Friday, August 26, 2011

Change Artist Challenge #8: Applying The Principle of Addition

The peculiar vanity of man, who wants to believe and who wants other people to believe that he is seeking after truth, when in fact it is love that he is asking this world to give him. - Albert Camus

Satir's Principle of Addition says that people change behavior by adding new behaviors, rather than getting rid of old ones. The reinforced behaviors are done more often, leaving less and less time for behaviors not reinforced.

The Challenge

Your challenge is to practice giving affirmations for behaviors you wish to increase. This can be in the form of an e-mail note, a card, a phone call, a brief office visit, a comment in the corridor. It must be done, however, directly to the person, not through some third party.
Each and every day, give one affirmation to one person.

1. This forced me to pay attention to what people were doing.

2. This was really hard! Something deep inside me got caught in my throat when I started to form an affirmation of someone. It's a good thing I had a support group to help me figure out where that came from. I'm still not very good at it, but I can get the words out.

3. I thought I was already doing this, so it would be a really easy assignment. It turned out that nobody recognized when I was giving an affirmation, because I always cut the corners off it by some little joke, or discount.

4. I'm pretty good at this, in person, so I decided to start sending little cards to people who had done something that helped one of my change projects. Boy, was I surprised at how delighted they were! Something about a card made them really sit up and take notice; maybe it showed that I was thinking of them when they weren't present, and I took that little extra time to do this in a way that wasn't the easiest (e-mail). Maybe that made it seem extra important.

5. I made a list of people I ought to affirm, and made five copies, one for each day. I would check each one off the day's list so I would have a measure of how well I was doing. My goal was to be able to do everybody in one day by the end of the week. There were 14 people on the list, and my scores for the five days were 4, 7, 6, 11, 14. I was very proud of myself, and on Saturday I showed the list to my Will (my husband) and explained the assignment. He read over the list and told me I had forgotten someone. I was devastated: What good was a perfect score if it wasn't the whole list? But I couldn't for the life of me figure out who was left off. On Sunday, in church, I was still thinking about it and not really listening to the sermon. Will leaned over and whispered in my ear: "You." At our church, some of us stay after the service for a discussion of the sermon. God must have been watching over me when He sent the sermon that day because the subject was "Love thy neighbor as thyself." I understood that if I didn't love myself very much, loving my neighbor as myself didn't mean very much. I'd say I had a religious experience because of this exercise.

These challenges are adapted from my ebook, Becoming a Change Artist, which can be obtained from most of the popular ebook vendors. See my website <> for links to all of my books at the major vendors.

Monday, August 22, 2011

We're not so smart, or strong

Finally, the orangs get a chance to have fun and make decisions.

And Apple has a great new market.

Will these primates knock out another Shakespeare play?

Amplify’d from

These Orangutans Play with iPads

Orangutans, it turns out, love the iPad and its games just as much as some humans do.

A budding program at the Milwaukee County Zoo is working to place iPads into the giant, gentle palms of their orangutans. Two of the zoo's orangutans already look forward to weekly sessions with an iPad. They even have favorite apps, shows and games, but they haven't yet been given free rein with the Apple device because keepers worry they might get frustrated and simply snap one in half.

"One of the biggest hurdles we face is that an orangutan can snap an iPad like you or I could rip cardboard," said Richard Zimmerman, executive director of Orangutan Outreach, which hopes to extend Milwaukee's iPad enrichment program to zoos around the country. "Even the little guys like Mahal are incredibly strong. A big male could take it apart in about five seconds."


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Size Does Matter in Space!

Size matters, but in space, it's the smaller the better.

We need more breakthrough thinking/engineering like this.

So, read all about it.

Amplify’d from

Computer Chip-Sized Spacecraft Will Explore Space In Swarms

by Peter Murray August 15th, 2011 | Comments (2)

We knew to expect a paradigm shift with the end of the space shuttle program, but this is ridiculous. Mason Peck and his group of forward-thinking engineers are taking NASA’s slogan of Faster, Better, Cheaper to the extreme. Their spacecraft will cut down travel time to Alpha Centauri from thousands of years to just a few hundred, and instead of the $1.7 billion it takes to build a space shuttle, Peck’s ships can be built for an amazing $33.

I might mention that there’s no room for astronauts. In fact, if one were to try and board these spacecraft they would crush it.

The spacecraft are called Sprites and they weigh about 10 grams each. Integrated circuits 3.8 cm on a side, they’re literally spacefaring computer chips. This past May the space shuttle Endeavour brought three Sprite prototypes to the International Space Station. Fixed to the station’s exterior, they are currently in the early days of a two year test to see how they stand up to the harsh elements of space.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Change Artist Challenge #7: Being Fully Absent

 Being Fully AbsentWhoever is in a hurry shows that the thing he is about is too big for him. - Lord Chesterfield

During the Great Plague of 1666, Newton was forced to go home for a holiday when schools closed in London. While idling under a tree, he got the basic idea for his Theory of Universal Gravitation.

During the heyday of telephone exploitation (1877), Alexander Graham Bell got married and took a yearlong honeymoon in Europe! While there, he had his grand vision—not for the telephone, but for the telephone system.

So much for not being able to leave a project for vacation! As your powers as a change artist grow, it's easy to get the grandiose idea that the world can't change without you. This challenge is a challenge to that idea. It's also a way to trick you into taking care of yourself.

The Challenge
Your challenge is to take a week away from work, and when you get back, notice what changed without you being there. You must not do anything about your change artist work for a whole week, but notice what thoughts come into your head, or what apples fall on it.
Do you think you can't do this? Then you have a different assignment, suggested by Wayne Bailey: "If you're going on a week-long vacation and feel the project cannot do without you, then take a two-week vacation."

1. We took two weeks and went to Hawaii. It was our first vacation in seven years—really since our honeymoon. I'd always dreamed of a Pacific island paradise, and we found it. The first few days, Shanna and I drove all over the Big Island like tourists. It was interesting, but it wasn't the vacation of my dreams. Then we just starting frolicking on the beach, eating, laying about in the shade, eating, really talking to each other, eating, swimming, and eating. After about seven days of this bliss, I woke up early one morning and realized that though I hadn't consciously thought about work at all, I suddenly had a complete vision of how our process improvement program had to be restructured. Shanna was still asleep (it was real early), so I slipped out for a walk on the beach. When I got back about two hours later, I had the entire thing worked out in my mind. I didn't even have to write it down—it was so clear that I knew I couldn't forget it. Then I put it out of my mind and enjoyed the last three days of our vacation in paradise. When I got back to work, I had a new and revitalized organization. More important, I had a new and revitalized marriage.

2. I decided to spend a week hiking a segment of the Appalachian Trail. I hadn't done any backpacking for a couple of years, so I had to take out all my equipment, replace some of it, and reconsider everything. While doing that, I realized that I needed to do the same thing at work. I was so eager to get started that a little voice inside me said to forget the hike and get back to work. But I resisted. I was able to use the hike—even though it rained most of the time—as a metaphor for the changes I had to make at work. Come to think of it, that was probably because it rained all the time.

3. I stayed home and played solitaire, did jigsaw puzzles, and cleaned the house. I also rearranged my thoughts. Thank you for this assignment.

4. I went to Spain, where I could refresh my school Spanish. I spent a week in Madrid and a week in Barcelona, with a few side trips into the country. Perhaps it was living in another language for two weeks, but I didn't think of work at all. When I came back, I discovered that they had gotten along very well without me, and were eager to show me some of the nifty things they'd accomplished. At first I was depressed, thinking that I wasn't as essential as I had thought. Then I was elated when I realized that I had done a good job of preparing them to keep improving things when I wasn't there. I guess that's really the change artist's job, isn't it.

These challenges are adapted from my ebook, Becoming a Change Artist, which can be obtained from most of the popular ebook vendors. See my website <> for links to all of my books at the major vendors.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Persistence in Problem Solving

I write about and teach about problem solving. I also consult on the topic. Sometimes, when one of my clients is stuck on a problem, I tell them I have a sure-fire solution method:

Write it down, seal it in an envelope, put it in a safe place, and open it after 50 years. Then, if it's not solved itself by then, seal it in another envelope for 50 more years. It's sure to be solved by then.

Well, I'd never actually tried the method, but something special happened today that I just have to tell. The story began, if I remember correctly, in 1949, more than 60 years ago. I was taking a bookkeeping class in high school, and on the first day, the teacher started off by saying:

"Bookkeeping is the only word in the English language that has 3 consecutive double letters."

Being a wise-ass young kid, I raised my hand and said, "I know another one."

Startled, she asked, "And what's that?"


That got a few laughs from the students, and put me on her s-list for two semesters.

Still, after all this time, that's about the only thing I remember from that bookeeping class--mostly because I kept seeking another 3-double-letter word, on and off for all that time.

Well, today I was working on a mystery novel with some prison scenes, and I came up with the kind of word I was seeking. It was prison slang for the warden:


(Dani says it could also be the name of the person who guards shepherds' equipment.)

MORAL: Virtually any problem will be solved if you work on it for 50+ years. So, never give up, but sometimes delay.

Problem Definition

If you like solving problems, and don't always have the patience to wait 50 years, you may shorten your solution time if you start with a better problem definition. You'll be able to do that if you read one or more of the books pictured here. Take a look at

I guess I should also post a contrasting story about the quickest problem solving effort:

About 5 seconds after I posted this blog, I got a tweet from "@perze" saying:

Hello Mr. Weinberg i don't want to sound like a wise-cracker but "bookkeeping" was misspelled in your last post.

