Thinking

Start a Fire

Disruptive innovations pose simple questions about the status quo. So how do you ask the right question? And can the same technique be applied to every day problems?

What if we all worked from home? What if we didn't own anything anymore? What if we did not had to charge our laptop? What if we would never ran out of printing paper? What if junk food was healthy? What if we could crowdfund an entire city? Steve Jobs once asked: What if we had 1000 songs in our pocket.

When we deconstruct stories of innovations you find many of them start with a question. These questions are often considered a bit provocative or even a little crazy. Their goal is not to solve a problem but rather to find a problem.

If Einstein had one hour to solve a problem, he would devote 55 minutes to figure out the right question to answer. Peter Drucker - management guru - warned us that there's nothing more dangerous than the right answer to the wrong question. Once the question is clear the answer would follow naturally.

So why is problem finding so hard? Why are we so addicted to solving problems but not finding problems? Why are so many of us reluctant to ask them? Primary because we fear that others will find us incompetent or uninformed. As people gain more experience and expertise in their field they are supposed - as experts - to supply answers, not more questions.

In school we reward answers, not asking good questions. Kids start out by asking endless why questions. They tinker with their surrounding, wondering what would happen if... But gradually they ask fewer questions as they progress through school. Teachers provide the questions, and students are trained to solve them. The questions they do ask become smaller and more prescribed.

It's not just a matter of being willing to question, it's also important to know how to ask questions. How do you come up with the right question? Not just questions that lead to disruptive innovation. But also questions that would improve every day problems.

Start somewhere

Most problems today are creative problems. They are inherently unpredictable, inconsistent, and non-repeatable. There is simply no way to precisely define the goal in advance because of too many unknows. But you have to start somewhere. But how do you set a course when the destination is unknown? This is were it becomes important to imagine the goal. We can't really conceive it yet, but it's out there. In knowledge work we need our goals to be fuzzy.

Find your focus

But how fuzzy should a fuzzy goal be? At one end of the spectrum is the clear, specific, quantifiable goal, such as improve team by 20%. At the other end is the goal so vague that - in practice - iit is mpossible to achieve. Like the beauty pageant that wishes for world peace. Both are valid goals. A narrow goal leaves no room for intuition and creativity. A goal that is too wide lacks sufficient definition  to focus the creative activity on. So, the short answer is, the right question somewhere in the middle. Only by further exploring the space the right question will emerge.

TIP:
Map your questions on the Golden Circle by Simon Sinek. Why questions are more likely to start a fire. What questions are too detailed to provide creative insight. Questions in the What area can me moved to How are Why by asking why. Sounds simple right.Try it, it works

Start a fire

Fuzzy goals must be aligned with people's passion and energy for the project. You can have the right question but the wrong audience. The right question will spark the imagination, a call to adventure. Start a fire in the wrong way or in the wrong place, and you may soon find that things are out of control. It's this passion and enery that gives creative projects their momentum. The right question, will get you the right result.

TIP:
We often ask one question and get locked in by - and even obsessed - by that question. Write down 10 different versions of the same question as fast as you can. Some might not make sense at all but most often we find a different and better version of the same question. This often reflects in either making the focus more narrow or wider. 

Either you create the questions up front or ask your team members to create them for you. Afterwards you can prioritize or even judge them based on different criteria: passion, priority, and other constraints. Again, you can't force people to be creative on a topic they don't care about.

Make it tangible

First, find your focus. Second, design for outcome. What kind of result do we expect? Is it to generate new ideas, to reach agreement, make though decisions, unravel complexity, make a project plan, share information, build community, or even have a working prototype. What are we going to do with the results? Is this just a brain exercise or will the idea be pitched to the ceo tomorrow? Creativity works best when the goal and expectations about the results are clear. Make the result tangible it will give a sense of accomplishment when you are done.

