We had learned many theories or thinking processes in the creativity and innovation field. However, most of them are illustrated by a more western point of view. The book- Creativity and Tao- is inducing creativity through the Chinese philosophy-Tao, including some thinking mentioned in the Book of Chang, aks I-Ching. That offers people who are more familiar with Chinese culture and thinking or people who don’t tent to learn things systematically another channel to see what’s creativity and how to increase creativity during daily life.
Brainstorming is the very basic workhorse of creative thinking. It’s been around for almost 60 years, and I don’t even remember when I haven’t yet heard of it, but it doesn’t mean that one cannot find new techniques which shake things up and make it more fresh and more valuable.
Recently I started using two ideas, new and insightful to me, that changed my thinking and ideas a lot. Both of them is somewhat turning things upside down.
The weirdest solution
This one I heard last year when listening to Phil McKinney’s talk for the 2010 StartupBus crew. When he’s brainstorming with a team for example for a new product idea (he was running the Innovation Program Office at HP), after they run out of things to add to the board, he asked which idea was the weirdest or worst. Then he took of everything else, and developed that particular one.
As people say, the first half a dozen or even dozen ideas during brainstorming are the ones that are really conventional, not very creative, the ones that others are likely to come up as well. The weirdest idea is usually one that people has the biggest subconscious resistance, because it’s the furthest from their comfort zone. Thus putting the brainstorming participants in an uncomfortable situation, surprising them, and confining the scope (limitations boost creativity), they can come up with things that they would unlikely find if they just think about the ideas that they find good.
This one I came across while reading Jono Bacon’s The Art of Community. The setting is that after the initial ideas, the question is posed: what would make it the worst the thing that we are trying to improve? We are brainstorming for a better cellphone? What would make it absolutely terrible? Are we thinking of improving our event? What would make it the most awful event ever? Once that is sketched out, go to all of these ideas, and turn them around – how could we avoid all of these things?
The more I think about this technique, the more genius it is, for certain things. It is really naturally suited for the “improvement”-like brainstormings, for other types (e.g. articles for this blog) it is not really applicable.
Where it would really shine, though, is brainstorming about improving something with a crowd whose opinion I don’t know well. It is a perfect way to see what things make people worried about a particular thing. How to improve our laboratory or work environment? Ask people what would make this is the worst lab or office ever. Very soon you’d have a lot of suggestions that probably you wouldn’t have thought normally, because those are things which are normal or even invisible to you. Also in this case, all the ideas are usable, don’t have to throw away the first dozen or so “common” suggestions – those are the ones to fix in the very first step.
An additional advantage is that people love to complain, it is likely to be easier to get them contribute with negative things, and once they got going, the momentum should carry them over on the positive ideation side as well.
So, what is your technique?
I’ve recently read an article recently about Lachy Groom, 17 year old entrepreneur, who has founded at least 4 internet startups by this age, and he’s just going on. The article does go into some detail about how has his ideas, and most of them seem to be simple stuff: he have seen an opportunity to fill in. Build or create something quick, then move on to other opportunities. This “do small things but do many of them” attitude is really appealing to me. That’s maybe because I’m usually having a lot of small ideas, and I try to get as many of them as possible out of my head, because they are really a pain to carry around.
Compared to this, many people are looking for the One Idea, the thing that makes everything right and will be around forever plus one day, and they will never have to come up with another plan, maybe just adjust this one. It’s pretty much like how Facebook looks, I don’t really think Mark Zuckerberg will do anything besides that ever again, which might or might not be a good thing. Either way, Facebook tries to solve problems in a particular and fairly limited area.
If entrepreneurship and innovation is about creating value, then I’d probably like to see more people doing lots of small stuff. Solve our little problems so we can move on doing the big ones. Experiment, learn, and grow with the things you are building. Also, every big thing started from small, never know without trying which one is going to be the watershed.
I think there’s actually a third kind of entrepreneur, that comes out of the most successful ones among the ranks of peers to Lachy Groom, who end up being something like Elon Musk or Richard Branson. The former is heading SpaceX, Tesla Motors and SolarCity, the latter the Virgin empire. Both of them are doing many-many things, but these things also grow up to be huge, solving huge and important problems. I think they are the people I really want to set my eyes on as great examples. In the mean time, Lachy (half my age) is giving me a lesson on how to do these things. So now that the weekend is coming, it will be about spotting the opportunities around me, and choosing something to actually act on.
當你聽到貧民窟，你腦海第一個想像的畫面是什麼？灰灰暗暗，髒髒兮兮？也許從來也不想踏入。荷蘭藝術家Jeroen Koolhaas與Dre Urhahn，決定想要改變這樣的形象，想為貧民窟的人們帶來一些創意，一些樂趣。他們在一些貧民窟進行一「Favela Painting」（貧民區繪圖）計畫，於2006年開始，與當地人合作，用藝術創造將貧民窟彩色化，樂趣化，消除原本的偏見！
看看里約Santa Marta這貧民窟前後的差異。Jeroen Koolhaas與Dre Urhahn用創意來消除偏見，為貧困的人們的生活注入更多的色彩！這週是World Creativity and Innovation Week，你是否也可以運動你的創意為你的生活周遭帶來一些改變？
這是Jeroen Koolhaas與Dre Urhahn本人：
In 2006, the Dutch artist duo Haas&Hahn started deaveloping the idea of creating community-driven art interventions in Brazil. Their efforts yielded two murals which were painted in Vila Cruzeiro, Rio’s most notorious slum, in collaboration with local youth. The artworks received worldwide coverage and have become points of pride in the community and throughout Rio.”The Firmeza Foundation supports the creation of striking artworks in unexpected places. It collaborates with local people to use art as a tool to inspire, create beauty, combat prejudice and attract attention.”
World Creativity and Innovation Week, WCIW, (April 15 – 21) is coming. Are you ready to celebrate your creativity and innovation with your friends, classmates, family, colleagues or just yourself?
For those people who are not familiar with this WCIW, I copied some words from the WCIW website below. If you are interested in learning more about it, please goes to here. Also, please join us to celebrate everyone’s creativity and innovation. Don’t say you are not creative, trust me, you will be surprise that how creative you actually are once you decide to be creative.
# It is about affirming everyone’s ability to generate new ideas (quick – what are 5 reason’s you should get a raise?) and make new decisions (Chinese for dinner tonight, or Italian, maybe Thai – we’ve never had Thai) in any arena – home, school, business, governments – you get the picture.
# It’s about spreading the word and the spark that ignites innovation. If we all do that, then maybe we’ll see beyond our limitations to invent new ways of thinking and acting so the world becomes a better place. Maybe, for example, industries that are on their last legs will achieve revitalization by pursuing new directions.
# It’s about doing something new, something different, having new ideas, harvesting new considerations, putting things together that haven’t been put together before.
# It’s about seeing things in new ways, asking new questions, collaborating with new partners and holding the ground for new ideas to surface.
Look for some ideas to celebrate it? WCIW’s website offers some ideas for you and you could always adapt it or invent your own idea.
If you are interested in TED TALK and you are in Taiwan, then don’t miss the event Taipei Ignite #4. It’s a mini version of TED TALK, each talk only lasts five minutes. During event, you could get a lot of info from various fields, hear different perspectives, I will it’s a good opportunity to create some creativity and innovation sparks in your heads. Steve Jobs said that creativity is all about connecting dots. Hey!Taipei Ignite #4 is going to provides lots of dots at one time, all you need to do is showing up there and connect those dots. How easy and great it is, isn’t it?!
Ignite Taipei #4 (Chinese version) will be held at 3/31 afternoon in Taipei Stock. Make sure you put it on your calendar.
喜歡TED TALK的您，不要錯過了3/31在台北的Taipei Ignite #4.這是個小型的TED TALK,每個主題只有5分鐘，即使你不喜歡其中一個主題，也不過就是5分鐘，之後也就是下一個主題了。通常，很多人因為想說只有5分鐘，姑且聽聽，反而超出預期。因為要在5分鐘裡表達出精華可不是簡單的事，每個演者可都是卯盡全力，簡單扼要地分享精華中的精華。
對於嘗苦於沒有創意創新靈感的人，更是鼓勵您去參加。因為短短時間內各式各樣的資訊一起綻放，想必能在您的腦海裡激盪出不少火花。記得Steve Jobs總說創意就是把不同的事物連結起來嗎？Taipie Ignite #4正是給你這樣的connecting dots的機會，不要錯過。
地點：Taipei Stock 倉庫藝文空間 台北市八德路一段34號3樓
上星期， Jonah Lehrer的新書”Imagine: How Creativity Works” 剛上市，我尚未閱讀此書，但是看了11日Lehrer在華爾街日報的介紹文章，個人覺得是一本值得推建的書。中文版不知會不會上市，有也不知道是什麼時候，畢竟原文版也才出爐。但是該華爾街日報的介紹中已有許多值得分享的資訊。這篇文章很長，我不一一翻譯，僅分享一些我覺得很有趣的片段及我個人的一些想法。對原文有興趣的可以參考這裡。
文章開中名義的表達了創造力不是什麼神奇的魔術，沒有什麼所謂的“創意天才”。即便是賈伯斯（Steve Jobs）及齙伯迪倫（Bob Dylan）般的奇才，也都不是擁有什麼所謂的天賦異稟及超乎常人的超能力。創造力不是與生俱來的特質，也不是天使賜與的奇蹟，只是一種能力。任何人都可以學習創造力，也可以提高創造能力。新的研究為我們帶來了啟示，讓我們得以了解那些改變世界面貌的產品是如何發明的，最棘手的問題又是如何解決的。在什麼是創造力，以及如何在我們自己身上和工作中激發創造力的問題上，我們已經獲得了非常多的具體經驗。
讓我們從最難的問題談起，這些難題乍看似乎根本無法解決。但這類問題只要能解決，一般都是在靈感乍現的一瞬間迎刃而解的。由馬克·比曼(Mark Beeman)和約翰·庫尼奧斯(John Kounios)主持的研究已經發現這束火花可能來自何方。在靈感出現前的幾秒鐘裡，大腦中一個叫前顳上回(superior anterior temporal gyrus, 簡稱aSTG)的區域活動會急劇增加。該區域位於大腦右半球表面，其遠距離聯想功能出色，而將關係很遠的訊息聯繫在一起正是解決創造性難題所必需的過程。
酒精也有助於提高創造力。今年早些時候，伊利諾伊大學(University of Illinois)芝加哥分校的研究人員對清醒的學生和有醉意的學生在解答腦筋急轉彎時的表現進行了比較。科學家們給受試者出了一系列名為“遠距離聯想測驗”(remote associates)的詞彙問題，受試者必須找到另外一個單詞，將一組三個單詞聯繫起來。下面我們舉一個例子：
Pine(松樹) Crab(螃蟹) Sauce(果醬)
在這個例子中，答案是“apple”(蘋果)。這一組單詞加上“apple”就組成了“pineapple” (菠蘿)、“crab apple”(海棠果)和“apple sauce”(蘋果醬)。有醉意的學生解決的問題比清醒的學生多出近30%。
悄悄話：喝酒放鬆的確是個好方法，但是不要喝茫了。放鬆才是重點，喝不喝酒真的是其次。有一個著名的理論叫做bed, bath, and bus，就是說明了人常在暫時遠離原先苦思卻無解決方案時，如躺在床上、泡澡或是坐在公車上時，反而常有那靈光一閃，答案就在眼前的頓悟。放鬆是一個讓我們暫離可能是錯誤的答案，也是讓我們的腦袋利用在床上看書、泡澡或是在公車上看沿途景色時，把我們之前思考很久的問題和其他的事物做連結的時候。在創造學的理論中，稱之為”incubation”醞釀期。前提是“你之前要思考過你的問題”，不是腦袋從來都不用動，鎮日趟在床上、泡澡或是搭車閒晃就可以很有創造力。頓悟是努力思考、辛苦工作中的點，沒有辛勤耕耘，就沒所謂的頓悟，也沒所謂的創造力。所以說，創造力其實不是一蹴可磯的，背後的汗水、淚水都是常被忽略的。
1970年，作曲家布魯斯·阿道夫(Bruce Adolphe)第一次在紐約的茱莉亞音樂學院(Juilliard School)見到馬友友。馬友友當時只有15歲(不過他已經在白宮為肯尼迪總統演奏過)。阿道夫剛剛創作了自己的第一部大提琴作品。他回憶道，“不幸的是，我根本不知道自己在幹啥，我以前從來沒有譜過大提琴曲。”
作者： 撰文：賴雅淳 攝影：張家禎 | Money 錢
被封為「飛魚」、「水怪」的美國游泳運動員麥可．菲爾普斯（Michael Fred Phelps II），在2008年北京奧運中一口氣奪下8面金牌，而他締造金氏世界紀錄，比別人快0.01秒的關鍵，就在於他寫下了明確的目標。
暢銷書《心靈雞湯》作者傑克． 坎菲爾（Jack Canfield）原本年收入只有8,000美元，相當於台幣24萬元。在一次偶然的機會下，他的工作夥伴要他寫下一個目標，而且這個目標必須大到讓人達成後會高興的飛上天。
用手寫 成功機率高10 倍
Yesterday I went to to cheer for my friends at the SME’s Entrepreuneurship and Innovation Award, hosted by the France Taiwan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It was my first time at such an event and in such group, and I was really curious how do the most innovative people look like, what makes them stand out.
That evening four companies and their founders were competing for the honour, and it was a lot of fun hearing their presentation. I of course filter everything through my limited and biased experience and it’s good to see on the other hand what does the jury value. The jury, consisting of investors, CEOs, multinationals’ country directors and so on, with a lot of experience that I cannot even imagine or comprehend most likely. I was wondering whether my guess for the most innovative team will coincide with their assessment (spoiler: it did).
A short intro of the four companies/teams, and their pitch of being innovative:
- Enspyre: using extensive internship program to create a multitude of side projects within the company that strengthens their brand since their main business is a B2B and otherwise unbrandable service; and cultivate potential hires that are quite hard to find. In the last couple of years, about 100 students went through this program (for a company of about 40).
- FoodExpress: deliver from any restaurant, outdoing competitors in scope of choice, ease and quality.
- HotelsnTours: holidays more tailor made, focus on customer service and satisfaction, “out-satisfying” the big names.
- Koegler Electronics: hardware design and manufacturing, e.g. 21″ handheld tablet, and “portable” computer.
Well, Enspyre took home the award, and I did get to chat and think about why they and not the other three.
The biggest difference for me between these companies was that Enspyre has a large team, while the others are 1 or 2 person teams. The small teams had so very little feedback on what is a good idea and what’s not that much, that their products almost felt that they are missing crucial points. When they describe something as simple, as modern, as important, as not important, for me those often felt anything but. The small teams also looked like they are kind of shooting blind in some direction but without a clear idea how to improve their situation. They know their current situation pretty well, but they almost almost looked puzzled when a jury member asked about realistic future directions. Enspyre on the other hand did lay out a plan, with all its conditionals and covered their bases. Of course they don’t know the future but they have pretty good plans to tackle it.
Also, 2) and 3) din’t look like much innovation, just a like an ordinary business model. That’s not a bad thing, though. I know that one does not have to be novel to be successful, just have to be good at what they do. 2) can be interesting, though they face a lot of issues that can bring things down quicker than you can place an order in their mobile app. 3) desperately needs to pivot and differentiate, though it’s great that they are profitable, even if on a very small scale.
The 4) has plenty of creativity and innovation, the founder is a pretty good engineer, but an overwhelming personality. He does try to do everything by himself (which is not a small feat in hardware development), and the things he makes are also to satisfy his own needs. He certainly can have a certain niche market, but seems to be so oblivious to a lot of ways that his work could really get off the ground, if only he wasn’t so old fashioned and conservative in some of his things.
One very encouraging thing was that almost all competitors have took part in this award before, even if with other projects. It’s great that they try and and do, and if it comes to that they fail forward. That alone I applaud already.
All in all it was an interesting event, and I came home mighty inspired. My takeaway from all this:
- Innovation is hard and very few people can genuinely do it (otherwise this could have been a much stronger race)
- even if something is innovative many people won’t see it’s true value and potential
- learn from others, have lots of feedback and listen listen listen
- iterate plenty
- restart if needed
- keep at it
Of course none of them is new idea, I just need plenty of reinforcement so I can apply them with ease.