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.
This is a follow-up post to an article I wrote a few weeks back titled, Creativity: Sensing Gaps and Imagining Possibilities. In the article I hypothesized about how a person’s mind could recognize a gap in a situation and fill in, or imagine, the possibilities. I used examples from my early work experience to shed light on how the mind might work.
In listening to an NPR story on an early morning commute, I was surprised to learn of scientific proof backing the sensing of gaps and imagining possibilities. In the segment Mindreading: Technology Turns Thought into Action the NPR team interviewed researchers who found, “Whether it’s musical phrases or strings of words or scenery we look at, our brains are always filling in missing information.”
In 1916, Einstein published the general theory of relativity. More than 50 years later, NASA confirmed Einstein’s predictions. How is it that some people can seemingly predict the future? I believe it comes down to the ability to sense gaps and to imagine possibilities. At the end of the day, predicting the future may be nothing more than tapping into divergent and convergent thinking skills.
For example, on my last day of work from one of my very first jobs, I wrote down a half dozen predictions about the future of the company I was leaving. I then sealed my predictions in envelopes and gave them to a colleague with instructions to open each one on the date indicated. As my colleague opened each envelope, she was surprised by the accuracy of what I had predicted. In the end, nearly all had come true.
Article first published as How to Avoid 7 Kid Creativity Crushers on Technorati.
The call for creativity in education is picking up steam. Educators around the globe are inventing new, innovative modes of teaching to help build creative thinking skills. In order for creativity to take hold, parents need to model creative behaviors at home. Sometimes, figuring out what not to do sheds light on the best practices to employ. Here are 7 surefire ways to crush a child’s creativity. These are based on research by Amabile and Hennessey (1992):
- Surveillance – putting your kids under a microscope and making them feel like they’re being watched
- Evaluation – judging your kids performance
- Read more
Fostering a creative environment in the workplace is like nurturing a garden.
Though I’ve had tulips in my garden for the past 6 years, this Spring marks only the second year my tulips have bloomed. Each year as the green leaves of my tulips appear, I eagerly anticipate the colorful blossoms. Unfortunately for the first 4 years, all I saw was a garden of green stems sitting atop the leaves. In talking to one of my neighbors, she asked if I let the tulips die back. Being a novice gardener I replied, “Once I see the greens starting to wilt, I cut down the plant.” As it turns out, tulip bulbs reabsorb the energy from the dying plant. Rather than cutting down the plants, I learned I should let them die back naturally. Just like gardening, creativity in the workplace needs care and feeding.
When I first graduated college, I set a goal of talking to one new person a day. This goal helped me meet many interesting people and even helped me land my first job in the field of marketing. However, as time went on, I soon fell into chatting and socializing with my familiar set of friends.
Once I started traveling for work, this all changed. A number of years ago, I was one of the top travelers in my company. In my travels I met many people. What I found interesting was of all the conversations, the most authentic and most heartfelt were the ones with seatmates on my flights. I once met a brain surgeon who was burned out and didn’t want to be a brain surgeon anymore. This surgeon shared his concern about what lifestyle changes in switching careers might mean to his family.