Posts Tagged ‘effectual thinking’

Think for the Future

by Guy Ralfe on September 29, 2009

thought-and-art-the-thinker1Have you noticed how on occasions you may have done something and it occupies your mind for days wondering what the outcome will be? It continues to consume your thought when you are at an unrelated place doing something else. Have you noticed how your body tenses in response to the thoughts of situations you are not in? All these are reactions to thoughts you are not in a position to act  to rectify or change. Often these are related to actions and situations that are in the past.

All this does is rob us of valuable limited energy and time we have to think, which in turn reduces our ability to act and take care of what really matters to us.

I was recently back in South Africa with my laptop and thought it would be a good idea to catch up on my e-information habit after 10 days of abstinence.  I was told that where we were staying had a high speed broadband internet connection and I couldn’t wait to get on (with) it. So I connected my laptop and then the world seemed to stop… everything just seemed to take forever.

It felt like someone had sold me out on a dial-up camouflaged as broadband, but the speeds were 300/800kb. My analytical mind persisted… the next thought was: “Maybe speed is just relative to what you are used to”. For those on dial-up it would have felt very fast, where as my 5/15Mb home connection made it feel ridiculously slow. I began to ask myself how do they work with this connection, this must be costing so much in productivity?

As I got more and more frustrated with the experience I started to turn off all the ancillary messengers, auto update and other background tasks running on my computer. It took a while but slowly it began to feel like the connection was representational of what I had become accustomed to in the USA. It wasn’t the connection that was the issue but how I used it that made the difference!

I like to think of our brain as being a bit like an internet connection, we are given a set amount of bandwidth that we can utilize at any given time, but we decide how we utilize this bandwidth and that is where the power of our judgment comes into play. For most of us, I speculate, we do not even think about the consequences of our thoughts, it just happens much like we breathe and our heart keeps pumping. Making the best use of our brain’s bandwidth is critical to ensure we make effective actions, which is what ultimately determines our future.

Here are some actions to help manage these bandwidth thieves:

  1. Start to notice when you are being gripped by these interrupting thoughts – particularly those beyond your control, relate to situations that have already occurred or will have little consequence on your future.
  2. Make an assessment of the impact on your future – spend a short time, no more than 15 minutes, concluding what you should have done or will do in a particular outcome. If it has no impact on your future then be at peace with your decision, close the thought and agree with yourself this is what it is. If it does have an impact on your future then it is a thought you need to act on. You need to find help if you cannot resolve it yourself.
  3. The next time the thought enters your head – you revert to your conclusion from step above. Do not reevaluate your conclusion as that is just adding fuel to the fire and ultimately utilizes more unnecessary thought.
  4. Be at peace with yourself and your decisions – it is highly unlikely others are affected the way you perceive the situation. Do not worry, worrying has never solved a situation to date only action has!

Think of your brain as a pipe through which you have to pour water, the more water through the pipe (representing active thought to produce action) the more effective you will be in your life. Do not let residue build up in the pipe that slows the flow of thoughts, especially when this residue produces no actions towards your future.

Make every thought count, keep thinking about the future!

UpbeatAt a recent barbecue a typical social situation permeated where the women spent time together talking about fashion trends and must have accessories and the men huddled together to discuss the goings on of corporate America and sport. While as a social gathering it was a great time and everyone enjoyed themselves it reminded me of some wise words I had read in Rajesh Setty’s book Upbeat.

The chapter in the book that came flooding back was what Rajesh calls the Trap. He describes this trap as the daily conversations we are in that have absolutely no bearing on our daily lives, rajesh-jul2009-01 yet, we get engrossed in them, unknowingly, as the media bombards us with the “drama” of these sensational stories. These stories then become the background that controls our moods and permeates all our engagements with others in social and business settings. Take, for example, (as pointed out in Upbeat), how many of your interactions start with ‘How is the market treating you?’ or ‘The Economy is very bad…’ You get the point.

Rajesh wrote the book about his learnings from starting his first company in late 2000, right at the start of the dot-com recession and it is very opportune that he has published this work for the current market that we are ‘told’ we are in today. While the book can fall under the broad business book literature, Upbeat is far more focused on the individual and exposes the flaws in the thoughts and actions adopted by the average person in the marketplace. What I liked so much about the book is that it was extremely simple to read, immensely practical and filled with actionable items that help change your thoughts and actions immediately.

