bill braasch (bbraasch) Sat 30 Jun 07 20:09
Interesting that you mention film directing. I really enjoyed the interviews in the book _Creators on Creating_, especially Fellini. Here's the book <http://www.amazon.com/Creators-Creating-New-Consciousness- Reader/dp/0874778549> Fellini describes his job as taking place in the midst of madness, from which he makes the decisions necessary to produce the film. People think he's a jerk sometimes, but he's just a jerk for the film. He's still fun at the parties. It takes a special person to extract the film from the madness, yet without the madness their would also be no film. I know a guy who fixes cars on the street out in Bolinas. He recalls his finest days as part of an engineering team led by a fellow who was able to focus the talent on the goal. I got a laugh toward the end of your book when you provided an index of references to other books. At the bottom of the list is your last book, and next to it a big old goose egg. I think you shaved some points there. Coming from a technical background into project management was hard for me. Someone explained that human element and I am still learning about it every day. How do you grow a project manager?
Scott Berkun (scottberkun) Sat 30 Jun 07 20:15
Creators on creating is an excellent book - I think it's very important for anyone trying to do anything to read first person accounts of how others have done it. Authors have one perspective, but despite how many interviews they do, they can't possibly have the same perspective as someone who has actually done it. One goal of the Myths of Innovation book was to capture the timeless first person perspective of an innovator, and give to readers a sense for what it was like to have been Edison or Alexander Graham Bell or the innovators of tomorrow, and the challenges they face in their own times.
Scott Berkun (scottberkun) Sat 30 Jun 07 20:18
> Coming from a technical background into project management > was hard for me. Someone explained that human element and > I am still learning about it every day. > How do you grow a project manager? The only short answer I can give is people. A PM has to function first as a people person - someone who enjoys working with others, respects their opinions and needs, and gives their teammates solid reasons to trust the PM and their decisions. It's entirely about relationships, no matter how technical or artistic the project might be. Some PMs succeed through manipulation, which arguably requires some sense of how relationships work. So my advice for people who want to be better PMs: get better at human relationships. Understand human psychology. Treat people well and earn their trust. Everything else that seems so hard will get *much* easier. The Art of PM book I wrote is largely a view of the work of a manager filtered by this human centric perspective.
I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Mon 2 Jul 07 08:09
Hey, Scott, two long-winded questions for you: 1) Have you spent much time talking to professors of design or students of design? At Carnegie Mellon, the first year of design school is referred to as "the year of discovery". Design students aren't allowed to declare a major, they're just all lumped in the same room and given challenging design problems to solve. "Make a pair of shoes out of one sheet of cardboard and nothing else, shoes have to hold you at least 10" off the ground and you have to complete an obstacle course wearing them." It was interesting to me seeing the wide range of solutions 18-19 year olds invent for these sorts of problems. On a 2 dimension graph with axis of "beauty" and "function", all four quadrants were well represented. Design school often seems to have a pedagogy that boils down to, "You there! Be creative! Show us thing we haven't seen before!". This sounds a bit like what many of us have heard at work, "we want an innovative product for next year, now go back to your cubes and innovate!" I'd be interested in hearing what the results of your conversations or speculations are in this area, it seems like a really nice fit for some of your ideas and some of their needs. 2) While I was out taking advantage of a really nice weekend (bike rides, county fair with schoolbus demoltion derby, etc) I spent some time thinking about the things you said about innovation not happening out of thin air, that there's lots of planning involved. Someone made a mass-murderer joke at the state fair (we were playing "count the nazi jail tattoos", if you must know the context) and I realized that there's something similar with mass murderers. One will often read statements like, "They just snapped and went in to work and shot everyone" when criminologists (and even a bit of investigation) will reveal that violent acts had been planned for some time, indrectly if not directly. "They just snapped" is easier to deal with than "they'd been acting weird/dangerous for awhile and nobody paid any attention to them" It's somewhat morbid, but it struct me as a similar structure: someone spends a long time preparing for an event, then when that event happens, the public (and the public history) describes it as a specific event in time. Where I'm going with this is that if we can develop a methodology saying "these are the steps needed to develop the ability to be just enough outside of society to innovoate", how can we use that same methodolgy to detect/interrupt "these are the ways we can disrupt these steps in someone on the path to being just enough outside of society to be dangerous to society."?
Get Shorty (esau) Mon 2 Jul 07 08:46
That's an interesting connection, Jet. Seriously.
