Tag: History of Creative Intelligence

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?

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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..

18
Apr

Innovation Methods Mapping Preview

Two + years in the making, Humantific, in concert with OPEN Innovation Consortium is sharing the preview version of the new book:

Innovation Methods Mapping / DeMystifying 80 Years of Innovation Process Design.

If you would like to send us a comment, or be placed on the pre-order list for the print version of the book please feel free to leave a comment below and or email: methodsmapping (at) openinnovationconsortium (dot) org

OVERVIEW
This workbook presents a new kind of methods analysis framework applied to 50 innovation process models spanning a period of 80+ years. Embedded in the framework is a new form of innovation process literacy, designed to enhance understanding of historical and current process models, as well as inform future process design.

PROJECT PURPOSE
This study has been created and shared for educational purposes.

This book is designed to fill what the consortium perceives to be a void in the field of innovation process knowledge.

As an OPEN Innovation Consortium initiative, the goal of this book project is to help move the art, science and design of innovation process modeling forward into the 21st century.

ABOUT OPEN INNOVATION CONSORTIUM
See Open Innovation Consortium in the Initiatives section of this Humantific website.

To receive information on other Humantific projects, events and initiatives feel free to subscribe to Humantific Quarterly.

29
Mar

Making Sense of Alex Osborn

Beyond the “Brainstorming” Debate: What Organizational Leaders Really Need to Know about “Building Better Brainstorms”

Operating a busy innovation-capacity-building consultancy in New York City we do not always have the time to comment on all the innovation-related articles appearing in the various media streams but once in a while we see something that calls out to us.

In Fast Company’s recent article, entitled “Building A Better Brainstorm” by Anya Kamenetz, we noticed creative intention coupled with significant omission and oddly out-of-sync “straw-man” argument construction. In spite of noble efforts by Gerard Puccio and Bob Sutton to inject some deeper smarts into the moderated conversation, it seemed to be yet another dumbed-down new business media piece that succeeded in missing every important milestone around the subject for 60 years. Instead, it focused on regurgitating a few old sparks of constructed controversy. Certainly not very scholarly, what seemed to be missing in “Building A Better Brainstorm” was informative dot-connecting.

What struck me as particularly unfair in the article, constructed as a multi-participant conversation, was the notion of installing a fictitious Alex Osborn (1888-1966) into the mix and then dumbing down that character to the point where he was not enabled to speak up for himself and his idea developments in a meaningful way. Osborn would no doubt be rolling in his grave.

Not sure where Fast Company editors have been hanging out, but certainly in our corner of the innovation industry, it is widely recognized that trying to understand or appreciate the many contributions of Alex Osborn by focusing only on a single early work is a little like trying to understand the Beatles by looking only at Twist & Shout. As an important pioneer of applied creativity, Alex Osborn and his multifaceted work deserve better from collective us. The subject that brainstorming long ago transformed itself into also deserves better.

What purpose would it serve to pretend that what brainstorming was in 1953 is the sum total of the subject today? How is that an informed perspective? How is that fast learning?…fast adaptation?…fast synthesizing for readers?

Any post-graduate student of innovation worth his or her salt today would know that brainstorming was a rudimentary caterpillar that long ago transformed itself into a multidimensional innovation butterfly. If you don’t already know when, where, why and how that occurred, you are not likely to land a leadership job in any leading innovation practice today.

It does seem likely that our Humantific readers differ from those of Fast Company. It is for the former, more so than the latter, that we share this commentary here:

Ten Dots Not Connected in the Fast Company article:

1. It is widely recognized that brainstorming has not been considered a stand-alone creative methodology or technique since the late 1950s. No leading innovation consultancy that we know of uses any version of brainstorming as a standalone method.

2. The American workplace context in which brainstorming was created by Alex Osborn (in the late 1940s, early 50s) was one where generating raw ideas was thought to be the most valuable new creative currency. Coming from an advertising agency background, Osborn saw a need in that era for streams of raw ideas. His early work attempted to graft that notion onto every aspect of everyday work life. Of course, that relatively simple 1950s workplace context long ago radically changed, as did the notion that raw idea streams rule supreme in value. Between 1953 and 1959, Osborn himself made numerous revisions to his Applied Imagination book to reflect his own process-oriented, evolving and adapting realizations. Evolving and adapting would be key words there. Alex Osborn was not a stuck-in-time stationery object. As the context in which he was operating changed and grew more complex, Osborn, working with his primary collaborator Dr. Sid Parnes, recognized that ideas are only as good as the framing that precedes them. By 1959 the “ideas are king” orientation had been superseded by the broader realizations that framing and orchestration were already evolving into the heavier lifts. Don’t miss that moment and what it means. For more than 50 years the generation of raw solution ideas (brainstorming), in its many variations, has been widely considered the relatively easy lift in the innovation cycle.

