Where Science Meets Muse

Archive for April, 2009

Imagination: The Foundation of Creativity and Innovation

Posted by Plish on April 28, 2009

(michael plishka, 2009)

(michael plishka, 2009)

Everything you can imagine is real – Pablo Picasso

You can’t depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus  – Mark Twain

Imagination is not a talent of some men but the health of every man- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Imagination is more important than knowledge – Albert Einstein

Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real. – Jules Verne


Envisioning the future

Destroying barriers

Dancing partner of the Present

Childhood companion



Welcoming Conversationalist

Font of Wonder

Perpetually Young


We need to use our imaginations – let the possibilities for new products, new processes, new approaches, new relationships, excite and empower us to gift the world with our unique visions, with our Imaginative Selves!

The World is waiting…

Posted in Authenticity, Brain Stimulation Tools, children, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, idea generation, imagination, innovation, The Human Person | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Creative Blackout! to Increase Your Creativity

Posted by Plish on April 27, 2009

On November 4th, Alabama artists are tuning out technology so they can tune in to their art.

On November 4th, Alabama artists are tuning out technology so they can tune in to their art.

First let me make it clear that by ‘Creative Blackout’ I don’t mean getting drunk/high/stoned until passing out.

What I do mean is taking time to be creative.  It’s about turning everything off and tuning in to your creative abilities.

In Alabama, the Layman Group is doing a Creative Blackout on November 4th.


Just you…ART…and CREATIVITY.

Paint a picture, write a story, make a sculpture, choreograph a dance, take an arts class, write a song…anything your artistic heart desires.

 The lesson learned from this idea is a great one and one that all people need to heed.

A quote from their newsletter says it all:

Art is one of the most effective tools which we can use to better see ourselves, to do the work of becoming a better…or let’s say…more complete person.  Becoming “more complete” is an ideal not reserved for artists alone, and it’s that stereotype we wish to dilute; that impression (that the) everyday person, the layman, (has) no ambition to explore what’s great within them, even outside of “what they do” or what they’re “known for.” We feel that passion to expand perspective and understanding is a natural need for all humans, and Art is the antidote for quenching that need. Therefore, Art IS relevant to us all. Humans, all humans, naturally want and seek out newness, and clarity, knowledge, and mediums to express.

In short, we need to take time to be with our creative selves if we expect to be wonderfully creative-and that applies to all of us.

Even if you’re not from Alabama, remember to take the time for the  creative blackout on November 4th.  Better yet, make some time everyday to be creative – grab an instrument, sing, grab a crayon and paper, dance across the kitchen…

…better yet…

… do all of the above!

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, idea generation, Musical Creativity, Nature of Creativity, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Check out the ZINK Imaging’s ‘Zero Boundaries'(TM), Design Challenge

Posted by Plish on April 26, 2009

ZINK technology, the cool way of printing without ink (the ink is in the paper!) is sponsoring a contest with $15,000 worth of prizes. 

You can enter in one or both of the following challenge options:

Option 1: “Printing to die for”

Create a ZINK ecosystem that will make today’s youth crave ZINK products in the context of their digital and mobile world.

Option 2: “In a Perfect ZINKTM World”

Re-imagine printing by envisioning new and innovative ways that ZINK Technology can be utilized “in a ZINK world”.

 Your designs will be viewed and judged by a pretty illustrious panel:

  • Paul Bradley, Executive Creative Director of Industrial Design, Frog Design
  • Kate Greene, Technology Editor, Technology Review Published by MIT
  • Tom Hughes, Chief Design Officer, Idealab
  • Brian Lam, Editorial Director, Gizmodo
  • Darren Murph, Associate Editor, Engadget
  • Mary Tripsas, Assistant Professor, Harvard Business School
  • Richard Watson, Co‐Founder and Partner, Essential Design
  • Irma Zandl, President, Zandl Group

You have until June 5th, 2009 and enter as many ideas as you like! 

This looks like fun and I’ll be entering it as well!

May the best design win!

Posted in Contests, creativity, Design, Disruptive Innovation, innovation | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Thou Shalt Have No Innovation Idols!

Posted by Plish on April 24, 2009

There Should Be No Sacred Cows When it Comes to Innovation

There Should Be No 'Sacred Cows' When it Comes to Innovation

You would think that in the realm of innovation there would be no ‘idols’ or ‘sacred cows’, yet there are.

