Tech companies have become increasingly adept at manufacturing desire, but to what end? Behavior designer Jason Hreha argues that the industry needs to seriously consider the impact of its products. Are we helping our users lead better lives, or are we making them compulsive, impatient and distractible? Read full article.
Entrepreneurship is the life blood of any thriving community; the more entrepreneurs that realize their dream, the better it is for society. According to Entrepreneur magazine, 84 Million Americans are currently or want to become entrepreneurs. This panel will aim to answer the question of how to make entrepreneurship accessible to the masses. While risky, any would-be entrepreneur, regardless of age, has a shot at making her dreams a reality. As more and more individuals have embraced this risk, the market is providing more resources than ever before. This panel will provide an in-depth look at how to leverage the existing frameworks that make entrepreneurship open, and brainstorm future frameworks that are needed to continue to support the dream globally. The panel of experts will provide case studies of entrepreneurs that have found success using these resources, how you can leverage it yourself and what drives the panelists to make entrepreneurship open to all ages and genders.
- How does one determine if entrepreneurship is the right “career path” for him or herself?
- How do you mitigate risk when pursuing a new idea and what are some practical ways to know when to proceed with it full-time?
- My idea has been validated, how do I take advantage of all of the great resources available?
- How do I find and select the best people to work with? What are some examples?
- What future frameworks do you think need to exist to continue making entrepreneurship open to the millions of would-be entrepreneurs globally?
Always great to hear Elon Musk speak. One of my entrepreneur idols. Not much new covered, but he does share some interesting ideas towards the end on other business ideas he finds interesting.
(via Marc Goodman: A vision of crimes in the future)
The world is becoming increasingly open, and that has implications both bright and dangerous. Marc Goodman paints a portrait of a grave future, in which technology’s rapid development could allow crime to take a turn for the worse.
Marc Goodman works to prevent future crimes and acts of terrorism, even those security threats not yet invented.
Scary and informative. Must watch.
Purpose-Driven User Experience
“I think so many of the objects we’re surrounded by seem trivial. And I think that’s because they’re either trying to make a statement or trying to be overtly different. What we were trying to do was have a very honest approach and an exploration of materials and surface treatment. So much of what we try to do is get to a point where the solution seems inevitable: you know, you think ‘of course it’s that way, why would it be any other way?’ It looks so obvious, but that sense of inevitability in the solution is really hard to achieve.”
Jonathan Ive, SVP of Industrial Design, Apple Inc.
The past two years, Apple has assured its claim as the world’s most valuable company and is on track to become the first trillion dollar company. In addition to raw tenacity and the visionary leadership of the late Steve Jobs, much of Apple’s “secret sauce” comes from their focus on user experience and beautiful design, lead by Jonathan Ive (pictured above). User experience is “the way a person feels about using a product, system or service.”
What makes Apple’s approach to user experience superior to others? I think the answer is simple - everything Apple does, including how it deals with user experience decisions, is driven by Purpose. Readers of this blog will know that GSD&M’s core focus when engaging with a client is to help them find their Purpose and excel. The Purpose Institute defines Purpose as “… A definitive statement about the difference that [the company] is trying to make in the world.”
Note that Jonathan Ive says “of course it’s that way, why would it be any other way” when referring to user experience decisions. How does Apple get to that point, and what is the Purpose that drives it there? Apple’s purpose is To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.
This Purpose assures that Apple is constantly aiming for the highest bar, no exceptions. Apple embraced and pioneered many user experience principals on its way to realize the Purpose - investing in iteration, prototyping, bringing metaphor’s into the user interface, the modality / app model, creating a 3d space, and continuity in experience.
We can learn from Apple that user experience is vital and can lead to a tremendous positive impact on a company’s long-term success. Because of the importance of user experience (especially in the past 5 years due to the Apple App Store), there is constantly buzz around new UX frameworks and subsequent refinements. Lean UX, which is based on finding product/market fit through customer development and iteration, is currently the go to framework. Before that it was Agile, and before that a more Traditional approach (see figure above). These frameworks are helpful, but in the complex world of user experience, the only way to consistently deliver a great user experience is to assure that all user experience decisions are driven by Purpose. Janice Fraser, one of the pioneers of user experience summed it up perfectly when she said, “You can’t A/B test your way to success.” The only way to assure that the correct user experience decisions are made it to know the core Purpose of the company and drive towards that Purpose with each decision.
To dig into the concept of Purpose a bit more, let’s take a look at Instagram. The Purpose Institute details the following key areas relating to Purpose:
- Purpose drives everything.
- Purpose is a path to high performance.
- Purpose fosters visionary ideas and meaningful innovation.
- Purpose moves mountains.
- Purpose will hold you steady in a turbulent marketplace.
- Purpose injects your brand with a healthy dose of reality.
- Purpose recruits passionate people.
- Purpose brings energy and vitality to the work at hand.
- Purpose contributes to a life well lived.
These can be directly applied to user experience decisions.
Instagram entered a very crowded space, yet has been able to attract 15 million+ users and was recently acquired by Facebook for $1 billion dollars. They did this by having a very clear Purpose. In the video interview embedded above with Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, he defines Instagram’s Purpose: To make it easy for everyone to capture and share beautiful photos. This is the difference they want to make in the world and in the lives of their customers. This drives all of their user experience decisions. You can feel the Purpose in every screen of their mobile app. While they ultimately land on the right user experience via testing and iterating, the question they ask before adding or removing a feature is: Will this make it easier for our customers to capture and share beautiful photos? Anything that does not contribute towards realizing that Purpose is ignored.
Referring back to the key points regarding Purpose from The Purpose Institute, let us see how having a defined Purpose helped Instagram.
- Purpose drives everything: It drives all decisions at Instagram, including what features they add or remove.
- Purpose is a path to high performance: Instagram tests new features weekly. They brainstorm new ideas at the beginning of the week, select one to test, code it during the week, and test it over the weekend. If the feature sticks, Instagram implements it across the full user base.
- Purpose fosters visionary ideas and meaningful innovation: Instagram is able to innovate and become the market leader in a very noising and old industry.
- Purpose moves mountains: Instagram did it with around 10 employees.
- Purpose will hold you steady in a turbulent marketplace: All startups go through the valley of death (perhaps multiple times), Instagram did as well and their Purpose helped them keep faith in challenging times.
- Purpose injects your brand with a healthy dose of reality: Instagram chose to focus initially on iPhone only.
- Purpose recruits passionate people: Instagram recruits the most talented people in the Valley.
- Purpose brings energy and vitality to the work at hand: Instagram uses its Purpose as motivation for everyone to work hard and for the community to engage with the company
- Purpose contributes to a life well lived: Instagram enriches the lives of all of their stakeholders - internal and external.
The future of user experience is becoming ever more complex - with new technologies like Google Glass on the horizon - it becomes even more important to know how to ignore the noise, and focus on the signal. Define your Purpose: Why do you need to exist in the world? The rest of the answers will flow. You will just know, because there is no other way.
Pixar story artist Emma Coats has tweeted a series of “story basics” over the past month and a half — guidelines that she learned from her more senior colleagues on how to create appealing stories:
#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.
#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on - it’ll come back around to be useful later.
#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
Presumably she’ll have more to come. Also, watch for her personal side project, a science-fiction short called Horizon, to come to a festival near you.
Here is an essay version of my class notes. Errors and omissions are mine. Credit for good stuff is Peter’s. Thanks to Joel Cazares for helping proof this.
I. Traits of the Founder
Founders are important. People recognize this. Founders are often discussed. Many companies end…
Good blog post from one of my favorite illustrators!
Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2011 - Always a must study.
This fact-packed presentation compiled by KPCB partner Mary Meeker explores and examines the significant trends shaping the Internet today. Backed by hard data and decades of technology analysis, Mary posits that the mobile revolution is still in its infancy and poised for tremendous growth. Her presentation also zeroes in on the newest breakout trends driving e-commerce, including the rejuvenating effects of local commerce, the global race to adopt mobile devices and apps, and the latest innovations in online payments. The evolving social space comes under Mary’s scrutiny as well. She observes that social networking is proving to be not just a powerful engagement model, but also a pervasive new wave of opportunity that spans the online experience. View the full presentation for a look at the digital trends that surround us in today’s increasingly mobile, social world.
“Here’s to the Crazy Ones” — the first of Apple’s “Think Different” commercials. But this one is a bit different. It’s narrated by Steve Jobs himself.
Pretty much the greatest thing ever.
Rest in peace, Steve Jobs.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” - Steve Jobs, 1955-2011
Rest in peace, Steve.
The Power of Curiosity and Inspiration
by Jack Dorsey Square and Twitter Co-Founder
This is one of the first demo videos of the Citi MasterCard + Google Wallet app. I like the accidental additional transaction in the demo. Whoops! It is kind of scary that you’re walking around with a digitized Credit Card. The hacker community is going to have a hell of a fun time with NFC (I’m sure plenty of security measures have been taken by the industry, but even then there are plenty of flaws that can be exploited on less-sophisticated phones and users).
Nonetheless, Google Wallet will be a game changer down the road. Good news for them, people have accepted giving up a certain level of control and information in exchange for convenience as apparent from the rapid adoption of online banking and PFM tools.
The whole “store your Citi MasterCard information in Google Wallet” is semi useless if you think about, as it just adds another layer. Tech like Google Wallet will eliminate plastic all together, and will turn the Credit Card companies into just Credit companies. The winner here may ultimately just be Citi and Google, not MasterCard. It will be really interesting to see how this all plays out and how the payments (and credit and debit) industry in general evolves over the next decade. I personally find it to be fascinating.
Read more about the integration. If your credit card company offered something like this and your phone was compatible, would you use it?
USFIRST.org aims to “transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”
Amazing organization. Founded by one of the most brilliant inventors of our time, Dean Kamen.
Learn more through their website and please give your support if you are able to!