The Beauty of Art part 13

Hello all,

It is time for another Beauty of Art quiz.

Please let me know:
how the painting makes you feel - and if you know / want to guess -  the name of the painting and of the artist.

As usual the answers will come in a future blog post, including information about your comments about how the painting makes you feel.


The importance of pruning your (issue) tree

We have several fruit trees in our garden. From the kitchen window I can see two of them; an apple tree and a pear tree.

The apple tree gives us beautiful flowers, fruits and shade. It has also been a great climbing tree for our cats and kids, not to mention a great place to put a swing on. The tree has given us more than we have given the tree, and now is it leaning considerably.

Maybe if we would have done a better job pruning it, it would still stand straight.

Apple trees are not the only trees that need pruning. Issue trees do too.

In the course Driving Strategic Impact, an issue tree is described as a problem solving tool that breaks a problem down into MECE pieces. MECE is short for Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive.

Let's try this tool on the problem we used as an example in The power of a simple problem statement:

How can I use each week the way I want to?

This question, the problem statement, is the root of the tree. The branches are the breakdown of the problem into more manageable pieces. To use the week the way we want to, we can do less of the things we don't want to do and more of the things we want to do. Let's add them as branches to the tree:

These branches are MECE - there is no overlap and they collectively answer the question at the root.

The next step is to break down even more, adding branches until the questions become easy to answer. By answering each question the root problem will eventually get solved as well. I hope the below issue tree makes it easy to solve the root problem.

As I said in the beginning, there is also a pear tree in our garden. When we moved into our more than 100 year old house, we thought the old tree would die within a year or two.

We have now lived in our house for 20 years and the tree is still standing there. It has, however, stopped giving us pears. Maybe it is time to listen to what Lotta, an aboriginist told me some years ago:

"Annika, trees don't live forever. Maybe you should plant a new one."

Whenever we do plant a new tree, we will make sure we prune it regularly so it can be of great use. Just like a well-pruned issue tree.


The cover!

"I want you to use the picture of this rose, add a skyline for a city and a skyline with mountains. And then I want it to still look similar to the cover of the previous book."
Those were my instructions to the graphical designer at the publisher. And, just as with the other books, it surprises me how my ideas can be turned into a great cover. :)

Those of you who have read Qui sine peccato est probably understand that the city skyline represents Ingelrike, while the mountains are from Arniak. The rose, the symbol I use for the coming book release Fredsrosor, connects them.

So, here it is, the cover of Primam lapidem mittat:

I like it. I hope you do too.


Yes, of course it hurts

Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking.
Why else would the springtime falter?
Why would all our ardent longing
bind itself in frozen, bitter pallor?
After all, the bud was covered all the winter.
What new thing is it that bursts and wears?
Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking,
hurts for that which grows
and that which bars.

If you are Swedish, the above text may be very familiar, yet sound strange. 
It is an English translation by David McDuff of the first part of the poem "Visst gör det ont" by Karin Boye. 

Ja visst gör det ont när knoppar brister.
Varför skulle annars våren tveka?
Varför skulle all vår heta längtan
bindas i det frusna bitterbleka?
Höljet var ju knoppen hela vintern.
Vad är det för nytt, som tär och spränger?
Ja visst gör det ont när knoppar brister,
ont för det som växer
och det som stänger.

At the moment there are no buds breaking here in Sweden, instead the leaves are showing off beautiful colours just before they fall to the ground.

Autumn is beautiful in September and October while November is a month that can be hard to enjoy in Sweden. I am happy that I, together with the artist Hanna Herngren and the ballad singers Hillo, will make November a bit brighter with the book release of Primam Lapidem Mittat.

Hillo will mix songs and poems. If you like Karin Boye´s poems, I recommend you come!


The blurb for Primam Lapidem Mittat is ready!

A blurb. I still think it is a strange, funny-sounding word. If you are wondering what blurb means and what the history of blurbs is, you can read about it in Qui sine peccato est - the blurb .

Here is it, the blurb for Primam lapidem mittat. I hope it makes you (those of you who can read Swedish) want to read it!

 Hon räckte honom papperet.  
”Det är på arniakska. Varför skulle någon ge mig ett brev på arniakska?” 

Så du orsakar hellre oskyldiga människors liv än du berättar för världen vad Kendu har gjort? Tro inte att du kommer undan. Snart kommer världen att veta. Det finns ingen återvändo Leyah Londo. Du är förlorad. 

Silaz såg upp med hopdragna ögon. 
Leyah”, sa han långsamt. ”Vad har du gjort?”  

Romanen tar oss tillbaka till Ingelrike och Arniak; två länder med ett problematiskt förflutet och en komplicerad nutid. Gisslandramat som riskerade journalisten Leyah Londos liv och förändrade allt hon trodde på är över. Men faran för hennes liv är kvar.  Kommer hotet från Ingelrike eller Arniak? Eller kanske från henne själv? 
Primam Lapidem Mittat är uppföljaren till Qui sine peccato est. Det är ännu en av Annika Rosendahls kärleksfyllda äventyrsromaner om livets viktiga frågor.


Working for money - or fun?

If you had all the money you wanted, would you still work?
Most people say no. For many, the main reason for working is to earn money. To put food on the table and pay for different activities for the kids and themselves.

A lot of people assume work is by definition different from fun. Just listen to these words and notice what you associate with them.

Work week vs Weekend

I hate Mondays vs Thank God it's Friday!

 Not to mention the expression work-life balance.  As if they are two different things on each side of a scale. While in reality they are connected. (Everything is.)

Picture: dimitrisvetsikas1969 on Pixabay

We can take a lesson from bears. They fish to get food, to survive. Just like we work to get food, to survive. But they also have fun and they for sure do not think about fishing as something separate from life. 

Picture: Skeeze on Pixabay

If you  - like most people - work for the money:  Make sure it is not only for the money. 
Have fun. 
 Be a bear.


The power of a simple problem statement

Do you ever tell people that you cannot do something because "you don't have time?"
Do you ever choose to not do what you really want, for the same reason?
People often ask me how I find the time to have a full time interesting and demanding job, be a mother of three lovely kids and write novels. Partly it is because I do not see lack of time as a given, but as problem that can be solved. After reading this post, I hope you will do the same!

am currently participating in an on-line course from Institute for Personal Leadership (IPL) about Driving Strategic Impact. To drive strategic impact, it is important to have a structured problem solving process. Some of the tools we learn are useful also in our everday life, like the simple yet powerful  problem statement. There are three guidelines to follow when formulating a problem statement. In this post I will apply these guidelines to the common "I don't have time" problem.

Photo: Tero Vesalainen, Pixabay

Guideline 1: 
Phrase the problem as a question (despite that it is commonly referred to as a statement).
How can I find more time?
That is a good start isn't it? Suddenly our minds start looking for a solution since we are not just stating a fact, we are asking ourselves a question.

Guideline 2: 
Phrase the question so it guides action.

Our first version of the question does not give much guidance. (Unless you believe in finding that 8th day in the week.) A question that gives guidance can be: 
How can I use the time I have the way I want?
Guideline 3: 
Use the right granularity.

If we look into using the time the way we want to, we should specify a level of detail that will be helpful. Are we looking at our entire lifespan? This year? The vacation or the work week?

Most people will have an increased satisfaction in life if they use the time the way they want every regular week. My suggestion is therefore to phrase the problem as follows:
How can I use each week the way I want to?
I can guarantee you will have a bigger chance of doing what you want with your time if you use this problem statement, rather than the standard "I don´t have time" statement.

Let's take another,  more business like, example.  The perceived problem can be that we do not sell enough. To create a good problem statement, we will first turn it into a question.
How can we sell more?
This formulation does not give us much guidance. We can increase sales in different ways. Do we want to focus on developing new products to increase our sales, or should we stick to the products we have, but increase our marketing and sales efforts? There are many different alternatives to choose from. Let's select one approach and state the problem statement in a way that provides guidance:
How can we increase sales based on our current product portfolio?
To support us even more, we can increase the level of detail:
How can we increase sales this year in our main markets, based on our current product portfolio?

Now we have two problem statements that fulfill the 3 guidelines taught in the course Driving Strategic Impact. I hope you see that these statements trigger thoughts about how solve the problems.

A correctly formulated problem statement is useful, but the real gain is when you formulate it together with others, ensuring you have a common understanding of what you want to achieve. 

Then this simple tool becomes very powerful.

Good luck!