Friday, February 27, 2009

VizThink 09 Highlights III - Authenticity in Storytelling

An overview of our story

Our VizThink friends - Darin Westich, Carolyn Grant & Jill Zimmerman from Proctor and Gamble - led an excellent session on storytelling authenticity.

Robin and Yvette from Duarte Design

In the session, we (Robin and Yvette from Duarte Design and another guy whose name - excuse me, please - I didn't catch) were asked to create a story with a beginning, middle and end - that utilized narrative and data.

My mindmap of the rules of authenticity

It was amazing how much we accomplished in about 20 minutes, once we had a structure and information. There really is NO excuse for not having an authentic and compelling story in your presentation.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

VizThink 09 Highlights II - Jessica Hagy

Jessica Hagy debunks 15 Professional 'Rules'

If you haven't seen Jessica Hagy's brilliant Indexed site or book, you should go look at it now. Don't even bother with my site until you've spent an hour in hers... really.. hers is a treasure. I grant you permission to go there (if only Jennifer had just said that.. "Go Brad. Hell, it's Angelina. Clearly, I've been bested").

Jessica gave a very funny, informal presentation where she summarized 15 professional rules, and then debunked all of them. In between, she had us use her favorite tools - Venn diagrams and the X-Y axis - to make some sense of our worlds.

This was my favorite exercise.
  1. Draw a 2-circle Venn Diagram.
  2. Label the first circle with something you're really good at.
  3. Label the second circle "Prostitution"
  4. Find the relationship between the two (if you're a lawyer, the overlap will obviously be much greater than the one in my diagram).

Here's mine.
Teaching is what I do, but it was hard to find a common area, at first.
Then I found it - Students named John.

Try the exercise.
And if you get a chance to see Jessica present, I recommend you do it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

VizThink 09 Highlights I

My plan for global ninja domination through photography and music 
is given away by my VizThink 09 Badge... oh well...

For the past three days, I've attended the VizThink 09 conference for visual thinkers my back yard of San Jose.
It was a great event. I was able to participate in sessions by visual thinking rock stars Dan Roam, Jessica Hagy, Nancy Duarte, John Ward, Karl Gude, Dave Gray, Colin Ware, Bob Horn, and Tom Wujec.
Despite that impressive list, I still missed sessions by David Sibbet and many other fine experts...

Over the next few days, I'll post some photos and comments about the sessions I attended.
Today, I'll just summarize my 5 top learnings from the event.

This Colin Ware slide pretty much sums up the 
advantages of visual communication over text in certain situations

My top five learnings were:
  1. Kinesthetic Modeling Rocks! - John Ward led an outstanding session where we silently built a collaborative model that expressed the recession and it's impact on the visual thinking community and VizThink. Very powerful discussions emerged quickly. This is a tool that's going right into my kit.
  2. Tableau May Expose Me as an UberGeek - Tableau demo'd their 'data sandbox' software that lets you play with data and explore graphic possibilities in real time. Yes, I said "play with data" - how's that for an oxymoron?
    I (sadly) couldn't have been more excited if Lindsey Lohan had done a table dance in front of me. I'll be playing with the 14-day trial of this software over the next few weeks and will keep you posted.
  3. I can create quick 'Today/Tomorrow' diagrams - In a lightning fast 20-min session led by Elizabeth Pastor of Humantific, we created 'Today/Tomorrow' diagrams that were very successful at communicating. Nicely done, Elizabeth!
  4. I got a nice 3x3 storytelling grid from the folks at Proctor Gamble - I'm always looking to add storytelling tools to my kit. The method that these folks use to tell authentic user experience stories is simple, but effective. A very experiential session gave us confidence we can use it.
  5. Oh, that's what SQVID does! - I'm a huge fan of Dan Roam's "Back of the Napkin", but I have to admit that SQVID didn't quite connect with me. Well, lights went on when I say Dan present the material. He's a great speaker. I'm looking forward to playing with the SQVID model at work now.
As I mentioned, I'll be putting up photos and comments from the sessions I attended, so stay tuned!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Images of La Paz, Mexico

Swimming with Sea Lions

Angie and I spent 10 days in La Paz recently. Here are my 13 favorite images.
You can see 400 of my best at Huesimages in the Baja, Mexico section.

Traditional Dancers

Egret in La Paz Harbor

Street in the artists town of Todos Santos

2o-foot Whale Shark - La Paz Harbor

Carnaval 2009 Beauty Queen, La Paz

Jumping Manta, Sea of Cortez

Carnaval 2009 Beauty Queen, La Paz

Grey Whale Fluke - Magdalena Bay

Santa Misa Cathedral - La Paz

Sand Dunes - Magdalena Island

Grey Whale Fluke - Magdalena Bay

La Paz Sunset

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Truth about New Truths...

I love this quote, which I found in "Gut Feelings":
"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventualy die, and a new generation grow up that is familiar with it." - Max Planck

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Book Review - Gut Feelings

Midway through my graduate program in Adult Education, I'm finding that I don't have a lot of time for extra reading.
So, I'm pleased that I've found some time this week in La Paz. Today was a windy day with rough waters, so I was able to finish "Gut Feelings".

Title: Gut Feelings
Author: Gerd Gigerenzer

Genre: Psychology, Business, Cognitive Science
Summary: As per the subtitle, Gut Feelings explores "The Intelligence of the Unconscious"

Favorite Quote: Here are my three favorite quotes from the book.

  1. "Complex behavior does not imply complex mental strategies."
  2. "...people adapt to their environments much as gelatin does; if you wish to know what form it will have when it solidifies, also study teh shape of the mold."
  3. "...natural language is more sophisticated than logic."

Strengths: Entertaining and educational. It's an enjoyable book that's easy to read, with clear examples. I also appreciate the working definition of instict as "a judgement that appears quickly in conciousness, whose underlying reasons we are not fully aware of, and it is strong enough to act upon."
Weaknesses: The second half of the book dragged. It didn't really add anything new to the first half, in my mind.

Conclusion: Worth a read if you find it in a used book store.
Post-it Flags: 9 flags
* Each time I find an interesting quote, model, image, or idea in a book, I mark it with a Post-it flag. The more flags, the more value I found in the book.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Postcard from Mexico

Angie and I spent the past two days at Magdalena Bay, on the Pacific Coast of the Baja Penninsula.
Magdalena Bay is known for the number of whales that collect there in the winter months.

Over the course of the past 48 hours, we spent about 6 hours around the whales. On a number of occasions, the whales came within 6 feet of us; approaching our boat and looking at us before diving under our boat.
Add quaint fishing villages, fresh clams, great weather, and white sand dunes and you've got a great weekend.
I'll post more photos later.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Preparation and Teamwork...

On Friday, Brent and I led a team building workshop with about 25 participants. It was a typical agenda for this type of event - Photo Facilitation for an icebreaker, Patrick Lencioni's 5 Dysfunctions of a team video and survey, followed by DiSC profiling. Things were going great, until the power went out in the middle of the 5 Dysfuctions Video.

I always preach that one should never have a presentation that they couldn't nail with the power out. The idea is that you never know what will happen. Most of the time it isn't a power outage. It could be a room without a projector, a chance meeting in a restaurant, or just a change of schedule. The point is - be ready.

We quickly changed the schedule and had the team work on their DiSC profiles while we waited for power.
It came up rather quickly. We then had the issue of getting the system to work again
While I took the team through a 'chalk talk' about and got things going - turning on the projector with the correct slide, right in sync with my discussion. 
We even got a round of applause from a pretty tough crowd.

Two Lessons to take away from this event:
  • Preparation: Always be ready. We could have delivered the whole session without power. I had handouts of the models and am able to give a 'chalk talk' with no slides. We had all our materials and could have taken the team outdoors.
  • Teamwork: For key jobs, always have a partner. This workshop was for a key client, so I just offhandedly invited Brent the day before. Man, am I glad I did that! Be able to do it yourself, but always try to get backup support.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Radio Hues Now Broadcasting

1st Rule of Rock: Bigger is Louder and Louder is (always) Better

Over the past week, I've been 'facebooking' with some old friends. 
Those old friends know me better as a musician than as a teacher.
Sometimes, I think that the stage has changed but the song remains the same.
It's all about communication, storytelling, and audience participation.

I'm never too far from music. 
I collect music from around the world. I collect musical instruments from around the world.
And I try to get in an occasional jam session with local musicians.
The shot above came from the Japan Drum Museum - very cool place.

Anyway, today I set up a music page on my website. 
You can hear 10 of my songs at huesmusic.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Top 5 Reasons to Go Back to School

I'm finishing my 6th class in my Masters program in Adult Education, and - in the words of Loverboy - Lovin' Every Minute of It.

Ummm... in what is a massive insult for a rock back, I'll go on the record and say that going to college is better than this song...

Why am I enjoying college so much?
Here are my top 5 reasons.
  1. Required Reading - I love to read. I read a lot. But I rarely stray from my favorite topics. College is cool because they require you to read stuff you wouldn't normally read. Sure, most of it sucks... but the stuff that's good opens tons of new doors for your mind.
  2. Good Teachers - Even rarer than good books, and far more valuable. You might accidently stumble on a good book in a store, but you won't trip over a good teacher without attending a class. It's a fact.
  3. Student Discounts - I got Mircosoft office for $79. Yeah, I know that's the definition of a mixed blessing, but it's still kinda cool!
  4. Smart Classmates - I've worked for the same company for 20 years, so I could use some fresh air. My fellow students provide that. They do different work than me, live in different places than me, and have a different viewpoint. I learn from them every day.
  5. Not-so-smart Classmates - The Unintentional Comedy factor is pretty high in college. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't see a head-shaking comment from one of my classmates. 

Learning and laughing... what could be better?