Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Importance of Family, Thanksgiving and Skype

During special times of year like Thanksgiving, it's really great to bring family together to celebrate.  It's a time where it's really clear how much there is to be grateful for, the special people in our lives.  How it's critical to live in the moment, for the moment!

Thanksgiving is also very powerful because it's not really religious and it's apolitical, at least for me.  So many of the other holidays resonate with heavier baggage in those areas.  That's why I truly love Thanksgiving!  An example, tonight, we skyped at a family gathering with a niece, daughter, cousin on a semester abroad in Greece.  What a feeling of togetherness to reach out across the digital divide and connect, to see one another and hear each other's stories and catch up with one another. I am grateful for living in a time and place where this is possible.

To bring the very far away to be very close.

It's a phenomena, while I don't understand fully it's ramifications, I'm comfortable knowing that at least tonight it helped bring my family closer together.  What it's long term effects are unclear but I don't care right now.  I'm just excited this is possible today and my niece is a little less lonely in her faraway location.

I sense also, this application of Skyping will permeate our collective work future in ways we can't foresee in ways similar to how it's transforming our personal interactions with family and friends.  What do you think?  Do you have any stories like this to share?  Please let me know!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Green Innovation - Look to Existing Technologies, Products & Services

Stream - Rumney, Vermont. 2010
I was reading the HBR blog, The Conversation this morning and found a great post, "A New Approach to Green Tech Opportunities".  The authors Marc Gruber, James Thompson and Ian MacMillan offer a surprisingly simple yet powerful suggestion for companies and entrepreneurs seeking to come into the "Green Space".  They suggest instead of spending untold resources on R&D on innovating new ideas, products services look first at what your company is already doing for kernels of possibilities.  "Our studies of several hundred technological innovations tell us that we can benefit hugely if we stop equating innovation with new R&D effort, and instead revisit the buried potential of already existing technologies. "

So examine fallow technologies which perhaps dormant now could with a little brainstorming and outside the box thinking, be reapplied in an environmentally beneficial manner, helping both your bottom line and be a positive contribution to the sustainability conversation. If you think about it, following this course also conserves resources beyond time and money already invested in past offerings.  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dream Pre Fab Home

Color Rendering  - South Elevation
Over the last few months I've been developing an idealized pre-fab ready small home.  Architects and designers are always designing their ideal home, that rustic retreat we've always wanted.

Of course, this exercise was also an excuse to do a couple of other things. First, was to provide a southward tilting roof for possible solar electric PV's to contribute towards a low energy or net zero use footprint.  The home is sited due south to maximize solar orientation for passive solar heating within the home and solar energy generation.   Second, to keep the

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Generations Together in The Workplace

This is a work in progress diagram I created with Google Docs Drawing tools.  It's purpose is to provide a three-dimensional view of the generational forces at work in today's workplace.  

Together, they cultivate a powerful and fertile ground for innovation and inspiration.  By using the big picture experience of the Vets and ever changing Boomers in combination with the action oriented, meaning seeking techy Gen Xr's and Millenials, creative ideas and innovative services can be rolled out.  By leveraging the strengths of these generations together better business can happen.

The same goes for workplace design and working together.  Recognize the various age groups in your workplace have different needs based on their business and cultural background which may or may not impact their expectations about their work setting.  For older more experienced workers you'll likely find they're used to working in closed offices or higher paneled workstations.  They've grown up in a world where the status of having those offices matter as well as their quiet spaces for focused work.  But they look out of their offices in wonder at the 20 somethings working with three displays, smartphones.

The in between workers see things a little more fluidly, haven grown more used to working out in the open and sharing meeting rooms and other common areas.  They like the idea of private offices but I think they might wonder if they would miss collaboration opportunities in the open work areas with their other team mates.  Millenials don't understand or want private offices, just give them sound cancelling headphone, instant messaging and comfortable open work stations or work areas where they have close connection with others.  They also understand social and professional media in ways the Gen Xer's and Boomers don't.  To be effective business people they need each other.  Boomers can mentor Millenials about career and work execution while the Millenials can mentor Boomers on uses of Social Media to bring ideas to market.  Gen Xer's are in between the others directing project work and keeping everybody and everything going.   Of course its important to not generalize too much as one aspect of the human condition is our ability to adapt and change to new technologies and work strategies.  Evolving is what we do!

By accommodating the various work styles of these generations with different workspace choices I think better work can happen.  By providing a variety of workspaces such as some private offices, small to large conference rooms, hotelling spaces, camp circle areas, focused team/ individual rooms and open work areas communities,  common cafe's, libraries, workout and wellness spaces healthy organizations can be cultivated and sustained, strengths can be leveraged, collaboration can happen.  Next time a conflict arises between different team members from different generations, dig deep together, resist being too stubborn and seek out the root cause of dissatisfaction.   Within it likely is the kernel of a new business and organizational process which could lead to innovation and higher performance.  Just be willing to listen and learn from each other!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Coffeeshop Design and Workshifting

I've noticed recently when spending extended periods of time at coffee shops doing work of various kinds the difficulties of staying focused with all of the acoustical distractions.

I avoid going to certain coffee shops because of their poor acoustics and lack of variety of casual seating options.  Usually there is a scattering of tables and loose chairs and coffeetables, easy chairs but there isn't much variation in regards to openness versus privacy, lively versus quiet spaces.  I find making calls very frustrating  with the barista machines sucking and whirring, people chatting and registers ringing.  Usually the floor, walls and ceilings have extremely hard, durable and cooling looking surfaces.  Then there's the sound systems pumping the sounds of the week echoing through the space.  Great for keeping the shop clean, maintaining a crisp appearance but not so great from an acoustics standpoint.  Does this sound familiar to you?  Can you hear me?   Didn't think so. What were you saying again?

The Power of Visuals on Private Sector Employment, A prime-time message which didn't

Regardless of your politics, it's interesting the powerful message of this graph never made it to prime-time somehow.  Maybe I missed it, but nobody was talking about the big picture of this bell-curve and the trend it seems to indicate.  

I include it here because it's a simple, well designed graphic illustrating a series of facts, here fairly convincingly shown.  It's baffling how underutilized this message was, but oh well.  Maybe we can all take solace that the economic situation while still grim in a sense is a bit more positive than in the last quarter of 2008.  Perhaps we can put that time behind us and focus instead on the future, trying to get back to business.