Richard Florida was kind enough to read my book and offer this blurb–“Creative Intelligence lays out the forces that will drive us toward a prosperous future. Read this book if you want to be inspired and provoked to lead the way.”
Creative Intelligence is now on pre-order and you can get it in print or ebook from various sources, including:
I about to leave to give a talk about Bill Moggridge. This is what I’m planning to say. I knew Bill for many years but only got to understand him when he moved to New York to run the National Design Museum. I hope he likes it. I hope Karin likes it.
What Bill Moggridge Taught Me About Aura.
1/30/13 Cooper Hewitt National Design MuseumTribute to Bill
(Putting my old leather cap on my head as I begin to speak)….
I’m wearing this old cap today because Bill loved it. When Leslie and I met Bill and Karin for dinner after they had moved to New York, it was getting cold and I wore this hat. Bill, towering over me as he did, gave me one of those incredible Bill smiles and gently lifted it off my head and placed it on his. It perched there, a bit too small, as he beamed.
There’s nothing much to this hat. It’s leather, it’s worn, its old–and as a result of all that, it has a great patina. A depth. A tangibility. And its useful. It beckons you. It has a story to tell you if you want to take the time to listen. Bill took the time.
And not just with my hat. My copper pot as well. We invited Karin and Bill over to our house for the Thanksgiving Day parade. He hadn’t seen one before and we have a good view of the floats going by from our apartment. Now Leslie and I have been collecting stuff since our early years in Asia. We have Chinese blue and white, Korean celadon, Japanese prints and Native American pots and paintings. But the one thing that Bill was attracted to was our old copper pot. We never polish it and it has all the marks of age–drip marks, discolorations, the bottom is bent. It has, in short, character. The wonderful shape, the handle and that patina beckon you. You want to interact with it, engage it, and use it.
But you wouldn’t know any of that if you didn’t take the time to actually see the copper pot for what it really is. Bill took the time. He slowed things down (which is pretty unique in New York City). He took the time to to really observe, to really engage. Bill understood the nature of aura and, of course, in his pioneering work, he understood that we can design our interactions with things and actually generate auratic power.
But while his professional reputation was built on his incredible ability to understand our connection to things, it was his wonderful ability to connect TO us that made Bill so loving and such an object of OUR love.
I remember when he interviewed me for his book, Designing Media, back in 2008. We went outside. Now Bill was remarkable in so many ways and one of them was his desire to master the tools of social media and use them. So he included the interviews on a disc in the printed book–and he did all the videoing himself.
So we’re outside someplace, maybe it was Chicago, and I sit down, Bill sets up and I start talking about how my new boss at BusinessWeek walked into my office and told me he was closing down the editorial page (which paid my salary) and I had to find something else to do. Just like that.
So I start talking into the camera about launching a new Innovation & Design channel and asking Tim Brown for advice on who to hire–the amazing Jessie Scanlon–gesticulating and moving my hands as I do when I get excited–and 20 seconds into my spiel, vrooom, vrooom. This loud noise overhead drowns me out. We had set up the interview underneath an airport landing path and a commercial jet drowns me out.
So we start again and I get into how for the first time in business journalism, we crowdsourced content and went outside the silos and …..vrooom, vrooom. The noise drowns me out.
Now I am getting really nervous. So I say, OK, let’s do it faster so we can finish before the next jet flies through. And I really race through now–how CORE77 saved the day with content and money, how Jessie was editing at the speed of light, and ….vroom, vrooom. Again. Now, those of you who know me know that I am really a very, very, very nervous person. And by this time, my nerves were shot to hell.
But not Bill. Even though HE had to stop and rewind and it was HIS book and this was HIS only chance to get my interview, Bill was calm. He looked at me and saw my nervousness. And he quietly talked to me. Don’t worry, he said. It’ll be fine. Bruce, we can splice the bits together. We can even find another time to talk if this doesn’t work. Bill reframed his interaction with me from the guy behind the camera asking questions to the man understanding my nervousness and offering solace and solutions.
And so I learned Bill’s greatest contribution in interaction design was the design of his interactions with people. He took the time to really look and really listen to people. He took the time to slow the time to engage with us.
I’ve been doing work lately deconstructing the nature of experience and engagement between people and products. And I can see the seeds of that work coming from Bill. Yet in the design of his own personal interactions with people, Bill showed me something richer. Each of us can beckon people with our interest in their lives, our curiosity in what they do, our appreciation in what they accomplish.
