Post Modern Living with Chris “The Brain”
Episode #1 - How to Run Your Business with Questions
Greetings followers! Today’s episode looks at 15Five.com and teaches you how to run your business (team, ministry, empire, etc) with questions. You will learn how to ask great questions to make your
minions employees better at being independent minded and self-managing go-getters! (but not TOO independent) You’re welcome.
Apple’s Maps may very well send it into a five-year slump, but not for the reasons you think. Maps has been infamous for being so inaccurate and troublesome it has inspired a multitude of late-night jokes. These problems are only symptoms of a larger strategic mistake. Maps is the moment Apple went from leading the age of the mobile computing, to just being a “me too.”
While You Were Suing
While Apple has been busy suing competition, the competition has leapfrogged Apple. Android, and now Windows 8, offer the future cloud-based solutions which the decisive early-adopter market is looking for. While competition doesn’t yet have the “majority” of the market yet, Apple itself demonstrated in 2007 that the early-adopters determine the future of the market, and that’s the market they have lost this year.
These are Not the Droids You’re Looking For
Here is a list of the emerging functionality which is leading this market:
So what is Apple’s response to Android - Maps! Maps is cool, but it was already a ubiquitous tool. I could get Google Maps on my iPhone. Apple is so far behind the curve on using the cloud, and they decided they could catch-up with Maps… oops.
400 Years Wasted
Google says it took over 400 years of work-hours to build Google Maps. For Apple to catch-up, you can only imagine it at least took a couple centuries. Just think about what innovation or improvements Apple could have made in that time to grow it’s strengths instead of creating a sub-par product to compete where it didn’t need to. Even if they just spent all that time on their iCloud email service, they would be ahead of the game.
Now Apple is the “Me Too”
I was one of the first Apple “fan-boys”, but the hard truth is that Apple is no longer leading any aspect of this market. Apple Maps was a “me too.” The iPhone 5’s tall screen was a “me too.” The iPad Mini was a “me too.” Don’t get me wrong, they needed to make them. The problem was that it just took them too long to do it. It is hard to think of anything they could improve in the next couple years that will do anything else other than catch them up with the innovations of Android and Windows.
There is a lot of practical advice out there for conducting interviews effectively. Mostly, this is based around the fact that many of the questions that really help you get to know a person are illegal to ask in a job interviews. I recently heard a claim that the best question to ask is: What single project would you consider the most significant accomplishment in your career so far? Meh, it’s ok. I think I have one even better: How do you build a fort?
This has become my favorite question to ask in an interview. You would be amazed at how much you learn about a person when they respond. Often the first response is, “Can you be more specific?” or “What kind of fort?” Nope, you don’t get anything else, you just have to answer the question, “How do you build a fort?”
In a given interview series, I got the following answers:
“Well, I guess you would want to find an open area where you can build a moat. Then you would want to put a plan together, taking local materials into account, to get everyone on the same page. Then you assign tasks and start building it.”
“Out of wood?”
“I am a big fan of turrets. You gotta have turrets and towers on every corner.”
“I guess it depends on what era of history you are fighting in.”
“You start by taking inventory of all the cushions in the house. Sofa cushions are the best. From there, tall chairs and bed sheets pull it together.”
The last one there is the one I hired. Just think about everything those answers tell you about a person’s ability to problem solve, use their imagination, be open, what they see as important, and what kind of culture they come from. Just make sure you stick to the question, no clarification, no context, just “How do you build a fort?”
When finding people for your company, especially if you have a strong internal culture, finding people who “fit” or “get it” are important. Asking what their best project was tells you they are capable, asking “How do you build a fort?” tells you if you will enjoy working with them.
The Harvard Business Review did a massive study on tens of thousands of businesses to find out what “common rules” they could find among all those who succeeded. What did they find? Well, rule #3 was “There are no other rules.” I won’t spoil rules #1 and #2. This is, of course, disappointing to many readers who were hoping to find some rules for success. In order to offer some relief here is one more rule: Stop making rules! Instead, try wisdom.
Black and white thinking is ingrained into us from the moment we step into pre-school. We learn there is a right way to do something, and everything else is wrong. In real-life, there is a wrong way to do something (hint: it’s the one that gets you killed), and everything else is up for grabs. I hear you, “How can we make decisions without rules?” Easy, instead of thinking you need to find rules, why not look for wisdom instead?
