Great Lessons from Guy Kawasaki



“Evangelism is selling a dream.” – Guy Kawsaki

Part of “standing on the shoulders of giants”, is finding the heroes to learn and model from.

Starting with the assumption that “everybody has flaws,” you can choose to focus on people’s super skills and insights.

Everybody brings something to the table.

In this post, I’m focusing on Guy Kawasaki.

His super skill is making Entrepreneurs more effective.  He’s also a master at the business of life.

Empowering Entrepreneurs

He lives life in a sustainable way, living his mantra of “empower Entrepreneurs,” keeping things real, enjoying the ride, and staying authentic.

As a thought leader and a people leader in the startup space, Guy provides practical advice from being a more effective evangelist to helping Entrepreneurs pitch and test their ideas more effectively.

As a writer, speaker, and consultant, he’s a powerful force of good that you can draw from for insight, inspiration and results.

At a minimum, you can use his advice to improve your slide decks and pitch your ideas more effectively.

25 Best Lessons from Guy Kawasaki

This collection of insights is based on drawing from Guy’s presentations, blog posts, and books.

I consolidated as much as possible, to paint a map of some of his best contributions.  You can use this as a launch pad for exploring his work.

At the end of this post, I’ve consolidated some resources you can use to continue your exploration.

Here are my 25 lessons learned from Guy Kawasaki:

1. Make it a mantra, not a mission.

Mission statements are often too long or they don’t resonate.  You need something you can easily remember, easily say, and identify with.  Summarize your cause in 2 or 3 words.

According to Guy, some effective examples might be Nike – “authentic, athletic performance” and Wendy’s – “healthy, fast food.”

The key is to capture the essence in just a few words.  This helps remind you of your cause and reinforce it with your actions.

2. Make meaning over money.

According to Guy, “Evangelism starts with the desire to make meaning.”

When you focus on the money, you focus on the wrong thing.  You have to first make meaning.   You need to mean something to the world and to your customers.

“The root of great companies is make meaning vs. make money.” – Guy Kawasaki.

3. Know what you want your life to be about.

Know what you want your life to be about and live your mantra.  Guy lives his life, actualizing his mantra “empowering Entrepreneurs.”

I like this approach, and I’ve been thinking about refining mine.  It might be closer to “results by design” or “proven practices for results” or “empowering Underdogs.”

Whenever I think about my posts, I’m asking, is it helping lift people up or help them be their best in any situation.

4. Be unique and valuable.

This is the key to effective marketing.  If you’re not unique, you’re competing on price.  Eventually, you’ll be priced out of the market.

If you are unique, but you aren’t valuable, then you have no market.  The sweet spot is valuable to the market and unique.

5. The secret of evangelism is touch things that are gold.

Don’t evangelize crap.  Evangelize great things.

“The secret of evangelism is Guy’s golden touch – whatever is gold, Guy touches.  That’s very different than saying whatever Guy touches turns gold.” – Guy Kawasaki

6. Remember DICEE to make great things.

This is how to be great out of the gate.  According to Guy, DICEE is an acronym to help remind you how to make things that are gold.

  • “D” is for Deep.  It has to have lots of power.  You don’t run out of power and you’re not waiting for a more powerful version.  It anticipated what you need to do.
  • “I” is for Intelligent.  It’s a smart solution to a problem.
  • “C” is for Complete.  Great products are complete.  Complete means the totality of what the product means   This means all the stuff around the product (the OEMs, the forums, the plug-ins, service, support … etc.)
  • “E” is for Elegant.  When you look at it, you inherently know what to do.  You can kind of figure out without a manual.
  • “E” is for Emotive – great products have emotion.

7. Don’t worry, be crappy.

Ship, then test.  Don’t wait for the perfect world, or you’ll never ship.

As long as you are truly making meaning and you have a revolution, the market will accept elements of crap.

Ship something revolutionary with elements of crappiness to it.  You can then prioritize which crap to improve based on real usage and feedback.

8. Version it.

Think in terms of versions.  Ask, “what’s good enough for now?”

It’s not about slicing and dicing value and spreading it out over time.  Instead, it’s about being complete and good enough for now so that you don’t miss the market.

It’s also about continuous improvement over time.  Each version should be a useful, relevant, and marked improvement.

Guy thinks in terms of versions all the time.  In one example, he says, “My wife was in Beta with our second child … Shipped on time and no bugs.”

He also versioned his Alltop project. (see Alltop Version 2.0: The Art of Aggregation)  and he versioned, Entrepreneurship (See Entrepreneurship 2.0.)

9. Don’t let the Bozos grind you down.

Don’t listen to people that tell you that you’ll fail, because if you don’t try, then you definitely will fail.

According to Guy, there are two types of Bozos.  One type of bozo is a loser.  You don’t listen to them anyway, so that’s not the dangerous bozo.

The dangerous bozo is the rich, successful, well-known person.  Remember that rich, successful and well-know does not equal smart.

“Inoculate yourself from dangerous bozos.” – Guy Kawasaki.

10. Smile, it’s contagious.

Guy wears a smile often.  It’s easy to find pictures of him flashing his pearly whites and it’s contagious.

Take yourself seriously, but not too seriously.

“Life is good.” – Guy Kawasaki

11. Ask, “Is it defensible?”

This is about evaluating startups against the following:

Proven team?  … Proven management?  … Proven technology?  … Proven business model?

These are some of the early warning flags that you don’t want to get in the way or that you have a good answer for.

12. Follow the 10-20-30 rule for content, length, and font.

Use a maximum of 10 slides.  Your presentation should be no more than 20 minutes, even if it’s an hour presentation.  Use a 30 point font.

It forces you to put the core text.

If you need to use a smaller font it’s because you don’t know your material.  If you start reading your material, your audience will read ahead and stop listening to you.

See The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint and Video: Guy Kawasaki 10-20-30 Presentation Rule.

13. Pitch your ideas in 10 slides.

Pitch your ideas more effectively.  Don’t be a solution looking for a problem, make meaning, and show how you’ll make money.

The idea is to communicate enough, not everything and stimulate interest, not seal the deal.

10 slides forces you to focus on the essentials and the fewer slides you need, the more compelling the idea.

According to Guy, here’s what those 10 slides should be:

  1. Title and what you do slide
  2. problem slide
  3. solution slide
  4. business model slide
  5. underlying magic (secret sauce) slide
  6. marketing and sales slide
  7. competitive landscape slide
  8. management team slide
  9. financial projects and key metrics slide
  10. current status slide.

See The Art of Pitching MP3.

14. Ask, “So what? … Who gives a shiitake?”

This is about asking, why does it matter, and who does it matter for.

According to Guy, you can do this by imagining a little guy on your shoulder that asks you, “so what?”

You can make this very effective by pairing up “so what?” with “for instance.”  After you answer, the “so what?” question, you can then give a real world, concrete example starting off with, “for instance …”

15. Make it personal.

Personalize over generalize.   Instead of talking about paradigm shifts, make it real and make it relevant to the person.

What does it mean to them?

17. Success is a numbers game.

It’s a numbers game.  According to Guy, how venture capitalism really works is, that out of 20 – 30 bets, 1 or 2 succeed.

Of course, when your 1 or 2 bets succeed, you tell everybody how you knew it all along, and how it’s your partner that missed the other 18.

Guy readily admits he missed predicting the successes of Yahoo, Google, and YouTube.

See Gnomedex 2007 – Guy Kowasaki.

18. Be a straight shooter.

Keep it human.  Guy speaks in simple terms and keeps it real.  Whether you’re talking about your mantra or benefits of your product for people, don’t speak in lofty terms.

Keep it down to Earth.  Be authentic.  Be true to you.  Don’t be a suck up.

Guy’s a perfect blend of down to Earth, politically incorrect, and authentic, that we can model from.

19. Create very slippery slopes.

This is about creating glide paths for adoption.  Adoption shouldn’t be a pill that’s too big to swallow.

Create very slippery slopes.

This means thinking in terms of incremental buy-in and incremental adoption.

20. It’s a beautiful time for Entrepreneurs.

Now is a perfect time to be an Entrepreneur.  Test your ventures.  Ship something.  Show an adoption curve that’s growing.  Put something out and “prove the dogs are eating the food.”

You can test your ventures without depending on VC funding to start.  For example, instead of a million dollars in development and marketing costs to test an idea, it’s $12k.

This is how much it cost for Guy to spin up Truemors.

See By the Numbers: How I built a Web 2.0, User-Generated Content, Citizen Journalism, Long-Tail, Social Media Site for $12,107.09.

21. Align your interests.

This is about “alignment of interest” vs. “conflict of interest.”

Line up with the people, ideas, and things you believe in.

See The Short Tale: Much Ado About Not Much.

22. It’s about the experience.

Make the most of every experience and live life to the fullest.  Guy has a way of creating and sharing engaging experiences.

See 26 Hours at Sea: The Longest Posting in the History of Blogging and BlogHer Pictures for examples of experiences.

23. Let 100 flowers blossom.


Find what works for you and your customers, then stand back and let your flowers bloom.  You can’t necessarily predict what will work and what won’t.

Instead, fan the flames of what works and get out of the way.

24. Find a coalition of the willing.

It’s way easier to sell to an existing customer or to somebody who is not already entrenched in a competing product or idea.

Build your raving fans, by building on your existing fan base and by winning over folks that are untainted.

According to Guy, it’s more effective to preach to the choir or focus on the agnostic, than try to convert the atheist.

Another way to put it is, focus on the market you’ve got, versus the one you don’t.

24. Know the real influencers.

Don’t spend all your energy on the CXO level.  Win over the front-lines and people in the trenches.

They’re the ones that will ultimately be your raving fans and will do your word-of-mouth marketing for you.

They will either be your resistance or your champions.

Create a tipping point with opinion leaders, such as the engineer’s engineer.

25. Be creative and productive.

Guy is life imitating art.  Being an Entrepreneur is all about creating something bigger than yourself.  To be effective, you need to be productive.

Guy regularly shares his life hacks on his blog, and Alltop is a great example of a creativity and productivity.

Top 10 Guy Kawasaki Quotes

Between his books, blog, articles, and presentations, Guy is a flowing fountain of words of wisdom.

Here are my 10 favorite quotes from Guy:


  1. A good idea is about ten percent and implementation and hard work, and luck is 90 percent.
  2. Don’t worry, be crappy. Revolutionary means you ship and then test… Lots of things made the first Mac in 1984 a piece of crap – but it was a revolutionary piece of crap.
  3. Evangelism is selling a dream.
  4. Evangelism starts with the desire to make meaning.
  5. It’s a beautiful time for Entrepreneurs … Life is good.
  6. Leverage your brand, … You shouldn’t let two guys in a garage eat your shorts.
  7. Patience is the art of concealing your impatience.
  8. Simple and to the point is always the best way to get your point across.
  9. You have to start with the basic premise that you need to know what your competition is doing,
  10. Shut up, take notes, summarize, regurgitate, and follow up.

I really like Guy’s point about making meaning.  I also like his focus on simple and to the point.

Where to Go from Here?

Guy is still in the game and you can learn more about him through his books, blog, and presentations.

I think his blog is a great starting point, rich with nuggets.  He’s shared many of his best nuggets from his books on his blog and in his videos and presentations.


I’ve created a browsable map below to help you explore some of the additional resources on Guy.

I’ve organized the map by key links, books, projects, popular posts, and videos.

Because he has a number of great posts and videos, I listed my top 3 favorites first, to help chunk up the lists.

Category Items
Key Links
Projects/ Companies
Popular Posts Top 3

  • The 120 Day Wonder: How to Evangelize a Blog
  • The Art of the Start Video
  • The Art of Pitching

More …

  • Financial Models for Underachievers: Two Years of the Real Numbers of a Startup
  • How to Get a Standing Ovation
  • MBA in a Page
  • The Art of Innovation
  • 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint
  • The Art of Bootstrapping
  • The Art of Creating a Community
  • The Art of Schmoozing II
  • The Nine Best Story Lines of Marketing
  • The Top 10 Lies of Entrepreneurs
  • The Top 10 Lies of Venture Capitalists
Videos Top 3

More …

Do you have a favorite lesson from Guy?

I’d like to hear about it.  Feel free to share it in the comments.

