Differentiate & Integrate

Have you read “Flow” from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi? Well, I just recently found out about it and even more recently, read it. In very brief terms, Flow is the state you are in when you are ” in an activity, fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity” (wikipedia).

For instance, I like to draw, and often try to draw difficult perspectives. Most of times I dont really end up satisfied, but in the process, it is quite common that i lose some track of time and have total focus on the task and each time I get better. You could argue that for a moment, I was in Flow. Does it make sense?

A cool aspect of Flow is that it tends to lead to growth. You reach Flow and it is likely that you learn something (not always a craft, mind you). This growth happens in two ways that must co-exist: Differentiation and Integration. By learning something new, you differentiate yourself from you previous self and from others around you. And when you integrate this knowledge, when you give it some order, it becomes part of you and sets the now larger limits of your existence. I´m really not into esoteric stuff and if this post is sounding like anything of the sort, well…Cskiszentmihalyi wrote a nice book about the topic that should set the record straight. Flow is about psychology. Not the dark arts.

Why am I talking about this?
Because “growth”, in the context of Flow, reminds me of the Design profession and how it keeps on expanding its skillset and integrating imported methods into its broader definition.

Continue lendo “Differentiate & Integrate”

Entrepreneurship Bootcamp and a new project

For the past few months I´ve been taking a more active approach to learning the ins and outs of business. And although there is a ton you can learn by reading, it is great to have a structured program to follow, with a real project and the support of proven mentors. That is why I enrolled in the Energia de Portugal bootcamp series (Run by a leading newspaper, the national energy company and a national bank). It felt great to know I made it to the selected 200 (we were 1723 at the beginning, so yeah, im happy). And now I have a new project, Apps Freely.

AppsFreely is a place where as a developer you can promote your smartphone apps and as a user, you can get credits for trying them out. These credits can then be redeemed for premium apps of your choice.
(Gonçalo, our app developer already made the website, I can´t take the credit for it)

They say the team is more important than the idea, and I got reasons to like mine. We have an experienced application developer, an IT management consultant, a digital entrepreneur and yours truly (full disclosure: I´ll be handling research, usability and design).

The program lasts 9 weeks (two gone by) and places the biggest focus on the teaching of actionable skills. It is not about “getting people excited about entrepreneurship” but more about “teaching the right tools to take off”. It places a big focus on understanding the market with plenty of mentions to “research”, “testing” and “iteration”. Now this is something I definitely want to get more of.

In the last session we worked with the Business Model Canvas to structure our approach and now it is time to hit the road. And we will need some input, so if you feel that you can help us pick a name, there is a place for that:

Google Forms App name selection
(sorry, the explanation is in Portuguese, but just remember what i said above)

Also, you can sign up for the beta, either as a developer or user, so waste no time:
AppsFreely

So, let´s see where this goes! For now it has been great to meet new people, which as usual in these community, are damn optimistic, active and interesting!

Two writing voices

Well, screw it. I was doing something else, mildly urgent but this just came up to my mind.
I´ve noticed that I have two writing modes that I most often use:

  • Very structured and efficiency-biased for “technical stuff”, gradually uncovering how I got there
  • A more loose “hook and bait” approach, that leans a bit on a narrative flow

I use the first to explain ideas and projects, so that busy readers will get the gist of it very quickly (focused on result and not process). Typically I´ll have a “if you got 5 minutes” section where the whole thing is compressed in and then little by little talk about my approach, methods and the little steps that informed the final decisions.

The second is the one I try to use when writing about more abstract topics. Here in the blog, this how I try to make it. Most often it starts with a curious fact or statement and then moves on to the step by step justification (I´m a sucker for validation).

I´m quite sure this is not rocket science, but I think it is interesting that I´ve never consciously noticed I had these two modes. Of course I knew I had different priorities when writing, but this is the first time I see them side by side. Oddly enough there is a consistent focus on aspects of structure, flow and justification. I wonder what would happen if I were to write short stories. Would these characteristics remain?

Interesting how our writing style so closely follows how we think.