ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘The Human Person’

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 »

Battling Negative Body Perceptions by Designing Life-Giving Experiences of Self

Posted by Plish on September 25, 2015

A friend of mine who is an art teacher, shared a recent experience.

Her class of 1st graders had just finished their Mondrian artworks and they were placing them on a rack to dry.  As one girl approached the rack, she slowly, and respectfully, placed her masterpiece on the rack and kissed it gently.

A gentle acceptance of beauty…

She saw the creative wonder that came forth from her hands, from her soul, and she appreciated it, and loved it…

Why can’t we do that with ourselves?

We are amazing, creative wonder-filled beings and yet we often focus on the negatives, focus on what’s wrong with ourselves, our bodies, and we let that negativity define us.

Today, while sitting in a hospital waiting room, I read this article in Brava Magazine:

Our Bodies Ourselves

Learn To Love What You See In The Mirror

Women have an especially hard time seeing themselves as they truly are in today’s culture.

  • Do you know any girls six to eight years old?  Almost half of them would rather be slimmer.
  • Know adolescent girls? Odds are that they’ve dieted and thought about weight loss even though they were normal weight.
  • Eating disorders are 400 percent more prevalent than in the 1970’s
  • It takes seeing only 11 images from the media for women to have feelings of body dissatisfaction, and anxiety over their weight.

11 images…

This article has some heartfelt and practical advice for overcoming negative body images.  It’s about redesigning your perception of your self.  It’s about seeing yourself as more than what media images, and the culture at large, will have you believe you are.

Know you are more.

You are Beauty.

You Are Light.

Share YOU!

Some years back, a friend, an artist, was going through multiple challenges. She saw herself as unattractive and overweight, and couldn’t see herself otherwise.  She couldn’t even appreciate her own art, the works of her hands.  Her self-perception was crippling her ability to share of herself.  She thought she was a no one, and was in a depression.  I wrote the following song for her.  I feel it compliments the article in Brava.

So many faces
the woman, the lover, the poet, the artist
You look into the mirror
ask “Is it really me?”

For every drop of rain that falls
every tear that touches sky
every breath mingling with stars
why should there be any doubt
of who you are?

It’s clear to me
so many faces, so much love, so much beauty
Mystery is not defined it’s experienced
and loved in silence…

For every drop of rain that falls
every tear that touches sky
every breath mingling with stars
why should there be any doubt
of who you are?

You
Just be you
Just be you
Just be you
just be you…

***

We are not defined by what others say.

Let’s design ways to help people, especially women, see themselves as they really are.  There’s a wonderful program synthesizing yoga, community and service, at Eat, Breathe, Thrive.  Check them out!

I’d love to hear your ideas for fostering self-acceptance, especially pertaining to disordered eating and negative body image,

Posted in Authenticity, Design, Healthcare, The Human Person, Wellness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Thinking of the Ideal will Design the Beautiful (Happy Birthday, “Bucky”!)

Posted by Plish on July 12, 2014

When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution isn’t beautiful, I know it is wrong.
— Richard Buckminster Fuller

 

Today is the birthday of Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller.  For those of you who don’t know him, he was an amazing architect, systems thinker, writer,  inventor, designer, and futurist.  In short he was a thinker and doer.  He considered himself, “an experiment to find what a single individual can contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity.”

For Fuller, beauty wasn’t just something nice to look at.  It was something to strive for when designing things, services and ourselves.

To many, Fuller was perhaps too utopian in his thinking.  What they fail to realize is that this ‘utopian’ tendency was fundamental to his design capabilities.  His goal was not to make something that was ‘good enough.’  His goal was to contribute to designing a world in which 100% of the human population could reach its highest potential with 0% negative impact on the environment and larger systems in which humans are integrally intertwined.

This concept of “ideality” is an important concept to remember and one of my favorite ways to generate innovative ideas.  (Ideality is essentially the ratio of all the positive benefits of something divided by the sum of  all the negatives. ) A more practical way to think of ideality is to think of it as a machine that does everything you need it to do but without any negative consequences.  For example, a bicycle that moves me from Point A to Point B without pedaling is an ‘ideal’ bicycle.  From a personal energy standpoint, a motorcycle is an ideal bicycle.  However, in order to be truly ideal, there should be no negative impacts at all levels of the system.  While a motorcycle is ideal with regards to conserving personal energy, it’s not ideal with regards to impacting the environment with its exhaust, and when its lifespan is over and it needs to be disposed of.  (Learn more how Ideality is at the root of designing products in the highly recommended book:  Cradle to Cradle .)

Ideality is powerful in that it forces people to think of the ramifications of what they are doing.  It also forces designers (us) to look at contradictions in the problem solving process.  The longer we can hold on to those contradictions and bounce them off of each other with the goal of designing a solution that transcends the contradictions, the better the chances we can come up with solutions that are closer to the ideal solution.  Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management, in his book, “The Opposable Mind“, calls it Integrative Thinking.

An often overlooked benefit of designing towards to the ideal is that it forces us to look inside the problem itself for the solution.  (Want to create the ultimate experience of eating chocolate and drinking your favorite cordial but you hate washing the glasses afterward?  Make the drinking vessel out of chocolate!)  It is this quality that makes the Ideal solutions beautiful.  Once you experience it, you just know.

This quest for the ideal was key to Fuller’s thinking, and in this day and age, we shouldn’t be satisfied with half-solutions that cause more problems than they solve.  We need to start embracing the Ideal in politics, society, businesses and in our personal lives.  The future of “Spaceship Earth”, (as Bucky called it), may very well depend on it.

*******

If you’d like to learn more about Buckminster Fuller’s thinking, below are some resources:

Design Science – A Framework for Change – A fascinating and insightful presentation on Fuller’s Design Process thinking.

Everything I Know: 42 Hours of Buckminster Fuller’s Visionary Lectures Free Online (1975) – There’s a link to the transcripts if you’d rather read.

Buckminster Fuller Gives a Lecture About Semantics at San Quentin State Prison (1959) (At one point he told the inmates: There are no throw-away resources,and no throw-away people.” )

Critical Path – Perhaps the best and most accessible summary of his thought.

The Buckminster Fuller Institute – A great resource on everything Bucky!

Posted in Books, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, Evolution, Human Rights, imagination, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Social Innovation, Society, Sustainability, Sustainable Technology, The Future, The Human Person, TRIZ | 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 »

Inspiration from “The Rebbe” into Redesigning Healthcare, Starting with the Word We Use

Posted by Plish on June 14, 2014

While driving to a 24 hour Walgreens in the wee hours of the night, I was listening to the radio and heard an interview with Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History.

Rebbi Telushkin pointed out that the Rebbe believed in the power of words and he made it a point to use optimistic, positive words.   So strong was the Rebbe’s belief that it influenced the author, Rabbi Joseph, to use the words “due date” as opposed to “deadline” when talking about projects.  “Due dates” are synonymous with births, “deadlines” with, well, death.

The Rebbe carefully chose his words and therefore used the phrase beit refuah, when he spoke of a hospital.  Translated it means ‘house of healing.’  Most people used the term beit cholim, which means ‘house of the sick’.

Think about that.

When you hear the word “hospital” what do you think of?

If you’re like most people, you’ll probably say, “That’s where the sick people are.” Maybe you’ll mention something about people getting better but, odds are, the first thing that’ll  probably come to mind is sickness, not healing.

That’s interesting because the word “hospital” comes from the Latin word hospes. The word meant a foreigner/stranger or guest.  It’s actually the root word for “hospitality”, “hostel”, “hotel”, and “hospice”.

Do you consider hospitals synonymous with hospitality?  While the Ritz-Carlton has given customer services lessons to healthcare facilities, and many hospitals are upgrading their food quality and redesigning their interiors, the cultural change hasn’t occurred yet.  People still don’t identify hospitality with hospitals.  For that matter, unfortunately, I don’t believe that healing is identified with hospitals. I’ve even heard of hospitals being described as those places where people get sick!

Some places are making the change and trying to change peoples’ impression of what healthcare facilities represent.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America has taken the step of using green colors and logo that has a tree and a person playing and a dog.  They clearly want to convey their commitment to life and living.  Their facilities are even designed in V-shapes, almost like open arms.  They really don’t look ‘hospitally’. Check them out some pictures here.

The lesson here is that language is important.   From healthcare terms, to renaming strategic plans, to renaming project ‘post-mortems’, I believe it’s important that we use terms that take us in positive directions and make us think of what it really is that we want to accomplish.  Too often we just use common phrases, seldom taking the time to understand the impact of those terms in shaping our worldviews and how we approach problems.

Whether it’s healthcare or a relationship you’re trying to improve,

think about the words you use,

think about the metaphors that describe your challenges,

think about the ramifications of words,

and choose words that build up, that inspire, that give life, that cause you to look at people and situations in new and exciting ways.

The Rebbe would be happy…

 

 

Posted in Customer Focus, Design, Healthcare, innovation, Religion, Service Design, Social Innovation, The Human Person, Wellness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Want to Harness the Power of “We”? Innovation Starts with “I”

Posted by Plish on March 3, 2014

People like to point to the fact that Thomas Edison had an entire innovation factory working for him, that innovation was a team effort.  While this is true in general, the deeper truth is that Edison was an entrepreneur.  He had to get the ball rolling.  At the beginning, the ideas were his, the dreams were his, the innovation factory was his baby.  He worked to make things happen.  Even in the context of the “We” of his facility in Menlo Park, there were commitments from each individual employed there.