I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Mon 2 Jul 07 10:53
The entire time I've been reading your book (I'm only 1/2 done, sorry!), I keep seeing nice comparisons to issues in design and creativity. (I'm a 15-year vet of software development and startups going back to school for an Industrial Design degree, so I have a dog in this fight. :-) Another person you might want to study in terms of innovation: the (first?) industrial designer, Raymond Lowey. His auto-biography (_Never Leave Well Enough Alone_) is a fun read and he exhibits a few qualities similar to what you talk about in your book. One example that comes to mind, he had an interesting work/play ethic. He believed in working very hard on specific design projects then taking substantial amounts of time off to do completely different things. He also was what we would describe in today's terms as "child free" -- he made a specific decision to not have children in order to focus on his work. This led to his divorce of his first wife then later remarraige to a woman also interested in the work instead of raising a family. I know nothing of the life of Ray and Charles Eames, maybe <arturner>, <jleft> or <esau> can jump in here?
Scott Berkun (scottberkun) Mon 2 Jul 07 13:04
Truth be told I have a background in design - I studied design, along with Computer Science and Philosophy, at Carnegie Mellon. There was a huge contrast for me in how creative thinking is taught to designers vs. Computer science majors - as you explained, designers (at least in programs like the one at CMU) are taught to find a process of exploring ideas and mentored in the habits of exploration. Most other fields, included undergraduate science, leave the process of creativity up to the individual - it's a private thing. Design and art schools have critiques, where students are taught to learn from each other's work and recognize the value of alternatives - while there's almost no critiqueing, certainly not in a supportive or constructive fashion, in most tech/science educations. If nothing else, most design schools teach the value of prototyping, learning from mistakes, experimentation and controlled risk taking. From my experience it's industrial designers (ID) who get the best training for innovation as they are taught both the creative process, as well as an understanding of the tradeoffs needed to convert prototypes into real products. Many of the best software designers I know have an ID background.
I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Mon 2 Jul 07 13:25
I've been translating a lot of what I learn in school back to my day job, that's for certain. It's completely changed out I think about software design and development. Were you at CMU the same time as Ben Fry? I got to work with him some this semester and I think he's another example of how design/cs education can support one another.
Get Shorty (esau) Mon 2 Jul 07 15:33
One of the things we get involved with at IDEO is to teach a design process to people who don't normally think of themselves as designers -- the larger message being, "We're all designers!" Everyone can improve their process, their environment, their job, and having a set of design methods for doing this is valuable, whether you work in healthcare, retail, financial services, education, or government. Working in hospital networks has been especially rewarding, as such nondesigners as nurses are given permission to brainstorm and prototype new ways of doing their jobs as they work. Talk about a grateful group with a lot of ideas and energy. A fine book on this subject is Daniel Pink's "A Whole New Mind," in which he describes the beginning of an age in which linear thinkers no longer rule business: The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind -- computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind -- creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. These people -- artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers -- will now reap society's richest rewards and share its greatest joys. I hope that's true!
bill braasch (bbraasch) Mon 2 Jul 07 22:23
I look back on my years cranking code and see it all transforming into higher level abstractions that wrap the old spagetti and I think maybe there's hope for the future of these binary grinders we're typing our ideas into. I think the whole stack needs to be creative, but it certainly drives the collaboration nicely when someone who is actually going to use the software develops a passion to get it right.
Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Tue 3 Jul 07 04:28
If Daniel Pink's assessment, as described in <esau>'s #59 above, turns out to be the case, that would be good news indeed for all who have suffered in this Age of the Bean-Counters. Yet, what makes Pink think the change is happening at all? Sure, there is an abundance of creative organizations out there giving value to non-linear approaches, but there still seems to be a crushing majority of bottom-line-driven companies.
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Tue 3 Jul 07 07:56
>>there still seems to be a crushing majority of bottom-line-driven companies. And as long as it is systemically entrenched that the highest goal of companies/corporations is to grow "economically" and not work at realizing a healthy range of stasis, then this is and will be the bigger box within which all "innovation" is encouraged. Interestingly, the concluding chapter in Nicolas Meriwether's collection on the Grateful Dead phenomenon describes the Dead business model as an intriguing alternative to this now global paradigm.
heidegger heidegger was a boozy beggar (xian) Tue 3 Jul 07 13:55
interesting set of concentrations in college, Scott. Here's to philosophy!
Scott Berkun (scottberkun) Tue 3 Jul 07 16:27
> Bill wrote: > > I think the whole stack needs to be creative, but it > certainly drives the collaboration nicely when someone > who is actually going to use the software develops a passion > to get it right. The rub of course is that there is no single definition of 'right'. Every team I've ever designed anything with would struggle over whose vision of 'right' to use. Even if everyone agrees it's the customer's view that matters, which customer? And some decisions, beyond those aided by usability studies, are too subjective to have logical arguments about, it just has to be someone's judgment call. This echo's everything jet said earlier: I do believe that the process of invention / innovation is tightly linked to any conception of design process. In fact the books on design methods (Chris Jones's DM book, Total Design by Pugh, etc.) could easily be called invention methods.
Scott Berkun (scottberkun) Tue 3 Jul 07 16:33
> Esau wrote: > > A fine book on this subject is Daniel Pink's "A Whole New Mind," > in which he describes the beginning of an age in which linear > thinkers no longer rule business: I confess I've only skimmed this book - Too many books, not enough time :) But I have to think dominant business views (as well as conceptions of what innovation is) will always be driven by the stock market and the signals people think are significant to that view of the world. Bean counters and logical thinkers thrive in a world focused on profit projections, chart analysis and market forcasting. As much as intuition plays a role in those activities (I know - my Dad was a trader), they've not prone to admit it. In fact I'd bet most most logical dominant thinkers are in reality afraid of their intuitions, afraid of their feelings (or acknowledging to others what they are), and that's why they insist on having logical sounding reasons for everything - so they never have to say "I'm doing X because I feel it's the right way to go".
Scott Berkun (scottberkun) Tue 3 Jul 07 16:35
> Esau wrote: > > One of the things we get involved with at IDEO is to > teach a design process to people who don't normally think > of themselves as designers -- the larger message being, > "We're all designers!" This is awesome. It's something I hit on in the book in chapter 6 about Good ideas being hard to find. As kids we design all the time - we make up games, worlds, rules, foods. We're born to do it, as all play is a kind of design in some way. But we're trained out if it for various reasons as we get older - Teaching design to adults, in some ways, is creative recovery. Giving people back their empowerment to make stuff up - something most adults in our consumer driven culture rarely feel empowered to do: everything is already made for us and ready for sale.
bill braasch (bbraasch) Tue 3 Jul 07 16:56
intuition is like satori. start talking about it, it's gone. I'm exactly like that, looking for the logic behind what my instinct likes. What's a good reason to skip that step?
I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Tue 3 Jul 07 19:24
(Hey Scott, more books for your in-stack if you haven't read them: the Firefox series, which collects old-timey stories and methods of living off the land.)
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Tue 3 Jul 07 20:00
Foxfire (and they are cool)
Get Shorty (esau) Wed 4 Jul 07 06:49
They're both open source!
Do (bratwood) Wed 4 Jul 07 07:44
<scribbled by bratwood Wed 4 Jul 07 07:51>
(bratwood) Wed 4 Jul 07 07:50
HI Scott, I've finally caught up on this topic and want to thank you for being here. Timely it is, at least for me. I've spent the past couple years at Arizona State's College of Design entrenched in a master's program on design theory, methodology, and criticism. Your book is now on my reading list. And I will get the college library to order it (likely already on their list) as I'm sure the next wave will want include it in their surveys. If you do have a chance to take a deeper look at Pink's book, I hope you will share some thoughts. The newest faculty member in our program is a psychologist (doctoral work on creativity/creative processes). Your point about the need for people skills and team trust rings through loud and clear. I do believe that designers will begin to understand the value of "meaning makers" and focus on human factors in their work. This past spring, Mike Fox from the International Center for Studies in Creativity (Buffalo State) came out and put us through a two-day workshop. I'm wondering if you know their program and have any insights on that, similarities and differences in your own classes.
I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Wed 4 Jul 07 09:16
(Gah, _Foxfire_. I shouldn't post when I'm sleepy.)
What is going to amuse our bouches now? (bumbaugh) Wed 4 Jul 07 12:59
(and a reminder that those of you reading along on the Interwebs who are not members of the Well can e-mail questions, comments, or innovative ideas to us at email@example.com for us to post on your behalf)
I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Thu 5 Jul 07 09:02
wrt <65>, how do you think your book and _Blink_ overlap in terms of being based on the same "broad background of knowledge leading to a single decision" concept? Do you think you're looking at different sides of the same process or are there fundamental differences not obvious to the naked eye?
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