We Have a Plan

Plans are important. If you think the plan will never change, you never faced a true enemy in combat. When you face-off in combat the first thing that changes are the plans. These days my plans normally revert to “yes dear” and “I’m sorry.”

As you craft your plans, the best idea to get everyone who is part of that plan involved. Not only do you get overall buy-in to the plan, but you also have the support of everyone, because they know and understand they are part of that plan.

I know this sounds strange that I’m telling you to plan and then tell you that your plans will change. To demonstrate this let me tell you about Boy Scout Troop which I helped run as a leader.

About four times a year the scouts would go out to a camporee, freezoree, or some other camping adventure with all of the troops in the Council. Imagine a vast field with between 75 and a hundred troops of boys in attendance and camping over the weekend. We used to hold an overnight camp-out a week or two before a camporee and train the scouts in our troop on all of the various skills which would be tested on in the games at the camporee.

Does this mean the kids had an automatic guarantee of winning the games? No. Like everything else in life, things do change. The boys were there to have fun and having a little knowledge about what they were doing made it more fun. The games were never exactly like what we taught them, yet having those skills helped to do well. They still had to do it, and adapt as things changed. But, at least they had a plan of how things work.

As you leave one comfort zone, even though you may not have been exactly comfortable with it at times, you need a plan. The plan alone does not guarantee an absolute victory. The plan and a little practice mean you have a good idea of what you’re trying to accomplish.

Will that plan change? Yes, dear, I’m sorry.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

The Computers Aren’t Coming, They Are Here

We have something new that you really need to consider when you’re looking at goals. That new item is an old friend called technology. We all love technology. Technology gives us wash and wear clothes that we can just throw in the dryer pull out and put on a hanger. Technology gives us everything from three-minute popcorn to being  able to watch all shows and movies for next to nothing without even having to leave the house. Computers allow us to talk to anyone in the world. To run our own business., and to do many other marvelous things such as the ability to look up anything we need to know at any time 24/7and be able to get a credible response.

Technology has become so good at what it does that it is now taking over jobs. We’ve all heard the talk about someday and some way. Well someday and some way, have arrived. There are 21 different jobs which automatons now do. An article in the Los Angeles times reports that in the next 15 years 38% of jobs can be run by automatons.

30 years out it looks as though those numbers more than double.

Take a look at the goals that you have set for yourself. Does anything include employment that may be considered dull and boring, dirty or filthy, dangerous or life-threatening? You may want to rethink careers that fall into these categories. The reason is those are the areas that are best suited for automatons to work in.

Humans will never be totally pushed out of the picture.  Yet the positions for humans who want careers done in mass by automatons will go to those who are outliers.  That is to say, those who lead and innovate in that career field.  You can be one of those if you are willing to do what it takes.

Tomorrow we will help you to look at your completed goal.

Have a great day.

Congratulations – It’s a Website

Here at ReadingSticks, we have exciting news today.

Today we have launched our newly revised website ReadingSticks.space.

This allows you us to bring everyone the ability to find and procure our courses, books, charts, and other help.

On our new site, you may contact us either by email, on our scheduling and contact page or you will be able to schedule a phone call with us. The first phone call which can last up to 30 minutes is free.

This offers us the ability to communicate and collaborate with anyone who needs help, or individualized service for them or for their companies.

Although this site was brought online today, you will see many additions installed and various changes in the next few weeks as we calibrate the site to the needs of our audience.

Please enjoy viewing this site at http://www.readingsticks.space

Please leave us a comment telling us what you like about the site and/or what you would like us to add or take away.

Thanks,

Mike Balof, Director Reading Sticks, LLC

 

Ready to Accomplish Something?

Do you really want to improve the processes you use and reach your goals?  The question and the answers are yours, and any answer is acceptable if it is your answer.  Why is the statement true?

The only reasons and answers for what you do and strive for are yours.  There are a thousand reasons why something cannot work, and some people are willing to give them to you.  A reason to fail is only true if you pick it up and use it.

With a thousand reasons to fail, you only need one reason to succeed.  If you pick up and use the reason to succeed, it is more powerful than all the reasons for failure.  If you stick to your course, not let the ‘Nay Sayers’ beat you down, and keep your senses about you, you can accomplish just about anything.

Will changing your processes be easy?   Change takes work.  Anything worth doing is worth working to accomplish.  Just remember what Jim Rohn said:

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.” ~Jim Rohn