ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘IIT Institute of Design’

Communicating The New – A Book Review

Posted by Plish on December 30, 2013

I recently finished reading, Communicating The New: Methods to Shape and Accelerate Innovation by IIT Institute of Design Professor, Kim Erwin.

The premise of the book is simple but it’s a point that gets missed.  If someone is trying to communicating a new idea, the typical way is to use concepts, techniques and metaphors that are familiar. I’ve seen it in many industries.  In music we hear people say, “The music is a cross between Joan Jett and Enya.”  While the statement is provocative, it falls short because people are forming an idea of what the “Joan/Enya” amalgam sounds and looks like, a perception that is likely inaccurate in some, if not many, ways.  In business I’ve seen products described as “XYZ product but it does it in a different way and better.”  Again, this type of comparison rings hollow and doesn’t do justice to what may truly be a ground breaking concept.

So what to do?

As the book points out: If you want to communicate The New, it should be done in ways that get the message across and at the same time pave the way for bringing the idea to fruition.  It’s not just about transmitting information, it’s about bringing information alive and making it engaging on myriads of levels.  Hence the subtitle of the book: “Methods to Shape and Accelerate Innovation.”

While the book is about communication, it’s about much more than that, it’s about creating and cocreating – bringing things to actualization.  This book is about innovation tactics; it’s about dream-storming.  We all have heard and seen great ideas that don’t get a chance to spread their wings because the idea was  ineffectively communicated.  This book shares tools to give an idea wings.  In addition, it provides tools that will excite and empower stakeholders/team members so that they engage with, and develop, fledgling ideas.  The more these people are engaged, the more they feel confident and enthusiastic about pushing an idea out of the nest expecting it to fly!

The book is easy to read and is aesthetically pleasing as well.  There are multiple case studies and insights from innovators – it adds breadth to the content.  One minor complaint I have is that there are some great graphics that span adjacent pages. As a result, some of the content in the graphics is hard to see because it disappears in the seam between the pages.  Granted, the content of these ‘page spanning graphics’ are from case studies and they aren’t really pertinent to the content of the chapters, but the graphics were interesting and it drove me nuts to not be able to see the entire graphic.  If I can read part of a graphic, I want to be able to read all of it.  Just a personal pet peeve. The remainder of the graphics are well done and helpful, illuminating the text.

The resource section of this book, what people would normally consider the end notes of a book, are outstanding and provide links and directions to sources for further research.  This chapter is a gem and should be read.

A final point is that a book about communicating The New, should perhaps be more than a book. The webpage is a step in the right direction, but somewhere in the back of my mind, this book is screaming for new ways of being shared.   I am also looking forward to more case studies of people who are successfully (and unsuccessfully!) communicating The New.  This book is just getting the conversation started!

Erwin’s book is a welcome addition to the libraries of innovators and entre/intrapraneurs alike.  I highly recommend “Communicating the New” for anyone who has ideas and knows it’ll take more than an army of one to make them reality.

Advertisements

Posted in culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, Entrepreneurship 2.0, innovation, Tactics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How Monsanto Should Be Innovating

Posted by Plish on November 14, 2013

It seems that every week someone mentions something about Monsanto, and it’s very seldom good.  Doesn’t matter if it’s Facebook, or Twitter, or the news, someone is saying something.  A simple perusal of a Google Search of “Monsanto” can give one the impression that the company is a litigious giant  that doesn’t care about the well-being of people or the environment and instead is only concerned with making money.  Monsanto even has the dubious distinction of being named “The Most Evil Corporation” of 2013 in a Natural News poll.

Never the less, as far as corporations go, Monsanto is doing very well.  In spite of the bad press and mounting negative public opinion over GMO‘s, Monsanto continues to grow, innovating, patenting and licensing the agricultural technologies they develop.

Even though Monsanto  licenses its technologies to other seed companies,  many in the public perceive Monsanto as taking advantage of farmers as opposed to helping them.  After all, companies generally don’t sue their customers (even if any money won in a case does go to youth scholarship programs.)

To be fair, they really can’t be blamed for  protecting their intellectual property.  When a company invests millions of dollars a day in research, if it allowed people to use their technology in an unlicensed manner, the business could not sustain itself.

But, there is another way…

(Farmers are) the support system of the world’s economy, working day in and day out to feed, clothe and provide energy for our world. – Monsanto’s About Us webpage

There are literally millions and millions of farmers in the world. Small farms, large farms and everything in-between.  Ultimately, everyone wants the same thing: Improved, sustainable yields that don’t hurt people or the environment, but yet enable farmers to make a living.

Farmers are passionate about their calling. Each one is looking for an edge, for a way to get the most for the least amount of investment in time and money.  Each one is dealing with local microclimates, soil conditions, and pests; not to mention the economic climates.  They seek out new information, they build and utilize support networks, they experiment.  They are entrepreneurs. (Check out Farm Journal for just a tiny sample of the varied topics farmers digest)

Monsanto, as mentioned before, spends over 2 million dollars a day on research and patents are only good for 20 years (and some of the patents they’re defending now are expiring within the next few years.)  They employ 22,000 people worldwide. No matter how much they invest in R&D, or how many people they hire, they can never account for  all the variables farmers around the world deal with.

So what should they do?

Monsanto needs to begin Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Co-Creation, Design, Disruptive Innovation, Food, innovation, Open Source, Science, Sustainability, Sustainable Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Getting Naked…Innovation!

Posted by Plish on November 5, 2013

If you’d like to read a comprehensive, yet very readable book on the innovation process and the tactics of designing for people, I highly recommend the book Naked Innovation by Zachary Paradis and David McGaw.

How much does the book cost?  Right now it’s less than I paid for it when it first hit the shelves of an IIT Design Conference.  In fact, it costs nothing!  That’s right – it’s free.  The authors want to make an already good book even better, so they are re-releasing it for free, one chapter at a time, and asking for feedback from the readers.

What do you need to do?

First step: Head to  NakedInnovation.com.

Second step: Download individual chapters of the book.

Third step: Read…

Fourth step: Give your feedback.

This book is an excellent addition to your innovation library, and now is the best time to pick up a copy and contribute to making the next version even better!

Let me know your thoughts when you read it.

Posted in Books, Crowdsourcing, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, innovation, Innovation Tools, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Accelerating Innovation Using Human-Centered Design: A Seminar

Posted by Plish on October 11, 2013

If you’d like to learn more about Human-Centered Design, and how it can power your innovation efforts be sure to check out DMI’s seminar, powered by friends over at the LUMA Institute.

Developing Effective Action Plans for Accelerated Innovation is being held Chicago on November 14th at the IIT Institute of Design.  The seminar will introduce participants to:

…a versatile system for innovating with speed and agility. It is a hands-on workshop featuring an organized framework for Human-Centered Design methods and a corresponding series of collaborative planning exercises.

(Specifically participants will learn: )

  • A practical construct for repeatable innovation
  • Deeper competence in the practice of Human-Centered Design
  • A collaborative approach to drafting action plans
  • Ways to enhance an existing process
  • Ways to establish a new process

Each participant will also receive a copy of LUMA’s Handbook of Human-Centered Design Methods  as well as the Planning Cards based upon the handbook.  I’ve got the Handbook in my library and I can say first hand it’s a great resource and should be in the library of anyone doing Human-Centered Design.  (I’m planning on adding the cards to my collection as well 🙂 )

The interactive seminar is being led by Bill Lucas.  Bill has 25 years of design chops informing the seminar you’ll experience.  He’s fun, engaging, and a heck of nice guy. (Tell him I say “Hi!”  if you go.)

For Registration info click here.  If you can’t make it to Chicago, be sure to check out the LUMA site for other workshops and seminars.  They are always busy putting the education into innovation.

Oh, and if you do go, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Posted in culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, design thinking, innovation, Innovation Tools | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Highlights from IIT’s 2013 Design Research Conference

Posted by Plish on October 10, 2013

Once again the IIT Institute of Design has put on a provocative and stimulating conference.

Under the theme “Exploring Creative Balance in Design“, the conference was a potpourri of glances at the past, understanding of the present, and flashes of future.  It was held at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, a stimulating change from the Spertus Institute, where it’s usually been held.  There was an interesting ‘negative’ about the location in that electrical outlets were few and far between. Charging phones and laptops was a challenge.  (Personally, while on my quest to find outlets, I found some really cool nooks in the museum that I didn’t even know existed)

Some highlights in no particular order:

Mickey McManus of Maya inspired awe.  A trillion connected devices is just around the corner.  A trillion!  Think of what is possible (good and bad) when those devices interact with each other!  Think of how nature communicates with itself!

Mel Lim talked about keeping Ego in check.  A wonderful challenge to becoming better people to create a better world.

John Doyle gave an amazing talk of the limits of systems, how the same concepts govern phage evolution. Fast and specialized systems or slow and flexible?  How to walk the line?  What about feedbacks in our systems?  How do we design for that?  There was also a cautionary bent to his talk, but he emphasized the need for people to adopt new ways of looking at systems in the world.  He mentioned to me afterwards how essential it is that the design world gets involved.  The research needs to be made accessible to more than just mathematicians to be able to impact the world in its most profound way.

Darlene Damm spoke of her DIYROCKETS project.  Open Sourcing the Space Industry.  Amazing and disruptive innovation!

John Payne talked skeuomorphs and more,  Ultimately it’s about understanding our culture so we can communicate through design more effectively.

Panos Papalambros spoke of optimizing designs using algorithms that are automatic as well as human assisted. Discussed the benefits of crowdsourcing this process as well.

Liz Sanders and co-creation.  There truly is power when individuals create together as a communal entity. She’s got a great resource at Maketools.com that I’ve personally used.  This is exciting work and it’s only going to mature more.

Matt Jones and Richard The of Google Creative Labs showed the power of video in prototyping.  “All design is fiction.”  Love that quote because everything starts as an idea – a fiction – and it becomes reality.

Lucy Kimbell talked about the various types of empathy using Star Trek’s Deanna Troi as the research subject.

There was also everyone’s favorite “curmudgeon”, Don Norman.  He emphasized the need for design research to be more effectively integrated into corporate product development processes.

Matthew Clark and many others gave amazing talks.

If you’d like to see more from the conference check out #DRC2013 on Twitter.  You can also go to Seen for a timeline of twitter posts about the conference.

Lastly, but in no way least, I met old friends and made new ones.  When all is said and done, that’s what makes these conferences so valuable.

I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts and looking forward to next year!

Posted in Co-Creation, creativity, Crowdsourcing, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, innovation, Innovation Tools, Maker Movement, Open Source, Research, Social Innovation, Sustainability | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
%d bloggers like this: