BMW i3 Production Process

Many are wondering whether Apple’s collaboration with BMW will give clues as to the future shape of the Apple Car.  Some have even gone on to speculate that Apple may use the BMW i3 as a design or basis for its own electric car.

This morning, technology analyst and avid Apple-watcher, Horace Dediu (www.asymco.com) retweeted a 22 minute clip of the BMW i3 production process.  His accompanying tweet cryptically read ‘Watching how BMW makes the i3, it’s obvious why Apple had a chat.’

From this first clip alone (it is part 1 of 4 clips) we see two very important features of the BMW i3 production:

i) High levels of automation – very few people are involved in a predominantly automated process

ii) High levels of automated carbon fibre production – This is important because carbon fibre is traditionally a cost choke point due to its difficulty of manufacture in large quantities as this quote from Wikipedia suggests (CFRP stands for Carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer):

‘CFRPs can be expensive to produce but are commonly used wherever high strength-to-weight ratio and rigidity are required…’

It is clear from the video clip that BMW is able to manufacture carbon fibre at scale and that the i3 has a substantial amount of carbon fibre in it.

In an earlier article I speculated that the Apple Car will need to be extremely light, but also extremely strong.  Such a material would cause a ‘virtuous cycle‘ for an electric vehicle of being a) reduced weight since batteries weigh a lot b) better performance through better power to weight ratio c) cheaper as batteries are presently one of the most expensive components of an electric car.

Validated instruments for use in arts impact research

surveyI was putting together a table of various validated instruments which have been or could be used in arts impact research, and thought it might be useful for others working in this area.

The table is a list of instruments which can be used to measure empathy, self-esteem and self-efficacy, wellbeing and so on. I have also included links to the instruments if they are available for free or purchase online.

You can access the table in html or pdf.

Please feel free to comment – the list is not exhaustive and doubtless there are some in there which have more or less efficacy than others!

Happy measuring :-)

Jackie Bailey, Principal, BYP Group

Can we measure the value of enduring artworks?

Mona_Lisa,_by_Leonardo_da_Vinci,_from_C2RMF_retouched

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci – how much has this enduring work contributed to global culture over the years?

(This post is a continuation of my ruminations on Ann Markusen’s work)

There is something else I saw in Ann Markusen’s report on California’s arts and cultural ecology which I found really interesting.

I saw these words:

‘California’s arts and cultural nonprofits generate new and enduring artworks—they commission an estimated 41,000 theater, dance, musical compositions, and artworks annually (p.33)’

and had one of those moments of nerdy, impact evaluation realisation (you know the ones ;-).

I have never tried to capture the value of the enduring nature of works of art. Sure, we all talk about heritage value, bequest value etc (thanks to John Holden). But normally when I do impact or value assessments for arts clients, I am very focused on the intrinsic experience of the art and the social, educational and personal outcomes for the participants.

I have always included ‘contribution to society and culture’ as an element of Artistic Vibrancy (a framework for measuring the health and impact of an arts organisation). But I never thought of measuring the contribution to culture through the creation and continued public experience and enjoyment of enduring works.

How can you value the contribution of Shakespeare, for example? Well, it’s invaluable – as you can can always say with the arts. But you can try to translate the value of enduring works into a language that funders can work with (‘Invaluable’ does not cut it in the Cabinet room).

For example, could you start to count the number of works likely to endure over say, 2, 3, 5 years and longer? You could probably come up with a statistical formula based on big data (PhD project anyone?!) And then how many people are likely to see it, engage with it, perform it, derive some meaning from it, and be transformed by it (a kind of pyramid effect)?

I think this would be completely awesome or terribly hard to believe ,depending on how carefully it is done. There is nothing worse for arguments about arts impact than seemingly ambit claims of creating $X in value. But when it’s done well, it’s – well, invaluable.

I’d love to hear other evaluators’ thoughts on this. Do you think it could be done and done well? Or perhaps it has been done?

Jackie Bailey – Principal, BYP Group

Why it is a good idea to talk about ‘ecologies’ rather than ‘economies’ when we talk about the arts

I was just reading some of Dr Ann Markusen’s work (Dr Markusen is the Director of the Arts Economy Initiative at the University of Minnesota), as you do. A few things cropped up which I wanted to flag here as interesting which I would love to hear others’ thoughts about.

Arts and cultural ecology

In her recent work on the Californian creative economy, Markusen uses the same terminology that arts policy types in Australia have also been using for the last few years – ‘ecology’ rather than ‘economy.’ Since at least 2009 (and probably before), people working in arts policy and strategy in Australia have called the arts an ‘ecology’ or ‘ecosystem’, as a way to try to capture the the nature of the arts as a system of fluctuating relationships, and the primacy of authentic connection – between artists, organisations, audiences – the list goes on.

