Monday, February 7, 2011

Great ideas and where they come from

It's a little late to say Happy New Year but take it from me that, so far, it is proving to be a very happy new year.

EDLAPPCOM Ltd - the company we set up to look after our App business - now has it's own Digital Director who starts work in a week from now! And we have been working on some fun pilots in India and the US which have helped us to hone and further improve the functionality. If you don't know what I'm talking about, look here. I shall blog an update and probably run a Webex about it in a few weeks.

Today's post was something I stumbled on while browsing TED on YouTube on my exercise bike. It blew my mind. Our App is a perfect example of what Steve Johnson is talking about. We launched our first foray into 'online people watching' with P&G around 10 years ago. It was a little too clunky to use so we ditched it. And since those days I have experimented several times with online people watching. Each time failing to either make it work smoothly or make it pay. A quick point in case: with one of our experiments, households had to send tapes in which we had to transfer from NTSC (USA) to PAL (Europe) and then edit into clips. I think we lost so much money that our accountant had a breakdown.

Eventually we hit on something that worked. Really worked. And we didn't even build it for clients, we built it so we could work more effectively as ethnographers.

Watch this clip and think about your own organisation. In particular, the whole secrecy vs. open innovation debate.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post and the video tip, Siamack. I'm so glad you're staying connected while on your exercise bike! After viewing it, I saw the following on related, YouTube videos:
    It's Johnsons same presentation, but slightly condensed and graphically animated. This shorter version is the one I'll use in my Applied Anthro class to dramatize the relationships between "patterns" and "variables," among other things. Johnson calls his orientation an "environmental" one; but, by inference I believe we're looking at it as more precisely an "anthropological" orientation. Regardless, in addition to validating your App ;-), what I like is that, in light of his attention to protracted incubation periods of great ideas as well as the "liquid" nature of networks, he implies that, embedded in the inchoate patterns that we so love to observe in their living contexts, we can sometimes discern, if not glimpses of fuller development, then at least blueprints of their anticipated maturity. Johnson seems to be helping us argue that in the little "parts" that call our ethnographic attention are coming attractions of the "whole." He also does a good job of reminding us that we're more likely comprehend the content and trajectory of these trends by taking advantage of cool Apps and blogs like yours: "chance favors the connected mind."