ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘human authenticity’

Innovation in Non-Profits and Churches

Posted by Plish on April 14, 2013

Through the folks over at CreatePossible, I found out about this great event called Co-Lab, for non-profit organizations and ministries.

As part of Co-Lab, there was a session entitled “The Theology of Innovation.”  It’s a great video of two people sharing the story of their church and their quest to embrace innovation and be true to their Faith (which contrary to what many  would think, and as the session presenters point out, a conflict between innovation and religious communities doesn’t have to exist.)  There are also multiple other sessions on the Vimeo Co-Lab site on Future Trends, and the future of Non-Profits to name a few. They’re worth checking out.

Even if you’re not into Christianity, it’s a fascinating insight into how people react and deal with design thinking and innovative processes. These folks even went to IDEO for assistance in this process. (Next time, just give me a call :) )

Looking forward to your thoughts!

(Note on the video: When the woman speaks in the presentation, her microphone level is lower so you may have to turn up the presentation at those times.)

Posted in Authenticity, Co-Creation, creativity, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, design thinking, innovation, Religion, Social Innovation, Spirituality | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Innovation (and Living!) Starts with Seeing

Posted by Plish on November 3, 2012

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

At the end of August I was watching a bumble bee go from flower to flower.

“Hmmm…” I said out loud.  I went inside and grabbed a camera.  You see, these bees didn’t go inside the flower.  They landed on the outside of the flower, did something with their mouths, went off to the next flower, and did the same thing.

Today I mentioned this to a neighbor who used to raise honey bees.

She had no idea what they were doing. She had never seen, nor heard of that happening before.

Now, I grew up around hostas and bumble bees my entire life, and I’d be willing to bet  that this particular species of bumble bee is not only doing this behavior in my yard, this year.  Yet, it’s the first time in my life I’ve ever seen this.

I have been looking at flowers and bees all my life! But, what had I seen? What do I see?

How much do we really see when we look at things?

If we’re not seeing, how can we ever know – really know?  What opportunities for enrichment have we missed?

Spend some time consciously seeing.  Not only will innovation opportunities become apparent, your life will become richer.

 

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, Design, innovation, nature, The Human Person, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Innovating Healthcare Using Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles of Good Design

Posted by Plish on October 26, 2012

The above scene is from the home of a person who has some pretty serious lung problems.  This equipment is sitting next to the front door.  This is what the inhabitants of the house see every day.

It’s what guests see when they come in – when they sit down to play cards on a Friday Evening.

It’s the last thing people see as they leave the house.

It also epitomizes what’s wrong with healthcare, what’s wrong with a system that is about fixing things gone bad; about drugs, compliance, tests, equipment, data, insurance, doctors and hospitals.

Oh sure it works, but there is general agreement that it could be better – way better.

So it got me to thinking: What would a better designed healthcare system look like?

Instead of trying to visualize every detail of what revamped healthcare might look like,  let’s look at Dieter Rams‘ ’10 principles of good design’ (applied to healthcare) to inform our creative processes.

GOOD HEALTHCARE DESIGN…

  • Is innovative – What is really innovative in the above picture? The technology is decades old.  However, it’s not only innovative technology that’s needed, but innovative approaches to problems.
  • Is useful - By and large, people go to doctors and interact with healthcare systems because they need to – not because they want to.   Using innovative approaches (See above), there needs to be an element of usefulness that pulls people in to being healthier.
  • Is aesthetic – The rooster in the above picture has more going for it than the rest of the products.  Things that are aesthetically pleasing pull people in, making people touch, explore, even showcase! A doctor once remarked how he loved using a certain product because the packaging was cool.
  • Conveys understandability - What’s understandable in the above picture?  In a perfectly designed world, instruction booklets wouldn’t be needed.  Intuitiveness would reign.  The How’s and Why’s are conveyed via the design itself.
  • Is unobtrusive – In healthcare this is huge.  When it comes down to it, people don’t want reminders of health problems, or hospital payments, present at all in their lives, let alone being obvious.  Being healthy and interacting with healthcare should have a certain transparency and utility – it’s flexible enough to do what needs to be done with minimal fuss and muss.
  • Is honest – Many objects and systems in healthcare, even those in the above picture, are brutally honest.  But honest healthcare needs to be seen in light of the other principles of good design.  It needs to be true to itself in that people need to know that certain interactions result in certain results.
  • Is long-lasting - Health care is about long-lasting results. It shouldn’t be about ‘trendy’.  It should be about results that last.
  • Is thorough down to the last detail – It’s obvious that in the healthcare realm,  detail is paramount.  There shouldn’t be arbitrariness.
  • Is environmentally friendly – There’s a lot of room for improvement in healthcare, especially in the US.  Paperwork, drug and waste disposal, visual pollution (See picture above,) sustainable and yet disposable products, all these are challenges that only now, are beginning to be addressed.
  • Is as little design as possible - It comes down to providing what’s essential to do the job, nothing more, nothing less.  This is related to being unobtrusive and detailed.  On a systems level this is particularly difficult to address because of organizational tendencies to make sure arses are covered.  The good news is that if all the above principles are used, the need to cover arses should all but disappear.

Is it possible to design healthcare according to the above principles?    With current healthcare systems being stressed to the point of breaking, a redesign of the various facets of healthcare systems is not only possible but sorely needed.    While people are trying to live their lives as abundantly and authentically as possible, their interactions with clinicians and health care systems are a fertile ground for innovation.  Rams’ 10 principles for good design are as good a place to start as any.

What are your thoughts?

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, Healthcare, imagination, innovation, Medical Devices, problem solving, Service Design, Social Innovation, The Future, The Human Person, Wellness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Four Insights Into Great Innovation From Ernest Hemingway

Posted by Plish on September 7, 2012

 

Courtesy of PBS.org. Click on the picture to read about Hemingway.

 

“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice.”–Ernest Hemingway

I came across the above quote from Hemingway and it dawned on me how you could substitute “Innovators” for “The best people”, and it still make sense.

This quote is a great reminder that without…

…a feeling of beauty, there is nothing to inspire us to create more beauty.

…courage to take risks, great innovations are never achieved.

…the discipline to tell the truth, there is nothing upon which relationships with people and our environment can be built.  Innovations occur when well-disciplined sharing of truth guides decision-making.

…a capacity to sacrifice, innovations often flounder in various facets of incompleteness.  Sacrifice here is more than simply personal giving, it’s sacrificing short-term gains for long-term impact.

 

Do you think sustainable, enriching and kind innovations are possible without the above?

Posted in Authenticity, culture of innovation, Design, innovation, Social Innovation, Social Responsibility, Sustainability, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Censoring the Censor – The Key to Increasing Creativity

Posted by Plish on May 12, 2012

Inside your brain there’s a creativity censor.  With finger poised above the ‘Bleep’ button, he’s constantly protecting you from ideas that he deems useless, or worse: foolish.  He knows what every boss wants, what every friend thinks of you, what strangers see when they look at you.  He knows what’s best for you and the best way to get it.

On more than one occasion I’ve seen this censor, singlehandedly, dull brilliance and turn a symphony into an energy sapping drone.

Why would the censor do this?  Because he’s protecting you!  Give him a free rein and you will comfortably reside in the Status Quo.  You won’t look like a fool, you won’t push the envelope, you won’t feel uncomfortable.

Your creativity and the potential for great ideas will also come to a screeching halt.

Ideas build upon ideas – yours and others.  They are stepping-stones.  Remove one and things might be okay…might.  Remove two or three and you’re constrained to walking on one plane.

So, what can you do?

You need to teach yourself to not listen to the censor, but instead to listen to the ideas. When you hear the “BLEEP!” you need to ignore it.  Instead, write the idea down and play with it. See where it leads.  Nowhere?  That’s okay!  But, the very act of acknowledging that idea has now given you a stepping stone to another idea, and another, and….

Don’t get me wrong.  There is still a time and place to listen to the censor.  But, when you’re trying to come up with ideas, looking for new possibilities, exploring the unknown, your imagination is your friend, your light.  Work together with your ideas!

This is exemplified beautifully in this blog post over at Thoughts on Theater.  I’m going to end this piece with  a quote directly from her post, as it’s a wonderful read (as is her entire blog).  It’s about Academy Award winning screenwriter, Robert Pirosh.  He was a copywriter that wanted to become a Hollywood screenwriter. Here’s how he finally landed his dream job:

(Pirosh) sent the following note to all of the major studios, received a slew of interview requests, and finally accepted an offer as a junior writer at MGM. From there he went on to win an Academy Award and write for some of the best and brightest (including the Marx Brothers). Just another testament to the fact that you should not water yourself down in order to obtain the dream job. Do not censor the you that just might land you the gig.

Dear Sir:

I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave “V” words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land’s-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp.

I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around.

I have just returned and I still like words.

May I have a few with you?

Robert Pirosh

385 Madison Avenue, Room 610

New York Eldorado 5-6024

 

Posted in Authenticity, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, idea generation, imagination, innovation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Innovation Can Change the World When Spelled: L-O-V-E

Posted by Plish on December 21, 2011

Products and services have to obey the laws of nature.  Some laws, like Newton’s Laws, can not be avoided.   Ignore them at your own risk.

Then there are those Laws that aren’t physical, but are no less real.  These are laws that deal with how people behave. They are embedded in who we are by nature, and/or are continually being transformed and modified through cultures and relationships between people and the Cosmos.   These laws are more elusive and difficult to characterize.  They are being observed, and deciphered, by psychologists, ethnographers, behavioral economists, poets and others.

One of these, is the Law of Love.

…the Law of Love is the deepest law of our nature, not something extraneous and alien to our nature. Our nature itself inclines us to love, and to love freely.  -Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

If, as Merton says, this law is the deepest law in our nature, shouldn’t it be the most prevalent law guiding our innovation efforts?

Yet, how often do we see design briefs, or product specifications stating, “Must incorporate Love.”?

Oh sure, it’s often inferred.  After all, we don’t want to hurt anyone, right?  We don’t want to pollute the world, right?

But still, there are people who use Chinese sweatshops to create magical products. There are people who create novel materials at the expense of effluents that taint the environment.

Love of others shouldn’t be inferred.  It should be active and visible in innovations.

During this holiday season, the word, “love”, gets used prolifically.  But, why can’t Love guide what we do, all the time?  What if we asked, “What would this product look like if I loved the person it’s being made for, and the place where she lives and the people making it and the places they live?”

In this day and age, innovation with L.O.V.E. shouldn’t be optional.

If it’s part of our nature, it should be imperative.

Posted in Authenticity, culture of innovation, Human Rights, innovation, love, problem solving, Social Innovation, Social Responsibility, Sustainable Technology, The Future, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

That’s YOUR Chunk of Open Office Space, This is MINE…

Posted by Plish on September 16, 2011

In the past I wrote about the health impact of open plan office spaces and their impact on creativity

Now it appears that open office spaces, intended to foster interaction, instead foster territorial behaviours that undermine collaboration.

 Professor of Strategic Management, Stephen Cummings, who led the study said,

“The intent of taking away dividing walls and doors is usually to improve creativity and performance by fostering spontaneous fun, interaction and sharing…However, we found evidence that it can lead to attempts by employees to re-create spatial and social structures and boundaries, actually undermining the behaviours an organisation is trying to encourage.

…most teams marked out their territory with posters, slogans and personal items, even moving furniture to create their own personalised space, which seemed to put other teams off moving into that space.  Employees also tended to use the activity rooms in their established team groups at separate times rather than mingling with other teams.”

He also mentioned that people felt that they lacked privacy and hence they had to be more rigid in their behaviours and hence less innovative.

So what to do?  Well the obvious step is to create a mix of open and private space, understand what your people are like, and build an environment that plays to individual strengths, needs and personalities.  “One size fits all,” isn’t the way to an innovative culture.

 

 

 

Posted in Architectural Design, Authenticity, Behavioral Science, Case Studies, creativity, culture of innovation, Health Concerns, innovation, Nature of Creativity, Team-Building, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

True, Sustainable Design = Revealing Beauty

Posted by Plish on March 14, 2011

Beauty is not caused it is – Emily Dickinson

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. -Michelangelo

What if we all acted as if Beauty is?

What if we lived our lives seeking out Beauty in the others, in the world, in our selves – chiseling through the chaos, peeling away the layers and revealing the Beauty that is? 

Isn’t that Design?

A beautiful thing never gives so much pain as does failing to hear and see it. – Michelangelo

Posted in Authenticity, Design, innovation, love, nature, Social Innovation, Sustainability, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Want to be Creative? Embrace the Contradictions Within

Posted by Plish on March 10, 2011

Want to know the traits of a creative personality?  Check out this article  by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

He summarizes, “If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an “individual,” each of them is a “multitude.””

In essence, creative people are more than the sum of their parts. 

The truth of the matter is that we all are greater than the sum!

But, to be more than the sum, we have to sum the parts in the first place.  Therein lies the challenge.  One person may say, “I’m too focused to be innovative, I have to be.  I’m an accountant!” That same person then comes home and savors the various nuances in her wine collection. 

Wine.  Each type (Cabernet, Merlot, Zinfandel, etc.) follows certain rules.  Diverge from the rules and a Merlot can’t be called a Merlot.  Yet, no two Merlots are alike.  No two vineyards follow the same processes.  In fact, some wineries are quite innovative in how they process grapes, how they bottle, etc.

Wineries, like accountants, could simply say, “We need to be conservative!  People have been making wines for millenia, and our customers expect stability!” 

No.

People expect and want authenticity.  Sure there are rules accountants need to follow.  But if wineries can innovate, so can accountants. 

Practically speaking, this means that our accountant friend needs to break down the wall that separates her work desk from the vineyard.    To be more than the sum of her parts, she needs to say, “I can be innovative and creative, because I’m more than an accountant, I’m a sommelier!”

The good news is that when we embrace who we are in all our varied facets,  when we break down the walls, we become more than the sum of our parts because we  become whole people, and the various aspects  inter-relate and inform each other. 

The result is that we are  empowered and enabled to be more creative,  more fulfilled, more authentic human beings.

What about corporate cultures,  how can they support this? Some great info here, but the bottom line? 

Let people be whole; in fact, encourage it.  Your business depends on it.

Posted in Authenticity, cognitive studies, creativity, culture of innovation, imagination, innovation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Renaissance Souls, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Solving Problems and the Benefits of FUN!

Posted by Plish on January 26, 2011

FUN!  is something that all animals, to some extent engage in. 

Humans have the ability to design it.

Volkswagen has recognized the innate value of fun and developed this great website.  It’s dedicated to the premise that “something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better.”   

But, FUN! does more than change behavior. 

“I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.” -Thomas A. Edison

Work = 1/(FUN!) where FUN!=Passion x Freedom. 

To increase the level of FUN! and decrease the perception of work, find ways of increasing passion and/or freedom. Make sure people are playing to their strengths, and give them the responsiblity to make things happen; responsibility to make decisions.

Do this and the FUN! level will increase, the perception of work will decrease and the results will be amazing.

 

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, culture of innovation, innovation, Play, problem solving, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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