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Monday, August 12, 2013

The Importance of Friends - Million Dollar Friends

Singapore Children Little Musuem Robot

You ever been stuck in do mode? It’s when you become something similar to the Terminator or Robocop and just super focused on getting tasks done on your daily to-do-list. You don’t want anyone to disturb you and if anyone tries to interrupt, you ignore them or give a quick reply so you can get back on track.

This can be both a great strength and weakness.

Being able to keep ourselves disciplined and focused is a key ingredient to success, after all there are always tasks that need to be done. However, if while completing the small and endless tasks of daily life you forget the larger picture then you have truly been reduced to a machine. Sometimes it can be easy to get lost in all the mechanical things we need to do every day, stopping us from putting our energy into the things that matter the most without even realizing it.

When it comes to our career it is more often a solo effort than it is a group effort. It’s tough working towards success by ourselves. If your serious about jump starting your career and find that when you are the youngest person in the room as a twenty-something you can feel like the least important person there. I can get demotivated, make excuses to not do what I need to and run away from personal accountability. I stop trying to become the best that I can be. 

Good friends will not accept mediocrity from one another 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How to Improve Your Creativity: Tapping Into Professional Networks

Photo Credits: Daniel Horacio Agostini

What teams make the most creative Broadway Musicals ?

A research study by Brian Uzzi found that when studying Broadway musicals, the most successful creative teams were composed of new and old members. They found that the teams composed of mostly new people who had no experience with each other were not as creative. Teams that had lots of previous experience working together tended to rehash the same ideas and were unsuccessful because they lacked creative input from the outside. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Bucket Brigade : The whole is greater than the sum

Photo Credits: Rupert Ganzer

Arranging your teams will improve your effectiveness by magnitudes.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but its through how you arrange everyone. One of the lessons I've learned reading a book called, "Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How they Shape Our Lives". This comes from a short story in the book about the bucket brigade and their work towards extinguishing a house fire and I thought I'd share it.



Oh snap ! Your house is on fire but luckily you live near the ocean cause. Quickly grabbing a bucket you rush back and forth to filling it up to splash water on your burning home. Unfortunately  on your own it will be impossible to extinguish the fire. Luckily you have a hundred friends who are keen to help you so they grab a bucket and start helping you. However, once they get started they are inefficient because all of them are wasting time running back and forth to the ocean. Through operating independently your house will burn down.

However, through forming a line and creating a bucket brigade your house will be saved. This is because you wont have to waste time running back and forth to the ocean but it also means people who aren't super strong enough to carry gallons of water back and forth can contribute too. This hundred person line might be able to do the work of two hundred people working independently and its all about how you arrange it.

You can improve the effectiveness of human beings by as much as an order of magnitude simply by arranging them differently


For extinguishing this fire a simple line works very well. The best arrangement though is based on what your objective is. With the work that we have to do these days being more service oriented it can be hard to know how to configure a team to accomplish an intangible goal. Thinking about it made me wonder what are the standard ways you can structure a team ? Here are the four that I see and hear about most often:

Functional structure

People are organized by what they do and their function within the company. If your in sales your in the sales department, if you are in marketing you are in the marketing department, operational people are in the operations department. The classic and the most commonly heard organization structure that I hear about.

Divisional structure

Divisions can be focused on product or region and contain its own sales, operations and marketing department. For example divisions focused on geographical basis such as the US division and Asia division or product basis such as SUV division. 


This is where you bring together people with different competencies and achieve greater results through synergy. As organizations become more lean and tend towards a flatter organization structure creating teams has become more common.

Virtual team

This is by far the most convenient and my frequently used organization structure. Leading volunteer teams where your working students and individuals where other higher priorities, scheduling in person team meetings becomes very challenging. Online meeting technology has been great for creating more opportunities to have meetings along and a more mentoring/coaching leadership style has helped me be successful.   


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By Stevie Vu

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