Archives For Creativity and Innovation

 

The NYT Innovation Report in 2014 was so raw and smart and poignant I literally took my clients brand names and swapped them with “NYT” and walked clients through the analysis as if it was their own digital/content strategy assessment.

Today, the NYT released its latest version of that report, and although it’s less dire and impactful than the 2014 report, it remains an important read for us students of storytelling, media and how humans get their news.

Key quotes from the Poynter summary:

  • The New York Times will dedicate $5 million to coverage of the Trump administration’s effect on the world.
  • A dozen new visual-first journalists are coming aboard. By the middle of the year, each major news desk will be paired with a deputy editor that has a “full range of creative skills” to promote non-traditional storytelling.
  • Major stories will be tackled by thematic teams — departments be damned.
  • Create (another) innovation team: “We can’t pursue every idea; but we must pursue some of them. Every corner of the newsroom has ideas for what those should be, but they don’t have enough places to pitch them. We will form a new team to solicit those big ideas, and bring the best of them to life. We believe this team can help foster a culture of innovation and experimentation across the newsroom, and can encourage journalists to think beyond their current beat.”

Read the 2017 report here.

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Revisiting The Cult of Done Manifesto every so often is always worth it.

Behind Pixar’s string of hit movies, says the studio’s president, is a peer-driven process for solving problems and how physical office space impacts culture…

How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity

Trends emerge when basic human needs bump up against external change to create (or unlock) new needs, wants & desires.

Consumer trends are, at their heart, an essential part of uncovering innovation opportunities. Otherwise they’re just intellectual masturbation: diverting, pleasant and entertaining, but with little real purpose.

Source: trendwatching.com’s October 2013 Trend Briefing “CONSUMER TREND CANVAS”

“The problem with smart people is that they are used to seeking and finding the right answer; unfortunately, in strategy there is no single right answer to find. Strategy requires making choices about an uncertain future. It is not possible, no matter how much of the ocean you boil, to discover the one right answer. There isn’t one. In fact, even after the fact, there is no way to determine that one’s strategy choice was “right,” because there is no way to judge the relative quality of any path against all the paths not actually chosen. There are no double-blind experiments in strategy.

To be a great strategist, we have to step back from the need to find a right answer and to get accolades for identifying it. The best strategists aren’t intimidated or paralyzed by uncertainty and ambiguity; they are creative enough to imagine possibilities that may or may not actually exist and are willing to try a course of action knowing full well that it will have to be tweaked or even overhauled entirely as events unfold.”

Why Smart People Struggle with Strategy, Harvard Business Review

“While technology provides headwinds, it also provides great opportunities to see past them and say, ‘OK, I can get on the other side of this and use it to my advantage.'”

via Fox’s Jim Gianopulos Leads Studio Through Uncertain Times | Variety.

[via MediaRedefined]

The Ball jar, originally made for canning and storing foods, which has now been appropriated by hipsters and those looking for a travel mug not over-excessively utilitarian, was never intended to be used as it now often is.  Designers have struggled countless hours in many design firms and offices across the globe to create the perfect, stylish mug.  It is the “non-designed” object that sometimes gains attention and garners much unexpected use.  

via Being and Dying.

talking teddy ruxpin art intstallation

This 2012 art installation came up in conversation earlier today, when Henry told me about the day he visited Axman Surplus in Saint Paul and passed on the opportunity to buy 100 Teddy Ruxpin innards, including working mouth and cassette player. He should kick himself every day for passing up on that opportunity.

Thanks to the interconnectivity provided by the internet people have never before been better able to express their emotions to the world community. Everyday hundreds of thousands of people use a myriad of blogs and other online outlets to discuss how they are feeling on an endless array of topics ranging from superficial thoughts on the quality ones ‘hair day’ to extremely intimate considerations of love, betrayal or even whether or not they should end their lives. Literally every subtle increment on the scale of the human emotional condition is expressed but sadly due to the tremendous scale of information available many of these expressions are buried within a sea of noise. With T,E.D. my aim is to give a literal voice and physical presence to a portion of this content as it is expressed in real-time…

TED is a large, wall-based installation consisting of an array of 80 Teddy Ruxpin dolls that speak emotional content gathered from the web via synthetic speech with animated mouths. The speaking of the emotional content is accompanied by one of twenty-four musical vignettes that have been paired to the emotional content being spoken. Each vignette, representing one of twenty-four subtle variants of human emotion, have been composed in such a way that the beginnings and ends of the short pieces will seamlessly dogleg in any possible configuration and stream endlessly as a unified whole.

