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Ben Kaufman: Launching Kluster

Ben Kaufman: Launching Kluster
Published February 19, 2008 by Heather Ann Snodgrass
Kluster is a newly launched web-based collaboration and decision-making platform. Born of simpler roots - namely Mophie, an iPod accessory company relying heavily on its customer base in the design and development process - Kluster seeks to foster the same principals that made Mophie so popular by engaging consumers to conceive, design, brand, and launch new products. Kluster's founder, Ben Kaufman, sat down with Behance to explain how his new project will help make ideas happen.
Every new idea will meet its skeptics. Radical concepts, however, often take a greater amount of time to justify and coax critics onto its side - and Kluster was no exception. "The toughest part about launching the several initiatives we have done at Kluster has been convincing our clients (and sometimes our investors) that doing something very different is okay. A normal response is, “But, that’s not how this kind of thing is usually done.” Of course this isn’t how it’s usually done! That’s why it’s effective, exciting, and worthwhile. If this were normal, we wouldn’t be here. We have overcome these obstacles by surrounding ourselves with people and organizations that realize that in order to reach new goals you have to use new techniques." Naturally, a company whose main mission is transforming the way people think will embrace some unorthodox work techniques -- even when it comes to scheduling. "The main time management strategy at Kluster is to ignore the normal social rules regarding “work hours.” Any hour can be a work hour and limiting your creativity and productivity to daylight hours on weekdays won’t help you change the world. We work whenever there is work to be done, and rest when there isn’t. By removing normal societal expectations of “work time” we get a lot more done during crunch time, and get a lot more rest during relax time."
So far, very little in our original plan has happened as we wanted or expected, but that’s okay. At every step we reevaluate how the latest development can still be a step towards our end goal.
Appreciating the power of collaboration and feedback in any project, Kaufman and his team strive to make this a reality for a broad audience. "No idea is perfect when it’s first hatched from one person. Every concept needs help to be refined and improved, and collaboration is the only way to make that happen. Our method at Kluster is to throw the colossal creativity of the internet and the enormous power of computing at the problem so we can foster collaboration of the grand scale." Concepts which finally come to fruition aren't necessarily the ones you started off with. Knowing this, Kaufman and his team were able to edit and cultivate the ones that would, resulting in a product that will continue to evolve through the same process. "You pour your life into a new idea, but you have to be able to walk away from it too. Like [Behance has] said ‘most ideas bite the dust’ and you have to be willing to just move on, and quickly, don’t miss the next opportunity because you’re mourning over the last. So far, very little in our original plan has happened as we wanted or expected, but that’s okay. At every step we reevaluate how the latest development can still be a step towards our end goal: The whole world being able to collaborate so that great ideas don’t get lost to obscurity and so that consumers can get what they really want from the brands they love." With the site live today, and officially launching at the TED conference later this month, Kaufman hopes the project will change the way companies and consumers interact with each other and that this is reflected in the end result. "[At TED], we will be harnessing the creative energy of the “The World’s Greatest Thinkers and Doers” and allowing the world to collaborate with them to address the pressing issues discussed at the conference. Our goal will be to have the world and the attendees work together for 72 hours using the Kluster system to develop a new product to address a crucial humanitarian, social, or environmental problem." Ultimately, Kluster is about connecting people and busting open the vacuum so often used in the idea development and evolution process. "We are going to allow all the people out there that have new ideas, or thoughts on how to improve something, or expertise on developing concepts to finally realize their potential. We are breaking down the usual barriers to consumer influence and entrepreneurship."

More about Heather Ann Snodgrass

Heather is the founder of Darling, where she makes amazing nail products for beautiful girls.

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