Jun 142011

Casually and formally, like everyone else here in San Diego for MindXchange, I’ve been doing a lot of talking.  It is absolutely fascinating to listen to how many others in so many different industries and areas are struggling with essentially similar challenges.  No doubt this applies to every functional area, not just innovation.  It’s refreshing to hear about other industries and businesses, particularly how they are dealing (or even better “have dealt”) with these issues.  There’s nothing like making an unusual connection and importing solutions to make the day go better.

In any case, I participated in a panel discussion earlier in the day.  Sounds like it went well based on audience feedback and comments made and overheard throughout the day.  As a group (and a really nice group of people, too, I might add), we met just prior to the session and loosened up.  We had a good laugh about making it a matter of course to simply disagree with the previous panelist even if what he/she said was unimpeachable truth.  We got a good laugh, but I think underlying that thought was the notion that ultimately it’s about both information AND entertainment.  I think it went OK.  Test marketing a catchphrase:  “Certainty drives to mediocrity.”  Saw a few people taking note of it.  Maybe I’ll hear it on a bus one day.

At the end of the day, I moderated a peer-to-peer forum on the subject of setting expectations.  (Let me tell you what I presciently joked to the group:  worse than being the person between people and their lunch is being the person between a mentally exhausted group and their open bar reception.)  It got off to a slow start but the “thought leaders” in the crowd helped keep things going.  Many thanks to each of them.  Ultimately, I was hoping to drive toward a particular end-point but with it bubbling out of the crowd.  Everyone was tired and it seeped out with a lot of pushing.  Still, I think by the time we were done, we had achieved something.  That I shall post later along with the “take away” notes being provided to the attendees.

Work, work, work.

 Posted by on 14 Jun 2011

Frost & Sullivan’s MindXchange

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Jun 132011

NOTE:  The last post was to have gone out last night, but such are the inconveniences and inconsistencies of modern life.

Today is a brand new day and on the Left Coast, I was in the gym at 4:00AM because I’d chosen to sleep in an hour.  For a while, there was another guy there who was operating on Tokyo time.  And now I’m preparing for the sessions at the 7th Annual Frost & Sullivan Global Innovations in New Product Development and Market Strategy MindXchange.   I’m working:  participating as a panelist in a townhall executive panel discussing collaborative models for innovation (trusting each other); and, I’m moderating an interactive break-out session on setting internal product development expectations.

I’ve never been before but the participant list looks pretty tier-one executive (VP/director and up) and everyone I met last night was eager to jump in and share their knowledge.  The agenda itself looks to have a bit of something for everyone who has to do with innovation and innovative type of work in product/services and marketing.  So, I’m eager.

Those who know me are abundantly clear that I veer toward professor and lecturer when you give me a microphone.  This is the tendency that I have to fight first as a panelist.  Usually, it works out because I’m not dumb enough to jump in when I have no knowledge and nothing to say.  The trouble is that when those barriers are not there, I like to teach.  Important not to ingraciously dominate the panel.  Equally important not to disappear and be an unfortunate decoration.

With the moderation, it’s a little better.  My plan is to provoke.  So I have a few theories and ideas which I’ll unleash on the crowd viz. the nature of expectations.  If all goes right, I’ll set up the situation and toss in those little grenades along the fault line between the more technical and the more marketing type folk, and let them have on.  They’ll walk into a room with an easel chart bearing the words “The predictable ‘death’ of Innovation.”  That should get things started.

More tonight when it’s in the past.

Is anybody listening–or am I just practicing my prose?

 Posted by on 13 Jun 2011

Long days and airports

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Jun 132011

Travelled from Ottawa to San Diego yesterday.  Would have blogged about it on the American flight from O’Hare using their on-board wi-fi, but I was a little busy and calculated that $4/hr for Internet that I didn’t need to use was too much.  In any case, early arrival at airport and connection times included, I was about 10 hours in transit.  I realize this isn’t long for those who commute to Asia, but it sure wasted my day.

On the other hand, it felt remarkably cosmopolitan at the same time.  Diagonally across an entire (large) continent in half a day.  Never ceases to amaze–if you think about it for a moment.

What I really want to know is what it was that we passed over where the low mountain ranges almost instantly change from desert and dried out riverbeds to a lush coastal green practically like someone took an Olfa knife and cut the pieces together.  More from the conference I’m attending.

 Posted by on 13 Jun 2011

Life’s little disappointments

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Jun 032011

As many of my closer friends and colleagues (and an audience at Front End of Innovation, in May) are aware, I’ve written another book (by the way, it’s not “out of print,” the printing is taking forever to get done–I’m waiting for permission to quote a famous author).  It’s a book about finding invisible advantage by seeing what nobody else can see … by looking in the spaces in between.  That’s its title, in fact:  The Spaces In Between.

To start generating some word-of-mouth guerilla buzz (probably a barely perceptible hum at this point, really), I’ve begun contacting people in my various contact lists.  Right now,mind you, I’m being fairly discriminating:  only those I’ve had ongoing–even if not recent–contact with.  In other words, people that I would consider loose friends of a sort; people who, when they needed something, I helped out.  The thing these people have in common beyond that is that they are influential within their own networks and they have other influential colleagues who I know but am not close to.  Perhaps you see where this is going.

So I contacted one fellow that I haven’t spoken to in a few years but who would have to be abnormally ungifted to claim “I don’t remember you” without betraying a fullness of shit.  I said something to the effect of, “Hey, I’ve written a book and you’re pretty influential.  Would you have a look and then blog or post something nice (if you like it)?  And, there’s this other guy we both know but who you know much better, would you mind contacting him and reminding him of me and asking if he’d mind doing the same.  And, . . .


Perhaps he’s just away from email and busy or on vacation, and will get back to me soon.  Maybe?  (I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt–to a fault.)  I’ll hold my breath.

This episode prompted me to write for catharsis.  I should say it’s not really unexpected:  life has taught me to have very low expectations of most people.  Very few–and often those that most surprise you at the time–actually have social character.  Most are just too glad to be very interested as long as the weight of value tips in their favour.  When it doesn’t, they aren’t.  And they disappear, pretending not to see or hear, to be away, to be busy, or anything else that helps avoid anything that smacks of obligation or effort.  As I said, it’s not entirely unexpected.  But it is disappointing.  This person, specifically, disappointed me and no further amount of (self-)hagiography will change that.  But, he’s contributed to the larger disappointment with people in general.

If I get a response in the next few days, I’ll withdraw my personal disappointment.  But that won’t change the bigger picture.

It’s a damn good thing that every now and then, in the most unanticipated place and from the most unexpected person, my faith in humanity is ever so modestly revived.  So, if you are wondering whether or not to do the respectable thing because you don’t think anybody’s watching, do it anyway.  Somebody always is… and it might just restore his or her faith too.