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Archive for the ‘Great Creative Minds’ Category

Swimming in Wonderful Robin Williams Streams of Consciousness

Posted by Plish on August 21, 2014

When I conduct brainstormings (and even when I’m looking for ideas) I find that one of the biggest enemies is the internal censor that each of us has.  I’m sure you’ve succumbed to that voice.

You come up with an idea and before you’ve even spent time examining it, you’ve jettisoned the thought:

“That’s stupid!”

“That’ll never work!”

“How could I have thought that?”

“That thought came out of me? No one can ever know I thought THAT!”

One of the amazing gifts that Robin Williams had was his ability to turn off the censor.  He trusted himself, and even when riffing with others, he allowed himself to follow the promptings of lesser ideas knowing that greater ideas were coming. The results were nothing short of astounding and amazingly hilarious.  While Williams’ verbal stream didn’t seem to even afford him time to breathe, his audience couldn’t breathe because they were laughing so hard.

In the world of comedy, following the stream of consciousness is considered acceptable because, well, it’s comedy.  However, in the corporate world, such thinking is considered out of place, too bold, not politically correct – perhaps even offensive.

Unfortunately, when the censor kicks in, creativity, and perhaps the next seed of a groundbreaking innovation, gets kicked out.

People have a tendency to think that those ideas judged as ‘bad’ or ‘improper’ should just be jettisoned and forgotten.  Yes, not all ideas are ready for prime time; however these ideas are essential to the creative process – a process that builds upon that which came before.  Ignore what comes before and there’s nothing to build upon.

Robin Williams lived this brilliantly.  Not everything that Robin said was earth-shatteringly funny, but just around the corner, rest assured, mirth was imminent.

Creative thought in the corporate world follows the same process.  Not every idea is worthy of patent or should be invested in.  But, if the ideas are built upon, eventually, things will come together in a wonderful way.

So, how do we train ourselves to be creative in this way?


Listen to all ideas as they bubble up!  Things pop up for a reason!!  Write everything down. Sketch!  Play with the ideas!

The idea that seems totally unusable may provide the seed that enables you, or someone else, to make a connection to an even better idea!    In my own experience, some great ideas have surfaced after someone had the courage to share a half-baked idea.  This simple and profound act of sharing provided the building blocks for others.  If the internal censor would’ve won out, these breakthrough ideas would never have been born. 

Remember this next time you’re coming up with ideas, alone or with others. Better yet, even if you’re not coming up with ideas, examine your thoughts as they are percolating to the surface. Learn to get comfortable with the flow; the more at ease you feel with the stream’s current, the less likely you’ll be to throw out ideas as they bubble up.

I love the following Robin Williams interview with Craig Ferguson.   The two of them highlight the above process – they both just grab an idea, follow it to the next, and continue the process with wonderfully entertaining results.    Notice how certain ideas become seeds for the next.  This is improvisation at its finest.  

In closing, I’d just like to thank you, Robin Williams, for creating so many wonderful, bubbling streams of consciousness, and for being a part of the Stream of which we all swim.  Tragic circumstances helped push you into different waters.  May you find the New Waters fine.  While ours are impoverished by your passing, they are also forever enriched!

Posted in Creative Environments, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, Great Creative Minds, idea generation, innovation, Nature of Creativity, Traditional Brainstorming, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Music, Art, Creativity, Nature and More – An Interview with Jon Anderson of YES

Posted by Plish on February 13, 2013

Check out this recent interview with Jon Anderson of YES.   (There is a sign-in on the page but you can click the ‘x’ and listen to the interview without registering if that is your choice.)

He shares perspectives on life, creativity, nature, music and more.

From the webpage:

Millions of enthusiastic concert goers during the 1970′s and early 1980′s had a marvelous treat on their hands, going from one progressive rock concert to another. Whether it was a live concert or gazing into the magnificent dreamlike artwork of Roger Dean or the sounds of Pink Floyd, Emerson Lake and Palmer, King Crimson, Nektar or Yes, the music evoked beautiful images of the night sky, where we could gave at the shining stars and create our own “Wondrous Stories.”

Verge Multimedia’s Steven Zuckerman had the opportunity to spend about 40 minutes in conversation with world renown singer, songwriter and artist Jon Anderson who spent a majority of his career as the front-man of YES, bringing the audience into a world of beautiful imagery and ideas that resonated in the hearts of the band members.

