ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘creativity tools’

The Princess and the Pea, User-Centered Design, and asking “Why?”

Posted by Plish on May 1, 2009

Sometimes 'Smaller' Doesn't Help...

Sometimes 'Smaller' Doesn't Help...

I was talking to a nurse about a particular medical device. She looked at it and said, “You need to make it smaller.”

“Why?” I asked -having a gut feeling that it didn’t need to be much smaller based on some in-field research.

“Because it’s too big. It get’s pressed onto the skin like this, and then…then it’s uncomfortable for the patient.”

“What do you mean?” I continued.

“It digs into the skin.”

“What about holding it,” I took a slightly different direction, “How does it feel?”

“Just about right, I wouldn’t change it too much.”

The picture came together all at once.  “So, do you think it needs to be smaller or more comfortable?”

“More comfortable- definitely!  Yeah, not too much smaller, I’d have trouble holding it like this with my stubby fingers.”

Sometimes when you’re asking people to give input on a product/process, the first words out of their mouths aren’t really what they mean.  In this case, ‘smaller’ did not mean ‘smaller’, it meant, ‘more comfortable for the patient.’

The result of not asking “Why?” could have been disastrous.  If I took the “make it smaller” statement at face value, I could have developed a product that was smaller (even less comfortable for the patient-think “Princess and the Pea”), and harder to handle – missing on two accounts.

Children are great at asking, “Why?”.  They don’t care about looking stupid, about not having all the answers – - they just want to learn.

So next time you’re trying to solve a problem, ask “Why?”…multiple times.  This technique works great for everything, even problem statements. For example:

Problem Statement: In what ways might we make this thingamabob smaller?

Why does it need to be smaller?

Because it needs to fit in this slot.

Why does it need to fit in the slot?

Because that’s how it turns this other doohickey on.

Why does it have to turn it on?

Um…it doesn’t…maybe being smaller isn’t what this thingamabob needs to be.

For another great perspective  on the pitfalls of not asking “why?” check out this blog entry.

Posted in Case Studies, Creative Thinking Techniques, Design, idea generation, Market Assessment, problem solving, Research | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Creative Blackout! to Increase Your Creativity

Posted by Plish on April 27, 2009

On November 4th, Alabama artists are tuning out technology so they can tune in to their art.

On November 4th, Alabama artists are tuning out technology so they can tune in to their art.

First let me make it clear that by ‘Creative Blackout’ I don’t mean getting drunk/high/stoned until passing out.

What I do mean is taking time to be creative.  It’s about turning everything off and tuning in to your creative abilities.

In Alabama, the Layman Group is doing a Creative Blackout on November 4th.

On NOV 4th, at 5pm…it all shuts off!! NO TELEVISION . NO MYSPACE . NO FACEBOOK . NO TWITTER . NO VIDEO GAMES . NO INTERNET .

Just you…ART…and CREATIVITY.

Paint a picture, write a story, make a sculpture, choreograph a dance, take an arts class, write a song…anything your artistic heart desires.

 The lesson learned from this idea is a great one and one that all people need to heed.

A quote from their newsletter says it all:

Art is one of the most effective tools which we can use to better see ourselves, to do the work of becoming a better…or let’s say…more complete person.  Becoming “more complete” is an ideal not reserved for artists alone, and it’s that stereotype we wish to dilute; that impression (that the) everyday person, the layman, (has) no ambition to explore what’s great within them, even outside of “what they do” or what they’re “known for.” We feel that passion to expand perspective and understanding is a natural need for all humans, and Art is the antidote for quenching that need. Therefore, Art IS relevant to us all. Humans, all humans, naturally want and seek out newness, and clarity, knowledge, and mediums to express.

In short, we need to take time to be with our creative selves if we expect to be wonderfully creative-and that applies to all of us.

Even if you’re not from Alabama, remember to take the time for the  creative blackout on November 4th.  Better yet, make some time everyday to be creative – grab an instrument, sing, grab a crayon and paper, dance across the kitchen…

…better yet…

… do all of the above!

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, idea generation, Musical Creativity, Nature of Creativity, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

The Old Switcheroo! – Changing Routines to Help Creativity

Posted by Plish on April 16, 2009

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The garbage man and the recycling guys came and went but this time they switched positions of the bins.

I’m an adult, I can see the difference so I figured I’d just leave them there, no big deal.

I was wrong.  It was a big deal.

