ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Archive for August, 2012

Check Out This Summit Celebrating Creativity and Commerce in Milwaukee (and Other Resources!)

Posted by Plish on August 31, 2012

I live about halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. Chicago usually gets all the top billing with regards to innovation.  I’ll admit it,  I love Milwaukee but I’m guilty of perpetuating that perception.

That changes today.

I came across this article over at BizTimes.com.  Creative Alliance Milwaukee is hosting a one day summit, bringing together creative people of all types, with the following goal:

Through a series of panels, breakout speeches, a trade show, a showcase of Milwaukee’s creative initiatives, live music, onsite artists and an exclusive Creative Salon session, the summit will illustrate how creativity is alive and well in Milwaukee.

I got excited just reading the press release.

Then, when digging into the Creative Alliance Website I came across an amazing resource: A report that highlights over 20 coworking/maker spaces in the Milwaukee area.  That’s 20!  Whether you’re talking innovation from the perspective of a tech business startup or from the perspective of an artist, there’s a collaborative space for you.  Check out the pdf report here.

This is an exciting movement and something that needs to be supported – not just by artists, but by the business community.  Creativity is a powerful asset and the contributions, and support, of creative people can only stimulate innovation and build the economy.

Check out the above websites and let me know what you think.  If you’re in the area, I’ll see you in Milwaukee on Sept. 21 for the Summit.

It’ll be well worth it!

Posted in creativity, Design, Education, innovation, Musical Creativity, Social Innovation, Start-Ups | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

When US Healthcare Delivery Meets The Cheesecake Factory: The Stuff Innovation is Made of

Posted by Plish on August 24, 2012

 

What do the U.S. healthcare delivery system and The Cheesecake Factory have in common?

According to Dr. Atul Gawande, potentially a great deal.  The Dr. recently penned an article over at The New Yorker called, “Big Med.”  Inspired by his experience at The Cheesecake Factory (TCF), he wondered if perhaps there weren’t some way that the system at The Cheesecake Factory could be used as a pattern for US healthcare delivery.  After all, TCF delivers millions of meals in a cost-effective and profitable manner – why couldn’t the healthcare system treat millions of people in a cost-effective and profitable manner?

The Dr. shares that, indeed, there are already some clinicians implementing TCF-esque solutions.  While the Dr. doesn’t bring it up,    this article over at The Economist, highlights how healthcare delivery is undergoing innovation in India – reflecting in many ways, Dr. Gawande’s TCF inspired vision.

In response, Steve Denning at Forbes, wrote an article entitled: “How Not to Fix US Healthcare: Copy The Cheesecake Factory.”  Mr. Denning thought that Dr. Gawande was way off base using The Cheesecake Factory as a pattern.  He cited Innovation Scholar, Clayton Christensen, and then claimed that Dr. Gawande’s argument is flawed in these ways:

1.Wrong question
2.Wrong knowledge model
3.Wrong management model
4.Wrong conclusions about scaling

In actuality the above discussion is  both/and vs. either/or.  When trying to come up with truly innovative solutions, the goal is to take two or more ideas/metaphors, slam them together, and see what comes out of the mix.

Personally, I think Dr. Gawande’s perspective is highly provocative and has something going for it. His thinking isn’t ‘pie in the sky.’ There is, as the Dr. demonstrates, plenty of room for standardization and better management of spending/costs without sacrificing care.  Precisely because the TCF model is, on first blush, so different from the healthcare world and yet similar with regards to servicing millions in a cost-effective, profitable manner, that we will benefit greatly from creating a synthesis between healthcare delivery and what goes on in The Cheesecake Factory.

We should smash the TCF metaphor up against current healthcare practices and see what comes out of it.  That’s where great innovation will come from!    After all, the Cheesecake Factory IS successful and is doing something right. Many healthcare institutions in India ARE doing something right. The doctors in Dr. Gawande’s article ARE doing something right, saving money and improving outcomes.   There’s got to be something we can learn, be inspired by, and perhaps  implement and test, when metaphors dance into a tertium quid.

