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 NYtimes.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"We hear all the time from folks that their company has tried to pursue transformational innovation but either they got stuck thinking about great and lofty things that they can never bring to market or they gave up when they realized how risky the bets might be. It doesn’t have to be that way,” said Geoff Tuff at the After Five @ 111 event held in our Chicago office on June 27th. ‘We teach companies to develop transformational innovation regularly. But they also shouldn’t forget there is that vast “middle space” of adjacent innovations, where a lot of untapped opportunities exist which will feel a lot closer to home.”
Geoff, a partner at Monitor + Doblin and co-author of the recent Harvard Business Review feature on total innovation, Managing Your Innovation Portfolio, spoke to a gathering of about 30 professionals and leaders in business and design. Drawing on examples and experiences from real companies, the discussion centered on the challenges of innovating across different ambition levels—core, adjacent and transformational—and how best to apply this theory in practice.
65 executives from government and industry met on June 7th, 2012 to discuss and debate the state of innovation in Russia. Organized by Monitor, the Innovation for Excellence conference was held in cooperation with the USA-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission Innovation Working Group, which was launched in late March.
US Ambassador Mike McFaul was the keynote speaker at the event. His talk, “US/Russian Opportunities for Cooperation in Innovation,” discussed both the necessary market conditions and the paradoxes surrounding innovation. He commented on the “weird” mix of cooperation and competition necessary to enable a robust innovation culture. Later, executives from 3M, RIA Novosti, Ford Sollers, Janssen and Intel shared stories of managing innovation internally, covering topics from defining opportunity areas to building robust and defensible innovation capabilities. Each also shared details of what has helped them build their innovation capabilities in Russia and what the significant barriers to innovation have been—a major theme of the conference.
Meanwhile, our own Geoff Tuff and Matt Locsin were both on hand to discuss their work on Total Innovation (the subject of the lead feature in May’s Harvard Business Review) and Ford. Evgeny Orlovsky, also from Monitor, led a discussion on formal and informal ways to measure innovation success.
Ambassador McFaul later tweeted about the event:
@McFaul: Heard part of a fascinating talk on innovation by Geoff Tuff. Lessons for many. His article is in 5-12 issue of Harvard Business Review
@McFaul: Honored to speak today at the Monitor Group’s mtg on Innovation for Excellence. US and Russia have common interest in promoting innovation
by Larry Keeley
published as the foreword in The Mobile Frontier by Rachel Hinman
So here’s a little fact that feels surprising: Today on our small blue planet, more people have access to cell phones than to working plumbing. Think about that. Primitive plumbing has been around for over a thousand years. Modern working plumbing has been around for at least 200 years longer than the fleeting few years since 1984 when Motorola first ripped the phone off the wall and allowed us to carry it around. Most people find plumbing useful. Apparently, many millions more find cellular phones indispensible. Whenever big parts of modern life—the Internet, video games, search engines, smartphones, iPads, social networking systems, digital wallet payment systems—are so useful that we can no longer imagine life without them, we act as if they will forever be the way they are now. This childlike instinct has its charms, but it is always wrong and particularly dangerous for designers. People who think deeply about the built world necessarily must view it as fungible, not fixed. It is the job of thoughtful designers to notice the petty annoyances that accumulate when we use even devices we love—to stand in the future and think of ways to make it more elegantly functional, less intrusive, more natural, far more compelling. In the best such cases, designers need to surprise us—by radically altering what we think is possible. To create the futures we cannot even yet imagine.