Day One: Caught myself at the last second as I almost put garbage in the recycling bin and vice-versa.  It was good that I almost did this, it would prepare me for tomorrow.

Day Two: It didn’t.  This time I actually put garbage into the recycling bin and vice-versa.   So I tipped the garbage bin and pulled out the recyclables and swapped them with the garbage bag from the recycling bin.

Days Three through Seven: Lesson Learned.

We are amazing creatures of habit.  We have a tendency to stick with routines, to do what works.

This is a major issue if we’re solving problems.  If we keep doing things the same way, we seldom will come up with new solutions.

What can we do to keep ourselves sharp?

Try one or more of the following:

  1. Take a different way to work  or home from work.  (I’ve done this before during times when I knew I was stuck in a thinking rut.)
  2. Switch the order in which you put your shoes on.
  3. We all have a stronger side and weak side.  Use the weak hand, the weak foot, etc., when doing a task.
  4. If you have certain daily routines, try changing the order of tasks.
  5. Last but not least, switch the position of your garbage and recycling bins.

You’d be surprised how simple changes can spur new thinking by forcing your body and mind to interact with the world in new ways!

What ways would you recommend to break routine?

Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, Creative Thinking Techniques, idea generation, Lateral Thinking, problem solving | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Mindmapping as a Creativity Tool

Posted by Plish on March 21, 2009

100_uses_for_mind_maps1

Click to See High Resolution Version

Mindmaps are cool.

I’ve used them for this blog, for presentations, for compiling thoughts on research, even to map myself!

While we all want to be cool and high tech and use mindmapping software (of which there is plenty-just google it), drawing them often can have more impact, plus it’s easier to let our creativity and color run wild. Images and color do a better job of stimulating new ideas than plain text.

If you want to see some amazing hand drawn mindmaps and learn more about this art/tool, check out this blog

There is a profound piece there entitled “The Qualities of Leonardo Da Vinci”.  It’s well worth reading and meditating upon.

What are your thoughts on mind maps?

Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, Creative Thinking Techniques, idea generation, innovation, leonardo da vinci, Mind Maps, problem solving | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Using Stories to Help Your Creativity, Generate Ideas and Solve Problems!

Posted by Plish on March 13, 2009

short-story

“Individual creativity is very intimate and personal. So, it’s important to learn how to listen to your own instincts, to listen to your inner voice-or find your inner voice-so that your self-expression becomes authentic and grounded and not simply a function of what you think people want to hear,what’s fashionable or what you think you should do as a life-long task…. Creativity is very much about being intimate with yourself, but also a number of things that, frankly, are difficult, if not sometimes impossible, to articulate.”
John Kao -Innovator, Artist, Author of “Innovation Nation”

“When people ask me where I get my ideas, I laugh. How strange – we’re so busy looking out, to find ways and means, we forget to look in…All that is most original lies waiting for us to summon it forth. And yet we know it is not as easy as that….Embarrassment, self-consciousness, remembered criticisms, can stifle the average person so that less and less in his lifetime can he open himself out.”
Ray Bradbury-Author

Based upon the two perspectives noted above, it seems amazing that anyone is creative in a productive manner.

Yet, as Ray Bradbury says, it’s all there, waiting…

…no,

calling out -

to be shared with the world!

How do we tap into the depths of creativity within?

The Links of Creativity Websites on this page and the Resource page are good places to start.

But, there is an intimate, and effective way to tap into the authentic voice.

Stories.

Think of great authors like Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke. They envisioned solutions long before they existed. The looked inside themselves, embraced the wonder, and saw it as more powerful and empowering than Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Authenticity, Creative Thinking Techniques, idea generation, Innovation Tools, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Stories, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Phrasr as Brainstorming Tool

Posted by Plish on January 4, 2009

In a recent blog comment here, Corrine ended her comment with the following statement:

“Science arose from poetry… when times change the two can meet again on a higher level as friends.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Then later today I received an email from the Creative Skills Training Council of Asia Pacific/Australia Yahoo group, about Phrasr and the digital poetry of Rip Kungler.  

It all came together for me…

Phrasr can be used as a great brainstorming tool! 

I entered in some key words describing the ultimate surgical instrument and let Phrasr go to town!

The result was nothing short of cool and inspiring!

