We’re wasting the chance of a lifetime – Seth Godin

A wonderful as well as beautiful conversation between Seth Godin and Marie Forleo. Enjoy!

Link to Seth’s blog

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Photo: Wikimedi

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Time Fascism – Thinkibility Nibble

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With Time Fascism we mean that sometimes time restrictions are used in a way that should be characterized as oppressive, intolerant, dictatorial and/or aggressive.

Babies and toddlers are expected to develop within a certain time-frame. Those who for various underlying reasons do not sit, crawl or read or should be known by the authorities, so they can help and ensure the best treatment. However, many children develop in other directions and at other paces. Early support is often beneficial for lots of conditions but the framework is often rigid. There is also a risk that a child will be defined as someone with a developmental or learning disability, and more importantly the environment will behave to conform this “fact “. However, many children do not follow “normal development” and they nevertheless grow up to became successful people.

IQ tests and other learning performance tests have time limits. If you have not solved the problems in a certain time-period, you get a lower score or even fail. But what if someone is able to solve all the problems in 24 hours, and then performing better than the average student? Notwithstanding that in some countries they define entrance levels for higher education at the age of 10.

To get a passport, or other official documents, we are bound to opening hours. Mostly we have to take an holiday to fulfill our obligations as a citizen. However, the government should work for citizen and should open their offices like shopping malls, who are welcoming their clients they depend on.

At the age of 18, if you want to go to university you should have A-levels in a couple of disciplines. What if someone is brilliant in mathematics, but lacks sufficient fluency in a required language? He or she  will not be admitted to an university, because they had not acquired some skills in a certain time. What if the person could acquire that extra skills later?

To be on time when having an appointment is a good business habit, so you don’t waste time for the person you have made the appointment with. But maybe by being late you give the person an opportunity to reflect on his or her functioning or even time to clean up the desk?

We understand that an individual, institution or group we have called a Time Fascist will find the way we selected examples to be highly offensive and inappropriate. We just tried to show how authoritarian and intolerant power-holders use time as means for repression, which in some way is homologous with fascist ideology: that is governmental suppression of individual freedom.

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Thinking Strategies: It’s Time to Plan the Thinking

Since we began this blog, we have discussed a range of Thinking Strategies to enhance capabilities to think about a subject. Thinking Strategies are process designs for thinking. It gives you a global approach for thinking. Thinking Strategies allow you to make a map of the thinking situation before you enter the area. It allows you Thinkibility-on-the-Spot. Image

Have a nice summer reading!

The New Currency Is Time – Thinkibility Nibble

In times past there was a barter economy. Goods were exchanged for other goods. Yet the exchange did not have to take place at the same time, it could be up to a year later.

A major economic innovation was the invention of money in form of silver, pearls or any other valued, but scarce goods. The advantage was that the payment took place immediately, but also that the seller was not dependent upon what the buyer had to offer.

Nowadays, money is not scarce anymore since most of the money is not backed by a substantial amount of gold. But there are many problems with the money economy as we known. There are large differences in income between people and countries, which this year was one of the major topics at the World Economic Forum in Davos. It  is possible to manipulate the money streams as the economic crisis recently has shown. And last but not least, it has led to a materialistic world and a tendency to express everything in “earning bugs”.

What if the currency would be Time?

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What if we leave an economy based on exchange of goods for an economy totally based on an exchange of time?

We do not suggest  that occasionally a dentist and a hairdresser could exchange half an hour of their time, where they offer each other skilled labour. There are many initiatives of this kind of  exchange currencies, especially in countries plagued by the economic crisis. Tax offices have a lot of problems with those spontaneous initiatives, as can be seen here. Often the system provides you with opportunities where you can place your surplus money on a virtual time bank. This means that  you do not  have the disadvantage of the system where you can only trade in equal amounts of time. For example, someone mows someone else’s lawn for an hour in exchange for a repair of a computer that took two hours.

It would be very interesting to research the relative “price” of the goods and services that are traded, but it seems that the amount of minutes spent by each party is equally valued. The time spend by a plumber is of equal value of that of the baby sitter.

We mean here that all currency is expressed in time, not as a parallel system in a dominant money economy.

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It’s mind bogging to imagine what the world would look like, it is also difficult to visualize . Therefore, it is a good exercise in Thinkibility skills!

