In business today, “user experience” (or UX) has come to represent all of the qualities of a product or service that make it relevant or meaningful to an end-user — everything from its look and feel design to how…
Today, loyalty programs are often siloed and limited to the interactions between two axes: the customer and spending. In the best of these programs, a brand knows exactly what the customer is spending and how frequently. On the other hand,…
In our recent posts, we wrote about how corporations in sectors ranging from healthcare and energy to consumer goods and technology are learning to leverage the benefits of polycentric innovation by harnessing globally distributed talent to develop new products, services, processes, and even business models in a networked fashion. Now we see a similar collaborative phenomenon emerging in the creative sector and, in particular, the film industry.
Let us state at the outset that polycentric innovation in the creative sector is more than about cross-border financial integration, which has been taking place for several years and is now accelerating due to the lingering economic recession in the West. Indeed, big Hollywood studios such as 20th Century Fox and Warner Brothers are increasingly partnering with production companies overseas to finance and distribute regional films for local and global audiences. And lately, the production companies of Hollywood heavy hitters George Clooney and Brad Pitt have signed development and financing deals with India-based Reliance Big Entertainment, which also took a 50% stake in Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks for $325 million.
In general, September is often a difficult month: I’m catching up from summer vacation as are many of my clients, projects tend to regain momentum, the Jewish holidays reduce my work days, and our kids need more of my time as they readjust themselves to new grades in school.
But this year feels worse. On top of my regular client work, I have three strategy offsites to design and facilitate, my publisher’s edits of my next book to review, and a TEDx talk to prepare and deliver — all in a month. And then, of course, there’s my weekly blog.
Just to be clear: I’m not complaining. I feel incredibly fortunate to be so busy doing work I love. Still, it can be overwhelming.
And here’s the crazy part: I just spent the last two days trying to work without actually working. I start on something but get distracted by the Internet. Or a phone call. Or an email. Or even a video online that has no value whatsoever. In fact, at a time when I need to be at my most efficient, I have become less efficient than ever.
I’ve been playing tennis for nearly five decades. I love the game and I hit the ball well, but I’m far from the player I wish I were.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past couple of weeks, because I’ve taken the opportunity, for the first time in many years, to play tennis nearly every day. My game has gotten progressively stronger. I’ve had a number of rapturous moments during which I’ve played like the player I long to be.
And almost certainly could be, even though I’m 58 years old. Until recently, I never believed that was possible. For most of my adult life, I’ve accepted the incredibly durable myth that some people are born with special talents and gifts, and that the potential to truly excel in any given pursuit is largely determined by our genetic inheritance.
During the past year, I’ve read no fewer than five books — and a raft of scientific research — which powerfully challenge that assumption (see below for a list). I’ve also written one, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, which lays out a guide, grounded in the science of high performance, to systematically building your capacity physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
The problem is that most corporate cultures remain addicted to the draining ethic of more, bigger, faster. Rest, by this paradigm, is for slackers. Until your employer sees through that myth, consider these tips to take matters into your own hands:
* Schedule a regular time for your nap — between 1 and 3 p.m. is ideal — to increase the likelihood that you’ll take it.
* If you have your own office, create a cheeky sign for your door to set expectations others. As in: “Short nap in process to insure high afternoon productivity.”
* If you work in a cubicle, see if you can find a quiet space for your nap, even if it means leaving the building and taking your nap on a park bench, at a Starbucks or in a local library.
* Turn off your technology and set an alarm for 20 or 30 minutes.
* Close your eyes (obviously) but don’t try too hard to fall asleep. Instead, breathe in through your nose to a count of three, and out through your mouth to a count of six. Even if you don’t fall asleep, this way of breathing will insure you’ll get a rejuvenating rest.
The 2010 Annual Meeting of New Champions, or “Summer Davos,” just wrapped up in Tianjin. An exceptional event. But perhaps the most interesting insight I gathered on the state of business in China today came from trying to get a local SIM card to make calls back to the U.S. I’ve changed names to protect the innocent, but otherwise this is what happened. I’ve never seen such intelligent, collaborative hustle leaning against such a jumble of byzantine rules.
I ask David, a front desk manager at my hotel, where I can get a SIM card. He tells me Sam from the concierge desk can go get one for me. I hand Sam a few hundred RMB, and he jets off.
A few minutes later, David calls me in my room and says that he forgot that you need to bring your passport to get a SIM card. So I go downstairs to meet Sam, and we walk the five blocks over to the China Mobile office together. It’s about 4:30 when we get there.
The office, about the size of a trailer, has travel posters on the walls and a long, unmanned glass case filled with manga characters that double as USB drives and cell phone accessories that have been gathering dust since Nokia was on top of the world. At the far end, two uniformed women with elaborate neckties wait for business. Sheila is sitting under a sign that says “Billing Area;” Rose beneath a sign that says “Cashier Area.”
Sam, by the way, is a Chinese version of Christopher Walken at 25 years old. He’s angular, with a light step, and he talks like Walken, both in English and in Chinese. That means his cadence is a pitter-patter of speeding up and slowing down, outbursts and outbeats. He exclaims “Yes!” when it doesn’t make sense, but he does it so effusively that you make the meaning work in your head because you don’t want the appeal of his presentation to fall flat.
Let me see if I can reconstruct what happened next. It was all in Chinese, so I can’t be sure of everything. But Sam explained a few key passages for me, and the visible events were universal enough, so I think I can be a pretty good reporter on what unfolded.
First Sam tells Rose what I want. A SIM card. She asks for how many days I’ll be using it, and I make signs for seven. That’s agreeable. Sheila asks through Rose and then Sam, what country I’d like to call using the SIM card. I tell them the U.S. They do some caucusing. First, Rose and Sheila exchange ideas, and then they bring in Sam, who adds enough to keep the deliberation going for a few more minutes. Then Sam turns to me to say “Calling U.S. on SIM card is very deeply expensive!” I ask how much, and it comes out to about 25 cents per minute, which isn’t cheap, but it’s a sight better than the $4/minute rate the U.S. company whose phone I brought is raiding me.
“Nah, that’s okay, let’s get the SIM card.”
He nods and conveys the conclusion to the ladies, who bustle about collaboratively now, looking up a table on a piece of laminated paper Sheila has uncovered. Sheila says something through her glasses, and Rose agrees. They turn to Sam, who then explains to me that they recommend “you don’t take SIM card, too expensive, and ECN is better.”
He’s right on the facts, since the ECN promises a 5 cent per minute charge for calls to the U.S., but it looks a lot like a calling card, and that suggests to me that I’ll get the U.S. raiding rate plus the calling card rate, so I beg off.
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