Let me take you on a little trip through my August business run, a month filled with fantastic travel, challenging projects and introductions to new clients.

August started with a quick trip to Atlanta to follow up with the Elegant Simplicity strategic planning platform currently being used to map out key 2011 ideas for a key client.

Week two was a travel challenge. It started with a great opportunity to present the Repeatable Successful Acts (RSA) platform and then do a workshop that gave me a chance to drill down on the impact of key RSA's. Then I jumped on a flight to Minneapolis where again the RSA platform took center stage in a keynote presentation. I flew immediately from Minneapolis to Houston, where I had a chance to work on my Transformation platform with an organization with a rich history that needed to take a different look at their future.

Week three had me back in Atlanta to teach Interpersonal Communications as part of a sales training curriculum. I love teaching this full-day course.

Week four provided me an opportunity to work with a Dallas-based client on my new Framing platform. It involves expanding your understanding of industries that are beyond your specific field of expertise to bring impactful change to your company. Then I jumped on a flight to Minneapolis, where I had the opportunity to teach the Interpersonal Communications module to a group of top flight sales leaders.

Finally, I returned to Dallas for a series of conference calls and meetings to help set my 4th quarter calendar with my ongoing clients.

What a fantastic month full of variety, not only of industries, but also of several of my key content packages. September begins with a work week in Dallas to allow me to finish upcoming projects!

The Curious Case for Clarity

Seal up the mouth of outrage for a while 'till we can clear these ambiguities. -Shakespeare

If you followed my August activities from the Happenings section above, you noticed that I had the great honor and opportunity to be involved in a number of projects with a number of clients in a number of different industries. I presented, I taught, I consulted on the application of my ideas…and a curious thing happened. I noticed something thematic that was weaving its way through the entire month of projects. Clients had aspirations for IMMEDIATE IMPACT. I mean right NOW. They enthusiastically jumped into new ideas and rushed to apply completely new concepts to their existing strategies. They were following the HALO EFFECT, or the emotional connection to new idea. They wanted to grab hold of the momentum they felt in their thinking and planning.

I love the excitement and desire for something new, something that elusively sits just outside their grasp, AND I also realize the faster one applies a new idea, the more likely ambiguity will become a player. If you took a six-hour class about the kidney, you would know the location of the organs, their function and their relationship to the filtering process of the human body. But I damn well wouldn't allow you to remove one of mine!

Information is turned into knowledge through the trial and error of the application process. If you jump into applying an idea with the notion of finding immediate success, you will normally be disappointed. Things become murky and unfocused during the initial application of an idea. You find yourself struggling for clarity. Conversations become like a pinball, bouncing all over the place, and you struggle to gain the focus you need to drive an idea forward. Guess what…that's NORMAL!

New ideas search for clarity. Clarity gives an idea common ground, a starting place. Clarity, however, does not come easily, for new ideas also generate complexity. They generate multiple layers of interaction, and all these layers disguise themselves as important, even if they're not.

I recently sat through a meeting in New York, where a team of divisional leaders were attacking one of five corporate goals (Yikes – 5 ain't gonna happen…keep goals to 3!), and at the end of two hours no one in the room would have been able to define what had just been accomplished (not!). The meeting was unfocused, lacked someone to facilitate a string of connected ideas, and the end result was so ambiguous that no one really knew what to do next. OUCH!

New ideas, processes, and methods need champions of clarity. Here are a few steps that can help you lead the experimentation of change:

Seattle-based super customer-service retailer Nordstrom followed this line of idea application when looking for better ways to simplify the relationship of their customers to their inventory of items. The result was a new system in which customers and sales people have access to all Nordstrom's inventories, EVERYWHERE. Looking for a Marc Jacobs handbag on line? You can now see your local store's inventory, and reserve and pick it up the same day. If your local store is out of this item, no worries, the salesperson can check all 115 Nordstrom stores to find the item and have it shipped the same day.

The Nordstrom goal was clear and simple: connect everyone to our total inventory. They moved through the process slowly with strong precision and accountable teams. The project took almost a year. They experimented to find the right formula of simplicity and functionality. Meetings never exceeded an hour.

What was the impact on Nordstrom? Best improvement in same store sales of all major retailers. Their overall sales reached $8.26 billion.

So keep seeking change. Excitement is a good thing. Participation is a good thing. But don't forget that in the race for change, ambiguity is a natural enemy that is introduced by speed and unfocused actions. Look for clarity of action and slow down a little to discover the change you are looking for.


The Cell Phone Wallet: I'm not talking about something to keep your cell phone comfy and safe, but instead about turning your cell INTO a wallet. Through the advancement of Near Field Communication (NFC) chips, which allow the exchange of data between devices over about a 4" distance, you will soon be able use your cell phone to charge everything from the gas for your car to the dinner at your favorite restaurant. In Japan, a culture rich in a "cash" tradition, the advent of the cell phone as a payment device is already huge. The idea would be a way to turn the $1.3 trillion currently in cash and checks into digital transactions. Nokia is leading the way in NFC technology, but the entire smart phone market will soon be following. Just keep a strong hand on your cell phone!

It's Not About Oil, It's About Water:
I know, everyone talks about oil being the most important liquid on the planet, but the reality is that fresh water IS the liquid gold of our planet. Technology is helping us manage this delicate resource. We lose about $14 trillion a year in fresh water through leakage alone. Enter Arad Metering Technologies, an Israeli company specializing in wireless automatic metering. Through the use of drone airplanes they can detect water leaks in any pipe system equipped with wireless meters. The drones allow Arad to cover fantastic amounts of area, transmit critical leak information, and eliminate fresh water loss.

Consolidate Your Interests: Disney finally has found a buyer for Miramax Pictures, for $660 million. Miramax produced such great features as Pulp Fiction, No Country for Old Men, Chicago and Shakespeare in Love, to name only a few. Good movies, but the "edgy" content of Miramax has always been a tough fit for Disney. Disney now will be focusing their movie efforts on what they do well, Disney Films, Pixar and their Marvel Comic characters. Combining their core interests with the ability to monetize Disney products gives Disney a renewed winning formula. The Disney gurus realized that volume of attention is far less important than the caliber of the attention! This is a great lesson that follows the Law of Abundance: "More is not better, and better is not best!" Keep your eye on BEST.


Interested in these ideas?


You can contact Steve at steve@creativeventures.com or give him a call at 972-490-7717.
See more at creativeventures.com and stephenharvill.com