Henry Petroski, April 30th

Another interesting speaker coming to Northwest Ohio - Henry Petroski, Monday, April 30, 6:30 PM, Nitschke Auditorium, University of Toledo. "To Engineer is Human" is the title of the talk. Sponsored by the U of T College of Engineering.

Local announcements: (will add more as I find them)

To help me understand what Henry is all about, I did some research into what my user experience colleagues have said about him.

If Josh and Peter and Don have read him, then I think it will be worth going to see him.

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A day at Kent State, April 26

I will be spending Thursday, April 26th, on the campus of Kent State University, hosted by the wonderful folks at IAKM. I will be meeting with various groups throughout the day, but at 4pm will be my main presentation, an update to my "Applying information architecture to university web sites" (first presented at CASE V). I will also be meeting with the Usability I class in the evening.

A joke term we used when planning the event was Keith Instone Day - and that term stuck. I am kind of embarrassed to have my own day at KSU, but I do like the idea where experienced professionals spend a day on a local campus and share their expertise with students (and others).

I am also on the IAKM Advisory Board. Spending a day there seems like a good way to strengthen those practitioner / researcher / educator bonds (something I think IA needs more of).

Also, Karl Fast, who I worked with at Argus, will also be on campus, as he prepares to join the IAKM faculty. With Samantha Bailey also coming, another Argus Alum, it really should be Argus Associates Day.

IBM Technical Leadership Exchange

I am heading out to the IBM Technical Leadership Exchange conference in Anaheim today. (It is an IBMer-only event, so there is nothing I can link to for more information.) This is my first time attending this, so I am not sure what to expect - but I know it is BIG - lots of attendees. IBM has a lot of technical leaders, imagine that. I am not even sure I am really a "technical leader" - I feel more like a bridge between the technical and business leaders.

There are many too-technical-for-me sessions going on (like product certifications) but I found some sessions that I am looking forward to:

  • Case study using IBM products for an information architecture project
  • Several Web 2.0 talks, from how it is changing marketing, to how to do it on WebSphere Portal, to how QEDWiki will enable it
  • Future of user experience
  • Agile for the whole team

If you are an IBMer that is also going and want to meet up, then send me an email or look up my cell phone number and give me a call.

If you are not an IBMer, then ignore this posting..... (^:

More notes from Entrepreneurial Thinking conference

The Entrepreneurial Thinking conference was well worth it. I look forward to the next one on April 18th, 2008.

Alan Webber (adding to my quick notes)

  • He did not have slides, so this is what stayed up on screen as he talked: Expert on change and innovation in the knowledge economy.
  • Two things matter for business success: Innovation and Leadership. That is where you stand out. (The rest are important but taken for granted.) They are two sides of the same coin. Innovation: upset status quo to create new value. Leadership: guide/create positive change, master the art of change. That means the coin is called Change.
  • Three brutal facts of business life: Globalization, Technology, Human capital. My favorite quote (paraphrased): "Web 2.0 is a buzzword that means: If the work is not moving to India or China, then it will move to the web." Human capital - it really means "hire the best people." Interesting stat: The top programmers are 10,000 times more productive than average ones.
  • In the TINA questions, I of course liked the fact that "customer's skin" and "design" are next to each other. Good quotes: "Know your customers better than they know themselves," "Your web site instantly communicates your brand values" and "Design is a signal of intention."
  • The best question for Alan was about open systems. The old model of a great business was that you controlled everything within your corporate boundaries.

