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One of my blogging mantras is always be listening for blog content because you never know where content will appear. Maybe listening for blog content is easier said than done, but when you’re having to come up with 235+ blog posts a year, you can’t afford to miss great content just because it comes up in an unexpected situation.

Last night, I dropped in on the sold out “Achieve Your 2012 Goals: Social Accountability Happy Hour” presented by Michael Gelphman of Kansas City IT Professionals. While big happy hour networking events aren’t the first thing I flock to, I had a great time catching up with a number of Kansas City social media and IT folks.

Michael Gelphman asked everyone to bring three 2012 goals we were expected to socialize with other attendees. I put together my list before heading over to the event. Although I didn’t run into that many people talking up 2012 goals, I shared mine with Dee Sadler, who provided helpful comments on moving ahead with them this year.

In the course of talking with friends Aaron Deacon and Jason Harper, Jason made the comment below which screamed to be a blog post. I quickly wrote it down on the back of my 2012 goals sheet:

The Hipster Like Button

 

There’s the lesson: even if it’s handwritten with a Sharpie on the back of a piece of paper, when you hear a great idea, figure out how to turn it into a blog post! – Mike Brown

 

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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7

I was surprised  during this month’s #Ideachat session covered in last week’s piece on creative spaces to meet several people from Kansas City and another from my hometown of Hays, KS during the international Twitter discussion. One of the Kansas City-based participants, Bradley (Woody) Bendle, reached out to talk innovation last week. We had a great conversation about his efforts in developing insight and process-based innovation, and he agreed to share his thoughts on creative spaces to provide another viewpoint from #Ideachat. Here’s Woody Bendle on three different types of space which shape creativity:

Space and Creativity

No, this isn’t a discussion about creativity in Star Trek’s “final frontier” – although I suspect that might be a rather interesting topic for a later blog. This is a discussion about three “Spaces” which affect creativity: Physical Space, Temporal Space, and Mind-Space.

I decided to weigh in on this topic after the January 2012 #ideachat, moderated by Angela Dunn (@blogbrevity on Twitter). One of the questions posed to the participants was whether physical space affected creativity. I, like most others participating in the discourse, believe physical space does affect creativity. As the #ideachat discussion thread continued, I began to expand my thinking about “space” and “creativity”. I started to also think about “space” in terms of time, as well as “space” in terms of a state of mental openness. Let’s look at each type of space.

Physical Space

I believe Physical Space can inspire creativity. That is, there are some spaces that are relatively more conducive for creativity while some can have an adverse effect.  Contrast Kansas City’s new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts with any home from an episode of A&E’s Hoarders. There is just something inspirational about spaces that were created through creativity, imagination and ingenuity. They allow, or even encourage the mind to wander into the realm of possibilities. While there is little published on the effects of physical environment upon creativity and innovation, I’m firmly in the camp, along with David Kelley (founder of Ideo), that believes there is a strong relationship. In his foreword for Make Space, Kelley writes, “Regardless of whether it’s a classroom or the offices of a billion-dollar company, space is something to think of as an instrument for innovation and collaboration. Space is a valuable tool that can help you create deep and meaningful collaborations in your work and life.”

Temporal Space

I have long believed, due to my own personal experiences that time is an important ingredient for creativity. That is, when one faces severe time challenges, it is very difficult (if not perhaps impossible depending upon the circumstance) to be creative. Sometimes, things just need to percolate a little.

With extreme time pressure, people tend to revert to making decisions based on their prior knowledge set and experiences in order to accomplish the goal or task at hand. When time is very limited (perhaps at a critical crisis level) individuals fall back upon instincts. Author Tim Hurson in Think Better would call the former the Elephant’s Tether and the later, Gator (reptilian / instinctual) Brain. Conversely, however, if one has too much time and lacks at least some focus, I feel that can have an adverse effect on creativity. Hurson refers to this as Monkey Mind, a state where one is easily distracted (which isn’t totally a bad thing) and the mind races and jumps from thing to thing with little awareness. I think of Dog in Pixar’s 2009 movie “Up” when I think of having too much, unfocused temporal space. Squirrel!!!

