Tag innovation

Dyson II.

“If you think of doing the opposite of what should be done, you can often stimulate innovation and do something creative and interesting.”

James Dyson

Knowledge transmission.

“The point here is that the crucial knowledge in any innovative industry is not standardized information, routine patterns or the public knowledge of science.  It is also often not the kind of data that can be obtained through quantitative market research involving the analysis of secondary data or statistical survey research, nor from qualitative methods such as focus groups and interviews.  What is really useful is what is new, what are the latest changes and the specialized know-how that individuals have acquired through practice and mistakes.

Pierre Desrochers, “Geographical proximity and the transmission of tacit knowledge,” The Review of Austrian Economics

Eyes Wide Open I.

I recently signed up to become a volunteer at a local hospital.  One of the many requirements to participate in such a program is to ensure you have been suitably vaccinated and aren’t subject to any serious infections (e.g. measles).

Now my second time in the hospital in less than a year (this time on purpose), I made a point to again survey my surroundings.  In particular, I took a closer look at the heart monitor adjacent to where I was sitting along with the tools the nurse used to take blood from my arm.

Here are a few things I noticed in just 30 seconds:

Center of Gravity: The monitor rested on a short pole connected to a set of wheels that were arranged in 90 degree angles to one another.  What was interesting about this is that the pole was lowered approximately two inches so that its center of gravity was lower to the ground.  This allows the unit to be moved much more easily and rapidly with reduced risk of toppling over.

Robust Power Cord: The end of the power plug was larger in size than a standard power plug.  This allowed the cable to be removed from the wall with little effort, allowing for rapid transport to different locations within the hospital.

Protection: The needle that was used to draw blood from my arm had a plastic cover that was attached just below the collection tube.  After the blood was drawn, as if reading my mind, the nurse rotated the cover (using one hand) until it snapped in place, completely protecting her from the needle end.

Color: The unit was a bright blue color, making it much easier to spot in case of immediate need.

One of the main reasons I mention this experience is because one can find any number of design strengths or opportunities in virtually any situation.  While I have not had the need to use a heart monitor, I could still glean a few key design traits from the device that I could, in theory, use in future designs of my own.

Nurses and doctors who use the device on a routine basis may skim over what I’ve just mentioned, and instead highlight other traits that are more familiar to them.  For example, they may comment on the size of the display or the height of the actual unit; traits that I would take for granted given my lack of experience and exposure.

A good designer is always taking in the world around them to see what’s working and what’s not.  Similarly, design elements used in one situation or context can be employed in an entirely different situation; it just takes knowledge and understanding to enable the transition to occur.

In my next post I’ll give a real-world example and go a step deeper into this cross-pollination concept.


Dyson I.

“The more original your idea, the more resistance you will meet.”

James Dyson


In an earlier post, I made the claim that most people are lazy.  And of course, that’s not intended to be presented in a negative way; I simply believe that no one wants to work harder at something than they have to.

In thinking more about this concept, I realized that there is an important example that further exemplifies this point, but is far more relevant than examples presented earlier.

Several months ago, I finished reading Tim Brown’s Change by Design – an interesting book on design thinking inspired primarily by Brown’s experience at IDEO where he is CEO and President.

There is an excerpt from the text where he describes his “barometer” for supporting new projects spearheaded by IDEO staff:

“… when I receive a cautiously worded memo asking for permission to do something, I find myself becoming equally cautious.  But when I am ambushed in the parking lot by a group of hyperactive people falling all over one another to tell me about the unbelievably cool project they are working on, their energy inflects me and my antennae go way, way up.  Some of these projects will go wrong.  Energy will be wasted (whatever that means) and money will be lost (we know exactly what that means).”

Browns’ comments immediately resonated with me.

In the past, I found myself taking the former route for initiatives that seemed significant enough to warrant some sort of “approval” (whatever that really means).  Not surprisingly, many of these ideas were put to rest before they even began.  Why does this happen?

Remember, most people (not all) don’t want to think – *especially* for ideas that are foreign or new.  As innocent as it may seem, the very act of asking for approval means that you aren’t sure whether your idea is a good one – and if you aren’t sure, your colleagues / manager / etc. is likely to be even less certain of your idea and the “difficulty meter” starts to rise.  Negative momentum is a likely outcome.

If you have an idea for something that you believe in, don’t ask for permission to do it.  99.9% of the time, no one is going to stop you. If you have energy and enthusiasm, you’ll already have momentum on your side.  And it’s much more difficult to stop something while it’s moving than keep it stationary.

7: Concept Vehicle – Initial Sketches

Right now I’m unsure how many sketches I’ll post on a daily basis, but here are a few from day 1.  Prismacolor pencil is, I think, the best way to get some initial ideas on paper; doing a similar exercise in digital just isn’t the same.

As you can see here, I’m leaning towards a vertically-oriented cockpit and am exploring the use of various power / transmission mechanisms.  (Click on the images below to enlarge)

(Click on the above image to enlarge)

Seven Days.

After some brief thought over the past twenty-four hours, I’ve decided to spend the next seven days designing a new vehicle concept.

Given this type of experiment, I am not going to spend a lot of time developing a creative brief because my goal at this point is pure creative focus, and less so on adherence to a specific need (fabricated or otherwise).