AV-Onion

Artistic Vibrancy Onion – a way for arts organisations to conceptualise their impact and strategic investment

This is kind of like my Artistic Vibrancy Onion, so named because I think of the arts as a web of relationships across different layers of society and culture (perhaps Artistic Vibrancy Spiderweb might be more apposite?)

Here is how I tried to conceptualise the arts ecosystem for the Australia Council for the Arts when they asked me to, last year.

 

Arts-ecosystem

Arts ecosystem – more useful than an arts industry supply chain, methinks

 

I drew it like this because a) I am a pretty crap drawer and b) it seemed a better way to describe the slightly miasmic soup in which artists operate, as opposed to the more traditional supply or value chain diagram of arts production.

The ecology concept allows us to think of arts happening in non-linear ways – as innovation does too. Arts happens in relationships and conversations, as does most human interaction and the fruits of human creativity. Rather than talking about it as an economy, or an industry, the arts is this space, a field (if we are going to get Bourdieuian, and why not?) in which people commune with each other and what’s going on inside and outside their heads, hearts and bodies.

Naturally artists also operate as economic actors. And some parts of the arts are industrial and could be described as an industry, which implies the making of stuff and selling it and creating economic value and employment. These terms are used interchangeably, but really depend on the political goal of the conversation. For example, we talk about creative economies when we want to make the point that arts make money and contribute to GDP. We talk about the arts industry for a similar reason – to be able to talk about it in the same breath as the car manufacturing industry, or the pharmaceutical industry.

When to talk about ecologies

And so we talk about creative and cultural ecologies and ecosystems when we want to make a different point. When I use the term arts ecology, I am trying to convey quite a lot in that one word:

  1. There are a myriad of inter-related factors that are prerequisites for the making of art. I make this point when advocating to funders to not get rid of one part of the ecology and expect the rest to continue to survive.
  2. Artists are not at their core, doing it for the money. Yes, they get paid, and they sell things. But intrinsic motivation is critical to the making of good art. Prioritising process over outcome. Journey vs destination. This is documented in the ‘flow’ and creativity research (Czsikmihalyi). This could apply to a number of other jobs too. I use the ‘ecology’ terminology to remind funders and policy makers that they cannot solely rely on industrial or economic rationalist modes of thinking when they make policies about the arts.
  3. Audiences are not just ‘consumers,’ but part of the ecosystem. In the arts, the experience of art is something that happens in a relationship between the art and the audience member. This is partly why products like the iPhone do so well – the makers of that object understood that people are not just consumers, but experiencers, and the ‘product’ becomes theirs – it changes and is modified by the person experiencing it. It’s the same with art – art cannot exist in a vacuum – it is experienced and therefore ‘created’ by everyone who experiences it.
  4. I know this sounds a bit fluffy, but it is essential to understand that the relationship between an artist and their work, the work and the audience, the artist and the audience, is a gift relationship as well as a consumer transaction. This means that audiences open themselves up and give something of themselves, more than just the money for the show. You see this understanding spreading to other sectors, like artisan foods and wines, or handmade gift products – people understanding that people don’t want to be mere consumers, – they want the things they eat and buy to be extensions of their identities, a gift to themselves or a gift of themselves to others. (OK, I might be writing my dissertation on art and writing as a gift. But you get my point!)

Jackie Bailey – Principal, BYP Group

Film-makers as fluffy artists or tough-minded operators – you be the judge

Hairless-catThis article has been summarised at Urban Cinefile. I am uploading it here, importing from our old website, because it has some still-useful insights from still-expert experts. 

The clue was on the flyer: a picture of the hairless Sphynx, one of the world’s jarringly un-fluffiest of cats. At the 2012 AFTRS seminar, “Not Fluffy: Reimagining the Creative Enterprise,” six of Australia’s leading researchers in screen business each tried to answer the question: are screen practitioners fluffy-minded artists?  Or are they like the Sphinx  – tough-minded creatures, with little more than their keen nose for a business opportunity to protect them from the ravages of a competitive industry?

David Court: The King’s Men – Five great lessons from William Shakespeare’s theatre company

David Court, the Head of the Centre for Screen Business at the AFTRS, explained to the gathering of 30 screen producers and practitioners that even the great artists like Shakespeare are not as fluffy as everyone might think.

According to David, William Shakespeare’s theatre company, 10% owned by the Bard himself, was run in a most pragmatic fashion.  The Bard’s first company, “The Lord Chamberlain’s Men,” faced a steep rent increase.  At that point, pragmatic Shakespeare brought in a gang of “strong men” who pulled the theatre apart, from pillar to post, then re-assembled the theatre across the river.  The newly assembled theatre was renamed “The Globe.”

