the (dan) goods

I decided to try a new podcast. It’s called “Innovation Crush” by Sideshow Network — and can be found right here (a new link will open). Anyone who has tried a new podcast knows it can be a mixed bag. There is the pre-listen excitement for good new material; there is the actual listening and the waiting for the podcast to get good; and, there is the “whatever comes next” phase — feelings of joy, meh, satisfaction or frustration.

In the case of “Innovation Crush #10: Dan Goods – Art Imitates Science,” I was pleasantly surprised. The main host was a wee bit annoying, but the featured guest more than made up for it. Dan Goods of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (the JPL) talked about his career and his role there. Goods is a graphic designer and creative thinker of the highest order. He works on projects from art installations to creative problem solving in space exploration. Goods is a thought leader in the world and is sought out for his skill set and mind set. His website is Check out the link for “The Big Playground” where he shows the significance of drilling a hole through a grain of sand (shown in the photo below).

Here are a few of my takeaways from the podcast. (Please give it a listen at the link above to come away with some of your own. It’s good(s) stuff.)

(1) A casual comment was made when Goods was describing how he “swam like an otter.” He mentioned he was NOT a swimmer type. This allowed him to see things differently in that environment. One of the hosts shared that he was a swimmer for 15 years and Goods stated how the host was likely “sensitized” to the swimming environment due to the depth of his experiences. We see this quite often here at tool. Clients can be “sensitized” to their products and their users’ experiences due to their depth on a specific topic or matter. As consultants, we are able to provide a complementary and additive perspective when bringing a “desensitized” and fresh perspective to a project.

(2) Somewhere in the podcast, Goods mentions how the JPL has a “left field room.” This is a space for ideas that come “out of left field” — it constantly changes and will never look the same two days in a row. He doesn’t go into much detail, but I imagine a space where experimentation is both welcomed and encouraged. I imagine a playground for ideas and concepts that could eventually lead to innovations. We just opened up some new space here at tool. (it’s a private space in our upstairs area). This could be the perfect playground for our staff to explore creative ideas and concepts — ideas that could lead to innovations and great ideas for our clients and the world.

(3) In the style of James Lipton and “Inside the Actors Studio,” the hosts of “Innovation Crush” asks every guest to complete the statement — “Innovation, to me, is ___________.” Goods did not have a pat answer. He spoke about the difference between something that “is innovative” and something that is “an innovation.” At the JPL, he said they have no problem coming up with creative and potentially innovative ideas. Where they struggle is translating these ideas into something that gets accomplished in the real world. To Goods, that is a significant difference. I’m going out on a limb here to speak for tool. — we agree. We see innovative ideas almost every day. Sometimes, we help people translate an idea that is innovative into an innovation. Others times, we do not. (Disclaimer — one way is not better than another and “an innovation” is not always appropriate.)

Keep your eyes open for Dan Goods and what he brings to the world. This was a nice introduction to the man and his work. Check out his website (above) for a good dose of awesome.