“Google is an engineering company, and as a researcher or designer, it’s very difficult to have your voice heard at a strategic level,” writes Paul Adams on his blog, “Think Outside In.” Mr. Adams was a senior user-experience researcher at Google until last year; he is now at Facebook.
A simple list of 10 things I wish I'd heard when I was in college.
2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to start making things.
There was a video going around the internet last year of Rainn Wilson, the guy who plays Dwight on The Office. He was talking about creative block, and he said this thing that drove me nuts, because I feel like it’s a license for so many people to put off making things: “If you don’t know who you are or what you’re about or what you believe in it’s really pretty impossible to be creative.”
If I waited to know “who I was” or “what I was about” before I started “being creative”, well, I’d still be sitting around trying to figure myself out instead of making things. In my experience, it’s in the act of making things that we figure out who we are.
It's time to get inspired about idea execution. Check our shortlist of great videos that get inside the brains of exceptionally productive creatives.
At 99%, we try to demystify the creative process. To show you the real inner-workings of how ideas are made to happen by sharing the thought processes and creative practices of great achievers. Here, with the help of our readers, we've rounded up some of the best videos on idea execution from artists, writers, designers, storytellers, researchers, and chocolatiers.
"I've always believed in the strong connection between sound and vision. Music videos are like little slices of synchronous art, designed to please all of your senses. (Go ahead, lick your TV next time "Poker Face" comes on!) Every so often I delve into music making, but aside from the cover art for those releases my music has remained very separate from my visual design work. Now and into the future I plan to rectify this, and first cab off the ranks is a data visualisation I've had in my head for a while. The art of the mashup has come to the fore in pop culture of recent years, but beyond Biggie Smalls crooning over Elton's keys I feel that the general public understands little of the nuance that goes into constructing a complex mashup from tiny pieces of songs. In order to explain the layering and interplay that goes into something like a Girl Talk album or The 139 Mix Tape I decided to take my own mashup of Daft Punk's discography – Definitive Daft Punk – and reveal its entire structure: the cutting, layering, levels and equalisation of 23 different songs. By dividing up the sound data for each song and computing its appearance in realtime, the resulting visualisation gives you an understanding of the unique anatomy of this particular mashup. The entire piece is composed from the latest HTML5 and CSS3 technology (canvas, audio, transforms & transitions) so you'll need a newer browser to view it in. I recommend Chrome because it pulls off the best performance with my mangled code. All of the waveform and spectrum visualisation is performed in realtime, so your browser is rendering a music video on the fly! Hopefully it gives you a new insight into the artform of the mashup, otherwise you can just stare at the pretty shapes." @themaninblue
But in fearing the potential of the new business models, copyright holders offer a classic example of market leaders that fail to appreciate disruptive innovation. Clayton Christensen famously showed that, when faced with a new technology that threatens to upset a profitable business model, market leaders tend not to appreciate the full potential of the new paradigm.
On the surface, Malcolm Gladwell’s latest article for The New Yorker, “Creation Myth: Xerox PARC, Apple, and the truth about innovation“, is a story about the mouse and how inventions travel – and evolve – across time and place. But examined more deeply, the article is really about the factors that determine whether you end up with an invention or an innovation. Simply put: “invention” is the manifestation of an idea or creation of something new. It doesn’t become an “innovation” until it’s applied successfully in practice – i.e., it reaches the market and impacts people’s lives.
Think inside the (restless, curious, eager) minds of highly accomplished company builders. What distinguishes great entrepreneurs? Discussions of entrepreneurial psychology typically focus on creativity, tolerance for risk, and the desire for achievement—enviable traits that, unfortunately, are not very teachable. So Saras Sarasvathy, a professor at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, set out to determine how expert entrepreneurs think, with the goal of transferring that knowledge to aspiring founders. While still a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon, Sarasvathy—with the guidance of her thesis supervisor, the Nobel laureate Herbert Simon—embarked on an audacious project: to eavesdrop on the thinking of the country's most successful entrepreneurs as they grappled with business problems. She required that her subjects have at least 15 years of entrepreneurial experience, have started multiple companies—both successes and failures—and have taken at least one company public.
What makes people successful are their motivation, drive, and ability to learn from
Over the past year, I have interviewed the founders of more than 200 Silicon Valley start-ups. The most common traits I have observed are a passion to change the world and the confidence to defy the odds and succeed.
The fast and easy answer is “they are both important.” However, what if this is not true? Many companies have been successful by relying more on one approach than the other. We could argue that one approach is better than the other, depending on the circumstances. If so, then we need to look at the key factors that would lead one approach to be better than another. I have put the following matrix together to illustrate companies that have been successful using one or both approaches. I have also included a column for service as it has distinct differences from product innovation.
Via Gianluigi Cuccureddu
"The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued. So it’s much more about creating climates. I think it’s a big shift for a lot of people."
Since my book came out I often get the question, “Can anyone innovate like Apple?” The simple answer: While anyone can learn the principles that drive Apple’s innovation, few businesses have the courage to do so. It takes courage to reduce the number of products a company offers from 350 to 10, as Jobs did in 1998. It takes courage to remove a keyboard from the face of a smartphone and replace those buttons with a giant screen, as Jobs did with the iPhone. It takes courage to eliminate code from an operating system to make it more stable and reliable, as Apple did with Snow Leopard. It takes courage to feature just one product on the home page of a Web site as Apple does with each new major product launch.
“It’s the difference between thinking about beer and the experience of drinking beer,” says Rodriguez. Emphasizing the importance of the experience, he draws a corollary between Hamburger Helper and Dream Dinners, an organization that brings together working moms, providing them with a place to cook together and all the necessary ingredients. They leave with plenty of meals to freeze and thaw when the time calls. So while it’s essentially the same idea as Hamburger Helper (microwavable meals) Dream Dinners is selling a totally different experience.
“The very best stuff is designed around the experience,” he said. “Think of Disneyland, it’s highly successful because it’s a seamless experience.”..
Embracing what is, or how to fail like the world's most successful creatives. While failure may be an integral prerequisite for true innovation, the fact remains that most of us harbor a deathly fear of it — the same psychological mechanisms that drive our severe aversion to being wrong, only amplified. That fear is the theme of this year’s student work exhibition at Stockholm’s Berghs School of Communication and, to launch it, they asked some of today’s most beloved creators — artists, designers, writers — to share their experiences and thoughts on the subject. While intended as advice for design students, these simple yet important insights are relevant to just about anyone with a beating heart and a head full of ideas — a much-needed reminder of what we all rationally know but have such a hard time internalizing emotionally.
This month, PBS’s ART:21 premiered William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible — a fascinating documentary about the artist’s creative process, offering a rare glimpse of the genius behind the charcoal drawings, animations, video installations, shadow plays, video installations, mechanical puppets, sculptures, operas, tapestries and live performance pieces that have made him one of today’s most exciting and diverse contemporary artists.
The Rise of the Creative Class The rise of the Creative Class is reflected in powerful and significant shifts in values, norms and attitudes. Although these changes are still in process and certainly not fully played out, a number of key trends have been discerned by researchers who study values, and I have seen them displayed in my field research across the United States.
Recently, this proven practice has come under attack. In keynote talks at creative conferences and feature articles in business magazines, we’re told that UCD is dead--that the key to great innovation is ignoring what users want, and instead boldly showing them the way. These messages are seductive. It’s encouraging to tell ourselves that we, the innovators, know best, and Henry Ford was right to dismiss customers as folks who would simply ask for “a faster horse.”