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Archive for the ‘cognitive studies’ Category

Are you doing this simple thing to help think “Big Picture”?

Posted by Plish on May 12, 2016

We’ve all done it. We forward reams of information to people in preparation for a meeting.  It’s convenient and it saves trees.  But there’s a problem.  We may be unwittingly influencing how the reader thinks about the information.

Researchers have found that how we consume information  determines how we think.  In short, when we view information in a digital format, we tend to hone in on details and think more concretely.

On the other hand, when we consume the same information in an analog fashion (on paper), we have a tendency to think much more abstractly and ‘big picture ‘.

Now, when CEOs were asked what the most important leadership quality is, the majority cited  creativity.  The second quality -integrity, and third, global thinking.  Those are all pretty abstract concepts. Yet, we are consuming so much of our information digitally and accidentally narrowing our thought processes.

So what’s the one thing we should do to make sure we look at the big picture?

Think about why we’re reading what we’re reading.

In other words, ask yourself if what you’re reading needs laser focused thinking or big picture, abstract thinking.

If you need to think ‘big picture’, then print out your email/presentation/document/etc.  If you are totally committed to not using tree-derived paper, then you can start using tree-free papers made from alternate materials.   If you don’t want to print stuff out at all, then gather information that helps establish the context of what you’re reading.  Deeply understand the context before starting to read.  This will help you deal with the information in a more broad-minded way.

If you’re prepping for a brainstorm, or in a brainstorm, pass things around in paper format.  Make copies and circulate them around.  Make it easy for people to make notations, mark things up, to encounter ideas without the borders of a screen.

If you’d like to be laser focused, if you need to understand the facts, then just read digitally.

Remember, reflect on your purpose for reading information. It’ll make you a better thinker and a better do-er.

 

 

 

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Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, brainstorming, cognitive studies, Conveying Information, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, culture of innovation, Information Visualization, innovation, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sound, Remembering, and Sleeping – An Innovative way to Design Memorable Experiences

Posted by Plish on April 22, 2013

The idea of learning while we sleep has been around for almost a hundred years.  It turns out that getting information while we sleep doesn’t appear to be a terribly successful way of learning. But all is not lost.

If we learn something and sleep on it, we do in fact process information and thus can retain and categorize information more effectively.

Now, researchers have determined that if a sound is experienced along with something that we want to remember, hearing that sound again helped recall the original experience.  In addition, if that sound is heard while we sleep, it seems to cement the memory of the experience even more than simply re-hearing the sound in a waking state.

In other words, if you see a picture of a cow, and you hear a ticking clock, just hearing that ticking clock the next day will probably help you remember the cow.  However, it you hear that same ticking clock sound while you’re sleeping, your ability to remember the picture of the cow will be improved greatly when you hear the ticking.

So,  it appears that sonic branding, like I  discussed last week, can even have a more powerful impact if those sounds can be heard while people sleep.  This could create a powerful way to remember experiences if say, audio brands were interspersed in relaxing music that played while we slept.

It could also be used to design classroom experiences. Key points in a lecture could have musical notes or sounds as an accompaniment.  Those sounds could be given to students in MP3 form so they can listen to those sounds when they study and sleep.  They could replay those sounds later to help with recall.

I could see it used as well for training purposes.  People do a certain task to certain musical tones.  When they’re first learning, they can listen to those tones as they sleep.

What if operating rooms had musical sequences to help nurses, techs and surgeons remember pre-operative prepping procedures?

How could you see this research being used?

Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, Brands, cognitive studies, Customer Focus, Design, Experience, innovation, Research, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Building Empathy on the Road to Innovation (and a Better World)

Posted by Plish on October 5, 2012

While the woman on the table braced herself for the extremely invasive transvaginal ultrasound, the technician tried to calm her:

“You know, when I was in school, they had us go through this exact same procedure so that we can understand what you’re feeling while you’re going through this.”

