Simplicity
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Simplicity Simplicity Presentation Transcript

  • Simplicity – A Collaborative Innovation Project at PA Dr Julian Kucklich, MA Media Futures Associate Knowledge Transfer Project University of the Arts London / The Press Association 24 June 2008
  • Introduction
    • Based on an initial diagnosis of PA’s structures, business models, technologies, and work environment, it seems obvious that all of them would benefit greatly from simplification in order to foster innovation – a key resource to meet the challenges of the digital age
    • In his book The Laws of Simplicity , John Maeda sums up simplicity as follows: “ Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful ”
    • The most prominent obstacle for simplification at PA is the lack of inter-departmental collaboration , coupled with a lack of free time, and communal space
    • In order to address these issues, I suggest to set up a collaborative project among members of different departments, and work together on fostering innovation and creativity at PA
  • Anamnesis
    • Tradition and entrenched conservatism are inhibitors of change at PA
    • The obsession with speed at PA has entrapped the company in a “ dromological paradox ”: the faster production moves forward, the less sustainable the production process becomes
    • A lack of feedback channels and focus on top-down structures means that innovation on lower levels of the corporate hierarchy (where most creative staff are located) cannot be harnessed
    • On the management level, this is mirrored by a lack of vision , and a limited framework for strategic thinking
    • The linear, centralized, stratified and masculine spatial structures at PA are a further inhibitor to collaboration and change
    • This is exacerbated by a pronounced lack of diversity and heterogeneity , and a suppression of creative thinking
    • Contextual factors such as bland, uninspiring office design , lack of communal space , and rigid time management , as well as technophobia , an inability to engage with contemporary ethical issues around news production, and a reliance on conservative intellectual property models lead to a situation where the opportunities for PA to adapt to the challenges of the 21 st century seem very limited
  • Method
    • Instead of relying on established ways of developing new products, the Simplicity project will try to use a range of heterogeneous methods for generating new ideas – even when there is no short-term commercial benefit
    • By giving the members of the project time and space to think , the project will act as a nucleus for change across the entire organisation
    • By fostering bottom-up structures and collaboration , the project will generate a model for encouraging much-needed creativity and innovation within PA
    • By getting people with diverse backgrounds and expertise to work together, the project will encourage diversity and creative thinking
    • By enabling the members of the project team to break out of the routine of their everyday work, visionary thinking is promoted
    • Some of the contextual factors suppressing change and innovation at PA may be addressed directly by the project, or might come into play at a later project stage
  • Team
    • The core project team (6 members) will be composed of
      • 1 member of the PA Editorial team
      • 1 member of the PA Entertainment team
      • 1 member of the Sales team
      • 1 member of the Digital Development team
      • 1 member of the IT team
      • 1 member of the Communications team
    • Depending on availability, other project team members may be recruited from PA Photos, PA Sport, PA Business, PA Training, Listings, Meteogroup, etc.
    • The project team should ideally have an equal gender balance , and include members of staff from a range of cultural backgrounds, age groups and levels of professional experience
    • The members of the project team will be given one full working day per week to work on the project, and will be expected to attend regular project team meetings
  • Recruitment
    • Following approval of the project, a call for expressions of interest will be sent out to all members of staff
    • Members of staff that have expressed frustration with the way innovation is suppressed at PA will be especially encouraged to send in proposals ( separate invitations )
    • All channels of communication will be used to market the project internally (intranet, newsletter, word-of-mouth, posters, etc.)
    • In order to maximise the return rate , the following aspects of the project will be emphasised
      • The project will supply participants with time and space to think
      • The project is an opportunity for personal and professional development
      • The aim of the project is not primarily commercial, but to improve internal structures
    • If more than the required number of team members send in expressions of interest, their applications will be vetted by the diversity guidelines set forth previously
  • Project management
    • While the project is expected to be self-managing , I will ensure that the project proceeds at an appropriate rate, that conflicts are resolved quickly and efficiently, and that internal communication is maintained at all times
    • At the initial meeting of the project team, some of the creative methods devised by Saul Albert will be used gather ideas, and to create consensus among team members about which project to pursue, the roles of individual team members, and the project deliverables
    • After the initial meeting, the project is expected to run for six months (July to Dec 2008)
    • Internal communication will use all available channels, including an email list, a wiki (or Huddle), and regular project meetings (once a week)
    • In order to document the project , a collaborative blog will be set up and all members of the project will be encouraged to contribute to the blog regularly
    • Since non-determinacy is a crucial asset for the project, the final result cannot be established at present
  • Resources required
    • 36 weeks × 8 hrs. × 6 team members = 1,728 man hours (2.36 man months)
    • Meeting room and video conferencing facilities
    • IT support for blog, wiki, email list
    • Support by communications team for internal marketing
    • Management and administrative support for negotiating access, ensuring availability of resources, and resolving conflicts
    • Support by other KTP associates where appropriate
  • Expected results
    • The results of the Simplicity project are expected to be intangible and without immediate commercial benefit
    • However, the project is expected to have a wide-ranging impact on PA in terms of fostering innovation and creativity , simplifying internal structures and encouraging cross-departmental collaboration
    • The focus on visionary thinking is expected to enable PA staff to formulate elements of a digital strategy , which will be developed further through the KTP project
    • The project is expected to become a nucleus for change , which will transform operations and structure of PA in the mid to long-term
    • The way the project is managed will be developed into a model for bottom-up cooperation and innovation within PA, and can be rolled out across the entire company in the future
    • The project is also expected to yield insights into the ways in which PA can benefit from new flexible time-share models , which will allow employees to pursue their own projects
    • The project will also address contextual factors (as outlined above) which impact the management of change and innovation at PA
  • Impact on other projects
    • The project will be integrated seamlessly with the other research efforts of the KTP project. In particular, the following project strands will benefit from the collaboration of the team members by harnessing their expertise in various areas of PA operations
      • New production technologies and methodologies (dis-integrated newsroom)
      • New visualization technologies, including games technologies
      • Web 2.0 technologies and user-generated content
      • Database and archiving technologies
      • Metadata standards and semantic technologies
      • New internal communication technologies (ambient intelligence)
      • New delivery technologies (The Fibre)
      • Improvement of spatial and temporal structures
      • Understanding of new ethical challenges arising out of new technologies
      • Structures, protocols and policies at PA
      • New business models and markets
      • Harnessing feedback systems and news prediction technologies