Tag Archives: Culture

Have You Built a Culture of Creativity?
November 22, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

But before a company can build their business value of design, some critical building blocks must be in place. 

They must first prime the organization to have a culture of creativity that supports design-centric initiatives.  This only happens when companies get really good at leveraging creativity as an innovation resource.  

I’ve written in an earlier article about the significance of “the human quotient” in companies as they grapple with the future of work in the midst of our 4th Industrial Revolution- a time when we are tethered to cloud technology, AI, VR, robotics and data in ubiquitous ways.  Pointing out the business value of design is another way of acknowledging that when a company starts with their customers’ human needs and desired experiences, and builds products and services around those drivers, it is ultimately a more efficient way to run a business.

The human quotient is grounded in creativity.  Creative approaches to business outcomes can positively affect revenue generation, market share diversification, efficiencies and cost reductions.  This has to happen in an inside-out manner.  That is, the creative impact of your products and services on people’s lives will only come to pass when the company builds a culture of creativity.  This is especially true at a time when employee engagement, generative thinking and thought diversity in a company are critical means to innovation.  

Here are three ways companies can build their creative competencies, and thus prime themselves to build the business value of design.

1.     Encourage Curiosity

Leaders need to model that inquiry – versus certainty- gets us to the next level. There are market leader companies- such as Amazon, Whole Foods and Lyft- who would have never anticipated 5 years ago with certainty, where they are today.  There are new alliances they now make based on macro-environmental drivers.  Encouraging people to ask lots of questions and not equate curiosity with appearing ignorant is a crucial first step.

2.     Improvise

Companies that design flexible structures and processes, versus rigid rulebooks, are better off.  Humans respond well to structure – to an extent.  Structure helps us to understand the limits we can push.  This is the very nature of improvisation.  Like jazz music, all improvisational systems have rules.  It’s the ability to stretch and rebound off the rules which allows for adaptive and responsive solutions to customer needs.  

3.     Intuit

While most corporate boardrooms don’t admit out loud the role of intuition in decision making- because of our culture’s leniency on the rational- the truth of the matter is that plans are fiction:  they haven’t happened yet.  Although honing intuition is not something we teach in business school, the majority of successful entrepreneurs can speak to pivotal moments when they followed their heart, paid attention to subtle patterns, and great things happened.  

Companies that implement great design practice linked to positive business outcomes, have also created opportunities for encouraging curiosity, improvising solutions through adaptive structures and acknowledging intuition.  Try experimenting with implementing your own version of these 3 building blocks, one per month over the next quarter.

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A Rare Bird's-Eye View of Hong Kong's Vanishing Rooftop Culture
June 16, 2018 6:06 pm|Comments (0)

The district of Kowloon, Hong Kong, is a crowded place—there are 124,000 people packed into each of its 18 square miles. Apartments can be amazingly small. The dearth of parks doesn’t help. So Kowloonians use whatever space they can find, often escaping to the tops of buildings to walk their dogs, hang laundry, or just take a catnap.

Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze is one of them—only he takes to the roof with his camera, documenting unsuspecting strangers on shorter buildings below. The images appear in his stunning new book Concrete Stories. “It’s daily life stuff, but it’s surprising to see it on the roof,” he says.

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Jacquet-Lagrèze grew up in the suburbs of Paris, where people have yards and cars, and can even see the stars. He sacrificed it all for love, moving into a 200-square-foot apartment in Kowloon eight years ago to be with his wife. Now they have just 400 square feet to call their own, but Jacquet-Lagrèze doesn’t mind. The city is inspiring, its density enabling him to create series like The Blue Moment, photographed from rooftops.

While shooting, Jacquet-Lagrèze often glimpsed others who were also out and about atop other buildings. As development began transforming the cityscape, he worried these communal rooftops could disappear. “This part of the city is now surrounded by modern buildings, and bit by bit these old buildings are being destroyed and replaced by really big, tall buildings with locked rooftops,” he says.

This—coupled with his sheer curiosity about the neighbors—inspired him to document rooftop culture while it’s still around. Twice a week over the last four years, he rode an elevator up a highrise with his Sony DSLR and a couple zoom and telephoto lenses. He hunkered down near a ledge, munching on a snack as he waited for people to appear. In the golden afternoon light, he photographed Kowloonians as they jumped rope, watered their plants, even burnt offerings to their ancestors.

If spying on such tender moments of solitude sounds creepy, Jacquet-Lagrèze says it’s par for the course on Kowloon’s rooftops. While shooting the series, he sometimes glimpsed people higher up watching him. “Whenever you are on the rooftop in the open air, you know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of windows potentially looking at you,” he says.

Kowloon is ridiculously crowded, even up in the air.


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AT&T CEO says ready to invest, keep culture at Time Warner: CNBC
June 15, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – AT&T Inc is committed to spend as much as needed on the media business of newly acquired Time Warner Inc, Chief Executive Randall Stephenson told CNBC on Friday, with a plan to invest $ 21 billion to $ 22 billion in the combined company.

FILE PHOTO: Chief Executive Officer of AT&T Randall Stephenson arrives at a U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., U.S. April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

“We’re not going to be penny-wise and pound-foolish here,” Stephenson said in an interview on the financial news channel. “We intend to invest.”

The No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier closed its $ 85 billion acquisition of Time Warner on Thursday and now faces the task of integrating a media company into its operations as it seeks to rival Netflix Inc , Amazon.com Inc and other technology companies providing entertainment directly to customers.

That will be the job of John Stankey, who will lead the company’s combined entertainment business. Stephenson said on Friday AT&T intends to preserve Time Warner’s creative culture.

He acknowledged such differences in an email to AT&T and Time Warner employees late on Thursday, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

“As different as our businesses are, I think you’ll find we have a lot in common,” wrote Stephenson. “We’re big fans of your talent and creativity. And you have my word that you will continue to have the creative freedom and resources to keep doing what you do best.”

Stephenson told CNBC he expects AT&T’s debt levels to come down quickly in about a year, returning to normal levels within four years at about 2.3 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization.

Some analysts have raised concerns about the high level of debt the company took on to acquire Time Warner, about $ 180 billion at the close of the merger, Stephenson said.

AT&T’s spending plans include investing more in HBO, the premium TV channel with the hit show “Game of Thrones,” and expanding HBO’s direct-to-consumer platform, Stephenson said.

Reporting by Sheila Dang; Additional reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by Bill Rigby

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France's BlaBlaCar bets on Russia's ride-sharing culture
June 4, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

ST PETERSBURG (Reuters) – Russia has overtaken France as the biggest market for French ride-sharing startup BlaBlaCar, a growth driven by long distances between Russian cities and a culture of giving lifts to strangers, the company’s co-founder and CEO told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: A sticker of French ride-sharing start-up BlaBlaCar is seen on a car May 27, 2017 at Le Coudray-Montceaux, near Paris, France. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

Nicolas Brusson said the unlisted company, which entered the Russian market four years ago, plans to invest 10 million euros in Russia next year, more than BlaBlaCar’s total investments over the past three to four years.

“We are talking about 15 million members in Russian which means that more than one Russian of ten is already signed in BlaBlaCar. We are speaking about over 3 million Russians that are transported by BlaBlaCar every month,” he said.

BlaBlaCar’s app works by matching passengers with drivers who have spare space in their vehicle and are heading to the same destination.

The company, founded in Paris in 2006, describes itself as the world’s largest carpooling community. It has two models of making money in Europe, taking a service fee from passengers for every journey or allowing the use of its app under subscription.

Brusson said the first reason for the firm’s success in Russia was cultural.

He said it had to work hard in Europe to persuade customers BlaBlaCar was a safe service. “In Russia people are more used to sharing and got the features of the service faster,” he said.