3. It would be no surprise to most of us that any study of any creativity technique or technology that focuses on humans with no training, no skill, will likely result in a clumsy, negative picture. Imagine trying to understand bicycle riding or piano playing by conducting a study of folks trying to ride a bike or play piano for the first time with no training. Would the clumsy results mean that there are no master bike riders and no master piano players? This has been the logic in use around much of the “research” focused in the direction of brainstorming. In addition, much of it has been conducted by academics, holding levels of process skill that would, in the context of practice today, be considered elementary. To add even more fuzz to the mix, many young, ambitious “journalists/bloggers” seeking to generate heat in the on-line attention wars of today can be seen citing the “research” that never made any sense in the first place. This cascade of silly-billy dysfunction has, for years, muddied the waters on this subject. Perhaps the most important truth in all of that fuzzy mess is to simply appreciate that, by 1959, Osborn himself had already moved beyond brainstorming as he recognized there were bigger applied creativity fish to fry. Moving forward, Alex Osborn and Sid Parnes saw broader applications for the principle ingredients or DNA inside brainstorming. They also recognized a need for a more robust framework for their expanding list of ingredients to operate within.

4. With the help of Dr. JP Guilford, Osborn and Parnes had, by the late 1950s, already significantly reformulated brainstorming into broader recognition of divergence and convergence. Working on the creation of their first (and later to become highly influential) creative problem solving process, Osborn and Parnes realized that divergence and convergence occurs not once, but rather throughout the multi-phase innovation cycle. At that time such articulation was a milestone that significantly advanced the early thinking about brainstorming solution ideas into a different league of consideration. With this integration, brainstorming morphed into a three step dance (divergence, convergence, orchestration) that occurs repeatedly from end to end in the innovation process. It was no longer a one-off event but rather a repeating, adjustable flow-a basic innovation language construction. Still today many do not understand the significance of this milestone in process innovation, as is evidenced by this Fast Company article appearing 60 years later.

5. By 1959-1960, Osborn and Parnes had already recognized that building innovation capacity in the context of organizations involves the integration of divergent thinking and convergent thinking. If you stay frozen in the old brainstorming “ideas are king” mode, you never get to those realizations. At Humantific we consider Osborn and Parnes to be the largely unrecognized founding fathers of the modern age integrative thinking movement. Anyone studying their work would see that they intended thinking integration to be a deliberate orchestration or modulation of divergent and convergent thinking, imaginative and analytical thinking, not a decision-making technique. The truth is, any graduate student of applied creativity can tell you that from the outset in the 1940s, the essential purpose of the applied creativity movement has been thinking integration. Thanks in large part to Osborn and Parnes, that integrative and orchestrative thinking train was already on the tracks, documented and rolling forward decades ago. Many subsequently built on those foundations.

6. With the integration of divergence and convergence into a visible Osborn/Parnes innovation cycle framework, Osborn, Parnes and Guilford effectively introduced the notion of learnable creative behaviors. Interconnected was a belief deeply held by these three pioneers: that everyone has the capacity to be creative. These notions, too, were significant process innovation contributions at that time. By 1959 Osborn and Parnes, working in collaboration with many associates, had already developed a behavior-based, experiential learning program, complete with workbooks that rival in detail, many innovation programs seen today. What is important to appreciate, in terms of timeline sequence, is that what Osborn and Parnes were already teaching by 1958-59 was not brainstorming, but rather an entire mash-up of thinking dynamic skills, both divergent and convergent. They were teaching thinking dynamic orchestration. They were teaching end–to-end creative problem finding and solving. They were teaching the underlying mechanics of continuous adaptability. Among the gems that can be seen in the early workbooks is the now popular invitation stem, How Might We? which, of course, had nothing to do with brainstorming and everything to do with challenge framing. These guys were lightyears ahead of their time, and many others subsequently benefitted from how they shared their many innovations. When Alex Osborn died in 1966, Parnes published, in that same year, Creative Behavior Guidebook, which encapsulated the 15 + years of learning by Osborn, Parnes and their many associates. Always the generous open innovation advocate, Sid Parnes included in Guidebook all the crown jewels of behavioral applied creativity that existed at that time. In that same year Parnes also launched Journal of Creative Behavior, officially grounding the behavioral school of applied creativity. How important was all of that? Behaviors, orchestration and integration all remain not only extremely important but are at the center of most leading innovation consultancies today. Much of that behavior oriented work stands on the shoulders of Alex Osborn, Sid Parnes and JP Guilford.

7. As early applied creativity pioneers, Osborn and Parnes recognized in the 1950s that the default thinking orientation of western culture including the business schools was convergent thinking. Both men were deeply concerned about the potential for convergent thinking to overpower and dominate western culture organizations at the expense of divergent thinking. Anyone can see in the historical literature that Osborn and Parnes were strong, consistent advocates of what they considered to be much needed change and innovation in American business schools. To keep it simple, what they had in mind was more deliberate teaching of divergent and convergent thinking. Underneath, and often underappreciated, was/is the heavier lift of advocacy for equal valuing of both in organizations and in society. More than a process innovation milestone, this thinking dynamics advocacy integrated into creative problem solving was among the most significant, most enduring contributions to the field of creative intelligence by Osborn and Parnes. Regardless of how innovation process models have changed, it is this advocacy for think-balance awareness that continues to have enormous implications for organizations working on innovation capacity-building today.

8. In the early 1950s, the Osborn/Parnes perspective on the relationship between thinking dynamics and innovation was embraced by adventuresome business leaders in the real world and largely ignored by many American business school leaders entangled in academic legacy systems. One result was that the applied creativity skill-building business was born, in large measure, outside the business schools. Some might say it remains largely outside still today. It took more than 50 years for most business school leaders to awaken to the realization that talking creativity and innovation while teaching the privileging of convergence was not a route to innovation leadership. Although in the last few years this orientation has finally begun to change, still today the default thinking mode taught as the highest form of value in most business schools remains convergent thinking, decision-making. That legacy continues. Inside the innovation enabling industry, this continuing phenomenon is well known to have enormous consequences in organizational contexts. Among the top ten most often seen organizational culture challenges is convergent-thinking-dominated cultures struggling to keep up in a continuously reinventing marketplace. Common symptoms of such corporate cultures include having few ideas in the pipeline and little active generative dialogue. These deeply ingrained repeating business culture dynamics explain in part, the reasons for the enduring relevance and interest in the thinking orchestration and integrative thinking work of Osborn and Parnes. That interest extends far beyond brainstorming.

9. Today it is no big secret that divergent thinking techniques beyond the bare-bones of brainstorming 101 have been plentiful for years. Many convergent thinking techniques also exist. Most are hybrids containing some mixture of alone work and group work, writing and visualizing. Most leading innovation consultancies help organizational leaders master combinations that work best in their particular organization, depending on many variables. Most divergent and convergent thinking techniques require skill-building. Some require considerable skill-building to master deeply. Today leading innovation skill-building programs are focused on enhancing capacity-not for brainstorming 101, but rather for better balance and recognition that both styles of thinking, divergent and convergent, are of equal importance and value. The challenges embedded there are far greater than the mechanics of brainstorming. The implications of that think-balance embrace are huge for organizational leaders. Diversity (of thinking) in the workplace streams directly out of that think-balance embrace. Inclusive innovation, inclusive organizational cultures stream from that think-balance embrace. Lets connect the dots sitting right there on the table. To put it in Fast Company terms “The Art [and Science, and Design] of Creative Dialogue” springs from that embrace! It is a lack of that thinking diversity embrace that is at the center of most innovation challenges facing organizations today. It takes courage on the part of leadership to commit to that think-balance embrace. The brainstorming debates, driven largely by media are a side-show distraction in comparison to the challenges involved in integrating think-balance considerations into organizational value systems and into everyday behaviors.

10. Perhaps the most relevant dots unfortunately and ironically not connected on behalf of Alex Osborn in the “Building Better Brainstorms” article have to do with adaptive capacity…more recently being creatively redepicted by Fast Company itself as “Generation Flux”. The dots were sitting right there on the table but they remained unconnected. Apart from a fundamental misreading of brainstorming’s relevance there seems to be a complete absence of understanding regarding the underlying intentions of Osborn’s life’s work. Above and beyond the many milestones and mountains of details, what was it all about Alfi? Once we appreciate that the various streams of Osborn and Parne’s work can be viewed from numerous perspectives, it is not difficult to see that underneath was/is a fundamental acknowledgment on their part of continuous change and an advocacy for continuous adaptability. “Adaptation”, “adapt”, “adapting” are terms used by Osborn more than twenty times in his 1953 version of Applied Creativity. Here is Sid Parnes in 1967: “Obviously there is an urgency for developing in people the ability to live with constant change in a dynamic society.”  Osborn and Parnes saw creative intelligence, creative process mastery, not brainstorming, as the way for humans to realize sustainable adaptability, agility, flexibility, resilience, fluency, fluxability, adaptive capacity or what ever you choose you call that. Osborn and Parnes were among the original enablers of complexity navigation. Their entire body of work is about equipping leaders with adaptability tools. That was what it was all about for Osborn and Parnes then and that is what it is still about for many organizational leaders today. While that need remains, what is different today is that the tools continue to change and evolve. For inclusive culture building, for adaptive capacity building many more strategies and tools now exist.

Conclusion:

What Organizational Leaders Really Need to Know about Building, not Better Brainstorms, but Better Cultures can be summed up in five words: Embrace Diversity of Thinking Now!

Forget the artificially constructed brainstorm wars. The innovation enabling community has long ago moved on. So should you. There is no brainstorming advocacy group out there. What you will find is advocacy for inclusive innovation, for inclusive culture building, for diversity of thinking, for think-balance awareness, for rethinking corporate value systems and reward systems to include the contributions by divergent and convergent thinkers. Tackling these complex tasks will keep zillions of organizational leaders around the world busy for decades to come.

As part of that advocacy for more inclusive think-balance, we would not want to see the brainstorm wars get misinterpreted or misread as advocacy for killing divergent thinking, or advocacy for the continuing dominance of convergent thinking in our organizations and societies. Beware of  Trojan horses that serve to undermine diversity and inclusive innovation. Let’s not let the brainstorm wars be that kind of innovation busting vehicle. Let’s be smarter. Going that route is a recipe for maintaining the status quo, or worse, sending organizations backwards, not for rethinking the future. Whether everyone is oriented in that direction or not, reinvention requires divergence-so we certainly advocate not killing that part of our collective selves anytime soon.

Today what savvy organizational leaders are working on is Building Better Teams, Building Better Cultures, Building Better Organizations. Maximizing brainpower, inventing and adapting will always be part of those equations.

Whether you chose to embrace it, build on it or reject it, to learn from the multifaceted work of Alex Osborn and Sid Parnes, let’s understand it first in all of its amazing courage and timely imperfections!

Thanks so much to Alex and Sid for getting the think-balance revolution underway. You guys did an amazing job!

Much work remains. Let’s get to it!

End.

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Related by GK VanPatter

Making Sense of Jonah Lehrer’s “New GroupThink”

Origins of How Might We

Lost Stories in Applied Creativity History

 

 

09
Dec

Consider TIME / Big Data For WHEN?

In this new series, Humantific SenseMaker Insights, we will be sharing a few tips based on our 15+ years of work and experience in the realm of helping organizational leaders make sense of complex fuzzy situations. Sometimes mountains of data exists in those often pressing situations, while in others, little or no data exists–but regardless there is need to drive forward.

Today, in the avalanche of Big Data crashing on all of our shores and in the marketplace push to consider data a “new natural resource”, a now abundant shapeable material, do you ever get the feeling that something important in that messaging is not being acknowledged, explained, or talked about?

In the competitive (some might say over-hyped) marketplace, what we often see missing in Big Data conversations is the simple acknowledgement that data sets are particularly useful in the construction of certain types, not all types of pictures. Apart from the many technology-related advances, certain basic data-related principles still apply–at least until humans figure out how to work around or change the underlying physics of the universe..:-)

Recently a Humantific Visual Analytics Team undertook an analysis of 200 years of data visualizations with the goal of better understanding what kinds of pictures have been made, historically, using various forms of data. Some readers might be surprised by the findings.

Acknowledging that not all data visualization is being used in the context of organizational or societal innovation it is this particular realm that we remain focused on and interested in. The interconnections between information and innovation acceleration have been at the center of Humantific’s work for more than fifteen years. While swimming in the data tsunami lets not forget a few innovation fundamentals.

In all of our visual sensemaking work we are building-block agnostic. We are not tied to only being able to make pictures based on data-sets alone. Others might be. At Humantific data is just one material used in the construction of informing pictures.

Among our first questions in any visual sensemaking engagement is this one introducing the consideration of time: WHEN is the picture that you seek to create? Asking WHEN inevitably informs the equation of what it is that will likely be needed to construct your picture. Data might or might not be the right “material”. To consider such a question, we, at Humantific, use a simple SenseWHEN viewing lens that contains these three parts: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

We recognize that the creation of Yesterday (Past), Today (Present) and Tomorrow (Future) pictures require quite different considerations and building materials. We have known for some time that data analytics and data visualizations are great for constructing pictures of Yesterday and Today. Tomorrow pictures are often inspired and/or informed by data, but no data exists for the not-yet-arrived future, regardless if that future is next year, next week, or ten minutes from now.

While we certainly acknowledge all the promising innovations underway in the realm of data-based predictive analytics, it remains true that today, in one way or another, pictures of Tomorrow have to be created from a “magic” mix of facts, presumptions, visions, projections, and ideas. In addition, many leaders are certainly well aware that in the context of organizational change and societal change (wicked problems), pictures of Tomorrow (solutions) most often have to be constructed in a manner that is conducive to buy-in by multiple constituents, ie: cocreation.

At Humantific we do a lot of futuring work with organizations and, so, are often called upon to help design and construct interfaces, tools, and experiences to help humans cocreate pictures of Today-Tomorrow as well as the subsequent bridge-building. Organizational leaders often call upon our team to lead the multi-stakeholder cocreation of the bridges of change between the Today and Tomorrow pictures. How are we going to get to that future? Often it’s going to take considerable work and change, including behaviors. We will talk more about this and share additional insights in this direction in future posts.

To undertake the sample view across a 200+ year period of data visualizations, the Humantific Visual Analytics Team utilized 5 well known books, including William Playfair’s 1786 AtlasGraphic Methods for Presenting Facts (1917), Graphic Presentation (1939), Visual Complexity Mapping Patterns of Information (2011), and Information Graphics (2012). Inside the 5 volumes we viewed nearly 1000 visualizations.

Looking across that two century time span, what we found was that 98% of the data visualizations were pictures of Yesterday or Today. Out of the 989 diagrams created over a two century period only 2% were attempts at pictures of Tomorrow.

In terms of proportional orientation, the earliest book from 1786 was not significantly different from the latest Information Graphics compendium for 2012. In Playfair’s 1786 book, 100% of the visualizations were comprised of Yesterday and Today pictures. In the new book Information Graphics, published in 2012, 95% of the visualizations were comprised of Yesterday and Today pictures. That is not much of a change across two centuries!

While embracing the many opportunities that Big Data represents, we have found in our own experience that organizational and societal changemaking tends to be more complex than data crunching, data visualization and data based projections. While all of those activities can certainly be informative we recognize that there is a lot more to changemaking and futuremaking then understanding pictures.

We share these kinds of perspectives with the organizational leaders working with Humantific, as they are tasked with figuring out how best to envision futures and then drive change in organizations and societies.

The Big Truth about Big Data is that it is unlikely that “data visualization” alone will get you to the future that you have in mind for your organization or your society. It can help you get there. It can help you better understand Yesterday and Today, which often informs Tomorrow–but let’s be real and acknowledge that more and different kinds of work are also going to be needed along the way. Humantific is already working on the other side of this realization. The “Beyond Big Data Visualization Era” is not only already here, it has been here for some time…:-)

Inspired by Humantific:

“The Other Visualization.”

