Why Innovation Is On The Decline

Light on off
You’ve experienced it firsthand, innovation is slowing down (and yes, it’s quite disappointing!).  



Do you feel compelled to get a new smartphone, TV, or just about anything else…or do you already basically have the latest and greatest technology, even if it’s a couple of years old now?



But imagine, if something great and new did come out…we’d all be dancing in the streets and eager to buy. 



That’s right, innovation is not what it was…according to the Wall Street Journal, there is “An Innovation Slowdown At The Tech Giants.”



The question is why is this happening?



No, the tech companies are not copying Washington politics (sleepy, sleepy…)! 



But instead, we may have become our own worst enemies to our ability to innovate anew. 



The New York Times today explains that our minds have a toggle switch between being focused on a task and being free to let your mind wonder and innovate. 



You can’t do both at the same time, no you can’t.



And these days, we have so flooded ourselves with information overload with everything from 24/7 work and “big data,” email/texting, social media, and thousands of cable stations and billions of YouTube videos, and more that we are forever engaged in the what’s now, and are not allowing ourselves to rest, recuperate, and think about the potential for what’s new. 



If we want more from the future (innovation, creative problem solving, and sound decision making), then we need to allow some space for our minds to restore itself.



Whether that means daily downtimes, weekly walks in the park, monthly mediations, or semiannual vacations…we need to stop the diminishing returns of constant work and information arousal, and take a little mind breather. 



Instead of chugging along our insane nonstop routines of endless activities and firehose information engagement, we will do ourselves and our children and grandchildren a great service by pulling the train over for some rest and relaxation…and only then will real innovation begin again. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Alert, Alert, And More Alerts

Alert, Alert, And More Alerts

No this is not an alert, but some strategic thinking about alerts.

As a kid, we get our first alerts usually from the fire alarm going off in school and practicing the buddy system and safely evacuating.

As adults, we are used to get so many types of alerts:

– Homeland Security threat alerts
– Breaking news alerts
– Emergency/Disaster alerts
– Severe weather alerts
– Smog alerts
– Transportation delay alerts
– Accident alerts
– Fraud alerts
– Economic and financial alerts
– Amber missing child alerts
– Internet security alerts
– Power loss alerts
– Home or business intruder alerts
– Fire alerts
– Carbon Monoxide alerts
– Medical/health alerts
– Chemical spill alerts
– Product safety or recall alerts
– Unsafe drinking water alerts
– Active shooter alerts
– Work closure alerts
– Parking garage alerts
– Dangerous marine life alerts
– Dangerous current or undertow alerts
– Air raid siren alerts
– Solar eclipse alerts
– Meteorite or falling space debris alerts
– Special sale or promotional event alerts

With the arrival of highly successful, mass social media applications like Twitter, we have alerts aggregated for us and listed chronologically as things are happening real-time.

The brilliance of the current Twitter-type alerting is that we can sign up to follow whatever alerts we are interested in and then have a streaming feed of them.

The alerts are short–up to 140 characters–so you can quickly see the essence of what is happening or ignore what is irrelevant to you.

When more space is needed to explain the details behind an alert, typically a (shortened) URL is included, which if you click on it takes you to a more in depth explanation of the event or item.

So alerts are a terrific balance between short, attention grabbing headlines and links to more detail, as needed.

What is also great about the current alerting mechanism is that you can provide concise alert information, including:

– Message source (for ensuring reliability)
– Guidance (for providing immediate instruction on response).
– Hazard (for specifying the type of incident)
– Location (for identifying geographic or mapping locality)
– Date/time (for implications as to its currency)
– Importance (for determining severity such as catastrophic, critical, etc.)

While we remain ever, hyper-vigilant, we need to be careful not to become anxiety-ridden, or at some point, simply learn to tune it all out, so we can actually live life and get stuff done.

It’s good to know what’s going on out there, but can too much information ever become a bad thing? 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Information High

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A new article by Andy Blumenthal called “The Information High” at Public CIO Magazine (29 November 2012).

“In addition to being slaves to our things–including technology gadgets–we are also addicted to the data and information they serve up.”

Hope you enjoy! 😉

Andy

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Dashboarding The Information Waves

I had an opportunity to view a demo of a dashboarding product from Edge called AppBoard, and while this is nota vendor or product endorsement, I think it is a good example to briefly talk about these types of capabilities.Dashboard products enable us to pull from multiple data sources, make associations, see trends, identify exceptions, and get alerts when there are problems.

Some of the things that I look for in dashboard tools are the following:

– Ease of use of connecting to data

– Ability to integrate multiple stovepiped databases

– A variety of graphs, charts, tables, and diagrams to visualize the information

– Use of widgets to automatically manipulate the data and create standardized displays

– Drag and drop ability to organize the dashboard in any way you like to see it

– Drill down to get more information on the fly

While there are many tools to consider that provide dashboards, information visualization, and business intelligence, I think one of the most important aspects of these is that they be user-centric and easy to implement and customize for the organization and its mission.

When making critical decisions (especially those involving life and death) and when time is of the essence–we need tools that can be can be easily navigated and manipulated to get the right information and make a good decision, quickly.

As a fan of information visualization tools, I appreciate tools like this that can help us get our arms around the “information overload” out there, and I hope you do too.(All Opinions my own)

>Ads Here, There, Everywhere

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This is wild–Adzookie, a mobile advertising company that puts location-based ads out on cell phones, is doing some unbelievable advertising of its own…

They are offering to paint people’s houses and even pay their mortgages every month that you let them have their brightly colored billboard painted onto the side of your house.

In less than a day, they got applications from 1000 homeowners (and even one church)!

Is this a sign of the tough economic times or what?

A number of important lessons here:

1) In case we already didn’t learn from Google, advertising is really big business–my G-d, this company will pay your mortgage for you just to advertise on your house. (okay it is a big advertisement and all…)

2) Advertising going online, is old news; the new news is that it’s going mobile, big time. Folks, the ads are following us. Wherever we go, the ads will be there. From print to TV to billboards on the side of the road and at bus stops, to the Internet and to our smartphones–there is no escape!

3) People will do almost anything for money (this is an old lesson revisited)–even make their “home sweet homes” into the laughing stock of the neighborhood–or do some people actually think this looks cool?

4) Technology is an enabler to make our lives more convenient (news, shopping, etc.) and a richer experience, but it also lets those obtrusive advertisements pop up or crawl across the computer screen when/where NOT desired. As technology is part of virtually every facet of our lives, the potential for advertising here, there, and everywhere can really go overboard. Perhaps, the time is ripe for additional privacy settings on our computers/phones, so that we could block ads (when we want to) and have the equivalent of a “do not call list” for those pesky ads that just never seem to give up–like the Energizer Bunny–“they just keep going and going and going.”

When it comes to technology (and the rest of our environment), I believe that we have to be able to control the flow–whether it’s information or advertising.

Even too much of a good thing, can be a real eye sore.

>Balance, Not Brute Force

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There is a new documentary called “Race to Nowhere.

It is about our 24/7 culture with it’s relentless pressure to succeed and how it is adversely affecting our children.

Directed by Vicki Abeles a mother of one of these children, who was literally getting sick from from the “race to be the smartest, to test the highest, and to achieve the most.

The message these days to children and adults is “produce, produce, produce.

But what are we getting from all the hypercompetition?

As one girl at the beginning of the trailer said “I can’t really remember the last time I had the chance to go in the backyard and just run around.” And another boy said, “School is just so much pressure, every day I would just wake up dreading it.”

This is not exactly the picture of happy, satisfied, and motivated children or of a dynamic workforce for the future.

What are we doing to our children and ourselves?

We have better technology and more information available now than ever before, yet somehow people are seemingly unhappier than ever–and it’s starting with our children, but it doesn’t stop there.

With the change to an information society, our innovators forget to create a shut-off valve (or filter) so people would be able “turn down the volume” on the information pouring in 24/7.

Adults can’t keep up, our students can’t keep up, no one can–we have opened the floodgates of INFORMATION and we are drowning in it.

No learning is good enough because there is always more to learn and no productivity is productive enough because the technology is changing so fast.

I remember a boss who used to always say “what have you done for me lately” (i.e. it didn’t matter what you achieved last week or yesterday, he wanted to know what did you do for him today!)

It’s the same now everyday and everywhere for everyone, yesterday is history–when it comes to learning and achievement; the competition from down the hall or around the globe is right on our tail and if you are not doing something new just about every minute, you risk being overtaken.

We know “failure is not an option” but is pushing until we have the equivalent of a societal nervous breakdown, success?

Like with all good things in life–love, vacations, chocolate, and so on–we can’t overindulge. Similarly with information overload and work–there has to be a “balance,” a happy medium–we can’t push the engine until it overheats. We need to know when to put the peddle to the mettle and when to throttle back.

If we can handle ourselves more adroitly in these competitive times (and less like a flailing drowning victim running frantically between activities), manage the flow of information smarter (not like sucking on the proverbial firehose) and alternate between productivity and recuperation/rejuvenation (rather then demanding a 24/7 ethic), I think we will see greater joy and better results for ourselves and our children.

We can all excel, but to do so, we have to learn to moderate and take a breathe–in and out.

Success and happiness is not always about more, in fact, I believe more often than not it’s about an ebb and flow. Like night and day, the ocean tides, the changing seasons, even our own life cycle, we have to know enough to compete intelligently and not with brute force, 24/7, alone.

So what if we turned off our Blackberry’s for just a couple of hours a day and let our kids do the equivalent…to be human again and find time for spirituality and community and rejoice in all that we have achieved.

>"Your Brain On Google"

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Amazing video called “Digital Nation.”
Some great points from the interviewees at MIT, Stanford, and more:
“We are immersed in technology all the time.”
– “Technology is like oxygen.”
– “Well over half our lives exist in the digital world now.”
– “We are constantly multi-tasking and distracted.”
– “The world has sped up.”
“We just want to push the pause button.”
– “The Internet has changed from things one does to how one lives.”
– “We are changing what it means to be human.”

– “We are rewriting the rules of interaction for human beings.”

– “Can we solve the alienation that technology has created with more technology?
– “Does increasing use of technology have diminishing returns at some points?”
These questions and thoughts really resonate with me.
Looking back in my own life, things seemed so much simpler 10, 20, and 30 years ago.
Then we were less connected online and maybe a lot stupider intellectually, but more connected in real ways–doing real things with family, friends, and community.
Life is certainly faster now, but are we happier as human beings?
Are we losing ourselves and becoming part of the vast interconnected cyberspace almost as half-humans and half-machines ourselves?