What playing in a rock band taught me about working in creative collaborative environments

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Just like football, I love music and I always will. I have been lucky enough to listen to it ever since I was born as both my parents are music fans. I love most styles of music (chamber classical music, jazz, folk, cuban, afro-beat, electro) but the one that resonates the most with me is indie-rock. A huge fan of Jimmy Page as a kid and then Johnny Marr as a teenager, I am fascinated by electric guitars and I started playing when I was twelve, more than 30 years ago. From 15 onwards, apart from the 10 years I have spent abroad (London and then Zürich), I have always been playing in a band.

Being part or leading software development teams for more than 15 years, I have noticed many common traits with the musical activity. Even if for some weird reasons, I may have not sold as many CDs as Radiohead or REM, I still believe there is some value in sharing what I have learnt through these hours of work and all the analogies we can draw with creative work in a collaborative environment.

A post in 8 measures, we are talking about rock’n’roll here …

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Sunday Quote – Cowen, McAfee and Brynjolfsson

We are having more fun, in part because of the internet. We also are having more cheap fun. But we are coming up on short on the revenue side so it is harder to pay our debts, whether individuals, business or governments” (Tyler Cowen). Twenty first century Information and Communication Technology, in short, is failing the prime test of being economically significant. 

This meta quote, quote about McAfee and Brynjolfsson quoting economist Tyler Cowen, is taken from the Second Machine Age. In the section of the book the quote is taken from, the authors wonder whether ICT are General Purpose Technology such as steam engine or electricity, i.e pervasive technologies that change the way we live, work and do business. They are adamant they are, yet they question the economic return of these technologies.

A strongly recommended read to understand the profound transformation our times are going through.

 

Sunday Quote : John Medina

“Using visual support is also a more efficient way to glue information to a neuron, there may be strong reasons for entire marketing departments to think seriously about making pictorial presentations their primary way of transferring information.”

Brain Rules is an awesome book explaining how our brain works and how brain science may influence the way we teach, learn and work.

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Sunday Quote : Chip and Dan Heath

In 1944 George Loewenstein, a behavioral economist at Carnegie Mellon University, provided the most comprehensive account of situational interest. It is surprisingly simple : Curiosity, he says, happen when we feel a gap in our knowledge.

Made to Stick, the book from which this quote is taken, is a great book to benchmark and design your communication strategy whether it is to sell washing machines or lead changes in an organization.

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Petite philosophie des grandes trouvailles

Luc de Brabandère est philosophe d’entreprise et fellow au Boston Consulting Group. Un de ces speakers pluri-disciplinaires à la culture très étendue, que l’USI propose à son auditoire pour étendre ses perspectives. Luc est intervenu en 2009 (voir article) et aussi en 2014.

Un ouvrage philosophique sur l’innovation : il ne s’agit ici pas de spéculation intellectuelle par un chercheur depuis sa tour d’ivoire ou sa bibliothèque d’université. On voit ici une réflexion inspirée par une confrontation permanente au monde des innovations et des trouvailles scientifiques. Une pensée qui fait cet aller-retour (déductif, inductif) incessant pour éclairer les grandes inventions de multiple perspectives.

L’ouvrage prend racine dans une question d’un des participants à une conférence sur l’innovation : “Vous dites qu’il faut sortir du cadre mais de quel cadre parlez-vous ?”.

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A Parisian Conversation with Scott Berkun

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Scott Berkun was in Paris for a few days as he was invited to speak at USI 2014. That was a great opportunity to meet him and to discuss about his books, his time at Microsoft and WordPress, how and where he grew up and how it feels to be a writer in the 21st Century. Scott has been kind enough to allow us some of his time, the most important thing he can give as he wisely writes in Mindfire.

A great dinner at the terrace of La Mauvaise Réputation, in Montorgueil neighborhood. And a few drinks as well : Champagne, Armagnac, beers and a bottle of St Estephe 2011 for good measure: a bit young, but we still managed to work it out. It was so inspiring, I’ve still managed to remember just about everything despite the drinks. Yet, if I remember well the ideas, the transcript may not gives good justice to Scott verbal skills and precision in the words he uses.

There are not so many opportunities to meet one of #hypertextual heroes and that evening has been a milestone in the history of this blog. This is how the conversation went …  Continue reading “A Parisian Conversation with Scott Berkun”

Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace

Ed Catmull is co-founder and president of Pixar. After having reached his life long goal (creating the first computer animated feature film) with Toy Story in 1996, Ed faced a terrible dilemma : what should be his next goal ? Looking at smart leaders and once successful companies stumbling and collapsing, Ed soon identified this new goal : overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration.

This is what this book is all about. Sure there are some delightful back stories of some of the most inspiring animated movies of all time. There also are the little secrets of working closely with Steve Jobs. But the most valuable takeaways of this book are elsewhere.

They are in the way Ed Catmull (with the helped of Amy Wallace) describes the path that a rather successful leader in a creative industry followed to protect Pixar and then Disney Animation from these unseen forces and to make both company strive. Interestingly enough, the core of his management and leadership practices lies in Deming principles and Japanese management : a book hypertextual could not miss … Continue reading “Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace”