Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

Transmedia & Convergence Culture

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

from on .

Last week I spent some quality time researching and learning more about the concepts of transmedia storytelling and convergence as it relates to marketing, advertising, and content authenticity. I came across this video of , the director of MIT’s Comparative Media program and author of , and in it he succinctly explains the impact of transmedia on our culture, and ultimately on how we engage/create/distribute information. Essentially, the convergence of technologies and cultures is creating a new media landscape. Jenkins not so subtly relates that we are at a paradigmatic moment, one where an old form of media is dying at the hands of the new. To his point, the old media is one where storytelling has been held and controlled by big corporations who leverage arcane revenue models for distribution, and the challenge from new media is by contrast diffuse, networked, and empowering of the individual and democratizing of the story. This is happening in news, advertising, movies… it is happening everywhere. I love this stuff, this change happening right before our eyes. The video is brief, but dense with ideas and articulation. Jenkins is also great at putting some memorable statements out there. Like this one:

“George Orwell imagined a world where Big Brother is watching us. We, instead, with little cellphone cameras are watching Big Brother every moment of the day.”

Henry Jenkins, Director of Comparative Media Studies at MIT

Flag As Lost Opportunity

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

Koolhas' proposed European flag 2002

Flags are important visual symbols of nation, culture, history, and identity. And yet, flag design does not seem to evolve much outside of the odd revolution, break up, or nation building exercise, and even those results tend to be somewhat derivative. Apparently, I missed this story of innovation in flag design the first time around and having just thought it worth capturing here. Above is the design for a new flag for the European Union created by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhas and his design firm OMA. This design was a response to a commission by the European Union in 2002 to design a new flag for the EU to rebrand the Union representing Europe’s “diversity and unity”. The design from OMA came to be known as the “barcode” for incredibly obvious reasons, but was especially unique in how it represents the colors of each member nation. An interesting feature of this design is that it would change to incorporate the addition of future nations to the EU, thus being a visual representation of how the EU would change and grow, in that way perhaps not so unlike the flag of the United States and how it evolved by adding a star to represent the incorporation of new states into the union. Supporters of this design felt it strongly and appropriately reflected both the individuality and collectiveness of the nations comprising the European Union.

Despite being a beautiful, meaningfull and dynamic design, decidely more so than the as yet unchanged EU flag with the twelve stars of the original founding nations over a blue field, the design from OMA provoked an outcry of critisism. Sadly, it was never adopted beyond being used by the Austrian presidency of the EU in 2006.

Understanding Millennials

Friday, October 24th, 2008


from on .

Another learning opportunity for the misguided university president that I posted about earlier. Generation Y, the millennials, generation WE… start getting to know them now as they are going to be a force to be reckoned with for all of us that came before. I loved this video.

Getting Millennials Right. And Wrong.

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

The video above was shared with me by a colleague with whom I discussed this post, which I have been mulling over for about a month. The video is from a project by professor and 200 of his students at Kansas State University. A few weeks ago I attended a board meeting at which the president of a local university gave a presentation on “getting” generation Y, or . The board of directors is mostly comprised of individuals between the ages of 45-70 (and 90% male), I am by far the youngest person on the board being just outside that age range by a few years (and a gen X’er myself). As the presentation was announced there was a lot of murmuring, nodding of heads, and apparent agreement that this group definitely does not understand this new generation of young people, the generation that is beginning to and will fill the ranks of each of their companies. There is a lot of pressure on millennials. There are over 80 million baby boomers on the verge of retirement with only just over 40 million gen X’ers behind them. This reality is going to mean that the millennials, estimated at around 75 million, will need to step up and fill the very important talent and leadership void left by all the retiring boomers. What was presented by the university president made me very uncomfortable. This is because her presentation seemed to be incredibly general, and largely critical of this generation. She focused on broad, strange statements like:

  • Millennials do not read newspapers
  • They do not read books
  • They do not use libraries
  • They would rather communicate via instant message than in person
  • They cannot relate to older generations (????)
  • They do not understand the Cold War (????)
  • They grew up on video games
  • They like to be entertained (????)

I added the question marks above to emphasize my own bewilderment with those statements. All of these are actual points offered in the presentation. I was shocked as none of these statements is meaningful in creating an understanding of the millennial generation, or of anything. They seem to be observations made in the context of contrasting the observation against a different experience, as if that experience is qualitatively better, when in reality it is becoming increasingly irrelevant. With regards to the reading of books, magazines, and newspapers I believe it is true that everybody is reading the printed manifestations of these less and less, hence the ongoing demise of printing and publishing as industries. Excuse me as I speak from my own experience, that of a gen X’er, when I say that I cannot remember the last time I actually held a paper newspaper, and yet I subscribe to the RSS feeds and hit the websites of probably no less than 4-5 newspapers daily. Add to this the websites and blogs of magazines and that number jumps to 10-15 per day. I would consider myself a moderate user. The university president attempts to make the case that millennials do not read. I would counter that they read, and that they probably read more than previous generations. They’re not reading the formats that previous generations grew up with, they’re taking advantage of this new information technology called the “internet”. Yes, the internet offers exponential ways to entertain, but it is also an incredibly efficient connection to information and the world around us. Does that even need to be said anymore? The university president does not talk about how millennials are using technology like RSS feeds (I subscribe to over 200 sites presently via RSS), or how they strengthen their connections and networks with instant messaging, or how they have essentially grown up with incredible technologies as commonplace. I doubt that she actually knows what an RSS feed is, which is frightening because at some level this university president is informing the curriculum for her school, and determining how students are going to be activated through education at her institution. As I was listening to this presentation I could not help but think that the standard being communicated and on which this analysis of a generation was being made, was completely and totally baseless and irrelevant to reality, to modernity, and to the way things have changed. This is dangerous, and to paint a generation with critique based on experiences that pre-date the information age is useless to all of us, but especially to an entire generation that is connected to information in ways that were inconceivable a decade ago.

It might help for people like this university president to watch this video, also by Michael Wesch:

What Would You Wish For?

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008


from on .

There was something very endearing about this video and I felt compelled to share it. It’s very well done.

Then, Now, & Some Point Beyond Now

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

We’re all talking all of the time.

THEN

You interact with your friends/contacts/resources/anybody in person, via written communication that exists in hard copy, or on the phone. Those are the options. You need to seek people out, you need to connect in real time to avoid a serious time delay. Information exchange happens, but in fits and starts and you cannot easily catalog or file for future review, not without a hard copy of some sort. The shared base of knowledge exists in libraries and is impossibly difficult to update, and inconvenient to access unless you live in a library. Personal knowledge grows incrementally with each contact or interaction, but this takes time. A lot of time. It is an investment in time. Networks tend to be based around a shared niche interest or experience. Things are dimensionally very simple, and incredibly slow relative to Now. Communication occurs mostly in person and technology serves as a somewhat inferior stand-in for actually being there. Information exchange platforms are incredibly limited. Personal networks are predominantly local and regional.

NOW

You interact with your friends/contacts/resources/anybody whenever you want, and increasingly wherever you want. Sometimes this is in real time. Sometimes it is spur of the moment. They don’t need to be there. You don’t need to be “there.” Information exchange platforms allow you to retroactively review the activities/postings/information of your networks. You can easily catalog and file for future review. You can access what your network contacts are reading, doing, researching, watching and listening to. The shared base of knowledge grows exponentially and is manifested in all manner of social networking sites and through social media, and begins to link us together through idea, intent, and inspiration. You have multiple and many networks based on niche interests and experiences, and some of these overlap. Things are dimensionally interconnected and massively distributed. Communication is predominantly, if not near totally, technology based and in many, many cases the preferred mode of interaction is virtual. The information exchange platforms are diverse and expansive in reach. Personal networks are national and global.

SOME POINT BEYOND NOW

Ubiquitous communication. Technology is transparent as it supports us in our interactions. Platform choice is automatic and relative to location, connection, ease and efficiency. The collective base of knowledge and experience permeates reality in its total accessibility and instantaneous upload/download. Video, audio, and the printed word merge into one big seamless information amalgam. We’re on all of the time, and we love it. When we need to know something, we know it. Interconnectedness is not an abstract concept with those who have it and those who don’t. We pretty much all have it, or can have it if we want it. Interconnectedness is reality and reality is interconnectedness. Personal networks are vast and global.

Some Point Beyond Now is very probably really close. That means that Now will have only actually occupied maybe a few years, perhaps a decade or so at the most. Then was measured in nearly an entire century, 60-80 years depending on how you see it or how you lived it. The time previous to Then… well, that would be almost the whole of human history.

