Improving Our Focus

Greetings.  Having a clear focus is essential to innovation, creating remarkable customer experiences and assuring business success.  In fact, the more focused we are on the results we hope to achieve the more likely we are to push the envelope in a way that really matters.  But is it essential to have perfect focus at the beginning of our efforts?  Or, is our initial focus simply a good start point for becoming even clearer as we test ideas?

This notion is at the very heart of a remarkable new camera that is quite literally "refocusing" the world of photography on a new way to think about pictures and the light that comprises them.  The camera is the Lytro Light Field Camera, invented by a Silicon Valley start-up named Lytro, and it uses a sensor to capture the entire light field around the moment you are trying to capture–11 million light rays.  This enables the user to improve or change the focus of their pictures after they take them.  Mess up a bit?  No problem.  Decide that you'd like to make certain parts of your picture more focused that others.  A piece of cake.  Which means that as long as you have an eye for composition, you can be a great photographer.  And truth be told, you can always crop your photo to improve the composition.

All of which suggests that while focus is important to the finished product, having a perfect focus might be less important at the outset of our creative endeavors.


We win in business and in life when we continually improve our focus. By opening our lens and our minds to a place filled with possibilities.  


A Failure of Strategy

Greetings.  It was definitely a bad week for American business icons as two great brands filed for bankruptcy protection.  First, our dear friends at Hostess decided to bake a brand new plan for overcoming declining sales and a shortage of dough (or capital).  And now Kodak, the company synonymous with photography, has entered the dark room of reorganization in the hope of reemerging with a new and brighter image of its future.  In the case of Kodak, we can lay most of the blame on a failure of strategy and an unwillingness to leave the past in order to create the future.

Strategy is about making choices about offerings and customers.  Tough choices. And in the world of technology it often means giving up on our old, reliable and adored technologies as we place a bet on what will come next.  Which makes it even more troubling when we are the ones who have figured out what will come next and are unwilling to make it happen.  Because Kodak actually invented digital photography–way back in 1975–but never made the commitment or the investment to become the market leader.  Choosing instead to believe that there would always be a gigantic market for film and film-based cameras.  That they would dominate.  Just like the market for mainframe computers, vinyl records, Sony Walkmen and brick and mortar bookstores.

And adding to the sadness of Kodak's decline is the reality that the company's main competitor in the old world of photography, Fujifilm, is thriving today as a diversified company with strong and very successful offerings in digital cameras, specialty films, medical imaging, digital services and optical devices.  The result, one can only imagine, of a clear strategy aimed at exposing the limitations of its core business in order to reinvent a prosperous future.


We win in business and in life when we are willing to make dramatic changes required to survive and prosper.  And when we have the guts to give up those parts of the past that won't get us to the future.


Thinking Outside the Frame

Greetings.  The world of photography has experienced remarkable change since the invention of the first camera or "Camera Obscura" by Alhazen (a.k.a. Abu Ali Hasan Ibn Al-Haitham) roughly a thousand years ago.  Born in the present day Iraq, Alhazen was a brilliant scientist, mathematician and writer and considered by many to be the father of modern optics.  But it wasn't until 1827 that the French inventor Joseph Nicephore Niepce would create the very first photographic image. Today cameras are nearly ubiquitous and an essential part of life around the globe. In fact, we seem to take pictures of anything and everything and delight in sending them to family and friends, uploading them to our on-line devices and using them to express ourselves in a variety of ways.  We also use them to explore the galaxy, study the smallest forms of matter and examine the inner workings of our bodies in order to diagnose the things that ail us.  Enabling us to see things beyond the abilities of the naked eye.

So it shouldn't come as any great surprise that a brand new camera is stretching our vision and imagination in a very different way.  But that's exactly what Jonas Pfeil's "Throwable Panoramic Ball Camera" is doing.  Designed by this German student and a team of innovative colleagues, the Ball Camera enables users to take "full spherical panoramas" of city streets, amazing venues and events and the most interesting natural places–by simply throwing it in the air and then catching it.  

The camera does the rest…by automatically piecing together a complete view of a particular corner of the world–including the view behind us.  

Necessary?  Maybe not.  Awesome?  Absolutely.

And here's a video of how it works…


Which should lead us to wonder how we might act differently if we could see every dimension of an important problem or opportunity.

We win in business and in life when we stretch beyond the limits of our ability to see in order to gain new insight about the whole of a problem or opportunity that really matters.