Where Science Meets Muse

Archive for April, 2010

The Value of Divergent Thinking – An Analogy From Sports

Posted by Plish on April 25, 2010

Having played goalie in hockey and soccer for most of my life, I’ve spent a lot of time experiencing opposing teams converging upon me. 

In business, converging is considered a skill par excellence.  Find a problem, name your destination and throw everything you have at it to (hopefully) converge on a solution.  In reality, innovations and good design occur when teams and individuals learn to diverge, to see the bigger picture and thus see multiple opportunities for success. 

Here’s a little video I put together that talks about what converging and diverging looks like to a team attacking the obstacle – the goalie.

What are your thoughts?

Posted in Best Practices, Creative Environments, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, innovation, problem solving, Sports Creativity, Tactics, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Refocusing Our Powers of Observation – Innovation starts with an “Eye”

Posted by Plish on April 18, 2010


Too often we think of innovation as a set of rules, which, if followed, will yield some tidy product or service.  The reality is that innovations are more than a process- they’re the breech offspring of astute observation, brought into the world on the verge of being strangled by dulled, but aggressive perceptions and preconceptions.

An old, entrepreneur boss of mine boasted of being able to visit manufacturing plants and “steal with his eyes.”  He was the epitome of what  Swiss theologian, Johann Kaspar Lavater, described when he opined:“He alone is an acute observer, who can observe minutely without being observed.” 

My boss’s goal was not to copy something directly but to mentally catalogue what he saw – knowing that when the situation was right, he would subconsciously or even consciously, use what he saw as a springboard to something better.

We see, smell, touch, taste, and hear constantly but we are trained to ignore most of it as it gets in the way of ‘being productive.’  Yet, intense observational skills run in the bloodlines of innovators beginning with the very first humans.  

Everyone looked at the heavens. Yet, before even the dawn of the telescope, only a few observed that there were ‘wanderers’ among the stars: the planets.

 Everyone saw birds flying, but the Wright brothers observed and gave birth to the airplane.

As Yogi Berra was purported to have said: “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

Watching is more than light hitting our retinas.  It is seeing with the knowledge and predisposition that there is something wonderfully unique about what we are witnessing at this point in time.  It is cataloguing occurring at the locus  of the senses during an observational moment.

I remember many years ago I was tasked with designing a new locking mechanism for interventional drainage catheters.  (These are minimally invasive catheters that are used to drain cysts in the liver, or kidneys.  The locking mechanism keeps the catheter from coming out of the body during the treatment time.)  The current locking mechanisms all had mechanical keys or switches that would lock the catheter in place.

As I was watching a procedure I noticed Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Biomimicry, cognitive studies, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, imagination, innovation, Innovation Tools, nature, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Research, The Human Person, The Senses, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Tackling an Obese Nation – Making “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” a Design Competition!

Posted by Plish on April 8, 2010

I’ve been watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.  At first I wasn’t too keen on the show.  I didn’t like the premise: Guy from a different country comes to the US to make the US healthier as part of a reality TV show. The motive is good but it’s still Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.  Deep down I feel that for this to be uber-successful it needs to be called something like, “The USA’s Nutrition Revolution – Living Life!”  Revolutions belong to the people, never to one person. (Yes, I realize that one person often starts a  revolution and that others join in – yet, I think this might get more traction if  the focus were changed.  I do need to point out that it seems clear to me that Jamie isn’t in this for his own glory.  He genuinely cares about the issue of obesity, especially in children)

Well, I’ve seen a couple of episodes, and I have to say that I’m intrigued and actually enjoy watching.  I’m shocked though by what I’m seeing: Kids that can’t name basic vegetables, bureaucracies that favor cheap pre-fab food over fresh foods, parents that have given up providing their kids with healthy food.  Every episode reveals something new and not always flattering about the nutritional delivery system in this country.

It also struck me that this show/movement  could be viewed as a design project. 

What do I mean? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Best Practices, Case Studies, children, Contests, creativity, Design, design thinking, Education, Food, Health Concerns, innovation, Life Stages, Parents, Politics, problem solving, Social Networking, Society, Stories, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Designing the Future – Check Out These Two Contests!

Posted by Plish on April 1, 2010

It’s that time of year again – time to Think FUTURE!

If mobile communications is your think then  the Design the Future of Mobile Communication Competition is for you.  Ssponsored by LG Mobile Phones in conjunction with CrowdSPRING and Autodesk, they’re offering over $80,000 of prizes  and Autodesk is throwing in a 15-day trial version of Sketchbook Pro so you can polish up your final submissions.

Prizes are as follows:

First Place: $20,000 Cash Award + 1 Wacom Intuos4 medium tablet (ARV of $349) + Autodesk industrial design software (ARV of $500)

Second Place: $10,000 Cash Award + Autodesk SketchBook Pro software (ARV of $100)

Third Place: $5,000 Cash Award + Autodesk SketchBook Pro software (ARV of $100)

Prop Master’s Choice: $3,000 Cash Award + Autodesk SketchBook Pro software (ARV of $100) + 1 non-working concept mock-up creation (ARV of $4,000)

37 Honorable Mentions: $1,000 Cash Award

Start and End Dates: The competition ends on April 26, 2010, at 9:00 a.m. PST

For more info click here.

The other competition is the Create the Future Design Contest sponsored by PTC, COMSOL and Tech Briefs Media Group.  Submit your design in six categories: Machinery Equipment and Component Technology, Consumer Products, Medical, Safety and Security, Transportation and Sustainable Technologies.  It runs through June 30, 2010.

Prizes are as follows:

Grand Prize (1)-$20,000 USD

First Prize in Each Category (6)-A workstation computer provided by Hewlett-Packard

Popular Vote Winners (10)-A SpaceNavigator 3D mouse from 3Dconnexion

Top 100 Entries (100)-Certificate of Achievement suitable for framing

All qualified entrants will be included in a random drawing for NASA Tech Briefs T-Shirts. Minimum of 1 per 50 entrants will win.

More info here.

Best of luck and may the best innovators win!

Posted in Contests, creativity, Design, imagination, innovation, Science, Society, Sustainable Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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