ZenStorming

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Posts Tagged ‘social innovation’

Empathic Empowerment Key to Transcending Innovation-Stifling Environments

Posted by Plish on November 23, 2017

Humans have a limited amount of bandwidth available for innovation.  Stress and creative thinking are intimately inversely related in our brains.  Increase stress levels and creative problem solving capability goes down.

People who live in high stress situations,  who face financial challenges daily, who are constantly bombarded by stimuli that evoke negative emotions, have a difficult time  thinking creatively.  This is because we expend brainpower when we have to cope with stress.

It’s also typically true that the best solutions to problems come from those people who are immersed in those problems.  The ‘insider’ is usually better able to come up with solutions than an ‘outsider’.  But there’s a catch.  Because of this innovation/stress relationship, if ‘insider’ people are overly stressed, they can’t come up with solutions to the problems that surround them.  So, the best solutions are prevented from materializing by the very environment that needs to be changed.

The first step then to  creatively and successfully solving problems in high stress environments is to help individuals deal with the stress.

A non-profit called EMPath is doing that by using brain science to enable people to deal with life’s pressures and take control of their lives — even if it’s one small step at a time.

When people are more in control, then stress levels go down.  Stress goes down, the brain energy bank doesn’t get depleted, and creative problem solving ability can go up.  The result is that people can now think of ways to improve their lives, their families and their neighborhoods.

During this Thanksgiving holiday, let’s make  a point of living our thankfulness by living with empathy, empowering others, lessening the burdens that people feel.

The result is more clarity, more peace, more potential unleashed to make the world a better place.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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Posted in culture of innovation, idea generation, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Social Innovation, stress, The Human Person, Wellness, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How to Discover Opportunity in Negativity

Posted by Plish on February 24, 2017

Negativity.  It’s everywhere.

It seems no one can do anything right.  Whether in politics, business or design critiquing, the default reaction seems to be one of negativity.

In some ways people can be excused.  From an evolutionary perspective, seeing the negatives gives an advantage in fight or flight situations.

Reaction 1: That tiger’s going to eat us – RUUUN!!!! (NEGATIVE)

Reaction 2: That tiger is licking its lips no doubt because it had a giant meal and now she’s just resting.  We can walk right by her. (POSITIVE)

The negative clearly has the advantage.

But, we’re not in Fight or Flight most of the time

Modern society has eliminated most acute threats to our existences. But that doesn’t stop us from seeing the negative. The problem is that when everyone is seeing negatives, the positives escape notice.  In fact, when the crowd is seeing negatives, we have a greater tendency to reinforce the negatives present and even find new ones.  Misery not only loves company, it creates it!!

Be a contrarian!

While recently reading “The Art of Contrary Thinking” (by Humphrey B. Neill) i was struck by the following:

“Bring up almost any question – on domestic or foreign affairs – and you will hear voices at once chime in that “it won’t work,” “It can’t be done,” and so on….(Instead,)…If we start asking “what’s right?”about this or that question, we shall find  we are actually changing our whole method of thinking.”***

Changing how we think is not easy to do, but it is fruitful and it can be done.

Example 1: Of mice and men…

in 1979, there was a mouse driven graphical user interface in use at Xerox.  It wasn’t commercialized.  It was clunky, had three buttons, and was hardly ready for prime time.  Steve Jobs saw it, and most importantly, saw the good in it.  He saw past the clunky three button tethered box.  The rest, as they say, is  (Apple) history.

Example 2: All they’re doing is playing games!!

That’s a typical refrain of people when they see young people playing video games and even recording and sharing them on YouTube.  Yet, E-Sports are not just a fringe phenomenon.  They are a multi-multi -million dollar ‘sport’that involve millions of people worldwide (Gaming almost had 100 billion in revenues in 2016!!) .

You can mock it.  You can call it a fad.

Do that and one thing will be guaranteed:

You’ll miss out.

So Design for the good!

Before you can do that, you need to first see the good. You need to not agree with crowds.who will be pointing out the zillion things wrong.  You need to have enough character and confidence to look deep, see the good, and stand by the good in a product, service,  technology or cultural phenomenon.

Ask yourself: What’s good about ……?

Build upon that good thing! Use it as a spring board.  Innovate around it!

Opportunities will present themselves where others just see… well actually, they won’t see anything.  They’ll be complaining about this or that.

You, as a contrary thinker, will be making better products, and making the world a better place!

 

*** – This book was written in the 1950’s and he was bemoaning the negativity pervasive in discourse!!!

Posted in Design, Entrepreneurship 2.0, innovation, Innovation Tools, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Three Words That Will Alert You To Opportunities for Innovation and Growth

Posted by Plish on January 20, 2017

“I don’t understand how anyone could vote for Donald Trump.”
“I don’t understand how anyone could vote for Hillary Clinton.”
“I don’t understand how anyone can play Pokémon for that long”
“I don’t understand why anyone would want to buy an iPad when an Android works just as well”
“How can anyone listen to {Taylor Swift, Kanye West, etc….}?”  (This is a veiled way to say “I don’t understand.”)
I Don’t Understand…

 

Those three words represent a disconnect from people and objects. They represent a lack of understanding of how people are being served, or how their desires are (or aren’t) being met. They point to how we don’t understand how people’s aspirations may be enabled and thus they point to how we don’t understand the opportunities present.

But perhaps more importantly, those three words highlight that we haven’t taken the time to understand people. What does that say about us? We like to think of ourselves as well informed, as perhaps at The Cutting Edge, as caring human beings.  Yet, we are confronted with seemingly inexplicable phenomena where millions of people are fans of a product, service, or person.

There’s a lesson here regardless of what products we like, or what people we want for president, or what games we play. We need to be tuned in to what other people want. If we really want to build better communities, a better world, we need to understand each other. We need to know where people are coming from. We need to know what types of things are passionately driving people in their day-to-day lives.

Niches of (Not) Understanding

Those words, “I don’t understand…” alert us to niches.  When designing products and services, we must play in those niches . And as we’ve seen, those niches can be comprised of millions and millions of people.

Pay Attention

Pay attention to what people do. Pay attention to what people say. Understand what excites people. What makes people happy? What do people feel that they will lose if they don’t have something? What will people feel they will gain if they do have something or if they don’t?

Today the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, is being sworn in. His election highlights the fact that there are millions upon millions of people in this country who don’t understand how somebody could vote for somebody else. That means that there are millions of people that’s simply don’t understand their fellow Americans people that’s too high a number.  If we’re designing a better country, (and that’s something that everyone seemingly wants), we need to rise above caricatures and start understanding each other’s motivations and pains.  We need to really understand and not lump everyone into neat little political, racial, socio-economic, etc. silos of categorization.

Misunderstanding

Thinking we understand is perhaps even worse than not understanding at all. When we misunderstand, we risk going down the unfruitful paths.  We risk spending money, time and energy on things that won’t resonate and hence won’t succeed.    Can anyone say “Edsel“?

Listen For Those Three Words

“I don’t understand”  Use those words as a springboard to exploring the relationships, needs, and desires, of people. Those words are the key to new products, services, and even in the bigger picture, a better world.  At at the end of the day, the best thing we can say is, “I understand why…” , or “I understand how…”

Once we understand, we grow.  When we’ve grown, we can get to work designing  solutions:  better products, better services, a better world.

Posted in culture of innovation, Design, innovation, observation, Politics, problem solving, Service Design, Social Innovation, The Future | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Innovator’s New Year Resolution

Posted by Plish on January 10, 2017

Twenty-Nine Percent

That’s the percentage of people that aren’t keeping their resolutions after 2 weeks.

What I’m going to propose a is pleasant and powerful resolution that Innovators of all types have implemented in their lives.

 

SIGNIFICANT THINGS

Great discoveries, great designs, innovations of all types,  occurred when people saw the significant hidden in the insignificant.  Be open to the unexpected and don’t belittle the insignificant!

SIGNIFICANT PEOPLE

In fact, the history of the human race is replete with people who have humble, insignificant beginnings, or were viewed as insignificant people because of the color of their skin, the country or caste of their birth, their religion, their sex – they were viewed as people who weren’t worth paying attention to.  Yet, these people changed the world.

OBSERVE

Pay attention.  Look deeply at the insignificant.  Don’t just cast it away and call it “waste”,”lesser”, “pointless”, “negligible”, “inconsequential”.

APPRECIATE EVERYTHING – AN INNOVATOR’S RESOLUTION

Only when you appreciate everything will you see opportunities for improvement, for elevation, for partnerships,  renewal, growth, friendships and more.  Missed opportunities will be few and far between.

AND WHEN IT’S NOT THERE, GIVE SIGNIFICANCE

Often the insignificant is only insignificant because it hasn’t been given the opportunity to be significant.  Empower.  Elevate.  Understanding the insignificance enables you to create significance.

BE AN INNOVATOR

Design a better world.  People are yearning to be more, experience more.  You are the one to provide it. It starts with open eyes, an open mind and an open heart.

It starts with you…

 

 

 

 

Posted in creativity, Design, innovation, problem solving, Social Innovation, The Future, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Innovation and Independence Both Start with”I” (Happy 4th!)

Posted by Plish on July 4, 2016

Innovation and Independence both start with “I”. It’s not a coincidence!

This country was founded by people who said, “I am going to make a difference!”

Those are the same words spoken by entrepreneurs and innovators world wide.

Not to mention that research shows that when fear is low, innovation is high.  So work to make your country, your work, neighborhood, homes, and your self, less fear filled!  Work towards creating a world where each person, each “I” can say with the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Provide safe spaces where people (yourself included!) can innovate and grow.   Allow innovation to flourish and you will indeed make the world a better place, one innovation at a time!

Happy Independence Day!!  Happy 240th Birthday, USA!

 

 

 

Posted in culture of innovation, Design, Human Rights, innovation, Social Innovation, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lessons on Innovating Using Cornstraints (It’s Not a Typo)

Posted by Plish on June 6, 2016

Now that we’re in the season of barbecues and beer, let’s delve into innovating using constraints.  For this post we’ll look at innovating how we eat corn on the cob, so we should probably call them “Cornstraints” (Sorry, couldn’t resist 😉 )

Typically, eating corn on the cob is a delicious but messy process because the cob can be slathered with butter, salt, pepper, mayo, pepper sauce, etc. (Corn must be delicious! – User applied constraints).  Most people don’t want this on their fingers (Keep fingers clean –A user applied constraint).  Not to mention, corn cobs are remarkably efficient at retaining heat (an inherent constraint), so holding them at the ends can be challenge if they were recently plucked out of boiling water.

Doing a quick Google search shows people are pretty much dealing with these constraints already.

Capturea.PNG

Most innovations in this space deal with ways of holding the corn.  Inserting sticks or holding the ears of the corn seem to be the most common solutions.  Using napkins or some other intermediate device are also ways of minimizing mess, improving grip, and increasing comfort.

How else can we improve the eating experience?

  1. Who says we have to hold it?  It’s a choice – a user applied constraint.  We can, as some people with dental work do, cut off the corn and eat it with a fork.  We can also use a power drill (as has been done by some folks on YouTube)  but this brings up whether we should ignore another  user applied constraint: All the kernels need to end up in the mouth .  We could also design a corn stand that holds the cob for us; or for that matter, we could ask a friend to hold it for us so we don’t get our own hands gummed up.  This then brings up a possible constraint: Eating Corn on the Cob shouldn’t cause us to lose friends.
  2. Since the center of the cob is often hot, what if we cook the corn without heating the core?  Think of ways to do this and have fun with solar heaters or blow torches!  For that matter, let’s work with the reverse of the constraint (Corn needs to be served hot) and create a delicious COLD corn dish!  What about chemically ‘cooking’ the corn?  We can use enzymes or chemicals to convert the corn into something delectable and yet cool.   Or what if we slice the corn cob into 1/4″ slices so that corn chips takes on a new meaning? 😉  Since they’re thinner, the centers will cool faster and be easier to hold.  Plus, the corn can now be dipped into whatever sauce we want!  We ignore one user constraint (Corn cob must be whole) and turn another on its head (The entire cob must be slathered with the same substance)
  3.  The center of the cob is typically not edible (Inherent Constraint).  So let’s make it edible!  Can we inject it with something prior to cooking it so that it softens and tastes good?

I could go on, but let’s take a look at what I’ve done.

At the heart of all the above ideas is a questioning of the constraint.  Why do we have to buy in to the constraint?  Let’s change it.  Who cares if it’s inherent in the product – work around it!   Personally I like looking at the opposite of what the constraint implies and then find a way to make that reality.  What’s very interesting (and fruitful!) is that as one starts playing with the alteration of constraints, new constraints inevitably pop up.  This makes sense because once constraints get changed, the whole context can change.  This change in context demands that we ask new questions and probe the new constraints that are formed.

So, the next time you’re eating corn on the cob, think about ways of changing the eating experience.  It might make for a great discussion at a party!  I’d love to hear your ideas for changing the experience by experimenting with cornstraints. 🙂

 

 

 

Posted in Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Design, design thinking, Disruptive Innovation, Food, innovation, Innovation Tools, Service Design, Social Innovation, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Are Crowd Powered Apps a New Invasive Species? – Innovation Creating Collateral Damage

Posted by Plish on December 15, 2014

What do the Cane ToadMosquito Fish  and the traffic app Waze have in common?

Cane Toads (Pic Courtesy of Sydney.edu.au)

Mosquitofish (Pic courtesy of National Geographic)

Waze (Courtesy of Waze)

 

Give up?

The are all innovations that created collateral damage.

Cane Toads were introduced to Australia in an effort to control the Cane Beetle which was destroying sugar cane.  The problem is that the can toad loved the environment and preferred eating anything other than the Cane Beetle.  As a result it is the ‘poster child’ for failed invasive species control measures.

Mosquito Fish were introduced to control mosquitos and in fact were instrumental in controlling Malaria outbreaks in South America, Ukraine and Southern Russia. However, they are extremely aggressive and if not watched, they can wreck aquatic ecosystems because of their competitive nature.

Waze?  I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Heck,  I’ve used it on occasion.  But, it too has solved one problem (helps people get to destinations more efficiently by leveraging the power of the crowd,) and created another: turning quiet streets into major thoroughfares.  As people travelling on the highways of California hit bad traffic, they turn to Waze to find alternate routes.  The result?  Nice, quiet neighborhoods that never used to see heavy traffic now have stifling traffic patterns.

A solution created a problem.

Collateral damage isn’t the only issue here.  The more I thought of this situation, something struck me.  Two of the three above are considered invasive species.  Is the third, Waze, also an invasive species?

Can an app be an invasive species?

An invasive species is a plant or animal that is not native to a specific location (an Introduced species); and has a tendency to spread, which is believed to cause damage to the environment, human economy and/or human health.

Using the above definition, (if we allow for the fact that apps aren’t plants or animals, but instead are used by animals,) can crowd powered apps be classified as a new type of invasive species (Appicus Crowdpoweredus) ?   If so, how are they controlled?  Should they be controlled?  Or the ultimate question:

Can they be controlled?

 

Would love your thoughts!!

Posted in innovation, problem solving, Social Innovation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“What Can I do? I’m One Person.” How About Build a Country? That’s Innovative Design!

Posted by Plish on July 4, 2014

Courtesy of History.com

Today is the 4th of July.  I sat down and re-read the Declaration of Independence.  Read it for yourself.

Brilliant Simplicity.

The Beginnings of something great and glorious.

Empathy

Introspection and Self-Knowledge

Reflection on the Human Condition

Keen understanding of the current situation in the country and the world

Knowledge of other domains, other political systems

~Courage~

This is great design!

