Monday, March 12, 2012

Innovative Management Update - Week of March 12, 2012

Every week, we try and publish an exciting summary of the best articles, videos, events, and posts that relate to innovative management. This week, check out these 8 articles that inspire innovative management. Enjoy! 

1. Why are We so Afraid of Creativity?

We may say we value creativity, we may glorify the most imaginative among us, but in our heart of hearts, imagination can scare us.
We're not always willing to take the risks that come with innovation.

As a general rule, we dislike uncertainty. It makes us uneasy. A certain world is a much friendlier place. And so, we work hard to reduce whatever uncertainty we can, often by making habitual, practical choices, choices that protect the status quo. You know the saying, better the devil you know? That about sums it up.

Creativity, on the other hand, requires novelty. Imagination is all about new possibilities, eventualities that don’t exit, counterfactuals, a recombination of elements in new ways. In other words, it is about the untested. And the untested is uncertain. It is frightening—even if we aren’t aware of just how much it frightens us personally. It is also potentially embarrassing (after all, there’s never a guarantee of success).

Consider a common paradox: organizations, institutions, and individual decision makers often reject creative ideas even as they state openly that creativity is, to them, an important and sometimes even central goal. Or another one: teachers have repeatedly been found to dislike students who show curiosity and creative thought, even though creativity is held as an important goal of education.

2. Hacker Historian George Dyson Sits Down With Wired’s Kevin Kelly

The two most powerful technologies of the 20th century—the nuclear bomb and the computer—were invented at the same time and by the same group of young people. But while the history of the Manhattan Project has been well told, the origin of the computer is relatively unknown. In his new book, Turing’s Cathedral, historian George Dyson, who grew up among these proto- hackers in Princeton, New Jersey, tells the story of how Alan TuringJohn von Neumann, and a small band of other geniuses not only built the computer but foresaw the world it would create. Dyson talked to wired about the big bang of the digital universe.

3. Our Lin-sane attraction to terrible puns, explained

Lin case you hadn't noticed, people have become Lin-fatuated with the Lin-spiring rags-to-riches story of New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. He's a regular Linternet phenomenon!
It's already been about two weeks since Linsanity took hold, and yet headlines, sports commentators and homemade signs at Madison Square Garden still haven't run out of awful new ways to play on the Harvard grad's name: Lin long and prosper. Lin-credible. "All he does is Lin Lin Lin." (That last one comes courtesy of Shaq's Twitter feed.)

4. The Building Blocks of Better Ideas: Vision

…start with the most basic building block of idea-making: vision, which can be more broadly interpreted to refer to two specific abilities:
1)     The ability to observe (see, hear, sense, etc.) the fine details or “little things” that others overlook.
2)     The ability to take the broad view and understand the underlying context of a scenario crying out for a better solution.
Details, details
Tom Kelley from the design consultancy IDEO, in his book “The Art of Innovation,” says, “innovation starts with an eye,” implying that creating a product or service improvement breakthrough rarely happens without close observation of the situation in which the service or product functions. Design firms such as IDEO often send teams into the field to watch users in action. These observations sessions often cut through assumptions about how users “should” (or do) interact with the item/process.
Of special interest to such teams are users who are “rule breakers,” people who use the item “improperly” yet get results anyway. These users often point out design limits, common pain points for users, and can lead the way to new pathways for the product to achieve its goal.

5. Driven to Worry, and to Procrastinate

SINCE time began, it seems, people have been putting off till tomorrow what they could have done today — berating themselves and inconveniencing others in the process.
It wouldn’t be a problem except that time eventually runs out. “You may delay, but time will not,” said Benjamin Franklin.
In the world of work, procrastination has “expensive and visible costs,” said Rory Vaden, a corporate trainer, who points to research showing that the average employee admits to wasting two hours a day on nonwork tasks.
People know that procrastination hurts themselves, others and their work, so why do they do it? One answer, especially in these times, is that they are overwhelmed, said Julie Morgenstern, a productivity consultant in New York and author of “Time Management From the Inside Out.”

6. City with Superfast Internet Invites Innovators to Play

A Tennessee city with one-gigabit-per-second Internet runs a $300,000 contest to find ways of using it.

Citizens in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have access to one-gigabit-per-second Internet—that's 100 times the U.S. national average, and fast enough to download a two-hour movie in about five seconds. The only question is: what to do with it?

The city is hoping a contest with $300,000 in prize money will help answer that question. Entrants are invited to come up with clever ways of making use of the city's blisteringly fast Internet, which was installed in late 2010 with a $111 million U.S. Department of Energy grant, as part of federal stimulus efforts that also built out the city utility's long-planned smart grid.

7. How To Guide Your Creative Life With A Simple “More Or Less” List

A Big Creative Yes -- ßgood idea
The reason we sometimes (maybe often) feel we don’t know, and feel that our lives are floundering, even out of control, are when we’re not giving ourselves time and space to stop and listen to that inner knowing.

Using a simple “More or Less List” is a great way to give yourself that time and space, and get you back on track with what matters, what’s good for you, what you truly enjoy.

8. Time to Kill off Captchas

Overall, the Carnegie Mellon team estimates that we spend a cumulative 150,000 hours at the gates of these irritating obstructions every single day. In a newer variant, called reCaptcha, at least that time is put to public use. You see a muddied-looking word that comes from a wonky scanned Google book; when you type what it really says, you’re actually helping out with the process of cleaning up and recognizing an actual text.
Nevertheless, we the law abiders are still wasting 17 person-years every single day. That’s a disgraceful waste of our lives. Surely there are better solutions worth exploring.