Learn to let go

Start somewhere, but once you embark on this adventure be sure to let go. Since you know very little about the challenge that lies ahead it's very likely that your goal will change as you try out ideas and learn more about what works and what doesn't.

Asking the right question does not come easy. Practise every day using every objects. What if bananas would come in cubes? What if my dog could take herself out for a walk? What if I would live underground? What if anyone would actually read this blog ;)

Daniel Pink wrote in his book To Sell Is Human: They key to problem solving is problem finding. If I know what my problem is, I can most likely solve it. If I don't know my problem I might need help finding it.

How do you start a fire?

 

Sharpen Your Focus

In a world filled with distraction, attention is our competitive advantage. To spend it wisely we must develop a better understanding of our own tempations, and learn new ways to carve out tilme to truly focus on creative work.

Get addicted to your routine

Build your routine. Repeat it until the new habit is ingrained and can be completed without much effort and thought. After a while - like any addiction - your mind will start to crave for it. Build it from scratch, small steps, it takes time to get rid of the old addiction. First you gain an hour, before you know it, you own the day.

Make sure you do not spent your energy on maintaining your routine. Your routine should be lightweight and non-intrusive. Small things that make all the difference. Have a checklist ready and make sure you have plenty of options and be flexible when you carve out time.

Block time

Block time for uninterrupted work. It is impossible to be truly free from distraction. However, we can decide to defend it. It requires self-control, willpower, and lots of experiments to get it right. Afterall, what works for me, probably does not work for you.

Seek balance between doing uninterrupted creative work - exploiting your IQ capital - and being constant available. Block time in your agenda for creative work. Once the habit of uninterrupted focus is ingrained you will find it easier to block time ad-hoc, when you need it. Therefor, truly own your routine.

Focus when you're fresh

Tackle the tasks that require your creative focus early in your day. Self-control declines as the day goes by. Don't spent half your mind power on resisting them. Make sure to renew that energy throughout the day before it gets depleted. Once you get distracted, it's really hard to get back into the flow.

Kill the background noise

Turn off all your mobile devices, email, and any apps not related to your task. Distraction comes in many forms. It always finds a way in. However, we can decide to defend ourselves and be prepared when it does.

Internet, social media, mobile devices, and co-workers are the obvious suspects. But when you work form home it gets even worse. Chores, kids, the neighbor mowing the lawn, and the dog craving for attention or playing with her squeaky toy, quickly become a source of distraction or annoyance.

Self-doubt, anxiety, and other mental states can all drain your focus. Train yourself to spot these moments of distraction. Most negative mental states can be eliminated, or at least reduced to a point that they no longer take control over behaviour, by using simple breathing techniques. 

Move around

Don't do all creative work in the same place. Find a dedicated space for each type of work. Either a fixed location or a certain type of space. Train your brain what is ecpected from it when you enter that space. You will feel more relaxed, focused, and gain energy from following your routine.

Celebrate progress

Finish your work. Otherwise it becomes this annoying mental itch that just does not go away. Making progress is a huge motivator. Make your daily achievements visible and celebrate progress. Do not fight distraction but reward yourself with positive distractions for a job well done.

Give your brain a break

Alternate complex creative work with more - mindless - tasks. Unlike computers, human beings aren't meant to operate constantly, at high speed, for long periods of time. Rather, we're designed to move rhythmically between spending and renewing energy. Give your brain time to refuel. Chores, sports, or even taking a bath, provides the brain with dedicated time to process complex problems in a relaxed state of mind. 

Open up to serendipity

Just for a minute, ask yourself, what do you do in between meetings, on your way to work, over lunch, or even while walking the dog. Do you take time to pauze and reflect or do you jump right into the information stream? Are you in the present or struggling to catch up with other people's priorities?

Alternate periods of connectedness with periods of truly being present. Be friendly, enjoy a casual conversation. Who knows, that might just be your next customer. Share your story and passion with strangers. It might spark their life or they could spark yours.