Guy Kawasaki

  • Worth the price of admission. Very inspiring. And funny. Great presenter. (Guy is one of the judges in SlideShare's World Best Presentation Contest.)
  • His talk was titled "The art of innovation" and it was very similar to his "art of the start" talks. There are several copies of his Art of the Start floating around - here is one on SlideShare and another.
  • Since some of his points were different, I will list them here., with short notes. (Update: PDF attached below.)
  1. Make meaning (the money comes from the meaning but you cannot make meaning just from money)
  2. Make mantra (not mission statements)
  3. Jump to the next curve (10 times better, not 10% better)
  4. Roll the DICEE (Deep, Intelligent, Complete, Elegant, Emotive)
  5. Don't worry, be crappy (ship and then test, but only revolutionary products can get away with this)
  6. Polarize people (if you design for everyone, it works for no one)
  7. Let 100 flowers blossom (spread it widely because you will get unanticipated customers)
  8. Churn, baby, churn (hardest part is shifting from "do not listen to the people who tell you it is impossible" before shipping to evolutionary mode - "listen to your users" - after shipping)
  9. Niche thyself (high value + unique product - high and to the right on the charts)
  10. Follow the 10/20/30 rule (for pitching ideas - 10 slides, 20 minutes of talking and then discussion, 30 point font)
  11. Don't let the bozos grind you down (innovation is about seeing the next curve, those stuck in the current curve will get in your way)
  • I now get the last quote in Guy's presentation, where he calls himself a bozo. "It's too far to drive, and I don't see how it can be a business." He interviewed for the job as CEO of Yahoo! when it was first starting, when it was only a hierarchy of links. He figures it was a 2 billion dollar "no thanks." Correction: I originally wrote "was offered" the CEO job - thanks Guy for clarifying that point.
  • One of the questions stumped Guy and set him off on a trail that mentioned his near-divorce and ended up with him buying his way into heaven, on a first class airline seat. I could not hear the original question, but it was something like "How has your coolness factor affected the impact that you have had?" Guy gave an Orel Hershiser answer ("aw, shucks, I am just a regular guy"). Not sure if he was referencing Orel since he went to BGSU or if Orel is some standard for humility.
  • I did not realize Guy was a hockey fan (seems obvious now from this cartoon). He was given a BGSU hockey jersey - I need a copy of the photograph of him and coach Scott Paluch for my office wall. Too bad we could not arrange for Guy to play some hockey during his visit (like he did in Minnesota in January). The guys I play with at BGSU had ice time Friday morning. The next time Guy visits, we will definitely have to get him on the ice and see if his hockey skills are as awesome as his keynote presentation skills.
  • Other things

    • I hung out a lot with the great folks at Hanson. Very nice to have them involved. Shared a lot of great ideas for nurturing the user experience community in the area.
    • BGSU is doing other good things. I did not take notes on this part, since I was eating, but from what I remember: A new program where a cohort of students go thru the business program with a cohort of multi-disciplinary teachers. A way for alumni to come back for "lifelong learning." A new WBGU-TV program of interviews with entrepreneurs, starring Martha Rogers. (I will blog this more as I learn more - or someone who knows the details can add a comment here.)
    • There are other events happening at BGSU this weekend, none of which I can attend. The one I really will miss is Oprah's dress (not).
    • Keith Trowbridge, Executive Quest, is quite the character - I attended the break-out session where he spoke. Stories ranging from how he got the curling rink built to the "BGSU mafia" to his innovative timeshare business.

    Quick notes from Alan Webber talk

    Most people were scribbling down Alan's 12 TINA (There is No Alternative) questions, so I will blog them first and do other notes from the Entrepreneurial Thinking conference later.

    1. Do you have the right kind of leadership for your organization?
    2. Are you playing a bigger game?
    3. Are you getting more than your fair share of truly great people?
    4. Is your culture about teamwork or "all for yourself"?
    5. Is your corporate DNA diverse enough?
    6. Are you living inside your customers' skins?
    7. Do you know what your company's design is saying about you?
    8. Do you know what your company stands for?
    9. Is technology a cost or a way of doing business?
    10. Is your company a talk show?
    11. Are you a fast company or a slow company?

    Update: Were there 12 questions or 11? I think I may have missed one. Also: Technorati tag: entrepreneurial-thinking.

    Service innovation

    Checking out some of my Innovation resources, I hit Business Innovation from BusinessWeek. "IBM" jumped out at me, leading me to:

    I knew that the Almaden lab was doing service research (excuse the legacy page design). The news here is the announcement of the Service Research & Innovation Initiative. Their first big activity appears to be a symposium on May 30th.

    Jim Spohrer, the IBMer involved with this, used to be active in HCI. Nice to see him move into the "business research" area.

    I see this as the natural progression in The Experience Economy (a book in my UX Zeitgeist). Stages of economic value: Extract commodities, Make goods (product innovation), Deliver services, Stage experiences.

    So when will we get the "Experience Research & Innovation Initiative"? I am kinda surprised "Experience Innovation" was NOT listed as a "next realm of business" in the NextD slash at IA.

    Breadcrumb Navigation Increasingly Useful

    I do not regularly read Alertbox any more, but this one was too good to pass up.

    People often think that when I defined different types of breadcrumbs that I automatically thought "path breadcrumbs" were a good idea or that I was advocating that breadcrumbs as a whole were mandatory. Not so - I simply wanted to define the various types so that information architects (and others) could talk about breadcrumbs intelligently.

