Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘Science’

What do You See? – Are You Doing These Two Things to Improve Your Observational Skills?

Posted by Plish on October 6, 2015

We all know what one swinging pendulum looks like.  But what do multiple swinging pendulums (pendula 😉 ) look like?

I love the pendulum wave because it highlights two key aspects to improving observational skills (and observation is essential to design and innovation!).

  1. Pay attention to the angle of observation (i.e. perspective) – Are you seeing something in the only way possible?  Can you observe the phenomenon from other directions?  Is it the best angle?  From a particular angle, what’s moving and what’s standing still? What’s surrounding what you’re looking at? What’s in the foreground and background?
  2. Be cognizant of how much time you spend looking at something – Are you spending enough time observing something?  Do you feel confident that you’ve seen all there is to see in the time taken? Can you learn something by looking at it less? (Think a snapshot vs. a video)

If you didn’t spend enough time looking at the swinging balls, you could reach inaccurate conclusions as to what was happening.  At one moment they are swinging in a snake like motion.  At another, it looks random.  Look at it from a different direction and totally different conclusions might be reached.

I remember when I was learning to fly a glider, it became second nature to pay attention to other aircraft.  The above two points were especially important in determining if something was on a collision course.  Seeing aircraft moving on the horizon wasn’t  alarming.  It was seeing them NOT moving – and then getting bigger that signaled impending danger.

The angle of view, and the length of time I spent observing, were important to properly assessing the situation.  Look for too short of a time and the speck in the sky isn’t recognized as another aircraft.  Change the direction of the plane I was flying and now the approaching object’s shape and trajectory become more apparent.

This isn’t just about ‘hard’ objects, you can look in a ‘soft’ manner as well.  Is the scowl on the person’s face because of an emotion (short time frame) or a mood (longer time frame)?

Next time you’re looking at something, spend some time interiorizing these two questions.  Reflect on how you’re looking at something, and for how long. Try to look at things from different perspectives.  If everyone is looking at something from the top, try to see it from the bottom.  If people only glance at something, sit down and really look at it for minutes at a time.

If nothing else, you might be taken by the beauty of the world that surrounds us, and you might see something for the first time!


Posted in Best Practices, Design, innovation, Innovation Tools, Service Design, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Many Dimensions of Beauty

Posted by Plish on May 11, 2013

Sustainable innovation occurs when the mind dwells in the many dimensions of beauty,

where like breeds like…

A friend shared the following video on Facebook.

It’s simple and profound.

One could say:

It’s beautiful.

Posted in Arts, Biology, Design, innovation, nature, Science, Sustainability, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Insights Into Innovation via the Way of the Mad Scientist

Posted by Plish on August 11, 2011

While at a client’s the other day, a colleague looked at the collection of new and failed prototypes, bits and pieces of scrap, notes, Ziploc bags with components,  and exclaimed, “Plishka, you’re a mad scientist, man!”

It wasn’t the first time I’ve been called that jokingly.  I’ve always considered it a compliment.  Yes, I know,  ‘bad’ mad scientists get much more billing than ‘good’ mad scientists so people tend to think of mad scientists as primarily ‘bad’.  But, since I don’t have people coming after me with torches and pitchforks, I can only surmise that I’m labelled with the moniker because I share certain traits with mad scientists in general – what we’ll call, ‘Common Mad Scientist Traits’ (CMST’s for short).

So, it got me to thinking about traits of mad scientists (good and bad), myself and about other creative people at innovative companies.  A compilation of CMST’s is as follows: 

  • Empathy for the human condition
  • Tenacious, passionate commitment to solving problems
  • Will prototype/experiment before committing to the bigger project
  • Customizes environment and tools to increase odds of success
  • Accepts failure as a learning opportunity
  • Leverages technology
  • Has assistants(team) that share(s) the vision
  • Finds ways to work around bureaucracy
  • Authentic – true to self

Does this list jive with the “Mad Scientists” you know?  How does your business empower  and foster these behaviours and perspectives? Which CMST’s do you have?

Posted in Authenticity, Creative Environments, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, idea generation, innovation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Renaissance Souls, Science, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Nanotechnology Resource Site

Posted by Plish on February 17, 2009



It’s essential to fuel your creative engine with knowledge.  The more connections to disparate phenomena present, the better your chances of coming up with really cool solutions to problems.

I came across this sweet nanotechnology site that qualifies as “Hi-Octane” Creativity Fuel.

Their credo:

OUR MISSION: To build hope & optimism, one atom at a time.

This website is dedicated to increasing the awareness and understanding of nanoscience, nanotechnology and the concept of the “Singularity”.

Great primers, and information on how nanotechnology is being used and can impact your life.

Cruise on over and check out the future (and now!) of nanotechnology. 

Your creative muse will thank you!

Posted in innovation, Nanotechnology, nature, Research, Science, Sustainable Technology | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Obama and Innovation

Posted by Plish on November 6, 2008

Will President-Elect Obama Stay True to Science Funding Promises?

Will President-Elect Obama Stay True to Science Funding Promises?

President Elect Obama’s science policies can be read here.  While there is an exciting desire to double investments in research over 10 years, I wonder how much of that will transpire given the current economic environment.  His acceptance speech seemed to leave an ‘out’ regarding the difficulty of getting everything done that he wants to in these trying times.  One can only hope that science gets an improved shake in the new administration. 

Read more what the folks at Innocentive think about the plan.

Posted in innovation, patents, Politics, Science | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Neuroscience and Creativity

Posted by Plish on October 1, 2008

Excellent article here from FastCompany on some science behind creativity as well as some great tips to increase the creative output.

It doesn’t surprise me that Corporate off-site meetings might not be as effective as once thought.  Not surprisingly, it’s new stimuli that seem to help idea generation. 

What are your thoughts on thinking?

Speaking of idea generation, I’ve added a new Excel based creativity tool called the Lotus Blossom (right click to download).  Please try it and let me know if you like it or if there are problems with it.  More tools on the way!

Posted in cognitive studies, idea generation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Science | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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