Growing Innovation Culture: Honda

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

The light shines brightly on Honda

I don’t care what business or what industry you are talking about, innovation matters big time. I get this, and my investigations into how you cultivate a culture of innovation is an ongoing theme on schneiderism. I find it really interesting that companies like Toyota (as well as BMW, Porsche, Audi, Tata, Nissan, VW, Mazda…) continue to receive coverage with regards to the success of the innovative internal cultures they have supported, and the measurable benefits of those cultures in terms of market success, while essentially the entire American automotive industry struggles to find itself, let alone perpetuate a culture of innovation, let alone even THINK about market success. Many, including myself, have looked closely at how Toyota’s long history of creating and supporting innovation wherever it sets up shop. In many ways, innovation defines Toyota. Recently, Fortune took and revealed another deeply innovative company culture. It also revealed the demonstrable benefits of that culture.

For Honda, innovation is equivalent to excellence, and excellence clearly pays. The article states that since 2002 Honda’s revenues have grown close to 40%, approaching $94.8 billion. Most interesting to me is that Honda’s U.S. market share has risen from 6.7% in 2000 to 9.6% in 2007. That is partly because of American manufacturers LOSING market share, but is also because Honda continues to provide smart, affordable and innovative products that people WANT. Badly. Honda, along with Toyota and BMW, are the only automobile companies to make it into Fortune’s list of the top 20 of the . Apple is number one, by the way.

So, how does Honda make this happen? They let people experiment and explore. The culture encourages this. Leadership wants it. More specifically, they encourage their engineers, especially those who drive R&D, to be entrepreneurial in their pursuits. The kicker is that at Honda not only are employees typically paid less than at the competition, but their opportunities to move up in the organization are pretty limited. That’s because Honda is very, very flat as an organization… and it is this flatness that empowers people to experiment and to be entrepreneurial. To innovate. Employees tend to be incredibly loyal to Honda, as an added bonus, and this also is directly related to the flatness of the organization. That, and they magnify their passion by being around others who are so invested in experimenting, improving, and creating. Others that are passionate about innovating. There is even a on Honda’s corporate website dedicated to their focus on innovation, and the important results of that focus. Masaaki Kato, president and CEO of Honda R&D, offers his perspective on Honda’s innovation success:

“We want to look down the road. We do not want to be influenced by the business.”

Masaaki Kato, president and CEO of Honda Research and Development

Bauhaus, Endless

Friday, February 8th, 2008

Bauhaus

Few things have been as expansively influential in the world of design and the emerging Modern movement as the school and design movement that originated out of Dessau, Germany shortly after WWI ended. Bauhaus translates roughly into English to mean “house of building.” Though very short lived, existing only from when (a recently decommissioned German officer) founded the school in 1919 to its disbanding in 1933, enough people were touched by the design leadership and thinking at the school to carry it throughout the world. That, and many of the instructors found themselves at schools elsewhere in the world where they could continue the good work and sharpen the minds of future designers and architects. Walter Gropius ended up at Harvard’s design school in 1934, subsequently helping a number of students and instructors make their way to positions and careers in the United States. This migration of Bauhausians to the United States set the stage for the launching of a design movement here that lasts to this day.

There is a concise that gives a nice overview of the Bauhaus and some of the personalities that made it happen. The article is in response to what sounds like an excellent exhibit tracing the history of the Bauhaus at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art.

Design Direction at The Design Council

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Sir Michael Bichard

has emerged from a period of serious introspection and reinvention. The results? New leadership and direction in the form of Chairman (pictured above with sleeves rolled up and ready to dig in and get to work), and sharper focus replete with a new tagline:

“Helping businesses become more successful, public services more efficient and designers more effective.”

Not so much catchy as vitally important in describing its direction, I suppose. The Design Council has long been a resource for the design industry, but has suffered mounting criticism in the last few years due to a predominance of product, industrial and graphic design focus in its efforts and events. This despite the reality that the Design Council has done much to show businesses all over the world the real value of design when applied to a diversity of industries.

