From Inspiration to Implementation – Tina Seelig

1 Comment

Here are my notes from a great talk by Tina Seelig (hostess of Stanford e-corner) on a model for describing creativity and inspiration.

Need vocabulary to describe words like: creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship. Don’t have good definition for these words. Sharp contrast to other disciplines like maths, physics.

So we need a model and way to describe. Here is the model/definitions/framework for describing these concepts.

Imagination – The ability to envision what doesn’t exist

Creativity – Applying your imagination to solve your problem.

Innovation – Applying your creativity to come up with a unique solution.

Entrepreneurship – Applying your innovation to bring those ideas to life.

Now can break down and see what have to happen at each level.

engaging and envisioning
you need to start with engagement
if you don’t engage, you won’t see opportunities
Most people don’t pay attention
Go through life with blinders on
Miss opportunities – because they don’t engage
Hence they can’t envision
Many people don’t know they have a passion until they engage

requires motivation and experimentation
most people in world are puzzle builders
they know exactly what their life should look like, and they assembles pieces to complete the puzzle
they are the ones who get stopped by barriers
creativity people are quilt makers – they weave stuff together
many of these people stcratch itches they fac
13:39 Monster maker – cheap prototyping experimentation

focus and reframing
this is for deep insights and breakthroughs
reframing is when you start looking at the problem from all different angles
? + ? = 10 infinite answers
they way you ask the question is profound
the question you ask is the frame into which the answers will fall
Example – Plan big birthday for Morgan
if we change one word to
Plan birthday celebration…
The set of solutions completely expands
If you don’t ask the right question, you won’t get the right answers
18:38 How to reframe problem and come up with innovative solutions

persistence and inspiring others
persistence = grit
people who will walk through walls to get things done
also critical for you to inspire others to join you
22:45 Global innovation tournament example

Organizations need people playing all these roles.


Young at Heart: How to Be an Innovator for Life – Tom Kelley (IDEO)


Just finished listening to this excellent podcast on what it takes to stay innovative and fresh, in a world that is so easy to become status quo and complacent.

In it Tom share 5 ways you can stay innovative as you gain experience and age:

1. Think like a traveler.

You know when you travel or go to another county how you notice things that you wouldn’t normally see back home?

That can be very useful for finding opportunities back home. Look at your home, and your current working environment with fresh eyes – those of a traveler. You will see and discover things you were blind to before.

“I don’t know who discovered water but I can guarantee you it wasn’t a fish”.

2. Treat life as an experiment.

By willing to fail a little bit. Fail forward. Fail for learning. For knowledge. Edison of course is the greatest example of this is discovering the light bulb. But only by trying and failing can we discover and learn our way to better things.

3. Nurture an attitude of wisdom.

This one is about being OK with when you know, but don’t believe everything you know is necessarily so.

Tom shares this great example of how Best Buy spent $1Billion dollars buying a record company called MusicLand in 2000. MusicLand has 1300 stores and Best Buy thought this would really increase their distribution – after all they knew their market.

What they didn’t see was Napster. 18-30 years stopped paying for music. And guess who works at Best Buy? 18-30 year olds. Their own employees could have told them this was a bad idea – but a billion dollars later it was too late and MusicLand went bankrupt.

Don’t assume you have all the answers.

4. Use your whole brain.

Left brain right brain stuff.

5. Follow your passions.

Blur the line between work and play.

Tom talks about two buckets he can drop most of his friends into. Those who look forward to the work week, and those who dread it, or at best are working for the weekend.

Be the former. Change if you are becoming the later.

In here Tom also alludes to the three circle analogy Jim Collins gave us in Good to great which is:

1. Find out what you like.
2. Find out what you can be world class at.
3. Discover what people will pay you money for.

And do whatever it is where those three things intersect. This is probably my favorite piece of advice and one I try to live by.

This post doesn’t do the podcast justice. If you are sincerely looking for ways to improve your creativity I suggest downloading or listening to the full hour in the car, when you are jogging, or biking. Well worth it.

The 7 Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs

1 Comment

This morning I listened to a this really good podcast by Phil Windley of IT conversation interviewing Carmine Gallo on his new book The 7 Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs.

I haven’t read the book. But here is a summary of what I gleamed from the podcast and this presentation I found on slideshare.

Principle #1 – Do what you love.

As Carmine points out in his book this doesn’t mean drop out of school and going surfing.
The sweet spot for doing what you love is finding that crossroads between:

  • what’s something you are passionate about
  • something you can be world class at
  • can you make a living doing it

If you can line up these three things, you won’t have to work a day in your life.

Principle #2 – Put a dent in the universe.

We all want purpose. We all want to leave our mark. Passion fuels the rocket, but it’s the vision that points it in the right direction.

We’re gambling on our vision, and we’d rather do that than make ‘me-too’ products. – Steve Jobs

Principle #3 – Kick-start your brain.

Take ideas from a broad set of experiences. Don’t just look inside your own community.

I learned this lesson with my first startup Cambrian House. For two years I didn’t write a lick of code. Instead I learned about a wide range of subjects I knew nothing about – marketing, sales, hiring, firing, pitching, raising capital, blogging, design, and how to be a customer (one of the toughest jobs on any software project).

This was by design. I wanted this to be my street MBA. But I am glad I did because The Agile Samurai and some other things I am working on would not have been realized if I had stayed 50,000 feet deep in enterprise application development.

It’s scary leaving your comfort zone. No one is more insular than the tech community. But going to other conferences, talking to people in other disciplines, is where true innovation comes from.

Innovation is about connecting things. For Steve it was realizing that the beauty of calligraphy and typesetting could be applied to computers (the first Mac).

Notice how the Apple Store doesn’t have a till or cashier displayed as soon as you walk in? That’s because Apple based their stores around the best retail customer experience they could find – The Four Seasons.

Part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians, and poets, and artists, and zoologists, and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world. – Steve Jobs

Principle #4 – Sell dreams, not products.

This is to remind us that no one cares about our products or services. All they care about is what they can do for them. Sell the dream and you will win them over.

Another way of looking at this is to always make sure you are selling the benefits of your product and not the features (breaking safely over anti-lock brakes).

Principle #5 – Say no to 1,000 things.

This is probably my favorite principle of them all. It just resonates with the minimalist in me. If it’s not adding value or contributing to where you are going … drop it.
Don’t waste another second thinking about it.

Steve obviously takes this to the extreme in Apple products which is why you won’t find a USB connector on the iPad.

Principle #6 – Create insanely great customer experiences.

This is the principle I struggle the most with. Not because I don’t agree with it. Just because I find it hard.

If creating great customer experiences was easy everyone would be doing it. Yet there’s plenty of evidence in the software and products we use everyday that companies don’t take this to heart.

Don’t believe me? Try flying somewhere and tell me how much you enjoy the experience. This is an industry just waiting to be tipped on it’s head.

Principle #7 – Master the message.

This one I am probably weakest on. I don’t have a lot of experience mastering messages (except many when it comes to explaining Agile).

But messaging is more than marketing. It’s the whole package and experience. As Carmine points out in his presentation buying a Mac from the apple store is like going on a date.

When it comes to presenting there are a couple other rules of thumb:

  • no bullet points
  • more pictures less words
  • eliminate the clutter

Bonus principle – Don’t let the bozos get your down.

Here are a number of put downs Steve has been on the receiving end over the years:

We don’t need you. You haven’t gotten through college yet.

Your problem is that you still believe the way to grow is to serve caviar in a world that seems pretty content with cheese and crackers.

There’s no reason why anyone would want a computer in their home.

Get your feet off my desk. Get out of here. You stink and we are not going to buy your product.

Don’t let these jerks get you down. If your intuition and gut are telling you something needs to be done, it probably does. Be the elephant. Get the think skin.

If you are already doing these things good on ya. I find following these principles like these an uphill battle every day. Probably for the same reason most of us don’t eat right or exercise.

But if you draw inspiration from icons like Steve Jobs, Carmine’s book may be what you are looking for this holiday season.

%d bloggers like this: