Archive for the ‘tools’ Category

What is The Future of Business Development?

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

radar as BDRadar

I have spent much time over the last few months digging deep into the business processes that support business development management. I was surprised to learn just how prime this space is for innovation as so many of the “accepted practices” utilized by people focused on business development for their organizations are arcane, inefficient, and lacking the advantage of effective supporting technology. There seems to be limited discussion and effort focused on “next practices” in this area, which is itself a tremendous opportunity. Glaringly, one commonality I have observed is the struggle by the business development community to force CRM tools to work in support of their efforts. Universally, I have heard of much pain around this effort. Another commonality is a belief in the power of social media and open networking, but limited knowledge or experience in how to do this effectively.

This all compels me to  propose the development of “business development radar” (BDRadar) as a tool that truly supports business development management (or BDM), and that integrates a priority set of functionality in support of open networking/marketing/business development goals. A tool that is accessible via the web, and is perfectly designed for easy use on mobile devices, that is cost effective for the soloist, independent, or smaller organization that realize the value of collaborative networking,  and that seeks an alternative to the limitations of a closed enterprise tool. Essentially, a tool that can surface business intelligence, visual network maps, and patterns whenever and wherever we need it, and that is seamlessly integrated into the networking and business development workflow. From one unified interface, a tool that provides:

- Open, collaborative network mapping
- Custom profile building with selective sharing
- Intuitive filtering and sorting
- Concise management of next actions with automated minding
- Unified contact management integrated with tools already in use
- Support of open networking/social CRM/CRM 2.0

No, LinkedIn does not do this.

The key differentiator from closed network CRM tools is that BDRadar would be designed at its core to support the open networker, and enables the creation of massive, mapped, searchable collaborative networks. It would support co-marketing and collaborative networking opportunities in support of business goals outside of the organizational firewall. I strongly believe that this is the future of business development, and to my knowledge the tool to support this does not yet exist. Driving the need for this BDRadar are critical key obsessions, and competitive necessities for business development professionals and marketers:

- Effectively determining context of opportunity
- Freshness of information
- Speed to intelligence

I have explored an endless array of tools to support and automate the addressing of these obsessions. What is required is an open tool that not only manages information, but that can recognize the patterns that identify opportunity, and supports the sometimes collaborative liberation of that opportunity into real business with individuals and teams outside of your organization. I’ve cobbled together a series of mostly freemium tools that I maintain. Tools that automate contact management, opportunity profiling, social media search, and network mapping. These work, but the inefficiency of moving between different interfaces, difficulty in easily sharing information, and the lack of integration compels us to create a better solution, to design something that REALLY works, and that we can easily share with others.

Stay tuned.

Virtual Architecture

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

An amazingly fluid presentation of 3D rendered models of recognizable and iconic American buildings layered onto Google Earth, some in incredible detail including interiors. Worth checking out, especially when actually being there is not good enough.

More at the .

Telepresense vs. Business Travel

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Telepresence is something I have been following for some time, and I am curious to see discussions of this technology begin to surface with more frequency, like this piece at the . I have been especially interested in the developing intersection between telepresence, virtuality, and robotics and have written about this here and here. Additionally, it was exciting to see the CEO of Steelcase, Jim Hackett, experimenting with telepresence technology in his own office with a direct connection to IDEO’s David Kelley in Palo Alto, they call it “the wormhole”, which I touched on in my post 10 Things: Innovation at Steelcase.

The big deal here is that technology is beginning to catch up with science fiction, and this is being driven by the pressures of speed, efficiency and cost management. Business travel is becoming more and more costly for companies, and as the business we need to do becomes increasingly global this cost will only grow. Limited access to private jets and the potential for supersonic travel aside, one of the biggest contributors to the increasing cost of business travel is the time, and downtime, required to get from one place to another, and the implications this has on productivity and effectiveness. Telepresence is a golden opportunity to eliminate this cost, shrink distance, increase productivity, and virtually create the value of meeting in person. Things are definitely going in this direction, and this would be another significant influence on the workplace of the future. We have already seen great change in that many business practices that required meeting in person a decade ago are now completed without individuals ever having to actually meet at all. This is the reality now for a diversity of industries.

The system depicted in the image above is from , and is very similar to how Jim Hackett is utilizing this technology at Steelcase. There are systems also offered by (who estimates that their telepresence systems save HP employees up to 20,000 flights per year), most notably their Halo telepresence conferencing technology. To be sure, these are significant investments and not yet viable for smaller enterprise, but even that is changing with forays into telepresence by companies like and Apple’s offering and refining for some time now of video chat as part of on their computers. Also, telepresence is not a technology to replace the importance of meeting in person entirely, but this is hugely empowering for business, and telepresence technology used well and integrated into a company culture will have an incredibly positive influence on communication, collaboration, and innovation. It will also free tremendous resources for companies that have previously been dedicated to the inefficiency of business travel, resources they can invest into priority areas like R&D or talent acquisition, areas that are so important to success in the competitive marketplace.

10 Things: You Couldn’t Do This Last Year

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

I am attending the conference in San Francisco. I am here because I believe strongly that the tools and technologies that make up Office 2.0 are having a dramatic effect and influence on the way we work, interact, and collaborate, and that this will have a profound effect on how our physical workplaces will need to evolve and respond to this change. I have made no mystery of my feelings on this point, that the office as we know it is becoming increasing irrelevant. I want to be at the forefront of this change.

This morning at Office 2.0 , who heads up Google’s enterprise products team, gave an impressive presentation (and thinly veiled Google sales pitch) entitled “10 Things That I Can Do In The Cloud Today, That I Could Not Do a Year Ago.” This has been a big week for Google with the launch of and secure video sharing. Sitting next to at the presentation, he quipped… “And this from an online ad company.” Business model innovation right before our eyes. But that’s been Google’s model since inception. Matt’s 10 Things essentially outline this innovation and thinking, presented in reverse order:

10.  Everything on the go. Just over a year ago the iPhone opened up computing for the mobile world and drove a paradigmatic shift in how we utilize our mobile devices and access and interact with information. The cloud is a central player in this paradigmatic shift with everything potentially living in and accessed from anywhere.

9.  Search through all my email. Google’s 25 gigs of personal email storage allows you to save and search everything. We live in email and this makes it actually work for us allowing you to do email how you want, where you want, when you want.

8.  Chat with customers and partners in any language. In cloud computing you can tap services like real time translation. The ideal of the individual knowledge worker working in isolation is arcane. We are always collaborating and language barriers are falling away because of these tools. Matt demo’d the translational tool in Google Talk chatting with a team member in Spain. Very cool.

7.  Collaborate simply and securely on projects with sites and docs. Google Docs was launched at Office 2.0 two years ago, and in that time has been refined into a seamless and effective collaboration tool.

6.  Organize all of my business travel with email. Matt demo’d , a service that takes any travel related confirmation email message and builds a personal itinerary and feed for you to more easily access and manage your trips. It offers a seamless integration with your calendar and a great mobile interface, with email as the integrating medium. Fascinating.

5.  Easily collect data from co-workers and customers in Forms. Matt demo’d which allows you to create a custom form in Google Docs and embed it for use. He did this and we watched as it populated and autofilled live. Very cool.

4.  Build any scalable business application on the cloud platform. Basically, the ginormous and complex infrastructure needed to do this is done (Google App Engine, force.com, Amazon Web Services). You just need to pay for what you need and use as a service. The platform is the service? Salesforce.com already has 80k+ applications.

3.  Use online templates for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. You can create custom templates for these tools and use them for your business, accessing them from anywhere and allowing easy collaboration or use of them from anywhere.

2.  Run fast, secure, and stable with web applications. Essentially, the recently launched browser, Chrome, from Google is the next generation of web applications (Mac support is happening ASAP…). Chrome is the term for the area around your browser, and the goal of this team was to get rid of the chrome (ironic naming). The browser is the new desktop, but with speed and stability that eliminates browser hang, crashing. Matt bench-marked  Chrome’s speed against IE. Chrome rocked by a significant factor. It is also open source, pushing the state of the art. Much excitement in the room around this.

1.  Securely share video in applications. This is a powerful medium, and with the security that business needs in order for it to be useful. It empowers the use of video in business and offers a paradigmatic change in the way we collaborate. This is made possible by the cloud and by the reality that we all now have video recording embedded in our mobile devices and computers.