This journey will start with some exploratory sketches using traditional media (pencil, markers, etc.) and will ultimately conclude with a final 3D rendering using Modo and Photoshop.  While I’ve done several designs and models, these efforts have been separate and distinct – thus, I think it’s going to be a challenge (at least right now) to incorporate both into one project, particularly within such a short duration.

The benefits of this challenge are many.  Two that immediately come to mind include the following:

  1. Be able to independently start and finish a design void of any external forces (clients, instructors, etc.).
  2. Develop techniques to accelerate creative thinking.

If this experiment proves successful, it’s entirely possible you’ll see other seven day challenges appear on the horizon throughout the year.

Immersion: Core Objectives (Preview)

While I’m still working through the details of the Immersion strategy (estimated duration ~2 years), I am certain of the primary objectives which are listed here:

I’ll post further details of the Immersion strategy in the next several days.

Immersion: Challenges & Opportunities

Portfolio Development: My portfolio has evolved fairly well over the past several years – particularly in the graphic design arena.  The evolution from where I began and where I am today shows a clear positive trajectory.  Recent digital illustration work using the Cintiq and Photoshop also show tremendous potential.  The opportunity here is two-fold.  First, when solid progress is being made, I tend to move on to another challenge without spending additional time to further develop / refine my existing skills.  In some strange way, the possibility for greater success deters me from moving forward.  Second, while the portfolio is looking increasingly professional, it is heavily weighted in graphic design and less so in other disciplines (e.g. 3D modeling, rendering).

Community Engagement: The past several years have focused heavily on portfolio development and the creation of my personal brand.  While there has been significant success in both fronts, the communication and level of engagement has been unidirectional.  My original belief of “build it and they will come” places heavy responsibility on external parties to not only learn about me, but to engage in further discussion.  There is an opportunity to change this unidirectional approach through increased engagement / participation on my end.

Process of Elimination: One of the challenges that I’ve faced with Big Generator is that it has lacked clear direction.  While it started out as a pure information design firm, it quickly expanded to become involved in brand strategy and other related offerings.  The opportunity is to refocus the company and establish a clear business strategy so that it can truly be successful over the long-term.

Out of Balance: One of my biggest challenges that I’ve been working to correct over the past two years involves a clear imbalance between my professional career thus far and the skills that are required to move beyond this realm of expertise.  While my efforts have shown true promise in correcting this “right brain / left brain” imbalance, there is still more work to be done.  The opportunity here is to take greater and more strategic steps to bridge this gap and clearly convey my strengths and potential as a design leader.

Emphasis on Innovation: Being creative for creative’s sake is beneficial, but leveraging creativity to solve real-world problems can be extremely powerful.  While my thoughts and designs are truly “mine”, the bulk of my efforts has been focused inward (self-development, strength building, creative exploration).  The opportunity is to shift gears and transfer more energy towards addressing real-world challenges and designing and creating with true purpose.

Mental Barriers: One of the keys to one’s success is the ability to maintain a high-level of optimism independent of the challenge faced.  With a realization that my optimism level is classified as “average”, there is a clear opportunity to employ constructive techniques to quickly move past barriers that would have normally impeded progress.  With the world moving at a faster pace, there is no better time to find ways to accelerate my ability to navigate through these challenges.

The Crystal Ball.

“Begin with the end in mind” is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things. – Stephen Covey

One of the many things I’ve learned in project management is that “starting with the end in mind” is one of the best methods to ensuring a successful outcome.  When your team has a clear sense of what need to do from the beginning, task definition and assignment activities come naturally and the team is able to spend more time focusing on the “day-to-day” issues vs. continuously wrestling with an ever-changing scope definition.

A similar approach can work extremely well when envisioning your future.

An article in the Futurist magazine entitled “Envisioning your Future: Imagining Ideal Scenarios” suggests that:

… having a vision is to be an idealist.  This idealism should not be confused with unrealistic ideas; it should be used synonymously with having “a standard of excellence”.  A person that is by nature a visionary looks into the future as though it is filled with possibilities, not probabilities.

If I look at my future based from who I really am, and document a clear description of what that future looks like, my life starts to become what I’ve created for myself.

After much thought, I came up with the following personal vision:

“My vision for the future is comprised of positive experiences that intertwine my ‘personal’ and ‘professional’ lives into a single life structure.  Because of this, the long-held notion of “work-life” balance is lessened, and at its extreme, no longer required.  By thinking strategically, I am able to spend my energy on activities that pay dividends over both the short and long-term.  A continuous and purposeful stream of explicit and implicit challenges allows my mind to expand at an accelerated rate.  With this expansion comes possibilities, and possibilities spark further action towards an ideal state called “Ultima”.  My relationships are continuously expanding, but only at a rate where the relationships themselves are developing at a natural and lasting pace.  My ability to see the unique qualities of each person and strive towards relationships that are, at their core, genuine, helps build strong partnerships that ultimately become central figures in a life structure built around growth, energy, complexity, awareness and intensity.”

Fortunately, I think this is fairly representative of what I want my future to look like.  The next step is to take this concept and apply it to my design firm.

What does my business vision look like?  I’ll talk about that in my next post.