Monday, April 18, 2011

The thinking man's creatives.

I've Been Thinking About Abstract Expressionism: 2009.11.21,
originally uploaded by Julia Kay.
Design Thinking is dead. Well, sort of.
And no, this doesn't mean we can stop thinking. Or that "because it looks cool" flies as a stand-alone concept. That's like ending a debate with "because I said so." You may have won the battle, but you've also rendered the battle meaningless.

The Design Thinking legacy.
Cleverly disguised as a process, Design Thinking became serious business. Less like art and more like thoughtful engineering. Businesses willingly invited quirky creativity to the innovation table.

Design Thinking as an overall descriptor is admittedly confusing.
It's not just design. It's the empathetic perspective that makes something matter. The advertising magic when David Ogilvy changed a homeless man's sign from "I am blind. Please help." to an emotion-evoking "It is spring and I am blind."

Make way for the Creative Quotient.
So what's next in our quest to quantify creativity? According to Bruce Nussbaum's Fast Company article, Creative Intelligence (CQ) is the new Design Thinking. He defines the more inclusive CQ as "the ability to frame problems in new ways and to make original solutions."

Excuse me sir, but I need to verify your CQ.
Who knows, maybe someday we'll have to take a CQ test to get into universities or earn an agency position. You test over 200 and you're a freakin' certified creative genius. Go ahead, acquire your intimidatingly-cool eyewear and refine your bizarre creative rituals. The lesser CQ-scoring minions await your brilliance.

But seriously, can creativity really be assessed?
Someone could individually have a high CQ, but creativity requires fuel from different variables. Project passion, collaboration, and even opposition. Robert Fabricant of Frog Design responds to Bruce Nussbaum's article with some valid considerations inspired by the esteemed Wile E. Coyote.

Whatever we call it, the world needs divergent thinkers.
Fearlessly-curious thought leaders who don't accept "well, this worked last time" as a definitive answer. Smart creatives who explore the messy intersection where multidisciplinary perspectives meet. A team of hybrid technologists, idea writers, strategic planners, and visual visionaries. Here's to the thinking man's creatives, and their crazy new solutions that (gasp)… just might work.


[This piece is cross-posted on The Denver Egotist.]

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

TEDx Mile High – inspired citizens inspiring.

Heroes walk among us. They're doing things and telling people what they're doing. Asking tough questions, and working to solve them. Taking responsibility, and delivering empowered action. The key idea from the inaugural TEDx Mile High was sustainability. For ourselves and our world.

The heroes were merely inspired citizens, no capes. They were engineers, politicians, entrepreneurs, parents, athletes, musicians, teachers, and leaders. With one goal – to make the world a better place. Today and tomorrow. And to motivate others. (All humbly introduced by the FearLess ad legend himself, Alex Bogusky.)

If every person in the sold-out audience actually took action on one thing as challenged, imagine the effect. And then every person who watches the videos later. And then everyone they share the videos with. What if intellect-driven compassion ran rampant?
"It's one thing to be empathetic. Compassion implies action." – John Hickenlooper
Let's just say TEDx Mile High was truly action-packed. An emotional roller coaster. In between speakers, they showed some amazing examples of TED greatness. Stacey Kramer explains the best gift she ever received – a beautiful perspective. Gever Tulley shows us the importance of tinkering (love the noted 'decorating of the unfinished project' behavior at moments of frustration.) Poe Rives uncovers a hilarious 4-o'clock-AM conspiracy.

A sampling of speaker inspiration:

Paul Polak is 77-years old and changing the way corporations think. Showing them how to create profitable businesses to serve the poor with dignity. And he's not just telling them, he's going to third world countries and making it happen.

Robyn O'Brien walked us through some mind-blowing food industry realities. How in the last decade, the United States allowed new proteins and additives into the food system. Highly profitable, fairly untested elements. Europe said no, they had not been proven safe. The U.S. opted for the 'had not been proven dangerous' stance instead. So now, Kraft and Kellogg's produce different products for the U.S. than they do for the countries opting out of this change. Well, guess what, cancer is way up in the U.S. Especially in kids. Our health system is buckling. Our financial and physical strength to fix this root problem left weakened.

Bernard Amadei, founder of Engineers without Borders, asked us all to write our personal mission statements. Companies are built around mission statements. As individuals, we should do the same. He also asked us to rethink poverty. We are all born wealthy. We're alive. Anything we have beyond that should be considered 'wealth enhancement.' Focus on fixing internal poverty through education and health. Help people find their passion and use that passion to make a life for themselves. And, until we fix internal poverty, there will be external poverty.

Whew, that's a lot to process. I'll link to more in future posts. In the meantime, find your passion. And do something.
"Let blatant audacity be our nature. Let's dream beyond our capacity." – Obura Tongo

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