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The Ten Faces of Innovation December 9, 2009

Posted by roshanbhula in [Books] Leadership & Change.
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The Ten Faces of Innovation, by Tom Kelley, is intended to show how certain personas, or types of people, are able to drive innovation through an organization.  By using real world examples from his work at IDEO, Kelley outlines how these people think and approach problems.  Examples of his personas include:

  • The Anthropologist – who studies human behavior to find insights into what people want or how they feel in different situations
  • The Set Designer – who understands space planning and how creative places yield creative outcomes
  • The Caregiver – who wants to make people’s lives easier and has a keen eye for customer experience and service

Through these roles and seven others, the book shows that everyone can play these roles at various times, but that some people are naturally more suited to certain roles than others.  As an organization, it is important to have these people around and that cross-functional teams with as many varieties of these roles as possible is the ideal way to discover truly new ideas and breakthroughs.

As we enter back into the workforce, this book really makes you think about how we can influence our companies through the roles we play and approach we take to remove the barriers to innovation.

99% of all presentations suck… December 9, 2009

Posted by roshanbhula in Slide:ology, Uncategorized.
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…says Guy Kawasaki.  And he’s right.  The first step in getting into the 1% is to read Slide:ology.  It will make your presentations more effective by making you think through simple design techniques. My five favorite takeaways:

  1. Don’t start with Powerpoint. Use white-boards or pen & paper to map out ideas and storyboard the presentation.  Sitting at a computer leads to outlines and bullets, rather than stepping back and framing the whole story effectively.
  2. Crowding a slide is lazy – avoid creating ‘slide-uments’ that say nothing by trying to say too much.
  3. Data slides shouldn’t overload the audience with numbers or charts. Think about what is most important, what you want people to remember. Can you make an emotional attachment to the data that makes it more compelling?
  4. Think like a designer.  White (negative) space, fonts, consistent color schemes, and the layout of images and text on the slide all convey certain things.
  5. Strive for a consistent look for images and avoid clichés (such as two hands shaking in front of a globe or my personal favorite, an iceberg as a metaphor for diversity).

a whole new mind December 9, 2009

Posted by roshanbhula in A Whole New Mind.
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A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink, argues that the world has reached a point where traditional left-brain thinking, which includes analytical, logic based methods, is now less important than right-brain thinking, which includes meaning, empathy, and creativity.  The three main causes for this, according to Pink, are abundance, Asia, and automation. The abundance of goods available today is making people seek more meaning in their lives and purchases, rather than accumulating more.  Similarly, the ability to outsource work to Asia or have it replaced by faster automation and software makes many traditional left-brain skills, like programming, engineering, and financial analysis, less meaningful today than in the 20th century.

Instead, Pink argues that 5 personal attributes will make workers in the 21st century more successful: Design, Empathy, Story, Play, and Meaning. For each, the book outlines its importance in today’s society and provides resources on how to improve them in your personal life or organization.

A Whole New Mind should be a very interesting read for people with limited knowledge of design thinking, but its core message is very simplistic compared to more recent design books. The resources, however, such as blogs, books, and exercises, should be very useful and interesting for everyone interested in learning more about improving these skills.

Slide:ology September 28, 2009

Posted by roshanbhula in Slide:ology, [Books] Visualization & Presentation.
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Slideology connected with me because it bridged my past career in consulting with my side project, helping to launch a graphic design start-up.

Slideology lays out some of the basic concepts of graphic design: size, color, gridlines, whitespace, typeface, etc. but then tries to convince Powerpoint users to think more like a designer when approaching a presentation.

The book started by encouraging people to start with pens, pencils, and paper and draw out the ideas that will form a presentation. Diving right into Powerpoint is not an effective way to stimulate creativity and create new ideas. It reinforced the idea of mindmaps, affinity diagrams, and sketching.

The most compelling part of the book for me was the data section, where the key message was about communicating the ‘so what’ behind the data more than the data itself. The natural tendency to create a graph and add more data to it is usually wrong and clutters up the message. People don’t need all the data, they need to know why they should care.

Overall, a good read. One and a half thumbs up.