You want to know the deep dark truth about why we are addicted to rules? We hate responsibility. Rules mean we get breath a sigh of relief and free ourselves from accountability and, hopefully, consequences. Humanity deals with the universe by saying “I will play by the rules, and you take care of me, in return.” We do this to such an extreme perspective that we choose our leaders according to those who are willing to help us make up rules to follow.
Wisdom and understanding are different from rules, they don’t tell us what to do, they just help us make our own judgements. Throwing away the knowledge and experience of the past is foolish, but clinging to it as some kind of sanctimonious liturgy is also just as asinine. We need to take the education and experience passed down to us as rules, and convert it to wisdom. This means we listen to the voices of the past, but do not constrain ourselves to them.
It is a hard habit to break. Even those who adventure out into the unknown and learn new things tend to come back down from the mountain with a new set of commandments. We don’t stop to think that we just broke the rules, why would we then make new rules? Instead we need to start sharing our knowledge with each other, and our children, with a little more humility. “Here is what I have learned, take it and grow it.” This should be our process, not “Here is what I have learned, follow it.”
Being countercultural by nature, I started my life pretty much rejecting every rule given to me. While this enabled to me to learn a lot, it also caused me a lot of pain. But when faced with the choice, “follow the rules, or keep going” I always kept going. I wish someone had told me, “listen the rules as advice, hear the wisdom, then decide for yourself.” That would have save me a lot of pain, and I still would have been free to adventure and explore.
The dangerous part of rules is that they imply, “this is it, there is no world beyond.” This assumption is nearly impossible for the young to swallow, meaning they rebel until they wear out. When we wear out, we become part of the choir telling others, “follow the rules.” The impossible conflict between rules and exploration is wisdom, and we need cultural shift to move forward.
Humanity is still forming a relationship with technology. Sometimes that relationship is co-dependent, sometimes it is hostile but sometimes it is truly symbiotic. One of the biggest ways to make sure technology and you are good for each other is using your mind’s “up time” to prepare for your mind’s “down time.” When it comes to the call of nature, your mind’s “down time” and your body’s “down time” are often the “same time.”
First, let’s understand the mind’s “up time.” Everyone has a portion of the day, although not always everyday, where their mind is fresh and most capable of making decisions and solving problems. The rest of the day, we are more likely to passively consume information and entertainment. Reports, emails and blog articles are normally addressed in our “up time” while browsing Facebook, watching videos, and making meme photos with cats are more likely to occur during our “down time.”
So what does this have to do with taking a dump? Well, let me tell you. Most of us don’t feel like actively thinking on the toilet, we prefer to consume while we expel. Hence, the old cliche of reading a magazine on the John. So what if I told you these few minutes a day, or more for us Taco Bell fans, can change your life if you take them seriously? In the age of the iPad, tablets and smartphones, it can.
Use your mind’s “up time” to curate information delivery to your brain for during your “down time.” Use programs which aggregate content, such as Pulse.me, feedly.com and Flipboard.com to design and control what your mind consumes. Then when you take your digital content with you to the “reading room” you can still be bettering your life.
I know, I know, many of you reading this already know what “RSS” is and are using one, or another, of the programs I have listed. However, you probably HAVEN’T stopped to think about whether or not you are feeding yourself information that is helpful to you, or simply entertaining. You see, when your mind is not in “up time” it is hard to be discerning or have self-control. You are more likely to just want to follow blogs with naughty photos (you perve).
The key to this lifestyle choice with technology is to take a day and spend your “up time” saying, “who do I want to become?”, “what do I want to learn?”, and “what makes me better at what I do?” Then search for sites and resources which provide information to help you daily feed your mind toward those goals. For example, I have a “Flipboard” folder where I follow all history related blogs so I can be more versed in the details of human events and show off when playing trivia games at parties.
If you haven’t tried yet, explore the tools listed and set aside some time to set them up effectively. Find websites, people, and blogs who talk about what you want to learn or become. Now you won’t be as tempted to spend all day looking at memes and boobs, because you will be feeding yourself automated goodness while you poo.