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Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

What are You Seeing when You’re Listening? – Don’t Ignore this Key to Innovation

Posted by Plish on January 15, 2018

To observations which ourselves we make, we grow more partial for th’ observer’s sake. (Alexander Pope)

I really like the book, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers .   It’s chock full of insights and I like just picking a random page and reading.  But there’s a problem with it  – actually there’s a problem with all books that give the ‘secrets behind success’.

One can only see what one observes, and one observes only things which are already in the mind. (Alphonse Bertillon)

If you ask people, “what are you doing there?”, they will tell you what it is they think they’re doing.  The problem is that it may, or may not, be what they’re actually doing.

So is the information contained in books like Tools of Titans wrong?

No, not at all.  But it very well may be incomplete, or worse, inaccurate.  Very often people say what it is that they remember what they’re doing.  They share what they think is important  – the little things are left out.

Practical observation commonly consists of collecting a few facts and loading them with guesses.(Author unknown)

I was researching a surgical procedure once to determine if there were some improvements that could be made to the devices the doc was using.  He told me what he was doing, before, during and after the procedure.  He answered all of my questions.

However, what was surprising to me is that, while he said there were no problems with the procedure, there was a certain repetitive motion that the doc used.  It wasn’t even a comfortable motion, it was very awkward in fact.

But the doctor never mentioned it and said everything was great!

Developing better and more accurate observational skills is essential for everybody and every profession. Basically, If you can’t observe accurately, you can’t think accurately. (Tiit Raid)

You can observe a lot by just watching. (Yogi Berra)

The key point here is that observation is key to understanding what people are doing.  In fact, observation can be even more powerful that interviews alone.  But, communicating the observations such that they can become building blocks for future projects is a task unto itself.

There is no more difficult art to acquire than the art of observation, and for some men it is quite as difficult to record an observation in brief and plain language. (Sir William Osler)

Observing without communicating this information effectively can  create a situation in which people can reach inaccurate conclusions, and then that could result in a product that doesn’t meet  requirements, or worse: a project gets cancelled because there is no perceived need.

Tools of Titans‘ author, Tim Ferriss,  only shared information that he personally experimented with.  So, in essence, Tools of Titans is a list of things that worked for Tim.   That, incidentally, is a great way to show others what you’ve learned.  Try it and then share!

Everyone is in the best seat. (John Cage)

 

Everyone thinks that they know what they’re doing.    Especially if it has to do with their own habits/rituals.  That’s not bad, just incomplete.  Sometimes the only access we have to a person’s activities are through what they say they do.  We just have to  trust and try and flesh it out.  With the right questions, sometimes interviewees themselves are surprised to learn what they’re doing.

Tools of Titans does a great job of sharing people’s perceived actions and activities.  It’s a great resource.  But, it’s also a great reminder that as designers, as innovators, while we can learn powerful things from what people say they do, we can learn even more by observing.

 

 

Posted in Design, innovation, Innovation Tools, Interviews, observation, problem solving, Service Design | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Acclaimed Author and Home Chef, Anupy Singla, on Innovation

Posted by Plish on April 15, 2014

Every time I get the opportunity, I ask great chefs this simple question:

What does innovation mean to you?

This year at the International Home and Housewares Show, I had the great pleasure of chatting with Anupy Singla.  While her website says she is a ‘journalist turned foodie turned author,’ she could not have written the books she had if she wasn’t a chef.  Anupy’s book, “The Indian Slow Cooker” is also part of the distinguished “Beyond Bollywood, Indian Americans Shape the Nation” at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History! (You can read an interview with the curator here.)

Her response to the question: “What does innovation mean to you?” is shown below.  Give it a watch and join me below the video and I’ll share my thoughts.

 

Anupy highlights a facet of innovation that’s one of my favorites.  The process is simple.  Take a product that is useful in one context and use it in  similar context where the product is unknown.  This principle is basically what underlies the creative problem solving process called, TRIZ.  She has applied it and combined multiple technologies to create an improved, stackable and patented, Spice Tiffin with spice levelers built into each bowl.

What are your thoughts on Anupy Singla’s view of innovation?

Posted in Books, creativity, Creativity Videos, culture of innovation, Design, innovation, Interviews, problem solving, TRIZ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Chef Guy Fieri on Innovation

Posted by Plish on April 1, 2014

Every time I get the opportunity, I ask great chefs this simple question:

What does innovation mean to you?

This year at the International Home and Housewares Show, I caught up (quite literally as you see from the video,) with Chef Guy Fieri.  His response to the question: “What does innovation mean to you?” is shown below.  Give it a watch and join me below the video and I’ll share my thoughts.

Chef Fieri’s thoughts echo, I think, what many people believe innovation is:  The willingness to “step outside the box” and try new things, the willingness to experiment.  Undergirding this willingness, though, is a key acceptance of failure.  He realizes that not everything will be great but we won’t know unless we try.

It’s quite simple really, if we think something, try it and see what happens.  Small changes can have huge impacts; wolves can change the course of rivers.

What are your thoughts on Chef Fieri’s approach?

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Thank you, Chef Fieri!  You’re schedule was fast paced and packed with action (like your food!) and taking the time to chat was most gracious.  Thank you, and keep rocking!

Posted in creativity, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, Food, innovation, Interviews, Nature of Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Thoughts on Innovation From Chef Aaron Sanchez

Posted by Plish on March 27, 2014

 

Every time I get the opportunity, I ask great chefs this simple question:

What does innovation mean to you?

This year at the International Home and Housewares Show, I was able to watch Chef Aarón Sanchez at work, and then chat briefly with him.  His response to the question: “What does innovation mean to you?” is shown below.  Give it a watch and join me below the video and I’ll share my thoughts.

Chef Aarón was true to his Buddhist beliefs.  His short and sweet answer hit on a theme that I’ve heard from other chefs, namely, going back to the roots, understanding where you are and where you can go.    There is both constraint and open-ended-ness to “understanding where (your roots) take you.”  Inherently the roots have a potential energy. They provide the foundation from which innovations can grow.   At its core, this statement is about understanding your raw materials, about their potential, about how they can be manipulated to get the results you want. This doesn’t just mean actual brick and mortar substances.  It also applies to philosophies and ideas.  This is especially true if you want an innovation to fit in your portfolio.  If you want your innovation to be recognized as having ties to certain roots, you need to understand those roots.

At first when he said, “Always use the best ingredients,” I was stumped.  Was this supposed to be a koan?  What do good ingredients have to do with innovation?  And then it hit me.

The questions isn’t “what?”, it’s “why?”

Why are the best ingredients important?

It’s a question of fidelity.  If ingredients are poor, if the raw materials are poor, people experiencing the innovation may not get what the innovation is trying to say.  A milk  flavored with a gentle herbal blend will not convey subtle flavors if the milk is old and sour.   That innovation will be rejected.  It’s not that the innovation is a bad idea.  On the contrary, it may be a great idea, but because I didn’t use the best ingredients, the innovation in the glass doesn’t resemble the innovation in my head.  Something was lost in the translation from idea to reality.

It’s important then for innovations to have a level of fidelity that is appropriate for what needs to be communicated/experienced.  This can only occur if the ‘ingredients’ in your innovation are the best.  My maternal grandmother used to say with regards to cooking: “Put good things together and it’ll be good.”  This doesn’t mean that if you take 2000 of the best ingredients and stir them in a pot they’ll taste good.  No, it is about context.  Combine good things, in the appropriate way, and the flavors in your mind will be faithfully reproduced in the eating experience.

This, interestingly enough, closes the loop and brings us back full circle to understanding one’s roots.  You can’t be true to your understanding of your roots, and communicate innovations that come from them, if you don’t use the best ingredients.

What do you think about Chef Aarón’s philosophy on innovation?

~~~

I want to thank you, Chef Sanchez, for putting up with me and taking the time to chat.  You were most gracious and considerate, even with multiple people and commitments pulling you in myriad directions.  You were being true to your roots, and you only used the best ingredients.  Thank you!

 

Posted in creativity, Creativity Videos, Design, Food, innovation, Interviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Thoughts on Innovation and Design from Ukrainian Fashion Designer, Olga De NoGGa

Posted by Plish on April 6, 2013

DeNoGGa

 

 

 

On March 1st, Fashion Designer Olga De Nogga was in Chicago showcasing her designs at a fashion show sponsored and supported by ‘Ukrainian Women in Business’ as well as other Chicago community organizations.

I was fascinated by some of her work and wanted to get her thoughts on innovation and design.  Unfortunately, due to conflict,  I was not able to get to the show.  However, I was able to get a few questions to her and she was kind enough to take time out of her crazy travel schedule to answer them.  What follows is the interview and her thoughts.

Special thanks to Sofia Mikolyash and Iaroslava Babenchuk for  your indispensable contributions to the publication of this interview!

****Interview with Designer Olga De Nogga  –  March 2013****

What is your definition of innovation?

Overall, for me innovation is what impresses a human eye – something new and original – a new construction in clothing, some particular color solution. Innovation is a cornerstone of my creative method – starting from concept development for a collection, and finishing with its visualization in models.

 It seems that most of your materials are more traditional. What are your thoughts on new materials and newer manufacturing processes such as 3 dimensional printing? Any plans to use those in your future designs?

Intense, bright and open ways of expressing our reality has been always important for our nation as it is part of our self-identity, said Oleksandra Exter, a famous Ukrainian artist and experimenter. In my work you can see that. I always try to pay attention to new technologies, as it is important for a designer.  It allows me to see new horizons and widens the potential for new discoveries .But I also pay attention to the integrity of my personal style of designing so that it doesn’t get deformed by innovation and instead acquires plasticity and develops – it is important for a designer not to stop developing. Considering recent trends in innovation it is important for me nevertheless to stick to 100% natural fabrics.

What is it from the Ukrainian Culture that sings in your designs? In other words, what from the Ukrainian Cultural heritage are you trying to share and elevate through your design?

I can say for sure that it’s embroidery, colors – Ukrainian embroidery is generously colorful and particular. You can see that in my former collections and in the current one. The smoking jacket collection for women ‡ was dominated by bright colors that are not typical in smoking jackets. The construction of the jackets was also inspired by the traditional cut.

People are bringing a fashion sense to things that usually are not considered primarily fashionable – eye glasses, wheelchairs, canes, artificial legs and arms. What are your thoughts on this and in the bigger picture, what role does fashion design contribute to the growth of individuals and the growth of humanity?

I agree that contemporary fashion is changing very dynamically – each season – which is why many designers plug into their collections sometimes unnecessary or accidental pieces. At times they care more about the shock effect rather than the aesthetic value of such plug-ins. They are trying to attract attention to themselves that way. However, such designers very often lose the conceptual dimension of their work, and undervalue their search for new images and shapes. It is important to mention that contemporary fashion not only brings in new visual tendencies but also can address certain social aspects. Last year the Ukraine Fashion week was framed by a theme of Ecology, in particular focusing on water and ways to preserve water supply on the planet. Fashion weeks now highlight that it is fashionable to be healthy and that addresses certain social issues.

‡The word to describe the “Smoking Jacket” Collection is also the word used for tuxedos.

****End****

I am fascinated by  her thoughts about innovation getting in the way of natural development, which is very often what many companies want to happen.  Would love to flesh that out further with her some day over a cocktail.

What are your thoughts?

Posted in Arts, creativity, Design, Fashion, innovation, Interviews, Social Responsibility, Sustainability, Wellness | 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.”

Enjoy!

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 »

E Pluribus Design – Some Thoughts on Co-Creation

Posted by Plish on January 11, 2013

My new friend, Sankar, the Founder of Younomy (and I do hope he considers me a friend as well!), sponsors a series of great interviews on innovation, social technology and co-creation.  I was extremely honored and humbled that he asked me to join the ranks of those interviewees.

My interview can be found here.

I also encourage you to check out Younomy’s blog. It’s a veritable gold-mine of articles on co-creation.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

Please let me know your thoughts on the interview and on Co-creation in general.  I’m involved in a couple of exciting co-creative projects and I’ll share those as they launch.

Until then, live, love and create together.

 E Pluribus Design!

epd

Posted in Co-Creation, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, innovation, Interviews, Open Source, Social Innovation, The Future | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Empowering the Co-Creation of a Better World – Check out the “Shaping the Future Global” Web-Based Conference

Posted by Plish on December 6, 2012

Today I pre-recorded my interview for the Shaping the Future Global Conference. The talk is entitled, “Empowering the Co-Creation of a Better World.”  It will go live at 9pm EST on Friday, Dec. 7.  You can listen below.

The rest of the schedule, with the archive of the previous two days’ worth of presentations is here. There are some amazing presentations there on health, education, wellness and human rights.

It’s free.

It’s exciting.

It’s a chance to join a global conversation.

Please let me know your thoughts.

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, Crowdsourcing, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, Entrepreneurship 2.0, innovation, Interviews, Play, problem solving, Social Innovation, Society, The Future, The Human Person, Web 2.0, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Insights Into Finding Creative Inspiration via Attendees at the Cannes Festival

Posted by Plish on June 30, 2011

From Martha Stewart to Arianna Huffington to Dennis Crowley (Four Square) and others, here’s a video of some thoughts on how these high-profile folks find creative inspiration. There are some interesting commonalities.  Most interesting is the dynamic between getting away versus bouncing ideas off others.

How do you find creative inspiration?

Posted in Authenticity, Creative Environments, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Creativity Videos, idea generation, imagination, Interviews, Nature of Creativity, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a 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 »

 
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