"They say plan it. I say do it." Tom Peters
HAVE FAITH. [I don't.] [Or, rather, I do.]
I just had a foul service experience with BellSouth, driven by problems with automated directory assistance.
I freely admit that I'm PISSED OFF.
SCREW THE MODERN WORLD! On the other hand …
THERE IS AN "OTHER HAND."
To wit: I - on net - welcome the automation of services, such as directory assistance.
"It" is clumsy as hell … right now.
But - I am supremely confident - that "they" will eventually get it right, and it will be a boon to almost all of us.
The history of innovation: "Cool stuff" - as so judged after the fact
- is awkward as hell at the get go.
E.g.: Railroads. Cars. ATMs.
You name it!
Then "it" gets the bugs ironed out … and we soon find we can't live without it.
E.g.: grocery stores, cars, ATMs.
October 2000: "We" - the dot-com dudes et al. - are truly re-inventing everything.
"It" is very amateurish right now.
[Which makes it easy for naysayers to write the whole thing off.]
But, for instance, the Web is simply going through the "terrible twos."
[Hey, we still have adolescence et al. to go!]
I get irritated as hell at technology-gone-awry … the FAA computer crash in the West last week that screwed up air traffic for a day.
But, malign them as you will, the FAA controls a rapidly growing + excellently performing system … which has been of enormous value to most of us … from grannies to very frequent business travelers.
C'mon: My dad could hardly have imagined making a speech in Hong Kong on Tuesday, and then winging it to High Point NC for an important business meeting … less than 48 hours later. RIGHT?
[That was my … ordinary … circa 2000 … week.]
So … all sorts of stuff is bollixed up … such as BellSouth directory assistance.
I religiously retain the right to be madder than hell.
But I also know full well that this is the tip of a revolutionary time-process that will usefully change … THE WAY WE DO EVERYTHING.
Hang on. Hang in. It is going to be a wild - and often aggravating - ride!
I AM A POWERPOINT SLAVE. For good. Mostly. And for ill. Mostly.
Started in December 1999.
I converted my basic presentation to PowerPoint.
I quickly fell in love. And it is far too close to fair to state that
I haven't had more than two or three hours sleep since.
I LOVE POWERPOINT.
I HATE POWERPOINT.
I CAN'T LET IT GO.
I am obsessive about my presentations.
To Carpet One.
To the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
To Bud wholesalers.
To Coke fountain execs. To GE Power Systems execs.
To United Technologies R&D leaders. To 10,000 women attending the California Governor's Conference for Women.
I WANT EVERY ONE TO BE PERFECT … PERFECTLY RELEVANT & COMPELLING TO EACH AUDIENCE … WHICH IS TOTALLY DIFFERENT FROM EVERY OTHER AUDIENCE.
So … I ADD … AND SUBTRACT … AND JUGGLE AND, THEN, ADD & SUBTRACT & JUGGLE ALL OVER AGAIN … until 27 minutes before my 6:35 A.M. "audio-visual check" in the ballroom in East Wherever.
I AM COMPELLED. I see the story unfolding.
I HAVE ONLY 35 MINUTES TO [attempt to] AFFECT 4,700 LIVES.
[Or, whatever.] I love it. I hate it.
[In any case, I fear it's killing me. THE FIRST DEATH DUE TO POWERPOINT FIXATION? It might be me.]
Design is little stuff, often as not, that makes you go, How cool!
How come nobody else thought of that?
Hats off to the Hyatt Regency Long Beach.
Know how you [me!] usually get blasted with cold or scalding water as you reach into the shower to manipulate the control?
Instead of the normal, straight up and down piping, the Hyatt moved the control off-center, and toward the outer edge of the tub, by about a foot.
BIG DIFFERENCE. How cool!
Eliminating steps is always [VERY] cool.
At American Airlines, when you do curbside check-in, the baggage person instantly issues your boarding pass.
[I know others have done this too, but this was my first experience. How cool!]
[I guess American couldn't handle the possibility of me saying something nice; they subsequently screwed up the flight cancellation situation with S.A.S. … Standard Airline Sandbagging.
But at least I had a cool check-in before missing a chance to get home, though I couldn't retrieve my bags, which did make it home.
I hope they - my bags - had as good a Vermont fall weekend as I had hoped to have.]
When "cool" becomes "cold." United Airlines has an incredibly
sophisticated, new seat-control panel, which permits extraordinary bodily manipulations.
(Think of it as your private chiropractor.)
So far so good.
However, the control device for the adjacent seat is on a horizontal surface, just an inch away from its partner.
At one point I was frantically adjusting my seat, to no avail.
My seatmate was aroused from his slumber, and said,
"That's my controls you're diddling with."
I was mortified, and apologized profusely.
(It was in the middle of a redeye.)
First inclination: PETERS, YOU CLUMSY IDIOT.
Then I thought … Don Norman.
(Author of the fabulous
Design of Everyday Things.)
I did apologize to my mate-for-the-night, but I was thinking, DESIGNER, YOU IDIOT.
The Big Idea behind all this: Religiously writing all this stuff down, over time, markedly increases my Design Awareness!
I love great design. It's one of my chief passions. In "real life."
Thence I have written about it extensively, and it's one of the "chapters" of my Keystone Seminars.
I just figured out, finally & to my satisfaction, why you should pay attention to why I rant about design.
Design makes you SMILE [iMac, Oral-B Cross-action toothbrush, layout of USAToday].
Design makes you FROWN [a "hub & spoke system" where all the planes are scheduled to land or take off at the same time, insuring that everything about air travel is always screwed up.]
Design is never a YAWN.
Design is about "usability." And "cool."
Mostly. Except I hate "usability."
So sterile. [And design ain't sterile!]
