In my final bath of the year, I finished reading Sketching User Experiences by Bill Buxton, an inspiring book on the spirit of design and how innovation really works.
Buxton quotes T.E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom:
All men dream; but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.
Like the word “mathematics,” I think the word “future” should be pluralized, as in “futures.” As long as it is singular, there is a bias toward thinking that there is only one future. That takes the emphasis, and attendant responsibilities, away from the reality that there are many possible futures, and that it is our own decisions that wil determine which one we end up with.
The closer that one gets to Route 128 or Silicon Valley, the more it appears that people seem to think that innovation is all about invention, and seem to ignore the critical role in this played by research and scholarship.
Innovation in process trumps innovation in product. In order to create successful products, it is as important (if not more) to invest in the design of the design process, as in the design of the product itself.
From the perspective of management, the take=away lesson is that you must foster an overall culture of creativity within your organization–one that not only has good ideas, but also understands them, is receptive to them, and knows what to do with them. Otherwise, you will lose both the benefit of the ideas that you paid for as well as your most creative people. Goog ideas are not sufficient and innovation and creativity cannot be compartmentalized.
It takes even more creativity to productize a good idea than it does to have the idea in the first place.
Uta and I drove over to the Legion of Honor Museum. Donated to San Francisco by Alma Spreckles, a personal friend of Rodin, The Thinker sits in the front courtyard. The museum was closing 40 minutes after we arrived, so admission was free.
I’d been looking for a good Cezanne on which to vertify Jonah Lehrer’s hypothesis that the artist left paintings purposefully unfinished to enable the viewer to complete the picture. That’s certainly at work here:
Uta and I had an hour to kill before our dinner reservation, so we dropped by a Russian deli in the Richmond District and bought poppyseed pastry and champagne to enjoy later this evening. Very authentic deli chock full of smoked fish, caviar, packages with Cyrillic lettering, heavy accents, fatty sausages, and hearty cheer.
We ate supper at Aziza, a Michelin-starred Morocco-California fusion restaurant. Olives, spicy almonds, sardine filets with kohlrabi coins, cauliflower couscous with harissa, bastilla with duck confit, burnt vanilla bean ice cream with berries, and chocolate cake with meringue.
Life is good.