8 ways to inspire innovation in the business of architecture

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The following is an adaptation from the book ” Busby: Architecture’s New Edges.” 

In architecture, as with almost every business, innovation is the most valuable ingredient for success over time.

When designing for clients — whether it is a university facility or a workplace — it is important to nurture a culture of innovation.

This is particularly important in sustainable design, as the impacts of climate change increasingly require architects to demonstrate ingenuity in environmental problem-solving. Investing in innovation is sure to reap healthy returns on business and the planet.

Here are a few best practices for architects to encourage creativity and innovation:

1. Use the office as an innovation lab

Successful architecture firms allow people the time and physical space to chase new ideas, do research, and exchange meaningful ideas with their peers whenever and wherever the mood catches them.

Provide a thoughtfully designed, stimulating work environment for staff that encourages this behavior. Examples might include staircases with wide landings as group seating areas, standup coffee stations where people linger and talk, or a wall of white boards and writable glass.

2. Engage the community

It used to be that a developer would buy property, assemble a plan for how to use it, hire an architect who would obtain the approval from the city, and then the project would get built.

Today, it is essential to consult the entire public — not just city planning departments, but also end-users, occupants, and community groups. Engaging all parties in the process of how a building takes shape encourages idea sharing.

3. Collaborate with an engineer

On their own, designers can come up with virtually any idea for new and different structures. But without well engineered performance systems, even the most spectacular visual expressions are just ideas.

Together, architects and engineers can make ideas a reality by identifying new approaches, material efficiencies, cost savings, and operational systems that allow buildings to perform as well as or better than imagined.

4. Embrace technology

With the advent of powerful digital modeling tools, architects can now experiment more dramatically with form.

From structures that echo the shape of a native orchid to even more complex shapes developed with the aid of 3D design software, architects should leverage a growing suite of technological tools to meet the needs of both the client and the environment.

5. Work with wood

Used to build structures since the beginning of humankind, wood was largely replaced in the mid-19th century by steel and concrete, but it is in fact a far more sustainable design choice.

Steel and concrete both have significantly higher carbon footprints from manufacture and transportation. When wood is harvested responsibly, fewer logs fall to the forest floor and decompose, resulting in less methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Encourage design teams to find new and appealing ways to incorporate wood elements.

6. Experiment with innovation and new materials

Don’t hesitate to test out alternative material choices. From fiberglass and acrylic to curved glass and salvaged mechanical equipment, the use of nontraditional materials can result in unique, practical, and eye-catching designs that impress clients while minimizing environmental impact.

Innovation is at the heart of all successful businesses. Invest time and intellect in innovation around how you practice, and what you design.

7. Explore prefabrication and modular design

Working with modular and prefabricated designs allows architects to simultaneously achieve beauty, sustainability, and cost effectiveness.

By investing in higher quality repetitive elements, designers can accomplish more, aesthetically speaking, while minimizing environmental impacts and keeping overall project costs lower.

8. Seize every opportunity to learn

Internal research and education initiatives empower architects to develop innovative ideas and approaches that can be applied to all projects. Consider investing in and engaging in research projects whose results can be shared with staff, colleagues, and peers.

As time goes on, new technologies, materials, processes, and environmental data will continue to fuel the need for architectural innovation. It is up to architecture firms to prioritize innovation at every level. Doing so will ensure better buildings and, ultimately, better business.

Source: Green Biz




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Google Translate Now Has More Than 100 Languages And Covers 99 Percent Of The Online Population

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Google’s online translation tool hit a major milestone today as it nears its 10th anniversary. After adding 13 new languages, including Hawaiian and Kurdish, Google Translate now includes more than 100 languages (103 to be exact).

Google claims that this means the service, which started in April 2006, covers 99 percent of the online population.

The idea for Google Translate was first planted in 2004, when co-founder Sergey Brinbecame frustrated with a translation program the company was licensing after it translated a Korean email into “The sliced raw fish shoes it wishes. Google green onion thing!”

Google Translate now uses a combination of machine learning and human volunteers to make sure translations are accurate and not ridiculous. The company said in its announcement on the Google Translate Blog that in order to add a new language, it must be a written language with “a significant amount of translations in the new language” already online. That way, Google Translate can apply machine learning to the texts. Three million volunteers also correct translations and suggest new words.

The new languages added today are Amharic (which is spoken in Ethiopia); Corsican; Frisian (the Netherlands and Germany); Kyrgyz; Hawaiian; Kurdish; Luxembourgish; Samoan; Scots Gaelic; Shona (Zimbabwe); Sindhi (Pakistan and India); Pashto (Afghanistan and Pakistan); and Xhosa (South Africa).

Source: Tech Crunch

 




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Fundable Start-up Ideas (That Matters)

Startup Ideas (That Matter)

It can be difficult to find a business idea for a start-up that is fundable but by addressing any of the challenges and areas listed below chances are significantly higher to succeed. Below are a few areas and challenges waiting for start-ups to solve them or improve upon them that are fundable, useful and life changing.

1. Energy – low-cost energy directly increases the quality of life

Cheap energy, from new sources and long-lasting batteries. Generally speaking, anything you can create to make energy from current energy sources cheaper will be revolutionary. Same goes for extracting energy out of new sources. The newer sources of energy are solar, wind, ethanol biofuels, biofuels from other sources, like Jatropha, geothermal, hydrogen, thorium, etc.

2. Artificial intelligence

Programs that imitate human creativity, desire and consciousness. This is just as revolutionary as it is overhyped. For all the talk, there has not been a practical breakthrough. Perhaps, it helps to point out there won’t be a single artificial intelligence machine. Rather products that will apply A.I. to create artificial creativity, artificial reasoning, etc. will be useful.

3. Robots

From self-driving cars to space exploration. Robots are already here in manufacturing and military uses. There are few consumer robots yet. As with Garmin GPS, the breakthrough could come by adopting military technology for consumer needs rather than developing robotic hardware and software from scratch.

4. Biotech

Slowing ageing, downloading memories, genetic programming. The ultimate promise of biotech to make us disease free and forever young, seems to be almost within reach now. The Human Genome project is finished. Now it’s a matter of figuring out how to tweak the genes. There are moral considerations in this, too. A startup that addresses either side of this story would be revolutionary.

5. Healthcare

Preventative healthcare, sensors, data and medical devices. In the United States health care is far too expensive. And not as effective as it could be. A startup that would make medical insurance less costly, or better yet create a preventative healthcare system is worth funding.

6. Pharmaceuticals

Noortropics, smart drugs that enhance human intelligence. Drugs should be developed faster, and less expensively. Preventative drugs, and drugs that enhance not patch up human health after the fact would be worth funding.

7. Food and Water

Solving upcoming problems with food and water availability. Between 1940s and 1960s Norman Borlaug led the Green Revolution that saved 1 billion people from starvation, especially after World War II. New uses of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers as well as new genetically engineered breeds of high yield crops were employed to greatly increase global food production. The new water and food crisis is inevitable as global population is rising. A startup that discovers new food sources, or optimizes the current ones, would save millions of lives. Same goes for water. Desalination of sea water that is commercially feasible will be a breakthrough.

8. Education

Combine mass-scale tech with one-on-one in-person interaction. Connecting students to the right disciplines and the right teachers would make the world population smarter. Although you can’t scale good teachers physically, you can scale their reach through the internet, even in one-on-one teaching. Education being the key to when all the things on this list happen, this may be a starting point for those reading this who are not sure what to do.

9. Internet Infrastructure

Better security and free communication. Internet is still vulnerable to governments, natural disasters, hacking, and it’s own size. Products that will keep the servers safe, boost security, and invent better ways to store vast amounts of information are worth funding.

10. Government

Replacing bad software, crowdfunding for social services. Government is a very large client. Its software is routinely outdated or just plain bad. It can be done better with the efficiency of a startup.

11. Human Augmentation

Software that makes humans happier and more organized

12. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Virtual and augmented reality that mimics physical presence. It seems like it’s here but it’s not. VR and AR is still scary enough to not be a daily product most people use. A startup that makes it practical enough to “de-scarify” it is worth funding.

13. Science

Material, nanotech, space technology. Only universities and large companies can afford large-scale scientific research today. They are not always efficient. Why couldn’t there be independent research labs? Perhaps, crowd-funded ones?

14. Transportation

Lightweight, short distance personal transportation. No one likes to commute. Yet, the real estate market shows that commuting won’t go anywhere for the next while. What we can do is make commuting more convenient. Small personal vehicles running on clean energy would be the key.

15. One Million Jobs

Creation of new jobs for humans that can not be done by computers. Many jobs will inevitably default to robots and computers over the next years. That does not means humans will be out of work. People will fill new professions altogether. But someone needs to educate and train for those professions of the future. Someone needs to build the robots.