Shakespeare then tapped into what we would now call “market segmentation.”  He established a new theatre within the exclusive, and expensive, precinct of The City of London. The Globe charged only 1 penny for admission, whilst the newly built Blackfriar’s Theatre, with its smaller capacity, charged a steeper entry price of sixpence.  By setting up in a more expensive location and charging a higher entrance price, Shakespeare and his theatre company, now called “The King’s Men”, took what was then an art form for the masses into “high art”, for an elite and wealthy audience.  Think Woolworths, selling apples for $2.98 a kg, and its high-end store, 50 metres away, selling them for $5.98 per shiny punnet.

David dispels the myth of the artist as “a lonely man (and then, it was typically a man), sweating away at his art in a dusty garret.”  He blames this common, but misguided belief, on Romantic era thinkers such as Lord Byron, and later repeated by non-artists such as John Maynard Keynes in his acceptance speech for the position of Director of the British Arts Council.

David suggests that at least Shakespeare clearly did not conform to this stereotype. Shakespeare worked closely with his troupe of actors, borrowing liberally from other creative sources, and repurposing old material.  This was a great artist, and one actively engaged with realizing his art in a practical, and responsive business-like fashion.

David draws out five business lessons for screen practitioners from Shakespeare’s story:

  1. Build common purpose companies.  David sees Matchbox Pictures, Cordell-Jigsaw and Zapudra’s Other Films (Andrew Denton’s production company) as local examples of this.
  2. Negotiate terms of trade.  Clearly, The King’s Men were not passive in accepting the terms dealt them, but David sees too many filmmakers prepared to accept less than profitable deals “just to see their films released.”
  3. The Audience is the Asset
  4. Build the Brand
  5. Embrace the Business

Box Office Prophecy, presented by Dr Jordi MacKenzie

Dr Jordi MacKenzie of Sydney University is trying to bring some predictability and measurability to estimates of likely box office takings of a yet-to-be-released feature film.  The boldness of this experiment flies in the face of conventional wisdom that says box office earnings of a film are too unpredictable to allow meaningful forecasts.

The study, now in its 5th year has managed to strip back the information required to make accurate predictions about box office to nothing more than the key cast and crew list.  Good results have also been obtained with only a small number of screen industry participants, sometimes as few as 10 in each “game”.

The researchers have found a correlation of r = 0.95 between actual box office results and their predictions.  In statistics-land, this is very, very robust.  A correlation of ‘1’ is a perfect correlation, with ‘0’ being no correlation – and a correlation like what Jordi and his co-researchers obtained is virtually unheard of in natural phenomena.

The question researchers asked participants was not “What do you think [film X] will make at the box office?”, but “What do you think others will think this film makes at the box office?”  This was a conscious attempt to divine the “Wisdom of the Crowd” phenomenon.  In academic-speak they call it a “pari-mutuel” technique.

Another benefit of the study in using this technique is that they were able to have the predictions naturally render themselves into probability distributions, rather than a single point prediction.  This enabled the researchers to then quantify the uncertainty surrounding each prediction.

Whilst his statistical figures were too small for me to scrutinize from my vantage point, Jordi is confident that the research team has found a methodology that could be extremely useful in guiding early investment and financing decisions of individual film projects.

For those who are curious, the research paper is available online for free and entitled: “Nobody knows anything? Applying pari-mutuel information aggregation mechanisms to the motion picture industry.”

Copyrighting the Future, presented by Professor Michael Fraser

Professor Michael Fraser of the University of Technology Sydney next took the lectern and argued quietly but forcefully for a copyright registration database, which he dubbed the “National Content Network” (NCN).

The professor is realistic about the environment that faces IP enforcement, acknowledging that enforcement causes alienation within society.  This is because digital film piracy is practiced by 1 in 3 of the population. Consequently, in his words, “enforcement alone won’t fix this market failure.”

Michael proposes a solution, simply stated:  “Creators have to offer a better service.”  His National Content Network would give both consumers and creators what they want.  Creators want to be paid for their IP.  But what do consumers want?  According to Michael, they will pay for:

–       Instant access

–       Freedom to repurpose the material (“mash-up”)

–       All of this in one transaction

Of copyright’s importance, Michael says that a fair and enforceable copyright law was the essential ingredient to the Industrial Revolution.  He noted Imperial China had copyright law well before Europeans, however, it gave all copyright to the Emperor.  British law dating from the late 17th century on the other hand specifically protected a citizen’s intellectual property (IP).  It was this difference, he feels, that allowed the West to surpass China in technological terms, and how it came to dominate the World.

To further support his argument, he referred to Article 27 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the effect that “If you can’t make a living from your work, you are silenced.”

Creative Futures – presented by Tony Shannon

Tony Shannon, Acting Director of the Creative Industries Innovation Centre (CIIC) described some of the work they are doing for the Creative Industries (CI’s).  According to Tony, all of the creative industries seem to struggle with a basic level of business-mindedness.

Tony urges creative businesses to make use of resources on the CIIC website (www.creativeinnovation.net.au) such as the Revenue Master.  As simple – and he himself admits, simplistic – as the tool is, he says it is too often that he comes across creative businesses that have not done a basic revenue forecast of this nature.

Tony mentioned an analysis which I am currently working on with CIIC.  We are looking at Centre’s findings across the hundreds of creative industry business reviews which the Centre has done over the last three years.   The picture which is emerging is that creative businesses’ key challenges arise because of weaknesses in business fundamentals, such as strategic planning, sales, finance and systems and processes.

Whilst the study does not yet include the screen sectors, Tony and the audience speculated as to how much these attributes of the broader creative industries might apply to the screen industry.

For Love and Money – presented by Simon Molloy

Simon Molloy spoke on the topic of “Psychic Income”.  Psychic income is the difference between what a producer does earn through their films, and what they could earn in an alternative profession.

In 2007, AFTRS surveyed 4,500 Australian producers.  The survey found that Australian producers work for love and not money, sacrificing professional careers and tens of thousands of dollars in incomes in other fields to become screen producers.  Drawing from and building upon results from the 2007 survey, Simon is investigating and attempting to be more precise about the reasons why Australian producers forego such large amounts of money.

Whilst Simon was reluctant to testify to the rigour of this research by conventional academic economic journal standards, he takes heart from the achievements of Daniel Kahneman, who was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2002.  A psychologist by training, Kahneman is recognized for his work in disproving the economic rationalist assumption that all people work in an economically rational self-interested manner.

For more information, see Urban Cinefile’s previous article on psychic income at http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=18807&s=Features.

Insights into the changing roles of producers in the new Australian screen culture, presented by Professor Deb Verhoeven

To avoid what Deb, Chair of Media and Communication at Deakin University, self-deprecatingly described as “an incredibly boring talk about data”, she refocused her question to “How do you survive as a screen producer in a hostile IP environment?”

In a vein strikingly resonant with that of Professor Fraser earlier in the day, Deb argued that what matters in this new environment is the “interoperability of content with data.”  This ‘interoperability’ has 3 layers:

  1. Copyright owners must align their content with archival facilities
  2. Copyright owners must align their content on a semantic level
  3. Sharing of data

Deb foresees the second layer as the most difficult.  She says it will involve standardizing meanings, which will require an army of what is known in academic circles as ‘ontologists.’  The layperson would probably identify them as the humble librarian or “information manager”.

The upshot of the above she says, is that we should be thinking more about production workflows (e.g. AGILE production techniques, Just-in-time (JIT) film production etc) instead of just production or distribution.

Deb’s notion of “interoperability” predicts that the difficulty in Michael’s National Content Network (NCN) will likely be setting up definitions and standards.  I asked Prof Fraser if he knew Deb’s talk was going to align with his work so neatly.  He confessed he didn’t, but added wryly, “We nearly embraced after her talk.”

Panel Discussion:  How can Australian screen businesses become more sustainable, profitable and long-lived?

The panel consisted of Sandra Levy, CEO, AFTRS, Brian Rosen, President, Screen Producers Association Australia (SPAA), Neil Peplow, Producer and Director of Screen Content at the AFTRS, Dr Chris Burton, UTS Business School, David Court, AFTRS Centre for Screen Business.

The usual questions populated this discussion, such as “What is the correct business model for screen content creators?”, “What will happen to the independent film?” (left unanswered), and “How do we lift the Australian screen industry out of being a cottage industry and what is the role of Government in this?”

On the correct business model for screen content creators, Brian Rosen ventured that television has it pretty much right, with pay TV operators like HBO branding high quality content, and broadcast television producing “event” television.

One upshot of this for the feature film industry, is that he suspects there is a gap emerging in the film market at the $20-25 million budget level.  This is because Hollywood’s response to the paradigm shift occurring in media has been to make big “event” movies, with lots of CGI.  It was not mentioned in the discussion, but there was a pre-World Wide Web precedent for this gap in the Working Title films (e.g. Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Merchant Ivory films of the 80’s and 90’s (e.g. A Room with a View).  The success of these films probably prompted the studios to create spin-off specialty studios such as Rogue Pictures, Miramax (created by the Weinstein brothers, but later purchased and remodeled by one of the big studios), and Fox Searchlight.

