Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Powerful Idea: Design for the Other 90%

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum: Design for the Other 90%

"There must be some role for technology to solve poverty... they don't need a handout, what they need is an opportunity."

The majority of the world’s designers focus all their efforts on developing products and services exclusively for the richest 10% of the world’s customers. Nothing less than a revolution in design is needed to reach the other 90%."

Featured in the New York Times: Design That Solves Problems for the World’s Poor

"A billion customers in the world, are waiting for a $2 pair of eyeglasses, a $10 solar lantern and a $100 house."

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Interface Becomes Ubiquitious

Computers embedded in every surface in your environment, down to the wallpaper.

Thanks for TechCrunch

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Developing South Carolina's Workforce: A Roadmap for the Future

This new report outlines input from Panel Discussions and Community Forums on the future of South Carolina's workforce, and explores how clusters can be linked to workforce development issues. These Forums were hosted by SC Technical College System ( and New Carolina.

Thanks to the industry leaders, educational administrators, workforce development experts and policy makers from across the state who shared their thoughts. Read what they had to say!

Download the report at

New Carolina Executive Director George Fletcher:
"Thanks to Dr. Barry Russell for the invitation to partner on these forums. I was pleased that the SC Technical College System wanted to look at the state's workforce relative to industry clusters. With some exceptions, fully developed clusters are regional and often drive regional economies. They can also provide a basis for regional workforce strategies."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Memorial Day Meditation: It's not just a name. It's my Daddy's name.

“For me and my brother, it’s not just a wall. It's a name. And it's not just a name. It's my Daddy’s name.”

Regardless of whether we agree with the policy makers, this is why we humbly pause to honor all those who sacrifice to keep us safe, especially those like Pfc. Arthur Doiley, 19, who made the ultimate sacrifice ten months after enlisting in the Army.

39 years after his death, veteran joins list on state's Vietnam monument

Stop on the way to the beach: Renowned artist preserves Swamp Fox history

General Marion was an elusive character that never got caught and helped win independence in the south. Today, the General himself may be gone from this world but his legend continues.

Renowned artist, mural society preserve ‘Swamp Fox’ history

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

String Theory: Vote for the Home Team

Discovery Magazine presents several videos in a contest to find the best explanation for string theory in two minutes or less.
Science in Two Minutes or Less
On the menu bar to the right, scroll to the bottom to see String Theory for Dummies, by Jason Lonon's astrophysics class at Spartanburg Day School in Spartanburg, SC.


Hat tip to Paul Winston.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

An elementary rule of business that is violated wholesale

Mass production... generate[s] great pressure to "move" the product. But what usually gets emphasized is selling, not marketing. Marketing, being a more sophisticated and complex process, gets ignored.

The difference between marketing and selling is more than semantic. Selling focuses on the needs of the seller, marketing on the needs of the buyer. Selling is preoccupation with the seller's need to convert his product into cash, marketing with the idea of satisfying the needs of the customer by means of the product and the whole cluster of things associated with creating, delivering, and finally consuming it.

This may sound like an elementary rule of business, but that does not keep it from being violated wholesale.
Theodore Levitt, Marketing Myopia Harvard Business Review, 38 (July-August 1960),
The goal of... [marketing] is to create a space inside the customer's head called "best buy for this type of situation" and to attain sole, undisputed occupancy of that space.

First, let us understand that... [the reason business people don't do this] is a failure of will, not of understanding. That is, it is not that these leaders need to learn about niche marketing. MBA marketing curricula of the past 25 years have been adamant about the need to segment markets and the advantages gained thereby. No one, therefore, can or does plead ignorance. Instead, the claim is made that, although niche strategy is generally best, we do not have time—or we cannot afford—to implement it now. This is a ruse, of course, the true answer being much simpler: We do not have, nor are we willing to adopt, any discipline that would ever require us to stop pursuing any sale at any time for any reason. We are, in other words, not a market-driven company; we are a sales-driven company.
Geoffrey A. Moore, Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers, (New York: HarperBusiness, 1991)

Henry Ford's operating philosophy succinctly stated

Henry Ford, as quoted in Marketing Myopia by Theodore Levitt, originally published in the Harvard Business Review, 38 (July-August 1960)

Our policy is to reduce the price, extend the operations, and improve the article. You will notice that the reduction of price comes first. We have never considered any costs as fixed. Therefore we first reduce the price to the point where we believe more sales will result. Then we go ahead and try to make the prices. We do not bother about the costs. The new price forces the costs down. The more usual way is to take the costs and then determine the price; and although that method may be scientific in the narrow sense, it is not scientific in the broad sense, because what earthly use is it to know the cost if it tells you that you cannot manufacture at a price at which the article can be sold? But more to the point is the fact that, although one may calculate what a cost is, and of course all of our costs are carefully calculated, no one knows what a cost ought to be. One of the ways of discovering ... is to name a price so low as to force everybody in the place to the highest point of efficiency. The low price makes everybody dig for profits. We make more discoveries concerning manufacturing and selling under this forced method than by any method of leisurely investigation.

Levitt's comments about Ford's operating philosophy:
He was brilliant because he fashioned a production system designed to fit market needs. We habitually celebrate him for the wrong reason, his production genius. His real genius was marketing. We think he was able to cut his selling price and therefore sell millions of $500 cars because his invention of the assembly line had reduced the costs. Actually he invented the assembly line because he had concluded that at $500 he could sell millions of cars. Mass production was the result, not the cause, of his low prices.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

100 million minorities in US is larger than 1910 US population

The US Census Bureau issued a report chronicling the remaking of the America population: Minority Population Tops 100 Million. Nearly half of our children under age 5 are Hispanic, black or Asian.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Clemson demonstrates what every scout already knows!

One of the cooking requirements of the Boy Scout First Class badge is learning the five second rule. Now reseachers at Clemson demonstrate it is true!

They could have just come camping with Troop 260 in Greenville, and we could have shown them that! Dropping your perfectly roasted chicken leg in the dirt only adds a bit of texture. It does make the corn on the cob a bit gritty though.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Secretary Joe Taylor: Our state's economy is strong

Secretary Taylor recently pointed out that:

Last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, South Carolina had the 7th-fastest growing labor force in the nation, indicating more and more people are choosing South Carolina as the place for their families to live and work.

Over the past three months, South Carolina has stepped up to the 6th-fastest employment growth rate in the nation, gaining more than 28,000 jobs since December alone. Just to put that in perspective, that's more jobs than nearly two dozen states produced for all of 2006.

What do you think of Clemson's new website?

Clemson just launched a long awaited revision to its website.

What to you think?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Monday, May 07, 2007

How Do Your Presentation Stack Up To The World's Best

Here's the winner of the World's Best Presentation contest. The presentation format is very strong, and the content is very thought provoking too. (Note that you can click in the bottom right corner to see it full screen.)

The How to Change the World blog reports on other winners too.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The wrong way to sell fuel cells, or any technology for that matter

Grant Jackson at The State relates the conversation below that occurred at the 4th Annual FuelCellSouth Conference in Columbia last week. Sam Logan, CEO of fuel-cell company Logan Energy, asked an audience of potential customers how many planned to buy a fuel cell. That's the wrong question from someone enamored with his technology. When no one was chomping at the bit to buy his whiz bang product, he had the audacity to tell customers, "“I’m ashamed of you.”

Logan is an entrepreneur with a solution in search of a problem. This is a classic example of the wrong way to sell any technology, and it is one of the best ways to lose lots of money.

The question Logan should ask is where is it that customers are trying to accomplish something and finding all of their available options difficult, inconvenient, or expensive. If he can use his fuel cell technology to help customers do a job they already trying to get done cheaper, easier, or more conveniently, then he has found a beachhead to a very successful company. Word of mouth from satisfied with attract other customers to his door.

I don't know anything about Logan Energy. Perhaps it is a great company, and its CEO was just having a bad day. Let's hope so.

My bigger concern is that there's lots of hype in South Carolina about fuel cell technology. Indeed there is tremendous potential. But that potential will only be realized if we get beyond hyping the technology and find customers not currently well served for whom we can use fuel cells to deliver distinctive solutions.

Conversation reported in Why should fuel cells be a hard sell?

In a room full of people working to create a fuel-cell and hydrogen industry, Sam Logan posed the question:

“How many of you anticipate buying a product in the next year that will be powered by a fuel cell?”


Not a single hand went up during the first session of the 4th Annual FuelCellSouth Conference.

“I’m ashamed of you,” said Logan, chief executive officer of Logan Energy, a Roswell, Ga.-based fuel-cell company.

“There are products out there today that are commercial. If you have the ability to make purchasing decisions, you really should consider that.

“Before long, you will be able to buy all sorts of devices that are powered by small, portable fuel cells, so look for them.”

Friday, May 04, 2007

Aisha Staggers on Her Approach to Parent Involvement - A New Carolina Manifesto #5

A special delivery to you from New Carolina: Our fifth Manifesto - another in a series of writings and conversations from South Carolina's thought leaders.

This is from Aisha Staggers of the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs, on her own version of parent involvement in education, and how she has helped shape her daughter's dreams.

Follow this link to the Manifesto:

Help us get a conversation started around change that will create new energy, new ideas, new action, and new jobs in South Carolina.

Visit us at

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I've noticed my own kids doing this

I've noticed for some time that my daughter, who is a freshman in college, and my son, who is a sophomore in high school, are increasingly texting friends rather than calling each other. They will feverishly peck out messages on the tiny keyboard of their phones back and forth with their friends, or if it is available they will instant message from their laptops. I've found that interesting, and now here is confirmation that the trend is real and having a significant impact.

Mobiles lose their magic as calls fall for the first time

It is the first time the number of calls has fallen since JD Power started the survey ten years ago.

The industry analysts found that text messages and emails - which can be sent from some newer phones - are becoming more popular, possibly because they are cheap.