Creativity vs. Efficiency

Really interesting article about the change in culture brought about at 3M by the introduction of the ‘Six Sigma’ efficiency system. It highlights some of the challenges of balancing an innovation-led culture with an efficiency led-culture. How do you make those compatible?

At 3M, A Struggle Between Efficiency And Creativity
“The tension that Buckley is trying to manage – between innovation and efficiency – is one that’s bedeviling CEOs everywhere. There is no doubt that the application of lean and mean work processes at thousands of companies, often through programs with obscure-sounding names such as ISO 9000 and Total Quality Management, has been one of the most important business trends of past decades. But as once-bloated U.S. manufacturers have shaped up and become profitable global competitors, the onus shifts to growth and innovation, especially in today’s idea-based, design-obsessed economy. While process excellence demands precision, consistency, and repetition, innovation calls for variation, failure, and serendipity.”

Microsoft Surface

Microsoft has announced its “Surface” computing platform. The culmination of some awesome work started long ago by Andy Wilson in Microsoft Research, the platform allows partners to build multi-touch based, table-top interfaces. Some decent scenarios, particularly for the retail and hospitality industry, are shown in the videos on the site. Looking forward to seeing other new user experiences come out of this platform as it’s picked up by other partners.

Barajas Bamboo Airport

Barajas Bamboo Airport
“RSHP say ‘while no specific environmental criteria were stipulated in the brief, the design team set out to maximise natural daylight to all passenger areas and reduce dependence on artificial light, while providing views out and reducing solar gain with extensive external shading.”

2 Japanese Heroes

Since this is a blog about the job I do as a designer in Microsoft Research, I thought I’d start a list of people whose work I really admire. These are not necessarily ‘computer’ people. More individuals whose imagination, integrity and output really shine.

First up are 2 Japanese heroes of mine. Not sure that the Japanese connection matters, but they both popped into my head at the same time. Both have an emphasis on fun and entertainment. Both are storytellers and creators of worlds.

Shigeru Miyamoto

Mr. Mario. Mr. Zelda. Mr. Donkey Kong. Impecable standards. Amazing imagination. And a deep, deep understanding of fun and engagement.
Read ‘A delayed game is eventually good; a bad game is bad forever‘ particularly.

Hayao Miyazaki

Another stickler for perfection. Co-founder and director of animation at Studio Gibli, whose imaginative and beautiful output has included My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.