Can Spaces and Serendipity Help Innovation? Something from David Radcliffe of Google

“You can’t schedule innovation, you can’t schedule idea generation.” — David Radcliffe, Google VP of Real Estate & Workplace Services in a CBS This Morning Interview (Source:

The point Radcliffe was making involved Google’s innovative approach to designing collaboration and meeting spaces, on their corporate campuses. It’s a data driven approach but might strike some corporate traditionalists as fuzzy-headed, hippy-dippy, ‘woo-woo’ perhaps.

It most assuredly is not.

Being a massively data-driven company all of Google’s Real Estate design decisions, how its facilities are laid out, how space is apportioned, and so on is based on number crunching and active experimentation trying to get an answer to the question “How do we get our employees to be more productive?” In other words, innovation and idea generation have an unpredictable element to them, almost serendipity you could say. They require massive preparation of course, but they can’t be scheduled.

From the video I link to above, Google seems to be in the business of creating human working environments that allow its employees to produce the most amount of innovative ideas possible. A vast human idea laboratory, perhaps/

Designing workspaces that help facilitate creative innovation needs to take this into account. The video piece I link to above is interesting, and there are some take-home ideas any of us can apply to our own work, whatever it happens to be.

What can you do where you are to better foster your own idea generation and innovation, whether it’s your car, a subway seat, a desk at home, a spacious office, or a broom closet? We have to work with what we have, where we have, but what we do with it can go a long way.

Smart Kids Group social media for kids

Last week, Richard Shergold founder of Smart Kids Group (OTCBB: SKGP) announced in a press release that his team will soon rollout a premium kids social media site controlled by parents and guardians. His social media site for kids will focus on building a safe environment that will be fun and entertaining.

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Downtown Cincinnati Looses Another Business? Capri Tavola Calda

By Kemal,

Pedestrians seeking some of Cincinnati’s most delicious Pizza by the slice got a sudden reminder of the transient nature of things on Monday, 4/18/11.

Located on the 700 Block of Walnut Street, between 4th Street and Fountain Square and next to the Cigar Shop, Capri’s – a small Italian Pizzaria and bistro, owned by a local Italian family, adding innovative twists on authentic Italian Pizza – was unusually closed for business all day on Monday and Tuesday.

On Thursday walking past I noticed that the tables and a good deal of the equipment itself has been moved. This suggests either renovation or shuttering, since there was no notice in the door the later is strongly suspected.

Another casualty of Ohio’s declining economy? Capri’s is well located, in the heart of Cincinnati’s downtown corporate quarter, and certainly received a portion of the lunch time crowd. Since Cincinnati is among the sleepiest major cities in the country, downtown eateries and drinkeries typically rely on Lunch time traffic for a substantial portion of their revenue.

In my opinion, they had the best cannolis in town, their departure will be missed. Though their pizza by the slice was a bit expensive ($3.00 per slice) they were large servings, made with excellent ingredients. My only complaint would be that they were frequently far too hot (I’ve scalded my mouth a few times, even after waiting 5 minutes to cool) and the exquisite lovely manager of the place often seemed to have a dark cloud over her head, mood wise. That said, they had the best cannolis in town, hands down.

Capri’s, if it is indeed closed for good, will be missed.

Tips from a Consultant on the edge

Things I’ve learned over the last 15 years of consulting in fields as diverse as Business IT, Network analysis,  Importing, and Product liquidation, from Universities, to Small Businesses, to mega corporations, to sketchy scrap metal and demo companies owned by Roma who walk around talking about vague ties to Russian Mafya (Roma = Gypsies – oh did I tell you how much I like Gypsies? They have the strangest and most funny stories, often about purchasing brides and strange strip club antics)

0. As a consultant you are expendable.

1. Corporate Procurement is your friend. Never tick off the folks in procurement, especially purchasers. If asked by a client or superior “how long before our order fulfillment, yada yada” simply respond (and bcc a friend in Procurement for kudos)

“Procurement replies to all inquires in the order in which they are received, since they handle requests on an Enterprise wide basis – including two continents 0- I cannot force them to reply quicker than they are humanly capable. I did emphasize the urgency of our request, they said there are only 250 requests in the queue before ours and are expediting matters.”

2. Office ladies ply you with doughnuts and candy. This is a sign of affection, some are very affectionate and attractive and are willing to ply you with even sweeter things, irrespective of their single status it is a bad idea to take such affection beyond the water cooler, just bask in their femininity, enjoy their pleasant chats and flirtation, and leave it at that. Never double dip thy pen in the company ink, no matter how pretty the ink is.

3.Corporate IT – also your friend, see remark one.

4. Purchase orders are binding contracts. Therefore respect them. Dig it? Legally so are offers, quotes are not feel free to use quotes as wallpaper or paper airplanes. Always read the fine print on Purchase Orders.

5. Any overseas supplier asking you for an “ICPO” – a dumb monkey. ICPO means irrevocable purchase order, legally Purchase Orders are binding on acceptance anyway. No one uses the term ICPO except a few confused Russian export salesmen, and hordes of confused brokers. If they ask you for an NCND and LOI then they aren’t suppliers, they are confused pseudo-Brokers and will waste your time.

6. FOB in the USA – it means something quite different than FOB everywhere else in the planet. We Americans are creative with our interpretation of “FOB” and “FOB Points” – however we are laughed at for the creative ways in which we interpret FOB. If you are ordering from a foreign supplier they use Incoterms, learn them, learn them better than your supplier that way you can make them feel like confused Muppets when you dictate logistical terms

7. Terms, sneak them in there. Because once your vendor accepts your Contract or PO they are bound by your silly terms. NO EXPLANATION NEEDED – but for giggles, consider this e.g.

“Disc: 3%
Terms Disc: 3% 15 days/net 30
Disc days due: 15
Requested for delivery: totally like tomorrow”

Disc means discount, they should be clever enough to catch this, espescially when your payment arrives 15 days later with exactly 3% chopped off the top.

If they are silly enough to accept your terms without thinking them over then you get your nifty discount if you pay in 15 days, assuming you already have terms? No you say? Yes, I say. Remember PO’s are binding – if they don’t check with corporate credit to see if you guys still have terms in good standing then, well, whatever.

8. Doughnuts will make you fat. So will cookies, and so will candy, and yes offices are chock full of them.
Intermittent fasting, coffee, long walks at lunchtime, and fish oil capsules, are  partial penance. Most of your physique is diet related, exercise plays a role in body composition, but if your physique is not quite what you want it to be, cut back on the sugar.

9. Financial controllers and accounting managers are your friends, don’t tick them off.

10. Corporate badges frequently get you discounts. At health clubs and sundry other places, if the corporation has the net-worth of the GDB of your average Eastern European country. Discounts are always good.
11. Nothing beats drinking black coffee, staring at the wall, and feeling mean. But you’ve gotta do real work. It’s a zen like state – drink the coffee, and assault your work, pounding out aggression, channel your obsession, feed it with coffee.


Neat Site of the Week – Open source Alternatives

Find open source software alternatives to well-known commercial software

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