16. Programming

What comes after programming languages? Even given how in demand programming is, there is still a high barrier to entry. Not much has changed since 20 years ago. Programmers are still educated in the same way and work with similar technical issues. New programming tool and education can change that.

17. Hollywood 2.0

New ways to discover celebrities online and distribute content. New talent is no longer scouted out by agents. The audience of YouTube can directly select who they like. And those celebrities can directly interact with their fans. A startup can help people discover talent on YouTube.

18. Diversity

Make tech more inclusive to all ages, races and cultures. Some demographics have historically enjoyed less social and financial success. Does it have to be so? The education system and the work environment can be changed to make any ethnicity, race, and gender to perform at their top level.

19. Developing Countries

Vertical integrated businesses in China, India and SE Asia. Many services and products are not available in the developing world simply due to poor logistics, not because of lack of demand. A startup that optimizes international delivering, imports, etc. is worth funding.

20. Enterprise Software

Making expensive software cheap. Software used by large companies has lagged behind the consumer market for a while. It’s time to change that. There is not reason you should even have to mail letters or fax receipts to get your refunds from large retailers, for example.

21. Financial Services

Better ways to save and invest money. Unless you are particularly wealthy, financial services that help you grow whatever money you do have are almost non-existent. A startup that finds new ways to invest money for not-so-high-net-worth individuals is worth funding.

22. Telecommunications

Even better than Skype. Other than Skype and Whatsapp, there has not really been a breakthrough in how we talk to each other at a distance. Communicating could be faster and simple with more effective usage of broadband. Also, fewer ads.

23. …

Are there more areas or global challenges that would be fundable that can be added to this list?

Based on Paul Graham’s Y Combinator request for startups from Sept 2014 and illustrated by Anna Vital from Funders and Founders http://fundersandfounders.com/startup-ideas-that-matter/

#startupideas #startup #businessideas

Fundable Ideas That Matter

Fundable Ideas That Matter

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Inside the New Royalty Split for ‘Uptown Funk’: Who Gets Paid What

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Success, in music especially, has many fathers — just look at “Uptown Funk!” With a ballooning songwriter count, how do these new names get paid?

Songwriting credits for “Uptown Funk!” went to four people initially: Ronson, Mars,Phillip Martin Lawrence and Jeffrey Bhasker. However, before the song was even released it had gained two more:Nicholas Williams (AKA Trinidad James) and producer Devon Gallaspy, the authors of “All Gold Everything,” both receiving a share for a sampling interpolation. This credit was shared at the behest of the original songwriters/publishers; Billboard’s sources say the team behind the hit reached out to Gallaspy and Williams without prompting. Gallaspy and Williams spit a 15 percent take, leaving the original four songwriters with a 21.25 percent share each.

‘Uptown Funk!’ Gains More Writers After Gap Band’s Legal Claim

Downloads of “Uptown Funk!” hit sales of 5.5 million units in the U.S., while Ronson’s album scanned 95,000 units, according to Nielsen Music — about $510,000 in U.S. mechanical publishing royalties (at $0.091 per song).

YouTube uploads which feature the master “Uptown Funk!” recording and which have generated at least 10 million views — five, according to Billboard’s search — show 672,617,094 views. Assuming 40 percent of those views had ads placed against them, and using a blended rate of $0.0045 cents per view, then total revenue on YouTube, both label and publishing shares, was $2.201 million. A publishing synchronization rate of 15 percent would produce royalties of $330,000. These figures don’t take into account the many user-generated videos, where the publishing would receive a 50 percent cut of net revenue.

‘Blurred Lines’ Judge Asked to Grant New Trial

Taking into account both U.S. mechanicals and the five YouTube videos using the master recording that Billboard analyzed, the song will have produced about $840,000 in publishing revenue — before being split between the publishers and the songwriters.

As sources told Billboard, two months ago Minder Music, on behalf of the Gap Band, put in a claim in the YouTube system, driving its system to flag the song for having ownership claims above 100 percent, causing YouTube to cease payments to all publishers and placing the revenue in escrow until the ownership claims are resolved. That situation resulted in another settlement, which sees the “Oops” songwriters/band members — Charlie, Robert and Ronnie Wilson along with keyboardist Rudolph Taylor and producer Lonnie Simmons — each receiving 3.4 percent of the song, a total of 17 percent. Consequently, all four original songwriters now each get 17 percent of the song — down 4.25 percent each  had prior to the Gap Band’s claim.

The money YouTube was holding in escrow is expected to be released soon in light of the settlement.

Wiz Khalifa’s ‘See You Again’ Knocks ‘Uptown Funk’ Off No. 1 on Hot 100

Executives from the publishing firms affiliated with “Uptown Funk!” have divided opinions on whether the recent “Blurred Lines” lawsuit (which the principals are asking to revisit) played a role in the further splitting of songwriting credit for “Uptown Funk!” One executive says that, in general, most songwriting disputed claims get settled out of court and when they do a jury trial — like there was in the “Blurred Lines” case — is rare.

Danny Zook — who manages Trinidad James, oversees the artist publishing company Trinlanta, and runs sample-clearing house Alien Music — says he wasn’t privy to the settlement negotiations between the Gap Band/Minder Music and the Ronson/Mars/Lawrence/Bhasker songwriters and publishers. But asked whether he believes the March decision around Robin Thicke‘s “Blurred Lines” — in which a jury ordered its songwriters to pay $7.4 million to the estate of Marvin Gaye — had an impact on this move, Zook says, “Everyone is being a little more cautious. Nobody wants to be involved in a lawsuit. Once a copyright dispute goes to a trial, [if a jury is used], it is subject to be decided by public opinion — and no longer resolved based entirely on ­copyright law.”

Bill to Provide Producers, Mixers and Engineers Digital Royalties Introduced in the House

The “Uptown Funk!” songwriter/publisher payout split is now, sources say:

  • Bhasker/SonyATV: 17 percent.
  • Gallaspy/SonyATV: 7.5 percent.
  • Ronson/Imagem: 17 percent.
  • Gap Band/Minder: 17 percent.
  • Lawrence: 17 percent.
  • Trinidad James/Trinlanta: 5.625 percent.
  • Trinidad James Record label/TIG7 Publishing: 1.875 percent.
  • Mars/Mars Force Music/BMG Chrysalis: 14.875 percent.
  • Mars/Northside Independent Music/Warner/Chappel Music: 2.125 percent.
  • Warner/Chappell, through its January 2011 acquisition of Southside Independent Music, owns 25 percent of Mars publishing — but collects only its 12.5 percent share (in this instance 12.5 percent of 17 percent, or 2.125 percent) as BMG administers all of Mars’ writer share.

Source: http://www.billboard.com/articles/business/6553861/uptown-funk-royalties-who-gets-paid

 

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Is this the future of work? Scientists predict which jobs will still be open to humans in 2035

Is this the future
Workers looking for jobs in 2035 might consider retraining as remote-controlled vehicle operators or online chaperones.



Those are two of the jobs of the future suggested in a report by the CSIRO that charts 20-year trends in increasingly digitally focused and automated Australian workplaces.

The employment minister, Michaelia Cash, released the report on Friday at the Australian Computer Society’s conference.

 

Cash said the report showed “some jobs will inevitably become automated over the coming years but technological change will improve others and also create new jobs and opportunities”.

“The future won’t be about people competing with machines, it will be about people using machines and doing work that is more interesting and fulfilling,” she said.

The report identifies six mega-trends in the workforce, the most important of which is an “explosion in device connectivity, data volumes and computing speed, combined with rapid advances in automated systems and artificial intelligence means that robotic devices can perform many tasks more quickly, safely and efficiently than humans”.



Increased automation will raise the complexity of workers’ tasks. “Many low-skilled jobs are being offshored or automated. The consequence is the likelihood of a raised skills and education bar for entry into many professions and occupations,” the report said.

The report found science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) knowledge is used in 75% of the fastest-growing occupations and lamented that “Australian youth demonstrate falling interest and performance in Stem”.



Another trend is an anticipated rise in self-employment and freelancing caused by peer-to-peer platforms Upwork, Kaggle, Innoventive and Freelancer.com, which the report claims “provide value through convenience, low barriers to entry and increased speed enabling people to transform their free time into paid work”.

The report said while freelancing “has not yet taken hold in Australia, it is a large (and growing) employment model in other countries”, such as in America where one in three workers is an independent contractor.



If the ideal job does not exist, the worker may need create it, the report suggested. “Entrepreneurial skills are likely to be increasingly important for small business founders and employees within large organisations,” it said.

The report predicted service industries, particularly education and healthcare, would continue to drive job creation, meaning “social interaction skills and emotional intelligence will become increasingly important”.