An interesting aspect is that the (time) value of  every product would be expressed in the time it has cost to produce it. An iPad “cost” a certain amount of minutes. Another interesting aspect is that everybody have a limited amount of minutes available during his or her life time. But what will happen when someone has spent  all the minutes in his or her life time?

What would be the consequences for crafts? Would an economy based on time as a currency improve the efficiency of time usage for some tasks, or just the other way around? Would the productivity sky-rocket because machines do not  consume time, but to design and produce them cost time? Today  it is much cheaper to fly from Paris to London than taking the train. However, taking the train costs much less time.

Are there some sub-cultures where actually the currency is time? Some tribe, alternative community or an art collective where we can study the effects?

How can you spend your minutes when your are not working, f.e. on holidays?

Nowadays, employees give time to a company in exchange of money, related to their knowledge, skills, experience and age. If the currency is time, will companies pay in minutes for the hours spent in the company, regardless of the capacity an employee brings to the task? Or will it be the other way around. But why should we spend hours in company if we do not earn more minutes? And could we instead of spending time working,  playing with the kids? If you are going to school, you are loosing time. Could you earn more  time by meditating?

Would it be possible to invest in time? To give time away for free?

If time is your most precious currency, might it not important to think about what might happen if the new  currency would  be time. Or is that a wast of time?

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To learn more, read here or the Wiki article

Time as a Search Light for Deliberate Thinking

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It is remarkable that neither in management nor in psychological literature much attention is paid to how time influences thinking. However, many expressions indicate the importance of time, like:

  • This is a window of opportunity
  • Let’s buy time
  • Don’t wait for time, make time!
  • Time is money
  • The boiling frog
  • A gram in the backpack in the morning weights a kilo in the evening
  • The Deep Time
  • Being in the Zone
  • Appropriate timing in negotiations
  • Deadlines

There is a highly subjective component to time, but whether or not time itself is “felt”, as a sensation or an experience, has never been settled.

When we are bored, time passes slowly but when we are excited time runs fast.

The passing of time seems to increase when we are getting older. If you are  involved in planning your own project, there is a tendency to be overly optimistic. An outsider is likely to estimates the time it takes as much longer.

Products can be introduced too early, or consumers can get accustomed to a new service slower than expected.

In the beginning of a jog, a distance of 2 kilometres seems to be insurmountable but after a few hours of running a 2-kilometre leg becomes peanuts.

Earth is around 4 700 millions years old, if this time was reduced to one year, human would have appeared 8.35 pm on the 31st of December. Despite that, we tend to think in hours, days, weeks, and seasons.

Time perception is a field of study within psychology and neuroscience. It refers to the sense of time, which differs from other senses since time cannot be directly perceived but must be reconstructed by the brain. Some researchers have tried  to categorize people by how they differ in their perception of time.

The perception of time is strongly tied to emotion, and thus to the body. However, the direction of the cause-effect relation is unclear. Does mood affect perception of time?  Or does an increased focus on time influence the embodiment of emotions?

Maybe our sense of time, as perceived signals from the body, produces the sense of self as a succession of moments that constitutes its duration. As such, the sense of time would be a creation of the body itself.

Time is a human construct. It is therefore not surprising that in different cultures people use time differently and attribute different values to it. The Aymara, a tribe in the Andes, think of the past as in front of them and the future as behind. This way of lookign at time  may influence other concepts they may have on life, such as economics and  social relations. The Yupno people, who inhabit a remote valley in Papua New Guinea, think of time topographically. No matter which way a speaker is facing, he or she will gesture uphill when discussing the future and point downhill when talking about the past. In contrast, the Amondawa, a tribe in the Amazon area, seems to have no concept of time at all.

It might also be that we exist in various scales of time simultaneously. We live in the moment, make plans about next week, remember what happened last year, study the history of ancient Rome and ponder the Big Bang billions of years ago.

A need for focus on aspects of time

Time is a neglected factor in evaluation, negotiation, decision-making, action planning and forecasting of future and trends. Mostly, we project ourselves at one point in time, the here-and-now, and will reason from that point into the future, thereby assuming that the present situation will remain the same. However, situations may change as time passes independently from our actions. Moreover, the situation could change because of our actions itself and the feedback loops it will activate.

We believe that there is definitely a need to make mapping the implications of time a deliberate mental activity. We need a Search Light to focus on aspects of time in a situation. At this moment, we are developing the contents of such a Search Light for our forthcoming book.

