A few weeks back at the FEI11 conference, I helped setup the Lego exhibit. After unloading boxes and boxes of Legos, I dove into contributing the first of many user-generated, or in this case, conference attendee-generated, creations that would grace the exhibit. As I thought about what to construct, I decided it might be nice to welcome folks to Boston by building the skyline. After constructing the John Hancock Tower, the “Boston Legal” building, the Prudential building, and a “Bridge to the Future” with a divergent and convergent staircase, I started on the waterfront. I added water details including Read more
Last week, I stopped by a local food truck for lunch. After eating, I looked around for a trash can to toss the rubbish. Typically, it is easy to spot the receptacle because it is overflowing with trash. Not this time though. As I looked around, I found a Big Belly Solar Compactor. I didn’t think much about what a solar trash compactor was because I was running late for a meeting.
Then, over the weekend, my son and I had a picnic at our local park. When we were finished with our picnic, I looked around for someplace to throw the trash. In the distance, I spotted a trash can with piles of wrappers and food debris. Sadly, we couldn’t jam another bit of trash into the can if we tried. Rather than adding to the growing pile forming around the receptacle, my son and I looked for another trash can. We found a pristine Big Belly Solar Compactor. Problem solved.
When our prehistoric ancestors sensed change they saw two options – fight or flight. For those of us who tap into creativity, there’s a third alternative. Namely, to use our natural creative abilities to modify the situation. Even the youngest among us know how to tap into creative thinking to alter outcomes. My 5-year old son is a master at changing the situation – especially when it comes to getting chocolate. He clasps his hands together, puts on a really cute face, and says, “pleeeease.”
In my family we refer to this as “begging face.” It works so well that when my older son wants something, he convinces his younger brother to “do” begging face.
More and more retailers are turning to private labeling and exclusive products to drive revenue. With this move comes an investment in building internal product development functions. It is estimated that by 2013, 40% of retailers will generate half of their revenue from private labeling and exclusive products. At FEI11, Michael Kitz, of OfficeMax, talked about this model in his presentation, Retailer Driven Innovation – A Powerful New Business Model.
There’s been quite a bit of talk lately in the innovation world about the importance of failure. In thinking about failure, I’m struck by the negative connotation. Though many of us consider failure a bad thing, sometimes there is an unintended consequence to failure. Namely, failure can lead to new thinking and innovation. I was reminded of the beauty of failure by my son.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend IIR’s 2011 Front End of Innovation conference. There were many great speakers and topics. Here is an excerpt from Humana.
When it comes to innovation in the health care space, Humana stands head and shoulders above the competition. Tony Tomazic, Director of Innovation, at Humana shared learning from the company’s 11 year history in the innovation business. Here are a few of Tony’s insights:
There’s a lot of talk in the business world about the importance of testing and learning. When it comes to web site design, we typically create prototypes to help clients understand user flows, graphical elements, and user interactions. Many times, we take these prototypes out to end users to test and get feedback. This aspect of testing and learning helps to uncover opportunities, understand what is/isn’t working, confirm hypotheses, and find ways of improving outcomes. Though this example was couched in a business context, we all have the innate ability for testing and learning. In fact, testing and learning begins as infants.
Just as routine exercise improves overall health, routine creativity adds to a healthy lifestyle as well.
In some brainstorming sessions, the climate is calm with people thoughtfully building on each others ideas. In other brainstorming sessions, the climate is more competitive with people trying to outdo each others ideas. Over time I’ve realized the calm room is usually filled with people who brainstorm consistently, while the competitive room is usually filled with people who brainstorm sporadically. With this hypothesis, I began thinking about the parallels between exercise and creativity and how a sedentary lifestyle (either physically or creatively) can be bad for your health.
Being able to speak a different language helps spark creativity by providing access to more people and more cultures. This leads to greater understanding, a more open mind, and greater empathy – all great building blocks for drawing creative inspiration.
Although I live my life in an English-speaking world, sometimes when I dream about my grandparents, I dream in Chinese. Growing up, I spent a great deal of time living with my grandparents and speaking Chinese. Now that I’m older and do not speak Chinese as much, I feel most comfortable with the language in my dreams. While dreaming, I carry on lengthy conversations with my grandparents. Upon waking and walking through a play-by-play of the conversations, I am always surprised by how much of the language I still remember.
I grew up with music and am thankful for my musical household. Of course, with my family “growing up with music” didn’t mean coming from a musically talented family, but living above a disco lounge. In thinking about my childhood I remember my brother and I putting our ears to the floor late at night to hear the sounds of the 70’s. I also have fond memories of my uncle singing into a hairbrush, my first portable radio, and my first Walkman!
A memorable quote about the link between music and creativity comes from creativity facilitator, Bill Sturner, who said, “…music cuts through and gets you to glide with it.” And, if you think about it, music really does have a way of shifting our moods. Music can make us happy, give us energy, make us cry, make us conjure images of the past…and even images of the future.