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Archive for September, 2010

What Good Ideas, Coffee Shops, Incubation, and GPS Have in Common

September 27, 2010 1 comment

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Steven Johnson, a writer who focuses on where science and technology intersect, is coming out with a book about where good ideas come from.  This past summer, he shared some of his findings during a TEDtalk in England.  Following are key points:

  • An idea is not a single thing (a eureka moment, lightbulb turns on, a stroke of genius, …)
    • We think it’s that expensive innovative one-of-a-kind idea
  • An idea is a network
    • Really it’s what we piece together from whatever spare parts we happen to have around
  • Most great ideas are formed over a long incubation period (The slow hunch)

Therefore, spaces that creative an environment that will foster good ideas / innovations must:

  • Be more like a coffeehouse
  • Invite people of diverse backgrounds to engage with each other
  • Be a bit chaotic
  • Bring people together (The Liquid Network)
  • Enable people’s hunches to interact with each other’s

As a result, GPS is born out of a casual conversation, incubated over time through interaction of people from diverse backgrounds to be amongst the first open platform technologies; which you have probably recently used to find a coffee shop near you.

On a personal note, I often describe myself as an “oral processor” and am recognized as an “ideator.”   Johnson’s findings resonate quite loudly for me as I also craft ideas over time through interaction with other people.  Maybe it’s something that came natural for me, but it certainly is a pattern that anyone can replicate.

Think about how this would impact the way you:

  • design an office space,
  • set-up an online community,
  • re-arrange a classroom environment,
  • interact with your family and friends in a completely different way,
  • expand the breadth of people you choose to interact with, and
  • leverage the interactions with all people in your life.

It’s worth your 18 minutes to watch the video &/or peruse the interactive transcript available on the TED website:

or if you prefer to watch illustrated presentations, check-out this 4 minute version:

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Season’s Change – Time to Reflect and Plan

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

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Today is the first day of Fall.   It is a new beginning, a changing of the season, and a perfect time to cozy up in the cool evening air and look ahead.  Have you ever turned around and realized that another season (or worse, YEAR) has passed and you haven’t really made the progress you thought you would? Changing of seasons is one of nature’s reminders to reflect on progress during the previous season and make plans for the next.

Following are some reflection questions I’m considering today as I embrace this opportunity to reflect on summer and plan for fall:

  1. What did I accomplish last season?
    • How do these successes contribute to my long-term goals / plans?
  2. What did I want to do, but didn’t?
  3. What behavior might I need to examine and choose a different behavior for the fall?
    • What one or two things can I do in the next week to begin this new behavior?
  4. What did the summer reveal or validate about how I am wired?
    • How does this knowledge inform my plans for work and life?
    • What one or two things can I do in the next week to apply this knowledge?
  5. Pause to visualize long term goals / plan – envision what it looks like to accomplish each one.
  6. What do I need to add to or change about my long-term goals? (Make sure they are written down.) 
  7. What 1, 2, or 3 things can I do in the fall to make progress towards the vision / each goal?
    • Reality check – Is it realistic that I can do these things?  If not, how can I change them to be realistic or what can I change to remove barriers?
  8. Review everything – What two or three things am I going to do in the next week to kick start this season?

Colors change, revealing true inner beauty.

Evening air chills, a forthright reminder.

Nature prepares, with purpose and urgency.

Time charges forward …

… are you ready?