The most valuable resource in an organization is…

Status

I read an article on the Harvard Business Review. It posed that time is the most valuable resource in an organization. I disagree.

We often confuse the metrics associated with value with value itself. Time is a metric associated with value but time is not the value itself.

The most important metric in an organization is valuable change. The amount of time it takes to deliver valuable change can vary.

The most valuable resource in an organization is an effective employee. Effective employees understand value. They work effectively and deliver more valuable change.

Your users have changed. Have you noticed?

There’s a lot of change out there.

Change in:

  • Technology
  • Culture
  • Competition
  • Laws
  • Economics
  • Politics
  • Consumers
  • Environmental

Since we live in a connected world, changes in any of these areas can affect the other areas. Just to make things fun, change doesn’t move in a single direction. It’s more like a pool table with dozens of billiard balls all in constant motion, bumping into each other and causing each other to move in all directions.

The futurist /designer
From my side of things, I have to keep an eye on a number of these change agents. Be careful when designing for today’s behaviors when it’s clear that a major change is coming in the future. For example, changes in the economy may lead to changes in the way people behave and the way they want to interact with products and services.

Changes = opportunities
Companies that perceive these changes / opportunities, can adapt their systems to support the new behaviors. This, in turn, can become a key competitive advantage.

Whether companies acknowledge it or not, the great recession has changed the way people behave. The consumers they used to know a few years ago are no longer the same. They have changed. There are plenty of new, blue ocean opportunities out there for those that understand that.

Problem flipping is a key skill for designers and innovators

Who would have known that whining and complaining would lead to a real, meaningful and perhaps even heroic role in our society?

OK, maybe the value is not in the whining and complaining but in recognizing that you may have stumbled upon an opportunity to improve your life and perhaps the lives of others.

Over the years, I’ve met different types of designers and innovators. I’ve met the one that runs into a problem, gets frustrated, picks up the computer and tries to bounce it off the floor. I’ve met many others who are very quick to shout all the possible problems with things but never really can see past them. Fortunately, I’ve had a few opportunities to meet individuals who identify problems and then seamlessly, shift perspective to understand them as opportunities.

I call it “problem flipping”. Visualize a problem as a card, then flip it to see the other side. The other side is the opportunity or solution that the problem affords.

(Yes, you can also do “solution flipping”. In that case you would flip the solution to discover the problems the solution affords. Both are useful within a thorough problem-solving process.)

Every time we are annoyed, bothered, angered, disappointed or saddened by something we have found a problem. If it’s shared by many others, then we may say that this is a common problem. In our societies we may consider these as social problems. In the business world, we may say that a problem shared by a sizable number of people may constitute a market. An integral designer would merge these two and understand them as both, a social problem and a market. Finding solutions help innovators, solve social problems while at the same time they create jobs and shared wealth.

I think that humans were equipped with the emotions of pain, anger, frustration, annoyance, disappointment, sadness as an innate tools to encourage positive change and innovation in our world. As children, we were unable to change things, so, we simply cried, complained or threw tantrums. As adults, we are able to change things and we need to move past those early habits into the more mature phase of design and innovation.

Your emotions are problem-solving tools — use them wisely. Find the solutions and opportunities hiding behind negative experiences by flipping them.

 

The incomplete evolution of the musical experience

I just read a piece about musicians and folks in the music industry grieving about piracy. It’s a bit frustrating to learn about this because I think there are still a lot of opportunities around music that could be mined.

For example, packaging matters, when CDs replaced records the artwork and packaging of music was devalued a great deal. It was still there, minimized but devalued as an experience. Yet I know that a number of people still care and crave for the artwork associated with their favorite music. Downloading an MP3 is an unsatisfying and incomplete act lacking the physicality that helps you extrapolate music into your physical world.

People tend to forget, music is a lot more than sound that can be captured via an MP3. Music is about the people who love it. It is a social event. It is dancing. It is adventure. It is discovery. It is our life experience. It is a story to be told. It is an interesting character we have yet to meet.

Yet once again, the music industry fails to tap into the multiple ways we could recognize and expand what the musical experience really entails.

What the music industry needs is people who can leverage the soul of music, people who will tap into the rhythm of passion to bring forth it’s new forms.