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Where do good ideas come from?

19 Oct

A recent article on Steven Johnson’s new book ‘Where Good Ideas Come From‘ offers support for our practice of ‘paying attention to what you pay attention to,’ something which can only be achieved through journaling.

Steven debunks the myth that ‘Ideas just pop into people’s heads.’ Contradictory to the examples of how an apple hit Newton’s head and lighting struck Benjamin Franklin’s kite, ideas do not arrive in one fell swoop of glory isolated from the rest of our work. There is no muse.

But some may argue… ‘I definitely had the idea ‘click.’ Yes, there is a certain moment when we become aware of ideas… but they have been in our mind in some hidden form all along. I can often find precursors of thoughts posted in my journal 3, 6, 9 months before I realize what they really meant. After building enough of a critical mass in one specific subject or problem, the solutions begins to take shape and you can see all the other pieces merging into the final outcome.

Ideas are woven combinations of all the people, places, and things we encounter and work with, slowly burgeoning until we become aware of them.

So go ahead and pay attention to what you pay attention to. Spend a few minutes each day for the next few weeks journaling and drawing… and see what happens when you look back at it all. If you already journal, share back any interesting events you’ve had in being retrospective.

via CNN: ‘Eureka moments’ and other myths about tech innovation

Popularity: 26% [?]

 

Virtual office… sharing sketches instantly, digitally.

15 Oct

A week ago, a friend said to me, “I’m going to get an iPhone so I can get stuff done.” I responded instinctively, “It’s actually a distraction.” Then I disagreed with myself. Here’s why.

Yes, I do find myself sucked into email or some app occasionally, but who doesn’t?! I’m human and I make mistakes. I’m working on that. However, one new tool, JotNot, has given me a way to break loose of my office, and still share back professional results from creative critical thinking sessions easily.

JotNot is the easiest way to turn pictures into documents. Sketching with a pen and paper is the most liberating way for me to think through a complex problem. Its limitless, and balling up and tossing bad ideas is a great stress reliever.

I’ve always been tied down by completing my creative work with a scanner, or sending out a lame photo of my sketch. JotNot changed that. Now I take a photo and JotNot converts it to a PDF or image. Really awesome. Check it out…

Here is JotNot capturing my sketch…

Here is JotNot about to process the photo…

And here is the output 30 seconds after snapping the photo. (Shrunken to fit on the page, download the original PDF here.)

I then publish to my free online storage at DropBox which I can access from any computer or send it to my teammates directly via email.

Yes my friend, that’s getting stuff done.

Download JotNot for your iPhone/iPod Touch at the iTunes store.

Popularity: 10% [?]

 

Drawing is Seeing.

09 Oct

James McMullan teaches basic drawing skills every Friday, through writing. His New York Times series, ‘Line by Line,’ showcases the value of drawing as a way to see the world, and the relationships of objects within it.

Try his lessons to help make your sketches, drawings, notes that much more engaging.

Also, checkout our posts on templates for drawing out ideas, drawing a landscape, and how changing perspective changes your results.

Popularity: 26% [?]

 

Drawing how the internet works.

08 Oct

What a small world.

I stumbled upon an article about ‘Drawing how the internet works,’ an assignment given by a former Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute student I met in Troy, NY who is now teaching an online class, “Web 200: Anatomy of a Request.”

He asked the global, virtual students to ‘draw how the internet works.’ They created simple models of this complex series of relationships to help think through the ‘problem’ and share what they learned with others in the class. This is Drawing Down the Vision.

How the internet works may not be your forte or interest… but you can apply this technique in your day to day life and work. The intersection of text and visuals helps you think through a problem in new ways, what we call diversity of thought.

Checkout our practice articles for help getting started.

via @azaaza

Popularity: 15% [?]

 

Ten Things Milton Glaser Has Learned, and is willing to teach.

01 Oct

I read Ten Things I Have Learned by Milton Glaser last night. Here is my favorite, an embodiment of how living creatively changes everything. Drawing is an easy way to get started.

7
HOW YOU LIVE CHANGES YOUR BRAIN.
The brain is the most responsive organ of the body. Actually it is the organ that is most susceptible to change and regeneration of all the organs in the body. I have a friend named Gerald Edelman who was a great scholar of brain studies and he says that the analogy of the brain to a computer is pathetic. The brain is actually more like an overgrown garden that is constantly growing and throwing off seeds, regenerating and so on. And he believes that the brain is susceptible, in a way that we are not fully conscious of, to almost every experience of our life and every encounter we have. I was fascinated by a story in a newspaper a few years ago about the search for perfect pitch. A group of scientists decided that they were going to find out why certain people have perfect pitch. You know certain people hear a note precisely and are able to replicate it at exactly the right pitch. Some people have relevant pitch; perfect pitch is rare even among musicians. The scientists discovered – I don’t know how – that among people with perfect pitch the brain was different. Certain lobes of the brain had undergone some change or deformation that was always present with those who had perfect pitch. This was interesting enough in itself. But then they discovered something even more fascinating. If you took a bunch of kids and taught them to play the violin at the age of 4 or 5 after a couple of years some of them developed perfect pitch, and in all of those cases their brain structure had changed. Well what could that mean for the rest of us? We tend to believe that the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind, although we do not generally believe that everything we do affects the brain. I am convinced that if someone was to yell at me from across the street my brain could be affected and my life might changed. That is why your mother always said, ‘Don’t hang out with those bad kids.’ Mama was right. Thought changes our life and our behaviour. I also believe that drawing works in the same way. I am a great advocate of drawing, not in order to become an illustrator, but because I believe drawing changes the brain in the same way as the search to create the right note changes the brain of a violinist. Drawing also makes you attentive. It makes you pay attention to what you are looking at, which is not so easy.


A few books by Milton Glaser you should check out to learn more… Drawing is Thinking & Art is Work.

Popularity: 15% [?]

 

How the Rhode Island School of Design fosters a successful, creative culture.

30 Sep

Checkout this fantastic sampling of Freshman Sketchbooks at RISD, the Rhode Island School of Design.

Each first year student is mailed a blank sketchbook the summer before they start classes to capture examples of whatever they find meaningful. This explorative eye on the world sets the stage for their time at the school and helps instill RISD’s best-in-class approach to teaching design… observing and creating.

Also, for more info about how RISD builds a successful and relevant creative culture… see our recent post on John Maeda and how he believes, ‘Art and design can help solve problems in any industry.

via Twitter @johnmaeda

Popularity: 22% [?]

 

Art and design can help solve problems in any industry.

29 Sep

John Maeda, President of the Rhode Island School of Design and author of The Laws of Simplicity, has always been an advocate of applying art and design in nontraditional settings. In the quick video below, John explains how a creative background can help individuals succeed in tackling problems other skillsets may struggle with. This is Diversity of Thought in action, a key tenet of Drawing Down the Vision.

“Artists are able to imagine so well. Designers can also organize so clearly. This species of mind can be leveraged in the sciences and business in new ways.” – John Maeda

via The Economist, The Ideas Economy

Popularity: 13% [?]

 

Why “You just need to get started…” is bad advice.

28 Sep

In a recent collaborative post, Ramit Sethi (Stanford) and Cal Newport (MIT) challenge the self-evident truth of ‘You just need to get started…”

They advocate mulling over an idea much longer than is traditionally expected… and only acting on it when you have fully thought it through. This exactly aligns with how we leverage the journal in Drawing Down the Vision.

A journal is your catalog of your ideas. This historical record allows you to see how an idea evolved and merged with others. If you see the same blockbuster idea popping up over 6-12 months… you may want to revisit it in a more critical manner. See our Practice posts for practical guides on how to do that.

—–

“How many times have you heard someone say, “You just need to get started”?

I’ve even said it myself — that the hardest part of nearly anything meaningful (health & fitness, managing your money, etc) is getting started.

But Cal Newport, a published author and PhD in computer science at MIT, disagrees.

Cal will show you why it’s important to look beyond quick tactical wins and instead focus on the strength of your idea, which takes painstaking practice and ongoing iteration.”

Ramit Sethi via IWillTeachYouToBeRich

Popularity: 18% [?]

 

Roman Anxiety and Three Month Old News.

27 Sep

A recent article on information overload by The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan really struck my Sunday fancy. She presented me with a wonderful bit of historical perspective as I lay out in the San Diego sun enjoying what some believe to be derelict, a newspaper.

Just like we see frenetic suits and babysitters checking their Blackberry’s and iPhones in grocery store lines, rather than buying a pack of Juicy Fruit… Lucius Annaeus Seneca, a Roman senator, saw hoards of people waiting for the postal service when the Roman ‘highways’ were built.

The newly built roads enabled human connection like never before. This torrent of information was seen to be so valuable some couldn’t tear themselves away from it… they were stuck their wasting life away, anxiously waiting for Mr. Postman.

Whoever thought there would be anxiety over three month old news?

Seneca, Information Overload is Nothing New, Peggy Noonan, Newspaper

via The Wall Street Journal

Popularity: 9% [?]

 

Creativity, the door to good times and good business.

26 Sep

Scott Cook, the founder of Intuit who is also on the board of directors at eBay and Procter & Gamble, is all about unleashing human potential. If you haven’t noticed, so are we.

Economist Ideas Economy, Scott Cook

At The Economist’s Ideas Economy Conference, Cook discussed how human potential in the U.S. has waned. According to recent surveys, about 70% of American workers are not engaged: 20% are actively disengaged, and 50% are not particularly committed. This is bad for the disengaged employee, and for the disrepaired business.

Cook advocates, “The way to put human potential on steroids is rapid experimentation. Got an idea? Okay, what are the hypotheses underpinning that idea, and how can we rapidly test one or more of them?” This is what Drawing Down the Vision and drawing ideas out can help you and your team do. So, how can you get started?

We’ve learned in our workshops how scared most self-proclaimed non-creatives are of the blank paper and wet pen. Help make everyone comfortable and you’ll unleash the team’s true potential.

Let us know how things go!

via Fast Company

Popularity: 8% [?]

 
 



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