Where Science Meets Muse

Archive for February, 2010

Success is Born in Innovative Cultures That Thrive on Good (and Bad!) Ideas

Posted by Plish on February 26, 2010


“New ideas pass through three periods: 1) It can’t be done. 2) It probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing. 3) I knew it was a good idea all along!” – Arthur C. Clarke

Over the course of the last week I’ve been coming across multiple articles on the value of ideas.

There was this article that basically says ideas are random useless things with little value unless you commercialize them and then gives guidelines  for implementing ideas.

Then there was this great article from a wonderful new innovation community through Maddock Douglas  saying that good ideas are born from empathy.

Then there was this article that is not really about how to use ideas, but is about the development history of a system for washing clothes without using detergent.  In the middle of the article there is the following quote (Note my italicized section):

The idea for EcoSafe grew out of conversation the three inventors had four years ago after watching a news report on a detergent-less washing system that turned out to be a flop. “We knew it was a scam, but we were amused by the whole idea,” says Briggs. “We were laughing about it, but I said to Eddie, ‘Is it possible to do laundry without using detergent?'”

So, where do I stand with regards to ideas?

The first two articles talk about commercializing ideas, using ideas to make money.

The third highlights a totally different aspect – an idea that was a flop led to success.

Ideas are not just about commercialization; they’re about inspiration, about seeding the mind. They’re the uniquely human fruit that begins to sprout the moment they’re free of our bodies.  In this context, even a bad idea might turn out to be good…and a good idea might scare the pants off those in upper management.

 “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” – Howard Aiken

Good ideas should be dangerous!  For that matter, all ideas -even the bad ones- will be dangerous if people (and the culture) have a basic orientation towards innovation.

“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” – Oscar Wilde

So next time you’re trying to see if an idea will see the light of day and running it through a gamut of gates, try allowing yourself to be judged by the idea.  Ask yourself, “What does this idea say about our company, our division, our people, about myself?”  If it doesn’t inspire, if it doesn’t cause you to be knocked off guard, it may be less of an idea and more a harmless reflection of what you, and the market, already know.

Posted in Best Practices, Creative Environments, Creativity Leadership, culture of innovation, idea generation, innovation, problem solving, The Human Person, The Innovation Equation, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

10 Life Lessons from the NICU= 10 Lessons for Innovative Design

Posted by Plish on February 22, 2010

I came across this amazing post over at Christine Kane’s blog.

Sue Ludwig, the founder of the National Association of Neonatal Therapists, enumerates 10 lessons she learned from the patients in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Having done research in the NICU myself, so many of the observations resonated personally.  What really hit me though is that Sue has hit on important points that should be part of all design projects, not just in the healthcare setting but all designs that impact people.

1. Humans are constantly  ‘in process’.

2. Be open to various forms of communication: Experience what is being communicated in multiple ways, not what you’d like to perceive.

3. Environment is important!

4. ~Human touch is essential~

5. Bonding and enjoyment comes from food and social interaction.

6. Make room for the Human Spirit!

7. Comfort/Sleep/Healing – Everyone needs them.

8. Fragility and Strength are at the core of Human Beauty and independent of the size of the person.

9. Great insights like those above come from being immersed in your world, from observing and reflecting on those experiences, from being in awe of life.

10. If you forget the first eight, remember and live number nine and the rest will come to you.

Posted in Best Practices, creativity, Customer Focus, Design, idea generation, innovation, Life Stages, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, The Human Person, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Creative Problem Solving, Forgiveness and Our Brains

Posted by Plish on February 19, 2010

Courtesy of Harvard University

In my recent reading I stumbled across a reference to the fact that forgiveness occurs in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) of our brains. 

Why does that matter?

It turns out that, “emotional self-control, focused problem solving, error recognition, and adaptive response to changing conditions, are juxtaposed with the emotions” in the ACC.  It’s the place where empathy seems to reside.

So, since there is only limited bandwidth in the brain to deal with issues, emotional “baggage” tied up with lack of forgiveness in our brains, as well as our emotional control of that baggage, eat up bandwidth that could be used for solving problems and empathic response (which helps realize creative solutions).

This whole area is still very much in its infancy, and only future research will confirm whether the hypothesized relationships exist, but I don’t think it would hurt if we went into our designing endeavors free of emotional burdens.

What do you think?

Posted in Authenticity, Biology, cognitive studies, creativity, Design, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Research, The Human Person | 4 Comments »

Twizzlers: Force of Habit and a Lesson in Design

Posted by Plish on February 12, 2010

Recently, in a Cincinnati hotel, I came across a bag of Twizzlers (Twizzlers rock!)  that provides a lesson in design.

If you look at the bag below you will notice that someone ripped the bag open in order to access the yummy morsels inside.  The problem is that the person didn’t use the cool, resealable strip that makes it easier to open, close and reopen – a seal that even keeps your Twizzlers  fresh (that’s if they stay in the bag long enough to go stale.)

The lesson here is that bright yellow markings on a bag that never had them, and words that tell us about this great new way of opening bags go totally unheeded when the force of habit is involved.

  >>>Force<<< of Habit

(FORCE) It pushes us in the direction,  to, (HABIT) do things the way we’ve  always done them. 

When we need to do something, we would prefer that we don’t have to be retrained in order to do it – especially when we’re jonesin’ for Twizzlers.

Had this special design been placed on one of the ends (or on both ends preferably)  someone would’ve undoubtedly said, “COOL!”  peeled it open, grabbed a few and sealed it shut (eventually). 

What’s unfortunate is that customers probably will not complain about this (because they’re opening the bag in a familiar manner and getting what they want) and the folks who make Twizzlers won’t even know their bag was misopened so the design won’t be optimized.

Will the eaters of Twizzlers eventually get it?

Maybe – maybe not.

The point is, if the design took advantage of what most people probably do, the bags would usually be opened taking advantage of the resealable strip.  Instead it’s a ‘maybe’, and ‘maybe’ shouldn’t be a good enough reason to spend money on fancy packaging.

Posted in Case Studies, Customer Focus, Design, Food, innovation, problem solving, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Increasing Creativity and Memory in 30 Seconds?

Posted by Plish on February 5, 2010

There is a folk tradition that someone with shifty eyes is considered untrustworthy – as being devious or sneaky.

The truth is,  purposely shifting one’s eyes back and forth for 30 second intervals was found to increase creative output as well as memory recall.

The theory is that it boosts communication between the two halves of the brain and the increase in communication results in an increase in ideas and recall. (Or perhaps the recall of memories helps create relationships that get expressed as creative new ideas??)

To me it’s interesting that during REM sleep our eyes move from side to side.  Perhaps there is a connection between the subconscious of our dream worlds and the movement of our eyes, and perhaps this connection can be made while awake?

Interesting stuff.

Oh, and if it does boost creative thinking and memory, it also means there might be some truth to trusting someone with shifty eyes. 😉

Posted in Biology, Brain Stimulation Tools, Case Studies, cognitive studies, creativity, idea generation, imagination, problem solving, Research, The Human Person, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: