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This is a fantastic presentation about Dan Pink's new book, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko.  I wrote about the book in a previous post.  If you don't read the book, you should take a look at this presentation.  It's well designed (by a master) and presents the essence of the book.

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Is Innovation an exercise in creativity or synthesis? A post by the Innovating to Win blog lays out a compelling argument that:

The vast majority of innovation is not driven by pure creation; it
is driven by synthesis, a particular form of creation that builds on
the existing to make something which is new.

I’d like to add that innovation is driven by synthesizing
interdisciplinary ideas as well as synthesizing the old and new.  So to
extend Todhunters point, innovation can be driven by the synthesis of seemingly unrelated ideas that builds on the existing to make something which is new.

Innovating To Win: Is Too Much Creativity Killing Innovation?

From the Heart of Innovation Blog comes a great list of 100 ways to be more creative.  My personal favorites are:   

  • Present your biggest challenge to a child (I can’t wait to see what my 5 year old comes up with).
  • Schedule time with the smartest people at work.   
  • Ask five people how they would improve your idea.

The Heart of Innovation: 100 Simple Ways to Be More Creative on the Job

The title and simple cover art of Dan Roam’s new book The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures drew me right in (pun intended).  My drawing skills are in a word–bad, and I thought, "If this book can help me to to draw like that, I want to read it."

Well, the  book didn’t transform me into an artist. In fact, it probably had no effect on my (in)ability to draw even the simplest of stick figures.  An abundance of drawing books exist to help the average person become a better drawer. Roam’s book, however, focused on using drawings (even the most rudimentary of drawings) to help solve problems.  So, even though I did not come away a better drawer, I did learn how to use drawing as a tool.

The Back of the Napkin combines three frameworks to create a powerful problem-solving and communication tool.  The three frameworks are:

  • SQUID (or SQVIΔ): A series of questions to help clarify and direct focus on an idea.   SQUID is a mnemonic for

Simple vs. Elaborate
Quality vs. Quantity
Vision vs. Execution
Individual Attributes vs. Comparison
Delta (Δ) or Change vs. Status Quo

Each of these continuums can be communicated using a set of pictures.  Roam spends some time explaining how best to communicate each of the dimensions above.

  • Visual Thinking Frameworks: A group of six drawing types and what they communicate.  They are tightly connected to the six types of questions:  Who/What, How Much, Where, When, How, and Why.  A Timeline, for example, best answers "when?"
  • "The Visual Thinking Codex": This framework puts everything together.  Roam describes it as "a master list of problem solving pictures."  It takes the SQUID Questioning and Overlays it with the Visual Thinking Framework.  An example: Answering the question of "What?" using a Simple (the ‘S’ from SQUID) focus would be different than answering the same question using a focus on change (the ‘D’ from SQUID).

This Codex is not complicated, yet it provides a usable framework for analyzing any problem.  Almost a third of the book is dedicated to running through a real-life example of how to use the Codex. Roam’s description of his approach combined with the case study provides a usable decision making tool that can easily be used after reading The Back of the Napkin.

Bottom Line: I closed the book with more courage to use drawings and a better understanding of how to use them to solve and communicate problems.

I just finished reading The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need by Daniel Pink.  Not your run of the mill career guide.   Pink (the author of one of my recent favorite books A Whole New Mind), writes this career guide in the form of a manga.  The book took me about 1 hour to read, but don’t let that fool you–it’s packed with insightful lessons  (6 lesson to be exact).   

The story’s protagonist Johny Bunko is in  a dead-end job.  His boss sucks, his work is uninspiring, and his talents are not being utilized. Diana, a modern-day genie, appears after rubbing some chopsticks and sets Johnny straight with six quick lessons.   If you are not into fun books and don’t have an hour to spare, just turn to the last page for a list of the lessons.  But It’s a quick read, so I recommend  investing the hour or so to read from the beginning.

This is not a book about how to find a new job or even how to determine the optimal job for you.  It is a book about how to approach your career.  The first lesson, "There is no plan" helps frame the context for the rest of the lessons.  Basically, career plans are too simplistic and rarely stand up to the twists and turns of a career.  Accentuating one of the main premises of A Whole New Mind, Diana the Genie explains that the idea that we can plan out a career with any smidgen of accuracy is

…a fantasy.  The world changes. Ten Years from now your job might be in India.  Your industry might not even exist.

