HUMANTIFIC SEARCH RESULTS

09
Jan

ISOTYPE: The Inclusion Factor

TheresWorkForAll_02

From the Humantific Collection here are more early Isotype Institute visualizations. Today in some circles, these might be referred to as “data visualizations” or “infographics”, previously referred to as “statistical graphics”, “picture statistics”, “pictorial statistics”, “information design” and or “information visualizations”.  :-) No shortage of terms now in play. If we want to use such terms these might be thought of as societal context infographics made with a specific, very practical purpose in mind.

Close to our own Humantific work, in terms on social change-making intention, we have deep respect for the work of Isotype [International System of Typographic Picture Education] Institute. Led by Otto Neurath [1882-1945], Isotype was a pioneer in the realm of what we know today to be Social SenseMaking. In the tsunami of data visualizations being generated today it is important to note some fundamental differences.Continue Reading..

18
Dec

Another OTHER Design Thinking

AnotherOther_PG26

Here at Humantific we are always delighted to see design education community change initiatives inspired by The OTHER Design Thinking 2013-2014, Occupy Reimagining Design 2011 and the body of work within NextDesign Futures 2002-2014. Are you ready to be surprised?

Yes that’s right, there is Another OTHER Design Thinking out there, just announced!

Last week the academically focused PhD Design discussion list, well known in the transformation practice community for being slow to adapt, least effective, and often unfortunately down-right nasty when it comes to the subject of design futures made what was for that group, a big leap forward. A few of its loudest, self-appointed leaders announced in a 3 page manifesto posted inside their debating group and across social media that they were finally ready to recognize a multiple part change wave occurring beyond the confines of their circle.Continue Reading..

23
Jun

Boosting Sid Parnes Tribute

 

BqXK_ZBCEAAK5vG

On Saturday, June 21, I attended the keynote “Tribute to Sid Parnes” presentation given by Teresa Amabile of Harvard as part of the closing events for the 60th anniversary CPSI 2014 conference at the University of Buffalo.

Anticipating a great tribute, I was surprised to see that while Amabile went into considerable detail regarding her own academic work, her presentation barely touched on Sid’s many contributions to the field. Teresa’s central message that Sid was a generous, open, visionary person missed all the important meat and potatoes. It was, to say the very least, a lightweight, not particularly deeply-informed treatment of Sid’s legacy.

Innovation methods scholars understand there is much more to Sid’s contributions to the Creative Problem Solving Methods field, the modern era of which has its historical roots in the 1940s and 50s. Sid Parnes was a central thought leader in that community for decades, ushering in numerous methodology innovations.

At Humantific we consider Sid to be one of our pioneering inspirations, and in the spirit of honoring him we decided to repost our earlier paper entitled Lost Stories Applied Creativity as a boost to his well-deserved tribute.

In this document, first published by Humantific in February 2012, we unpack in more detail a list of Sid’s key contributions. Much more than just suggesting that everyone had the capacity to be creative, Sid Parnes placed on the table beginning in 1967 what is widely considered to be the crown jewels of the CPS movement at that time, in the form of teachable exercises, orientations, methods, etc. By 1967, Sid was already in synthesized, codified knowledge mode, sharing and teaching others. Many have built on his foundations.

Those involved in innovation enabling practice understand that Sid’s contributions were not soft abstractions. Many of Sid’s contributions remain as foundational materials inside numerous innovation bootcamp workshops, and inside many subsequently designed process models active in the marketplace today including those of Humantific, IDEO and others.

Applied Creativity Lost Stories / Tribute to Sid Parnes

Related:

Origins of How Might We?

Who Owns How Might We?

Making Sense of Creative Intelligence

25
Feb

ReResequencing Applied Creativity

If you are looking for an excellent plunge into the messiness, complexity and confusion that exists around the subjects of creativity and applied creativity today, such an opportunity was provided recently by a New York Times article and its accompanying reader comments. The well-meaning introductory article written by Laura Pappano of Wellesley College was entitled “Learning to Think Outside The Box / Creativity Becomes an Academic Discipline”. In this instance the resulting multitude of comments posted by readers of the article are as interesting as the article itself. Intermixed with considerable good intentions, one can see numerous misunderstandings, assumptions, sequential omissions and misfires in the works, some posted with quite a sense of humor.

