Where Science Meets Muse

Archive for February, 2012

G.R.A.S.P. The Solution – A Book Review

Posted by Plish on February 22, 2012

I had the privilege of recently reading the book,  Grasp the Solution: How to Find the Best Answers to Everyday Challenges , by Chris Griffiths with Melina Costi.

G.R.A.S.P. stands for the various stages and types of thinking:






In general, the book takes an in-depth look at the above thinking processes and couples them with a method called the “The Solution Finder”.  When used in tandem, they provide a scaffold for finding creative solutions.

While the book is dedicated to the explanation of GRASP and the Solution Finder, the authors state that there’s one thing that they hope readers take away from the book: It’s that they start thinking about thinking.

Without doubt, this book will get you pondering about how you think.  However, if you think thinking about thinking is difficult to do, perhaps it’s even more difficult to write about.

Therein lies the one negative about this book – the authors’ discussion of a recursive process can, at times, be difficult to follow.

However, there are many positives to this book and I consider it a welcome addition to any entrepreneur/innovator’s bookshelf.  I particularly was impressed with the various tools discussed as they are clearly and concisely explained.

By the authors’ own admission, there’s not really anything new, per se, in this book.  What they have done, however,  is provide a cogent methodology for creative thinking and compiled and explained the tools/resources that support it.  This is no small feat and should be commended.  (Also, if you’re a newbie to mind-mapping this book gives a quick but, as with the other tools, utterly thorough primer.)

Overall, I give this book a ‘thumbs up’ and recommend that you give it a read.

If you do, please drop me a line, or post your thoughts here.  I’d love to hear what you think.

Posted in Books, Creative Thinking Techniques, innovation, Innovation Tools, Mind Maps, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Fragile Muse and Respect for Creativity

Posted by Plish on February 18, 2012

Over at the Looper’s Delight group we were discussing what to do with ideas that don’t grow the way we expected, or wanted them to.  Richard Sales of Glasswing Studios and Good Nature Farms (A farm/Creative sanctuary) then said the following:

We have a policy at our house that, when someone is in the creative moment, we tiptoe, we close doors quietly, we are very respectful of the presence of the Muse – that lightning fast butterfly. When we accidentally barge in, we dont’ make conversation and apologize etc. Everyone is trained.

This is such a great practice to follow!

Everyone puts such a great emphasis on collaboration nowadays, we assume that the best results will only occur when everyone is open to everyone else.   Businesses try and force collaboration through architecture, work flows, etc.

Yet, how often do businesses respect the need for people to seriously engage their muses; to afford people the silence to hear the silent whispers of inspiration within?  How often to we tread lightly when approaching people who are immersed in their creative moments?

How can businesses and people structure the environment, or create rules, so that individual creative moments are free to blossom?

Beautiful, amazing, new, hybrid plants are possible through botanical cooperation – the collaboration of multiple flowers.

But before this can occur, each flower needs to bloom on its own…

Posted in Architectural Design, Authenticity, Creative Environments, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, idea generation, imagination, innovation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Want to Make a Difference as a Volunteer, Without Leaving Home?

Posted by Plish on February 7, 2012

I recently was followed by @benrigby over on Twitter.  I checked out his profile and was  intrigued to say the least.

You see, Ben is the CEO of Sparked.com, a microvolunteering platform.  I had heard of microfinance, but microvolunteering?

So, I went over to his site, checked it out, and was thoroughly impressed.

Such a simple idea and such an elegant solution.

I joined on the spot and began reading about the challenges people have…and shared some proposed solutions.   The best thing about this site is that once you start reading about what people need, it’s almost impossible not to help and give your two cents, because Sparked.com has made it so simple. (The only thing that I can’t find, but that would be really helpful, is a way to bookmark individual challenges that catch your eye but you can’t get to at the moment.)

You can also use the Sparked platform to engage your employees  or your customers in volunteer causes.   What better way to build a esprit de corps or brand identity, than through volunteering?

Check it all out for yourself.  You’ll be glad you did!

Posted in Crowdsourcing, Design, Funding Innovation, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Social Innovation, Social Networking | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

When a Design Gets Ignored – Lessons From a Parking Lot

Posted by Plish on February 3, 2012

Went to the Post Office today and saw the above scenario and had to take a picture. (I roughed in a map of what the parking lot looks like.  Green arrows represent the designed travel path. The X’s denote cars oriented as seen in the picture.  I parked by the lone car along the entrance to the P.O.)

Despite the best efforts of planners to create a smooth flow to the traffic pattern in this lot, when the opportunity presented itself, everybody took the ‘easy’ path (which was, no doubt, started by one individual) and the people pulled through the ‘design intended’ slots, and into the next, enabling them, hopefully, to pull directly out, albeit awkwardly, without having to back-up.

I think we’ve all done what the above people did.   In a moment, we decide to park ‘wrong’ but we’re happy with what we’ve done because we think we’re getting a two-fer: Easy in – Easy out.

The reality is bit more complicated. In order to get out easily we need:

  • No one parking across the spot from us
  • No one parking behind us
  • No one parking too close to us
  • No one leaving at the same time
  • No one driving down the roadway the ‘right way’, looking for a parking space.

If any of the above occur, our path out is hardly easier than it would’ve been had we parked properly.

The lessons from the above are myriad, but the one that stands out is this:

If a design enables someone to do a task more easily in the present, with a perceived benefit in the future, that person will do the task the easier way, despite gentle reminders to the contrary.

The corollaries to prevent the above are the following:

  • Make it more difficult to do the task (concrete parking chocks would do nicely, but frankly, I don’t like them)
  • Eliminate the perception of future benefit (signs showing chaos if people park wrong, signs threatening ticketing, etc.)
  • If the preferred way of parking is more elegant, redesign! (This really could be done on this lot. Seriously, will anyone ever park in those spaces on the right side of the lot??)

The above scenario is a cautionary tale that highlights the importance of prototyping and experimenting to learn how your product will be used.  Testing needs to go deeper than just confirming that people can follow instructions and that people use your product as you expected.

You really learn about your product, and what people’s needs are, when you allow them the freedom to interpret the product and its use context, on their terms.

“But nobody followed the rules! They didn’t respect the traffic flow and slant of the parking spaces!”



Posted in Behavioral Science, Customer Focus, Design, Emotions, innovation, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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