Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another cool video. By Coldplay

This is just the trailer. you can watch the whole thing here

One thing that I love about it is the connection between video and reality. I attended Coldplay's concert in Sacramento last week and at some point they bring the color butterflies to life. I will not tell more in case you are scheduled to see them live soon...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Stop solving the problem if you want to solve it

Interesting read by Matthew E. May on how taking a "break" can help us achieve a "breakthrough". Here you have one of the highlights of the article:

"Neuroscientists now believe that the ability to engineer creative breakthroughs hinges on the capacity to synthesize and make connections between seemingly disparate things, and a key ingredient is time away from the problem."

The post starts with another enticing reference to the "less is more" principle: great ideas have something missing.

More targeted marketing on Pandora

Listening to Eric Clapton on Pandora, Best Buy offers me a Fender guitar. The model, of course, is Eric Clapton's legendary Stratocaster.

This is what you get when you click on the link. Not quite flashy as the add, but they offer free shipping...

Monday, July 13, 2009

A variation on Amazon's recommendations

A couple of days ago I was browsing through Amazon, getting to know more about how their gift certificates work. Today I got this in my inbox:

"Thanks for visiting Amazon Gift Cards"... wow! they know...

Mixing the right amount of images and words, this short, catchy email is a masterpiece of simplicity and effectiveness:
  • Clear value proposition: spread the smiles
  • How it works: email, print it, mail it...
  • Actionable: buy a Gift Card button, Quick Gift Idea, Pay with Points
  • even Cross-selling!: Amazon Gift Cards are redeemable at
I do not know the cost of the technology that tracks the pages I have visited and determine that I didn't buy a gift card. The rest is simple, dirt cheap, good marketing
Great comic strip by Erlich in El Pais

It reads:
"Yes, the rent is more expensive"

"But take into account the design"

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Measuring innovation and design

Interesting article in the McKinsey Quarterly on innovation metrics. You can't improve what you are not measuring. In a nutshell McKinsey's research shows that companies that measure innovation are satisfied carrying this activity. It provides a useful understanding of their innovation performance although there is room for improvement, for instance, developing incentives that are aligned with metrics or communicating this information to investors. There is also this podcast + post in Killer Innovations with an introduction on how to prove the value of innovation.

Another interesting connected topic is the value of design. Does design have value? How can it be measured? Sara Beckman, my New Product Development professor at Haas, talks about it in an interview with Adaptive Path. In this presentation...

...she mentions three examples of organizations taking a stab at those questions:

  • Corporate Design Foundation. "BusinessWeek IDEA Design Award winners outperform those who didn’t win in stock performance"
  • The California College of the Arts has compiled a Design Strategy Market Index. "The index shows that for companies who invest in design and use it as part of their strategic management, on average, they’ve gained 274% of their value. This considerably beats all market averages and indexes for the same time period."
There is always subjectivity in defining what constitutes good design and what does not, but this is a good point to get the dialogue started.

Stop motion: the PEN story by OLIMPUS

When things are done with such an amount of love there are no words...behold and enjoy

Monday, July 6, 2009

Solar branding

I saw this last week walking up Bancroft Avenue in Berkeley. The fact that the signal was powered by solar energy and labeled accordingly with the name of SolarTech drew my attention:

The product is manufactured by Solar Technology, Inc., but if you google Solar Tech you will also come up with an industry consortium promoted by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (a group of companies involved in public policy issues in the Silicon Valley). There is also another company called Solar Technologies...

Despite the confusion, this "solar tech label" made me think how it could be used to create awareness on how solar energy can power our everyday life. I would argue that solar energy must be made tangible in the same fashion that Intel made us see that they were powering PCs - Intel also captured most of the value in the PC industry along the way-

from intel inside... solar inside,
well, maybe with a cute little sunny icon...

Is there a "solar energy label" or industry certification? I am thinking of something potentially pervasive like that "recyclable" green icon...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Quick reminder to self: think creatively

Simple presentation on creative thinking by Joanna Maxwell. Bumped into it in slideshare. Too many stock pictures for my taste, although some of them do a great job conveying the idea. I also liked the "play" recommendation and the quote on the power of connecting the seemingly unconnected :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

You can ring my bell

At Maestro Market, the start-up I am working for, we have decided to be noisy about our accomplishments. These are the Cowbells of Victory

We ring them with each new customer that joins the platform. For other smaller successes we have a key chain cowbell.

I think is a great way of keeping the team fired up about accomplishments. It puts some healthy peer pressure on you when you see your buddies ringing it. It brings the team together around one shared meaning...and it is fun to have a cowbell break!

Symbols are that important. I have noticed that when we are disengaged we stop caring about them. Or is it the other way round? We stop caring about the meaning of what we do and then we disengage ourselves?