Monthly Archives: October 2011
October 26, 2011, 6:30 pm
The U.S. Army has formalized the role of “devil’s advocate” into its decision making—a practice the United States Agency for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have adopted in their fight to eradicate polio.
Groups are good at carrying out tasks, but they don’t make wise decisions, Greg Fontenot, a retired colonel and director of the army’s University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies, told participants at PopTech’s annual ideas conference in Camden, Me.
Group dynamics make it difficult to imagine alternative solutions, and group members’ false assumptions and biases feed off of each other, explained Mr….
October 19, 2011, 11:39 am
When design focuses on understanding the needs and desires of customers, it has the potential to improve health care–and maybe even medical research, says David A. Shaywitz, co-founder of a the Pasteur Project at Harvard Medical School. The project focuses on improving ways to help patients.
Dr. Shaywitz writes: “Medicine has spent a lot of effort focused on a physician’s idea of a patient, rather than developing a more nuanced view of life from the perspective of the patients themselves.”
What do you think? Are there other fields that could benefit from design’s focus on understanding the lives of clients?
October 10, 2011, 9:52 pm
Laura Weiss is vice president for service innovation at the Taproot Foundation, a nonprofit that makes pro bono talent available to organizations working to improve society. Before joining Taproot, Ms. Weiss was an associate partner at the design company IDEO. She is also a former architect and educator.
Here’s a suggestion for getting more out of a group that’s working together on something creative: get a room.
Most of us are tethered to our desks at the office, so collaboration often means e-mails, phone calls, and the occasional meeting to connect the dots. Sure, there are plenty of software products that can help teams collaborate when they aren’t in the same location. These are exciting developments, but on …
October 7, 2011, 9:36 am
A lot of folks seem to be thinking about innovation right now–including, it turns out, Bill Gates.
The Microsoft co-founder-turned-philanthropist recently reviewed Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, by Steven Johnson, on his Web site, The Gates Notes.
Mr. Gates agrees with Mr. Johnson’s argument that innovation isn’t about “eureka” moments but instead taking existing ideas and putting them together in new ways.
“The decision to start Microsoft, for example, wasn’t based on a momentous flash of insight,” he writes. “It was based on incremental developments in a nascent personal-computing industry, the fact that Paul Allen and I had access to mainframe computers at the high school we attended, and our hunch about what people could do with computers in the future.”
What books and articles have influenced the way you think about fostering…
October 6, 2011, 12:56 pm
Innovation is as much about what an organization stops doing as about the new efforts that it starts, says Rick Wartzman, executive director of the Drucker Institute, which is dedicated to carrying on the work of the noted author and management consultant Peter Drucker.
“Every organization has a finite amount of resources,” says Mr. Wartzman. “So the first step toward innovating is what Drucker called ‘planned abandonment.’ It’s figuring out what you’re going to stop doing to free up those resources and to stimulate the search for the new.”
Mr. Drucker recommended that every few years organizations review all of their products, processes, and distribution channels, essentially putting each one “on trial for its life,” says Mr. Wartzman.
During that exercise, he says, the organization should also try to determine where each product, process, and distribution channel…
October 3, 2011, 6:08 pm
For the past 20 years, the design firm IDEO has helped companies like Apple, Ford, and Bank of America develop new products and services. Now the Palo Alto, Calif., company has started a nonprofit arm to take its approach to innovation to the charitable world.
IDEO.org, the new charitable effort, officially started last week and grew out of the company’s work with nonprofits in recent years.
IDEO’s approach to design starts with learning as much as possible about the people who will eventually use the product–their lives, their needs, their aspirations–rather than starting with a hypothesis about what they need, says Patrice Martin, creative director of IDEO.org. Too often, companies and organizations start the process…