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When You Need Ideas, Make Sure You Invite This Collaboration Partner

Posted by Plish on April 30, 2018

I’ve been reading artist David Byrne‘s book, “How Music Works.” For those of you who don’t know, he was the founding member of the band, Talking Heads.

It’s a fascinating book, part history, part autobiography, part music science, and totally fascinating.

Sharing His Creative Process

Byrne is wonderfully introspective when it comes to his songwriting process.  He clearly pays attention to himself when creating, which, incidentally, on its own is a good thing to practice while being creative.

While the book is, in itself, an exploration of his creativity, a few of the pages delve into the specifics of his songwriting.  I found much of what he wrote resonates with my own songwriting and the creative process in general.

A Little Bubbly

One of the most powerful things Byrne does, and perhaps the most difficult, is listen to his subconscious and let it bubble to the surface.

As he listens to musical frameworks, he uses them as springboards to lyrics.  He does this by singing passionate jibberish and writing it all down.  In essences, he’s sketching.

Stop Making Sense

He allows emotions, memories, sounds, patterns, to express themselves, even if they don’t make sense! Eventually those sung sounds will be transliterated into actual words and music, but not in the early stages.  Instead, he simply trusts that those sounds, the lyrical structure, all things being articulated, are connected to the music on a deep, visceral level.

However, all this is for naught if he judges his work too quickly.  He does his best to

Suspend judgement!

This is something that I always drive home to people when I am moderating brainstorming sessions.

Don’t judge!

Judging the ideas is for a later time, after the various ideas can be explored for their apropos-ness to the music.  For people who are innovating, the ideas should resonate on multiple levels, not just the physical, but the emotional as well.

“I try not to prejudge anything that occurs to me at this point in the writing process – I never know if something that sounds stupid at first, will in some soon-to-emerge lyrical context make the whole thing shine.  So no matter how many pages get filled up, I try to turn off the internal censor.”(Italics mine; pp. 219-220)

This can’t be overstated: What seems stupid at the beginning might be the key at a later time.

What if the internal censor doesn’t cooperate? (“…the conscious mind might be thinking too much.”)

“Exactly at this point…I most want and need surprises and weirdness from the depths.”

His goal here is to “distract the gatekeepers.” Go jog, cook, walk, drive, do whatever so that the conscious mind is occupied with something else, just enough to let the goodies come through.

Again, make sure you have a recorder, sketchpad, camera, clay, whatever, so that you can record these gems as they “gurgle up.”  Just a snippet of these pearls could be enough to connect everything and make the whole project come together.   What was once a garbled mess can become a pleasing coherent whole.

Bottom Line: Collaborate!

“With whom?” you may ask.

With yourself!  Access the emotions,  knowledge,  patterns, experiences and feelings of all that you are!  Each of us is a wonderful repository of so much more than we realize.  Just because we don’t think we remember something doesn’t mean that something we saw, heard, smelled, felt, tasted, learned, or even thought we experienced, didn’t leave a valuable experiential nugget in our beings.

Our imaginations and our experiences can work together to enable us to design a better future.  (For a fascinating article on how we imagine the past and the future in similar ways read, “Remembering the Past to Imagine the Future: a Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective.”) We just have to get out of our own ways.

Are More Better?

As I’ve written before, there are certain conditions in which small groups are good for collaboration, especially when participants are able to share their own unique perspectives and experiences.  However, at the root of that multi-person collaboration is the ability for each individual to collaborate with themselves, to not censor themselves.   Solo-brainstorming is indeed powerful! (See “Why Groups Are Less Effective than Their Members: On Productivity Losses in Idea-Generating Groups“)

But you need to be you.

Take these tips from David Byrne and internalize them.  Listen to yourself – your subconscious.  Access who you are. Sketch. Suspend judgement. Explore. Look for resonance between concepts. (Sometimes they’re in that order, sometimes not.  😉 )

Regardless of what you’re designing, your innovations will be more creative the more you’re willing to collaborate with yourself.