Before ride-sharing services like Uber came to Russia, it was normal for citizens to flag down a private car in the street, and share the ride, for a modest fee. The practice grew out of the fact that car ownership was not widespread, while taxis were heavily regulated and expensive.

Brusson said the second reason BlaBlaCar did well in Russia “is the size of the country, the shape of the country. It’s a kind of perfect for long distance cooperation because of big population, lots of big cities we can help connect.”

Russian economic growth is slowly recovering after two years of recession, but is also under pressure from U.S. sanctions imposed in April on Russian businessmen and big companies.

Brusson said those factors might play to BlaBlaCar’s strengths. “People are going to be more cost-conscious so people will choose services like ours because people can save money and drive cheaper,” he said.

BlaBlaCar is ramping up investment in the Russian market even though its operations in Russia, unlike in European Union markets, are not yet monetized, passengers in Russia pay for their journeys in cash directly to drivers not to the service.

Brusson saw Russia as a very strong financial contributor for BlaBlaCar in terms of four to five years.

“Next year we will invest as much as we’ve done in the last 3-4 years. Because the activity is just doubling year on year, and there is a real need we can help address, so it leads us to invest,” he said.

Reporting by Polina Nikolskaya; Editing by David Evans

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Uber hires former NTSB chair to advise on safety culture after fatal crash
May 7, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] said Monday it has hired a former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman to advise the company on its safety culture after a fatal self-driving crash in Arizona.

The Uber logo is displayed on a screen during the Women In The World Summit in New York City, U.S., April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Online news outlet The Information reported Monday that Uber has determined the likely cause of the fatal collision was a problem with the software that decides how the car should react to objects it detects. The outlet said the car’s sensors detected the pedestrian but the software decided it did not need to react right away.

“We have initiated a top-to-bottom safety review of our self-driving vehicles program, and we have brought on former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart to advise us on our overall safety culture,” Uber said Monday. “Our review is looking at everything from the safety of our system to our training processes for vehicle operators, and we hope to have more to say soon.”

A 49-year-old woman was killed on March 18 after being hit by an Uber self-driving sports utility vehicle while walking across a street in Phoenix, leading the company to suspend testing of autonomous vehicles. Arizona’s governor also ordered a halt to Uber’s testing.

Uber declined to comment on the Information report. “We can’t comment on the specifics of the incident,” the company said, citing the ongoing NTSB investigation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also investigating the incident.

Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in April the ride-sharing company still believes in the prospects for autonomous transport. “Autonomous (vehicles) at maturity will be safer,” he said at a Washington event.

Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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The Most-read WIRED Culture Stories of 2017
December 31, 2017 6:00 pm|Comments (0)

Earlier this year, WIRED published a story that asked a question that seemed to encapsulate internet culture in 2017: What does ‘covfefe’ mean? The nonsense term was tweeted out by President Donald Trump, and the internet went into a fit trying to define it. As WIRED culture writer Angela Watercutter wrote, “Nearly every great meme starts with an obscure word, hashtag, or image that is then granted humor based on what the internet does with it. ‘On fleek,’ ‘Damn, Daniel,’ Kermit sipping tea—all of these things have meanings given to them by people online. In fact, creating and spreading new language is one of social media’s greatest skill sets.”

The mystery was never solved, and soon we turned our attention to other great questions, like is mindful meditation BS? Can one really make a living as a D&D Dungeon Master? Or, my personal favorite, just who is Poppy?

Childish Gambino. Atlanta. Lando Calrissian. Inside the Weird, Industry-Altering World of Donald Glover

Childish Gambino. Atlanta. Lando Calrissian. Glover has just about every performance space covered, and all his projects intersect in strange ways.

—Allison Samuels, January 19, 2017

PewDiePie’s Fall Shows the Limits of ‘LOL JK’

The prominent YouTuber’s casual racism and attacks on the media have made him an idol in the eyes of the so-called alt-right.

—Emma Grey Ellis, February 16, 2017

Pepsi’s New Kendall Jenner Ad Was So Bad It Actually United the Internet

The online response to the soda company’s now-pulled marketing video was surprisingly refreshing.

—Angela Watercutter, April 5, 2017

Extremists’ Meme Armies Are Turning Into Militias

On the far-right, political memes have evolved from mere trolling to something that looks a lot more like military propaganda.

—Emma Grey Ellis, April 20, 2017

George R. R. Martin Doesn’t Need to Finish Writing the Game of Thrones Books

George R. R. Martin owes you nothing.

—Emily Dreyfuss, May 5, 2017

The guys behind the Supreme Saint streetwear shopping bot.

Ysa Pérez

Supreme, and the Botmakers Who Rule the Obsessive World of Streetwear

In the fanatical world of limited-release streetwear, milliseconds matter—and the shopping bots reign supreme.

—Lauren Schwartzberg, May 25, 2017

What Does ‘Covfefe’ Mean? The Internet Will Define That For You.

Early one morning President Trump tweeted a fake word. Social media’s reaction is a prime example of how language travels online.

—Angela Watercutter, May 31, 2017

Welcome to Poppy’s World

Pop singer? YouTube star? Cult Leader? Whoever she is, Poppy is here to take over the internet.

—Lexi Pandell, June 3, 2017

It Was Inevitable, Really: Netflix Is Turning Into HBO

Now that it’s canceling shows, the streaming service is acting more like a network than ever.

—Angela Watercutter, June 13, 2017

Is Mindfulness Meditation BS?

Is mindfulness meditation a capitalist tool or a path to enlightenment? Yes.

—Robert Wright, August 12, 2017

Alec Baldwin’s Trump Impression Is a Technical Marvel

The actor’s impersonation isn’t just funny, it’s very technically proficient.

—Angela Watercutter, August 22, 2017

The ‘Distracted Boyfriend’ Meme Photographer Explains All

Antonio Guillem didn’t mean to go viral. In fact, he only just found out what a meme is.

—Brian Barrett, August 28, 2017

Dan Winters

The Replicant: Inside the Dark Future of Blade Runner 2049

What a sequel 35 years in the making can tell us about the state of sci-fi and America’s appetite for dystopia.

—Brian Raftery, September 19, 2017

Steven Soderbergh’s New App, Mosaic, Will Change How You Watch TV

His latest project is a monumental effort designed to keep you glued to your phone.

—Angela Watercutter, November 11, 2017

Meet a Professional Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master from New York City

Timm Woods is one of several DMs-for-hire out there, but this isn’t his hobby or a side gig; it’s a living, and a pretty good one at that,

—Brian Raftery, November 19, 2017

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Is a Near-Perfect Reinvention of the Franchise

Rian Johnson’s movie is the springiest, smartest, most assured installment in years.

—Brian Raftery, December 12, 2017

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Will Be Too Inclusive for Some People. Good.

Don’t like diversity in your Star Wars movies? Don’t see The Last Jedi.

—Angela Watercutter, December 15, 2017

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Vienna Game Developers Are Using The City’s Coffeehouse Culture To Create A New Kind Of Arcade 
June 5, 2017 6:43 pm|Comments (0)

The rise and fall of arcades have in large part shaped how we think about playing video games together in public places, but in their absence, young designers are finding new ways to bring social gaming out into the open.

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Aussie workplace culture startup raises $10 million
March 8, 2016 8:25 am|Comments (0)

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Culture Amp, a startup headquartered in Melbourne, Australia that helps businesses know just what their employees think about work, has raised US$ 10 million (A$ 13.5 million) in a new funding round. 

The Series B funding was led by Index Ventures, along with Felicis Ventures and Blackbird Ventures, Culture Amp announced in a statement Monday. 

Culture Amp banks on the fact businesses now recognise a good workplace culture can provide a competitive edge, Peter Haasz, vice president of business development and strategy at Culture Amp, told Mashable Australia. “We’ve realised if we want to be more innovative and deliver better service to our customers, we need better culture,” he said. Read more…

More about Culture Amp, Venture Funding, Startup, Australia, and Business


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