Sir Michael Bichard’s recent appointment as chairman is in support of the refined Council mission of being the strategic body for design in the UK. The operative word now being “strategic.” Bichard has a long record as a successful public servant, leader in arts and education, and vocal supporter of the value of design. He received attention recently for his :

1. Great design can change the world and move people

2. If you think good design is expensive you should look at the real cost of bad design

3. Design, creativity and innovation are essential if we are to meet the global challenges of sustainable development

4. Design is not just about products and communications, it’s also increasingly in the services we receive or buy

5. To consume design is a creative act – and everyone can be creative!

I chuckle each time I read rule number two, as it is so, so true. These rules are important as the Council still finds itself embroiled in debate about exactly how design fits into the British, or global, economy. Despite their best efforts, the design community in the UK still finds itself somewhat adrift from the core of British industry and business. This is partly due to overconfidence, and partly due to the increasing irrelevancy of design education in the face of the realities of real world practice. These challenges are no different than those faced here in the United States, and amount to a massing of missed opportunities for design. Changing this begins, perhaps, with the importance of combining a deep understanding of business and business processes, of business thinking, with the methodologies and practices of design thinking, a concept getting much airplay in a diversity of business magazines as of late. It would seem that the British Design Council is going down this road, and most probably in a smart way, and as they are known for their quality publications and case studies I look forward to learning more about their new focus in the coming months.

via

Don’t Fear Mistakes, There are None

Friday, December 21st, 2007

Miles Davis - Birth of The Cool

That headline is a famous Miles Davis quote. I watched an absolutely kick ass documentary about Miles Davis this evening. I have always loved his music, but really did not know that much detail about his life beyond what is part of the legend. The documentary is “The Miles Davis Story” from 2001 and it is full of live performances, recording sessions, and interviews with Miles. Without a doubt, the man was on a mission:

“Don’t play what’s there. Play what’s not there.”

Miles Davis (1926-1991)

I love the design of those old album covers from the 1950’s and 1960’s.

The Assault on Reason

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

Lego Moses

I really struggled with this post, but in the end felt compelled to put this out there. The election process that we are all being subjected to, the process that will ultimately choose the leader of the free world, is a joke. Instead of intense focus on the candidates’ perspective on the real issues that our nation faces, there is distraction after distraction and meaningless investigation into issues of faith. This is happening with both parties, and with people who may or may not actually be “religious” at all, but our process mandates that they act the part of the pious politician in order to participate and at least have a hope of being elected. During a debate a couple months back three Republican candidates, asked about their views on evolution, expressed concern with its validity, one of them saying that it is as yet unproven. Huh?

I think the Democrats are worse, though. This is because their sudden conversion has more to do with having parity with their Republican counterparts and not alienating the vast majority of people in this country who believe in a god. I get that, but it totally chaps me. What of science, of reason, or rational thought? What of the responsibility to not mislead? It is depressing, really, to realize we have another eleven months of this process and the exposure to candidates who may best be described as disingenuous. What has happened to our country?

I seek reassurance. Something I find interesting is the catalog of confirmed non-believers, of atheists, who have constructively and positively influenced our society and our culture. Here is an incomplete list of known atheists that I find reassuring in these times of feigned religiosity, offered in no particular order:

Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Noam Chomsky, Sean Penn, Woody Allen, Albert Camus, Arthur C. Clark, Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Benjamin Franklin, Ayn Rand, Charles Darwin, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Bertrand Russel, Kurt Vonnegut, James Madison, John Adams, James Joyce, John Lennon, Walt Disney, Oscar Niemeyer, Frank Lloyd Wright, George Orwell, Charles Schultz, Mark Twain, Thomas Jefferson, Susan B. Anthony, William Howard Taft, Thomas Edison, Stanislaw Lem, Ian McEwan, Richard Dawkins, Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher Hitchens, Steve Wozniak, PZ Meyers, Angelina Jolie, Lance Armstrong, David Attenborough, Eddie Izzard, Penn Jillete, Ira Glass, Dick Cavett, Ingmar Bergman, Clive Barker, J.G. Ballard, Brian Eno, Ferdinand Piech, Gore Vidal, Ted Turner, Bruce Sterling and Steven Soderbergh

I would like to point out that there are five former presidents on this very incomplete list. We can dream. I leave you with the following quote:

“This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there was no religion in it.”

John Adams

Former President and Founding Father of the United States

More , and .

There Is No There At Sun Microsystems

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Underground carpark

Sun Microsystems is six years into a program that takes full advantage of their technology and is modernizing the way their employees work and adapt to a rapidly changing business environment. This Open Work program has met with tremendous success, and anticipates the type of radical change we are beginning to see more progressive companies embrace. At Sun, more than half of their employees do not have an assigned office space in a fixed location. Employees are allowed to work wherever and whenever it suits them, and Sun arms them with the best in mobile technologies to support this.

