ZenStorming

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Archive for the ‘imagination’ Category

Making Lightning – The Creative Spark in All of Us

Posted by Plish on August 7, 2015

The sky went from sunset blue to thick blackness that the windshield wipers swiped at with futility.  The rain pounded the the car and an uneasy, queasy feeling filled the air as a tornado warning was issued.

I drove the rest of the way home and parked.  To the west the worst was already breaking and salmon patches of sunset backlit clouds.   To the north the blackness churned and lightning crackled from cloud to cloud as the thunder rumbled without pause.

(Mouse over and Click the play arrow and continue reading on the other side)

***

CREATIVITY!!!

It’s in you!

That same power.

You’ve experienced those shocks that startle when you touch a doorknob on a dry day.

This is bigger and can change the world.

Lightning bridges gaps – tremendous expanses of space.  It’s possible because of the difference in charge, a difference in potential.   Lightning finds its way.

But you need to provide the stuff for creativity to happen.

Observe, read, smell, taste, listen, touch, dream!  Understand the challenges you want to solve and then look at them from a different perspective, and then another, and then another!

Allow those differing perspectives to mix  together and the clouds will rumble, the sky will flash, creativity will happen.

It’s in you.

Be YOU!

 

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Posted in Authenticity, brainstorming, Creative Environments, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, idea generation, imagination, innovation, Nature of Creativity, observation, problem solving, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Thinking of the Ideal will Design the Beautiful (Happy Birthday, “Bucky”!)

Posted by Plish on July 12, 2014

When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution isn’t beautiful, I know it is wrong.
— Richard Buckminster Fuller

 

Today is the birthday of Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller.  For those of you who don’t know him, he was an amazing architect, systems thinker, writer,  inventor, designer, and futurist.  In short he was a thinker and doer.  He considered himself, “an experiment to find what a single individual can contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity.”

For Fuller, beauty wasn’t just something nice to look at.  It was something to strive for when designing things, services and ourselves.

To many, Fuller was perhaps too utopian in his thinking.  What they fail to realize is that this ‘utopian’ tendency was fundamental to his design capabilities.  His goal was not to make something that was ‘good enough.’  His goal was to contribute to designing a world in which 100% of the human population could reach its highest potential with 0% negative impact on the environment and larger systems in which humans are integrally intertwined.

This concept of “ideality” is an important concept to remember and one of my favorite ways to generate innovative ideas.  (Ideality is essentially the ratio of all the positive benefits of something divided by the sum of  all the negatives. ) A more practical way to think of ideality is to think of it as a machine that does everything you need it to do but without any negative consequences.  For example, a bicycle that moves me from Point A to Point B without pedaling is an ‘ideal’ bicycle.  From a personal energy standpoint, a motorcycle is an ideal bicycle.  However, in order to be truly ideal, there should be no negative impacts at all levels of the system.  While a motorcycle is ideal with regards to conserving personal energy, it’s not ideal with regards to impacting the environment with its exhaust, and when its lifespan is over and it needs to be disposed of.  (Learn more how Ideality is at the root of designing products in the highly recommended book:  Cradle to Cradle .)

Ideality is powerful in that it forces people to think of the ramifications of what they are doing.  It also forces designers (us) to look at contradictions in the problem solving process.  The longer we can hold on to those contradictions and bounce them off of each other with the goal of designing a solution that transcends the contradictions, the better the chances we can come up with solutions that are closer to the ideal solution.  Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management, in his book, “The Opposable Mind“, calls it Integrative Thinking.

An often overlooked benefit of designing towards to the ideal is that it forces us to look inside the problem itself for the solution.  (Want to create the ultimate experience of eating chocolate and drinking your favorite cordial but you hate washing the glasses afterward?  Make the drinking vessel out of chocolate!)  It is this quality that makes the Ideal solutions beautiful.  Once you experience it, you just know.

This quest for the ideal was key to Fuller’s thinking, and in this day and age, we shouldn’t be satisfied with half-solutions that cause more problems than they solve.  We need to start embracing the Ideal in politics, society, businesses and in our personal lives.  The future of “Spaceship Earth”, (as Bucky called it), may very well depend on it.

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If you’d like to learn more about Buckminster Fuller’s thinking, below are some resources:

Design Science – A Framework for Change – A fascinating and insightful presentation on Fuller’s Design Process thinking.

Everything I Know: 42 Hours of Buckminster Fuller’s Visionary Lectures Free Online (1975) – There’s a link to the transcripts if you’d rather read.

Buckminster Fuller Gives a Lecture About Semantics at San Quentin State Prison (1959) (At one point he told the inmates: There are no throw-away resources,and no throw-away people.” )

Critical Path – Perhaps the best and most accessible summary of his thought.

The Buckminster Fuller Institute – A great resource on everything Bucky!

Posted in Books, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, Evolution, Human Rights, imagination, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Social Innovation, Society, Sustainability, Sustainable Technology, The Future, The Human Person, TRIZ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Three Guidelines For Enabling Innovation (Via a 7 Year Old Crossing the Street)

Posted by Plish on June 26, 2014

The crossing guard waved her arms and held up the stop sign.  On my way to a prototype shop to pick up some parts, I slowed, and stopped, and watched.

Behind the yellow vested guard, thirty to forty seven year olds began crossing the street in a relatively organized manner, except for one girl.  She wasn’t particularly tall as far as 7 year olds go.  She had straight, dirty blonde, just-past-shoulder length hair, and was wearing a white number 4, Brett Favre, Green Bay Packers jersey.  While her friends took a linear approach to street crossing, she took each step in a calculated manner.

With each step she reached with her little legs to the next reflective strip in the cross walk.  Like Indiana Jones crossing a foot bridge, this little girl took a step, rebalanced, shuffled to get to the edge of the strip and then s t r e t c h e d her leg, pointing her toes, landing on the next reflective strip.   Intensely concentrating on where she stepped and avoiding knocking into those around her, she wove her way across the street.

As I smiled at the beautiful play, I realized that this little girl, in this situation, embodies what’s necessary for there to be successful innovation.

1. Safe Space is Needed – She most likely couldn’t have done what she did if cars were whizzing through the crosswalk.  The crossing guard stopped traffic and created a safe area.  If you want people to be innovative, or for that matter, if you want to be innovative yourself, somehow the traffic has to be stopped.  Someone, or something, has to run interference and create a space and time for innovation.   Corporate politics and power plays are guaranteed innovation killers.  There needs to be insulation from NOISE and distraction. If an innovator has to worry about getting hit by proverbial cars, she can’t create.

2. Give the Minimum Direction Necessary – The little girl was likely told: “Cross the street with your friends when the guard says it’s safe. Be sure to stay in the crosswalk!”  She wasn’t told where to step, how many steps to take, or who she had to walk with.  She knew she had to get from Point A to Point B.  Too often there is a tendency to manage how people get from Point A to Point B.  Don’t.  There are infinite combinations of numbers that when added equal 4.  It’s not simply 2+2.  This goes for personal creativity as well.  When in a creative endeavor, ask yourself if you’re simply taking the shortest distance between two points or if you’re exploring options.  Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re taking the ‘easy’ way, or following everyone else, until we stop and ask ourselves what we’re doing.

3.  Space for Fun/Exploration – To me, fun and exploration are largely synonymous.  I alluded to this earlier.  The girl was playing while accomplishing what was asked of her: crossing the street and staying in the cross-walk.  As safe space is needed, so is space for playing.  People need to explore, to try things out, to play and have fun while they innovate.  At least they should.  If someone isn’t having fun going from Point A to Point B, you should ask yourself if that person is the right person in the right place in the project.  But, it’s not always the person!  If someone isn’t having fun, this could also be an indication that above points 1 and 2 haven’t  been implemented.  If they haven’t, fun is much less likely to occur.  Use this check for yourself as well.  Are you passionate about what you’re doing? Are you having fun?  If not, find out what it is that’s blocking the fun.

