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Larry Keeley at Digital October: How to Make Innovations Truly Effective

On October 29, our own Larry Keeley gave a talk at Digital October, an initiative in Moscow to help professionals share leading practices, learn about trends, and try new products. Presenting via webcam, Larry described recent work on Doblin’s Ten Types of Innovation framework and talked about how to make innovations effective in business. Making the case that ”the best gift that we can give each other is the right to build the predictable and dependable future in which we want to live,” Larry outlined a playbook for innovation that everyone can use.

Watch the full webcast here.

Larry Keeley in the Financial Times: “Apology takes Apple into Uncharted Waters”

Larry Keeley is quoted in Tim Bradshaw’s piece for the Financial Times, which looks at how Apple is negotiating the choppy waters of innovation in the post-Steve Jobs era. As Larry points out, even though the Cupertino giant is now the most valuable company in the world, that’s no excuse for complacency, and there are real questions to be answered about the tech company’s path to the future. Here’s the piece:

If Tim Cook was seeking to demonstrate how his leadership of Apple differs from that of his predecessor Steve Jobs, he could have made no better public gesture than issuing an apology. 

Mr. Cook said on Friday that Apple was “extremely sorry for the frustration” caused by misplaced landmarks and incorrectly named locations in Maps, which replaced Google Maps in the latest version of the iPhone and iPad’s operating system.

Coming a week before the first anniversary of the death of Apple’s co-founder, the contrast of Mr. Cook’s contrition over the Maps app and Jobs’ often arrogant response to customer complaints could not be more marked. 

Read the rest of the article at the Financial Times’ website.

Matt Damon cites Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff in Bloomberg Businessweek

This is one of the more left-field validations we’ve had for the Total Innovation theory written by Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff and originally published in Harvard Business Review. In a Bloomberg Businessweek story, movie star Matt Damon explains the investment thinking at, a company he co-founded to provide clean water and sanitation to everyone on earth: “Harvard Business Review just put out an article about this that actually broke it down,” he said. “You want 70 percent to be your core business, 20 percent to be adjacencies to that and 10 percent to be highest risk. Funnily enough, they say it pays off exactly inverse to that.” 

Read the full article


Larry Keeley in NYT story, “Has Apple Peaked?”

Larry Keeley is quoted in this article in the New York Times, in which columnist Joe Nocera wonders if the Cupertino-based technology giant is heading for a fall. One of the issues, explains Larry, is that business models become a “gilded cage,” hampering continued success by getting in the way of the constant evolution needed for ongoing innovation. It’s a super interesting read.

If Steve Jobs were still alive, would the new map application on the iPhone 5 be such an unmitigated disaster? Interesting question, isn’t it?

Apple’s chief executive, Jobs was a perfectionist. He had no tolerance for corner-cutting or mediocre products. The last time Apple released a truly substandard product — MobileMe, in 2008 — Jobs gathered the team into an auditorium, berated them mercilessly and then got rid of the team leader in front of everybody, according to Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs. The three devices that made Apple the most valuable company in America — the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad — were all genuine innovations that forced every other technology company to play catch-up.

Read the rest of the article on

Helen Walters on “The Subtraction of Writing”

by Helen Walters
published as an essay in The Laws of Subtraction: 6 Simple Rules For Winning In The Age Of Excess Everything by Matthew E May, to be published by McGraw-Hill in October.

The first time I saw Twitter being used in the wild was a strange experience. It was 2007. I sat next to a guy I knew in the auditorium of a conference and watched, confused, as he tapped into his laptop: “Sitting with Helen Walters from BusinessWeek.” Why is that interesting? I asked him. “It’s not, really,” he answered, shrugging. So I gave him what I hoped was my most withering look and then turned my attention to the stage to focus on writing and reporting in the traditional way I had long understood.

Since then I’ve come to appreciate the 140-character medium. Twitter seems to embody the essence of subtraction. The brevity forces you to focus on what’s truly important and to harness the restrictions as a challenge. The exercise of paring down meaning and insight into its purest form, formerly the purview of headline writers and the copy desk, is an invaluable one for anyone looking to communicate in the modern world. Such focused, clear thinking feeds back into the writing and thinking of a longer article, too.

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Matt Locsin: Do More With Less

Doblin’s Matt Locsin spoke at a recent event organized by IDSA/NYC. Sharing the stage with Allan Chochinov, editor-in-chief of Core77 and founding chair of the new MFA in Products of Design at SVA, Matt chose to follow Allan’s presentation with his own description of how design can be used to develop big, platform level solutions. “By design, innovation in areas other than just products can have dramatic effect,” he said, echoing a key theme of Doblin’s practice.

Melissa Quinn on “The Ever-Expanding Design Profession”

Doblin’s own Melissa Quinn will be taking part in a session at the IDSA’s international conference, taking place in Boston on August 15th. Here’s the blurb for the session, which takes place in the “Business of Design” track and which promises to be lively and thought-provoking. If you’re there, be sure to say hello!

The definition and practice of design has never been more dynamic. Now wholeheartedly embraced by the business, nonprofit and government communities as a critical success factor, more scope and integration is being demanded of design and its managers than ever before. How is this trend playing out in the far corners of the profession? A set of panelists who sit at some of the furthest edges of where design is being applied will discuss the important trends they are seeing as well as the biggest challenges they face in moving forward in the environments they serve. Melissa Quinn will talk about Doblin/Monitor’s unique approach to design/business integration; Steve Kaneko will talk about the broad range of talent and skills that are required to produce compelling hardware and software products; Jeneanne Rae will talk about what is uniquely required in service design; and Heather Boesch will talk about using design thinking in NGO and government settings.

Brian Quinn on Threadless and the Business of T-shirts

Doblin associate partner Brian Quinn is quoted in this Chicago Business article on design world darling, Threadless. Explaining the real-world pressures of community-driven businesses, Brian provides an objective voice of reason looking at a company reportedly shifting 10,000 orders every day.

Years before “Chicago” and “startup scene” became frequently strung-together words, local apparel retailer Threadless embraced an entrepreneurial, creative ethos—and turned its scrappy vision into piles of cash.

Now, the 12-year-old company, which has seen sales of its independently designed T-shirts grow from $6.2 million in 2005 to somewhere north of $30 million this year, is moving beyond tees and expanding into large-scale design with corporate partners, including Gap Inc. and Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.

Read the rest of the article, including Brian’s take on Threadless and the challenges that lie ahead as the company continues to expand.

Here’s the video of our own Erik Kiaer presenting at the Design Management Institute-organized conference, Balancing Extremes, held last month in Portland. Erik tells the history of navigation while making the case for bringing discipline to innovation efforts by reframing each and every challenge.

Erik Kiaer presented recently at the Design Management Institute-organized conference, “Balancing Extremes,” held in Portland. In his presentation, entitled “Powers of Ten: Building Transformational Capital,” he ran through the history of navigation, all in the name of his broader point: that innovation requires the reframing of a problem, as well as thoughtful, systemic disciplined efforts. View the video of his presentation.