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    Three Questions to Determine if a Hire is Self-motivating

    Adding any person to any given group of people can be viewed as an extremely complicated social science experiment. Suppose someone joins a new religious organization. What's likely to happen? In most cases, pretty much nothing. But if the new member is rich and likes to throw their weight around, the new person could be quite disruptive to the life and mission of the community.

    New Hire

    If modern enterprise leaders continue to make hires as if people are interchangeable parts, then they should expect large numbers of business system failures. (photo - tim-gouw - unsplash)

    What if a group of people needs someone new to produce a specific set of business results? Quantifying the specific business results is the easy part. Quantifying the social effects that the new hire should produce within the group is another matter entirely.

    One of the difficult aspects of doing modern leadership well is tuning the mix of personnel to optimize those business results. Increasingly, especially in knowledge work businesses, the characteristics of the social context are often key to productivity optimization. Small frictions here and there can add up to large losses of profit.

    Well, if I say I have three key questions that will help you find the right fit for all of your company's new hires, I might really have them, but you won't know how to use them. These questions aren't, “On a scale from 1 to 10...” kinds of things. These questions are tools that you will have to learn how to use. Let's take a look at them, and then think about the things they might be able to tell us about an applicant.

    • What's your most notable accomplishment, by your standards, not the world's?
    • What struggles did you encounter, including disruptive people, while working on this accomplishment?
    • Who were the people who provided the best and most reliable help to you to get this done?

    If we learn how to listen, what kinds of things can we learn from an applicant using Question 1 (the bullets are just a starter set for you to build on)?

    • What kinds of values they apply to important goals, including how they identify them.
    • How they size something big or significant.
    • Where some of their motivated interests lie.

    Question 2?

    • How they define a struggle.
    • How they characterize the troublemakers they encounter.
    • How they respond to setbacks.

    Question 3?

    • How they identify helpful talent.
    • How they deal with superior talent.
    • How well they listen to and use input.

    These questions are not magic bullets. They are only meant to help you collect meaningful, culture-impacting information from an applicant. It's your listening skills that make these questions work. Once you get a better idea on how to use questions to expore what makes a person tick, at least, the ticking parts that will interface with your team, you should write out questions of your own.

    You see, in a modern business context that emphasizes technological innovation, your most important innovations will be in the methods you use to identify the right people for your business's needs, and the processes you build to integrate them effectively into the team.

    Innovation will be easier to create when you declutter your mind of all of your habits and preconceived notions of what leadership and management are. We have a video program that will introduce you to the nature of that clutter and how to move some of it out of your head.

    Buy and Download
    LO+FT Leadership - Preparing Your Mind to Innovate Today

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M060719 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    3 Steps to Fix Your Broken Team

    When a governmental body or a business team forgets that they are small and the world is big, the team is broken. When individuals in the team think they are bigger than the team, the team might be irreparable.

    Team Unknown

    LO+FTTM demands a huge change of perspective from a broken team. Since LO+FTTM empowers well defined missions, mission identification is a broken team's first action. (photo - charles-forerunner - unsplash)

    This blog post presumes that a team knows it's broken and it's made the decision to attempt repairs. This was likely an emotional decision. It's also likely that some team members left because they no longer believed that they could get what they wanted from the team. How do those who are left proceed from here?

    If the team originally started without consensus on the definition of the mission, then they need to get that definition locked down first. It's a serious and huge mistake for everyone to operate as if “we all kind of know what we're about, don't we?” At best, such team-held beliefs leave the team completely uncoordinated, and at worst lead to wide spread hostility. Why? Because everyone thinks that all of the other members are sabotaging the effort!

    Then there are teams that had a clear mission, but the team broke for other reasons. If in addition there was a shake up, it may be that the team left does not embody all of the needed skills for that old mission. How should these people proceed?

    • If the people who remain are able to carry on the mission, and they've improved their execution plans, they can give the old mission another try.
    • If the remaining team members are insufficient for the old mission, they can hire new people to fill out the roster as needed, and proceed with old plans or incorporate lessons learned from the broken team phase.
    • It may be that there were so many things wrong with both the mission and the team that the remaining team members define a new mission.

    Good mission design should include flexibility to engage new, success-enabling options as well as respond effectively unforeseen negative challenges. The LO+FTTM viewpoint helps team leaders to do this. This is done by defining mission objectives in clear, measurable terms. When you define a mission with this kind of detail, it allows you to study methods and procedures well enough that you can map out how well, or how badly, they can move your team toward success. If you find a method or procedure that produces the results you seek, then you can work on that to see if improvements can also be made, speeding up your progress.

    The second way you use LO+FTTM to fix your team is to examine team members to fit their assignments as accurately as possible to their interests and strengths. Fitting professional skills to mission needs is the easy part. Fitting emotional strengths is a lot tougher, and takes a lot of practice just to start getting good. You observe who works well under pressure. You spot who manages the challenges of change well. You keep track of those who are rock-solid reliable regardless of what the day brings. These are the people you trust with the more difficult aspects of the mission.

    The third way you use LO+FTTM is to manage your team through the learning curve that leads to mission success. LO+FT is all about success through learning, and in a mission context, very targeted learning. Focused study of your mission, its progress, external changing conditions, and the way your team makes progress through twists and turns optimizes your chances of catching an opportunity, or side-stepping a disaster, with the longest possible lead time for response. Lead time is always a critical success factor: Build it whenever you can.

    We have started a video series to help leaders learn to use LO+FTTM to build more effective teams. The roots go back to NASA mission management techniques. The first episode is called Introduction to High Achievement. If you start getting good at a LO+FTTM leadership approach, you could go from running a broken team to outperforming other business teams by a factor of 10!

    Buy and Download
    LO+FT Leadership - Introduction to High Achievement Today

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M052919 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    The 2 Empowering Advantages of Principle-based Simplicity

    One of my most promising customers rolled out a new organizational chart to better leverage the company's resources. It was dreadfully complex, and from my perspective quite demoralizing. The result, if implemented, would have been to burn precious time on fulfilling organizational obligations as opposed to doing important, business-building work.

    Space Collage

    Simplicity is almost always better than complexity. Simplicity guided by well-chosen principles is best of all. (photo - NASA+t-meylan)

    Even among various types of intelligent, well-educated people, many believe that the best way to demonstrate their intelligence is to build up some complicated thing to do something clever. Conversely, physicists and various schools of learned mystics seek out small, easily articulated principles to understand the world around them, and then use these simple principles to create highly effective approaches to things. (To save time I won't run through examples!)

    Let's say that there is a need to clarify the structure of an organization. Let's use simple principles to define our requirements for this description. Let's further define these principles in the form of questions (queue the Jeopardy(tm) music).

    • How does the new org chart clarify roles and responsibilities?
    • How does the new org chart focus managerial activity?
    • How does the new org chart simplify resource allocation processes?
    • How does the new org chart streamline in-house interactions and transactions?

    In this case, how many principles are being used here? Four? Two? One?

    In my mind, I used one principle: reduce complications. What I did is that, by my own choice, I defined a simplification for each organizational function in the bulleted list above.

    Now, that's actually just a “brute force” use of simplification itself as a simple principle. But let's expand on this capability, like the physicists do. Is there a small number of simple principles that help us achieve a wide range of objectives? Of course!

    Hundreds of years ago, Isaac Newton defined, in very simple terms, what a force is. Isaac defined force, F, to be the mass of the object acted upon multiplied by its change of motion, or acceleration, a (any change of speed or direction). This is Newton's Second Law of Motion, written mathematically as F=ma. We take this definition for granted today, but back then this choice of definition made a lot of scientific investigations easier to conduct. Furthermore, it provided a common basis for experimentation that all scientists could easily use, and then easily compare results.

