Flying Lessons

gossamer condor v2

As brilliant as Paul MacCready’s Gossamer Condor was in design, the way it was designed may have been equally as brilliant. Made of Mylar, the team was able to quickly repair damages and make modifications following a crash. So yes, they crashed, but they also instantly corrected. That was 1977. How many of us are taking that approach today, making quick iterations part of our strategy, to see what will fly?

I’m glad you asked – here’s a link to a post I wrote on the topic in PMP News: Flying Lessons

Innovation: 9 Things to stop doing…

Forbes 9 Things article photo

Thanks Nadja Sayej for the article that appeared in Forbes, Dan Formosa On 9 Things to Stop Doing in Innovation. Following up on Google’s “nine principles for innovation,” here’s my list:

1. Stop designing things for old people
2. Stop saying “ethnography”
3. Stop making things simple
4. Stop coming up with answers
5. Stop listening to your customers
6. Stop talking to yourself
7. Stop fantasizing about women
8. Stop being so qualitative
9. Stop using so many Post-It Notes


Innovation4All, Oslo


4B Innovation4All blog photo_1680Had fun giving a talk, and running two workshops with Mike Jones at the Innovation4All conference in Oslo last week. Thanks to the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture, and the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at RCA in London for hosting the conference. The photo above shows Onny Eikhaug kicking off the conference.

I posted an article about the conference on the 4B site ( – here’s the link: Being Nice at the Innovation4All Conference in Oslo.

Why can’t we be more like Google?

Google logo_top half

Here’s a link to a blog post on innovation that I wrote for PMP News (Pharmaceutical and Medical Packaging): Why Can’t We Be More Like Google? It’s easy to find out how Google innovates – just Google it. Google’s Chief Social Evangelist Gopi Kallayil reveals nine principles for innovation:

1. Innovation comes from anywhere.
2. Focus on the user.
3. Aim to be ten times better.
4. Bet on technical insights.
5. Ship and iterate.
6. Give employees 20 percent time.
7. Default to open processes.
8. Fail well.
9. Have a mission that matters.

Nine simple, but extremely difficult, steps. There’s more in the PMP link above. For Kallayil’s complete 58-minute talk, click here: YouTube: Google’s 9 Principles for Innovation.

Raw for the Oceans wins Grand Prix at Cannes Lions

Screenshot 2014-06-24 11.35.34 Did I mention the award winners at Cannes Lions last week? We awarded the Grand Prix to G-Star Raw “Raw For The Oceans,” a clothing collection using a form of denim made from recycled plastic found in the ocean. G-Star Raw created it in collaboration with Pharrell Williams and Bionic Yarn. Other winners were Samsung’s “Food Showcase” refrigerator, Samsung’s “Galaxy Core Advance,” “Central Park Conservancy Receptacles” by Landor Associates New York,“Freedom Candles” for Amnesty International by Ogilvy & Mather London, Kano’s “Kano Kit” by MAP London, Not Impossible Labs’ “Project Daniel,” LELOi AB’s Ora Personal Massager, and Nest’s Learning Thermostat.

They can all be seen on Fast Company’s page: G-Star Raw “Raw For The Oceans” Wins Product Design Grand Prix At Cannes.


Inside the First-Ever Product Design Jury at Cannes


Here’s my article in AdAge, discussing the Cannes Lions jury gig. Lots of great designs were entered. Unfortunately, many suffered from a poor entry submission. They made the mistake of trying to sell us their products, rather than tell us about their designs. Or tell us why they deserve a design award. Still, a great showing for the Cannes Lions Product Design Award program’s inaugural year.

AdAge article



Cannes Lions

Cannes Lions photo

Just returned from the Cannes Lions festival in France. While this 61 year old program has historically been focused on advertising, this year marks the first time they have included a “product design” category in the program. My thoughts on why this makes sense – because big companies no longer own the media. We don’t buy things according to what companies tell us. It’s not the ads or marketing campaigns that represent the brand, the best that can do is boast their intent. But it’s the actual products and services that define the brand. And since we (as in “we the people”) now control the media, it’s our own messages that we refer to when making a purchase, buy-in decision, decision to join or to donate.


The turnout for the product design program was pretty good – approximately 200 entries in many different categories. And interesting selection for the jurors – talking cat collars to flying cars. Of the 200 entries, we were encouraged by the organizers to limit to awards to around seven. That included seven “Lions” and one Grand Prix.” Final selections involved some triage.

Working Backwards | PMP News

pmpnews_logoThe way we work obviously has a tremendous effect on what we ultimately produce. Yet many of us – designers, engineers and other members of product and package development teams – can fall into a work routine that in itself may be ready for a redesign. On that note, here’s a link to a blog post I wrote for the PMP News site (Pharmaceutical and Medical Packaging News). The post points to a YouTube video of Steve Jobs, from 1997, with a discussion that is still very relevant! Check out his “working backwards” quote, well into the video and just beyond the 52:00 mark.

Apple / Steve Jobs video, 1997

Working Backwards, PMP News

2014 New York Design Awards

2014 New York Design Awards logo

Happy to be on the jury for the 2014 New York Design Awards. Congratulations to all the winners at the award ceremony held at Steelcase last night. To get to the site and see the 2014 winners of the award, click here. This is the first year this program has been held in New York, and the response, judging from the number of entries, was great. Especially interesting was the wide range of entries. And the range of people and companies who entered – from start-ups to mega-corporations.


Unwound: Fishman’s “Fluence” guitar pickup – my article in Premier Guitar

Premier Guitar Fluence article pg1 200W

The team at Fishman Acoustic Amplification goes electric – developing Fluence, a pickup system that does away with traditional copper coil windings, instead “printing” windings for super-consistant results. Between that, their method for controlling the pull of the magnets, and equalizing the output signal, they have managed to consistently replicate the sounds coming from best pickups they could find. In addition, cable length and guitar volume have no affect on the tone – while eliminating hum! This is a radical departure from traditional guitar pickups, and the first true innovation in the 80 years since George Beauchamp developed the first electric guitar pickup for Rickenbacker. The article, my third for Premier Guitar magazine, is out in this month’s (Feb 2014) issue.

In addition to the print version the article can be seen online here: Unwound: Fishman Rethinks the Electric Guitar Pickup