About me

I wrote this article sitting behind my writing desk. The only thing I do at this desk is write. There is nothing on the desk expect my laptop, some paper sketches, and a bottle of water. A white desk facing a white wall. No distractions. I only write in the mornings, after I had my first cup of coffee on the balcony, rain or no rain. I listen to one or two songs that boost my energy. At that point my entire body craves for dancing. I write. 

Today, construction workers decided to do some drilling in the appartment block next to mine. I don't mind. However it makes it impossible to write. But I write in the morning. I put on my sound isolating headset - which normally spits out heavy beats - but today all is quiet. Construction workers are still drilling their holes, I just don't hear them anymore.

It's now time to leave this space, see you next time.

Recommended books

Happy Melly Labs: Lessons learned

A few months ago I started a program called Happy Melly Labs. The goal is to support people who want to build things that make Melly or ourselves happy. Help people run experiments, validate hypothesis, and grow their market

The idea was to start simple. Design a process, visualize the experiments, and track their progress. Meanwhile, a few months down the road, multiple experiments are up and running. Time to learn how we are doing.

Management 3.0 is growing market. DARE events have been proven valuable, became a Happy Melly Brand, and is ready to conquer the world. We build things for ourselves, like the Happy Melly Index that allows us to calcule regional training prices for trainings, events, ... based upon the purchasing power parity. The new course Collaboration Superpowers is almost ready to go. New books, Business XL/XS executive event, Happy Melly API, and the awesome PeerReview application all many others made significant progress.

The status of each experiment or Happy Melly Brand can be tracked on our public Trello board. I'm pretty sure you have a great idea to make Melly happy.

Lessons learned

Last week, I hosted the first Happy Melly Labs Hangout. Holiday season and different timezones do not always make it possible to get everyone in the same call. Therefor, these results are part of an ongoing retrospective. 

The purpose of the first Hangout was to get to know each other and share experiences running experiments. Trust and visibility are key in any healthy network. If you wanted to start an experiment, this was the place to get the right vibe.

Below an overview of feedback gathered from the first Hangout. Each of these topics need further investigation. I have set up a public Happy Melly Labs board in Trello to share findings and progress.

  • Diversity in experiments is key, both in size and type
  • Number of small experiments need to be increased
  • Large experiments, like tools, courses, and books need smaller MVPs
  • Hypothesis and definition of validated need to be more clear
  • Curation on Lean Canvas needs more community feedback
  • Being able to assemble teams quickly to validate MVP
  • Time and money is always an issue, funding model is required
  • Better overview of assets, skills, within the network
  • Map services (potential) to stages in the pipeline
  • Peer mentorship of experiments
  • Inflow of ideas must be increased, only a few survive anyway
  • Imagination must be sparked, curently hard to understand what can be build
  • Regular meetups, pitches, demos, retrospectives on Hangout
  • Hackathons and other ways to get the community engaged
  • Video to explain the purpose, benefits, and working of Happy Melly Labs

Thanks to the follwing people who participated in the first Hangout.

  • Philipp Engstler (CH)
  • Robie Wood (US)
  • Mischa Ramseyer (CH)

There were two last minute cancellations due to timezone confusion. A participant from Iran could not join us due to US sanctions which denied him access to many of Google service including Google Hangout. I will post my learnings hosting Google Hangouts in a next post.

See you next time and don't forget to join the Happy Melly community.

Collaboration, the Ultimate Definition

Truth, I could not find a working definition for Collaboration. At least not one that I agree upon. But that was just the point. Let me share some insights that led to this conclusion.

I'm working on a Happy Melly Experiment called Collaboration Superpowers. You might already guess what it is about. A course - for now - designed around the problem of collaboration.

Each Happy Melly Experiment - you should start yours by the way - follows the principles of Lean Startup. Step one, what's the problem we are trying to solve?

I consider myself a veteran in the space of collaboration. My background as agile coach, Gamestorming and Innovation Games facilitator have provided me with some unique insights.

Over the years, I learned - from running courses, consulting, as doing customer interviews - that there are - not few, but many - misunderstandings about why we must collaborate

While Simon Sinek talks about the Golden Circle I like to call the current situation the Circle of Decay. When you do not understand the Why, you'll never figure out How to solve the problem, without that every step you take will be the wrong one. 

I could be mistaken, that would not be the first time, or second, or third... We're often biased about our own insights and beliefs. Threfor, I put on my novice pants and shirt - don't wear hats - and went out to prove myself wrong

Has the word Collaboration lost all its meaning, or is there still hope?

Data gathering techniques used are:

  • Google keywords (top hits)
  • Adwords keywords (combined keywords)
  • Google Trends
  • Twitter hashtags

Google Define

col·lab·o·ra·tion
/kəˌlabəˈrāSHən/

Noun
1. The action of working with someone to produce or create something.
2. Something produced or created in this way.

Wikipedia

Collaboration is working with each other to do a task. It is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together to realize shared goals.

The Guardian

The Guardian has a dedicated section on Collaboration covering topics like:

  • Collaboration economy (partnerships)
  • Challenges while scaling up
  • Cross-sector collaboration to solve global problems
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Regulation impeding innovation

Harvard Business Review

The Harvard Business Review also has a dedicated section on Collaboration, covering topics like:

  • The economics of mass collaboration
  • Quantity vs quality in collaboration
  • Team performance
  • Managing high-stakes partners
  • Process improvements

Collaboration 2.0

Next, the search results moved from big news sites to tool vendors. This particular space is also known as Collaboration 2.0. Creating online workspaces to connect people and ideas using the web as a platform.

  • Cisco: Working better together on any device
  • Atalssian: Content creation, collaboration, and knowledge sharing for teams

The list of tools is endless, dominating the search results for many pages.

  • Yammer
  • Skype
  • Sharepoint
  • Zoho
  • Teambox

These search results should be interpreted as following. News sites highlight the problems we are facing, the answer to these can be found in moving your workspace into the cloud and use the appropriate tools. That's at least how a novice person would interpret the results.

Collaboration 1.0

Collaboration 2.0 also tells us something about Collaboration 1.0. People and organizations that are not using the web as a collaborative platform. If we take away the cloud, what we are left with is the physical workspace, people, and documents. 

Collaboration 3.0

Any of the search results returned information about Collaboration 3.0. An additional search unveiled the following story.

Boeing, which unveiled its 787 Dreamliner aircraft on July 8, built on the innovations begun with the design of the 777 aircraft more than a decade ago. In 1995, 50 percent of the 777 was manufactured by external partners. With the Dreamliner, Boeing took that concept one step further. Seventy percent of the aircraft is not just being manufactured but was designed concurrently by partners located in 11 countries, and then assembled virtually in a computer model maintained by Boeing.

- source: KMWorld

This story is about complex cross-industry collaboration. It has nothing to do with online workspaces or shared documents. While Collaboration 1.0 is about the physical world, Collaboration 2.0 moves people and documents to the web, but with Collaboration 3.0 the eco-system of organization and industries becomes the platform for collaboration.

Boeing’s Collaboration 3.0 platform allowed the company to cut the time required to complete the aircraft from an industry-standard six years to four-and-a-half years.

Collaboration 4.0

I got curious. was anyone talking - or rather envisioning - Collaboration 4.0? Let's find out. There was one article by SAP. Unfortunately, not what we were looking for.

The Business Package for Supplier Collaboration 4.0 runs on SAP NetWeaver Portal 7.0 to create a self-service, collaborative environment for supplier companies.