Here’s to better solutions and a better world filled with better music 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Design, imagination, innovation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, product design, Service Design, Sketching, Social Innovation, The Future, The Human Person, Traditional Brainstorming, Workplace Creativity, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

New, Transparent Paint to Create Whiteboards…Anywhere…

Posted by Plish on May 23, 2012

 

A few years back, I blogged about IdeaPaint’s Whiteboard paint.

Now they’ve gone one glorious step further:

CLEAR Whiteboard Paint!

That is correct.  You don’t have to change the colors of your walls, or any other surfaces, for that matter.  Just cover them with this transparent, writable glaze and you’re ready to go.

There really is no excuse for not having a whiteboard space.

Thank you, IdeaPaint!

Posted in Creative Environments, culture of innovation, idea generation, imagination, Sketching, Traditional Brainstorming, Workplace Creativity | 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 »

Design Thinking, Shminking…It’s About Being Human

Posted by Plish on June 8, 2010

I read this little tidbit over at Fast Company about how Design Thinking will give way to the next big thing: Hybrid Design.   I found myself having the same thoughts as those who responded to the article.  Most of those folks believed there was nothing really new being mentioned in the article other than the creation of  a new term to describe what’s already been happening for a while – a loooooong while.

So it got me thinking.

We call it “design thinking’ but a key aspect of design thinking is actually doing.   It’s about thinking by acting, or perhaps more properly, thinking through acting…

but then, maybe it’s by thinking by and through acting…

~Switch gears~

…While watching the Stanley Cup playoffs at my brother’s house, my kindergarten aged niece asked me to play a game entitled, “Invisible, Shminvisible.”

Even though my niece explained it carefully, I wasn’t able to really figure it out through listening.  So, I started playing the game with her and she and her older brother directed me.  Soon, I was a participant in the game.  It made sense.

Which brings us back to the discussion at hand.  I learned by playing and through playing.  It wasn’t about sitting down with a rule book (which I ‘m thankful for because I’m quite sure that such a book would be at least 5 – 10 pages long if penned in “instruction manual” lingo.)  It was about the wonderful process of looking, understanding and making.

So, bringing us full  circle here:

The evolution Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Authenticity, children, Creative Environments, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, Human Rights, imagination, innovation, Life Stages, problem solving, Sketching, The Human Person, The Senses, Workplace Creativity, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Creativity Stuck? Try These Tools

Posted by Plish on December 29, 2009

Click to see full size

Click to See Full Size

 

Just like your physical muscles, if you flex and use your creative muscles you get more effective and efficient at coming up with ideas.  One way to do this is by doodling and sketching.  

How do you start?

You can always grab a blank sheet of paper, but the blankness often stares back at you mockingly and the result is more frustration which in turn inhibits creative thought.

The trick?

Use something as a catalyst to get the creative juices flowing.    

To that end I’ve put together a couple of templates for you so you can practice being creative. 

Click to Download PDF Template

 

Print the template and make a point of sketching using these patterns at least once a day. If the above template isn’t your cup of tea then I’ve also create a spreadsheet that allows you to build your own sketching template based upon letters or shapes in the various fonts.  The Excel version is here and the Open Office version is here.  I used an obscure font in the sketch-sheet below.  If you find yourself still struggling in your doodling,  here’s a sheet with the letter “o” reproduced multiple times.   Sometimes a common shape is easier to use for this purpose. 

Click for Full Size

Click For Full Size

 

The drawings don’t have to be perfect, artistically or otherwise.  The goal here is to simply start sketching.   Whether it’s writer’s block, problem solving or composing music, drawing has an amazing capability to stimulate additional ideas and insights, breaking down those insidious barriers to creativity.   

Give these to your team before meetings requiring critical thinking/brainstorming and more importantly, encourage each other to use these tools once a day.

I think you’ll be surprised by the results.

Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, idea generation, imagination, Play, problem solving, Sketching, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Innovation Inside a Train – The YouRail Design Contest

Posted by Plish on November 9, 2009

bombard

Trains, it seems, have always been a part  of my life.  When we went to visit my dad at work we took the train; going downtown – took the train; festival- took the train.  Even when I wasn’t on the trains I was (and still am!) fascinated by the tracks, the crossing gates, the speed at which they blasted by, the papers swirling behind the last car, the lateral green glow of windows streaking by in the night…

Then there was the Tyco electric train set-up that I built in my basement in which I designed an entire world for my trains.

Design…

Trains…

The words are meant to be together.

If you believe this, then check out this great design contest by Bombardier.  Design a cool train interior and you may make yourself a couple thousand Euros , a netbook or a trip to InnoTrans 2010 in Berlin.

All aboard!!!

Posted in Contests, Customer Focus, Design, imagination, innovation, Sketching | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What Will the Future Hold?

Posted by Plish on November 3, 2009

future

The Behance Network put together this interesting view on the future based upon the scenarios from the Institute for the Future.  Some interesting perspectives, especially with regards to inter-species communication.  On the other hand, some of the solutions posited, like fertilizing oceans with iron to capture CO2,  are too current and thus not sophisticated enough to be included in a future in which digital body-swapping exists.

What are your thoughts?

Posted in Information Visualization, innovation, Sketching, Sustainable Technology, Trends | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Necessity of Reclaiming Drawing and Art as Tools for Communication

Posted by Plish on October 30, 2009

The Swimming Stags in Lascaux, France

Drawing -The Distinctly Human Endeavor

Long before humans were writing eloquent words with pen and paper, we were drawing pictures on walls, expressing our views of the world and even the future. 

The same thing can be said of each of us as individuals – we drew long before we could write words or sentences.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Yet our briefs, presentations, and books are filled with pages upon pages of words and often very few pictures.

Why is this?

Words that stir the imagination must be artfully combined to create effective and emotive communication,  or else they simply portray information in a boring fashion – they’re just words. 

It’s hard to convey emotions, information and perspectives with just words.

On the other hand, pictures, even the most basic, can convey information and emotion more effectively.  Take a look at these pictures made by children during the Spanish Civil War and tell me if you can’t get a pretty good idea of what was happening where and to whom in Spain.  How many pages would you have to read to get that information?

Children are great at drawing and illustrating.  In fact,  ask almost any parents and they’ll tell you that channeling the urge to draw and paint can be one of the most challenging tasks they have.  Drawing and communicating via art is natural for children.  As we get older we begin to judge our works more critically and receive more critical feedback.  We either deal with it and improve or we buckle under the scrutiny, say we don’t have any artistic talent and make ourselves masters of 75 page PowerPoint presentations filled with clip art and bullet points.

It doesn’t have to be that way. 

When in meetings, instead of asking people for opinions on what’s wrong, ask them to sketch it using stickfigures, finger paints, whatever!  The act of drawing it on paper will engage the person more than having them give a soliloquy. 

When submitting reports, make it a practice to draw the report and use that as the inspiration for words. 

We need to reclaim the use of drawings and other forms of art as communication tools. 

We’re Humans – We Draw!

If you’re still uptight about your drawing abilities, then check out the below three resources which I personally reference and recommend.

ID.Sketching – Fantastic website with sketching and drawing tutorials and information

Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design (Interactive Technologies)

Sketching: Drawing Techniques for Product Designers

Drawing – It’s not just for children any more…

Posted in Authenticity, Books, children, Conveying Information, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, imagination, Information Visualization, innovation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Sketching, Society, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Beginnings of Design/Innovation

Posted by Plish on October 3, 2009

beginnings of design001a michaelplishka2009

I made the above sketch while listening to  a panel discussion with David Armano, Dan Saffer, Jon Kolko and Ben Jacobson at the IIT Design Research Conference

What are your thoughts on this representation of the beginnings of design/innovation?

How could it be improved?

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, Design, innovation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Sketching, The Human Person, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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