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Thoughts and Images from FUSE14

Posted by Plish on April 11, 2014

The FUSE conference has come and gone.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, I missed the last day, but the first two days were pretty amazing.  It was a conference of great insights into the power of Design in creating powerful, memorable experiences of products/services/brands.

I made concept maps of all the presentations I sat in on.  You can check them out on SlideShare.

Day 1

Day 2

There’s a mashup from Twitter here and here.

If you can make this conference in the future, it’s well worth it. The speakers are top-notch, the facility is beautiful, and the food was excellent as well.

Some of my pics are below:

The conference was not just about the past and present.  It was about the future as well.   There are challenges presented by technology and human nature, challenges that could demean instead of elevate people if not addressed.

The conference was exciting, precisely because it acknowledged the multifaceted challenges that await those who seek to design better experiences, better products, a better, more human, sustainable future.

Posted in Best Practices, Brands, creativity, Customer Focus, Design, Experience, innovation, Research, Service Design, Social Innovation, Sustainable Technology, The Future | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

5 Insights Into Innovation From the Coyote

Posted by Plish on June 30, 2013

Graphic Courtesy of Nature.com (Click on it to read article on Coyotes)

Graphic Courtesy of Nature.com (Click on it to read article on Coyotes)

Every once in a while when I’m out jogging, I’ll come across a coyote. They look at me, turn, and go in the other direction – disappearing into a thicket along the trail.  I also hear them yipping with pups, or I hear local packs of coyotes join in with choruses of their own when a distant ambulance siren pierces the night.  Yet most people don’t see coyotes all that often.

But just because most people don’t see coyotes doesn’t mean they’re not around.  On the contrary, coyotes are, quite literally, everywhere.  In fact, coyotes, in spite of their habitats being modified, and open hunting seasons, are one of the few animals that has actually increased the extent of its domain over time.

Think of it.  They are competing for food and land under intense pressure and thriving!

So, what are the main reasons for this, and what can we learn from the wily Coyote? (The word itself is an Aztec derivative of the word meaning ‘Trickster.”)

1. Coyotes adjust their diet based upon what’s available.  When they find certain types of food getting scarce, they’re willing to go after other types of food.   How willing are most companies to venture out of the comfort space and adjust how they ‘feed’ themselves? What new channels do you utilize?

2. As coyotes spread Northeast, they mated with wolves, or more properly, allowed themselves to breed with wolves, who were in the decline due to hunting.  This resulted in bigger coyotes that could take on bigger prey. Now there is evidence that they’re breeding with domestic dogs – the results of which are unknown because this is still an experiment in the making.  Is your organization willing to intimately partner with others to create even more powerful ‘offspring’?

3. Coyotes breed quickly.  Compared to other predatory canines, coyotes reproduce more quickly.  This enables them to stay ahead of the game, even under predatory pressure and open hunting.  Is your organization reproducing itself, creating multiple channels to have a better chance at survival?  (Google is especially good at this.)

4. Coyotes are relentless in forcing others to play by their rules.  Where coyotes are taking advantage of clear-cut forests to prey on the young of an endangered caribou species, the only way to save the caribou right now, is to stop clear cutting the forest.  Is your company taking advantage of  market dynamics so effectively that you’re forcing the game to change?

5.  Coyotes constantly push the edges of their boundaries.  They look for opportunities to expand their domains. How effectively are you probing the edge of what you don’t know? 

Larry Ellis, in his essay, “Trickster: Shaman of the Liminal” perhaps summarizes innovation best when speaking of the Trickster genre (Replace the references to ‘Trickster’ with the word ‘Innovation’):”Trickster creates through destruction and succeeds through failure; his mythic and cultural achievements are seldom intentional. “Defining such a various creature,” writes Jarold Ramsey, “is a little like trying to juggle hummingbirds””

Yes, innovation can be like trying to juggle hummingbirds.  But, with these 5 insights into the method behind the coyote’s madness, the juggling becomes much more manageable and the results, intentional.

Posted in Best Practices, creativity, culture of innovation, Disruptive Innovation, Evolution, innovation, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Death to the Project Post-Mortem!

