Four Days in Boston

Posted by & filed under business, day in the life, design, technology, thoughts.

These days have been full of opportunity and indecision. I find myself incredibly blessed, feeling as though I need to keep moving, and a little fearful that I am trying too hard.

Yesterday I got back from Boston where I visit my brother and his wife, the North and East ends of the city proper, and MIT’s Media Lab. I’ve been dreaming about returning to graduate school for business, design, and more generally, being a part of what’s next.

In my time on campus I was told that I should identify what exactly it is I want to do and then determine what resources are required to achieve that end. Simple enough, but counting the costs is daunting. My family and friends are in Ohio, and to launch out into something new feels like it would be rejecting the life that has been built around me.

I could do it though. I have dreams beyond what they have thought about at MIT or any of the other schools I’ve visited. I have ideas about how life could be better and fuller and more real for everyone.

I was also told on campus that I need to have demonstrated the ability to formulate a vision beyond my ability and then build capabilities so as to realize that vision. I’ve done that. Now it seems that it’s time to do it again.

I think my four days in Boston showed me that if I want to achieve my dreams it’s a simple matter of counting the costs, making a plan, and continuing to put one foot in front of the other. The future is becoming more clear. Thanks for reading. I just had to get a few ideas out there.

"Made to Stick": Introduction

Posted by & filed under business, design, thoughts.

So, then I thought I could read “Made to Stick” and not only read it but take notes and digest it into blogs. So here it goes…


Introduction –
Chip and Dan begin by reviewing urban legends and how they seem to float around with little resistance to objections that they are just urban legends.

From there the case of one Art Silverman’s trying to communicate just how bad movie popcorn is for you is devulged. In the end he is cited as having compared it to a full days worth of REALLY fatty foods and thus getting his point across in a big way.

Chip and Dan from there digress into why some ideas stick and others do not, referencing age old presentation mantra and poking holes in the notion repetition repetition repetition is they way to go. Their thoughts simply – “If you have to tell someone the same thing ten times, the idea probably wasn’t very well designed.”

And so the concept of ‘designing ideas’ emerges which is really the notion of designing ones means of communicating ideas, later quoting JFK’s famous ‘man on the moon‘ challenge.

The Heath Brothers go on to tell how they in 2004 realized that they had been, from relatively different perspectives, researching what made ideas stick, and this combined with Malcolm Gladwell’sThe Tipping Point” spurred them on to explore, as Gladwell put it, “The Stickiness Factor.”

There is also a very strong point just slightly before and then very much so after this chronology that the ideas that stick best are usually those that fit into conventional rules and forms rather than those that break traditional convention. “You want to invent new ideas, not new rules,” they write.

Just prior to making this statement to close out their introduction they review what they have found to be the ‘rules’ for identifying a sticky idea, not absolute law – but simply strong indicators of a strong contender.

They are:
* Simplicity – the idea much be both simple and profound – pithy
* Unexpectedness – ‘violate’ your hearers’ expectations – leave gaps in their understanding
* Concreteness – sensory information is key – people are wired to remember real things
* Credibility – don’t barrage with facts – ask simple questions people can answer for themselves
* Emotions – if it doesn’t have a sole – pull at positive or negative emotion it won’t stick
* Stories – Provide space for people to mentally rehearse an idea in their own way and they will be more likely to respond.

The brothers Heath also included before closing the concept of ‘the Curse of Knowledge’ in their introduction, citing how once you’ve got an idea, or knowledge, in your head, it’s impossible to function as if you didn’t. Thus creating the need to design sticky means of communicating ideas that get your point across and keep it there because not everyone can read your mind.

Simply, JFK succinctly painted a picture that did not require his hears understand every detail nor be continually reminded of the concept. His challenge to “put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade” was light years ahead of what corporate types regularly dribble. Had it been a corporate pep rally his charge might have sounded like, “Our mission is to become the international leader in the space industry through maximum team-centered innovation and strategically targeted aerospace initiatives.” What a mouthful.


So, that was round one. Hopefully it wasn’t too painful. You will do well to read the introduction for yourself, but at least you’ve gotten a taste of the reading, and I’ve got a taste of the writing.