It's hard to believe that we are already at the end of the first quarter of 2011. Time seems to be flying by.

I was honored to be involved in a number of great projects that launched in the first quarter and will be carrying my strategies forward through the balance of year. Here are a few examples:

RocksElegant Simplicity: This is my core strategic platform that works to simplify complex processes, systems and issues. You will see a great example of this platform in play when you read the idea section.

Repeatable Successful Acts: This sales strategy continues to dominate the work I do with sales forces all across the country in industries as diverse technology, financial services, insurance, and pharmaceuticals.

ArchitectureThe Architecture of Presentations: This platform teaches companies how best to design, construct and deliver impactful messages through presentations. It also has me designing and delivering presentation programs for clients.

In addition to these client projects, March had me working on internal Creative Ventures projects:

New Web Site: Yes, the work continues. We are getting closer, and the design continues to evolve.

Video: I have just about completed a new series of videos that highlight content from my new programs.

Podcasts: I just recorded a couple of new podcasts for a client based on my new simplicity program. The podcasts will be ready to roll in April.

FirehoseThe Fire Hose Filter: This is a new program that teaches how to create filters around all the new information people are bombarded with during meetings, new educational requirements and just keeping up with what's going on.

April presents me with a couple of very challenging weeks of travel (what else is new), including one 12-day span that has me in six different cities. Hey, it's good to be wanted!

Drop me a note if you have any questions or just want to voice an opinion!


SystemSystems get in the way, or alternately: The system always kicks back. In slightly more elegant language: Systems tend to oppose their own proper functions -- John Gall

Bottling Factory Spark PlugAll systems have pressure points, key areas that impact the desired output. These form core strategic points when examining a system's true value to production. Some of the pressure points are "bottlenecks," choke points that slow the system's efficiency. Others are "ignition" points, or core areas that activate the desired results. The problem with pressure points isn't their existence, it's the fact that no one is looking for them. No one is in a state of constant examination, in a heightened awareness to pay attention to the processes that were originally designed to create a DESIRED outcome.

I get to spend a lot of my time providing an outside view of different organizations' systems and processes, producing a framework that has expanded by the number of different clients in different industries I have the honor of working with. This "larger view" allows me to see the issue without the prejudice that operating within the system always brings. There is a strange sense of defensiveness that often accompanies someone's explanation of the inner workings and hidden mechanism that surround a system that has been in place a LONG TIME. As an outsider I don't have anything to defend.

Let's take a quick journey into exactly what I am talking about. I am currently working on separate projects involving the sale processes for three of my clients, in three completely different industries. I sat in conference and meeting rooms while teams of professionals took me through each process, explaining (in a defensive mode) the need and reason behind each horrifically complex step that had been designed originally to produce a sale. Now the process has to be rationalized, and it doesn't work.

The problem? It deals with the general laws of systemic behavior. Here is a big one:

"When a system is set up to accomplish any goal, a new entity is brought into existence - the system itself. Now the system itself has to be dealt with."

Then over the years a system grows, and as it grows it encroaches. It seeps into other areas and its original intent and purpose becomes blurred.

When looking at these sales systems I would often stop and look for the pressure points, setting my initial focus toward two key pressure points that provide IGNITION.

Sale1. POINT OF SALE: This is a critical "ignition" point. Until the precise moment of the sale, you had only a prospect. When the sale is made you now have a customer. What does the sales system do at this easily defined stage? This is a tipping point in the client experience and should be under constant strategic review. What can you do to let the customer know you recognize the importance of his or her decision... that you know that a commoditized world offers similar choices and you are deeply appreciative of their choice. This leads directly to Step 2.

Cycle2. CUSTOMER TO CLIENT: Point of sale is, at its most basic, a transaction. There is another ignition point in the sales process, and it involves taking that point of sale to a second sale, to create a connection that turns the customer into a client. This step requires action and attention to a change from transaction to relationship. How does your sales system handle this clear and critical transformation? Do you recognize its significance?

StethoscopeSystem reviews are a health activity in any organization. Have your sales systems grown so that they contain elements that oppose their original design? Does the system simultaneously support the sales force with simple and powerful steps while creating a client experience that separates and differentiates your services or products? Maybe it's time for a systems check up!


SXSW LogoSXSW: Every March, Austin, TX becomes the nexus for the music, movie and interactive technology world through hosting the South By Southwest Conference/Festival. This year the music side alone featured over 2,000 bands and artists creating a 24/7 frenzy of hipness. The interactive festival had a 36% increase in attendance, as over 19,000 hackers, geeks, consumers and corporate giants were looking for the next Twitter, Groupon or Foursquare. Here are a couple of links to give you a feel for the impact the 25th SXSW conference had:

Happy and Sad FaceYour Happy Place: The movement of the US population is always an interesting thing. It impacts real estate prices, job availability and, apparently, happiness. Gallup just finished an interesting poll that took over six months to conduct. The idea was, through their usual statistical grind, to identify the ten happiest and least happy states to live in. The top three "happy states" are Hawaii, Wyoming and North Dakota (I kid you not), and the three least happy states are West Virginia, Kentucky and Mississippi. I don't know about Gallup, but I'm pretty happy in Texas... and of course there are happy people in Virginia, Kentucky, and Mississippi as well. Just not as many!

Cell PhonesTHE Merger: WOW! It was recently announced that AT&T would be acquiring T-Mobil. The combined companies will represent over 42% of all cellular users. By adding 33.7 million T-Mobil users, AT&T opens the door to that many new users of the iPhone, helping to combat Verizon's new iPhone capabilities. The early prediction is that the combined companies would experience a +/- $3 billion savings in increased efficiencies of operation. This marks the largest business deal since the economic hardships of the past few years. Impressive shift in the good old communication market.

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