Posted by Plish on November 30, 2012

Turn to any business magazine, look in project management books, (Microsoft’s site even has a template for it!) and one of the best practices of project management is to conduct a post-mortem just after a project has been completed, and right before it’s officially ‘closed.’ The purpose is to get everyone on the team together to examine what went well in the project, what went wrong, and record this information so that others can learn.

Don’t get me wrong, the concept is a good one and should be practiced.  What I have a problem with, in particular, is use of the phrase, ‘post-mortem.’

By now you know that I’m a big fan of the power of words and metaphors – they shape how we solve problems and approach the world.  So it probably won’t surprise you then that my aversion to the phrase is tied to all the meaning around the words, ‘post-mortem.’

Think about it.

The term literally means: after death.  But what’s dead?  You just finished something that myriads of people put their hearts and souls into, and now that that something is impacting the world, you call it dead?  The project is closed, not dead. As a matter of fact, all projects, even those that resulting in the closing of a chapter, are births, not deaths! They are the beginning of something new.

By bringing the concept of death into the mix, there is a meaning conveyed that what just happened was not life-giving.  It’s a not-so-subtle reminder that what just happened needs to be dissected and analyzed, and perhaps even robbed of deeper meaning and import*.  Perhaps worst of all, it creates a sense that no continuity with this ‘dead thing’ is required.

On the contrary, the work of marketing, manufacturing, sales and product monitoring is kicking into full gear!

My point here is that it’s not about ending something, as much as it’s about a continuity of learning!  Sure, one project ends, another begins.  It’s a never-ending cycle. The commonality is that before, during and after a project, there needs to be a recursive aspect, a learning process that is ingrained into the culture.  That mindset only comes about if there’s less emphasis on analyzing ‘that which died,’ and more emphasis on learning each day what works, what doesn’t, and growing from that. And, for that to happen, we need to put the term,”Project Post-Mortem” to death, and replace it with a more forward thinking term.

I like: ‘Lessons Learned.’

What would you call it?

 

 

*

One day after sleeping badly, an anatomist went to his frog laboratory and
removed, from a cage, a frog with white spots on its back. He placed it on a
table and drew a line just in front of the frog. “Jump frog, jump!” he shouted.
The little critter jumped two feet forward. In his lab book, the anatomist
scribbled, “Frog with four legs jumps two feet.”

Then, he surgically
removed one leg of the frog and repeated the experiment. “Jump, jump!” To which,
the frog leaped forward 1.5 feet. He wrote down, “Frog with three legs jumps 1.5
feet.”

Next, he removed a second leg. “Jump frog, jump!” The frog
managed to jump a foot. He scribbled in his lab book, “Frog with two legs jumps
one foot.”

Not stopping there, the anatomist removed yet another leg.
“Jump, jump!” The poor frog somehow managed to move 0.5 feet forward. The
scientist wrote, “Frog with one leg jumps 0.5 feet.”

Finally, he
eliminated the last leg. “Jump, jump!” he shouted, encouraging forward progress
for the frog. But despite all its efforts, the frog could not budge. “Jump frog,
jump!” he cried again. It was no use; the frog would not response. The anatomist
thought for a while and then wrote in his lab book, “Frog with no legs goes
deaf.”

Posted in Best Practices, Creative Environments, culture of innovation, innovation, Innovation Tools, Project Management, Team-Building | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

When US Healthcare Delivery Meets The Cheesecake Factory: The Stuff Innovation is Made of

Posted by Plish on August 24, 2012

 

What do the U.S. healthcare delivery system and The Cheesecake Factory have in common?

According to Dr. Atul Gawande, potentially a great deal.  The Dr. recently penned an article over at The New Yorker called, “Big Med.”  Inspired by his experience at The Cheesecake Factory (TCF), he wondered if perhaps there weren’t some way that the system at The Cheesecake Factory could be used as a pattern for US healthcare delivery.  After all, TCF delivers millions of meals in a cost-effective and profitable manner – why couldn’t the healthcare system treat millions of people in a cost-effective and profitable manner?

