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Semco is a company that has been incredibly inspirational to me – I love it!  However, some people get the creepy-crawlies when they learn about it and how the executives let go of control:

“Semco has no official structure. It has no organizational chart. There’s no business plan or company strategy, no twoyear or five-year plan, no goal or mission statement, no longterm budget. The company often does not have a fixed CEO. There are no vice presidents or chief officers for information technology or operations. There are no standards or practices. There’s no human resources department. There are no career plans, no job descriptions or employee contracts. No one approves reports or expense accounts…Continued on CEOFlow

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[Aaron’s note: this is a guest post by Scott Krajca, a highly talented friend and collaborator of mine.  I’m a believer in rapid prototyping, whether of ideas, tools, products or even businesses.  When Scott told me about the practice of TryStorming, I asked him to write it up!  I’ve noted below a couple of points that I think are especially important.]

When I was a manufacturing and product development engineer at The Boeing Company, I learned a powerful process called TryStorming from ex-Toyota executive who had perfected the art of rapid prototyping and manufacturing. After becoming a believer in this process I also quickly began to see how a lot of the principles and elements in TryStorming could be applied to other businesses outside of design and manufacturing.

TryStorming is a combination of quick brainstorming melded with rapid prototyping. Within a business, the prototyping is done in a way where you spend the least amount of money possible and yet repeatedly simulate your ideas until you have worked all of the bugs out. This is a big change in business philosophy since our typical process is brainstorm, narrow the list down to one idea, put a big budget and schedule together and then hope everything works out to plan. The Japanese philosophy is :

  1. Come up with at least seven ideas through brainstorming/sketching
  2. If needed, narrow them down to your top three ideas
  3. Simulate, simulate, simulate (or Try, try, try) – their philosophy is to fail as early and as often as possible
  4. Morph or combine ideas until you reach an optimal outcome
  5. Put the concept into your business system and repeat the process as needed

Another key ingredient to the TryStorming process is the perspective an individual or team holds while brainstorming. In most of our work environments we are taught to be conservative, “smart”, “right”, risk-averse and yet creative at the same time. Think about how people at work walk around with their “work” hats on. Some people are completely different at work than in their private lives. Unbelievably, the Japanese have found a way to play and have fun while creating amazing ideas that reduce time and cost.

During the brainstorming process the idea is to hold the following perspectives and to sketch your ideas (try not to use words):

  1. Create from your child-like self (the part of you that dreams big and does not understand traditional rules and boundaries). The consultants used to tell us that if your boss doesn’t laugh at you it is not a good idea.  [Aaron: Yes!!!]
  2. Look to nature for inspiration. See if there are qualities or characteristics that will help your design, branding, messaging or process. [Aaron: Yes!]
  3. Steal shamelessly. This is a very obvious quality the Japanese have adopted, but why reinvent the wheel? [Aaron: Yes!!]

Whether you are a business just looking for a new way to create together or are looking for a practical, yet fun way to reduce costs and optimize an existing or new process, TryStorming can be an immensely useful tool for your company or work team.

Scott Krajca was a manufacturing engineer for The Boeing Company for nine years. He is currently a certified professional and business consultant specializing in personal development for executives and product development for companies. He is a graduate of the CTI Co-Active Leadership program and is also a certified ropes instructor. Scott has also launched a new company called Wide Awake Media Group (

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People can enjoy the process of what they do, and/or enjoy the outcome of what they do. Examples of the difference:

Process – > Outcome

  • Write -> Publish book
  • Prepare for a presentation -> Give presentation
  • Sell -> Receive contract & check
  • Code software -> Use or share software
  • Paint -> Show painting
  • Write songs -> Perform songs
  • Create marketing programs -> See programs work
  • Customize car-> Show or sell custom car

This Enjoyment Map is a tool to help you think about and isolate the kinds of work in which you enjoy both the process of working and the outcome.

Step 1

List out a set of discrete situations, such as:

  1. A bunch of projects from work over the past few months
  2. A list of clients over the past year(s)
  3. A set of tasks or time blocks over the past week

Step 2

Plot them roughly on a matrix of “Enjoyed The Process” vs. “Enjoyed The Outcome”:

Step 3

How can you figure out how to enjoy both the process AND the outcome 80% of the time?

What was it about the “Yay!” work in the upper right corner that was special or different from the other work? Who was it with? On what? How was it done? Why did it matter? Where was it? When was it?

How can you either a) leave the other stuff behind to focus on finding more of the Yay! work, or b) change the way you work in general to create conditions in which you can move the other kinds of work towards that upper-right corner?

Personal example

I’m always practicing being aware of what it is about how I work or what I produce that makes it more enjoyable. I really enjoy writing long-hand notes and sketching in my notebooks. I also like blogging, but not quite as much as plain old writing and sketching. But – I find that sketching pictures, with the intention of posting them here, makes even blogging more fun 🙂 Even with my sales blog!

