Where Science Meets Muse

Archive for March, 2011

A Reality Check for Sustainability in Design and Innovation

Posted by Plish on March 30, 2011

“Art should cause violence to be set aside” – Leo Tolstoy

Replace the word ‘Art’ with “Design” or “Innovation”.

Design should cause violence to be set aside”

Innovation should cause violence to be set aside”


It shares the root of violāre , from which we get the word ‘violate’.

What shouldn’t be violated?

  • people
  • conscience
  • convictions
  • relationships
  • faith
  • family
  • neighborhoods
  • science
  • workplace
  • cultures
  • animals
  • nations
  • plants
  • water
  • air
  • soil
  • world
  • cosmos
  • ???

Does your corporate culture impact any of the above in a negative way? 

Does the manufacture of your innovation do violence to any of the above?

It’s a difficult task, but not impossible.

Instead of focusing on the negative,

focus on elevating,

make all you do,

and how you do it,


Posted in Authenticity, children, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, Human Rights, innovation, love, nature, Religion, Social Innovation, Social Responsibility, Society, Sustainability, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Social Design Without Beauty is a Dead End

Posted by Plish on March 23, 2011

“I think we’ve gotten to the point of design where it’s no longer OK to say that it’s all worth doing. I think that a whole lot of people dedicating their careers to making really beautiful tables and chairs and lamps when the same amount of energy could be set to other problems. I think it’s time for us to start having a conversation and say, “you know that project, that lamp, that chair, is not worth doing; do something else.”” – Jon Kolko from this Forbes Interview.

No Jon.

Beauty inspires, it is the font from which inspirations for a better tomorrow bubble with joy.

Beauty is always worth doing. Period. 

Paola Antonelli, curator of MoMA, when asked, “What makes good design?” said in this interview:

“… one of the litmus tests is (to) think if this object were not on earth. Would it be a pity? Would you miss it? I tell you that’s really interesting because it really helps. Sometimes objects are not immediately functional. They’re not to be sat upon, or to be used to eat, or to be used to turn on the volume. Sometimes objects just deliver emotions or are just part of your life. That’s also enough.”

Beauty is always enough.

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, Design, design thinking, Experience, Human Rights, imagination, innovation, Social Innovation, Social Responsibility, Society, Sustainability, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

When Domains Clash With a Thud – Fauxnnovation and How to Avoid it

Posted by Plish on March 16, 2011

It’s well known that some of the greatest innovations occur when two seemingly different domains join together to spawn something entirely new.  There is a great article here discussing the role of metaphor and analogy in creative design. 

Unfortunately, sometimes those different domains don’t lead to anything particularly special – the various domains crash together and the end result is a tangled, interwoven combination.  Nothing new gets created.   What does get created is what I call, Fauxnnovation...

I attended the Chicago Flower and Garden Show last week.  The theme for this years show was, “The Sport of Gardening.”  It was clear that the theme paid homage to Chicago professional sports teams, especially to the Stanley Cup champion, Chicago Blackhawks.  You would think that the clash of the sports domain with the gardening domain would lead to some really creative, innovative displays.  Unfortunately this wasn’t the case.  Instead, the majority of the displays were actually stellar examples of fauxnnovation.

The best (worst?) case is pictured below. 


Two tablecloths?  Plastering the walls with hockey cards and pennants?  Flowers in traditional settings? 

This arrangement SCREAMS fauxnnovation.  There is no creation of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Design, Experience, imagination, innovation, Innovation Tools, nature, Nature of Creativity, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

True, Sustainable Design = Revealing Beauty

Posted by Plish on March 14, 2011

Beauty is not caused it is – Emily Dickinson

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. -Michelangelo

What if we all acted as if Beauty is?

What if we lived our lives seeking out Beauty in the others, in the world, in our selves – chiseling through the chaos, peeling away the layers and revealing the Beauty that is? 

Isn’t that Design?

A beautiful thing never gives so much pain as does failing to hear and see it. – Michelangelo

Posted in Authenticity, Design, innovation, love, nature, Social Innovation, Sustainability, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Breaking Down Creative Blockages and Dealing With Stress

Posted by Plish on March 11, 2011

We all get stuck.  

Dr. Stanley Block, over at Psychology Today, has a great process for breaking through the blocks, or rather the box that surrounds and constrains our psyches  –  in three minutes or less.  Rather than reproduce it here, I’m including a link to the process that you can read here. 

I’m a strong believer that the more relaxed we are, the better the quality of ideas.  Dealing with stress is important if you want to stay on top of your game. Here’s another interview with Dr. Herbert Benson,  founder of the Benson Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine.

What do you do to deal with stress and keep the creative juices flowing?

Posted in Authenticity, Behavioral Science, cognitive studies, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, idea generation, Interviews, meditation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Research, Science, stress, The Human Person, Wellness, Workplace Creativity, Yerkes-Dodson Curve | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Want to be Creative? Embrace the Contradictions Within

Posted by Plish on March 10, 2011

Want to know the traits of a creative personality?  Check out this article  by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

He summarizes, “If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an “individual,” each of them is a “multitude.””

In essence, creative people are more than the sum of their parts. 

The truth of the matter is that we all are greater than the sum!

But, to be more than the sum, we have to sum the parts in the first place.  Therein lies the challenge.  One person may say, “I’m too focused to be innovative, I have to be.  I’m an accountant!” That same person then comes home and savors the various nuances in her wine collection. 

Wine.  Each type (Cabernet, Merlot, Zinfandel, etc.) follows certain rules.  Diverge from the rules and a Merlot can’t be called a Merlot.  Yet, no two Merlots are alike.  No two vineyards follow the same processes.  In fact, some wineries are quite innovative in how they process grapes, how they bottle, etc.

Wineries, like accountants, could simply say, “We need to be conservative!  People have been making wines for millenia, and our customers expect stability!” 


People expect and want authenticity.  Sure there are rules accountants need to follow.  But if wineries can innovate, so can accountants. 

Practically speaking, this means that our accountant friend needs to break down the wall that separates her work desk from the vineyard.    To be more than the sum of her parts, she needs to say, “I can be innovative and creative, because I’m more than an accountant, I’m a sommelier!”

The good news is that when we embrace who we are in all our varied facets,  when we break down the walls, we become more than the sum of our parts because we  become whole people, and the various aspects  inter-relate and inform each other. 

The result is that we are  empowered and enabled to be more creative,  more fulfilled, more authentic human beings.

What about corporate cultures,  how can they support this? Some great info here, but the bottom line? 

Let people be whole; in fact, encourage it.  Your business depends on it.

Posted in Authenticity, cognitive studies, creativity, culture of innovation, imagination, innovation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Renaissance Souls, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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 »

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