Lender's Bagels and the Power of Mediocrity

Slate • March 27, 2012

Low-end innovation. Lender's Bagels is an innovation success story that celebrates convenience and predictability over quality. Reporter Matthew Yglesias says, "The fundamental story of Lender's Frozen Bagels is that the winning product isn't always the best one," and notes that low-end innovation is needed in other areas where costs are spiraling out of control, like higher education and health care.

I'd submit that the convenience, reach, and general accessibility made the bagels offered by Mr. Lender "good enough." The same formula that has destabilized the library's place in the work processes of information seekers. In any event a good story. And bagels have worked so deeply into American eating habits that they have their own landing page at nytimes.com (of course, it is the New York Times). ( Michalko)

Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth

Stanford Social Innovation Review

Lessons from India. This book excerpt touts the benefits of Jugaad: "a colloquial Hindi word that roughly translates as 'an innovative fix; an improvised solution born from ingenuity and cleverness . . . Jugaad is about doing more with less.'" "Doing more with less" has been a boardroom mantra for the last several decades—add Jugaad to your vocabulary and start viewing adversity as an opportunity for innovation.

I suspect lots of us are operating with improvised solutions given the range of cutbacks. The appropriateness of that improvised solution to the audience and the institution is the part about which we'll need to be mindful. This made me think of Schumacher and the dictums from Small is Beautiful that seem now to have been swirled into the broader strands of environmental and sustainability concerns. They deserve attention on their own. ( Michalko)

The Use of Behavioural Economics in Public Policy Shows Promise

The Economist • March 24, 2012

When push comes to nudge. The British government is turning to behavioral economics to influence its citizens to do things like pay their automobile taxes and take advantage of energy savings opportunities. Dubbed the Nudge Unit, the Behavioural Insights Team is demonstrating how small changes in messaging or procedures can alter people's natural inclination toward inertia. Check out these examples, which include experiments in Denmark and France—and rethink your signage and communications strategy.

Not sure exactly how to incorporate these insights into our service offerings but you see this kind of thinking showing up in lots more places. Witness the "Landfill" labeling instead of "Trash." Or the YourMomHatesThis marketing campaign. ( Michalko)

What Broadway Musicals Tell Us About Creativity

Slate • March 23, 2012

Check your Q. A study of 474 Broadway musicals revealed that creativity and innovation are most likely to flourish among teams where there is a medium "Q" factor, Q being a combination of the average number of people needed to join two random people in a network, and the extent to which two people who are connected to the same person are also connected to each other. A high Q factor is similar to a small town where everyone knows every else's business—which can stifle creativity. And a low Q factor indicates a group of people so randomly connected, they are unlikely to form the kind of cohesive team that can execute big ideas. Read on for ideas on ways to build and nurture better teamwork and check out this commentary, Want Old Ideas? . . . Then Keep Talking to Your Friends, for additional insight.

Did not know about Q factor. Seems to be a borrowing from other disciplines. The real takeaway here for me was the danger in using global statistics to arrive at local solutions. ( Michalko)

What Isn't for Sale?

The Atlantic • April 2012

Price points. Check out Michael J. Sandel's thought-provoking essay on current marketing trends, including privatization, naming rights and the commoditization of everything. Sandel calls for a public debate on whether we want a market economy or a market society—and nonprofits bring an important perspective to the table.

I'm in the pew with the author. What's wrong with everything having a price? How about inequality and corruption? Do we think "consumers" or "citizens"? Do an ngram comparison. ( Michalko)

New Search Tool to Unlock Wikipedia

New Scientist • March 28, 2012

Wiki plus. Swipe ("searching Wikipedia by example") allows users to pose different and more complex questions than currently accommodated by Wikipedia. Read this great example of innovative thinking, which uses Wikipedia's existing software platform and features to ramp up capabilities to the next level.

This goes into my "Show me when you're done" file. ( Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, VIAF (the Virtual International Authority File) will soon be available under what type of license?

Get the answer.