It’s easy to whip together a really bad strategy for a business function, program of work or product proposition. With little research, little input from stakeholders and lack of traceability across a business’ value chain, a strategy becomes flimsy. Eventually, all it becomes is a powerpoint metaphorically collecting dust. No wonder people think consultants just make fluff all day.
Strategy, done well and sustainably, is in fact, really difficult.
I like this ice-berg model which helps us think about ‘strategy’ in terms of its various layers — and brings to light the inherent complexity and power of good strategy.
One of the first jobs I had was in telemarketing for a commercial cleaning company. After that, I conducted cold call surveys for a university’s research department.
They were brutal entry-level jobs. Nobody likes a random stranger intruding into their lives requesting for time and information, in exchange for…a free cleaning quote?! An opportunity to divulge details of your life to a random stranger?!
In fairness, I was pretty lucky all these sales jobs were via phone. I never had to actually SEE anyone. …
Depth is important for explanations. Breadth is important for identifying emerging properties.
Depth and breadth. There’s NO WAY we can have it all right? For a long time, many of us have seen them as competing forces, when really, I think they have the ability to reinforce each other.
I was inspired by a chapter on ‘The Theory of Everything’ in David Deutsch’s book on the ‘The Fabric of Reality’. To understand ‘everything’ in the world, the ultimate goal…
I recently wrote a piece about “slow” and “quick” work. The extreme comparison of different speeds of work does the job in highlighting the point that “slow” work leads to the greatest impact and insight. However, I now think this model is far too simplistic.
In reality, we need to operate at varying speeds and varying projects to stay engaged and all-round productive. My hypothesis is that the variety in speeds of work is likely to cumulate into greater all-rounded productivity. …
There’s an inherent sensuality with ‘slow work’. Both doing the slow work itself and consuming the slow work of others.
Slow work is work that requires hours, days and weeks of research, thinking, synthesis and finally, a point of view.
Slow work is personal, persistent and ambiguous.
Slow work demands flow state after flow state after flow state.
Slow work is deeply analytical and insightful.
I recently ‘surveyed’ 20 people (i.e. badgered 20 friends, family and co-workers) to choose from a set of 6 ad designs for a creative assignment.
You’d think from 20 people, there’d be at least one or two popular designs which stood out from the rest.
Evidently not (see graph above). The votes were pretty much evenly distributed across all 6 ad designs. How helpful.
I ended up going with Option F. And not because it won the contest by a ‘landslide’ of 1 vote. You’ll understand below.
Here’s what I learnt about getting inconsistent feedback:
It’s ridiculous how much crap enters our inbox.
From tools we downloaded once, some retail store we became a member at just to get 10% off once, or some daily/weekly blog you thought you’d ACTUALLY read on a regular basis. (Probably why my daily blog has only 3 subscribers, including my mum and sister).
Very soon, the inbox clogs up. And we delete, delete, delete…hoping they’ll never come back.
Of course they come back, silly!
And then, out of sheer frustration, we finally decide to unsubscribe. We scroll and scroll and scroll till we find the tiniest ‘unsubscribe’ button at…
Go-figure — January 2021 has been a reflective month for all.
I decided to look back at the 100+ blog posts I’d written on designbysejal over the years. It was a terrible decision. I plummeted into an abyss of self-loathing. Skimming through the blogs, I couldn’t help but cringe at the topics and my ‘try-hard’ writing style. Big words. Long sentences. Lack of insight or clarity. Atrocious. I’m not saying I’m a remarkably better writer now, but I’d like to think I’ve made marginal improvements since the earlier days.
But it hasn’t ALWAYs been terrible. Once in a while, I’d…
I was recently re-inspired by the iconic Business Model Canvas (BMC) tool for a product design assignment. The elegance of the Business Model Canvas (BMC) partially has to do with the fact that boxes are aligned in a symmetrical-like fashion, both horizontally and vertically. Sprinkle a few coloured post-it-notes on top and it’s a work of art.
But the real beauty of BMC has to do with the fact that our brains are literally cut up into 9 different segments on a single page. We’re forced to think in multiple perspectives, time-frames, scenarios and dimensions. It’s a painfully exhilarating process.
We’ve been indoctrinated since schooling that specialising early is the best pathway to success — whether it’s learning the piano at 5, playing tennis at 10 or following the career pathway that correlates perfectly with our undergraduate degree.
There’s merit to this philosophy. Specialisation is efficient. Deep expertise over a long period of time builds repeatability. It’s a safe and predictable pathway. Specialisation is a tidy prescription, because you can turn around and say “hey, that person is really successful at XX because they followed a predictable and repeatable pathway.” Once upon a time, big corporations loved this. It means…
Writing what piques my interest or when I need to pique my interest