ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘The Senses’

Want to Innovate? Don’t Forget the Prosciutto! (It’s not just about food)

Posted by Plish on January 25, 2018

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This doesn’t look impressive does it?

But it smells and tastes delicious!!

What does this have to do with innovation?

Everything.

The Road to Innovation is Paved with Prosciutto

The other day I was poaching an egg for breakfast.  I had some baked prosciutto chips that I had made a few days earlier.  I didn’t want to throw the crunchy pieces on the finished egg so I figured I’d re-hydrate them by throwing them in the water with the egg.

A mouthwatering aroma started rising from the water…

When the egg was done I took the egg and soft prosciutto out of the water.

I ate the egg and prosciutto with a slice of flax bread, and it was tasty.  But, I was intrigued by what I was still smelling in the pot.    I took a spoon and tasted it.

…hmmmm…not bad…

I poured some into a ramekin, added salt and pepper.

…Wow! REALLY good!

I immediately recorded what I had done in Evernote, along with some ideas for how I could use this stock next time.

After cleaning up, I did some searching and found that prosciutto stocks are a known delicacy. So, while I hadn’t discovered something totally new, nonetheless it was something we would call an innovation.

How did we go from poached egg with Prosciutto (everyday thing) to Innovation (Prosciutto Stock)?

Notice that the innovation isn’t even what I was going for.  I didn’t create a crazy type  of prosciutto egg.   I made prosciutto stock.

How did this happen?

During the course of one experiment (trying to soften the prosciutto while poaching the egg) I made an observation, remember?

A mouthwatering aroma started rising from the water…

When experimenting, pay attention with all the senses – be present, be mindful.  Poaching an egg typically involves sight, touch and a sense of time.  The senses of smell and sound don’t typically come into play.  I could’ve ignored what I was smelling, but I didn’t.

I took a spoon and tasted it.

I almost threw out the cooking water, but I was curious.  I knew that if something smells good it usually tastes good.

Don’t ignore your curiosity – Follow through on it!  You will be rewarded as I was.

hmmmm…not bad…

Refine what you discovered.  Experiment with the results of your experiment.  Understand its limits.  Explore the potential of your new discovery!

Wow! REALLY good.

That’s great, but what’s the next step?

Record the discovery.  Understand its import.  Continue to build upon the discovery.

But don’t just sit on it.

See what others have done. Check if the idea is worth protecting.  Compare and continue to build upon the concept.

So there you have it.  Next time you’re experimenting or testing a prototype, don’t just rigidly perform and interpret an experiment.

Engage all the senses in the experiment. 

Be present to everything, even your feelings and how you’re responding to what you’re experiencing.  Yes,  “Why?” is an important question to ask.

What’s better when you’ve discovered something,  is to ask yourself if what you’re experiencing has the potential to be good or bad.  Don’t assume you know the answer! Be brutally honest with yourself, and if you don’t know if something is good or bad, find a way to quickly perform a test to find the answer.

You’ll be rewarded 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in creativity, culture of innovation, Design, Food, idea generation, innovation, observation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Want to be More Creative? Change the Lighting

Posted by Plish on September 27, 2013

Posted in Creative Environments, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Creativity Videos, culture of innovation, Design, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Research, The Senses, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Never Underestimate the Power of Beauty

Posted by Plish on September 15, 2013

Think about this, next time you’re designing a product, a service – an experience…

Looks Like Cow Poop to Me

If a fly lands on your food, or your hand:

Wave your hand,

chase it away,

try to kill it!

flies are dirty

they land on manure and waste…
King of the Hill

If a butterfly lands on your food, or your hand:

pause,

don’t move,

gaze in wonder

it’s a sign…

it doesn’t matter where it’s been

it’s here now

and that’s all that matters…

Posted in Arts, Design, Experience, nature, The Human Person, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 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 »

Designing the Future? Check out these 5 Websites for Innovative and Inspiring Materials

Posted by Plish on March 20, 2013

soft, hard

glowing, shiny

smooth, rough

warm, cool

sharp, dull

touch, see, taste, hear(?!)

 

Reflect for a moment on where you are now:

Probably sitting somewhere….Wearing something (if not, I hope you are not in public)…Your feet are resting upon something…You’re looking at a screen, touching it perhaps..you are smelling and feeling the hot cup of coffee in your hand…the rings on your fingers…

Your experience of now is mediated through materials of all types, shapes and sizes.  The clothes, upholstery, floor, cup, tablet screen, coffee cup, the coffee, even the air, your skin…all materials…

Materials are so foundational to our experience of life that we often just take them for granted.

But, these are exciting times.

