Light Lightbulbs

To be creative and innovative is to be open to the idea your own ideas limited by your own experiences. You need to light several lightbulbs filled with possibilities to create something new.

pexels-photo-491521

A simple way of looking at it is: if you do not explore lots of possibilities and light several lightbulbs, ideas cannot shine. A closed or resticted mindset will never allow lightbulbs to glow.  Our own beliefs hinder or restrict creative thinking.

Often we are, though it may be difficult to admit, restricted by our assumptions and ideas about how things should be done. We have a fixed mindset about what certain groups of people, animals or non-living things should, ought to or can do. These fixed ideas limits the way we search for new insights.

Being open to possibilities means to be open to gathering more points from which to develop ideas. Think of the well know tune – Happy Birthday and try to transform it while still ensuring that everyone recognises the tune. . .

 

Perhaps the experience of a jazz muscians will open up your mind to other music styles that you can use to transform the tune. Like Beethoven, Mozart or hip hop. . . a cappella. . .

How can you open your mind to new things? Science fiction is a great tool to help reframe our

Provoking our minds is one way.

Reading books is one way where we can enter different worlds and experiences. Science fiction is a great tool to help reframe our perespectives on the world. Like travelling to new places, it creates a way for us to question our assumptions. Assumptions are useful because they give us a short cut to understand the world. They help us to be more efficient. But they can stand in the way when we want to change things and invent things.

Science fiction can offer more that escapism on a sunny day on the beach. By presenting alternative realities we  are confronted with questions – what do we think, how we think, why we think.

The novel 1984 by George Orwell, was not really about 1984 but 1948, the year that the book was written. Today, this classic novel has become very popular and this shows that a great book provides insights into human nature.

Why not select a couple a sceince fiction books and challenge your thinking?

New York is always on my mind on hot summer’s day after having spent a sumemr there. The book New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson is on my reading list this summer. Rising sea levels flood Manhattan and the streets are turned into canals. As climate change accelerates, rethinking infrastructrues becomes more improtant. Link to a review in The Guardian.

Happy Summer Think Diving!

Or Happy Winter Think Diving if you live in the Southern Hemisphere!

P.S. Robots are often used in modern sceince fiction. Here is a  robot that grows like a plant! What assumptions are challenged?

Surprising and Dramatic

How long will it take?

Nutrients matter!

pexels-photo-218844

Some TED-talks are worth resharing. Nutrition reseracher Julia Rucklidge works at the University of  Canterbury, NZ. In the speech below she talks about the critical role of nutrition in mental health. She explains why this knowledge could change the way we treat mental illness.

She published a double-blind study in the  British Journal of Psychiatry which showed that those taking a product co-formulated† by Hardy Nutritionals® Founder David Hardy experienced “statistically robust improvements” over those taking placebo. A double-blind study is a study where neither the reseracher nor the participants know who  is receiving a particular treatment. Adults taking the nutrients reported more than double the improvement in ADHD symptoms compared to participants taking a placebo. ADHD symptoms included attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

A study published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology supports the idea that nutrients can be used to reduce aggression as well as violence in children who are prone to these types of behviours. This has been known since the 1990s so this reult is simply a reafirrmation about what already is known. Yet, there has been few changes with improving the nutrients intake. If a drug were show to reduce aggresion with n side efftects, would you ignore it?

Of course, there is no big money to be made in nutrients as compared to medication. So we need constructive ideas about how to use the exsiting data to make policy changes. Go here to read some comments about how this can be done. And please share your own ideas here!

More-of-the-Same or a Breaktrough Innovation?

 

aaeaaqaaaaaaaae9aaaajdrknmnhmgy5ltg1m2utndqzos05ndvmltm2mgvinzdmmdm2za

In  a recent post What’s (not) an Innovation? we mentioned 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?

Valeri Souchkov presented a new classification scheme for solutions or inventions, based on the original classification by Genrich Altshuller.

world-conference-triz-future-2008-57-november-2008-university-of-twente-enschede-the-netherlands-5-638Principles (scientific discoveries) cannot be patented. The levels of inventions 2 to 4 are patentable. So, a new combination of a principle with a function and a market can patented, regardless the fact that the new combination of principle and function in another market already exists. Below you will find 4 examples of patentable solutions, based on the same principle and the same function, but with different applications. That is to say: fulfilling different needs and as such, serving different markets.

Principle: quickly increasing/decreasing pressure, the Function that is used is to remove things; 

Applications (market):

  1.  remove seeds from peppers
  2.  remove shells of cedar nuts
  3.  remove sunflower seeds
  4.  remove dust
  5. splitting imperfect crystals

systematic-innovation-an-introduction-to-triz-11-728

systematic-innovation-an-introduction-to-triz-12-728

systematic-innovation-an-introduction-to-triz-13-728systematic-innovation-an-introduction-to-triz-14-728systematic-innovation-an-introduction-to-triz-15-728

Actually, in the examples above we see here concept extraction at work, or in other words “How to Search for (Patentable) Ideas”:

  1. Look for the concept behind an idea (concept= a function and a principle or mechanism)
  2. Apply the concept to other areas (product/market combinations)

zksro7zalpxmefosixp5yo5fmt6jc3sachvcdoaizecfr3dnitcq_0_0

5020662000138936545-4982514339595930017

Design Your Own Creative Thinking Techniques

creative-and-innovative-thinking-skills-4-728

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?

free-martial-arts-silhouette-vector

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.

kids-martial-arts-youth

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.

1465685915adult-martial-arts

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

attention

2. Escape

escape

3. Movement

 

movement

4. Focus

 

Y97Pj1497976072

The four principles in a scheme.

YV4AR1497973573

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.”

1fec2ee866b2bf65c763ed866b4459a1

 

 

How to Become a Creative Genius

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 … Continue reading

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?

vibrant new ideas

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.

Customer-Roles-in-Online-Communities

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

HslZDNpW1cmBifi5gLpjJzl72eJkfbmt4t8yenImKBVvK0kTmF0xjctABnaLJIm9

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.

challenge-cartoon

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.

values

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

See our next blog post and don’t forget to subscribe.