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Diapers on Demand

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Photo: Courtesy of Forbes

As a father of five, I’ve made more than my fair share of begrudgingly late night convenience store diaper runs. So when Amazon started shipping their Dash Buttons this week, they had my attention. Amazon’s Dash Replenishment service takes a literal approach to the push button economy. Most of us have become familiar with the wonders of Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping, but the latest approach places a product specific button precisely at the location you realize you need something. See that you’re out, or soon will be, and just press a button. Your home’s Wifi notifies Amazon of you’re looming unmet needs and poof, a box arrives at your doorstep. Now I can’t say that before Dash buttons I knew of the pain-point of not having to open my computer and use Amazon’s already awesome one-click ordering, but hey- if Huggies are available at the touch of a button, I’m in.

At $4.99 a button, I couldn’t resist choosing two highly sought after items in my house, razor blades and diapers. My first glance at the packaging left me so impressed that I didn’t want to open them. After all, this was the intersection of the doorbell and a mobile app, but I finally tore into them and setup the Wifi using my smart phone. Next up, peel and stick just at the place where you know you need something. The only thing left to do was run out, which lasted all of 30 seconds. I couldn’t resist, I had to push the button. And what happened as I signaled a warehouse hundreds of miles away of my pending need for new razors…? Nada, zip, not even a gratifying ding-dong to let me know satellites were tracking my instant gratifications. No more than a quick blink of a green LED and a nondescript cardboard box that should be on my porch in 1-2 days.

I couldn’t help but think that this technology felt like a bridge. You know, the innovation that comes out and isn’t so innovative, but more of a preview to upcoming tech. Its technology that falls between the cracks of two larger, even better ideas. So I’m a big fan of Amazon Prime and their free two-day shipping. But there’s something that seems a little antiquated about placing product-endorsed buttons all over my house. I want a smart washing machine that knows I’m low on detergent and orders it for me. If time is the new currency, then give me a smoke detector that automatically sends me batteries when they need replacing. I love what the Dash is attempting, but shouldn’t all of our devices be smarter? I don’t know if the Amazon Dash will grow to be considered a bridge or a conduit that drives innovation in smart devices. But for now I think I’ll hold out for the smart device and not the smart button. Until then, the so-called button of the push button economy will remain the click of my mouse.


Post Written by Blue Crump, Current MPI Student

Does this City work for Me?

johnbonanoWe often dream of faraway places we will one day travel to. We hope this travel will either help us attain the job of our dreams, the vacation we always hoped for, or provide the escape route that arrived in just the nick of time. But what happens when you finally arrive at your destination? What happens when you actually have to live in the city you always dreamed about?

That is something that one of our MPI Alumni John Bonano set out to discover.

Recently John made the decision to start over. But instead of choosing to simply relocate to a city he found a job in, he decided to take the cities he was curious about for a test-drive.

He told me, “there’s something about being in a new city, you immediately know whether or not you belong there.” John knows for him personally, that means living in a city that is close to nature. In the cities he has visited so far, he has seen how access to nature can dictate the culture of an area. But more importantly, he has found that access, or lackthereof, can affect your work/life balance.

As I am sure many of us can agree, “There needs to be more synchronization between what you do for pleasure and what you do for your career… People need to travel, get away from their jobs, take a break.” It can be disappointing if you relocate to a city and discover, you don’t have access to the kinds of things you are interested in. Or even access to the things or people you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

This can be tough to focus on especially straight out of school, or when you are trying to get to the next level of your career. John noted that this kind of tunnel vision can be dangerous, especially when, you don’t think about how “when you are doing all these amazing jobs, you also have to have a normal life.”

But while John stressed the importance of taking the time to figure out what you want, he also stressed the importance of taking a leap of faith and going outside your comfort zone. For him this trip has enabled him to learn how to be ok with the unknown, take risks, and focus on just the essentials.

He likes the fact that what he is doing now is similar to what he learned at the da Vinci Center because, “If you have the mindset of innovation, barriers do not exist. There are a million things you can do. You can create your own world, in your environment in anyway you want. What I am realizing now is, I can do anything I want to. I can go anywhere I want to.”

The Operetta of Innovation

We are all familiar with the legend that is, was, and has become Steve Jobs. On October 23rd we will no doubt discover a new interpretation of the Steve Jobs mythology as yet another film, chronicling his successes and failures, premieres across the nation.

If you scan any list of top ten innovators in the past decade you will undoubtedly find Steve Jobs. Yet as his counterpart, Steve Wozniak says to Jobs in this latest film, “What do you do? You’re not an engineer. You’re not a designer. You can’t put a hammer to a nail. I built the circuit board! The graphical interface was stolen! So how come ten times in a day I read Steve Jobs is a genius? What do you do?”

young-steve-jobsTo this Jobs respond, “Musicians play their instruments. I play the orchestra.”

If we are trying to answer Wozniack’s question, then describing one’s occupation is a limited view of what and how individuals arrive at innovation. And yet conversely, it is not simply the “aha moment” either.

This year we will explore what it means to be an innovator. What does it take to be considered an innovator in your field? And how hard is it to stay there? Who is involved in that process, and how did they get there?

Throughout this journey we want to hear from you, our readers. We want to know what your definition of innovation is, who you think is achieving it, and what you hope it will mean for the future.

We hope you join us as we search for what it means to be a part of the operetta of innovation. Until then, we remain curious.