ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Archive for November, 2011

How Not to Run a Brainstorming (And, How to Be True to Your Brand)

Posted by Plish on November 29, 2011

I was driving to a client today, and an ad for Duluth Trading Company came on the radio.  Duluth Trading prides itself on creating ingenious solutions for the working person while having a sense of humor advertising those products.  Some of those solutions include jeans that enable men to crouch without singing soprano, firehose cotton pants and shirts that fix plumber’s butt.  The latter is the focus of the below ad that spoofs a brainstorming session intent on solving the scourge of plumbers butt.  It’s an entertaining exercise in being true to your brand.

It’s also an example of how not to have a brainstorming.

What’s wrong with it?

Before you give it a listen, here are the rules I use for brainstorming sessions:

  1. Don’t judge. Every idea is equal.
  2. “Yes, and…” Build on the ideas of others (If you violate #1, this won’t happen)
  3. Encourage wild ideas (If you violate #1, this also won’t happen)
  4. Go for quantity of ideas
  5. Respect each person who’s speaking. One person speaks at a time – no interruptions. Each person is equal.
  6. Don’t just talk about ideas, sketch them up.  Articulating ideas by drawing (or building/prototyping!) helps concretize thoughts.  This also helps document the session and facilitates #2.
  7. Prepare for the brainstorming and then ideate before and after the team session.
  8. Stay on topic (the answer to “why are we brainstorming?”) but allow for #3 and if something seems too off track, invoke #2.

So give it a listen, and tell me what you think is wrong with this brainstorming:

 

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Posted in Authenticity, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, culture of innovation, idea generation, innovation, Nature of Creativity, Play, problem solving, Traditional Brainstorming, Workplace Creativity, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Being Thankful Helps Your Health and Creativity

Posted by Plish on November 23, 2011

There is a recent study that says that giving thanks helps reset our emotions and actually makes us feel happier.  Feeling happier and more centered means we’re coming from a more relaxed place, and it’s from these happy places that creativity flows more easily.  The article gives a great suggestion for making sure that we keep a thankful disposition: A Thankfulness Journal.   This is something that I am going to make a concerted effort to focus on more frequently.

I also want to share this post from two years ago.  It’s about changing the world via our thankfulness.  It’s also a great tool to use in conjunction with a Thankfulness Journal.   It’s called the “Thankfulness Process for Designing a Better World.”  

Click for Full Size

Click Image for Full Size

 Thank YOU for your support through the years. I truly am grateful.  May you all have a wonder-filled and joyous Thanksgiving Holiday!

Posted in Creative Environments, creativity, Emotions, Health Concerns, Nature of Creativity, Research, stress, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Practice These Three Approaches for Increasing Creativity

Posted by Plish on November 22, 2011

When studying creativity, researchers measure certain traits that are indicative of creative thought processes in individuals.  Three key concepts are:

  • Fluency (the ability to generate multiple ideas)
  • Flexibility (the number of relevant categories of ideas)
  • Originality (the uniqueness of each idea)

In general, more of each of the above is better and indicative of creative processes.  Get more, and be more creative.  Simple, right?  In fact, getting more isn’t that difficult as you can practice pretty much anywhere – but you do need to practice.  Here are some ideas to get you started.

To Increase Fluency

Play with words and associations (think synonyms!); practice coming up with ideas, get comfortable with expressiveness of feelings and ideas (i.e. emotion).  A simple exercise is to find a common object and then come up with as many uses for it as you can.  A favorite improv technique is to stand in the middle of a room (or anywhere for that matter) and point at various objects and yell out each one’s name, only call things by the WRONG name.  It’s fun, liberating and harder than you think!

To Increase Flexibility

This is about categories, so spontaneity is good here, as is the ability to adapt.  Strike out in new and unusual directions, expose yourself to new experiences; try things a different way and make the most of it.  Usually put your left shoe on first?  Try the right, instead. Brush your teeth with your right hand? Try your left.  Try taking a different way to work in the morning.  Pick up a magazine you’d never read and read it.  Try food you’ve never eaten before.  Get out of those areas you feel secure in  and stretch yourself. The naming game mentioned above crosses over into this realm as well, depending upon what you’re naming.

To Increase Originality

This is about coming up with ideas that no one else would think of.   It’s about making connections between disparates – putting things together that usually don’t get put together, while still finding, and building upon, that kernel of commonality that gives an original idea its glory.  This is what gives every comedian her special uniqueness.  It’s why jokes are funny.  They come out of nowhere; we don’t expect the result but we ‘get it’ when some commonality gets presented and understood in a new light.  We get it.   But, don’t think this is the domain of comedians only.  We’re all unique and originality is our signature.   So, start practicing your creativity signature by combining dissimilar things!  Pick up a baseball and a fork.  Now, think of something that can be done with them.  The easy answer is to stick the fork  in the baseball.  Go beyond that – way beyond. (This is where your practice in fluency and flexibility comes in handy.) You can do your own version of a cooking show like Iron Chef or Chopped.  Take a mix of ingredients out of the fridge and make something you’re not even sure will taste good- but try it anyway.  Finally, one practical tip: If you want your ideas to be more useful and not fauxnnovations, look for that kernel of commonality between the  disparate objects, experiences, contexts, ideas or metaphors within the situation.  It’ll help pull everything together and make originality shine (and implemented ideas more useful)!

So, there you have it – three ‘secret’ processes for increasing creativity.  Only, they aren’t really secrets.   They’re simple approaches for improving creativity and living an authentic life more  full of surprises. Give them a try!

Posted in Authenticity, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, culture of innovation, idea generation, imagination, innovation, Nature of Creativity, Play, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Want to Keep Your Empathic Edge For Innovation? Keep Your Blood Pressure in Check

Posted by Plish on November 13, 2011

We all know the effects of high blood pressure: increased heart disease, kidney disease,  stroke.  Now there is one more thing to add to the mix: Emotional Apathy.

Research shows that increased blood pressure is associated with the deadened ability to pick up on emotional cues.  Without the ability to pick up on emotional cues, tension and pain points camouflage into the background.  When everything becomes vanilla, finding the insight that foments the next great thing becomes all the more difficult.

So how do you keep your empathic edge?

Research shows there are effective approaches (outside of drugs) that are  pretty easy for anyone to implement.  Remember the Blood Pressure Control MEME:

Minimize exposure to first and second-hand smoke

Exercise regularly

Meditate

Eat healthy

Humans are wonderful innovation machines, but like any machine, they need to be maintained.  Keep an eye on your blood pressure and your ability to see emotions in others will stay sharp – as will your ability to be innovative.

Posted in Behavioral Science, cognitive studies, Customer Focus, Design, Emotions, Health Concerns, innovation, meditation, problem solving, Research, Service Design, Society, stress, The Human Person, Wellness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Misoneist Nightmare #110711

Posted by Plish on November 7, 2011

Why Can’t Snack Food Be Healthier?

click for full size

 

Misoneist* Nightmares™ are provocations to innovation that I will publish at my own whim.  This first edition is being posted on what would have been my father’s 83rd birthday.  Dad, you respected tradition yet you were never afraid to embrace the new, encourage creativity and artistic expression, experiment and play.  In some ways, you were a misoneist’s nightmare. Thanks!

 

*A person with a hatred or fear of change/innovation

Posted in creativity, Design, Disruptive Innovation, Food, idea generation, innovation, Innovation Tools, Lateral Thinking, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Creativity: Left Brain + Right Brain = WHOLE Brain

Posted by Plish on November 1, 2011

Came across an article originally published at The Conversation.  With all the talk of right brain vs. left brain, it turns out that recent research highlights that creativity is a whole brain process, or more specifically, creativity is a function of efficient communication between hemispheres.  I blogged recently about using music to improve creativity, and it turns out that musicians, as well as trained designers (people typically thought of as creative), tend to have more cross-talk between hemispheres than others.

In addition, researchers studying  cerebral blood flow in creative individuals concluded that,

“(creativity is) an integration of perceptual, volitional, cognitive and emotional processes.”

So, it looks like maybe we’re beginning to understand how our brains pull everything together and we act creatively!

Maybe not.

This recent review study  starkly states:

Taken together, creative thinking does not appear to critically depend on any single mental process or brain region, and it is not especially associated with right brains, defocused attention, low arousal, or alpha synchronization, as sometimes hypothesized. To make creativity tractable in the brain, it must be further subdivided into different types that can be meaningfully associated with specific neurocognitive processes.

In other words, creativity, is proving difficult to scientifically detect and study. But, don’t let that stop you, or anyone else from embracing life and what we are as humans…

~Creative~

Posted in Authenticity, Behavioral Science, Brain Stimulation Tools, Creative Environments, creativity, Emotions, imagination, innovation, Lateral Thinking, Nature of Creativity, Play, problem solving, Research, Science, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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