Archive for the 'Innovation' Category

Competing Against Luck: The story of innovation and customer choice. Clayton M Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, & David S. Duncan.

Photo I took in Rochester, Minnesota 2005-12-3...

Competing Against Luck: The story of innovation and customer choice.  Clayton M Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, & David S. Duncan. .2016. ISBN  9780062435637.   As ever any book from Christensen is a delight to read. This one fleshes out the concept of a Job to Be Done as the driving force behind successful innovation.  Many successful and  innovative companies start out with a clear focus on the users job to be done and they are wildly successful. Later as this focus gets muddied by all the reams of data coming from the marketplace, many companies lose their way.   Using experience gained from the numerous companies they  have worked with over the years, the authors clearly show how the successful companies like Amazon, Intuit, The Khan Academy ,  The Mayo Clinic and others continue to stay focused on their North Star.  I recommend this book to anyone in a position of leadership to read, ponder , reread and implement.

The Talent Code. Greatness isn’t born it’s grown, Here’s how. Daniel Coyle.

Cover of "The Talent Code: Greatness Isn'...

The Talent Code. Greatness isn’t born it’s grown, Here’s how. Daniel Coyle.  2009. ISBN 9780553906493.  Singularly the best book on performance and development  I have read yet.   The question came up, why do these clusters of high performance sprout up?  Korean LPGA golfers, Russian ladies tennis stars? Curacao’s run of World Little League finals,  Magnet schools that outperform?  Brazilian soccer?  Finnish school children?  The failures of Whole language instruction?    Its all in here folks and the secrets are based on neuroscience, growth and the impact of deep learning ( coupled with the 10 000 hour rule) . Read about the importance of struggle, fire and ignition of vision, and how top coaches are able to do this. What you can do at home, in business to develop a high performance culture.  Recognize the  hard work ( not brains) and encourage struggles, not participation is what I first took away , but there is more , much more.

Black Box Thinking. The surprising truth about success. Matthew Syed.

Black Box Thinking. The surprising truth about success and why some people never learn from their mistakes. . Matthew Syed. .  2015.  ISBN 9781473613775.  A very insightful book.  Ever wonder why airflight really learns from mistakes, while healthcare continues to make deathly mistakes every year ( despite tremendous leaps forward in medicine). You will be inspired and then dismayed by Syed’s book.  If you are any way involved in innovation, total quality, best practices and group productivity, this is a  book you need to read.  Funding/controlling bodies for institutions such as healthcare, governance, the legal system need to also read this book and act on it.  A compelling well written book.  Good for a four hour plane ride ,there and  back

Quantum Leaps. 100 Scientists who changed the World. Jon Balchin

Tim Berners-Lee

Quantum Leaps. 100 Scientists who changed the World. Jon Balchin.  2014 ISBN  9781782126935. A delightful English book that does a great job of linking innovative thinking from Pythagorus to Tim Berners-Lee through the centuries. The author does a good job in that he takes what could be confusing information and distills it into easily managed amounts of concise readable  information.  I enjoyed the chance to review my understanding of theoretical physics, plus I picked up more information on the life-science front.   Recommend this book to anyone who wants to add to his/her educated person background.   Quite fascinating read that holds your attention and for me added to the desire to learn more about some of these interesting characters.

Finders & Keepers. How the world’s most powerful customer is changing everything. Rob Schlyecher.

Trader Joe's interior in Union Square in New Y...

Finders & Keepers. How the world’s most powerful customer is changing everything. Rob Schlyecher.2015. ISBN 9780994059307. The book is an application of work by Christopher Norton and the authors company Spring Advertising on the market vertical called the New Economic Order, or as the author calls it Finders. Finders are less than half the population, yet control 75% of the discretionary spending.  Keepers (bargain hunters, sit on their wallets and thus have a very small part of the spending).  If your product is too often all about the price ( Cars, real estate, commodities) then you are talking ot the Keepers. In other word, a race to the bottom.  Finders are foodies, love the artisan, look for out of the way shops,  love the authentic experience. Finders will often pay full retail as they respect the product value. Eg Lululemon, Subaru, iPhone, Trader Joe’s, Brew pubs, Vinyl records.  Keepers love WalMart. The premise is very easy to grasp, but the application can be difficult if your company is not Finder friendly or oriented.  Worthwhile book to read, and clearly written ( They must write good copy at Spring) . Every marketer should read this one., if only for the fascinating case studies.

The Misfit Economy. Lessons in creativity from pirates, hackers, gangsters and other informal entrepeneurs. Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips.

Misfit as the new Batgirl. Art by James Raiz.

The Misfit Economy. Lessons in creativity from pirates, hackers, gangsters and other informal entrepreneurs. Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips.  2015. ISBN 9781451688825.  The two authors take a differentiated approach to change and reach into a grab bag of “misfits” who are commonly not held up to respect or as models of behavior. This  look is deeper than most as it brings out the “why’ of behaviors such as  nations like the US engaged in wide spread intellectual piracy in their early development, as China does now.   The book has gained a fair amount of social buzz as it contains controversial albeit commonplace information.  Good quote. Youth (eg ghetto, barrios, colleges etc) require love, belonging and opportunity. If they can not find it one way, they will find it in another.  I appreciated the dilemma of “do gooders” when faced with lofty goals or personal survival , too often the locals have to choose survival.   Like Eastern Europe’s booming  coal mining industry = jobs, where there have been few.  Read this book for its humanity and  pragmatism

Think Like a Freak: The authors of Freakonomics offer to retrain your brain. Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

Stephen Dubner

Think Like a Freak: The authors of Freakonomics offer to retrain your brain. Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner. 2014. ISBN 9780062218339. I have recently been listening to the Freakonomics podcast and the authors have been using snippets from this book to dwell on thinking like a freak. It seemed interesting and the book was also very interesting. I enjoy their questions and points of view as they seem to take just a small enough chunk so I find it easy to digest.  Especially interesting were their comments on the right and wrong way to have a conversation about things that may be controversial. With my science background I respect data more than anecdotes and they show you how to talk about real data in order to deal with natural biases.  Very useful book for anyone who speaks or writes to an audience.

Value Proposition Design. How to create products and services customers want. Osterwalder, Pigneur, Bernarda & Smith

Business Model Canvas Poster download (http://...

Value Proposition Design. How to create products and services customers want.  Osterwalder, Pigneur, Bernarda & Smith. 2014. ISBN 9781118968055. A textbook, workbook and piece of graphic art all in one.   In our practise we help companies discover their value proposition and it is quite a bit of hard work for them.  This is a thorough look at the process with a terrific front end explanation as to why this is so important.   the book is a significant contribution to the field.  It should be required reading for all technology companies ( and more) . Clearly written , but you will need a lot of thinking time as you work through this process.

In the Beginning…Was the Command Line. , Neal Stephenson.

Cover of "In the Beginning...was the Comm...

Cover of In the Beginning…was the Command Line

In the Beginning…Was the Command Line. , Neal Stephenson. 1999. ISBN 9780061832901.  A short pithy and often hilarious essay by one of our eras better science fiction writers, coders and journalists.  I discovered that Neal had released quite a lot of his material into the public domain and in my searches found this essay.   Written about the time Apple was in a decline, Microsoft in the midst of antitrust suits and Linux was in a heyday, it is a great history lesson and guide for future programmers.   As an old UNIX programmer I know exactly what he is saying about its robustness and have at times decried that IOS is just a version of Linux, completely locked away from the bulk of the users.  This not a Cathedral vs Bazaar argument, but a simple story about how to get utility and usage out of what is available these days, if you want to.

A great comment, ” Apple has always been a hardware company first, using its software to protect the walled system system.  While Microsoft has chosen to be a software company,  using the cheap hardware out there, and forcing hardware manufacturers to write the code/drivers to work with Windows. , which extends Windows at no cost. ”

It will be interesting to see if his predictions play out – that OS  prices may inevitably  drive to zero.   Well written and useful if you like this kind of material.

A montage showing author Neal Stephenson and f...

Walkable City . How Downtown can save America one step at a time. Jeff Speck

English: A car of the Portland Streetcar syste...

Walkable City . How Downtown can save America one step at a time. Jeff Speck. 2012.  ISBN 9780865477728. The author, a city planner /designer has written an urban yet very readable guide to helping cities get away from their car addictions.  Many of our local public forums return to keeping our city( New Westminster) a walkable city.  Specks book is a great first step in seeing what can be and is being done in many places.  He does an excellent job of stipping us of the car based blinders and prejudices that we all have in North America. I appreciated that he noted the efforts of Vancouver and Portland in these efforts.

I just completed a journey to Greece and Western Turkey and it is blindingly how much more interesting an old, pre car built city is for walking than one that is car based.  And how increased traffic can really bind up these cities. Too bad they look to the West for insight son how to handle this.  Kind of like asking a heroin addict how to kick the habit.

Speck also does a great job of showing/ linking our car based designs to increased carbon footprints and how some thoughts in design can ameliorate/prevent  self induced issues.  That was again brought to me in the Turkish city of Marmaris which had many covered streets/bazaars that were very pedestrian oriented. This was in a city that has an average daily temp of 30 degs. Shade is really important.  Terminal 2 in Heathrow, UK  is another good example , which uses mostly north facing windows to prevent increased heat build up in the open plan building. Its is a good job.  If you fly Star  Allinace you can experience this.

I recommend this to anyone interested in living in a more interesting,  energetic and vibrant city.