Focus – Thinkibility Boost

focusComing up with real break-through ideas is not easy and will require some training and experience. However, the trickiest part of an idea generation session is in its first phase: defining the focus. Defining the thinking task is the first task you should undertake when you are trying something like a “20 Minutes Idea Boost”.

Defining the Focus

Often teams tend to skip this phase. They assume that the thinking task before them is clear.This is not the best approach since. . .

  • the current definition of the challenge or problem could be hindering the search for a solution
  • there may be unchecked different perceptions between the participants about what the problem or challenge is
  • the thinking task could be far too broad or abstract to get concrete ideas

Defining the wrong focus can sometimes result in great ideas, but the ideas may not be of the kind that you actually looking for – they do not solve your specific problem. You can also end up with simply poor ideas.

Example: We need ideas to deal with the shortage of maths teachers. The problem here is that teachers in maths are not well paid. Solution: raise they salary for  maths teachers. . .

To arrive at a focus shift you could use creative thinking techniques as cause-effect or foreground-background reversals, change of  system levels or any other thinking strategy.

Redefine the focus at infinity

To lessen the risk of being trapped in an obvious definition of the thinking goal – and getting obvious ideas – it helps to redefine the thinking challenge in at least 20 ways, connecting them with the statement: the problem here is. . . and. . . and. . . also. . . and not to forget. . .

Example: The problem with the shortage of maths teachers is that there are too few teachers leaving schools and also that maths teachers do have too many other tasks besides their teaching, and the problem is that the time in the class is not efficient used, and not to forget there is far too little PC aided support, and the problem is that far too much children have to learn math, and also the classes are far too big and there are too few teachers in maths because their education is too long, to elaborated. too. . . and so on. . .

Define selection criteria

Setting criteria against ideas at the end of a session are a very useful way to reflect on possible outcomes. It will prevent ” drifting”, that is coming up with wild and great ideas that are not relevant for this particular thinking task. Another advantage to setting criteria  before actual generating ideas is that it prevents a certain bias against crazy ideas, i.e. ideas that are not well-suited for overcoming the challenge.

Example: a good idea will increase the available maths teachers with at least 20 %, a good idea will reduce the amount of students that get no maths teaching with 80 % at least.  A good idea will not cost more than the salaries of maths teachers we don’t have at the pay this year. 

In Innovation – Selecting Ideas we wrote about the importance of setting criteria for what should be regarded as a good idea. This should be done before you start to generate ideas.

Make it sexy

The thinking task should be formulated in a way that is as challenging, far-reaching, provoking, imaginative and energetic as possible. The classical IWWMW – In What Ways Might We – is not real inviting, neither does ” We need ideas to improve…” ignites any real enthusiasm

Example: . At  least every child in secondary school should have 100 hrs maths a year by a qualified teacher. The amount of students that will have maths education will not exceed the available maths teachers.  How to make rock-stars of maths teachers within two years?

Make it formal

When you have finally found a promising thinking task, write it down:

  1. the subject: about what we are going to think
  2. the goal of objective: what should be reached after the thinking session: a solution, an idea, an approach, a decision, etc
  3. selection criteria for assessing ideas
  4. the sexy question

Time spent a meticulous formulating the thinking task will reward you with hopefully better ideas in less time. And all ideas will land exactly where you were aiming at. You will hit the bulls-eye – every time! Why does it work? It works because you have a clear view of the dart board.

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Focus the Attention, Relax, and Feel Invisible

Today, we can by using technology create situations that shows us how powerful our thoughts can be and also how confusing the boundaries between our own body and the environment can be. Below are two examples that pushes the boundaries when it comes to our concepts about thinking, the mind, body and the environment.

The idea of a separate body and mind have been discussed by many philosophical and religions traditions.The concept of thinkibility embraces a biological approach to consciousness and thinking. We believe that there is a complex interaction between the brain, body and the environment. In other words, we do not  believe that thinking takes place isolated in our heads.

The first example, illustrates how we can by focusing and relaxing our attention influence the environment. Ashley Newton has invented a set of robotic flowers that you control with your mind. You control the flowers and change the shape by focusing and relaxing. Like bioluminescent deep-sea creatures, the flowers blossom and  dances. The internal becomes the external and the boundaries between your mind and the environment becomes blurred.

CCguqeBW0AA3vLmNewton says; “The more you’re able to be aware of your mind and control it appropriately, the more effective you’ll be at doing whatever you want, and the better you’ll feel.” Controlling the robotic flowers can help to improve mindfulness.

Research carried out by Arvid Guterstam and his colleagues has explored what it feels like to be invisible.

The technology has not yet advanced enough to provide us with a real invisibility cloak but it is possible to create a perceptual illusion that makes us believe that we are invisible.
By using clever camera angles, virtual goggles and physical caresses (touching the body) it was possible to create the illusion that a person has no body. Go here to read more about the experiment.
So what happens to us when we think that we are invisible? The researchers looked among other things at how a person would react in a social situation and they found that feeling invisible reduced the anxiety brought on by standing in front of an audience. Thus, tricking us to feel invisible may help to reduce social anxiety.
An interesting aspect that the research team will look at next is how feelings of invisibility affects our moral.
Why not write a list of things you would do if you were invisible?
Ten positive things and ten more suspicious and even immoral things:-)

E429822A-5CB6-44BF-804064E9C95A77F0_articlePhoto: Staffan Larsson

Focus on What Matters When it Matters

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When it comes to living incognito among coral, the pygmy seahorse is the specialist. Coral reefs may be bright and spectacular but they are rough places to live, so animals often use camouflage to stay safe.

Focusing the attention on what we are looking for may seem easy. We can easily multitask and search for several things at the same time. We can read a text message, look for the spoon in the kitchen, while glancing over to see what the kids are up to at the table.

We rely on this skill to quickly search our surrounding and find what we are looking for. Experience helps us develop useful shortcuts so that we do not have to waste our time looking for a butterfly on the rocks instead our eyes are drawn to the flowers in the garden, which is a more likely spot to find a fluttering butterfly.

Knowing what we are searching for is helpful. It is easier to spot the seahorse in the picture above if you know that you are looking for a seahorse. The sea horse’s shape will “pop out” at you. Yet if we are searching for the same thing, we become used to not seeing it. And we become less watchful. At the airport, the luggage checkers may miss the gun in the bag since they are so used to seeing no guns in the luggage.

Several ideas to make sure that people do not miss target can be used such as working with a partner, and increasing how often a person finds something. Sadly, none of these strategies seems to enhance the discovery rate. Yet training with feedback on the accuracy of each scan may enhance the discovery rate.

A visual search can be carried out in different ways. Sometimes an active search is good when we want to get new knowledge while a passive search may be better when we are looking for something that is hidden. We can let our intuition guide us.

But focusing on the attention on finding something, a visual search, may be different from focusing the attention on other things. And focusing the attention on what we want is not always part of the solution.  A sport person or musician needs to focus on thing that he or she does not want to happen. But it makes no sense to focus on what not to do or not to think of. For example, to say to yourself “I must not fall, I must not fall, ” will not prevent you from falling it might even lead to you falling. It is better to focus on things like I have to balance my arms (to not to fall).

More importantly, a sport person or musician need to focus on things that they can control. Many performers focus on things that make them anxious and distracted. By focusing on things you can control, you feel more confident and calm. This means that you may embrace the takes with confidence and present focus.

What does an expert focus on? A quarterbacks in football has to react and think very fast. Opponents are trying to prevent him from throwing a pass. If the back sees a blitz or that the line of teammates protecting him has been breached, he must make a quick decision. He can make a quick pass, take evasive action, or sacrifice himself to keep the ball. If he decides that he can survive he must decide where or when to throw the ball. Decisions regarding how potential receivers are moving and spread out must be taken into account. Lots of decision must be made while he is moving and avoiding other players. Noticing the important things is vital and making an instant decision.

Quarterbacks like radiologists and chess players use “selective attention”. A radiologist moves his or her eyes at a few locations before they are finding the necessary information. This means that if you put a gorilla in a non-vital area on the X-ray they will miss it. Expert thinks more efficiently and experience had thought them to eliminate and ignore certain aspects.

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In the video below, Jeff Nelsen, former horn player for the Canadian Brass, discusses how important it is that performers focus about the WHAT and HOW in their performing! But they need to refocus before their performance and focus on the WHYs.

  • Why do I perform?
  • What is it I want to share?
  • Why did I choose to perform in the first place?

Focusing the attention is a form of athleticism. Like swimming, it requires training and practice. Yet the why you train and focus your attention influence how much you get out of it. What aspects are important to focus on when you are solving a problem, or looking for new ideas? Do you need to refocus your attention? When do you need to refocus? And how do you know that you need to shift your attention?

Photo Steve Childs/Flickr

Focus the Attention for a LOOOONG Time!

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Paying attention is a form of jogging. Jogging requires practice and training. And if you practice for a while, you may one day experience a feeling where time disappears. You are in a zone and feel like you could run forever.

Flow, a coin termed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, means you are in intense absorption. Completely engaged. Yet attention fitness is rarely practiced. Clay Johnson on Lifehacker writes, “Most people who click on this article won’t finish reading it. So says Nick Carr. The New York Times will remind you that you’ll probably forget it in a few minutes. This idea’s so prevalent, even the Onion has started taking jabs.”

Attention fitness is vital not only to finish reading a blog post but also to solve problems and search for new solutions. Fast ideas and suggestions may be valued but insights and understanding may take time to develop.

Jennifer L. Roberts, professor of history of art and architecture introduced students to the virtues of deep patience and close attention. Patience and attention are rarely valued in today’s Internet era.

The students were asked to prepare an intense research paper on a single work of art. The project should start by doing a close examination for a work of art. Ah, a close examination sounds easy. . . but this was a looooong examination. The students had to spend THREE hours looking at the painting.

If you look at the painting below by Singleton Cople “Boy with a Squirrel”, there are relationships that take time to see. The students were amazed at some of the things they could see after a while.  Jennifer says that if you focus on the painting for a long time there are details that emerge after about one hour about the shape of the boy’s ear and the squirrel’s ruff. You may notice folds of a curtain and the proportion of hand and glass of water.

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Teaching art students’ “patience engineering” allows them to slow down and explore new things. Things that a quick a fast glance might not reveal. Allow yourself to process things deeply rather than shallowly!

I must admit that looking at a painting for 3 hours – well, I simply could not do that. I like to focus for a short period, move around and return later to the problem. Maybe I can increase the time that I focus so that each week I focus a minute or two longer. Also I need to find something that will absorb me. Some of us may find it easier to focus on music. There are differences between focusing on music for three hours and looking at a painting. Music is constantly changing and it leads you somewhere. But then again maybe being absorbed in a painting takes you somewhere.

Focusing the attention is a vital part of applied creativity. And so is awareness of when your attention is shifting. Defining your focus when you are looking at a painting may help you to stay focused, for example, you could focus on aspects that you like with the painting or what the artists was trying to achieve. This approach can also be used when focusing on generating creative ideas. What is the topic? What is the goal? Deciding on what to focus on before starting enhances your chances of success.

Go here to read more about the focusing the attention.

Photo:  “Orange And Fruit Mix” by adamr, John Singleton Copley’s 1765 painting Boy with a Squirrel.

Technology, Humanitarian Aid and Change of Focus

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How do you change the focus of your thinking?

Humanitarian aid is a challenging but important topic. Today, various new approaches to aid can be seen where social innovation is challenging many traditional approaches. Behind some of these ideas is a change of focus where ideas are developed that do not support traditional areas.

  • Change of focus on finding solutions based upon providing aid that support economic, medical or  health areas.

First you  identify the areas and assumptions of  the problem, then you try to find new areas that you can use to develop aid. For example, you can donate technology.

One Laptop Per Kid

Ethiopian kids who had never seen a printed word, taught themselves how to use a tablet and how to spell  English words. The children in the village had no books, no newspapers and there were no street signs. So a common approach  would be to teach these kids to  letters and to read and. . .  Or maybe not. . .

“Hey kids, here’s this box, you can open it if you want, see ya!”

The project One Laptop Per Child provided children with Motorola Zoom tablet PC. That is, they provided the kids with boxes of tablets containing the tablets plus solar chargers. This is what happened.

“We left the boxes in the village. Closed. Taped shut. No instruction, no human being. I thought, the kids will play with the boxes! Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, but found the on/off switch. He’d never seen an on/off switch. He powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs [in English] in the village. And within five months, they had hacked Android. Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera! And they figured out it had a camera, and they hacked Android.”

The children showed creativity and determination to find out more about the things in the boxes. Kids are curious and creative, if we provide them with opportunities to learn. “The kids had completely customized the desktop—so every kid’s tablet looked different. We had installed software to prevent them from doing that. “

Change of Focus

Of course there are other areas where you can search for  ideas to improve humanitarian aid.

  • Redefine  aid to developing countries as Aid for World Economics – this change of focus could lead to ideas like all the money currently spent on aid could be directed to global challenges that affect the developing countries the most, like rising fuel and food prices.
  • Aid does not have to be directed at the poor people in a country – could focus aid on improving conditions for the middle classes and support them to help the poorest in the country.
  • Aid is a short-term method – change of focus could lead to ideas that teaching people to solve problems could be a better long-term solutions

What other aspects of humanitarian aid could you focus on changing? What ideas did you get as a result?

Go here to read more about using technology to change people’s lives.

Photo “Worldtree” by Salvatore Vuono

Ideathons : breakthrough idea construction

In Ideathons, a deliberate attempt is made to create breakthrough ideas. They are tightly directed 2-hour events. The participants work together in small groups of 5 to 6 thinkers.

There are clearly defined areas – not too wide nor too narrow. Areas where there is an urgent need for better ideas. For that purpose, world-renowned creative thinking techniques are being used.

The ideathons are thoroughly researched and prepared. The participants learn in an active way about the subject matter. They practice some creative techniques. By actual working together, they build a strong network at the same time.

The Program

Introduction

  • A most simple, but not simpler exploration of the subject

  • What is expected as a result of the Ideathon
  • No Boring Ideas” and “No Intellectual Property”
  • A mini lecture and an exercise about the creativity tools to be used

Total of 30 minutes

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Three rounds of idea generation

  • Individually generating ideas by applying a creativity tool (2 min)
  • Sharing the individually generated ideas in the subgroup (4 min)
  • The subgroup chooses one most unorthodox idea to further elaborate (1 min)
  • The subgroup reprocesses the chosen idea by extracting the concept and from there begins generating more ideas (4 min) (reprocessing is like the extraction of plutonium and unused uranium from nuclear fuel of a reactor)
  • Subgroups prepare a written report of 4 formatted sentences (4 min)

  • Plenary sharing of the generated ideas by the subgroup, each 1 minute (10 min)

  • Spare time (5 min)

Total of 30 minutes; Total of three rounds: 90 minutes

Use of the ideas

The created ideas are free to use to anyone and we suggest you to team up with others to classify it for a start-up event.

Facilitator

Because of the tough time schedule, idealiter the thinking process is structured by an experienced facilitator.

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More about collaborative creative thinking: A 20 Minutes Idea Boost, Creative Marketing, Jumping to Thinking Is A Waste of Time and Focus.

 

 

Eco Care-Icide

In the blog post Creative thinking for the living planet – ecospin doctors, we explored the importance of using suitable words to influence and change how people perceive the natural world.  In this blog post, we are using the new word Eco Care-Icide to highlight the need for changes in the way care homes are rated and run.

In the UK, the care sectors have several standards and all care homes for the elderly as well as for people with learning disabilities are rated. This rating helps potential new service users and their families to make decisions regarding which care home that is the best and most suitable. Everyone wants to find the most caring home for their relatives. Moreover, it is important for the local authorities to rate the care homes since it helps them to identify if the standards are slipping.

Admittedly, inspections on its own will not improve the quality but it can provide the impetus to improve the quality of the care provided.

Five key questions are explored:

  • Are  they safe?
  • Are they efficient?
  • Are they caring?
  • Are they responsive to people’s needs?
  • Are they well-led?

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All of these questions are explored when a  care home is inspected and each care home receive a rating depending on the results. The questions are valuable and important, yet, considering that the local authorities are funding at least some of the places for people with learning disabilities or elderly with low-income, other factors should maybe also be taken into account when assessing the care homes.

When exploring topics it is important to consider other people’s and animals’ views. In this case, it is important to consider the service users, their families, and the local authorities. In some care homes, animals are allowed and their perspective should also be considered.

Many of us struggle to consider the world from someone else’s point of view.  “Seeing” the world from someone else’s  point of view, is just an extreme form of shifting the focus. Admittedly, we can never see the world the world from someone else’s perspective but we may gain important insight by trying.

  • The care that the care home provides for the environment may be crucial for some service users and their families.  And it should be important for the local authorities.

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The rating standards are based on the idea that elderly people and people with learning disabilities and their families do not care about the environment when they are evaluating a care home.

Councils are responsible for the waste collection and it is vital that the waste are recycled. Care homes use large quantities of cleaning products and although the places should be spotless there are a wide range of environmentally friendly cleaning products that can be used.

Are there timers on the showers? Are the solar panels on the roof? Are locally and ecologically produced products used when cooking the meals?

Thus, it could be argued that it is important to rate how eco care- friendly a care home is or if eco care-ixide is going on. There is a connection between environmental issues, care homes, and the care that the service users take to leave the earth as they found it.

The idea could of course be extended to the inspections of schools by Ostead. . . children do not need eco care-less schools.

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Design Your Own Creative Thinking Techniques

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Creative thinking can be learnt. How? By using thinking tools.

There are many tools for creative thinking, examples can be found in the following books:

As the author of this overview, Paul E. Plsek, noticed,  there are at least 250 unique tools in these seven books.

So, if you master those 250 unique tools, are you then supposed to have a 10th Dan in creative martial arts?

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As we earlier noted in our post Thinkibility Ultimately Explained we compared  Thinkibility with “football-ity”, similar to something shown by stars as Johan Cruijff. It is not just agility and ball control. Nor velocity, or skill. It is more, much more.

Thinkibility is about virtuosity in thinking. What makes  someone regarded as  one of the finest thinkers in the world  in particular for their dexterity, capable of executing extremely fast and fluent  thinking? When can we say a person has a brilliant and showy technical skill of thinking? How do we describe it adequately, like we do in “in a final bravura the ballerina appeared to be floating in water”, or “the music ends with a display of bravura”.

For sure, mere mastering the techniques is not what you makes “a thinking star”. Again we have to turn back to our metaphor that links creativity to sports:

In a weekend self-defense seminar, the training exercises go exactly as planned: the attacker throws a straight punch at your face from three feet away, or tries to stab at you with a rubber knife from just such an angle. You learn to block, counter-attack, disarm, get away, and with a little practice, you can be consistently successful employing the technique.

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Then reality sets in. You spar. You change training partners. And things don’t go exactly as they did when you were learning in slow motion. The technique you thought you had mastered fails you.

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That doesn’t mean that the technique was useless. The techniques work, and work well, when the principles behind them are well understood, and when practice makes them second nature.

Innovation Lessons from a Martial Arts Seminar by Brad Barbera

Basic Principles

But what are the basic concepts or principles underlying those creative thinking techniques?

1. Attention

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2. Escape

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3. Movement

 

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4. Focus

 

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The four principles in a scheme.

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4. Information is channeling itself into a thinking pattern. There are many thinking patterns possible. The choice of the thinking pattern is the subject of the FOCUS stage –> 1 The information that itself organized into a thinking patterns leads to a compelling, unconscious,automatic outcome of the thinking, if left unattended –> 2 Escaping from current thinking is the next stage –> 3. Once escaped, there is a need to move away from the standard thinking and a desperate effort to move to a practical idea.

We could use these principles to design creative thinking techniques as a situation unfolds itself, as in a street fight.

See here an example about a challenge of Improving Information Flow in a Medical Clinic and one for  “I want the local business section of the newspaper to feature a story on us hailing the innovative services that we have brought to our clients.”

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How to Become a Creative Genius

"I have to start thinking out of the box."

In an earlier post we republished  Michael Michalko’s The Difference between the way the average person thinks and a creative genius thinks”

As Michael Michalko noticed that an average person focusses his attention on a specific information and excluding all else. In contrast, a creative genius sees the whole but would move from one detail to another and examine each seperately. He demonstrates this phenomena by showing us nine solutions  that only genius are able to come up with.

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Sorry guys, if you are an average creative person, nowadays to say just an average person, leave the creative effort to a genius. But is this true?

No, creative thinking is not a matter of “loosing up your thoughts and let them move freely in your mind”. Following a few focused thinking instructions will let you quickly escape from the box.

One such thinking instruction is SCAMPER,  which in turn is derived from a checklist originated by Alex Osborne (See the Histoty of Deliberate Creativity)

  1. Give a clear description of the thinking task
  2. Describe the objects of the problem and there mutual relations
  3. Change the elements or their relations one-by-one by
    • Substituting one element or relation by another element or relation
    • Combining …..
    • Adapting ……
    • Magnifying ……
    • Puting to other uses …
    • Eliminating …
    • Reversing …..

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  1. The thinking task is to connect the nine dots using 4 or less straight lines without lifting the pen
  2. The elements of the problem are:
    • nine dots
    • a pen with a pointer
    • 4 straight lines
    • paper
    • a table
  3. Construct a 5 by 8 matrix ( 5 elements by 8 SCAMPER-modifiers)

Then, go along all 40 possible escape routes, f.e. (the examples are derived from Michalko’s article)

DOTS TOUCHING EACH OTHER
Magnify the Dots
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Substitute the flat paper by a round one
PAINT BRUSH SOLUTION
Modify the pencil

4. Construct a 5 x 5 matrix (for modifying the relations between the elements)

  • nine dots with themselves, with pen, with 4 straight lines, with paper. with a table
  • a pen with itself, with nine dots, with straight lines, with paper, with a table
  • etc.

For example: (the examples are derived from Michalko’s article)

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Modify the relation between the dots
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Rearrange the relation between paper and the dots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We garantee  that you will come up with at least one creative solution that Michael Michalko missed!

If you haven’t that much time, just try a random combination of one element/realtion and one Scamper modifier and let’s force it you out-of-the-box.

Show off your genius by purpose by sending us your solutions!absolute-genius-with-dick-and-dom_brand_logo_image_bid

Are you more creative when you are sleepy?

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Photo: Flickr feck_aRt_post

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”

Edward de Bono

Breaking pattern is a way to get unexpected solutions to your problems and to create unexpected ideas. To survive in the world, we look for patterns and we create patterns. Patterns dictate what we do and our daily life is regulated by patterns.

There are several techniques that can we use to break thinking patterns such as random words. But the environment and the time of the day might also influence how successful we are in breaking established patterns

Exhaustion can spur creativity and help us break patterns. When we are tired, we just do not care. Instead of thinking about perfecting what it is we are working on our brains end up jumping around, accepting ideas and new paths of thinking. It is a bit like we are running wild and our frontal lobes cannot stop our ideas.

Photo Matt Davenport

Circadian rhythm is an approximately 24 – hour cycle that determines our sleeping and feeding patterns. Cultural norms mean that most of us follow a routine – we get up with the sun and we go to bed when the moon rises in the sky. This specific pattern has influenced the way different regions in our brains work. The frontal cortex is a part of the brain that is very fussy and when we get tired our working memory loses some of its sharpness. The frontal cortex does not shut down but it does not process everything that is happening around you.

Since our frontal cortex is not focusing on sorting new incoming information from our environment, there is energy for other parts of our brains to play around freely. In short, by blocking our working memory and our brains ability to sieve through various information increase and we can break thinking patterns.

Of course, there is people who are not more creative at night. They simply have a different pattern and by breaking their specific pattern, they might be able to let ideas run around more freely.

So when you are trying to do creative work, you will have more lucky when your brain is not functioning efficiently. Personally, I love to read a couple of sententes in a book when I am tired and then I explore all sort of possibilities. Most ideas are utter nonsense but they often put a smile on my face before I fall asleep. And no, it does not seem to matter what sort of book I read!

Book Tips

The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain

 

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Tyres Inspired by Nature

Tyres!

How can you improve tyres?

How can you bring a significant positive change that successfully solves problems related to travelling?

What does travelling look like in the future?

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The theme in 2016 for the Design Innovation was”Connect to the Connected World” and the focus on presenting a vision of future mobility. Hankook makes tyres so the changes in mobility should use tyres.

This is a great thinking exercise, where you are forced to improve upon something that already exists. Looking for better, more efficient, and desirable ways to be mobile in future mega cities.
The picture above shows a the Flexup that explores ways that you can redesign tyres to deal with obstacles that are present in cities, such as stairs. I would love these types of tyres on my bicycle! These tyres use divided treads that expand or contract to deal with stairs.

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design-inovation_autobine

The Autobine is a self-driving bus concept where the number of passengers determines how many tyres that are going to be used. The tyres are attached or detached. An intelligent tyre that detects the weight and then attaches itself to the body of the bus.

What sort of tyres can you design? Which obstacles does your tyre try to overcome or minimise?

Why not use these video as inspiration?

Decision-Making in Animal Communities – Remodelling Global Cooperation

“There is a way,  if we allow ourselves to be guided by nature’s optimism and nature’s wisdom.”

Jay Harman, The Shark’s Paintbrush, p. 289.

In this blogpost, we will explore ways that nature can provide inspiration for The Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape. We will focus the attention on swarm intelligence.

Bees use real-time negotiation to make decisions. Humans often have a less accurate approach to making predictions and to decision making. We use polls and votes, we polarise things.”Instead of finding common ground, they force us to entrench in predictions and make it harder for us to find the best answer for the group.” Louis Rosenberg

Organisations like the UN are getting bigger and this is problematic. Since the formation of the UN in 1945, the UN system, or the UN families, have added issues that they are dealing with, for example, sustainability and climate change.

You can see an interesting sketch below from 1943 by Franklin Roosevelt of the UN original three branches: The Four Policemen, an executive branch, and an international assembly of forty UN member states.

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Photo By Franklin D. Roosevelt – Franklin D. Roosevelt Library & Museum, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40093370

“Organizations can’t keep growing the way we structure them today.”

Tamsin Wolley-Barker compares organisations to dinosaurs. Dinosaurs needed huge bones to support their weight and the more weight, the more bones, and the more weight. In the end, the dinosaurs were too big.

“In regards to relative bone strength, the larger animals are at a much greater risk of breaking their bones than the smaller animals. The likelihood that a broken bone will cut an animal’s life short is a strong possibility for the larger animals. This possibility of broken bones affecting the animal’s survival thus becomes a limitation on the size of the largest animals.” From “The problem with big dinosaurs.

Management is like a skeleton that supports an organisation so that it does not collapse. But when an organisation grows the cost of management is escalating, which could be problematic.

Also, a  more worrying trend when an organisation grows is that the ability to change quickly declines.

Nature uses hierarchies all the time as a way to prevent things from changing.  Animal societies have dominance hierarchy. However, research suggests that cooperation is impeded among chimpanzees as compared to cottontop tamarins. Chimpanzees live in steep and linear hierarchies in contrast to the more relaxed form of hierarchies that cottontop tamarins use.

Hierarchies may be important and there are ways to build a better hierarchy but if you want to build an organisation that can easily adapt to change, it is not an optimal structure. Hierarchies limits growth. Thus, to re-envision global governance for the challenges that face us in the 21st century, we need to develop new models.

Can animals provide any inspiration for new models of global cooperation?

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Photo Subith Premdas

Teams of ants, termites or bees are often used as inspiration to explore how organisations work. Ants termites and bees are organisms with colonies consisting of sometimes millions of individuals. Yet together these work as a single organism. The labour is divided and one individual is helpless and cannot survive for long. By working together these organisms create abundance in harsh environments. They find a way of using things that often are overlooked by other creatures.

These animals use an open-ended structure that is dynamic and which allows them to quickly respond to changes in the environment. Yet, they lack a commander. They survive, or at least appears to, without making any forecasts and budgets. Instead, there is a smooth adaption to change, where all the individual creatures are contributing. The interactions between ants, termites and bees might be simple, nevertheless, together they can solve difficult problems.

Social insects have the following characteristics:

  • flexibility
  • robustness
  • self-organization

Social organisms can quickly adapt to change and even when one or more individuals in the group fail to achieve the task, the group can still perform the task. Finally, the activities performed by the group are neither centrally controlled nor or they locally supervised.

Using this approach to decision-making as inspiration to design global cooperation may indeed be a challenge.

A challenge, fun and above all perhaps a  necessary approach. We all know deep in our hearts that we face many problems. The future viability of our race is in danger. Nature constantly reinvents itself. We need to reinvent global cooperation with a similar irresistible optimism.

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Photo By Neptuul – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31552107

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World Governance Challenge – $5 million

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The Global Challenges Foundation, founded by the Swedish billionaire László Szombatfalvy, has launched an international competition in order to find a better system for world governance. The Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape is calling on individuals, groups of individuals, universities, companies or associations from anywhere in the world to submit proposals outlining an alternative world governance model – either by revising the present UN system or by proposing completely new forms of governance. A total of US $5 million will be distributed amongst the shortlisted entries and The Foundation is committed to supporting the winning ideas towards.

As we are never impressed by the huge complexity of a thinking challenge – or at least pretend not to be, nor impressed by the very experts that have given it some thinking. So we will try – just for fun, for building up further Thinkibility skills while gathering some knowledge about the working of world governance mechanisms.

How to start?

We know one thing for sure (but we are of optimistic): We will never come up with better ideas than the experts and people who have already extensively thought about systems of world governance. So, we must be smart and have to rely on creative thinking techniques, instead of accepted scientific theories and critical thinking. We will take advantage of the curses of experience we earlier wrote about.

Preparing the thinking is a very important step. Therefore, we made a mindmap where we can collectively put all notes we have, in some categories.

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  • The Challenge. What is the focus of the thinking? To really understand what ideas are solicited for and avoiding coming up with brilliant ideas for the wrong problems.
  • The Criteria. What are the criteria the solution must meet? Criteria narrow the thinking task and make it more specific.
  • Available information. Here we put all we find about the current operating of world governing bodies, their problems,  like Wikipedia entries, news articles, scientific reports, etc. We will be extra alert of what is “left out”. What is not mentioned, what is relevant information, but not available.
  • Current thinking. As our first orientation of the problem progress, we get some notions of recurrent themes, sought solutions or ideas for improvement. We know that one of the easiest ways to get ideas is to escape from the current way of doing things. At this time we only notice them. At a later time, we will spell out what assumptions are underlying current thinking.
  • Departing points. After some reading and playing around, mostly there will emerge some “entry points”. For example some defining characteristics of the situation that are inviting us for some provocative thinking.
  • Beginning ideas. At the same time some hunches, associations and possible metaphors will enter the brain, and we make it a disciplined habit to write these down, how primitive and incoherent, even childish they might be formulated.

Now we have prepared our mindset and can we carefully design some 20 minutes Idea Boosts after we have broken down the subject in some well-defined Idea Sensitive Areas.

If you like to join us, send us a mail, and we give you access to our workspace.

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E-commerce and Daily Thinking – A Thinkibility Nibble

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In our blog post Daily Thinking – Discovering Patterns we showed some alarming daily thinking habits, like assuming that there is a linear, unambiguously relation between a cause and an effect. For example, it is assumed that increasing e-commerce will reduce traffic. People will less go to shopping malls.

However, delivering goods, ordered one by one with take-back guarantee will increase van traffic, it turns out.

What also seems to be missed in the public discourse is the effect e-commerce will have on jobs,  towns and neighbourhoods. It is an example of a tendency we show in daily sloppy thinking: the neglect of focus. That is; a tendency to focus on immediate problems, neglecting long-term challenges. 

