I find it forever fascinating to try and decipher the minds behind the creativity that stretches the boundaries and adds unique beauty to normal, real-world stuff. Here are two wonderful examples.
It takes a rare mindset to see a utilitarian object, with its own shape and use, and turn it into completely different object with a totally different form and use. The beauty is found in the operational innovation, since each of the final forms looks totally normal.
Or the artist’s mind that takes something that’s been around for centuries and keeps it’s utilitarian properties, while changing it in ways so far beyond the normal decorative and stylistic features that it is almost unimaginable — except to that one mind.
Wouldn’t you love to share a meal (or a bottle of wine) and just talk? No agenda, no purpose, except to bask in the creativity that flows from a truly original mind?
After all, meaning is not made of lone facts, lone people, or lone disciplines, nor is it found in the valuing of the objective over the subjective. Rather, meaning comes by way of knitting together a bigger picture, filled with color and texture, and meant to be felt and understood. We most fully understand what we can internalize—that which becomes part of us. The importance of specializing can’t be discarded, but working only within one discipline and strictly adhering to its rules is likely only to generate one kind of work, one kind of result. (…)
Deep time is like deep water: We are constantly brought back to the surface, pulled by the wants and needs of the moment. But like exercising any sort of muscle, the more we access deep time, the more easily accessible it becomes, and the more likely we are to engage in long-term thinking. The more we embrace long-term thinking, the more ethical our decision-making becomes.
Her concept of deep time connected in my mind to HBS’ Jim Heskett’s discussion of deep thinking years ago — especially the comments. (Both are well worth reading.)
Do you notice the connection?
Both embrace silence sans distractions.
What happens when you shut off and shut out the noise of the modern world?
First comes fear; fear of the unknown that is yourself.
The fear fades as self-knowledge grows.
As it fades you see a spark; a spark that grows until it is a steady fire fueled by your own creativity.
A fire that warms you and from which you draw inspiration and ideas.
And, over the course of your life’s short version of deep time, wisdom.
Or the mindset of Jim Clark, as revealed by Michael Lewis, author of The New New Thing, a book about the tech industry in the late ’90s.
“At the end of The New New Thing, Jim Clark, who has made a fortune out of the internet bubble, says he’s getting out because he’s scared. Why’s he scared? Kleiner Perkins, the VC firm, has given $25 million to this startup called Google, which he thinks is outrageous. Why would anyone give $25 million to Google? A search engine is just a commodity, everybody knows that, it’s a silly name.”
There are always experts who will tell you why whatever won’t work.
I’m not recommending that you just ignore or dismiss them.
What I am saying is that you need to take everything with a grain of skepticism and not buy it because of who says it.
People usually go into teaching because they had a great teacher who inspired them; they care about kids or believe that it’s a way to make a difference.
No one in their right mind will argue that teachers are underpaid.
Sadly, the politics, internal and external, the system, often working without even minimal resources or adequate textbooks combined with the grind of producing daily lesson plans that engage their students year after year takes a toll on their idealism and enthusiasm.
Teachers differ in their skills, strengths and creativity — as do people in every field.
Further, what if the cost was personally affordable, so that teachers didn’t have to find funds or get approval?
That’s the idea behind TeachersPayTeachers, a virtual marketplace where educators can buy and sell lesson plans just like an app store and similarly priced.
What kind of tunes do you think Iago, the villain in William Shakespeare’s “Othello,” would listen to if he had an iPhone?
That is the kind of question that Laura Randazzo, an exuberant English teacher, often dreams up to challenge her students at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, Calif. (…) “For a buck, a teacher has a really good tool that she can use with any work of literature,” Ms. Randazzo said in a phone interview last week. “Kids love it because it’s fun. But it’s also rigorous because they have to support their characterizations with evidence.”
The site’s been around since 2006 and is highly successful.
To date, Teacher Synergy, the company behind the site, has paid about $175 million to its teacher-authors, says Adam Freed, the company’s chief executive. The site takes a 15 percent commission on most sales.
Read the article; then share it with every teacher, or their relatives, you know; tweet it and share it as widely as possible.
Whether they sell or buy they’ll win.
And if your effort saves just one teacher from burnout or makes their life a bit easier then, you’ll deserve a pat on the back — whether you know it or not.
Because I know that, as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
“Many people already receive our journalism for free online, with digital advertising paying only a portion of the cost. Without income via subscriptions or advertising, we are unable to deliver the journalism that people coming to our site expect from us.”
No one expects to get a free car or for even Amazon to give away books, but when it comes to content on the Internet they cry, “That’s different!”
Copyrights are suddenly meaningless and any effort to generate revenue to pay for the creative talent, technology and other expenses required pollutes the experience.
Even sites that are built on user-generated content have expenses.
You deserve to be paid for your work and your company deserves to generate revenue to pay you — and so do they.
Think about that before you block ads or complain about pay walls.
A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read allIf the Shoe Fits posts here
More and more research is showing that real creativity is a more solo function than a team effort.
Susan Cain spells this out in a thoughtful LinkedIn post that is well worth your time, especially if you are a young founder raised on social media, with a penchant for crowdsourcing and Yelp.
Consider the words of Steve Wozniak in his memoir iWoz.
Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me—they’re shy and they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone where they can control an invention’s design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee. I don’t believe anything really revolutionary has been invented by committee. If you’re that rare engineer who’s an inventor and also an artist, I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone. You’re going to be best able to design revolutionary products and features if you’re working on your own. Not on a committee. Not on a team.
Then read, digest and tweak Cain’s ideas to fit your situation, then put the concepts to work in your company.
A growing body of neuroscience research has begun to reveal the exact ways in which information age technologies cut against the natural grain of the human mind. Our understanding of all kinds of information is shaped by our physical interaction with that information. Move from paper to screen, and your brain loses valuable “topographical” markers for memory and insight.
Although screens have their strengths in presenting information — they are, for example, good at encouraging browsing — they are lousy at helping us absorb, process, and retain information from a focused source. And good old handwriting, though far slower for most of us than typing, better deepens conceptual understanding versus taking notes on a computer — even when the computer user works without any internet or social media distractions.
In short, when you want to improve how well you remember, understand, and make sense of crucial information about your organization, sometimes it’s best to put down the tablet and pick up a pencil.
The work described was done by the Drucker Institute and is easy to try with your people.
The great news if you want to try unplugging is that the basic techniques are simple and free. Here’s an Un/Workshop-style exercise you can try on your own time, with your own team, in just a half-hour: Including yourself, get six or more of your colleagues together. Divide yourselves into two or more small groups. Give each group one piece of paper with a single question printed on it: Who is our customer?
Depending how young your team is you may incur some minor costs — like the need to shop for paper and pencils and possibly explain how to use them.