New materials are being created daily, materials that respond to temperature, to vibration, to light…materials that change shape in magnetic/electric fields, materials that don’t pollute the environment…

What we can make in the world is limited more so by materials than by our dreams…

Here are some really cool websites, some free, some not free, but all display a dizzying array of materials of all types.

OpenMaterials.org This site is all about ways to DIY amazing materials.  It’s about sharing material experiences.  Check this out.

Materials for Designers – Great site from the Materials Information Society.  Great database.

Transmaterial – Materials that redefine our physical environment.  Amazing stuff here.

Material ConneXion – This is a great site.  It is also a subscription based site. However, these folks offer more than just materials, they can be innovation partners. And, if you live in the areas where they have their display rooms you can actually see and touch the materials in their database. It’s worth a subscription to these folks.

Materia – Similar to Material ConneXion but this database is free.  There tagline is “Materialize the Future.”  Their website is a great place to start.

This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you have any other sites, please share them.

Henry David Thoreau said, “The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them.”

Please don’t settle and let your dreams become woodsheds.  Learn about, and experience new materials.

~The more we know materials, the more we can make dreams reality~

 

 

 

 

Posted in Architectural Design, culture of innovation, Design, Experience, Fashion, innovation, Nanotechnology, Open Source, Sustainability, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Innovation (and Living!) Starts with Seeing

Posted by Plish on November 3, 2012

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

At the end of August I was watching a bumble bee go from flower to flower.

“Hmmm…” I said out loud.  I went inside and grabbed a camera.  You see, these bees didn’t go inside the flower.  They landed on the outside of the flower, did something with their mouths, went off to the next flower, and did the same thing.

Today I mentioned this to a neighbor who used to raise honey bees.

She had no idea what they were doing. She had never seen, nor heard of that happening before.

Now, I grew up around hostas and bumble bees my entire life, and I’d be willing to bet  that this particular species of bumble bee is not only doing this behavior in my yard, this year.  Yet, it’s the first time in my life I’ve ever seen this.

I have been looking at flowers and bees all my life! But, what had I seen? What do I see?

How much do we really see when we look at things?

If we’re not seeing, how can we ever know – really know?  What opportunities for enrichment have we missed?

Spend some time consciously seeing.  Not only will innovation opportunities become apparent, your life will become richer.

 

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, Design, innovation, nature, The Human Person, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Innovating For (and From) the Fringe

Posted by Plish on January 21, 2012

One of my favorite TV shows is Fringe.  It’s tale of parallel universes and the FBI’s, Fringe Division team, and their fight against inter-dimensional, and/or high technology crime.

The whole concept of the fringe, is a loaded one.  It is the place where the familiar feathers into unfamiliarity; where rules change and people must innovate and use technology creatively, simply to survive.  It’s the place of exile, the place of wonder and mystery.  Fringes are fragile – they fray.  They give the appearance of solidness but only until one touches them.  Then, they become ethereal webs that elicit unsure steps of probing instead of the surefooted steps of conviction.

The TV show depicts these fringe events as truly out of the ordinary.

The truth is, fringe events are around us everywhere.  When I buy a drink for someone at a bar and hand it off, that moment when I’m letting go and the person is receiving, is a type of fringe event.  When I click on a link and wait for the next screen to reveal itself, that is a fringe moment.  These exchanges of objects, states and information, facilitated by the interaction of two people (or at least a person and an object), are fringe moments.

Oh sure, they’re not rips in the space-time continuum, but they are moments when everything hangs in a balance of ‘what-ifs?’.

They are also moments ripe for creative innovation.  They are the moments when improv actors can create brilliance or grey.  They are the moments when health care providers can seamlessly transfer information and improve healthcare, or they can be moments of confusion – planting the seeds for future accidents.

In order to innovate in the fringe, it requires that we understand, and design for, what each person, or object is expecting to give and get.  There are two universes present on either side of the fringe event, each with its own rules. The operating laws of these universes need to be accurately ascertained in order to design appropriately and creatively.  Oh sure, we can assume what each party wants, but to really create magic, we need to know the local laws of interaction and provide an environment for synergy.

If we commit ourselves to the study of the moment – if we seek to understand the objects, interactions and suppositions that brought about that moment – we innovate from the fringe and in so doing, for the people and objects creating the fringe moment.   We become crafters of portals – doorways through which experience and objects pass.

Let’s not take this task lightly.  Whether professional or amateur:

We really do have it in our power to shape experiences in the universe. 

Posted in Conveying Information, creativity, Customer Focus, Design, Healthcare, innovation, Service Design, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Holistic ‘Brain’storming – Harnessing the Body (and the Senses) in the Creative Process

Posted by Plish on August 18, 2011

We have a tendency to take our body’s for granted.   As a result we often ignore the connections between mind and body that have evolved to become part of the human condition.  For example, this article points out that when people think about the past they lean backwards, when they think about the future they lean forwards.

Now think about brainstormings you’ve been in.  How many people lean back in their chairs when trying to come up with ideas?  Sure, you can say that people are relaxing, and I’ll be the first to admit that a relaxed mind is a creative mind.  But, having people leaning forward in their chairs is easy to do, and if done in a playful, relaxed way, can’t hurt.

Is a topic important?  Perhaps having heavy-looking objects scattered around the room, or even having people hold heavy objects, can portray the importance of what is being discussed.  

Want people to feel warm?  Have them remember good experiences. 

Have them hold warm drinks  and chances are they’ll view fictional characters as friendly and warm (and vice-versa with holding cold drinks).

If you bring munchies into the meeting and you want participants to think in a more creative (versus analytical) fashion, serving a bowl of a trail mix may help.  Want participants to be more analytical in their thinking?  Bring in a bowl of nuts, one of raisins, one of chocolate bits….you get the idea.  (For more on creativity and our senses see this article.)

The point is, people are more than just brains.  People are holistic, embodied beings and when the body is brought into the creative process, amazing things can happen.

Give it a try, you don’t have anything to lose…

…but a whole bunch to gain!

Posted in Best Practices, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Design, idea generation, imagination, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, The Senses, Traditional Brainstorming, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

So you want to Design for the Senses? Don’t Forget These!

Posted by Plish on January 15, 2011

When we think about the senses we usually default to the five primary senses of  Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste and  Touch.

We could further subdivide the taste  (sweet, salty, etc.) and touch (cold, hot, pain, etc.) categories but usually those distinctions are useful only under certain circumstances.

There are however, four other “Senses” that humans all use to some extent or another, and these also play (or at least should play) key roles in designing products and services.   These are:

1. Motion/Balance

This sense is tied into our experience of moving through the world or for that matter, standing still and not tipping over on an incline.  We even speak of  a  ‘sense of balance.’  The body is especially sensitive to changes in acceleration.  This sense gets reinforcement from the sense of sight which explains why some people get more nauseous experiencing a movie of a roller coaster in a theater than they do on the roller coaster itself. This is because the eyes are telling the brain there is movement but the vestibular organs responsible for sensing movement are saying, “you’re sitting still,” and the confusion messes with your gut.  The Wii and various video games leverage this sense as do vehicles.  Think of how nice a strong acceleration feels when you’re trying to get into traffic from a short entry lane.

2. Proprioception

This is the body’s ability to know where its various parts are in relation to each other, even when we can’t see those other parts.  The ‘touch the tip of your finger to your nose with your eyes closed’ test is for this sense.  When people (factory workers, athletes, physicians, etc.) are training various limbs to repeatably do certain tasks, products need to be designed to not interfere with this sense. This is why professional baseball players’ bats are made to tight specifications at an athlete’s request.  Any small variation in the bat could, and most likely will, interfere with this sense and alter the player’s swing. 

3. Time 

Time is something that is poorly designed for, if at all.   We often design to minimize the amount of time being spent but fail to realize that most people have a tendency to overestimate the amount of time it takes to do something when that task is unpleasant.   It’s essential to design products and services such that the passage of time be more pleasurable or useful.   Remember, if you design something that results in a boring three-minute wait, it will feel like ten to the person waiting and it will leave people with a bad experience. 

4. Morality

Here again, like the phrase, “sense of balance,’ we use the phrase, “sense of morality,” in everyday language.  This sense, which also may rely on the other senses to inform it, can influence design in many ways.  Moral sense undergirds the  Sustainable or Green design movements.  Failure to pay attention to this aspect of design can be problematic.  In the 1990’s, it became known that Nike was using sweatshop labor to manufacture its shoes.  Since then, Nike has been on a mission to improve labor conditions, as well as its reputation.  Over the years, they have made great advances, as have other industries like the leather industry where innovative tanning methods have been developed so that workers are not exposed to toxic chemicals.  This interconnected world is starting to breath with a pan-cultural sense of morality.  Ignore it in your designs at your own risk.

So, next time you’re designing something that you want to impact the senses, don’t forget to go beyond the realm of sight, touch, sound, smell and taste.  Innovations that do will be better received, and most likely, better for the world.

Posted in Customer Focus, Design, design thinking, Emotions, innovation, Innovation Tools, Social Responsibility, Society, Sustainable Technology, The Human Person, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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