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People have a variety of things they love – and my belief is that there are plenty of ways to combine those passions into life and business in order to have the best of all worlds.  You don’t have to keep them separate, and in fact, your business can become more powerful when you integrate ALL of your meaningful passions into a whole that’s greater than the parts.

“I can’t make money from poetry”

I met an engaging yoga teacher tonight who’s opening a new yoga studio. She ‘admitted’ at some point, after much discussion, that she also loved poetry…’but I could never make money at it.’ I can see why someone might consider that not relevant to a business discussion, but with PebbleStorm, all your passions are relevant. How can you create a business, or worklife, that incorporates the best of all your worlds? Even with poetry.

What would Yoga + Poetry look like?

  • A yoga studio with the poetry (in huge type) in frames along the walls, either in the studio itself or just in the entrance. The poetry could be there to simply enhance the studio experience, or the pictures or posters could be for sale as well.
  • A set of cards at the exit, each with a poem, so that people can take one for some inspiration-to-go on their way out.
  • Produce some own yoga clothes, T-shirts, or accessories (see with the poetry on it, to sell for fun at the yoga studio or online.
  • For your own enjoyment, print a set of poetry books ondemand (see to keep at the studio, either to sell or to give to special clients.
  • What are some other ideas to combine yoga and poetry? Leave a suggestion in the comments!

Yoga + Poetry + ___?

You can then begin to mash other passions into the mix. Perhaps other passions include travel, video, software, nutrition, jewelry-making, design, helping people…how else can you keep mashing your passions up into more interesting, enjoyable ways to have the best of all worlds in your work?

My own passion mashup: PebbleStorm

PebbleStorm’s the result of me continuing to mash up all my passions: writing, bringing people together, sales, coaching businesses, creating tools, travel to interesting places, learning, sharing, organizational design, creating businesses, challenging people’s assumptions about work…and on and on. And I’ll continue to bring new passions into it as I become aware of them.

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One thing I know about myself: I like circles 🙂 I draw them in my notebooks constantly, to frame or communicate different ideas. Maybe it’s related to Buddhism (“everything is interconnected”), or the circle of life, or…

As I mentioned before, I personally can’t do classic business plans, so I often find myself coming up with new templates or designs to make a business plan that I can use.

It ain’t pretty (yet)

…but I have a sketch for a “Visual Business Plan” that is actually circular, not linear:

Each pie piece is a major foundation of the business. For example, I mapped out on here four core PebbleStorm foundations: writing, community, business mashups and “practice” (the experiences, learning and results that come from actually living the system.)

One of the biggest differences in this plan, compared to a classic plan, is that there is no specific time line. I will add some rough time estimates in as rings (like tree rings). There is, more importantly, a logical progression of small projects and goals that lead to larger ones, like stepping stones.

The inspiration came to me during the first PebbleStorm dinner, when Alisa Chompupong suggested using a water drop pattern to map out a vision board, with yourself in the center and ever-expanding goals propagating outwards. Here’s one of the pictures she found:

I’m excited to play and explore with this idea and format!

UPDATE: Seen the new version of the visual business plan?

A Visual Business Plan v2.0 (Updated w/Video)

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I’ve been thinking about a PebbleStorm presentation that leads people through a series of questions. The objective is to walk them out of the day-to-day work mindset that traps people, to awaken them to the fact that they have amazing, untapped potential already there inside themselves…if they’re willing to discover and explore it.

1. Are you meant for more?
If you’re here on this site – the answer’s probably yes.

2. Can you achieve the independence you want, financial and otherwise, by working for others?
Unlikely.  People stay on the corporate treadmill their whole lives thinking “just a few more years…”

3. Do you believe it’s possible to make money through enjoyment?
Many people believe you can either enjoy your work OR make money.  Do you have a mental block that will hold you back from believing you can make money through enjoyment?

4. What is your unique genius?
We’re not taught in school how to find our life purpose. What do you love to do, that you have a special talent for, and that adds meaning to your life? Related to life purpose, your calling, your superpowers… Also see What Is Your Unique Genius? for suggestions on figuring it out.

5. What is your own 5th Work Option?
Your perfect, uncompromised, working life?

6. Are you thinking in “I might” or “I will” terms?
Words have power. Words can create commitment. Try saying out loud “I will own my own business.” or “I will make plenty of money through doing what I love.”

7. What’s holding you back right now?
…from taking the next step to starting your own business? Is it one of these three things?

8. What is your next babystep, your next bite-sized chunk?
The smallest step that will move you, even infinitesimally, further along the new business path. It could be as small as reserving a URL or telling your spouse that “I will start my own business.”

9. Again: are you meant for more?
Then commit to doing something about it!

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The ends of the push v pull management motivation spectrum are:

There are some fundamental management values or operating principles that a CEO and managers can take to heart to move their culture away from push and closer to pull: Trust, Transparency and Alignment. The CEO must be the one to lead by example in creating this kind of environment… continued on CEOFlow