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Report from the 33rd Annual PDMA Conference

Report from the 33rd Annual PDMA Conference

| On 05, Nov 2009

Guest Commentator

Herbert Roberts is reporting from the 33rd annual PDMA conference.———

The Tuesday November 3rd session of the 33rd annual PDMA conference at Anaheim’s Disneyland Hotel, featured keynote speaker venture capitalist, author, and former Apple Macintosh developer Guy Kawasaki. Kawasaki’s presentation featured a collection of product development and innovation based wisdom he gained through out his diverse career tracks. Following the format of his book Rules for Revolutionaries, Kawasaki presented ten key points, plus a bonus point, that practitioners should focus on while developing and introducing new innovations.

As an Apple employee in the early Macintosh era, Kawasaki, discussed how the Apple Macintosh development team philosophy aligned with the TRIZ principle of the-other-way-around when marketing the Mac. Accepting the fact the business platform they had envisioned, was never going to successful compete against the IBM based, they realized that the Mac was unexpectedly successful in markets they had never envisioned. Following Kawasaki noted as Let 100 flowers blossom philosophy, Apple learned that they could not successfully define their computing system to fit into the business market, but by listening to the unexpected computing graphics market comment as to why they love the Mac, the marketing team was eventually able to reposition the Mac to maximize this unexpected market.

During the follow-up Q&A session, Kawasaki was asked what the US should the do to help regain and maintain an innovation edge as a leader in technology. Kawasaki suggested that the US should open its university doors to the entire world inviting all the brightest to attend the US universities and let them learn and grow their ideas in the US. Even if a significant number of these students choose to return to their native counties the seeds for innovation would be planted in the US based business and industries and in the global partners that US business can benefit from through an inverses global brain drain.

One of the most interesting products demonstrated at the PDMA conference was the capabilities of  a set an intelligent devices know as Siftables, developed by David Marrill of MIT ( The innovative cookie-sized computers can take on a range of text, numbers or images and by shuffling the squares around the text can form words, or the numbers and math symbols can solve equations taking advantage of their motion sensing, neighbor detection, graphical display, and wireless communication.. At a later session, David Marrill was able to demonstrate the Siftables for Guy Kawasaki while Kawasaki recorded the demonstration for his technology blog.

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Guy Kawasaki has a discussion with David Marrill as David demonstrates his Intelligent Devices know as Siftables.


Herbert Roberts is a principal engineer at GE Energy. He is a Six Sigma Black Belt and helped lead GE Energy efforts on expanding the use of TRIZ in support of internal growth within GE’s businesses. He has trained and led a range of TRIZ-based research projects and workouts in the U.S., Germany, India and China. Prior to joining GE, Herbert worked at United Technology’s gas turbine division for 11 years with a focus on developing advanced technology military products.