BY RICK WEINBERG, CALIFORNIA BUSINESS JOURNAL
The 20 foot by five foot panoramic canvas covers the wall of the Think Tank conference room at JMP Creative, where dynamic and innovative ideas for children’s toys are formulated and conceived on a daily basis.
About a year ago, employees at the creative agency used to pick up heavy white boards and hang them on walls as storyboards to invent and brainstorm ideas with sticky notes and color markers.
But then Jim McCafferty, CEO of JMP Creative, found one of the most unique and groundbreaking technologies on the market, the Span™ visual collaboration system, the flagship product of Nureva, an innovative tech company based in Calgary, Canada.
Life has dramatically changed for McCafferty, his team and his clients.
“I don’t know where we’d be today without it,” he says at his unique facility in Orange County, Calif., which features a Fun House packed of toys and gadgets for inspiration, a conference room designed as a spaceship and a meeting and collaboration space called the Think Tank, which resembles a submarine.
The Span system is built for creative collaboration for creative teams that benefit from visualizing and interacting with a wide range of information on a huge full length wall surface. Customers globally – including JMP – utilize the system for design thinking, agile workflow visualization and corporate training.
The system transforms walls into large, ultrawide interactive surfaces that display an expansive digital canvas. Participants like McCaffrey’s staff create their ideas right on the canvas or their personal devices, either a computer, tablet or smartphone, and share them in the cloud – and it is all transformed on the Span interactive workspace on the wall.
With Span, participants can utilize familiar and flexible tools already widely used in paper-based collaboration processes including sticky notes, sketches, images and flip charts. But Span’s digital canvas retains all of the flexibility that paper-based systems offer while overcoming many of the deficiencies of a non-interactive space such as the awkwardness of physically moving large numbers of sticky notes, sticky notes that fall off the wall, challenges of including remote participants in the process and storage and retention of the work.
But it’s the amazing convenience, size, versatility and technological flexibility that make the Span system so effective and efficient in collaboration settings.
“We’re always trying to find ways to stimulate ideas and create energy and enthusiasm for discovering something new and special,” McCafferty says. “The Span system helps us do that in amazing new ways that we never experienced before.”
The word is out about the incredible and innovative capabilities of the Nureva Span system. California’s Stanford University is a customer as well as Canada’s Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and Capgemini in the Netherlands.
Innovation: The name of the game
Create, invention and imagination are the hallmark of McCafferty’s business. From the moment you enter his 10,000 square foot facility, it’s easy to tell that innovation is the name of their game.
For over 25 years, JMP Creative has served as inventors delivering ground-breaking, business-growing solutions for the product, entertainment and marketing needs of their clients and partners.
With studio relationships with companies like Disney, DreamWorks, Universal, FOX, MGM, Columbia and Paramount, JMP has contributed to highly popular and successful consumer products and promotional programs for hundreds of companies, including Pepsi, McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, Coke, Best Buy, 7 Eleven, Chevron and ATT. The list goes on and on.
JMP has created world-class toys for Mattel, Fisher-Price, Sega and Hasbro, some of the behemoths of the toy industry. Its success is rooted in its collaboration, which takes on a carnival-like atmosphere under McCafferty’s close, hands-on direction. He has been known to bring in all kinds of props – including stunt men, animals, acrobats or actors – to rev up his staff’s idea process.
Since incorporating the Span system into their daily brainstorm meetings, it has elevated their creativity to another level.
“The concepts and ideas we come up with just can’t be good — they have to be great,” he says. “We’re always under pressure to create something very special and unique.
“The bar,” he says, “and has been set really high.”
On this day, McCafferty shows a guest how he utilizes the Span system’s large, interactive workspace. He flips through it like a scene from a futuristic film, moving from side to side with ease, mixing and sorting different images and ideas that lead to a final product to present to a client.
“What’s so great about it is that several people – all at the same time – can work together, sketching ideas, making notes, adding information and then moving things around and grouping them to create new concepts,” he says.
As he talks, he demonstrates exactly what he means, utilizing thousands of tools at his disposal.
He calls the Span system “our new wall of ideas.”
“During our design review and collaboration sessions, we all use Span software on our iPads to sketch ideas and instantly add them to the big interactive canvas on the wall,” he says. “It’s perfect.”
Files are shared – and saved — instantly as team members continue to work on and alter concepts whenever they like, taking the creative process to another level.
“What’s really great is that if we have a client in the meeting from China or anywhere else in the world, they can all work together in real time with us,” he says. “For a company like ours that thrives on creativity, this is the most exciting technology that has come out to help make the process so much more fun and makes it go so much smoother.”
Calgary, Alberta Canada