Pure Content

Look at more stuff. Think about it harder.

Back to the floor

I found this BBC series in PBS, the whole idea behind this program is "to show the executives what it is really like to work in entry-level, lower-skilled or front-line jobs in their organizations" the idea sounds interesting and the show is actually very cool (again this word), I guess if we have reality TV with Cops, Doctors, Lawyers why not CEOs.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is sponsoring this series in PBS and they are doing really good reviews from some episodes.

It's really amusing to see in one episode the CEO of Carnival Cruises Lines go through 5 days in one of his cruises and the only BIG decisions he took is to change the fabric of the deck staff shirts and open the cafeteria more hours.

In another one Dr. Regina Peruggi the head of the New York's Central Park Conservancy went through the same 5 days in the frontline, and she stop a layoff in one department, invest in better equipment and tools, just to name a few.

What can we do to ensure feedback, feedback from our customers, coworkers, supliers, etc, maybe some webpolls, an intranet blog so everyone sounds off, Any ideas?



functional / emotional

I was thinking some more yesterday afternoon about Diesel. At Play, we talk frequently about the role of emotion over function. That is, the story behind a product or a company is what will compel you to purchase their product over a competitor's mroeso than the actualy quality of the product. That's the power of a brand. it tells a story. This ties in to Diesel, because I was just thinking about how they have completely adopted the idea of selling emotions. At their site (and in their ads), they are the source for you if you are feeling ... excited, liberated, happy, frivolous, sleepy, innocent, romantic, passionate, hedonistic, in love, delighted, satisfied, tempted, adventurous, lusty, or friendly. It doesn't get more emotional than that.

Of course, they aren't sponsoring "desiring simplicity," so I guess they're not going to be getting my allowance money.



One of my passions is web design, and I really love discovering resources for creating better sites (especially when it comes to usability and interfaces). Elegant Hack is a great resource for information architecture, presented by Christina Wodtke from Carbon IQ. One of her Elegant Hack projects is Gleanings, her blog that centers around information architecture, interface design, and other relevant information. If this sort of thing floats your boat, go check her site out.


the diesel code

This NY TImes article, A Store Lures Guys Who Are Graduating From Chinos (registration req'd.), is a great brief on the intentional confusion that Diesel creates in its retail stores. While most stores and companies embrace usability, trying to make the buying process simpler, Diesel brings chaos and an intimidating environment into play, in order to increase sales of its $115 - $210 jeans. The article is short and sweet, quoting both Douglas Rushkoff and Paco Underhill, two writers / sociologists I respect a bunch.

From the article: "They realized the best way to get people to buy stuff is not to facilitate their shopping but to disorient them," Mr. Rushkoff said. "Diesel shoppers say, `I'm not hip enough to get this,' and then in comes the hip salesperson. What makes them hip is that they know how to navigate the space."

It's working, apparently. Last year, the company's sales increased 40%, to $500 million. By the way, judging by Diesel's website, even if they're into confusion, they're consistent across platforms.

Mad props to SvN for the link.


Kevin Holtsberry here, interesting book review that migh be of interest to Pure Content readers. ROBERT J. SAMUELSON reviews THE RISE OF THE CREATIVE CLASS: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life By Richard Florida.

The "creative class," according to Florida, refers to people involved in problem-solving or "producing new forms and designs that are readily transferable and widely useful"--software, movies, medicines, books and industrial designs. The "creative class" had 38 million workers in 1999, he says. That's about 30% of the labor force--up from 17% in 1950 and 10% in 1900. He splits the class in two. "The supercreative core," about two-fifths of the total, consists of scientists, engineers, computer professionals, architects, artists, entertainers, writers, professional athletes and teachers (including university professors). The rest are executives, managers, doctors, lawyers, "high-end" salespeople and other "creative professionals." Almost everyone else belongs to the "working class" (generally factory, construction and transportation workers) and the "service class" (everyone from store clerks to health technicians to security guards).

Samuelson is skeptical however:

If it existed, the discovery of the "creative class" would be a genuinely important insight. But aside from its occupational definitions, Florida's class is maddeningly vague. On average, people in the "creative class" make about $50,000 a year. But is a 26-year-old $40,000 advertising copywriter in New York City really in the same cultural class with a $140,000 48-year-old aeronautical engineer in Long Beach? Or a 32-year-old social studies teacher earning $29,000 in Toledo, Ohio? Florida's "creative class" has a post-adolescent aura to it. All its members seem to have just gotten out of graduate school. Florida hardly discusses families, children and the conflicts between home and jobs. The members of his "creative class" seem to live in only two spheres--work and play.

Here is something Pure Content readers and contributors might consider:

Then there's the harder question: Can "creativity" define a class? Florida seems to equate "creativity" with "thinking for a living." This is mighty loose. Good thinking and bad thinking, good ideas and bad coexist. Some create; others destroy.

Anyway, seemed interesting and related to your conversation . . .


For Those About To Rock

Every season needs a soundtrack. Summer always has one and it is a sound all its own. Bright and breezy, the sound is much like a musical fabric softener. Last Summer's soundtrack was definitely the Shins album, "Oh Inverted World." It's now Summer 2002, and we have a new soundtrack to the Summer. It's "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots," by the Flaming Lips. Eating waffles while sitting on the grass is a good way to describe the Summer vibe that emanates from this great album. I encourage everyone to go out and listen/buy/create an interpretive dance to this album. Does anyone have any quintessential "soundtracks" that are currently scoring their Summers? Old or new, let's hear what you're hearing right now.


