The Affinity Game

Howdy!

I am very proud of all my sons.  They have each graduated college and are doing fantastic in their fields of endeavor. Especially my son who is a Ph.D. and a tenured college professor. I was amazed that he was published three times as an undergraduate. In all three times, the papers dealt with games. I knew I should’ve stayed in college. That is okay I am developing some new games that we can play.

I hope you were with us in our last session when we discussed and went through a scenario on solving a problem and overcoming a Band-Aid fix.

Every time you have a problem pop up, and is reoccurring, it is developing what we call a hidden factory within your normal life. The hidden factory is something you don’t normally plan on, and yet it happens. Hidden factories steal time and money.  Usually both.

Sometimes we have so many small problems that keep vying for our attention, we don’t know which one to fix first. Sometimes we end up focusing on a small set of problems that are annoyances while missing either more costly problems or items that may be safety issues.

To help keep the larger problems from creeping up on us from behind, it is good to keep an eye on them, and even rank order what you need to fix first and what may be able to wait a little while until you have a better time or better money. To do this, you can play a game with an affinity chart. You can get the whole family, significant others, and/or friends involved in this. I like to make a party out of the affinity game. Have some soda and popcorn or some coffee and cake, or just good friendship. The game requires some post-it notes, a place you can put the Post-it notes, and something to write on them with.

This is a problem hunting game. Think of it this way, what items are giving me grief, taking my time, or taking my money? If I want to save time and money, I need to identify them and start to fix them. If there is something that would cause harm, or flood the house, I want to fix that one first. If I have a screen that is loose, I do want to fix that, I just may need to fix something else first.

In the affinity game,  use five headings.  The headings are People, who are those who are affected, family and/or friends. Plans, they are the overall goals, not just the problems. Processes, how we do things such as pay bills, buy groceries, etc.. Prosperity, the paycheck and other resources we use. Lastly, Papa Nature, the environmental concerns such as living in tornado alley or near a flood plain. You want to write these five areas on separate Post-it notes and place them on a whiteboard, a wall that won’t be marred, or some other flat surface where you can put plenty of other Post-its below each one.

To start out, go around the room, and each person puts one Post-it note under a heading with one item they think could be done better. Just list the item. Don’t give ideas for fixes or long written descriptions now. It is probably good to have somebody act as the facilitator for this. You could even spark interest by having the child or teenager be the facilitator. The facilitator also places post-its on the chart when it is his or her turn.

If more than one person hands in a Post-it note with the same item or nearly the same item on it, that is okay. Put those Post-it notes on top of each other. The fact that there are multiple Post-it notes shows a deeper concern in that area.

You can limit the affinity game to an hour, or you can keep on going until no one else has anything that they can think of to put on a Post-it. The more Post-its, the better because you’re getting ideas out there. And every idea is of value to the person who had it. Every person is also valuable to the family or team as a whole.

When the game is done, everybody should thank each other and tell each other that everyone is important to the family or the team. The nice thing is now you have information.

You have gathered data. It is believed, and talked of, and is yet to be proven. It is, however, valuable data because it is a start.

Next time we will take what has been learned here with the affinity diagram and learn how to use it in our next step.

Thank you for being with us.

Everybody loves to learn something new

Everybody loves to learn something new. It makes us feel good to know something new. Learning keeps us young in heart and soul. Although we love to learn, no one likes to be taught. There are several negatives which have a tie to being poorly taught. My goal is not to teach you. My goal is to help you learn.

As soon as you mention things such as TQM, 8 – D, Six Sigma, or any of the other quality and process improvement techniques, you automatically find yourself the only person standing in the room. Everyone else ran. Most hate these classes.

Everyone who was ever ordered to take a process improvement class has a right. And everyone who wasted time sitting through endless meetings trying to figure out something to change has a right. And, all those who put up with the corporate politics of leaders who would never let the change happen, has a right to hate the subject.

We are not going to do that here.

You are a smart person. And you are responsible. Everybody has different responsibilities. You may have a house or an apartment, a family and/or a pet, and bank accounts and credit cards which you maintain. You are pretty good at the things you regularly do. And you’re probably a whiz at some others. Don’t let anyone put you down.

Everybody has things that go well and things which tend to go off the rails from time to time. I’m here to show you a few ideas you can learn to do, which will keep the same thing from going off the rails every six weeks or so.

Ever have a small problem that interrupts the momentum of your morning? For me, about once every six weeks I can’t find my car keys. When I come back to look for them, I am accused of losing them for good, and we will never be able to drive the car again!

They usually have fallen out of my pants pocket. Or, were left in a jacket or pants which I had used the day before. On rare occasions when I’m carrying things in both hands they end up left stuck inside the front door knob overnight. Good thing I lock the screen door.

To this annoyance, I usually apply what’s known as a Band-Aid Fix. Something super fast, super cheap, and something allows for the annoyance to be ignored until the next time it happens. The bad thing about this type of a fix is that it guarantees whatever the annoyance is it will happen again, and probably sooner than later.

My Band-Aid Fix to this is to set out a bowl on a table or nightstand which I plan to put the contents of my pockets into nightly. How often does this actually happen? Usually, the first night I set the bowl out and occasionally the second. I’m not a bad person, I just get busy and forget. Therefore, it is only a Band-Aid cure and guaranteed to happen again at regular intervals.

Because I work for myself (I think that is called a vow of poverty,) I have time to look for the keys. If I had to be somewhere at a particular time, I could be in trouble. So what is a better thing that I could do to ensure I knew exactly where my keys are first thing in the morning?

Are we going to write a long and lengthy process and perform follow up on it every six months? Absolutely not! What’s the smart thing to do? Because it’s my wife and me, we could take a few minutes and think about it.

Some ideas could be as simple as having a key rack with hooks by the door, where I place my keys when I come home and take them when leaving. The key rack could be in plain sight so we could both keep an eye on whether or not we were using it.

Another option, we could hide keys outside the house because if the keys are hanging inside the house, sooner or later, we will end up locking ourselves out. Unfortunately, neither one of us are trusting enough souls to hide keys outside the house.

Another option might be to purchase a key finder. Amazon has a plethora of key finders that work with everything from a whistle to your smartphone. Cost is usually somewhere between $15, and $24.  There are more expensive and less expensive models.

So on a five-minute conversation with your significant other, (maybe 10 minutes,) you discuss the situation with someone and come up with three good ideas. Which is best? It’s not for me to say, it is whichever method is most foolproof for you. Usually, the best processes remove human intervention.

Just a side note, when I can’t find my smartphone, I use the house phone to call the smartphone, and then I walk around the house trying to hear it ring. Always great to have a backup.

Thank you for being with us today.  Until next time, we wish you well.

The Right Tool Always Works Best

Do Not Try This at Home.  Have you ever tried to put a nail into a board by pushing it in with your fingers? Or maybe just banging it in with your fist? It could get painful. Have you ever tried to drill a hole for dowel with your fingernail or really dig into it with the thumbnail? DO NOT try any of these methods. There are better ways. Just a few minor manual tools such as a claw hammer and a hand drill would not only be safer and less dangerous, they would get the job done a whole what faster.

Tools are a wonderful thing. Tools are there to assist you to do a job that you want to get done. The right tool always works best when used for the right job. There are manual tools and power tools, a screwdriver will open a can of paint, but it can also slip and cut your hand. Believe it or not, most stores will give you for free a little key to open your paint can easily and safely.

You don’t have to have fancy power tools all the time. A cordless drill always helps, or the circular saw if you cut a lot of wood. Yet, there is nothing more fun to watch, nor anything more enjoyable than seeing the happiness in a kid as he uses his first manual tool set to build his first birdhouse or his first sailboat. Although inexperienced, the young one is thrilled with his first tools.

Tools aren’t limited to carpentry. Mechanics have many types of tools to help every day. And, we have other great tools at our disposal.  I had a birthday yesterday which helped to remind me I am not the youngest rooster in the barnyard. I do not mind the slow walk toward senior citizenship, it does bother me when I feel I am acting the senior citizen stereotype.

The nice thing is, there is help using the right tools to keep me on point. Just like the carpentry tools, these tools can be very simple and manual or very complex and powerful. We need to play with them to understand which ones are right for each of us. Whatever we use, these tools should not cost us an arm and a leg. It doesn’t matter how much we would like to turn in that arm or leg for new one.

The last three weeks, we looked at goal setting and building a map to where we wanted to go in life. This week started out with a wonderful tool called a decision tree which helps you to record how you work on a problem or solution. The work can be done on a piece of paper, a notebook, on a tablet or a computer.

The decision tree doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective.  Simple is just as good. I’m sure there are people designing software to make the tree quite complex.

The simple fact, the decision tree is a tool. It won’t do everything for you, but it will help you with the task you’re trying to complete. I would like to show you some other tools you use to accomplish what you want to do, help keep your tasks straight, help show  what should be done first, help determine what is value-added, and what is not value-added. And, a few other things

If the tools start to look like something from process improvement class, you are probably right. Are we going to force everybody into groups to talk for hours each week and drag out long decisions over storyboards and printed slide presentations?  Oh, heavens no! We are going to simply take some tools and mold them, so they work for the needs of each of us. This means you’ll get to customize your tools to better do what you want to be done. In the end, the tools will help you to be on time, pay the bills when due, keep in touch with others, make better decisions, and save some money by spending it more wisely.

Bottom line, I’m not writing about the tools, is much as I’m writing about what you can do with them.

Have a great day and tomorrow will start with our next tool.

Thanks for being with us.

 

Ever Play 20 Questions?

When you were a kid did you ever play 20 questions? It was a fun game to help pass the time. It basically worked by everyone agreeing on a topic (person, thing, activity, etc.) One person would pick something based on the topic. Everyone else playing the game would ask the person questions for a yes or no answer. A few years ago, an electronic game of the same name, and played the same way was a hit in the marketplace as a holiday gift.

Today, I promised you forests of decision trees, and here I am talking about games. The neat thing is, the 20 questions game is the same decision matrix which is used in the decision tree. You ask a series of questions for which there can only be a yes or no answer. You do need to verify the answers as you go. This, though, is often the easiest, and smartest way to discover root cause, or help you decide on a course of action.

If you look at the trees, each junction has two branches. A red branch which we will call the ‘No’ branch, and, a green branch which we will call the ‘Yes’ branch. It is always good to draw your decision tree as you go.

You can do this in your notebook, on a whiteboard, on your computer, on a tablet, or on your smartphone, depending on what type of software you have loaded. I like to put mine either in my tablet or in my notebook so I can refer to the decision tree later.

Remember, a no is not always the end of a line of questioning. You can explore a no route, although it is often easier and more correct to follow the yes trail. By doing so, you stay on a positive path. If you do this, ask the questions in a way that yes leads you on, and no helps you to eliminate something. In that case, and it is the case I recommend, your tree will look like the one on the right above.

Let’s run a practice decision tree just to test one out. This is something that happened to me last night, and although I did not draw the decision tree at the time, these are the steps I took.

Last night the pencil to my iPad did not work, I was frustrated. It cost hundred dollars, and I was in no mood, nor prepared to buy another one. So this means I had to figure out why and make the pencil work again. This decision tree will be the one on the right, not the forest on the left.

  1. Is the pencil not working properly? Yes, not working
  2. Is the pencil charged? Yes (I charged the pencil for 15 minutes to ensure it was charged.)
  3. Is the charge port working? Yes (I could charge the iPad)
  4. Does charging the pencil external to the iPad work? No (tried it, this means it’s not the charging port)
  5. Is there an explanation in the pencil guide online? Yes (I followed the instructions)
  6. Does the pencil now work? Yes

I learned new things last night. I also learned not to be the cliché of the guy who reads the instructions only as the last step. Next time, I will move reading the instructions further up the list.

Whether I do it consciously or subconsciously, I like the decision trees.

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy Each Moment for Where You Are

Morning. I hope everybody had a wonderful weekend.

Last week we mapped out a set of goals and milestones. Before we move on to our next round of ideas and workshops, I would like to give one more thought on reaching your goals. I wish to do this because many people look at the goal as the end. As you get to your goal, you’re going to find out, most likely, that the goal you have reached is merely the stepping stone to the next and even greater thing.

It seems that in nature and in life nothing is as simple as start-middle-end. For as each end is seen, new beginnings emerge. And, as new beginnings emerge they denote the end of something in the past.

And yet, not really, for when there are new beginnings. It is more flow from one thing to the next. The flow is natural and it is to be expected. I’m not telling you something as simple as go with the flow.  And, I know it’s a cliché to say each ending is a new beginning. I guess what I’m trying to say is everything is continuous. Therefore, enjoy each moment for where you are and who you are with.

Tomorrow, we are going to look at forestry, in a sense. We are going to grow a forest of decision trees. Decision trees are great, and they will help you in making some tough decisions, sometimes.

Please enjoy today, and we look forward to tomorrow’s discussion.

Thanks for being with us. 

Recap

I hope all is well.

We’ve gone over quite a bit in the last few weeks, and I thought today would be good to take a moment and recap a little bit and help anybody who’s coming in late to go back and re-look at the blogs that were posted over the last few weeks.

We started out back on 5 June looking at the fact that perfection is different for every person were all individuals and what we look for and what we desire is going to be something different than the person standing next to us. And that is good. It is those differences which helped propel the world forward and make life interesting for us.

