About Creative Differences

I want to write here, differently, about the subjects of my daily work: data analysis, innovation and strategy. Most importantly, I want to break apart the weary conversations of my profession - the easily parodied business language - and piece it together again more tellingly, kintsuge-like, to make of the worn out terms a more engaging discourse.

My work, delivered as workshops, writing, analysis and review, at its core is about mentoring people into a practice. Analytics as a practice, innovation as a practice, strategy as a practice. A practice that is more meaningful than just a job.

One way I do this is to break apart terms and use the resulting contrasts - the creative differences - to see more clearly what is going on. Strategy or tactics? Project or product? User experience or user interface? Complex or complicated?

This is what I will explore in this Substack. To be clear, I am not writing definitions. This is not a glossary, but a rough scaffolding which works well for me while I construct new ideas.

So, who am I?

Donald Farmer, Scottish but based in Washington State, snuggled in the hills outside Seattle with my extraordinary creative darling, my unbearably cute cat and a magnificent treehouse.

For years, I imagined and designed software products for working with data. For years, I cajoled, harangued, persuaded and begged smarter people than me to build them. I have done this in startups, at Microsoft, at Qlik Technologies, with some success thanks to those smarter people.

Now I teach workshops, mentor executives and I write, especially about innovation and strategy. I work with some of the world’s largest software companies, but also with the newest of startups. I mentor teams from Kathmandu to California, from Reykjavik to Rwanda and not just working in software: robotic surgery, fashion, shampoo, restaurants, farms …

I’d love to hear from you and you can contact me here.

The Creative Differences podcast

I’ll record an audio version of each article for those who prefer to listen than to read. (Not judging!) For paid subscribers, I’ll supplement that with some other episodes from time to time, including world-wide interviews with leaders in the field.

Why subscribe?

I hope you are already intrigued, in which case you may just want to skip this and subscribe.

The reader for whom I write is probably working on strategy for an organization that wants to be innovative, analytic and insightful but struggles with what that means and how to make it happen.

Or they may be working in data analysis, software design or business strategy and feel there must be more to their daily work: they may have a sense of unfulfilled purpose, or meaning in their work. I want to help there.

On the other hand, you may just be curious about what all this strategy and innovation stuff is about. I think you’ll find interesting reading here.

Whoever you are and whatever brings you here, thank you for reading.

Subscribe to get access to the newsletter and never miss an update. Paid subscribers will get additional podcast episodes, some extra newsletters and occasional downloads of infographics and ebooks.

Subscribe to Creative Differences

Writing about the practice and paradoxes of data analytics, innovation and strategy


Last seen wandering vaguely, quite of his own accord.