What is a human-focused organization? This question emerged on an email list and generated a ton of questions and conversation. The emails and replies got so thick that email just wouldn’t do it anymore. We had to move to video.
The questions that kicked it off:
What does a human-focused organization look like? What behavioral characteristics would you see? What do you think needs to happen to create one? Or change an existing organization into one?
A new kind of company is emerging. A kind of company that is more innovative, leaner and faster. Companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook, who seem to be able to operate at massive scale and still maintain the agility of a startup.
Fascinated by these fast-moving, agile organizations, I spent several years researching how they operate. I wrote a book that summarized what I found, called The Connected Company.
There are many components that make connected companies successful
If you know me, you know I hate traveling internationally. I mean, I like being in wonderful places but generally, I hate the process of getting there. That’s why I was excited to learn that business-class airfare doesn’t have to be expensive.
In 2001 XPLANE created an infographic visualizing the e-Business ecosystem which was one of the most downloaded things on their site. I’m still proud of this diagram and it is still valid today.
Download the e-Business Ecosystem (PDF).
Squiggle birds is a quick exercise that you can use to get people stretching their visual thinking muscles. It takes about five minutes and quickly, clearly demonstrates how little effort is really required to make meaningful, easy-to-read images. The main point of the demonstration is that our minds are already pattern-making machines, and very little drawing is actually required to convey an idea. The mind will fill in the rest.
I learned this exercise from my friend Chris Glynn, a
I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Paul Chaplin of the Konica Minolta Business Innovation Group. This was one of three interviews on innovation. The published interview, which is edited, can be found on Vimeo.
Below is the unedited interview which goes into more depth.
The future is podular, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.
One of the most difficult challenges companies face today is how to be more flexible and adaptive in a dynamic, volatile business environment. How do you build a company that can identify and capitalize on opportunities, navigate around risks and other challenges, and respond quickly to changes in the environment? How do you embed that kind of agility into the DNA of your company?
Many thanks to Thomas Vander Wal for the many conversations that inspired this post.
The average life expectancy of a human being in the 21st century is about 67 years. Do you know what the average life expectancy for a company is?
Surprisingly short, it turns out. In a recent talk, John Hagel pointed out that the average life expectancy of a company in the S&P 500 has dropped precipitously, from 75 years (in 1937) to 15 years in a more recent study. Why is the life
Information shadows and spimes, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.
In his book Smart Things, Mike Kuniavsky talks about the information shadow as an essential element of a smart thing. The information shadow is the information that's associated with an object such as its name, number, position in space and time, and so on.
Metaphors also help people understand new services by linking the new to the familiar. For example, RFID was first introduced as the next generation of the b
The nib cursor, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.
I love my iPad, but the finger-only interface has been a continuing frustration for me. As an artist and designer, I want to do things that I can easily do with a pen and paper, like write, scribble and sketch. But these are not things we typically do with our fingers, any more than we eat soup or salad with our fingers.
Apple apologists will say that you can sketch and write with the iPad, and indeed we can. Yes, and indeed w
Anatomy of a smart thing, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.In his book Smart Things, Mike Kuniavsky quotes a Scientific American article from 1991, where Xerox PARC's then CTO Mark Weiser laid out the vision for ubicomp:
"[Ubicomp is] the idea of integrating computers seamlessly into the world at large ... not simulating the world so much as enhancing the one that already exists ... [most of them] will be invisible in fact as well as in metaphor ... These machines and more w
Metaphor, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.
In his book Smart Things, Mike Kuniavsky suggests metaphor as a tool for thinking through ubicomp designs and interactions. By mapping one category onto another we can discover new insights -- among other things, it's a way to trick the mind into seeing old things in new ways.
Organizational metaphors (ways of organizing services) include the factory, the public utility, parallel universes and so on.
Ubicomp Sketchbook, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.
In a recent post titled Ubuquitous Service Design, Peter Morville raised some interesting questions about how we might design for a world where everything is, or potentially can be -- smart. A world where your refrigerator knows what you had for lunch and when the lettuce will be out of date. A world where your car gives you suggestions for getting better gas mileage or tells you a better way to get where you're going.
Nancy Duarte is the founder of Duarte Design, one of the world’s leading presentation design companies. She just published a new book on storytelling for presentations, called resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences, which follows hot on the heels of her recent book slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations, a critically-acclaimed book on presentation design. I recently had a chance to do a short interview with Nancy about her new book.
Here's a sneak peek at my upcoming workshop "Visual Thinking for User Experience" which I'll be giving at UI15 (Boston, Nov. 8-10).
Description: New workshop on effectively communicating design ideas Wireframes don’t help us with the Why, only the What of our designs. Dave’s simple sketching techniques are powerful tools for communicating your design's rationale. You’ll learn solid strategies for visualizing your ideas, which will help you identify issues while creating gr
Effective this morning, XPLANE is joining the Dachis Group, the world’s leading social business consultancy, as a wholly-owned subsidiary. I want to take a moment to share what this means for XPLANE and our customers, and why I am excited about it.
Initially, the only change employees and customers will notice is the Dachis Group logo on our home page. XPLANE will continue to serve customers just as we have for the past 15 years.
The design philosophy of the AK-47, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.In a recent roundup of thoughts from the Interaction 10 conference, Jan-Cristoph Zoels wrote:
"Unfortunately [Dave Gray] illustrated his engaging talk with a glorification of the AK47 as a ‘powerful tool of change’. His agnostic design philosophy hides an ethical ambivalence and repositions designers as hired hands of industry who do whatever is needed – even weapons of mass destruction. Can’t we find ethic
ExcerptOSSSabotageManual, originally uploaded by @bfchirpy.
Thanks @bfchirpy for this little gem. How many of us have engaged in one or another of these activities over the years, without thinking of the long-term damage we were causing to the health of an organization we probably joined voluntarily?
Mr. Fixit, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.
Reason is a dangerous, two-edged sword. It can be seen as Newtonian thinking in a quantum world; a cause-and-effect approach in a world that's more complex than that. In relation to that concept I'd like to make two points, one about humanity and the other about reason.
The idea that we are somehow logical, rational or reasonable creatures is a broadly accepted one, yet under close examination it appears
Working on the workshop, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.
I recently got an email from a teacher who wanted to know how she could help her students develop better presentations. I've been meaning to write down my method for awhile now and rather than write one email I thought I'd put it into a blog post.
When I develop presentations I like to use index cards to sort through ideas. Sometimes I use a bottom-up approach, sorting and sifting through myriad ideas until the best on