What are your company values? Now is a perfect time to reacquaint yourself with the values that are supposed to be binding you and all of your colleagues together as you reach your goals.
The format of this newsletter is intended to share interesting and entertaining content that is relevant to the field of industrial design and innovation. We don’t want to fill your inbox with direct sales messages because we naturally focus on adding value first. That said, we have heard that some of our readers don’t quite know what we do. This issue is a special edition where we lay it all out for you: the specific services we offer, typical timelines, and what it looks like to engage with us on a project. All the fun stuff is in here too, don't worry. This month Trig also takes a fresh look at contemporary art/design aesthetic in Tokyo, and then we follow it up with a book review.
Let's get down to business.
In case you ever find yourself asking "what does Trig do again?" here is the concise answer:
Dr. Andrew DiMeo has been teaching and coaching medical innovators for the past 20 years. It is safe to say the number of people he has directly influenced on their innovation journey is in the thousands. Andrew elaborates on the Trig process for distilling clarity out of chaos.
Kelly Harrigan knows what it takes to set up successful industrial design projects from her experience leading innovation at a global packaging manufacturer. During her time at Trig she has been leading transformative client projects that have the potential to define an iconic product experience of our generation.
We think Industrial design awards are a nice indicator of the quality of our work. Have a look at our designers' profiles for their most recent recognitions and honors. The esteemed Ethan Creasman masterminds our process for taking great ideas and turning them into iconic customer experiences with his department's cutting edge technical expertise.
Simply put, industrial design serves brand. Connie Tran is a master at creating and curating brand experiences through the Brand Asset Management program. Whether you are just now creating start-up marketing, designing your iconopoly, or enhancing the legacy of a heritage brand, Connie shows us how the BAM system can build brand equity.
The Trig Client Experience
How do you consistently capture lightning in a bottle? Innovation ain't easy, but it doesn't have to be unpleasant. We do our best to remove ego from our work, instead focusing on delivering caring and thoughtful solutions to our clients, for their customers. As digital natives, we can easily invite clients into our process, such that they can collaborate with us as we explore and teach the latest technologies and techniques.
Tokyo has spent decades at the forefront of art and design innovation, but it was recently expressed in The Monocle Travel Guide, Tokyo: "the Japanese are sensitive to small-scale beauty but insensitive to large-scale ugliness." This claim seems dubious, so we explored current art trends both in local galleries and also in towering public works to see the fascinations in store for a casual traveler with a keen eye for aesthetic:
Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
You've heard it before: Hard work is the key to success. Though we bet you've never heard it the way Ryan Holiday presents the concept in Ego is the Enemy. This tough-love guide to reaching your maximum potential is written in a way that leads you with a firm resolve while also taking into account factors like inequality and societal privileges. Difficult topics are met with empathy while never losing sight of the message. Make a plan, talk less, grind more. Do you have what it takes to see your goals past the kick-off?
You're familiar with the beloved cuckoo clock design, so get ready for a completely new vision on an old favorite. Artist Guido Zimmermann reinterprets a classic in these contemporary brutalist apartment complex clocks. Each building is still complete with the little bird in the bottom to sing your steady hours. Check out the vast array of structural styles created so far:
Until next time,
In this newsletter we would like to present you with a new concept: The Iconopoly. This idea was inspired by reading Peter Thiel’s book, Zero to One, in which he makes a compelling argument that, in order for any company to exist, they should seek to become a monopoly.
Not sure if you're like me... but when things are "too quiet" that's code for "up to something."
If that's your suspicion, then you're right. Trig quietly rolled the car out of the garage, started it at the bottom of the hill, and took it to the shop for some upgrades, a nice tuneup, and a supercharger. That's right, we've been quietly tuning our service lines of insights & ideation, product design, and brand asset management. We've had promotions and personnel additions. We've acquired trig dot com (what's that now?). Oh, and of course we've been reading, among other things, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts..." by Susan Cain.
This might sound like the start of a joke, but what happens when a virtual company meets in person? We found out recently by getting together for our annual meeting. As it turns out, we can be quite productive in person—refining our vision for the next 10 and 100 years, as well as tackling the key challenges we face today as a growing organization. As a result of our efforts to step back and think about where we want to go, you’ll be seeing a lot of changes at Trig in the coming months.
The team at Trig would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
If you would like to get us a gift, please tell your friends, colleagues, and enemies about our newsletter.
Some newsletters might just stop here with some holiday cheer, but then we saw the tweet from Nathan Hubbard and the Twitter outrage that followed. Our Obligers got to work, our Upholders were already working, our Rebels were already on vacation, and our Questioner figured out we could split the difference, work this week, then take next week off for Christmas. We're still ahead of Usain Bolt at a 1.8% improvement, but we need a zero drop shoe to pull that off. No idea what I'm talking about? You'll understand after reading the three killer articles below.
Our own Kelly Harrigan has really taken the Four Tendencies personality type methodology to heart. I was initially skeptical of a new personality type after having been let down by Myers-Briggs, but having read the book and seeing it listed as one of Forbes' most influential business books of 2017, I had to take it seriously. In this article, Kelly lays out how understanding the Four Tendencies should change our entire approach to customer research, or even conceptualizing what the customer experience should be.
What a great way to introduce our readers to industrial designer, Brian Himelright. Brian is the newest addition to the Trig team and we're thrilled to have him. Brian is an accomplished athlete as well as a talented designer, having run collegiate level track during his time at NC State. In his first Tangents article, Brian discusses the feedback loop between shoe design and running technique. Personally, barefoot shoes like Vibram's never made sense to me, but I might have to check out a zero drop shoe after reading Brian's article.
If any of our readers knows Ray Dalio or even someone employed at Bridgewater, please pass this article along in hopes that he might answer a burning question: How do you stay disfluent with your data when so much of the data processing is assigned to artificial intelligence systems? By data disfluency, I mean the paradoxical observation of Charles Duhigg that if data is made harder to interact with, it becomes easier to understand. In this article, I share my evolving thoughts on the use of business intelligence scorecards as a management tool and give a huge shout-out to the folks at Malartu. By the way, they also have an awesome newsletter. You might give them a Christmas gift as well and sign up for their emails.
What we’ve been reading
The book describes the culmination of work from years of Gretchen Rubin's efforts to understand a profound question, "How do I respond to expectations?" She discovered through upwards of 1 million personality survey responses that people tend to fit into one of four Tendencies: Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, and Rebel. Gretchen states that "The happiest, most successful people are those who have figured out how to exploit their Tendency to their benefit."
I had one of those santa-isnt-real moments this week. There is a personality typing test called Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) that is used by 89% of the Fortune 100 companies. I've taken it a few times, specifically as part of Organizational Behavior classes taught in business school. While it is widely adopted by the business community, very few psychologists or evidence-based practitioners take the test seriously. Adam Grant wrote a very effective tear-down for the reasons why MBTI isn't much better than using a horoscope. Like Adam Grant, I like to think of myself as an INTJ, but that personality type isn't stable over time. Over 50% of MBTI participants get a different result when taking the test again after 3 months. I would encourage you to read it here, but only if you're willing to confront a dearly-held myth. We also looked at alternatives to MBTI in our latest Tangents article
We have a lot of fascinating articles to share this week. I sat down with the TriangleCast podcast to talk about entrepreneurship. We explore how industrial design is connected to brand. Also, you’re going to want to read our book review of Principles and possibly get sucked down the rabbit hole of a radical new workplace philosophy.
I had the chance to sit down with Jason Guigno and Corey Jeffreys of TriangleCast last week. We had so much fun that we lost track of time and the podcast had to get broken up into two sections. During this first podcast, we get into how Trig got started, lessons learned from starting a business, and the impact that the book, Traction, has had on how we operate at Trig. I was expecting them to title the podcast, "Ty Hagler, the dumbest person at Trig." but they went with "Mission first, people always." which is such a great guiding statement used by the military and recently shared with me by a good friend and fellow entrepreneur. Also, I give a huge shout out to Trig team member Patrick Murphy.
Jason and Corey broke up the podcast into two episodes. In this episode, we talked about how the famous Marshmallow Test psychology study might be a good indicator of future success as an entrepreneur. We also talked about a misguided four-person kayak that floated on pure confidence... until it didn’t. Also I gave a shout-out to Trig team member Ashley Whitley.
I don’t know about you, but if I make a promise, it becomes my mission to keep that promise. In this article, we explore how the industrial design skill set has an essential role to play in how brands both make a promise and keep a promise. At the end of the day, however, it is a company’s brand promise that guides not only industrial design, but every function within the organization.
What we’ve been reading
Lets say you started a business from scratch, then learned incredibly valuable lessons along the way to grow this business to the 4th largest privately held company in the world. You’ve kept these lessons secret for a while, but then your focus shifts to leaving a legacy for others and you decide to write a book outlining your discoveries over a 40-year career. This is not a book to breeze through, because it contains such powerful, perhaps dangerous ideas that could change how we work... for the better. There’s also a TED talk by Ray Dalio if you prefer to catch the highlights.
I recently got obsessed with a game that could have come from an MBA Operations class simulator. The premise is simple enough - manage cash flow, manufacturing, and supply chain to provide enough paper clips to meet demand. Along the way, you start using artificial intelligence to automate some tasks. The problem becomes, the more tasks you delegate to the AI to make manufacturing easier, the faster you bring about the downfall of humanity.
Now, in the back of my mind, I'm looking at the model's projections on marketing paper clips and the influence of AI on generating demand and saying, "there's no way this is possible." Then, I read Connie's amazing article this week on how we are linking up marketing automation and customer insights... it makes you wonder whether a super-marketer will someday doom us to having an over-supply of paperclips and an AI overlord. The good news is that the AI will be benevolent and solve climate change, create world peace, and cure male pattern baldness.
