Saturday, September 30, 2006

10 Ways to Think about Innovation: What successful young technologists know

[8 September 2006 - Technology Review - MIT] Each year, we choose the 35 innovators under the age of 35 whose new technologies seem most gloriously creative and most likely to expand human life. (Here are the 2006 winners.) In editing this year's TR35--and rereading the profiles of last year's winners, whom we introduced in the October 2005 issue--I've noticed a few things about successful innovation. More

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Director Emphasizes Imagination in Research

[21 September 2006 - U.S. Department of Defense Transformation News] Dan Marren spoke to scientists about basic research, collaboration and relationships, and the use of imagination to achieve great possibilities. ... It would have been understandable for a speaker to appear rattled addressing hundreds of world-renowned scientists gathered in Atlanta recently for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research’s Joint Program Review. Dan Marren, director of the Arnold Engineering Development Center’s White Oak, Md. facility, after all, had only 45 minutes to prepare a 30-minute speech shortly after he received word his boss could not make it. ... He spoke to scientists brought together by Air Force Office of Scientific Research program managers to review five major Air Force basic research portfolios. Speaking to experts who spent the week discussing such topics as physical mathematics and plasma aerodynamics could affect anyone’s composure – anyone except Marren. His presentation focused on three topics which, he said, are of critical importance to the scientific community – basic research, collaboration and relationships, and use of imagination to achieve great possibilities. The thread that weaves these concepts together is vision. More

A Perfect Brainstorm: The three-part equation that supercharges big-idea generation

[Summer 2006 - BusinessWeek] Over the past 20 years, Eureka Ranch has played host to more than 6,000 teams of people in search of the next big idea. At the end of each brainstorming workshop, we ask participants to rate their session on its levels of stimuli, diversity, fun, fear, cooperation, and openness to radical ideas. By correlating their responses with the number of big ideas the teams came up with, we've been able to identify three simple principles that make brainstorming more powerful. Briefly stated, any team is more likely to create a big idea if it starts by exploring various stimuli, leverages diversity, and drives out fear.
Sound simple? Bear with me while I add some math. More specifically:
divided by FEAR

Eight Rules To Brilliant Brainstorming

[25 September 2006 - BusinessWeek]
Alex F. Osborn's 1950s classic, Applied Imagination, which popularized brainstorming, gave sound advice: Creativity comes from a blend of individual and collective ``ideation.'' This means building in time for people to think and learn about the topic before the group brainstorm, as well as time to reflect about what happened after the meetings.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Power of Ordinary Practices

[20 September 2006 - Harvard Business School Working Knowledge] Teresa M. Amabile's research centers on how the work environment can influence the motivation, creativity, and performance of individuals and teams. A recent study focused on the influence of team leaders on these factors. Professor Amabile and New Business publisher Mike Roberts recently discussed her research. ... Seemingly mundane things that managers do can have great impact on their workers, says Professor Teresa Amabile. In this conversation with Professor Mike Roberts, she updates her ongoing research on creativity in the workplace by investigating how people's intense inner work lives affect their productivity—and how managers can encourage production. Key concepts include:
* Emotions, motivations, and perceptions about work permeate an employee's daily experience and affect performance.
* There are five specific leader behaviors that create a positive influence on people's feelings, and three that have a negative impact.
* Leaders must understand how ordinary, seemingly mundane things they do or say carry great influence on workers—so "sweat the small stuff."

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Look at Mau's Massive Change

[21 September 2006 - BusinessWeek] The renowned Toronto designer's show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago challenges design to solve the world's problems. ... What do a featherless chicken, Wal-Mart's (WMT) logistics system, and an economic theory on homeownership have in common? To Bruce Mau, they all demonstrate the power of design-oriented thinking in the innovation process. These examples and far more are packed into Massive Change, the multimedia exhibit that made its U.S. debut Sept. 16 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The exhibit is the brainchild of Mau, a Toronto designer internationally renowned for his graphics work. But of all the points the show makes, and it makes many, the most obvious is how far design reaches in our lives, beyond visual expression and product development. The show presents design as a method of creative problem-solving that can be applied to large social problems such as hunger, housing shortages, or energy for the Third World. "We have to liberate design from fixating on the visual," says Mau. "Instead we wanted to think about design as the capacity to effect change." More

