Friday, December 19, 2008

Wintry Potpourri

The deepest aspect of this article is likely to be the seven inches of snow that's fallen outside my window. A typical New England storm has moved through to make room for an even larger storm later this weekend. The roads are nearly impassable, but as a familiar song of the season slurs (at least Dean's rendition of it), I've really no place to go.

A lot of topics that I'd would have liked to write about here have surfaced since I talked turkey last month. However, I find that as the end of this year approaches, I want to clear the decks to make room for what's to come in 2009. So I thought I'd take a break from writing a larger article, and instead share some brief insights on things that have caught my attention over the last few weeks.

Innovating In A Recession

It is probably safe to say that 2008 has been a recessionary year for most, and 2009 promises to be even more challenging. During the Great Depression, a few companies managed to thrive. Their secret was simple. They identified ways to create and deliver value.

Chuck Frey of InnovationTools and Renee Hopkins Callahan of Innosight recently contacted a diverse collection of innovation experts and practitioners to learn more about the strategies they recommend for maintaining innovation during these challenging times. I was surprised and honored that an excerpt from one of my recent articles here at Thirty Minutes From Andromeda was included in their report, "Innovation Strategies for the Global Recession". My colleague Jim Todhunter, over at Innovating to Win, was also included in this report.

Recent Passings

Innovation is a technical and creative form of expression, usually a longing for something better, often of a goal that seems unattainable. I have found that for some of the most inventive minds, science-fiction has been an early source of inspiration, creating dreamers that transform into doers. It personally has played a role in my own career paths. So it is with sadness that I note the passing of two important figures in 20th century science-fiction.

Majel Barrett Roddenberry passed away this week from complications of leukemia. She was well known as the "first lady of Star Trek", having been involved with every production of the most recognized franchise in genre entertainment. Recently, she just finished voicing her familiar role as the computer of the famed U.S.S. Enterprise in J.J. Abrams' blockbuster restart of the franchise, due in theaters next May.

Forrest J. Ackerman (Uncle Forry, to those of us who knew him) was one of First Fandom's beloved members. He was responsible for coining the phrase "sci-fi" as a pun on the popular "Hi-Fi" home entertainment center in the 1950's. He discovered and represented giants of the genre including Ray Bradbury. Long before the commodity of social media, Forry published magazines and books that helped connect hundreds of thousands of fans and professionals in their love of the future, the fantastic, and the unknown. He was also one of the kindest and biggest hearts that you could ever meet. I was personally very fortunate come to know him through the 1990's, and last saw him in 2006 in Los Angeles. Forry's passing represents the end of an era, but not the end of his influence.

Notable Blogs

I started this blog as an experiment. One thing I learned very quickly is that there are more bloggers in the world with more talent than I could ever hope to have (or keep up with) who have some very thought provoking things to say. Recently, I've recently discovered several blogs which appeal to my professional and ecclectic interests that are very much worth sharing. I encourage you to check them out.
  • Lateral Action - Thought proking articles on creativity, productivity, problem solving and innovation.
  • Zero Punctuation - While technically not a blog, this video website contains the most essential element of electronic game review: a misanthropic British pop-culture slave displaced to Australia with an unnaturally developed sense of abuse and sarcasm, and command of the $#%&ing English language.
  • The Market Ticker - I follow a fair number of economic and financial blogs as best I can (certainly not enough as I should). Karl Denninger pulls no punches and doesn't waffle around when it comes to looking at the macro-economic catastrophe we are in, and all of its consequences.

I'll be returning to writing more focused articles shortly, including: the conclusion of my "Why Johnny Can't Innovate" series; a recommended reading list for 2009; and some new insights into the innovation initiatives of the Obama administration.

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