Grow your own: data fluency in your team

“You want to cultivate internal capability, not just hire it” – Michael Schrage in HBR on data fluency in a team.

You don’t want the “analytics person” to be the only one on the team who speaks the language.

Stop Searching for That Elusive Data Scientist

Respond and care

Two underrated actions/abilities that will take you very far in business, just as in life: responsiveness and caring.
Did you let someone know you heard them?
And does it matter to you that there’s a problem to be solved?
Say yes to both.

Creativity is a product of the desire to be helpful

“Creativity is a product of the desire to be helpful: help make it better, help make it faster, help make it more beautiful, help make it simpler.” – Cary Paik, architect

This is one of the most beautiful, and to me accurate, definitions of creativity I’ve ever come across.

Full video on creativity and business from the incredible C2MTL conference:

Cover photo courtesy of Sid Lee.

Walking the wire

You have to make a reaction. You have to surprise. You have to astonish yourself. Be always on a wire, a thread. – Jean-Louis Dumas of Hermès

You can’t create if you’re focused on survival

One of the principles of microfinance is that, by extending credit, microlenders allow people to get out of a bare-survival relationship with moneylenders: a situation where subsistence is all that’s achievable. This blocks entrepreneurship. Extending credit allows the “breathing room” for a human being to actually start a business and grow it. This is why organizations like Kiva are so powerful in effecting change.

Too often people in business box themselves into a survival situation. In a highly political and challenged corporate environment, many times the only way to survive is not to stick your head above the waves. Do what’s expected; please the right people; and when the next round of cuts comes you will be ‘safe”. (This, by the way, being one of the worst definitions of “safe” I have ever heard.)

In a survival situation there is no room for creation. Career survivalists don’t make great things. Disruption could get them in trouble. They huddle in the bunker waiting for the loud noises to stop.

Don’t be a survivalist when you have the precious privilege and freedom to create change.

All progress depends on the unreasonable goal

When you start something, the goal you’ve set in your mind will inevitably define and color what you create. Building something from the inception with the goal to sell it is distinctly different from building something you see as beneficial to the world, or something that follows a personal passion.

This amazing piece by Vinod Khosla in the NYT says it far better than I can. “You want missionaries, not mercenaries.”

“The creativity, productivity and pace of innovation in Silicon Valley relies on brilliant and foolish entrepreneurs being unreasonable enough to believe they can be the exception to the ‘rule.’ As George Bernard Shaw said, ‘all progress depends on the unreasonable man.’ If everyone played it safe, we wouldn’t get anywhere.”