The installation is allowed to drift about freely through the emotional landscape being driven only by those who are contributing content to the piece whether unwittingly or consciously. As such the overall presentation of the piece can vary greatly based on external conditions such as seasons, world events and even time of day. The piece is essentially taking the instantaneous emotional pulse of the internet and this collective pulse, like a human pulse, varies over time.

[via MAKE]

The Truth About Google X: An Exclusive Look Behind The Secretive Lab's Closed Doors | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Generally speaking, there are three criteria that X projects share.

All must address a problem that affects millions–or better yet, billions–of people.

All must utilize a radical solution that has at least a component that resembles science fiction.

And all must tap technologies that are now (or very nearly) obtainable.

via The Truth About Google X: An Exclusive Look Behind The Secretive Lab’s Closed Doors | Fast Company | Business + Innovation.

my-flight

Back in June 2012, the New York Times published The Busyness Trap, an op-ed by Tim Kreider.

Nearly two years later I still refer to it, and because of that piece, in 2013 I committed to saying “YES” to anyone who asked me to coffee or lunch. No excuses. No “let me get back to you.” Just YES. It was a fantastic experiment, and I learned a lot.

Chiefly, I learned that I wasn’t as busy and self-important as I perceived myself to be. It’s all about priorities and not letting the act of being busy become an idol. In fact, as Kreider notes, pulling back from the notion of busyness is critical to creative thinking, brain rest and ultimately, innovation.

This new piece from Hannah Rosin in Slate, Stop Bragging About How Busy You Are, picks up where Kreider left off. And I love the concept of “contaminated time.” Stealing that, for sure.

The art of busyness is to convey genuine alarm at the pace of your life and a helpless resignation, as if someone else is setting the clock, and yet simultaneously make it clear that you are completely on top of your game. These are not exactly humble brags. They are more like fretful brags, and they are increasingly becoming the idiom of our age. In her new book, “Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time,” Washington Post reporter Brigid Schulte calls this cultural epidemic the “overwhelm,” and it will be immediately recognizable to most working adults.”

Always behind and always late, with one more thing and one more thing and one more thing to do before rushing out the door. Muting the phone during a conference call so no one can hear soccer practice drills in the background, stepping over mounds of unfolded laundry, waking up in a 2 a.m. panic to run over the to-do list, and then summing up your life to your friends — in the two seconds you dedicate to seeing your friends — as “crazy all the time” while they nod in agreement.

To be deep in the overwhelm requires not just doing too many things in one 24-hour period but doing so many different kinds of things that they all blend into each other and a day has no sense of distinct phases. Researchers call it “contaminated time,” and apparently women are more susceptible to it than men, because they have a harder time shutting down the tape that runs in their heads about what needs to get done that day.

The only relief from the time pressure comes from cordoning off genuine stretches of free or leisure time, creating a sense of what Schulte calls “time serenity” or “flow.” But over the years, timeuse diaries show that women have become terrible at that, squeezing out any free time and instead, as Schulte puts is, resorting to “crappy bits of leisure time confetti.”

So if the time squeeze is so miserable, why do people brag about it? This is the curious thing about this particular disease — and the first clue to recovery.

“It’s very popular, the feeling that there are too many things going on, that people can’t get in control of their lives and the like,” Robinson says. “But when we look at peoples’ diaries there just doesn’t seem to be the evidence to back it up … It’s a paradox. When you tell people they have thirty or forty hours of free time every week, they don’t want to believe it.”

Busyness is a virtue, so people are terrified of hearing they may have empty time, as Time Kreider wrote in “The ‘Busy’ Trap.” It’s the equivalent of being told that you’re redundant or obsolete.

And here’s Tim Kreider’s take from The Busy Trap

If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite.

It’s not as if any of us wants to live like this; it’s something we collectively force one another to do.

Notice it isn’t generally people pulling back-to-back shifts in the I.C.U. or commuting by bus to three minimum-wage jobs who tell you how busy they are; what those people are is not busy but tired. Exhausted. Dead on their feet. It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve “encouraged” their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.”

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day…

Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.

The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done…

What’s your take? How do you stay out of The Busy Trap?