Bill beckoned us with that understanding, that charismatic power. In our thoughts of him, our remembrances, Bill still beckons us. And always will.
The first class of the new Cornell-Technion school of engineering (which appears to be what is being built in NYC) opened in Google’s NYC headquarters this week. That’s not good news. Goggle is a remarkable company but it is totally male/tech/engineering driven. I guess Technion is that way too. Brilliant guys come up with terrific new tech ideas and then–and only then–try to find a cultural/social need for them. Clearly that tech-driven strategy works but it feels very 20th century.
Most of the hot new startups are founded by designers or people with a big exposure to design. We have the Design Fund and a couple of dozen new companies to prove that. And then there is New York City. This city, my city, runs on culture, not technology. The hottest firms here, RGA, Kickstarter and the media and marketing firms, know this.
The real business of business in New York is mining the existential. It’s excavating the meaning of America’s changing demographics, ethnic shifts, gender changes, class movements. Its about understanding global cities and urban cultures.
Creativity is about mining this kind of social and cultural knowledge and connecting it to the appropriate technologies–some of them new, some old. The food truck revolution–a part of the revived Maker Culture–involves OLD technology–trucks.
The real reason I wanted Stanford to win the contest to build a new school in NYC was not that it would bring its world-class engineering to the city. A Stanford win would have brought the D-School to New York. It would have brought design, creativity and innovation to the mix of technology and business.
Cornell Technion needs a C-School, a Creativity School, to really work in NYC.
In our post global world, we have continued to see a critical need for a deeper understanding of innovation, global collaboration and sociocultural interaction. We reject the idea that designers are right-brainers and analysts are left-brainers…we all have to be whole-brainers to create the future we envision. We are connected more than ever, and have created powerful tools to help us harness this connectivity. Moreover, our daily behaviors, even on an individual level, are changing dramatically as a result of these new tools. This also spells change for large organizations, businesses – even countries – and raises questions about how design can not only affect change, but shape the process towards a designed outcome. The Helsinki Design Lab calls this stewardship —
“ the art of balancing agency and reflexivity. For us it’s the conscious design that builds political, economic, and social interests towards a desired state; it’s the art of getting there. And when we speak about design in this context, we speak of it as a leadership model: a way of leading in an uncertain world, where iteration is the key to connecting opportunity to impact. In our work, design and stewardship are interconnected.”
At the HarvardXDesign conference – a great event for the B-School– I was on a panel that did a crit on two teams from across Harvard that were the best of 9 teams competing in the challenge of How Would You Redesign Education in America. Kickstarter’s Charles Adler, IIt Institute of Design’s Patrick Whitney, Continuum’s Harry West were on the panel as well.
The second team presented their idea of doing a log on failure from the time you are in K-12 through your life that could constitute of Portfolio of Failure. The idea, of course, was to allow us to see our failures, plot them, and learn from them. I could hear the refrain in my ears “Fail early, fail, fast, fail often.” Now I know the context of the conversation around failure–its about prototyping, moving fast, learning quickly, evolving to get to a workable and perhaps best solution.
But I’ve never liked this embrace of failure. We learn as much from our successes as from our failure and I suspect we learn much more. Besides, I failed a lot in school. I didn’t test all that well and didn’t get straight As. Failure made me feel awful. And I think failure makes kids in urban public schools or on the rez feel just as bad if not much worse. Many are already close to despair in their lives. Failure is deeply meaningful to them. It has serious consequences. Get labelled a “Failure” and it can ruin your life. As a pedagogical methodology, embracing failure is the last thing these kids need.
The thing about this fetching of failure is that is can work if you’re at Stanford or Harvard and you were lucky enough to be born into a well-off family and went to a good school and were brought up to be and feel accomplished and secure enough to make failure a feature of your learning.
But be aware of the fallacy of failure. It is celebrated only when you succeed. If you continue to fail, you’re going to be– A Failure. So the fetishism of failure really means you can fail a couple of time–two or three or maybe three times– but no more. How many entrepreneurs are celebrated for their sixth or seventh try?
Failure is usually associated with problem-solving. There’s an assumption that there is one right problem with one right answer and if you can’t get it, you fail. But what if you don’t even know what the problems are and there are lots of ways of dealing with them? I prefer the Play mode of dealing with challenges. When you play, there are rules but they change as you play the game. There are different outcomes to playing a game, different ways of winning. When something doesn’t work, you try another. You do work arounds. Is that Failure? I don’t think so. Do kids who go to Montessori school think of themselves as Failures when their blocks don’t quite fit together? I doubt it.