When you’re trying to create the best environment for innovation for yourself or others, picture the little girl in the Brett Favre jersey stepping from reflective strip to reflective strip while crossing the street.  Remember the three guidelines and you might just find yourself coming up with more creative work and having fun doing it!

 

Posted in children, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, imagination, innovation, problem solving, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Creative Milwaukee @Work – My Summary in Words and Pictures

Posted by Plish on November 20, 2013

A couple weeks back, I was at the Creative Milwaukee @Work Conference.

I’ve put together a social media summary at Seen.

To Be

 

 

Posted in Arts, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, imagination, innovation, Innovation Tools, Social Innovation, Sustainability, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Thoughts from the “Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo” in Chicago

Posted by Plish on July 13, 2013

I was extremely excited to check out the Inside 3D Printing conference.  I had forgotten to put it into my calendar and almost missed it.  While the speaker lineup for the conference looked interesting and provocative, for someone like myself who has been using 3D rapid prototyping technologies for somewhere between 10 and 15 years, there wasn’t enough to catch my eye for the price tag. So, I opted for registering at the door and walking the ‘expo’ portion of the conference. Besides, I had a few questions on some newer materials that I was hoping someone could answer.

When I walked through the doors I was, to say the least, underwhelmed.  I believe I counted 14 exhibitors. Some of the exhibitors I was already well acquainted with (e.g. Stratasys, 3DSystems, netfabb), others, not so much.  Nevertheless, there was some cool stuff at the show and below are some things I found really interesting, as well as some pictures of the event.

First and foremost, I was really impressed by the folks of www.thre3d.com. Check out the website.  There you’ll find what they call (and what most likely is!), “The biggest interactive 3D printing directory.”  It is a great resource for all things 3D printing.  Research manufacturers, compare products, learn about different types of 3D printing.  It’s a great resource.  While you’re browsing, if you see something that you think needs improving, let them know via the feedback tab.  They are very open to improving the service and genuinely nice people!

When you want to communicate to others what a finished design might look like, high-caliber rendering requires some serious computing power.  It’s not uncommon to start a render before going to sleep and hope that when you wake up, the rendering program hasn’t crashed and you can see the finished result.   Lagoa changes all that.  Lagoa is a cloud based rendering system – lightning fast (minutes and seconds, not hours!), real-time, reasonable pricing and even has a free subscription!  This needs to be seen to believed.  I already have a free account and am starting to play with it.

There was also a very cool 3D paper printing technology from Mcor Technologies. Using a regular ream of copy paper, this technology is much cheaper than plastic printing and great for form and fit type models – plus you can print models in full color.  You can also use them to make investment castings.  And when your model isn’t needed anymore?  Recycle it or compost it. Check out these models, and remember, that’s paper!

WP_20130711_005_360x640

Here is a video of me using this slick Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 3D Printing, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, Digital Manufacturing, imagination, innovation, Innovation Tools, Maker Movement, Open Source, Sketching, The Future | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Three Principles for a Creative, Innovative and Impactful 2013

Posted by Plish on January 4, 2013

I read this amazing little piece written by Steven Zuckerman.  Steven reflected on his experiences planning a celebratory event honoring the great musician and inventor, Les Paul.

It’s an extremely short piece and worth reading in its entirety.  It can however, be summarized in three short principles:

  1. “No one told me I couldn’t do it” – Steven Zuckerman
  2. Doing good things will touch people’s hearts and the results will reverberate like ripples on a pond.  (One of those ripples touched Paul McCartney.)
  3. “It wasn’t there and it should be.” – Les Paul

Think about it.

If you go through life, trying to touch people’s’ hearts with goodness…

If you’re bold enough to initiate new projects without needing permission…

If your eyes are open to needs and your hands ready to craft something to fill those needs…

Think about what you could accomplish!

Or better yet,

– stop thinking, start doing –

 

 

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, Creativity Leadership, Customer Focus, Design, imagination, innovation, invention, problem solving, Social Innovation, Tactics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Thoughts on 3D Printing and…

Posted by Plish on November 14, 2012

Zintro recently blogged on the future of 3D printing. My thoughts are quoted in the article along with those of some colleagues.