This is Innovation!

(Reflect upon what these individuals did.  They began building a country and a way of government that the world had never seen before!)

Who are you?

What is the stuff you are made of?

Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness

The 4th of July is not about what the government did, it’s about what people did!

Start designing…

Happy Independence Day!

 

Posted in Authenticity, Design, Human Rights, innovation, Politics, Social Innovation, Social Responsibility, Society, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Designing a Better World in the New Year

Posted by Plish on January 13, 2014

“The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.”

― Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark

The Life Influence Continuum - Click to see full size

Click To See Full Size

A New Year – New Beginnings in the Life Influence Continuum

Each person

A unique combination of genes

Growing in family that grows

Surrounded by friends (sometimes more, other times less)

At work

In society

Touching others

Being touched

Love and Trauma

Changing the now (and future generations!)

What are we designing?

Humans become Light through the touching of souls

Yet we limit embraces (Do we fear the Unique?)

Impoverishing the Continuum(s) –

Still, the Singularity calls…

~~~

What is the name of the Stream we swim?

Chaos? Where all is chance buffeting of semi-conscious molecules?

Time?  With Einstein’s pavers beneath oblivious feet?

Shadow?  We Dancing Projections of something beyond?

Hate? Tar and stenches of sulphur, inescapable…?

Love? Crystal aromas of joy, refracting soul Light – lifting, empowering…?

The Stream awaits its name –

live wisely…

~~~

People often say that Christmas isn’t about the gifts.

I disagree.

Christmas is about gifts.

It is ultimately about a gift of giving Self.

It is a Gift that can keep on giving – every day, every minute, every second…

Everyone can share that Gift…

Start today!

~~~

 

Posted in children, Co-Creation, Design, Evolution, Human Rights, innovation, Life Stages, Parents, Social Innovation, Social Responsibility, The Future, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Giving Thanks, Changing the World and the Sacred Time Paradox

Posted by Plish on December 1, 2013

I wrote before on the Sacred Space Paradox.  The paradox is that as we set aside certain spaces like nature preserves and designate them ‘sacred’, by default we say that the rest of the world isn’t sacred in the same way.  As a result, instead of treating the entire world as a nature preserve, we relegate certain areas to ‘museum-esque’ status – meant to be interacted with in very controlled manners.

The corollary to the Sacred Space Paradox, is the Sacred Time Paradox.  We designate certain times as sacred and hence we behave in a certain manner in those times, but as a result, we de facto act in different ways during those ‘profane’ (not sacred) times.

Thanksgiving.

That special day in the year when we give thanks for all we have.  We give thanks for the bounty of harvest, for friends and family (and I am especially thankful for you, the reader!)  It is a time for togetherness and sharing.

So why do we make a point to be thankful but once a year? Is there anything that we do on Thanksgiving that we shouldn’t be doing every day?  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good thing to have a communal holiday that highlights giving thanks (at least in the ideal.)  But it’s important to be cognizant of the Sacred Time Paradox so that we can create a better world.

This weekend while relaxing post dinner, I came across this little blurb from Dear Abby in the local paper:

WP_20131129_001 (2)

Irrespective of the religious tone, each one of the lines is a great reminder of what it means to be truly thankful for something.  It’s not just about remembering, but about service and designing and innovating for others, to make their lives better.

That’s why I’m also including my “Thankfulness Process“.  I developed this flow chart to help us better understand what we’re thankful for and help us ponder ways in which we can transform that thankfulness into action.

thankfullnessprocessmichaelplishka2009

Let’s make a point to not fall too deeply into the Sacred Time Paradox.  Let’s reflect on what we’re thankful for more often, and more importantly, let’s use that thankfulness as an impetus to be more, and do more good, in this world.

Today, and every day, try and spend a few moments being thankful.  Not only can it help you be healthier, my wish for you is that it empowers you to create a better world for those less fortunate.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in culture of innovation, Design, innovation, Philosophy, Social Innovation, The Future | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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