Code-Name: Ginger

A great book about the process of conceiving of, designing, and manufacturing the (in?)famous Segway scooter Human Transporter.

Notes

4 Charles Gibson’s response-what it did-similar to The Simpsons: “What does it do?””Whatever it does, it’s doing it right now”

18 Dean turns assumptions upside down; says J.P. Morgan’s reasoning for building the railroad was because there was nothing there, in order to change that. Similar upside-down to Culture of Fear.

35 Cool freedom-of-management strategy; don’t tell employees what to do or you’ll only get what you can think of.

36 Another problem with open-source: no one to tell you it’s “done”; to “kill the puppies”. You’re working for free anyway, so who can tell you to stop?

60 Scheduling exploration; “Frog Day”; like 3Ms “15% of time on nonessential projects”; also the cross-pollination builds empathy as workers understand each others’ projects.

61 Business at DEKA founded on “mutations”; like biological evolution–but this is not what societies are built on, only where changes come from (like Mule in Foundation series.

98 3 tenets of innovation: the entrepreneur’s need to stay independent of investors; his need to do right by his people; the need to devote himself to innovation and business without the distractions of a wife and children.

99 Love vs. Innovation: love entails loss of power and control, things that an innovator needs to have.

117 Why you give freebies to “alpha pups”–they will use them in very visible ways, like going to the mayor if stopped by a policeman.

125 Don’t just rearrange a floor plan randomly (like St. Luke’s ad agency in Weird Ideas); arrange it deviously, to start fights!

126 Self-perpetuating pessimism; makes you work slower, so you have more reason to be pessimistic

137 The naming of Ginger cost $70K

138 The sound of a mechanical device must be considered and “tuned”; it is part of the experience of using the product

152 The Internet dictating naming decisions

158 Demanding love over legality in rules; makes for happy employees; never denying sick pay, despite possible abuse of the system.

Definitions

19 Frog-kissing: making mistakes as a matter of course while exploring new ideas; like Weird Ideas That Work; design iteration. p.60 “On Frog Day you couldn’t work on anything you knew.”

34 Sailboat fuel: air; specifically unnecessary air in a product.

36 Drowning puppies: killing off some of the beloved fringe projects.

162 South-pointing chariot: an invention soon outmoded by a simpler, better idea; from the highly-complicated mechanical south-pointing chariot that preceeded the simple magnetic compass.

Quotes

19 “History is a great teacher, but progress depends on disproving history”-Kamen

20 “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundation under them.”-Walden

34 “Real artists ship”-Steve Jobs

35 “Fail fast to succeed sooner”-David Kelley

35 “If I gave you objectives, you might reach them, and that would be terrible, because it might keep you from doing something really great.”

61 “Invention is a process of creation, but development is a process of destruction, of narrowing down and compromising.”-Doug Field

98 “If I had kids and did it right, I couldn’t have DEKA and Teletrol and Enstrom. “-Kamen

114 “Why celebrate people whose chief talent was dribbling a little ball or looking attractive in two dimensions?”

142 “I remarked how fragile the machine seemed, if one pin could shut it down. ‘If a pin couldn’t shut it down,’ said Doug, ‘why would we need that pin?'”

2 Comments

  1. Bob
    Posted August 29, 2003 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    “Scientists discover the world that exists; engineers create the world that never was.” – Theodore Von Karman

  2. Bob
    Posted January 8, 2004 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    Now the Segway CEO has stepped down after a year of little success:

    Segway LLC, developer of highly maneuverable electronic scooters once touted as an invention that would revolutionize human transport, on Wednesday named Ronald Bills as president and chief executive officer, replacing Vernon Loucks, who will remain a director…Loucks, former CEO of health care products maker Baxter International, stepped down after a year as chief executive. No reason for the change was announced.