re-stoked: stop making "sense"

Three things happened this week that have us thinking about the phrase, "It's all in your mind."

The first was that we were beginning the quarterly worry over our credentials presentation, and over the articulation of our value proposition (here's a hint, if you were wondering: we're a product strategy consulting company and we use design research tools to inform those strategies because we think that really understanding your users is an "unfair advantage" that every company should have - but we have to figure out how to say that in fewer words). We've had some crossed wires in communication wherein someone mistakes us for a qualitative research company, and it was starting to color our thinking, leading up to a rather dramatic lament, "Will no one let us do what we love to do??"

But then, deep breaths and cookie dough binges and wine with friends took their inevitable toll and we suddenly realized we were being ridiculous. We actually can't even think of a single project we worked on in 2014 that did not suit our mission. And it's all about deeds, not words, right?

Well, maybe. Sometimes the language you use to describe something breathes life into it, or even calls it into being. It's an ancient idea, that words can create and they can destroy - and so we will still worry over our creds, but with a different point of view. We'll share our next iteration of that when we get there (and maybe even a bit about the journey so far).

If you're in the market for tools that can help you switch your thinking around and find the words to articulate the challenge and the solution, then we have a couple of techniques we'd like to point you towards, from two groups we admire greatly. 

The first is from Adam Morgan and Mark Barden of Eat Big Fish. They've written a new book, A Beautiful Constraint: How to Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages, and Why It's Everyone's Business. They shared a couple of key ideas that you should definitely watch some talks and read the book to learn more about. One is about finding your "Propelling Question" - your biggest ambition set in the context of your biggest constraint; and the other is about exploring "Can If" scenarios - the situations where you can achieve your ambition, if certain conditions are true. Just two weeks ago we used Eating the Big Fish, which Ben Malbonreferred to as a sacred text for baby planners at the Google Firestarters event last night, as a workshop resource. We're looking forward to reading this new one very soon. 

The second is from our new best friend, Mona Patel, founder of Motivate Design. Literally met her today and in addition to having the same taste in everything that we have, she's clearly a powerhouse and a visionary and it's always breathtaking to meet one of those. She has an article on Fast Company on a similar theme, "The 6 Excuses Preventing You From Designing a Better World". This is a must read, especially if you can apply them to yourself. Are you a Blamer, a Brat, a Slacker, or a Square? Then stop it. Just stop. 

And then go. 

Happy weekend, everyone. Stay warm.