I became fascinated with how things are made at an early age. I grew up in a contractor's home and always tinkered. I studied a whole lot about how ideas are made and now apply my excitement and expertise for thinking and making to digital things.

Links to most of things with which I'm invloved : about.me


A USB port on the body scanners?

It takes quite a bit of effort to scan yourself for 3D printing. Yet, everytime any one of us goes through the large body scanners at the airport there is a 3D scan created. We're all paying for those scans. I'd like to be able to take them, print them, and see my weight change over time or get custom orthotics, or any number of things. 

Are you in?


Would you back an Erasable Bumper sticker kit?

Would it be worth backing a Kickstarter project for an Erasable Bumber Sticker Kit. It seems funny enought to me. One day you could write "I could not thing of anything to write here." The next could be "This is eraseable" or "This is the only bummber sticker I own" or "What if you only had one bumper sticker?"

So... would you back it? 


What if all music was announced like classical music? 

In a soft, deep and sofisticated voice:

"And next we have a number in C Major. It was composed after the heart break of the leader of the group and commissioned by Executives at Octone Records. Maroon 5 is an American pop rock band from Los Angeles, California. Listen especially to the transition to the melody. The emotion is nearly palpable. Enjoy this rendition of Payphone."

I think it'd be funny, if not forever, maybe for just an afternoon or so. 


Ambient Accountability

What happens when every shopper is a secret shopper? I think ambient accountability is where it's at. There is huge value to be added through this social force. 


Non-Contiguously Allocated Value

There seems to be a disconnect between what medical Doctors believe I should value them for and what I want to value them for. I value the experience I have at the Doctor - the whole thing from end to end, including all the other people involved and the facility, etc. Doctors seem to only want me to value their education and expertise. I take all that as a given. Is this a root challenge in Healthcare? The experience is contiguous in that it's all connected to the recipient of the "care" and it's non-contiguous for those rendering the service?

Recipients want to trust those rendering care because of their experience in the field AND the way their services are rendered. Doctors seem to want to have the most defendable (least litigious) medical trajectory. #tension

[Note: I am likely wrong.]



I recently completed Chris Anderson's new title Makers: The New Industrial Revolution. I think that if you're even 2% interested in things being created in this country and the impact of the Internet on things (The internet of things is different and for a different post) then you should read this book. 

To get started, consider checking my rif on the book and the subject as a introduction here


Download your coffee table

I've been a member at the mnmill.org for a few months now (BTW, check it out). There are a large and growing number of nifty tools there. There is also a much more important (in my opinion) and growing number of makers as members. But, back to the tools. 

There is a Shopbot. I've wondered what to make with it ever since seeing it and getting trained on it. I my pursuit I became aware of the folks at Filson-Rohrbacher and their AtFAB project. I became fascinated by the notion of dowloading furnature and decided to cut one of their projects. 

So, one morning last fall, I downloaded my coffee table, brought it to The Mill, worked up the tool path files, grabbed a hunk of plywood and cut it out. In 90 minutes from start, and a little sanding, the table was done. #awesome


Crowd Shamed

It's Winter. We're cooking more with the crock pot / slow cooker than we do in the Summer -- +1000% or more. It's a fact of life in Minnesota. Let your mouth water at the thought of stew-y-ness for dinner. Yum!

Friends of ours asked about our slow cooker. Do we like it? Would we buy it again? Was there another one that we thought of buying instead? You know, this is a typical friend asks friend for purchasing advice scenario. 

The truth is, we like our slow cooker. We said as much. Then we went home and were crowd shamed. We looked up our cooker online and found that it might just be the worse piece of trash slow cooker you can acquire for what apparently is also way more money than it should cost. 

We received our cooker as a gift. We never even looked at the reviews. It's always worked for us, so far. We liked it. Now, every time I pull that thing out I have noticed a tendency to think slightly less of it. I've wondered why. Why should I care that others don't like my cooker that has never let us down? This is odd to my mind.

The power of the crowd is creeping into most things. It's influence is strong on the buy side of a purchases. I think most people would agree with that. This is the first time the crowd (online) has influenced the ownership side of the equation for something I've owned.

So, where is this going? First, I don't think it's the last time this will happen (or the first in all of history). 

Second, it seems to me that, it's slowly becoming an imperative that unless your products/companies/services are built specifically to withstand the crisp honest fact that they are not high quality you'd be better off in the long run simply making high quality things.

And as I write the above I wonder if there no place for cheap today? Maybe there is if the audience never checks a review or simply does not care what others say? Does cheap equal low quality every time? Can you overcome part of the tension between cost and quality with authenticity (e.g. Etsy, Kickstarter, etc.)?

I usually check the negative reviews before I buy something. This was the first time I was crowd shamed after having already had something. May we all find effective ways to manage the changes the internet brings. Onward.


