I came across the beautiful Japanese concept of ‘nemawashi’ yesterday, which is an informal process of laying foundations for a proposed change or project. I guess we would call it ‘socialising’, or consider it gathering feedback to reduce the friction of the proposal.
The word ‘nemawashi’ comes from gardening and literally translates as ‘going around the roots’. A gardener would gently dig around the roots of a tree over an extended period of time to prepare the tree for a move.
Moving a tree is hard. Take your time.
Sometimes, landing an idea or a change is difficult and involves laying groundwork in a deliberate way so as not to introduce shock into a process.
Nemawashi. Playing the long game.
I have spent this week feeling overwhelmed. Too many inputs, too many ideas, too many ‘things’. I have exhausted all of my tactics, switching off distractions, knuckling down, caffeinating and relaxing.
There are too many open loops.
Then I came across this quote:
Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask. – Tim Ferriss
I realise that my situation is of my own doing. If I increase the specificity of my ask, close down some of the questions, make the decisions for myself – then the loop gets closed. If I think specifically about email, rule #4 of the Email Charter is in play: Quash Open-Ended Questions.
I feel less overwhelmed now. It is in my hands.
Inspired by Kottke – here’s a snapshot of the media that is currently feeding me:
- Four Tet / New Energy (Listen : Spotify) – eclectic, worldly electronica that is simultaneously soothing and twitchy. Highlight, Two Thousand and Seventeen.
- Halt and Catch Fire (Watch : Amazon TV) – I loved series 1 and 2, am now catching up on Series 3 where the characters are busy inventing the internet. Possibly the best thing on TV since Mad Men.
- Olivia Belli / Max Richter: Piano Works (Listen : Spotify) – simple piano versions of Richters works. Minimal, beautiful and spacious music.
- Jeanne Bliss / Chief Customer Officer 2.0 (Read : Amazon) – great read with some excellent insights into the customer office role. Five solid principles to bring the customer life in your organisation.
- Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross / The Vietnam War Original Score (Listen : Spotify) – I haven’t seen this PBS series yet (on the BBC iplayer), but if the OST is anything to go by, it should be excellent.
- Electric Dreams (Watch : Channel 4 TV) – Ten part series of short films inspired by Philip K Dick, great cast and some excellent screenwriting make this a good weekly watch.
- Matt Watkinson / The Grid (Read: Amazon) – interesting approach to thinking about how a business runs, the moving parts that impact each other and help you make decisions.
- Adam Buxton Podcast (Listen : Web) – always a funny, and interesting listen. Recent highlight is the Johnny Marr edition with great insights into the creative process.
Don’t spend too much time on productivity tools and systems. Just follow this simple rule.
Find the most important thing. Do it now. Repeat.
It is really very simple. Stop making it complicated.
It’s not difficult. Stop making it look difficult. You are kidding no-one.
Delivering good customer experience is not hard. Just put yourself in the shoes of your customer, and live the experience they get.
Examine every step. Forensically. Do it multiple times, and make mistakes on purpose. By experiencing your customers’ journey, you can see the challenges and make the adjustments you need to drive improvements.
When you’ve done that, do it again. It’s not difficult. Keep on doing it.
Rinse and repeat until you have ironed out all the creases. Until you have cracked the code. Until you have found ways to make your customer happy.
Not just satisfied. Happy.
You can invest in all the tools and studies that you want, but nothing will replace walking in your shoes of your customer.
Once you have done that. You can move to the next step.
When I was a teenager, the future was the Babel Fish. A fictitious fish that could be inserted into an ear to deliver translation from any (galactic) language.
Later, with typical geek humour, we had babelfish.com which was clever but didn’t offer real time translation like its fishy namesake.
Then Skype did some cool stuff with translation, which felt like the future. Until today, when Google launched the Pixel earbuds, which translate 20 languages in real-time. And they’re wireless too.
It’s not quite a fish you stick in your ear, but this is truly the future. I can’t wait to see how these work, and whats next.
This weeks news has been relentlessly heavy going. The sadness in Las Vegas, Puerto Rico and Spain is almost unfathomable. In amongst the news stories, I found this quote:
You could not have been born at a better time than the present, when we have lost everything – Simone Weil
Sometimes it is hard to see through the smoke, but there has to be an opportunity in the situation. A chance to show our compassion, and our love. A chance to show that we can change things and reform. A chance to make the pendulum swing the other way.
The thing about pendulums we too easily forget in the darkest hours; they swing back. Right now, one is quietly supercharging its return – Alain de Botton
I hope that we can supercharge each other with compassion and common sense.
It’s National Poetry Day in the UK, and Twitter is full of posts tagged #nationalpoetryday , its nice that for just one day more people are thinking about poetry.
I only know two poems by heart, this one by George Macdonald, The Sweetest and Shortest of Songs.
And this one from school by Anil Kumar Prasad, A Prayer for Peace.
were filled with tears
when he heard about Hiroshima.
Had no eyes left
To show his grief
I’m going to add more poetry to my reading. It’s all about economy.
I have been spending a lot of time writing a business plan recently. Defining a vision, and strategies to move toward that future state, then in the time honoured tradition breaking those strategies into chunks of achievable work.
So, this quote feels particularly appropriate:
The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination. – John Schaar
Whilst writing my vision and defining the future state I’ve realised that for this situation, I’m building new pathways, and that is changing more than just the business.
I recently encountered someone who had built a barrier between them and customers because ‘they had been told NOT to speak to customers’. It made me think about permission.
“I wish you luck, and stubbornness, and the absence of the need for a permission slip from anybody. Just go fucking do it.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
It seems to me that building walls of process and silos of communication are huge barriers to success. Anything that stands in the way of employees doing ‘the right thing’ has a negative impact on company culture and ultimately success.
“Anyone at Tesla can and should email/talk to anyone else according to what they think is the fastest way to solve a problem for the benefit of the whole company. You can talk to your manager’s manager without his permission, you can talk directly to a VP in another dept, you can talk to me, you can talk to anyone without anyone else’s permission.” – Elon Musk
This approach needs to be infused in culture and encouraged from the top down.