Saturday, November 14, 2009

Deciding what to do next - How to design a career, business or education

Two article from Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist have been lingering in my drafts for some time. They were good articles, but I was not sure how to apply them to anything I was doing. My last post on design thinking and business got me to thinking about them again. This is still framing the question.

One article talked about how to decide what to do next. The focus is career-wise, which is Ms. Trunk's forte, but it can also be applied organizational-wise. The question is how to bridge and combine the two. Her example is Pastor Tony Morgan, chief strategy officer at NewSpring Church, whose blog mixes careers and church. In his book, Killing Cockroaches, he tells the story of when he was a city manager, and he was in the middle of running a meeting, and he heard a woman down the hall scream about a cockroach. So he got up from the meeting and killed the cockroach.

As Ms Trunk tells us, Really, all time management discussion is about this: How to know when to kill cockroaches and when not to. It's about why we spend time doing small, stupid stuff that is crawling around in front of us instead of the stuff that makes life meaningful. The dichotomy between wanting to make big-picture impacts on the world and being immersed in the more immediate issues bombarding us is a question for organizations and the individuals making up those organizations.What do we teach students about finding ways to make life meaningful, while still being able make it in the "real" world?

ALINA TUGEND wrote Shortcuts: Putting Yourself Out There on a Shelf to Buy in
back on March 28, 2009 in the New York Times. The article was about branding yourself in the job market. What caught my eye was Dan Schawbel, author of “Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success” (Kaplan, April 2009), advice that “Finding your niche is the key,” Which means:

Discover your passion and put it together with your expertise; create a “personal branding tool kit” (which may include a résumé, online profile, blog and portfolio of your work) that consistently reflects your brand; pitch your brand online and offline; and update and monitor any conversations about your brand.

At first glance this sounds in opposition to what was said in the last post, but not if we look at how to achieve this through his four-step process —

  1. discover,

  2. create,

  3. communicate,

  4. maintain.

All of which can be applied to hybrid thinking. The question is how do we teach this in classrooms? Ms Trunk points out that perhaps we should first consider changing how to lead in the new millennium.

Her reasons are that Generation Y has a lot of great traits, but classic, top-down leadership is not one of them. This is not a surprise: Because gen Y is the great teamwork generation. They did book reports in teams, they went to prom in teams, and they are notorious for quitting jobs in teams.

This should arguably make it easier to teach today's students the concepts of hybrid thinking and incorporate design thinking into students' career path.

Finally, I am including this TEDTalk (video) featuring Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation which points out that our assumptions about motivation are also questionable. For the same basic reasons he raises in the last post Roger Martin says, What's Thwarting American Innovation is Too Much Science. Dan Pink says that the problem is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does. Is the same thing true of education?

Thinking (a bit more) about Design | Designing better Thinking

When I first start this blog, I was surprised at how often the concept of design came up as it was not my usual way of thinking. Although it has been in the background in the musings of this blog and Milestones for a New Millennium, I have not focused on it directly for sometime. Lately though I have been thinking about it from an educational perspective. If we were to integrate design thinking, in its broadest terms, into our economy and culture and wanted to prepare students to contribute to that culture, what would we teach them? This post does not answer that question, it begins to frame it.

Dev Patnaik discusses Mixing Design Thinking With Business with Roger Martin of the Rotman School of Management, who argues for a radical idea: to develop business leaders who are well-grounded in multiple disciplines.

The Rotman faculty aim to mold managers who are equally comfortable and adept at using tools and frameworks from business, popular culture, and design to solve the most urgent challenges of the day--what Rotman calls integrative thinkers and what I call hybrid thinkers.

They discuss The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage, Rotman's approach of integrating design thinking into traditional analytical MBA programs. Rotman believes new ideas must come from a new kind of thinking. At least new for today's analytical mindset. The logical leap of the mind, the apple falling on the head, that you can't prove from past data the American pragmatist Charles Sanders Peirce called abductive logic.

  • Strategy is an act of design.
  • Highly skilled designers focus on new possibilities rather than the application of existing ideas. Create from data, guts, empathy, creativity, and a little thin air.
  • Balancing the analytical and the intuitive is key to great leadership.
  • Analytical thinking prevents them seeing promising new opportunities and driver of growth, but ideas still have to make sense from an analytical standpoint. Great leadership involves bringing both lenses to bear to find better possibilities.
  • Roger's take on design thinking isn't rooted in design.
  • Surprisingly designers aren't necessarily good at design thinking. A tremendous sense of aesthetics, prototyping, form, and ergonomics doesn't inherently reflect the ability to imagine previously unseen possibilities.
  • Templates, not management theory, are the enemies of innovation.
  • Neither businesspeople nor designers have a monopoly on good ideas because most people, regardless of background, are more comfortable reapplying a formula or using a template from an existing success than generating new possibilities.

Raising Dev Patnaik's question:

If design thinking isn't based in design and the abilities of designers, then the term may need to change. Without any question, increasing any organization's design capability will increase its ability to differentiate from its competitors, to build a more consistent brand, and to create more appealing products. But it's something else entirely to create a culture of innovation. We would do well to make this clear in the terminology we use.

He addressed this question in a previous article, Forget Design Thinking and Try Hybrid Thinking in which he asserts that, The secret isn't design thinking, it's "hybrid thinking": the conscious blending of different fields of thought to discover and develop opportunities that were previously unseen by the status quo.

Hybridity matters now because the problems companies need to solve are simply too complex for any one skillset to tackle. We're in an era when car companies are trying to grapple with massive changes in technological capability and market need, when cell phone companies are trying to own global entertainment, and when snack food companies face extinction unless they figure out how to promote health and wellness. As Lou Lenzi, a design executive at Audiovox, once told me, if you want to innovate, "You need to be one part humanist, one part technologist, and one part capitalist."

According to Patnaik, hybrid thinking is much more than gathering together a multidisciplinary team, it about multidisciplinary people. He uses John Lasseter, the co-founder of Pixar, as an example because he can effortlessly fuse technology, art, and storytelling together to create Toy Story, which is why he is beloved and admired, not because he's good at technology. In the video below from Edutopia Randy Nelson, Dean of Pixar University makes a similar distinction between cooperation and collaboration.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jung's Red Book

This came from my real world/day job persona. Jung was a major influence in my decision to become a psychology major in college. What are the chances that anybody will ever do with the Jung's Red Book what Elif Ayiter did with with Freud's ideas and her Entre Loup Et Chien?

From SmartBrief on Leadership:

Psychology's most famous suppressed work sees daylight
Carl Jung's "Red Book" is finally being published, after being kept under wraps by his descendants since his death in 1961. The book details what Jung called his "confrontation with the unconscious" through 205 pages of elaborate illuminated text and illustrations of mythological figures. Jung worried that publishing the book during his life would undermine his credibility as as a scientist. previously on Yahoo!/The Associated Press (10/3)

More ideas on Web 2.0 and Changing the World

Now that the Stand Up End Poverty Now! event is over, I am taking another look at the potential impact that the World Wide Web and Web 2.0 tools can have on the world. My latest source is the Fast Company article Can Social Networking Change Our Political Consciousness?

Twitter, Facebook and the many other social networks that have emerged are reminding us exactly how small the planet is, and how seemingly mundane or personal issues (where you live, what you feel) have all kinds of ramifications.

The question of the veracity of this statement has its greatest challenge from Evgeny Morozov. I previously blogged about his Foreign Policy article. This time it is the TED Talk that he gave on the same subject.

TED Fellow and journalist Evgeny Morozov punctures what he calls "iPod liberalism" -- the assumption that tech innovation always promotes freedom, democracy -- with chilling examples of ways the Internet helps oppressive regimes stifle dissent.

This slideshow on How the Net aids dictatorships is also from the TED Talk. First off, everything Morozov says in the talk is in my view could be and often is correct, but I still disagree with his overall argument. In it, Morozov provides his own version of the Maslow hierarchy hierarchy for Internet involvement on slide 21 going from Have Fun, Talk, Share, Learn, and finally at the apex Campaign.

This can also be compared to the Groundswell Web 2.0 usage taxonomy. The difference is that the Morozov hierarchy is basically group-defined and the Groundswell is individual-defined. The top of Morosov's heirarchy is campaign - a group of people working on a common cause. The top of the Groundswell hierarchy is creator - which on the Internet can become collective creation.

Both also have important differences between the Maslow hierarchy in that both, especially Morozov's hierarchy, though he does not make the point, can be re-iterating. Morosov's Campaigners can use the lower levels of Learn, Talk, and Share. Those at the Learner stage have the potential of moving to the Campaigner stage.

Morozov speaks of KGB in the former USSR using torture to find out the means of communication between rebels. Now, Morozov complains that it is made instantaneously apparent on the Web. It is also, however, ubiquitous and there is nobody to torture or everybody to torture. When one person or a few hold to key to an entire organization that organization it is far easier to stop despite romantic ideas of the activist bravely standing up to the secret police. While it is true that dictators will try to find ways to stop dissidents using Web 2.0 tools, this does not mean that they have become ineffective.

A far more effective argument on this issue is made by Clay Shirkey the author of Here Comes Everybody.

Clay Shirky: Social Media vs. the Dictator
Clay Shirky - Clay Shirky is a professor of Interactive Telecommunications Program at the Tisch School of the Arts of New York University, where he teaches courses on the interrelated effects of social and technological network topology.
Full Program