Double delivery

Processed by: Helicon Filter;When IDEO co-founder Tom Kelley answered audience questions at his recent talk, several audience members asked “How do you get the boss, and corporate types, to listen to your innovative idea?” Tom, essentially said “I often field this question. It’s of great interest to younger people early in their career. Bosses want results.”


He suggested:

[blockquote]Double Deliver – Deliver the way the boss wants and also your way. After two or three deliveries with equal (or better results) the boss will likely say, “lets just try it your way next time.”[/blockquote]

I was disappointed to hear there Tom has no magic bullets. Group think and resistance to change is as strong as ever; and hence why companies need to learn to innovate and listen or risk losing the younger generations to more innovative companies.

Other Posts inspired by Tom Kelley
[fancy_list style=”bullet_list”]


Must innovation be socially acceptable?

[blockquote cite=”—Tim Brown, president and CEO ” citeLink=””]Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” [/blockquote]

IDEO co-founder Tom Kelley recently (see prior post – Creativity drives economic growth) elaborated on this concept. Sharing decades worth innovation research.


Design thinking covers three overlapping concepts: inspirationideation, and implementation. But more importantly for innovation to happen three things [highlight3]must[/highlight3] exist:

[fancy_list style=”bullet_list”]

  • People must find the innovation desirable
  • The innovation must be technically feasible
  • Finally, there must be a viable business model[/fancy_list]

With IDEO focused on new product innovation, these make complete sense.

But innovations are not limited to just commercial products and services for sale. Innovation is not just products but also ideas. Ideas do not need to be commercially viable. They just need to be socially viable. Meaning an idea has to be acceptable to a group of people – an online group, a department, a club etc…

For example, Galileo, asserted  that the sun was the center and not the earth. The Catholic church took nearly 400 years to accept the idea.

Consider today’s Green and Organic movements, both are commercially viable only because they are now socially viable.






Invention or Innovation?

ice-cap-267x268If you sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo is that innovation?    Webster defines innvoation as —  1: the introduction of something new or 2: a new idea, method, or device . So you might think selling a refrigerator to an eskimo is novel, but hardly something new; after all nearly everyone has a refrigerator.  Similarly document management isn’t new or innovative. As CNN reported, (Veterans Affairs boss: ‘No veteran should have to wait for claims’) the VA is finally installing a document management system to handle their benefit claims backlog; again electronic documents are hardly new.

However, after decades of running on paper, I find it remarkable that the VA is finally adding document management.  For a stodgy bureaucratic agency, that’s an earth shattering innovative breakthrough. So how can something really old like document management be a breakthrough?

My innovation definition:  innovation is “the introduction of a new idea, method or device into a group of people”  No matter the group size, when the old standard way of doing things changes then that’s innovation. When group think changes and a new idea is adopted, that’s innovation. The group size doesn’t matter, it can be a company, a government agency, a state, or even a country. The key point is, the group adopted something new.


Comedic Computer Scientists?

walrusPerhaps its an oxymoron, to think a computer scientist can be funny. Well it seems, in the database world they do have a sense of humor. Let me explain.

Since its beginnings in the  70s, structured query language (SQL – pronounce Sequel) has become the predominant way to access information stored in corporate databases. No matter the system, Peoplesoft, Oracle, SAP, or even this blog and thousands of other software systems; they all use SQL. There are a lot of reasons why SQL became so dominant.  But mostly it is easier to do business; It creates a standard way that just about any report writer (or program) can access data.

While SQL was becoming dominant, there were still lots of other database technologies. Those technologies were often relegated to universities and niche markets.

Well the tables have turned. Those once niche database technologies are important  because they work better with big data  (see Harpooning for Big Data) than traditional SQL databases.  These new databases with fanciful names (Hadoop, Neo4j, Mongo, Cassandra and more) are collective called Not Only SQL – meaning they work without SQL. So with a tongue in cheek fashion,  if you want answers from your big data remember [highlight3]don’t use SQL; use No SQL![/highlight3]

Harpooning Big Data

Slaying the white whale on a stormy sea of big data, for most companies is like the fictional story of Captain Ahab’s Moby Dick. The term Big Data has suddenly become en vogue. And like its sister term “The Cloud” – these all encompasing terms are a mystery and elusive to everyone. For businessman and executives, its the holy grail. For the technical experts and data scientists its the next big project with hyped expectations. So what is big data? If you want wikipedia’s answer – click here.  But here’s my simple explanation.

The old ways of dealing with data do not work.  Exponential growth of applications, smart devices and just about anything with a sensor or computer chip creates “Data” — a whole ocean’s worth! While the ocean of data is getting bigger, Moby Dick by comparison is getting smaller. And that’s the real problem;  a real “Big” problem.   You don’t need to be a whaler to understand that means we need to get better at spotting whale sign. We need better sonar and radar (pattern recognition systems) and we need faster boats to cover more ocean (and process more data).

In a very real sense, Big Data is anything that is trying to harpoon Moby Dick.

Creativity drives economic growth.

freeimage-4523782-webTo say, I heard Ideo’s co-founder Tom Kelley recently speak on “The Art of Innovation” minimizes the gift of insight he shared, and over the next few blog posts I’ll paraphrase Tom’s presentation.

But first doesn’t it strike you odd that a business speaker was sponsored by the fine arts community at Segerstrom Cetner for the Arts? What’s the connection? Art is Business? Business is Art?

Tom adeptly led us through the connection. Last April, Adobe released the “State of Create” report.

[blockquote align=”center”]80% of all respondents believe – Creativity is key to driving economic growth[/blockquote]

[blockquote align=”center”]Only 1 in 4 people feel that they are living up to their creative potential[/blockquote] Wow!  With 75% upside potential, we can raise creativity and drive economic growth!

So go ahead and find your creative side.





Insights into Collaboration

Complexity[dropcap2]C[/dropcap2]ollaboration is simultaneously man’s greatest achievement and our biggest mystery. Our ability to collaborate, to build roads, economies, smart phones, space ships, friendships, villages, cities, companies or to build tomorrows cools new gadgets, are all possible because we are social creatures; we cooperate. And yes – unfortunately – we do cooperate to conduct war or terrorism. But collaboration is such a pervasive and natural phenomena that we take it for granted; we don’t even stop to consider it. We just live it. And if we do think about the social collaboration, the task is daunting, very big and seemingly complex.  But with ingenuity we are fast developing tools and methods to study the very fabric of what makes human social systems work. And in the true spirit of collaboration, Santa Fe Institute is offering a free online introductory class on Complexity Theory. So if you’ve ever wondered why or how the system works, consider taking their class. Check out their introductory video [youtube url=”″ width=”280″ height=”158″ autohide=”0″]

Networks – Do you have a spiders view or a global view?

Spider Web[dropcap2]M[/dropcap2]y wife recently forwarded me an article “Databases Offer Opportunity To Weed Out Retail Job Applicants Who Are Theft Risks”  from her daily news. The article got my blood boiling. Nationally recognized retailers are creating a blacklist.  People accused of petty theft and shoplifting are being routinely added to a Do Not Hire database without any due process. I’m not really surprised but it is just plain wrong – the Federal Trade Commission has begun investigating.

I do understand that companies will “network” together to collaborate and solve problems. In this case retailers, are trying to solve the age old theft problem that has plagued them since cavemen started bartering.

But as I look forward companies will soon be unable to unilaterally impose their will. With the massive connectedness of the internet, information roams free.  Information is no longer controlled by any one entity (company, government, institution or individual). Information flows across the complete network “ecosystem.”  This subtle change has profound consequences for companies trying to collaborate and share practices. Solving problems by reaching for the quickest solution, such as creating a black list are no longer sufficient. Quick solutions have a way of creating problems for other stakeholders. Since when do companies have a right to ignore due process and trample our valued, “innocent until proven guilty.” Earth_at_Night

This quick solution approach, is like the spiders perspective; they are masters of what gets caught in their small web.  But with free roaming information they  are likely to have their hard work trampled. On the other hand companies that embrace the entire ecosystem cannot get trampled. They are forever embedded in the system. Companies clinging to the old social network paradigms will find themselves stuck so much like the fly in the global web, and a snack soon forgotten.

See also: NY Times article.


Technology Technology everywhere and not a drop to drink

samsung_galaxy_s4Go ahead pull out your phone – it doesn’t matter if its a smart phone or the original 2-pound Motorola brick. Explain to your friend how the cell phone works. Some of you engineer types might make a good show of it. Now I’ll make the next question easier. List just 50% of the jobs needed to make that phone work. Here’s some to get you going: electrical engineers, software engineers, model makers, touch screen experts, power design engineers, cellular transmission experts… and the list goes on with store clerks, purchasing agents, quality control, shipping/receiving…and on and on. Technology is an incredible ecosystem.  But like most ecosystems, there is an endangered species.  Watch the following video

The endangered species is knowledge — The Knowledge to build, and create new technology. So the next time you take for granted technology, consider that someone has to make it all work. Consider who will build tomorrows technology? Help yourselves and help the next generation.


Social Networks: Does size matter?

FootPrintEverywhere you look there’s a social network. FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, garner the most attention. People hype size. Internet pundits, marketers and especially those focused on search engine optimization (SEO) are constantly comparing the number or users and followers.  But does size matter? Consider all the real life clubs, fraternities, churches, non-profits and alumni associations (and the list goes on and on) like the Rotary club  and Elks club.  Are they less important because they are smaller? Isn’t it about relationships and connections – others that you help and will help you back?

Consider your son or daughter (or when you were a child.)  Could you imagine being on a really really big 100 person soccer team? It would be ridiculous.  Value is created in small intimate relationships.  This fascination with social network size is equally ridiculous.  Consider next time you are pondering the size of you social network – does size matter?