Pure Content

Look at more stuff. Think about it harder.

Dr. R. Michael Simpkins got burnout from working in the E.R, so he and his wife set up Physician House Calls in Charleston, WV. Simpkins now visits his patients at their home--you know the way medicine use to be. Other physicians seem interested in this "new" concept as well. Question: What old concept can we borow and make new to not only benefit the bottom line but humankind? For more see:

RS from the Street



I almost added this one the the comment section of yesterday's post on Bruce Kasanoff, but as a point-counterpoint, the quality of James Twitchell's article on Needing the Unnecessary -- The democratization of luxury is complelling and deserves front page status. Amongst the discussion of Pashmina, Martha Stewart, and Michael Graves' partnership with Target stores, one paragraph really got my attention -- "In the older culture, my dad’s culture, the limited production capacity of the economy sharply reduced aspirations to material comfort. In the modern world, my culture, much greater material satisfactions lie within the reach of even those of modest means. Thus a producer culture becomes a consumer culture, a hoarding culture becomes a surplus culture, a work culture becomes a therapeutic culture. Because what you buy becomes more important than what you make, luxury is not a goal; for many it is a necessity." I guess the question is whether more is less or less is more.

Twitchell ends with - "Instead of wanting less luxury, we might find that just the opposite -- the paradoxical luxury for all -- is a suitable goal of communal aspiration. After all, luxury before all else is a social construction, and understanding its social ramifications may pave the way for a new appreciation of what has become a characteristic contradiction of our time, the necessary consumption of the unnecessary."

Since my work is focused on helping organization increase markets, capacities, and capabilities, I guess it's a good thing for me that most people believe the dictionary and think that more is more. The trick is to remember that on the production side of the equation, very often less IS more. -- Frank Patrick


ISO: some gutsy CEOs

Dan Pink has this to say, from a recent article: "So how about we try this voluntary but more radical proposal instead? A few gutsy CEOs volunteer to take as their base pay the median salary of a worker at their company. For a full year, that's all they'd be paid. Then, at the end of the year, they'd be eligible for a bonus tied not just to the company stock price, but also to other equally valid measures of corporate performance, such as the percentage increase in sales and revenue and levels of customer and employee satisfaction. No repricing options or other flimflammery. CEOs would be like the rest of us. No performance, no pay. No risk, no reward. ( And while we're at it, let's compensate corporate boards the same way.)"

For more, check out the article: http://www.fastcompany.com/online/63/rightnow.html

My personal financial model (unproven on any mass scale, but interesting in theory) is this: Find out the median (or mean, if you prefer) income for the US (it's around $36,000). Find out the median (or mean ... whatever) for your zip code / county / whatever. Average the two. Set that amount (let's say it's $41,000) as the "Median Income Cap." You take the Median Income Cap as your "ceiling" / "take home pay." Anything you make beyond that is split evenly into one of four areas. 1) long-term investment. 2) short-term investment. 3) given to charities / non-profits. 4) given to people in your close community to help pay off their debt (after you've paid yours off, of course, but that trumps 1 and 2). This extends from some thoughts from one of the best teachers I ever had, Dr. Dan Krier (Sociology) at W&M. His were a little different, but close enough that the "Median Income Cap" model is directly attributable. I haven't talked about that financial model before (aside from with my wife and a few friends) ... what are your thoughts? Do you think it's realistic?

Anyway, Dan Pink has some good thoughts about the state of CEOs' compensatory models. Go read the article.

september training team - first post

Members of the Creativity Training team have returned to their respective companies, and the reports are starting to come back in. We'll be posting to Pure Content using the ID "A Creative Catalyst."

Here's the list of "You Must Read" books that we collected from the September Creativity Training:
Matsushita Leadership - John Kotter
Orbiting the Giant Hairball - Gordon MacKenzie
The Innovator's Dilemma - Clay Christensen
Earth From Above - Yves Arthur
Total Leadership - Stu Friedman
(any) Harry Potter - J.K. Rowling
Amelia Bedelia -
The Way of the Peaceful Warrior - Dan Millman
Aha -
The Joy of Not Working - Zelinski

Look for more posts from graduates of September's Creativity Training in the near future.

- the Team at Play


business unorthodox

Recently, we released our white paper, "Business Unorthodox." We sent out a bunch of them, but we've tweaked it a bit (nothing major). If you would like the newest version, or if you never got it the first time, e-mail me at charlie@lookatmorestuff.com and I'll send it to you. Thanks.



Bruce Kasanoff is looking for love in all the right places. Actually, he's just looking for exposure. We linked to him before, and he's been busy. Check out his recent work, built on the Miesian idea that less is more. I could be ironic and write a long treatise about the beauty of simplicity and whatnot, but I'll cut to the chase. Here's the link: www.iwantless.com


more pictures

Although I'm sure we'll be posting some more pictures from the creativity training that finished yesterday, I thought I'd post some pictures from our friends in Denmark, the Kaospilots. For more info on them, check out their website (www.kaospilot.dk). They're a grad school for innovation and creativity in business, and we're closely aligned with them. Anyway, Courtney and Robert (from Play) went over to Denmark recently, to teach a week-long seminar on creativity. One of the students posted some photos online. To see them, go to his site (www.team8.tk) and click on the picture that is titled "CBD." For now, though, here is a shot of Courtney at lunch, followed by one of Robert opening up a present.

Courtney eating lunch.

Robert opening gifts.


in your own words

congratulations to all of those who participated in Play's September creativity training. there is no better way to describe the energy and breakthroughs of our two days together, than to use your own words:

connections / humor / wolverine / eclectic / challenge / soft / fun / undefined / persistent / passion / teeter-totter / changing / sing / wow / village / ideas / jump / seeker / jam / building / canvas / rising / spirit / enthusiasm / hunger / smile / mullet / dog-nose / trust

Geoff from Play officiating the Kickball Coin Toss between Jeff and Andy.  Geoff is actually 4 feet tall.

we've just begun to play.


libraries in turkey

i know of two public libraries in Turkey: Bartin and the Turkish National Library. does anyone know if there are any more public libraries in Turkey? how do i get a library card?



we'll try this out

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A Poem to Share

I wrote this after meeting the folks and wisdom of Play at this year's ASTD conference. I humbly share it here.


I went to a place where I wanted to learn
New and great things at each and every turn
I thought it would be all work each and every day
Work harder and harder and I would never get to Play.

I went to a room full of bounce and honor
Red balls and energy; faces that inspire
They spoke first of index for us to discover
Mood, mindset, mechanism, momentum on fire

From these many gifts you so graciously give
You set in my soul the tenets by how I live:
I promise to skin my knees; I know how this is done
# 17 is my life, not serious is number 1
What if…I think differently, not react find something cool
I am tolerant of confusion; I am learning – these rule!
Changing perspective you taught me to honor and understand,
Never to underestimate the changes at hand
Passion, sweet passion, I have a new start,
Aligned with my job, sculpting with my heart

These gifts you have given have changed me for good
I take them with me to share as creative people should
As I work from my soul, to those who ask “What’s the matter?”
I say, Look at more stuff, think about it harder!

Dave Dec


Something that made me go hmmmm -- Customer Satisfaction

Most companies claim to measure "customer satisfaction," but they primarily do so through negative, after-the-sale metrics like complaints and product returns. Why not call it what it is and measure "customer sacrifice" instead? Doing so would put a different spin on the subject, and developing initiatives to drive down the difference between what the customer wants and what they settle for could be an interesting approach to "customer focus," aka "subordination to the market." I wonder if the mindset difference between the open-ended objective of driving satisfaction to infinity (delight?) versus the more targeted objective of driving sacrifice to zero would reap different results. (Cross posted here.)


tweaking the backend

Last week, I had a day trip up to NYC. While travelling, I rewrote the backend for Pure Content, converting it from a tables-based layout to a CSS-based layout. In doing so, I cut the file size by 23% (which means a faster loading time), and I made it more usable. People using Netscape, for example, shouldn't have any problem using Pure Content now. Also, it's much more accessible to blind people and people with seeing disabilities. I also took the opportunity to change the search function (from Atomz to Google), so it works well now, and I also made a couple of other tweaks.

If you see anything that doesn't quite look right, please comment below, or e-mail me.

I'm moving towards full CSS and XHTML validity, and full Section 508 compliance. If you want to read more about this, check out the Web Standards Project (WaSP).



Castle Pink Frankenstein


playshare - deadlines and creativity

Mid-month has come and gone, and that means that another Playshare went out to the creative massive. Here it is, for the enjoyment of the blogosphere and the people who make it up. If you'd like to receive Playshares (like the one that follows) in your Inbox, send us an e-mail. If you want to receive Pure Content (this blog) in your Inbox each day, just enter your e-mail address in that box on the right.

