Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tracking Results Creates Value

My daughter and I go to the pool together for a swim a couple of times per week. She needs the physical exercise (as if I didn't!) and it’s fun to spend some time together where we can just hang-out.

When we go, we often meet a group of people and we play a much stripped down version of volleyball. Actually, we simply take a volleyball-size soft rubber ball, form a circle and tip it to each other. We are seldom able to make more than 5 or 6 touches without a miss.

Sometimes, the other people in the group are not there and my daughter and I will play at this just the two of us. Since she always likes a challenge, we have a habit of counting how many times we can pass the ball without dropping it. Our personal best is 32 consecutive hits!

The other day, we were playing with the group and I suggested that we keep track of how many consecutive hits we could do. After about 5 minutes, we were able to get to 23! This obviously lead to some pretty loud cheering.

This simple example is a perfect illustration of the following management axiom: "What gets measured, gets attention." As we started to keep track of our performance, and that the performance was a group target, we began playing together. As we became better, we tried less and less to fool the other players. The tracking and the cheering did the wonder.

This is a cool illustration of how keeping track of a common target can take a group of individuals to higher performances.

If you have similar experiences of how keeping track can add value to any aspect of our lives, feel free to share them.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Creating Value Simply by... Walking!

Some times, the simplest of things can make a difference. In previous posts, I wrote about how a simple smile can make a difference; how the words that we chose have an impact on and around us; or how the attitude that we choose to have towards a daily thing like the weather can affect us and those around us.

Walking is one thing that I have been doing for many years is making a big difference in my own life. I also like to believe that it's a small positive contribution to our environment.

My wife and I have decided that we would be living in the city instead of the suburb of Montréal. This in turn enables us to own only one car. We make a point to use this vehicle as efficiently as possible. Not only is it cheaper on gas, but it lowers our emissions of pollutants.

Part of this allows me to walk part of the distance to my work. So, three or four times per week, I walk 40 to 50 minutes to my workplace.

This gives me an opportunity to do a little low-impact exercise and take fresh air as I do my best to walk through some of our city's beautiful parks. But what I appreciate the most of this time is the opportunity to have a few minutes all to myself and reflect on the various situations in my life.

A simple thing that makes a big difference for me and a small contribution to our planet.

Do you have any simple activities that you do that, like my morning walk, can make a difference?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Good Habits Create Value

Most of us are aware that good habits create value and bad ones destroy it. Here is a very simple example: eating 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day will help improve your health; on the other hand, smoking a pack of cigarettes a day will almost inevitably cause serious harm to your health.

A few years ago, my mother was working in a retirement home in my home town of Warwick, Québec, Canada. My father had an uncle who lived there until he was 102! When Pépère Michaud turned 100, my mom asked him what was his secret for having lived such a long and healthy life. Pépère Michaud replied that there was one thing that he had done all his life and another one that he had never done. Mom asked him what those things were and he answered that every day since he had become a young man, he had been taking one shot of Gin. He insisted that he always drank only one and that he consumed it slowly. Then he told my mom about the thing he never did: he never held a grudge against anyone in his life!

Simple, yet apparently, it worked for Pépère Michaud!

Do you have any such stories of good habits that can create value in some one's life?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Creating Value With Your Smile

Did you ever notice some people; they're constantly smiling. Ever notice that these are the people who light-up a room when they enter it, not when they leave.

Sometimes, the simplest things can make a big difference. A smile costs nothing and can make a difference, for you and for those around you.

A smile creates value first because it's the most inexpensive way to improve your looks. A smile says many things to the world: that you are thankful for all that you were blessed with; that you can appreciate simple things like a bright sunny day; that meeting a friend is enough to make your whole day.

A smile is also a way of saying to the people that you are meeting that you are happy to see them; that they can trust you.

Do you have other such things that cost nothing and can make a difference?

Friday, October 20, 2006

On the Importance of Leadership - Part II

In a previous post, I made a point about the importance of leadership for the creation of value - read it here. I highlighted the impact that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet were having on thousands of wealthy Americans.

Well, it looks like this type of behaviour is not a 21st century thing. Following is a quote from Henry Ford that says it all:

"The highest use of capital is not to make more money, but to make money do more for the betterment of life."

In my opinion, whether you like Henry Ford or not, this sentence represents the very essence of capitalism. I'm all for people aiming at achieving and reaching their best. It's just that I believe that it cannot be done for the sole purpose of fulfilling narcistic needs.

How many Porsches 911 can one drive?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Industrial Designer Offers Perfect Example of The Power of Imagination

This post is simply to invite you to, one of my favorite blog, where you can read an interesting interview with Sebastian Bergne, an impressive industrial designer. A very strong illustration of the awesome power of imagination as a tool for creating value.

Do you have other examples of people who create value through their work?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Imagination: One of The First Keys to Creating Value

Since my initial training was in graphic design, which is one part technical and one part art, I have become acquainted with the creative process and the key role that imagination plays in the creation of value. Most designers are problem solvers and use imagination to do so. Over the years, I have come to appreciate the value of certain solutions to a given problem. In the charitable sector, some people stand out of the crowd as they have come up with simple and efficient solutions to some pretty big social issues.

In the province of Quebec, there is a significant number of children who go to school every day without having eaten breakfast. This is probably also true for other areas of the developed world, not to mention developing countries. Nevertheless, children trying to learn to read have a much harder time focusing on the task at hand on an empty stomach.

Noticing this problem, Daniel Germain developed an organisation whose sole mission is to make sure that children have something to eat before starting school in the morning. Following is an excerpt from their Web site:
The Quebec Breakfast Club opened its doors in 1994 at the Lionel-Groulx elementary school, located in an underprivileged Longueuil neighbourhood. The Club's founder, Daniel Germain, wished to offer all the children the chance to have a nutritious breakfast before going to class.

The project had such a positive effect on the children's academic achievement that, soon, other schools were knocking at the Breakfast Club's door.

Since 1994, thanks to the support of a growing number of partners from both private and public sectors, the Breakfast Club has been able to set up kitchen facilities in 199 elementary and high schools throughout the province of Quebec.

Daniel Germain is a perfect example of one my favorite quotes from Albert Einstein: "Imagination is more important than knowledge."

Do you have stories like this one about people using imagination to come-up with creative solutions to social problems and make a difference?