There are so many things that we do automatically because we see so many other people doing them, that we never stop and question why we do them or what the consequences are of acting in such a way. Rajesh has taken the time to include in the book a ‘How to’ section which takes the guess work out of some of these less often thought of questions. One that I particularly liked was in the Tenacity and Discipline section – ‘What Assets are you building that will pay back in the long term? If there are no assets that you are developing , it will only be “YOU” that will have to work for you. There will be absolutely no leverage and this will hurt you.’

Upbeat is filled with great thought provoking insights and self assessments, and is easy and quick to read. I have given a number of my friends copies of Upbeat, so it goes without saying, I think this is an essential read for anyone wanting to distinguish themselves from the pack and to start acting for their future.

You can pick up your own copy of UPBEAT by going to Amazon. You can also follow Rajesh on Twitter @UpbeatNow or read his current posts on his blog Life Beyond Code. Raj also maintains a Q&A called (rightly so) TH!NKsulting.

Here is a four part video where Rajesh discusses Upbeat with Steve Piazzale

Photo Credit: Craig Williams

Part 1 (9:39 min)

Part 2 (7:46 min)

Part 3 (4:56 min)

Part 4 (6:22 min)

I would also like to thank Rajesh on behalf of the Active Garage team, who, without Rajesh’s help and vision, would not be where they are today.

Win one of the five copies of Upbeat

This is the 50th blog post for ActiveGarage… and the fact that Active Garage was started just 3 months ago calls for a celebration! To commemorate this milestone, we are giving away five copies of Upbeat. If you want to win one, all you have to do is to share your own Upbeat story in the comment box. Here’s some help to get you started: Through your story, answer two simple questions “What are you doing to stay upbeat when the odds seem to be against you? and What do you think others should do stay upbeat?

Go ahead and share your story. Make it inspiring. You might just make someone’s day and win a copy of Upbeat.

ProjectPlanningWhen we constitute a project we set out the desired project outcome – these are deliverables or key success factors (KSF). Why are these so important and for whom?

As covered in an earlier post of mine Project Management – Planning or Marketing? Projects are undertaken to implement some change – normally to deal with a threat or an opportunity. Projects have a definite start and an end – however the course between these points is an adventure in discoveries of capabilities and possibilities.

We initiate projects by declaring, at the beginning, what the desired outcome the project should produce, however we do not know the exact path to produce this expected outcome! These outcomes are the expectations of the project sponsors. This is a measure of the ‘willingness’ of the sponsors to undertake the project risk to capitalize on the threat or opportunity.

As we journey through the project life cycle we make discoveries of the unknowns – these unknowns invariably force us to change the course (both favorably and unfavorably) to achieve our declared KSF or change the KSF themselves, or worse quit the project.

Think of the project as a ride in a rental car from the airport to a client meeting in the country using your GPS. You plug in the address and the GPS provides an ‘expected’ arrival time at your destination 15 minutes prior to your meeting. You set off and shortly after joining the freeway you see a detour sign taking you off the freeway. At this point the GPS recalculates the routing down some secondary roads projecting your arrival at the scheduled start of the meeting. You do not have insight into the length of the detour but the traffic is backed up now. So an assessment is made to follow the GPS and reroute down the country roads. You drive through open country for over an hour still with an expected arrival time at the start of your meeting, when you come upon a flooding river that has submerged the bridge ahead. At this point you are only 10 minutes from your destination but the next river crossing means retracing your route back to the detour and following the freeway round, a 2 hour minimum duration. Most would give up on their meeting, but just before calling to cancel a heavy truck comes from the opposite side and crosses the submerged river and it appears the water is only 4-5 inches deep. You look at your economy rental – what do you do?

This is the situation the project sponsors find themselves in when they have to evaluate new unforeseen situations. If the driver has years of off-road experience they might make the assessment they can cross and it is worth the risk to attend the meeting. If not they will call to cancel and rearrange the meeting or do it via conference call from the side of the river. The expectation is still the same but the background by which the assessment is made is what differentiates the outcome.

Things to consider when evaluating the ‘detours’ of your project:

Background – What does this project now mean to the future of the sponsors? Are they an off-roader and the KSF are still looking achievable?

Value – What are the feasible limits of the project? A project will not be constituted for the sake of achieving the bare minimum. Look to understand at what point the project loses effectiveness from a cost, time, resource or quality point of view.