    Newton's definition of force is often used to describe the way gravity works. This simple description of gravity allows you to explain why the galaxies look like they do. You can also use it to get people to the moon and safely back to earth. One simple principle lets you do many, vastly different things...if it's the right principle!

    We are starting to train gifted kids to find simple rules and principles to optimize their chances of a successful adulthood. Experiments with adult leadership training show that the same material works well for grownups, too. In our ebook series Be the Boss by 12 you can find the volume Build Your Own System of Rules to help you in your quest for simpler, yet more powerful, ways to accomplish the things you need to do.

    Buy and Download Build Your Own System of Rules Today

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M052419 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    2 Types of “Being Demanding”:
    One Builds, One Wastes

    A customer screams at a waiter because the soup is cold.

    A boss screams at a team because they're too junior to work at the desired level.

    A child throws a tantrum when told, “No!”

    Red Diner

    Making professional demands on your people in the mode of a real leader always pays off better than making demands as a spoiled brat. (photo - alex-iby - unsplash)

    The form of “being demanding” illustrated above comes from our animal roots. It's built on intimidation and threat. Among animals it sorts out the pecking order. Among human beings, where very different social rules usually operate, this form of demanding weakens the ability of people to work together. Often, they waste time and human energy because there's a recovery “duty cycle” that comes along with every unpleasant interpersonal experience.

    You might ask, “Well, if this kind of being demanding is so bad, why is it so common?” It remains common because it actually works a little bit. It's really inefficient. In a small business it can generate a lot of turn over. But while people put up with the abuse, they will, in fact, attempt to meet the demands in order to get the dreadful boss out of their faces.

    There are other alternatives to the demands of interpersonal conflict that help people work together more efficiently, and in most cases, more safely. Of these, let's look at how a culture's collected wisdom gets turned into “institutional demands.”

    Institutional demands cover groups of laws, rules, customs, and even methods and procedures that people have found useful for organizing their life and actions together. Some examples I'm familiar with include

    • Traffic laws
    • Securities and Exchange Commission rules and regulations
    • Family religious customs
    • NASA Space Flight Software Certification Procedures.

    Even with their imperfections, these institutional demands keep us out of trouble with one another. They keep us from cheating one another if they're enforced. They can help keep peace in a family. They can help a business leader or a manager help their people do a great job.

    At NASA, for example, most of us managers simply transferred our scientific methods and procedures to our work responsibilities. This gave us a way of studying the job requirements, studying our people, and building models that matched the skill sets we had available to the responsibilities we had to fulfill. Our institutional demands came from our scientific discipline.

    But few non-scientists have the training to understand how people and work flow match up. Most people in positions of responsibility fall back on their animal instincts to drive their teams from behind, instead of building good plans to lead their people from the front. And even though new managers and business owners are encouraged to find examples of great leaders to follow, most do not.

    Our book Optimizing Luck provides the emerging leader with examples of institutional demands that can be used to create team success. In fact, we outline the system where your organization meets the demands of other groups of people, most notably, your main markets. When you understand how your team's work fits into the real world, you can build the right team and create the right methods and procedures to improve your results greatly.

    Order Optimizing Luck Today

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M051419 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Got Facts? If Not, then You ARE Stuck with Uncertainty

    Facts are totally different from either “truth,” or “opinion,” or even what's often called “information.” And while I'm not going to base any arguments in this blog on the following fact, remember that I've studied these issues carefully from the viewpoint of theology, epistemology (philosophy), and quantum physics. I'm not guessing here. I'm telling you what it is.

    Facts Matter

    Facts are most easily thought of as measurements of specific conditions in a well-defined place and time. (photo - the-climate-reality-project - unsplash)

    It is a fact, for example, that President Trump claimed to have had the largest attendance at a presidential inauguration. It is also a fact that President Trump's claim was incorrect. It is not clear that an accurate count was ever obtained for the attendance of this event, but should that number exist it would, in fact, be a statement of fact.

    I asked a friend of mine, a physician, about the use of facts in trying to figure things out with a patient. You can view an excerpt of that interview here.

    As a physician trying to heal a patient, Dr. Bone has to collect specific kinds of facts from his patient. That's not to say that sometimes patients don't give him the facts, and he has to take on the added task of sorting what is said into facts, possibly useful wishes, and outright deceptions. But medical people like Dr. Bone are trained in a methodology that obtains what facts there might be as quickly as possible.

    Few business leaders are trained in the collection of facts in the same way that doctors are. And one of the big differences is that doctors know what to do with the facts they collect. They reduce the uncertainty in health outcomes by converging on the most likely cause of the medical problem. If they get that diagnosis right, then they can apply the most helpful treatment.

    You as a business leader or technical leader have habits that drive the way you collect input. You also have habits about the way you assess those inputs. If you picked those habits up from a teacher or a mentor who knew what they were doing, then perhaps you don't do too badly in formulating your business problems and deciding how to change them into successes. But if you've just been winging it since junior high your results aren't likely to be stellar...unless, by accident, you're one of those truly rare, true business geniuses.

    So short of that, start figuring out what a real fact really looks like. Don't ask your sales people dumb stuff like, “What are the chances of closing the deal?” They're going to make something dumb up. That's what they do. If you have a CRM, read through their activities. Then based on those activities, ask things like, “What date has the customer set for...?”, or “What's the customer's spending limit on...?” You can make plans based on those kinds of answers. Shoot, with those kinds of answers you can start to discern how factual your customers' answers are.

    Facts do not remove all of the uncertainty in your business context. Facts do, however, give you dependable information for understanding the forms of uncertainty you face. Guesses and opinions won't help you manage uncertainty. Only facts can do that.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M050919 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Success within Uncertainty

    If “business” hates uncertainty, how come anything gets done at all? Maybe enough business people approach uncertainty like farmers do: “Well, it might rain too much. It might not rain enough. But if I don't plant at all, it is certain that my family and I will starve!”

    Dice in the Air

    Uncertainty and change might not be “absolutes” in your business context...except that it's absolutely certain that they will occur. (photo - max-felner - unsplash)

    My guess is that, like the farmers, most business people have a range of conditions within which they can operate and feel reasonably secure. Perhaps also like most farmers, they can remain in business for an extended period of bad conditions. Farmers save cash to get them through two to five years of crop loss. Likewise, many small business owners stockpile a fixed amount of savings for retirement or a large capital expense. If need be, these can be used during long-term lean times.

    Long-term experience in the training industry strongly suggests that the last thing a small business person wants to do is to change their routine, even if for the sake of vastly improved revenues. It's tempting to think that this unwillingness to change is due to laziness, but it's probably more likely that self-inflicted change is still change, and change caused by anything still feels like a big risk...the outcome is uncertain.

    So, then, if a business person is “playing defense,” and they're making a living within the common business cycles and few big economic shake-ups, then we have little to offer.

    Business growth, though, requires change. In many cases, remaining truly competitive also requires change.

    For example, in the 1980s and 1990s, Wal-mart wiped out numerous small businesses in many villages and small towns. Wal-mart took 'em out on price. I met with a number of them. They thought Wal-mart played unfairly. I wasn't there when it happened, so I only have one side of the story.

    The bottom line appears to have been that the Wal-mart business model completely blind-sided the small business owners. After all, these people had lived with big stores like Sears and K-mart up to that point. They survived the big transition from downtown business centers to sub-urban malls. Wal-mart was simply operating on a totally different plane.

    There are currently disruptive things going on in the market. Energy is driving disruption. Internet and smart phone technologies are driving another disruption. The wave of nationalism sweeping the planet is driving disruption. Those are the ones making the news today. Are there others just as big and powerful, but more subtle?

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M042919 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Feedback vs. Interaction...(?)

    The way an article about feedback usually proceeds strongly implies that a leader or a manager is disconnected from the team for very extended periods of time. If this is the usual case, then feedback isn't actually the issue. Leadership engagement is. But if a leader or manager is engaged, then why do so many writers bemoan the lack of feedback to worthy employees?

