This is just a test post to check out the use of MarsEdit. To capture my many topics and ideas that never get going and posted, I thought I'd try a desktop client. Looks like a nicely done application for mac OSX and I've set up my three blogs already. With more clients trying to understand the value of blogging, I thought i should be up to speed on the tools!
Claudia Kotchka is Vice President of Design Innovation Strategy at Procter & Gamble and gave a great presentation this morning. She attempted to describe what "design thinking" is all about, admitting that she had never tried, but thought it to be one of the most powerful ways to attack innovation. Perhaps most interestingly, she drew on the behavior of designers, often referring to "them", but emphasized numerous times that "but it isn't about designers. Anyone can learn to think and act this way." Unfortunately for the Institute of Design, a leading graduate program in design thinking where I teach, she also emphasized, "What's great is that you don't even have to go to school to learn it!" I'd argue "business thinking" is similiar -- why go to school? You can teach it to yourself, especially given the plethora of books written on the subjects. Obviously school gives you structure and access to the environment where you can study the topic.
Her presentation emphasized a number of behaviors including 1. being user centered; 2. being collaborative; 3. challenging existing mental models; 4. use of abductive thinking ("what could be"); and 5. using prototypes and experiments. She had a funny stroy where a team was working in this design-oriented way and the manager she assigned to the project called her in a panic one day. "Claudia, you must stop this project. These people are just jumping in and working on ideas with NO process. You need to stop this and teach them the P&G way..." Claudia said she decided to go along with the flow and a great new product, Mr. Clean Magic Clean Bathroom Brush, came out of it. I'll refer back to her presentation more as I reflect on the conference.
I'm out in Boston at the Front End of Innovation Conference. It's the 4th year and the conference just keeps growing. There are around 650-700 people in attendance and, as you can see on the conference site, great speakers. What I like most about the conference is the diversity of professions represented. Since it is not run by any one discipline, it draws people from R&D, design, marketing, senior management, and increasingly, innovation groups. Day 1 was excellent and I'll be reporting on some of the presentations in subsequent posts. So far, the biggest themes are Design Thinking, Collaboration, and Blue Oceans...
I am not really a Microsoft basher, but I just encountered another example of marketing and user experience rhetoric winning over the actual experience. I went to download Windows Media Encoder which allows one to encode video from a camera and use it in creative projects. Its a free download. The download site displays this message:
"Some downloads are made available only after users have validated their versions of Microsoft Windows. Firefox and Netscape Navigator browser users may install a helper program, the Windows Genuine Advantage plug-in, to enhance their download experience."
There are several really annoying aspects to this and they all go against basic user experience principles. It assumes you don't own Microsoft Windows, even though you have validated your copy. It calls out non-Microsoft products needing a "helper program" to "enhance their download experience." The only thing it is enhancing is Microsoft's ability to check whether you are a theif or not. After spending thousands of dollars on Microsoft products over the years and yes, also using other products I think are quality, Microsoft is still expects me to prove it to them. Note to Microsoft, if you want to enhance MY user experience, don't force me to prove yet again that I am not a software pirate -- you already know it numerous times.
I want to create a whole category called, "Not the iPod" to highlight well-done products and services that represent their own little (or big) revolution. My first entry is the Blue Mic Snowball microphone. Designed by a leading professional quality microphone company, this USB studio microphone is nothing short of amazing. They have been sold out everywhere since its launch. Everyone was ogling mine as I was checking out at Guitar Center. How much technical knowledge needed? Er, open package, plug into USB, open Quicktime Pro and start recording. The sound, even in my non-acoustically isolated dining room was immediately compelling. (Download improv audio below - 1.7MB) I can't wait until Carlos gets up tomorrow to record his amazing, almost-four-year-old voice.