Would you doom humanity to sell a few more paper clips? Check out the game here: http://www.decisionproblem.com/paperclips/ Either way, brave reader, read on.
Connie Tran explores what happens when customer insights and marketing automation are paired together. If you consistently feed your marketing automation software campaigns with customer insights, the software will be able to continue learning about each customer, long after you've done your part. In a sense, you can program your marketing automation software to build its own marketing campaigns based on what it has learned about each person's behaviors, without any input from you.
What we're up to
Ethan Creasman joins Trig! We are excited to announce that Ethan Creasman has joined Trig as an industrial designer. Ethan brings a wealth of experience to the team from his work in laptop and server design, furniture, home improvement, lighting, and UX app design.
Trig is Hiring! We are looking for an industrial designer to join our growing team. If you are a confident self-starter who takes pride in the body of work that you have accomplished, but are seeking the next challenge to grow and refine your skills, we want to talk to you. See the job description here
Guest Post: Michael Hiller
Until next time,
We have been pondering serious and silly topics this week. Patrick wrote an amazing piece on the timeless qualities of the first bicycle saddles, their recent resurgence, and what we can learn about creating ideas and technologies that last. I got to reflect with 100 college students on the absurd creative genius of children in pursuit of better idea generation practices. Kelly gave an awesome webinar on Innovation Brokers - you can catch up if you missed it below.
I was sitting down to lunch with a friend this week and received some amazing wisdom from him. He knows the Trig team well enough to give me some insightful feedback. He said, "Trig's ability to self-critique and adapt to feedback is the primary driver of your growth. I get a sense of the amazing future potential of Trig because you are constantly seeking feedback and responding. The moment you stop seeking feedback is the moment the rudder locks and the ship starts sailing in a fixed direction with less potential." I had to stop the conversation and write it down so I wouldn't forget his sage words of caution. I think there is a broader lesson for our Trig community - we are all building amazing things that have potential to change the world. Once we think we have found success, it is easy to forget the disciplines of humility and open communication that got us to where we are today. If we allow ego to get in the way, we rob our future potential to build something greater than ourselves.
Personally, I think the problem is parrots. Find out why in the articles below. I hope you enjoy the exploration with us!
Have you ever heard someone complain, "They don't make products like they used to"? That individual is falling victim to the Survivorship Bias where the eminence of a successful person, occurrence, or thing outshines the improbability of its own success - causing oversight of the vast majority of unsuccessful instances. The vast majority of products that have ever been made have long ago failed and been discarded. Those products that do survive the test of time are subject to the Lindy Effect, and therefore likely to continue to be useful for many years to come, even as the temporary fads ebb and flow. Patrick breaks this down with a fascinating history of bicycle saddles, which you can read here.
Students make great guinea pigs. In a biomedical engineering lecture at Georgia Tech on idea generation this week, we ran our largest group ideation session to date with 100 students participating. After discussing concepts and examples that build the philosophy of creative performance, the students were then given a case study with which to practice good idea generation practices. In theory, you shouldn't be able to hold an ideation session with this large of a group in a lecture hall. These Georgia Tech students proved the theory wrong and delivered an amazing 265 ideas in 10 minutes AND selected a winning idea before the class ended. To find out how they did it and to see the winning idea, check out the article here.
What we're up to
You might have missed our most recent webinar on Innovation Brokers and the tools of a Cross-Pollinator. Don't worry, we've got you covered! You can find the recording of the webinar here for free. Be sure to listen to the end of the 30 minute webinar. We had awesome questions from participants which included:
- Do Cross-Pollinators work better as individuals or in groups?
- What is a good way for someone looking at a Smart Board for the first time to know where to start?
- How do you know which of the insight clusters should be included in the ideation session?
Until next time,
Have you ever wondered why some people are able to generate new ideas faster than they can spit them out? How are they able to consistently create original concepts that are both novel and meaningful? Imagine how much more creative you would be if you learned their secret.
I had lunch with a friend this week who was on the founding team of a medical device company in his early career that went public and currently has a market capitalization of $1.04B. As he was describing the experience, I stopped him and said, "Wait, you wrote a billion-dollar need statement?!" He chuckled and admitted he hadn't thought of it in those terms. Over a long enough time horizon, the work we do as entrepreneurs and innovators has the potential to create enormous economic value. The conversation left me wondering, how DO you create a billion dollar idea?
Today our own Kelly Harrigan unpacks this idea of how the Cross-Pollinator persona leads to meaningful creative ideas. We have new books to check out and a fun case study of a product to help your kid feel like a hero when he goes to the potty. We also want to invite you to an upcoming webinar where you can learn to become a true Innovation Broker. To learn our secrets, read on and sign up for the webinar.
