Putting Creativity on the Whiteboard

Tuesday, 26 May 2009 07:37 by kpotvin

I'm a big fan of Jim Collins and his books, "Built to Last" and "Good to Great" so was happy to read an interview with him in Sunday’s  The New York Times.  Part of the story discusses where he spends his time.  On a whiteboard in his office, Collins posts these targets:

Creative - 53%

Teaching - 28%

Other - 19%

Reporter Adam Bryant writes:  “That, he [Collins] explains, is a running tally of how he’s spending his time, and whether he’s sticking to a big goal he set for himself years ago: to spend 50 percent of his workdays on creative pursuits like research and writing books, 30 percent on teaching-related activities, and 20 percent on all the other things he has to do.”

Collins actually tracks his time with a stopwatch and spreadsheet.  Do you like this model for tracking creativity?  How committed are you to creativity?

  

Photo:  Kevin Moloney for The New York Times

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Old is the New New (huh?)

Thursday, 26 March 2009 12:46 by kpotvin

In my BODYPUMP™ class (weight training to music), our instructor informed us she would be using "old music" so I was ready for rockin' 70s or 80s tunes.  Until she added, "These songs were popular about six months ago."  Wow.  That's a new definition for old.  That made me think of what that means in terms of new products.  A marketing piece in The New York Times earlier this week by Stuart Elliott was headlined, "A Strategy When Times Are Tough:  It's New!"  Contrary to what you might think, a recession can be a good time to announce a new product.  "One reason to stay the course on new products is that they can offer marketers new reasons to reach out to consumers when the impulse may be to pull back," writes Mr. Elliott.  Not to mention new products can bring in important revenue.  This strategy is echoed in Harvard Business Review's article, "How to Market in a Downturn" by John A. Quelch and Katherine E. Jocz.  They advise marketers to "contain costs" but say, "Companies that put customer needs under the microscope, take a scalpel rather than a cleaver to the marketing budget, and nimbly adjust strategies, tactics, and product offerings in response to shifting demand are more likely than others to flourish both during and after a recession."  So when "old is the new new" (or is it "new is the new old?"), now is the time to keep the new product pipeline full and marketing efforts engaged so your brand stays top-of-mind with consumers now and when the economy rebounds. 

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Find a Blue Room

Friday, 6 February 2009 12:02 by kpotvin

Who knew color could color your work?  A story in today's New York Times by Pam Belluck talks about a new study indicating the color red can bring accuracy to your work while the color blue helps with creativity.  One of the professors conducting the study, Juliet Zhu, explains, "If you're talking about wanting enhanced memory for something like proofreading skills, than a red color should be used."  But she advises to get into a blue room if you are in "a brainstorming session for a new product or coming up with a new solution to fight child obesity or teenage smoking." 

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All Things Change

Friday, 16 January 2009 09:26 by kpotvin

pe-1975-01-altair-cover-small.jpg

(Stan Veit/Digibarn Computer Museum)


Last night, after a UConn alumni event featuring Political Science Professor Howard Reiter, a fellow Husky and I walked through Cambridge's Harvard Square (in below 0 temps I might add).  There, I was reminded of just how much journalism has, and will, change.  A Cambridge icon is the Out of Town News newsstand which opened in 1955 and is actually listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  This is where Microsoft's co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen famously bought the magazine which inspired the creation of the company.  Even with such a rich history, times change and the newsstand is closing.  Martin Finucane from the Boston Globe wrote a terrific story on the newsstand, its history and demise.   It may be sad but it is not surprising.  The Pew Research Center recently released data that "the internet, which emerged this year as a leading source for campaign news, has now surpassed all other media except television as an outlet for national and international news."  While I dread the day when I can't sit down with a cup of coffee in the morning to read my delivered copy of The New York Times, that moment may come sooner than we think.  Anyone else still reading a hard copy of a newspaper?

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The Power of A Grassroots Movement

Wednesday, 5 November 2008 07:46 by kpotvin

 http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/gregwu/gGgLQf

Regardless of how you feel about the election results, one thing is clear:  The power of a grassroots movement is undeniable.

The 2008 Presidential election captured the hearts and minds of people like no other in recent history.  One friend in California traveled for hours to neighboring Nevada with her husband and two young children to canvas for Obama.  A woman I met this weekend drove from Connecticut to Pennsylvania to spread the word.  In Scranton, she was directed to three different locations until she found one that could use her help -- because the area was overloaded with volunteers.

When people feel an emotional attachment to an issue - or a company, or a product - they will go to great lengths to help it succeed.  We can take important lessons from the Obama campaign when it comes to building a grassroots groundswell.

Consistent Message:  In the end, Obama's message of hope and change was consistent and authentic, and strong enough to galvanize a nation.

Bold Strategy:  In an article in Monday's The New York Times, reporter Adam Nagourney wrote that the 2008 race for the White House "has rewritten the rules on how to reach voters, raise money, organize supporters, manage the news media, track and mold public opinion, and wage — and withstand — political attacks, including many carried by blogs that did not exist four years ago."  It's easy to stick with the tried and true but the Obama team rethought campaign tactics from harnessing the Internet to communicate and raise money (a strategy pioneered by Howard Dean) to recruiting volunteers as ambassadors for the campaign.

Discipline:  In any campaign (marketing or presidential), setbacks are part of the process.  The discipline comes from knowing how to react to them.  Do you rewrite your strategy every time you hit a hiccup?  Are you so in love with your direction that you won't stray?  Or do you stay flexible and nimble, recalibrating as needed like the Obama team?   Many say Obama ran a near flawless campaign.  I'd say he ran a disciplined one that looked honestly at what was working and not working along the way, making intelligent adjustments that ultimately led to victory. 

 

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