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Can arts change the world, a holistic theory

[7 September 2006 - The Village Voice] ... Art can change the world incrementally and by osmosis. This is because art is part of a universal force. It has no less purpose or meaning than science, religion, philosophy, politics, or any other discipline, and is as much a form of intelligence or knowing as a first kiss, a last goodbye, or an algebraic equation. Art is an energy source that helps make change possible; it sees things in clusters and constellations rather than rigid systems. More

Monday, September 18, 2006

Attracting the 'creative class'

[14 September 2006 - The Courier-Journal - Louisville, Kentucky - Opinion] In a recent Atlantic Monthly article, Richard Florida, the pundit who coined the term "creative class" to describe a young generation of technologically savvy, lifestyle progressive workers and entrepreneurs who become economic drivers in the communities in which they settle, offers new evidence that the migration to "superstar cities" is accelerating. Florida's work in tracking these trends is closely followed by economic growth experts and our own Greater Louisville, Inc., which hosted him here. In short, Florida argues that "superstar cities" will be the primary winners in the future because of these new "creative" residents. The question for cities like ours, which Florida does not include in the "superstar cities" list, is how to secure our share of the future economic pie as we compete in a "world is flat" economy. We believe the answer rests largely on grass-roots efforts to address this trend. More

Theory of Creativity

[August 2006 - HOW magazine] What can an economist teach us about creativity? Turns out, plenty. In his new book "Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity," noted economics professor David Galenson argues that there are two distinct creative types that employ two fundamentally different approaches to artistic innovation. He posits that experimental innovators (old masters) work by trial and error and make their major contributions late in their careers, while conceptual innovators (young geniuses) have flashes of brilliance and enjoy artistic breakthroughs at young ages. Which type of creative are you? Read HOW’s Q&A with Galenson to see where you fit in his theory of creativity. More

Helping creativity flourish in children

[17 September 2006 - Chandigargh Express News Service - India] CREATIVITY is a crucial human ability, which must be identified and encouraged, especially among children. It is for this purpose that the National Bal Shree Scheme, a unique endeavour of the National Bal Bhavan to honour the most creative children in India, was started. The zonal finals of the scheme would be held at Bal Bhavan, Sector 23 on Sunday and Monday. Children in the age group of 9-16 would participate in four streams — creative arts, creative scientific innovation, creative writing and creative performance. Addressing mediapersons at Press Club today, Amita Shaw, director, National Bal Bhavan, New Delhi, said the scheme was aimed at nurturing and encouraging creative children. Stating that creative people were essential for the development of a country, she said, ‘‘If creativity in children is not recognised at an early age, it can take a negative turn after some time.’’ More

Creativity and productivity: making growth work

[17 September 2006 - Jamaica Gleaner News] Productivity Week allows us the opportunity to look beyond the firm-based measures of labour productivity to broader and newer issues of development, and indeed, to a new economy. Today the development debate surrounds such concepts as the 'knowledge economy', 'micro-finance', 'nanotechnology', 'sustainable development', 'trade and development', 'governance', 'capacity development', 'culture and development', and so on. There is, however, little that brings all of these together. One exception is new growth theory. It says that creativity is the most important factor of production. According to the old theory, the scarcity of land, labour, and capital determined what is produced (to meet demand) and at what price (to satisfy profit and supply). But many of these factors of production are not really scarce but under-utilised. The new theory is that creative use of capital and labour makes both more productive by invention (new ideas) and innovation (new applications). Firms, governments, and schools, can all increase their productivity through creativity, that is, ever finding new ways to improve their output and results. What is more, any one class, race or nation does not own creativity, nor is it scarce in nature. It is abundant and spreads easily. Rather than a law of diminishing returns, one benefits from a law of increasing returns. Knowledge, ingenuity, discovery, science and technology, are all forms of creativity, and the wellspring of creativity is the human mind. Creative thinking is the basis for good research, organisation, operational procedures, production systems, human relations and governance, and applies to all of these in business, politics, academia, school, justice, crime fighting, and other aspects of human society. More

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Nation In Numbers: Where the Brains Are

[October 2006 - The Atlantic Monthly - By Richard Florida] America’s educated elite is clustering in a few cities -- and leaving the rest of the country behind. More

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A school worth studying

[10 September 2006 - The Seattle Times] In most of the ways that parents use to judge schools, Van Asselt Elementary in Southeast Seattle would seem a dubious place to send your kids. Four of five students are poor enough to get free lunch. There's no parental involvement to speak of, no aggressive PTA hosting fundraising auctions. It's one of those aging urban schools that's long been abandoned by the middle class and by whites. This year, in a school of 460 kids, only one is white. Nobody was too surprised when, five years ago, Van Asselt was put on the federal list of failing schools. Today, there's some kind of magic happening inside. ...
Two things jumped out at me — things that ought to be clarion calls for any school struggling to make it in this era of high-stakes standardized tests. One, the Van Asselt staff has a brilliant, counterintuitive strategy when it comes to the WASL. Which is that they mostly ignores it. They don't teach to the test. The test doesn't dictate the curriculum, nor does it hang like a sword over the school day. Van Asselt kids still get three recesses. And though it's no alternative school, there remains a major focus on in-school art, gym and especially music — all programs that are being shunted aside at some schools in slavish pursuit of the three R's. ... "Class has got to be engaging and creative or they won't learn," he said. "If I teach to the test I won't even get their attention." The second thing is truly inspiring. Five years ago the staff of Van Asselt took a leap of faith and began aiming the classroom instruction at the most gifted and talented kids. They call it "teach to the highest." It's accompanied by a tutoring program designed to prevent anyone from falling too far behind.

Imagination deficit could cripple society

[11 September 2006 - StatesmanJournal Opinion - Salem, Oregon] Protecting imagination is even more important in realms beyond entertainment. Progress in arenas from social reform to technological invention would be crippled if people lost their ability to imagine a better world. Tolerance and empathy depend upon the human capacity to imagine all the implications of the Golden Rule. More

Monday, September 11, 2006

New byword for the city focuses on the imagination: 'Pittsburgh. Imagine what you can do here'

[9 September 2006 - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette] Declaring the Pittsburgh region sorely under-appreciated by outsiders and residents alike, local business and political leaders yesterday unveiled a three-year, $3 million marketing effort aimed at showcasing the area's beauty and accomplishments and bolstering the region's image, economy and civic pride. "Pittsburgh. Imagine what you can do here" is the tagline for the campaign, which will kick off next month locally with print and online ads followed by a national rollout in December. The campaign will be the cornerstone for events leading up to the commemoration of the city's 250th birthday in 2008. More

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Elements of a Clear Decision

[7 September 2006 - MIT Sloan Management Review] When Luda Kopeikina was president of Celerity Solutions, Inc., a supply chain software and services company, she was under intense stress. The company's market was shrinking, as was its revenue, and Kopeikina had to act decisively in order to save it. After she had made a series of "right" decisions and the crisis was averted, she became intrigued by what ingredients and conditions went into those decisions. Could they be replicated? Could they be taught? Kopeikina's curiosity led her to research and write her recent book "The Right Decision Every Time: How to Reach Perfect Clarity on Tough Decisions" (Prentice Hall 2005). In a recent interview, she shared some of her thoughts and findings ... Q: What are the elements of a good decision? Good leaders focus on three elements. First, they identify the best decision-making process. Second, they look for the best data and analysis they can get. More

Saturday, September 02, 2006

My Customer, My Co-Innovator

[31 August 2006 - strategy+business - by Michael Schrage] It's difficult to create products that customers want without understanding what they really need. Now that simple realization has spurred companies such as Cisco, Procter & Gamble, and Goldman Sachs to work together with their customers at the earliest stages of the innovation process, while making the entire process more transparent throughout the value chain. As a result, information flows freely between company and customer, designers have a clearer picture of what customers need, and the resulting products are more successful in the marketplace. More

Friday, September 01, 2006

SparkCon Hopes To Make Raleigh Creative Hub Of The South

[31 August 2006 - Raleigh Chronicle] A new conference centered around creativity hopes to bring people together to spark new ideas in business, art, and society will be hosted in Raleigh in September. Appropriately named SparkCon, the conference will be held at various venues in downtown Raleigh from September 14th to 17th.  Conference organizers say the event will focus on four topics including inclusivity, the arts, independent businesses, and technology. More