Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Greener Mission

When I stepped into the lobby at Greenerprinter last week, the natural lighting and mission style furnishings hinted that this was a different kind of printing plant.  After touring the facility and meeting several team members, I realized that it was the sense of mission that really makes this Berkeley, California printer unique.

Greenerprinter's mission is to demonstrate that a manufacturing business can operate in harmony with the planet while providing a transparent and sustainable environment. The Greenerprinter’s team believes in a triple bottom line: People, planet and profit. Profit is not the motive, but the means to the end. They recognize that they have a responsibility to be a part of the solution to the environmental challenges that we all face.

Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, with its proximity to so many natural wonders, Greenerprinter founder Mario Assadi had always felt a strong connection to nature and the environment. After the birth of his second child he became passionate about making sure the business was as sustainable as it was successful. As he explains, “I felt it my responsibility as a business owner to see that my children could grow up enjoying the natural beauty of the Bay Area that I had come to love.”             

Some of the specific environmental initiates at Greenerprinter include:        
  • Offering recycled paper. They stock only papers that contain a high percentage of recycled content. In fact, most are 100% recycled.
  • Using soy and vegetable-based inks, low in Volatile Organic Compounds.
  • Operating as a carbon-neutral business via carbon offsets of shipping emissions and investments of Renewable Energy Credits to offset emissions from operations.
  • Investing in state-of-the art equipment to minimize waste in the printing process.
  • Using technology to implement streamlined operations that optimize efficiency.
  • Minimizing chemical use in the platemaking and printing processes.
  • Doing all of their printing on-site, which enables them to maintain consistency and quality and closely monitor the environmental impact.
  • Supporting the green movement as a whole by partnering with organizations that promote the transition to a green economy, such as the Green Festivals, Bioneers, West Coast Green, and the Sustainable Industries Economic Forums.  
The event that I attend at Greenerprinter was an open house to announce the introduction of lay-flat photo books and fliers produced with Mohawk Panoramic papers which uses binding technology from my company, Convertible Solutions. The Panoramic Options paper which Greenerprinter has selected is made from 100% recycled material and fits perfectly with their environmental mission.

George Fry of Convertible Solutions Demonstrates the Panoramic Binding Process

What is the underlying mission of your organization?  Is is obvious to visitors to your facility or website?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

You Are What You Tweet

Anthony Weiner’s Twitter sexting scandal is disturbing and instructive on several levels. Many feel disgust at the content, betrayed by the lies and amazed at the stupidity of sending the messages as public Tweets. However, if all we learn is to be careful about how we send our Tweets, we are missing the bigger lesson.

Initially our online persona is only a reflection of who we are. We begin by crafting our online character to share. We build our profiles and identify our favorite books, movies, television shows and other interests to proclaim who we are and build affinity with others who share those interests.

We refine our online character each time we “like” a post or choose to share or retweet content. Each mouse click changes the persona we project to the world. Each mouse click also changes us. We become one with the medium.

Our brains have evolved to store information through the flow of neurotransmitters from one synapse to the next. The path that the signals take through our brain is reinforced each time we repeat a similar experience. Each individual experience has a small influence on us, but the cumulative effect of those experiences define us.

Since many of us spend hours each week reading, writing, liking and sharing content on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, those sites feed our minds and shape our neural patterns a little more each day. We become what we Tweet.

Do your social networking interactions reflect the person you want to be?

Rep. Anthony Weiner leaves a press conference after admitting to sending a lewd Twitter photo of himself to a woman and then lying about it on June 6, 2011 in New York City. Image by Andrew Burton of Getty Images published at ABC News

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Create Your MVP

When you have an idea that seems perfect, move quickly to create your Minimum Viable Product.  Your MVP should contain the simplest feature set that can demonstrate the unique value of your product.  Launching your MVP quickly allows you to test the market response to your idea and begin building a set of loyal fans as you flesh out a more complete feature set.

Most successful products start with a simple idea. When you turn that idea into a simple and elegant product, the uniqueness makes an impression. If your initial customers share your enthusiasm for the idea, they will relish the simplicity, forgive the product’s shortcomings and give you plenty of feedback to guide your next steps.

Your MVP can play an essential role in funding your venture also.  Demonstrating a working product and showing how real users interact with it trumps any PowerPoint presentation.

Traditionally, new product research has been based upon focus group interviews, surveys, product plans and lengthy development cycles.  Then you find out how the customer will really react.  The MVP gets a real product in front of real customers right away.  Instead of asking customers how they would respond to a product, you can watch how they actually respond.

The Minimum Viable Product concept has been championed by software developer and entrepreneur Eric Ries.  You can follow his teachings at his Startup Lessons Learned blog.

What is the MVP for your idea? What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ask Nice, Ask Twice

When you are working in collaboration with other creative professionals, there will be times when you will need to ask your colleagues to do something.  You will be more likely to get their cooperation if you ask at least twice.

In research by Tsedal Neeley and Paul Leonardi published in the May 2011 Harvard Business Review, one out of every seven communications by effective managers was a complete repeat of a previous message sent again using a different technology. They also found that managers who were deliberately repetitive were more effective at moving their projects forward.

People with direct authority were most likely to send an initial message using an impersonal method like email or voicemail.  The follow up message usually came significantly later to discover why nothing had happened.  The followup was likely to be in a more personal method like a phone call or face-to-face meeting.

People without direct authority were able to move projects forward faster and more smoothly by making the first request in a face-to-face meeting or a phone call. They follow up with an email or written document confirming the details.

Your team members are pulled in many directions and getting input from lots of different people. Asking them for their help more than once helps keep your request at the top of their minds.

So put down your mouse, walk down the hallway and talk with your coworker.  Or call them on the phone.  Then send the followup email.

How do you ask your team members for assistance?  How do you follow up?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Print Can Be Art

Personalized photo gifts from Pinhole Press,

My last two posts have been very iPad centric and have projected that tablet computers like the iPad improve the e-reading experience enough to accelerate the trend away from printed publications.

Print is not going away.  But I predict a steeper decline in the quantity of utilitarian printing. There will be fewer printing jobs and smaller printing jobs where the primary purpose is the transmission of purely informational content.

But print is more than content. Print can be art!

The story of a wedding day!  A celebration for a special friend!  A blank wall or an empty coffee table! These are events that cry out for a beautiful printed book, card or poster.  On the right paper with the appropriate finishing and binding, print can touch hearts.

How has your heart been touched by the art of print?

The art of print from Pinhole Press
Pinhole Press Specializes in the Art of Print