Posts From Category: soft-skills

Hurdles of Innovation

A non-artistic of a person holding an idea and a plan while facing high hurdles.

If you’re reading this there is a better than average chance that you either are an innovator or will be soon. People who regularly attend conferences, read widely, and follow obscure and longwinded blogs tend to skew venturesome; active information-seekers with diverse social groups and information sources, possess breadth of knowledge, are more willing to explore and adopt new ideas, and are able to cope with higher levels of uncertainty. If you are an innovator then, according to current research, you are part of a vanishingly small demographic that makes up just 2.5% of the total population. The unique cognitive and social diversity of this group offers perspective and insight into ideas, opportunities, possibilities, and solutions ahead of the mainstream.

Perhaps you see the solution to a problem right now. Congratulations, you have an idea–an innovation–that just might make a material difference in the lives of a lot of people. How do you get the other 97.5% of the population to adopt your solution? Will your innovation take off by itself on the merits of its benefits? Unlikely. If the best ideas always won, I wouldn’t be writing this. Even when the idea or innovation has clear and obvious advantages, skeptics must be won over. Old, entrenched habits must be abandoned. Innovations must be evaluated, explored and increasingly accepted until they reach critical mass (only then will they take off). This process can take years or may never succeed at all. Your efficacy as an innovator depends on your ability to optimize and streamline this process, influence your peers, and ultimately effect change in the real world. There is an art–and a science–to the diffusion of innovations.

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Sufficiently Advanced Technology, Software, & Sorcery

Playing Cards spread out on a table

Somewhere in the world there are magicians who are still talking about a magic trick they simply can’t explain… or perhaps they have solved the mystery. The linchpin is a single idea. One fact.

Almost 20 years ago I crossed an ocean to attend my first live magic conference. The headline acts/speakers included Jeff McBride, Eugene Burger, and Darwin Ortiz; all major influences of my work and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet and work with them in person. I went alone and knew nobody attending, although that would change before the convention even began.

In the restaurant on the eve of the convention, I dined solo and mostly people-watched. I watched the retirees who have devoted a portion of their newfound free time to rekindling a childhood hobby. I watched the one or two young kids with their tiger-parent relentlessly molding them in to future Vegas headliners, and I watched the adolescents who spend every waking moment drilling the most difficult sleights and the most elaborate flourishes. There was a whole group of the latter engaged in what could be best described as the legerdemain equivalent of a rap battle, each attempting to one-up the displays of dexterity demonstrated by the last. With nothing to do (and nothing to lose) I approached this group. Minutes later, I left them speechless.

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Personal Knowledge Management for Developers and Architects

stylized silhouette of a head showing a brain connected to a larger graph network of knowledge.

I spend a lot of time these days thinking about how to turn data into information, and information into knowledge. I work as an independent consultant and help my clients with knowledge management and the architecture and implementation of knowledge systems. I do a lot of R&D in the knowledge graph space and I’ve long dreamt of applying these ideas at personal scale to manage my own knowledge portfolio that allows me to not only capture what I learn, but find it again when I need it.

It turns out, the idea isn’t exactly new, and available technology today makes the dreams of the visionaries who first imagined what technology could do for human cognition are now ready for us to adopt. Applying these to my life and workflow has been transformational! Let me share the tools and techniques I’m currently using.

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