This Times article was pointed out to us by several Humantific clients so we thought it might be useful to our own audience to offer a few historical context clarifications. [See hand written notations in red above and Modern Applied Creativity Eras below.]

It is not difficult to see that part of the confusion around the article stems from the author, knowingly or unknowingly, intermixing two different subjects: creativity and applied creativity. This confusion is seen in the article’s subtitle, throughout the article text, and subsequently in the numerous reader comments.

In addition the article has an odd time resequencing orientation in that it positions numerous well-known applied creativity historical developments as if they are just now being introduced. Resequencing to suggest newness seems to be a common strategy or misstep (depending on your point of view), seen often in mainstream media with its interest in, and appetite for, depicting simple, excitement generating newness. Resequencing tends to work best in situations where readers have little or no historical knowledge. As evidenced by numerous reader comments, resequencing seemed to not work so well in this particular instance.

Some of the reader comments were downright entertaining.

“akrupat: If you define “creativity” as predominantly the ability to spot problems and produce solutions, you’ve defined it in a way that has nothing whatever to do with the production of literature, painting, music–of art. That kind of definition of “creativity” is about as good as Mark Zuckerberg’s definition of a “friend.”

 “Patrick Stevens: The mistake is that the authors of this learning process have confused creativity with problem solving. they may be related, but they are not the same. Problem solving can be taught. Creativity cannot. These instructors are simply giving students useful ways to reach solutions to complex problems. there is no creativity involved. Creativity is inborn and individually specific. It is finding your muse and conversing with him.”

“Wsch: This is America at its best. And I am envious. I have been told I am a very creative thinker, with pretty good critical analytical abilities. It is so nice to see a new genre of courses coming up in colleges called “creative thinking” and “creative problem solving…..”

“al7jj: PhD programs and the publication requirements for promotion basically ensure that creative people are unlikely ever to become tenured professors. Even if a creative person survived 12-15 years of competitive conformity to get tenure, the university environment actively stifles any type of original thought, which makes it ironic for universities to try to teach creativity. I am a retired professor and administrator from a research university, and can safely say that I have never met a really creative colleague in either role.”

 “Dan Styer: What confuses me is that this is considered innovative. I was taught creative problem solving in the physics department at Swarthmore College starting in 1973. I have been teaching creative problem solving since I started teaching at Oberlin College in 1985. This physics tradition extends well back into the nineteenth century (James Clerk Maxwell used it) and probably earlier.

 “jessica: Seems as though people have at least two concepts of creativity–the artistic kind and then the problem solving kind. This article has nothing to do with the artistic side, it seems to be purely about problem solving.”

“MW: One important caveat to this trend for all the professors out there: out-of-the-box thinking is often confused with bending the rules and operating in a dishonest way. I have noticed that some people who are anxious to be unbound by traditional ways of thinking have a tendency to think the normal rules of social engagement, laws, regulations don’t apply and are there to be broken. The importance of personal integrity and honesty should be taught alongside creative and innovative problem solving. As an example, the so-called “successful” money people at SAC Capital probably justified their unscrupulous behavior as being an out-of-the-box thinking.”

Ironically while this Times article points out the enduring applied creativity perspective regarding need for organizational adaptability in a continuously changing world, it completely misses the central point that rapid adaptation did occur in some academies decades ago, while slow adaptation occurred in numerous knowledge neighborhoods, including many graduate business schools. The fact that many universities have been slow to adapt, slow to integrate applied creativity/adaptability knowledge is a rather different, more nuanced, less politically-correct message than to simply suggest the knowledge has just become available…:-)

As is evidenced in the reader comments, anyone suggesting that applied creativity is just launching as a discipline today would cause considerable head scratching among already informed readers. Of course many seasoned professionals will know that an enthusiastic author’s arrival in a subject terrain is typically considerably different from the arrival of the subject itself.