We encourage you deepen your insight in the concept of time, for example by studying various expression regarding time, as listed here.

If you would like to learn more about the use of Search Lights to enhance and broadening your thinking, read our E-book Thinkibility – Thinking about Thinking, Creativity, Innovation and Design Part 2 Positives and Negatives.

Photo: “Man Thinking Of Time” by digitalart

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.

Jumping to Thinking is a Waste of Time

Some of us start thinking about something just out of the blue. Thinking is similar to walking out of the door for a Sunday morning walk, without a plan or a destination. We are happy with what comes along, and sometimes we call it an insight or a conclusion. In my experience, thinking could be much improved. And it helps if we monitor our thinking and decide our destination. Thinking in groups can also be improved.

Usually the problems start at the beginning of the thinking process.

The focus of the thinking is the entry-point of the problem area. It decides what attention we will focus on, which thinking techniques we are using and ultimately it decides what idea, conclusion or solution we will  reach. Perhaps focus is the trickiest part of thinking itself. Indeed, it determines the outcome, even before the thought has occurred.

 

A thinking focus consists of a topic and a goal.

Mostly, a situation is complicated, fuzzy, and blurred. There is a great risk for information overload, for wandering thoughts and confusion. Before thinking takes place it is important to be very clear what the thinking must cover – the subject – and the goal – what we want to achieve with the  thinking. Complex thinking areas can be best divided in more, eventually overlapping, sub-foci, to be handled on another occasion.

When defining a focus area it is recommended to shift the attention. Could we look at the problem or challenge from another point of view or perspective? Could we look “behind” a problem or challenge our thinking?

A thinking focus is mostly far too abstract

Many times a stated problem definition is far too abstract to expect meaningful solutions. Sometimes the issue has the character of a meaningless “this must be solved”, often combined with an emotional and compelling call to do so “together”. Alternatively, the challenge is far too broadly stated, for instance vandalism should be banned. Many politicians, but also academics and officials may be  guilty of this type of thinking. Many policy makers make the mistake of thinking that because a general solution must be general applicable; the problem definition should be stated in abstract terms. That is a serious misunderstanding.

A powerful tool, but largely unknown, is the concept fan, developed by Edward de Bono, a leader on thinking about thinking. With the concept fan, a thinking situation is mapped in broad directions of thought, concepts, and ideas. Thus, a map with three levels of abstraction arises. It serves as an agenda-setting tool for thinking.

There should be criteria in advance to guide and to evaluate the results of the thinking

How difficult it is, criteria must be made in advance to determine whether the thinking has been successful. It makes an objective evaluation of a solution or idea afterwards possible, but also acts as an attention direction tool during the thinking process itself. It gives guiding to the thinking,.”We want to improve our product on safety, make a design that is attractive for our clients and will cost no more than the existing product..”

The starting questions of the thinking should be challenging

Not only because to engage yourself and others in the thinking, it is important to formulate challenging questions, but also to get challenging results that you can work on. “How can we do better than our competitor?” is less challenging than “How can we become number one in our area?”. (But both are still far too abstract).

Before starting the thinking process, make a list of at least 15 definitions of the thinking challenge.

As we earlier mentioned, in what words the thinking challenge is framed, defines the outcome. If we say that the problem  is that there are too few teachers in math, is an abstract frame. It does not give us any clue where to look for an answer. A problem definition like math teachers earn too little to be an attractive job, is a better one way of defining the problem. It gives some direction on what solutions to look for. However, alternative definitions of the problem could be more productive. The problem of too few math teachers could be the through problems with  training, but it could also be that too many students and also that there are too few students in one class. Teaching time may be lost by having to spend time focusing on  other tasks and there may be little use of modern tools and…
The effort to actually start thinking about a topic after writing down at least 15 possible problem definitions will really pay off.

Without a topic, a goal, and at least 15 concrete and specific definitions of the thinking challenge, which are challenges in themselves, thinking is mostly a waste of time.


Photo: 3d Head Concept by nattavut

 

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.

 

 

Tomorrow’s Consumers

If you need something, you buy it. Cars, houses, clothes, you name it. Everything you want or need can be found in real or online stores.

This way of thinking was characteristic of the 20th century, efficient manufacturing, logistics, improved transports made it possible to create a shoper’s paradise. Ownership of things is a way of defining who you are. Consuming things is about being someone.

