Where Science Meets Muse

Archive for October, 2010

What is Shibumi?

Posted by Plish on October 22, 2010

“Rise above it!”

We’ve all heard the phrase.  When circumstances around us threaten to destabilize our world at work or at home, we are told that we can “Rise above it!” –  Transcend the problems as it were.

But, as we find ourselves being churned and spun by the waves of the world, pulling ourselves out of the swirling waters and rising above requires some serious energy expenditures.  In fact, there are times that we may even wonder if the effort is worth it.

That doesn’t mean that we need to let ourselves be swamped, though.  We have another choice:

We can live in the waves

Experience the beauty of the swirls

Catch glimpses of sun through foam

We can ask “why?”; not with anger but with curiosity

We can move in and through the water of which we are

Feeling the currents that pull, carry and caress

We create…

opportunities, movement, intention, beauty

from the wisdom of chaos…

There is no need to rise above-

In fact, the beauty and elegance of your creations would not be possible

were you not part of the waves…


 “The Shibumi Strategy” is a story of one man’s struggle, growth and change, through difficult  circumstances.   It’s an easy read yet it’s filled with wisdom that author Matthew May distilled from his eight years of working with and for Toyota.   These tidbits can be applied to solving problems and fomenting change both at work and at home. 

It’s worth reading, if for no other reason than to make us think less about doing and more about being and becoming.  Interestingly, when we shift our thinking in this way, we end up doing more, or more precisely, we design more beauty…

The The Shibumi Strategy: A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change becomes available on November 16th. The ebook version  is available now.

Posted in Authenticity, Books, creativity, Design, imagination, innovation, problem solving, Stories, Tactics, Team-Building, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Transformative, Sustainable Design Starts With An Embrace

Posted by Plish on October 18, 2010

For the majority of a 24 hour day, we take in sensory information, process and ignore it as we go about our daily routines.  We do our jobs and interact with people, objects and systems,  only really paying attention when something:

A) Causes us problems or pain

B) Brings us delight, joy, peace or any such feeling of wellness.

Everything else falls into the realm of being grey, background noise.  

That’s not necessarily bad. There’s something positive to be said for that which inhabits the grey.

Which is:

We don’t notice things in the grey because things function as they are expected to.   And, when things function like they’re supposed to, we can accomplish tasks and live our lives in relative peace and security.

But, what is that grey???

It’s comprised of people and relationships between people, nature, objects, rules, systems and constraints.    People who love  and experience joy, anger,  pain; who reflect on things of nature and things super/supra-natural.  All of us together interact to make the grey stable, predictable and livable.

What does this mean for design and innovation?  How do we innovate in the grey? How do we impact the grey and create moments in which people are elevated out of the grey – preferably into moments of delight as opposed to the depths of frustration and anger?

In some ways this seems like it should be simple – after all, we are all a part of this.  However, being a part of this makes it that much more difficult because the temptation is to contribute to the system in non-obtrusive ways, to not make waves, to not make our own lives difficult but yet do our jobs, to play our parts.

However, if  we dare to descend into the depths of who we are, to understand our nature, our fears, our  frustrations, our desires and dreams; if in this uncomfortable place we are able to embrace the messiness of our lives, it is then that  we are able to embrace others, embrace the world, embrace all.

It is in this embrace that understanding shines, innovation blooms in the light, and dare I say, love empowers us to design for the good, to design beauty, to give people experiences of  joy and happiness amidst the grey.

And it is in this milieu that design and innovations sustainably transform the grey to light, all the while elevating the awareness of what is possible – of what we are called to be, on this planet called Earth. 

Once we taste this sweetness, we will not, nor should we, ever settle for  less…

Posted in Authenticity, culture of innovation, Design, innovation, love, meditation, nature, Philosophy, prayer, Social Responsibility, Society, Spirituality, The Human Person, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Botched Blog Entry and Creativity via Suzanne Vega

Posted by Plish on October 9, 2010

 Technology is great, but sometimes, you hit a button and it sends something someplace you didn’t intend. This post is a perfect case in point.   I intended this post to go only to this blog (where you can read what I wrote), but alas, it ended up here, at ZenStorming.   

The concert was quite amazing in that what are usually heavily orchestrated arrangements were actually quite sparse.  There was a level of dynamics present and layering that made the three piece band of guitar, bass and electric guitar, sound full, lush and inviting.  When I saw Ms. Vega after the concert I said,

“Tonight the layers of dynamics were more engaging than the layers of instruments.” She smiled and thanked me and said, “We have to get more creative when we have less to work with.”

“It’s the constraints that make the creativity,” I answered.

Her face lit up, “That’s it!” 

A lesson in innovation and creativity even from a technological mishap.  Ain’t technology grand?

Posted in creativity, imagination, innovation, Interviews, Musical Creativity | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

It’s Not About Users but About People – Research into People Centered Design

Posted by Plish on October 8, 2010

Just got back from the 7th International Conference on Design and Emotion.  This was a wonderfully stimulating conference, one that I’ll be processing for quite some time.

While there were multiple sessions that were truly inspirational, perhaps one of the forerunners was a presentation entitled: Including people in the design process – Good but how? by Dr. Yan Ki Lee.

Her bottom line is this:

t’s not about users, it’s about people; people who are creative partners in the design process.  It isn’t about designing for people, but designing with people.

Rather than expound upon her work, I invite you to check out the thorough and provocative toolkit at designingwithpeople.org .

The methods and activities sections of the site are full of case studies, video diaries and resources.  Fascinating and educational, it’s well worth the time spent on this site.  It will only make you a better designer, a better innovator, and dare I say, a better person.

Posted in Case Studies, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, design thinking, Healthcare, innovation, Innovation Tools, Research, Society, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Power of Words Over Images – A Lesson From a Bad Design

Posted by Plish on October 3, 2010

I know it’s easier to criticize bad design than to compliment good design but sometimes a bad design screams for recognition. 

The other day I needed some color copies for a lunch meeting so I got up early, and with bleary eyes, trekked over to Kinko’s.  The copy was on the light side and I needed to darken it up.  I was getting frustrated because I kept adjusting the image quality and my copies weren’t getting any darker. Take a few seconds to look at the image of the touchscreen below and see if you can see what the problem was.

Yup, it’s the Lighten/Darken terminology on the screen.  The problem is that the word ‘lighten’ corresponds with darker bands and ‘darken’ with lighter bands.   Sure if I only looked at the bands I would have realized that moving the slider towards the ‘darken’ side would actually make the copy lighter but I didn’t.  It was early, I was in a hurry and I trusted the words on the screen to describe exactly what hitting the arrows would do: lighten and darken.  I kept hitting the arrow on the right and my copies weren’t getting any darker. I seriously thought there was a bug in the software.

Words are important.  Eye-tracking studies of websites showed that people go to text first then to images.  When looking for instructions on a touchscreen, words are used to guide users to the section of the screen where programming changes can be made.  But, in this case, the words confused the matter.

The bottom line is, don’t underestimate the power of words – after all, you’ve read them in spite of the arrow pointing up at the top of this entry.

Posted in Case Studies, Customer Focus, Design, Ergonomics, problem solving, User Interface | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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