Why is Sun doing this? Because they can. The cost of maintaining a legacy notion of “office” is incompatible with the concept of an agile, adaptive, and flexible workforce… especially one that is determined to do business where their clients are. Are they saving money? Most definitely, and in the range of $250 million. This is radical, innovative and apparently effective. Sun is now in Open Work as a consulting sideline business to other companies. For those of us in the workplace design and innovation space… we should be taking note and work to balance this with our own efforts to effect change in workplace environments.

Evel Knievel… “No King Or Prince Has Lived A Better Life”

Friday, November 30th, 2007

Evel kicks some serious ass

That’s a quote from Evel Knievel last year. He died today at the age of 69. Definitely the end of an era, and the loss of a personal childhood icon (a pre-Hunter S. Thompson childhood icon… and just as weird and cool). The man jumped his motorcycle over big and scary things. Buses, sharks, and canyons… all were but opportunities for Evel Knievel. And he fractured over 40 bones in the process. Crazy? Yes. Cool? Yes. An American hero? Most definitely, in the most American way, which is to say honest and imperfect. A memorable quote from the man:

“You come to a point in your life when you really don’t care what people think about you, you just care what you think about yourself.

Evel Knievel (1938-2007)

Update: And not moments after posting I find this kick ass tribute via Coop at :

“He was the last relic of the way America used to be, before the lawyers and pussies took over. A holy fool, watched over by angels who drank Old Style and smoked Lucky Strikes. A crazy, fearless, larger-than-life crackpot, last in a long line of same, heir to Davy Crockett, Wild Bill Hickok, P.T. Barnum, Horatio Nelson Jackson, “Cannonball” Baker, and every other kook who refused to listen to reason. The world is a smaller place without him.”

A Life Lived Hard, Not Hardly Lived

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

Norman Mailer 1987

Norman Mailer has left us. His work influenced a generation of writers and readers, and his legacy will last a long, long time. He was nothing if not controversial, and also immensely memorable. A literary man with the numbers to back it up… 40+ novels, 6 wives, 9 children, 2 attempts at becoming mayor of New York… his life seemingly a quest for better subject matter.

One of my favorite Mailer quotes:

“Revolutions are the periods of history when individuals count most.”

Norman Mailer 1923-2007

Toyota: Culture of Curiousity, Curious Culture…

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

It’s a box!

There is a lot of talk around the successes that Toyota has enjoyed as of late, especially when contrasted against the slow demise of the traditional automotive industry leaders G.M. and Ford. Toyota’s success has been remarkable, and here is a quick recap from a recent article in :

  • - Toyota has not lost money in a quarter for over 55 years… since 1951
  • - In 2006 Toyota posted net profit of $17 billion (while Ford and G.M. circled insolvency)
  • - Over a 25 year span Toyota went from veritable industrial startup to diversified global empire
  • - Toyota is now the largest automotive manufacturer in the world

There are a number of reasons why Toyota sustains success in a fiercely competitive industry recognized for unrealistically low margins. The most obvious of these is that Toyota continues to defy convention and determine its own course. In that Business Week article author reviews by and digs deep into what has contributed to the success that Toyota enjoys and comes up with some pretty powerful themes. Magee’s book looks at:

  • - Focusing on the long term
  • - Jumping beyond the current trend
  • - Making quality everyone’s responsibility
  • - Managing individual strengths

These themes essentially define Toyota’s corporate culture and you see them at work every day. They are operational practices for the entire company, but modeled and executed with prejudice by the executive management. This is consistent with the reality that effective and innovative cultures begin at the top. Beyond all of this, though, McFarland identifies another quality of Toyota’s culture that has helped drive success. Curiosity.

Toyota’s culture was conceived by curiosity. Sakichi Toyoda, the company’s founder, set out to revolutionize weaving technology and build the best looms possible. Not just in Japan. In the world. He went on a tour of looms in Europe and the United States and brought the best ideas and practices back to Japan where he improved on them and secured over 100 patents in the process. His son and successor, Kiichiro, went on his own tour of Detroit automakers in the 1920’s and upon his return moved Toyota into the automobile manufacturing business. 70 years of this approach has empowered Toyota and allowed it to always bring the best back to the company, to continuously improve, and to reward creative thinking. Toyota is not necessarily propelled by the unending belief that things can be done better as much as it is compelled by the constant search to find better ways to do things. This is institutionalized continuous improvement, it is institutionalized curiosity.

