Do-It-Yourself Tools for Leaders


October 15, 2011

Inspiration on how to be a better leader can come from anywhere.

I recently came across an interesting tool called D.I.Y Design It Yourself Deck by editors Alissa Faden and Ellen Lupton.  It caught my eye because it is a small box chock-full of cards with instructions on projects you can do yourself.  What I liked the most is the quality of the card stock and the images on each card.  It’s a vibrant look at how to use our visual and tactile senses to teach or learn.

Thinking about how our day-to-day world is changing with technology and how people spend time now thinking of ways to unplug gives me ideas of how to use different tools.  As a strong proponent of technology, even I can appreciate that there are times when it creates a mental overload of stimuli and I long for a more analog experience.  There is still value in holding paper in your hand or writing with a pencil or pen instead of typing on a computer, tablet or smartphone.

Using the idea of a do-it-yourself deck, I’d love to create a tool for leaders so they could pull out a card, a recipe of sorts, to find ideas on how to handle situations that arise.  Benefits of do-it-yourself cards for leaders:

  • Precision–  The information would need to be presented in a concise form due to space constraints.  There is no shortage of leadership information out in the world, often in book form.  Cards like these would force brevity, thus increase usefulness in the moment.
  • Size–  A small deck of cards is a good desk tool as well as being portable.
  • Versatility–  Cards can cover a wide array of topics that leaders face in managing their teams or departments.

I plan to play with this idea of creating a desk tool for leaders that they can pull out when they need a non-technical approach to human interaction.  What do you think?  Do you have any ideas of how to incorporate more simplistic presentation of traditional management skills?  Share with me in the comments…


  • Trish your post today caught my eye- for a DIY positive attitude tool that I leverage.
    I read it somewhere and adopted it-
    I keep a daily journal – it takes less than 10 minutes, but helps me stay positive and productive- here you go-

    1. Write 3 things you are grateful for
    2. Write down a recent positive experience
    3. Name a strength you have that you intend to leverage today

    I find sticking to this, keeps that voice in my head focused in the right direction- and it calms me in even the most hectic times. Also, interestingly enough, I never run out of things to write. It is not hard to do.

    • @Debbie- Thank you for sharing how you journal. I’ve never structured my day by starting like that and I think it would be a good exercise to do daily, like you do. What a great reminder of what is important. I especially like item #3. So glad you shared!

  • Great idea Trish…tools that provide timely support and are easy to use are fantastic. (But once it’s complete I’ll be the one asking for an iPhone app of that deck!)

    • @Jay- I love the idea of making it something desktop at first, then an app. Great idea. If/ when I create this, I’ll send you one so that you can start working on the app. We’ll make a million $$$$…. 😉

  • I like the idea! However, the advantage of using technology is to easily search for a given scenario. If it would take me too long to look up, I would probably just wing it. I look forward to seeing what you come up with though.

    • @Jon- Thanks for weighing in. I agree, I love technology myself and being able to look up information quickly is a real advantage. I’m thinking cards like these could be very specific to the organization so that a deck for leaders could have everything from how to give feedback, how to have the conversation to terminate someone, how to handle a FMLA request, to how to decide which codes to use in a form in the systems used in the company. If I actually create this, I’ll be sure to share on the blog. Thanks for commenting Jon.

  • I love your “just in time” DIY for training. An add-on to your idea or other way of thinking of this would be to have just in time videos on leadership or interpersonal skills. Example: You’re training someone to lead their teams through change. You could use a short video clip of Intel Co-founder Andy Grove who successfully assessed risk and “listened for” change.

    Perhaps these online leadership videos are another resource for DIY training?

    • @Helen- I love the idea of just in time video training. We did some of that at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and had success. I’d love to implement that in my current company and have little “quick bites” of video learning. Thanks for the comments and the link.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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