The report said Australia’s workforce will be diverse, with one in five Australians over the age of 65 in 2035, high female participation and a large proportion of migrants being of working age.

The report said the employment trends will result in new job types, and speculated these might include “bigger big data analysts”, complex decision support analysts, remote-controlled vehicle operators, customer experience experts, personal preventative health helpers and online chaperones.


“The rise of un-crewed vehicles is giving rise to a new workforce of pilots, drivers and ship captains who do their jobs not from the sky, sea or mine site, but from an office in a remote location,” the report said.


In a speech to a workforce productivity conference on 8 December, Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Dave Oliver warned “extreme changes presented by current technological advances are resulting in a deeper, wider and more permanent hollowing out of the jobs market”.

He said a recent CEDA report showed 5 million jobs (40% of the Australian workforce) face a high probability of being replaced by computers over the next 10 to 15 years.


“Despite the great many benefits of new technologies, we desperately want to avoid the slide to a labour market platform that forces workers to bid against each other for parcels of work in some kind of brutal, reverse eBay-style auction,” Oliver said.

“The challenge for all of us – unions, employers, regulators and governments – is to harness the technological opportunities and make them work for, rather than against, worker’s best interests,” he said.



Cash said “more than ever, education and training are important for succeeding in the labour market. By 2019, the number of jobs available for highly-skilled labour is projected to be more than double the number available in 1991.

“How Australia’s workforce fares in the long term will depend on our ability to help workers make transitions to new and better jobs. Our biggest challenge will be to ensure no one is left behind,” she said.






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Verily Is Building A Google For Medical Information

Verily

Anyone can use a search engine like Google to locate the nearest seafood restaurant, or the best school in their neighborhood. But medical researchers don’t have an easy way to type in questions and receive meaningful answers.

Andy Conrad, who heads up Verily—formerly known as Google Life Sciences—is working with a coalition of academic hospitals, physicians, universities, and patient advocates to bring medical information into one place. He calls it the “Google of human systems biology.”

“Unfortunately, most of the information that scientists use isn’t easily available,” Conrad said on stage at the Future of Genomic Medicine conference in San Diego on Thursday. “That information sits around in difficult-to-crack domains.”

Conrad didn’t provide many specific details on how the product would work. But he did say that it would involve a library of sorts that leverages machine-learning technology. “It doesn’t work as wonderfully as a human,” he says. “But it can answer questions.”

He confirmed a rumor that Verily’s team is working out of a 500,000-square-foot campus in South San Francisco, just a stone’s throw from Alphabet’s corporate headquarters. The size of the workforce remains unknown, but Conrad said he is adding 1,000 people in the coming months.

MEDICINE IS AN ART AND A SCIENCE

Indexing the world’s medical information isn’t a particularly new idea. IBM Watson and other tech behemoths are developing artificial intelligence technologies to do just that.

But Conrad, who previously worked at Google’s research and development lab Google X, implied that Verily is taking a more human-centered approach. Medicine is as much an art as a science, so Verily is working with patient advocates, mothers, and doctors to determine how to aggregate data that can’t be found in scientific journals.

As an example, Conrad said he recently spoke with a high-profile doctor who used loosely veiled code like “TLS” (‘they look sick’) to describe his patients. These notes might mean a lot to an individual doctor, but they mean very little to anyone else. “How would you capture that in an algorithm?”

LEARNING FROM FAILURE

This isn’t Google’s first foray into health care. The ill-fated Google Health shut down in 2011 after it failed to gain traction with consumers.

But Conrad said he has learned from previous failures. “In our early forays into health care, we had a bunch of engineers that might not be wonderfully in touch with the rest of the world, especially at Google,” he recalled. “But the most interesting thing we did then was to gut an office and turn it into this sequencing lab filled with physicists.”

Going forward, Conrad suggested that Verily will explore how to incorporate data from devices, like smartphones, into its database. These tiny devices that we carry around in our pockets contain a wealth of health information beyond step counts. Conrad pointed to the potential of using smartphones to determine if a person is depressed.

“People often ask me about the future of medicine,” he said. “We think the most important tool is the computer.”