With regards to the last question, on “How do we lift the Australian screen industry out of being a cottage industry, and what role does Government play in this?”, it was Brian Rosen again that ventured an answer.  He argued that to create a viable screen industry like Hollywood, you have to look to what Hollywood has that attracts the best ideas from all over the world.  His answer to that is i) capital and ii) infrastructure.  Consequently, he says it would be better to invest the $42 billion being invested in the National Broadband Network (NBN) instead into film production in Australia.  This would attract film productions from all over the world, and the rest would follow.

The main disagreement (and there were many) between the panellists and some audience members appeared to revolve around the “business-mindedness” or otherwise of screen practitioners.  Leading the “for” camp was Sandra Levy, who claims that the producers she has seen in her career, both in television networks and as CEO of the AFTRS have always “been market savvy, known their audience and are highly entrepreneurial in getting their films to market.”  This was a claim supported by David Court’s own view of his AFTRS students.

On the “against” camp, i.e. screen practitioners do not appear to be business-minded, was Tony Shannon and other members of the audience.  Clearly, Tony Shannon’s experience of creative industry practitioners, as well as Simon Molloy’s presentation would appear to suggest there is some evidence for this position too.

One attendee commented after the event that one of the statements by the panelist Neil Peplow was telling of a non-commercial mentality typical amongst even successful film producers such as Neil.  Neil was describing the ravaging effects of piracy on his film income.  He said that his film, Waking Ned Devine, had been illegally downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.  “If”, he speculated, “every one of those illegal downloads were to be charged 50 cents, I would nearly have made a profit on my film!”  The suggestion was made by the attendee that if Neil were truly “business-minded”, he would have been seeking to make millions rather than just breaking even.  If this assertion is correct (and let’s give Neil the benefit of the doubt here – he was speaking off the cuff and his statement could equally be interpreted as a keen desire to redeem money from an irredeemable situation), then it is a mentality that runs against the lessons from David Court’s paper that a good creative business should be prepared to “negotiate its terms of trade”.

Perhaps though, the two opposing opinions can be reconciled.  My own penny’s worth (or sixpence, if I was feeling especially wealthy in Shakespeare’s time): most Australian screen practitioners make films for love and not money.  It’s such hard work that your heart has to be in it.  However, once they have made a film, they can and do work in entrepreneurial and business-savvy ways to bring their film to a paying audience.

 

Yen Yang – Principal, Creative Industries, BYP Group

 

Appreciative Inquiry – change and evaluation rolled into one

We are often asked about the different types of evaluation approaches.  We will try to summarise them from time to time here, on our site, and hope this helps people sort through the jargon of evaluation and get to the bottom of what suits you and your needs best.

We have started with an explanation of Appreciative Inquiry, because I was asked about it at a presentation in Melbourne to arts organisations.

What is an Appreciative Inquiry Evaluation?[1]

An Appreciative Inquiry evaluation is based on the principles of Appreciate Inquiry (AI), an organizational development method which is focused on building on what an organization does well.  The principles of AI are summarized below.

In an AI evaluation, evaluators and participants work together to share their views of the present, and “co-create” the future. An AI evaluation does not ignore problems, but approaches them as opportunities for change.

In an AI evaluation, the evaluator and participants:

  • become fully engaged in the learning journey
  • work to “co-create” the future
  • acknowledge that there are multiple, equally valid interpretations of reality
  • share their individual interpretations of reality, with an aim to gain a shared understanding of experiences
  • envision possible positive futures which build on present strengths
  • use language and foster relationships which create that positive future

In a pure AI evaluation, traditional evaluative methods – eg qualitative and quantitative research – are used only as the need arises, and are driven by participants.

Principles of Appreciative Inquiry

“Appreciative inquiry” is an approach to evaluation based on the assumption that an organization wants to improve.  Accordingly, the evaluation has a fundamentally positive focus on what the organization does well, and how it can build on this.

The core principles of Appreciative Inquiry are:

  1. Constructionist principle: people’s realities are “constructed” through their social interactions.
  2. Simultaneity principle: change and inquiry are simultaneous.  Inquiry can itself effect change.
  3. Poetic principle: the “story” of an organization is a product of the ongoing narrative of its members and others.
  4. Anticipatory principle: envisioning a positive future can help to guide people towards one.
  5. Positive principle: focusing on the positive can help create a positive energy for the future.
  6. Wholeness principle: wholeness brings out the best in people, so supporting people to share the whole story from a position of individual wholeness can build a “collective capacity for change.”
  7. Enactment principle: positive change occurs when people create the future through their words, images and relationships.
  8. Free choice principle: free choice stimulates positive change and liberates personal and organizational power.

