The myths of innovation

November 24, 2011

One of the sparkiest writers and presenters on innovation is Scott Berkun. If you haven’t heard his lecture on why much of what we think we know about innovation is wrong, pop over to YouTube now! Here’s the link:

Learn to love your co-workers through smiley power

November 13, 2010

Here’s something I’ve only just discovered, the Smiley Face was designed in 1963 as part of a PR campaign to calm things down after a particularly bad-tempered merger between two insurance companies.  The creator was Harvey Richard Ball who as we now know hit on a design classic. From its earliest days it became a universal symbol of friendship, peace, happiness and harmony. In fact it’s such a well-recognised symbol that its become an emoticon :)

What does this tell us? Don’t underestimate the power of strong visual imagery, even in places where you would not expect it to have an effect. Sometimes things that are ‘simply done’ and ‘simply understood’ (Richard Ball) can change attitudes, but in a subtle, unconscious way. Just what’s needed when people are out of their comfort zone, or in the case of the companies mentioned earlier, when significant change is afoot.

(R) The Smiley Face is a registered trademark of Franklin Loufrani/Smiley World in the UK and Europe, and of the World Smile Corporation in the US.

Sometimes maths isn’t the answer

July 9, 2010

What’s interesting about this number: 8,549,176,320?

PS. And it’s not that it contains all the numbers between 0 and 9.

Triangle mystery

May 7, 2010

Where did the extra square come from?

Blinking marvellous

April 7, 2010

If you blink a lot – assuming you haven’t got something in your eye or have only just taken off your shades – it may well be a sign that you’re a creative thinker. Apparently it’s all down to the level of Dopamine in your brain, as eye blinking is a well-established measure of Dopamine production, which is itself linked to ‘cognitive inhibition’. This makes sense as taking the brakes off the brain should promote more divergent, creative-type thinking, as well as the ability to focus or de-focus attention depending on how well a task is defined. Or this could be a very elaborate excuse you can use if you accidentally wink at someone!

Time to think inside the box

April 2, 2010

We’ve all been there, haven’t we! Nothing like a brainstorming* session to get the creative juices flowing. Or perhaps not. Some clever dicks from Texas A&M University (pay attention, A&M, not M&M) have discovered that brainstorming exercises can lead to people locking onto a single idea, to the exclusion of others. So that’s everyone getting fixated on that mad caffeine fuelled thought that seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s a bit like mirroring someone’s body language, except this time mirroring their thoughts. So what to do? Sit quietly by yourself and have your own personal creative session and then share your ideas at a meeting. That’s what. Also be conscious of the fixation problem and take steps to prevent it. As in, “I think you’re getting a bit fixated there Bob. Time to spit out the dummy and tell us what you really think”. But, thankfully, the same bit of research underlines the importance of allowing for a ‘mental incubation’ period. Thank goodness, it’s what made Britain great. The tea break.

You’ll find an abstract of the research at:

*Footnote: Apparently it’s un-PC to talk of ‘brainstorming’ as it can upset people who have brain problems. Some Government departments have been told to use the expression ‘thought-showers’ instead. Interestingly the Campaign for Plain English have branded this (words to the effect of) loopy. Obviously they cannot describe it as ‘loopy’ as this would annoy those who have trouble with their loops.


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