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.
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:
Article first published as Popsicle Sticks as Toys? Really? on Technorati.
My youngest son came home beaming last week. He had a wonderful day at school and was even chosen to be “Star of the Day.” At the dinner table, he showed us his prize for being the star. Sitting next to him were 6 popsicle sticks that he had arranged into a pattern. We oohed and ahhed as my son manipulated the popsicle sticks into stars, planes and birds.
Watching my son playing with the popsicle sticks brought back memories of my childhood. As a child, whenever I went to the pediatrician, he would give me a bunch of tongue depressors as a treat for being good. I shared this memory with my family. My oldest son said, “Really?!? That’s all he gave you? What kind of prize is that?”
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.
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.”
The first time I flew to Australia, I remember dreading the layover and wishing we could fly non-stop from Boston. As I peered out the plane window and saw the brilliant sunshine, I couldn’t fathom how decades later a solar plane would make its first international flight. Just the other day the solar-powered Solar Impulse completed a flight from Switzerland to Brussels. The plane generated energy from the sun and stored the power in order to charge lithium batteries for night flight. No fuel and no pollution. Creativity at its finest.
Creativity comes in different shapes and sizes. It ranges from tranformational, or big-C creativity, all the way down to everyday, or little-c creativity. Transformational creativity is what it takes to reinvent a category, like moving from video cassettes to DVDs, while everyday creativity is the problem solving we Read more