Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Great Ideas Dept.: Build at RR Stations; Auerbach as manager

(My recent posts in The Heart of Innovation; I notice there happens to be one each from New York and Boston.)

"Building 'Living Space' around Railroad Stations" (August 21)

"Imagine that at each major stop along the Long Island Rail Road, communities of housing, dining and shopping were built above existing parking lots. Parking garages would be underneath the new buildings.

"Given the location, generally within walking distance of an existing shopping area, residents would have little need for a car. A railroad station would no longer be a stop along a route, but a destination in itself. Even better, each of these hubs would be connected along the main arteries of the line." John Patrick Winberry, in Newsday.

"How the great Celtics teams won: by Keeping It Simple" (August 10)

With the supercharged Celts in the news, we go back some for Bob Cousy's view of Red Auerbach's managerial style. "Red wasn't worried about X's and O's. He seldom is. His approach is to go to the heart of the problem and try to solve it."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Half of all media will be created by consumers?

The Boston Globe's "Business Filter" recently ran an item on the (perhaps slightly self-serving) prediction of an ambitious podcaster that soon, "50% of all media consumed will be created by other consumers."

Naaaaah! IMHO, I just don't believe that most people have enough of the time and skill necessary to create stuff that's good enough to interest anyone beyond their family and friends. It takes a Huge amount of the former and a pretty fair amount of the latter to produce something that might appeal to any meaningful chunk of the Public, doesn't it?

The Filter's Maura Welch printed another ratio a while back that sounded a lot more accurate, which, to roughly paraphrase -- meaning, if I remember correctly -- was that out of 100 websurfers, one creates content, nine comment or add to it somehow, and the other 90 watch. (Hunting around for this link, which was a good one...)

Just look at any message board, a mature technology that should be trusted to show long-term behavior, that shows the ratio of messengers to lurkers, or the number of replies to a topic vs. the number of views. This may be the bottom of the ladder content-wise, but the root is usually a good place to start looking at something. (Yes, ladders have roots, too, so there's nothing wrong with that metaphor.)

I got involved in a discussion somewhere recently that showed 5 entries to over 1000 views of that topic. And that's in a medium where it's possible to create and post a message real quick-like, not like the development time required for anything more evolved, like videos, blogs, etc.

(Of course, I'll admit I still have some trouble relating to the term "podcasting" -- to me, "pods" first reminds me of what the Body Snatchers invaded in. And this is no laughing matter: look what they did to poor Donald Sutherland!)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Gehry, Bricklin, Prototyping; & "Repurposing Content"

The idea of recycling material, if you think about it, is as old as the human habit of telling stories. So I'm hoping that's a good enough explanation for why I'm basically republishing this post I wrote recently for the Heart of Innovation. : - )

That's the new blog I've been managing and writing in for Idea Champions, and frankly my attention has been primarily there lately, which is how it should be. So I'll be cross-posting bits that seem appropriate here, after giving them a week or some decent interlude from their original publication.

Frank Gehry's Designing By Prototype

Columnist Dale Dauten wrote recently about some of the insights on creative thinking gained from observing the revolutionary architect in "The Sketches of Frank Gehry," Director Sydney Pollack's first documentary, new on DVD. "We get to learn how a genius works," he writes.
"Frank Gehry is the architect who did the curving, soaring metal walls of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, as well as Disney Hall in Los Angeles. He is the one who lets us walk into 'out of the box.'

"During his early Gehry spent his time hanging out with artists rather than fellow architects.

"He works by taking sheets of heavy paper and making models out of them. Not blocks, not wood or Styrofoam, but paper. When one of the models becomes an idea worth pursuing, it goes through an evolution, a series of models of increasing sophistication."

Dauten, taking the dare, as it were, starts creatively cross-referencing:
"If we wanted to apply his style to, say, working on a new sales presentation, we wouldn't use other sales presentations for ideas, we'd use novels or plays, movies, paintings . . . maybe even, I don't know, zoos, or airports. And not just one, but dozens. Some would become rough models, several going at once."
"Inside the brain of a genius lies lessons on generating & implementing ideas" by Dale Dauten, 5/6/07. (Gehry's "Dancing Building" in Prague. Uploaded on Flickr by astilly.)

Rapid Prototyping, Dan Bricklin, & "Serious Play"

This reminded me of another recent read on the power of creating with the method of "rapid prototyping," from Dan Bricklin's blog. Bricklin is of course the co-inventor of the electronic spreadsheet, VisiCalc (the original Excel, and the first "killer app" on what were then "personal computers"), among other programming breakthroughs in simplification.


Friday, August 03, 2007

Delivering A Bouncing Baby Blog

I've recently had the ideal, exciting opportunity to manage a blog into existence for a company that I've been working with for a number of years. Talk about learning experiences, and on the more engaging end of the spectrum…

Idea Champions trains and consults on innovation, teamwork, etc., for companies like, GE, AT&T, and numerous other impressively-acronymed firms, and they'd wanted to start blogging for some time. But when your plate is too full some good food's bound to fall off, and then you usually wait until that dish is served again at a future meal.

Knowing they needed a little extra energy focused on a blog to get it over the top, I suggested I could author some pieces, but more importantly, spend regular time travelling the related roads of the blogosphere and Web to leave that all-important trail of linked breadcrumbs. Instead, they hired me to drive its creation and launch, too, and last week "The Heart of Innovation" had its debut.

Man, have I ever learned a lot -- both adding to what I'd already learned about blogging, and naturally, scads more. Software, especially in the interconnected world of online software, is practically infinite in its possibilities. So, especially with a new submedium like this, you wind up feeling like you're starting from scratch every single day.

Then there's the Team Startup factor: when five authors, including the company President, and a Web design-and-hosting firm are involved, you know it's going to take some time to get everyone on the same, frequently updated page.

Meanwhile, in my own little post factory here, it's inevitable that I'll talk more on a couple topics, and much to my delight because they're old favorites. The only difference is that now I have a further Legitimate Business Reason to write about the harnessing the practical power of innovation/ creativity/ ideation, and to write about writing, and publishing, via the always new "pushdown stack" of web-logging.

Related, here:
Planting Seeds of Synergy