Good for your @perze!

Fixing this post also gave me a few seconds to come up with a couple more 3-double-letter words:

1. When my Aunt Minnie used to visit, my father gave me the task of keeping my cousin Larry out of his sight. In doing that, I was the schnookkeeper.

2. When fishing, I was put in charge of guarding the tackle, so I was the hookkeeper.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What's Wrong with Agents as Publishers?

Here's a guy who knows the story from all sides, and is not afraid to tell it like it is.

Should Agents Publish? (Writers Beware!)


The answer to this question is a resounding don't even try to argue with me NO!

How can I say this when so many have neat little answers? Because it is like having your lawyer be your judge. In the last few months I have seen the book agent turn tail and not only abandon all ethics of their business, but chase the money like so many drowning rats. Am I being to harsh? Maybe, but I have good reason.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Change Artist Challenge #6: Being Fully Present

It always seems to me that so few people live—they just seem to exist—and I don't see any reason why we shouldn't LIVE always... - Georgia O'Keeffe

In order to be a successful catalyst for change, you must learn the art of being fully present. To be fully present, you must:
1. Pay full attention to the speaker.
2. Put aside any preconceived ideas of what the speaker is going to say.
3. Interpret descriptively and not judgmentally.
4. Be alert for confusions and ask questions to get clarity.
5. Let the speaker know that he/she has been heard, and what has been communicated.

Here are a number of common hindrances to being fully present:

   • Ignoring: lack of attention (looking elsewhere, fidgeting), boredom, disinterest, pretending to listen

   • Selective listening: hearing only parts

   • Sidetracking: changing the subject (without proper transition); telling your own story; making light of, with inappropriate humor

   • Evaluative listening: agreeing or disagreeing before the explanation is finished

   • Probing: asking too many questions (from your frame of reference) with little sense of the person

   • Interpretative listening: explaining what's going on based on your own motives and behavior

   • Advice giving: offering solutions; focusing too much on content

The Challenge
Your challenge is to pick one habit that keeps you from being fully present, and focus on reshaping that habit in all your interactions.

1. I decided to try going through a meeting without telling any jokes. I didn't actually make it all the way, but they seemed to appreciate my joke more, when I finally told it.

2. I didn't really know what to do, as I thought I was a good listener. I got a support person who told me that I should stop reading my mail during meetings. That really surprised me, because I thought myself so good a listener that I could read mail and listen at the same time. Besides, it kept me from interrupting. My supporter told me that even though I might be hearing everything that was said, my reading made it look like I wasn't paying attention, or at least didn't care what was being said.

3. I'd read about not giving solutions during review meetings, but I was strongly opposed to the idea. It just didn't make sense to me. But, since I had to do this assignment, I decided to try doing one review without offering any solutions. I did have two solution to offer, but the author came up with one of them a few minutes later, before I said anything about it. Actually, I guess it was pretty obvious, and if I'd said it, he probably would have thought I considered him stupid. I saved the other until after the meeting, and it was really appreciated. It seemed to be a pretty good review, actually one of the better ones I've ever attended.

4. I have to tell you that I'm known around here for being the person who can get anything out of anybody with my penetrating questions. I decided to try a new tactic. Whenever I found myself thinking of a neat question, I caught myself and asked, instead, "What else do you want to tell me?" I got just as much information as I ever get, so maybe I'm not such a great questioner as I thought. Or maybe I'm greater—I can do it with just one question!

5. I looked at whoever was speaking. Every time. I had been missing a lot, not seeing facial expressions and posture. I think I'll do it again.

These challenges are adapted from my ebook, Becoming a Change Artist, which can be obtained from most of the popular ebook vendors. See my website <> for links to all of my books at the major vendors.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Make sure of your writing heritage

Please do not ignore this essay. Please.

Estate Planning

Editor Robert Runte is sharing an important reminder for us authors: we need a will.
One topic that most writer's advice columns never get around to addressing, but which is fairly crucial, is estate planning. Yes, I know, you are immortal and are never going to get sick, let alone die, but let us for the sake of argument talk about a couple of simple steps to save one's family a fair bit of trouble, and to perhaps ensure one's literary immortality.
The Will
First, write a will. No one likes to think about wills much, and certainly don't feel it's something they need to address today...sometime in the indefinite future will be fine, they think. But, stuff happens. So, right now, make an actual appointment to draw up a will. And then, in addition to the usual content, put in a couple of clauses outlining who gets the literary property, and what they should do with it.
There are four issues here: (a) who gets the royalties (if any) from the work; (b) who has artistic control over one's published work; (c) what is to be done with any unfinished manuscripts that are left lying around after one is gone; and (d) what is to be done with one's online presence.