Another tendency is the assumption that there is no feedback effect. Below you see a graphic representation (a concept map) from an article we came across about how “the Amazon-effect” will change your life and investments.

Glance over it quickly and immediately you will spot some positive feedback loops.That is to say, there are tendencies to cause system instability. It will affect not only traffic and pollution but also local tax revenues, the availability of jobs, real estate, investments made in infrastructure, all leading to deterioration of living conditions in towns and neighbourhood.

Unless policy makers could design some negative feedback loops to establish some stability in this unexpected dynamic system.

 The takeaway of this Thinkibility Nibble is: everyday thinking is routine, slippery, sloppy, messy …

Look here, to access the full text of the article.

 

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Thinking in Images

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Most people think in words. When asked to imagine a traffic accident they come up with not very detailed descriptions, in comparison with people who are thinking in pictures. It became even worse if the words are becoming more and more abstract. Words as society, market, law, inflation etc. stay for them just words; they are unable to convert the words into images. Picture thinkers don’t have to translate, they think in pictures.

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As school systems are mainly auditory-sequential oriented, it is not surprising that mainly visual-spatial thinkers will have problems at school. Usually, they encounter learning difficulties. But not only at school. Most picture thinkers don’t fit well in traditional companies and institutions. They do things in other ways than expected or “normal”, due to “weaknesses” in thinking.

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Picture thinkers are also called right-brainers, as some popularisations oversimplify the science about lateralization, by presenting the functional differences between hemispheres as being more absolute than is actually the case.

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We have also committed to this theoretical sloppiness with left/right brain generalisations, although, a handy mini theory to generate creative ideas as we have demonstrated in Blocking the Left Brain Functions.

As we wrote in left brain/right brain thinking, the debate regarding about what goes on in our left and right brain hemispheres seems like a never-ending story. You will find support for the idea that creative people use the right hemisphere while people who are good at organising things are using their left hemisphere. But we can also find support for the idea that creative and non-creative thinking are not two different things but are more reinforcing each other.

The idea that the brain has different specialised functions that can be used to improve memory, learning and thinking are also the part of the foundation behind mind mapping.

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A Whole New Mind: Why Right-brainers Will Rule the Future, a book by Daniel H. Pink, posits that the future of global business belongs to the right-brainers. He outlines six essential senses:

  • Design – Moving beyond function to engage the sense.
  • Story – Narrative added to products and services – not just argument.
  • Symphony – Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus).
  • Empathy – Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition.
  • Play – Bringing humour and light-heartedness to business and products.
  • Meaning – the purpose is the journey, give meaning to life from inside yourself.

Daniel Pink is one of an increasing number of writers on the importance of the Conceptual Economy, as a follow-up of the Information and Knowledge Age. Conceptual economy is a term describing the contribution of creativity, innovation, and design skills to economic competitiveness, especially in the global context. Other contributors to our understanding of the conceptual economy include Tom Friedman’s The World is Flat, Tom Kelley’s The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation, explaining the role of assets such as empathy, storytelling, individual experiences and stimulating work environments in fostering creative ideas.

The discussion about the necessity to escape from dominant linear-sequential thinking was earlier argued by Howard Gardner. He developed The Theory of Multiple Intelligences in his 1983 book Frames of Mind:

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In one of our next blog posts, we will give hints and tricks together with some useful resources to become “picture smart”. An essential skill to use mind mapping to the fullest of its advantages.

More Soul, More Youthful Thinking and More Thinking Among Machines

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What is artificial intuition?

How can it be developed?

What if machines not only learn like children but also think like children?

What would happen if machines started to think together?

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Bill Gates has suggested that robots should be taxed and that the money should be used to pay the people who have lost their jobs to robots. On the one hand, it makes sense to suggest that if robots will be depriving humans of work, then the company should simply pay tax for using their skills, and the money should be put into supporting the rest of society.  He also believes that certain jobs cannot be replaced by robots such as nurses and teachers.

Yet, perhaps we are just simply missing the point with using AI – Artifcial Intelligence. Perhaps AI offers a spark to kickstart a new way of building a society. A new way to ensure that everyone has a roof over their head and food on the table. New ideas are needed rather a simple application of the old practices.

The same thing could perhaps also be said about the way we think about machines and the way we design robots. If we look at perhaps the most transforming part of human history it is that we are not relying on individual thinking. Instead, the collaborative and collective thinking is one of driving forces behind our remarkable progress.

So perhaps we should focus on what potential there are among machines rather than within machines.

Moreover, the focus is often on building machines that can deal with increasingly higher volumes of data. Yet, to explore ideas such as building artificial intuition, may require that we instead look into ways that machines that use as little data as possible. Thin-slicing is a powerful concept. Designing machines that can improvise, without a script or a plot and react to new environments require new ways to approach the way we think about AI.

What if several machines could be connected to work intuitively on little information? Perhaps a solution could not be found by using this approach but maybe new insights and ways to approach a problem would emerge.

Children are the best learners. Developmental cognitive scientists and computer scientists have been working together to figure out how young children can learn so much so quickly. A problem with AI is that it has been very difficult to predict what aspects that would be most difficult to solve. Problems such as how to play chess and to detect statistical pattern have turned out to be fairly easy task to solve – admittedly. they could still be improved upon. Yet, a limited generalise can only be achieved from statistical learning, this is regardless of whether you are a child, an adult or a computer.

Children are often good at inventing new concepts and often their thinking is non-conventional – out-of-the box thinking. They link ideas and say things that do not make sense. Creating machines that could create new concepts and explore hypotheses that are not obvious could, just like listening to children, result in new insights.

What if you could transform the way we build AI? What would you do?

(Suggestion, read our other posts about intuition…..)

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Creative Marketing – Thinkibility Boost

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Classical marketing campaigns are mostly massive in nature, like the Napoleonic Wars. By using brute force and heavenly leaning on resources (people, money, gun power, logistics, management skills) they ty to win. Basically, both parties are in the same game, each trying to use better but more-of-the-same tactics.

An alternative for the not so powerful is to turn to guerrilla warfare. Poor but highly dedicated small teams use asymmetric tactics to surprise and confuse the enemy, thereby using maximal creativity.

But what is creative marketing?

Creative thinking is not doing more-of-the-same


(in the example: applying straight lines), but breaking away from that, for instance by using curved or broken lines.