The Dr. shares that, indeed, there are already some clinicians implementing TCF-esque solutions.  While the Dr. doesn’t bring it up,    this article over at The Economist, highlights how healthcare delivery is undergoing innovation in India - reflecting in many ways, Dr. Gawande’s TCF inspired vision.

In response, Steve Denning at Forbes, wrote an article entitled: “How Not to Fix US Healthcare: Copy The Cheesecake Factory.”  Mr. Denning thought that Dr. Gawande was way off base using The Cheesecake Factory as a pattern.  He cited Innovation Scholar, Clayton Christensen, and then claimed that Dr. Gawande’s argument is flawed in these ways:

1.Wrong question
2.Wrong knowledge model
3.Wrong management model
4.Wrong conclusions about scaling

In actuality the above discussion is  both/and vs. either/or.  When trying to come up with truly innovative solutions, the goal is to take two or more ideas/metaphors, slam them together, and see what comes out of the mix.

Personally, I think Dr. Gawande’s perspective is highly provocative and has something going for it. His thinking isn’t ‘pie in the sky.’ There is, as the Dr. demonstrates, plenty of room for standardization and better management of spending/costs without sacrificing care.  Precisely because the TCF model is, on first blush, so different from the healthcare world and yet similar with regards to servicing millions in a cost-effective, profitable manner, that we will benefit greatly from creating a synthesis between healthcare delivery and what goes on in The Cheesecake Factory.

We should smash the TCF metaphor up against current healthcare practices and see what comes out of it.  That’s where great innovation will come from!    After all, the Cheesecake Factory IS successful and is doing something right. Many healthcare institutions in India ARE doing something right. The doctors in Dr. Gawande’s article ARE doing something right, saving money and improving outcomes.   There’s got to be something we can learn, be inspired by, and perhaps  implement and test, when metaphors dance into a tertium quid.

It doesn’t further discussions, and in fact limits solutions, to caricature Dr. Gawande’s insights.  Instead of claiming, as Mr. Denning did, that everything is “wrong” with Dr. Gawande’s vision, the discussion would be furthered by full-hearted listening, combining of metaphor, and dreaming of what can be.

I think the discussion would be even better if done over a meal at The Cheesecake Factory.

Posted in Best Practices, Design, Disruptive Innovation, Healthcare, innovation, problem solving, Service Design, Wellness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Looking for the Secret to Successful Problem Solving? Banish the “…but…”

Posted by Plish on August 27, 2011

Try this concept when problem solving, in brainstormings, in your personal life. 

It’ll work wonders.

Posted in Behavioral Science, Best Practices, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, culture of innovation, idea generation, innovation, problem solving, Tactics, Traditional Brainstorming, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Holistic ‘Brain’storming – Harnessing the Body (and the Senses) in the Creative Process

Posted by Plish on August 18, 2011

We have a tendency to take our body’s for granted.   As a result we often ignore the connections between mind and body that have evolved to become part of the human condition.  For example, this article points out that when people think about the past they lean backwards, when they think about the future they lean forwards.

Now think about brainstormings you’ve been in.  How many people lean back in their chairs when trying to come up with ideas?  Sure, you can say that people are relaxing, and I’ll be the first to admit that a relaxed mind is a creative mind.  But, having people leaning forward in their chairs is easy to do, and if done in a playful, relaxed way, can’t hurt.

Is a topic important?  Perhaps having heavy-looking objects scattered around the room, or even having people hold heavy objects, can portray the importance of what is being discussed.  

Want people to feel warm?  Have them remember good experiences. 

Have them hold warm drinks  and chances are they’ll view fictional characters as friendly and warm (and vice-versa with holding cold drinks).

If you bring munchies into the meeting and you want participants to think in a more creative (versus analytical) fashion, serving a bowl of a trail mix may help.  Want participants to be more analytical in their thinking?  Bring in a bowl of nuts, one of raisins, one of chocolate bits….you get the idea.  (For more on creativity and our senses see this article.)

The point is, people are more than just brains.  People are holistic, embodied beings and when the body is brought into the creative process, amazing things can happen.

