Category: Design

Inspired Thinking: Using Mental Models for a More Innovative Business

In The Great Mental Models Vol. 1 (public library), Shane Parrish and Rhiannon Beaubien give us an introduction to mental models and their applicability to our work and our lives. Mental models are fundamental principles from different disciplines, such as engineering, biology, and physics, which can all work together, interlaced to help us think. The concept has become widely known in part through Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman at Berkshire Hathaway. He uses what he describes as a “latticework of mental models” to improve his thinking and decision-making.

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Finding Balance When Working and Parenting in the Pandemic: This is Our Story

Being a parent during this pandemic has been quite challenging. In many cases, we have lost our main pillars of child support, such as school, afterschool activities, and childcare. We have had to adapt to find ways to keep working while managing all our other responsibilities. Because we were not prepared, we had to adjust seemingly overnight to a new and difficult reality.

Dropping everything during the first ten weeks to homeschool my three young girls was the biggest challenge I faced as a working mom during the pandemic. I have never been a teacher, and my daughters were not used to having that relationship with me. So, I had to change and learn. On Sunday nights, I would prepare for the following week. Every morning, I developed a routine: I would put on classical music, and we would start our version of ballet dancing all over the room before beginning the classes for the day. Not every day was perfect, but somehow, we got through it by making it fun.

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How to Implement New Tools and Achieve the Best Results

Implementing new ideas is not always easy. Sometimes we arrive with the best intentions at a new company and want to introduce many innovations, but we may come face-to-face with entrenched patterns within an organization. Even in organizations that we have led for some time, we might find resistance when we try to institute new practices.

Whether you wish to implement a company intranet, a new business process management system, or the use of objectives and key results in your company, you may face friction. This occurrence is normal, especially if it is not a solution to an existing problem but rather improvement. Having to learn a new tool or information system takes additional time on top of daily procedures.

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Finding out What Your Customer Wants and Needs

In business, we all sell something. We may have a great product that has done well in the past but needs updating, or we may be looking for new product lines to grow. Whatever the case may be, the key to creating a great product is to find out what your customer wants and needs and make it for them.

I’ve thought about this often – producing the type of invention that will be just the right combination of features our customers need. My company is a real estate development firm, and we construct apartment and office buildings. Before we launch a new project, we tweak it and modify it until we are confident that we have the best possible design. Our customers and whether they buy it or not, however, are the ultimate judges.

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The Issue Log: Why It Can Benefit Your Company

I have spent the last year and a half implementing some of the ideas that Ray Dalio describes in his book, Principles: Life and Work (public library). The book holds great concepts and theories that apply to any company. I recommend spacing out the content and new implementations so that you can ensure that what you’ve rolled out in the past has been fully integrated before moving on to a new idea

One of the concepts that has had a significant impact on our company is the issue log. Dalio implemented it as a management tool in his company, Bridgewater Associates.

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Building a Culture and What to Consider for Your Business

First, a disclaimer: I am not an expert at building company cultures. I have, however, experimented a lot over the span of a decade. Here are some things that have worked for us, others that haven’t, as well as other promising initiatives.

Finding the people that match your mission and values is the centerpiece of a great work culture. Every company stands for different things, and before anything, you need to know who you are. Unfortunately, if you are starting, you may not be entirely sure yet. You may have some idea, but you may not be clear of what it will look like in real life. You may have also inherited someone else’s culture, which may not match your vision of what you want to see in your company.

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