Archive for the 'Comedy' Category

Week 2 Reflections: No One is Born “A Creative”

3Monkeys

It’s the 2nd week of Leading Strategic Innovation in Organizations and the focus this week has been on individual constraints to innovation. According to Owen’s there are three main individual constraints to innovation: perception, intellection, and expression.

I’ve taken a cue from the last course I took (#edcmooc) and I’m making an attempt to define what I’ve learned this week visually (see the image above). But what I’ve really taken away from this week’s content are the following three bits:

Lesson 1: “There is no such thing as a creative personality.”

In other words, creative people aren’t born, they’re made or developed by their learning and experience. Numerous studies have shown that children are naturally open to experience and creative. But arguably our education system and life experience shapes or constrains this ability to be creative. We are taught the proper way to solve problems or how to keep our ideas and thoughts in check.

What Owens does argue is that there are personality traits conducive to creativity, and these are:

  • Agreeableness
  • Extroversion
  • Conscientiousness
  • Openness
Personality traits conducive to creativity

If neurosis is so bad for creativity – how does this explain Woody Allen?

Logically, if you are open-minded to multiple ways of seeing a problem you’ll come up with a number of different ways to solve it. If you’re agreeable and able to connect effectively with others, you’re better able to explain your solutions to them.   Neurotic behaviors and thinking on the other hand can negatively affect one’s ability to be creative here’s an example of how neurotic thinking can prevent creativity and innovative problem solving.

“I can’t share that solution or express that that in front of others, they’ll think I’m a.)wrong, b.)stupid and I’ll just embarrass myself.” 

In order to be a truly effective at innovation, you need to be able to share your ideas freely without fear of being judged.  Perhaps that’s ultimately what makes Woody Allen one of the most creative storytellers of our time. He’s portrayed himself as the lovable neurotic, but he has never flinched at attempting to portray this neurosis in stories that examine the human condition from different perspectives.

Lesson 2: It’s important to always approach the problem from multiple perspectives.

In reading through Chapter 2 of “Creative People Must be Stopped, I ran across the story of a playwright who purchased different “odd magazines” for hobbies or topics foreign to her. Her purpose was to “see” things from that particular magazine audience’s views and therefore reinterpret what might be seen in her own vision portrayed in her plays.  Of course, your savvy marketing professional would simply call this focusing on your target markets, but there’s something so simply empowering about this approach to seeing other’s views of the same situation or problem you’re attempting to solve.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you’re analyzing a problem:

  • How would someone who is completely polar opposite to me see this problem? How would they describe it?
  • Why might they not see it as a problem?
  • What solutions may they came up with?

Lesson 3: It’s not how cool your idea is, it’s how you sell it to your audience.

Inarticulate but might be right

Sometimes, and I admit I’m guilty of this as well, when you come up with what you think is a ‘great idea’ its logic seems to inherently obvious to you and therefore everyone else should see it that way. However, other’s way of viewing things may NOT be aligned with your own.  I feel that this is one of my greatest Individual Constraints to innovation. I’m not always adept and explaining or selling my solutions to others.  In actuality, I am really the Asian guy in the image above from Kathy Sierra’s blog post from years back. I often have hunches or feelings about when things are right or wrong, but I’m not always able to explain them to other people around me. This is where exercises and questions from my previous lesson would come in handy. Or…

Developing a ‘common language’ might be helpful.

Reminds me of that meeting game "B.S. Bingo."

Reminds me of that meeting game “B.S. Bingo.”

I had to laugh when Owens made a dig at using ‘buzzwords.’ As he noted, they may make you feel important, but they’re not a great way of gaining common understanding of both the problem and your proposed solution.  At one of my former jobs, a former colleague of mine and I played a game called B.S. Bingo in meetings that seemed like more verbal exposition than development or planning (or action).  Though arguably, these same buzzwords are the common language used by people in the corporate world to talk with each other. I do agree with Owens that when they’re bandied about to elevate your business klout or savvy they’re simply about posturing. However, I should consider that if this is the ‘speak’ that’s being used by people who are using this language, I should develop translations of my ideas in this language.

I’ve decided to create a template for writing out my ideas to better articulate them. It’s pretty simple. I would take the idea as I see it and then translate it into at least three or four different perspectives including the intended audience or end user, my peers, my boss, and my boss’s boss. This may take a little more discipline than I’m used to.