Related here on this Humantific site:

Making Sense of the Early SenseMakers

Lost Stories Information Design History

Before, During and After Isotype

Feel free to subscribe to Humantific Quarterly.
19
Nov

Elizabeth Pastor at ESADE in Barcelona

Humantific CoFounder Elizabeth Pastor will be in Barcelona November 29 doing a two hour Introductory Visual SenseMaking Workshop for the ESADE Alumni Innovation Club. Organized by ESADE Alumni and open only to its membership. See how Humantific applies Visual SenseMaking to real-life business challenges. See how onboarding Visual SeneMaking capacity can fuel adaptability & agility in your organization.

If you would like to attend a future Humantific workshop in Madrid, Barcelona or New York send an email to programs (at) humantific (dot) com.

20
Sep

Origins of How Might We?

Since the term “How Might We?” has been in the news so much recently we thought this might be a good moment to repost a small portion of an earlier article from our Lost Innovation Stories series that was published here on February 21, 2012.

In that tribute to the early work of Sidney J. Parnes Ph.D. we made reference to and gave due credit to the appearance of the term “How Might We” in Parnes’s 1967 book entitled Creative Behavior Guidebook. We consider that book to be among the top ten most important early books on the subject of Applied Creativity. Lets give credit where credit is due.

Many have since built on Sidney’s work. The good news is that much of what Parnes created and shared early on has long since passed into the public domain.

We consider Sidney Parnes to be one of several unsung pioneers in the still evolving OPEN Innovation movement. The truth is, that movement has its roots in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, rather than in 2003.

“Invitation Stems (“How Mights”)

The introduction of what are known as invitation stems, sometimes referred to as “How Mights,” are among the important tactical instruments included by Parnes in his Creative Behavior Guidebook published in 1967. Invitation stems became important, fundamental building blocks in the still-evolving logic of what is known today as “challenge framing” or “challenge mapping.” In Guidebook, Parnes introduces numerous key invitation stems that have sometimes been creatively attributed to later arriving others; included are: “How Might I?” (page131), “How Might We?” (page 125), “How Might You?” (page 161), and “In What Ways Might We?” (page 127). Since that 1967 publication, many additional invitation stems have been added by others, including “How Might They?”, “How Might Our Team?”, “How Might Our Organization?”, etc. Thanks to Sidney’s early work, “How Mights” have been in the public domain for decades, and have become integral to numerous creative thinking systems. Framed as questions in search of answers, “How Mights” can be seen in practical, everyday use within many innovation consultancies today, including Humantific, IDEO and many others. What’s different now is what we do with them.”

UPDATE: See Part 2 and Part 3 of Origins of How Might We? below in additional comments by GK VanPatter.

Note: Applied Creativity pioneer Sid Parnes authored 17 books from 1960 to 1997, including: 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). That list can be found on Wikipedia.

See the entire post here: Lost Stories Applied Creativity History.

Image Source: Parnes, Sidney J. Creative Behavior Guidebook. 1967. Page 125. Humantific Innovation Archives, New York.

Related:

Coming Soon:

Innovation Methods Mapping: De-Mystifying 80+ Years of Innovation Process Design.

Feel free to subscribe to Humantific Quarterly.

08
Aug

Out of Balance Competition Launches

Humantific is delighted to announce our international competition collaboration with Magazine ARCH+ and Bauhaus Dessau Foundation.

OUT OF BALANCE  – CRITIQUE OF THE PRESENT
Information Design after Otto Neurath

Prize Money: 20,000 Euros

Sponsors: Autodesk, Humantific, M:AI Museum für Architektur und Ingenieurkunst

The Topic
“1. Societal processes are presently emerging that make a balancing of social inequalities ever more unlikely and that pose a serious danger that society will drift apart, both on the global and national level and on the regional and local level. People are born into socio-spatial circumstances. Their chances in life vary in the extreme because of this “randomness”. In the interest of social integration and in accordance with democracy’s postulate of equality, modern societies embody the promise of an equalization of living circumstances. This is a guarantee for the political stability of a community. So it is not only permitted, but clearly necessary to ask about the fulfillment of this political desideratum. That means to ask what social reality actually looks like; to ask about the balance of a 30-year phase of ne liberal economy on a global level; to ask what effects deregulation and the privatization of state tasks and the restructuring of the social systems in Europe have had; and to ask how the unleashing of the global financial industry affects above all the economically weak.