So maybe it’s time to challenge this orthodoxy of Fail, Fail, Fail so you can Succeed, Succeed, Succeed. It’s all about the learning and the knowledge and you don’t have to embrace a cult of failure to get that.
There was a good discussion about the design of things and the design of relationships at the opener of the Harvard design conference put on by students at the Harvard B-School. They have put together a great conference for today that includes a wonderful speaker series plus a Design Challenge for teams that i will be judging, along with Harry West of Continuum and others, later in the day. Bringing together people from all over Harvard into teams that include design students to work on a challenge is a terrific way to show how design is powerful.
Check out the latest issue of Bloomberg BusinessWeek–The Design Issue. This is great news. When McGraw-Hill sold it to Bloomberg a few years back, design coverage pretty much disappeared. It’s back in a splendid package of stories that offer insights by many of the best designers around the globe. And the design of magazine layout is pretty swell too. Who did it? http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-01-24/the-design-issue.
BBW launched its first Design Conference a few months back and appears to be ramping up its coverage at a critical time. The Designers Fund and the long list of designers starting successful companies is merging the entrepreneur/startup/design/innovation/creativity spaces. All business media has to cover design and creativity these days.
I’m on an Acela train heading to Harvard where a design conference is about to be held that is organized by Harvard Business School students in conjunction with Harvard’s new I-Lab (as in Innovation). Sign of the times. The students belong to the HBS design club. Design clubs are the fastest growing clubs in business schools.
Creativity is the source of real economic value and we are rediscovering that today. Sure, you can squeeze profits out with efficiency and lower cost supply chaining. But BIG profits comes with original products that have deep meaning for people who can engage with them. That involves using Creative Intelligence to generate Economic Value, Growth and Profits. I call it Indie Capitalism.
I am taking the Acela up to Harvard today to attend the X Design Conference put on by its B-School students. Yes, the design club of the HBS has put together a remarkable 2-day conference. Together with Harvard’s new I-Lab, Innovation Lab, they are bringing together people from all over the university to listen to some great speakers and actually do design together. http://www.harvardxdesign.com/
Teams will compete on a design challenge on Saturday and a panel will assess their work and give gold stars. I’m on the panel and look forward to seeing what these Harvard folks can do.
With the I-Lab up and running and Harvard B-School students now committing to design, innovation and creativity instead of just mathematics, and efficiency, I’m prepared to change my mind about the place. Sounds like Harvard is building up its Creative Intelligence–and bolstering the creative capacities of its students. Now maybe they’ll become more entrepreneurial and build new companies instead of just managing old ones.
I attended the World Economic Forum in Davos for a dozen years and yes, it is very exciting, to be cheek to cheek with the global elite. I found that the orthodoxy expressed in the big, opening speeches were almost always wrong. But the insights revealed in the smaller meetings were usually right.
At this Davos meeting, the key them is “Resiliency.” In the face of what I call a VUCA world in my forthcoming book, Creative Intelligence, Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, Ambiguous, speakers are saying we need to build resilient organizations. “Resilience” is a hot topic in corporate circles. But punch into the idea and you come up with little. Resilience for what? Survival. Stasis. Stability. And how do you become resilient? Be agile, flexible, fluid. We know that already.
A better Davos theme would be Creativity. Creativity takes you somewhere. It is at the heart of economic value and growth. It requires a set of competencies that most business people don’t already know–or have forgotten. It gives you the tools to be more than resilient. It enables you to discover, scale and progress.
But what is going on inside the meetings where you do get insights? Plenty. Financial Times US editor Gillian Tett reports that cybercrime is super-hot. Corporations are under constant attack but are afraid of asking governments, including Washington for help. Tett says the situation is similar to the financial crisis swerve just experienced. Many people in banks saw bad things happening that would inevitably lead to a blow-up but didn’t want to go to the government for help. Individually they were scared but collectively unwilling to act. Cybercrime looks very much like that to her today.
Tett is using an explanatory frame from one crisis that she covered as a journalist to help her understand and predict a future crisis. Framing is a critical competence of Creative Intelligence.
