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Yet another review on a Whole New Mind December 8, 2009

Posted by Hernan Haro in A Whole New Mind, [Books] Ways of Thinking.
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It’s true that if you are reading this book for the first time in 2010 you will not get very surprised. That’s fine, and makes a lot of sense, since Daniel Pink was describing what was already going on in 2005 and is expected to keep going on for the foreseeable future. Having read some books and articles about creativity, design and innovation, I can’t say that “A Whole New Mind” had a huge impact on me, but it certainly put it all together in a nice way.

This book is also full of exercises, online references and ideas that Daniel suggest to those that want to exercise the six senses needed to achieve success in the Conceptual Age. For those for whom all this “right brain thing” stills sounds a little bit weird, I would definitely recommend this book as a good starting point.


Presentation Zen December 7, 2009

Posted by Hernan Haro in Presentation Zen, [Books] Visualization & Presentation.
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Garr Reynolds wrote this great book that explains a very effective and minimalistic approach to how to build compelling presentations. It places the presenter in the center of the action, and emphasizes the importance of delivery. In the ends, the presenter is the ultimate reason why the audience is there. If they could get all the information from the slides alone, would it be more effective to send them over email so everyone can read them at his/her own pace?

To help structure the message Garr proposes to reuse the acronym SUCCESs, borrowed from “Made to Stick“. SUCCESs stands for simplicity, unexpectedness, credibility, concreteness, emotions and story. Most audiences have a very short attention span, so it is up to the presenter to find the right way to get the message across. Keeping the presentation simple is fundamental. If you try to communicate too much you are likely to end up communicating nothing. You must know what is the basic and most fundamental idea you want to communicate, otherwise your presentation won’t be clear enough and your audience will just NOT get it. The element of surprise is invaluable. Say the unexpected and your audience will listen to you, state the obvious and you will lose them. Build credibility to make your points stronger and be concrete. Saying one million people live in poverty is not as effective as showing a picture and saying: “John every day has to feed his family with less than what any of us spent in coffee this morning”. This example also appeals to emotions, and can help you build a story. We all love stories, tell stories, and – most important – remember stories. In the early days, societies used to transfer knowledge through stories. Stories have been passed on for centuries from one generation to another. Some companies are also realizing of the power of the stories, and including them as part of their knowledge management efforts. Building solid, concrete, emotional stories in your presentations is a safe way to be sure your audience will remember the message.

Thoughts on the Design Thinking December 7, 2009

Posted by Hernan Haro in Design Thinking.
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It’s fascinating how each learning style (diverging, assimilating, converging and accommodating) matches the requirements of each stage of the Innovation Process (observations, frameworks, imperatives and solutions). The key to assemble a great design thinking team is to understand the different skills and attitudes needed.

One of the main challenges is to learn to function within a team composed of members that have different – and sometimes even opposed – ways of learning and interacting. Getting to know each member of the team through informal conversations, as well as educating team members about the meaning of the Myer Briggs test results, is a good starting point to understand how each member differs from others and the individual and unique value that each one adds to the whole. The key to a successful and balanced team is to have complementary skills and the ability to understand and be able to work with other with different styles and background. Sometime, this kind of people are called “T shaped”, because they have depth of knowledge in an area (the vertical line in the T) but they are well suit to communicate and work with other “T shaped” experts in different fields (represented by the horizontal line in the T).

The Story of Success December 7, 2009

Posted by Hernan Haro in Outliers, [Books] Leadership & Change.
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This fascinating book by Malcolm Gladwell presents a new view on success. Malcolm picked up a number of famous success stories – from Bill Gates to The Beatles – and methodically finds the factors that helped them succeed. According to Outliers, success arises out of the steady accumulation of advantages: when and where you are born, what your parents did for a living, and what the circumstances of your upbringing were all make significant difference in how well you do in the world.

One of the stories that really caught my attention is what Malcolm calls “The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes”. The key to understand this theory is on the Power Distance Index (PDI), developed by the Dutch psychologist Geert Hofstade while working at IBM in the 1960s and 1970s. The PDI measures the attitude that a culture has toward hierarchy, specifically with how much a particular culture vales and respects authority. The famous plan crash of Avianca sadly showed the PDI in action. Avianca is a Colombian airline, and in the day of the accident the pilot was trying to land at New York, JFK airport. The Colombian culture has a very high PDI, meaning that they’re very respectful of hierarchy, whilst the US culture has a low PDI. What happened was that the Avianca’s plane was running out of fuel and they were told to circulate around JFK because of heavy traffic. The crew couldn’t explain to Air Traffic Control (ATC) that they were ALMOST out of fuel, until it was too late. They never said the word EMERGENCY, because they expected the ATC to make the decisions and didn’t want to interfere. On the other hand, ATC never knew the situation was sever, because in low PDI societies they would have expected the captain to shout commanding “immediate landing” instead of waiting.

Poverty gap is growing FAST September 30, 2009

Posted by Hernan Haro in As The Future Catches You.
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After reading As the Future Catches You my concern about the poverty gap became stronger than ever. Countries that are poor, and survive mostly thanks to their natural resources can no longer rely on that. The fact that Holland is the greatest flower exporter is a great example of how the world has changed.

I was borne and raised in a country with vast extensions of rich land, when you just have to drop a seed anywhere in the country side… and a plant or a tree will grow. That helped us in the past to be a wealthy society but also hid the need to master technology.

The science-genomics-technology revolution is – and will keep – producing the devaluation, and maybe disappearance, of most low knowledge intensive jobs. Those who don’t know how to add real value in this era will find HARD to get a new job… becoming poorer and with less access to education. All that will prevent them from providing good education (technology / science) to their children, who will find really hard to break that vicious circle…