What do I mean by this?

There are certain practices that people are afraid to challenge because…well you just don’t!

Two practices that come to mind right away are:

1. Brainstorming

2. Mind Mapping

One would think that people who are creative and innovative would be the most open to different techniques and processes to generate ideas – right?


For some reason, creative types seem to hold on to certain methods (or innovation personalities, or schools of thought) as if they’re sacred – treat them as a sort of ritual which simply should not be changed.

Don’t think it’s true? Just check this post here and my post regarding brainstorming and you’ll see the passion with which people argue for brainstorming.  It’s especially interesting how defensive people get. 

What they don’t realize is that by getting defensive they are in fact saying:

“The human race has no capacity for improving the process of idea generation (or creative buy-in, etc.) beyond that which we experience in brainstorming ( or through mind mapping, etc.).”

Think about that for a moment or two then think about this:

With all the advances being made in the cognitive sciences, with all the advances the human race has made in the 200,000 some years of its existence, can two techniques discovered within the last 100 years really be the pinnacle of human achievement regarding idea generation?

And think about this:

If you only use a certain technique for generating ideas- your ideas/solutions will have a similar pedigree and it might not be the best breed of solution for a particular problem.

Please don’t misunderstand – I use mindmaps, I use modified brainstorming.  But, I also think that there are better methods and technologies for idea generation/problem solving/etc., only we’ll never find them if we don’t let go of our inordinate belief in the sacredness of certain techniques.

What are your thoughts?

Posted in cognitive studies, Creative Thinking Techniques, idea generation, innovation, Innovation Tools, Lateral Thinking, Mind Maps, problem solving, Traditional Brainstorming, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , , | 10 Comments »

LG Design the Future Competition – The Future is Only a Phone Away

Posted by Plish on April 21, 2009


Did you ever look at your cellphone and wonder, “Why can’t it find my keys, it does everything else?”

Now’s your chance to design that key finding, ultimate phone of the future and make some money as well!

The Design the Future of Mobile Communication Competition is sponsored by LG Mobile Phones in conjunction with CrowdSPRING and Autodesk.  Over $80,000 of prizes will be awarded and Autodesk is throwing in a 15-day trial version of Sketchbook Pro so you can polish up your final submissions. Yes – submission*s*!  You can enter as often as you like!

Cash awards are as follows:

First Place: $20,000 Cash Award
Second Place: $10,000 Cash Award
Third Place: $5,000 Cash Award
40 Honorable Mentions: $1,000 Cash Award + 1 LG U.S. Phone (A.R.V. of $300)

How will this be judged?

Need Fulfillment / Market Potential (40% weight): How well does the phone address general consumer needs / frustrations?
Creativity / Originality / Innovation (30% weight): Is the idea / design unique? Does the concept convey WOW or game-changing characteristics?
Feasibility (20% weight): Can this idea / product be realistically implemented with current or near-future technology?
Polish and Appeal (10% weight): Is the idea easy to understand and aesthetically appealing? Does it have images illustrating usage scenarios?

LG is even providing cool innovation assistance with this  “How to Innovate” page to help you generate ideas.

I would also suggest (beyond the obvious of perusing this blog’s articles and references) that you visit this site that contains 160+ creativity techniques (which incidentally is taken from my resource links on the right side of this page).

You need to be 18 or over and it runs until June 7th.

Best of luck and may the best innovators win!

Posted in Contests, Creative Thinking Techniques, Crowdsourcing, idea generation, innovation, Innovation Tools | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gluten-Driven Innovation, and Entrepreneurs

Posted by Plish on April 19, 2009


Gluten Driven Innovation

Gluten Driven Innovation

I think we all have a tendency to sometimes take food for granted.  We go to a store or restaurant, see what we like and eat it.

Unfortunately there are foods that make peoples’ lives miserable.  Beyond the world of more well known allergies (as many have to peanuts), there are many less well known food sensitivities- less well known but no less prevalent – or less dangerous!  Some estimates say that one in a hundred of us is sensitive to, or intolerant of,  gluten – perhaps even to the point of having celiac disease.

Today I went to the Thrive Allergy and Gluten-Free Expo in Chicago.  It runs through Sunday.

I went because a family member was recently diagnosed with gluten sensitivity/intolerance.

Far from being a place of suffering, the expo was filled with a community of people who offered support, hope and direction for those with allergies, celiac disease (and other gluten related illness), and asthma (I did a lung function test and rocked! but I digress). 

I was struck by how people have invented entirely new ways of making cookies, breads, and other foods – all without recourse to egg, dairy, gluten or nuts.  I sampled every chance I had, and rarely was I disappointed.  The comestibles tasted  good!

These foods are a testimony to the ability of people to find new ways of making things that have, in some cases for centuries, been made according to certain tried-and-true recipes.  It was fascinating to hear of the trial-and-error going on in kitchens around the world – the homespun R&D that creates delectable tidbits from raw materials that aren’t usually thought of as palatable.

And people didn’t keep the results of this R&D to themselves.   The exhibit hall was filled with testimonies to the human entrepreneurial spirit, to people who saw a void filled it.

Of these, I had discussions with two folks in particular and listened to a presentation from a third.

The first gentleman was Joel Dee, the President/CEO of Edward & Sons Trading Company.  While on  a business trip in Europe over 30 years ago, Joel sampled Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Food, Health Concerns, innovation, invention, problem solving, Start-Ups, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Old Switcheroo! – Changing Routines to Help Creativity

Posted by Plish on April 16, 2009


The garbage man and the recycling guys came and went but this time they switched positions of the bins.

I’m an adult, I can see the difference so I figured I’d just leave them there, no big deal.

I was wrong.  It was a big deal.

Day One: Caught myself at the last second as I almost put garbage in the recycling bin and vice-versa.  It was good that I almost did this, it would prepare me for tomorrow.

Day Two: It didn’t.  This time I actually put garbage into the recycling bin and vice-versa.   So I tipped the garbage bin and pulled out the recyclables and swapped them with the garbage bag from the recycling bin.

Days Three through Seven: Lesson Learned.

We are amazing creatures of habit.  We have a tendency to stick with routines, to do what works.

This is a major issue if we’re solving problems.  If we keep doing things the same way, we seldom will come up with new solutions.

What can we do to keep ourselves sharp?

Try one or more of the following:

  1. Take a different way to work  or home from work.  (I’ve done this before during times when I knew I was stuck in a thinking rut.)
  2. Switch the order in which you put your shoes on.
  3. We all have a stronger side and weak side.  Use the weak hand, the weak foot, etc., when doing a task.
  4. If you have certain daily routines, try changing the order of tasks.
  5. Last but not least, switch the position of your garbage and recycling bins.

You’d be surprised how simple changes can spur new thinking by forcing your body and mind to interact with the world in new ways!

What ways would you recommend to break routine?

Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, Creative Thinking Techniques, idea generation, Lateral Thinking, problem solving | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Philosophy, The Information Super-Highway and Innovation

Posted by Plish on April 14, 2009

Does the internet help or hinder philosophy?

Does the internet help or hinder philosophy?

Over at Linkedin, Paul Dowling, CEO of DreamStake, posed this poignant and thought provoking question:

“Has the internet killed the Philosopher?
It struck me that in the past knowledgeable individuals accumulated wisdom throughout their lifetime and formulated it to bring meaning to others. These philosophers have helped mankind to make sense of issues such as politics, religion, ethics and even the very meaning of life itself.
It has occurred to me that the rate of change facilitated by the internet and other technological innovations will preclude the linear building of ‘accepted’ wisdom by individuals over their lifetime.
We already talk about disruptive technology and business models. We see society changing in unpredictable ways brought on by these changes. Is philosophy dead or will it simply change to reflect the society we live in?”

First, let’s agree on some definitions.

Philosophy is Greek for, “Lover of Wisdom” (Philo – lover of;  Sophia – Wisdom).

In Greek, the word Epistamai means “to know” and “knowledge” is derived from this word. (It’s where we get Epistemology from)

In the Internet Age, access to information is unprecedented.   We are all harvesting, compiling and storing volumes of information.  We are philoepistomoi (Please forgive my Greek conjugation!) — lovers of knowledge!

Philosophy (of which I agree there is less of), is more properly a reflection upon the information or data.  In ancient Greece, to philosophize was even identified with knowing the mind of god(s) – it was searching for the method behind the madness. 

Philosophy, then, actually shares something with innovation. 

A philosopher, like an innovator, observes the world/human system and notices connections, patterns or trends where others don’t.   Build upon the connections by pulling disparate pieces of information together and what do you get?


It’s no accident that the Ancient Greeks were as innovative as they were.  Where there is philosophy, innovation can, and often will, follow.

So what does this all mean in today’s information age?

There are two routes we can follow. 

  1. We can be information hoarders
  2. We can be philosophers

But, to be effective philosophers and innovate on multiple levels we need to delve deeply into the problems of the world and the problems of the heart/mind.

It is the lack of reflection on the aspects of the human person that I believe is responsible for less philosophy in the world – less wisdom, less profound innovation. 

But, it is the human aspect that when plumbed leads to more powerful, emotive, wonderfilled innovations!

Here’s to Philosophy!

Posted in Authenticity, Design, innovation, Lateral Thinking, Philosophy, problem solving, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

An Innovation Checklist Based Upon Sun Tzu’s, “Art of War”

Posted by Plish on April 10, 2009


“…A skilled Commander seeks victory from the situation and does not demand it of his subordinates.”-Sun Tzu, The Art of War

This wisdom is brilliant. 

Success isn’t about demands placed on your people, it’s about creating the circumstances and environment in which it is the natural result of the fullness of your work.

OK, what does that mean?

When you demand success from people, in general there is a linear thinking: do x, y, and z and whatever it takes, make it happen.

The difference with this approach is that there is a holistic view of the entire situation – a view that honestly accounts for modes of possible failure, but more importantly frames and drives execution of the campaign such that the end result is success.

How do you implement this approach?

Run through the following checklist:

  1. Are you commited towards a bias of maximum success – Or are projects “do or die?” (This translates to, “Do you really, REALLY, have every person’s back or do you need to make points at others’ expense?”) Does your team trust you? Is there a common vision?
  2. Look at the lay of the land; what obstacles (physical, mental, procedural, organizational, etc.) stand in the way of an idea and its commercialization? Can you move quickly or do you have to move slowly? Are you better off developing this product here or in the barn down the street?
  3. What is the mood of the market like?  Is it easy to entice? Excitable? Cautious? Cheap?
  4. What is the competition up to? Are they doing what you’re doing?  Do they know what you’re up to?

If the four points above are examined at the start of (and throughout the execution of!) any endeavor, and all questions answered honestly and frankly along the way, success will be built into your process!

Success is there for the taking because every aspect of your endeavor is biased towards and, in fact, contains, the potential (and forming) successful outcome. 

All that is needed then is execution, not victory per se.


Victory will be yours!!

Posted in Books, Creativity Leadership, culture of innovation, Disruptive Innovation, innovation, Tactics, Team-Building, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Five Steps to Do-It-Yourself Innovation

Posted by Plish on April 6, 2009

We’ve all done it before. 

We’re confronted with a problem so we work with what we have to  a create a solution – we innovate. 

Innovation is especially fertile in those situations where existing solutions are too complicated or expensive to utilize on a regular basis.

Here are some great examples of solutions to everyday problems.  Whether it’s dog walking, electrical sockets, ice cube trays, windmills,  spices, or easier ways to de-shell hardboiled eggs, someone saw a problem and thought of novel ways to fix it.

However, we all know that there are times we get stuck.  

To get unstuck try the following:

  1. Phrase your problem as, ‘In what ways can I… (deshell an egg, etc.)’
  2. Learn all you can about the physical principles governing your problem
  3. Go do something fun and relaxing or meditate
  4. Brainstorm ideas (If you need help here,  try these creative thinking techniques)
  5. After you think you have a great set of ideas – go back to Step 3 and try again without duplicating (Do this once or twice)

If you follow the above process and still can’t solve your problem in a cheaper/easier way, then you either:

  1. Didn’t phrase your problem properly
  2. Didn’t detach from your problem for a while

What?  I  didn’t relax and that is why I can’t solve my problem?

The short answer?


Long Answer: The Sub-conscious needs time to crank through your problem, look for relationships, connect dots, remember that toy you made in 5th grade, etc.  We need to relax, we need to actually disconnect from the problem for a while to get great ideas.

That’s why people have ideas in showers –  they’re relaxed, and often the shower follows a night of sleep. 

And what happened while you were sleeping?

Your brain was cranking away solving your problem while you dreamt you and your pet frog were flying over a field of singing poppies looking for Carl Sagan.

For another perspective on how quick fixes can lead to innovation read this.

Posted in Creative Thinking Techniques, idea generation, innovation, Innovation Tools, Lateral Thinking, meditation, Nature of Creativity, Play, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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