You Might Also Like

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The Best Lessons I Learned from Bill Gates
The Best Lessons I Learned from Seth Godin
The Best Lessons I Learned from Steve Jobs
The Best Lessons I Learned from Tony Robbins

Photo by ShashiBellamkonda.

Photo by MIX2010.

Photo by leokoivulehto.


  1. Great article. I was actually wanting to find out more about Guy Kawasaki. Really! I’m listed on the Alltop site but there’s not much info on him there. I did hear that if you write an article about him he’ll be your best friend forever so smart move JD, he seems like a good mate to have:)

    I have actually copied and pasted some of these genius ideas into a document. I like the idea of doing a 10 slide presentation. I think it would be a useful exercise for anyone with a project even if they don’t intend to show it to anyone else.

    And I think points 1 and 3 about summing up what you do in a few words are vital.

    I think his honesty is also refreshing. He admits when he got it wrong – heck, we all do sometimes. Why pretend otherwise?

    Another exceptional post JD. But I think your mantra ideas are too complicated too. Short yes, but try using simple language too. Maybe we could have a mantra/slogan competition?:)The 1st 2 are too cloaked and not clear. The 3rd a bit negative maybe – what type of underdogs and do any of us want to be underdogs? Just throwing my thoughts in there:)

    Keep up the fab writing, we’ll nail that slogan later:)

  2. Hi J.D.,
    This is really great stuff!! And it has me thinking about myself, and where I fall in this whole process. I completely agree on the idea of being personal – I know that’s what draws me in to others – is a personal connection. The idea the really has me thinking is the “100 flowers”, and what that means to spread a whole bunch of ideas and see what blossoms.

  3. This is a wonderful article. I met Guy at SxSW and he is even better in person. He is funny, quick witted, and honest. It’s what we want in a business person.

    My favorite is #1. We try so hard to create these 1 page mission statements that don’t resonate with anyone. It’s better to make it simple, so people know exactly how you can help them.

    This article must have taken a long time to put together. Great job!

  4. I know this post deserves much better comment than this but what I really really really liked and what i am taking with me from here is #4Be unique and valuable. This is the key to effective marketing.

    Damn it! I was following your advice on that and it has proven to be so effective. Focusing on dissatisfiers/satisfiers and getting Bozos out of my way, being persistent got such a great results.

    Now, after following Eric’s [from shaping software post] advice on being reflective i feel i deprecated myself, or as Mark Twain would say: if you identify yourself with majority it is time to pause and reflect. I am bored and deprecated now. May be it really IS great time for entrepreneurs?


    Damn it! It is good to be home…

  5. Hi JD,

    I did not know much about Guy prior to this post. So it was nice to learn more about him via what you wrote and I love what you shared. It would be interesting to see how he defines luck based on that quote you listed.

  6. This is one of the very few posts I print and file, which should enough word of praise. I loved the part about having a mantra, not a mission statement, a core to refer to and to gain energy from.

  7. I am going to spend all week here JD, because I have to create a solid reason for why I should remained Ordained and part of this Conference…The only reason I have right now is that I am really good at what I do, even if you do not understand it, and because I paid full price for this degree and title…and have done nothing to belittle it…

    They will not buy either one…so I am going to work off of the post and words…to create a better “sell myself” response.

    Thank you once again your timing is perfect for me..

  8. Once again, stellar post J.D. First time I heard of Dicee. G0od stuff.

    Guy Kawasaki is great at speaking simply- with great clarity and meaning. Plus, he’s funny, outspoken, freely offers his help and experience to others. He has a knack (I think) of attracting great people to work for him that become passionate evangelists – @neenz or is a good example. And Guy is accessible. If you have something of substance to say and you contact him — he will get back to you.


    I do take issue with the 10-20-30 rule. It’s a pretty good rule, and I used to go by it, but times have changed. I’m going for a minimum 50-60 Pt.Font, 3-8 words per slide and BAN THE BORING BULLET POINTS completely.

    Can you imagine? A world without PPT bullet points? It will force you to use the “Principle of Creative Limitation” that Robert McKee talks about. And the results can be stunning brilliance.

    I did a post on this last week – The Seven “New Rules” of Business Presentations I Wish I’d Been Taught in Kindergarten” — mainly for some younger folks that were struggling with creating presentations. It’s just based upon my exposure to hundreds if not thousands of presentations – so I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the gluteus maximus fugly. It’s stuff I wish I would have known when starting out – I’d be so much farther along now. Not enough time is spent on the young communicators coming up – whether they be marketing or PR- helping them learn the art and craft of presentations and corporate storytelling.

    Powerhouse post on Kawasaki, J. D. Deep thought – well-written and exceptionally helpful.



  9. @ Annabel

    Thank you. I bet Guy’s fun to hang with. I think it’s an energy thing.

    Maybe a better, simpler mantra would just be, “be YOUR best”? I was brainstorming with Aaron Wall a couple years back and he suggested it would be my best bet. It’s to the point, and I do like helping people kick arse and take names.

    @ Lance

    Thank you. 100 flowers really is one of those perfect phrases that captures a great idea.

    @ Barbara

    Thank you.

    @ Karl

    I really like how he’s congruent.

    I know what you mean about lousy mission statements. Whenever somebody tells me their blah, blah, blah, I come back with, “why can’t you just do a one-liner?”, and I give examples like Starbucks – “World’s best coffee” or Google – “Organize the world’s info” or ITunes – “World’s best music store.”

    @ Alik

    I know how important it is to differentiate, and yet it was great to have Guy spell it out and put a spotlight right on it. Unique and valuable says it all.

  10. @ Nadia

    Thank you.

    I suspect his point on luck goes back to success being a numbers game and how you can’t predict success.

    @ Miguel

    Thank you. Guy flows value so he makes it easy.

    @ Patricia

    Here’s a few quick tips for selling yourself.
    – remember value is in the eye of the beholder
    – talk benefits, not features
    – differentiate with your super skill
    – tell a simple, compelling story of why you do what you do (lead with your why)

    … but the most important thing is, have others sell you, for you. I best the folks you’ve helped would step up to the plate for you. It’s usually better to have others argue on your behalf.

    @ Steve

    Thank you.

    Interestingly, a lot of my slides tend to just be pictures (I make figures with Visio.) The beauty is, it’s easier to make stuff up, if I forgot what it was about 😉

    That’s just for when I’m presenting.

    When I’m sharing stuff in slides, I try to boil down key points to go with simple pictures, since I don’t come with the deck.

    > the art and craft of presentations and corporate storytelling.
    That sounds like a book you need to write 😉

  11. Hi! J.D,
    The lessons learned by Guy Kawasaki,strangely remind me of an amusing happening that occurred on one of the ‘Great’ David Hilbert’s mathematical seminars. A young female student was giving a very complex representation in front of her eminent professors.When she finally completed her presentation in front of the black board,Hilbert, who was surrounded by many eminent scholars of his time exclaimed: “My dear young lady.I tried to do my very best to perceive what you were trying to explain on the board writing strange formulas with your piece of chalk. I stared at the board to envision something of real substance.Alas! What I was able to identify was only chalk,chalk,wasted chalk.”
    I had the same feeling, trying to deduce something of real substance from such a ‘talented entertainer’ as G.Kawasaki. It is very difficult for me at least to imagine how a multinational corporation will follow his profound recommendations -“Don’t worry, be crappy. Ship, then test.” And who is going to pay the bill, after such a witty
    piece of advice? “Don’t let the Bozos grind you down.” -point-9,that
    does not make any direct sense to me. Most of the ‘great lessons’ can
    satisfy my sense of humor, but hardly more.Why don’t we start casting the dice and see what is going to happen? Such a pragmatic philosophy can only get you liked in a dice pot by some real professionals,who
    have a deep understanding for the game, not just tells and hints.

  12. Thanks for this JD. Guy Kawasaki is awesome. I use his “So What?” idea all the time. It’s really easy to remember cos of the little man sitting on your shoulder.

    I really like his idea of mantra over mission too. Some business have such long mission statements, they probably can’t even remember what they are themselves.

  13. I just got the paper/ report drafted and I used your sticking points…very easy to focus. Thank you

    Tomorrow I will edit and then mail off…tomorrow is the due date…hopefully just for the post mark.