Source: http://www.fastcompany.com/3057455/verily-is-building-a-google-for-medical-information

 




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Lego’s plastic wheelchair guy is a seismic shift in a toy box

Lego
Sometimes the smallest of things have the capacity to make the biggest of impacts. Last week Lego unveiled its first ever wheelchair-using mini-figure at Nuremberg toy fair, an inch-tall plastic boy sporting a beanie and hoodie who forms part of a Fun in the Park set going on sale in June this year. For a small guy he’s been making big waves, inspiring global press coverage and online jubilation from Lego fans, parents and disability groups.

“But he’s just a little guy,” I hear you say, “a plastic dude out for a wheel in the park with his dog and a bunch of other mini-figures. What’s the big deal?”

The message behind Lego’s wheelie boy is so much larger than his teeny-tiny stature. His birth in the toy box marks a seismic shift within children’s industries. There are 150 million children with disabilities worldwide, yet until now they have scarcely ever seen themselves positively reflected in the media and toys they consume.

In her recently published book Disability and Popular Culture, Australian academic Katie Ellis writes: “Toys mirror the values of the society that produce them …” If Lego is mirroring, it’s reflecting a better world. Intentionally or not, it has sent out a powerful message of inclusion.

Lego seems to have been unprepared for the excitement its wheelchair-using boy would cause. When he rolled on to the stands of Nuremberg Toy Fair, Lego wasn’t treating him as anything special – he was just nestled among the crowd. The company hadn’t prepared any photos for journalists and, when approached by the Press Association, could only say that he would reach the shops in June. Yet the figure’s very existence was noteworthy, so unusual that he grabbed the headlines during a week of international toy fairs. (Alongside big-bottomed, flat-footed “normal woman” Barbie – but that’s a whole other story.)

The delighted response only highlights the size of the void that Lego’s wheelchair boy comes to fill. This beast is ravenous because we’ve never really fed it before.

The toys, TV, films, games, apps and books that entertain and educate our children barely feature children with any kind of impairment or difference. Their lives are not reflected. They’re invisible. How do you grow a positive self-esteem when the culture around you appears to place no value on your existence? It does not celebrate you. On the rare occasions when you are depicted, it’s frequently as a disability stereotype – in a medical setting (toy hospital set), as an evil baddie (Captain Hook) or associated with charity (BBC’s Children in Need). Your hopes, dreams, imaginations and experiences are ignored. You are culturally marginalised. Washed away by the mainstream. As the academic and bio-ethicist Tom Shakespeare – himself a wheelchair user – said, there’s a danger that disabled children will feel “like permanent outsiders in the world”.

When did you last see disability represented positively in a children’s film, cartoon, or computer game? Have you ever seen a set of emojis that reflect the disabled experience in a celebratory way? Alexandra Strick of Inclusive Minds, a group calling for greater representation of disabled children in publishing, says, “The disturbingly low number of books featuring disabled characters is a perpetual concern. I’m frequently asked for lists of books which feature disabled characters. It’s extremely challenging to find more than a handful.”

Everyone knows there’s something wrong with how we represent disabled people, but it seems no one knows quite how to fix it. We dance delicately around disability, scared to offend or get it wrong, so we don’t do it. This exclusion is causing damage to millions of children, yet the answer is quite simple. Just include it in an incidental, celebratory way. Move on from the baseline negative, which treats disability as somehow lesser, in need of fixing or overcoming, and see it for what it is – benign human variation, part of the spectrum of human life. Let’s hope that one day positive representations of disability are included so seamlessly across children’s industries that they cease to be noteworthy at all.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/01/lego-wheelchair-toys-message-disabilities




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Emory University Uses Harvard Business School Cases to Teach Innovation in The Physical Therapy Field

Recently, Lauren Jarmusz – a Doctor of Physical Therapy Student at Northeastern University graduating in May 2016 – and I interviewed Zoher Kapasi, PT, PhD, MBA. Dr. Kapasi is the Program Director and Associate Professor in the Division of Physical Therapy of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. He’s an innovator, an intellectual with a business mind, and an educator who leads one of the USA’s top ten Physical Therapy Education Programs. Last year, I suffered from a serious knee injury and was seeking to understand how to innovate the physical therapy field insomuch that musculoskeletal injuries were prevented. Here’s our interview:

Marquis Cabrera: What do you believe are some persistent problems impeding innovation in the physical therapy field?

Dr. Zoher Kapasi: We need a mindset shift. Mindset is critical to innovation in any field. For far too long, Physical Therapists, were given referrals from physicians and pretty much told what to do, but direct access is allowing us to be more innovative.

