lessons in innovation

Earlier this week, Google published Think Quarterly, an online magazine of sorts that provides "a snapshot of what Google and other industry leaders are thinking about and inspired by today." The topic of the current issue is innovation.

While the focus isn't data visualization, many of the lessons shared can be applied in this space. For example:

  • In The 8 Pillars of Innovation, SVP of advertising Susan Wojcicki discusses iteration as the way to strive for consistent innovation, not instant perfection, and looking for ideas everywhere. I appreciate the concept she introduces of "sparking with imagination, fueling with data."
  • Head of Americas Sales, Dennis Woodside, talks about how audiences today want and expect "something more sophisticated, more considerate" than they have in the past. In Route to 2015, he's talking about marketing and advertising, but I would argue the same trend is happening when it comes to information visualization. His 4 B's are also applicable: be found, be engaging, be relevant, be accountable.
  • "The most original innovations come from mucking about, not from thinking hard" (Russell Davies, Practical Magic). It's often that sort of mucking about with a dataset that leads to new insights you wouldn't have found with a hypothesis-driven approach.
  • In Next Gen Innovators, Sarah Ohrvall calls out data aggregation as the trend driving the most exciting innovations in digital media in her opinion. She says: "information can be used to improve your daily life and improve the world around you" and calls out that the more people know about the impact their behavior has, the more they will change their behavior based on this knowledge. 

These are just some highlights intended to pique your interest; I highly recommend checking out the full publication. See where you can apply the innovation lessons presented.

I'll wrap this up with some words from Susan Wojcicki: never fail to fail. In data visualization (as in life), learn from the things that don't work, adjust accordingly, and try again.

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