MyIdeaTranslationTool

Image of worksheet

Click the link above to view/download the worksheet

When building a better car is building a [not so good] one

Remember this  image from the Simpsons episode where Homer finds his long-lost brother?

Homer thought he was building the ideal car by adding as many features and tools as he could. Sometimes adding too many features to tools and applications or even websites can leave you with a end product that isn’t so usable after all. Just a thought.

Cool Example of Student Created Content

I was really impressed by this… a Movie/reinterpretation of the events of the Boxer Rebellion in China.

I’m a fan of Hong Kong cinema and I think these guys did a pretty good mix of storytelling with the fantasy martial arts genre. I remember falling asleep during the chapter of the Boxer Rebellion in my history class way back. I think these kids actual brought more meaning to the event than any old crusty history teacher ever could. Plus, they probably learned how much work it takes to produce a short film and became more engaged with history in the process.

Image Therapy Musings: Tekkonkinkreet and our ability to laugh

I drove by the Movie theater on 21st and saw that they were playing Tekkonkinkreet. I posted something on this earlier this month, and I have to say, I think this was probably one of my favorite movies out this Summer. The images were just visually stunning. There was a good deal of violence, so I wouldn’t recommend it as a kid flick for very young children. The play on light vs. dark was actually a little refreshing. It’s nice to be reminded that you can’t have one without the other and that light and darkness as concepts, moods, states of mind depend on each other. You cannot always live in one vs. the other.

The backgrounds, colors and details reminded me of the packaging from items from the Chinese Grocery store we used to frequent when I was a very young child. I think it was one of the few or only Asian grocery stores in town at the time… I think I just dated myself. I always felt really comfortable in there despite the fact that it seemed dark and confusing.

[Youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=IWOCf1wNlk0]

I was able to see the Simpsons movie as well. Despite the fact that I did feel like I was in the theater watching an extended episode or a string of episodes on a DVD, I did enjoy it. Who can pass up on the superb humor of the Simpson’s writing cadre? It was a nice way to end the work week: with laughter. I know it’s easy for us as a species to get all hung up on our ability to build magnificent cities, engineer impossible buildings or create works of art, but I think the ability to laugh and appreciate the comedic truly sets us apart from any other creature in the planet.

Why are we geared to laugh? Does it provide the same kind of physical release or satisfy an appetite like eating or sex? I’ve always felt that laughter is like exercising the heart. If you loose your ability to do this there’s a life or spirit in a person that may loose it’s radiance and ability to cope with all the darkness in this world. Look at all the cultures and social groups in our past (and even present) which really seemed to have a hard time with lightening up.  Can you imagine what life was for the Calvinists.  It’s kind of hard to find humor in things when you live under the guidance of the notion that you’re either doomed or you’re not (though most people are doomed*) or that human beings by nature are depraved and fallen creatures. You know if I was born a 16 or 17th century Calvinist I’d emmigrate from Switzerland  to Holland right away… either that or work hard and look forward to death because it would probably be a cake-walk compared to the hell on earth that they built. They’re always painted and drawn in art as if their tidies are in bunches.

*If that were the case and people were all doomed… I’d break out the pack of Gitanes and open a bottle of Pernod and say… “What the hey.”

Some related things:

Friday Funny – IT Crowd and the Mighty Boosh

These shows came out a bit ago, but I’ve been in the mood for office humor because I work at home. If you haven’t seen this yet… I got this show as an X-mas present last year (we have an all region DVD). It was one of my most treasured scores that year :). Rumor has it that Richard Ayoade (Moss) is actually slated to be in the US version of the show. I used to work in IT (sort of)… so it’s kinda funny.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_u5uiw1IhI]

An IT Crowd site: http://www.theitcrowd.co.uk/

If you’ve already seen the “IT Crowd”…. here’s the Mighty Boosh, my favorite UK comedy troupe, in one of my favorite episodes “Nanageddon.”

Links posted on my other blog:

http://natknits.wordpress.com/2007/07/20/nanatoo-the-knitting-demon/

PDX Bloggers Meeting, now I’m full of ideas… mostly babbling

So, yesterday, I broke out of my electronic bubble and went to meet other bloggers (and some podcasters) from the Portland area at a meeting sponsored by Intel and Jive Software. Imagine that this is the second time in this past month that I’ve gone out and met other bloggers. At some point I had to move out of this bubble because I have this human weakness which is I enjoy face to face contact and conversation. It really was a wonderful meeting and I thank Josh Bancroft of Tiny Screenfuls for posting the notice on it. It was really a sort of late/last minute decision to go attend, but I did and I really had a great time.

The wonderful thing about bloggers is that they are often curious people who search for things, connect things and see endless possibilities. They are also people who can evaluate things with a critical eye and ask questions like, “What does this mean for us? How will this affect us? Where can we go with this?” It’s wonderful being in a room with people like that because you come out of the room just bursting with ideas. I’m becoming convinced that the ability to make connections like these is the fuel for a truly creative economy. There was so much I learned from others this night I can’t possibly post it all here.

The twittering outside my head

Twitter was a regular topic in the conversations I took part in. Now I may be sympathetic to or understand the appeal of communicating snippets of your day to people in the form of actions and thoughts (Jane from Jane’s E-Learning Picks actually gives a succinct description of Twitter). There’s still something that freaks me out about being this transparent, even if I am choosing the people I share with. In a conversation someone noted that Twitter doesn’t really work unless you have a group of people you’re sharing with. Later, it occurred to me that I use Twitter, but just in my head all by myself. Sort of like it that way actually. I share my thoughts periodically in my blog, but somehow I like the idea of being an independent entity jumping on and off (social) networks.

The internet is making us psychic…NOT!… not?

Jessica (from OnPR ) noted that she read somewhere that Twitter is actually rendering its participants a little psychic. People could actually relate anecdotes or jokes that someone else might tell at the end of the day before that person could say it because they were privy to the snippets of their thoughts or actions during the day. This reminded me of an article that April shared with us earlier that day on how the internet may be causing some people to become prescient. The example cited is the posting on Wikipedia about the murder of Christopher Benoit’s wife 14 hours before they found her body. The article argues that the increasing transparency provided by the internet provides people with so much information that we can make better assessments and predictions about things:

…the increasing transparency that technology is continuing to create in the previously much denser information world is, among other things, creating situations where we can figure lots of things out that we just could not have figured out before.

Both this and Jessica’s point makes sense, because simply the more data you have, the better your guesses will be. Therefore, your guesses being fairly accurate, it may seem that you can somewhat effectively predict the future. Let’s not get overly excited here, it’s nice to be aware of this, but my gut feeling says we shouldn’t bank on using this ‘super-power’ too readily. It gives me a bad feeling, the way the Nazi’s and Fascists zealous infatuation with some sciences gives me a bad feeling.

Translation is hard even though the world is flat

I spoke a bit with Audrey (Life of Audrey and Dyepot, Teapot) and we started talking about using translators to understand what other bloggers are saying in different languages. She noted that Japanese was very hard to get because the structure of the language was different. I noted that languages like German may have a different meter and sound a little funny when translated mechanically. Though anything even the thoughts in my head can sound funny when they’re translated mechanically. More the sentences in German seem so long and contrary to the abbreviated writing styles I was brought up to appreciate. I had to stop and think… I wonder what English sounds like to the Chinese when directly translated into their language. Although we may still have difficulty understanding each other’s spoken/written language, does it make sense that eventually on the Net people my generate their own language to compensate. It’s probably happened on some rudimentary level in chat with acronyms. But even the commonly used ones are still English based.

With an ‘increasingly’ infinite and scary universe of knowledge we live in we need some guides …. How about some Muses (upgraded for the 3rd Millennia)

There’s been a lot of talk about how we now have access to so much more information via the internet and through social connections and sharing via the net that it seems like we need some guidance and inspiration on how to live in this new age of seemingly infinite possibilities. Later that evening after the dinner, I thought of the 9 muses in Greek Mythology. However, their subjects although still somewhat relevant seem to need a little upgrading. For instance Terspsichore the muse of dancing could become the muse of movement arts… her role is increasingly important because the ‘flatting of the world’ and the sedentary nature of life is causing my/our behind(s) to grow larger. We need to have rediscover our relationship with our bodies to stay healthy and whole. Thalia the muse of comedy could become “the muse of self-reflection over our fumbles and mistakes.” Clio the muse of history could take on the musing of Urban Legends and Pop Cultural history… she might even become the Muse of Marketing (sadly).

Medieval Help Desk

Nice parody of a help desk for medieval monks.


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