transparency

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12 design thinking rules from David Burney


One of my business partners at New Kind, David Burney, is an exceptional facilitator of design thinking sessions. David introduced me to design thinking and the work of IDEO (where many of the concepts behind design thinking were developed and applied to the business world). David taught me everything I know about facilitating projects and sessions using a design thinking approach.

At the beginning of any design thinking project, David shares a set of rules that help get every participant on the same page. The rules apply to everyone (including executives) and help create an optimal environment for creativity. If you are planning to run a project using a design thinking approach, you might want to consider sharing these rules with your group before you get started. I’ve used this list many times, and I promise, it really helps keep things on track.

1. Avoid the devil’s advocate: The devil’s advocate is someone who (purposely or accidentally) shoots down the ideas of others without taking any personal responsibility for his actions. The devil’s advocate often begins his objection with the phrase “Let me be the devil’s advocate for a second…”. The devil’s advocate often intends to be helpful by pointing out flaws in an idea, but ultimately this focuses people’s attention on what won’t work rather than exploring unexpected ways that it might work.

2. Make agendas transparent: Every participant should make their personal agendas as clear as possible.

3. Leave titles at the door: No one person’s ideas are worth more than anyone else’s.

4. Generate as many ideas as possible: During ideation, you are not trying to generate the best ideas; you are trying to generate the most ideas.

5. Build on the ideas of others rather than judging them: If someone else has an idea you like, build on it. If you don’t like an idea, share another one rather than critiquing.

6. Stay on time: Don’t let your ideation session spiral out of control. Each ideation session should be timed and should have a clear ending point.

7. State the obvious: Sometimes things that can seem obvious reveal great insight from their simplicity.

8. Don’t sell or debate ideas: Selling and debating ideas takes time away from generating new ideas.

9. Stupid and wild ideas are good: Sometimes the craziest ideas lead to the best ideas.

10. DTA stands for death to acronyms: Avoid acronyms—they are exclusionary because people who don’t know what they stand for will quickly be lost. If you must use an acronym, write what it stands for somewhere everyone can see it. Keep a running list of all acronyms used during the project or session.

11. Always understand in which stage of the process you are: When you are ideating, you are not critiquing ideas. But when ideation is over and you begin the process of selecting the best ideas, you’ll need to discuss the merits of each idea in a more traditional, analytical way.

12. Play is good, have fun: The more fun you are having as a group, the more creative ideas you’ll generate.

If you’d like to learn more about design thinking and how you can use it in your projects, I recommend any of the following books.

From the amazing team at IDEO:

- The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley
Ten Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelley
Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation by Tim Brown

Other great books to consider:

- The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage by Roger Martin
Design Thinking: Integrating Innovation, Customer Experience, and Brand Value by Thomas Lockwood

Was this post helpful?

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Mozilla: A study in organizational openness


My theme this week is organizational openness and transparency and today I’d like to highlight a fantastic example of an organization that has built a culture with openness at its core: Mozilla.

Most of you probably know Mozilla as the organization famous for its open source Firefox web browser. But what you may not know is that open source is more than just a technology decision for Mozilla; the open source way is deeply ingrained in every aspect of its culture.

Last week, Mozilla Technology Evangelist Paul Rouget wrote a post on his blog entitled Mozilla Openness Facts. In it, he attempts to capture as many examples of openness in action at Mozilla as he can.

Here are just a few of the examples Paul shares (read his post if you want to see the rest):

1. An open door office policy: open source contributors are welcome to drop by Mozilla offices and hang out. In fact, Paul notes that he first met current Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs (before he joined Mozilla) when Gary visited the Paris office where Paul works.

2. Transparent financials: Sure, many companies publish their financial results publicly… because they are public companies. Mozilla isn’t, but still does.

3. Open meetings: No strategy behind closed doors here. Not only are many of Mozilla’s meetings open to the public, they often post the phone numbers (and even video conference URLs) on their wiki.

4. Public product roadmap: Want to know Mozilla’s future technology direction? No need to hire a private investigator, you can find the product roadmap on the wiki too.

Not all of these examples are unique to Mozilla and some of them are simply a part of being a responsible member of the open source movement. But what is unique is that someone took the time to catalog the openness examples.

It’s a fantastic idea, and perhaps something that every company that bills itself as open should attempt to do in a public forum.

I reached out to Paul to ask him a few questions about openness and what motivated him to compile the list of examples. Here are some highlights from our conversation:

First, I asked him about some of the challenges that come with openness and transparency. One of the points he made that resonated most with me is that “being open is not a passive task.” It isn’t enough just to make information open—you must be active about helping people find it.

“Open meetings are meetings where anybody can come. But you have to promote these meetings. Make sure the contributors hear about them. Same for mailing lists and IRC channels, open channels, but you need to find them… Just keeping the doors open is not enough,” says Paul.

Paul also pointed out another crucial lesson of organizational openness, that being open doesn’t mean everyone has the right to vote on everything.

“Being transparent and open doesn’t mean we are a democracy. We listen to everybody, but we believe that the most skilled people should make the most important decisions. And you don’t have to be an employee to be a decision-maker.”

Finally, I asked him why he took the approach of “showing vs. telling” in writing the post (which I loved, very esse quam videri). Here was his response.

“I was trying to define openness. I failed. Much easier to show. Everybody is talking about how transparent and open they are. Even big and closed companies. I say b$%^&*!t, they are not. They just use openness as a new buzz word and a new marketing thing. If you are open, show me your meeting notes, show me your source code, let me be part of your team conference calls, let me look at your metrics, and let me work with you.

I wanted to show that being open is much more than just being open source.”

Well shoot, that sounds a lot like what we are trying to show with opensource.com:)

Nicely done, Paul. Nicely done, Mozilla.

[This post originally appeared on opensource.com]

Want people to embrace the open source way? Don’t talk, do.


The June issue of Harvard Business Review features an interesting article by Roger Martin (one of the leading management minds of our time and author of the just published book Fixing The Game). The article tells the story of how Scott Cook, founder and current Chairman of Intuit, kicked off an effort to reinvent Intuit as a design-driven company.

I’ll leave it to Roger and HBR to share the story of how this initiative played out (hint: a very good case study of how to embed design thinking in the corporate world), but one particular lesson stood out for me that I’d like to highlight here.

When Cook kicked off the initiative, he did so by hosting two-day offsite event for the company’s top 300 managers. As part of this event, Cook gave a five-hour (wow!) PowerPoint presentation, during which he “laid out the wonders of design and how it could entice Intuit’s customers.”

As you might expect, the PowerPoint marathon didn’t go so well. From the article:

“But although the main event fell flat, the one that followed did not. Cook had met a young consulting associate professor at Stanford named Alex Kazaks, whom he’d invited to present for an hour at the offsite. Like Cook, Kazaks began with a PowerPoint presentation, but he ended his after 10 minutes and used the rest of the time for a participatory exercise: The managers worked through a design challenge, creating prototypes, getting feedback, iterating, and refining.

The group was mesmerized…”

This story illustrates something I saw over and over during my time at Red Hat and in many of the projects I’ve worked on since:

No matter how eager you are to get people to embrace the open source way fully—running projects in an open, collaborative, meritocratic way—you’ll have more success convincing people to try doing things the open source way when you stop showing slides and instead get them to experience the benefits in action.

The best way to learn about collaboration is to collaborate.

The best way to learn how to operate openly is to participate in a project run openly.

And the best way to see the power of meritocracy is to participate in a project where the ideas actually do come from everywhere.

So before you spend two weeks preparing a detailed PowerPoint (or OpenOffice) presentation to convince your management team to embrace the open source way, stop and think.

Is there a way you could show the benefits of the open source way in action? Could you run a hands on-project the open source way and invite those you are attempting to sway to participate?

In my experience, people will nod their heads at a presentation espousing philosophy. But you won’t really have their minds until they’ve experienced the open source way in action, and you won’t have their hearts until they’ve thoroughly enjoyed the journey as well.

[This post originally appeared on opensource.com]

Five questions about open source and branding with Alina Wheeler


A few years back, a good friend recommended I pick up a copy of Designing Brand Identity: an essential guide for the whole branding team by Alina Wheeler. Now in its 3rd edition, it’s a beautiful book, well designed and easy to read or to use as a reference. I recently caught up with Alina, who is finishing up work on a new book entitled Brand Atlas: Branding Intelligence Made Visible with designer Joel Katz. I asked her some questions about where branding and the open source way might be beginning to intersect.

CHRIS: I have heard that you often begin the continuum of branding with the 17,000 year old cave paintings in Lascaux, France. Now that’s historic branding! What are one or two key concepts in designing branding identity that have stayed constant and endured from a world of cave paintings to a world of Twitter, Facebook, and open source?

ALINA: Since the beginning of time, the need to communicate emerges from a universal set of questions: Who am I? Who needs to know? How will they find out? Why should they care? Whether you are on Facebook or in Shanghai or Charlotte, these questions are the same.

Mankind has always used symbols and stories to express individuality, pride, loyalty, and ownership. Individuals, communities and organizations express their uniqueness through their identity. Brand is identity. Competition for recognition is as ancient as the heraldic banners on a medieval battlefield. The battle for physical territory has evolved into competition for share of mind. The competition is fierce.

The power of symbols remains elusive and mysterious–a simple form can trigger recall and arouse emotion–whether it is emblazoned on a flag or embedded in an email. There is significant research about the purpose of the images in the caves of Lascaux. For me they are a reflection of what we are all thinking about now: communication, community, culture, meaning, survival, and navigation.

CHRIS: Now the opposite question: as we begin 2011, are there core branding principles you think have shifted significantly since you wrote the first edition of the book in 2003?

ALINA: The tools have changed. The fundamentals have not. Whether you are the CEO of a global consumer brand or a social entrepreneur, I believe that there is a universal set of principles that are fundamental to increasing awareness, attracting prospects/opportunities, transcending the clutter, and building customer loyalty.

The brand conversation has changed. We all know that now. The challenges have increased exponentially. The tools have become so provocative that they reduce our attention to the fundamentals: being customer centric, staying aligned with your vision and values, and staying differentiated in a world that is overwhelming in sameness and clutter.

The pressure to constantly update and innovate has polarized the world of brand builders. For some, it is an exhilarating time and for others a treadmill where you are running faster to stay in place. There are those who embrace marketplace dynamics and ignore brand fundamentals, and those who are stuck in their legacy infrastructures and business models refusing to embrace change and speed. Success requires embracing both.

CHRIS: Here on the opensource.com business channel, we often talk about how core open source principles like community, collaboration, meritocracy, and rapid prototyping can help businesses of any type–not just those building software. I love the detailed case studies you did in Designing Brand Identity. In your studies of leading brands, have you seen examples of these principles being applied in the branding world?

ALINA: I am eager to learn about new brands that are co-created with the customer or end-user. I believe that open source is the most meaningful and relevant methodology that will help us prepare for a new world: i.e. build communities that matter, collaborate more effectively toward outcomes that matter, and innovate because for survival, that matters.

Although open source is a fairly new idea to most brand managers that I know, it embodies the branding process ideal from an organizational development perspective. The biggest challenge on revitalizing an existing brand is frequently busting through the silos. How do we get IT to work with customer support and marketing to work together on behalf of the customer? How do we get different departments with radically different agendas to be part of the campfire around the brand? It is so powerful when there is a cross-departmental, cross-disciplinary collaboration to build the brand, and to deliver on the brand promise.

B Corporations are a new class of certification and classification for companies that want to collectively redefine success and to leverage the influence of their businesses to solve social and environmental problems. B Corps connect their executive teams with peers from mission-aligned companies.

The Charleston Parks Conservancy has a unique network of community volunteers called the Park Angels, who literally help care for Charleston’s 120 + parks. They have become the public face of the organization. The long-term benefits are for the entire city: building community and improving the quality of life, health and economic strength. Park Angel’s brand is visible on numerous platforms that connect people to people, people to the parks and to the bigger ideal of making a difference. This movement has instilled a sense of ownership and pride.

I believe that IDEO uses open source methodology in their product development work, although I don’t think they call it open source. They are renowned for letting customers/users be part of the product development process and routinely use rapid prototyping. Certainly their culture of creativity and innovation is a meritocracy. The Ripple Effect is a project done in partnership with the Acumen Fund and the Gates Foundation. IDEO collaborated with 22 organizations in India to develop new methods for safe transportation and storage of drinking water in India’s villages.

