Monday, November 21, 2011

Casio G-Shock Watch Design Offers Escapist Fun(ction)

I have four Casio G-shock watches. I buy them because they are great underwater down to 200 meters. They last a really long time and withstand lots of punishment.

Ok, I'm not a Navy Seal nor am I a deep sea diver. I'm currently wearing a bright red Rescue series watch with moon phases and tides for my location. This along with a myriad of other timekeeping features. I also can look at times adjusted for different world cities in 29 different time zones.

Something about the romance of water and far a way places! And the red color. I'm really a big kid. The red is great fun. I wear this watch everywhere, even when I put on a suit and tie.

Casio G-Shock - G7900A-4
Wearing it reminds me I'm supposed to be having fun and not be so serious. The one thing it lacks (right now) is smart phone capability where I can talk into it like Dick Tracy used to talk into his watch (acutally a two-way wrist radio)  I'd imagine it would have to coordinate with a bluetooth ear piece design wise.  Is this in the works Casio watch and technology designers?  I hope so.  Question is can you make a submersible to 200 meters phone watch with a touch screen?  Wouldn't that be something?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Keeping Posts Simple

A Simple Line -Winter's Frosting
copyright Stephen M. Frey, 2011
Is writing a blog post a good idea with an Apple iTouch? Or a similar smart device? I think so.

Here's why.

Maybe it maximizes the reader's experience of whatever I'm sharing and is respectful of their time. Writing from such a device ensures I say only so much as I am not fluent in typing on such a small screen.  Yet.  Or maybe never.  So the device helps focus the writer's attention on saying only what matters most.

The small size also means it's portable so it can go with me wherever I go.  Perhaps having it around will make it easier to post more frequently about ideas, trends, people influencing

The small form factor shapes how you respond to the urge to write about something essentially.  Here's a question; what if you adopt this mentality using a laptop or writing an email?

See the recent Email Charter or the movement to keep emails short with voluntary following of the three sentences or five sentences rule (see,,  In the interest of promoting quality time away from email you can do your best to adhere to the policy of writing and responding in 3-5 sentences.

Writing in the active rather than passive voice while using simple verbs and adjectives, energizes your text not deadens it.  Maybe this will activate the conversation?  Can't hurt?

Over the last year I have steadily seen people write emails to me with much simpler language.  Usually they    have only one or two ideas they're focusing on.  Maybe I'm a little slow but I figured out recently they're writing from a smart phone or texting from a cell phone.  Detail is out.  Brevity in.  They don't have a choice. The device drives the communication style.

They also might be using their intuition when they realize they're writing something very detailed and recognize its better to cut to the chase and call someone or visit them face to face about what you're writing about or responding to.  Try it, especially before you hit the send button, before you inflict irreversible pain on yourself and others.  Life is too short.  I have learned the hard way, believe me.

So since I'm not very bright but catch on after a while I'm thinking this is a good idea.  So look for simpler communications of all types from designcultivation, Stephen M. Frey on LinkedIN, @designcultivate or  @arocordisdesign on Twitter, or arorcordisdesign on Facebook.

I include an image from last Winter in keeping with the spirit of this post.  "A Simple Line".  That's my mantra for 2012 and beyond.  What's yours?

Do you have any communication tips and suggestions balancing the needs of short and long form online media, paper media, especially as it relates to the design fields?  Please share!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What's Your Biggest Workplace Design Challenge in 2011?

Today I thought it might be interesting to reach out my Twitter Followers and other's I find interesting on the Twitters'phere to find out what's been a challenge to them in workplace design in 2011?  

So I did just that.

It's just a kernal of an idea but I thought I'd try to strike up a conversation to those I respect and follow.  I tried SurveyMonkey earlier in the year but I thought this time it might be way more fun to try Twitter.  Already folks are starting to respond back.  

@NickSloggett, a senior visual designer at Photobucket tweeted back what did I mean...Workplace furniture or Design Culture? I replied "As in workplace layout and furniture selection influencing for better or worse a work community's culture, effectiveness and morale." 

In other words, in the workplaces you frequent, either your primary workplace, other offices you visit often which may have been renovated or completed recently, what was a big design challenged faced in the process. An example might be a super short time frame, or we were forced to move out of closed private offices into open collaborative workstations or vice versa, or we downsized and had to radically reshape our space or hopefully, we had to hire due to recent growth and we were running out of room....Or we wanted to create a sustainable, eco friendly workspace but that was challenging our budget...

Other examples could be resistance from the work community to change from older style less collaborative  spaces to more open spaces?  Another could be finding better ways to more effectively integrate technology into your meeting spaces, workstations and exec offices.

Anyway, you tell me what's happening.  I'm very curious about the challenges you're facing.  Maybe we can crowd source this in a way.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why Picking Up the Phone Is A Good Thing And So Is Actually Talking

I saw a link to this HBR article "Don't Send that Email, Pick Up the Phone" by Anthony K. Tjan and read it, then took a look at the dynamic discussion string following it.  Wow! The article created quite a stir.

It should.

The article is ultimately about effective communication and learning how to wade through the chaos of our over stimulated information crazy world and remember to to each other.  Not emailing, im'ing or texting your coworker sitting 3 feet away from you or hide behind polished corporatized prose in an email or lengthy voice mails outlining all of the details of what you were hoping to discuss on the call.  

Oh, how about those times you've sent an email or a tweet even though your intuition told you to not hit the send button?  It's misery right?  Often times the after effects take weeks or what seems like an eternity to settle.

I'm guilty of doing this.  Alot.  I've done all of the above. But I'm seeking to change my ways.  It may take time but I'm committing myself to trying to do a few things.  Here's some of my response on the discussion thread for the above HBR article and what I hope to practice.  Tell me what you think?  Do you have any suggestions on communication approaches you find work for you?  How do you balance all of the digital overload and still find ways to effectively connect and communicate with others. Please share!

Here goes:

....For me it's not about how you're communicating a certain way but keeping the end goal in mind to achieve a certain outcome, action etc. 

An example; In teaching years ago to college age students, a wise teacher shared in order to effectively communicate to students (read coworkers in our context) of all educational, economic and social skill backgrounds its' important to do a few things together, rather than rely on only one teaching approach (read communication approach):

- Know your audience and their communication styles: Adjust accordingly but keep the approach as simple as possible.

- Over communicate to a multiple of senses: Some engage better by hearing and listening, some do better by reading and writing, others need images, still others might need to physically "do" the something your discussing, ie demonstrating, prototyping, visualizing. And most likely, some combination of the above is required.And then I'm challenging myself here to follow the below:   

- Be brief in writing, summarizing, requesting.  Limit your email writing to three sentences or five as the maximum you'll write.  Less is more. It's infectious by the way. Try it! 

- Listen to your tummy ( I mean intuition): If you're about to write something and it makes you feel funny, or unsure, take notice! STOP yourself! Consider alternatives such as leaving it in draft to return to later or plain just don't send it. Get a second opinion.  Or better yet, make a call or set up a face to face to discuss.  

If you fail to heed your own body telling you something you'll only goof things up for you and others.  (of course like many, I'm guilty of not listening to my inner voice and I've paid for it dearly personally and professionally)

That's all.  

What do you think?  How important is a blended communication strategy to you and your team in getting things done?  Do you miss talking to people face to face?  How effective are you when you're more direct and personal?  Do you Skype or use Facetime as an alternative to physical face to face meetings?  

Other thoughts?  Please share!