Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Nothing as unpredictable as predicting the future

[15 May 2006 - Ventura County Star] Educators are already rethinking curriculum and pedagogy in light of the World Wide Web. Beyond the traditional three R's, students will be expected to excel in the three C's (communication, collaboration, and creative problem-solving), to locate and process real-world information, to exhibit technological fluency, and, most importantly, to develop the aptitude and attitude of a lifelong learner. You see, today's kindergartners will rack up at least five different careers before retirement — the majority in fields that have yet to be imagined. More

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A Red Flag In The Brain Game

[1 May 2006 - BusinessWeek] America's dismal showing in a contest of college programmers highlights how China, India, and Eastern Europe are closing the tech talent gap. ... The poor showings should serve as a wake-up call for government, industry, and educators. The output of American computer science programs is plummeting, even while that of Eastern European and Asian schools is rising. China and India, the new global tech powerhouses, are fueled by 900,000 engineering graduates of all types each year, more than triple the number of U.S. grads. Computer science is a key subset of engineering. "If our talent base weakens, our lead in technology, business, and economics will fade faster than any of us can imagine," warns Richard Florida, a professor at George Mason University and author of The Flight of the Creative Class. More

Thursday, May 18, 2006

IKEA's Head of Design Touts Creativity

[18 May 2006 - Fast Company - From the DMI Branding Conference - Day Two] The Design Management Institute kicked off day two of this year's conference, Design + Brand + Experience, with two presentations from global brand leaders. ... Lars Engman, Design Director at IKEA, spoke next, offering a broad look at the evolution of the IKEA brand and discussed where the company finds new ideas. ... Engman, from IKEA, was less concerned with branding strategy, instead emphasizing the importance of building creativity into the company. "Beautiful products are not all that difficult to develop," he says. "Producing them at an affordable price is what takes work." To inspire new associations in IKEAs design work, he reaches out to fellow designers at other global companies - places like cell phone maker Sony Erikson, clothier H&M and French auto-maker Renault. More

Brain research offers insight into mechanisms of prejudice

[17 May 2006 - News-Medical.Net] By scanning subjects' brains while they were thinking about people either politically like or different from them, researchers have found that different areas of the brain are active in the two cases. The researchers said their findings offer insight into the neural machinery that gives rise to perceptions that other racial or ethnic groups are different from one's own. They concluded that their work offers insight into prejudice and that one way to reduce prejudice is to emphasize how alike different groups are, rather than highlighting their differences. The researchers, Jason P. Mitchell and Mahzarin R. Banaji of Harvard University and C. Neil Macrae of University of Aberdeen, reported their findings in an article in the May 18, 2006, Neuron. More

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Creativity Overflowing

[8 May 2006 - Business Week] After its initial efforts stumbled, Whirlpool is reaping big dividends from its push to jump-start innovation. David R. Whitwam had run out of tricks. The chairman and chief executive of Whirlpool Corp. (WHR ) had built the company into the world's No. 1 maker of big-ticket appliances, achieving unmatched economies of scale. He had also cut costs by hundreds of millions of dollars, again and again. Yet here it was 2000 and, judging by everything from stock price to profit margin to market share, Whirlpool was no better off than it was a decade earlier. The company's problem was not hard to diagnose: Its machines had been reduced to commodities. Prices for its most important products were actually falling each year. Nor was the solution a mystery: Whirlpool had to come up with exciting new products that could command premium prices. But the appliance maker had never paid much attention to innovation. During most of its 95-year history, it excelled at operating plants and distribution channels efficiently and at turning out washers and dryers that were solid and long-lasting. From time to time, research and engineering (R&E) technicians would tweak Whirlpool's Kenmore, KitchenAid, and namesake appliances to lower costs or boost performance -- by better insulating a freezer, say, or adding another washing cycle. But that's about as exciting as product development ever got. It was clear that Whirlpool needed to reinvent its corporate culture. To do so, it had to figure out the answers to basic questions that managers everywhere struggle with: How do you define innovation? How do you measure success? How do you teach people to be creative? "We knew from a strategic point of view what we needed to do, but from a practical point of view we didn't know how to do it at all," confesses Jeff M. Fettig, 49, a 25-year veteran who succeeded Whitwam as chairman and CEO in mid-2004. So Whitwam put out a broad call for help. Believing that brilliant ideas were buried in the corporate hierarchy, he invited each of the company's 61,000 employees to unleash their creativity: Everybody everywhere, he exhorted, Go out and innovate! More
Whirlpool's Future Won't Fade
[8 May 2006 - Business Week] The appliance giant's CEO, Jeff Fettig, has a favorite word: innovation. His company has used it to set earnings records and build a cutting-edge brand. These days, Jeff Fettig is getting the glory. Since mid-2004, Fettig has been chairman and chief executive of Whirlpool (WHR ), which as the world's No. 1 maker of big-ticket appliances, has set records for sales and earnings. The housing boom in the U.S. certainly has helped. But the real numbers booster, says Fettig, is innovation. Thanks to new products, Whirlpool not only has logged outsized growth in demand; it has been able to command higher and higher prices. More
UN-Habitat wants regional SME proposals submitted...
[5 May 2006 - IPP Media] The UN-Habitat intends to promote creativity and innovativeness among prospective small and medium scale entrepreneurs’ (SMEs) projects in East Africa. The country’s UN-Habitat Programme Manager, Philemon Mutashubirwa, said this on Wednesday, adding that the region’s economic projects would be run through the organisastion’s Mashariki Innovations in Local Government Awards Programme (MILGAP) which fund it. ’’The award programme aims to recognize, reward and promote innovative projects, thereby improve the living status of poor men and women in the region,’’ said the UN official at the Media Awareness Workshop on MILGAP in Dar es Salaam. More
A Creative Crossroads
[7 May 2006 - Washington Post - Richard Florida] No more a quaint government town with a reputation for Southern sleepiness, today's Washington is a booming, far-flung region that's a key node in what I call the Creative Economy. Now if it could just act like a grown-up metropolis. More

Don't run with your first idea!
[8 May 2006 - The Jakarta Post] When we look for ideas, the first batch of ideas are the most common ones. This is because the way our brain works is rather similar to a computer. The latest documents we have worked on in a computer are retrievable through "my recent documents". Similarly, our brains can easily retrieve the information we most often use -- things that are most relevant in our daily lives in order to function efficiently. We need to purge these ideas to get beyond them and access those ideas that are more original. Alex Osborn, the originator of brainstorming and father of creative problem solving, reveals that of so many ideas generated, the second half of the output, in comparison with the first half, provided 78 percent more good ideas. ... So what it means is that the more ideas we come up with, the more likely we are of getting better quality ideas. More
Creativity is all in the mind
[6 May 2006 - The Scotsman (UK)] TODAY, SCOTLAND'S FIRST GALLERY devoted to Art Extraordinary - also known as Art Brut or Outsider Art - opens in the town of Pittenweem in Fife. The gallery is the first of its kind anywhere in the UK. Run by the former art therapist Joyce Laing and simply called the Art Extraordinary Gallery, it will be opening its doors for two days a week from now until 29 October, thanks to a modest grant from the Scottish Arts Council. It will also be open throughout this year's Pittenweem Arts Festival, which runs from 5 to 13 August. So what is Art Extraordinary? Laing defines it as "visionary imagery inspired directly from the unconscious". Many of those who produce it suffer from mental illness, but by no means all. Some are simply recluses, making art in private with no intention of showing it to anyone else. But Laing has identified certain traits common to all the artists. More
Conference promotes meditation in school
[6 May 2006 - Boston Globe] Twenty minutes of deep breathing and silence twice daily can help boost students' grades, improve their social skills, and ignite their creativity. That's the message Transcendental Meditation practitioners brought to more than 100 Boston-area educators yesterday during a three-hour conference on how to help students overwhelmed by social pressures and the stress of getting into college. More

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

As Global Tech Competition Rises, Ability To Manage Innovation Key
[1 May 2006 - Investor's Business Daily] Paul Camuti oversees Siemens Corporate Research, the U.S. research arm for a company that's involved in such fields as communications, power generation, factory automation, transportation, lighting and medical technology. Amid the fast pace of globalization, companies must foster a culture of innovation in order to succeed, says Camuti. This involves developing new products and technologies, but also new services, processes and business models. "There is no single correct approach to managing innovation," he said. "We constantly evolve the ways that our central research labs are managed and run." Camuti recently spoke with IBD about innovation.
IBD: How is the role of innovation changing these days?
Camuti: For a long time in industrial research, innovation has been driven around invention and the discovery of coming up with something new. But that's a pretty product-centric view of innovation. Today, there can be new ways of doing business processes or services, or new business models. The idea is to think of creative ways that the business can be conducted, and not only about an invention-centered product view. More

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Paradoxical Creative Brain (PDF - Page 8)
[January-February 2006 - The Dana Foundation's "BrainWork: The Neuroscience Newsletter"] To create, a person must have knowledge but forget the knowledge, must see unexpected connections in things but not have a mental disorder, must work hard but spend time doing nothing, must be competitive while afflicted by self doubt. These and other paradoxical ideas about creativity and the brain were explored by a panel of two leading neuroscientists and two nationally known creative artists during a public meeting Nov. 14 at the Dana Center. ... Education is failing creativity as well. “I think it is mostly inhibition of creativity that we see,” said Pierre J. Magistretti of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Nancy C. Andreasen of the University of Iowa, and author of The Creating Brain, agreed: “Boundaries are created artificially that shouldn’t be there. We need to train kids to see fewer boundaries, more integration across things." ...
  • See also the Webcast of "The Creating Brain" panel (Real Media video)
    [14 November 2005 - The Dana Foundation - Dana Center, Washington, DC] The participants were: Dana Alliance member and author of the new book, The Creating Brain, Nancy C. Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D., University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and MIND Institute, University of New Mexico; Janet Eilber, Artistic Director of the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance and principal arts consultant to the Dana Foundation; Michael Kahn, Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre; and European Dana Alliance for the Brain Vice-chairman Pierre Magistretti, M.D., Ph.D., University of Lausanne Medical School and Brain and Mind Institute, in Lausanne. William Safire, chairman of the Dana Foundation served as moderator.