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Elegant Solutions No. 4

IDONETHIS

Not until I began working with Toyota many years ago did I pick up the habit of carrying a notebook…for ideas, projections, record keeping, scheduling, reflections, and, well, notetaking. The Japanese manager I was working with never went anywhere without one, and he was constantly writing in it. It was an analog hard drive: he could tell me exactly what we discussed on a given day and time, with uncanny precision.

I developed a hansei (reflection) routine over the years: 5 minutes or so at or near the end of the day for a personal after action review…mostly a "what worked, what didn't, what next" riff. I taught the discipline to my MBA students, and offered extra credit if they kept a creative journal over the semester and turned it in at the end. Those journals were like a little window into the human creative spirit, and far more interesting then the formal projects they handed in.

My friend Teresa Amabile and her husband/coauthor Steve Karmer used the technique as a research method for their book The Progress Principle (reviewed here and interviewed here).

"The secret to unleashing the creative potential of people," they wrote, "is to enable them to experience a great inner work life, and the the single most powerful influence on that inner work life is progress in meaningful work. It starts with giving people something meaningful to accomplish. It requires giving clear goals, autonomy, help and resources--what people need to make real progress in their daily work. And it depends on showing respect for ideas and the people who create them."

The late Peter Drucker highlighted the technique in Management Challenges for the 21st Century, calling it "feedback analysis." Drucker recommended a personal journal in which you record every key decision you make, and every key action you take, along with your projection of the expected outcome. Months later, you review your performance and satisfaction, feeding back from actual outcomes to expectations. Drucker wrote in 1999, “I have been doing this for some fifteen to twenty years now. And every time I do it I am surprised. And so is everyone who has ever done this.”

This is a long preamble to introducing what I consider an elegant solution: IDoneThis.com. IDoneThis lifts the burden of carrying around a notebook and pen, and incorporates that secret ingredient we all need when we're buylding discipline: accountability. (Shoutout: Dan Pink introduced me to this little gem.)

idonethisThe premise of IDoneThis could not possibly be any simpler: every day at 6 pm you get a little email reminder to list your "git 'er dones" for the day. It goes far beyond a simple calendar, which only reveals events, and to-do lists, which by nature we eliminate.

After the first few days, you'll begin to look forward to those emails. And if you happen to get so jammed you don't get to it, that little voice of accountability will kick in and you'll get antsy until you enter your achievements.

You will shock yourself when you sit down to glance over your month, or even a week. Your year-end "major shipping list" will be a snap to product. It's a great way to put The Progress Principle in play. It's a great way to keep a transparent dashboard of a team's accomplishments in near real-time…IDoneThis trumps traditional periodic status reports (which most teams hate).

$5 a month (one month free trial) seems like a steal!

TRUFFOL

truffol-1

I'm not big on iPhone cases. I find them mostly clunky and ugly. It's as if the majority of case makers have decided the clean lines of the iPhone must be completely covered or ignored. So most cases do not complement the beauty of the iPhone, they mask it.

Until now.

Enter the Truffol case line. These cases look like they shared the same nursery with the iPhone. They are minimally invasive, minimally bulky, and maximally beautiful. Forget plastic and rubber, try brushed aluminum, stainless steel, wood and leather. I just ordered the Classic…see image…but as you might imagine, there's a model called the Minimalist.

"Every case is machined down to the 0.05th millimeter to ensure a perfect fit," according to the Truffol site. Even the hand-tooled leather only adds .4 mm thickness.

You can order yours here. (Warning, they are not cheap at $60-75!)

MODO

modo_feature_amodo_feature_fModo stands for modular desk organizer. "it is impossible for you to not connect with the simplicity and functionality of this incredible desktop organizer," assert designers Jelena Tomic and Bojan Smiljanic, "It was born out of the need for a better way to organize our workstations."

They point out the Zen quality of the design. "Zen and balance in life is achieved if all the elements are in sync with each other. You may own the best of the smartphone, tablet and the most expensive pens, but what good are these if they are not in harmony with your surroundings. It takes a little creative genius to see the value in orienting horizontal wall pegs, downsizing them and placing them as verticals. Crafted from naturally warm bamboo and matte finished aircraft grade aluminum, this customizable plug 'n organize system will conform to whatever devices and equipment you use now and in the future."

The Modo pins can be spaced in any configuration to store items like your tablet, computers, note books / pads, phones, hard drives, letters, pens, pencils, etc.  The Modo balls can be used as pin or tack cushions. The Modo caps provide extra protection for your device screens and double up as stylus tips. The Modo slots help manage your cables, and the USB hubs allow you to manage up to three thumb drives.

On sale here for $36…mine is on its way. Cleaner desk here I come.

 

HANDLEBAND

Gee, what would an Elegant Solutions entry be without a biking solution? The Handleband, an ingeniously simple and safe way to mount your smartphone on your bike, was born at the Stanford d school, and launched on Kickstarter, meeting its modest funding goal of $12,000 ten times over.

I've never purchased a single product that enables my iPhone to be attached to my bike(s) in an elegant way. They're all too heavy, too large, unsafe, hazardous, hard to use, or just plain ugly. As a result, my phone goes in the back pocket of my cycling jersey, or in my Camelbak, rendering it unusable for anything other than listening to music or answering phone calls thru headphones. That's a waste, because the many apps available can easily replace the functionality of virtually any cycling computer, with the possible exception of a cadence counter (app opportunity, anyone?)

Here's the video.

 

And here's where to pre-order for $25.

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