A Publication of WTVP

The future is full of possibilities… possibilities that begin with you.

2013 is a great place to be! But what if you could live—or run your business—in the future. A place where the goals you envision today are already complete. Where the company delivers the exact mission at a speed well ahead of your industry. Where you, as a worker, perform at a productive level that emits a feeling of “job well done” at the end of every day.

Think about that for a moment. How would your life be different if you lived as this future version of yourself?

Reality Distortion Fields
Is it possible? Could employing Steve Jobs’ “reality distortion field” be the life-changer you and your career needs?

We attribute many life-changing products to Jobs and his efforts at Next, Pixar and, of course, Apple. Many of the devices created under his vision have made significant shifts in our lives. From the graphical interface of the Mac to the immersive environments of the iPad, Jobs changed our ideas of what is possible.

The word “impossible” meant very little to Jobs. When faced with that characterization, he would waive it off, believing he was correct and above reproach. According to Walter Isaacson’s biography, Jobs often saw real barriers as non-existent and removed their intimidation by convincing others that they could be overcome and destroyed. His ability to prod workers through obstacles enabled them to “think different” and deliver advances far beyond what was expected elsewhere. Nothing got through to him when it came to “things that cannot be done,” whether it be a line of code or a supplier’s ship date.

I can remember working in a manufacturing facility that held fast to a 10-working-day production schedule. When the announcement came that we were going to cut that schedule to just three days, the arms went up, and the “impossible” word was used again and again. It took just three weeks to implement the new process and smooth out the edges. In the end, the shift garnered impressive market share, but had we listened to all of the managers and staff who believed it “impossible,” that competitive advantage would never have been realized.

Reality distortion fields shift thinking through what is “possible,” delivering results far beyond the known capabilities.

Be the “I” in Team!
The future is all about possibility… and that belongs to the thinkers and makers. Understand that the limits of what is possible are not defined by your surroundings; they are defined by what you are (and are not) willing to do yourself.

In business, it is the intrapreneurs—those looking to solve problems, build new ideas and affect change within their own organizations—who hold the great “tipping point” of corporate change. Bravely facing a working world of seemingly worthless meetings, bandwidth-wasting hoop humps and broken processes, these bastions of innovation, intuition, inventiveness and investigation can inspire leaps of imagination. They are the employees with the intrinsic drive to continually ask “Why?” and “Could we?” and “But, what if we…”

At Startup Weekend last month in St. Louis, I met a host of entrepreneurs from all over the Midwest. And yet, in spite of holding titles like “senior product manager” and “lead developer” at Fortune 50 companies, many of them were not pushing their ideas within their own organizations. I asked why they were driven to become entrepreneurs, when so many were working on products within their current industries. Their answers all contained the same messages: “No one listens to my ideas,” “It’s too hard to make changes within my company,” or “My boss does not work in this century.”

This, to me, was a teachable moment for organizations. Here was a room of people fighting it out to pitch their ideas, find team members who could help them build proofs of concept, and ultimately gain funding and mentorship from those who could help the idea blossom. But they believed that taking their ideas outside of their current organizations would be easier and better for themselves than staying within.

How can we harness this level of commitment and ingenuity within our own organizations? Could it be as easy as listening to employees at all levels when they say, “I have an idea”?

For organizations, building change is difficult for a multitude of reasons, but one of the biggest—“It’s just the way we do things here”—is also one of the laziest. Old problems and broken processes are often not seen as issues because they meld so closely with the grain of the corporate woodwork. With strong, creative talent holding less and less loyalty to their employers, the lack of attention to valuable ideas and failure to consider new technologies and processes can lose not only talent, but market share. Those ideas not implemented at your organization can always travel to a new organization and position against you.

Leverage Your Ability
For intrapreneurs, there are a great number of tools and resources designed to help you make a difference. The largest gains will come from focusing on three key areas: communicating your idea clearly and concisely, designing and proving your concept, and working toward the goal by leveraging the talents of those around you. How can you do this in 2013? Here are my top five insights…

  1. Find your iNirvana, the personalized Internet built around you and your interests. This begins with app “zines” like Zite, which deliver content prescribed by user interests and refine that content to become more relevant through use and feedback, pulling needed and desired information toward you. What’s next: delivering context-specific information to the user in the space and time they are best ready to assimilate it—watch Prismatic broach this in a new way in the next year.
  2. Get straight to the answers. One of the best social networks to leverage outside of LinkedIn is Quora, which allows users to ask questions and enables those “in the know” to answer those questions directly. It’s a great tool if you want to learn how CNN delivered such amazing real-time election coverage, for example, or for in-depth answers on statistics by statisticians.
  3. Enable your best “You.” There are many apps and programs that help users focus on meeting their outside goals, but only a few foster great internal change. The best of these, Lift, helps users mindfully meet their personal intentions and build good habits. With its simple interface, positive feedback and social atmosphere that feels much like a high-five, it’s no surprise that the app is highly effective. What is interesting to note, however, is how effective it is helping users to be mindful of all of their intentions, not just single efforts.
  4. Learn resilience. Rewards and merit badges of completion have led to significant results for those looking to ignite motivation through play. One of the best examples is SuperBetter, a game that increases your personal resilience by helping you stay curious, optimistic and motivated as you overcome challenges to manage your health-related goals.
  5. Data visualization. Apps such as Roambi Flow dispense power by linking data with storytelling mechanisms—exposing what really matters within the data. This “computational thinking” employs infographics and dashboards, giving users the information they need to make decisions whenever (and wherever) they need. iBi

Amy Lambert (@eighmmie) is creative technologist and director of learning at OneFire Media in Peoria.