A table that charges devices by borrowing from the principles of photosynthesis.
How about this for the evolution of “consumer research” - BIG brands are actually POSING as startups and posting their new product ideas on Kickstarter to gauge consumer interest before commercializing. Smart or sleazy?
What ONLINE DATING can teach you about ECONOMICS.
Marketers (especially the agencies) are like sheep – one does something and all the others simply follow. It’s a shame that so few are willing to take a chance and truly innovate (of course, they use that word every chance they get, since everyone else is using it).
What an AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER can teach your small business about JUGGLING MULTIPLE PROJECTS (by BigHeads founder, John Palumbo)
Anyone who owns a business knows that any given day involves juggling multiple projects. Of course, each project comes with its own set of nuances and potential issues, especially when the project needs to be transitioned to an employee, vendor, or associate. Keeping projects organized and those transitions seamless isn’t easy, which leaves entrepreneurs always on the lookout for tools and techniques to help keep all those balls in the air.
With this in mind, I recently spent some time with Derak Perkins, who keeps a different kind of project in the air: airplanes. Perkins is an air traffic controller at Portland International Airport—and his organizational skills just may help you run a more effective business.
SPACE OUT YOUR PROJECTS
One of the core responsibilities of air traffic controllers is to maintain an appropriate and safe distance, or separation, between all the different aircraft under their watch. Obviously, different aircraft fly at different speeds and different altitudes, and have different destinations. Controllers consider these nuances as they position aircraft during flights, and as they place aircraft in an appropriate sequence for takeoffs and landings. That’s why you might notice smaller aircraft taking off before or after larger ones as you taxi down the runway.
While keeping track of all this information might seem daunting, it has become second nature to Perkins. “Over the years, I have become so familiar with the different types of aircraft, I am able to quickly do the calculations in my head and effectively organize them in the most appropriate way,” he explains.
The Lesson: Just like those aircraft, your projects also have specific characteristics, move at different speeds, and even have different deadlines. And, the same way air traffic controllers become familiar with the characteristics of different aircraft, you should begin to understand the complexities of the projects you’re managing over time.
That said, you can leverage this information to better organize your schedule and to-do list. For example, at the start of each day or week, consider the projects you have on tap and use your experience managing each type of project to calculate the time and resources needed to accomplish them. Consider this information as you organize your calendar or to-do list and you’ll end up with a much more manageable and efficient system.
Let’s take the comparison a step further and liken your employees to the pilots of these airplanes. After all, individuals also move at different speeds and react to certain conditions differently. Assessing and calculating this information could help you more effectively transition or delegate projects, especially ones that have hard deadlines.
Air traffic controllers use “flight progress strips” to track each of the aircraft they are responsible for managing. “They are six-inch strips of paper containing standardized codes that instantly provide us with information about our flights, including its identification [flight number], type of aircraft, departure, destination, and the assigned altitude,” Perkins says. The controllers print out these strips and hang them in a holder above their station. They may strategically position the strips in the holder to further organize their flights. For example, Perkins places strips higher or lower in the holder to represent their flight altitudes.
In addition, since flights are managed by numerous controllers as they make their way to their destinations, the strips are handed off from controller to controller with the most updated information, along with additional notes and codes written by the prior controller to convey any special information.
The Lesson: While you might not have a machine that prints six-inch strips for you to hang above your desk, you could still apply this technique to help better organize all the projects you’re in charge of. Consider creating your version of the flight progress strip and develop a system that includes an at-a-glance, visual snapshot of your projects, along with simple codes to represent things such as the client, deadlines, and even the type of project.
If you have the space, print strips of your own and lay them out in your work area or attach them to project folders. If that isn’t possible, create a digital version using a platform like Evernote. Since more than one person might be involved in certain projects, consider standardizing the codes across your organization and incorporating your system into a cloud storage service such as Dropbox. This way each team member can quickly get a snapshot of a project and be brought up to speed more quickly when projects are transitioned their way.
MANAGE THE HANDOFF
Air traffic controllers are constantly handing off flights to and from each other as they enter and leave the airspace under their watch. Another way they ensure flawless handoffs is by creating a set of fixed coordinates for each and every one they execute. “When I hand off an aircraft, the other controller knows every flight will be headed in the same direction, at the same altitude, and traveling at the same speed,” Perkins says. “Every aircraft will be that way, all day, every day.”
Knowing aircraft will come to them with these fixed coordinates allows controllers to make airspace available for these flights among all the others they are managing. It also completely eliminates any need to waste time quizzing the previous controller.
The Lesson: Just like aircraft, the projects you are juggling will most likely need to be handed off to someone else. One way to make your handoffs seamless is to borrow from the approach above and create a set of fixed variables for your transitions. For example, at the beginning of each day or week, make it clear to your team that every project they receive from you will already be “approved” or “discussed with the client.” Overall, it’s an effective way to keep projects moving forward, since the person taking them over will not have to waste time backtracking to get questions answered, enabling them to hit the ground running as soon as it comes their way.
So the next time you’re flipping through the in-flight magazine at 35,000 feet, remember that there’s a team of air traffic controllers on the ground using a host of techniques to keep your flight on track. Sure, we’ve all experienced a few delays—and your company surely has, too—but keeping tens of thousands of airplanes organized in the sky every day is no easy task. The techniques they use to do it just might help you keep your own projects in the air.
(Originally published on AmEx OPENFORUM.COM)
How Traffic Lights Are Inspiring Smarter Meal Choices
Are you “borrowing” from OUTSIDE industries to drive innovation?
Are you ready to beta-test your new product, service or idea, but want testers who are a “notch above” and will provide you with more insightful and creative feedback? We will enlist select BigHeads to test-drive your offering and act as your beta-testing team. As part of the process, they will keep a journal detailing their experience with your product or service along with their thoughts, ideas and recommendations. The Beta-Tester BigHeads will then come together on our secure online platform to share their insights and collaborate to develop invaluable recommendations and builds that will ensure your product/service/idea will stand out in the marketplace.
HOW IT WORKS:
Step 1 – Beta-Tester ID: Based on the product, service or idea you are interested in test-driving, we will recommend 10-15 BigHeads to provide their insights and creative input in order to help to stretch and strengthen your offering.
Step 2 – Participant Approval & Confidentiality: Once you approve the recommended BigHeads who will participate in your project, each of them will execute a comprehensive NDA to protect your idea and ensure you own the rights to all the feedback you receive.
Step 3 – The Test-Drive: Over a pre-determined time-period (approximately 7-14 days), the participating BigHeads will live with your product/service and keep a journal detailing their experiences, thoughts, recommendations and ideas.
Step 4 – Beta-Tester Collaboration: Following the test-drive step, each of the participating BigHeads will enter our secure online platform and share their personal experience with your product/service/idea. Using each other’s input as inspiration, they will then work together to provide you with invaluable insights and builds you can use to strengthen your offering. You’ll even have the opportunity to view the collaboration session in real-time and communicate directly with our online moderator to steer the discussion.
Step 5 – The Report: Following the session, you’ll receive a user-friendly report from the project that synthesizes all the feedback and recommendations provided by the participating BigHeads.
Carlyn Kelly, EVP of Strategy and Innovation
We’ve finally found our new home base in NYC! Starting in January we can be found (some of the time) at the inspiring and beautiful NEUEHOUSE co-working space!
The AGE when people are the MOST CREATIVE
"Thought diversity" is what BigHeads is all about…and it’s exciting to see the concept finally starting to catch on!!!