Good Things Jar and the Art(ifact) of Remembering

Earlier this week, Mozart Guerrier retweeted this cool New Year’s idea:

What struck me about the idea were the jar and the end-of-the-year instruction. It’s not just about the regular practice of positive reflection. It’s about encouraging reflection in a very simple way. Even if you don’t read the notes at the end of the year, the jar full of colorful notes will serve as a constant reminder of the good that’s happening in your life.

Most of us tend to use artifacts mostly as a real-time tool. When I write something down, it helps me and potentially others get clear in the moment. That’s a good thing. But if you don’t find a way to revisit the artifact later, you’re wasting your artifact. The trick is to find ways to support remembrance. The jar is a simple, wonderful hack.

A few years ago, I picked up a simple hack from Rachel Weidinger that I now use with my teams. When her teams come up with a set of agreements (an excellent practice), she asks each member of her team to print them out, post them at their working space so he or she can always see them, and share a photo so that everyone else on the team knows that it’s up. It acts as a symbolic signature, but it also assures that everyone is constantly reminded of those agreements. Bonus: It works with distributed and face-to-face teams!

Virtual Beverage De-siloization Hack

The Management Innovation eXchange (MIX) is a great community around reinventing management. My friend, Chris Grams, is one of the community builders there, and one of my past projects (the Wikimedia Strategic Planning process) was a finalist in its Management 2.0 competition.

A few weeks ago, the MIX decided to harness its own community onto itself, hosting a Hack the MIX Hackathon. Chris pinged me about it, and so I started poking around to see what people were saying.

There were lots of great ideas, but it didn’t feel like much of a hackathon, because it felt like many were treating this process as way to propose things for somebody else to implement. Hacking is all about doing, and there were already a great community  and a plethora of ideas that were ripe for the picking.

So I decided to contribute a hack that I would also do. I discovered ideas posted by Aaron Anderson, a professor at San Francisco State University’s College of Business, and Susan Resnick West, a professor at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication, that really resonated with me. They were all about implementation and about building community.

I decided I wanted to do both of what they suggested: get to know people in the community better (and Susan and Aaron in particular) and look for excuses to actually try some of these hacks. So I invited Susan and Aaron to a virtual coffee over Google Hangout (my virtual beverage de-siloization hack), and I promised the MIX community that we would share what we discussed with everybody.

We spoke this morning, and it was delightful. Here’s the video:

Here are three brief takeaways:

  • It was super fun getting to know Aaron and Susan, who are both doing cool stuff and who are both great people. Both Aaron and Susan have their curriculums available online.
  • Susan’s story about an Annenberg Innovation Lab hack (the Think-Do process) was a finalist in a previous MIX competition, and it seemed like something we’d like to experiment with. So we’re going to try it, hacking the hack as we see fit, and we’ll share what we learn. If you want to play too, add your name in the comments here or in the comments section below.
  • The MIX site is a community hub, but that doesn’t mean that all community activity needs to happen there. Furthermore, not everyone has to agree on something before you do something. We showed that by using Google Hangouts to get to know each other and to brainstorm ways to play together. We’ll now go back to the MIX to share what we did.