Innovation starts with “I”.  It starts in the heart; it starts with an individual commitment, an individual work ethic. Before it can become a communal effort it needs to be an individual dream. Innovation has entrepreneurial roots.  When individuals come together with common goals, empowered to make dreams reality, when they’re given freedom to experiment, to be creative, to try, fail, learn and grow, when people are rewarded either intrinsically or extrinsically, then “We” means something.  Until then, it’s simply a word used in the context of stirring political, and corporate, pep rallies.

Please don’t misunderstand me. “We” is powerful.  But it’s only powerful if the following criteria are met:

  1. Everyone being called, “We”, must consider themselves part of “We.” (If I say you’re part of a Tribe, you need to agree.)
  2. Anyone saying, “We”, must be acknowledged as part of “We”. (If you say you’re part of a Tribe, I need to agree.)
  3. “We” must all believe in the same goals and means to accomplish those goals.  (Each individual agrees to certain roles.)
  4. Each individual receives a reward for contributing to “We”.
  5. Each individual must be empowered to act in ways that helps accomplish the goals of “We”.
  6. “We” does not turn against the individual.  “We” respects the individual.  As such, “We” respects, and needs, diversity – especially in the context of innovation.

“We”, paradoxically, is fragile. If all 6 of the above criteria are not met, especially the first 3, there is no “We”.   Strictly speaking, we is a virtual entity – it only exists when the above 6 criteria are met.  Saying “We can do this! We can change this!” while perhaps inspiring,  provides no direction.

On the other hand, “I” does not have the pre-requisites above.  It is powerful and strong.  Yes, there may be circumstances that hinder innovation.  But, in the end, it’s about digging deep and finding a way.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” -Theodore Roosevelt

So, how do we create “We”?

Address the needs of, inspire and empower, the individual.  Let people be “I”.  Let people be authentic, let them be true to themselves.  People are social creatures, they leverage relationships naturally when given opportunities.  “We” – Tribes – form somewhat spontaneously where individuals blossom.

You are change!

Make a difference in your own life, in your family, in your community!

The ripples will build upon themselves, and the “We” that’s formed will be even more powerful.

Innovation starts with “I”.

Posted in culture of innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship 2.0, innovation, Politics, Team-Building, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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 »

A New Tool for Understanding People’s Emotions – Beyond Verbal

Posted by Plish on July 26, 2013

“Hey, Bill, how are you doing?”

“Things are going well!”

“It doesn’t look like it.  Looks like you’re tired and worn out.  Something bother you?”

“Nah, I’m hanging in there.  Life is good!”

Variations on the above conversation happen all the time.  People say one thing but are feeling another.  For whatever reasons, sometimes people don’t feel comfortable sharing their emotions.  That’s okay – we respect that.  But, when you’re trying to create a product or service that makes that person’s life easier, it often helps to understand the emotional underpinnings.

In the past I’ve blogged about PrEmo, a way of measuring emotions by utilizing the natural human capacity to notice emotions in others.  A new tool has been (and is being) developed over at BeyondVerbal.com.  They’ve been analyzing the intonations in people’s voices to tease out the emotions behind them.  These intonations are universal and when categorized, provide a means for determining the emotional states of people around the world.

I did my own little demo at their website.  So far, I’ve found it amazingly accurate.  I’ve also found it hard to fool.

So give it a try – I’d love to hear your thoughts about the tool and its applications!

Posted in Behavioral Science, Customer Focus, Design, Emotions, Experience, innovation, Innovation Tools, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How to be Interesting (and Innovative, and Creative, and…) – A Book Review

Posted by Plish on June 10, 2013

Howtobeinteresting

 

What really struck me about, Jessica Hagy’s, “How to be Interesting (in 10 Simple Steps)“, was both its simplicity and profundity.

Through the use of her trademark simple, ‘index card’ sketches, and wonderfully succinct text, Ms. Hagy shows the reader what it takes to become an interesting person. What I found particularly wonderful was that you can replace the word, “Interesting” in the title with, “Innovative”, “Creative”, “Designful” or any other type of change agent type term and the book would still be apropos.

Therein lies the profundity of the book.

One could be tempted to simply quick flip through the book – after all, it’s just pictures, right?

Wrong.  Just because I said the book was ‘Simple’ does mean it’s ‘easy’, per se.  I purposely took my time with this little gem.  It deserves the 3 R’s: Reading, Reflection, Re-Reading.  That process of reflecting takes effort and if someone really wants to grow, it’s never going to be easy.

Being interesting, an innovator, a designer, a change agent – all those require stretching the self.  This book is a great reminder of that.

If you want to be more, create more, experience more,  share more, make-the-world-a-better-place-more, this book is for you.

Enjoy!

 

PS When you read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

.

 

 

Posted in Authenticity, Books, creativity, Design, Experience, innovation, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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