Free Tokyo talk, 29 Oct: Becoming Real

Hey hey! I’m truly delighted to announce that I’m going to be giving a free talk here in Tokyo in a couple of weeks, in collaboration with my friends at AQ.

This is an entirely new talk, and kind of a departure for me. Born out of frustration with my own track record over the last twelve years, and how few of the efforts I’ve been involved with have launched, shipped or otherwise seen the light of day, it’s a pragmatic look at what it takes to move projects from idea to reality. (You should understand “project” here to meaning any complex plan of collaborative action that unfolds over time, whether it involves publishing a book, launching a new fashion line, building a house or rolling out a new brand identity.)

I’m calling it “Becoming Real, or: The Art of Making Things Happen,” and I’m planning to hang our discussion on a few tentpoles: Bruno Latour‘s concepts of “recruitment” and “translation,” how capital can function as both a usefully universal solvent and a perilous gravity well, what happened to Jasper Morrison when he tried to design a camera for a large Japanese company, and Stafford Beer‘s thoughts on viable systems. Finally, we’ll take a look at some people I know who seem to be unusually skilled at bringing their notions to fruition, and ask if there’s anything to be gleaned from their example.

It’s free, it should be fun, and if I pull it off properly, we’ll all learn a little something — myself as much as anyone else in the house. We’ll be setting up a Facebook event page over the next few days, and you’ll most likely have to register to guarantee admission, since I’m told seating will be limited.

But why not join us on the 29th of October, from 19.00, at co-lab Nishi-Azabu (2-24-2 Nishi-Azabu, Minato Ward, Tokyo)? I look forward to seeing you there, and finding out what we can make happen.

UPDATED: Here’s the Facebook link.

16 responses to “Free Tokyo talk, 29 Oct: Becoming Real”

  1. nicolasnova says :


  2. Ben says :

    Sounds great!

    Maybe if I start swimming now…

  3. noriyo says :

    Adam, I have been hoping to see you someday but unfortunately I cannot go out that evening…
    Wishing for another chance in the future.
    Take care :)

  4. Bashford says :

    Sounds fantastic. I’ve been thinking about this subject for a while. Great ideas are important but it takes a certain kind of person to ensure they make it out into the world through the minefield of whims, egos and personal agendas without being compromised (or canned). Surprisingly there’s little been written about this so I really look forward to hearing what you have to say.

    Are you going to be writing this up, or sharing slides for those of us that can’t make it out to Tokyo?

  5. AG says :

    We’ll see how it goes! If it seems like I’ve stumbled onto some novel or interesting perspective, I’ll probably wind up doing this talk again. Who knows? Maybe even in London. : . )

  6. Liz Buckley says :

    There is a metaphysic group In Hawaii that has some big theories about why some people “manifest’ and others “project” and then some people are the “generators” or “reflectors.”

    Basically they say some people are designed to do certain things, but it is because of what time and day you were born which doesn’t make much sense to me. But the ideas that some of us are good at getting the work done and others are good at describing what the work is may be helpful to your talk. The ultimate design project – a human!

  7. Andrew says :

    Bashford, actually quite a lot has been written about this, but much of it’s from the perspective of the businessman worrying about “execution” on an inventory of ideas. “Execution” has been something of a buzzword in industry in the last few years, much the way that “quality” was not too long ago; it’s sort of the competence do joor. See, f’rinstance, ‘Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done’, which is a joyless but thorough look at how to go from strategy to real-world product or service. Once you’re down the rabbit hole of biz books you find about a million variations on the topic, mostly crap.

    The disciplines of Project Management and Product Management are supposed to be focussed entirely on Making Things Real, though both are ridden with Gantt-chart fever and quantitative analysis that’s too tedious for anyone motivated by passion or greatness. (Anyone waving their PMP credentials about is probably a government contractor in disguise.) Still, there are some really good books, like Scott Berkun’s ‘Making Things Happen’.

    The entire “Agile Software” movement is based on the desire to Making Things Happen and cutting viciously through the bullshit that surrounds most software project; 37Signals ‘Getting Real’ was a manifesto for applying the ideas of Agile to other kinds of projects (and it’s both a better and worse book than you might assume.) I’d also look at some of the work done around managing Open Source software projects, which place much higher value on enthusiasm and put-up-or-shut-up contributions than many other kinds of projects. OSS suffers from producing a lot of crap, abandoning stuff that’s good, and being massively unfriendly to outsiders, but they do Get a Lot Done. I’ve heard this is good, but I haven’t read it.

    Wish I could be there for this! I’d really like to hear what you come up with, Adam.

  8. AG says :

    Yeah, me too. : . )

    Longtime readers will know, BTW, that I pay virtually no attention to 37 Signals, so learning the title of their book amused me.

  9. Andrew says :

    I know. ;-)

  10. Andrew says :

    Along the lines of people you probably aren’t paying attention to…Seth Godin’s another, er, figure who’s written about almost nothing else but making things happen. Like the GTD thing, it’s almost gotten so meta that it’s become its own end. There’s this. And yet another to add to my list above: Making Ideas Happen.

  11. Eric says :

    Please tell me you have video up? I deleted my facebook account.

  12. AG says :

    AQ may, I don’t myself.

  13. Ashley McCorkle says :

    Funny you should be doing a talk on this. Just picked up a book on creating an execution culture among creatives called “Making Ideas Happen” by the CEO of Behance. Good topic.

  14. Chris Palmieri says :

    Videos are up here:

    Pt. 1

    Pt. 2

    Pt. 3

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