Sunday, August 5, 2007

Innovative thoughts on refinement

Do you ever look at a product that has been refined and asked the question, "Why didn't they make it look like this to begin with?" I can understand having rough drafts or concept versions in pre-production but it would seem after many years of study engineers, artists, programers, inventors, writers and business people who have the most effective work-flows and processes worked out. I guess at first glance this would be the most obvious question to ask but they are other factors to consider like;

  • secrets help because of competition
  • experimentation based on new markets, circumstances and discoveries
  • the importance of getting a product to market in lieu of waiting to "perfection
  • a focus on functionality over beauty
  • and of course it's just plain cheaper to produce goods that are more basis and larger in scale

Those are my thoughts and I'm sure some of you can come up with others. I often feel so embarrassed when I look over previous versions of things I have worked on be it a short story, web sites, photos, landscaping in my yard, etc. It's almost if my life is a microcosm of human history itself.

They often said that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. What are you doing to shorten your products refinement time. Is their a way you have been able to make the creative or innovative process more efficient?

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

South Carolina and the Innovation Push

One of the things that inspired me to start the "Captain Innovation" blog and to also adopt it has the title/mission I have printed on my magnetic name tag is their has been a push to increase efforts in innovation in South Carolina. I am a resident of South Carolina and live in the town that was once called the "Textile Capital of the World" because of the number of textile mills in and around the city and surrounding areas. Greenville also once hosted the Textile exposition at Textile Hall (originally downtown and later moved to Pleasantburg Drive (aka Hwy 291) and is now called the Carolina First Exposition Center.

My grandparent worked in quite a few of the mills and my parents grew up on the villages. In recent years and by recent years I'm saying from 1980 onward the work that was originally done in a lot of the mills lost out or was outsourced to cheaper labor in places like Mexico, China, Korea, India, Pakistan, etc. However as much as some people, in particular those who were associated with the textile industry will complain about jobs being lost to "foreigners" a new wave of production is hitting the state in the form of production of higher tech products like automobiles at the BMW Plant in Greer, SC, Gas Turbines at the GE Plant in Greenville. I've also seen quite a few high tech industries and companies like ScanSource that provide parts, software and other support products for other industries.

We named our company, SpinningSilk Multimedia in part as a homage to the Textile Industry that helped get Greenville on the map from the very beginning with a Mill was placed on the Reedy River in what is now the location of Falls Park. Of course we got the "Silk" part of our name as a reference to the World Wide Web in which a bulk of our income comes from web development projects. We were thinking of the spider's silk used in spinning their webs.

While we are current a small company of about three full-time people (we hope to be adding more soon) and our work is more communication focused than manufacturing focused we want to be an active part of Innovative Initiative in South Carolina but helping our clients (many of whom are in the construction of manufacturing industry) use the most innovative tools to get their message out to their customers and co-workers.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Can obsession be control in a healthy way?

I checked out The Aviator from the library a couple of days ago and in addition to the movie about the influential period of the life of Howard Hughes and I enjoying the special features on the life of the man and his work in the aviation industry as well as a shorter time in motion pictures. The thing I find most interesting is the drive he had to innovate also had a darker side of an obsessive-complusive disorder.

I know at times in the past I have become obsessed with making an art project, story or other thing absolutely perfect to the point I forgot about time, didn't eat and stay in a room away from others for many hours. Thankfully I have never gotten to the point he did but I have had issues with panic attacks in the past.

It's interesting how a compulsive mindset and spur great innovation but at such a great cost to the one obsessed one wonders if it's really worth it to be that obsessed. I got to thinking, is their a way we can channel obsessions without sacrificing sanity and balance in the life of the one with that attitude?

How has obsessions in technology like landing a man on the moon, creating a blockbuster movie or other things been accomplished by committed teams who want to see the goal fulfilled?

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Charting the course

In my last post I mentioned the need to consolidate so I could innovate in the areas of my life and work that mean the most. That being said I have finally sat down and created four mind maps of our business plans and activities for the near future. In the past year I have registered domain names but have not done much with them so one of my mind maps is called, Current inactive domains. This is an issues we will go over during our next meeting so we can decide if we could redirect them to current pages, try to sell them for a good profit or recommit on them.

The next mind map involves a similiar project and that is the current blogs I actively write to. Some of those are not business blogs but I need to figure out if I should drop, add or incorporate them into other sites, etc.

The next mind-map involves how our business is divided up. The parent company is SpinningSilk, LLC with several ventures under that one umbrella. The biggest money maker is SpinningSilk Multimedia followed by SpinningSilk Music.

I want to have a grid of four divisions. We do have SpinningSilk I.T. on one domain and have had another site/service called "Unraveling to Understand" but I'm also trying to consider if I should keep that as it's own domain or sell it and use the content elsewhere. My photography work is also taking a big chunk of my time and adding a good percentage to our revenue.

Finally I have quite a few innovative ideas for new projects, services and products that I have not recorded on paper or digitally until tonight.

When looking to consolidate and free you or your business for new innovation I encourage you to take just a little time and map those ideas out on paper and discuss them with others.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Consolidate to Innovate?

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about all the stuff I have been dealing with on a daily basis in business and in life. We have a lot of ideas for our business that have not been made public on our web site or even in casual business conversation but I have been seriously looking at ways to combine some of those ideas into one project but in a simplified form.

I'm also looking at the podcasts, RSS feeds, e-mail subscriptions and magazine subscriptions to see not only what I need to cut out as "chatter" in my life but also to focus better on those things I will be keeping.

I know it very hard to let go of our favorite things even though they are on the outskirts but it seems every time I have reduced the clutter I have been able to focus better and smaller number of things and innovate on those things.

Very few companies can be everything to everybody and even then they start to become looked down upon instead of lifted up as innovators.

I admit it's hard to want to give up potential streams of income but sometimes giving up on many streams can give us access to a river of ideas, clients, etc.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Myths of Innovation

I normally don't like to review or promote a book before I read it but it seems I am being exposed more and more to authors and their ideas before the books are being released and I'm already being sold on the books before they hit the store or library shelfs. I was reading Joe Wikert's Publishing 2020 Blog and he brought to my attention Scott Berkun's new book called, The Myths of Innovation. As someone who wants to call himself, "Captain Innovation" I feel I need to check out this book and what the author is saying. Thankfully has a a video of the author giving a lecture on the subject itself and needless to say the innovation of Amazon using the video on their web is going to help sell the book. I encourage other business people like myself to check it out.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

The Art of Innovation

Guy has a lot of interesting things to say about innovation.

The Art of Innovation


Guy Kawasaki at the 2007 Event Marketer Conference