Also, our training has progressed. In the past, PTs needed a bachelors; then a masters; and now doctoral degrees. There is a new generation of physical therapists that are coming out who realize, they can be independent practitioners because they have a unique body of knowledge to treat patients. Just like a surgeon approaches their field from a surgical perspective, or a pharmacist approaches health care from a pharmacological perspective, physical therapists approach their field from a movement science perspective using manual therapy and other therapeutic approaches. However, just as not every patient is going to get surgery, all patients may not benefit from physical therapy and physical therapists are now trained to refer these patients to appropriate health care providers based on their needs.

Physical Therapy is in an exciting place as it is truly a value option in health care. For certain conditions, PT is more effective than surgery and other interventions that cost more money. Patients need the greatest quality care at the lowest cost, the value option. Also, PT is a non-pharmacological intervention and thus appeals to patients who are wary of drug side-effects. Clearly, PT is an effective low cost option to treating musculoskeletal injuries, which is why more people are gravitating to the physical therapy field. It’s a perfect storm and everything is aligning in favor of physical therapy.

Lauren Jarmusz, sDPT: What initiatives is Emory DPT Program working on to innovate the physical therapy profession?

We have several. We started innovating physical therapy in the education sphere through the development of our dual degree programs. For example, we have a DPT/MBA and DPT/MPH, and we have recently developed a DPT/PhD program with the our local engineering school, Georgia Institute of Technology. The latter program offers a pathway for collaboration between engineers who don’t have clinical background, who look forward to collaborating with clinicians. In addition, we started offering interdisciplinary electives: Interfacing engineering technology and rehabilitation, which brings together engineering, neuroscience, and DPT students from different backgrounds to look at patient problems and work together to solve these problems from a number of perspectives.

Beyond just mixing engineering students and DPT students, we are also offering a business elective course: Business Management for the Physical Therapist Entrepreneur is an advanced business course that uses Harvard Business School case studies — Toyota, Starbucks, Callaway Golf Company, and Apple — to teach physical therapy students how to improve efficiencies within health care. Essentially, we are teaching physical therapists to become innovative by asking: What can we borrow from other industries to innovate the physical therapy field? For example, can DPTs apply Starbucks’ customer service and marketing expertise to the physical therapy field? Or, apply Toyota’s operations expertise to physical therapy? Or, learn how to develop an emotional brand experience, like Apple. Students really love it and it is totally out of the box.

Marquis Cabrera: Can you tell me about the DPT/MBA program? And, what is its role in advancing the Physical Therapy field?

Dr. Zoher Kapasi: First, we must recognize health care is a business and there’s nothing wrong with that-it helps us deliver services. There’s no mission without a margin. The Red Cross has to bring in more money than it spends to provide services to needy people around the world. And – we need those business skills. We teach great skills in manual therapy etc, but if we don’t show them how to market themselves, we’re not doing a great job as educators. And, ultimately, we’re doing a great disservice to our consumers. I tell my students: If you went to a town and saw everyone limping and walking around crooked, wouldn’t you want to tell everyone you can help them? What’s the shame about that? Everyone wants to help people, but if people don’t know you can help, you won’t be able to help them. In healthcare, clinicians feel that marketing is beneath us, but it’s time to show why we’re the best kept secret in health care and no longer keep that as a secret.

Lauren Jarmusz, sDPT: As a student, I had to self teach myself business. Thankfully, Marquis and my dad, who led a successful exit of our family business, are both adept at business. How can more educational institutions empower doctors of physical therapy to become innovators? Innovate curricula? Create more joint programs? Create business simulations? Embed PT business challenges?

Dr. Zoher Kapasi: We want educators to replicate some of what we have done at Emory at their own institutions. This is why we are now publishing our innovations in our curricula and how to develop those through publications in our Journal of Physical Therapy Education. We recently published a method/model paper on how we developed the dual degree programs at Emory. We are now working to publish our experience in setting up innovative courses through papers such as : Interfacing engineering technology and rehabilitation: an interdisciplinary course for educating students in physical therapy, biomedical sciences, and engineering at Emory University; and Looking Outside Health Care to Teach Innovation in Physical Therapy Business Practice: Use of Harvard Business School Cases at Emory University.

We want to get the word out. Sometimes people are worried about sharing ideas. Creative ideas are all around, but it all comes down to execution. I am willing to share ideas and show people how to implement because this will attract more people to the profession.

