ZenStorming

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Archive for April, 2013

When Success is Bad – The Math Behind Why Failure Is Essential

Posted by Plish on April 30, 2013

We all know Murphy’s Law: “Whatever can go wrong, will.”

But, what happens when the right things happen for what we think are the right reasons?

Or, restating in a slightly different way:

In any system there are ways of achieving the correct result through a combination of known and unknown means.

As any product developer will tell you, there are times when you test a product (or code) and it works.  You get excited. You decide to show your results to others. You do everything the exact same way you did last time, only this time, it doesn’t work.

Not. At. All.

How does this happen?

Let’s imagine a product as a mathematical expression: A+B+C=X (eq.1).  A, B, and C are things that we know, things that we do to bring about X which is the result we want to have happen. Let’s call this the “Success Equation”.

The equation for some undesired outcome could be depicted as: A+B+C+W=Z (eq.2). W is some known wrong step or condition that causes Z, which is an undesired result. We can call this the “Devil We Know” equation.

Now, when working with a product prototypes we actually only know what we know.  Sounds obvious right?  Another way to say this is:  We don’t know what we don’t know.

What this means is that the REAL equation for our product is very often: A+B+C+D+E+F=X.  (eq. 3) This is one of many versions of what I’ll call the “Devil We Don’t Know” equations.

A, B and C are known and are BOLD in the equation.  D, E and F, are grey because we don’t even know these variables exist.  Nevertheless, they are a part of the equation and if they all come into play, X occurs, so we’re happy.

And that’s a problem.

Why?

What happens if D, or E, or F, or some combination of these disappear?  We could get the formula A+B+C+E+F=Z, (eq.4) .  What gives?  We’re doing everything right, just like we were before, and getting the wrong result!!!

And it gets worse…

If n=”The number of variables we don’t know, but when all are present result in success”, then there are 2(n)-2 possible permutations of possible failure modes. In other words, if there are two unknown variables, then there are two possible failure mode combinations; 3 variables translates to 6; 4 to 14; and 5 unknown variables could lead to 30 possible failure modes!

Which brings us to the main point of this post.

Failure in the product development process is a necessity!

Why?

We ultimately want to get to the Success Equation (eq.1).  We want to be able to know that every time we do A and B and C, we get X.

The best way to get there is to convert every “Devil We Don’t Know” equation (eq.3) to a “Devil We Know” equation (eq. 2). And that only happens through testing, experimenting, failure, and learning from those failures.

So the lesson from this Law is this:  Next time you’re testing a product and it works as expected, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your product is working perfectly.  Test. Fail. Test again! Avail yourself of digital tools and novel testing techniques (and people that like to break things) to create failures and learn from them. Find out what you don’t know.

Fail early, fail often, fail to learn, fail to succeed.

Oh, and this Law needs a name. Any suggestions?

Posted in Design, design thinking, innovation, Innovation Metrics, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Sound, Remembering, and Sleeping – An Innovative way to Design Memorable Experiences

Posted by Plish on April 22, 2013

The idea of learning while we sleep has been around for almost a hundred years.  It turns out that getting information while we sleep doesn’t appear to be a terribly successful way of learning. But all is not lost.

If we learn something and sleep on it, we do in fact process information and thus can retain and categorize information more effectively.

Now, researchers have determined that if a sound is experienced along with something that we want to remember, hearing that sound again helped recall the original experience.  In addition, if that sound is heard while we sleep, it seems to cement the memory of the experience even more than simply re-hearing the sound in a waking state.

In other words, if you see a picture of a cow, and you hear a ticking clock, just hearing that ticking clock the next day will probably help you remember the cow.  However, it you hear that same ticking clock sound while you’re sleeping, your ability to remember the picture of the cow will be improved greatly when you hear the ticking.

So,  it appears that sonic branding, like I  discussed last week, can even have a more powerful impact if those sounds can be heard while people sleep.  This could create a powerful way to remember experiences if say, audio brands were interspersed in relaxing music that played while we slept.