TED

You can't go wrong with TED. An unlimited set of inspiring talk by the most influential people on the planet. Surprise, they even have a section on Collaboration. These are some of the topics covered:

  • Patents and regulation
  • Curreny of the new economy
  • Massive scale online collaboration
  • Open science / learning / architecture / economics / ...
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Sharable future
  • We are makers

Adwords Keywords

Ranked idea grouping by Adwords keyword search for Collaboration:

  • Collaboration tools
  • Definition
  • Online collaboration
  • Collaboration software
  • Team collaboration
  • Collaborative business

Twitter

The contrast between Twitter and Google search could not be bigger, here are the top findings:

  • Fellowship / leadership
  • Music / art / design / product development
  • Innovation and creativity
  • Mashups
  • Social and interactions
  • Agile retrospectives
  • Open source
  • Tools (obviously)
  • I also learned that Rihanna's a slut for fucking some guy (interesting!)

Key Takeaways

  • Epic problems in our collaborative economy covered by news sites
  • Big lack of quality content on how to solve these issues
  • Available content is too narrow and outdated
  • Collaboration 2.0 currently led by tool vendors
  • Collaboration 3.0 is about tackling complexity, together
  • Twitter indicates Collaboration 3.0 is on the rise

Next Steps

Next, I'll be conducting some Hangouts on Air sessions with different Personas to further investigate the current and future state of Collaboration.

I will announce the Hangouts on the Collaboration Superpowers G+ page (new).
Be sure to tune in.

Build Your Routine

Take a step back and look at your daily routine. Do you put creative work first? Or do you spent the best part of the day working on other people's priorities. Hoping tomorrow will be better?

The world is changing fast. Don't get caught off-guard. Don't surrender to the recentless push of information and requests. Don't let bad habits creep in. Don't waste your energy

Unlike computers, human beings aren't meant to operate constantly, at high speed, for long periods of time. Rather, we're designed to move rhythmically between spending and renewing energy. Make sure you spent your energy on the things that matters to you most.

Work has changed. I used to drive to work, sit at the office, go home, spent time on leisure. Now, I wake up, I'm already at work, and work doesn't stop until I go to bed. 

Work is now in the cloud. I can access it anytime anywhere. Unfortunately, it has also found a way to access me anytime anywhere. True mobility comes with a price. Connectivity is relentless. Emails, tweets, calls, requests and information are being pushed to me 24/7. I'm expected not to surrender, not to let bad habits creep in, and take responsibility of my own work

So how do I put creative work first, and reactive work second? It's actually not that hard. I own the process. I reflect on the way I work and own the responsibility of fixing it.

Most teams have this moment of reflection built in. However, individuals hardly ever have off-site with themselves. Seldom do we take the time to stop doing what we are doing, and take the time to think about how and why we're doing it. This is how bad habits creep in.

Own the process

Start by taking a step back, map out your work, and gradually make improvements. It's scary, the first time you get confronted with your own unproductivity. But that's ok, It can only get better from that point on. Don't treat all work equal. Find the routine work, and the ones that need your full creativity. Play around with your workflow until you find your sweet spot.

Make sure you have different routines for different occasions like holidays, weekends, travel, and so on. Be flexible but always own the process. Build your daily todo list, I often use 3x3 post-its that map the most important items. But I also provide myself the freedom to rearrange them according to how I feel throughput the day. All the rest can wait until tomorrow.

Make sure you define start and end times. Especially when you work alone. Dedicate different times of the day to different activities. Creative work, meetings, reading, leisure, administration. Don't get trapped , avoid workaholism. Build your routine around self-actualization, not work life balance. You'll find it much more rewarding.

Prepare your mind

Don't just jump into your work. Part of your routine is preparing the mind for a particular kind of work. Have some coffee first, sit in the same seat, and listen to some music, or perhaps you like to do some cardio workout to get your heart pumping. The cumulative purpose of doing these things the same way every day is a way of saying to the mind it's time to get down to work. Do the same when you have finished your work. Celebrate your routine.