Many of our Humantific readers know that applied creativity pioneer Sid Parnes *(P) began, decades ago, articulating the various development eras of the modern applied creativity movement. Building from where he left off, Humantific *(H) added some time ago several eras to update Sid’s Modern Eras list.

Modern Applied Creativity Eras:


1940s: Era 1: The Cry in the Dark Stage*(P)
1950s: Era 2: The Hope and Hunch Stage*(P)
1960s: Era 3: The Research, Replication and Report Stage*(P)
1970s: Era 4: The Widespread Application Stage*(P)
1980s: Era 5: The Mainstream Application Stage*(P)
1990s: Era 6: The Deepening Research & Innovation Stage *(H)
2000-2010: Era 7: The Rediscovery & Readaptation Stage *(H)
2011-Present: Era 8: The Global Collaboration & Readaptation Stage *(H)

Perhaps most unfortunately the dumbed-down resequenced approach seen in the Times article unfortunately leaves out the possibility to articulate/appreciate that the initial launch of applied creativity Stage 1 (1940s) was considerably different from what is going on inside Stage 8 (2014) today.  Such a resequencing misses that significant rethinking, and reinvention is underway inside the applied creativity community of practice, and that is where much of the innovation action is today. Practice leaders working on the front lines of real-world engagements well know that how smart organizations are rethinking innovation involves continuous adaptation. The newness of Stage 8 today is, and by necessity has to be, significantly different from what was once new in the now long gone Stage 1.

Underway for some time, applied creativity readaptation movement includes the addition of numerous tools, process redesigns, instruments, systematization to ecologies, culture building, enhanced skill-building programs, and the systematic integration of visualized data/information.

As per the earliest applied creativity eras, today often organizational leaders facing the very real need for timely change-making have the appetite for rapid adaptation and real meaningful action in advance of the slow-moving adaptation going on inside many graduate institutions.

Today leading applied creativity practices are moving into the future from Stage 8 not Stage 1.

Suffice it to say that today there is a lot more to organizations building capacity for “Learning to Think Outside the Box” than the resequenced and foreshortened picture created by this Times article!

24
Dec

On-Boarding Advanced Problem Solving

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 11.20.27 AM

We are always happy, happy, happy to see writers and organizations setting aside the often appearing verbal volley-ball around terms such as problem finding/problem solving and instead return to recognizing the value of such skills in the context of the challenges being faced today by organizations in every industry. Michael Skok modeled such a return recently writing in the Harvard Business Review blog entitled: “Amazon Turned a Flaw into Gold with Advanced Problem-Solving”

In the Amazon story, problem finding, problem solving and the orientation of seeing problems as opportunities play significant roles as does the turning of a specific internal situational solution into an external global solution offering.

Here are 10 things that we liked and agreed with in Skok’s post:

1.  “…make it everyone’s responsibility to solve problems at EVERY level in the organization.”

2. “Grass roots collaborative solutions are so often the best.”

3. “Some of the best solutions come from multi-disciplinary, multi-level, 
cross-functional problem solving.”

4. “Try even to engage your customers, partners and communities from 
outside the company. This co-creation often fosters trust and understanding.”

 5. “Encourage self-awareness and motivate people to ask for help to develop their weaknesses and team around their strengths.”

6. “Offer training and development for those who want to reach higher.”

7. “Recognize and reward progress up…problem solving [Skills Progression] levels.”

8. “Look beyond problem prevention – create new opportunities from continuous improvement.”

 9. “Taking this approach to problem solving will build both abundance and resilience on your team.”

 10. “I’ve found that the companies that attract, nourish and reward people with great problem-solving skills as a core competency get tremendous competitive advantage from it.”

Of course making it everyone’s responsibility to solve problems at EVERY level in the organization suggests the on-boarding of an adaptable skill-set that extends beyond product, service, experience and interface creation. Today most organizational leaders recognize that many types of challenges exist in their organizations in addition to product and service related creation.

Whether organizations choose to call what they are using to address such diverse challenges their innovation toolbox, problem solving toolbox or complexity navigation toolbox matters a whole lot less than what is actually inside it, what it is designed to help you do. Whatever you choose to call it we agree that having an adaptable change-making tool-set and skill-set applicable in multi-disciplinary contexts remains key.