Next post, we talked about taking a stand and making a difference. This was done in a post, “You are way too good and way and too needed.”  In this blog post, we called everybody to make that stand, to get out and see what was possible.

We talked about comfort zones in a blog post and why it’s so hard to get out of a comfort zone, no matter how much you hate it. And in the post after, we talked about finding your goal. Each person has their own goals, their own desires, and their own needs. I encourage each of us to find the ones we need and desire and are truly our own.

We considered how to talk to people. And how to hold attention. The best oral exchange of ideas, training, and sharing of ideas comes with a soft and caring voice. These exchanges rarely take place with emotional yelling or screaming.

The next blog talked about how to plan for your goals, and why that is so important. After all, you cannot get what you don’t aim at. That same day I republished my website and let everybody know. It doesn’t have anything to do with the course we are going through, it was just a goal of mine. And, you are welcome to enjoy www.readingsticks.space anytime you wish.

The next blog gave you ideas on finding supporters and mentors. No one seems to get anywhere in a vacuum. For within the vacuum, no one else knows what is happening. Mentors and supporters play a very positive and very needed role within the lives of others. It’s a good thing to have, mentors, and a good thing to be, a mentor or supporter.

Our next post highlighted the fact that computers are taking over many jobs. Many reports say as many as 38% of the jobs will be done by computers within the next 15 years. Although I’m still have not received my flying car and jet pack, if you would like to know more of what I think will happen, please check out my book “Thriving as Humans in a Computer Run World,” which is on Amazon right now.

Earlier this week, I asked you to consider your goals. And, we talked about the fact that having a goal gave you something to work towards that you wanted. We also talked about the need to research the goals, and sometimes change those goals, due to life events.

Then we spent two days mapping those goals. Actually drawing the road to where the we are planning to go to reach each of the milestones is important. The milestone, in turn, help us to reach our goals.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this so far. I would really like you to send me a comment as to what you like, and what you would like to see more of.

Next week we will continue the fun. And I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for walking this goal path with me.

 

Mapping Your Goals Day Two

Did you get a chance to think about your map last night?  Maybe start laying out the roads that you might go on? We are talking about this for a second day, yet it will probably take longer to complete your map. Some maps stay in a state of flux. The changes happened not because the goals themselves are constantly changing, rather new milestones and side trips along the way.

I added mile markers.  You cannot expect to always get to a mile marker on time.  It is good, though, to know about where you are.  Mile marker one is the fact that you started. I did not put a mile marker for your start, I did add a hiker, and that is you along the trail. The big circle at the beginning allows you space to put in who and what is going with you on your journey.

Mile marker number two is gaining your knowledge. Whether it is a certificate, a degree, a seminar, or something else, knowledge is the thing that we were not necessarily born with, yet pick up along the way.

Milestone number three shows your climbing the trail, and this milestone reminds you to stop and smell the flowers. Enjoy the good things around you. There is a difference between taking a little time or enjoying something and letting it deter you from your goal. Being able to enjoy ourselves is the reason that we are going towards that goal.

Milestone number four is the family if you’re younger, you may be developing a family along the way. If you’re a little older like me, you may be bringing your family with you. Your family is very important to you. Nobody makes a trip like this alone.

Milestone number five climbing the corporate ladder. Whether you are in a corporation, entrepreneurship, profession, or in some other structure, a ladder to climb will always be there somewhere. You need to gain your professional reputation. And you will need to learn as you grow. And the more you assist others, the more you are helped in return. My father-in-law was a senior executive with IBM, and I remember him telling me to be nice to the everyone you meet on the way up, those of the same folks you’ll see on the way back down.

Milestone number six is a decision. I do not know why I only know that everybody encounters decisions. In this version of the decision, having done well to this point, do you want to press on towards your goal? Or, want to look at pushing higher in the big city and doing more and earning more? Or is it time to go to the beach and enjoy the sunset? Yesterday I told you that changes do happen sometimes caused by life events and sometimes caused by changes in desires. Any choice you make here is right as long as it’s your choice. You’re not at your goal yet. You can get to your goal by just continuing to climb towards it. And yes there is hard work on the way.

Milestone number seven was my goal. A nice compound and a boat to go sailing with and a lot of fun. Your goal will be different, and it is more important because it’s your goal.

I have a secret all share with you. The goal is great, yet it never compares to the fun you have and the people you work with along the way. Those are where the great memories are made. It is never the destination. It is always the journey.

Thank you for working with me on this. Tomorrow we will look at the next neat thing along the way. Have a great day.