ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Archive for December, 2011

Breaking Habits in the New Year? Innovate Instead

Posted by Plish on December 28, 2011

I entered the VA hospital, tired after a two and a half hour drive.  I turned the corner and went to press the “UP” button. I pressed and the button didn’t light up. I pressed again, but didn’t really look closely at what I was pressing.  It still didn’t light up. I went to press a third time but stopped short of pressing, and looked.  The button was different and had writing on it.

I couldn’t read the writing until I crouched down.  I read and sighed with relief that I hadn’t called an entire “Crash Team”. 

We all are creatures of habit.

Personally, I expect two buttons when I approach an elevator: One for ‘UP’, and one for ‘DOWN’.  When I’m on a lower floor, and tired, and anxious (all to be expected when people are visiting hospitals) I don’t want to have to read, or pay attention to colors.  I expect the lower button to take me ‘DOWN’, and the upper button to take me ‘UP’, not call an emergency medical team.

Habits are hard to break.

Innovation plays to habits – the best innovations are intuitive.  Ask yourself what people typically do (or better yet, watch them!)  and design with that in mind.

Swiping to turn an e-page is much more elegant than pushing a button, or pinching the screen.

An “Emergency Call’ button shouldn’t be placed where it can accidentally be pressed, or worse: not be pressed because someone isn’t expecting to find it in the place of an ‘UP’ button.

Innovations deal with people, and people are creatures of habit…

…and habits are hard to break.

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Posted in Architectural Design, Design, innovation, Service Design, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Innovation Can Change the World When Spelled: L-O-V-E

Posted by Plish on December 21, 2011

Products and services have to obey the laws of nature.  Some laws, like Newton’s Laws, can not be avoided.   Ignore them at your own risk.

Then there are those Laws that aren’t physical, but are no less real.  These are laws that deal with how people behave. They are embedded in who we are by nature, and/or are continually being transformed and modified through cultures and relationships between people and the Cosmos.   These laws are more elusive and difficult to characterize.  They are being observed, and deciphered, by psychologists, ethnographers, behavioral economists, poets and others.

One of these, is the Law of Love.

…the Law of Love is the deepest law of our nature, not something extraneous and alien to our nature. Our nature itself inclines us to love, and to love freely.  -Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

If, as Merton says, this law is the deepest law in our nature, shouldn’t it be the most prevalent law guiding our innovation efforts?

Yet, how often do we see design briefs, or product specifications stating, “Must incorporate Love.”?

Oh sure, it’s often inferred.  After all, we don’t want to hurt anyone, right?  We don’t want to pollute the world, right?

But still, there are people who use Chinese sweatshops to create magical products. There are people who create novel materials at the expense of effluents that taint the environment.

Love of others shouldn’t be inferred.  It should be active and visible in innovations.

During this holiday season, the word, “love”, gets used prolifically.  But, why can’t Love guide what we do, all the time?  What if we asked, “What would this product look like if I loved the person it’s being made for, and the place where she lives and the people making it and the places they live?”

In this day and age, innovation with L.O.V.E. shouldn’t be optional.

If it’s part of our nature, it should be imperative.

Posted in Authenticity, culture of innovation, Human Rights, innovation, love, problem solving, Social Innovation, Social Responsibility, Sustainable Technology, The Future, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Honing Creative Skills with Six Impossible Things – An Interview with the Captain of the Titanic

Posted by Plish on December 14, 2011

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said. “One can’t believe impossible things.”

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  -Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

I sat down for breakfast tea with Edward Smith.  A jovial, white-haired seadog, he walked with a bounce in his step since he learned he’d be Captain of the Titanic.

“Sarah,” he called to his wife in the kitchen, “I’ll be having tea with Michael in the study.”

“Yes, dear!” she said as Smith smiled and showed me my seat.

He sat down across from me and without hesitating asked, “So my good friend,” as he leaned towards me, “You are always reading something,  What have you been reading lately?”

“Lewis Carroll’s works, ” I said,  his white eyebrows raised and he leaned back in his chair. “I find them quite stimulating, even if at times they are somewhat cryptic.”

“Ha! I always enjoy our conversations Michael, you find amusement in the strangest of areas.”

His wife placed warm. steaming crumpets in front of us and began pouring tea.

“What one tidbit of Carroll catches your fancy this morning?” said Smith as he buttered a crumpet.

“Six impossible things.”

“Which six?”

I took a bite of a crumpet, the steam carrying the aroma into my nose, “These are delicious, Sarah!”

A voice returned, “There are plenty more, eat hearty!”

“Which six impossible things has Mr. Carroll written about?” continued the Captain, clearly captivated by my introduction.

“Six impossible things before breakfast.  Any six. Simply believe six impossible things to be possible – it is at once challenge and folly.”

The Captain smiled, “And therein lies the allure – much like a man’s love for the sea.” He smiled broadly, crumpet crumbs falling from the white, brushy mustache.

“I’ve taken it as a personal challenge, Captain, to believe six impossible things before breakfast.  I do believe it’s motivating me to make the impossible, possible.  It stimulates my creativity and broadens my horizons!”

Captain Smith nodded, “It is the motivation of the likes of Magellan, to constantly reach for the horizon, where the impossible waits…” His view became distant and he paused.  No doubt for effect as well as to ponder the deeper truth.

“Six impossible things,” he continued. “Let’s take the challenge together this morning.  What is impossible so that we may believe it?”

He began looking around the room, stopping at the radio.

“There!” He said pointing. “Wouldn’t it be grand if, while I listened to the radio, I could see the people talking? -That’s impossible isn’t it?”

“Well done, Captain!” I laughed and watched as his eyes went to his telescope.

He slapped his thighs and wiped the last bit of crumb from his mustache and beard and pointed at the scope, “The moon.  One day men will walk upon that cold, grey orb.”

“Are you quite sure that’s impossible?”

“Are you telling me it’s possible?”

“It’s perhaps as possible as your cigar box containing all the letters you’ve ever written, all your charts, and all Sarah’s recipes with room for more!”

The Captain laughed, “My dear Michael, you are not helping your case.  What you claim is quite impossible, even if all were written with tiny letters.”  He paused.  “But, I will believe it to be possible.  There, that’s three:  A box that can hold an ocean’s worth of information.”

“Three,” I  sipped some more tea. “You have a heart for this, Captain.”

“I find this enjoyable.”  He paused, chuckling. “My heart!”  He paused and his eyes widened. What if it could be replaced by a machine, or, or perhaps another person’s heart?!” His eyes were sparkling and childlike now.  He was beginning to understand why I liked this discipline.

“Four,” I said. “What is number five?”

He narrowed his eyes and again they wandered about the room. First to my tea-cup, then to his.  He began stroking his beard and his gaze landed on a rifle on the wall.

“Number five is a weapon…one round sufficient to annihilate entire cities the size of London.”

“Number five!” I poured myself another cup of tea and continued, “You’ve gotten the hang of this! Remember to start each day aboard the Titanic with this exercise.  You’ll find your mind invigorated!”

The corners of the Captain’s mouth fell, his gaze distant.  He looked down and shook his head, “Michael, you Cretan, you’ve told me all Cretan’s are liars and I am bound by your truth.”

I wasn’t offended, but it was clear the Captain was not complimenting me.

“People say,” the Captain said, his voice becoming softer and gaze more distant, ” that the Titanic is impossible to sink…”

 

Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, idea generation, imagination, innovation, Innovation Tools | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Three Building Blocks of Indie Capitalism – Ignore Them at Your Own Risk

Posted by Plish on December 8, 2011

Bruce Nussbaum over at fastcodesign.com has been blogging lately on creativity and what he coins is a new trend: Indie Capitalism.

The four traits of the Indie Capitalism are:

  1. It’s local, not global, and openly cares about the community and jobs.
  2. It’s not transactionally, but socially, based.
  3. It’s a maker system of economics based on creating new value, not trading old value.
  4. Materials and products are embedded with heightened meaning.

When I look at these four traits of indie capitalism, three foundational building blocks can be extracted:

  1. Relationships – Between people, cultures, the world and its raw materials.
  2. Emotional Import – People have histories and they live in contexts that can sometimes dehumanize. People need to feel!
  3. Value – This is often tied into the emotional level of experience.  When products or services uniquely meet needs, and they’re shared in the context of relationships, they have value.  This goes beyond technological value.  Things have value because of the story they tell.

How well does your organization emphasize, or enable REV! ?

Relationships – Emotion – Value 

Society is enabling people to conduct business in ways that build upon these.

It’s intimate and it’s provocative.

It pulls people in as opposed to pushing product out.

Ignore it at your own risk…

 

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, innovation, Play, Social Innovation, Social Networking, Social Responsibility, Start-Ups, Sustainability, The Future, The Human Person, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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