Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

In May 2008 I attended a fantastic conference at the Art Center College of Design called Serious Play. It was an inspirational experience that changed the way I think about design, play and business. It happens every two years and I am so looking forward to the 2010 version. Several videos of the speakers are on TED thanks to an agreement between the two organizations. Here are some of my favourites.

George Smoot

Stuart Brown

Bruce McCall

Tim Brown

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It is good to be back.

I would love see more people smash the barriers to convention and reason. When I say madness I in now way want to disparage or mock the individuals that suffer with mental illness. This is about taking risks, breaking conventions, disrupting assumptions, and playing in territories that no-one else has.

Is the benefit of design thinking the ability to apply the process to a business problem, or is it the license for a slightly off the wall perspective that actually contributes to success?

The definition of madness that I think is so applicable to this discipline is ‘unrestrained excitement’ and the idea of  craziness – being rash or foolish. I also think in terms of being tangential or taking odd leaps of thought.

What if we surrounded ourselves with people that had a habit of saying “You’re crazy” because the ideas that were being created were really pushing the edge.

Is there a way to instill the essence of madness into the culture of an organization. Is there a way to be comfortable with seemingly contradictory concepts, or to be able to believe in the impossible, or to see what others do not.

A little madness is being able to imagine the unknown, to find inspiration for a marketing experience in the midst of a piece of modern art. What does the art say to you? What does the art express about the human condition? How did it move you? I think the entire Tate collection should be required viewing by any new strategist. When I think about the siloed state of education and the lack of exposure people have to wildly variant stimuli it really saddens me.

Of course, in our business environment we do need to have a way to control the madness to deliver a solution. Can it be harnessed? In the face of a wicked problem is it foolish to try and be defined? Or is it better to be wildly irrational with the hope that the outlying ideas will be the winners? Can we even hope to understand the market we deliver in? Is it arrogant to believe that we can understand something driven by the subconscious minds of other humans?

If you settle in a rut, you are unable to move out of the way if something is coming at you head on. If you are back and forth on the road, you can always find the open space.

New ideas are my drug of choice. I consume them constantly. I can’t imagine life without learning something new – or being forced to think differently about something. The world is full of great thinkers and thanks to the net it is easier than ever follow the ones you know and to discover new people.

When I wrote about consilience, I wanted to share a belief about knowledge that is close to my heart. I believe it is critical for everybody to learn from as many different knowledge spaces as they can. Modern life requires the ability to synthesize and learn from seemingly disparate topics.

In the spirit of #followfriday I want to share a list of a few of the people I have followed through the years. They are in no particular order – they are simply big thinkers that have enriched my life with what they have created.

John BrockmanEdge.org is the first site I suggest to people I meet, and is the first site I go to when I need inspiration. Hands down the most influential site for me.

Jerry HirshbergHis book is severely dog-eared and deeply informed my thinking about creativity and teams.

Jaron Lanier – Made me think differently. And wildly.

EBN – Many years ago I worked on a show that featured Gardner Post. Funny and brilliant. They pushed my view of media control to a new space.

Daniel Dennett – Set me on the path to CogSci with The Mind’s I.

Douglas HofstadterGodel, Escher, Bach was mindblowing. It also introduced me to The Musical Offering.

Stewart Brand – From my early interest in the Well and the Whole Earth Catalog to How Buildings Learn I have learned a great deal from his work.

OrbitalSnivilisation is #1 on my playlist.

Richard Feynman – For his curiosity and passion.

William S. Burroughs – His book The Adding Machine was the best thing to read in the middle of the Atlantic.

Who are your big thinkers?