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However, it is not easy to break away from standard patterns.
Also, any time we break a standard way of thinking, a behaviour or new idea, bystanders will react with a rejection: this is impossible, it can’t work, it is too costly, complex, difficult or risky. Every time a negative is used, the thinking stops.
Creative marketing is escaping from the standard approaches that are used by big companies. But how to get new ideas?

Normally we think with the speed of light to the first satisfying idea
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By that, we miss interesting alternatives along the way
With a Provocative Operation we break away from mainstream thinking. The Provocative Operation (moving outside the mainstream to the green spot) is a attempt to escape standard thinking in order to arrive at an original idea.

For instance: Apple sells our (paper)notebook together with their notebooks.

We will discuss four creative thinking techniques to escape standard thinking:

  • Taken for Granted
  • The Provocation
  • Use Resources
  • Focus

Taken for Granted

Make a list of taken for granted things of a product, at least 15. That is what is normal, assumed to be, standard, generally accepted or obvious. Then we escape by abandon it or modify it.

It is taken for granted that a restaurant has a venue and that the guests are dressed.

A restaurant does not have a venue. That could lead to the idea to set up a picnic service for romantic people.

Guests are naked. That could lead to the idea of a nudist restaurant.

To get creative marketing ideas about for instance an Eco bottle. What is obvious of a bottle (form, materials, filling, getting it, getting rid of it, etc.). Then modify (remove, amplify, change, combine, etc).

The Provocation

Try to escape negatives by redefining criticism by “this is interesting” and “under what circumstances might this have value”, or “could we create value out of this?”. The aim of the Provocation is to move forward the thinking towards an idea that works.

Sandwiches will make themselves

Senor citizens, refugees and children donate by age for using supporting services.

Use Resources

We tend to solve problems by using known and standard solutions. For instance: for attaching something to the ceiling we automatically think of a ladder. But only after we give ourselves the explicit thinking order to use what is at hand, we come up with alternatives: using tables, making a tower of bodies, using the walls, making a long pole.

This creativity technique is also called: think inside the box, meaning no adding additional resources

Make a list of props (things) and persons in your immediate surroundings. Think up in what ways they could contribute or add value.

Integrated Values

A petrol company wanted to create more brand loyalty. That is not simple, for most drivers petrol is just petrol. One of the company’s resources is the car driver. By getting under the skin of the driver, they discovered that getting a parking place in town is an important value for the customer. So they set up a cooperation with parking garages. For the drivers, the petrol company and the parking garage a win-win situation. Together they delivered an integrated value.

Could we design integrated values for the customers of a fruit selling shop?

Focus

Defining the thinking task before beginning an idea generation session is one of the most neglected stages.

Most starting questions are far too broad defined. For instance. In What Ways Might We (IWWMW) get more clients.

However, it is more helpful to break it down into smaller topics, as “IWWMW add more value to our product”,“IWWMW get more clients with help of our existing clients”, “IWWMW use other product to sell ours. Redefine at least 15 IWWMW’s in order to escape from the obvious ones and get a really creative challenge.

Avoid formulating IWWMW’s becoming too small. In that case, the IWWMW will just be a concrete solution and will not give you any direction for further searching new ideas.

Then make the challenge less boring and sexier. That is: make them more imaginative, outreaching, challenging, interesting. For instance: sex up “IWWMW get more clients by using our existing clients”.“Our clients collect so much organic waste that we have to export it”.

Then add a constraint: people, money, time, channels.

Finally construct a propelling question, a question that drives forward the effort for creative thinking by using a bold ambition and a significant restriction. For instance: “let’s get 50 more clients by firing all account managers”.

Again, the technique of the creative focus is to force oneself outside common thinking. The technique on the focus can be applied to all of the four of the marketing mix:

  • functionality, packing and service of the Product
  • policies about paying and Price
  • sales, advertisements, Publicity
  • and Promotion logistics, storage, inventory and selling channels

Creative Marketing is all about standing out of your competitors, being perceived as a Blue Fish, at no costs.

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See also:

 

Jumping Between Projects and Thinking

How can you best divide your attention?

Is it better to focus on one project?

Or is it better alternating your attention between two or more projects?

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Our brains are a wonderous box and once we fill it with ideas, we can explore new possibilities and sometimes the most amazing solutions and insights may appear. Consciously focusing the attention on certain aspects may lead to new insights but we do not always need to actively think about something.

Our brains can bake ideas without us consciously being aware it. We gather ingredients or knowledge, then we mix it up and allow it to bake in our brains. If we put the right ingredients in the oven and use the right temperature or thinking tools, allow it time to bake then we can provoke ideas out of our brains.

The brain is complex and we do not know exactly how it works. Yet, taking a break to work on something else can help us avoid falling into the trap of using existing solutions. A break may help us to break the pattern. We can also use thinking tools such as provocations to help us break away from existing solutions. But if the problem is tricky, it could be good to simply jump between projects instead of blindly focusing on finding a solution to one problem.

Incubation, as it is called in creative circles, is when we allow an idea to rest in our mind. Taking a break from the project to go for a walk, focusing on a hobby, or indeed jumping between projects prevents us from stressing out the parts of the brain that are dealing with finding a solution to the problem. The neurons are firing in the same parts of the brain and this may make it more difficult to fire neurons in other parts of the brain – making it difficult to explore new possibilities.

If you are working on a project or problem that requires mostly a logical approach to thinking mix it with a project or problem that requires a creative approach to thinking. This may result in a more creative solution. And if you are facing a creative challenge, switching to a problem that requires a logical approach to thinking may help you discover aspects that you are cognitively blind to.  If you plan your projects, jumping between them can require different modes of thinking. This approach may promote creative ideas and solutions as well as more solutions that are logical.

Looking for a creative project? Japanese art director Tatsuya Tanaka has a miniature photo project, where he uses office supplies, food, and other found objects that he utilizes as set pieces or backdrops for miniature inhabitants.  You can see new images from the Miniature Calendar project every single day on Instagram and Facebook.

 

Imagine if

Imagine if. . .

Why not write down  “What if” questions that you would like to explore in 2017?

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The importance of asking questions for the innovative process as well as for the development of Thinkibility have been explored in several blog posts. In addition, the importance of teaching children to ask questions has been discussed at the blog Sparking Children’s Thinkibility.

Examples of fun as well as useful “What if” questions that can lead to new ideas and a new perspective of looking at the world. Think dive into a sea of questions instead of searching for ideas can lead to deeper analysis and a better understanding of that problem. The end result of this approach can result in smarter ideas on how to tackle it.