    Talking Birds

    How much knowledge-work horsepower do any of your communications generate in your team? Or are you just squawkin'? (photo - wynand-van-poort - unsplash)

    Let's dispense with the typical treatment of the topic of “feedback.” Instead, let's start out with this idea: As is the case for the rest of the big animals on land, the human brain is tuned specifically to generate physical actions in real time in response to all of the things the senses detect, also in real time. And, even though human beings sometimes experience a longer attention span for some things, even thinking and language are geared toward real-time action.

    What does this psychological reality suggest about communication between people in general? It suggests that virtually any communication is going to be judged or evaluated on the basis of what's actually going on when the message is delivered. If the communication doesn't fit the immediate situation, then it's not going to get serious levels of attention.

    Is this a problem, or can this be the basis of a great communication solution?

    What this means is that, if we as leaders and managers want our communications to get full attention and generate the needed business behaviors from the team, then we have to compose the context for our communication event to fit the message itself. Now there are some natural, animal patterns to do this that some people use, however, they tend to be feared base. The manager screams and hollers and threatens, and the listeners become glued to the messanger.

    For those leaders who've hired people who often become complacent, one supposes that this actually needs to be done occasionally to motivate the needed behaviors. Or, a leader can stage communication in a way that avoids any drift towards complacency. How does that work?

    Odd as it might sound, you as the leader, have to be personally involved in the activities that apply to your responsibilities. A goal of yours that's set for completion six months from now still has day-to-day aspects...and this is where your people live. You have to keep that far-off goal a daily reality for them. Instead of applying episodic feedback, you interact daily, both for them to check in and for you to deliver feedback that actually fits their here and now.

    Feedback is often, maybe even usually, thought of as delivering a corrective. Let's go with that. Isn't it going to be easier to apply a few small correctives in real time, making the work go better in real time, than to have some gut wrenching meeting to deliver a year's worth of short comings? Of course it is! The sooner you spot small issues and apply the needed small amounts of feedback, the easier your people's activities will be to manage in the long term.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M041819 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    The Expectation Management Side of Customer Success

    There are three points in relationships with service-buying customers when you have to use your best communication skills to manage your customers' service-level expectations well:

    • At the beginning of a new relationship (or project), when you carefully work to capture their requirements, and clearly convey how you will meet them...
    • During times of emergency, when you carefully listen to the nature of the situation, and clearly articulate what your rapid response will be...
    • All points in time not identified above.
    Team Discussion

    Most customers hear what they want to hear. If you can't get them to really listen to you, they will never be happy with you. That being said, you have to listen first! (photo - sebastian-herrmann - unsplash)

    In some professions the outcome expectations are fairly easy to manage. In plumbing, you make the water go where the customer wants it to go. Price expectations might be harder to manage: “I only want a little koi pond. What kind of work is this estimate for?” You can squabble with your potential customer about the tone of this question, or you can use the question as your key moment for managing expectations well enough to close the deal.

    Expectations for knowledge work services are much more difficult to manage. In the legal profession, if your client thinks the law is about getting justice, and you know that the cost to get the expected form of justice is unjustified, you have a big expectation issue to manage, right? That's even before they learn that your retainer is based on $550 an hour.

    How do we build skills in expectation management? Let's start with one, little, easy to remember rule:

    • Reduce or eliminate any possible chances for your customer to experience negative surprises related to your work.

    OK, yeah, sure. No one likes bad surprises, so you can identify with that service level target. But, what makes this difficult to do? Well, there is likely a huge gap between the way you understand your services to operate and the preconceived notions your customer has about your services. You're used to the way things work. For your customer, this might be their first experience with your industry. On top of that, they've probably already heard all of the personal horror stories their friends have about your industry. A lot of them might be expecting you to rip them off.