In short, 3D printing (in all its facets) still isn’t on the ‘verge’ of launching into the mainstream.  Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a place for 3D printing in the world.  I use it myself for testing product fit and function.  But, even with newer materials being developed all the time, there are still limitations, especially for the ‘home printing’ demographic.

There’s also the problem with designing parts on your computer.  Before anything can be printed it needs to first exist in the digital realm. In other words, the part needs to be built twice- virtually before it can be made in actuality.

The expertise to do this isn’t there yet.  Computer Aided Design programs are pretty complicated.  Even newer ones like Autodesk 123D, while they’re simpler, are not suited to anything other than the simplest parts.   At the end of the design process, if someone isn’t willing to plunk down from $500-$5000,  the model has to be sent to a place like Ponoko to be made.

So what does that mean?

There are some cool applications for 3D printing, especially in the medical realm. Still, the perfect fit for something that’s built layer by layer hasn’t been found.

Which brings me to another technology that’s slipped under the radar.  While 3D printing’s promise of “You can make anything for yourself at any time!” is capturing headlines, this other technology is low-cost and capable of creating more than just toys.

~Arduino~

Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform.  The parts are easy to find at a Radio Shack or online.  To bring those parts to life, one needs to learn to program, and programming is a language.

Learning this language is within the reach of anyone with access to the internet or bookstore.  With some basic knowledge, and tapping into a wealth of online expertise, you can design interactive products and environments.

Here’s a video from one of the founders of Arduino.  He echoes many of my sentiments but one line is particularly memorable:

“You don’t need anyone’s permission to make something great.”

The whole concept of intellectual property and patents will face some serious reckoning in the next 10 years.

Posted in creativity, Design, Disruptive Innovation, Entrepreneurship 2.0, Funding Innovation, idea generation, imagination, innovation, Innovation Tools, Open Source, software, The Future | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Innovating Healthcare Using Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles of Good Design

Posted by Plish on October 26, 2012

The above scene is from the home of a person who has some pretty serious lung problems.  This equipment is sitting next to the front door.  This is what the inhabitants of the house see every day.

It’s what guests see when they come in – when they sit down to play cards on a Friday Evening.

It’s the last thing people see as they leave the house.

It also epitomizes what’s wrong with healthcare, what’s wrong with a system that is about fixing things gone bad; about drugs, compliance, tests, equipment, data, insurance, doctors and hospitals.

Oh sure it works, but there is general agreement that it could be better – way better.

So it got me to thinking: What would a better designed healthcare system look like?

Instead of trying to visualize every detail of what revamped healthcare might look like,  let’s look at Dieter Rams‘ ’10 principles of good design’ (applied to healthcare) to inform our creative processes.

GOOD HEALTHCARE DESIGN…

  • Is innovative – What is really innovative in the above picture? The technology is decades old.  However, it’s not only innovative technology that’s needed, but innovative approaches to problems.
  • Is useful – By and large, people go to doctors and interact with healthcare systems because they need to – not because they want to.   Using innovative approaches (See above), there needs to be an element of usefulness that pulls people in to being healthier.
  • Is aesthetic – The rooster in the above picture has more going for it than the rest of the products.  Things that are aesthetically pleasing pull people in, making people touch, explore, even showcase! A doctor once remarked how he loved using a certain product because the packaging was cool.
  • Conveys understandability – What’s understandable in the above picture?  In a perfectly designed world, instruction booklets wouldn’t be needed.  Intuitiveness would reign.  The How’s and Why’s are conveyed via the design itself.
  • Is unobtrusive – In healthcare this is huge.  When it comes down to it, people don’t want reminders of health problems, or hospital payments, present at all in their lives, let alone being obvious.  Being healthy and interacting with healthcare should have a certain transparency and utility – it’s flexible enough to do what needs to be done with minimal fuss and muss.
  • Is honest – Many objects and systems in healthcare, even those in the above picture, are brutally honest.  But honest healthcare needs to be seen in light of the other principles of good design.  It needs to be true to itself in that people need to know that certain interactions result in certain results.
  • Is long-lasting – Health care is about long-lasting results. It shouldn’t be about ‘trendy’.  It should be about results that last.
  • Is thorough down to the last detail – It’s obvious that in the healthcare realm,  detail is paramount.  There shouldn’t be arbitrariness.
  • Is environmentally friendly – There’s a lot of room for improvement in healthcare, especially in the US.  Paperwork, drug and waste disposal, visual pollution (See picture above,) sustainable and yet disposable products, all these are challenges that only now, are beginning to be addressed.
  • Is as little design as possible – It comes down to providing what’s essential to do the job, nothing more, nothing less.  This is related to being unobtrusive and detailed.  On a systems level this is particularly difficult to address because of organizational tendencies to make sure arses are covered.  The good news is that if all the above principles are used, the need to cover arses should all but disappear.

