Jennifer B. Davis
Tonight, Tony and I attended IgnitePortland 4, an event sponsored by the Legion of Tech. In this event, 13 presenters each had 20 slides and 5 minutes to teach the audience about a topic or entertain them in some way. Some of the presentations were really outstanding.

The first was from a guy from Kentucky, who now lives in Portland (although his accent might still live in Kentucky). He had several pieces of advice on what Kentucky can teach Oregon. My favorite had to do with place names. He said that Kentucky has a lot of brands and companies that are named after the state. Bourbon is from Bourbon county. Louisville Sluggers are from Louisville. "We didn't invent fried chicken, but because of KFC, everyone thinks we did," he proposed. He said that more companies need to name themselves something local and then go national to bring attention to the region. This was very interesting to me. Most companies choose a company name that could be "from anywhere," despite the fact that all companies are from "somewhere." Let that be a lesson to all those would-be entrepreneurs out there.

Did I mention that the presentations were on auto-forward? This means that after 15 seconds each slide moved along. This added a degree of sport to the presentations. They couldn't fall behind in their presentations (without it being painful for the audience to watch) and the whole thing kept on time, more or less. I think this is brilliant and something that should be required for all PowerPoint presentations. Keep them moving. Keeps the text to graphic ratio in line. Keeps the pace of storytelling at an appropriate level. I could see this being used in corporate environments and in church. 20 sermon slides in 5 minutes. Go!

If you are in the area, plan to come to the next IgnitePortland 5. It will be in February and the tickets are free!
Jennifer B. Davis
I read Seth Godin's new book Tribes. In it, he makes some very provocative points about the fallacy of quality.

"Quality is not only not necessary, for amny items it's undesirable. If we
define quality as regularly meeting the measured specifications for an item,
then quality matters a lot for something like a pacemaker. It doesn't
matter at all for a $3,000 haute couture dress.

More fashion = less need for quality."

I found this statement very interesting. If something is more fashionable, it doesn't have to be "six sigma." More art. Less science.

I wonder if there isn't a graph that would show that people's expectation of quality rises as commoditization takes over a product. It becomes less unique. Less differentiated. And as a result, the marketplace raises the standards of "sameness." Predictability is favored over excellence. The restaurant franchise wins out over the brilliant chef. The factory pumping out millions of widgets wins out over the inventor.

Seth's point, and one that he doesn't advocate alone, is that quality is something the "factories" used to value, but that in many ways we have evolved beyond it. With the use of technology. With a growing discontent for sameness. We are demanding leadership and sometimes (or ALL the time) leadership is messy.

Makes me wonder how much we as leaders of companies, organizations, families, and product lines should emphasize quality, in its traditional definition. Maybe more effort needs to be put into true differentiation and a value that extends beyond predictable mediocrity.