[1] This explanation of AI is drawn from Howieson, Jill, “A Constructive Inquiry approach: blending Appreciative Inquiry with traditional research and evaluation methods,” Evaluation Journal of Australasia, 11(2) 2011.

The Artistic Vibrancy Onion

onionI keep coming back to the artistic vibrancy framework in my work for arts organisations, and hearing of how it has been adopted across Australia and overseas. I thought it might be time to unleash my Onion of Artistic Vibrancy on to the unsuspecting arts world.

When I was at the Australia Council for the Arts, I worked with the performing arts sector to develop an artistic vibrancy framework.  For a long time, the arts organisations and funders had struggled to articulate artistic merit.  We needed a shared language to talk about, and to some extent, evaluate, measure or at least record, artistic vibrancy.

We identified five core elements of artistic vibrancy:

  • Great Art
  • Great Artists
  • Engaged Audiences
  • Engaged Communities
  • Vibrant Society and Culture

Great Art

This is about how well you do your art – eg your technical proficiency as an orchestra or the production values of your play.  Your peers are probably the best people to ask, eg through peer review, benchmarking against organisations you are like or which you aspire to be like, or less formal conversations.

It also refers to how well you contribute to your artform. Again, your artistic peers would be the ones to comment on this, as well as the community of the artform you are in and the artists you work with. You could do this via interviews, conversations, a peer committee, and opportunistic conversations eg with visiting experts or well-respected guest artists.

Great Artists

This refers to your organisation’s contribution to the development of artists.  Your artistic peers, sector experts and the artists themselves would be the best placed people to talk to about how well you are doing in this area – eg through conversations, a peer review panel, and artist surveys.

Engaged Audiences

This is a question for the audience of your work – either for live performances, readers of your books, or online viewers or listeners to your music.  We want to find out how emotionally moved, intellectually stimulated, challenged and captivated they were by your artwork, coining Alan Brown’s language or artistic impact.  The best people to ask about this are the audience members, via interviews or a survey.

Engaged Communities 

This is about your organisation’s connection to its community beyond the audience. For example, an orchestra can be relevant to its wider community through education programs, or perhaps through programming decisions to engage target groups.  “Community” can be your organisation’s target communities, eg disadvantaged youth or particular ethnic groups, or it could refer to your local community or your entire nation.  The key question is to ask how relevant you are to these people.  And the best people to ask are naturally the community members you are interested in connecting with.  You can do this via open days, community surveys and community consultations, or perhaps conversations with community representatives.

The above is a quick summary.  There are a bunch of resources and 2 e-books which I worked on with the Australia Council, designed to help organisations reflect on their own artistic vibrancy and engage with communities.

The onion of artistic vibrancy

AV-Onion

Now we come to the onion.

My underlying idea when developing the artistic vibrancy framework, is that arts organisations are all about relationships.

We can think about these relationships as a series of concentric circles, like an “onion.”

At the core of the onion is the organisation’s relationship with the artform itself.  For example, ‘excellence of craft’ is really about a strong relationship with the artform, as is the ‘development or preservation of the artform’.

At the next ring out is the organisation’s relationship with itself.  This includes the organisation as an idea, a brand and an institution, as well as the organisation’s more tangible connection with its own staff, both artistic and non-artistic.

Then we move to the organisation’s relationship with artists who may be external to the organisation, and the wider artistic community.  The organisation always sits in relation to its “field,” to be Bourdieu-ian about it.

At the next level is the organisation’s connection with its audience – those who watch, listen and experience the art.

Then we have the ‘community relevance’ layer, which is the skin, the interface between the ‘inner onion’ and the wide world.  This is about the relationship of the organisation and its work with its identified community and specific communities of interest.

Next is the general public – those who might see or hear some of the ‘art’ created, or might walk past the gallery or exhibition and imbibe, by osmosis, some benefit or challenge from the existence of the art (ambient participation, according to Alan Brown, or institutional value, according to John Holden).

And then there is the air, the wide wide world in which the onion sits – the relationship with society and culture.

Why the onion is a useful tool

By conceptualising it this way, arts organisations can start to map their own efforts and energy when it comes to each dimension of vibrancy. If you wanted to, you could actually draw an onion and map your resources and programs on to it, to see where you might be strongest or where you might want to concentrate more energy.

The layers don’t have to represent waning connection the further out you go.  Your aim is to have strong weaves between all layers.