Perhaps one of the most cited studies related to time and creativity was conducted by Harvard University’s Teresa Amabile. Her study analyzed content from 12,000 aggregate diary days involving 238 individuals on 26 project teams across seven companies and three industries. In a 2004 Fast Company interview with Bill Breen, Amabile stated, “People were the least creative when they were fighting the clock. In fact, we found a kind of time-pressure hangover — when people were working under great pressure, their creativity went down on not only that day but the next two days as well. Time pressure stifles creativity because people can’t deeply engage with the problem. Creativity requires an incubation period; people need time to soak in a problem and let the ideas bubble up.” That leads me to my thoughts on Mind-Space.

Mind-Space

For me, Mind-Space is perhaps the true “final frontier” and rarest space of all. It is an expression I’ve come to use to describe the union of creative mindset and time.

Creative Mind-Space is when the mind achieves a certain harmonious state and the ‘juices’ flow – almost perfectly. Perhaps the best way to think about this is that state which leads to those ‘Eureka’ moments we’ve all had. For some, it happens in the shower, while for others it occurs in their car while driving down an open stretch of interstate. Often for me, I can regularly get into my Mind-Space on an airplane. It seems however that a common thread is being in a physical space that is a familiar enough, non-distracting, or perhaps even “vanilla” – a physical space that allows, or perhaps even facilitates one to escape into their mind and just process.

I think about Mind-Space as the place/time/mindset combination where prior stimuli, facts, ideas have the ability to assemble, disassemble and reassemble, associate, disassociate, and re-associate, building up to those coveted “ah-ha” moments. As Steven Johnson describes in Where Good Ideas Come From, “To make your mind more innovative, you have to place it inside environments that explore the boundaries of the adjacent possible. Certain environments enhance the brain’s natural capacity to make new links of association.”

With today’s continuous onslaught of anti-creative stimuli and never ending competition for time, Creative Mind-Space is a rapidly depleting resource that we need to protect, restore and cultivate.

The next time you encounter a creativity challenge, seek improvements to your three spaces – Physical, Temporal and Mind. If that fails, go ahead and watch an old episode of Star Trek. Might I recommend “The Trouble with Tribbles”, episode #44, production #42. Woody Bendle

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Jonathan Finkelstein of Learning Times did a great job during his Virtual Event Summit 2012 presentation in San Diego, addressing “Ten Ways to Create Lasting Memories in Online Events.” His presentation, mine on “Social Media Strategy for Events,” and many others are available free on January 26 as part of the follow-up virtual event.  It’s definitely worth investigating the “Epic Event” for great content relevant to virtual events, in-person events, and other marketing topics.

Speaking of virtual, digital, or online events, here are Jonathan Finkelstein’s recommendations for ten ways to create lasting memories:

1. Create a lasting visual image of an experience.

A fantastic way to create a lasting visual image of an experience is by putting visualization in the hands of an audience. Bren Bartaclan’s Smile Project involves leaving free art work around cities for people to find and share around the world. Of particular interest to me, Dan Porter does graphic facilitation of discussions to add a visual dimension, as does John Caswell, who I’m hoping to get back to Brainzooming for another guest post on his work. Jonathan Finkelstein recommended Google Docs Drawings as a way to stimulate visual, virtual collaboration.

2. Gauge participant sentiment, assessing it and adapting in real time.

Finkelstein recommends using online polls and survey tools to gauge feedback during online events, although there is always the opportunity to do it in an uncomplicated way by simply asking for feedback. He suggests allowing different places for questions from newbies vs. experts, and another space that allows participants to help answer the questions of others.

3. Make a connection.

Since online events don’t have the same cost and infrastructure of in-person events, Finkelstein recommends organizations use them more frequently than annually to increase connections with audiences. Online events can also create connections with audiences not in a position to interact with the organization frequently. The Smithsonian uses free online conferences to reach current and new audiences more regularly.

4. Embrace participants’ surroundings.

Since online event participants – both presenters and audiences – are somewhere physical, Finkelstein recommends incorporating their in real life surroundings into the event. For instance, he’s participated in virtual events from the beach while on vacation and has given attendees a sense of what they’re missing.

5. Let participants win something.

Gamification brings out the competitive nature in all of us. Using games can drive participant engagement. Danette Veale from Cisco provided a very helpful overview on gamification in her presentation.

6. Let participants earn something.

Provide participants a way to earn rewards and display them for others to see. This boosts beneficial behaviors of both the earning participants and is a motivation to others as well. Digital badges are an example of this principle.

7. Let participants lead events.

Finkelstein acknowledges it can be scary to turn the control over to the audience, but what better way to make lasting memories and impact. In “Battle Decks” or “PowerPoint Karaoke,” participants are given 10 slides, but they don’t know what the slides are. From there, they have to improvise the presentation to the slides. Using “Crackerbarrels,” audiences change quickly within virtual events, moving to rooms with facilitators helping the address new topics.

8. Use video meaningfully.

Participants form perceptions on small amounts of nonverbal behavior, so it’s important to effectively show presenters and content being shared.

9. Move people.

Here, Finkelstein isn’t talking moving people physically; he’s talking about tapping emotional cues. It’s vital to understand emotional drivers among the audience and play to those appropriately. As he mentioned, many participants in online events are listening with earphones, allowing presenters to essentially whisper into their ears. Finkelstein encourages thinking about that level of closeness and vulnerability when presenting to an online audience.

10. Be transparent.

Especially in digital presentation situations, you need to provide a sense of the real person – with honesty, openness, and a true representation of who you are.  – Mike Brown

 The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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3

If you’re stuck in the snow or stuck creatively, don’t walk right past the opportunity to turn everything upside down for new creative ideas. What if you . . .

 

Hats off to a family in Hays, KS (my hometown), who used a big pre-Christmas snowstorm to not get stuck creatively by building a snowman who has his head on the ground and his feet – if they were still there – way up in the air!  – Mike Brown

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas! For an organizational innovation boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

 

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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7

As usual, last Saturday’s #Ideachat on Twitter was a fantastic hour hosted by Angela Dunn, with this month’s topic on creative spaces. Angela led us through an #Ideachat discussion on how physical spaces affect our creativity.

This has been an occasional topic on the Brainzooming blog, although our focus is more frequently on what helps boost creativity in specific situations vs. what instigate creativity in certain locations.

Surroundings definitely matter to my creativity, not so much for their impact on the ability to come up with ideas as my creative disposition.

For me, great creative spaces are very open, allow creative tools to function easily (and well), and provide the opportunity to look at what I’m working on from multiple angles. Great creative spaces have a lot of square footage per person, giving the mind room to wander (and wonder).  Many business people use Starbucks and Panera as office getaways, but for me, these are spaces, but not creative ones.

It’s not because they’re noisy, because I do like noise most of the time, too.

My wife marvels at me having a TV going, maybe music, and the social networking channels open while I’m working on something else. These noise sources compensate for too infrequently having people around in person. I’m more creative when collaborating since I’m always smarter and more creative when smarter & more creative people are around. And it’s beneficial to be with someone in person because you get the full set of creative cues going back and forth when everyone is together.

Even distractions can work for me in the creative process if they’re somewhat relevant to what I’m working on at the time.

Restaurants are some of my favorite creative spaces, especially ones with white paper table cloths all ready for drawing with Sharpie markers. Although it doesn’t have the paper table cloths, Nordstrom Café is a great creative space for me; must be something about all that open space  (as shown here).

Ultimately, you can’t move a creative space around with you. That’s when creativity tools and exercises come into play. They’re portable and can help instigate creativity even when the surroundings are lacking.

Those are what my creative spaces are like. How about yours? – Mike Brown

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas! For an organizational innovation boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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3

I saw Richard Saul Wurman, author of Information Anxiety and founder of TED, speak at the PCMA conference last week in San Diego. Among various topics, Richard Saul Wurman talked about how there is very little real innovation, defined as completely new ideas that have not existed previously. In fact, Wurman characterized most things that pass for innovation as simple improvements over what is already available. He pointed out that even the automobile wasn’t invented; it was aggregated from multiple other inventions, including the steam engine and a horse-drawn carriage.

Richard Saul Wurman identified five strategic thinking perspectives (and examples) typically underpinning new ideas:

  • Addition (or Connection) – Putting together already existing products in new ways, with the automobile as the example he shared.
  • Subtraction – Taking away elements which conventional wisdom suggests you should have to you create something new. Wurman pointed to the TED conference, where he subtracted a podium, introductions, and long presentations.
  • Exaggeration – Taking something to its (comedic) absurd is a valid way to trigger change. Wurman talked about the link between comedy and new ideas, including his enjoyment of comedians Steven Wright and Emo Philips.
  • Doing the opposite – Wurman’s book “33” is too complicated to explain in one sentence, but its protagonist succeeds in improving things by doing completely the opposite of what conventional wisdom and social norms suggest.
  • Fixing gaps & failures – Wurman talked about how so much information that’s shared doesn’t explain anything. He addressed this with Information Anxiety and a host of books explaining geography, instructions, and medicine, among other topics, in new ways.

