MEREDITH Strategy + Design

We design the places and spaces where people come together to do great work

Filtering by Tag: startups

A way of creative thinking

The way to come up with good startup ideas is to take a step back. Instead of making a conscious effort to think of startup ideas, turn your mind into the type that startup ideas form in without any conscious effort. In fact, so unconsciously that you don’t even realize at first that they’re startup ideas.
— Paul Graham

Sketching and testing to develop rich solutions leanly

...the process of sketching and testing alternatives generates insights and builds a shared mental model among the design and delivery team and with the client. This approach typically assures alignment with the organization's values and nurtures the "personal, passion-igniting elements" that are at the core of great projects.

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You don't compete by purchasing airplanes...

I've been absent from the blog for way too long, totally consumed by a great new project opportunity that should provide lots of good content here.

As I warm up to the task of getting back to writing, I offer this delightful and appropriately inspirational piece that I found in today's readings. This is from Bryce Dot VC, whom I hope does not mind my capturing this excerpt from his blog –

Last week while prodding a pitching entrepreneur on his competitive landscape I rattled off potential competitor after potential competitor in order to gauge his reaction. After appeasing me for a few of them he paused, mid-sentence, a little befuddled. Then he stopped altogether.

A little exasperated, he said something along the lines of:

Startups don’t compete with airlines by purchasing a bunch of planes, hiring a bunch of pilots and locking up a bunch of terminals at airports. Startups compete with airlines by inventing videoconferencing.

It’s as though he was channeling Buckminster Fuller who said:

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

The power of place – how shared physical place trumps virtual networks

http://twitter.com/#!/archizoo/status/3056586054438913 We've always been interested in how physical place contributes to the development of organizations. We have a portfolio full of examples from our own work, and it is always delightful to find affirmations in other places.

This article in today's New York Times is a great primer in the power of place. Twitter's choice of a location for its operations has generated a feeding frenzy among other tech companies who what to be in the suite – or on the elevator – next to them to capture real measurable benefits in the proximity. Among those benefits are these –

  • Contact learning – "by hanging around with executives at one of the hottest tech companies today, some of the magic could rub off"
  • Network expansion – "There, he has been stalking executives on — where else? — Twitter, to see who is to visit Twitter’s offices. When he finds out, he pounces and “hijacks the meeting,” he said, by asking them to swing by his company"
  • Influence sharing – "Through elevator and lobby run-ins, he has also forged a close enough relationship with Twitter’s chief executive, Dick Costolo, that Mr. Costolo is helping Klout raise venture capital."
  • Serendipitous resonance – "they are hoping that proximity to Twitter will lead to chance encounters in the elevator, partnerships or an acquisition — or simply that some of Twitter’s fairy dust will land on them."
  • Opportunity amplification – "physical proximity — as close as working in the same building — leads to increased knowledge, productivity, income and employment."
  • Technical support – "he frequently hops in the elevator to visit Twitter to ask technical questions about the company’s changes to its tools for software developers"
  • The power of pull – “It’s certainly something that adds to the credibility of the address when you have people coming to see you, and you can say it’s the Twitter building.”
  • Motivation and energy – “It’s a very energetic spot. It makes you feel charged up when you walk in.”
  • Property value – "the vacancy rate for big buildings in the area has decreased to 21 percent from 26 percent, and average rent has increased to $32 from $29 a square foot"

There is, of course, a delightful poetry in all of this. As the article reflects, "Mr. Fernandez and other Twitter admirers see the irony in their desire for personal interactions with Twitter executives when their business is focused on building virtual relationships. 'Even though it’s all about tech and the Internet, the real magic of Silicon Valley comes from people being in the same space,' said Burt Herman, co-founder of Storify."

“For certain early-stage insights and design matters in a very fast-moving, hot industry, the proximity, even at the room level and the elevator level, is important,” he said.

There is also another great lesson in the story –

  • Link design strategy to business strategy design – “We spent more money than we probably should have as a start-up to make everything feel as cool and pretty as we could, so people wake up in the morning and want to come to work,” Mr. Stone said. “I’m not surprised other companies want to take advantage of all the mojo we put into the place. I would do the same thing.”

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