Enhancing Our Creativity by Tackling Others Challenges

In a recent research report published in the Personality and social psychology bulletin, Polman and Emich demonstrate how when we make decisions for others, we are going to make decisions that are more creative than the ones we make for ourselves.

This is just the latest extension of research into construal level theory, an intriguing concept that suggests various aspects of psychological distance can affect our thinking style. (link from quote)

I see this as a important validation of one of the benefits of case studies and problem-based learning for boosting the creativity of participants.

In addition, it is yet another argument for the importance of communities of practice which promotes the community-based tackling of issues in order to find creative solutions to advance the practice.

Again, this only further promotes the benefits of open innovation which consists of the gathering of external inputs to advance a concept, a product or a technology.

Reference:

How thinking for others can boost your creativity | Research Digest | Christian Jarrett | 1 Mar 2010

This post is cross-posted with Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

 

When Did We Forget How to Draw?

In a recent blog post on Visual Thinking, George Siemens wrote:

I’m not a visual person. Ok, not totally true. I’m a visual person, but I lack skills to express myself visually.

He then provided a great link to Joan Vinall-Cox’s article on Visual Literacy and Visual Thinking. I wanted to thank him on his blog but it seems I do not have the right permissions to leave a comment – so if you surf past this little bit of cyberspace, thanks George, and perhaps you’ll find more resources below!

I personally understand things better when they are put in a visual form. When I was a child, I first learned to draw. In fact, I learned to talk first (and, according to my dad, haven’t ever stopped since) and then I learned how to draw, and then I learned how to read and write.

Universal Recycling Symbol
Universal Recycling Symbol

History shows us that early civilizations drew pictograph’s on the cave walls, then came proto-writing and eventually came the modern alphabets as we know them today. But we still commonly use symbols and images to communicate. An strong example is the Universal Recycling Symbol which is an internationally-recognized symbol.

I recently picked up Dan Roam’s The Back of the Napkin in which he explains that we are essentially visual people and that drawing is an inherent talent to all. With the most basic of drawing skills—a square, a circle, an arrow, a stick figure and a smiley face—one can communicate effectively, leveraging hand drawn sketches on a napkin (or by extension on a whiteboard). You can watch an hour long video presenting the key concepts by the author made available by Authors@Google.

Back of the Napkin - The 66 Rule
Dan Roam's Back of the Napkin

I’d love to hear about other resources you might recommend!

References:

Getting All Things Done Means Getting the Balance Right

In one of her recent blog posts, Janet Clarey poses the question How hard is it for you to balance innovation and execution? She compares and contrasts taking time to think and innovate with working in “execution” mode. She explains that when returning from vacation, she was in execution mode, which was good because, according to Janet: “too much time spent on innovation means nothing gets done”.

Also, I’m sure Janet’s to-do list was overflowing, like would be most professionals when they come back from vacation, so execution mode is inevitable! But then Janet adds the flip side: “Of course too much time executing means lack of vision.”

And she poses the grand the question: “How do you balance all the innovative discoveries that present themselves with the need to execute?”

This got me thinking about my own time management strategies. I look on my bookshelf at the copy of David Allen’s Getting Things Done which I purchased a year ago (I ordered it on online at chapters.indigo.ca, which makes me both efficient and Canadian!). I haven’t had time to read it yet. Blame it on the thesis once again? Actually, it’s because I don’t think I really need it. I’m naturally a good time manager. Ok, certain things slip through the cracks now and then, but I tend to amaze people in how I do everything that I do and still can sit on a terrace at happy hour on Thursdays and enjoy a martini, looking relaxed, the sun beaming on my face.

But then, there are the things I have a really hard time getting done. The big things that require more then just power over time. They require a whole other type of power: willpower. Enter thesis.

Then I notice Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles which actually was quite helpful. Here is the opening section of his book entitled “What I Do

I get up, take a shower, have breakfast. I read the paper, brush my teeth. If I have phone calls to make, I make them. I’ve got my coffee now. I put on my lucky work boots and stitch up the lucky laces that my niece Meredith gave me. I head back to my office, crank up the computer. My lucky hooded sweatshirt is draped over the chair, with the lucky charm I got from a gypsy in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for only eight bucks in francs, and my lucky LARGO name tag that came from a dream I once had. I put it on. On my thesaurus is my lucky cannon that my friend Bob Versandi gave me from Morro Castle, Cuba. I point it toward my chair, so it can fire inspiration into me. I say my prayer, which is the Invocation of the Muse from Homer’s Odyssey, translation by T.E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, that my dear mate Paul Rink gave me and which sits near my shelf with the cuff links that belonged to my father and my lucky acorn from the battlefield at Thermopylae. It’s about ten-thirty now. I sit down and plunge in. When I start making typos, I know I’m getting tired. That’s four hours or so. I’ve hit the point of diminishing returns. I wrap for the day. Copy whatever I’ve done to disk and stash the disk in the glove compartment of my truck in case there’s a fire and I have to run for it. I power down. It’s three, three-thirty. The office is closed. How many pages have I produced? I don’t care. Are they any good? I don’t even think about it. All that matters is I’ve put in my time and hit it with all I’ve got. All that counts is that, for this day, for this session, I have overcome Resistance.

And he goes on about overcoming resistance in this inspiring gem of a book. I read this book about three years ago. It was a gift from a friend who saw me struggling with multiple levels of resistance. I decided to do much like Steven Pressfield and analyze how my average day happens. But because I’m more adept with graphs then words, I made a visual representation of how I try to achieve the balance Janet was referring too. Click on the thumbnail to enlarge it.

Mapping my Brain Cycles to Maximize my Efficiency Potential
Mapping my Brain Cycles to Maximize my Efficiency Potential

How does your average day look?

References: