Category Archives: Leadership

Innovation and the customer – don’t presume the outcome

Innovation and the customer

The customer defines what successful innovation is by its implementation and use. The issue is, they may not know what the solution or outcome looks like beforehand.

A problem with asking what the customer wants is that they may not know, or they have a preconceived solution in mind that may not be viable or effective, or it may be even undesirable or unsuitable. There is a problem of unlimited choice being a hindrance to decision-making. Be cautious of the “if money was no object…?” or “In a perfect world…?” questions as they can be paralysing due to the questions being unstructured and limitless. 

Freedom in creativity and innovation is best defined within a discipline. An example could be this: a skilled dancer can move freely, fluidly and with unbounded creativity because of years of disciplined training and structured practice. A skilled person will know what boundaries to push though and what rules can be challenged. If I tried the same free expression through dance I would probably break something, most likely myself, I certainly would not enjoy the experience and I can guarantee it would not be a pretty sight.

Determining customer needs without prejudging the result or outcome will better define what a solution will look like. The needs assessment has to be done with a great deal of care and skill, without an agenda or preferred outcome in mind. Do not lead the customer into giving you the answer you want to hear. 

If you apply the assessed needs with innovative processes then a solution that is beneficial to both the customer and the innovator is possible, but it may be entirely different to any preexisting solutions you or the customer may have started with.  

Paul S Allen

Barbed Wire

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Falling off the wave – Overcoming failure

Falling off the wave

Sometimes, in all our lives, we will all fall off the wave.

The wave is a metaphor and it will mean different things for people and at different stages of our lives. It could be a particular skill, a career, anything. You are a student of life, constantly developing and growing (whether you know it or not).

Being a student means to try things beyond your known ability, this will lead to you making mistakes or not succeeding at times. You need to develop strength and new skills. One day you will succeed,  you can become an expert and yes, even then you will make mistakes and fail at times.

Failure is not the end, don’t give up, don’t take it personally, learn from your experience.

The lesson from this surfer is you just try again. (here was his next wave)

Paul S Allen

Waverider

Photos ©Paul S Allen 2015

 

Community – What are your motives for getting involved?

What is  a community?

Community is a group of people who have some form of relationship with each other or share a commonality of some description or another.  Communities are as infinitely varied as the people who are part of them.

Communities can be very informal or strictly formal associations.

Communities exist for as many reasons as there are people on earth. They can be skill based, task orientated, faith/religion/church based, non-faith, political, secular, work related, geographic, ethnic, gender, sexuality, or age based,  anything at all.

There should never be an assumption of a unified reason that a community exists, as you can never know the true intentions of all the participants.

The best you can hope for is that everyone, or at least most, will have enough shared intent to work together for a stated outcome.

It is always good to be reminded that where there are people, there will always be politics and there will always be at least one person who will assume, or usurp, control or power.

People do good for many reasons, some reasons are selfless and some selfish, for many it is a combination at one level or another. None of us have 100% pure motives for everything we do.

Why assume community organisations do?

Never blindly follow a “leader”,  always be willing to question and act on the answers you get. I have said before, “People who blindly follow a leader, political ideology, belief or value system without questioning, are fooling themselves with a false sense of security.” (Think – your country needs it)

Do not let this stop you from getting involved in your community,  the only assurance is that change can only happen if people are willing to get involved, what ever the reason.

All you can do is work on your own motives for getting involved in community.

Paul S Allen

Thieves Alley Market Day 2013

Who said it’s wrong or right?

There is so much debate about privacy and security especially in New Zealand with the highly controversial Government Communications Security Bureau getting the ability to spy on New Zealand citizens in our own country. It is absolutely right to be concerned about it. The “nothing to hide , nothing to fear” argument is flawed at best. Privacy is a right that needs to be protected.

An important questions is this…

Who determines what is right or wrong?

Yes there are bad people in the world, yes there are criminal elements that want to harm and destroy others for personal gain. There are misguided groups and ideologies that are also set on the destruction of others. Not many would disagree that these need to be stopped. We may not want outlawed gang members to be able to freely associate together, but what about far right (or left) extremists or religious fanatics?

  • How far should the rule of law go?
  • Who determines what level of “extremes” or “fanaticism” are?
  • What about those who just simply disagree with you?
  • Where is the boundary between that which acceptable and that which is not?
  • Who legislates that?
  • Who enforces it?
  • Who determines that an ideology or belief should be banned or promoted?
  • What are the values and agenda of the law makers?
  • Who is to say they are right in their judgement?
  • Who will hold them to account?
  • Freedom of association is important but to what level? Who determines that?

No answers here just questions.

Paul S Allen

Dunedin protest against the GCSB + TICS bills

Faith and Thinking.

Symbolic
This is one for those with a religious or faith-based background.

I have often heard religious people say “god told me to do…” and worse are the religious leaders who say “god told me YOU should do…” and expect unquestioned and total compliance.

I have seen this in practice in some churches, it is not healthy or desirable. I would go as far in saying that if you see a religious or church leader/pastor behaving like this, leave that organisation or at least investigate the true motivations of such a person.

I am a man of faith, but I have an issue with “god told me to” or “god has told YOU to…” statements. I think they’re dangerous and an excuse to do your own thing regardless of how irrational it is.

A friend once said “God has given you a brain so use it”, I agree with this statement. We have all been given the ability to freely think through things and come up with rational or logical decisions. Whether we choose to do that is a another question.

Do I believe that God is concerned with our daily lives? Yes.

Can God interact with us? Yes

Have we been given the ability to think and make decisions for ourselves? Yes.

Should we have to give up/surrender free will or logic or critical thinking just because someone tells you (or you tell yourself) “god says so”? NO.

It was not that long ago when people who said they heard the voice of god were institutionalised.

Recently, someone made a great statement “blind faith equals stupidity” and I agree entirely.

It is a dangerous situation when people in positions of authority make absolute statements like “God said…” and that people will follow blindly without thinking for themselves.

Being a person of faith does not mean that you should become someone who cannot think for yourself.

Questioning is not wrong – but some will be threatened by it.

Doubt can be a good thing – it can lead you on a journey of discovery.

Thinking is to be encouraged – it will help you grow in understanding.

If you disagree with something, investigate it, hunt for the truth (whatever that is). Don’t just take someone else’s interpretation, misunderstanding or manipulative personal agenda as truth absolute.

Faith is a choice, make your choice an investigated one.

Paul S Allen

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