Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pro Tip: Best Source For Design Thinking Inspiration (and It's Free)

Visual thinking is a framework for finding solutions.
We use it is brand design, advertising and marketing.
 It is also used in architecture and urban planning.
I am here to tell you that it can and should be considered in most every task and ever profession.
It influences how we think, and how we are perceived by those around us.
It is business, art and science.
Above all, it is a process. A structured process. There is a specificity to it all.
We must train ourselves, practice and learn.

You must imitate and learn the basics before improvising and creating new.

So, as designers, writers, concept strategists and more, how do we learn?

My 'Pro Tip' is to get yourself to the Institute of Design at Stanford.
Wait, you can't just take off today for California?
Luckily, the 'D.School' believes in everyone sharing in these lessons virtually.

They offer a 90-Minute Crash Course Program.
They have a listing of
various learning experiences through courses and project work.
You can explore their way of thinking and working.

Now, find some time to doodle, sketch, write and explore.

Also, let me know what other resources you use for design thinking, inspiration and improvisation.

Happy creating.

How Cities Will Drive Global Change

An inspiring short film from Ericsson on how urban areas and the associated networking of them will spur incredible global change.
This is important for every citizen regardless of where they live.
It is vital that we understand the urban migration so we can innovate in business, architecture, marketing, agriculture and more. To me, this migration is not to be feared, but embraced and planned for.
How will consumers adapt? How will products evolve? How will experiences change?

52% of people currently live in cities
200,000 new urban dwellers join their ranks every day

by 2050, it is estimated that 6,000,000,000 will live in cities. Yes, that's billion.
The rate will accelerate as well, with 1,000,000 new people a week moving to cities.

The costs of action now are lower than inaction.
Cities already account for 70% of global energy use.

If we fix problems of cities, we fix the problems for everyone.

The solutions are generated in the cities.

Technology and data collection is what will allow us to solve problems.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

To Innovate For Others We Must Innovate Ourselves

When I started Rockhill Strategic, the mission was to provide world-class marketing ideas to clients who value beating their competition with smarter thinking, not more spending. Luckily a lot of companies share that philosophy. Thus, it is still the center of our brand vision. 

The key to success with this strategy is to know where your consumer will be at various points of time in the future. Knowing your former customer and your current customer is important, but not nearly as important as reading the demographic and trend 'tea leaves' and making a plan to adapt.

Deciphering trends for clients requires a lot of research, daily observation and a knowledge of demographics. Then the science is balanced out by the art of naming, branding and creative. In the course of daily client work, you start to also observe missed opportunities. Unexplored gaps in the marketplace. These new ideas frequently find there way into my Moleskine notebook. Random notes, incomplete ideas and sketches. Hundreds of them. I am sure some are good, and some our terrible. 

Now to the point of this post. I have decided that it is time to start picking a few of these ideas and developing them for market. Yes, Rockhill is launching an Innovation Lab. We are starting small with one project. If successful, it will propel the creation of more consumer ready products and projects. At the best, we launch some great products that people love. At the worst? It makes us smarter and stronger for our clients. We are continuing to develop relationships with great innovation centers like DigitalSandBox, the Kauffman Foundation, SparkLabKC and Tumml. We are excited to learn and grow. 

So without further ado, we give you NeighborsGrow
More will be revealed as we move to beta.
Until then, please follow the NeighborsGrow Team on Twitter
at @NeighborsGrow and sign-up for the beta here


Friday, April 12, 2013

You Play Like a Girl

Britney Griner of Baylor
As a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s, that taunt was hurled at various boys on the playground. Most of us have heard them, "You throw like a girl" or "don't cry like a girl." The boys that said those things largely grew up to hold the same feelings in the business world. Maybe they dropped the overt taunts, but the sentiment was the same. Women are weaker, they aren't as tough, not as capable. To anyone who would lob the taunt "you play like a girl" at me now, I respond
"I hope so."
This isn't some 'politically correct' game. It isn't about making men and women the same. It isn't about making our boys less capable. Not at all. What it is about is recognizing that talent and skills are defined by each individual's capabilities. Abilities that are not rooted in gender. That does not mean that men and women are the same. Gender differences are apparent in many things. How we approach challenges being among the biggest. Let me tell you, that is one heck of a good thing. When we lead as a gender we struggle. 66% of people surveyed in every corner of the world said "the world would be a better place if men thought more like women." I am here to try and help make that 100%.

When we lead as a team, when we respect and value each other's opinions, we win. This applies in the board room as much as it does on the playground.

Which brings me to my recommendations for today:

First, Watch the video below of John Gerzema (@JohnGerzema) speaking at TEDxKC last year. Go and reserve a copy of his book, The Athena Doctrine. Read it next week, and start implementing the thinking. I guarantee that the work he and co-author Michael D'Antonio did with researching how people think, and what we want out of our world, will change the way you approach your day-to-day life.

Second, If you are a man. Try and play more like a girl.
It will be tough to reach that high, but I have confidence that you can do it.
Need more reason? Our kids already get it. They are already learning that teams composed of equal genders, and when men think a bit more like women, we make better decisions.

Finally, get involved in your local community. There are many organizations dedicated to this challenge. Here in Kansas City, we have WinWin. Find an organization like WinWin near you and contact them.

Rob Fields (@RobFields) of PSFK recently interviewed Mr. Gerzema.
The following is a small excerpt that I feel hits home. The Millennial generation gets it.
Now we all need to. Read Mr. Field's full article and interview HERE.  

The Athena transformation is being driven by young people. How so?
The millennial views are hugely important in this shift.  They just don’t see the world in such stark contrasts.   They can see leaders being more collaborative, more empathetic.  This doesn’t suggest people are soft.  Rather, they’re fierce.  They’re building interesting businesses.  They’re just realizing there’s a different path to doing it.  There’s nuance, listening, communicating, there’s being flexible.  Being patient.  People that were willing to give in and think about long-term implications of problems, rather than focusing on short-term expediency.
For example, there’s the lead city planner in Medellin, Colombia, who’s combating the violence that’s marred Colombian society for decades by devoting 2/3 of the city budget to people under 40.  Digital schools, free schools, free libraries, free healthcare.  Basically, anything that provides infrastructure for youth.
Or, in Germany, there’s Felleshus (a Danish word for “house for everyone”), the five nations embassy where countries pool resources, share support staff, and work collaboratively, both for economic development and public policy.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Work: Storytelling is What We Do

Take a look at the latest work from Rockhill Strategic. Created for Travois, an amazing Kansas City company that prides themselves on being a mission-based for profit corporation. Since 1995, they have been the leading builder of housing on tribal lands and have had a positive impact on tens of thousands of lives. 
Be sure to keep and eye on them, as they are growing fast and doing a great deal of good both here, and globally. 

Now, back to our project. Travois approached us to help them better tell the story of their investing program. In partnership with the incredibly talented Rhymes With Style, we created a brand vision platform and then developed the following investor video around a story and design concept that is expandable to their other business units.   

Not only are we proud of the work, we are proud of the story it tells and the result it has had in helping them to raise investor dollars to further their mission. 

Great work always begins and ends with a story. We love helping our clients to find the story within them and then tell it in a fun and interesting way.

We hope that you enjoy it as well. 

Travois: Low Income Housing Tax Credits Explained