Kelly has only been with Trig for a few weeks and she is already changing how we approach innovation. One of the many reasons why I am so excited that Kelly has joined Trig is that she lives the Cross-Pollinator persona through her love of travel. Don't worry though, Kelly explains you don't have to be a travel bug to become a good Cross-Pollinator. In the article, you will learn what it means to be a Cross-Pollinator and Innovation Broker, as well as figure out that creativity can be an import/export business. Enjoy here
Join us on Thursday, September 14th from 1:00pm 1 1:45pm EDT to learn from Kelly Harrigan, Trend and Innovation Manager at Trig as she shares the new tools and techniques she has developed to build Smart Trend Boards.
If you are like me, you will either sign up right now and put it on your calendar while you have the free time slot, or you will wait and miss the opportunity. Don't wait. Invest in your creative performance by signing up for this free 45-minute webinar here
What we're up to
Teach your boys to hit the mark. It only works when the seat is lifted, so there's added training benefits.
What we're reading
Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity by Charles Duhigg
I keep coming back to this book. Our theme of Cross-Pollination ties in directly to Duhigg's chapter on Innovation and the impact of Innovation Brokers. Apparently, there was a study done of 17 million scientific journal articles asking what is common among the top 5% most influential science? As it turns out, the majority of those top 5% scientists are Innovation Brokers - able to mix conventional concepts from other fields in highly unusual ways.
Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALS Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
Every now and then you read a book that fundamentally changes your perception of the world. Have you ever blamed something or someone other than yourself for a poor outcome? I certainly have. The core concept of this book, Extreme Ownership, is that the leader has to own every mistake of their team. No excuses. This isn't a new concept as the leadership principle has been told in a variety of ways, (The Level 5 Leader in Good to Great and Boundaries for Leaders come to mind) but the story of how Jocko dealt with his own responsibility and ownership of a wartime incident under his command is simply powerful.
Until next time,
Since we last spoke, we finished college, gained two new stellar teammates, and celebrated one much-deserved promotion. Not bad, if I don't say so myself.
As a service to our readers, if the sun happens to disappear on Monday, don't freak out. Yes, a dark shadow will be moving across the continental United States at a speed of 2,955 mph when it hits Newport Oregon, slowing to 1,502 mph when it surrounds Charleston, SC at 2:47 EST.
No, it's not a super-galactic alien spaceship bent on Earth's destruction, just the moon crossing in front of the sun. Eclipses occur thanks to a unique scientific coincidence that the Moon and the Sun have the same “angular size,” that is the Sun is 400 times wider than the Moon, but is also 400 times farther away. That coincidence makes these celestial orbs appear to be the same size in the Earth’s sky. Before you go outside to look at the sun to make sure its not aliens, please wear proper glasses to protect those retinas.
Let's hear it for the ladies
We're proud to announce Connie Tran has been promoted to Brand and Marketing Manager. Connie has been instrumental to Trig's growth, not only with keeping our clients happy, but has led the way on updating our brand, positioning, and online presence. Connie is a tireless champion of making sure we hold the line on each project and for building a strong company culture. If you haven't seen the magic she's been working on the Trig website, check it out here.
Kelly Harrigan has joined our team as Trend and Innovation Manager. Kelly brings fresh perspective to the team in sophisticated trend development and new practices for facilitating ideation sessions. In joining the Trig team, Kelly adds yet another dimension of top-level industry talent. At Trig, we live and breathe cultivating an enduring culture that attracts the best and brightest, and we look forward to her leadership and the impact she will make for our clients. Kelly will be responsible for leading customer research studies, organizing and facilitating ideation sessions, as well as pioneering our services with trend research and trend field trips. Read more here.
Ashley Whitley has joined our team as Project Manager. Ashley joins the Trig team at the perfect time. Her expertise in project management and confidence as a leader has gracefully challenged us to commit to standard processes that help us keep track of our critical numbers. She has patiently picked up the project management responsibilities that had otherwise been addressed through ad hoc efforts. Her steady guidance and persistent attention to detail will be critical to Trig's continued commitment to excellence as we reach our next phase of growth. Read more here.
I think it goes without saying but I'll say it anyway: We. Are. Pumped. Can't wait to see what our team can do with the leadership of these impressive and inspiring people.
Coulter College in Review
We had an awesome time at Coulter College last week working with rising undergraduate seniors from twelve international Biomedical Engineering college programs. The student convened in Georgia to see who could develop the best medical device and investor pitch.
I got the design day kicked off with a talk on brainstorming and creative performance. We introduced the students to the discipline of Industrial Design and walked the group through several tips and techniques to be more creative and have better ideation sessions.
You can see the highlight reel from that talk and our lessons learned here. (spoiler alert, it's 6 seconds long and I'm on camera saying "oogah boogah").
Inquiring minds want to know...
Let's talk about the difference between qualitative and quantitative research, since this is one of our top performing articles.
Quantitative research is concerned with the measurements of a market. Areas of study can include the size of a market, the make up of market segments, purchase frequencies, general awareness of brands, distribution levels, etc.
Qualitative information is harder to define but the emphasis is on understanding rather than measurement. For example, quantitative research may tell you that product A is recalled more often than product B, but how does A function as a product and why is it more effective than B?
Quantitative and qualitative research work in tandem when used in the most effective way. The qualitative element frequently takes place first, exploring traits that need to be measured in the subsequent quantitative phase. The result is downright awesome research.
What we're reading
With Originals, Adam Grant explores how innovators see the world differently and bring others into their success. It is not the high school valedictorians who go on to change the world, Grant argues, since their very success signals that they have perfected following and benefiting from the existing system. By contrast, it is the highly creative children that teachers tend to discriminate against, labeling them as troublemakers. Read more here...
James Surowiecki of the New Yorker explores the concept of large groups being smarter than an elite few. He says that no matter how brilliant your top executives are and despite being better at problem solving, innovating, and wise decision making, huge groups, think the customer base, always offer better solutions. Read more here...
Until next time,
Huge week for us here at Trig. We launched our new website, check it out and let me know what you think. And...
We're also proud to announce we've won another IDEA Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America.
Excuse me for one moment:
More on that below, first on to more killer content from the Trig Team:
We're going back to College (kind of)
An annual program called the BMES Coulter College, specifically. Next week the team is headed down to Atlanta, Georgia to guide student teams through the creative process of designing solutions to pressing medical problems. Student design teams are guided by faculty, clinical experts, and designers (that's us) through a highly dynamic process designed to help them better understand how innovations can meet clinical needs while providing tools and approaches used to evolve identified problems into novel solutions.
This our second time participating in the Coulter College, having first participated in 2015. During the four-day event, student teams start with strategic focus, identifying their unmet need statement, brainstorm solutions, develop a regulatory plan, scan the patent landscape, and develop a business plan. At the end of the event, the teams pitch their new medical device companies to venture capital investors and business advisors for evaluation and the chance to win valuable prizes. Did I mention sleep? That doesn't happen much.
Coulter College is first and foremost an educational all-in event where each of the students, educators, and professional mentors devote long hours to creating a meaningful experience for the students. As designers, its the closest we get to replicating our own college experience of pulling all-nighters to meet a project deadline. What has kept us coming back has been the inspiring core values lived by the Coulter organizers - servant leadership, creating opportunities for lower income BMES college programs, and a desire to do good in the world by changing patient outcomes through innovation. What's not to love about this community?
Trig Wins IDEA Award for Work With Sunscreenr
Created by North Carolina entrepreneurs David Cohen and Jon Meyer, Sunscreenr is an outdoor accessory to aid in the application of sunscreen, by making the invisible visible. Consumers use Sunscreenr’s camera to record video of their bodies after applying sunscreen. The device records a video through a proprietary lens that filters UV light, revealing where users may have under-applied sunscreen or had it wash away with sweat or water exposure during swimming.
We had a blast working on this project. There's really nothing we enjoy more than working with awesome clients like David and Jon on a project that impacts millions of lives.
Check out the press release here.
Also a video of Sunscreenr in action here.
Whose marketing strategy reigns supreme?
From partnerships with James Harden and Kanye West to equality campaigns, our intern Sofia breaks down how two of the biggest sporting manufacturers manage to stay on top of the league. If you appreciated our breakdown of different brand archetypes, you'll certainly appreciate this case study on the hero archetype in full-form.
Read the full article here.
What we're up to
What we're reading
THE FOURTH TURNING: AN AMERICAN PROPHECY by Neil Howe and William Strauss
Neil Howe and William Strauss admit that their model of the four generational archetypes is not the first time that the phenomenon has been observed in human history, however, they argue that American society has distinctly followed this pattern over the past 500 years. When each archetype comes of age, there is a turning, or shift in societal mood. More here
DESIGN A BETTER BUSINESS by Justin Lokitz, Lisa Kay Solomon, Patrick Van Der Pijl
I got mad when I saw this book, then immediately bought it. This is exactly the kind of book I want to write someday. These three brilliant authors stitch together a complete design journey from beginning to end in a way that you’ve likely never seen before, guiding readers (you) step-by-step in a practical way from the initial spark of an idea all the way to scaling it into a better business. More here
Until next time,
Another holiday weekend is upon us. Happy Independence day, we hope you have a relaxing weekend filled with fun, food, and fireworks. Here's a cool gif to kick off the celebration:
On to some super interesting reads:
Taking a deeper look at the ASUS 3D printing project
You've probably heard of open-sourced software, you probably use something open-sourced almost every day (like if you're reading this on Firefox, for example.) Open-source hardware is a bit less popular among average consumers. It's more popular among modders using Arduino boards or Rasberry Pi to bring life to their home-made robots.
Last year ASUS introduced a 3D printing project in which they provide CAD files through community forums for printable components that can be installed on ASUS products. In our latest thought piece, we dive into the idea that ASUS and other hardware companies could use this open-source methodology, along with 3D printing, to fundamentally accelerate the advances of our hardware world and bring the design process to the consumer.
Read the full post here.
Red Bud Labs Stage Case Study
Trig recently helped develop the Stage for Redbud Labs of Chapel Hill, NC. The device uses proprietary technology to accelerate the mixing of samples and reagents in microarray assays for laboratory test procedures and clinical diagnostics. Don't know what any of that means? Don't sweat it - we think it's awesome to look at regardless.
Check out the case study here.
Interrogation and Innovation
We're not talking about the good cop/bad cop interrogation in a dark room with a very bright light, we're talking the literal definition of interrogation: to elicit useful information.
Drew Brisley dives into what interrogation means for innovation in one of our favorite Tangent articles. In order to be good interrogators—and thus great innovators—we must reject the notion that the way things are is the way things will be.
In order to go about interrogation in the service of innovation, you must go about it in the freest ways possible:
- You have to be willing to be wrong about your ideas (!)
- You must have an open mind
- You must be able to stand in a different set of shoes—those of humankind itself (and they may be small and uncomfortable or large and insecure)
- You must be able to question the status quo (to see fluidity where other see concreteness)
- You must question the research (in order to understand its context)
What we're up to
- RED BUD LABS CASE STUDY
- TBC BEER LABEL DESIGN AND BRAND IDENTITY
Until next time,
We published a lot of great content this week, I'm excited to hear what you think. Big thank you to those of you who reply to this newsletter each week and special thanks to those who share it with their colleagues.
Welcome new subscribers, on to this week's reading.
Think creativity stems from the "right brain"? Think again.
For a long time people have referred to playing musical instruments or meditating as a way to stimulate your "right brain" and, in turn, boost creativity. While those are, in fact, ways to boost creativity, it is not exclusive to just the right half of your brain and unless you're playing the drums, you'll need a bit more movement to maximize the effect.
In our latest piece penned by yours truly, I explore the recent scientific discovery that creativity is sparked from a combination of using both sides of the brain. With this new finding, it is confirmed that creativity can be boosted by stimulating all quadrants of the brain, not just the left or right. What's the best way to stimulate your whole brain? Moving your arms and legs. A bunch. You know, like exercising.
In this post, dive into how training for the olympic trials helped to inspire our product design process and how that basically makes us the coolest design firm you could possibly find.
Growing with purpose
If you enjoy the post above, you'll also enjoy this podcast I was recently featured in. We touch on the concept of exercising to boost creativity a long with a whole bunch of other interesting things like:
- A significant emotional event that has shaped my leadership approach: [25:30]
- What book influences my leadership style: [42:34]
- I'm stranded on an island, this is what I'll take: [43:40]
Pop in some headphones, check out our notes, and listen to the podcast here.
Ever wonder how marketers get plugged into the most recent, fastest growing trends? It's a job called Cool Hunting and it's more scientific than it sounds.
Our brilliant intern, Sophia, talks about how, from a behavioral perspective, different groups of people pick up trends at different stages of the trend cycle. From the Devil Wears Prada to the Baltimore Orioles, check out this post to understand when and why different groups adopt different things.
What we're up to
What we're reading
- Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore Geoffrey A. Moore’s Crossing the Chasm reveals the steps necessary to make your product surpass the “fad” phase. It is an essential read if you want to learn how to strategically place your product in a niche market, and become the next big thing. It teaches you to think from your customer’s perspective: what they want and what their values are.
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield A concise, appealing, and applicable guide for succeeding in any creative sphere, The War of Art is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the creative, not warring, soul.
Until next time,
To all the fathers out there, I hope you have a wonderful Father's Day weekend full of family time and relaxation. I'll be chasing after our collection of biscuit snatchers, which involves changing diapers, being a guest of honor at a tea party, and getting whacked with a plastic lightsaber.
Anyway, here are a few things we learned since we last spoke:
Does it seem like every Disney movie is the same? They are. We've seen the hero save the girl hundreds of times throughout human history, we know what's going to happen, but we still pay millions of dollars a month to keep consuming the same story. It's no coincidence. It's science, and it's called archetyping.
Our own Connie Tran, with a little help from Carl Jung, highlighted the 12 archetypes that could define your brand. Understanding these archetypes is the first step to creating a brand that motivates people like Disney does.
If you're curious what archetype your brand falls under, we're offering a free brand consultation - no strings attached. Just reply to this email and I'll get you setup. Also, check out some examples of our work using this idea of brand archetypes in the "what we're up to" section below.
