Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Research Entrepreneurship Acceleration Project

I’m involved with a great initiative at the University of Waterloo. The Research Entrepreneurship Acceleration Project (REAP) brings creative academic and private sector experts to explore new technologies – especially those involving interactivity, responsiveness, and digital display environments – in order to spark “research entrepreneurship.” The program hires a small team of students each term to work on a project. REAP is currently looking for students for the Spring term. All the details are below. Please spread the word, or apply if you’re interested.

Research Job for Spring 2011
The Research Entrepreneurship Acceleration Project (REAP) is looking for part-time, extracurricular paid student positions for Spring 2011. We are looking for students who are:
  • Creative
  • Entrepreneurial-minded or interested in learning how to be
  • Group-oriented
  • Results-oriented
We need students with any combination of these technical skills:
  • Graphic design 
  • Machimina and game engine design
  • 3D graphic rendering or animation
  • Kinnect-style interactivity design
Benefits include:
  • Designing cool content and applications for leading edge technologies
  • Learning business, project management, group, and presentation skills
  • Expanding your professional resume
For the Spring 2011 term, we will be designing a proof of concept for a ‘Virtual Whisper Room.’ A virtual whisper room uses a game engine to create virtual environment in which avatars of customers interact and play with early-state product/application ideas too expensive – or to difficult – to design and render in the real world. It would combine graphics, machinima, a Kinnect-style technology and MicroTiles (Christie Digital’s newest display technology). Its main purpose is to show rather than tell – to allow people to experience new ideas so that designers and entrepreneurs can gain invaluable feedback during the early stages of prototyping ideas for new products. In order to be considered please:
  • send your resume to reap.uw at gmail dot com by Monday April 5th 2011.
  • reserve Monday April 11th 2011 7–9pm for a mandatory info session. More details about this night after your resume is received and reviewed.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose at Karos Health

I’ve written before about a book by Dan Pink called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates. I’m a big fan of the book, and the three simple things that Pink says matter to people who are working in creative positions, or positions that don’t just involve repeating the same kinds of tasks again and again.
  • Autonomy. Ideally, over what you do, when you do it, who you do it with, and how you do it.
  • Mastery. Your abilities are finite, but infinitely improvable; improvement demands effort; and mastery can never be fully attained, which is part of the allure.
  • Purpose. Within an organization, use profits to reach purpose, emphasize more than just self-interest, and allow people to pursue purpose on their own terms.
My experience at Karos Health has been one that delivers on all three.
  • We practice Scrum and other Agile product development techniques, which gives a lot of autonomy for team members.
  • We’re always looking for ways to improve on what we do and how we do it, both as a company and as individuals.
  • People find a sense of purpose in different places, but health care is an area that delivers on that for me.
We’re looking for people to join the Karos team and help build great products and a great company. Have a look at the positions that we currently have open and give some thought to how you might fit in. Feel free to get in touch with me directly if you want to learn more, or just send in an application. It’s a fun and rewarding place to work.

Monday, March 7, 2011

March roars in like a lion

Last week was a bit of a blur as March roared in with the usual commitments at work keeping me busy and several extra-curricular activities added to the mix.

Wednesday started with Communitech’s Tech Leadership conference, an annual event that provided a great opportunity to meet people and engage in conversations. It also featured a pretty impressive lineup of speakers. I have to confess that Geoffrey Moore’s keynote presentation was a slight disappointment; while he’s a dynamic speaker, the material didn’t seem to add much in the way of new insights to what he has previously published. This particular crowd has to have been pretty familiar with the concepts of crossing the chasm.

The next session for me was with Scott Berkun, whose talk on the Myths of Innovation picked up on the theme of his book of the same name. I’ve heard Scott speak before and knew that I would enjoy his talk, and I did just that.

Following Scott’s talk, I travelled with him and my uxWaterloo conspirator Bob Barlow-Busch out to Quarry Integrated Communications in St. Jacobs, where Scott had agreed to do a special uxWaterloo lunch time talk. The theme was creative thinking hacks, and the format was completely open and driven by questions from the audience. It’s the same format that Scott used when he last spoke to the group, and it works well.

Wednesday evening was spent at Design Exchange Waterloo, where I acted as an industry panelist along with a couple of members of the local design community, Graham Whiting and Tammy teWinkel. The event featured enlightening presentations and lively conversations with many students. The hardest part was deciding which teams to give awards to, but after much deliberation we were able to arrive at decisions. The next event will likely be in the fall, and I’m looking forward to it.

Thursday was, of course, TEDxWaterloo. I hadn’t planned on attending, but some last minute schedule changes and the timely appearance of tickets changed that. As with last year’s inaugural event, it was a day of stimulating and inspiring presentations from some distinguished speakers. It was all terrific, but the most delightful surprise for me was Ben Grossman’s presentation on the hurdy gurdy, an ancient musical instrument with which Ben made some striking music while he was on stage. Moreover, between the two sets of talks, Ben provided wonderful background music that, for me, enhanced the many conversations that I had.

Sprinkled throughout the week were a few meetings with some of my fellow Ignite Waterloo organizers as we make plans for our next event. More news on that later.