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Influx curated speaker interview-madison mount-ideo

May 5, 2009

Madison Mount of IDEO is one of our speakers at the Influx Curated conference taking place on June 11th at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.

Here’s his response to three questions I asked him recently.

1. What’s on your mind at the moment?

All of the disruption and chaos going on in the world right now…the lack of control, the layering and interconnectedness of the various forces, the acceptance of the absurd and constant humility required to keep going. This truly feels like a cathartic and necessary process that we’re going through – that we’re flushing the now poisonous set of beliefs, actions and expectations out of our system that has served us for this cycle that’s just ending.

A new normal will emerge after this one expires. What we learn now, if we are nimble enough, will be applicable and make us stronger. But what we used to do and how we used to behave may only be marginally applicable – true for consumers, true for businesses, true for brands.

And just to really kill this thought with a tired metaphor, we’re potentially in that time and space just after a devastating forest fire when the mushrooms start to take hold and feed off of the charred bits all around.

See, I told you I’d kill it. At least I didn’t mention foraging for opportunities…

. Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in optimism, in how markets work and in making lists.

I find inspiration in behavioral economics and its ability to quantify our intuition and predict our actions. I find inspiration in Ted Turner and his constant curiosity, pushing and honesty. I find inspiration in airplanes and in Hank Mobley, Ahmad Jamal, Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

I find inspiration in the Lake Merritt Farmer’s Market, my family, systems, Sunday’s New York Times, passionate people, the process of cooking, our garden in the backyard,, and

I find inspiration in working on complex issues. And in pushing everyone around me.

I find inspiration in This American Life,,, 60 Minutes, Digg,, and usually, probably Charlie Rose.

3. Is the recession igniting innovation or stalling it?


Certain brands are treating this as a wonderful time to build for and talk to emerging behaviors, needs and desires. Others are frozen by the uncertainty in either the market or in their own viability.
Zooming out (and squinting) enough, you can make out prevailing outlooks across different categories. Uncertainty rules the day in Financial Services. Not surprisingly, Automotive is also in a state of flux. The prevalent sense in Food and Beverage is cautious optimism with a few key players really taking advantage of the state of the state. Energy seems to be in a very enthusiastic holding pattern while everyone waits for the stimulus dollars to settle. And so on.

The one element that transcends category is the person involved. As is always the case, good people create good things. This is true in innovation, marketing, business, parenting and beyond.

You can find out more details and register for Influx Curated here.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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