Matt ended with an amazing statistic. Business adoption of Google’s tools is skyrocketing, with 3,000 new business sign ups EVERY DAY. This is one of those shifts in thinking that can wipe away entire careers and subject matter expertise, and it is a rare opportunity to actually witness a paradigmatic shift as it is happening. For some, cloud computing is all blue sky. For others, it is a looming and business model challenging storm.

Printed Map Innovation. Why?

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Really, it’s an interesting way to layer relevant information in a printed piece, but how could this possibly be a more useful alternative to any number of map/GPS/city guide applications accessible via mobile phones, most of which are free and pervasive online applications? That, and Urban Mapping has already failed once trying to introduce this approach to city maps. Maybe we’re just not ready for paper maps.

via

Business Model Thinking

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

There are several components of varying complexity that make up any business. It is the quality of these components, and their unique combination (hopefully), that provide businesses with a competitive advantage in the marketplace. From the investment side, understanding the quality of an enterprise is very much tied to understanding the business model of that enterprise, and how it contrasts to its competitors – what advantages that business model creates for the business in the marketplace, and how those advantages will scale over time. Additionally, there is tremendous value in understanding at a deep level that the framework of a given business model gives an edge as companies survey the competitive landscape for strategic risk, and the opportunities inherent to that risk. It is common for businesses to take a very haphazard approach to analyzing, understanding, and building the foundation of their own business model, it is also common for businesses to miss the opportunity of conducting the same analysis of their competitors. This oversight with regards to understanding their own context in the marketplace is most likely due to myth of complexity as it relates to “putting the pieces together” and taking a hard look at the constituent components of the business in question.

I was excited to find the slideshow above, and the , by . Alex has put forth a model for analyzing, understanding, designing, and contrasting business models that is easy, straightforward, and, I believe, incredibly valuable. He provides detail for what actually makes up a business model . There is a lot of writing in business pubs right now about business model reinvention and business model innovation due to the nature of the economy and the competitive environment of different industries. This is all good, but often what is missing are the practical matters of creating an effective baseline from which to engage in exercises and experiments into innovation and reinvention. I believe that Alex succinctly provides us the tools for creating this baseline in a way that is quickly revealing of problems and opportunities, and tied to creating understanding.

Take a moment to review the slideshow and then read Alex’s at his blog Business Model Design and Innovation.

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.

Who Get’s Social Media?

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

I can’t explain.

Social media is the panacea du jour. It still feels new, and for many it still remains unknown territory. It seems like something business should be doing, and businesses are trying to understand how social media may or may not support their objectives. For this, they look to the agency specialists, those whose job it is to embrace the cutting edge and live innovation in communications, those that are supposed to have the backs of business when it comes to strategic marketing planning. Brian Morrisey’s last week in Adweek reveals that agencies may be the wrong ones to turn to for social media insights.

This is because nobody has really been able to “figure out” social media yet, least of all the agencies, and that may be the point. Perhaps the organic, authentic nature of social media makes it not-figure-outtable. Various agencies continue to try, and experiment with approaches that range from the bizarre to the probably effective, but in reality the environment is still very, very fluid. This reality presents the paradox of agencies knowing that social media is a big thing, and professing to be ahead of the curve on this big thing, but not really knowing how to work with this big thing to create value for their client businesses. Participation is an art form, but they are all still experimenting. That is dangerous for businesses. And expensive.

Last week a co-worker said to me that blogging is so “last year.” I laughed, and pointed out that the ROI of blogging for businesses has not even begun to reach a level of note. If he was referring to people blogging about their cat, I am inclined to agree, but the power of social media for business is very, very much in its infancy. He did not know what he was talking about. I suspect that with regards to social media, most don’t.

A choice quote from Morrisey’s article:

“You get the sense that agencies talk a good game. They put up a good presentation about what social media is, but when you get to implementing campaigns, the day-to-day management skills are not meeting the marketers’ expectations.”

Jim Nail, CMO and CSO – TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony

The Moscow Rules

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

Who is out there?