Lauren Jarmusz, sDPT: The general public doesn’t understand that PTs are not just massage therapist, and that PTs take med. school classes, like anatomy. How can we create a more positive image around the role of a Physical Therapist to laypeople?

Dr. Zoher Kapasi: In order to create a more positive image, physical therapist need to market themselves better.

Marquis Cabrera: According to IBIS, there’s no major player in the physical therapy field across the country. Why do you think that is?

Dr. Zoher Kapasi: Many years ago, I did some research on the physical therapy marketplace. I found that there were four or five majors players, like US Physical Therapy, Physiotherapy Associates etc, that control 15% of the market, but 85% is controlled by the “mom and pop” clinics and thus, the physical therapy services industry is fragmented. To me, physical therapy has always been about the solo practitioner because the field is very relational, interacting with people.

With healthcare reform, a lot of consolidation is occurring, and economies of scale are beginning to occur, – big industries provide the services and hopefully, you can reduce the cost and get better outcomes- but I am not sure how much of it will occur in physical therapy field because patients want a clinician to relate to. We like to have our own relationships. Some companies, however, are building relationships with scalable business models. Starbucks is a prime example.

If however, PT becomes more capital intensive or forward integration occurs from hospitals to ensure better outcomes for post surgical patients, consolidation may happen quickly. Consolidation is not always bad, let me draw from another industry – airlines: If every pilot started their own airline company, we would still be flying two engine planes. However, by forming big corporations, airline companies have consolidated to afford big jets that allow us to travel in planes that are faster, safer and at a lower cost. In physical therapy though, we don’t need that much capital and thus we can easily start our own practice, which is why our field is fragmented.

Lauren Jarmusz, sDPT: Research shows that PTs can act as primary doctors. I know the APTA is advocating for direct access to PTs without a physician’s referral. What do you think of the move towards preventative based care versus reactive care in the Physical Therapy space?

Dr. Zoher Kapasi: This is already happening abroad. For example, Aussies are very active and outdoorsy. I have a faculty member from Australia. She told me: “Each person in Australia has their own Physio (Physical Therapists are called Physiotherapist or Physios in Australia, UK, India etc), like we have our own primary care physicians (PCPs) in the US. Australians are super active, so many go for check-ups to look at flexibility and muscle strength at times before they embark on a major sporting activity. We have to show people the value of preventative-based care in the US. Baby boomers are prone for more musculoskeletal injuries, for they are still active, and could benefit from preventative based musculoskeletal health, especially because they are looking for things to help them stay active. “If exercise was a drug, it would be the most prescribed drug in the industry”.

As a future Doctor of Physical Therapy, you must capture the value of prevention and find a way to get paid for it though. Many people are paying for a lot of money up front for preventative-based musculoskeletal health care. There’s some innovative practices where folks are getting into prevention and getting money out of it, especially since potential clients can now pay directly out of health savings accounts for preventative-based health care.

Marquis Cabrera: Do you think PTs should serve as primary care professionals? If so, why?

Dr. Zoher Kapasi: Yes, they should be primary care providers for musculoskeletal care. If you get low back pain, you should go straight to your physical therapist. As it stands now: If you have lower back pain, you get painkillers from your PCP. If you don’t get better, PCP refers you to an orthopedic specialist. Unless surgery is needed, the orthopedic specialist is going to refer you to the physical therapist; then you just wasted time and money, especially on tests, MRIs etc. PTs are trained that if something serious is taking place with a specific patient, we can refer to surgeons or other experts as necessary, but in other cases they can get started with care in a much better way. At the Virginia Mason Medical Center, patients with low back pain can go directly to PTs, and they have seen tremendous cost savings.

Marquis Cabrera: Do you think an annual physical exam for muscles and bones would increase patient education and decrease prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders and diseases, for spend on MSDs has increased 120% in the last 6 years? If so, why?

Dr. Zoher Kapasi: Yes, annually physical exams would help with educating patients. I don’t think people prepare for activities and thus may lead to injuries. Proper lifting techniques, core strengthening exercises could all help in prevention of lower back pain.

Lauren Jarmusz, sDPT: What advice would you give to a student PT seeking to do something non-traditional in the physical field?

Dr. Zoher Kapasi: Lauren; I believe in mentorship and looking at people who are doing innovative things in the field. Look for practices that are doing something different, something innovative. Shadow them and go work for them. Mentorship is important to see how the execution of ideas occurs.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marquis-cabrera/emory-university-uses-har_b_9206862.html

 


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