Overthrowing Successful Companies

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

viva la revolution

That might sound threatening, but really… it’s not. I had the opportunity to meet and hear , the co-author of , last week at a luncheon event sponsored by and . It was an excellent event. Polly spoke about the main theme of her book, that in industry after industry business as usual is not working anymore and that businesses that were once dismissed as “mavericks” are the ones that are now growing fast. The mavericks are the success stories. This is because they stand for something original, and continue to innovate on their business model. She also offered and expanded on a couple important concepts. The one that really resonated with me was the idea of “overthrowing successful companies.” This is not a bad thing, but speaks more to the challenges of creating an environment of creativity, innovation and change in companies that have been historically performing just fine. Her point is that “just fine” is not reflective of the realities of changing markets, customer demands, and operational challenges… not to mention hypercompetiton. In essence, for many companies it is required that they be taken over by new ways of thinking, by a focus on executing on new opportunity. Overthrowing a company means rethinking the logic of how business gets done, and IMPROVING on that logic.

This is not something to take lightly and it is a concept that has revolutionary undertones for a reason. This is because, like nations, organizations resist change and this is in large part due to the difference between those who have power and those who do not. Those who wield power in business are often much more concerned with perpetuating the status quo then with reinventing the business model. Reinvention is hard work, it requires an open mind and a fresh approach. When you are already successful, that is a tough option. The point, really, is that success is fleeting. Those organizations that figure this out and continue to change and evolve stand to sustain and maximize successes. They stand to succeed in the face of innumerable challenges by offering a better way to lead and a better way to compete. A better way to do things. So many businesses are defined by models that were developed decades ago, isn’t it time that we shake those models up and explore better alternatives?

Creating A Culture Of Innovation

Friday, October 26th, 2007

hammer and anvil

Thinking a lot about how you practically go about creating and fostering a culture of innovation. Discussed this in earnest in a previous post, and threw down some Gary Hamel. In that post it was discussed that an innovation culture must begin at the top. That, and in order to achieve this an organization has to wholesale eschew legacy, arcane management and control methodologies. That is an incredibly tall order for most cultures. They exist to exist, not much more beyond that.

There is obviously a lot more to how you create a culture of innovation. I tried a little experiment, and want to share the results with you. I posted a question regarding how you create such a culture to my , and received a broad range of answers. Below is the question put out there, and the answers received to date:

How can a company create a culture of innovation?

We hear it all of the time… “we need to create a culture of innovation!” Sounds good. But, where do you start? How do you go about creating that? How do you ensure it has longevity?

Would like your insights and to hear your experiences.

~~~~~

“Man of action never speak. Creativity creates marvels. They don’t need guidence. It is inborn. Can u force somebody to draw or paint?”

Mamta Narang

~~~~~

“Step 1: First you would need to understand your organization culture, evaluating its approach to change…innovation in fact generally implies deep changes, in culture , in perspective, in the day by day apporach to problems, even in the way information are shared and in the way people communicate.

If you realize that your organization is already “transparent” to above mentioned issues, you move to step 2 , otherwise you need first to implement a Change Management Dpt. , leading the people side of change.

Step 2 : you need to encourage your people toward whati is called “lateral thinking”, organizing a rewarding “Best Ideas ” …people need to feel they work in a challenging enviroment.

Step 3: give your best worker time enough to study and to share their toughts”

Private

~~~~~

” There are plenty of corporate examples, like IBM and 3M.
Employees are given time each week for creative exploration of concepts and ideas, as well as the resources (people, material and money) to pursue them.

You have to AND you can structure in innovation.”

Ray Miller

~~~~~

“Flexibility is key. There are few things more guaranteed to stifle innovation than a rigid inflexible business process that must be obeyed at all costs. Another vital ingredient is the acceptance that not every idea can be a roaring commercial success. Often, budget is needed to test an idea, simply to find out that it’s actually not that good. It’s money well spent.”

Alison Coulson

~~~~~

“You have to make it worth while and beneficial for people to share knowledge within the organisation. Most employees with a traditional mindset think they are undermining their own position by sharing their knowledge. As a result no innovations will take place, because in a culture of innovation the lone genious is replaced by inter disciplinary teams. You have to change the cultural environment to stimulate new behaviours.”

Morten Lindholm

~~~~~

“The value system in the company needs to support that culture. Examine the systems, processes, corporate communications and rewards and figure out what the values really are (not what they are stated to be). Often times the heroes are firefighters and systems and processes are about removing variation – attributes that are very much about not innovating. What are the real values that all of your systems, processes, rewards and communications really need to support? It is very likely that each of them must evolve to support a more innovative culture.

That may sound insurmountable, but you can start by determining the most likely areas where innovation would be helpful to the business. Are you most interested in innovative new products, innovative processes or an innovative business model? The answer helps drive what the first moves are. Even when trying to start, adjustments must be made in congruence across all aspects of that part of your systems, processes, rewards and communications.”

Bob Becker

~~~~~

“Check out Phil McKinney’s podcast, Killer Innovations, for some ideas.”

Kore Peterson

~~~~~

“It MUST come from the very top of the organization, define what innovation means to you and your organization, develop problems for your people to start thinking about, reward systems must be changed to drive toward the creative and innovative behaviors you are seeking, constant and consistent communication of the need and desire to innovate, demonstrated increased tolerance for risk and failure, mandate time for thinking, tinkering and collaboration, increase opportunities for horizontal communications, and finally, implement a few of those promising ideas!!!”

Paul Williams

~~~~~

“In my (our company’s) view from working with innovation for more than 20 years is that the innovation capability (innovativeness) of a company consists of three elements:

1) Steering fo innovation
2) Atmosphere of the organisation
3) Channels

The steering has to do with the fact that in order to generate new ideas, one needs to have some direction, guidance on what the ideas should be about. The atmosphere has greatly to do with the management style in the company (in all levels), how line managers take in new ideas and improvements. The third part has to do with how well the comapny is able to gather the often rough ideas from the people and foster them into readymade innovations. Good ideas are only a start, they need to be implemented well.

First thing you need is a good understanding of the current situation. Without knowing where you are and where the biggest challenges are you can not aim in the right direction. This can be obtained through a number of ways from surveys to consultative analysis. Key is to start at the top, but make sure to go all the way (vertically and horizontally) to the different parts of the organisation. Innovation needs to be built all around, naturally in different ways in different places. The activities may vary from training of innovation methods, building processes and systems, starting up innovation organisations of many sorts, having idea competitions, etc. This depends on what the problems are – this can only be analysed with enough information. ”

Olli Kuismanen

~~~~~

“Actions will create more innovation than any words you can speak. If you seek to create a culture of innovation it must be more than lip service and must begin at the top.”

Eileen Bonfiglio

~~~~~

“There is an inherent creativity in everyone – specially when we talk about the subject area of work of people. For modern workplaces, innovation cannot come only with creativity but also require core knowledge about the subject.

I also believe that people are NOT a problem – most people do want to contribute and want to bring their best ideas (unless you are talking about some hopeless crowed where this question anyway doesn’t apply!)

The issue, however, really is that no new idea can succeed without sever effort and keeping faith in it. Unless the management (who determines the resource allocation), support this activity, and if he management is inherently not risk taking in nature, most efforts to create innovations will become a failure.

The ultimate key to organizational innovation i believe an open, transparent and risk taking culture and the real competence of the people. People is the only thing really matters! ”

Diphan Mehta

~~~~~

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to offer their perspective on creating a culture of innovation. I think the differences and similarities in the answers is indicative of both how seriously we take this question, and how complicated the issue really is.

Robots: They Are Proliferating. Quickly.

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

papero - childcare robot

Anybody who has read Isaac Asimov’s 1950 collection of short stories is going to immediately understand where I am going with this post. In that collection was the short story “Runaround,” originally written in 1942, that provided some unbelievable foreshadowing to our present reality. By way of review, the biggest take-away from that story was the immutable :

1. A robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction allow a human being to be harmed.

2. A robot must obey orders given to it by a human being, except where those orders come into conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as this does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

In 1950 Asimov anticipated an imminent dilemma now facing humanity. Benefiting from the incredible advances made in a complicated mix of technologies, robotics has exploded with innovations and advances in the last five years. Historically, robotics has focused on industrial automation tasks, but advances in a diversity of technologies (such as WiFi, sensor arrays, optics, and artificial intelligence precursors) are leading us to new and surreal opportunities… such as human service platforms©. As a result of this, robot populations have exploded. Exponentially. Going back to a NYT’s piece in 1984 titled none of us should be surprised by this. The article states (IN 1984!):

“The population of robots in the United States is growing by 30 percent a year, compared to a human population growth rate of only 2 percent annually, according to the World Future Society. The society said there will be 35,000 robots in the United States by 1990.”

So we have Asimov in 1942 eloquently providing a cautious warning of our technological future, and in 1984 we are already seeing predictions of robot population growth outpacing humans in the United States by a factor of 15 times. Believe me, it is more now and at the rate robot populations are increasing we face a reality where there will be more of them than there are of us most probably in my lifetime. That’s interesting to think about. I am not going to waste your time with a parade of lines from science fiction movies or 1960’s television. I am going to lay out some facts regarding robot populations, and projections, that definitely gave me pause… and cause for concern. This in spite of the fact that I am fascinated by robots and optimistic about their relationship with us.

Japan is the best place to start. Japanese companies are far and away the fastest innovators and hardest drivers of robotics technologies. This is partly driven by the reality that their population is shrinking, facing a rapid increase in the elderly and a depleted younger generation not sufficient to replace them in the workforce. The current hope is that robots will in labor force replacement. Back in 410,000 of the world’s 720,000 working robots (around 57%) were in Japan. That is just the “working” robots. The worldwide general robotic population in 2003 was well in excess of 1,000,000. Today, the number of robots in Japan is closer to 40% of the global population, but only because the rest of the world is racing to keep pace. Robotics was, and continues to be, a priority long-term economic strength for the Japanese. You could say that they are the vanguard. During 2003, Honda alone spent in excess of $100 million just to develop the humanoid robot the goal not being to sell Asimo as a consumer product, but to focus technologies into a prototype to test capabilities, to test limits… and filter them into subsequent products and begin refining for later iterations. A proof of concept for the inception of an intelligent service robotics platform. By 2010 it is anticipated that intelligent service robotics will be a market in excess of $30 billion for Japan. In 2005, it was just over $2 billion. That is a growth market. That is momentum.

This is where concern enters the picture. Robotics are hot everywhere, but Japan is the hot engine at the moment. That engine is posting exponential growth in the market, and paradigmatic shifts in the technologies. There is really no way that we can accurately project where we will be in 2010, 2015 or 2020 both in terms of technological development and in terms of overall robotic populations. If you spend any time researching current robot populations you will be hard pressed to yield any relevant information after 2005. I believe this is because things are happening so quickly. We are definitely seeing this with the deployment of military robotic technologies by the U.S. military. In 2000 robotics were hardly on the agenda at the Pentagon, now it commands enormous R&D budgets and sits at the top of yearly acquisition priorities (in the thousands of robots) for every branch of the military. In 2002 the Pentagon was still debating the virtues of . But I digress. In Japan alone you have a nation that is aligning their future with the future of robots. On the one hand, that is truly and genuinely aimed at serving the needs of humanity. On the other, it is what seems to be a rush into a technological arena that is yet undefined, and very much uncharted territory. This brings us back to Asimov’s three laws, which seem almost trite, but are actually of increasing importance as we set about building this semi-autonomous, potentially fully, or even quasi-autonomous workforce. As researchers expend greater effort trying to create robots that develop an autonomous approach to space, time and action we should also expend greater effort understanding what the possible implications of this may mean for humanity. Both good and bad. I am not being alarmist, but advocate for serious consideration by our societies around these issues. Think back to 1990. Think back to 2000. Could you have ever anticipated that we would be facing the situations we face today as they relate to technology, geo-politics, religion and the environment? We face similarly asymmetrical unknowns now, but with implications intensified by our own progress.

And The Conversation Grows And Grows

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

knowlesystem

A colleague of mine has launched his blog at . His focus is honed and specific to the forces changing and shaping the world of architecture and design. Cool stuff. We have had an infinite number of incredible discussions and brainstorms on this topic, and this was suggested as a way to begin capturing this content, and involve others in the conversation. I highly suggest subscribing as there will be a proliferation of compelling content coming forthwith.

Congrats on the site, Stephen.

acmesiren

Another colleague introduced a couple weeks ago, and I wanted to offer a more formal welcome and congrats to Nick as well. His blog is focused on finding and revealing what is new, cool and interesting in the world of experimental music. Also, very cool stuff. And a terrific resource.

Both blogs are featured in the schneiderism blogroll in the right column, which is naturally an incredibly high honor.

The Strong And Silent Type

Friday, August 17th, 2007

Max Roach is Cool

We lost Max Roach yesterday. Truly a creative genius and jazz innovator, he stood toe to toe with just about every other jazz great… in a good way. They all played with Max, and Max played with all of them. In some of my earliest exposure to Miles Davis (when he was playing with Max) I was left thinking, “But what about the drums?”

In honor of his passing, I offer the following quote:

“I always resented the role of a drummer as nothing more than a subservient figure.”

Max Roach (1925-2007)