This could be a useful way of communicating your organisation’s foci to others.  Importantly, it is a good way to understand yourself, keeping the art at the heart of the onion but strongly weaving its connection to all layers.

Jackie Bailey – Principal, BYP Group

A Good Summary of the Chinese ‘Maker’ Scene

Most people know that if you are an entrepreneur or businessperson who needs something made, you go to China – the manufacturing hub of the World.  As one Western friend reported to me 8 years ago upon returning from his first trip to Suzhou, ‘You think of anything, it can be made in three days!’

However, going to China may be confusing for most Westerners.  This article from TechCrunch, entitled ‘The Six People you meet in Shenzhen’ summarises what to expect and resonates deeply with the types of people my friend described meeting in his week in Suzhou.

The Verge article ‘This tiny electric car could be the future …’

The Nissan New Mobility Concept - apparently based on the Renault Twizy

The Nissan New Mobility Concept – apparently based on the Renault Twizy

The Verge article, entitled ‘This tiny electric car could be the future of urban transportation’ echoes my own articles here and here from a couple of weeks ago. (You heard it here first. ;-). )

 
Modelled on the Renault Twizy (also mentioned in that piece) Nissan is conducting research & trials around the very questions I raised, for example:
 
– Business model: subscription?
– [From the article] “Is this a real trend? What would make a better product [for Nissan], if we need a better product? Is there interest? What are the demographic breakdowns? How do younger people use it, how do older people use it? How do females use it? How do males use it? How do those that are mobility challenged use it?”( checkout this for one example of the ‘Cambrian explosion’ of electric vehicles that emerged in the past few years)
 
Note also the criticisms of the vehicle by the writer and how they echo the troubleshooting I described will need to be done to provide a comparable user experience to a car. From the article:
 
‘One of the models comes with a rear seat, but good luck comfortably fitting a full-grown adult back there for more than a few miles. And there are no side windows, so you’re probably going to want to avoid driving one in anything other than the best weather.’
As I argued in those earlier posts, these are precisely the types of issues Apple or some other prospective disruptor would need to solve. i.e. make the new personal transport vehicle as easy and comfortable to use as a car (or easier), and make it more convenient to park, drive, maintain and own.

Andy Grove’s legacy – a (slightly) dissenting view

Andy Grove - Legendary former CEO of Intel

Andy Grove – Legendary former CEO of Intel

With the recent passing of former Intel CEO, Andy Grove, there have been many tributes to his remarkable abilities and achievements,[1] not least of all, his ability to admit that he was wrong.[2]

This article is not going to say anything to attempt to detract from the great man he was, and his incredible achievements. But in the harsh glare of history, there was one key mistake he made that is oft overlooked. This article will examine that mistake with the benefit of ‘20/20 hindsight’.

A Great Legacy: Avoiding Disruption Pt 1

Firstly though, we should put into context Grove’s achievements which were truly World transforming. Grove is credited with being the man to execute upon his predecessor, Gordon Moore’s, famous ‘Moore’s Law’[3] . It was under Grove’s reign that much of this was achieved.

Tributes extend even further, to Grove’s epitomizing and propagating Silicon Valley’s culture of continual, relentless improvement. Also, when faced in the 1970’s with the existential threat of Japanese competitors ‘dumping’ dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips – Intel’s core market at the time – it was Grove who suggested leaving the DRAM market to refocus upon the fledgling microprocessor business. One disruption event avoided!

The Celeron Chip

And again in 1997, Grove famously invited Clayton Christensen, the author of a now seminal book, ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’ and the man attributed with coining the term ‘disruption’ in the sense we know it today, to speak to his employees. As this story from the New Yorker recounts:

‘Grove had sensed that something was moving around at the bottom of his industry, and he knew that this something was threatening to him, but he didn’t have the language to explain it precisely to himself, or to communicate to his people why they should worry about it. He asked Christensen to come out to Intel, and Christensen told him about the integrated mills and the mini mills, and right away Grove knew this was the story he’d been looking for.’[4]

From this meeting, it is said Grove famously decided to produce the Celeron chip – a cheaper, lower-powered chip than Intel’s core offering at the time.

The Orthodox View: Grove’s successor, Paul Otellini made the big miss for Intel

Consequently, Intel’s big ‘miss’, of not picking the mobile chip market, is seen as the fault of Grove’s successor, Paul Otellini.   A typical account is that portrayed by one of my favourite analysts, Ben Thompson on his Stratechery website, in this case relating a story told by Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic:[5]

‘There is a sense, though, that the company’s strategic position is much less secure than its financials indicate, thanks to Intel’s having missed mobile.

The critical decision came in 2005; Apple had just switched its Mac lineup to Intel x86 processors, but Steve Jobs was interested in another Intel product: the XScale ARM-based processor.

