Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Friction is "the force that makes the apparently easy so difficult"


"The means to overcome friction is the will. We prevail over friction through persistent strength of mind and spirit"

From "Warfighting". US Marine Corps

Friday, April 24, 2009

A meaningful dialogue between Business and Design

In the last months I have had many informational interviews with people in the Design Thinking* space, mostly designers. When I asked them about the value of a Business School graduate in their companies one single comment came up over and over, surprisingly with almost the same words every time: Business and Design do not "talk" to each other. I do not like that. At all. Today more than ever we need the integration of Business and Design in order to solve this mess of interconnected pressing challenges our world is facing.

That's the reason why I have launched The DesignBusiness SandBox.
For the Design and the Business community, the DesignBusiness SandBox is a meeting point that brings the Design perspective into Business and viceversa.

Using Design thinking as the underlying methodology, the goal of this tool is to create a meaningful dialogue between the Design and the Business world.
Although it has been originated as a student-driven Independent Study Project, and right now it lives within UC Berkeley, I eventually would like to open the site to the Design and the Business community. The site is in an very early and shameless prototyping stage. As the first topic for discussion I am focusing on storytelling.

If any of the previous paragraphs appeals to you, [contact me] and become a collaborator. You will make this man happy.


* Here it is IDEO's Tim Brown's definition of Design Thinking. Here, the wikipedia article, not as catchy as it should be for such an important concept. I should address What is Design Thinking in another post but this might work as a beginning for those of you unfamiliar with the term.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Google Book Search offline campaign on Campus?

Found this week at Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley. The poster has good printing quality and the paper is thicker than normal.

offline marketing...

Is Google Book Search launching a student-driven, ambassador-like promotion campaign at universities? Anyone knows? I will try to find out more about it... By the way, this is what you find when "googling" (or "googleing"?) the term "Search Books"

...complementing AdWords and organic search positioning
Click to enlarge or just google "book search"

Google Book Search owns the main sponsored link and ranks first, third and fifth in the organic search results.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Steve Blank and the The Secret History of Silicon Valley

Since I arrived to California I have been keeping a personal blog to update friends and family about my experience in this land of dreams and opportunity. Approximately one year ago I briefly posted about The Secret History of Silicon Valley, a presentation I bumped into by chance surfing the Internet. The author happened to be a UC Berkeley professor. Not much more to it at that moment, it was interesting to know what is behind the visible history of "The Valley"...

This semester I enrolled in Customer and Business Development, a course taught by Steve Blank, by the way one of my favorite classes at Haas. Some days ago he mentioned "The Secret History of Silicon Valley" and I realized how "unconnections" are playing around us all the time, we just have to pay attention.

I mentioned Steve's book, the Four Steps to the Epiphany, in my post on the Design process. I really recommend if you plan to start a business, if you are running one or if you started one and, as Steve likes to put it, left a crater behind and you are curious about what went wrong.

...draftish and could use some design too, but useful as can be...

The book's main thesis is that a start-up is not the small-size version or a regular firm. Applying the traditional cookie-cut product development approach in a start-up is the recipe for disaster. Entrepreneurs must identify what kind of market are they in (new, existing, re-segmented), get to know their customers and learn how to scale up sales before switching on the cash-burning machine. This methodology has interesting contact points with the design thinking methodology (user observation, fail often and fail cheap in order to learn quickly...). It provides a great framework with actionable milestones to help you launch a business.

Check out Steve's blog, some posts tend to be too long for those with MBA / Harvard cases induced attention deficit disorder but they are well worth it...

The Most Innovative Companies 2009

I have been flipping through Businessweek's Most Innovative Companies top 50 for 2009. Apart from the expected technology-related companies (Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Intel...) there are retailers (Target, WalMart), several telephone carriers (AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone) and surprisingly auto and financial services companies.

Well, regarding the two latter categories, if they have not been innovative they'd better get their innovation mojo working. The main problem for me is that they have so much at stake that it would be complicated for them to reinvent (=destroy) themselves.
  • They could potentially do it from the product side if they think wildly enough. In one of my first posts I mentioned a lecture by Mr. Tetsuya Kaida from Toyota Motor Corporation. One of his aspirational principles was being able to produce cars that not only do not pollute but also have a positive impact in the environment.
  • Ditching their current business models is a very different thing. This is probably the critical issue. I cannot think of companies "disrupting" their own business models before they are in dire need. Any examples?
In the top 50 list there is another interesting finding, particularly for me as a Spaniard.

España is in the Businessweek Innovation Top 50!

There are three Spanish companies in the top 50:
  • #28 Telefonica, the leading telecommunications operator in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world.
  • #39 Iberdrola, the world's biggest wind-power company.
  • #42 Banco Santander, pioneer in applying consumer-marketing techniques to the financial services industry in Spain, worldwide top 3 bank in terms of profits.
All three are large companies that have been around for a long while. In fact most of the companies in the list are large and relatively old firms. It can be a bias in the methodology employed to select the candidates, but why aren't there smaller, crazier companies? The study is based on a research by a major management consulting firm, does that play a role in the final selection of companies?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

By popular demand: cocido madrileño

This was my Design as Competitive Advantage class first day presentation. We had to present an example of a well designed product, service or experience. I was debating whether to talk about my inexpensive Casio F-91W or go for a more holistic experience.

I eventually decided for Madrid's signature dish, something I enjoy shopping for, preparing and eating with friends. Cocido madrileño or Madrilenian stew. People keep asking me for the recipe. Yesterday a classmate of mine told me her family in the Philippines cooks a similar version every week.