The red circles

I love the red circles. Most of my devices have them. There is a little number in them to indicate that something has happened. Someone texted. Someone wrote a post or emailed me. There is a direct message. There is a server event. A package arrived and on down the line. I love the little red circles with numbers.

I hate the red circles. I find that more times than not I get sidetracked by them. I go to my device to do something and then I notice that I forget why I opened it in the first place a few minutes down the line. Instead I find I was attending to the red circles! Red circles are awful for distinct trains of thought. They are horrible for a sense of continuity. The mess with my sense of calm. They jack with my mind and oddly they do the same with my heart. I hate the red circles with numbers in them.

I recently moved the mail apps (yes plural) off the main screens and bottom bars of my phone and tablet and on to the second screen. My sense of relief has been noticeable. I can open my phone and tablet and most of the time I don't see a red circle. Bliss. These devices are about more than simply responding to alerts. I get at more joy from them as tools for making. I want more to be made from them.


d.school after 3 months

October 2012- Consolidated d.school notes and reflections

I attended d.school boot camp at Stanford last July. It was very worth it. (I wondered at the time if it would be at the time. Now I know.) Every few months I want to step back on my notes and point at what I am learning and testing and finding impacting about the d.thinking process on my life and work. Check my previous post HERE or read on for recent reflections. 



I continue to be astounded by the Design Thinking process working. It's a good coach. I am a good pragmatist. This stuff does not always seem like it's going to work at the beginning of a cycle. It has worked every time. Here are the modes: Empathize. Define. Ideate. Prototype. Test. Together, they work.

As I've practiced this with clients and in coaching contexts over the last three months I've become more and more committed to growing in the discipline of applying the process. It's energizing. It seems a bit magical at times. It works and now I know both cognitively and experientially a few times over. 


Empathy might be scary but it proves itself worth it every time.

We had the privilege of working through empathy sessions for a financial product after the team had a few weeks to form what I am not calling "pre-empathy" opinions and directions. After 2 hours of empathy sessions (read: "overcoming fear") both the approaches and target markets born of the team's experiences and time on the project to that point were tossed in favor of the stories of real folks they had met. Conversations are now continually injected with checks on whither [ X ] idea will work for Jane, Eric, Mike, or Beth -- real people they met. This is wildly powerful.


When you think it's not going to work… do it anyway

We were doing a crash course that had just 4 people signed up and thought strongly about canceling it ahead of time. Instead, we went forward, did the wallet project, and had the most deep and engaging crash course I've been apart of to date.  Cycles bring mastery, right? Do 'em. 


Just shut it already

As I've been facilitating I've also NOT been offering enough time for folks to sit with uncomfortable silence. It was pointed out to me from a coaching partner and already I am finding that I am now looking for ways to inject quite into sessions. There is something wonderfully productive about a pause that is uncomfortably long. What a nifty tool. I need more time to practice.  



I absolutely love this step and find myself returning to it often to check and tweak and change the result and learn from it's constraints. It's the first time in the process that something of value springs forth to my mind that could not have been as easily made without following the process. Define is purely wonderful. 


Ideate away… 

Making new ideas is a function of the available raw materials to pull from plus the addition of time. Now, I know that if we really want to move fast and efficiently at making new and both plausible and crazy ways forward we simply add the raw materials of empathy sessions and a define sentence.  It's like rocket fuel for solutions to hairball problems. I no longer worry about coming up with radical new ideas and solutions… I worry about having the time and structure to follow the process to make many ideas before needing to have THE idea. 


Just start drawing already!

Maybe we need pre-prototypes. I've found that both myself and my team(s) have an inclination to work an idea out a few steps to far toward refined for whatever stage we're in. In a recent exchange I noticed that we were spinning our wheels on one part of a designed experience for a few days and that's when it occurred to me -- start drawing! One quick sketch and a volley later -- we had it solved. Pictures matter so much for our team. We need to draw more and more and more. We need to make many crappy things at low res before we add any gloss to a mix. 


The one with the prototype always wins

One of the projects I am on is a software sales project. I heard "the one with the prototype always wins" at d.school and now firmly believe it. We were talking way to much before messing with explaining stuff. Now, we come with a physical manifestation of our software and early indications have our conversion rates much higher. Yes please. More of that please. I am addicted to prototyping most everything now. 


Stop talking/planning. Start doing. 

I find myself thinking or saying "Stop planning. Start doing" a few times a day. I hope I don't get sick of it. It demands action and is at the very core of momentum.



Ok… there you go. A few more ideas after both passively and actively engaging in the process of Design Thinking in my life and work in the last months. I am having more fun on projects and the product of the work is better when employing the d.thinking model. It seems the teams I am a part of do too. That's hard to argue with.