Posts Tagged ‘collaborate’

What Good Ideas, Coffee Shops, Incubation, and GPS Have in Common

September 27, 2010 1 comment


Steven Johnson, a writer who focuses on where science and technology intersect, is coming out with a book about where good ideas come from.  This past summer, he shared some of his findings during a TEDtalk in England.  Following are key points:

  • An idea is not a single thing (a eureka moment, lightbulb turns on, a stroke of genius, …)
    • We think it’s that expensive innovative one-of-a-kind idea
  • An idea is a network
    • Really it’s what we piece together from whatever spare parts we happen to have around
  • Most great ideas are formed over a long incubation period (The slow hunch)

Therefore, spaces that creative an environment that will foster good ideas / innovations must:

  • Be more like a coffeehouse
  • Invite people of diverse backgrounds to engage with each other
  • Be a bit chaotic
  • Bring people together (The Liquid Network)
  • Enable people’s hunches to interact with each other’s

As a result, GPS is born out of a casual conversation, incubated over time through interaction of people from diverse backgrounds to be amongst the first open platform technologies; which you have probably recently used to find a coffee shop near you.

On a personal note, I often describe myself as an “oral processor” and am recognized as an “ideator.”   Johnson’s findings resonate quite loudly for me as I also craft ideas over time through interaction with other people.  Maybe it’s something that came natural for me, but it certainly is a pattern that anyone can replicate.

Think about how this would impact the way you:

  • design an office space,
  • set-up an online community,
  • re-arrange a classroom environment,
  • interact with your family and friends in a completely different way,
  • expand the breadth of people you choose to interact with, and
  • leverage the interactions with all people in your life.

It’s worth your 18 minutes to watch the video &/or peruse the interactive transcript available on the TED website:

or if you prefer to watch illustrated presentations, check-out this 4 minute version:


Gulf Oil Spill Design Jam 5/25-6/1


  • Are you an innovator?
  • Are you a designer?
  • Are you an ideator with ideas swirling around in your head?
  • Are you an engineer?
  • Are you a creative collaborator?
  • Are you concerned about the short & long-term impact of this oil spill?
  • If you can identify with any one of these statements, then you are cordially invited to participate in a one week Twitter event to invite the collective creative expertise to step in and solve this crisis.  YOU CAN make a difference – participate in this DESIGN JAM …


    Post your initial ideas on Twitter using the hashtag:  #oilspilljam.  Use your blogs as a way to capture more details about your ideas and post the link to Twitter.

    Search the Twitter tag #oilspilljam, glance through ideas, comment, and build upon the ideas of others.  This collective collaboration is a platform that could produce critical solutions to solve the most devastating man-made disaster ever experienced in this part of the world.


    Besides participating in the jam, you can spread the word.  We have the memorial holiday weekend coming up in the US this weekend, but time is not our friend with this crisis. It’s a simple three-step process:

    1. POST your thoughts on Twitter via #oilspilljam
    2. COLLABORATE by reviewing others’ posts and building upon those ideas
    3. SPREAD the word via whatever networks you have: Twitter, Blog, LinkedIn, FaceBook, email, etc…


    It’s like a bunch of musicians coming together in a jam session – each one being inspired by the other to collectively create something new that the individuals could never have created.  This concept was inspired by the “innovation jam” events hosted within the IBM corporation  (giving credit where credit is due).


    Let’s see if we can generate enough ideas and enough buzz to capture the attention of BP, the US Government, and key decision makers.  With your participation and by helping to spread the word, we CAN make a statement and we CAN have an impact!  What are you going to do?

    Design Like You Give a [Care]! – 5 Steps


    In a recent FastCompany blog post,  How to Design Like You Give a [Care] in 5 Easy Steps by Joe Duffy, we are presented with five major aspects of design that the designer really needs to pay attention to in order to be successful.  Following are the highlights (paraphrasing) of those five aspects from this blog post:

    1. Process: Be thoughtful, vigilant and thorough to find a route to deliver a unique and meaningful expression.  Beware of  complicating process & over-analyzes. Let us litter no longer with uninspired and all together familiar designs.

    2. People – working collaboratively: The team you’re a part of holds a common goal. Respect your clients and the expertise they bring.  Embrace the potential benefit of the “collective IQ” that comes with working with people of varied experience (e.g., young and old, multiple disciplines, inside and outside of a company).

    Yes, because shifting perspective and being uncomfortable is important in order to look at things from different angles to seed the innovation process.  Being purposeful in involving a diverse group of people is critical, including different personality types.  When you acknowledge, appreciate, and welcome the differences, the potential is exponentially more profound than the narrow view we can see alone.

    3. The “What”: Not every company, product or service is going to be [inspiring]. You will not deliver smart, creative work if you can’t find something good about the people you’re working with: why they believe in what they do, they way they do things differently or the impact they can make in their field or the world around them.

    4. Impact: On a regular basis you’re making decisions about how to produce and print things. Consider your recommendations at every step of the way.  What kind of footprint will your work leave? How can you inspire people to be thoughtful about their impact as end users as well?

    5. Community: You’ve heard it said “think global, act local.” It makes a difference. If you add to your community, it will attract more and you will prosper in turn.  (see Change Your City Denver)