It could also be used to design classroom experiences. Key points in a lecture could have musical notes or sounds as an accompaniment.  Those sounds could be given to students in MP3 form so they can listen to those sounds when they study and sleep.  They could replay those sounds later to help with recall.

I could see it used as well for training purposes.  People do a certain task to certain musical tones.  When they’re first learning, they can listen to those tones as they sleep.

What if operating rooms had musical sequences to help nurses, techs and surgeons remember pre-operative prepping procedures?

How could you see this research being used?

Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, Brands, cognitive studies, Customer Focus, Design, Experience, innovation, Research, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sonic and Multi-Sensorial Branding

Posted by Plish on April 16, 2013

Over at FUSE 2013 , Scott Power, Senior Brand Strategist for Kaiser Permanente, discussed sonic branding vis-à-vis KP’s work with Audiobrain.

Power pointed out how sound is being used as a way to reinforce, not only the Kaiser Permanente brand, but their services, thus helping people get healthier.

Sonic branding is hardly new,  yet this powerful method is underused.

Many people think of a brand as represented by a visual trademark- a company saying: “This is us and what we represent.”  However, with regards to audio branding companies say, “This is what we are offering, and this is what we want it to sound like, and how we want it to impact your senses.”  But, it doesn’t need to stop there!

Walk into a McDonald’s. It has a certain smell.  Order a burger.  Nothing smells like a McDonald’s burger. Those smells are all part of the brand.  What about the colors? The feel of the cups?  The taste? The sounds that you hear when you wait in line?  Leave McDonald’s and imagine what it would be like if every car company had its own distinctive ‘new car’ smell.  What if each doctor’s office had its own smell that helped patients be more calm?

The brand is more than a logo, trademark or tagline.  The brand is tied intimately to the experience of a product or service.  It speaks through the languages of touch, sight, taste, sound and smell.    It’s creates the greatest impact when, not only does it speak for the company and its offerings, but you and I actually understand the language and it resonates with what we expect the brand to be saying. There needs to be consistency, or paraphrasing Sartre: pink cake needs to taste pink!

The exciting part of this, is that Audio branding is only the beginning…

Posted in Brands, Co-Creation, Customer Focus, Design, Experience, Healthcare, innovation, Musical Creativity, Service Design, The Senses, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Innovation in Non-Profits and Churches

Posted by Plish on April 14, 2013

Through the folks over at CreatePossible, I found out about this great event called Co-Lab, for non-profit organizations and ministries.

As part of Co-Lab, there was a session entitled “The Theology of Innovation.”  It’s a great video of two people sharing the story of their church and their quest to embrace innovation and be true to their Faith (which contrary to what many  would think, and as the session presenters point out, a conflict between innovation and religious communities doesn’t have to exist.)  There are also multiple other sessions on the Vimeo Co-Lab site on Future Trends, and the future of Non-Profits to name a few. They’re worth checking out.

Even if you’re not into Christianity, it’s a fascinating insight into how people react and deal with design thinking and innovative processes. These folks even went to IDEO for assistance in this process. (Next time, just give me a call 🙂 )

Looking forward to your thoughts!

(Note on the video: When the woman speaks in the presentation, her microphone level is lower so you may have to turn up the presentation at those times.)

Posted in Authenticity, Co-Creation, creativity, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, design thinking, innovation, Religion, Social Innovation, Spirituality | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Innovation, Design and the “Crafting the Future” Conference

Posted by Plish on April 9, 2013

If you’re interested in some great perspectives on design, innovation, craft, social change and the interplay of all these and more, check out the webpage from the Crafting the Future conference, running April 17th thru 19th in Gothenburg.  In particular, head over to the Papers section.  There you will find a plethora of research on the following topics:

1. Designing Future Mobility
2. Design Development of Future Homes for Future Cities
3. Design and Innovation
4. MAKING TOGETHER – Open, Connected, Collaborative
5. The craft of design in design of service
6. Fashion Design for Sustainability
7. Design history as a tool for better design
8. Power to the People: Practices of Empowerment through Craft
9. Design & Craft (Crafting the Education of Design)
10. Open Track

I’m amazed by the volume of wonderful work.  Pick your research track and dive in!

Oh, if anyone reading this is going to the conference, I would love to hear your thoughts!!

 

Posted in Co-Creation, culture of innovation, Design, Fashion, innovation, problem solving, Service Design, Social Innovation, Sustainability, The Future | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Thoughts on Innovation and Design from Ukrainian Fashion Designer, Olga De NoGGa

Posted by Plish on April 6, 2013

DeNoGGa

 

 

 

On March 1st, Fashion Designer Olga De Nogga was in Chicago showcasing her designs at a fashion show sponsored and supported by ‘Ukrainian Women in Business’ as well as other Chicago community organizations.

I was fascinated by some of her work and wanted to get her thoughts on innovation and design.  Unfortunately, due to conflict,  I was not able to get to the show.  However, I was able to get a few questions to her and she was kind enough to take time out of her crazy travel schedule to answer them.  What follows is the interview and her thoughts.

Special thanks to Sofia Mikolyash and Iaroslava Babenchuk for  your indispensable contributions to the publication of this interview!

****Interview with Designer Olga De Nogga  –  March 2013****

What is your definition of innovation?

Overall, for me innovation is what impresses a human eye – something new and original – a new construction in clothing, some particular color solution. Innovation is a cornerstone of my creative method – starting from concept development for a collection, and finishing with its visualization in models.

 It seems that most of your materials are more traditional. What are your thoughts on new materials and newer manufacturing processes such as 3 dimensional printing? Any plans to use those in your future designs?

Intense, bright and open ways of expressing our reality has been always important for our nation as it is part of our self-identity, said Oleksandra Exter, a famous Ukrainian artist and experimenter. In my work you can see that. I always try to pay attention to new technologies, as it is important for a designer.  It allows me to see new horizons and widens the potential for new discoveries .But I also pay attention to the integrity of my personal style of designing so that it doesn’t get deformed by innovation and instead acquires plasticity and develops – it is important for a designer not to stop developing. Considering recent trends in innovation it is important for me nevertheless to stick to 100% natural fabrics.

What is it from the Ukrainian Culture that sings in your designs? In other words, what from the Ukrainian Cultural heritage are you trying to share and elevate through your design?

I can say for sure that it’s embroidery, colors – Ukrainian embroidery is generously colorful and particular. You can see that in my former collections and in the current one. The smoking jacket collection for women ‡ was dominated by bright colors that are not typical in smoking jackets. The construction of the jackets was also inspired by the traditional cut.

People are bringing a fashion sense to things that usually are not considered primarily fashionable – eye glasses, wheelchairs, canes, artificial legs and arms. What are your thoughts on this and in the bigger picture, what role does fashion design contribute to the growth of individuals and the growth of humanity?

I agree that contemporary fashion is changing very dynamically – each season – which is why many designers plug into their collections sometimes unnecessary or accidental pieces. At times they care more about the shock effect rather than the aesthetic value of such plug-ins. They are trying to attract attention to themselves that way. However, such designers very often lose the conceptual dimension of their work, and undervalue their search for new images and shapes. It is important to mention that contemporary fashion not only brings in new visual tendencies but also can address certain social aspects. Last year the Ukraine Fashion week was framed by a theme of Ecology, in particular focusing on water and ways to preserve water supply on the planet. Fashion weeks now highlight that it is fashionable to be healthy and that addresses certain social issues.

‡The word to describe the “Smoking Jacket” Collection is also the word used for tuxedos.

****End****

I am fascinated by  her thoughts about innovation getting in the way of natural development, which is very often what many companies want to happen.  Would love to flesh that out further with her some day over a cocktail.

What are your thoughts?

Posted in Arts, creativity, Design, Fashion, innovation, Interviews, Social Responsibility, Sustainability, Wellness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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