From my Unconstrained Thinking series...
Less is More -- Accomplish More by Doing Less

How many decisions, analyses, issues, and questions are in your in-box or strewn across your desk or stuffed into your tickler file? How many of these things do you think you are actually going to get done? How many will you get done when you promised them? If you are like most people, the answers to these questions probably form a series of numbers in descending order.

One more question, which I will predict continues that trend . . . How many things you need to get done will be done from start to finish without sharing time with other tasks — without multi-tasking?

Do you think there might be some cause-and-effect relationship at work here? You betcha!

One of the few common issues I’ve seen on performance appraisal forms is a judgement on how well the appraisee handles “multiple priorities.” Now there’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one. Think about it. The same way there is only one weakest link in a chain, there is only one real priority for the use of your time.

To the extent that one switches back and forth between tasks or jobs, without completing them, the ability to complete them in a predictable, and timely manner is significantly jeopardized. After all, if you start job A, but switch to jobs B and C before completing it, A will simply sit idle waiting for your attention while working on the others. It will take far more time to complete and gain any real benefit from its completion than if you simply finish what you start before moving on to other work. To the extent that you succumb to this too-common practice of multi-tasking, you will find that the sooner you start a lot of work, the later it (and everything it interrupts) will finish.

Do less and you will finish things faster. Finish things faster and you will do more. If finishing is what counts, then less is more. Think about it.


Freedom to Make Mistakes

A story I read in a great book, The Heart Aroused by David Whyte, talks about Thomas Edison. In the story, Mr. Whyte recalls how Edison had a number of his employees trying to find a viable, affordable filament for the light bulb. After a long time of trying and literally 1,000 failures, one of the inventors went to Edison and said they had no success. Edison responded something to the effect, "Nonsense, we discovered 1,000 ways it won't work." What a great attitude toward innovation. Some of my other favorites, "Reward excellent failures, punish mediocre successes" by Phil Adams; "On time, On budget, So what?" by Tom Peters; "Make mistakes, Get messy," by Miss Frizzle of The Magic School Bus. Does your organization allow for this important step in creativity? How can the freedom to make mistakes be encouraged in corporate America today?

Dave Dec


Playshare - go fly a kite

It's the fifteenth of the month, so we sent out a Playshare. If you'd like to receive these every two weeks, send us an e-mail.

Inspiration leads to creativity leads to innovation.

On a beach in North Carolina, the Wright brothers found their inspiration. They saw the way that fabric-covered wooden frames soared in the air, and were inspired to create something that would allow people to soar - kite-like - through the air. They used their creativity to build a working glider, which allowed them to dream bigger. Intent to build a powered airplane, they tested their models and experimented with their gliders. Over four years, they tried, again and again, to master powered flight. Eventually, in 1903, their inspiration and passion paid off, when they made the first powered flight in history - an innovation that changed the world. What made it finally work? What allowed the jump from inspiration to creativity to innovation? passion. testing. desire. perseverance. vision. motivation.

Inspiration, creativity, and innovation. They build on each other. The initial spark comes from inspiration. It’s engaging. exciting. enticing. Inspiration leads you directly to creativity, a state of generation - when you “look at more stuff and think about it harder.” This leads directly to innovation - repeated testing and passion to turn possibilities into realities.

Innovation can’t happen without creativity. Creativity can’t happen without inspiration. The innovation of powered flight came from the Wright brothers’ creativity, which was fueled by inspiration, found on a beach in North Carolina. Inspiration’s out there. Have you found yours?

let's play.



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open source, taken to a whole new level

The U.S. Government is working on creating a network of "citizen spies." At least, that's the report from a slightly biased article in Australia. The Terrorism Information and Prevention System will, if everything goes according to plan, involve one in every twenty-four Americans. "TIPS volunteers are being recruited primarily from among those whose work provides access to homes, businesses or transport systems. Letter carriers, utility employees, truck drivers and train conductors are among those named as targeted recruits." To see the TIPS information page, check out citizencorps.gov/tips.html.

The reason I think this is interesting is that it's taking the concept of community involvement to a level that we haven't seen since, say the victory gardens and tin recycling of WWII. Or maybe McCarthyism. I know it's not truly Open Source activity, but it is definitely taking advantage of a huge mindshare. Sort of like SETI@home, but for terrorists, instead of aliens.

who / what / why

At Play we create brands, strategies, new products, and better cultures for Fortune 100 companies. Our formula for creativity: "Look at more stuff. Think about it harder." Pure Content is one place where we do that, daily.

the cool kids' table

Ben Domenech
(politics, football, and a boatload of know-how)

Creative Generalist
(if Pure Content had a doppelganger ...)

Heath Row
(punk + business
+ creativity = Heath)


go go gadget google:

stuck in an airport

A Pattern Language

Creative Company
Orbiting the Giant Hairball
The Ultimate Book of Business Creativity

The Little Prince

Wittgenstein's Poker

The Dancing Wu Li Masters

The Tipping Point

new to you

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see our neighbors
Comments by: YACCS