Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bran Ferren's Innovate or Die (Dying is Easier...)

Guest blogger Nicole Daddario gives us another recap of a Monday session:

Bran Ferren has quite an impressive resume with experience as an engineer, technical and design consulting. His clients have included Intel Corp., General Motors, IBM, Warner Communications, Sony, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin. He is currently the Co-Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Applied Minds, Inc., and is the formed President of R&D and Creative Technology for The Walt Disney Company. He has also earned numerous technical achievement awards and served on many advisory boards for a variety of government organizations.

Mr. Ferren has had a lot of experience in many different places, and his "Big Idea" way of thinking is quite inspiring. His biggest concerns involve technology and the way it is changing our world. Mr. Ferren points out the reality that there are two different ways of thinking: the "Requirements" way, and the "Big Idea" way, and we must find ways to make these two ways of thinking work in harmony in order for any project to be successful.

He also makes a point that there was never a life-changing invention that had requirements; every big invention we've seen has been the result of someone thinking outside the box and seeing the big picture. He uses a great example of the "Big Idea" way of thinking by quoting Neil Armstrong's famous line after landing on the moon- "A small step for man, a giant leap for mankind." When Mr. Armstrong said this, it was clear that he was not just referring to what America had done. This was an accomplishment for the entire human species, and one that everyone in the world should be proud of.

Mr. Ferren has a list called "The Big Six", in which he identifies the tools and requirements we need to help the two ways of thinking live together:

1) Visioning- If you don't have a strong vision, you will have trouble getting people on board. You must articulate your goals clearly, and motivate people to want to join your team.

2) Get the Talent- Our country is based around our tolerance of different people. We must find ways for both types of people to work together and prosper.

3) Story Telling- We must have role models. The internet is the most important story telling tool that we have. We can learn anything about anyone at the click of a button. Can you name a living scientist? If not, look it up.

4) Complexity vs Simplicity- Americans are seduced by complexity, and we need to learn more about simplicity.

5) Speed- If you care about things happening, make them happen quickly. The longer a program takes, the less likely it will complete on time and in an acceptable manner.

6) Education- If we don't fix the current state of education, we will not have much of a future.

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