The Dance of the Possible

I’ve read a few books over the years about creativity and innovation and it is part of numerous posts on this site. Scott Berkun just released his latest book entitled, The Dance of the Possible: the mostly honest completely irreverent guide to creativity which I just bought and read today.

This is probably best, fast, focused book on the ideas around creativity that I’ve read:

We spend so much time trying to be efficient that doing anything interesting feels like a waste of time. And in this tendency is another misconception: creativity is rarely efficient. It always involves taking chances and trying things that might work but might not.


To create means to make something new, at least for you, and to do something new is like going off of the map, or more precisely, deliberately choosing to go to a part of the map that is unknown.

I especially liked the idea of writing down your ideas. I remember one of Tom Clancy’s books, I think it was Executive Orders, where there was the repeated line that ‘if you don’t write it down, it never happens’ and then that becomes a key part of the story development. Loved it. I write a lot and take notes as much as possible and I save lots and lots of notes, clippings, articles, etc. for future reference. Love this.

But I know that if I don’t write it down, I’ll never get a second chance to evaluate it again. Despite my convenient hope that I’ll remember it later without writing it down, I know, scientifically, that I’ll likely forget it, and forget that I forgot it.

and finally, this comment about just doing the work required to get it done.

The simplest habit is to work on your project every day.

If you are looking for a fast refresher on creativity and how to think about creativity, this is a great place to take a look. Recommended.





Steven Johnson in his book Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation used the word exaptation to describe new uses for existing solutions. The word has a biological background and use, but it can be applied to anything. I’ve written about this book before on a post about being cross disciplinary and spreading good ideas.

David King has started a new company called Exaptive which is doing work with a tool and methods designed from the ground up to facilitate leveraging ideas, methods, solutions and data across different disciplinary areas. Very interesting. You can follow their blog here.

Learning to Drive

I missed this thought.

Tesla is rebooting their autonomous driving vehicles and re-teaching them how to drive. Wired has this great article about the changes.

They’ve rolled out a new architecture which uses a very different sensor strategy,” says Tim Dawkins, an autonomous car specialist at automotive tech research company, SBD. “They needed to spend a little time building up their base data before they were able to release the same level of functionally as they had with hardware version 1.0.”

The first iteration of Autopilot relied on a single camera made by Israeli supplier Mobileye. The new setup uses eight cameras, dotted all around the car, feeding an in-house Tesla Vision system. The 12 ultrasonic sensors have been upgraded, the radar is improved. A new on-board Nvidia computer is 40 times more powerful than its predecessor, and runs the necessary artificial intelligence software.

and here is the money quote:

Where a conventional automaker might do that training with qualified drivers in controlled environments, or on private tracks, Tesla used its customers. It pushed fresh software to 1,000 cars on December 31, then to everybody in early January. That code ran in what Tesla calls Shadow Mode, collecting data and comparing the human driver’s actions to what the computer would have done. That fleet learning is Tesla’s advantage when it comes to educating and updating its AI computers.

“This is the uniquely Tesla approach, in the way that they have their consumers build up that rich data set, from which they can train up their AI,” says Dawkins.

Of course. Why didn’t I think of that. I mean, I didn’t have to go do it, but just consider the idea. The car is full of sensors and why not let the car shadow read drivers for a season and learn how real drivers deal with real situations that appear on the road?

Better than rules based. Learn from those who already know how to drive.

You need cars with the sensors. You need a connected car back to Tesla/cloud. And you need lots of drivers driving through all different conditions. Rain, snow, fog, fast, slow, city, suburb, rural, interstate, toll roads, bridges, tunnels, parking garages, etc.


ERP and the Innovator’s Dilemma

A few weeks back I made some notes as I was thinking about the Innovator’s Dilemma and its relation to ERP and the big ERP vendors of today (SAP and Oracle). The Innovator’s Dilemma comes from Clay Christianson’s book entitled  The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business which develops the idea of disruptive innovation.  A disruptive innovation is a new idea or innovation that disrupts or destroys or replaces an existing market.

The existing leaders in the ERP space make a lot of money on selling licenses and maintenance for their products. Most of the major companies of the world are running on their software quite successfully and many a CIO have risen and fallen based on projects with these systems.

The problem is that as new technology comes along (, Workday, etc.) it is hard for these leading current companies to make the shift to these new ideas. The reason is that they are getting their income and their leadership from the old way of doing things and the new way brings risk and uncertainly and perhaps not a leadership position. The old ways created careers for the people who need to make the decision to pursue the new.

I figured someone has to have written on this before and sure enough I found several posts online saying the same. See Techcrunch’s article entitled Great Acquisition! Now Put A Fork in ERP and Innovator’s Dilemma at its Finest – SAP, Oracle and the Cloud. And I wrote about the Changing Landscape of Enterprise Software before too.

The same thing is happening in storage with existing large storage vendors seeing lots of start-ups and new ideas being developed. Perhaps the same with PCs and the rise of tablets and smart phones.

Disruptive innovation.

[wrote this post long ago and it never got published for some reason…]



Sharing a Few Good Articles

Over the last few months, I’ve been tweeting lots of articles that I’ve read that I’ve found to be particularly interesting. You can see the latest ones in the twitter log to the right. However, here are a few that I’ve not shared that merit some review and don’t fit so well in a tweet.

  1. From Fast Company, the 100 Most Creative People in Business 2012 and here is an article about that article.
  2. There is a great post on HBR called Breaking the Bad Data Habit which is a great reminder of several points. First, make sure you are getting data from the system of record for your organization, not someone’s spreadsheet or something someone heard in the hall. Second, always cite your source in your slides or documents. If you see a presentation which does not do this then challenge the material. Finally, if the data is wrong then stop and find the right data.
  3. There is a wonderful article about culture and Creating An All In Culture. Transparency and lots of communication are key. Tell the good, the bad and the ugly. Enlist everyone’s help to get better.
  4. Velocity is the only innovation out come that matters.  The pace of change is getting faster. Get used to it.

Like I said, I mostly post these kinds of things on twitter but today I thought I share a few good ones here. Also, I’ve added a few good books to the reading list page.

Comments always welcome.


Another Way To Do It

When I have the opportunity to visit with key suppliers or with another IT leader, I love to hear how others are doing the same things that we do. I don’t ever want to think that we’ve got the perfect solution and that our way is THE way to do it. I feel this so strongly that I tell some IT vendors that if they think we are doing it wrong, or they’ve seen a better way or if we just don’t get it, that I expect them to speak up and tell us. I want and need to hear all the good ideas I can find and then we need to put them into the mix to address our problems.

Usually, it is not a big deal when companies choose different email systems. However, it is a completely different matter to see a company use an entirely different process from yours that still gets them to a similar end point. When another group tackles the same problem you have and they solve it in a completely different manner, then likely you can learn from that difference.

IT leaders have got to seek out these learning opportunities.

IT runs the risk of pouring concrete everywhere including in their own minds. Decisions made years ago, based on conditions then, may no longer be relevant or correct, but the decision was made and IT has made up its mind. Instead, we’ve got to be plugged into ideas from conferences, from colleagues and from on-line resources. We’ve got to challenge our own IT thought leaders to challenge each other and keep plugged into what is going on out there.

I frequently see articles about how to have an innovative culture, but perhaps a key first step and what might get you far down that path is just listening to what others are doing.  You can learn a lot by just listening.