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In the beginning of the 21st centruary this is still the case and buying and owning things is part of our lives. Yet, new innovative approaches is slowly changing our behaviours. Many of us have stopped buying CDs and DVDs. Instead we might buy the songs digitally on the iTunes and pay to watch films on Nexflix. Fewer copies of book are sold and some people share cars instead of buying a car.

Music, films, books, and cars are accessed rather than owned.

Overall, this is a positive trend because the resource on Earth are limited. In addition, it takes time to care for things that we own, and we also need space to store our things. We also get bored with things!

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People and companies with innovative ideas can potentially reach millions of new customers.

What would it be like to have access to cars on demands. A taxi is not an ideal solution, we want the convience of a car without owning it.

Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is the Netflix for transport where you pay a monthly fee, type in on the app where you want to go and you get instant access to unlimited use of any public transport mode, including buses, trains, bicycles and a pre-set amount of taxi rides.

Finland have a solid track recod in telecommuncations innovations and high-teach startup. Now they are creating new solutions that can be used in cars. For example, Koru has developed a platform for user interface creation that enables a user to have a smartphone-like experience in-car.

An on-demand approach leads to more efficient use of our resources. More people might use the same car, bike or house.

A world where you do not need to buy a smartphone may sound like a mad idea. But maybe this idea is going to be the next big thing. And in the meantime it will be my answer when someone asks me why I do not have no smartphone. I am simply waiting for someone to make it available for me on demand.

What things do you want on demand?

How can you transform this idea into a new business?

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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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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

What’s (not) an Innovation?

 

Nowadays, innovation is very in fashion. As a person, you should be innovative (creative?). A product should be innovative to tempt you to buy it (why?). Research should be dedicated to innovations (instead of discoveries?). Or even worse, boards of directors feel compelled to proclaim a “year of innovation” or ask their employees for vibrant new ideas. . . But for what?

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But what is innovative, what is an innovation?

Fifteen innovation experts gave their definitions of innovation:  Executing an idea which addresses a specific challenge and achieves value for both the company and customer.

In our rather humourous Thinkibility nibble “Innovations that Complicate Things”, we suggested that some innovations seems to make things more complex, inconvenient, more costly or reduce value. Since then, we have seen tonnes of examples of so called innovations that actually reduces the quality of life. (P.S. Insert the last phrase into a search engine and you will get only examples of innovations that create value for people what illustrates the unconscious assumption that innovation is always good).

The definition contains four characteristics:

  1. An idea
  2. A challenge
  3. Value for the company
  4. Value for the customer

What is an idea? 

Apart from philosophical speculations – where ideas are usually seen as mental representational images of some object – ideas are in our opinion a result of breaking standard thinking patterns. A thinking pattern consists of a fixed entry point (definition of a situation) and a set of assumptions (things taken for granted).  Ideas that really break existing thinking patterns are often called disruptive, game-changing, breakthrough, blue ocean, out-of-the-box or even a new idea. Examples of this can be found in  “What Big Data, What Information Dominance?”.

Many creative thinking techniques produce hundreds of ideas, but what’s a good idea? To explore this topic we wrote the posts: “What is a Really Good Idea?” and “Thinking outside the Sea Map”.

It takes time and effort to transform an idea into an innovation. That is why a distinction is made between the stages of idea generation, innovation development – making the idea practical, prototyping it, calculating the business case, setting up production, pre-marketing- and implementation. Each of the stages requires different organisation, cultures, project management tools.

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A challenge

An idea – to be practical- must satisfy a need. That might be:

  • a problem:  a gap between an existing situation and the desired situation
  • an improvement
  • an opportunity

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Seven triggers or sources for innovation are mentioned by Peter Drucker:innovation_sources

The usefulness of this overview of sources and triggers for innovation is not in the summary or description. You can actively check your product or service against a trigger: an occasion or even a necessity to innovate?

To read more about what the main triggers are that push people to innovate in the technical area, look here for an interesting article by Valeri Souchkov.

The biggest problem, however, remains the tendency to ignore challenges because it is unknowingly assumed that they are impossible. In “The Thinking Habits of Steve Jobs” we wrote: Jobs did not settle for less than more than best. He simply ignored practical objections. That drove his designers to extraordinary, hitherto considered impossible performance. Moreover, the ability to ignore generally accepted impossibilities was the main criterion to select employees.