The Cold War feels like ancient history, which is odd because it raged for 2/3’s of my life. During the Cold War, American and CIA aligned undercover spies and espionage agents stationed in the East were constantly under threat of discovery and exposure by their counterparts from the KGB, Stasi, and the other espionage and security agencies of the Soviet nations. Discovery would mean a nasty stay and interrogation at someplace like the KGB’s , and possibly death. Survival for them depended on maintaining a low profile, being hyper-aware, and adherence to (10 of which are excerpted below). I was digging through my desk and came across a postcard someone had given me with these rules on the front. I thought I should share:

  1. Assume nothing.
  2. Never go against your gut.
  3. Everyone is potentially under opposition control.
  4. Don’t look back; you are never completely alone.
  5. Go with the flow, blend in.
  6. Vary your pattern and stay within cover.
  7. Lull them into a sense of complacency.
  8. Don’t harass the opposition.
  9. Pick the time and place for action.
  10. Keep your options open.

I have not really looked yet, but somebody has had to have turned The Moscow Rules into a business book akin to .

The Changing Workplace of Office 2.0

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

The modern office circa 1960

Set aside your disdain for sticky web monikers for a moment. I have been following the “The Workplace of The Future” for a while now, and have been writing about it since last July. The Innovation Tours that I organize for my team are focused on surveying where boundaries are being pushed and how businesses are responding to changes in the ways people want to work and the resulting impact on meaningful workplace design. No doubt, the demands on the physical workplace environment are changing right before our eyes, being driven by rapid changes in technology, notions of work, telepresence, and shifts in workforce demographics. Intersecting these drivers is the concept of Office 2.0, which encompasses the increasing number of web-based collaborative work applications, such as the smart suite of web applications from . They are a fast, efficient way for users and teams to organize, manage, disseminate and develop information using a simple, intuitive interface. The value of these applications are that they let you work remotely with people in ways that make us less dependent on desktop workstations and organized offices. At their heart, they functionally support collaborative idea and project development and the efficient sharing of documents and files, but the potential for how they will potentially change the ways in which we work go far beyond the functional benefits and they will ultimately influence what work actually constitutes.

Google is in this space with the web-based offerings , and Microsoft is throwing its weight behind a rekindled web-based initiative. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of smaller start-up applications also struggling for attention. Start using these tools now. Familiarize yourself. Encourage your teams to do the same. In the imminent future more and more of our work will take place on the web, leveraging web-based applications, and less and less of it will happen within the confines of an office. Smart companies are already there, and are redefining their models based on their own understanding of how Office 2.0 benefits them. In the short term, the biggest benefit for companies is the liberation from legacy notions of space and real estate, in the long term a benefit will be a workforce distributed globally, not locally. Physical offices will become less about the housing of workers during working hours and more about space that supports in-person meetings and collaboration. Think about how you were working ten years ago, think about how you accomplished your tasks and contrast that to how you work now. Now recall ten years before that, and if you’re old enough, ten years before that. I think it is safe to say that we would be hard pressed to not acknowledge the dramatic change that continues to occur, only with increased speed.

There is an annual conference, aptly named the , focused on exploring developments around Office 2.0 which I am planning on attending this year.

Robert Scoble recently talked about web-based work apps in an .

Hyperwords. You Need To Check This Out.

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

hyperwords logo

This is an unbelievably useful tool. Everyone is well familiar with hyperlinks. But what about all of the other words on a page? What if you want to investigate them? Now, you can… and very, very easily. They’re called , and I strongly suggest you check out the demonstration as I feel this will be one of the most useful web tools you’ve come across. Ever. I’m not kidding.

Basically, hyperwords allow you to click or hover on any word on a web page and surface a menu that provides you with a whole range of search, capture, translate and organize options. Very, very cool. I just activated the program for Firefox and experimented with it for about five minutes and literally had my jaw dropped. It took me about two seconds to decide to share with you here.

What is Blogging’s Value?

Monday, October 15th, 2007

where is the $$$?

Blogging is not going away. It may be changing, but it is not going away. I came across the statistics below via , whose RSS Feed I subscribe to, awhile ago and am only now getting around to sharing it with you.