    Jakob, of course, goes farther, saying location breadcrumbs are the way to go and they are worth doing.

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    Reaction to NextD

    "NextD takes a slash at "Findability Information Architecture" is a hot topic on the IA Institute member mailing list. Excerpts from IA’s Unidentical Twins (Revisited) [PDF - only long-term direct link that is available, ack] is the trigger. By GK VanPatter. The response has ranged from:

    • "#$%@ him, he is a moron."
    • Agreement on the basic points (since others with the IA community have been saying the same thing).
    • The tone and the inflammatory nature gets in the way of the message - there are some valid points but it is hard to address them because of the way it is written. Not exactly an invitation for conversation.
    • Where are these other "twins" like "Design 3.0" and "Human-Centered Innovation" and "Strategic Information Architecture" - e.g., show me the books to buy to learn about them.

    My reaction: NextD represents a view on IA I am not familiar with (I know about RSW of course but I do not recognize this "NextDesign Leadership Institute"). I try really hard to stay up on the broad touch points of the field, but this is a group / set of writings I am not familiar with. Most likely, I stumbled across NextD a long time ago but have forgotten that I ever saw it ("old fart's disease"). But now that I have found it, I am obligated to learn about it, understand what this NextD thing is about, find connections to my professional background, and become a better IA as a result.

    Here are the things I am doing in my spare time to learn about NextD:

    1. Read some of the other writings at nextd.org - hopefully they are more helpful and educational than the trigger article. The Journal has some interesting articles at first glance. Design 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 [again, only as PDF, ack] caught my eye.
    2. Find connection points to people I am familiar with: the interviews with Peter Merholz and Patrick Whitney look promising. Rethinking Wicked Problems [PDF, ack] is also interesting, since I just re-discovered Jeff Conklin (one of the fathers of the hypertext field) on my own.
    3. Scanning the blogosphere for posts that reference nextd.org.
    4. Like Richard Dalton has done, look into some of these "twins" that were mentioned. Not having much luck either - which I think speaks volumes. But I am not giving up. I have been trying to poke around in as much "Innovation" literature that I can - at least the part that connects with the human experience side of it. So I am probing my personal "Innovation network" to see where NextD fits in.

    All of this learning will take time. I will let others continue the conversation until I digest it all more.

    I would recommend 1 thing for the IA Community to consider: invite someone from the NextDesign Leadership Institute to speak at the 2008 IA Summit (Miami, Florida, USA, April 10-14). We have a history of giving our biggest critics a voice at our main event - Mark Hurst and Mark Bernstein are just 2 examples. Time to find our long-lost twins.

    IA Summit report on what matters

    Did not have any energy to blog during the IA Summit. Have lots of notes to go thru and share. But I want to do 1 quick posting on the one part of the conference that matters most.

    The people who are more than just colleagues and professional contacts.

    My highlights:

    • Argus family (the bonds are as strong as ever)
    • Being mentioned in Jess's emotional 5-minute madness. I am a very proud "older brother."
    • Being there to help Lou with his UX Zeitgeist demo and discussion. Worked together seemlessly like old times.
    • Kent State crew
    • Brian and Lincoln, two IBMers who hunted me down to introduce themselves
    • The folks who brought their kids, reminding us what matters more than work

    And of course, seeing folks I had not seen in a year. And meeting new people.

    I will report on the less important stuff later - what was presented, what I learned.

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    Quick Nexus wrap-up

    I had to leave the Nexus for change conference early today so that I could rest a little before my trip to Vegas for the IA Summit - need some energy to travel. Nexus was a great event. As a fellow IT person said at lunch - "I have learned a lot but I have no idea what it is yet." It will take a while for this intensive 2-days with the leading change methods experts to sink in.

    "Get everyone in the same space at the same time" is my over-simplification of what these professionals do every day. The conference was about getting them all in the same physical space, of course, but the conference web site served as that virtual place before and it will support the community afterwards.

    Although only a handful of attendees were into the "Web 2.0" thing as an enabler for getting everybody into the same virtual space for conversations, I was excited that most saw the need for better technology adoption by the group as a whole. Unfortunately, there was a missed opportunity for Nexus to hook up with a Web 2.0 talk that was happening on the BGSU campus at the same time:

    Technology Trends and Web 2.0, Erick Schonfeld, Business 2.0.

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