Creativity and innovation are about change. Change can be intimidating and scary,  but it can also be liberating and powerful to break away from patterns, habits and the way we normally think about a topic.

When we discuss creativity we typically talk about it in terms of having ideas that are unique and valuable. Questions provide a frame for not only the focus but also a frame into which the answers fall. Like ideas, questions can always be improved upon. There is no perfect question. . .

Some examples of exciting questions are:

  • What if guilt-free is the new status symbol?
  • What if experiences become the new currency instead of information?
  • What if I can the label of my product to raise awareness of an endangered species?

For inspiration check out these links.

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Board of Innovation

Interesting Reading Areas 2017

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Since we started the posts Interesting Reading Areas since 2013 we noticed that most end-of-the-year lists of books consist of books that have already been read by others and many of the lists consist of the same books.

Often the lists consist of books that have topped the sales lists during the year. The underlying message could be interpreted as “if you haven’t read these books, you must be a cultural savage, that you do not belong to the well-informed elite and not be able to go along in conversations”. Anyhow, this is a passive, following mainstream media approach.

Another, more active approach is to make your own list about Interesting Reading Areas (IRA), areas of your interest for development and knowledge acquisition. And then look for relevant writers, books and DVD’s belonging to that IRA.

We thought it would be nice to make a list of subjects or interesting areas for ourselves because we believe we would gain from such a list to help us preparing for the next parts of Thinkiblity – Thinking about Thinking, Creativity, Innovation and Design. Perhaps you may enjoy the list and it will give you some directions for reading about Thinkibility. Just reading the titles would give you some new insides.

If you can help us to expand the list, please add a comment. Please note, we have not yet read the books! We invite you to make your own IRA’s and to find for each subject the interesting books and thinkers.

About Concepts

The study of concepts has advanced dramatically in recent years, with exciting new findings and theoretical developments. Core concepts have been investigated in greater depth and new lines of inquiry have blossomed, with researchers from an ever broader range of disciplines making important contributions. In this volume, leading philosophers and cognitive scientists offer original essays that present the state-of-the-art in the study of concepts. The Conceptual Mind: New Directions in the Study of Concepts 

What is Thinking? Human thinking is probably the most complex phenomenon that evolution has come up with until now. This book focuses on assembling building blocks for a conceptual framework that might – after several iterations – contribute to a future theory of thinking. It brings together an international group of leading scientists coming from the different fields upon which a theory of thinking must build: brain and cognitive sciences, experimental and developmental psychology, evolutionary anthropology and biology, linguistics, transcultural neuroimaging, modeling, and philosophy. Towards a Theory of Thinking – Building Blocks for a Conceptual Framework. Editors: Glatzeder, Britt, Goel, Vinod, von Müller, Albrecht

This book is the second volume of the Parmenides book series “On Thinking” dedicated to exploring current approaches and contributions towards a fuller understanding of human thought processes.

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In The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct and Use Them the theoretical foundations and the origins of what we call concept maps are presented.While at first glance concept maps may appear to be just another graphic representation of information, understanding the foundations for this tool and its proper use will lead the user to see that this is truly a profound and powerful tool. Concept mapping has been shown to help learners learn, researchers create new knowledge, administrators to better structure and manage organizations, writers to write, and evaluators access learning.

About non-mainstream

It’s easy to find a good movie (well at least a movie for our general taste) between the big blockbusters, when wherever you look you see a giant poster or ad from it. But it’s a bit harder to get around a good, not so famous but nevertheless highly entertaining movie. Six upcoming non-mainstream films to watch out for!

Non-Mainstream Dimensions of Global Political Economy: Essays in Honour of Sunanda Sen is a collection of essays written by scholars of global repute in honour of Professor Sunanda Sen. Each paper is well-researched and offers some new dimension to the understanding of the current global crisis, finance, and labour including the epistemological viewpoints regarding the current global order. The uniqueness of the book is that in one place one can find different heterodox positions dealing with the present global order of finance and labour – post-Keynesian, Marxist etc.

About Criticism and  Critical Thinking

Working with his students at a risk analysis center, Wildavsky examined all the evidence behind the charges and countercharges in several controversial cases involving environmental health and public safety. Here he lays out these cases in terms an average citizen can understand, weighs the merits of the claims of various parties, and offers reasoned judgments on the government’s response. But Is It True? A Citizen’s Guide to Environmental Health and Safety Issues by Aaron Wildavsky

“Critical Thinking: Proven Strategies To Improve Decision Making Skills, Increase Intuition And Think Smarter!” is a well-rounded introduction to the principles of critical thinking. The book provides tips and steps that are easy to follow, yet very effective in solving problems of all kinds.

For more resources, take a tour in the bookstore of the Critical Thinking Community

In our post,  Interesting Books? we stated that we can safely assume that the majority of the books published each year (approximately 2,200,000) belong to mainstream thinking. That is: non-critical. We were reassured when researching this post. We can’t find books that are classified by search engines as, for instance, “Criticism on…” or “Critical thinking on…”. Perhaps we should search for a list of critical thinkers instead….

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We found a great resource: Critical Thinking on the Web at the website of Rationale, about health, art, post-modernism, the media and lot’s more.

However, we did find interesting books when we combined the search term criticism with the term environment. The environment has moved from a marginal concern to a major political, personal, and philosophical issue that pervades everyday life. Ecocritics try to explore issues and questions such as: What are the ethics of human interaction with the environment? What do we mean when we use the word “nature”? What does our cultural output say about our perception of the world we live in?

Ecology without Nature investigates our ecological assumptions in a way that is provocative and engaging.  This book by Timothy Morton rethinks the way we use an idea of nature to try to heal what society has damaged and introduces a new radical form of ecological criticism – dark ecology.

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Provocations and alternatives

When using the search term “Provocative Books” we were much more successful: Popular Provocative Books although we are not sure the authors themselves are non-mainstream; the prefix “popular” makes us fear the worst.

Abandon parenting, and just be a parent – is a provocation and a step away from the idea that parenting is helpful. Today, thousands of books on parenting are published every year. But what is parenting? In the book, The Gardener and the Carpenter the author Alison Gopnik explores how the concept of parenting has transformed child care into obsessive,  and goal-oriented labour. The aim with this type of parenting is to create a particular kind of child and therefore a particular kind of adult.

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The Huffington’s Post 21 Provocative Books By Women Every Bookshelf Needs might be more remote from mainstream and less “popular”.

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