President Obama will speak about the State of the Union soon and he will talk about many things except, perhaps the most important–the state of innovation in America. In my book, Creative Intelligence, I argue that for the past 30 years, there has been lots of innovation but it has been narrowly focussed in Finance, IT and social media.
In fact, only 9% of all public and private companies in the US do any sort of innovation at all. Think about that. Look at the profits of all US corporations over the past few decades and you can see that where innovation has occurred, profits have done particularly well. Finance, surprisingly to many of us in the Design/Creativity/Innovation space, has seen its profits soar from about 10% of the total of all profits to 40% of the total in the past 20 years because of financial innovation. I would argue that this has been a disaster for the economy as a whole but the fact remains.
What policies do we need out of Washington to spur innovation and creativity? How do we generate a million-fold increase in startups? How do we push entrepreneurial capitalism over finance capitalism? These are the key questions that the President should address in his State of the Union.
The RAND Corporation has just come out with a new report on electronic health records and reversed its 2005 prediction that they would help save billions of dollars. Now it says electronic health records might actually cost more than paper. What went wrong?
Framing. One of the most important skills in business and in our own personal lives is how we design our engagements with the world. We have dozens of different kinds of engagements every day and each is different. How we interact with friends, colleagues, children, bosses, doctors, parents varies dramatically. In the past, our engagements were limited in number and predictable. We were born into most of them. Now, thanks to social media technologies, we can actually create thousands of new engagements. We need to be aware of them and design them to get the outcomes we prefer. We need to frame those engagements to our benefit.
That has not happened with electronic health records. RAND and the federal government wanted electronic health records to do two things–lower costs and bring better health benefits to individuals by giving them more data. The problem was that the market incentive for the private companies writing the software was to use electronic records to boost the efficiency of billing by hospitals and physicians to raise their profits and income.That led to higher, not lower costs.
The engagement that was framed and designed to improve was the financial one between provider and consumer. The engagement that needed to be framed and improved by electronic files was the flow of medical data among providers and between providers and consumers. This most probably could save big sums of money and certainly help people in their own medical care.
In creating new forms of relationships and organizations, framing the right engagement is key. We still have time to do that with electronic medical records.
Gas leaks, battery fires, faulty wiring, electrical service software errors–Boeing’s new 787 is experiencing a series of problems that is hurting the brand, slowing the roll-out and costing the company many millions of dollars. Any new jet comes with teething problems and one with entirely new composite materials can be expected to have more than its share. But the three-year delay in launch and cascading problems suggest that Boeing’s original strategy of outsourcing most of the design, engineering and manufacture of the Dreamliner is proving seriously costly.
For most of the past decade, globalization of innovation has been in vogue, with consultants promising huge cost savings and speedier results. As manufacturing went global, it appeared to make sense to outsource the creative aspects of making as well. In addition, nationalistic pressures by potential buyers of big-ticket items, especially commercial jet planes, demanded a piece of the action as a quid pro quo in purchasing them. Besides, Apple shifted all production of its high-tech iPhones, iPads and Macs to China and that’s worked, so the business logic went.
For Boeing, the logic hasn’t worked. The 787, like all commercial jets, is really a super-complex, hand-crafted product, composed of new materials, designed in new ways and assembled by new methods. The best innovation strategy for this kind of cutting edge innovation may well be internal, organic teams who have control over most, if not all, of the complex procedures. Agile, resilient teams of skilled people who trust each other to share information and learn quickly by doing are the best organization units for this kind of innovation. They make up “magic circles” of creativity who can craft original designs and then scale their efforts for production. Organic, networked circles of creativity and craft can be better managed and are often more efficient than totally outsourced design and manufacturing. The poor quality control experienced by Boeing over its suppliers in Europe and Asia might have been prevented had the company done more of its creativity and crafting in-house.
Boeing’s decision to outsource 30% to 40% of the 787 was made in the context of a contentious history with it’s engineering unions. In retrospect, the higher cost of keeping a creative, competent and in-house capability happy would probably have been a tiny fraction of what Boeing is paying today in penalties for delays, fixes to errors and brand erosion. Circles of highly creative, innovative teams are expensive but the scaling of their efforts may be more efficient and cost-effective in the long run for companies intent on playing at the edge. Apple never outsourced its design and engineering and demanded total control over the manufacture and assembly of its products. Apple’s handful of “magic circle” of design and engineering teams has worked on nearly all of its products over the decades. Boeing and business consultants should take note.