    Many thanks…Your comments assisted my precision and concise application of words.

  14. As always, a post packed with excellent insight and tips that can be applied to both business and life. I need to come back and revisit this one in greater detail because there’s a lot to absorb!

  15. @ Dr. Michael

    Good stuff.

    Let me share what I’ve seen, if it helps.

    There’s a pendulum where on one end, people perfect their ideas or products before ever sharing them. The problem is, they aren’t actually perfect. Once they test them against reality, they get the real feedback, they learn what actually gets used, and they get surprised by scenarios they didn’t expect. On the other end of the spectrum, people put out stuff that was never a good idea or is half-baked to begin with.

    There’s a healthy balance in the middle. The problem is, we’ve been in a “built to last” world and as we shift to a “built to change” world, with real time information markets and increasingly competitive niches, and amazing disrupters, we have to shift from less theory to more real-world results. so he may say, don’t worry, be crappy and ship then test, but what he’s really saying is, step out of the ivory tower and bounce your ideas against reality, but only your “gold” ideas … and invest to improve version to version (but don’t give people crap out of the gate (make it complete, make it gold, and know it’s the sapling that will become the tree.)

    On the Bozo’s part, I see too many people listen to the wrong people for advice and they get knocked down. Their dreams shatter. Especially when it’s one of their heroes that tell them they aren’t good enough or they idea isn’t smart enough. I think the key take away from Guy here is, listen to your critics, but separate the wheat from the chaffe.

    I get your point on luck. I find that many things are less luck, and a lot more about anticipation skills, systems analysis, and knowing the key leverage points and key indicators. The more I learn about how things work, the more *luck* is on my side 😉

    @ Cath

    I’m finding myself using ” Who gives a shiitake?” now 🙂

    I agree, in fact if there’s one take away for people, I think it’s that — know your mantra.

    I really like his point on making meaning too. I see people and companies lose the game because they play for money instread of significance.

    @ Patricia

    Great to hear and good luck!

    @ Melissa

    Thank you. I tried to compress a bunch of knowledge that was spread over time and space. While it might take more time to unpack and absorb it, it saves a ton of time over trying to round up all the relevant insights into a meaningful collection.

  16. Hi,
    I haven’t read much about Guy so thanks for all of this. No.7 will keep any first timer from putting out products. My first set of CDs were far from perfect and yet I never had one complaint on the quality.

    No.1 quote is so true it’s scary because what if I don’t have good luck? Well that’s when I crate my own luck!

    No. 5 is so true and no. 10 is funny and true.

    Again thanks for the education!

  17. @ Tess

    I too am a fan of creating your own luck and making things happen. While I like to *wish* for things, I’ve found actually taking action and learning from people with results is more effective. The harder I work, the luckier I get 😉

  18. I give a shittake!!!

    And I’m all about number 7, as is Tess.

    I agree with Patricia too, these lessons can be applied to anything in our lives.

    And yes, it’s always a perfectly beautiful time to be an Entrepreneur, especially when we are selling our own wonderful unique selves.

    Ahhh, totally refreshing, thanks.

  19. Hi JD,

    After giving it a second thought I decided to deliver an add on to Gay Kawasaki,
    that may turn out to be worth considering in these modern and innovative times :
    – A ‘Pixar’ Of Consulting: A Vision Model:
    1. Initiate conversations by focusing on experiences and framing the experiences from a positive rather than negative perspective. This legitimizes the past experiences that have shaped people’s common sense while at the same time not allowing the conversation to deteriorate into who or what is to blame or a negative “if only we had [. . .]” experience. An effective tool for initiating conversations is Appreciative Inquiry. It builds on the foundation of dialogue. Dialogue is “a form of conversation whose purpose is to promote understanding and learning” (Gerard and Ellinor, 2001, p. This approach to conversation fosters seeing the whole and the connections within it and the holistic approach fosters collaboration and shared meanings. Cooperrider et al. (2008) state that “appreciative inquiry is the cooperative co-evolutionary search for the best in people, their organizations, and the world around them [. . .] it is an approach to organizational analysis and learning [that] is intended for discovering, understanding, and fostering innovations in social organizational arrangement and processes” (p. 3). The discovery phase of Appreciative Inquiry is relevant for identifying salient factors. This phase focuses on learning about and valuing the best of “what is” in terms of practices and causes of success. This is different from asking “what is the need?” In this phase, people explore backward questions by recalling high-point experiences, inward questions by discussing the meaning from those experiences, and forward questions by asking what would the future look like.
    2. Create an environment of asking questions and identifying purpose. Asking questions helps to uncover good judgment and the complexity behind each person’s perception of the situation. Asking why a person believes in what they do is an important part of using common sense to uncover assumptions and potentially relevant factors. It is not, however, sufficient to determine what is salient. Engaging the decision makers in identifying not just a single purpose but multiple linked purposes – a hierarchy of purposes – facilitates thinking about the different levels of a situation such as who is involved at each level of the hierarchy and the knowledge different players bring to better understand the outcomes at each level of the hierarchy. Nadler and Chandon (2004) write that questioning how an issue is initially framed is critical to uncovering the purpose, and developing a ladder of purpose hierarchy moves the decision makers beyond the initial framing of the issue to enlarge the scope of thinking. Thinking in terms of purpose rather than problem lessens the likelihood that biases from common sense knowledge will dominate the discussion. Moving to a ladder of purpose allows common sense knowledge to kick off the decision making process rather than to end it.
    3. Develop external as well as internal interpersonal dynamics. Complex decision making involves a team of people focused on resolving the issue. To increase the ability to develop a solution, teams develop strong norms, internal processes, and the ability to work well together. This is common sense developed from past experiences of working with others on project teams or on committees. What is needed to identify salient factors is to engage in external activities to gather information, develop allies, and coordinate across different functional areas (Ancona and Bresman, 2007). Common sense knowledge is socially constructed and fostering external connections builds on the social learning skills already acquired while fostering new common sense learning. Strong internal and external connections improves the alignment of the different common sense frames and lessens communication errors.
    4. Provide opportunities to blend intuition and logical thinking. Albrecht (2007) refers to this as “intulogical thinking” (p. 70) which integrates both logical and intuitive patterns of ideation into a synergistic combination. Intulogical thinking draws on the internalized intuitive thinking that stems from commonsense yet requires linking intuition with logical processing. This decreases the likelihood that either-or thinking will develop and integrating intuition and logic will create new frames. The new frames are supported by using strategies to analyze assumptions and benchmarks, to identify constraints, to stay focused on the objectives, and to create joint frames based on the combined views of others (Schoemaker and Russo, 2001). This lessens common sense knowledge biases associated with overconfidence and self-correction.
    5. Create sensitivity to optimistic amplification. Common sense creates confidence and optimistic feelings about what is known. Optimism is supportive of problem recognition (Scheier et al., 1986) because it increases the likelihood that people with favorable expectations experience less stress when they have to process threatening information because they are less concerned about being vulnerable (Papenhausen, 2006). On the negative side, common sense creates a naive optimism that is anchored in the knowing derived from past experience. This creates a tendency to “misperceive the causes of certain events. . .and to emphasize the positive and downplay the negative” (Lovallo and Kahneman, 2003, p. 59). Recognizing and utilizing only optimistic opinions about issues lessens the ability to think critically as one attempts to identify potentially relevant factors. As part of creating sensitivity, it is important to create a climate that does not confuse the situation by engaging in unfettered brainstorming intended to generate a list of relevant factors. Coyne et al. (2007) recommend providing a structure that bounds the range of exploration, tailors the questions, and ensures that everyone is fully engaged.

  20. I believe that you can consider “making meaning” about the same as “creating value” in business – as Jim Rohn puts it – “You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.”

    Outstanding article – thanks for creating the value 🙂

  21. @ Jannie

    The real beauty is you live the example. You’ve progressed from Jannie the musician and funster to Jannie the self-preneur and paved a path for others.

    @ Michael

    Beautiful addition and I really like the “inutlogic.”

    > Strong internal and external connections improves the alignment of the different common sense frames
    That’s a nice encapsulation of a key concept. Crossed-expectations are a top dissatisfier in life.

    @ Harald

    Thank you. That’s a perfect quote and I like how you connect it to making meaning.

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