It was a dark and stormy night. Actually, it probably wasn’t. It was probably quite nice. And in this setting, in a remote cabin in the mountains, Mary Shelley, her husband, and a couple of their friends were spending the summer together. They were all aspiring writers, and as their vacation wore on, they each agreed to write a ghost story before leaving the cabin, in a competition to see who could write the spookiest tale.

Mary’s husband, Percy, didn’t seem to be having trouble with his stories. Their friend, Lord Byron, had a story that was coming along rather well. But day after day, Mary had nothing. “I felt that blank incapability of invention which is the greatest misery of authorship, when dull Nothing replies to our anxious invocations. Have you thought of a story? I was asked each morning, and each morning I was forced to reply with a mortifying negative.”

Although seemingly pressured into paralysis, her mind continued to process the challenge. Finally, inspiration struck. Taking a cue from a nightmare and from her surroundings, Mary began to craft her tale. As it developed, the story of Dr. Frankenstein and his creature became one of the greatest fiction stories of all time. In those frustrating days of apparent inactivity, Mary Shelley’s subconscious was concocting brilliance.

Some people say that tight deadlines kill creativity. They claim that as soon as limitations are imposed, your creativity goes into hiding. But a deadline can often be just what is needed to jumpstart your creativity. It forces you to make a task a priority, to not get distracted by other issues.

So the next time you face a “dark and stormy night” with a deadline looming, don’t be afraid of the wind whipping through the trees or the knocking you hear at the door. There’s no monster outside. Just your creativity, trying to find a way in.

let's play.


how do you measure whether your organization is changing the world?



Top 10 Innovators

Red Herring Magazine provides this list every year. You can read about this year’s winner’s: http://www.redherring.com/insider/ 2002/0815/innovators081502.html
Though the choices are great with cool technologies, they are science field focused. As a matter of fact the subtitle of the article is, "There's nothing like a scientist with a business plan." Maybe they can focus on consumer goods, marketing, simpler technologies, or stuff like that. I love technology, but I think a broader spectrum of innovation is warranted. Maybe they can look at innovations in child education, peace, ecology, or any number of fields. Peace.
Dave Dec


"It's a myth that business and the arts are so far afield."

-David Finn

Finn is the chief executive of a public relations firm in NY whose sculptures are on display at the Forbes Galleries as part of an exhibition put on by the nonprofit group, Business Committee for the Arts. Finn's sculptural figures are made out of paperclips--the result of a hobby he developed to occupy his fingers the way cigarettes had before he gave them up. (passion)
Jennifer Bayot, "Giving a New Meaning to Clip Art," NYT, Sept. 15, 2002


great design ideas

Metropolis (August/September 2002) The latest issue of this great magazine puts forth a list of some great design ideas. Here is a sample of some of my favorites:

1) "I recently asked two architect friends why buildings were almost invariably black and gray, but their explanations, concerning custom and cost, were unconvincing. In all other areas of design--reflecting even the most minimal aesthetic--we look for and accept color, even the most controlled bursts of color...I'm advocating cities of symphonic color: subtle but rich color mixing and complementing as colors do in nature, in our homes, in our minds. Velvet blues next to leather browns next to rusted oranges...I do think we could ease our sometime sense of dissonance and disconnect by camouflaging our buildings in the colors of the world."
- Dave Eggers
(the photo that accompanies the essay, is one of Chicago's skyline that has been altered to show several prominent buildings in subtle pastels. One of the towers is the same one featured on Wilco's latest album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which curiously appears on the cover in a shade of light blue or taupe, depending on which one you buy)

2) mass customization- design firms that ask what customers want in a product and when a critical mass indicates demand for a specific design, the design firm finds a manufacturer to make it. Elephant Design of Japan operates on just this type of business model

3) provide more public restrooms (my personal favorite)

4) map the everyday actions of human beings to plan infrastructure

5) pedestrian cities (see Copenhagen)

6) stop making books out of trees (cradle to cradle design)

big ideas make brain hurt.


connecting the dissimiliar

DJ Shadow dropped another piece of evolutionary / hip hop science this year with his lp The Private Press.
He used more samples on this album than on any other he's made.

"When I'm making demos, I'm just playing through records, finding things, saying, 'Let me try this or hook this up.' At the end of the day there are records strewn all over my floor, not even in their sleeves."


"The only thing I can say I stand for 100 percent--I even put it in my liner notes--is an appreciation for the vastness of music. In the process of doing this record I learned so much about music. I know it may sound corny, but it had that much of an impact. I had days when I realized, 'Damn, I really can do this my whole life." New Music Monthly, June 2002



los exitos del verano

dj gazpacho has encapsualted the carefree summer months of 2002 with his Summer music sampler. he added a little bit of rock and a little bit of electronic spice to dish up a nice cool compilation of this years most refreshing Summer releases. Here are the key ingredients to his summer compilation:

back to life- Spoon
let the serpent sleep- Elf Power
what you have is good- Departure Lounge
it's all over now, baby blue- Bryan Ferry
war on war- Wilco
let the distance keep us together- Britt Daniel / Conor Oberst
window display- Enon
off with your head- Sleater Kinney
inspection wise 1999- the Hives
all downhill from here- Jim O'Rourke
one daughter hotter than 1,000 suns- Rye Coalition
mystery girl- Yeah, Yeah, Yeah's
shoot shoot- Kaito
she never understood- Comet Gain
say hello to the angels- Interpol
how near, how far- And You Will Know Us by the Trail of the Dead
tiny sparks- Brendan Benson
apple of my eye- Ed Harcourt
we've been had- the Walkmen
ego tripping at the gates of hell- Flaming Lips
cat faces- Ugly Cassanova
caught by the river- the Doves
i thought- Bryan Ferry
make you feel that way- Blackalicious
star guitar- Chemical Brothers
giving up the ghost- DJ Shadow
epie- Royksopp
hoping- Herbert

is there anything that DJ Gazpacho left out?

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

04/27/2003 - 05/03/2003 04/20/2003 - 04/26/2003 04/13/2003 - 04/19/2003 04/06/2003 - 04/12/2003 03/30/2003 - 04/05/2003 03/23/2003 - 03/29/2003 03/16/2003 - 03/22/2003 03/09/2003 - 03/15/2003 03/02/2003 - 03/08/2003 02/23/2003 - 03/01/2003 02/16/2003 - 02/22/2003 02/09/2003 - 02/15/2003 02/02/2003 - 02/08/2003 01/26/2003 - 02/01/2003 01/19/2003 - 01/25/2003 01/12/2003 - 01/18/2003 01/05/2003 - 01/11/2003 12/29/2002 - 01/04/2003 12/22/2002 - 12/28/2002 12/15/2002 - 12/21/2002 12/08/2002 - 12/14/2002 12/01/2002 - 12/07/2002 11/24/2002 - 11/30/2002 11/17/2002 - 11/23/2002 11/10/2002 - 11/16/2002 11/03/2002 - 11/09/2002 10/27/2002 - 11/02/2002 10/20/2002 - 10/26/2002 10/13/2002 - 10/19/2002 10/06/2002 - 10/12/2002 09/29/2002 - 10/05/2002 09/22/2002 - 09/28/2002 09/15/2002 - 09/21/2002 09/08/2002 - 09/14/2002 09/01/2002 - 09/07/2002 08/25/2002 - 08/31/2002 08/18/2002 - 08/24/2002 08/11/2002 - 08/17/2002 08/04/2002 - 08/10/2002 07/28/2002 - 08/03/2002 07/21/2002 - 07/27/2002 07/14/2002 - 07/20/2002 07/07/2002 - 07/13/2002 06/30/2002 - 07/06/2002 06/23/2002 - 06/29/2002 06/16/2002 - 06/22/2002 06/09/2002 - 06/15/2002 06/02/2002 - 06/08/2002 05/26/2002 - 06/01/2002 05/19/2002 - 05/25/2002 05/12/2002 - 05/18/2002 05/05/2002 - 05/11/2002 04/28/2002 - 05/04/2002 04/21/2002 - 04/27/2002 04/14/2002 - 04/20/2002 04/07/2002 - 04/13/2002 03/31/2002 - 04/06/2002 03/24/2002 - 03/30/2002 03/17/2002 - 03/23/2002 03/10/2002 - 03/16/2002 03/03/2002 - 03/09/2002 02/24/2002 - 03/02/2002 02/17/2002 - 02/23/2002 current

see our neighbors
Comments by: YACCS