It doesn’t further discussions, and in fact limits solutions, to caricature Dr. Gawande’s insights.  Instead of claiming, as Mr. Denning did, that everything is “wrong” with Dr. Gawande’s vision, the discussion would be furthered by full-hearted listening, combining of metaphor, and dreaming of what can be.

I think the discussion would be even better if done over a meal at The Cheesecake Factory.

Posted in Best Practices, Design, Disruptive Innovation, Healthcare, innovation, problem solving, Service Design, Wellness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Looking to Outliers For Innovative Brilliance

Posted by Plish on August 17, 2012

(Before reading please watch the above short video)

I can’t help but smile every time I watch this video.  The innocence of Butters (the character that sits ‘backwards’ on toilets,) is key.  He does something that seems totally normal and makes perfect sense.  With a little creativity he goes above and beyond what is commonly practiced.

If you’re going to read while on the toilet, you need a shelf to hold your reading material, right?

If you want to have a drink, you need a shelf, so why not the same one used for your books?

And best of all?

Flushing is easy; The handle is conveniently located on the left. No getting up, twisting, or turning!

Everybody looks at Butters as if he’s nuts.  Everybody looks at him as if their awkward, minimally functional method of using the toilet is the right way!  But, nevertheless, there’s a wisdom in Butters’ approach – a simple, elegant, wisdom.

Looking to Butters for ideas for improving the toilet experience would be an example of positive deviance.  What is positive deviance?

“Positive Deviance is based on the observation that in every community there are certain individuals or groups (the positive deviants), whose uncommon but successful behaviors or strategies enable them to find better solutions to a problem than their peers. These individuals or groups have access to exactly the same resources and face the same challenges and obstacles as their peers. ” (From Positive Deviance website)

In other words, often times solutions to problems come from the fringes.  Solutions come from the people who see what everybody else sees and yet they behave differently.  These people find ways of making the most out of what others see as mundane.

Think about the product opportunities that would exist if we redesigned the toilet experience with Butters’ insights!

How would the toilet look? Where would the toilet paper go?  What would be the best way to deal with the pants around the ankles?

It’s questions like these that can get the ideation ball rolling even if the majority of people won’t use the toilet ‘in reverse.’

Questions based upon the behaviors of positive deviants can be great provocations in designing unique solutions.

But, there is one slight hitch to gaining the insights of these folks:

The Butters of the world usually aren’t in a room boldly offering up their visions of the way things could be…

They’re on the fringes…

Posted in Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Customer Focus, Design, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

An UltraShort Video Course in Innovation

Posted by Plish on August 10, 2012

People tend to have preconceptions about what innovation means.  Here’s one way of looking at it.

Posted in Design, Disruptive Innovation, innovation | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Creativity, Innovation and Chemistry Sets

Posted by Plish on August 4, 2012

I fondly remember my chemistry set.  Actually I had a couple of different types of sets, one was chemistry based, another was geology based and the third had a biological theme.  Nevertheless, my memories go back to my chemistry set and the wonders of phenolphthalein solution.  Changing solutions from pink to clear and back again, it was magical.

I performed countless other experiments but in particular,  I remember my attempt at re-creating a mini-scale ‘Hindenburg’ in my garage.  It created a glorious flame but since the shell was a rubber balloon, it took less than a second and it was gone…

I came across this article bemoaning the disappearance of chemistry sets – something I’ve often personally pondered as well while walking down the aisles of hobby stores.  As the article points out, chemistry sets are about more than chemistry.

Chemistry sets promote behaviors that are key to creative thinking, key to innovating.

  1. Combination is king – By combining two or more things we create something brand new.
  2. Experimentation is queen – What if I try mixing that with this, what will happen? What if I change the ratio, will it still work?
  3. Getting beyond the failure – Sometimes experiments don’t give the results we expected.  What went wrong?
  4. Actions in science have consequences – Yes, even with chemistry sets people can get hurt and property damaged.  Think and be safe!
  5. It’s nothing if it’s not fun – This is obvious but often ignored.

I sometimes wonder if there is a correlation between lack of chemistry sets and the seeming decline in innovative thinking in the US.

What do you think?

Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, children, Creative Environments, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, innovation, Innovation Tools, Nature of Creativity, Play, problem solving, Science | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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