Tag Archives: Creativity

Innovators’s Personality Characteristics and Shibumi Principles Drive Innovation

Øyvind Martinsen

Øyvind Martinsen

BI Norwegian Business School’s Øyvind Martinsen identified components of creative personalities as key attributes for innovative problem solving in business organizations.

Martinsen’s study of 481 people included two groups of students in creative fields: advertising and performing artists,  and a control group of lecturers and managers.

He found that creative individuals differed from the control groups in several dimensions:

  • Have an active imagination, “associative orientation”, an “experimental attitude”
  • Value originality, are comfortable rebelling against rules, standards, and systems
  • Demonstrate high motivation to succeed
  • Become absorbed in creative work
  • Are ambitious Desire recognition, fame
  • Adapt, reimagine, rebrand, and flex to meet current demands and realities
  • Express anxiety, worry, volatile emotions  
  • Demonstrate less concern, friendliness and sensitivity to others
  • Tend to be more critical of others

Martinsen says that a less creative individuals can increase this capacity when their work environments encourage rule-bending and free thought, so organizations can modify policies and practices to convey acceptance of exploration.

Employees are often urged to take chances by innovating solutions, but sometimes these Ryan Fehr - Workplace Forgiveness Modelincubation efforts may not result in a commercial success — and organizations may not “forgive” the investment of time and money in speculative efforts.

University of Washington’s Ryan Fehr with Michele Gelfand of University of Maryland suggest that organizations should establish the conditions for innovation and for accepting that experimentation may provide “lessons learned” even when efforts cannot be brought to market.

Ryan Fehr

Ryan Fehr

Their research investigated “forgiving organizations” that expand the individual practice of workplace compassion and mindfulness to an institutional level.

Michele Gelfand

Michele Gelfand

Fehr and Gelfand propose a “sensemaking” organizational model based on restorative justice, temperance, and compassion to cultivate the climate of fearless innovation and confident exploration in high-support organizations, which benefit from process and product breakthroughs and related financial rewards.

Matthew May

Matthew May

Matthew May explored a multi-faced exemplar of innovation, Shibumi,   imperfectly defined as “effortless effectiveness”, simply-expressed complexity, flawed perfection.

Baldassarre Castiglione

Baldassarre Castiglione

Shibumi shares some qualities with Baldassare Castiglione’s idea of “sprezzatura,” or making “whatever one does or says seem effortless, and almost unpremeditate,” Shibumi, says May, is typically achieved through an innovation-change management sequence of:

  • Commitment
  • Preparation
  • Struggle
  • Breakthrough
  • Transformation
Trevanian

Trevanian

Film scholar Rodney William Whitaker, who wrote under the pseudonym Trevanian, opined that “Shibumi has to do with great refinement underlying commonplace appearances,” and architect Sarah Susanka observed that “…shibumi evolves out of a process of complexity, though none of this complexity shows in the result…to meet a particular design challenge.”

Sarah Susanka

Sarah Susanka

May illustrated examples of familiar Japanese management principles including Hoshin (goal alignment) and Kaizen (continuous improvement), with less familiar principles:

  • Kata (patterns of effective behavior)
  • Genchi genbutsu (observation)
  • Hansei (reflection).

Matthew May-The Shibumi StrategyInnovation and creative problem-solving in any field can benefit from attention to Shibumi’s seven principles:

  • Austerity – Less is more
    Koko” suggests restraint, sparseness, and intentional omission, and ‘Is/isn’t analysis” provides the focus and clarity to exclude elements beyond a designated scope

    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    Antoine de Saint Exupery captured this principle in his view that “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

In another book, May offered 4 Ss of “elegant”, innovative, and austere solutions:

  • Symmetry” to help solve problems of structure, order, and aesthetics
  • Seduction” for creative engagement
  • Subtraction” for problems of economy
  • Sustainability” for a process or solution that is both repeatable and lasting
  • Simplicity
    Kanso” signals the “enoughness” of streamlined utility, based on prioritization, understatement, and order for the central purpose.
  • Naturalness
    Shizen” points to the paradox of intentional artlessness, or balancing nature’s randomness and patterns with intentional curation.
  • Subtlety
    Yugen” refers to the tension between stagnation of precision in contrast with nature’s growth.
    One example is Steve Jobs building anticipation through restrained information release.
  • Asymmetric Imperfection
    Fukinsei points to the symmetry of nature through its counterpoint:  Asymmetrical and incomplete representations that encourage the viewer’s participation to “complete the incomplete.”Gestalt Art
    Gestalt
    researchers and artists demonstrated increased visual impact when participants co-create and collaborate in the innovation effort.
  • Change Routine Thinking and Actions
    Datsuzoku suggests a break from routine, such as adopting free-spirited Carnival demeanor at the annual masked Fasching in German-speaking countries.Fasching
    Breaking patterns enables breakthrough innovation and creative resourcefulness.
  • Active Stillness, Dynamic Tranquility
    Seijaku is serenity in the midst of activity and provides context of datsuzoku, transcendence of conventional ideas and traditional usage, leading to surprise, astonishment, and freedom to create.
    “Doing nothing” in mindfulness practice can be provide unconscious incubation for eventual creative syntheses to solve complex design issues, and increase self-awareness, focus, and attention.
    Individuals who wish to become more creative even in more confining organizations have reported success by adopting mindfulness meditation based on conscious breathing.
    In addition mindfulness practice can enhance resilience to accept critique in the creative process.

-*How do you establish the individual and organizational conditions for innovations?
-*How do organizations become “forgiving”?

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STEAM-powered Innovation: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics

Ainissa Ramirez

Ainissa Ramirez

“Science evangelist” and former Yale professor Ainissa Ramirez argues that STEM disciplines – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – increase curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking by asking basic questions:

  • How can we succinctly describe this phenomenon?
  • Why does this phenomenon occur?
  • How can we apply insights about this phenomenon to make practical improvements in daily life?
Henri Poincare

Henri Poincare

She advocated combing Arts disciplines with STEM to STEAM-power fresh insights, as mathematician Henri Poincare noted: ‘To create consists of making new combinations. … The most fertile will often be those formed of elements drawn from domains which are far apart.

Ramirez credits her scientific training with allowing her “to stare at an unknown and not run away, because I learned that this melding of uncertainty and curiosity is where innovation and creativity occur…”  

She added the important reminder that in these fields, “…failure is a fact of life.
The whole process of discovery is trial and error.
When you innovate, you fail your way to your answer.
You make a series of choices that don’t work until you find the one that does.
Discoveries are made one failure at a time…We just brand it differently. We call it data.”

Artists understand this trial-and-error process and the challenge of tolerating ambiguity and enduring lack of “success” until persistence enables insightful experimentation that leads to satisfying resolution.

Vi Hart

Vi Hart

STEAM practitioners include Vi Hart, “recreational mathemusician” at Khan Academy, who doodles explanations of fractal fractions aka abacabadabacaba, Fibonacci sequences in plants, Pythagorean Theorem via origami, and binary trees illustrated by Turducken, Mobius strips via the story of Wind, Mr. Ug and the big earthquake

Robert Lang

Robert Lang

Robert Lang, former CalTech physicist, merges mathematics, engineering, computing, and aesthetics to fold complex origami forms by “discovering underlying law” – just as Ainissa Ramirez suggested.

Robert Lang - Origami FishHe is a prolific artist, with paper and metal forms in public and private collections around the world, while advancing origami mathematics, computational origami,and applied origami technology in engineering, industrial design, and technology in general.

Lang advises that “the secret to productivity in so many fields — and in origami — is letting dead people do your work for you.” by building on discoveries in other fields to develop solutions to current problems.

Ron Eglash

Ron Eglash

“Ethnomathematician” Ron Eglash of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, showed that  African design in architecture, art, hair braiding, are based on perfect fractal patterns in which parts looks like the whole via recursive self-similar cycles.

Ron Eglash Fractal African Hair BraidingHe teaches mathematical concepts by drawing on students’ cultural backgrounds to translate mathematical ideas already present in the cultural practices, such as transformational geometry in cornrow hair braiding, spiral arcs in graffiti, least common multiples in percussion rhythms, and analytic geometry in Native American beadwork.

Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler

American detective writer (and former oil executive), Raymond Chandler, summarized the reciprocal contributions of science and art:

There are two kinds of truth: the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart.
The first of these is science, and the second is art.
Neither is independent of the other or more important than the other.
Without art science would be as useless as a pair of high forceps in the hands of a plumber. Without science art would become a crude mess of folklore and emotional quackery.
The truth of art keeps science from becoming inhuman, and the truth of science keeps art from becoming ridiculous.

 -*How do you combine insights from other fields to shed fresh perspective on challenging dilemmas?

