Innovation Creates Value

Being a sailor in the British Navy was a hazardous experience, and sometimes still is! Sailors face many hazards but as it turns out, had the admiralty adopted lemon juice as part of a sailor’s diet, many lives could have been saved.
Continue reading “Why Did the Admiralty Dislike Lemon Juice?” »

The concept of today’s low power transistor was first presented in 1926 but at the time there were not the manufacturing processes to produce such a device.

It took over 30 years until a device could be produced in manufacturing quantities and, as a sidetrack, the bipolar transistor was invented along the way.
Continue reading “From Idea To Innovation – MOS Transistors” »

Interesting to read how the NY Times reporter always seems to be looking of utility in this man’s collection of mini houses built from scrap materials.

Sometimes it doesn’t help to jump to the “Judge” too quickly. Sometimes you just have to stay with the “Explorer” and see what else appears. Perhaps this man has the seed of an idea for making low cost houses – who knows!

Win Win

Facebook uses security checks to keep your attention on them

Continue reading “Win Win” »

An edition of Nova – Smart Materials airing in February 2011 showed how scientists have borrowed an idea from sharks to stop the spread of bacteria.
Continue reading “Materials To Prevent The Spread Of Infections.” »

In this Fresh Air interview with Brian May, lead guitarist of Queen,  he describes how the song “We Will Rock You” came to him.
Listen To The Interview

A short section of the interview

The full interview

The Story

Playing a gig in Birmingham, the group noticed the audience singing along with the songs. This was counter to Queen’s view, which was that Queen was a band to be listened to.
 Brian May (BM) and Freddy Mercury (FM) discussed the singing phenomena after the gig and concluded that they needed to respond to their audience. As a result two songs were born:

Producing the Effects of “We Will Rock You.”
  The two major components of the song are the singing and the foot-stamping. BM describes how, since there were no electronic tools to produce the effect, he had to invent a technique to produce the foot-stamping. The song was recorded in an old church in London. There were pieces of wood lying around on the floor and the basic sound was produced by people stamping on this wood. The effect was then multiplied by replaying the basic sound loop but with a slight displacement in time. This simulates the fact that if you were listening to a lot of people stamping at the same time you would not hear all the stamps at the same time because some people would be further away from you and the sound from them would arrive fractionally later than the sound from other people who were closer. BM based the displacement on prime numbers. If you don’t know the song then listen to the effect that was produced.
The really interesting thing about that is that a person like Brian May, capable of writing a tender song like “Who Wants To Live Forever”, also demonstrates an ability to use his analytical skills in the name of creativity to produce the sound effect.

How Might This Be Useful?  
This example offers a couple of takeaways:

  1. Listen to your audience/customers. This is not easy. It doesn’t mean giving them a questionnaire with bounded questions, but listening to their real needs and wants as they express them. Had Queen polled their audience and asked the question, “Would you like us to offer ‘sing-a-long’ songs,” they might well have received a negative answer.
  2. Treat the audience/customer as a partner. Given the egos of some rock artists it’s not hard to imagine that Mercury and May might have dismissed the singing of their fans, but instead they took note of it and used it as creative inspiration.

As a footnote, it’s interesting to observe that both these songs have become institutionalized for sports fans in a wide diversity of sports worldwide. All because May and Mercury listened to their audience.

As the cost of energy increases, at what point does it become too expensive to ship products from an apparent low cost source such as China to a consumer nation like the US?

Will this provide new opportunities for global design accompanied by local manufacturing?

Do people need time to think or does pressure create solutions quickly?

Continue reading “Pressure & Creativity” »

At the end of her entertaining video on the “Anti Creativity List” Youngme Moon closes with “get back to work”.

The obvious question this seems to raise is, when do you stop being creative and switch to “getting stuff done?” After all, ideas without action usually create no value. But maybe this is the wrong question. Perhaps a more appropriate question would be, how do you effectively blend the creative process and the execution process to increase value?

Continue reading “Creativity Versus Execution” »

Perhaps money is the only solution to this problem, see Patty Fisher article below, but I have to wonder if instead the needs of the library could be analyzed into a set of problems some of which could, perhaps, be solved by innovative solutions. For instance if staffing is a significant piece of the budget could the library be staffed by volunteers? If paying for utilities is a problem perhaps the library could only open during daylight hours – restrictive yes but better than no library.

Continue reading “Problem At The Library” »