Scott D Anthony on how he removed 70% of recurring meetings from his diary, balancing manager time with maker time, and his go-to locations for doing focused work.

Scott: I’ll never forget what Clay said. Clay, very kindly said, the way that he wrote his books was to give a bunch of talks. And by giving a bunch of talks, an argument will begin to form in his head, he would write the argument down. Then, he would put additional details behind it, and that was the way that a book would be created.

Scott: Amantha, it’s a true pleasure to be here.

Amantha: Wonderful. Now, you’re the former managing partner at Innosight. So, you spent six years in that role, which is 100 person global innovation and strategy consulting firm, founded by Clayton Christensen. And you’ve also written, I think it’s seven books, is that correct? Have I lost count?

Scott: Yeah, seven books is correct.

Amantha: Wonderful. What I want to start with, is I want to know how you balance maker versus manager time. And for those that are not familiar with this concept, this comes from Paul Graham, who’s one of the founders of Y Combinator. He talks about how the world runs on manager time, which is typically in half or one hour increments, because that’s how long meetings go for.
And that manager time can get in the way of maker time, which is typically in increments of two, or three, or four hours. Where people that are building things can really get into flow and get it stuck into focused work. And given you’re, on the one hand, you’re a manager, but on the other hand you’re a maker, particularly with your writing, how were you balancing those two worlds in your life?

Amantha: I want to delve into the airplane time, because that’s definitely a common theme that comes up in this podcast. How do you prepare for a flight, where you want to do maker time, to get the most out of it?

Amantha: Do you set yourself goals of what you want to achieve on flights?

Amantha: That’s really cool. And I’m curious, when you’re not in flight and you’ve got a normal week in Singapore, let’s say, do you have daily or weekly rituals that you find just set you up for a successful day or week?

Amantha: That’s very interesting. Obviously, a large part of your maker is writing. I remember reading, in one of your books, you said that a publisher said to you that 90% of business books that customers purchase are never read, which is quite a disturbing statistic, but it definitely resonates. What motivates you to write books?

Amantha: I think that one of the things that you’re particularly great at is finding unique and really sticky ways to express ideas. Like, I really like your Seven Deadly Sins of Innovation, I think that’s a really lovely way of expressing some of the problems that companies run into with innovation. I want to know, what’s your process for coming up with these ideas and frameworks, I guess? What does that look like, for you?

Amantha: I particularly love the zombie project concept, we talk about that a lot with our clients, as well. I want to know, can you explain what that idea is, to listeners that are not familiar with it? And where did that idea come from, because it’s really unique and it’s very interesting?

Amantha: I’m interested in, in your own working life, what are some zombies that you’ve identified for yourself and successfully killed?

Amantha: Can you give me an example or two, of those meetings that you’ve now gotten rid of, and no one has even noticed or cared?

Amantha: Now, in the world of consulting, and also in the world of writing, there are a lot of rejections and setbacks to deal with. I’m wondering, what is your strategy for dealing with those rejections and setbacks that are an inevitable part of the line of work that you do?

Amantha: Have you published it on the Innosight website?

Scott: No, no, no, no. It’s just, it’s on my laptop. And that’s only because there actually is a shard of it that I think will be the basis for something else that I do. And that’s, I guess, another basic piece. Both of us, we tell our respective clients that when you go and try something and it doesn’t work commercially, that doesn’t mean that you fail. Because, often, the learning that comes from it will open up new avenues to grow.
Lots of people have written and talked about this. And this, I think, will be an example of it. So, the innovation lesson from my third kid, Harry, I think, actually, will be something that will be an anchor of one of the next articles that I work on. I have hesitated to publish it because I want to use a piece of it for other purposes.

Amantha: That’s cool. With your writing, a lot of your writing is done with co-authors, which I imagine is a pretty unique type of collaboration. Personally, I’ve never done it myself, but I’m very curious, how do you co-write an article or a book? What does that process, in terms of collaboration, look like, for you?

Amantha: That’s interesting, getting that insight. Another question I have for you is, what is something, like a way of working, that you maybe used to do but stopped doing? Like, what’s something that you used to do, in terms of, I don’t know, it might have been a habit, or a strategy, but you now find that it no longer works for you, and you changed?

Amantha: I guess that then begs the question, how do you create a presentation?

Amantha: Excellent. Now, I want to finish the interview with a few questions around what you’re currently consuming. Because I think it can be so hard for the average person to know, what should they consume in terms of books, and podcasts, and so forth. There’s so much information out there. So, to start with books, what are a couple of great books that you’ve read recently?

Amantha: Definitely. How about podcasts? What are a couple of podcasts that you’re consuming at the moment?

Scott: It’s interesting that the podcast revolution, at least for me, has just not really caught. I’ve participated in podcasts, I’ve listened to specific episodes tied to those podcasts in which I participated. Innovation Ecosystem, in Europe, anything that Amantha does, I would highly recommend. But I’m not a regular podcast listener.
The audio stimuli I receive is music. I listen to music when I’m in between things, but I really like to read. I don’t process video information, I don’t like listening to things. I really like reading, because it’s just the pace at which I consume things, it’s faster than those other two forums. So, I’m not really a big podcast connoisseur. In fact, I’m not a podcast connoisseur at all.

Amantha: Oh, given you like reading things, are there any newsletters that you subscribe to, and actually look forward to receiving?

Amantha: Definitely. Definitely. And what are your favorite tools for testing new business ideas?

Scott: So, favorite tools for testing new business ideas is … This is, again, the Christensen’s advice from so many years ago. It’s being in front of real people and talking to them about it. I mean, a lot of my prototyping is mental prototyping that will lead to some form of a PowerPoint slide. Which might be nothing more than a picture, that I can use to then tell a story. To me, it’s a great way to test new ideas, it’s just talking them out with people.
Of course, sometimes, we will go a little bit deeper and try something out as a new consulting offering, or process, or pedagogy, or whatever. But, at least, for me, a lot of it is presenting, listening to myself trying to explain the concept. Because, if you can’t explain it, then it probably isn’t going to work that well. Seeing how people react to it, and then going from there.

Amantha: Awesome. Finally, Scott, where can people find you, and learn more about you, and Innosight?

Scott: So, my Twitter feed is @scottdanthony. At LinkedIn, I’m LinkedIn profile, Scott D. Anthony, www.innosight.com. My email address is santhony@innosight.com. I live a quasi public life, so it’s not that hard to track me down.

Amantha: Fantastic. Fantastic. Well, look, I’ve loved this chat, Scott, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Scott: Now, thank you very much Amantha, I appreciate the time as always. And it’s a real privilege to participate in this discussion.

Amantha: Hello there, that’s it for today’s episode. If you liked it, there are plenty of others that you might also enjoy. Such as my chat with Mia Freedman, about her trick for overcoming procrastination. And my interview with Rachel Botsman, who shares her one minute alternative to mindfulness.
Finally, it’s great getting feedback from listeners, such as yourself. So, feel free to give this podcast a review in iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you like this episode, make sure you hit the subscribe button, so that you can be alerted whenever new episodes are released. See you next time.

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