Related:

ReAppreciating Applied Creativity History

 

 

10
Dec

Scrooge Meets Data Analytics

We love the 1951 film adaptation of Christmas Carol story and its relationship to data analytics and data storytelling so we are reposting this for our readers who might have missed it last year…:-)

You have no doubt watched the classic Scrooge a million times but try watching it this year anew with your Making Sense of Big Data hat on. Is data analytics a form of time travel? You betcha! Take a wild guess where data analysts are most often traveling to? Whats often missing in data analytics chit-chat? View Scrooge and reflect!

Written by social change advocate Charles Dickens in 1843, Christmas Carol contains so many themes that are relevant today. It can be viewed as a story about poverty and injustice, redemption and transformation, the demise of industrial capitalism, workaholics versus lifeaholics, corporate values, how not to create corporate cultures, ghosts, greed and morality, the reenvisioning of philanthropy, etc.

What Dickens originally had in mind in 1843 was an advocacy-oriented report regarding the state of the poor and the need for change in 19th century England. Instead of doing a report he decided to create a softer, much more sticky and enduring advocacy, in the form of the Christmas Carol story.

We could not help but notice that miraculously the structure of this classic film maps directly to our SenseWHEN lens that we often use in transformation work with organizational leaders. In SenseWHEN we ask: When is the picture that you want to create? Are you seeking to create pictures of Yesterday, Today or Tomorrow? In the context of the film this is the equivalent to visitation from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.

Thinking business school case studies for a moment, one could say that Ebenezer Scrooge was in fact an organizational leader. In the film we get to see him embark on what turns out to be a journey to create a new personal and organizational strategy. He takes the journey unwillingly but perhaps what is most important to take note of in the film is where he ends up in relation to what the data was projecting.

Of course from a cinematic perspective the pictures seen in the film of Yesterday (Christmas Past), Today (Christmas Present) and Tomorrow (Christmas Yet to Come) all look the same visually. In real life, real world we would recognize that two of those views, Yesterday and Today, could be / would be based on data and one would be a Tomorrow prediction based on existing patterns. The picture of Christmas Yet to Come was, on Ebenezer’s behalf, a product of 1843 predictive analytics in action.

This is beautifully remarkable when we consider that our own recent study of two centuries of data visualizations showed that 98% were pictures of Yesterday and or Today. Out of almost 1000 data visualizations in the study only 2% were attempts at pictures of Tomorrow. Here in this 1951 film we can see not only a picture of Tomorrow but also coming into view is what role it played in the formulation of Ebenezer’s strategy.

We noticed that the future picture that was based on data projections turns out to be NOT the future that comes true for Ebenezer. In a wonderfully entertaining way the story makes clear that there are multiple futures possible. Of course data based prediction is useful but not necessarily conclusive.

After seeing the picture of Tomorrow based on behavioral projections, the film shows Scrooge waking up in a state of enlightenment to begin immediately redesigning his future in real time starting immediately on Christmas morning. The future that Ebenezer now has in mind for himself and his organization is quite opposite to the future that was based on projecting patterns from Yesterday and Today into the future.

In this sense the story brings into focus a magical juncture that is known by many of us doing generative future work to exist between today and tomorrow. It is a moment that occurs after the three SenseWHEN views have appeared and been absorbed. In the film we see Scrooge in that magic moment essentially stepping through a doorway or gateway rejecting one future and embracing the possibility of designing another. It is a beautiful thing!

Remarkably we see very similar patterns (without the ghosts) of reflection, analysis, generation, recombination, reformulation, gateway in much of the futuring work that we do with organizations today.

Rather than viewing data as prescriptive of future outcomes it is more often being used as fuel to inspire and create “straw man” scenarios, which may or may not ultimately be embraced as part of future design. For many enlightened leaders the purpose of data based scenarios is less about prescribing and more about informing possibilities.

While more and better data makes for better future projections the underlying physics of the universe have not changed much since the time of Dickens. Until humans figure out how to bend the laws of the universe the future remains one step ahead of us, whether we all like it or not.

If Ebenezer had mistaken the data projected future as the one and only option, if he took it as prescriptive rather than informative his transformation and that of his organization would not have been realized, at least not in the particularly positive way that comes into view as the film ends with Scrooge walking into his newly designed future. Lots to think about there.

Until someone takes the link down you can check out the 1951 film starring Alastir Sim as Scrooge for free on YouTube.

Related:

Big Data For WHEN?

Note: This post was first published here on the Humantific blog on December 22, 2012.

11
Nov

ReAppreciating Fritz Kahn

fritzKahnCoverCongratulations to our friends and colleagues Thilo von Debschitz and Uta von Debschitz for the successful redesign and republishing of the new expanded 390 page volume on Fritz Kahn. Bigger and better than the previous 2011 version this large format 2013 monograph will become an inspiring historical volume for many interested in the early days of what might be called metaphorical or analogous information design.

Inside are wonderful early versions of several forms of information design (now often being redepicted as “info-graphics”) including data visualizations and idea or concept visualizations. You don’t have to agree with every idea to appreciate the richness of this amazing work.Continue Reading..

20
Aug

Remembering Sid Parnes

Creative_Guidebook_Cover

It is with great respect and sadness that we say farewell to Sid Parnes, who passed away this week at age 91. An early applied creativity pioneer, Sid’s many innovative contributions to the field cannot likely be overstated. Discovery of Sid’s work was life-changing for many.

Sidney J. Parnes, PhD. authored 17+ books including: Creative Behavior Guidebook (1967), Toward Supersanity: Channeled Freedom (1972), The Magic of Your Mind (1981), A Facilitating Style of Leadership (1985) and Source Book for Creative Problem Solving: A Fifty Year Digest of Proven Innovation Processes (1992).

His legendary 1967 Creative Behavior Guidebook synthesized 10+ years of his learnings and contained many, many applied creativity contributions that remain in play today. (See Lost Stories below).

The spirit of Sid Parnes will live on in the work of many innovation-enabling professionals around the world who have been inspired by his insights, generosity, and spirit.

In recent years, Humantific has documented some of Sid’s many contributions to innovation history. You can find those materials here:

Lost Stories Applied Creativity History

Origins of How Might We?

Who Owns How Might We?

Making Sense of Creative Intelligence

Innovation Methods Mapping Preview

08
Jul

Who Owns How Might We?

430174_10150643781034939_1050727947_n

Screen Shot 2013-05-05 at 7.02.22 PM

Thanks Again, Sid Parnes!

With the marketplace vibe around the term “How Might We?” continuing, we thought this might be a good moment to revisit the subject and post a further clarification for our readers, many of whom are leading innovation-culture-building initiatives inside large organizations.

Our clients will already know that, for many years, numerous innovation firms, including Humantific, have been using How Might We? and other invitation stem phrases as part of how upstream challenge-framing is constructed. Use of the celebrated phrase is, by now, widespread around the world. With thousands of good people already integrating the phrase into their everyday work lives, the global How Might We? collaborative language adoption continues to grow every week, month, and year. At this point, many, many firms have played a role in that common innovation language adoption advocacy. As far as we can tell, it remains an open innovation adoption wave.Continue Reading..

07
Jun

MAKING SENSE OF: “Creative Intelligence”

What Seasoned Innovation Leaders Already Know!

Since the term Creative Intelligence” has reresurfaced in the mainstream business media recently with considerable hype, we thought this might be a good moment to post a few points of clarification for our Humantific readers – many of whom are innovation initiative leaders inside organizations, engaged in continous learning and innovation capacity building. To do that work effectively understanding some innovation history is useful.

Unless you are just discovering the subject of Creative Intelligence, you will probably know that, by the late 1950s and early 60s, Alex Osborn, JP Guildford, Eugene Brunelle, Sid Parnes and others in the applied creativity community (also known as the CPS community) were already connecting creative intelligence to creative behaviors and to creative problem solving process mastery.

The notion that everyone has the capacity to be creative was brought forth and championed by numerous pioneers in the applied creativity community, including Alex Osborn, Sid Parnes and JP Guilford beginning in the late 1940s.Continue Reading..