Posts tagged “tool”

New Uses for Old Tools

Much to the delight of shirtsleeves, elbows, and dogs, our office complex is being repainted. Today the crew painted our doorframe. We noticed that they propped our door open with an old brush. They’ve downcycled this brush specifically into a doorstop, using a saw to cut off most of the handle. Check out how well it lines up with the angles of the entryway, as if it was designed just for that purpose!

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Stereotyping people by favorite authors – In our Reading Ahead research, we heard about how people were both exploring and communicating identity through their choices of reading material. Identity is a complex internal and external mechanism, where we (explicitly or implicitly) project outwards to imagine how we might appear to others…an internal act that feels or draws from the external. So the existence of lists like this, while tongue-in-cheek, validate that this process is real.
    (via @kottke)
  • Scott Baldwin on the fine art of listening – Try changing how you listen. Try to capture the message (listen with your ears, mind, eyes and heart). Make eye contact, use an open posture and be attentive to body language, volume, tone and pace. Look deeper than just the meaning of the words and try to understand the reason, feelings or intent beyond the words. Be empathetic, objective and analytical.
  • An iPhone app for ethnography – Really? I haven't tried it but I am not encouraged by the description. What we're looking for doesn't always fit into predetermined categories (indeed, how are you to be innovative if the type of data you are gathering is already classifiable?) and there's a danger in conflating data with insights (or as the blogger here writes "outcomes"). Raw data is overwhelming and takes time and skill to process, if you want to find out anything new. Now, we spend a lot of our time just wrangling (copying, renaming, organizing, sharing, etc.) all sorts of data, so I'm up for tools that can help with that; but I think it's easy to go overboard and create tools for uninteresting – or unreliable – research results
  • Lisa Loeb Eyewear Collection – Not an SNL parody ad from 1997, it's a real product line for 2010 (via @CarlAlviani)

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Twitter's suggested users for you to follow – This lacks any personalization and reinforces the unfortunate star system that (social) media supports, but it's a good example of a "how to get started" scaffolding that I've written about before
  • Jimmyjane's Sex Change Operation – my article on Core77 – We were invited to designer-sex-accessory firm Jimmyjane to learn more about their history and their approach. My thoughts on the company and its mission are posted on Core7.

    "Ethan Imboden worked an industrial designer for firms like Ecco and frogdesign, cranking out designs for everyday products (i.e., staplers and monitors), but grew to feel that he had something more to contribute. After starting his own design firm, he went with a client to the Adult Novelty Expo and saw bad design everywhere. He founded Jimmyjane as a response to that, and set out to use form, color, materials and so on to create premium vibrators. Now he's a visionary creative, with strong ideas about the Jimmyjane brand and how to embody those attributes across a range of products. Imboden fits the Be A Genius and Get It Right archetype we wrote about in interactions."

And the pundits cry “Lo, let there be a time of No Flip Charts”

Johnnie Moore calls for No Flipcharts

I would like to propose an International No Flip Chart Week. During this period, no one will leap up in the middle of meetings and attempt to capture what’s being discussed on a flip chart

I apologize for ripping on Johnnie specifically (as he is just my own personal tipping point of annoyance), but I’m getting sick of the rhetoric of New Thinking that the blogosphere (and the world of consultants) is bloated with. The formula is simple: take an widely held belief or established behavior and lead off with a screeching pronouncement about how it is untrue, dangerous or wasn’t ever true, or shouldn’t be true or used any more.

Flip Charts are BAD!

They are? I think the frustration is misplaced when directed at a tool. Meeting that are poorly facilitated, with unclear agendas, bad content, different unarticulated motivations for participation, and underskilled attendees – those are the problems we need to focus on. Not by forcing people to use or not use a tool because that tool automatically equates to bad behavior? I’ve been in my share of meetings, and I can’t really think of how the flip chart was ever to blame, or provided a temptation for a behavior that we wanted to avoid.

I mean, sure, you’ve got the dickhead who uses the marker and flip chart to control the meeting. But shouldn’t we get the dickhead out of the meeting (or, better yet, get me out of having to meet with the dickhead) rather than get rid of the flip chart?

So here’s my new proposal. Let’s get rid of the floors in meeting rooms. Haven’t you ever been in a painful meeting where there are no creative ideas or innovative discussion taking place? What else is there to do but tap your toes on the floor! I say, let’s get rid of the floors. Now when the meeting is going south you will have no other choice but step up (carefully) and use your own facilitation skills to get the group headed in the right direction.

You won’t ever be called on the carpet in front of the team, because there will be no carpet! There will be no floor! No floors! No floors! NO FLOORS! I urge you to join me in the new business movement, no floors, don’t settle for the bottom, move to the top, the floors have got to go back to the basement where they belong. And tell ’em who sent you – Steve Portigal with the Steve Portigal NO FLOORS movement. I am a genius. Please hire me. No floors!


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