Not the kind like the guy you hired for your son's 4th birthday. The Magic that is played by an estimated 20 million people around the world and published in 11 languages. We're talking about Magic: The Gathering. Mark Rosewater, head of design for magic, is delivering a series of insightful pieces titled "Twenty Years, Twenty Lessons," in which he releases ~6 lessons each week he has learned from building Magic over the last 20 years. We drew six snippets of inspiration from Part 1:
- Don't fight human behavior - don't change your players to match the game, change your game to match the players. Build your product for your audience.
- Don't fight human perception - Aesthetics matter. Failure to satisfy aesthetics makes players feel ill at ease, distracts them from focusing on your product, and makes them pay attention to the product instead of the benefits it creates.
- Don't start from scratch - your audience already has a life's worth of experience they will relate to your product. Understanding those experiences is step one to a great product.
- Use your audience's preexisting knowledge - don't reinvent the wheel. If your audience is used to referring to a certain feature or benefit by a certain name, don't change it to be unique, stay consistent to be helpful.
- Is this interesting or fun? - when you're introducing a new feature you need to ask yourself - is this an interesting feature? or is does this make my product more enjoyable to use? The latter is what will lead to success.
- No line is worth a scene - no matter how good a feature or piece of content is, if it's not serving the whole product brand, it has to go.
Check out the video of his full speech here.
Serious play and serious work.
Since 1968, Mattel has been releasing one of America's favorite toys: Hot Wheels. What many people don't know is the highly detailed and labor-intensive process behind designing, and ultimately manufacturing, the 1:43 replicas of our favorite cars.
In early June of 2017, Marc Levitz released an incredibly insightful interview where he sat down with two Hot Wheels design legends, Jun Imai and Ryu Asada. These two are responsible for the whole Hot Wheels die-cast design team and take us through the process of ideating and designing Hot Wheels, start to finish. A few of our thoughts from the piece:
- Similar to all of us at Trig, both Jun and Ryu knew they wanted to be designers from a very young age. Also similar to many of us in this space, they experimented with more technical paths like physics and engineering before ultimately coming back to their true passion: design.
- The best design work starts with a sketch. Missed last weeks newsletter? We sketch too.
- Mattel has tracks set up everywhere in their office so the team can be playing with the designs they’re working on. Serious play with serious work. More support for the success of a commitment culture model.
- Creativity stems from being able to be inspired by everything and anything, and being able to visualize how one cool thing from one area could be incorporated in another (in this case, little cars). This is something we strive for every day.
Still got love for the streets
It's been over a year since we penned our piece discussing what it's like to work at Trig, a virtual company. It's all still true. We love working virtually and "commuting" through technology gets easier every year. Some of our favorite new tools for doing so are:
Join.me: Super reliable and easy conferencing
Appear.in: We all need water cooler conversations and in a virtual company it happens here.
Slack: Team communications made easy and free-mium.
Asana: Our home for project management. We chose it over Trello because Asana has better UX.
Batterii: Digital brainstorming, customer insights, strategy formulation, and private Pinteresting.
If you also conduct business virtually, we'd like to hear about it for an update we're doing. Just reply to this email!
What we're reading
- DESIGN A BETTER BUSINESS Justin Lokitz, Lisa Solomon, and Patrick Van Der Pijl include a comprehensive set of tools and skills that will help you harness opportunity from uncertainty by building the right teams and balancing your point of view in this must-read.
- THING EXPLAINER: COMPLICATED STUFF IN SIMPLE WORDS This is easily one of my all-time favorite web comics. This smart, quirky book by Randall Munroe uses simple illustrations to explain big ideas. This book is a helpful reminder to all of us who can get caught up in the specialized language of our respective industries to slow down and explain what we do in the most simple terms.
Until next time,
Based on your feedback (thank you again to those of you who share your thoughts with us each month), we're trying something new with this month's newsletter. You can also expect to hear from us a bit more often in the future, we promise to keep it insightful, maybe even fun. Let us know what you think of the new format.
Here we go:
MFA is the new MBA
Don't just take our word for it, In his 2005 book, A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink declares that the MFA (Master of Fine Arts) will soon replace the MBA (Master of Business Administration). I penned a few of my own thoughts about creative performance across innovation, design, and marketing - check it out here.
The paradox of ideation is something our team chats about often and a driving force behind our updated core values (see below for more on that). High team performance is critical to success but groups are inferior to individuals with regard to creative performance. This paradox is exactly what inspired our virtual ideation program. If we haven't chatted about the program reply to this email, I'd love to tell you about it.
I bet you didn't expect to pitch your team your next big idea, citing a fuzzy blue bear from your children's favorite show. I didn't expect to spend 2 hours drawing connections from an academic paper to Sesame Street, but alas, here we are.