The Ultimate Surgical Instrument (my Phrasr example)

Screen Capture of the Animation of "The Ultimate Surgical Instrument" (my Phrasr example)

While I didn’t have any particular instrument in mind, the pictures were obtuse enough to stimulate some unique ideas.   Ergonomic has some cool shapes to it that scream comfortable; The cat (pictured above) conjured up ideas of a retractable blade to prevent accidental cuts; The child viewing the animal from under the bubble: remote surgery and infection prevention to name a few.

Give it a try next time you need ideas and let me know how it worked for you!

It looks like Science and Poetry are meeting again as friends…

Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, Creative Thinking Techniques, idea generation, Innovation Tools, Phrasr, Traditional Brainstorming, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Wiffiti as a Brainstorming Tool

Posted by Plish on December 22, 2008

What a wiffiti page looks like

Click this image to see my LIVE Wiffiti screen!

When great ideas strike it’s important to record them ASAP.  In a brainstorming session it’s important to capture ideas as they materialize.  It’s also important to build off of other people’s ideas on an anonymous basis.

Enter Wiffiti.

This tool enables you to capture ideas via text messages.  You simply text a message to an address and it shows up on the screen.  You can use it for yourself or as a team.  If each team member is texting their ideas (and no name codes-anonymous is better!) when they get back to their offices they can look at the screen and use it to create more ideas.

I’ve created a page for this blog so you can see it in action. You can click the above picture (or here) to see the live Zentest Screen.  Start your message with “@zentest” and then type in your message.  Send it to 25622. 

Wiffiti still isn’t configured for USCellular (which is what I have) so I have to rely on your messages to get this going.

Locamoda is the developer of Wiffiti, you can check out ways other companies have used it here.

Posted in idea generation, Innovation Tools, Traditional Brainstorming, Web 2.0, Wiffiti, Workplace Creativity, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Great, Creative Modeling Tool – Bendaroos

Posted by Plish on December 16, 2008

I received an email I knew was SPAM. It was entitled “Re: Amazing Flexible Building Sticks.”

I opened it and the kid inside me jumped up and down.  I clicked and went to the Bendaroo website

I was greeted by an obnoxious promo video, but I looked past that and was smitten by the coolness of this product.

Why am I high on this?

It’s a great tool for brainstorming and idea generation.  Anytime you can play with things with your fingers you can and will increase your creative output.  The fact that this stuff is reusable is a bonus.

Unleashing your playful side is a must if you want to optimize your creativity.  A product like this (which I get no money for promoting I might add!) get’s two thumbs up and deserves to be in any creative person’s toolkit.

Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, Creativity Leadership, idea generation, toys, Traditional Brainstorming, Workplace Creativity, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Timing Creativity

Posted by Plish on November 17, 2008

A recent study was done Crown Plaza Hotels on when and where people are most creative.  According to the survey 10pm was most creative time and least creative around 4:30pm.

While this research was done as part of the launch of their new “Think Notes”, there are multiple interesting findings in this survey :

Nearly a third of people questioned felt that removing themselves from the traditional daytime office environment let their creativity run wild.

Fifty-eight per cent of respondents admitted to forgetting their best ideas when failing to write them down immediately.

Interestingly, four out of five people questioned found that when they did note down an idea they would never lose it.

The survey also found that women are the most effective at recording their best ideas with 37 per cent of them choosing to scribble notes on the back of a tissue or napkin.  This narrowly beat the back of receipts, the back of the hand and cigarette packets as the most preferred means of on-the-go note-making for both sexes.

The take-aways are clear: 

  1. Record your ideas
  2. Use your creative times wisely
  3. Use your uncreative times efficiently

But remember-don’t let yourself be subject to the whims of time and space!  There are ways to make yourself more creative consistently.  There are alot of great ideas on my resource page.

Posted in Creative Thinking Techniques, idea generation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Surveys, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Creativity Interview – Roger von Oech

Posted by Plish on November 11, 2008

Creativity Specialist Roger von Oech

Creativity Specialist Roger von Oech

Great interview over at Innovation Zen.  Roger is another one of my favorite creative types.  One of my favorite points that Roger makes is that when coming up with an idea, take that second or third thought that comes up as opposed to the first one that pops into your head. 

The first idea is very often the most obvious and the one everyone else has thought of.  It’s the others that are buried a little that really come forth from your individual experiences and strengths.  Those are the unique and stellar ideas!

Posted in Creative Thinking Techniques, idea generation, innovation, Interviews | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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