-*How do you persist until new variations on trial solutions succeed in resolving issues?

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“Productive Pause”, Intuition for Better Decisions

Everyday wisdom offers familiar advice to curtail impulsivity through slowing down and reflecting:

  • “Go slow to go fast”
  • “Sleep on it”
  • “Wait before sending an emotional email”
  • “Count to 10, think again”
Frank Partnoy

Frank Partnoy

Former investment banker and lawyer Frank Partnoy’s Wait: The Art and Science of Delay provides empirical evidence on the value of delay to increase the quality of decisions and performance across investment, sports, comedy, and other disciplines.Wait

Creativity experts have demonstrated the importance of an “incubation period” in developing innovative solutions, and Partnoy suggests that similar principles provide and advantage: gathering maximum information in uncertain situations, by executing decisions and performance close to the last opportunity.

University of San Diego’s Partnoy recommends a three step approach to decision-making:

1) Determine the maximum time available to gather information and take the decision
2) Consider, reflect, “incubate” on the information as long as possible
3) Act quickly at the last possible moment

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell

His approach could be summarized by referring to Malcolm Gladwell’s best-seller, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking : “Don’t just blink but think.”

Nalini Ambady

Nalini Ambady

Gladwell argues that people with expert experience and insight are often skilled at using ‘adaptive unconscious’ intuition to “thin-slice” subtle cues to filter relevant information from “noise,” a concept based on Nalini Ambady and Robert Rosenthal’s research at Harvard.

Justin Albrechtsen

Justin Albrechtsen

Christian Meissner

Christian Meissner

Research by Justin Albrechtsen, Christian Meissner, and Kyle Susa  of University of Texas at El Paso demonstrated “thin-slicing” when they found that intuitive processing can lead to more accurate judgments of deception when compared with deliberative processing.

Kyle Susa

Kyle Susa

Gladwell and these researchers acknowledge that non-experts, and even experts, can be make erroneous decisions due to bias and prejudice that comes from automatic thinking and habitual cognitive heuristics like the halo effect.

Gerard Hodgkinson

Gerard Hodgkinson

Gerard Hodgkinson of Leeds University found that biased intuitive judgment may be mitigated by “devil’s advocacy” and applying analytical tools like multi-attribute decision analysis and root cause analysis.

He suggests that informed intuition or ‘intelligent-unconscious’ results from subconscious information storage, processing and retrieval, and has conducted several empirical studies to evaluate its mechanisms applied to developing business strategies.

Intuitive judgment was positively correlated with quality and speed of decisions, organizational financial and non-financial performance in at least five studies.

Hodgkinson’s team summarized recent advances in neuroscience, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies to explain complementary intuitive and analytical approaches to decision making  instead of the overly-simplified notion of left brain vs right brain processing  strengths.

He synthesized intuition attributes:

  • Instantaneous insight after incubation period
  • Subjective judgments
  • Based on experience, tacit knowledge, “knowing without knowing
  • Arise through rapid, non-conscious holistic associations
  • Affectively-charged: “feels right”, experienced as ‘‘inklings’’ or ‘‘glimmerings’’
  • Lacking verbalization or conscious awareness of problem solving.

Cognitive neuroscientists have differentiated intuition from instinct and insight using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques.

Instinct refers to hardwired, autonomous reflex actions, whereas insight involves recognizing and articulating a problem’s structure, and may follow from intuition.

Hodgkinson’s research suggests that intuition can be enhanced by increasing:

  • Expertise (“prepared mind” or ‘‘deep smarts’’)
  • Self-awareness (feeling and cognitive style)
  • Reflection
Akio Morita

Akio Morita

His team’s research supports an assertion by Akio Morita, co-founder of Sony and driving force behind its successful Sony Walkman, that ‘‘creativity requires something more than the processing of information. It requires human thought, spontaneous intuition and a lot of courage.’’

-*How have you used pauses or intuition to strengthen decision-making and advance business innovation?

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Pattern Recognition in Entrepreneurship

Steve Blank

Steve Blank

Steve Blank, serial entrepreneur (E.piphany, Zilog, and more) and Stanford consulting associate professor, argues that entrepreneurs need two types of “wisdom” or cognitive processing:

  • Pattern recognition based on a “constrain stream of data processing in the background”
  • Epiphanies that “serendipitously snap together”, outlined in Four Steps to the Epiphany.