The woman smiled slightly, relaxed, and thought to herself, “At least this won’t be as bad as it could be…”

And it wasn’t…

Empathy goes a long way towards impacting how we behave with others, how we design products and services for others.  Sometimes, as with the ultrasound technician, a shared experience forms the empathic response.  However, we can likewise gain empathy by observing how others respond to certain situations – by reading people: looking at their faces, listening to their voices, watching how they fidget or stand still.

While responding to others’ expressions is somewhat ‘automatic’, the accuracy of our empathic responses can actually be improved.

Researchers at Emory University have developed a meditation protocol (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training, or CBCT) that trains people to be more effective in reading what others are feeling.

Study Co-author, Lobsang Tenzin Negi, director of the Emory-Tibet Partnership, had this to say:

“CBCT aims to condition one’s mind to recognize how we are all inter-dependent, and that everybody desires to be happy and free from suffering at a deep level.”

Build empathy and build a better world.

Sounds like mandatory training, not just for innovators, but for all humans…

 

Posted in Behavioral Science, Case Studies, cognitive studies, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, Emotions, innovation, Innovation Tools, meditation, Research, Science, The Human Person, Wellness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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 »

The Pen *IS* Mightier Than the Keyboard!

Posted by Plish on May 11, 2011

 

click to see full size

Langen and Velay– This is a GREAT article on writing and the haptic experience.

Two summaries worth reading: Better Learning Through Handwriting and How Handwriting Boosts the Brain.

Posted in Authenticity, Behavioral Science, children, cognitive studies, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Design, imagination, Information Visualization, innovation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Sketching, The Human Person, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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!” 

No.

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 »

Brilliant Insights Into Creativity, Experience and Human Nature From Joe Howard

Posted by Plish on November 18, 2010

I came across this article/video over at the Jerusalem Post -it’s a short interview with Joe Howard, an archaeologist turned advertiser.  Amazing insights into creativity and creating engaging experiences.  So, I followed the links and came across a three part keynote address.  I’ve put all three parts here for your convenience.  Each piece is about 9 minutes long and contains observations into human nature, creativity, idea generation and more.   Do yourself a favor and watch.  It’ll be time well spent, and you’ll probably find yourself at least a little inspired as well.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Posted in Authenticity, cognitive studies, Creative Environments, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Creativity Videos, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Education, idea generation, imagination, innovation, Interviews, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Insights into Forcing Creativity: The Mood Board Music Experiment

Posted by Plish on August 17, 2010

I’ve been hitting a block with regards to creating music lately. Rather than use a sketching exercise to get the ideas flowing, I decided to do something different.

I went on Twitter and asked for a mood board so I could compose a tune based upon it.

Interior designer, Heather Jenkinson obliged by sending me three.  The first one I opened was the one I used.  I looked at the other ones, but I forced myself to use the first one so I wouldn’t be bartering with myself as to which board might be easier or harder.  Here’s what it looks like:

Heather Jenkinson's Mood Board

And here’s the song Sepia and Blue      

So how did the song come about?

First, I  sat down and looked at the image.  I listened for the mood, listened for emotion, what colors came to mind, what movements, words and hence what instruments.  I even started writing some lyrics.  But then, it became clear that I was overcomplicating matters, overcomplicating the music and the words.  There was a simplicity present and I was fighting it, trying to fill in the spaces as opposed to letting the gaps speak.  Before I could come up with lyrics I just jotted down random images and feelings.  Eventually, one line became the inspiration and the basic pattern for the song’s sparse lyrics.  It was distillation to the max:

(It says:  Sit with me,  we’ll watch while sunlight floods fills dance across the room.  A filigree in sepia and blue.”)

It’s interesting how this developed for me.  Certain instruments needed to express their voices – there needed to be some guitar,  piano, some female voices, some introspection and reflection.  Sepia and blue came out naturally.  They were actually the first thing that came out of process.  BING!  And the words/concepts were there.

Things that weren’t in the picture popped into my mind as well: lilacs and Port wine to name a couple.  Ultimately, I  backed off, trimmed and combined.   There needed to be space – space to move, to breathe.

Ultimately, constraints provided impetus and direction.   Since I had never done this before, I was forced to go down an entirely new road, enjoy the scenery, and above all, listen to myself – or more precisely, my response to the mood board. 

Interpretation held Experience’s hand and on occasion they wrote together, at other times independent of each other.   It was a combination of play, sketching (musically and verbally) and design; trying to see what worked and what didn’t. 

For example, the female harmonies originally were just after the intro synthesizer sound.  There were no lyrics at that time.  There were also two other orchestral string tracks that hung around for a while but were eventually cut.  The lyrics started with that one distilled phrase above.  I didn’t even have a second verse for a long time and was seriously considering not even having one…then it came:

 “Look with me,

through leaded glass and memories,

Sit with me,

in sepia and blue.”

I liked the fact that ‘sit’ appeared here like it did in the first verse – a kind of closing out of the thought from the first verse – coming full circle.  But,  even though sitting was part of the first verse, so was dancing light.  In addition, the filigree theme needed to stay and a filigree is, visually speaking, a dance of sorts.  So, “sit with me,” became “dance with me,” and that was that.

Finally, I felt like there needed to be a crescendo of sorts after the last sung verse.  Everything I tried was too complicated and instrumentalized so I used a short track of a string section with some syncopation.

Even though my goal was a song, there were some other ideas that popped up.  One of them was to make a digital mood board and assign an instrument or instruments to various regions.  They would play when you hover over them with the mouse pointer so the song and mood board would be an interactive experience.  This could be a cool future project.

The key take away from this is that designing music (or anything for that matter) is an iterative, recursive process.  The depth and breadth of the act of creating increases with the novelty of stimulus.  In addition, different stimuli  cause new connections in the subconscious and that helps with creating new ideas long after the exercise is complete.

So challenge yourself; throw yourself a curve and flex those creativity muscles.  Sure there’s some pain and frustration associated with bringing together disparate ideas and thoughts. 

But, ultimately it’s not about pain…

It’s about creating….

Posted in Authenticity, cognitive studies, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, design thinking, idea generation, imagination, Musical Creativity, Nature of Creativity, Play, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Refocusing Our Powers of Observation – Innovation starts with an “Eye”

Posted by Plish on April 18, 2010

 

Too often we think of innovation as a set of rules, which, if followed, will yield some tidy product or service.  The reality is that innovations are more than a process- they’re the breech offspring of astute observation, brought into the world on the verge of being strangled by dulled, but aggressive perceptions and preconceptions.

An old, entrepreneur boss of mine boasted of being able to visit manufacturing plants and “steal with his eyes.”  He was the epitome of what  Swiss theologian, Johann Kaspar Lavater, described when he opined:“He alone is an acute observer, who can observe minutely without being observed.” 

My boss’s goal was not to copy something directly but to mentally catalogue what he saw – knowing that when the situation was right, he would subconsciously or even consciously, use what he saw as a springboard to something better.

We see, smell, touch, taste, and hear constantly but we are trained to ignore most of it as it gets in the way of ‘being productive.’  Yet, intense observational skills run in the bloodlines of innovators beginning with the very first humans.  

Everyone looked at the heavens. Yet, before even the dawn of the telescope, only a few observed that there were ‘wanderers’ among the stars: the planets.

 Everyone saw birds flying, but the Wright brothers observed and gave birth to the airplane.

As Yogi Berra was purported to have said: “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

Watching is more than light hitting our retinas.  It is seeing with the knowledge and predisposition that there is something wonderfully unique about what we are witnessing at this point in time.  It is cataloguing occurring at the locus  of the senses during an observational moment.

I remember many years ago I was tasked with designing a new locking mechanism for interventional drainage catheters.  (These are minimally invasive catheters that are used to drain cysts in the liver, or kidneys.  The locking mechanism keeps the catheter from coming out of the body during the treatment time.)  The current locking mechanisms all had mechanical keys or switches that would lock the catheter in place.

As I was watching a procedure I noticed Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Biomimicry, cognitive studies, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, imagination, innovation, Innovation Tools, nature, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Research, The Human Person, The Senses, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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