Want more innovation on your project team? Ask the right questions

Want more innovation on your project team? Ask the right questions

On a vacation in 1943 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Edwin Land took a picture of his young daughter. When she asked if she could see the photo immediately he, of course, said no, he had to take the film to be developed. He then asked himself something along the lines of “why not?” “Why can’t someone invent a way to take pictures that you could see right away?” It changed photography until the digital camera changed it! As you probably have surmised this was the very beginning of what became known as the Polaroid Land Camera, an invention that changed photography forever. In fact, the company he started had tremendous success, so much so, it was placed it on what was known as the Nifty-fifty , a group of high-flying growth companies that dominated trading on the New York Stock Exchange in the 1960s. In his highly readable work entitled A More Beautiful Question, Warren Berger points out that it’s not just asking questions that leads to innovation; it’s asking the right kinds of questions. What kind are those? The ones that Edwin Land’s daughter asked; namely, open questions

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Think Agile is a fad? Think again

Think Agile is a fad? Think again

What’s in your wallet? At Cap One plenty since they started using agile! In 2011, Capital One (the “what’s in your wallet? ” company) delivered only 1% of its development projects using agile. Today, it’s 85%. Here are some facts to get your (or your executives’) attention. Using an agile development methodology Capital One has 400 product releases per month 95% of products meet expectations on the first release delivery times have been cut by 3-6 months they have decreased costs significantly While you might think that Capital One has a pilot test of agile going on the fact is they have trained more than 3,000 developers and business users on this innovative development approach. This is no small feat.

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Can 2,000 yr old technology spur innovation on your project? You bet!

Can 2,000 yr old technology spur innovation on your project? You bet!

Paper. It’s been around for 2,000 years. Thankfully, in 1968,  Dr. Spencer Silver, of the 3M Corporation improved upon it by, accidentally as it turned out, inventing the Post-it Note. According to Jeff Hillins, 3M’s global business director for the Post-it Brand, it was initially conceived as a way to bookmark pages. However, people quickly began using them for all sorts of things such as routing stacks of paper documents around the office.

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PM training through MOOCs? It’s just a matter of time

PM training through MOOCs? It’s just a matter of time

Coursera , one of the relatively new companies offering MOOCs (Massive Open On-line Courses) recently announced a couple of very interesting bits of news. First, the former President of Yale University, Richard C. Levin, who stepped down this past June, will become its chief executive next month. And, second, the company recently introduced what it calls “specializations” where an individual who completes several related courses will earn a certificate, all for the low price of between $250-$500! I’m sure Levin had his choice of jobs upon leaving Yale; most ex-presidents of Yale do. And yet, he chose to jump headfirst into this rapidly evolving, and somewhat controversial,  form of on-line learning.  Coursera sees rapid growth, especially in China, and Levin, with a great deal of experience in working with Chinese universities throughout his career, can help spur that growth, and grow his compensation as well. As regards certificates, this is another interesting development.

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As a PM are you on the human hamster wheel?

As a PM are you on the human hamster wheel?

We’ve all witnessed the poor hamster on his hamster wheel running furiously and literally going nowhere. Many people I’ve known through the years use this as an analogy for how they feel about certain projects they’ve worked on. Obviously, the message is that there is a lot of energy expended but ultimately it all leads nowhere. Well, I’d like to show you (literally) a different perspective of the human hamster wheel. In the Boiler Gallery in Brooklyn, New York there are two performance artists who are living on a 25-foot wheel made from wood, steel, and furniture. This 10-day event features Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder who are sharing two living unites arrayed over the hamster-wheel-like sculpture. Shelley’s on top and Schweder is on the bottom.

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