Situation – Does the threat or opportunity still exist or has it changed since initiation? Do they have a truck at the client site? Or can you conference call in?

When these unknowns present themselves they are reported back through project board meetings – but in effect all we are doing is performing expectation management. Expectations about what the project can and will produce, at what cost, by what date etc. These expectations are evaluated by the project board against their criteria for initiating the project, the current situation and a perceived value.

Manage the outcomes relative to the expectations of the project board and you can steer a project to success!

Ditch Your Debt. Decide your Destiny!

by guest on June 26, 2009

the constraint of debt Living in debt is convenient as it gives you possibilities and gratification right here and now, but it amazes me that so few people understand what the opposite – debt free living – gives you in terms of opportunities.

Let’s consider how debt makes its way in our personal lives first:

Everyone is so used to borrowing money – first for college, then for a car, then for a condo or a house, and finally that credit card debt to fund the lifestyle (they think) they deserve.  You NEED an iPhone, you NEED a 50” TV, you NEED to eat out 3 times a week and you NEED to go skiing every winter.

Have you ever considered what this choice of debt does to your life and your freedom to choose?

What if you wake up one day and realize that your current job is getting to you?  That you actually don’t enjoy what you’re doing.  That your boss doesn’t support you and your career is going nowhere.  That you loooooong for the weekend and have moved way beyond TGIF and have started calling Thursdays “Little Friday”.

Well, it’s quite clear that you should quit.  That you should be doing something better with your life.  That you should find another job that motivates you and satisfies your ambitions.  The only thing is – you stay put…

You stay in your job because you have to pay the bills.  You cannot afford to take the more interesting job that pays significantly less. It’s then that you realize, that you are caught in a debt trap that now keeps you in a place you don’t want to be because you have lost your degree of freedom. You lost your freedom to choose.

Do you think business is any different?

Do you think it’s easier to make “the right choice” in business if you are always forced to take the route that brings in the most revenue and profit?  And what if you just “know” what the next new thing in your field is going to be but you cannot pursue it because you are busy making the next payment to the bank and you do not have the option to fund this new idea?

Living and operating debt free gives you a huge amount of freedom that should not be neglected.  Only then can you truly decide what you want to do.  Decide where you want to work.   Decide if you want to work on your own.  Decide whom you want to work with…

Ditch your Debt.  Decide your Destiny!

Steen - 167x124This article was contributed by Steen Andersen, President of Maconomy Inc. Maconomy creates Organic Business Solutions for Professional Services Organizations in a way which ensures human as well as financial gain.

You can follow Steen on twitter at @MoellerAndersen

The paradigm shift in thinking

by Himanshu Jhamb on May 26, 2009


I shared in my last post how entrepreneurs act in order to realize their dream companies. To quote from my last post – ‘Entrepreneurs are not deterred by the result as they accept & acknowledge the possibility that the result might be different from what they imagined at the beginning’. This is not by accident. It is a part of the plan.

Sound a bit weird?

I bet it does. Surprisingly, there have been studies claiming this is where the fulcrum of the paradigm shift in thinking rests!

Dr. Saras Sarasvathy, in 2001, published a paper for submission to the Harvard Business Review, on “What Makes Entrepreneurs Entrepreneurial.” In this paper, Dr. Sarasvathy discusses the distinctions ‘Causal thinking’ and ‘Effectual thinking’.

Dr. Sarasvathy points out that Causal thinking follows a process of setting goals and then going about achieving them with taking stock of one’s resources, limitations and circumstances. Effectual thinking, on the other hand, is not about setting goals but setting out with a set of resources, knowing one’s limitations and acting to produce situations that lead to goals, which are brought forth in existence, or created, in the process of execution. Dr. Sarasvathy further points out that though entrepreneurs employ both causal as well as effectual thinking in their entrepreneurial ventures, they lean towards effectual thinking at the beginning and then balance it out with the causal cousin once their project matures.

My journey so far has been much like an adventure. I find myself discovering things that I did not know existed. It is like I am exploring things and to find out what lies ahead, I need to continue moving ahead. This, I believe, is what Dr Sarasvathy means about moving without set goals.

This paper from Dr. Sarasvathy already has created a paradigm shift in my thinking and I am also getting to see that change put into action in our first project. I urge all of you to read the paper and be inspired!