ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘idea generation’

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 »

How Not to Brainstorm – Lessons from Suburgatory

Posted by Plish on April 20, 2012

If you ever find yourselves in brainstorms like this one, drop me a line…

Posted in culture of innovation, idea generation, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Traditional Brainstorming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Fragile Muse and Respect for Creativity

Posted by Plish on February 18, 2012

Over at the Looper’s Delight group we were discussing what to do with ideas that don’t grow the way we expected, or wanted them to.  Richard Sales of Glasswing Studios and Good Nature Farms (A farm/Creative sanctuary) then said the following:

We have a policy at our house that, when someone is in the creative moment, we tiptoe, we close doors quietly, we are very respectful of the presence of the Muse – that lightning fast butterfly. When we accidentally barge in, we dont’ make conversation and apologize etc. Everyone is trained.

This is such a great practice to follow!

Everyone puts such a great emphasis on collaboration nowadays, we assume that the best results will only occur when everyone is open to everyone else.   Businesses try and force collaboration through architecture, work flows, etc.

Yet, how often do businesses respect the need for people to seriously engage their muses; to afford people the silence to hear the silent whispers of inspiration within?  How often to we tread lightly when approaching people who are immersed in their creative moments?

How can businesses and people structure the environment, or create rules, so that individual creative moments are free to blossom?

Beautiful, amazing, new, hybrid plants are possible through botanical cooperation – the collaboration of multiple flowers.

But before this can occur, each flower needs to bloom on its own…

Posted in Architectural Design, Authenticity, Creative Environments, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, idea generation, imagination, innovation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Honing Creative Skills with Six Impossible Things – An Interview with the Captain of the Titanic

Posted by Plish on December 14, 2011

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said. “One can’t believe impossible things.”

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  -Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

I sat down for breakfast tea with Edward Smith.  A jovial, white-haired seadog, he walked with a bounce in his step since he learned he’d be Captain of the Titanic.

“Sarah,” he called to his wife in the kitchen, “I’ll be having tea with Michael in the study.”

“Yes, dear!” she said as Smith smiled and showed me my seat.

He sat down across from me and without hesitating asked, “So my good friend,” as he leaned towards me, “You are always reading something,  What have you been reading lately?”

“Lewis Carroll’s works, ” I said,  his white eyebrows raised and he leaned back in his chair. “I find them quite stimulating, even if at times they are somewhat cryptic.”

“Ha! I always enjoy our conversations Michael, you find amusement in the strangest of areas.”

His wife placed warm. steaming crumpets in front of us and began pouring tea.

“What one tidbit of Carroll catches your fancy this morning?” said Smith as he buttered a crumpet.

“Six impossible things.”

“Which six?”

I took a bite of a crumpet, the steam carrying the aroma into my nose, “These are delicious, Sarah!”

A voice returned, “There are plenty more, eat hearty!”

“Which six impossible things has Mr. Carroll written about?” continued the Captain, clearly captivated by my introduction.

“Six impossible things before breakfast.  Any six. Simply believe six impossible things to be possible - it is at once challenge and folly.”

The Captain smiled, “And therein lies the allure – much like a man’s love for the sea.” He smiled broadly, crumpet crumbs falling from the white, brushy mustache.

“I’ve taken it as a personal challenge, Captain, to believe six impossible things before breakfast.  I do believe it’s motivating me to make the impossible, possible.  It stimulates my creativity and broadens my horizons!”

Captain Smith nodded, “It is the motivation of the likes of Magellan, to constantly reach for the horizon, where the impossible waits…” His view became distant and he paused.  No doubt for effect as well as to ponder the deeper truth.

“Six impossible things,” he continued. “Let’s take the challenge together this morning.  What is impossible so that we may believe it?”

He began looking around the room, stopping at the radio.

“There!” He said pointing. “Wouldn’t it be grand if, while I listened to the radio, I could see the people talking? -That’s impossible isn’t it?”

“Well done, Captain!” I laughed and watched as his eyes went to his telescope.

He slapped his thighs and wiped the last bit of crumb from his mustache and beard and pointed at the scope, “The moon.  One day men will walk upon that cold, grey orb.”

“Are you quite sure that’s impossible?”

“Are you telling me it’s possible?”

“It’s perhaps as possible as your cigar box containing all the letters you’ve ever written, all your charts, and all Sarah’s recipes with room for more!”

The Captain laughed, “My dear Michael, you are not helping your case.  What you claim is quite impossible, even if all were written with tiny letters.”  He paused.  “But, I will believe it to be possible.  There, that’s three:  A box that can hold an ocean’s worth of information.”

“Three,” I  sipped some more tea. “You have a heart for this, Captain.”

“I find this enjoyable.”  He paused, chuckling. “My heart!”  He paused and his eyes widened. What if it could be replaced by a machine, or, or perhaps another person’s heart?!” His eyes were sparkling and childlike now.  He was beginning to understand why I liked this discipline.

“Four,” I said. “What is number five?”

He narrowed his eyes and again they wandered about the room. First to my tea-cup, then to his.  He began stroking his beard and his gaze landed on a rifle on the wall.

“Number five is a weapon…one round sufficient to annihilate entire cities the size of London.”

“Number five!” I poured myself another cup of tea and continued, “You’ve gotten the hang of this! Remember to start each day aboard the Titanic with this exercise.  You’ll find your mind invigorated!”

The corners of the Captain’s mouth fell, his gaze distant.  He looked down and shook his head, “Michael, you Cretan, you’ve told me all Cretan’s are liars and I am bound by your truth.”

I wasn’t offended, but it was clear the Captain was not complimenting me.

“People say,” the Captain said, his voice becoming softer and gaze more distant, ” that the Titanic is impossible to sink…”

 

Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, idea generation, imagination, innovation, Innovation Tools | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How Not to Run a Brainstorming (And, How to Be True to Your Brand)

Posted by Plish on November 29, 2011

I was driving to a client today, and an ad for Duluth Trading Company came on the radio.  Duluth Trading prides itself on creating ingenious solutions for the working person while having a sense of humor advertising those products.  Some of those solutions include jeans that enable men to crouch without singing soprano, firehose cotton pants and shirts that fix plumber’s butt.  The latter is the focus of the below ad that spoofs a brainstorming session intent on solving the scourge of plumbers butt.  It’s an entertaining exercise in being true to your brand.

It’s also an example of how not to have a brainstorming.

What’s wrong with it?

Before you give it a listen, here are the rules I use for brainstorming sessions:

  1. Don’t judge. Every idea is equal.
  2. “Yes, and…” Build on the ideas of others (If you violate #1, this won’t happen)
  3. Encourage wild ideas (If you violate #1, this also won’t happen)
  4. Go for quantity of ideas
  5. Respect each person who’s speaking. One person speaks at a time – no interruptions. Each person is equal.
  6. Don’t just talk about ideas, sketch them up.  Articulating ideas by drawing (or building/prototyping!) helps concretize thoughts.  This also helps document the session and facilitates #2.
  7. Prepare for the brainstorming and then ideate before and after the team session.
  8. Stay on topic (the answer to “why are we brainstorming?”) but allow for #3 and if something seems too off track, invoke #2.

So give it a listen, and tell me what you think is wrong with this brainstorming:

 

Posted in Authenticity, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, culture of innovation, idea generation, innovation, Nature of Creativity, Play, problem solving, Traditional Brainstorming, Workplace Creativity, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Looking for the Secret to Successful Problem Solving? Banish the “…but…”

Posted by Plish on August 27, 2011

Try this concept when problem solving, in brainstormings, in your personal life. 

It’ll work wonders.

Posted in Behavioral Science, Best Practices, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, culture of innovation, idea generation, innovation, problem solving, Tactics, Traditional Brainstorming, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Want More Creative Solutions? Solve Problems for Someone Else.

Posted by Plish on March 2, 2011

Researchers have known for a while that one way to come up with creative solutions is to create some distance from a problem (I blogged on it here).  In other words, if you frame the problem so it’s distant in some way, geographically, temporally, etc, the solutions you come up with tend to be more creative than if you are solving a problem that’s located in the here and now.

Well, now researchers have demonstrated that you can be creative solving problems in the here and now, just solve the problems for someone else.  In other words, people tend to be more creative when solving problems for others than they are when solving them for themselves.

This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. If a social species, like humanity, is to survive, it makes sense that its members are at their best when solving problems for their fellow humans.  It creates a support structure that helps increase survival odds when focused on the other.

What’s been your experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

Posted in Authenticity, Behavioral Science, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, idea generation, Innovation Tools, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Research, Social Innovation, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Brilliant Insights Into Creativity, Experience and Human Nature From Joe Howard

Posted by Plish on November 18, 2010

I came across this article/video over at the Jerusalem Post -it’s a short interview with Joe Howard, an archaeologist turned advertiser.  Amazing insights into creativity and creating engaging experiences.  So, I followed the links and came across a three part keynote address.  I’ve put all three parts here for your convenience.  Each piece is about 9 minutes long and contains observations into human nature, creativity, idea generation and more.   Do yourself a favor and watch.  It’ll be time well spent, and you’ll probably find yourself at least a little inspired as well.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Posted in Authenticity, cognitive studies, Creative Environments, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Creativity Videos, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Education, idea generation, imagination, innovation, Interviews, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Alone and Need Ideas? Try This Tool

Posted by Plish on September 10, 2010

There is something to be said for the dynamic that occurs when people can engage and bounce ideas off of each other.

Sometimes though, we need to come up with ideas on our own.  One great tool for this is the Reverse Dictionary.

The human mind is great at making connections between disparate concepts, at building off of metaphor.  A Reverse Dictionary provides idea fuel for the brain. 

The best way to learn about this is to try it yourself.   To get the ball rolling though, I’m going to walk through an example. 

Say I’m looking for a way to decrease problems in nursing homes.  I entered in three words on the main page: ‘loneliness, mistakes, illness’.  Three terms that define what many people in nursing homes go through. 

The results are here.  When I look at these 100 terms I see some  that are curious, others that I have no idea what they are, some that seem totally unrelated.  Those are the terms that I follow up with and investigate further.  I’ll list some of those here:

1. Iatrogenesis - A fancy way of saying adverse effects to treatments. Things like drug interactions, errors, negligence all fall under this term.  I thought it was fascinating that this is the first term in the list dealing with problems in nursing homes.

47. Toc H – I had no idea what this was so I looked it up here.  It’s an international charity movement started during World War I.  The fundamental beliefs of this organization are:  Fellowship (To Love Widely); Service (To Build Bravely); Fairmindedness (To Think Fairly); and the Kingdom of God (To Witness Humbly).  There’s something there to build upon.

69. Zero Defects – Speaks for itself.

33,53, 76, 94, 85. Redgrave, Radclyffe Hall, Finlandia Prize, Tom Courtney, Glen Ponder – All deal with the Arts.  Getting solutions to nursing home problems from the Arts?  I like it…

95. abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz – A string of letters, it doesn’t mean anything.  It’s confusing but it contains all the letters of the alphabet; it would mean something if it was reorganized and cleaned up.  It makes me think about gleaning useful information from elderly communication, of proper interpretation of symptoms, language and circumstances.

99. Indian Sex Stone -  “The American field archeologist’s term for a natural rock that is mistaken for an artifact, usually a preform or bola stone, in the field. Most such mistakes are made by inexperienced field crew members, who learn quickly not to make such errors.”  Wow… a lot to ponder here and it ties in with #5. 

100. Sam the Robot – “The only robot on Sesame Street. He always tries to do things right, and even insists that he is perfect, but he always does things wrong. Typical mistakes of his would be drawing a circle instead of a square or pouring coffee on the ground.”  Another Wow!  Are there Sam the Robots among the caretakers?  How do we deal with this type of psychological type?

Now that I have these concepts, I can delve into them further, learn more about them and let this information percolate in my conscious and  subconscious.  I can use these as metaphors for coming up with even more ideas for ways of addressing problems in nursing homes.

Now, give it a try yourself and let me know how it works!

Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Design, idea generation, imagination, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Traditional Brainstorming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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