Pure Content

Look at more stuff. Think about it harder.
1.24.2003
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Enlightened Leaders Make a Difference
“Enlightened leaders cultivate the skills of their subordinate leaders--building increasingly strong concentration on people, rather than numbers. The coveted good numbers come when people are happy in their work and their surroundings. It feels great to come to work; people enjoy the experience and almost hate to go home at the end of their day. The organizational culture is conducive to high performance, safe and healthy, and overall a nice place to work.”
-Roger Herman http://www.herman.net/retention_article_enlightened_leaders.html
(leadership)


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Creating Breakthroughs at 3M
“A new method for developing breakthrough products: the lead user process. First, products are initially thought of and even prototyped by users. Second, products tend to be developed by ‘lead users’-companies, organizations, or individuals that are well ahead of market trends and have needs that go far beyond those of the average user.”
“The lead user process takes a fundamentally different approach. It was designed to collect information about both needs and solutions from the leading edges of a company’s target market and from markets that face similar problems in a more extreme form. Use telephone interviews to network their way into contact with experts on the leading edge of the target market. Continue networking until lead users are found in markets and fields that face similar problems but in different and often more extreme forms. However, things like inadequate corporate support and inadequately skilled teams can derail even the most promising project.”
-Eric von Hippel, Stefan Thomke, and Mary Sonnack Harvard Business Review
September-October 1999
(coaching)(business plan)(strategy)


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Fresh Start 2002: On the Road Again
“Yellow has become a different company since 1996. It is driven by CEO Bill Zollars and a frontline revolution that emphasizes the customer. The following principles are its road map for reinvention.
Share the new vision every day. Early on, Zollars spent 18 months visiting employees and explaining why and how Yellow had to focus on its customers. Zollars believed that because this was a new way of thinking, employees needed to hear it more than once. They also needed to hear it directly from him so that they could gauge his conviction. ’If the people doing the work don't believe what's coming from the leadership,’ he says, ’it doesn't get implemented. Period.’
Avoid behavior that undermines the mission. When a new leader joins an organization, actions tend to get magnified, for better or for worse. ’For every negative thing you demonstrate to people, it takes 50 positive things to overcome it,’ Zollars says.
Get out of the office. During his first year at Yellow, Zollars spent most of his time in the field. ‘It's the only place where you find out what's really going on with customers and operations without any filters,’ he says. ‘At headquarters, you don't hear any of the bad stuff.’
Don't be afraid to tell the truth. Zollars uses an employee newsletter, YFS Week, to give the staff an honest assessment of its performance and the industry on a regular basis. ‘We don't just talk about victories. We talk about losing business, about claims problems. We want to give a clear picture of where we were.’”
-Chuck Salter Fast Company 2002 http://pf.fastcompany.com/online/54/yellow.html
(brand)(strategy)(leadership)


1.21.2003
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The Brand Report Card
“From strong brand equity flow customer loyalty and profits. Ultimately, the power of a brand lies in the minds of consumers or customers, in what they have experienced and learned about the brand over time. Consumer knowledge is really at the heart of brand equity.”
-Kevin Lane Keller Harvard Business Review January-February 2000
(brand)


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Persuasion
“Resistance is in some sense a thing and can thus be used up and replenished, like water in a tank. The tank itself is capable of either temporary or permanent enlargement, in response to circumstances and experience.”
-Eric Knowles Economist.com May 2, 2002
(mindset)(taih)



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Be Creative – or die
“We have to take responsibility for the society we’re driving. If not, the social and political consequences are dire. The creative class has to look beyond itself and offer members of society a vision in which all can participate and benefit from. That’s the challenge of our age.”
-Christopher Dreher http://www.salon.com/books/int/2002/06/06/florida/print.html June 10, 2002
(culture)


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Level 5 Leadership: The triumph of humility and fierce resolve
“The most powerfully transformative executives possess a paradoxical mixture of personal humility and professional will. They are timid and ferocious. Shy and fearless. They are rare and unstoppable.”
There are 5 layers for a leader. “Executive (builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical combination of personal humility plus professional will), Effective Leader (catalyzes commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision; stimulates the group to high performance standards), Competent Manager (organizes people and resources toward the effective and efficient pursuit of predetermined objectives), Contributing Team Member (contributes to the achievement of group objectives; works effectively with others in a group setting), and Highly Capable Individual (makes productive contributions through talent, knowledge, skills, and good work habits).”
-Jim Collins Harvard Business Review January 2001
(leadership)



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The Buzz on Buzz
“The 5 realities of Buzz:
1. The most unlikely products can generate tremendous buzz
2. Buzz is increasingly the result of shrewd marketing tactics in which companies seed a vanguard group, ration supplies, use celebrities to generate buzz, leverage the power of lists, and initiate grassroots marketing,
3. A counterculture often has a greater ability to start buzz.
4. Copycat companies can reap substantial profits if they know when to jump in and when not to.
5. When used either too early or too much, the media and advertising can squelch buzz before it ignites.”
“All customers are not created equal. Some, the vanguard, have a disproportionate ability to shape public opinion.”
-Renee Dye Harvard Business Review November-December 2000
(product)(strategy)



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The Work of Leadership
“Followers want comfort, stability, and solutions from their leaders. But that’s babysitting. Real leaders ask hard questions and knock people out of their comfort zones. Then they manage the resulting distress.”
“Solutions to adaptive challenges reside not in the executive suite but in the collective intelligence of employees at all levels."
“A leader must sequence and pace the work. Too often, senior managers convey that everything is important. They overwhelm and disorient the very people who need to take responsibility for the work.”
“Leader’s responsibilities: direction, protection, orientation, managing conflict, and shaping norms.”
“Management needs to learn to support rather than control. Workers, for their part, need to learn to take responsibility.”
-Ronald Heifetz and Donald Laurie Harvard Business Review December 2001
(leadership)



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The Hunter-Gatherers of the Knowledge Economy: Are the habits of today’s knowledge workers unique in history? Actually, the Gen X style of working appears to be the oldest on earth.“Freedom and responsibility are the very best golden handcuffs.”
“Perhaps for the first time in human history, the lifestyle of the elite will be a majority lifestyle, made possible by improvements in technology. If that is true, then the question for employers and employees, and for governments, in the coming century will be what to do about people who are not in the cyberforaging class. Can we win the joys of the hunter-gatherer life for everyone? Or will we replicate the social arrangements of ancient Athens or medieval Europe, where freedom for some was supported by the worst kind of unfreedom for other?”
-David Berreby http://www.strategy-business.com/strategy/99306/page1.html May 26, 2000
(culture)


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Brand Me
“Who knows my desires better than I do, right? Imagine the possibilities-jeans, golf-clubs, cosmetics, guitars, dolls, bicycles and breakfast cereal, all created with me, me, me in mind.”
Some businesses are already using interactive websites to give more product control to the customers.
-Alec Foege http://www.onmagazine.com June 2001
(What if?)



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“Marketers need to make decisions based on what is relevant to customers. They need to ask, ‘Who are my best customers?’ ‘Who are my worst customers?’ ‘When are they buying?’ ‘What message will I send, and what format is the most appealing way to do that?’ When I do this, and when customers receive 100 emails, mine is the one that they read. Mine is the one they respond to. Because every time they do, they’ll know that the content of the message is timely and anticipates their needs.”
-William Park
(lams)(taih)



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The Brand Police: Building a brand is tough. But protecting a brand name or logo on the Net can seem impossible. A handful of clever tactics can guard your brand against online abuse.
“Guarding tactics are: brand cop, loyal employees, outsourcing, and in-house.”
-Beth Bulik Business2.com November 28, 2000
(brand)


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“Blah, Blah, Boring, Boring”
“’Internet advertising is one of the only media with immediate results. To me, it’s the ultimate word of mouth.’”
“’Advertising or branding won’t cure a business that’s fundamentally flawed.’”
-Beth Bulik Business2.com November 28, 2000
(brand)



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Redesign the Data Dump
“Learn to accept your ignorance, pay more attention to the question than to the answer, and never be afraid to go in an opposite direction to find a solution.”
-Richard Wurman Business2.com November 28, 2000
(inspiration)(mindset)


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“’Ideas are the currency of the future.’ They solve problems. They create opportunities. They entertain. They break down barriers. They enrich lives.’”
“In the 21st century, organizations have to achieve peak performance through inspiration by unleashing the power of their people, not by leading them, not by managing them, but by inspiring them.”
“A trustmark is a distinctive name or symbol that emotionally binds a company with the desires and aspirations of its customers. When your brand combines the past and the present, that’s a trustmark. Trustmarks are surrounded by mythical stories and characters. What we’re looking for are stories and characters that communicate the spirit of a trustmark, not the values of a brand.”
-Kevin Roberts Fast Company September 2000
(passsion)(brand)(product)(strategy)



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Rule #3 Leadership is Confusing as Hell
“No one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. Situational leadership-the right person, the right style, for the right situation.”
“Stellar teams are invariably made up of quirky individuals who typically rub each other raw, but they figure out with the spiritual help of a gifted leader how to be their peculiar selves and how to win championships as a team. At the same time, the best leader is rarely the best pitcher or catcher. Leaders get their kicks from orchestrating the work of others, not from doing it themselves.” “The premier untapped leadership talent in the world today rests with women!”
“Got an idea? Don’t dally. Go for it while it’s an original! Doesn’t work? Try something else. If that doesn’t work, fuhgeddaboutit!”
“Acquire a new line of thinking by acquiring a new group of thinkers.”
“’Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.’”
“Diversity, it’s an essential thing. It’s a survival thing.”
“Leaders dream in Technicolor. Leadership, in the end, is all about having energy, creating energy, showing energy, and spreading energy.”
-Tom Peters March 2001 Tom@tompeters.com(leadership)(inspiration)


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Diary
“… you are not guaranteed exciting experiences every day. To stay inspired, one must maintain a sense of amazement about the work.” “Particle physicists are spread all over the world, so they invented the World Wide Web to communicate. We all tend to be independent-minded, so we have had to learn how to work together toward common goals and to make sure that our complex projects stay on track. And we are all very interested in seeing that we learn something about nature and that we communicate correct results to the rest of the world,”
-Kenneth Bloom posted August 5, 2002 http://slate.msn.com/toolbar.aspx?action=print&id=2068977
(inspiration)

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Management Guru Tom Peters on Design
“Design is ‘la difference.’ In a world loaded with stuff that looks like all the other stuff and performs like all the other stuff, it is a way to stand out.” According to Peters, space design is arguably the most powerful organizational, culture-shaping tool.
-http://www.cdf.org/tompeters/tompeters.html @issue
(brand)(office by design)



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Want Innovation? Oil the Machine and Water the Garden
“The basic stages of innovation: market assessment, idea generation, focusing, development, prototyping and piloting, rolling out, and measurement.”
“You don’t need to choose between managing innovation and inspiring it. Do both.”
-Thomas Stewart Fortune March 5, 2001
(innovation)


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The Need for Lateral Thinking in the New Century
“Information is the critical mass of work, not conventional activity. Productive work is gauged less in hours spend doing and more in illuminating insight thinking. The main characteristic of such work is the manipulation of symbols-data, words, oral and visual presentations. These new thinkers simplify reality into images that can be rearranged, juggled, experimented with, communicated to other specialists, and then eventually transformed back into concrete reality. When workers are treated as an expense, they behave as a cost. When they are treated as an asset, they behave as a resource. What truly influences the outcome, whatever the focus, is more a matter of the collective will of the workplace culture than management style.” “Establish a trusting workplace culture and workers will create solutions to demonstrate their competence. The irony is that every company has the workers it needs to turn itself around. It need only create a climate conductive to their thinking differently to embrace the challenges. What is often missing is the vision and courage to grasp this.” “It must be designed and built out of the nucleus of intuitive skills at hand, where the emphasis must be, of necessity, on conceptual, not critical, thinking: on perceptions, not processes: on ideas, not information: on subjective engagement, not objective detachment. No matter how many facts we gather, if we cling to logic alone, we’re using only a small percentage of our capacity to know. Intuition, located in the right brain, may very well be where 90 percent of our brainpower lives. Through intuition we get the big picture, the simultaneous understanding that puts all the facts in relationship to something beyond our cultural biases.” “There is no set of right answers for workplace culture, simply a collection of values that are appropriate to the collective will to accomplish the company’s mission. When logic is the only tool used to balance requirements (mission) to needs (workers), it is unlikely to prove adequate.”
“The wise person uses lateral thinking to enhance the effectiveness of his vertical thinking.”
-James Fisher Jr. National Productivity Review Spring 2000
(Culture)



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Inside The World’s Weirdest Family Business
“Wrestlemania 2000 was the highest-grossing nonboxing pay-per-view program of all time.” The WWF’s Website and books by WWF stars have both received attention and popularity. “Two albums consisting of the wrestlers’ entrance music have gone platinum.“ “The product is a unique grasp of what people want to see. ‘We’re in contact with the public more than any entertainment company in the world. We are national in appeal but grassroots in execution.’ Ticket sales barely cover the costs of production. But out of the live extravaganza, the WWF squeezes nine hours of original programming, plus content for the Website. It all creates demand for WWF merchandise.” However, some critics say, “all it takes is imagination and a good sewing kit.”
-Bethany McLean Fortune October 16, 2000
(brand)(strategy)


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Impact points
“Your company is made of complex, interconnected systems. A single point of impact can quickly affect your entire organization. We focus on five key areas that creativity impact in a business singular origin that affect the company whole. We call them impact points. The catalysts for change.
Brand. A strong brand guides strategy, products and marketing, and aligns with your cultural values. Discover opportunities in your brand. Spread the message with internal and external marketing programs.
Product. What else can you be selling? What should you stop selling? Make your products or services more desirable. Create breakthroughs and set new standards. Invent or redefine your offerings.
Culture. Develop your culture as a critical asset and value proposition. A highly valued culture thrives on innovation and connects emotionally to the people both inside and outside the organization.
Strategy. Radical ideas propel companies of leading positions. Focus on your future and uncover strategies for aggressive growth. Pioneer your category.
Leadership. Are you asking your team to create and lead the charge for innovation? Give your leaders tools to move your business forward.”
-Play www.lookatmorestuff.com
(lams)(taih)


1.20.2003
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Oddities When Leo Tolstoy and his brother were children, they created a club with a peculiar, almost impossible initiation ceremony. In order to become a member, one had to stand in a corner for a half an hour and not think of anything white.
 Because of the rotation of the earth, an object can be thrown farther if it is thrown west.
 Mrs. Caroline Squires of Cincinnati filed for a divorce from her husband in 1949 on grounds of desertion. She testified he'd stepped out "for a beer" on the Fourth of July, 1917, and had never come back.
 The formula for cold cream has hardly changed at all in the 1,700 years since it was originally made by the Roman physician Galen.
 George Lumley, aged 104, married Mary Dunning, aged 10, in Nortallerton, England on August 25, 1783. She was the great-great granddaughter of the woman who'd broken her engagement to Lumley, eighty years before.
 Caesar salad has nothing to do with any of the Caesars. It was first concocted in a bar in Tiajuana, Mexico, in the 1920's.
 After Albert Einstein had been at Princeton for some months, local news hounds discovered that a twelve-year-old girl happened to stop by the Einstein home almost every afternoon. The girl's mother hadn't thought to ask Einstein about the situation until the newspapers reported it, but when she got the opportunity after that she did so. What could her daughter and Einstein have in common that they spent so much time together? Einstein replied simply, "She brings me cookies and I do her arithmetic homework."
 There is no record of the ASPCA coming to the aid of a Eureks, California woman who was thrown in jail not long ago for disrobing in a grocery store and sitting on some pheasant eggs in an effort to hatch them.
 One of the movie moguls the Marx Brothers had to deal with was Irving Thalberg of MGM. Purposefully or not, Thalberg had the annoying habit of making people wait outside his office for extended periods of time. One time he kept the Marx Brothers longer than they liked. When he finally got around to seeing them, he discovered they were stark naked outside his doorway, roasting potatoes in the lobby's fireplace. It was the last time he kept them waiting.
 Abraham Lincoln had no love for favor seekers, especially when they took his time away from the duties of the presidency during the Civil War. On one occasion, he gathered together a number of would- be-office holders and told them this story:
"There was once a King who wished to go out hunting, so he asked his minister if it was going to rain. The minister assured him that it would not. On the way to the woods, the King passed a farmer who was working the land with his donkey. The farmer warned the King that it would rain soon, but the King just laughed and continued on. A few minutes later it was pouring, and the King and his companions were soaked to their skin. Upon return to the castle, the King dismissed his minister and sent for the farmer. He asked the man how he knew it was going to rain.
""It was not me, your Majesty. It was my donkey. He always droops one ear when it is going to rain."
"So the King bought the donkey from the farmer and gave him the position of minister at court. This was where the King made his mistake."
"How was that," asked several people in the audience.
"Because ever since then," Lincoln continued, "every jackass wants an office. Gentlemen, leave your credentials and when the war is over you'll hear from me."
 Half the foods eaten throughout the world today were developed by farmers in the Andes Mountains. Potatoes, maize, sweet potatoes, squash, all varieties of beans, peanuts, manioc (manioc?), papayas, strawberries, mulberries and many other foods were first grown in this region.
 Experiments conducted in Germany and at the University of Southampton in England show that even mild and incidental noises cause the pupils of the eyes to dilate. It is believed that this is why surgeons, watchmakers, and others who perform delicate manual operations are so bothered by noise. The sounds cause their pupils to change focus and blur their vision.
 According to acupuncturists, there is a point on the head that you can press to control your appetite. It is located in the hollow just in front of the flap of the ear.
 Tibetans, Mongolians, and people in parts of western China put salt in their tea instead of sugar
 In 1976 a Los Angeles secretary named Jannene Swift officially married a 50-pound rock. The ceremony was witnessed by more than 20 people.
 In the early 19th century the words "trousers" and "pants" were considered obscene in England. Woman referred to trousers as "inexpressibles" or "a pair of dittoes." Later in the century the taboo was carried to such lengths that piano legs were covered up because they reminded people of their human legs. In 1836 Charles Dickens wrote the following lines in Oliver Twist:
" ' I tossed off the clothes, got safely in bed, drew on a pair of ________' "
" ' Ladies present, Mr. Giles,' murmured the tinker.
" ' _________ of shoes, Sir,' said Mr. Giles, laying great emphasis on the word."
 Ninety percent of all species that have become extinct have been birds.
 According to many language experts, the most difficult kind of phrase to create is a palindrome, a sentence or group of sentences that reads the same backward and forward. A few examples:
Red rum, sir, is murder.
Ma is as selfless as I am.
Nurse, I spy gypsies. Run!
A man, a plan, a canal - Panama.
He lived as a devil, eh?
 The first automobile race ever seen in the United States was held in Chicago in 1895. The track ran from Chicago to Evanston, Illinois. The winner was J. Frank Duryea, whose average speed was 7½ miles per hour.
 At any given time, there are 1,800 thunderstorms in progress over the earth's atmosphere.
 Lightning strikes the earth 100 times every second. The average lead pencil will draw a line 35 miles long or write approximately 50,000 English words. More than 2 billion pencils are manufactured each year in the United States. If these were laid end to end they would circle the world nine times.
 A rainbow can be seen only in the morning or late afternoon. It can occur only when the sun is 40 degrees or less above the horizon.
 During a severe windstorm or rainstorm the Empire State Building may sway several feet to either side.
 An eighteenth-century German named Matthew Birchinger, known as "the little man of Nuremberg," played four musical instruments including the bagpipes, was an expert calligrapher, and was the most famous stage magician of his day. He performed tricks with the cup and balls that have never been explained. Yet Birchinger had no hands, legs, or thighs, and was less than 29 inches tall!
 The star Antares is 60,000 times larger than our sun. If our sun were the size of a softball, the star Antares would be as large as a house.
 In Elizabethan England the spoon was such a novelty, such a prized rarity, that people carried their own folding spoons to banquets. (This was true, however, for only the people who were invited to banquets.)
 In Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift described the two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, giving their exact size and speeds of rotation. He did this more than 100 years before either moon was discovered.
 It costs more to buy a new car today in the United States than it cost Christopher Columbus to equip and undertake three voyages to and from the New World.
 One-fourth of the world's population lives on less than $200 a year. Ninety million people survive on less than $75 a year.
 In ancient China doctors were paid when their patients were kept well, not when they were sick. Believing that it was the doctor's job to prevent disease, Chinese doctors often paid the patient if the patient lost his health. Further, if a patient died, a special lantern was hung outside the doctor's house. At each death another lantern was added. Too many of these lanterns were certain to ensure a slow trade.
 In eighteenth-century English gambling dens, there was an employee whose only job was to swallow the dice if there was a police raid.
 There are no clocks in Las Vegas gambling casinos.
 The opposite sides of a dice cube always add up to seven.
 A person cannot taste food unless it is mixed with saliva. For example, if a strong-tasting substance like salt is placed on a dry tongue, the taste buds will not be able to taste it. As soon as a drop of saliva is added and the salt is dissolved, however, a definite taste sensation results. This is true for all foods.
 The human tongue tastes bitter things with the taste buds toward the back. Salty and pungent flavors are tasted in the middle of the tongue, sweet flavors at the tip.
 A sneeze can travel as fast as 100 miles per hour.
 It is impossible to sneeze and keep one's eyes open at the same time.
 "Breath," by Samuel Beckett, was first performed in April, 1970. The play lasts thirty seconds, has no actors, and no dialogue.
 A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continually from the bottom of the glass to the top.
 Celery has negative calories! It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with.
 Marie de Medici, a member of that famous Italian family and a 17th-century queen of France, had expensive tastes in clothes. One special dress was outfitted with 39,000 tiny pearls and 3,000 diamonds, and cost the equivalent of twenty million dollars at the time it was made in 1606. She wore it once.
 The eccentric and paranoid American recluse Langley Collier met his untimely end in 1947. While he was bringing food to his equally odd brother Homer, who lived as a total hermit, Langley tripped on a wire to one of his own booby traps and was crushed beneath a suitcase filled with metal, a sewing machine, three breadboxes, and several bundles of newspapers. Homer starved to death, and their bodies were undiscovered for three weeks.
 Here is the literal translation of one of the standard traffic signs in China. It reads: "Give large space to the festive dog that makes sport in the roadway."
 A San Antonio wife, filing for divorce, described her husband as "a bore." "Just what is a bore?" asked the judge. She thought about it, then quoted, "A person who deprives you of solitude without providing you with company." The record shows the judge regarded that as sufficient grounds and granted her the divorce.
 Larry Lewis ran the 100-yard dash in 17.8 seconds in 1969, thereby setting a new world's record for runners in the 100-years-or-older class. He was 101.
 At age ninety, Peter Mustafic of Botovo, Yugoslavia, suddenly began speaking again after a silence of 40 years. The Yugoslavian news agency quoted him as saying, "I just didn't want to do military service, so I stopped speaking in 1920; then I got used to it."
 Cows burp a lot, but until recently no one paid much attention. Now researchers at the Texas Department of Highways in Fort Worth are sitting up and taking notice. Each year the cow population of the United States burps some fifty million tons of valuable hydrocarbons into the atmosphere. If they could only be captured and efficiently channeled, say the researchers, the accumulated burps of ten average cows could keep a small house adequately, if indirectly, heated and its stove operating for a year.
 Warning: THE PRACTICIONER, a British medical journal, has determined that bird-watching may be hazardous to your health. The magazine, in fact, has officially designated bird-watching a "hazardous hobby," after documenting the death of a weekend bird-watcher who became so immersed in his subject that he grew oblivious to his surroundings and consequently was eaten by a crocodile.
 The coastal town of Picoaza, Ecuador, was in the midst of a very boring election campaign when a foot deodorant manufacturer came out with the slogan "VOTE FOR ANY CANDIDATE, BUT IF YOU WANT WELL-BEING AND HYGIENE, VOTE FOR PULVAPIES." Then on the eve of the voting, a leaflet reading: "FOR MAYOR: HONORABLE PULVAPIES" was widely distributed. In one of the great embarrassments of democracy, the voters of Picoaza elected the foot powder by a clear majority; Pulvapies also ran well in outlying districts.
 THE MOST UNUSUAL CANNONBALL On two occasions, Miss 'Rita Thunderbird' remained inside the cannon despite a lot of gunpowder encouragement to do otherwise. She performs in a gold lamébikini and on one of the two occasions (1977) Miss Thunderbird remained lodged in the cannon, while her bra was shot across the River Thames.
 During Abraham Lincoln's campaign for the presidency, a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat named Valentine Tapley from Pike County, Missouri, swore that he would never shave again if Abe were elected. Tapley kept his word and his chin whiskers went unshorn from November 1860 until he died in 1910, attaining a length of twelve feet six inches.
 For a while Frederic Chopin, the composer and pianist, wore a beard on only one side of his face. "It does not matter," he explained. "My audience sees only my right side."

http://steven_lee.tripod.com/attic/trivia/oddities.html, 7/18/01


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Heinz’ Old Red Standby Goes Green

In an uncertain world, there always seemed to be a few things you could count on: the sky being blue, grass growing green and ketchup pouring out red.

But the world seems a little less certain today after a jolt from Heinz: The company so thick into ketchup it’s own logo is red is introducing the unthinkable – green ketchup.

The new green ketchup tastes just like the old red stuff, even if it is the color of spinach. Company executives are hoping its unexpected color and plastic bottle, which squirts a stream so think kids can draw with it, will pack in the fans.

The core idea is to give kids more control and fun over their food.

Kids do, after all, eat more than half of all ketchup in the United States.

~Kristen Hays, excitenews.com, 7/10/2000

(What If?)


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An Idea That Has Changed and Inspired Many Young Lives

Children in 1951 New York, left, played outdoor games in rubble-littered lots. Through the Fresh Air Fund, visitors from the city spend summers with host families in places like Morris Plains, N.J., right. Other programs of the fund offer career and life training.

~Kari Haskell, The New York Times


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When there’s no Creative Magic

“I stop when the client becomes self righteous and difficult, and when I or my staff no longer want to work on the project. To think creatively, you have to love what you do.”

~Supon, Teaching Creativity, 2000


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Top Economic Events of the 20th Century

Rank Event Year
1) The Federal Resere Act 1913
2) Ford begins production of the Model T 1913
3) Social Security Act and Medicare Act 1935
4) Interstate Highway system 1965
5) Apple II 1956
6) 1929 stock market crash 1929
7) Berlin blockade and the collapse of the Berlin Wall 1948
8) Establishment of GATT 1947
9) Federal income tax and withholding enacted 1913
10) Bretton Woods and its collapse 1944
11) Bank America introduces first credit card 1958
12) Breakup of Standard Oil 1911
13) Civil Rights Act passed 1964
14) OPEC oil embargo 1973
15) First Web browser introduced 1994
16) Flint, Michigan United Auto Workers strike 1936
17) Home mortgage interest rate tax deduction 1913
18) Commercial distribution of birth control pill 1960
19) Minimum wage law enacted 1938
20) First radio broadcast 1906
21) Publication of”The General Theoru of Employment, 1936
Interest and Money”
22) Glass-Steagall Act 1933
23) GI Bill of Rights 1944

http://www.dismal.com/top25/introduction/asp

(What If?)


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The Yolk’s on Us

~Buried deep within your software’s code, Easter eggs are subversive and fun. Crack one open~

Easter eggs? Not the real ones, of course, but rather mischievous mini-programs tucked away by stealthy programmers inside millions of lines of software code, often unknown to the company whose name is stamped on the box. The result: treats for big kids in office cubicles around the world.

The best place to launch your hunt is eeggs.com, run by Redmond, Wash., programmer David Wolf.

~Chris Taylor, Time, April 10, 2000

(What If?)



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Linoleum Rugs

Product: Portable mats and other hot uses of the tacky old flooring
How it started: The ‘50s-design rage spurred inventive young artists in California to kitsch up
Judgment call: Wacky, but way sharp. What’s next, AstroTurf?

The tacky old sheeting product has been refashioned into modern ‘linoleum rugs.’
They’re not cheap = priced at around $40 per sq. ft., a 6-ft. by 8-ft. area rug costs nearly $2,000. But just think of all those hours you’ll save on vacuuming.

~Jeffrey Ressner, Time

(What If?)


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Creative Cremations

Product: Novel ways to dispense of a loved one’s ashes
How it started: Aging baby boomers weren’t satisfied with the garden-variety box of ashes on the mantel
Judgment Call: Cremations are becoming more popular, but how many people really want their loved ones launched into orbit?

In Florida, retired golfers are having their cremated remains scattered on putting greens. Canuck’s Sportsman’s Memorial Inc., based in Des Moines, Iowa, packs the ashes of duck-and-pheasant hunting enthusiasts into shotgun shells. They are later fired into the air during a ceremony in the woods for family and friends. If you’re an ocean lover, Eternal Reefs Inc. in Atlanta will place your ashes inside an artificial reef for $850 to $3,200. Celestis, a company based in Houston, will launch your ashes into Earth’s orbit.

Tammerlin Drummond, Time

(What If?)


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It’s an Ad, Ad, Ad, Ad World
The average American sees an estimated 3,000 advertisements a day. And he’s seeing them in increasingly odd places – at gas pumps, on stickers on apples and bananas, on sidewalks and rooftops, in full-color, full-sound videos at the ATM- a quick pitch for your cash before you draw it from your account. So called ambient advertising is exploding as companies eschew traditional mass media in an attempt to get at jaded consumers where they work, shop and play.

New Jersey – based Beach ‘n Billboard, for example, imprints ads on sand, right. For upwards of $20,000, a company can get half a mile of ads up and own the beach every day for a month. The imprint may not last long, but it’s hard not to notice an ad you have to sit on.

Matt Moyer, ADCAPS.com

(What If?)


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What is this new Universal Time?

Internet Time represents a completely new global concept of time. So what is the deal? Basically, the Swatch Beat, the revolutionary new unit of time means the following:

No Time Zones
No Geographical Borders

How long is a Swatch beat? in short we have divided up the virtual and real day into 1000 ‘beats.’ One Swatch beat is the equivalent of 1 minute 26.4 seconds. That means that 12 noon in the old time system is the equivalent of @500 Swatch beats.
Internet Time is the same all over the world. How is this possible? We are not just creating a new way of measuring time, we are also creating a new meridian in Biel, Switzerland, home of Swatch. Biel Mean Time (BMT) will be the universal reference for Internet Time. A day in Internet Time begins at midnight BMT (@000 Swatch Beats) (Central European Wintertime). The meridian is marked for all to see on the façade of the Swatch International Headquarters on Jakob-Staempfli Street, Biel, Switzerland. So it is the same time all over the world, be it night or day, the era of time zones has disappeared.

http://www.swatch.com/internettime/internettime.php3

(What If?)


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RVs at Wal-Mart

Trend: Recreational-vehicle owners using superstore parking lots as places to stay overnight, free of charge
How it started: word spread that superfrugal campers were welcomed
Judgment call: Free is free. But don’t expect amenities

Welcome to the latest craze in the road-trip world: owners of recreational vehicles are passing up RV parks and campgrounds and bedding down for the night in the parking lots of Wal-Mart.

‘We treat them as shoppers who take a while to make up their minds,’ says Wal-Mart spokesman Tom Williams.

Campground operators point out that saving the average $24-a-night campground fee hardly makes up for the lack of electric, water or sewer services.

~David Schwartz

(What If?)


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The Library That Never Closes

If Lands’ End could sell wool sweaters online, then libraries could offer facts online, too, the Los Angeles librarian reasoned.
Susan McGlamery’s simple concept could forever change how we conduct research. The Library of Congress has taken not of her work and will offer worldwide online research later this year.
Adding live chat to library Web sites allows anyone anywhere to submit a question.
For those overwhelmed by the vastness of the Net, as well as its unverified sources, librarians provide much-needed research expertise.

Santa Monica, CA had the first public library www.smpl.org to adopt the technology, going ‘live’ on July 1, 2000. It was joined by the Los Angeles Public Library, among others. The library of Congress will offer online research via email beginning in June 2001.

~Karina Kinik, Forbes ASAP, February 19, 2001

(What's Next?)


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Edward Jenner

Edward Jenner was born in 1749 in Gloucestershire, England. He was the youngest son of the vicar of Berkeley. When he was twelve years old, he served as a surgeon’s apprentice. He received a medical degree from St. Andrew’s University in 1792 and became a successful physician and surgeon.
Before the vaccination for smallpox, the disease was rampant in many parts of the world, particularly among children. Dr. Jenner was aware of the belief that people, mainly farmers, who contracted cowpox, never contracted smallpox. He realized that inoculating people with cowpox would immunize them against smallpox.
Dr. Jenner freely provided his technique to the medical community and promoted the practice of vaccination, which was adopted in most of the world. The medical science known as immunology is based on Jenner’s experiments. In addition to vaccination against disease, immunology is the basis for allergy treatment, transplantation, AIDS, cancer therapy and autoimmune diseases.

~The Biography of Edward Jenner, mt.essortment.com, 2/27/2001

(What If)


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Serious Glow-in-the-Dark Fun

Not many companies encourage their employees to shoot each other with squirt guns at work.. Then again, not many companies have squirt guns that launch glow-in-th-dark ammo. Prolume does. The partnership of doctors and scientists is duplicating luminescent genes from jellyfish and other sea creatures and using them, for now, to fill up squirt guns. Next up could be glow-in-the-dark soda and beer.
Prolume’s catch – jellyfish, sea pansies, dragon fish, sea worms, squid, mollusks and other sea creatures – provides luminescent genes that can be copied and attached to other genes. Then, they can be made to glow when other kinds of chemicals are present, creating what the company calls ‘biosensors.’
The idea is to raise enough money from the sale of novelty items to underwrite more serious pursuits, such as using the glowing genes to identify cancerous tumors or detect nerve gas.

~ABCNews.com, The Associated Press, 1/6/00

(What If?)


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NASA Tests Hair-Raising Technique To Clean Up Oil Spills

Most folks with oily hair use shampoo to get the oil out. But one Alabama hairdresser likes oily hair and is working with NASA to use human hair to soak up oil spills. Researchers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL, are testing this hair-raising recovery technique for oil spilled in water.
McCrory found that human hair adsorbs, rather than absorbs—oil. That is, instead of bonding with the hair, the oil gathers in layers on the hair’s surface. This allows for easy recovery of the oil and its reuse by simply squeezing it from the collection bundles.
McCrory estimates that 25,000 pounds of hair in nylon collection bags may be sufficient to adsorb 170,000 gallons of spilled oil. Preliminary tests show that a gallon of oil can be adsorbed in less than two minutes with McCrory’s method.

~Jerry Berg, NASA News, 1/10/00

(What If?)


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How Can You Live Without Knowing These Things?

1) The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV were Fred and Wilma Flinstone.
2) Coca-Cola was originally green.
3) Every day more money is printed for Monopoly than the US Treasury.
4) Men can read smaller print than women can; women can hear better.
5) The state with the highest percentage of people who walk to work: Alaska.
6) The percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28%
7) The percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38%
8) The cost of raising a medium-size dog to the age of eleven: $6,400.
9) The average number of people airborne over the US any given hour: 61,000.
10) Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.
11) The world’s youngest parents were 8 and 9 and lived in China in 1910.
12) The youngest Pope was 11 years old.
13) The first novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer.
14) Those San Francisco Cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments.
15) Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history: Spades-King David, hearts-Charlemagne, Clubs-Alexander the Great, Diamonds-Julius Caesar
16) 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 2, 345,678,987,654,321
17) If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front lef in the air the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.

18) Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn’t added until 5 years later.

19) “I am.” is the shortest complete sentence in the English language

20) Hershy’s Kisses are called that because the machine that make them looks like it’s kissing the conveyor belt.

21) No NFL team which plays its home games in a domed stadium has ever won a Super bowl.

22) The only two days of the year in which there are no professional sports games (MLB, NBA, NHL, or NFL) are the day before and the day after the Major League all-stars Game.

23) In Scotland, a new game was invented. It was entitled Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden…and thus the word GOLF entered into the English language.

(What If?)


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Conquer All

So when intelligence came back from eBay’s Consumer Insights Group that an obscure website launched a year ago called Half.com was a prospective threat, Whitman’s gang went to work. Half.com started as a cleverly designed site that allowed people to sell used books, CDs, and videos for a fixed price. The eBay investigators recognized immediately that Half’s fixed-priced system could become a devastating threat to their floating-price auction model. So they asked for a meeting. And then they bought the company.

eBay also experienced late last year with adding a fixed-price option to its auction listing. Items with a BUY IT NOW logo-as many as 25% of all listings – can be bought immediately for a set price. Buy It Now increased eBay’s ‘velocity of trade,’ the critical measure of how quickly goods listed on the site are sold. Declared a success, the program has been extended through this year.

The easiest explanation for eBay’s prevalence is that its managers haven’t stopped to congratulate themselves. In many New Economy companies, the founders don’t step aside easily. But it has now been proved, by billions of dollars in squandered fortunes, that while brilliance may ignite a start-up, it won’t necessarily sustain it.

~Time, February 5, 2001

(What If?)


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The Trucker Who Changed the World

“M.P. Mclean, 87, Container Shipping Pioneer, Dies.”
That was the headline of the New York Times obituary for Malcolm Purcell McLean this week. The story beneath the headline recalled McLean’s adventures in freight transportation that began in 1934 and ended only with his death 67 years later.

He founded McLean Trucking of Winston-Salem, N.C., in 1934. Before its demise following deregulation, McLean'’ red, diamond-shaped logo was a familiar sight on eastern highways and well respected in the national trucking community.

He launched the world’s first containerized carrier in 1956, when he stacked 58 35-foot containers on a reconditioned tanker ship called the Ideal X in Port Newark, N.J., and sent it to call on the ports of Miami, Tampa and Houston.

Containerization was a major breakthrough in transportation technology that launched a revolution in world trade that could barely have been imagined by McLean or anyone else.

Since 1956 the world’s population has increased by a factor of 2.4. World trade has increased by a factor of 60, largely as a result of Malcolm McLean’s cargo container. The result has been jobs and food on the table for literally billions of families across the planet.

~John Bendel, Newport Communications Group, TruckPoint.com, 9/27/01
(What If?)


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Reawakening the creative mind

Australian scientists say they have created a ‘thinking cap’ that will stimulate creative powers. The invention raises the possibility of being able to unlock one’s inner genius by reawakening dormant parts of the brain.

“This shock finding that everyone might possess unconscious skills that can be ‘switched on’ with magnetic stimulation will challenge many of our conventional views regarding creativity.’

The inspiration comes from savant syndrome, a condition portrayed in the Hollywood film Rain Man.

“Some scientists believe that the essence of creativity is not a state of mind but an activity.”

~Helen Briggs, BBC News Online, April 17, 2002
(What's Next?)


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Customers as Innovators : A New Way to Create Value

Five Steps for Turning Customers into Innovators ~

1) Develop a user-friendly tool kit for customers
~ The tool kit must enable customers to run repeated trial-and-error experiments and tests rapidly and efficiently.
~ The technology should let customers work in a familiar design language, making it cheaper for customers to adopt your tool kit.
~ The tool kit should include a library of standard design modules so customers can create complex custom designs rapidly.
~ The technology should be adapted to your production processes so that customer designs can be sent directly to your manufacturing operations without extensive tailoring.
2) Increase the flexibility of your production processes.
~ Your manufacturing operations should be retooled for fast, low cost production of specialized designs developed by customers.
3) Carefully select the first customers to use the tool kit.
~ The best prospects are customers that have a strong need for developing custom products quickly and frequently, have skilled engineers on staff, and have little experience with traditional customization services. These customers will likely stick with you when you are working out the system’s bugs.
4) Evolve your tool kit continually and rapidly to satisfy your leading-edge customers.
~ Customers at the forefront of technology will always push for improvements in your tool kit. Investments in such advancements will likely pay off, because many of your customers will ne3ed tomorrow what leading-edge customers desire today.
5) Adapt your business practices accordingly.
~ Outsourcing product development to customers will require you to revamp your business models to profit from the shift. The change might, for instance, make it economically feasible for you to work with smaller, low-volume customers.
~ Tool kits will fundamentally change your relationship with customers. Intense person-to-person contact during product development will, for example, be replaced by computer-to-computer interactions. Prepare for these changes by implementing incentives to reduce resistance from your employees.

~Stefan Thomke and Eric von Hippel
(What’s Next?)


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Once Hot, Now Not, Hunters of Cool Are in a Deep Freeze
“many cool consultants have re-directed their focus from fads to macro trends: slow, sometimes meandering shifts in consumer attitudes and buying patterns, which may be more reliable than fads in helping large businesses plan their strategies.”
-Ruth La Ferla; The New York Times, July 7, 2002
(birdwatching)



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“It takes somebody with a fresh perspective to go out and take notes”
-Kevin Hunter
(mindset)


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eBay’s Bid to Conquer All
“The easiest explanation for eBay’s prevalence is that its managers haven’t stopped to congratulate themselves. In many New Economy companies, the founders don’t step aside easily. But it has now been proved, by billions of dollars in squandered fortunes, that while brilliance my ignite a start-up, it won’t necessarily sustain it.”
-Adam Cohen; Time, Feb 5, 2002
(business model)


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Animal Magnitism: Today’s pet owners treat their furry friends like members of the family … sometimes even better. From kennels that rival four-star hotels to functional foods for Fluffy, American pets are being spoiled silly. What will these finicky beasts demand next?
“Longer waiting periods before becoming parents have led to a growing niche of pet lovers: young couples who acquire pets as a means of testing the waters of parenthood.”
“True, Faith is never going to publish a novel or graduate from college, but she is always glad to see us.”
“’Products that make it easier for pet owners to solve pet care problems quickly and easily are taking off,’ says David Goldberg.”
-Rebecca Gardyn; American Demographics, May 9, 2002
(birdwatching)


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The Basics of New Product Development
A study conducted by APQC “uncovered a number of important activities the best practice companies use of new product development-such as teams and measures-it is important to remember that the process with differ at each organization. Each activity is driven by the company culture. It is necessary, therefore, to understand the culture engrained in an organization before any of these activities can be adapted or developed there. Continuos improvement in terms of understanding the related process and making strides to develop true efficiencies is essential to organizational survival.”
-American Productivity Quality Center 2000
(go play)(what’s next)


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Can you judge a man by his shopping cart?
-Lambeth Hochwald; Mademoiselle
(what if?)


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Decision Making as a Learning Activity
“In so playing, the girl acquires knowledge about relationships and about cause and effect.”

“We know extremely well in business that play is the best method of learning. That’s why it never ceases to amaze me that, in most business decision making, ‘play’ is not even considered as a vehicle for learning. Instead of emulating reality, we ‘learn from experience’ … we experiment with reality itself.”

“The more in-depth the simulation, and the more that ‘play’ triggers the imagination and learning, the more effective the decision-making process seems to be. In companies that attempt large-scale internal change, this is particularly true. Decisions cannot be made in the old authoritarian manner. They need interaction, intuitive reflection, and the fostering of collaborative mental models. They need play. They need learning.”

“Using LOGO, a computer language that Papert had helped invent, children could program a mechanical ‘turtle’ to move in various directions or to draw patterns. The experience of LOGO programming was as close to pure play as one might imagine.
From Papert’s work, Shell company thought they could put a representation of reality into a computer, and use that “play” dynamic to build depth of understanding among the Shell managers. The computer models reveal the underlying relationships and dynamics of a business situation in a far superior way to simple soft modeling. But the managers need not become computer scientists in the process.”

-Dan Peck April 2, 2001
(power of play)(innovation)


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What Makes Companies Last
“De Geus found that most Fortune 500 companies last only 40-50 years (less than a human being), and that there were precious few who last hundreds of years. Four traits among the elite club of firms that have lasted hundreds of years are: sensitivity to the environment (learning ability), cohesion and identity (ability to build a corporate persona), tolerance (ability to build constructive relationships with entities within and outside itself), and conservative financing.”
-From DeGeus’s book The Living Company
(lams)

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Do MFA’s Rival MBA’s for Innovation and Insights?
“The modern chemical industry, Michael Schrage writes, ‘is the story of a search for colorful dyes for fashion and fabric design. Scientists quickly discovered that such dyes were also useful in staining cells and killing bacteria.’”

Museums are Perfecting the Art of Dining
The Boston Museum of Art is enhancing their restaurants by using “regularly prepared themed menus connected to current exhibits.”
-Cool News of the Day
February 23, 2001
(innovation)


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The Weird Ideas Rules of Creativity
“Use job interviews to get new ideas, not to screen candidates”
“If you want a creative organization, inaction is the worst kind of failure – and the only kind that deserves to be punished. Researcher Dean Keith Simonton provides strong evidence from multiple studies that creativity results from action. Renowned geniuses like Picasso, da Vinci, and physicist Richard Feyneman didn’t succeed at a higher rate than their peers. They simply produced more, which meant that they had far more successes and failures than their unheralded colleagues … Creativity is a function of the quantity of work produced.”
-Robert Sutton; Harvard Business Review September 2001
(change perspective)(taih)


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“great ideas start with completely unrealistic thoughts”
-Markus Mettler
(mindset)


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“’It takes somebody with a fresh perspective to go out and take notes.’”

-said by Kevin Hunter (vice president for design at Calty Research)

-article by Ruth La Ferla; The New York Times July 7, 2002

(mindset)


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In Japan, Tiny Cars Offer A Lab for Very Big Ideas

“The man in charge of delivering the Fit was Yoshiyuki Matsumoto, a fast-talking 44-year-old engineer with a passion for Japan’s ancient fencing sport of kendo. He had assembled a team of designers and engineers four years earlier to develop a small car for Honda to sell in Japan, Europe and elsewhere.

The team traveled to Germany, Italy and France to study the world’s most sophisticated small-car drivers. There, they lurked in parking lots, snapping pictures of people in Renaults, Fiats and other teeny cars. One of the shots shows an elderly couple struggling to cram a bicycle in the back of a small car.

Mr. Matsumoto says such scenes convinced him Honda could sell more tiny cars if those cars felt more spacious, like sport-utility vehicles. So Mr. Matsumoto moved the Fit’s fuel tank forward, putting it under the front seat instead of in the rear. It was the first time that the solution had been tried on a car.

The innovation allowed designers to create a roomy luggage area and back seats that fold flat into the floor. What’s more, they did it without making the car bigger and heavier overall, thus meeting the competing demands of more space and better fuel economy.
‘I was convinced that this would be a trendsetting car, and we could expect to sell it in Europe, Japan and around the world,’ Mr. Matsumoto says. The Fit, with a stubby hood and a rear that resembles a breadbox, has been Honda’s fastest seller ever in Japan – topping 200,000 in sales in just under a year. Honda still sells more than 17,000 Fits a month, more than twice its original sales forecast.

-by Todd Zaun; The Wall Street Journal August 5, 2002

(innovation)(birdwatching)


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A Different Public Accounting: One Firm’s Parting Tradition:

“On a simple bulletin board near a busy photocopier at accounting firm Plante & Moran, hundreds of people, one by one, have taken an 8 ½-by-11 inch space and used it to reflect on their lives and reveal their dreams. Whenever employees leave the firm, based in Southfield, Michigan, they write a goodbye letter to co-workers on a green sheet of paper. Called “the green departure memo,” it’s a tradition dating back 40 years. Why green? No one is sure. But they know this: the moment when the thumbtack meets the cork, with a few hundred well-chosen words in between, their lives change…At many companies, departing employees informally post goodbye notes on bulletin boards or send out mass e-mails. But the 1,200 employee Plante & Moran stands out because the firm has made the practice part of its culture. The ritual is rooted in the teachings of co-founder Frank Moran…who led the company with specific principles, such as ‘picture yourself at your future best’…he had a national reputation as an innovative corporate leader and his firm consistently lands on lists of the best companies in America to work for. His philosophy holds a lesson for all of us – that writing down transitional aspirations can help us understand and attain them. ‘It puts a bookmark in your life,’ says Bill Bufe, P&M’s human-resource director. ‘It makes you take inventory of where you’ve been and where you’re going’… He [Frank Moran] had taught them the importance of finding meaningful, heartfelt ways to say goodbye.”

-- Jeffrey Zaslow; The Wall Street Journal Online, August 1, 2002.

(Innovation)



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Just Think: No Permission Needed:

“One lesson: Clarity counts. Each of these companies is clear about where it stands and where it is going…They have mission statements. They also have what might be called permission statements: a set of principles – some articulated, some tacit – that allows people to act on their own for the good of the company.”

“You want one [permission statement] to create the opportunity to do big things.”

“What should a permission statement offer? Here’s a list:
 Permission to think
 Permission to reflect – that is, to take a step back from the urgent and spend a day on the important
 Permission to collaborate – within a department or outside it, without clearing it in advance.
 Permission to disagree.
 Permission to disagree strongly – that is to say “screw you” without having to quit.
 Permission to invent.
 Permission to decide as best one can.
 Permission to be different. As Skilling puts it, “Usually the weirdest people are the people with the best ideas. You have to find a way to keep the weird people around.”

-- Thomas A. Stewart; Fortune, January 2001

(TAIH)(mindset)


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Organizational Behavior and Management:

Create a vision:
The core job of a leader is to create a vision – a concept of what the organization should be. A vision articulates a view of a realistic, credible, attractive future for the organization, a condition that is better in some important ways than what now exists.

Communicate the vision:
Next a leader must communicate this vision to followers through inspirational speeches, written messages, appeals to shared values and above all, through acting as a role model and personally acting in a way that is consistent with the vision. Also, in order for the leader to be “credible,” they must have the charisma to inspire and the ability to foster consistency.

Strategic visioning:
Finally, the leader must develop, or at least help develop, a general strategy for achieving the vision (strategic visioning).

Implementing the vision requires at least six activities:
1. Structuring – leader must ensure that the organization’s structure facilitates the flow of information vertical, horizontal, and diagonal.
2. Selecting and Training – leaders must make sure that people are hired who have the traits needed to accept and implement the vision. Constant training maintains and upgrades skills as well as the organization’s vision.
3. Motivating – leaders cannot achieve the vision alone; they must stimulate others to work for it too, generating commitment, enthusiasm, and compliance.
4. Managing Information – effective leaders are effective information gatherers. Leaders seek information inside and outside of the organization; good leaders also disseminate information widely so that followers understand decision-making reasons. At the same time, leaders don’t overwhelm subordinates with information (“gatekeeping”). An effective leader is a good “filter” and the next levels of management must also be good “filters.”
5. Team Building


“Leaders tolerate chaos and lack of structure and are thus prepared to keep answers in suspense.” Leaders can do this only if they have hired the right people and have them functioning in the right roles.

“A major purpose of exerting leadership influence is to achieve relevant goals.”

“The employee centered leader believes in delegating decision making and aiding followers in satisfying their needs by creating a supportive work environment.”

“What is effective leadership in one situation may be disorganized incompetence in another. Its basic foundation suggests that an effective leader must be flexible enough to adapt to the differences among subordinates and situations.”

“Supportive leaders treat subordinates like equals,” while simultaneously setting “challenging goals, expecting subordinates to perform to the highest level, and continually seeks improvement in performance.”

“Transformational leaders make major changes in the firm’s or unit’s mission, way of doing business, and human resource management to achieve their vision. The transformational leader will overhaul the entire philosophy, system and culture of an organization.”

Charisma (one of five factors crucial to transformational leadership):
The leader is able to instill a sense of value, respect and pride and to articulate a vision.

A very important segment of leadership is COMMUNICATION! “Communication experts tell us that effective communication is the result of common understanding between the communicator and the receiver. Basic elements are communicator, encoder, a message, a medium, a decoder, a receiver, feedback and noise.
1. Communicator – an employee with ideas, intentions, information and a purpose for communicating
2. Encoding – providing a form in which ideas and purposes can be expressed as a message (is it a report?, a think card?, etc)
3. Message – verbal or nonverbal – what the individual hopes to communicate to the intended receiver (unintended messages)
4. Medium – carrier of the message
5. Decoder-receiver – the message must be decoded in terms of relevance to the receiver (the receiver’s thought process). Decoding involves interpretation in light of their own experiences and frames of reference. Information must be receiver oriented.
6. Feedback – a channel for receiver response – the communicator can determine whether the message has been received and has produced the intended response.
7. Noise – factors that distort the intended message

Barriers to effective communication:
1. Frame of reference – different individuals can interpret the same communication differently depending on their previous experiences.
2. Selective listening – decoder tends to block out new information, especially if it conflicts with beliefs of values.
3. Values judgements – assigning an overrall worth to the message prior to receiving the entire communication.
4. Source credibility – the trust, confidence, and faith that the receiver has in the words and actions of the communicator.
5. Filtering – occurs in upward communication organizations, and is the manipulation of information so that the receiver perceives it as positive; “bad news” may be filtered out for fear of delivering bad information to upper management.
6. In-group language – groups and organizations will often use words or phrases that have only meaning only to them (jargon/slang).
7. Status differences – status differences in company hierarchies can be perceived as barriers; subordinates may not want to express views for fear of looking incompetent and often those high in the hierarchy create difficult barriers to face (ex: appointment only, assistants, etc).
8. Time pressure – leaders don’t have time to communicate frequently with subordinates.
9. Communication overload – in the information age, managers feel overwhelmed by the information they are exposed to; they can’t process or absorb or respond to all the messages directly.

-- Kirkpatrick, The Essence of Leadership

(confusion tolerance)(mindset)(inspiration)


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The Tales We Tell

“Everything is a story…our enthusiasm elicits and suggests – that he looks where we point, that he points because we do, that we are teaching him the gestures of discovery. For even the sound of words evokes wonder, and wonder is where joy begins, and joy is the gift that parents give, as essential as milk, the morning bath, and the downy comfort of fresh quilts.”

Through the power of a story, we “imagine answers and weave them into a tale.” It becomes possible to lengthen the spell of a person’s fascination by inventing stories and tales.

“Is the world a good place or a bad one? The stories we tell our children suggest our bias. Where do we come from; where are we going? Look for these answers inside our tales. What do we notice and cherish and nuture? In the telling of stories, we yield our clues. By the time our children are 2 or 3, they’ve grown aware of our patterns. They’ve clued themselves in to the ways we assemble language, taken notice of what we notice, begun to try on fledgling sentences for themselves. They have learned to listen, to take note of what we say, to comprehend the inherent fibers of a story.”

“…they [stories] can encourage us to pay attention – to look, to discover, to exclaim, to share, to point at something and kindle wonder. Stories are practical; they add words to a child’s world. They’re humanizing-provoking questions, stirring the heart. Stories help a child see what others can’t imagine. They help her comprehend the context – where she fits, where she does not, how she’s the same, how she’s different. They feed a child’s dreams. They’re the stuff of memory…They are the windows, the doors, the challenge, the protection.”

“The tales we tell also offer possibilities, alternative views. ‘The moon is God’s bright eye,’ I tell Jeremy at a day’s end. They deliver facts, but also reverie, enabling a child to grow bolder in his dreams. Our words come back, in ways we don’t expect them, in the poetry that a child makes because he has learned to listen. ‘It’s the sun breaking the moon with its shadow,’ Jeremy says one evening, at age 3, as he stands in the audience of a lunar eclipse.”

-- Beth Kephart; Parenting magazine, November 2000

(discovery through discussion)(story power)


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“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

-- Antoine de Saint-Exup’ery

(TAIH)




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It’s Hip to be Square

“Being ‘out of the box’ means being edgy, and edgy is out. People are more skeptical of hotshot know-it-alls. They want track records, proof of what you can really do, what you can really deliver.”

-- Cheryl Berman, chairwoman and chief creative officer, Leo Burnett USA; Fast Company, June 2002

(change perspective)


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The Technology of Foolishness

“…the idea that humans make choices has proven robust enough to become a major matter of faith in important segments of contemporary western civilization. It is a faith that is professed by virtually all theories of social policy making.”

“Human beings make choices. If done properly, choices are made by evaluating alternatives in terms of goals on the basis of information currently available. The alternative that is most attractive in terms of the goals is chosen.”

“Perhaps we should explore a somewhat different approach to the normative question of how we ought to behave when our value premises are not yet (and never will be) fully determined. Suppose we treat action as a way of creating interesting goals at the same time as we treat goals as a way of justifying action. It is an intuitively plausible and simple idea, but one that is not immediately within the domain of standard normative theories of intelligent choice. Interesting people and interesting organizations construct complicated theories of themselves. In order to do this, they need to supplement the technology of reason with a technology of foolishness. Individuals and organizations need ways of doing things for which they have no good reason. Not always. Not usually. But sometimes. They need to act before they think.”

“Playfulness is the deliberate, temporary relaxation of rules in order to explore the possibilities of alternative rules. When we are playful, we challenge the necessity of consistency. In effect, we announce – in advance – our rejection of the usual objections to behavoir that does not fit the standard model of intelligence. Playfulness allows experimentation. At the same time, it acknowledges reason. It accepts an obligation that at some point either the playful behavior will be stopped or it will be integrated into the structure of intelligence in some way that makes sense. The suspension of the rules is temporary.”

“…we need to accept playfulness in social organizations.”

“If we had a good technology of foolishness, it might (in combination with the technology of reason) help in a small way to develop the unusual combinations of attitudes and behaviors that describe the interesting people, interesting organizations, and interesting societies of the world.”

-- James G. March

(Rule #17)


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Building an Innovation Factory

“The best innovators aren’t lone geniuses. They’re people who can take an idea that’s obvious in one context and apply it in not-so-obvious ways to a different context. The best companies have learned to systematize that process.”

“CEOs know that ideas and innovation are the most precious currency in the new economy-and increasingly in the old economy as well. Without a constant flow of ideas, a business is condemned to obsolescence.”

“IDEO designers visit the local Ace Hardware store to see new products and remind themselves of old ideas, and they take field trips to places like the Barbie Hall of Fame, an airplane junkyard, and a competition where custom-built robots fight to the death.”

“When brokers come across a promising idea, they don’t just file it away. They play with it in their minds-and when possible with their hands-to figure out how and why it works, to learn what is good and bad about it, and to start spinning fantasies about new ways to use it.”

“Invention factories like IDEO and Design Continuum in Boston do pretty much the same thing today when they’re trying to come up with new designs. They collect related products and writings on those products, and-perhaps most important-they observe users.”

“The real measure of success is the number of experiments that can be crowded into 24 hours.” ~Thomas Edison

Andrew Hargadon & Robert I. Sutton, Harvard Business Review, May/June 2000

(TAIH)(What If?)(mindset)(LAMS)


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Trading Spaces: A New York Dream

“Every minute of every day along the curbs of Manhattan, a certain number of people are pulling out of parking spaces. They can be thought of, for simplicity’s sake, as leavers. A number of other people are searching, slowly and sullenly, for a space. They can be thought of as lookers.”

“A man named Theodore Angelus has a crazy idea: he wants to get the lookers together with the leavers.”

“The rules for its members-about 300 have signed up so far – are simple: A member planning to pull out of a parking spot is required to call in with the exact location a half hour in advance. Then, when another member looking for a spot calls, he can get information on spots about to become open. Next, the looker drives to the designated spot. The leaver is told who is coming to take the spot – and when the looker arrives, an efficient, civilized exchange is supposed to take place.”

“Premier scholars of city parking do not give Mr. Angelus’s idea much of a shot, though they congratulate him for the courage to dream.”

Randy Kennedy, The New York Times, April 23, 2002

(What If?)(LAMS)(TAIH)



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It’s Not Rocket Science. Or Is It?

“Pile drivers, those big, dumb machines that pound construction supports into the ground, may not be the stuff of entrepreneurial dreams. But to Svetlana Kumanova, a freshly minted Wharton MBA and the U.S. partner of a startup called Jet Technologies, they are just one tweak short of perfection. All these babies really need, in her view, is a rocket engine.”

“They propose fixing a small rocket to the back of the pile driver’s hammer, which would allow it to strike twice as hard as ordinary hammers, saving contractors time and money.”

“Not just any rocket engine will do, of course, but Kumanova knows where to find the right one for the job: in Bulgaria. Before the fall of communism wiped out his government funding, an engineer named Piotr Budonov tested a prototype of the world’s only industrial rocket. Budonov holds the patent with Kumanova’s father, a former Bulgarian defense official.”

“Kumanova reflects that Karl Benz had to drain his wife’s dowry to fund the invention of the internal combustion engine.”

Eric Schurenberg, Business 2.0, July 2002.

(Thief and Doctor)


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Lawmaker Punished for Fake Radio Interview

“A Canadian member of Parliament has been punished for trying to cover up the fact that his assistant impersonated him on a radio show.”

“The bizarre case started on Saturday when a listener to a Vancouver radio station called in to point out that the person being interviewed was certainly not Rahim Jaffer of the opposition Canadian Alliance party.”

“Alliance chief whip John Reynolds was not amused and immediately suspended Jaffer, 30, from his job as chairman of the party’s small-business advisory committee.”

Yahoo News, http://dailynews.yahoo.com/htx/nm/20010320/od/impersonation_dc_1.html, March, 2001

(Skinned Knees)



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Science Needs a Healthy Negative Outlook

“It seems a fairly obvious idea: when science experiments are successful, the results are published in a well-respected journal for all to see and the body of human knowledge expands. But the sad truth about science is that most experiments fail and the hypotheses that seduced researchers turn out not to be true or, at least, the studies provide no evidence that they are true. Are such studies any less important, any less successful? And what happens to them?”

“For Dr. Bjorn Olsen, a professor of cell biology at Harvard Medical School, the solution to the problem of small negative studies is clear. He is setting up the Journal of the Negative Results in Biomedicine, which is expected to be online this summer.”

Gina Kolata, The New York Times

(Look at More Stuff)


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Doctor Who Left Towel in Man Pays

“A man suffering from colon cancer received $400,000 in a lawsuit settlement with a doctor who stitched him up after surgery but left a towel in his abdomen.”

“William R. Miller Jr. complained of pain after the operation at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in 1999. Doctors waited 73 days before they performed exploratory surgery and found the towel wrapped around his small intestine.”

http://www.salon.com/news/wire/2001/03/16/towel/print.html, March 16, 2001

(What If?)


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Scientists Invent Self-Disinfecting Chicken

“British scientists have invented a self-disinfecting chicken. The birds are given special feed to rid them of harmful bugs that make people sick.”

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_250734.html?menu+news.quirkies

(What If?)



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Two Doctors Suspended for Bad Brain Surgery

“A hospital has suspended two doctors for allegedly operating on the wrong side of a man’s brain.”

“Walsh’s CT scan was reportedly placed backward on the viewing screen before the surgery.”

http://www.salon.com/mwt/wire/2001/02/26/doctor/print.html, February 26, 2001

(Skinned Knees)


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Study: Many Blissfully Inept

“Dr. David A. Dunning has found people who do things badly usually are supremely confident of their abilities. In fact, they’re often more confident than people who do things well.”

“One reason that the ignorant also tend to be the blissfully self-assured, the researchers believe, is that the skills required for competence often are the same skills necessary to recognize competence.”

New York Times News Service

(Mindset, Skinned Knees)


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Burglars Get Stuck in Office Block Lift

“Two thieves had to be rescued from the Spanish office block they were trying to burgle after getting stuck in the lift.”

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_251506.html?menu=news.quirkies

(What If?)



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Nazi-Theme Bar Changes Name after Protests

“The owner of a Nazi-themed bar is replacing Hitler with Ditler after Jewish protests.”

“Napkins and matchboxes bearing swastikas will also be replaced at the Ditler Techno Bar and Cocktail Show in South Korea.”

“The owner says he only changed one letter because he did not have enough money to change the entire sign. Owner Hong Dong-hwan said: ‘I sincerely regret offending the Jewish people. I had no intention to do so.’”

“The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a Jewish human rights group, had sent a protest letter urging Seoul to help shut down the bar and pool hall named Gestapo in Kyongsan, central South Korea.”

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_251218.html?menu=news.quirkies

(What If?)



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Broken Plates and Flying Chalets Help the Swiss Celebrate Their Culture

“Biel, Switzerland- The mechanical arm daintily plucks a 100 Swiss franc bill, waves it around slowly, then drops it into a small black box where it is quickly shredded.”

“Five turbulent years in the planning, mounted at a cost of almost $1 billion, Ecpo.02 is not celebrating storybook chocolate-and-cheese Switzerland. Instead, organizers say, it wants to spur the Swiss to see themselves differently and to pole a little fun at some of the country’s foibles.”

“The robot that chews up 1,200 of the 100-franc bills each day at an exhibit called ‘Money and Value, the Last Taboo’ is just one way that Expo.02 tweaks the Swiss.”

“And, in a bit of fun aimed at the Swiss reputation for repressed emotions, another Biel pavilion offers white china plates and marker pens for writing a message or a name on the plates, which the visitor is then invited to smash.”

“Getting the exposition up and running was about as smooth as smashing crockery. Swiss critics like to say that the exposition has been under a cloud, referring to the Blur pavilion by two New York artists where thousands of high-pressure water jets spray out water droplets to create an artificial cloud.”

Elizabeth Olson, The New York Times, Sunday, June 23, 2002

(What IF?)


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Duh! So that’s what the ‘Beware of Cattle’ sign means?

“Three out of five British drivers stopped in a survey believe that ‘Beware of Cattle’ Road signs indicate areas infected with foot-and-mouth disease.”

“The survey by the RAC Foundation found that half of all British motorists are baffled by road signs.”
“Misinterpretations included a sign for toads crossing identified as notifications of a French restaurant.”

“Only 10 percent recognized signs that a two-lane highway had ended, and 20 percent thought that those ordering them to give way to oncoming vehicles meant ‘one-way street ahead.’

“Five percent said signs warning of side winds meant ‘kite flying area,’ while 50 percent did not recognize the sign indicating an end to a speed limit.”

http://chblue.com/Article.asp?ID=1619, April 22, 2001

(change perspective, rule #17)



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Rats Entertainment!

“For nearly six years Chic-A-Go-Go!, ‘Chicago’s Dance Show for Kids of All Ages,’ has demolished traditional notions of audience demographics with a dizzying eclectic aesthetic.”

“Each episode, our friendly hosts Raso and Miss Mia rev up the dancers and introduce such glorious guests as alt country torch singer Kelly Hogan, Funkadelic album cover artist Pedro Bell and ‘50s doo wop legends The El Dorados, who lip sync to their own record. Between guest acts and the surreal sock-hop dancing are pre-taped backstage interviews.”

“’What being on non-commercial television allows us to do is actually broadcast, which you can'’ do on American broadcast TV. By producing the show in the cable access studios, they interact with a wide range of people.”

“The world’s weirdest children’s television show.”

MOJO, April, 2002

(What IF?)



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Mali’s Makeshift ‘Cuisinarts’ Create Peanut Butter and New Possibilities

“Not only is the peanut butter better, so is the wuality of life in the 300 Mali villages that have the machine. Girls who were kept home to help with the domestic work from dawn to dusk are now going to school. Mothers and grandmothers who would have spent a lifetime pounding and grinding now have the free time to take literacy courses and start up small businesses, or to expand family farming plots and nurture a cash crop such as rice. They have dubbed the durable, uncomplaining machine ‘the daughter-in-law who doesn’t speak.’”

“Before it arrived a year ago, only nine women in one village of 460 people were able to read and write. Since then, more than 40 have attended literacy courses. The training to prepare the women to manage the machine usually takes four to six months, and it gives them the basics in reading, writing and arithmetic. Most then continue with other courses to get better and better.”

“Known blandly as the ‘multifunctional platform’ in the United Nations parlance, the contraption was invented in the mid 1990s by a Swiss development worker in Mali who believed that easing the domestic load of African women would unleash their entrepreneurial zeal. The machine, simple and sturdy, was tailored for rural Africa.”

“The biggest impact has been to empower women.”

-Roger Thurow, The Wall Street Journal Online, July 26, 2002

(What If?)


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The Story of H

“Rigden, the director of special projects at the American Institute of Physics, makes the sensitive and remarkably successful interplay between theory and experiment throughout the 19th and 20th centuries very clear. He demonstrates elegantly midway through “Hydrogen” – when one senses his own interest in the subject really begins to peak – how minute disagreements between theory and experiment, which otherwise would have been completely ignored, had to be taken seriously precisely because of the underlying simplicity of the hydrogen atom itself. Indeed, at a time when many books and news reports describe speculative theories and hope to probe deep cosmic mysteries but so far have failed to touch base with a single observation or experiment, it is a pleasant change to find a book on a humble topic that demonstrates the remarkable beauty and subtlety of nature, and of the experiments scientists have developed to explore it.”

-Lawrence M. Krauss

(What If?)


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Ideas & Trends

“Architecture, alone of the arts, takes the messy problems of daily life as one of its raw materials.”

-Barry Bergdoll, The New York Times, July 21, 2002

(Inspiration)


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)

search

go go gadget google:



stuck in an airport

architecture
A Pattern Language

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

life
The Little Prince

philosophy
Wittgenstein's Poker

physics
The Dancing Wu Li Masters

sociology
The Tipping Point

new to you

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see our neighbors
Comments by: YACCS