that’s informative, educational, and promotional?

What’s cooking in your “kitchen” that you should share?

 

Inspiration is perishable

We all have ideas. Ideas are immortal. They last forever.

What doesn’t last forever is inspiration. Inspiration is like fresh fruit or milk: it has an expiration date.

If you want to do something, you’ve got to do it now. You can’t put it on a shelf and wait two months to get around to it. You can’t just say you’ll do it later. Later, you won’t be pumped up about it anymore.

If you’re inspired on a Friday, swear off the weekend and dive into the project. When you’re high on inspiration, you can get two weeks of work done in twenty-four hours. Inspiration is a time machine in that way.

 

Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator. But it won’t wait for you. inspiration is a now thing. If it grabs you, grab it right back and put it to work.

The inspirational words above come from the book Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier, the founders of 37signals.

If you don’t own it, you should.

The artwork is by illustrator Mike Rohde.