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Challenge implies that there is a call to someone to participate in a competitive situation or fight to decide who is superior in terms of ability or strength, or that a task or situation is waiting that tests someone’s abilities. This is rather passive, but challenges can also be created deliberately: Create Opportunities. 

Value for the company and value for the customer

Some posts that explore the concept of Value are:

In general, values are not coming by itself, they should be designed.

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Can you design something so that people stay politically engaged? How would you design a fabric that is made out of waste? What if it was possible to design a spot where people feel safe? Or a game that provides people suffering from Alzheimer game with a channel of communication? (To our post about New Brave Design Thinking Approach)

What is at heart of design when you design a hospital or health care systems? (To our post Empathy and Design Thinking)

In summary

In other words, we could say that an innovation consists of a new combination of

  • a function – the innovation has the purpose of satisfying a need
  • a principle – there is a mechanism or idea how to deliver that function
  • a market – the innovation has a value that can be traded.

But still remains the question: “When is an innovation really breaking patterns more than other innovations?. When is an innovation incremental? When radical? When is a technical solution just more-of-the-same routine engineering? What is the difference with a scientific invention? When is it patentable?

invention
Not-an-innovation

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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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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.

United_Nations_Headquarters_in_New_York_City,_view_from_Roosevelt_Island

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.

online-collaboration

Grow your own House! Plants and Robots working together

What if you could grow your own house?

flora robotica is an exciting project funded under the EU-Horizon 2020 Future and Emerging Technologies Proactive Action. The aim is to develop and investigate a symbiotic relationship between plants and robots. One idea is to develop plant-robots that can build and create living spaces and architectural artefacts.

The tricky bit is to control the growth so that the plants grow in the desired shapes. The team has explored the idea to grow plants through white scaffolding with black strips woven into it to help guide the shape. The strips have LED lights and sensors that lure the plants to grow into shapes that have been pre-programmed. Computers and 3D-printed nodes constantly monitor the growth.

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This is a long-term building project and with the interaction of humans, the plants and robots create meaningful architectural structures. Patience is needed, and it may take around 40 years to build your house. But maybe a super fast growing plant can be used!

This is a symbiotic relationship and robot support and controls the biological plants at the same time the biological plant guides the robotic plant through growth towards for example light. The plant also provides support for the weight of the robot during the later growth phases.

The team at flora robotica are also exploring ways to weave braided structures. These structures could result in the development of bendable arms.  Similar to puppets’ arms that move when someone pulls a string.

What would you like to grow?

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What year is this? – Suffering and Artifical Intelligence

Imagine that a time machine could transport you to a medieval village.
What if you asked a villager “What year is this?”

What would the reply be?

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In the brilliant book Sapiens: A brief history of Humankind, the author Yuval Noah Harari  says that the question would have bewildered the person. The cycles of natural time and organic growth were observed and important for people living in a medieval village. They observed the sun and weather. There was a lack of daily routines, instead, the tasks and the routines changed from months to months, depending on the season. In short, the person would not have been able to tell you what year it was.

In contrast, modern industry cares little about the sun or the season. It is built around the idea that life should be organised, uniform and precise. And many of us spend the first weeks of each new year, trying to remember exactly what year it is. It is important to get the year right.

Take a moment to reflect on how time not only organises your life but also how it makes you feel.

Today, we can tell the time by looking at the screen on the laptop, our wristwatch, or the TV. It is difficult being unaware of what time it is and we also have an idea about how long time it should take to do something. And if it takes longer than expected, we might feel anxious and under pressure to complete the next task quicker.

We evaluate time by looking at how we feel. An hour chatting with our friends flies away quickly, while an hour at a meeting at work can seem like an eternity. We may feel happy during the former hour while the latter makes us suffer. We have gone from being free to become in some sense prisoners of time. But what about the future? Where are we heading?

Much of our thinking is shaped by our suffering. Human cognition gets sharper as well as more muddled because we suffer so much. The question is if it is necessary to include suffering in artificial thinking. Can there be real artificial intelligence without exposure to suffering and pain? If yes, what would happen to our time fixated society?

Go here to read more of our blog posts about Thinking and Time.Kismet_robot_20051016

Photo Kismet

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.

Thinking patterns
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.

fish

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?

jumping

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.

 

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