In one of our latest thought-pieces, we dive into the difference between groups who operate as a collection of individuals (Cookie Monster Groups) and brainstorming groups. It's an easy read and you'll learn at least 3 new words (That's 3X Sesame Street). Check it out here
Fun Fact: Cookie Monster used to have big pointy teeth, although this was when the puppet was used in commercials before the beginning of “Sesame Street.” Also, Oscar the Grouch was orange.
going up and growing up
We don't just do great work, we have a ton of fun doing it. We love our clients, our work, and our teammates. We've updated our core values to reflect that, you can see the full breakdown here.
Our new set of core values reflects a company that doesn't just aspire to survival, but to greatness. Relative to our goal of building a 100-year company, we are still very young. With this youth comes the opportunity to reflect on the harder challenges, learn from our victories, learn from our mistakes, and grow into a greater version of ourselves 10, 20, or 50 years down the road.
One quick thing
Sketching, among industrial designers, is quickly becoming a lost art. As software programs and the computers they live on become more powerful, we're finding fewer and fewer young designers mastering the art of sketching.
I can't understate the benefit of working with a designer who can listen to your ideas and translate those thoughts into a sketch right before your eyes. Among the many incredible talents we have here at Trig, we're constantly in awe of our lead designer Patrick Murphy's ability to sketch. Check out this sub-one-minute video we made a few years back displaying his artistry.
What we're Reading
- Challenge Your Assumptions, Change Your World
- Check out our thoughts on Andy Cohen's book about identifying and managing your assumptions so that you see things for what they are, or are not, in order to make the best decisions under any circumstance.
- Small Giants
- Bo Burlingham takes a deep dive into fourteen companies that chose to build great businesses, not just maximize revenue. He demonstrates how the leaders of these small giants recognized the full range of choices they had about the type of company they could create and made the choice to pursue greatness by placing other goals ahead of getting as big as possible as fast as possible.
Until next time,
One of the most exciting developments for Trig in the past year has been the development of our virtual ideation practice. Traditionally, ideation sessions pull together people from across a company for an intense day or two to creatively solve big problems. We have led ideation sessions and participated as visual scribes or illustration experts since our founding nearly 10 years ago. While we have learned a lot from coaching better creative performance from our ideation participants, the traditional model isn't truly optimized for creative output.
Revolutionize your ideation sessions
Virtual ideation, by contrast, takes advantage of the best of both individual and team creative dynamics. Over the past 9 months, we have experimented with a variety of techniques to maximize creative output in the virtual context and have been consistently amazed with the results we're seeing for our trailblazing clients. Oh, the places you’ll go, when you're focused on your customers.
Don't let innovation be a one-time event
When properly put into practice, innovation is not a one-time event, but a consistent process of exploration, discovery, divergence, convergence, prototyping, and testing. Too often, ideation sessions are a one-time event that generate lots of ideas that filter down to a select few, while the rest get discarded or forgotten.
It's why we're excited to launch our new Virtual Ideation Services Subscription
With our new virtual ideation subscription, Trig can offer select clients a predictable schedule for activating the customer insights through ideation—all in a process where participants can join from across the world. What's more, clients will have the ability to maintain a permanent AND searchable digital record of each ideation session.
Reply to this email to speak to me directly, or hit the button below to contact my team via form. You can also request a time slot to speak with me on my calendar.
In the mean time, check out what else we've been up to lately—you're sure to find some relatable, interesting, or inspiring stories or resources below.
What else was interesting?
Growth with purpose - The Small Giants philosophy
Passionate, purposeful, and values-driven—The Small Giants community brings together like-minded individuals, from aspiring new business leaders to seasoned veterans, looking to harness the connection between culture and business success. Read more or check out the Small Giants community directly here.
Will your skin be protected this summer?
We've been working with Voxelight to launch their first product, Sunscreenr, which makes unprotected skin visible. If you happened to catch that one episode of Shark Tank, you've already seen how this magic works. If not, check the the Sunscreenr and pre-order your own here!
Mentoring young design thinkers
The student experience is so transformative in the individual's thought process and way of viewing the world that the discipline has been named Design Thinking. We are always happy to say that we enjoy giving back to the community, but in the end, we learn just as much from the students as they learn from us. Read more about our latest talk at SCAD here.
Digital ideation at Innovate Carolina 2017
Trig will be sponsoring Innovate Carolina for the 7th consecutive year. We'll be giving a talk on April 21st that explores the risks and rewards of accelerating the front end. The talk will explore a new approach to ideation that balances the need for individual reflection and gathering new creative stimuli from team members using digital collaboration tools—making creative teams more effective while reducing the cost and time needed to conduct ideation sessions. The conference will take place at The Biotech Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and we’d love to see you there. Register here!
Does your startup have what it takes to survive?
In case you missed some of our recent posts, check out "Biology is Destiny: Choice of Culture and Startup Survival" and "The Value of Interrogation in Innovation." If this type of content tickles your fancy, check out more of our work and thoughts on our blog, Tangents.
Hope you've enjoyed the read!