Key takeaways

  • Meaningful creative work first, reactive work second
  • Prepare your mind when it's time to get down to work
  • Commit to self-actualization 24/7 all year round
  • After spending your energy, renew your energy
  • Find those unproductive habits
  • Show up, don't wait for creativity to come to you

Recommended books

3 Reasons Organizers Love DARE

A DARE event is a new kind of event. An event that is all about empowering people to dare and take steps in order to enjoy better work. About making people feel confident in changing their organization.

But there is also another side to DARE
No, not a dark side.

A DARE event is also a new kind of event for organizers. It is all about empowering organizers to dare and run experiments in order to create events that are enjoyed by all. About making organizers feel confident in their job.

After all, you can only create a happy event if you are happy yourself!


An event with a purpose

Many events are organized around a single method or movement. Methods and movements come and go. Organizers often struggle to keep their audience engaged as fresh content diminishes rapidly.

A DARE event is organized around a purpose. While complexity increases single methods no longer address current problems. DARE is a new kind of event for a new kind of audience. And they are hungry for knowledge.


A cookbook that makes it a no-brainer

Organizing an event takes hard work and passion. And in the end, it all comes down to the day of the event. Did you select the right venue? Are people engaged and enjoying the program? Did you think about the little things? Do speakers have their Personal Assistant assigned? Are you being a good host? A real adventure, with all kinds of challenges. But it doesn't have to be that way.

That's why we are putting together a cookbook that captures best practices from years of experience hosting events and sharing ideas. From managing to designing, promoting, sponsoring and closing a DARE event. The big things, the little things. 


Rapid innovations - shared experiments

A DARE event is a truly unique experience. Therefor each DARE event should be better than - or different from - the previous one. Nobody wants to visit or organize the exact same event twice. That's boring. We aim for fun.

Traditional events have long feedback loops. If you organize only one event per year, the feedback loop, or innovation cycle, is also one year. That is unacceptable!

A DARE event is about running experiments. These experiments are tracked and shared with other organizers in what we call the DARE Labs. Allowing every DARE organizer to learn, experiment, and continuously innovate.


But that is not all

We can give you an international crowd, great communication material, and lots of PR. Updates on the latest trends in our network. Access to great speakers on all kinds of topics. A really good looking website. Event evaluations and other useful statistics. And the very best people to work with, graphic designers, writers, and goodie suppliers.


Interested?
Let's talk!

The Little Things

Life is about the little things. The way kids hold onto your finger instead of your whole hand. Laughing your socks off when animals sneeze. Freshly squeezed lemonade on a hot day. A genuine smile from the lady behind the reception desk. Finally getting out what was stuck in your shoe.

DARE 2013 was also all about the little things. Cool buttons instead of those advertisement signs you put around your neck. A barista serving the perfect espresso instead of canteen coffee that everyone dislikes. Happiness doors to gather real-time valuable feedback instead of pointless generic evaluation forms after the conference. Great posters that made the speakers feel like rock stars instead of boring bio pages in an already crowded printed version of the conference program. Working wifi - go figure - instead of lucky attempts to get your tweet out the door.

Little things make us feel good. Little things can also make us feel bad. Little things can turn a bad experience into a good one. Little things can turn a good experience into a bad one.

Organizers often punish their attendees by making them carry around - for days in a row - an ugly goodie bag with useless crap. At DARE people trampled each other - like it was a summer sale - to get hold of their favorite item from our goodie mountain which was stacked with valuable books, software licenses, and even a Tesla ride. 

Little things make us feel good. Litlle things take less effort than big things. Little things are much cheaper than big things. Little things just take a bit more creativity than big things.

People seemed to appreciate our regular newsletters. We kept them informed but also got them involved and shared their stories. Controversial speakers, surprising topics, and games, all combined in an unconventional venue defines what a DARE event is all about.

Little things make us feel good. Little things can also go horrible wrong. Organizers like to thank their speakers with a large bottle of champagne or wine, items that are not airport security check friendly. Even over-sized books that do not fit the hand luggage or exceed the weight limit.

Was it perfect? Heck no, some ideas worked great in theory but failed to reach our expectations in practice. You can't always predict what's going to happen when you unleash your idea on a few hundred attendees at once. The goal is to run experiments and learn by doing. Simple.

Each event will be a little bit better than the previous one. To be - really! - honest the fun part of running experiments is seeing them fail but then quickly come up with a tweaked or alternative version on the spot. Events should be fun, and not just for the attendees.

But why should we be the only ones having fun? 
That's why we're turning our experiences into a new service. The last month I have been defining and validating our value proposition with several potential and excisting event organizers and I'm excited to announce that already a few cities signed up. (Not telling yet, sorry)

Want to learn more?
Let's talk.

 

Let's Hangout #HMLabs

Posted in #HMLabs blog

There you are. I almost did not see you. There is so much going on here. Having fun? I hope so, this is your world now. Don't worry, you're not alone here. Look around. There's Craig, Mischa, Marta, Mike, Lisette, and many others. What are they all doing? Like you, they are exploring this strange new world.

I heard someone call this world Happy Melly. It seems we're all here because Melly needs our help. How can we help her? Not sure. Some settlers have already begun to work on their ideas. It's pretty amazing what they have come up with so far. You should check it out!

It's huge out here. Last week, I met up with two friendly explorers Mischa and Philipp. They have some wild ideas. Jurgen already found something that Melly really likes. I see you started making something yourself, what is it?

That just gave me a great idea. Let's all Hangout!
Share stories, get to know each other, showcase and play around with our ideas. Learn how we can help each other out.

Together, we can make Melly and ourselves happy in no time.

Hangout 001
August 15th - 20:00 CET
Google Hangout

Coming?
Please fill in the following Doodle

One Year Later

A year ago, I was forced to leave everything behind. A farewell to a place I've called home. I have to admit, it was harder as I'd hoped.

The plan: sell, donate, or give away almost everything I owned. I only wanted to keep those things that added value to my life. A fresh start.

There is an amazing amount of stuff in drawers and closets that - almost magically - turns up when you're actually emptying your house. It turned out to be a lot of work.

Boxes started to pile up. I packed all my clothes and decided to deal with them later. I threw away all my books, only a few architectural and work-related ones survived. Administration - unfortunately - took up 4 big boxes, I would take weeks to sort them out. Eventually I did, although it took months instead of weeks. I am now the proud owner of a paperless office.

Some boxes were filled with solely emotional artifacts. But that's OK - I'm also just human - I had no intention of erasing my past. We had some good times. 

The first night in my new place was very confronting. My home was empty, and cold. There was my old sofa, and some blankets. I also bought bathroom and kitchen supplies, not much else. Another room was filled with boxes.

The first weeks were an adventure. Kids loved it. We turned the sofa into our basecamp. We did not have a table nor chairs. Castle walls were constructed. Pirate ships emerged from emptied boxes. 

The disappointing thing is I ended up still buying a fair amount of new stuff. Perhaps my standards are just too high. Perhaps it's just hard to imagine doing without. There is also the joy of buying new stuff. 

Today, I'm mostly settled in. My home is pretty minimalistic, which is a great thing about starting from scratch. A few but only aesthetic items are still missing. My life however is still a mess. But that's OK, I have time. 

Lab Rats

I am not who you think I am. Not that I have a basement stuffed with animal organs preserved in jars. Nor do I dress up like a Pop Diva and sing songs from Titanic at The Lost Sailor's Pub until early Sunday morning...

I do however have a secret. That's my second confession in one month! I've almost earned my Super Trooper Badge at Lost Causes dot com.

As the night deepens, the room gets darker. One by one - like candles on a birthday cake - the bright lights in my street fade out. Unaware of what is about to take place…

My face - illuminated by the awaking of the machine - is now the only visible object in the room. A horrifying laugh thunders through the night as I execute my evil plans for world domination.

They call me Mad Scientist.
That is my name.
Happy Melly is my game.

You are my lab rats.