Give it a try, you don’t have anything to lose…

…but a whole bunch to gain!

Posted in Best Practices, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Design, idea generation, imagination, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, The Senses, Traditional Brainstorming, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Four Rules for Building a Positive Deviance Repository – A Model Based on Woman’s World Magazine

Posted by Plish on April 28, 2011

Positive Deviance is based on the observation that in every community there are certain individuals or groups (the positive deviants), whose uncommon but successful behaviors or strategies enable them to find better solutions to a problem than their peers. These individuals or groups have access to exactly the same resources and face the same challenges and obstacles as their peers. ” (From Positive Deviance website)

“Woman’s World is written for the traditional, family-oriented working woman. Woman’s World delivers a feel-good mix of heart-warming human interest stories and practical everyday solutions for work and home in every issue – America’s premiere weekly service book.” (italics mine) - Woman’s World Mission Statement

While recently thumbing through an issue of Woman’s World magazine, it dawned on me that Woman’s World  is a repository of positive deviance (And consequently is a database of possible business opportunities!).  In fact, Woman’s World’s Mission Statement emphasizes that their goal is to provide practical everyday solutions for work and home.  This also includes solutions for health and beauty. They make it a point to amass and share tidbits of information - helpful information that others may not have thought of or had access to.

These insights come from women who have the same resources and face the same challenges and obstacles as the readers of  Woman’s World.  In fact, many times it is  readers that contribute!

For a buck seventy-nine you get, as the magazine claims on every cover, “A Great Week Made Easy!”.  You also get solutions to problems (that you often didn’t realize you had until you saw them printed),  and you feel better about yourself because you’re making an effort to change (i.e. design) your life, and the lives of those around you, for the better.

How does Woman’s World do this and what can you do to  build a system for sharing positive deviances?

Follow each of these four rules and you’ll be on your way. 

  1. You need a repository or framework where ideas can be exchanged.  It doesn’t have to be high-tech.  Woman’s World is a magazine – it’s old school, not web 2.0! In fact, its paperness is a major strength (See number 2 below)
  2. People need to have easy access to the repository. Woman’s World is usually placed in the check out aisles.  People get it while they’re waiting to do something else!  It also means that it should be easy (and even fun!) to read, easy to navigate.  Information shouldn’t be presented as long drawn out treatises, but as short and sweet pericopes.
  3. People need to see themselves as belonging to a community in which they can share their problems and solutions without judgement.  The members of this community share a common goal:  the growth and/or improvement of individuals, families and communities. 
  4. The repository needs to address what is important to community members. This goes beyond obvious systemic needs (how to do x,y,z more effectively) and includes things like spirituality, health/wellness, etc . 

In addition to these four rules,  there are two guidelines that must be followed:

  • DON’T CANONIZE ANY PARTICULAR CONTENT OF THE POSITIVE DEVIANCE REPOSITORY! 
  • Once you start getting a Positive Deviance Repository in place, don’t forget to experiment and improve on your system.

Violating either of these guidelines will result in stagnation of your system, or worse, alienation of  the system’s users.  Positive Deviances are proposed and adopted from the ground up.  If they’re imposed from the top down, they will often lose their efficacy.  You want people to be active and engaged in reading and contributing to the Positive Deviance Repository.

After all, who wouldn’t want  their customers/members to contribute to the growth of the company and/or society, and for them to feel better at the same time?

Posted in Best Practices, Design, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Social Innovation | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Building a Better World – A Lesson on Waste and Human Nature from the Internet

Posted by Plish on June 2, 2010

Humans have a tendency to see to  immense resources as inexhaustible…

Until they get close to exhaustion.

Water, our air, petroleum products, various plants and animals. They’re all examples of resources  humans use and use, often not being aware of the consequences until it’s too late.

So, I decided to check and see if another immense and inexhaustible resource was being misused by people.

The Internet.

And, it is.

While writing a post for this blog a couple days ago I noticed that one image I downloaded from the web was surprisingly large.  So, for kicks I decided to see if I could keep it the same quality but reduce the file size.  I didn’t do any tweaking of contrast or brightness.  Here are the results:

136k

 

58.6k

I was shocked.  The file was almost twice the size as what was needed.  Sure it’s not perfect but it still looks pretty good. I would venture to say that if you didn’t have the other one next to it you wouldn’t even know.  But, is this a pattern on the internet?   I went over to  5 other sites, and downloaded a few more pictures from them to see if this is a prevalent problem.  Below are two of the more glaring examples.    Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Best Practices, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, innovation, problem solving, Social Responsibility, Sustainable Technology, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A New Approach to Education for Minimizing Healthcare Associated Infections

Posted by Plish on May 20, 2010

At any one time around the world, 1.4 million people are suffering from infections acquired in hospitals.  It adds almost 7 billion in cost per year to healthcare facilities and impacts families and people in tragic ways

Big Problem.

What really makes these infections even more tragic is that most of them are preventable through changes in behaviour.

To increase awareness and educate healthcare providers, Kimberly-Clark has started the “Not on My Watch” campaign.  Instead of waiting for institutions to train their employees, Kimberly-Clark is cruising around the country with the “HAI (Healthcare Associated Infection) Education Bus,” a mobile classroom bringing CE accredited courses right to the doorstep of hospitals.

Additional info videos are available on this website along with additional references.

Overall, this is a pretty slick idea to bring CE accredited courses to clinicians as opposed to them having to schedule time away from their work.  Kimberly-Clark should be applauded for their efforts in keeping HAI’s in the forefront of people’s minds.

There are two issues here though that could be improved upon.

First, there doesn’t seem to be any succinct, articulated goal.  Yes, the purpose here is to keep healthcare workers updated on the most current trends in infection management and to bring down the incidence of HAI’s.  But, nowhere is there an explicit goal as there was in the 5 Million Lives Campaign.  The use of the phrase, “Not on my watch,” while powerfully motivating to individuals to prevent HAI’s while they’re on the floor, has a built-in blame as in: “That happened on your watch,” when something happens.  Yes, blame can be a powerful motivator as well, but no one wants towork under fear.

Second, research has shown that educational campaigns are only as good as the systems into which they’re planted.  In other words, people learn and people forget.  Even when people know what the right thing to do is, pressures from hospital admins, superiors, patients and families, often result in the right thing not being done.  I’ve personally witnessed well-educated nurses doing the wrong thing more times than I, or anyone, would like to see.    A perusal of the Tools page , while full of treatment guidelines and recommendations, reveals little that most healthcare workers haven’t already been exposed to.  That said, it is helpful to have these all in one place.

So, is this a good thing that K-C is doing?  Of course! It’s admirable and good to educate. 

But, what would be really cool, and would probably have more impact, is to have a bus full of designers that goes from hospital to hospital teaching them how to apply tools like positive deviance in improving healthcare outcomes.

Hmmmm, I wonder where I can get a bus….

Posted in Best Practices, Customer Focus, Design, design thinking, Health Concerns, Healthcare, innovation, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Intuitive Guiding of Iterative Design Research to Expedite Product Development

Posted by Plish on May 14, 2010

Wednesday,  at the final day of the Design Research Conference,  a panel discussion was held on the topic of design research and its role.  One panelist, Don Norman, was particularly animated about the need for design research to better serve industry by providing the results of the research in an expedited manner.  

While listening to Norman I found myself in total agreement with his assessments.  I also resisted the urge to jump up, wave my arms and say, “We’ve already done it!!!!”

What is ‘it’?

‘It’ is: Expediting design research to help industry develop products faster.   This technique may or may not work with non-product design but thinking about it, I’m not sure there’s a reason why it shouldn’t. 

So what is this process?  Here’s a diagram of the comparison between how design research is done in traditional programs and in expedited programs.

Click for Full Size

The typical Research and Development (R&D) process holds science in the highest esteem.   It consists of a research phase, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Authenticity, Best Practices, Creative Environments, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, innovation, Innovation Tools, Market Assessment, problem solving, Research, Tactics, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

 
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