Last week, my lovely and talented colleague Vlad wrote about three steps to eliminate/mitigate risks in strategy – understand, assess, neutralize – and offered a chart that caught my eye. Vlad adapted a piece of HBR chartery that was fundamentally similar to a Boris Cube, something used by aerospace engineers to assess, quantify, and make decisions about process and design.
This is a slide from a deck by Boeing – surfaced by Flightblogger – that was used in the development of a second production facility in South Carolina. Interesting that the axes are transposed from Vlad’s chart.
And here’s a slide from a Northrop Grumman tutorial on risk cubes, why they should be used, and how/when to implement them. Note that Northrop’s generic risk cube represents a higher tolerance for risk than does Boeing’s, which considers Likely + Minor Consequence a Moderate Risk.
(Aside: I love finding shit like this.)
Same deck. Same level of fascination on my part. Good strategists, as far as I’m concerned, are thinking like engineers and cost analysts when they’re developing their recommendations.
So much truth, so much inspiration.
I don’t put much stock in the “sleep is for the unsuccessful” thing, but the idea that the best in every field work hard to perfect everything, every little detail, everything to the work…man, that’s powerful stuff.
I remember in college we used to really think about this kind of thing: managing our sleep, managing our food, the timing of our workouts, the people that we ran with, the order of operations for optimal race and workout days…everything was considered and pretty much mandated by a coach.
Since entering the adult work world, I’ve never once thought that way. Let alone lived by life with that kind of focused method.
Which is pretty weak, if you ask me.
I suppose most people, including myself, think “that kind of intensity is for professional athletes.”
Again, weak. Some folks in the creative and strategic world get paid like professional athletes, and their careers are significantly longer.
So my question, I guess, for myself and anyone who feels like being inspired today: where’s the focus?
Found via Mr. Plett.
This one’s near and dear to my heart.
And it hurts when companies get it wrong.
So it’s exciting to see it done so, so well.
Muji’s just released a set of iPad apps that parallel their products, that align with the values they hold dear, and that extend their brand into new places: a free calendar app that synchronizes with Google (and happens to be the hottest calendar app I’ve seen), a paid notebook app that is a digital addendum to their paper products (and happens to be the hottest note-taking/drawing/importing/whatever app I’ve seen), and a free app to help streamline travel.
Granted, they’ve also got an app that promotes their products in a catalog, but generally speaking their apps are made to help people live their lives better. Not to sell product. Not to deliver a message.
And guess what? They work. I downloaded ‘em all and they’re rad. The travel app won’t replace anything for me, but the calendar app is a definite keeper, and the notepad is unbelievably sick.
I sketched the above in about 20 seconds. And that interface is definitely, probably swissmiss approved (elegant and makes sense), and delightfully logo-less.
Anyway, this is how you make things for people. Now you know.
Borrowing an idea from Jon Kolko – and an examination of a work he pointed to in a presentation I wrote about a while back – I recently created my first piece of “real” editorial work since college for Canvas8, a subscription-only digital publication out of the UK. Their blurb adequately explains what I was trying to get at:
“Consumers don’t view the world in categories, they see products and services side by side and they compare them, similar or not. Are brands ready to be judged as part of a collective consumer experience?”
Since you can’t read it without a subscription (sorry), I can’t post it here. So this is basically a post for:
- My scrapbook (eek, made the “editor’s choice box!)
- My mom (see above)
- Shameless plug: I wrote the whole thing in Writeminds, and it was awesome!
I really, really enjoyed this.
Now I know.
Via Look Both Ways.
Not a whole lot to say about this, other than that I need to read more David Foster Wallace. I suppose what makes this interesting is that digital things are giving us an even clearer lens into populations that we previously didn’t know much about. And it’s a reminder that primary sources are the real stuff; watered-down prognostications from the marketing department (in this case, the television media) aren’t always to be heeded.
“It’s not just the athletic artistry that compels interest in tennis at the professional level. It’s also what this level requires — what it’s taken for the 100th-ranked player in the world to get there, what it takes to stay, what it would take to rise even higher against other men who’ve paid the same price he’s paid.
“Bismarck’s epigram about diplomacy and sausage applies also to the way we Americans seem to feel about professional athletes. We revere athletic excellence, competitive success. And it’s more than attention we pay; we pay; we vote with our wallets. We’ll spend large sums to watch a truly great athlete; we’ll reward him with celebrity and adulation and will even go so far as to buy products and services he endorses.
“But we prefer not to countenance the kinds of sacrifices the professional-grade athlete has made to get so good at one particular thing. Oh, we’ll pay lip service to these sacrifices — we’ll invoke lush cliches about the lonely heroism of Olympic athletes, the pain and analgesia of football, the early rising and hours of practice and restricted diets, the privations, the prefight celibacy, etc. But the actual facts of the sacrifices repel us when we see them: basketball geniuses who cannot read, sprinters who dope themselves, defensive tackles who shoot up bovine hormones until they collapse or explode. We prefer not to consider the shockingly vapid and primitive comments uttered by athletes in postcontest interviews, or to imagine what impoverishments in one’s mental life would allow people actually to think in the simplistic way great athletes seem to think.
“Note the way ‘up-close and personal profiles’ of professional athletes strain so hard to find evidence of a rounded human life— outside interests and activities, charities, values beyond the sport. We ignore what’s obvious, that most of this straining is farce. It’s farce because the realities of top-level athletics today require an early and total commitment to one pursuit. An almost ascetic focus. A subsumption of almost all other features of human life to their one chosen talent and pursuit. A consent to live in a world that, like a child’s world, is very serious and very small.”
Definitely worth a watch.
I found this just after I moved to NYC as I was traipsing about the design-related portion of the internet, and found it plainly fascinating. I’m trying to use it to help me frame “What I Do” so that I might explain it better to others. I’ve always had a difficult time (a) understanding exactly what the process is that I follow, mentally and (b) trying to explain that to others. Currently, my job is less about process than it is about output (yay!), but I can envision a time when that might not be the case and/or I’d like to help some junior people step up their game. It’d make good blog fodder at the very least.
If you don’t have 20 minutes to watch the video, here’s a brief overview. Mr. Kolko, if you’re out there reading this, and I’m wrong, please help me out:
- People don’t typically understand their creative processes, or don’t follow a process at all. But most “expert” designers do follow a mental process known as Design Synthesis.
- Design Synthesis is an “abductive sensemaking process of manipulating, organizing, pruning and filtering data in an effort to produce information and knowledge.”
- Call your output whatever you like, but if you’re taking insight from research and combining it with your personal experience/taste to produce a deliverable, this is what you’re doing.
- There are some tremendously structured methods for doing this, including Insight Combination and Reframing, but they all involve abductive reasoning, which seems akin to formalized guessing.
These concepts are fairly self-evident and sometimes purely mental, but if you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to introduce rigor into your personal creativity. By practicing Insight Combination (following the steps, doing the work, etc.), I imagine I could become a bit more consistent in my work product.
I suppose the thing I found most interesting was the idea of “abductive reasoning“, whereby our minds take two seemingly disparate experiences/data points and attempt to form a logical connection, in this case with the goal of creating an idea. This is pretty commonplace within the creative industries, as we’re constantly pushing ourselves (and being pushed) to innovate upon a previous campaign/effort/site/ad/whatever. Deductive reasoning would tell us to do only that which was successful previously, or only those things that have been successful for similar products marketed to similar consumers.
I hope to write a bit more on this topic. Any thoughts on this? Do you guys out there use formal creative processes, or do you just let it happen? I’m curious.
I hate to be a malcontent, especially given that this is ostensibly a marketing blog, but this sort of thing is about a million times more interesting than the marketing drivel that gets posted to the web every day. I honestly couldn’t care a whole lot less about most of the thinly guised “Self-Help for Social Networks” that I see with increasing frequency, and I don’t think I could care much more about the science behind what’s going on in this video. Humans have some interesting pre-installed software in their heads.
Via Jason Oke.