The device it would be used for would be the iPhone. Then-CEO Paul Otellini told Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic what happened:

“We ended up not winning it or passing on it, depending on how you want to view it. And the world would have been a lot different if we’d done it,” Otellini told me in a two-hour conversation during his last month at Intel. “The thing you have to remember is that this was before the iPhone was introduced and no one knew what the iPhone would do…At the end of the day, there was a chip that they were interested in that they wanted to pay a certain price for and not a nickel more and that price was below our forecasted cost. I couldn’t see it. It wasn’t one of these things you can make up on volume. And in hindsight, the forecasted cost was wrong and the volume was 100x what anyone thought.”’

Since that time, ARM Holdings have gone on to become ‘market dominant in the field of processors for mobile phones (smartphones or otherwise) and tablet computers.’ [6]

My dissenting view: Grove made the big miss for Intel

In contrast to this mainstream view, I argue that it was actually upon Grove’s watch that the mistake was made. In my opinion, it was at that fateful meeting between Christensen and the people at Intel in 1997, that a proper understanding of disruption theory as we now come to know it[7] would have pointed to the likely disruptor of Intel’s core business.

It appears that all Grove and his people took away was that the disruption was going to ‘come from below’ i.e. a cheaper competitor. Intel responded with the cheaper Celeron offering.

However, this was not the paradigmatic shift in thinking that Disruption Theory truly requires. Disruption Theory[8] goes further to suggest that the competitor was likely to be so ‘asymmetric’ that the incumbent would not even think of the disrupting force as a threat.

Disruption: Personal Digital Assistants (PDA’s) morph into Smartphones

In 1997 the eventual disruptor was already beginning to take shape in the form of personal digital assistants (PDA) handheld computers such as the ‘PalmPilot’[9].

One of the original Personal Digital Assistant's (PDA's) - the PalmPilot

One of the original Personal Digital Assistant’s (PDA’s) – the PalmPilot

With their puny processing power, limited functionality and gray-scale LCD screens, they were clearly no threat to the mighty Pentium processors for which Intel is still famous.[10] But in time, these PDA’s would become the basis for the first smartphones such as the Handspring Treo 180[11] which used the PalmOS operating system.

The Handspring Treo ran off the PalmOS operating system

The Handspring Treo ran off the PalmOS operating system

Disruption: About the business model, not just the technology

What is more, ‘disruption’ in the Christensen sense also tends to come with a new business model. In other words, it is not just the technology that disrupts, but the business models that the technology enables that do the disrupting. Think Dell’s business model (selling personal computers online sales) to the conventional retail model adopted prior to that point.

ARM Holding’s business model is a classic case of this. Rather than investing hundreds of millions in a chip fabrication plant, instead they focused upon licensing the designs of the chips for others to fabricate.

To be fair to Grove, it is impossible to be omniscient – especially after he managed to avoid one major disruption. Instead, I look at the contribution (or failure?) by Christensen, who in his account[12] of the meeting professed to his clients at Intel that he didn’t know anything about the chip industry. But even a rudimentary understanding of the chip industry would have suggested the Achilles Heel of the chip industry was in the expense of the chip fabrication process. This barrier to market entry, or ‘moat’ would be flipped on its head by a business model such as ARM Holdings’.

These two clues – the easily dismissed processors in the meager hand-held devices, and the inversion of the business model of processors – should be apparent to anybody studying disruption theory today. However, we cannot blame Andy Grove for not being able to better articulate the ‘gut feeling’ he had in the late 90’s that disruption was about to befall Intel, when the father of Disruption Theory himself was still decades away from being disrupted on this point. Grove and Christensen, both great men, but not infallible.

[1] http://venturebeat.com/2016/03/21/silicon-valley-legend-and-former-intel-ceo-andy-grove-passes-away-at-79/

[2] http://www.linkedin.com/pulse/time-andy-grove-came-fortune-refused-meet-editors-rik-kirkland

[3] “Moore’s law” is the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit has doubled approximately every two years. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law

[4] http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/05/14/when-giants-fail

[5] https://stratechery.com/2016/andy-grove-and-the-iphone-se/

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM_Holdings

[7] Arguable one more sophisticated than even Christensen himself understands – See my earlier post citing the Techcrunch article that points this out.

[8] http://www.claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/

[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PalmPilot

[10] Grove is also credited with the ‘Intel Inside’ and Pentium promotion that made ordinary consumers stop and consider the CPU in their machines.

[11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handspring_(company). Nerd that I am, I owned one of these when they first came out.

[12] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Innovator%27s_Dilemma