Jon told (Zuckerman) that the music begins with the creator, and, in other words, flows through him. Composing and singing songs about the earth, environment, peace, love, harmony and beauty are not personal songs for the composer, but they’re Wondrous Stories (no pun intended) to arouse curiosity and confirm that as human beings, as part of this place we call our home, (we) need to be in balance with Nature, for without Nature, we are nothing. We are all part of the same material.

Said Zuckerman, “(While I) originally penned out several questions before the conversation, I tossed them aside to “just have a conversation.” We hope you will enjoy the conversation we had.”


Posted in Arts, Creative Environments, creativity, Great Creative Minds, innovation, Interviews, meditation, Musical Creativity, nature, Nature of Creativity, Play, Social Responsibility, The Future, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Innovation Lessons From the History of Pulse Oximetry (or, How One Person’s Noise is Another’s Symphony)

Posted by Plish on October 6, 2009


pulseox michaelplishka2009If anyone has ever been in an emergency room, hospital or had a medical procedure done, you no doubt have had a pulse oximeter placed on your finger (or perhaps earlobe).  The device functions by shining certain wavelengths of  light at your skin and reading the amount of light that comes back or through the tissue.

It’s a really cool device and quite simple in its operation – you could build one yourself if you wanted to.  Yet, what is today a standard in medical monitoring, was once an annoying artifact.

In the early 1970’s, Japanese BioEngineer Takuo Aoyagi was studying ways of measuring cardiac output.  At the time, the established method involved injecting dye into the blood, diverting this dyed blood from an artery through an external tube and then shining light through the tube and measuring the light that’s transmitted. 

Although it was effective it was also pretty invasive.  So, building upon this technique, researchers tried using the same technology on a person’s earlobe – shine a light through the earlobe and measure the transmitted light.  While this was a step in the right direction, the readings were spoiled by the pulsatile nature of the signal.

Enter Aoyagi-San who developed a technique to filter out the pulsatile effect.  Great, right?


Even after this adjustment it was difficult to obtain consistent values – something was creating noise in the system.  Mr. Aoyagi correctly postulated the fluctuation was due to changing amounts of oxygen bound to hemoglobin in the blood.   Rather than simply filter out the noise to obtain clean signals he focused his efforts on capturing the ‘noise’ of the fluctuations in a repeatable manner.  

The non-invasive pulse oximeter was born.

What’s the takeaway?

When designing new products we have a tendency to focus on achieving certain goals while working around, ignoring or minimizing the noise.  Instead, we should make friends with the noise and find out what it has to say to us.  We then have to have enough fortitude to pursue the elusive at the expense of what was originally the goal! 

Everyone hears the noise; only the innovative hear the symphony…

Click here to read the full story of pulse oximetry.

Posted in Case Studies, Design, Disruptive Innovation, Great Creative Minds, innovation, invention, patents, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

New Solutions Require New Viewpoints

Posted by Plish on March 3, 2009


“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

When confronted with problems the first reaction is just that:


When we react we fall back quickly into the mode of  trying to use that which worked successfully before.  Not that reactions can’t be creative and innovative- the mind is an amazing thing.

However, new, innovative, creative solutions are usually the result of deliberate alternative thought processes – using different thought processes to get different solutions.

The folks over at Lifehack share some examples of how alternative thinking techniques resulted in novel solutions.  My favorite example from the article is:

The spectators at the Olympic Games in Mexico City in 1968 were amazed to see a young athlete perform a high jump with his back to the bar. Until then, every high jumper ‘rolled’ over the bar with his or her face down. Dick Fosbury, an American, introduced an entirely new approach, the ‘flop’, leaping over with his back close to the bar and his face up. Fosbury was ranked 48th in the world in 1967; yet in 1968 he caused a sensation when he won the Olympic Gold Medal with his unprecedented technique and a leap of 2.24metres. What he introduced was literally a leap of the imagination – and it revolutionized high jumping. Nowadays all the top jumpers use his method. He thought what no-one else thought and conceived a new method.

 The paragraph ends on an interesting concept: Universal Use.

A technique is so successful everyone uses it.  But, if everyone uses it, an edge to succeed has to come from somewhere else – in this case, perfecting the technique, diet, workout regime, etc.   Creative thinking has ground to a halt from a brilliant success! 

Lesson:  Radical Success breeds “fine-tuning” as opposed to more radical thinking.

So what can we do to keep thinking radically?

My favorite technique is to flip the approach over like the high jumper who went stomach first who asked , “What would happen if I went over backwards?”

Other equally good approaches would be:  What would happen feet first?  What would happen if we flapped our arms? What if we tumbled?

Another fantastic technique (but one that is often frowned upon in Corporate America) is to rephrase the problem in a way that no one else does.

For example, hospitals could ask:

“How do we improve the experience of the patient?”


“How do we control costs of care?”

What are your favorite techniques for approaching problems in different ways?

Posted in Creative Thinking Techniques, Disruptive Innovation, Great Creative Minds, idea generation, innovation, Innovation Tools, Lateral Thinking, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

We Need Innovation in Government – Share Your Ideas!

Posted by Plish on February 12, 2009


Original B&W from brentoons.com

Original at brentoons.com


New CEO says we must innovate and create new opportunities.

There is agreement from Senior Management that this is true, but disagreements over methodology.

Meetings come and meetings go. Arguments ensue over where to put money and resources.

CEO tries to rally all those around her :

“Look, these are difficult times and we need to stop the bleeding.  I know every plan isn’t perfect but if we keep bickering and arguing we’ll pass the point of no return. Bottom line: I was picked to lead this company and I have to do what I believe is right. The buck stops here!”

“Anyone who argues by referring to authority is not using his mind but rather his memory.” Leonardo da Vinci

Plan is not communicated well enough to create buy-in through the ranks. In fact, there’s doubt plan will even work. Personal agenda items seem to creep into discussions. Innovation is something that is expected to occur once plan is in place but there’s doubt.

Plan gets pushed through.

Half-hearted support throughout the ranks results in serious stalls. Those at lower levels are talking at the lunch table:

“Man, with the new CEO you would think something would change around here.”

“What did you expect? The CEO can only do so much. She’s got all those other folks around her that still think the same old way.”

“And, act the same old way.”

This company is in trouble. So what should management do?

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” -Albert Einstein

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” -Albert Einstein

This failure of an innovation initiative is Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Creative Environments, culture of innovation, Disruptive Innovation, Great Creative Minds, innovation, Innovation Metrics, Politics, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

Innovation is Easy! Video Reminder from Tom Peters

Posted by Plish on February 11, 2009

Great perspectives on innovation, on the need to blaze ones own trail and take advantage of the “fringes.”

He’s got an especially interesting point on benchmarking and how by benchmarking we essentially are trying to create a product that is as good or better than something that is better now,  releasing it ‘x’ years from now when that benchmarked product is now ‘x+y’ years old (where y is the age of the product when it was benchmarked).

What are your thoughts on this video?

Posted in Creativity Videos, culture of innovation, Disruptive Innovation, Great Creative Minds, innovation | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Creativity, Love and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted by Plish on January 20, 2009


We often think of creativity and innovation in terms of the needs of business.  Yet, in everyday life, people are continually being creative, risking and innovating.  This type of daily creativity, driven directly by the needs of others can result in powerful innovation and the betterment of humankind.

This beautiful story of graciousness is about a man, who upon seeing a guest at his table eating peas with a knife, also eats peas so as not to make the guest feel badly. 

What the man in the story did was more than graciousness, it was  Love – a profound, deep act of love that was willing to break rules of etiquette so that the other person would feel acknowledged, respected…

… loved.

Dr. Martin Luther King (whose birthday we just celebrated) once said of this love in his sermon, “Loving Your Enemies,”

“(this deep love) is something of the understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is an overflowing love…”

He uses the word “Creative” and it is fitting. 

There were many ways the man in the story could have taught his family about loving others, about respect, about graciousness, yet in a moment’s twinkling he led by example, in simplicity, by eating his peas with a knife!

Dr. King continued:

“…when you start hating anybody, it destroys the very center of your creative response to life and the universe; so love everybody. Hate at any point is a cancer that gnaws away at the very vital center of your life and your existence. It is like eroding acid that eats away the best and the objective center of your life.”

 Truly powerful words and they should be taken to heart. 

While Love creates an environment of creativity, hate inhibits creativity because it destroys the core of the human which is called to Love.  A person who is diminished in this way is not operating, creating, innovating from a position of power, but from a position of weakness and frailty – the person is no longer being authentic to the depths of human beauty.

When there is a lack of beauty within, the corresponding lack of an authentic generative creativity leads to a world  devoid of innovation, devoid of graciousness, devoid of justice, devoid of peace, devoid of Love.

So next time you’re struggling, lacking in creativity, try digging deep and seeing everyone, including yourself, through the eyes of Love.

Posted in Authenticity, Creativity Leadership, culture of innovation, Great Creative Minds, Human Rights, innovation, love, Nature of Creativity, Politics, problem solving, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Creativity When In Harmony With Nature – Views of Leonardo da Vinci

Posted by Plish on January 12, 2009

“(The artist) should not seek distraction in company but live a life of complete harmony with the natural world and in the process…penetrate the outer forms of nature and discover something of its inner core. ” -Leonardo da Vinci

I was reading this tonight and it struck me in its simplicity.  

Knowledge is more than simply knowing the externals, it is a first hand deeper knowledge of the inner workings. 

Beyond the skin…

Beyond the fascia…

Beyond  the muscles…

Beyond the organs…

There is knowledge of the person–the authentic person that is more than the sum of its parts.

Da Vinci, and all great artists, all great creative minds, all great innovators, are great because they are in tune with the deeper harmony of the world, they acknowledge the human person in all its facets, and their creative work is a dialogue with the Human Person, with Nature, seeking not to overpower but to understand and elevate.

What are the implications of this type of perspective for today’s day and age?

Posted in Authenticity, Design, Great Creative Minds, innovation, leonardo da vinci, nature, Nature of Creativity, Sustainable Technology, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Does the Concept of Evolution Hinder Creativity?-Edward de Bono’s Thoughts

Posted by Plish on January 7, 2009

Edward de Bono, author of Six Thinking Hats, has a website chocked full of mind stimulating messages and information.  A wonderful thread that runs through de Bono’s work is the notion of simplicity.  You’ve heard it here as well.  Simplicity is a hallmark and goal of creativity/innovation.

Anyway,  while perusing his site recently I came across the following:

The concept of evolution has done a lot of damage to society. There are several component parts to the concept.

1. Spontaneous changes arise from time to time and grow into useful alternatives.

The danger here is that we just sit back in the belief that new ideas have always arisen ‘from time to time’ and therefore there is nothing we can do about it. And nothing we need to do about it. On the contrary, deliberate and formal creativity can produce powerful effects and we do not simply have to sit back and wait for ‘spontaneous’ changes.

2. That entities continuously grow and progress so what we have today is the evolved perfection of ages. We also believe that these things (democracy etc.) will get better and better.

This belief is totally contrary to the behaviour of self-organising systems which reach a state of ‘local equilibrium’ from which it is very difficult to budge them. There is no continued improvement. Many of today’s institutions are so obviously in such a bogged down state of local equilibrium and are crying out for change. Instead we have complacency and self-satisfaction.

3. The notion od ‘survival of the fittest’ suggests that what has survived and is now in use is necessarily the best from amongst part alternatives.

Again this does not follow at all. There may be a temporary set of circumstances, and influences, which favour one alternative. This alternative develops and a better alternative is neglected. At the beginning of the century electric cars were better than petrol driven cars but there were no constituents to drive that design. There were no ecologists at the time.

‘Evolution’ is one of those background myths and metaphors which control our thinking. In this case evolution gives rise to tremendous complacency with things that could be much improved. After a talk to Ingwe Coal in South Africa, earlier this year, the senior engineer said that as a result of the seminar, they had just come up with a new way of cutting coal – the first new way in eighty years.

Edward de Bono nmt
27th November 1999

 I tend to agree with what he’s written here.  What are your thoughts  on de Bono’s thoughts?

Posted in culture of innovation, Edward de Bono, Evolution, Great Creative Minds, Nature of Creativity, problem solving | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Embracing the Mystery – Being More Human and More Creative

Posted by Plish on December 24, 2008

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, and die gallantly.

Specialization is for insects.

Robert A. Heinlein from The Notebook of Lazarus Long
I found this quote while perusing this blog.  The reason I post it is that it hits on the amazing qualities that the human person has and is – grandiose and little known. 

It points out that the capacity for extraordinary human authenticity is not something foreign to us- it is part and parcel to our condition.  

Albert Einstein said:
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.
He also said:
The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.
To approach life with the wonder of a child, to embrace the mystery that surrounds us each day, is to be a human living to the fullest.  It is in this context of being a “wonder-seeker” that we become more fully creative,  more innovative,  and in a mysterious and wonderful way… even more loving. 

May you all have a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, holiday season. 


Posted in Authenticity, Great Creative Minds, innovation, Nature of Creativity, The Human Person, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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