Lance Creativity, Discipline, Excellence, Leadership Leave a Comment

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An audacious goal…


A ridiculous time line…


Necessary tools and materials that hadn’t been invented yet



Starting already behind the competition



A vision that had to overcome the loss of the Leader



An organization that had to face catastrophic failure



Despite all this … MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:


What’s your excuse for not leaving your mark?


No Time Like Now

Lance Creativity Leave a Comment

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Imagine being faced with an intractable contradiction — a problem demanding a solution but yielding nothing close to one …

Imagine the convention-busting audacity it requires to claim to solve such a puzzle … by questioning humanity’s very understanding of time itself

Imagine being RIGHT 


What sacred premise are you unwilling to question in your search for a solution to the challenge lying in front of you? How far away from the herd are you willing to run to hunt down your Big Idea?

It’s Just One Hair

Lance Excellence 1 Comment

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There are, on average, 100,000 hairs on the human head. No big deal if one goes missing, right? … until that missing hair is found in your food.

The temptation is to say that having 99 details in order is plenty good enough — obsessing over the 1 detail out of place is just “nit-picking.” Oddly enough, the person who sees their own work through this prism of good enough is likely to obsess over that one little hair in their burger just the same.

What if we held ourselves to the standard of perfection we expect from our chefs and waiters, doctors and pharmacists?

Details matter. All of them. The higher the quality of a product or performance, the more a detail out of place sticks out and can dominate the experience. Last night I had an incredible dinner of magnificent crab legs, but the 30 minutes we spent after dinner waiting for our simple dessert order to be delivered overshadowed what had been a great dining experience. Spending 2 hours at a restaurant and eating dessert at your kids’ bedtime because of slow service tends to do that.

Ask yourself: which of these two versions of the Star Spangled Banner is the more cringe-inducing?

Expectations matter. Aim to be more professional everyday, and your tolerance for details out of place has to go down, not up. Sure, the “devil is in the details” … so climb down into them, evict him, and allow Excellence to start living there instead.

Squeezing the Trust Out of Life

Lance Discipline, Integrity, Leadership Leave a Comment

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The task of holding water in your hands demands calm, relaxed, open hands. Brute force and a tight grip are utterly counterproductive to the effort.

People are no different. Whereas Trust and Persuasion create a relational flywheel that makes trust and persuasion easier the next time, Control and Coercion/Manipulation create the opposite effect. Each iteration in that direction becomes less effective, requiring even more brute force the next time.

Being a Control Freak can produce great results, but it doesn’t scale. The larger the mission and the group of people needed to accomplish it, the harder it becomes to keep control of all the variables. The impulse is to squeeze harder, but that just drives more cooperation, good will, and people away. For the Control Freak, the notion of letting go of things is beyond merely counter-intuitive — it feels absurdly crazy.

Too bad: it’s the right thing to do.

Simplicity: the Herculean Task

Lance Discipline, Simplicity Leave a Comment

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But the hydra wound itself about one of his feet and clung to him. Nor could he effect anything by smashing its heads with his club, for as fast as one head was smashed there grew up two.

simplicityadIt’s easy to buy into the idea of Simplicity, what with the likes of Steve Jobs and anyone associated with him preaching its gospel. The secret sauce to Apple’s success isn’t a secret at all — they’ve been telling anyone who would listen since the beginning:

Of course, there’s a world of difference between nodding one’s head in agreement at the obvious wisdom of using Simplicity like Apple and actually slaying the hydra of Complexity. The ever-present default of over-complicating things is the Second Law of Thermodynamics applied to organizations:

  • Try to apply Simplicity as merely a tactic, you end up with more complexity
  • Try to build a process for simplifying your business, you end up with more complexity
  • Try to do Simplicity on the cheap, you end up with more complexity
  • Try to do Simplicity with minimal effort, you end up with more complexity

Take it from Steve Jobs himself:

When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can oftentimes arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions. Most people just don’t put in the time or energy to get there.

Or from Ken Segall himself (he’s the guy who put the “i” in the “iMac” … and everything else that then followed):

Complexity is far too clever to allow a company to attain Simplicity through proclamation. If the love of Simplicity isn’t instilled into its people and burned into its products, if people aren’t rewarded for acts of bravery in support of Simplicity, the concept will come and go like Human Resources’ annual benefits meeting. … Simplicity is an all-or-nothing proposition. If the company’s culture doesn’t support this type of behavior, it will never be more than window dressing.

Anyone can make the simple look complicated. Sadly, too many do just that, thinking complex solutions or answers are a sign of intelligence. (They’re not.) And just as it took both brains and braun for Hercules to defeat the hydra, it takes real genius and courage to make the complex appear and feel simple.

Simplicity needs a hero.