The other five lessons are equally insightful and fun.  Although I presume that  this book was written for those at the beginning of their career, the six lessons are very useful for those of us closer to the middle of our careers as well. 

Thanks for another insightful and useful book Daniel Pink!

I can't tell you how many times I've been in the car and a new idea comes to mind, or an email I need to write nags at me, or I remember I have to pick something up at the store only to lose these thoughts in the abyss of my scattered brain.  I'm not one to multitask in the car, so I don't like writing things down while I'm driving.  I don't  like sending myself voicemails, because my thoughts always end up piling up in my saved messages never to be heard from again.  I just never really found a great way to deal with remembering fleeting thoughts–it's just not one of my strong points.

Well, I have now found a way to keep my thoughts accessible. I Jott it.   

Jott Networks, the company behind Jott (it's still in beta), describes their service as

….a revolutionary new service that automatically converts your
voice into e-mail and text messages—anytime, anywhere, with any cell
phone. Jott™ makes you more productive and efficient by capturing your
ideas, notes to self, tasks, and more without using your keypad.

Sounds simple.  It is.  You call a toll free number,  the system asks "Who do you want to Jott?"  You tell the nice voice who you want to Jott (yourself, your buddy, your associates, or a link), then you say what's on your mind.  Magically, an email or text message is sent to you or whomever you sent the JOTT too with the exact same words you spoke into the phone–in usually less than 3 minutes.

Setting up Jott

Setting up Jott is a breeze.  Once you have an account, all you need to do is give them your phone number so they know who you are when you call.  You can also add your contacts (and groups of contacts) so Jott can send your messages to your friends, family, and business associates.   That's it.   Call Jott tell them who you want to Jott, speak your mind, and wait for the email.

Not just emails

One of the most powerful aspects of the Jott service is that it has been mashed up with other services.  In effect, Jott can be your intake engine for blogging, your to do list, or even shopping.  Jott calls these mashups "links."  I have links setup with twitter, Remember the Milk, Sandy, and this Typepad blog. 

Sandy, a web service that bills itself as a personal assistant is whom I most frequently Jott.  Whenever I have a task, birthday, or phone number I want to remember, I Jott it to Sandy and Sandy takes care of the rest.

Some of the other links that Jott has setup include:

How I use Jott
I probably use Jott 5 to 10 times a day.  I jott myself whenever I have an idea or a note I want to remember.  When I jott something to myself, the transcription is waiting for me in my gmail the next time I check it.   I'll then either act on the idea or store it away for future reference.

I've also started to Jott my friends.  Although I have been using Jott for about 6 months, I only recently realized that it's a great tool to SMS friends.    I'm not very good a texting-I can talk though.  So, jott is so much better for me than texting with my fingers.

Future of Jott

I think Jott is absolutely fantastic.  Period.  I recommend it to anyone who needs a little help remembering things.  I do have one major question about Jott though.  What is their business model?  Today the service is absolutely 100% free.  I'm worried, however, that one month, two months, six months down the line they are going to ask me to pay them for something that I've become accustomed to getting for free.  It is so useful, but I haven't attached a monetary value to it yet.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see.  At some point, they are going to have to find ways make money, and I can't think of any other way besides charging their customers…

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here at GoldenInsights.  I haven’t been thinking a lot about business process analysis, and so I haven’t really been inspired to write about it either.  My newish job is less about business process analysis then my previous job.  At any rate, I have not been focusing on BPM in my day job, so I don’t have much to say about BPM right now. 

That shouldn’t keep me from posting, right?  I do have some things that are inspiring me to write, such as personal productivity, social networking, and the miscellany of books I am reading.  I am excited about some "Web 2.0" applications that I’ve been trying out, and I have found a bunch that I’ve been able to seamlessly integrate into my work and personal life.  Some of them have not worked for me.  I’d like to write about them.  Also, I’m going to start an MBA program online–I’d like to write about that too. 

I’ve received some positive reinforcement about my blog over the last year, and I appreciate the feedback.  I hope that those who are subscribed to GoldenInsights will continue to read what I have to say even though my focus is changing.  As always, I welcome your comments at GoldenInsights, and look forward to creating a dynamic conversation…