Ideation Occurs In-Person, Make It Your Mission

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Living a couple blocks away from a downtown, I have begun making strides to take advantage of the surrounding amenities of professional talks, restaurants, and other cultural events that are now all within walking distance. I had a great evening at a Meetup event, where we helped each other move some projects along, and with two other guys we brainstormed and chiseled away at an idea until we conceived not only the concept for an application but the monetization strategy as well!  This back-and-forth ideation is an experience that I’ve grown to cherish, realizing that such high-level discussions fully utilizing college-educated knowledge and sensibilities are not possible in just any arena.

The other of the two guys was an intern from the University of Waterloo, who as a first-generation Indian immigrant.  As we began discussing a team for this new app idea, this ‘director’ from Chicago revealed that he was a one-man shop.  For most of his work, he simply does the design and outsources the rest, as he justifies that it is virtually equivalent work.  The student–of course perhaps being biased, studying computer science–disagreed, responding “I think that the top talent will always be here in the United States.”  “Yeah, maybe the top .001% of talent is here, but for half the price I can get someone in Asia to do it that is still 90% as good.”  What seemed most telling to me however, was that nonetheless he admitted that the concept that we had realized in that 45 minute discussion was better than what he could come up with in four months on his own.

Weird Al Mission Statement synergy ideationPerhaps our great bard of modernity is really onto something, as sarcastic as he is in his new video on company mission statements.  As we are all social creatures, the beauty of being able to seek out others that are working in similar circumstances is that we can shed light on what they don’t know, and in some case we can work together.  Networking soon will bring seamless integration.  We’ll leverage our core competency in order to holistically administrate exceptional… synergy.  (oh just go watch the video, it’s great.)

Another Thought on In-Person Ideation: The Importance of Place

A little while ago, I finished Richard Florida’s book “Who’s Your City?” as a follow-up to his previous book on the emerging ‘creative class.’ His ideas have been bouncing around in my head, as in the past year I have had the opportunity to visit some of the best cities he has highlighted of Omaha, Des Moines, Denver, Boulder, San Francisco, and my current city of Ann Arbor, MI. And seeing a good handful of satellite cities and suburbs in-between, I have had an interesting journey talking with different people and experiencing their different lifestyles, which has been both inspiring yet startling how wide of a spread there is between the cultural engagement of different cities. Over the past year, this passage has become more and more visceral to me:

“To be sure, globalization is powerful.  Places that never had a chance to participate in the world economy are seeing some action.  But not all of them are able to participate and benefit equally. Innovation and economic resources remain highly concentrated.  As a result, the really significant locations in the world economy remain limited in number.

FIG_2.4_Star_Scientists_in_a_Spiky_World-ideation

In one analysis, plotted on the y axis is the locations of the most-sited scientists in research.

The reality is that global-ization has two sides.  The first and more obvious one is the geographic spread of routine economic functions such as simple manufacturing or service work (for example, making or answering telephone calls).  The second, less obvious side to globalization is the tendency for higher-level economic activities such as innovation, design, finance, and media to cluster in a relatively small number of locations.”

These two book on the role of place in our new economy have had a profound impact on me, and I am very grateful as it turns out to have selected a university that is in a city near one of these clusters, these “creative centers.”  Unburdened by any other concern, we were able to all experience a bit of self-actualization that night in an exercise of dreaming up what could be.

And as I continue to learn the value of these interactions, I am more and more motivated to carry out my own personal mission statement that I had devised for NYE 2013: To encourage individual and institutional adoption of technologies and processes to minimize barriers of collaboration.