Cities have always been the sites of migrants’ hopes for survival and the improvement of their situations, but they are also sites of organized defensiveness, inequality, and exclusion. The urbanization of world society is an accelerating process.

In the 21st century, for the first time in the history of humankind, more people live in cities than in rural environments, with unpredictable and initially catastrophic consequences for both rural and urban areas. In the megalopolises of the Third World and emerging countries, the social conditions of 19th-century Europe are resurfacing in potentiated form. At the same time, these processes affect the “old” world by means of streams of capital, goods, and migrants, creating new imbalances and disadvantages there. Starting with the financial markets, a system of organized irresponsibility has spread that not only exacerbates social differences, but also consciously exploits them for private advantages.

We live in a time that must be newly surveyed – in social terms and as the basis for a new societal consensus. Coming back to “real things” is the precondition for this.”

“2. Today, the difficulty of empirically describing reality no longer lies in a lack of information, but, quite the contrary, in the constantly growing amount of data that make it difficult to draw an overall picture of society and to distinguish between what is important and what is unimportant. Today we have access to an unencompassable wealth of data, much of it automatically generated: statistics, personal data, photos, documents, etc. Hardly anything seems able to elude this universal visibility in the digital age. At the same time, the present is increasingly more opaque. There are precise data for more and more questions of detail, but it is getting harder to find orientation and gain an overview of the present; the quantitative description of phenomena is getting denser, but understanding of the underlying relations and processes seems to be vanishing. Considering that all societal activity depends on information, the wealth of data poses a real dilemma; we can indeed speak of a “digital opacity”. Automated processing with the aid of programs that autonomously view, order, and evaluate data in no way automatically creates transparency.

A situation arises in which political activity is not empirically verifiable and is dissolved in politically exploitable contradictions.

Information design is more than a collection of data: information design uses data to create statements that provide insights into societal circumstances. Information design reveals connections behind the surface of the phenomena. Information design provides orientation. It creates a hierarchy of information based on relevance and content. It reduces complexity, thereby creating an overview.

Information design is not neutral. The shaping of information is influenced by the interest in knowledge. An enlightening, emancipatory information design reveals facts that are repressed, not spoken of, or forgotten, but that are nonetheless essential for understanding the present. And it thereby influences the perspective of societal activity. The image of the world we make for ourselves determines how we act.”

Possible Thematic Fields Include:
“Urban processes/spatial transformations like urbanization, segregation, deterioration into slums, gentrification, pollution, etc.

Global streams of financial capital, goods and raw materials, the outsourcing of production, human migratory movements, etc.

The task of the competition takes up the thread of the picture-pedagogical work of Otto Neurath. With his method of pictorial statistics, he developed effective forms of visually preparing data and implementing them in informational graphics that make it easier to grasp societal conditions and processes.”

Participants:
“The competition is directed towards:

Members of the design disciplines: information design, architecture, urban and regional planning, environmental planning, graphic design, product design, media design, photography, film, visual arts.

Scientists in the disciplines art and cultural studies, art education, information sciences and communication studies, social sciences, economics, environmental and geoscience, ethnography, statistics, cartography.

Students in both areas. Collaboration in interdisciplinary teams with both designers and scientists is recommended.”

Exhibition and Publication
“The competition submissions will be published by the competition’s organizers and exhibited in the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin in Autumn 2013.”

Jury:
Heinz Bude, Social Scientist/Economist
Joost Grootens, Graphic Artist
Sabine Kraft, Editor ARCH+
Joachim Krausse, Cultural Scientist
Philipp Oswalt, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation
Philippe Rekacewicz, Geographer/Cartographer
Simon Rogers, The Guardian
Christian Weiss, Autodesk
GK VanPatter, Humantific
Ursula Kleefisch-Jobs, M:AI

Procedure
“Inscription from August 15, till November 12, 2012
Submission of the works by January 31, 2013 (postmark).”

Find Project Partners Online
“Starting August 15, 2012 for initiating cooperation between designers and scientists in interdisciplinary teams.”

Learning from Otto Neurath
“The task of the competition takes up the thread of the picture-pedagogical work of Otto Neurath. With his method of pictorial statistics, he developed effective forms of visually preparing data and implementing them in informational graphics that make it easier to grasp societal conditions and processes. For Otto Neurath – the co-founder of the Vienna Circle and central proponent of logical empiricism – statistics were a central source for the scientific description of society and the economy. But description was in no way his sole interest. The content gained from the data also conveyed the demand to participate in shaping the present and in securing an imaginable future. Neurath trusted the latent political message of numbers and made it his task to make them “speak” and to make them accessible to those they most concern.

In the twenty years in which it was elaborated – 1925 to 1945 – the Vienna Method of pictorial statistics went through numerous transformations and expansions, without abandoning its principles. This mutability manifested itself, first, in applicability to disparate thematic areas; second, in the expansion of its effective scope from the local to the global; third, in the internationalization of language and pictorial language (from the Vienna Method to ISOTYPE); and fourth, in the adaptation of the graphic signs to changing media, including the moving image of film. The clarity of the concept’s principles and its openness suggest that we concern ourselves again with Neurath’s approach to information design.

Today, more data are at our disposal than ever before; but precisely the growing plethora of data raises questions. How can meaningful information be extracted from the sea of data? How can one meet the desire for legibility, coherence, and orientation? What actual situations remain unobserved or under-illuminated, despite the wealth of data? Something else has developed: the spectrum of the digital processing of information permits animated depictions and interactive forms of communication. Viewers are involved in generating data and become potential co-designers of the information design. In the face of the demands placed today on interface design, the significance of Otto Neurath’s contribution to information design is clear. Material and technical means have meanwhile developed enormously.”

With this competition, we are seeking ways in which Neurath’s concepts of data visualization can be adapted for the capabilities and needs of today’s world.

Official Announcement
“See announcement in detail in German and English at
ARCH+  or Bauhaus Dessau Foundation

Note: Complete competition descriptions, dates and directions are available in German and English on the ARCH+ site.

Related Inspiration:
Before, During & After Isotype
Isotype Building Bridges
Making Sense of Industries

14
Mar

Inspired by NextD Geographies

We are delighted to see many graduate and post-graduate students referencing and making use of NextD Geographies, a framework created in 2005 by Elizabeth Pastor and GK VanPatter to make sense of the design thinking community from a complexity scale perspective.  For many, that sensemaking framework has become a useful tool in their efforts to better understand the present and future states of strategic design thinking.

Perhaps a little like song writers seeing their creations adapted and interpreted by others, we might not always agree with every rendition of NextD Geographies, but it is interesting to see the various interpretations and applications across disciplines, geographies, and generations..:-)

Among the currently adapting post-graduate students is Jordan J. Lloyd, working on his PhD at the University of Sheffield School of Architecture, and is focused on “design-led approaches to managing large scale transitions in complex adaptive systems.” Jordan seems to be “interested in ‘developing a design methodology that utilises common threads between complex adaptive systems, then applying them to complex entities such as cities.'”

Of course, for us, Adaptability, Resilience and Adaptive Capacity building are not new ideas, but rather long-standing themes found in Applied Creativity history as early as 1950. What is most interesting to us is to see these themes being adapted to and imported into the rethinking of design thinking, as it continues to scale. The challenges of Adaptability have stood the test of time and remain at the center of many team, organizational, and societal challenges still today. Adaptability continues to be adapted! Friends of Humantific will know that it is the next-generation mechanics of Adaptive Capacity that we teach in Humantific and NextD workshops.

Go here to view the original NextD Geographies models.

Background Note:

Humantific launched the NextDesign Leadership initiative in 2002 as a community sensemaking and changemaking experiment outside of our practice. At that time, we viewed the traditional model of design leadership as a burning platform. Much change was needed, but existing conditions were not fully understood. Making them understood was part of the early NextD mission. Numerous frameworks, including NextD Geographies, have been published on ISSUU, and remain available for viewing for free in the NextD Archive. Some of the NextD models have been widely republished around the world, including NextD Reality Check. We continue to utilize those frameworks as NextDesign Assessment Tools when viewing design programs, faculties, leadership teams, program strategies, consultancies, innovation capacities, geographic region focuses, media focuses, design thinking skill-building programs, etc. On design thinking related questions, NextD Geographies continues to be among the most useful tools in the NextD toolbox.

To join the current conversations, go to NextDesign Leadership Network on LinkedIn. It’s an OPEN discussion group! You can follow NextD on Twitter!