CHRIS: I can tell design means more to you than just a pretty logo. What is the strategic role of design in building brands today?

ALINA: Lou Danziger said it best, “Design is intelligence made visible.”  The best design is a result of strategic imagination, an ability to understand and align business goals with creative strategy and expression. While brands are about emotional connection, brand identity is any tangible expression of the brand. We can see it, hear it, watch it move. Designers play an essential role in building brands and creating unique and memorable experiences. Designers work to fuel recognition across platforms, amplify differentiation, and make big ideas accessible and understandable.

The best designers have an ability to imagine what others can’t see and to show what it looks like and what it feels like. Design is often overlooked in brand strategy meetings where rapid prototyping could benefit and accelerate the decision making process. Having designers shoulder to shoulder with researchers examining user experiences could jumpstart new solutions.

CHRIS: One trend we discuss regularly here on opensource.com is the trend toward organizations giving up some control over the direction of their brands to the communities around them. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Is this a positive thing? Dangerous? Maybe both?

ALINA: Brands exist because there are customers. Although that might sound like a blinding flash of the obvious, it’s important to remember that ultimately the customer always decides whether a brand will flourish or die.

Just like in any conversation worth having, there is a time to talk and a time to listen. Listening to the aspirations, desires, needs, and challenges of your core stakeholders is the most critical brand building competency.

I do believe that control is critical to brand success whether you are a start-up venture, a non-profit or a consumer brand.  Having values that don’t waiver. Being certain about why your organization exists. Being consistent about who you are and what you stand for. Taking the time to engage your entire organization in the vision and values. Creating places where conversations can happen. Building trust. Anticipating and fulfilling needs. Being transparent. Making certain that the brand experience is coherent and relevant.  These maxims are intentional. As more brands in the future are co-created with end-users, perhaps this notion of control will evolve to a more collaborative model.

The third edition of Designing Brand Identity is available on Amazon now. Alina Wheeler’s new book Brand Atlas: Branding Intelligence Made Visible will be available in April, 2011 and is available for pre-sale now on Amazon.
[This post originally appeared on opensource.com]

A State of the Union address delivered the open source way?


This evening, United States President Barack Obama will be delivering the annual State of the Union address at 9pm EST (if you want to learn more about the tradition of the State of the Union address in the United States, the White House has put together a nice video about the history and making of it here).

The president’s staff is trying out an interesting concept during tonight’s address. Here is an excerpt from an email sent out this afternoon with the details:

This year we’re trying something new.  As President Obama addresses the Nation, we’ll offer a companion stream of visual aids, including charts and quick stats about what’s happening in the country.  You can view this feature at WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU.

Immediately following the speech, stay tuned for our live Open for Questions event with policy experts from the White House answering your questions about key issues in the speech.

They’ve branded the event with the slogan “Watch & Engage” and have planned a whole week of events where citizens can participate in interactive sessions with government officials including President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebellus, and many others.

I’ll be interested to see how this plays out. Over the past two years, I’ve been excited to see many attempts within the US government to increase transparency, improve sharing of information, and create better forums for citizen collaboration. I’ve also seen examples where transparency, openness, and engagement are more spin than substance.

Which will this be? I’ll have to stay by my computer tonight and find out. If you decide to do the same, please feel free to share your experiences and opinions.

[This article originally appeared on opensource.com]

Does WikiLeaks damage the brand image of wikis?


Over the past few weeks, the world has been consuming the newest set of revelations via WikiLeaks. The uproar caused by the release of the first set of diplomatic cables from a batch of 251,000 in WikiLeaks’ possession is enough to take your breath away.

A disclaimer: in this post it is not my intention to analyze the positive or negative consequences of the actions of the WikiLeaks organization—there is plenty of that coverage, just check your favorite news reader every five minutes or so to see the latest.

Instead, I want to explore the impact that the WikiLeaks brand name is having/will have on brands closely identifying with the word “wiki”, and analyze whether WikiLeaks will impact the acceptance of collaboration and transparency initiatives within corporations.

My feeling? These are potentially dangerous days for wikis, collaboration, and transparency in the corporate world.

What makes this case particularly interesting is that, according to Wikipedia (of course), as of this month the WikiLeaks website isn’t even based on a wiki anymore.

[Read more of this post on opensource.com]

BetterMeans: a new app for running your organization the open source way


Last week I received a heads up about a new web application launching today from a company called BetterMeans with an impressive goal: to build the infrastructure (processes, technology, governance, etc.) to make an open organizational structure like we talk about here on opensouce.com a reality.

From their website:

BetterMeans.com is a web platform where people can start and run companies in a new decentralized way.

- Teams self-form, self-organize, and self-manage using an issue-tracking tool
– There is no management class, only natural hierarchies.
– Leadership emerges organically by users earning other users’ confidence
– Compensation is based on contribution
– Strategy and ideas are crowd-sourced
– There’s full accountability and transparency. Relationships are built on trust.
– Ownership is distributed
– Capital allocation and decision-making are decentralized

If a traditional company was a network architecture, it would be client-server.

We’re building a platform for peer-to-peer companies that are more agile, resilient, and innovative.

The video below explains what they are doing and why.

[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]

Apple, Google, and the open vs. closed positioning war


Over the last few months, the battle to define the meaning of the word “open” has intensified into one of the more interesting brand positioning exercises I’ve seen in the technology industry (if you aren’t familiar with brand positioning and would like to learn more, consider starting here).

I thought I’d do a quick report from the front lines, diving in specifically to examine the battle for smartphone leadership, and looking at things from a brand positioning strategy perspective.

Google Goes on Offense

Think back to 2009 and the state of the smartphone industry. The iPhone had completely redefined the entire market, while Google was just beginning to see traction with Android and looking at a long struggle to catch up with Apple.

While most other smartphone makers were attempting to catch up playing by Apple’s rules in the market Apple defined (usually a losing strategy in the long term when the leader has a solid head start), Google took a different approach—they tried what now looks to me looks like a classic repositioning strategy.

[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]

A community-building perspective on the Gap logo controversy


Over the last week, a handful of folks have reached out and asked me what I think about the events surrounding the launch, then crowdsourcing, then full repeal of the new Gap logo (if you haven’t already heard the story, catch up here).

Honestly, I’d been hesitant to comment at length, partially because so many articles were hitting the best angles already (take your pick of this one, this one, this one, this one, or this one for starters), and partly because somewhere inside I secretly wondered whether the geniuses behind the Gap brand are simply playing us as pawns in a New Coke-esque scheme of diabolical marketing genius (on that point, I still don’t think I know the answer).

While most articles have focused on the aesthetics of the logo itself or on issues surrounding crowdsourcing a logo effort (note to self: must… avoid… commenting… on… crowdsourcing… so… tempting), I’ve been wondering more about the strong reaction of the Gap community.

Specifically, why did the community of customers surrounding the Gap brand have such a visceral negative reaction to the logo change? Is it really that bad? The firm in charge of the redesign has a great reputation and deep understanding of the Gap brand. How did a project run by experienced brand professionals working with one of the largest consumer brands in the world go so wrong so quickly?

For me, the answer can be found in a quote I really love from outgoing Mozilla CEO John Lilly:

Surprise is the opposite of engagement.

[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]

Five questions about open innovation, open source, and NASA with Molly Dix of RTI


A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet Molly Dix and Jeff Cope, who run the Open Innovation Advisory Services group at RTI. For those not familiar with RTI, it is one of the world’s preeminent research institutes, founded by a group of scientists in 1958 and now employing almost 3000 people helping businesses and governments in more than 40 countries around the world.

I thought it was pretty cool to learn that an organization of RTI’s size and position in the research world has a group dedicated to open innovation. I asked Molly if she’d be willing to let me ask her a few questions about the way she and RTI see open innovation.

My questions, and her answers, below.

CHRIS: Open innovation is one of those terms that everyone seems to see a bit differently. How would you define open innovation?

MOLLY: We see open innovation as a perspective whereby an organization is open to building on thinking, research, and intellectual property (IP) from outside their organization, as well as being open to partnerships with outside organizations related to their own research and IP.

Thus, open innovation is a 360-degree mindset that includes both technology pull and push as avenues to improve the speed and quality of research, development, and product launch.  Successful partnerships are at the core of successful open innovation.

[Read the rest of this interview on opensource.com]

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