Thursday, August 15, 2013

Let’s Fete: Celebrating the Culture Cultivators

I suppose it was an ordinary day in Greenville, South Carolina, about 1,095 days ago.  I suppose there was some electricity in the air as two friends and who-knows-who-else had a casual “what if” session, perhaps downed a local craft beer or two, did a little brainstorming and, boom, a digital magazine was born.  Jack DelGado and Jay Spivey had birthed an electronic culture cultivating machine and they named it Fete to celebrate all things Greenville. 

Fete (from French) is defined in various dictionaries as a party, a celebration and even as a festival.  In French, it refers to a holiday or party.  So, kudos to Jack and Jay for finding the appropriate name, but we can only imagine the assortment of mispronunciations, the questioning looks and rolling of eyes that may have occurred when this new e-mag arrived in people’s in-boxes.

“Fete?  What is that?” 

“How do you say that?”

 “Who named this thing?” 

“FAY-ette? “

That was many issues ago; many colorful stories, entertaining videos and video “editorials” have been delivered to our in-boxes since then.  We’ve learned to pronounce fete and we now know what it means. 
Fete Greenville is celebrating 3 years of feting Greenville area activities, events, arts, story-telling and music.  For 3 years, the Fete staff have been celebrating us.  Now it’s time to celebrate them, so let’s join hands and fete the Feters!  Let’s celebrate Greenville’s culture cultivators.

Here’s what our favorite Feters have been celebrating for the past 3 years:
  • Amazing artists and a growing arts community:  Thanks for promoting visual arts with 36 different artist works on all of your 36 magazine covers! 
  • Theatre, creative performers, poetry and comedy:  Thanks for helping us to discover the performing arts!
  • Non-profits:  Thanks for donating close to $300,000 in advertising to support our area’s non-profit organizations and events!
  • Fun interactive videos:  Thanks for making advertising and news entertaining!
  • Live music:  Thanks for promoting local music venues and for introducing us to cool new music!
Bravo, ladies and gentlemen of Fete!  You done good!  (That’s Southern, not French.)

This is a very short and super-cool video of Fete's 3-year anniversary steel and copper logo made by Ryan Calloway of Creative Iron Works in Greenville, South Carolina.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Let's K.I.S.S.: A Little Systems Thinking Saves Time

No, not this KISS.

How about something else?  I'm talking about the acronym, K.I.S.S., which stands for Keep It Simple Stupid!

Life is complicated, work is complicated, projects are complicated...or are they?  Yes, I believe that our lives and work and even projects CAN be complicated.  I also believe that we either allow them to be so or we make them unnecessarily so.

We are told throughout our lives to stop and smell the roses.  How about if, before we embark on a new phase of our lives or a new job or project, we stop and look at the big picture?  Don't understand?  Well, here's the biz buzzz.
Everything in our professional and personal lives is part of a system.  We are part of a system.  We are one piece in a family system, one part of a system that drives a corporation or small business and one part of a project or a relationship.  Every action that we take or do not take influences these systems.  Are you with me?

This systems thinking seems complicated, but it's easier than you might be thinking right now.  One way to KISS all this complexity is through systems-thinking.  Consider this.  Next time you imagine a project, stop and draw.  Draw a map or a picture with words...really.

  1. Begin by naming the project with a clear and easily understood name.  Make sure it's easy for others to understand what it's all about.
  2. Next, list all of the pieces, parts or components of this project.  Let's look at putting a new coffee pot in the office.  List: location, electrical outlet, trash can, people who drink coffee, supplies for making coffee, supplies for cleaning up and disposal of grounds, cups, sugar, cream.
  3. Now, go through this list and, beside each part or word, list all of the connections.  For example: Location--in reception area, in kitchen, in bathroom, in closet, by the copier, on Jane's desk, and so on.
  4. What I like to do at this point is ask questions.  If it goes on Jane's desk, will Jane still have room enough for her papers and work?  What if someone spilled coffee on one of her papers?  Does Jane even drink coffee?  How far from this desk is the nearest water faucet?  Is it easy to clean up here?  Is it too far from other work stations?...and so on.
  5. It may turn out that Jane does not drink coffee and she becomes ill when she smells coffee brewing.  Wouldn't it be awful and create complications for Jane and her relationship with coffee-drinking co-workers if you put the coffee pot here?  When would this surface as an issue?  Perhaps Jane would say nothing and quit.  Jane might think that this had been done purposefully to drive her out of the office.  You may be laughing, but I'll wager you can think back to a situation similar to this one that seemed strange when it happened.  Perhaps much later, a few things came to light and you realized that a difficult or complicated situation could have been avoided?
Systems-Thinking is a wonderful tool.  In the early 1990s, Peter Senge helped organizations and businesses to adopt systems-thinking via his book, The Fifth Discipline (which is systems-thinking).  The other four disciplines that he recommended are:  personal vision or mastery, mental models, building a shared vision and team learning.

Once you begin exploring systems-thinking and develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for this tool, you'll see how useful it is when you apply it to almost every activity or potential action in your life.