    You don't know what a customer's preconceived expectations are until you take the time to listen to them. This takes extended time. This time is an investment in the successes both of your customer and of your service delivery. If you don't have the time to listen well up front with your new customers, perhaps it's because you're busy putting out all the fires your hasty inattention created with your current customers. If you're always chasing your own tail, the cause is either bad time management or bad customer expectation management.

    The next payoff in listening well is that you can work with your customer to map what they want to what's currently possible from both a time and expense consideration. You carefully document the steps from where they are to where they want to be. Your experience should prepare you to estimate the reasonable cost for each step. You answer all of their questions and concerns completely. Yes, you all know this is what you do to document the deal. The question is, did you spend enough time with your customer to learn how to reduce or eliminate the chances of negative surprises, or not? See how that rule above can guide the way you evaluate your expectation management skills?

    Don't take your own business processes, or service delivery processes, for granted. Always look at them through a newbie's eyes. Take the time now and then to uncover new ways your work can be misunderstood by a new customer; or a new employee, for that matter. Help them avoid handing your customers negative surprises, too.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M041119 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Team Habit Building

    Teams, as a rule, take on the characteristics of their leaders. The two main drivers for this are that people who form teams tend to pick people like themselves, and, that followers tend to emulate the visible actions of their leaders. Like most aspects of human experience, this phenomenon occurs at the level of instinct, not through considered choices.


    Corporate Culture is built out of the habits team members use to get team business done. These habits, and therefore corporate culture, are open to targeted reconstruction. (photo - samuel-zeller - unsplash)

    The obvious conclusion that many leaders and managers don't want to hear is that team performance is virtually completely dependent on their most deeply held values and habits. If the team ain't performing well, the leader or manager probably has big personal blockers to success, too.

    Let's take a little time to view a short video from our work on leadership skills for gifted and talented kids. The comments below will be based on this video content.

    The main premise driving our Be the Boss by 12 ebook series is that leadership success depends on a comprehensive ability to identify and master powerful habits. Some are powerfully bad, and some are powerfully good. Most of the habits we have to master are our own, but many of them are in the people we work with (or live with).

    Yes, we have to learn how to shape habits in other people in order to be successful leaders.

    This is hard work. To make it easier we have to draw on our personal histories of success. This could be a singular big success, or it could be your history of small-but-significant improvements you've made to the way you do things. You look through your history to find a reliable pattern for success. That pattern may contain habits that you can apply to a broader range of situations than you do now. It could also be a pattern for habits that you can train into your team members.

    The powerful leaders of history were able to add their personal methods for success to the habits of their people. Maybe not all of them, but enough of them to make a competitively successful team. This ability to transfer success-building methods from one's self to those around you is a key skill we illustrate for gifted kids to use while growing up, and to become successful adults.

    One last thought. Gifted and talented people have a lot to share in terms of success potential. Perhaps you only have a small number of habits to offer your team. No problem. You only need one or two great, success-building habits to help your team achieve big objectives. Offer the ones that work best for you, and let your people find the one that works best for them.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M040319 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Can You Improve Someone Else's Preparedness for the Future?

    Think the guy below can read QR codes with a crystal ball? Think he's got a better chance reading the future with that crystal ball?

    Crystal Ball

    Preparedness, for either opportunity or adversity, is based on well-informed projections of key trends affecting your business or personal concerns. (photo - mitya-ivanov - unsplash)

    Let's be honest here. Unless you are the force creating major change, you don't want to have to be bothered with change. If you're comfortable in your routine, you don't want to be bugged by changing anything.

    It kind of sort of begs the question, then, of whether or not your customers are ever deeply excited about change. What do you think? I've got various friends who were reading the information technology news and getting excited about selling “digital transformation” to everybody. The customers? “Geez, sounds like a kind of a lot of work, and we've actually got things working reasonably well right now.”

    Psychologically speaking, none of the large mammals likes change, but change comes upon them all eventually. Going extinct is largely dependent on the animal's ability to find effective responses to the change hurting them most.

