Thursday, May 31, 2012

My tree on Erie St.

I have a favorite tree on Erie St. in Chicago that I discovered in the fall of 1993.

I still visit it often to reflect.

Examining it closely, I've seen a small bud, tightly holding a tiny green leaf sleeping snuggly until spring.  

I might be reminded of how the tree will live one day at a time without worry, concern, or complaint.   

During the snow and cold, most passersby wouldn’t notice it.  But in spring when it blooms those leaves, all who walk past will appreciate it and be thankful for its beauty in the sunshine.

I admit that I have even hugged the tree.  A silly sight, if anyone had seen it.  But a sincere gesture meant for all of nature – including human nature.   

"Show appreciation for those you take for granted," I say to myself, "and those who have given you happiness or satisfaction without asking for anything in return. And no matter how cold and bare life may seem now, nature’s way is to bring renewal to all life."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

From "Chocolate": The Quantity Which Is To Be Drunke

Excerpted from Chocolate: or, An Indian Drinke.  The Wise and Moderate Use Whereof Health is Preserved and Sicknesse Diverted

There remaines to be handled in the last Point, of the Quantity, which is to be drunke: at what Time; and by what persons: because if it be drunk beyond measure, not onely of Chocolate, but of all other drinkes, or meates, though of themselves they are good and wholsome, they may be hurtfull.

And if any finde it Opilative, it comes by the too much use of it; as when one drinkes over much Wine, in stead of comforting, and warming him- selfe, he breeds, and nourisheth cold diseases; because Nature cannot overcome it, nor turne so great a quantity into good nourishment.

So he that drinkes much Chocolate, which hath fat parts, cannot make distribution of so great a quantity to all the parts; and that part which remaines in the slender veines of the Liver, must needs cause Opilations, and Obstructions.

To avoid this inconvenience; you must onely take five or six ounces, in the morning, if it be in winter; and if the party who takes it, be Choler- ick, in stead of ordinary water, let him take the distilled water of Endive. The same reason serves in Summer, for those, who take it physically, having the Liver hot and obstructed. If his Liver be cold and obstructed, then to use the water of Rubarb. And to conclude, you may take it till the Moneth of May, especially in temperate dayes. But I doe not approve, that in the Dogdayes it should be taken in Spaine, unlesse it be one, who by custome of taking it, receives no prejudice by it. And if he be of a hot Constitution, and that he have neede to take it in that season, let it, as is said before, be mingled with water of Endive; and once in foure dayes, and chiefely when he findes his stomacke in the morning to be weake and fainting. And though it be true, that, in the Indies, they use it all the yeare long, it being a very hot Countrey, and so it may seeme by the same reason it may be taken in Spaine.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

N-of-8 New Product Conception: Global R&D Leadership meeting

Several years ago, I was engaged for the Baxter Healthcare Global Senior R&D Leadership Meeting.

We were asked to support the free exchange of information at this forum. It was a terrific opportunity for us to interact with Baxter scientists, product developers, research consultants, and expert speakers – from every continent around the globe.

And it, of course, demanded the utmost in confidentiality. (Only recently did our secrecy agreement expire to allow me to even discuss our involvement in this important conference.)
This Global R&D Leadership meeting a two-day collaboration that brought together some 250 people to conceive health technologies for communities in the developing world. Norbert Riedel, Chief Scientific Officer, led the event.

It was a conference about innovation, and we shared the belief that innovation thrives in the intersections of disciplines that come from bringing together such an eclectic group. We applied our N-of-8 model and drew inspiration from other models of innovation, design, and community empowerment: co-creation, cross-disciplinary collaborations and crowd-sourcing.

Unlike a strictly academic conference, with papers and proceedings, the Global R&D Leadership meeting emphasized development of solutions, It capitalized on the revolution in product design that aims to create equity in the distribution of research and development resources by focusing on the needs of the world’s poor.

Specifically, here’s how N-of-8 contributed to the conference.

Working with our Baxter colleagues in the New Product Innovation department, a team of 12 Stinson “innovators” facilitated a series of breakout groups.
  • Each group had a specific definition of a problem
  • We gave a short description of our Action Shoes® activity
  • The participants were assigned N-of-8 working tables and captured new product ideas on color-coded index cards
  • Each N-of-8 table evaluated the ideas and added to their teammates notes
  • All the idea cards were posted by color
  • The full group did a “walk around” to comment and vote on most-promising ideas
  • The Stinson and Baxter facilitators led a discussion of key success factors
  • A team was selected to create a presentation to the general session
  • A follow-up survey captured further thinking and feedback

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I like to sit back, relax and really enjoy my latte

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, some say second only to water.

With shops like Starbucks on nearly every street corner (and other companies adding gourmet coffee to their menus) it's a sure bet that this is a drink that is close to everyone.

  • When you have that first cup in the morning do you enjoy the flavor?
  • Do you gently inhale the aroma that wafts from the steam coming from the surface of the strong brew?
  • Or do you simply gulp it down while shouting at the kids to get in the minivan and looking for your car keys?
In this day and age it's getting harder and harder to take a few seconds to enjoy a good cup of coffee.

So, perhaps my blog today will inspire you to sit back, relax and really enjoy that cup of coffee.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"If they but Taste of Chocolate"

Excerpted from Chocolate: or, An Indian Drinke.  The Wise and Moderate Use Whereof Health is Preserved and Sicknesse Diverted

Nay more: It’s vertue is so much,
That if a Lady get a Touch,
Her griefe it will Extenuate,
If she but smell of Chocolate.

The Feeble-Man, whom Nature Tyes
To doe his Mistresse’s Drudgeries;
O how it will his minde Elate,
If shee allow him Chocolate!

‘Twill make Old women Young and Fresh;
Create New-Motions of the Flesh,
And cause them long for you know what,
If they but Tast of Chocolate.

There’s ne’re a Common Counsell-Man,
Whose Life would Reach unto a Span,
Should he not Well-Affect the State,
And First and Last Drinke Chocolate.

Nor e’re a Citizen’s Chast wife,
That ever shall prolong her Life,
(Whilst open stands Her Posterne-Gate)
Unlesse she drinke of Chocolate.

Nor dost the Levite any Harme,
It keepeth his Devotion warme,
And eke the Hayre upon his Pate,
So long as he drinkes Chocolate.

Both High and Low,
both Rich and Poore My Lord,
my Lady, and his -- With all the Folkes at Billingsgate,
Bow, Bow your Hamms to Chocolate.

~ Don Diego de Vadesforte.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Benchmarking business cases of other visionary companies

I’ve had many opportunities to facilitate medical brand vision workshops.

In one I particularly enjoyed, our objective was to create viable 3-year “vision scenarios” for a portfolio of products. The focus was on a successful brand launch as a key short- term goal, while simultaneously managing the lifecycle of an older brand, accelerating a bread-and-butter brand’s growth, and preparing for a successful follow-on product launch.

The cross-functional team was first given an overview of the improved market conditions and expanded manufacturing capacity. This allowed us to engage everyone to imagine a “different world” and create excitement in thinking about a brand-driven market.

Then, we introduced several historical examples of vision that changed perceptions. These included the Manhattan Project, Black Mountain College arts school, the Apollo space mission, and Disney’s animation studio and Epcot Center.

The main element of the meeting was benchmarking business cases of visionary companies to demonstrate how to imagine a different world. The cases were divided into three groups:
  1. New World Shapers – eBay, Medtronic, iPod/iPhone
  2. Lifestyle/Experience Creators - Harley-Davidson, Starbucks
  3. Category Killers - Best Buy, Home Depot
Using these cases as a start, three breakout groups applied a similar vision to our portfolio. We asked, “What if...we are pursuing a strategy like...(brand)?” What new ideas would that generate in the areas of: new processes or steps, sales & marketing programs, market research insights, customer relationships, expert practice leadership, and contingency plans.

We also applied a rough SWOT analysis to the vision scenarios to assess our ability to win (and why), the size of opportunity (volume and/or $), growth potential, and stronger overall brand positioning.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Colors & Bottles: a social art experience

Last Sunday, Brian and I decided to express some creative energy in a different way.

We went to a Colors & Bottles painting event.

Colors & Bottles says its goal is “to offer a relaxed, welcoming, stress-free, social art experience for anyone and everyone.”  The afternoon lived up to our expectation of a very chill experience.  They genuinely supported everyone in their art – without judgment.

The C&B was a comfortable class for all skill levels. During our event, there is one specific painting shared for reference and taught by the lead art instructor.  We got an easel, brushes, paint, apron, water cup, palette, paper towels and anything we might have needed

Here are some pics from our day.

You can read what Val wrote on her blog “That’s What We Did”

Thursday, May 17, 2012

46 pics from 46 blocks of Clark Street, Chicago

On a recent trip to Chicago, I traveled the entire length of Clark Street, from its intersection with Ashland Ave. then south.

Clark Street passes through the Andersonville Commercial Historic District.

Graceland Cemetery is on the east side of Clark Street from Montrose Avenue to its entrance at Irving Park Road.

One of my favorite coffee house spots for music was Uncommon Ground.

The Metro concert hall is located at 3730 North Clark Street, just a block north of Addison Street. At the intersection of Clark and Addison is Wrigley Field, the home of the Cubs.

Another commercial strip on Clark Street stretches from Diversey Parkway south to Armitage Avenue. Further to the south Clark Street borders Lincoln Park, and at North Avenue sits the Chicago History Museum.  Also at this corner is the Moody Bible Church.

The street then passes through the Near North Side, and our often mispronounced cross-street of Goethe. In the River North neighborhood, we pass the Newberry Library, my first downtown apartment, Oakwood, and the Walgreens where I always knew the price of milk.

Then it continues over the Chicago River at the Clark Street Bridge and through the Loop, where it passes the Thompson Center and its Monument with Standing Beast.

Clark Street continues between City Hall and the Daley Center and on to its termination at Cermak Road.

Here are some pictures I took as I drove along.