He provides examples of pattern recognition in each of the four phases toward “epiphany” in building a business:The Four Steps to the Epiphany

  • Customer Discovery, which assesses market potential and customer preferences
  • Customer Validation, in early sales
  • Customer Creation, including strategy definition, startup launch, and iterative product  experimentation
  • Company Building, which prepares to “Cross the Chasm” in Geoffrey Moore’s model.
    Robert Baron

    Robert Baron

    Crossing the Chasm

Robert Baron of Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute echoed Blanks emphasis on pattern recognition in his Academy of Management Perspectives article,

Opportunity Recognition as Pattern Recognition: How Entrepreneurs “Connect the Dots” to Identify New Business Opportunities” which he said enables entrepreneurs to evaluate:

  • Economic value
  • Newness
  • Desirability

by comparing existing “mental models” or cognitive prototypes and real-world exemplars to new offerings.

Soren Kierkegaard

Soren Kierkegaard

He quoted Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, “…I should …wish…for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which. . .sees the possible…”

Venessa Miemis

Venessa Miemis

Venessa Miemis says that pattern recognition is a critical skill for in intelligent decision making, and cites Tor Nørretranders’s The User Illusion-Cutting Consciousness Down to Size to point out that most cognitive processing is outside of normal awareness.

In fact, his research suggests that over 99.99% of the processing in the brain happens at a subconscious level, and is therefore beyond our “control.”

Tor Nørretranders

Tor Nørretranders

She added to Blank’s description of “processing in the background” that synthesizing past
experience, intuition, and common sense and sorting out the “noise” can equip people with relative accurate “best guesses” about future occurrences.

The User Illusion-Cutting Consciousness Down to Size-Tor NørretrandersHowever, if the filter is overzealous, individuals may overlook opportunities because “cognitive dissonance” makes it uncomfortable to integrate information that doesn’t fit with an existing mental model.

Another cognitive bias is overlooking the potential impact of “wild cards” refer to low-probability, high-impact events.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas Taleb introduced the related idea of black swans: unforeseen rare, difficult-to-predict, high-impact, rare events – such as financial crises, natural disasters.

He observed that these occurrences are often explained away when hindsight reveals individual and collective “blindness” to uncertainty and its large role in these rare historical events.
His book recent book, Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, posits that randomness  enables strengthening processes under pressure and can catalyze positive change.

AntifragileHe celebrates volatility as a sign that recalibration may be more achievable than after long periods of stability enable risks to accumulate until a catastrophe.

Applied to career choices, he argues that a seemingly “secure” corporate job disguises dependency on a single employer – often an “at-will” employer, though he discounts the value of “economies of scale” in this work arrangement.

As a result, the unlikely possibility of unemployment leads to cataclysmic reduction in income.
In contrast, occupations with variable earnings, like sales or professional services, acclimates the individual to cyclic or unpredicted income reductions, and practice enables mitigation planning.

This perceptual bias impairs people’s accurate anticipation adaptation to changing.

Pattern recognition can be increased by mindful attention to thinking processes, and frequent self-reminders to scan for perceptual bias and unconscious cognitive processing.
However, other people’s unconscious cognitive processing can be an advantage for marketers, according to Douglas Van Praet, who suggests taking advantage of these via six steps to robust marketing in Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) MarketingUnconscious Branding

  1. Interrupt the Recognized Pattern
  2. Create Comfort
  3. Lead the Imagination
  4. Shift the Feeling
  5. Satisfy the Critical Mind
  6. Change the Associations
  7. Take Action.

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Companion Animals in the Workplace

Technology companies like Autodesk, Google, and Amazon made news when they permitted employees to bring companion dogs to work.Dog at work

This policy was viewed as an employee benefit or “perk”, but a recent study published in International Journal of Workplace Health Management indicates that bringing a companion dog to work can lower stress levels, increase productivity and make work more satisfying.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health conclude that companion animals can lower individuals’ cholesterol, trigylcerides, blood pressure, heart rates,  weight, stress, risk of heart attack, social isolation, inactivity, and overall healthcare costs, all of which benefit organization’s operational costs.

National Institute of Health

Randolph Barker and collaborators from Virginia Commonwealth University examined a service-manufacturing-retail company in North Carolina with 550 employees and between 20 – 30 companion dogs.

Randolph Barker

Randolph Barker

Researchers measured 76 employees’ stress levels via surveys of attitudes toward animals in general and in the workplace.
Equal numbers of employees perceived dogs’ presence as increasing or decreasing work productivity.

Employees’ perceived stress levels, measured by cortisol in saliva samples, were significantly lower and job satisfaction was higher on days when dogs were present at work.

Companion dogs at work appeared to boost interpersonal communication, organizational engagement, and morale when employees who did not own dogs asking dog owners to interact with dogs or take them for a walk.

Considerable research around the globe suggests that the stress-reducing effect of companion dogs is tied to an increase in oxytocin when humans and dogs interact.

Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg

Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg

Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg of Uppsala University and author of The Oxytocin Factor: Tapping the Hormone of Calm, Love, And Healing, reported that women and their dogs experienced similar increases in oxytocin levels after ten minutes of friendly contact, and women’s oxytocin response was significantly correlated to the quality of the bond they reported in a survey taken prior to the interacting with their dogs.

The Oxytocin Factor

Likewise, JS Odendaal and RS Meintjes, then of Pretoria Technikon, showed that friendly contact between dogs and humans release oxytocin in both and Miho Nagasawa‘s team  at Azabu University found that amount of oxytocin among dog owners increased with the amount of time they shared eye contact with their dogs.

Suzanne C. Miller’s research group showed that oxytocin increased among women but not men after greeting their companion dog when returning home from work.

Christopher Honts

Christopher Honts

Christopher Honts and Matthew Christensen of Central Michigan University extended findings on stress reduction to evaluate trust, team cohesion and intimacy among teams collaborating on tasks when a well-trained, hypoallergenic dog was present.
During a collaborative creative thinking exercise, participants rated teammates higher on trust and teamwork than those without a dog.

Teams with a dog during the prisoner’s dilemma measure of trust and collaboration were 30% less likely to betray teammates accused of being co-conspirators in a hypothetical crime scenario.

Hiroshi Nittono

Hiroshi Nittono

Hiroshi Nittono and team at Hiroshima University demonstrated improved performance on problem-solving, attention, perceptual discrimination, and motor performance tasks after volunteers viewing images of baby animals compare with adult animals or food, reported in Public Library of Science .

Despite evidence that companion animals in the workplace reduce stress, increase perceptual and problem-solving capabilities and health indicators, barriers include:

  • Cultural objections to dogs and other animals
  • Allergies to companion animals
  • Animals without proper obedience and social skills training for the workplace

-*What do you think about potential financial and morale benefits of companions animals in the workplace?

Gromit

Gromit

<-Will this

Miss Sarah's Guide

Miss Fido Manners

be replaced with this? <—————>

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Crash Course on Innovation, Creativity

Tina Seelig

Tina Seelig

Tina Seelig, Executive Director for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP), the entrepreneurship center at Stanford University’s School of Engineering, and the Director of the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), offers a “crash course” in creativity.

She summarized her recommendations in her book, inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity, and explored factors that stimulate and inhibit creativity in individuals, teams, and organizations, including framing problems, challenging assumptions, and creative teams.

She introduces six interdependent elements of the “Innovation Engine”:

• Internal
o Information that becomes knowledge (fuel),
o Imagination (a catalytic converter that transforms knowledge into new ideas),
o Attitude (a spark that ignites the Engine, setting it in motion).

• External
o Resources (a community’s assets),
o Habitats (physical locations within which the Engine functions at peak performance),
o Culture (shared beliefs, values, and behaviors of the given community).

inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity also discusses models and tools that can be applied to class projects:

o The “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving” or TRIZ (the Russian acronym) methodology (Pages 50-51)
o A two-by-two creativity/pressure matrix (106-108)
o Habitats that simulate or inhibit creativity (128-131)
o Edward de Bono’s “Six Thinking Hats” model/exercise (128-131)
o Creating a habitat that encourages and supports risk taking and experimentation (160-163)
o Tapping into and activating strong emotional engagement (179-180)
o Précis: Knowledge, Imagination, and Attitude (185-189)

Seelig was awarded the 2009 Gordon Prize from the National Academy of Engineering, recognizing her as a national leader in engineering education, and the 2008 National Olympus Innovation Award, and the 2005 Stanford Tau Beta Pi Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.
She earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University Medical School and has written 16 popular science books and educational games.

Another of Seelig’s books is What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20: A Crash Course on Making Your Place in the World

-*What “Innovation Engine” components have been most effective in generating creative solutions in your organization?

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