Is it possible to design healthcare according to the above principles?    With current healthcare systems being stressed to the point of breaking, a redesign of the various facets of healthcare systems is not only possible but sorely needed.    While people are trying to live their lives as abundantly and authentically as possible, their interactions with clinicians and health care systems are a fertile ground for innovation.  Rams’ 10 principles for good design are as good a place to start as any.

What are your thoughts?

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, Healthcare, imagination, innovation, Medical Devices, problem solving, Service Design, Social Innovation, The Future, The Human Person, Wellness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Be Part of an Amazing Worldwide Event – The Shaping the Future Global Conference

Posted by Plish on October 20, 2012

I wanted to share this amazing event that I’m going to be presenting at: The Shaping the Future Global Conference.   (I’m presenting separately and/or pulling together a panel discussion on “Innovating Educational Paradigms in the 21st Century”)  I’m attaching the latest communique on the event. If you’d like to participate, give a talk, create music for this event, feel free to check the info below or drop me a line.  Suggestions for topics are welcome!

People like Patch Adams, Deepak Chopra, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are scheduled to give presentations.  This is not to be missed!

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4 Days 6 Continents 100 Nations

Multiple Time Zones

 1 Agenda: A world that works for all of us.

Dec 1,2,8,9

 

Peace Harmony Human Rights Health Education Quality of Life Environmental Sustainability Spiritual Fulfillment

 

“At a time of global deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” (George Orwell)

 

Shaping the Future Global

The World is watching

www.shapingthefutureglobal.com

Shaping the Future Global

A Division of the Global Peace Centre

Melbourne, Australia

4 Days. 6 Continents. 100 Nations. 1 Agenda:

 October 18, 2012

 

Friends,

We’ve put out the word and the people have responded!

Great minds from six continents including  scientists, teachers, educators, city officials, students, artists, performing artists, social scientists, entrepreneurs of the future and people all around the world who wish to unite to create a world that works for all of us, in harmony and in justice for ALL.  We have secured amazing people such as yourself from organizations and associations from places such as Russia, Israel, Palestine, Nairobi, Cameroon, South Africa, Nepal, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland, Germany and the United States.  Naturally with a Presidential Election taking place in the States in a few weeks, we feel that once the elections are over we will pick up steam and Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Education, Human Rights, imagination, innovation, Social Innovation, Spirituality, Sustainability, The Future, The Human Person, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Want to Go to a Chicago Ideas Week Event for Free?

Posted by Plish on September 15, 2012

I can’t go to all the Chicago Ideas Week events.  But with your help, we can all experience more of them!  First, you need to tell me where creativity is needed in the world.

Then, tell me what Talk or Lab you’d like to attend (unless it’s already sold out!) as I’m giving out a max of two tix once a day from Monday  the 17th to Friday the 21st. http://www.chicagoideas.com/events

There is another catch. If you’re chosen, you’ll need to share your experience on this blog!

Let the games begin!

Posted in creativity, Design, imagination, innovation, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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