So I've decided to substitute "grace" for usability; it's so much bigger a word.
["My favorite word is grace - whether it's amazing grace, saving
grace, grace under fire, Grace Kelly.
How we live contributes to beauty - whether it's how we treat people or the environment."
- Celeste Cooper, designer]
Great Design = WOW! +
And it makes … ALL THE DIFFERENCE … for such disparate folks as Southwest
Airlines and Gillette.
Message: DESIGN FOR $$$$$$$$$ VIA "WOW" + "GRACE."
VIVE LA DIFFERENCE. VIVE PASSIONATE ATTACHMENT.
[AND VIVE DISGUST … with those who don't give a shit about design.
To disregard design is to disregard me as "human" "user."]
IF PASSION MATTERS, DESIGN MATTERS.
IN THE NEW - SERVICES, EXPERIENCES - ECONOMY … PASSION DOES MATTER. BIG TIME.
It's just a little thing. OR IS IT?
I'm on the road 200+ nights a year.
That is extreme.
But a lot of you are surely out and about 100 "nights away" a year.
THERE ARE LITERALLY MILLIONS OF US IN THAT CATEGORY.
Moreover, most of us - I suspect - hit the hotel room, sigh twice, plug in, and get to work for our "second-half day of work."
Fact is, I arrive in the room … unzip my backpack … get out my balls of tangled wires … crawl around on the floor … plug in and hook up … and … SPEND 6 HOURS IN THE NEXT 12 HOURS … ON LINE OR SCREWING AROUND WITH TOMORROW'S POWERPOINT PRESENTATION.
PROBLEM: Only one hotel in 10 or 15 "gets it."
I'm not talking DSL. I am talking about my … aching back.
I AM PISSED OFF. [VERY.]
I am pissed off at hotels that provide great couches & armoires … but … CRAPPY DESKS … WITH UNBELIEVABLY CRAPPY "DESK CHAIRS" THAT RUIN MY BODY. [DAMN IT.]
Message Y2000: MY "OFFICE" IS MY HOTEL ROOM. PLEASE. RESPECT THAT FACT.
PLEASE RESPECT MY ACHING BODY. [Do so, and you'll earn my custom.
On the eve of the first debate of the new millennium, tom reveals -- finally -- his platform for Y2000.
Look ... November 7 is my birthday. And perhaps my last chance. So ... write in Tom Peters on your sacred ballot on 7 November 2000. Interested in my platform? Here it is ...
Free Trade ... the more the merrier. There are, to be sure, losers as well as winners. But the freer the trade - in the long haul - the safer and better off we all are. Please don’t take Pat "I never met a foreigner I liked" Buchanan or Ralph "It’s all unfair as far as I’m concerned" Nader seriously.
Cut capital gains taxes. ANYTHING WE CAN DO TO FOSTER MORE ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS GOOD. V-E-R-Y GOOD.
Schools ... that resonate with the 21st century. Futurist Alvin Toffler, who saw most of what’s going on long before the rest of us, says the schools are a joke ... doing nothing to prepare kids for century 21. I agree. And I also think that even W. "Schools" Bush doesn’t have a clue. Vote for me and: I’ll push Charter Schools so hard it’ll make the teachers’ unions weep. I’ll also let anybody talented - as opposed to anybody "credentialed" - become a teacher. And I’ll spend a big hunk of that sacred budget surplus on teachers’ salaries - the Swiss pay their teachers $70,000 on average. [Albeit merit will be the only measure of performance. Kiss "seniority" raises goodbye.] You can also count on me to support the arts - those wellsprings of creativity - in schools at the expense of damn near anything else.
Wire up the schools! Computers can be mis-applied in schools. Nonetheless, let’s err in the direction of "too much" rather than "too little."
Mobility enhancers. Don’t let incentives lead you to stay with a big, ugly dinosaur firm: Social policies ought to encourage mobility, not stasis. Pensions ought to vest ... very ... quickly. Healthcare and pensions ought to be portable as all get out. "Training credits" ought to encourage skills upgrading, not just getting better at what you or I do now.
Social Security. Put a part of it into the stock market. Don’t jeopardize the whole ... but do encourage more folks to participate in the long-term wealth creation opportunity the market provides.
Healthcare. I’m no genius. But it is simply a disgrace that tens and tens of millions of my fellow Americans have no health care coverage. Hillary’s program was, indeed, a bureaucratic nightmare invented by an idiot. [Ira Magaziner.] But, surely, there must be a middle ground thatenables coverage for millions more in my first term. Without breaking the bank.
Modernize the military ... seriously. The issue ain’t "budget dollars." The issue is new threats - e.g., bio-terrorism - for which the military is woefully unprepared. Create a Defense budget geared to tomorrow’s threats, not yesterday’s!
Biotech. Go fast ... and slow ... on it. Biotech "stuff" can enhance our lives mightily. And there are also mighty hurdles along the way. Take the issue seriously ... and proceed with vigor as well as caution.
Global warming. Odds are Gore’s right. Odds are high enough to act in any event. Don’t let the "some evidence remains that ..." block action. Now. The earth is going - pretty much - to hell in a hand basket.
Gun control. Don’t let Moses [Heston] set the agenda. Speaking as a mostly Vermonter [gun land], we need [LOTS] more of it ... gun control, that is. As in, get a life ... [A stinger missile in every closet ... I think not.]
Choice. I have several women friends who have chosen abortion, ALL for extreme reasons, though not rape. All of them are permanently scarred by the process. Which is to say, damn few women casually reach for the abortion option. And, besides, I’m not a woman. A woman’s right to choose: Amen, per this candidate [me].
Before blogging became all the rage, Tom was posting book reviews and Observations (essentially early blog posts) to this site. You can find the archives below.