    But, our social and economic environments exhibit changes and swings on much shorter time scales than natural environments. Unlike most natural environments, many swings and changes in social and economic environments hold great opportunity. The more lead time you have to prepare for those opportunities, the better your chances of making them pay. Can you make your customers see the principle behind this truth?

    A common response to encouragement to put plans together to optimize future business success is, “What if I guess wrong?” Well, we're not talking about guessing. We're talking about a little studying. “Ugh! Really? Studying?” Yeah, well, that's why LO+FTTM strategies don't get much business from former “C” students. Engaging the future for best results is for those who want to avoid extinction with style.

    So unless real-world events are crashing down on someone, and they're looking for big solutions, getting a customer to prepare for their future is a big sales pitch. If they perceive you as selling change for change's sake, they won't be listening for long. But if you can show your customers realities that they know and understand about the way things do change in their lives or businesses, then you might be able to help them perform that much better in their futures.

    That's kind of the way we discovered LO+FTTM. We wanted to keep our astronomy satellite going, but we knew various parts of it would fail at certain times. That part of our future we understood well. So we had to take an inventory of what else was left running on the satellite, and see if any of those things could be repurposed. Turns out that enough of them could, multiplying the planned lifetime of the satellite by nearly a factor of four.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M032819 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Customer Success, Continuous Learning, and LO+FTTM

    If your service is based on a customer's need for knowledge expertise, then your company pretty much has to be in continuous learning mode. Laws change, compliance contexts change, technologies change. If you're in fields that are driven by any of those, you have to work hard to keep from going obsolete, let alone to be at the edge of your field.


    LO+FTTM isn't a tool for reading the future. It's how you build a spectrum of responses to a range of futures that might happen. (photo - will-matthews - unsplash)

    So, sure, you learn continuously in your own field. That's what your customers are buying, more or less. But everyone in your field is working at keeping pace within that industry. What are the non-industry events that affect your business?

    If those events are big enough, they probably affect your customers, too. Maybe some more than others, but large scale economic trends affect everyone in some way. What do you know about the way these things affect your customers? How much continuous learning do you apply to your customers' larger business contexts?

    Some of this information is as easy to get as calling a customer up and saying, “Did you see that piece in...?” Ask them the leading questions that get them to blather about the way they think an event is going to change something about business.

    A little closer to their home, what do you know about your customers' industry, how it's been evolving, or what things have fallen out of their control?

    Some of the things my friends and I deal with are IoT and real-time data analytics. These computing technologies might affect some of your customers; other customers, not so much. Increasingly, content management systems are adding real-time analytics to capture the way customers flow through a website, and make real-time adjustments on the pages that a user visits. Do such page manipulation tactics actually increase revenue? What kind of web presences do your customers have, anyway?

    Whatever services you supply your customers, one of the most important continuous learning disciplines you should consider practicing is continuously learning more about your customer. How does this help? Well, it helps you discover where your learning priorities should be in general. Some reading this might complain, “Geez, I don't want to spend my life reading. I want to run my business.” OK, then, prioritize your learning by what your customers say they're interested in.

    LO+FTTM=Luck Optimization Plus Fault Tolerance. Change is definitely coming, so you want to capture all the value in those changes that you can while avoiding the penalties of being unprepared. The bottom line is that continuous learning is your key strategy for building business adaptivity for both you and your customers. Learning shows you the trajectory of the major changes you face. Once you understand those, you can turn to learning how to form the needed responses before your competition knows they're needed, and have them ready when you customers need them.

    Thomas Meylan, Ph.D.
    Digital Clones, Inc.

    If you wish to respond to this post, please email melblog at digitalclones dot biz and be sure to include the code M032019 in the subject line. Constructive input will be reposted under this blog post.

    Modern Enterprise Leadership and LO+FTTM

    Optimizing Luck Cover

    Study the present very carefully to build possible versions of the future.


    Generate strategic options based on those possible futures.


    Work quickly to create long lead times, and watch events carefully to select the best options.

    Optimizing Luck
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