Even though I don’t buy his relatively narrow definition of “innovation,” Wurman’s construct and examples reminded me of a very familiar exercise learned from Chuck Dymer: Trait Transformation.

One twist?

While we typically use Trait Transformation and multiple transforming attributes to increase randomness in new ideas, Wurman’s approach gets me thinking about using only one transformer to really push a single concept (i.e. subtracting things) for very focused, extreme creativity.

There’s plenty more to report from the conference, including probably another whole post of Richard Saul Wurman one liners. But we’ll save all that for another day  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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3

Instead of writing blog posts this weekend, I wound up working to prepare for Thursday’s Advanced Twitter class I’m teaching at Enterprise Center of Johnson County. And instead of using Sunday night to at least get Monday’s post written, good friend Jim Joseph lured me into his Golden Globe Awards Twitter Chat, #ggexp. Since Sunday night was full of tweeting, here’s some of my commentweeting the creative highlights of the Golden Globe Awards. (BTW, thanks Amy Balog for that great term, commentweeting.)

  • Despite my prediction last year, Ricky Gervais was back as Golden Globe Awards host for the third year in a row in 2012. But for as little time as he was actually on stage, he served more as an on-stage reporter than a host. In any case, the opening line from Ricky Gervais (“Where did I leave off?”) was as good an opener as anything since Pee Wee Herman’s, “Have you heard any good jokes lately?” to open a long ago MTV awards show.
  • For all the speeches allowed to go on way too long, they started playing music to get Meryl Streep off the stage. She’s Meryl Streep – our best known American actress – even if she did have a dress that looked as if it were from the Mary Todd Lincoln collection. She should get as much time as she needs (and she needed more time than usual since she forgot her glasses – and everyone was afraid to hand them to her mid-speech).
  • There should be a play clock for the Golden Globe Awards show like there is in the NFL. You only have so many seconds to start your speech or there’s a penalty involved.
  • Speaking of the NFL, Lifetime Achievement Awards are to awards shows what the Halftime Show is to the Super Bowl. Yawn….
  • There was a decent Google Chrome ad (as if Google really needs to advertise its impending world dominance). But the minute the spot ran, Google Chrome would barely run on my computer. Coincidence? I think not.
  • There’s a real problem with too-thin female stars. If you put Buffalo Wing sauce on Madonna’s biceps, you could serve them at Buffalo Wild Wings, and I was thinking $5 would be enough to make sure Angelina Jolie gets one meal per day for a whole month!
  • Steven Spielberg was thanking people for approving a project he did. Wait a minute. He’s Steven Spielberg! Does anyone really tell him, “NO,” he can’t do a project?
  • I don’t know much, if anything, about fashion, but it was clear that Jessica Lange and Jane Fonda are beyond the ages when they should be wearing semi-backless dresses.
  • Matt Leblanc (who will forever be known as “Joey from Friends”) won a Golden Globe award for some show where I think he plays himself. I’m not sure why he won, but I was very excited to see I wasn’t the only person tweeting about him with the Twitter hashtag, #JoeyFromFriends.
  • NBC kept running ads for its new series, Smash, and saying, “Introducing Katherine McPhee.” “Introducing” Katharine McPhee? I guess the statute of limitations on losing a reality TV show must be 6 years.
  • During the 2011 Super Bowl, the Chrysler 300 ad with the car rolling through overcast days and dark nights in Detroit was incredibly cool. The ad last night with the car driving through neighborhoods on a sunny day looked like another car commercial.
  • The Hollywood Foreign Press Association needs to inject some NASCAR sensibilities into its sponsorship of the Golden Globes. No sponsor should have to put up with as few sponsor mentions as the Hollywood Foreign Press gets during the broadcast. Maybe they should get a NASCAR driver to host the Golden Globes next year?

My favorite Twitter chat opportunities are those tied to widely-viewed television programs since you can not only get a good small group tweeting together, but you can also see what the nation (and often the world) are thinking about it as well.

Did you watch the Golden Globe Awards? What did you think about this year’s show? Any commentweeting the creative highlights for you? – Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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