The reality is that business is only just beginning to understand the value and power of the conversation created with their customers through blogging. This is an honest dialog, and one that customers are increasingly demanding in order to determine the authenticity of the products and services they consider. I don’t know about you, but I subscribe to dozens of blogs that cover a range of topics… from art to marketing, from cooking to parenting. I also read tons of magazines, but that is more of a luxury. I engage with blogs daily, and try to work on my own blog daily. For me, this is of tremendous value, and after reviewing the stats below I think it is safe to say that I am very much not alone in this thinking:

  • Over 12 million American adults currently maintain a blog.
  • More than 147 million Americans use the Internet.
  • Over 57 million Americans read blogs.
  • 1.7 million American adults list making money as one of the reasons they blog.
  • 89% of companies surveyed think blogs will be more important in the next five years.
  • 9% of internet users say .
  • 6% of the entire US adult population .
  • Technorati is currently tracking over .
  • Over 120 thousand blogs are .
  • There are over 1.4 million new blog posts .
  • 22 of the 100 most popular websites in the world .
  • 37% of blog readers .
  • 51% of blog readers .
  • Blog readers average .

This list of blogging statistics is at

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.

Web 2.0 Saved My Life

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Husqvarna 142

Over the last couple of weeks we have had a series of severe thunderstorms blow through our area. This has wreaked havoc on our wooded yard, causing us the loss of a couple of trees and breaking a few quite large branches. Initially, I figured we would just hire a service to come and take care of the tree carcasses. In particular, there was one tree that had become a “widow maker,” an ominous name given to a tree that has fallen but is now supported by another tree. Very dangerous. We also had an enormous limb that had broken but not completely separated from the tree trunk, and was hanging precariously over the entrance to our garage. Also very dangerous.

Here’s the deal, our lot is full of trees. This will happen again, and again, and again. For the money that we would pay for a tree surgeon to come and take care of our immediate problems I could acquire the necessary tools and figure out how to do this stuff myself. I presented this option to my wife, and she quickly concluded that I had a death wish. I don’t. I just saw this as an opportunity to become more self-sufficient. I had never even held a chainsaw. I had no experience with cutting trees and bringing down limbs. I did have a secret weapon. Web 2.0.

Here’s what I did:

1. Googled

2. Went to the first , then hit a few more to verify information

3. Searched YouTube for

4. Watched a few videos, then Googled

5. Found this great site, , and watched several step by step videos

6. Went to to further verify information (this is serious stuff)

7. Then I began researching chainsaws at and reading user reviews carefully

8. Did a price search , ended up finding the best price at Sears locally

9. Went to Sears, purchased chainsaw (the ), protective gear, nylon rope, loppers and an axe

I did the bulk of the work this past weekend and am happy to report that I did not maim or kill myself. I made a couple mistakes, but because I took the time to properly inform and protect myself my mistakes were quickly, easily and properly managed.

The success of this DIY project was completely based on user-generated content, online video, and powerful search algorithms. The availability of this content, and the ease of accessing it, meant that before I fired up my new chainsaw for the first time I had a plan of action and had thoroughly reviewed all safety precautions. This project worked for me because of the benefits of web 2.0, and if I had purchased my gear online I would have completed the entire process without actually talking with a real person, other than my wife… who is pleasantly surprised that I am still in possession of all of my appendages.

Bonus: My new chainsaw and axe are both orange.

Finding A Better Way To Do Things – The Action Network

Monday, July 30th, 2007

chaos collaborative

Tremendous effort is being spent trying to figure out how we need to be working together, motivated by the belief that there is a better way to do things. Nowhere is this effort more apparent, and visible, than in architecture design (though it is abundantly visible in a number of other creative efforts). The whole notion of trying to find a better way to do things sounds quaint, but it is actually quite serious. In the world of the built environment there are giant gaps between design teams and manufacturers of building materials and technologies… and these gaps negatively impact all sorts of variables related to successful projects, the most obvious being timelines and budgets. This has a dramatic effect on the ability to meet the needs of clients and deliver solutions that create value, preventing teams from breaking the mold of convention and unhinging the negatively controlling aspects of process. When you have to bridge great distances every time you initiate a project or seek true innovation for solutions, you are forced to redundantly cover territory that should be innate to project success. This perpetual backtracking is like an anchor that restrains project momentum and creative impetus.

Big questions come out of this reality. What if you could eliminate this distance between designers, manufacturers, and fabricators? What if manufacturing processes could be influenced at the front end of a project to provide solutions that are custom to the problems faced by the project and client teams? With these questions in mind, is there a collaborative model that supports creativity and helps in identifying opportunity? It would seem obvious, at least it is to me, that if you could support a more holistic, integrated approach to solving design problems you stand to go a great distance to finding the answers to these questions, and probably a lot more along the way.

I have fairly strong feelings about this, and have been working through the understanding and analysis of these issues with a close colleague (Stephen Knowles, AIA) for a number of years (five, to be exact). Stephen and I have been exploring and experimenting with the concept of the “Action Network,” and how this network serves to cohesively pull all actors together to support problem solving, creativity, and the opportunity for innovative results. The Action Network is about mutual participation and it is about the contribution of expertise when that expertise is most needed, not after the fact in a reverse engineering exercise. It is also about how projects are coordinated, and ensuring that this coordination, or design management, serves to efficiently and effectively bring the best talents and expertise to bare. All of this, on its surface, sounds absolutely obvious. Yet organizations struggle to make this happen. They struggle to change even the smallest aspect of how they approach these issues and seem to refuse to engage a concept of continuous improvement. This is partly due to the domination of process in the design world, but it is also because of fear. This is a different approach to design. It invites different people to the table and asks them to contribute their perspectives, experience, and ideas. Design, and architecture especially, are interesting insofar as they train people to resist this collaboration (though they love to claim collaboration as their own). It is not about the power of THE idea, it is about the power of MY idea… so to speak.

Our investigations into an Action Network, at least for the most part up to now, have been about identifying and engaging individuals and organizations that share our feelings on this matter and believe that there is a better way to do things, to work together. We have been very fortunate, and have been surprised by the reception of some pretty key players in the design world for considering an approach of this nature. The odd thing, and this was pointed out to me recently during a meeting of people/companies dedicated to this type of an approach, is that outside of design there are people desperate to get on with this approach to collaboration. These people already understand that there are better ways to solve problems, and they are ready and willing to collaborate to do so. Their companies are willing to do so. What is interesting is the legacy, territorial approach to design that gets in the way. Some of this is driven by individuals, but most if it is driven by cultures. Technology and the opportunities created by it, especially related to materials and manufacturing, are demanding that we work closely together to maximize what is possible, to liberate ideas from the restrictions of process. The Action Network is one of many ways to achieve this.

The concept of the Action Network is really very simple. Bring the best expertise and knowledge to the project at the best possible time. Anticipate project constraints, and ensure that the right talent is there to overcome them. Share in the collaborative problem solving at the front end of a project, and share in the design opportunities. Create a culture around knowledge sharing, and acknowledge the importance of a diversity of contributors to the success of the project. The size of a team will flex given the design issues at hand, supporting the need for expertise and for allowing ideas to go beyond the expected, or beyond what was even thought possible. The network is there to support the power of the idea, and to work to make this idea a reality. Ultimately, an Action Network is the ultimate manifestation of value creation. This is value creation on behalf of our clients, and the meeting of their goals, but also for the team and the desire to not limit the creativity and innovation that leads to great solutions.

Make Ideas Happen

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

action pad

I came across some new tools a couple of weeks ago. Now that I have had a chance to see them in action I am ready to report back to you. I cannot remember where I came across these guys (it may have been ) but somehow I landed on the blog for a company called that specializes in products that help you capture ideas and action. I am so all about that. I purchased from their site the Action Pad, Action Pad Mini, and Action Cards. It took a little bit of time to get used to the Action Pad, as I am one to take notes across and up and down an entire page. The Action Pad (pictured above) forces you to organize your notes so that you separate your next actions from the more general background information. It has a really cool section for your meeting preparation and to include any facts/names/details that have bearing on what the hell you are about to do or discuss. There is also a section called “Backburner” for issues/ideas that are not priority but still need to be documented for later action. I have to say, I love these tools. I use the Action Pad Mini as my daily phone log and to keep track of ancillary project time and use the Action Cards as a daily task list. I’ve read Getting Things Done, I’ve used a hipster PDA, and while those were interesting experiments (and components of each approach stick with me to this day) they have largely fallen by the wayside. Maybe the tools from Behance will, too. I can say that the quality of the papers used, and the colors and crispness of organization actually make me a little excited every time I open my folio at a meeting. They are fun to use. Behance also includes a very cool pamphlet with all of their products that outlines their Action Method, or how to maximize the utility of their tools. Check them out, I am really digging their approach and the products they have created. They have a terrific , too.