Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Too Much Good Stuff: Articles on Plan, Innovation, and Creativity

Every week, we publish an exciting summary of the best articles, videos, events, and posts that relate to innovative management. This week, check out these summaries of 11 GREAT articles that inspire better management. Enjoy!

How To Nurture Your Company’s Rebels, And Unlock Their Innovative Might

With regard to business, numerous acts of creative opposition abound, from product hacks (e.g., hackers of Ikea products and Microsoft’s Kinect) to Beck’s decision to release his new album only as “sheet music” to be recorded by his fans. The entire maker and crowdfunding movements, as well as “innovation communes” such as The Glint, the Rainbow Mansion, and the Memento Factories, can be seen as fundamental acts of creative resistance to business as usual.
All of these trends made me think about creative opposition within companies--about employee activities that are counter to the top-down policies without crossing the line into the unproductive and illegal. From passive disengagement, noncompliance, and disobedience to passive aggression, covert sabotage, and overt conflict, which tactics are appropriate, legitimate, and effective? How much resistance from its fringes can an organization endure before it is threatened at its core--and stops being an organization altogether? And most important, why would fostering creative opposition even be beneficial to companies?

Speed Lottery *

Those who drive the speed limit go into a lottery to win some of the money the speeders pay.   Commercially sponsored contest winner.

The winning idea of the fun theory award, submitted by Kevin Richardson, USA. Can we get more people to obey the speed limit by making it fun to do? This was the question Kevin’s idea answered and it was so good that Volkswagen, together with The Swedish National Society for Road Safety, actually made this innovative idea a reality in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Unsung Art of Patent Drawings *

What does a legally permissible representation of Spanx look like? What about an anti-eating face mask or a bent skyscraper? Wonder no more.

At one time, patent applicants had to submit a physical model of their invention. Drawings were beautifully illustrated, full of colorful details. Today, the U.S. Patent office gives only cursory creative guidelines: no photographs, for example, though CAD drawings are fine. Drawings must be submitted on flexible white paper. And applicants are free to submit as many views as they want--though over-description has its risks. The idea is to describe your claim with as few lines as possible--similarly to an architect’s construction details. The more unnecessary detail, the more likely a claim can be infringed upon or challenged.

The Science of Procrastination and How to Manage It, Animated

From AsapSCIENCE — who have previously brought us the scientific cure for hangoversthe neurobiology of orgasms, and how music enchants the brain — comes this illustrated explication of the science of procrastination and how to manage it, a fine addition to these five perspectives on procrastination. Among the proposed solutions is the Pomodoro technique, a time-management method similar to timeboxing that uses timed intervals of work and reward.
Human motivation is highly influenced by how imminent the reward is perceived to be — meaning, the further away the reward is, the more you discount its value. This is often referred to as Present bias, orHyperbolic discounting.
For a more metaphysical take on the subject, see the fantastic anthology The Thief of Time: Philosophical Essays on Procrastination.

The next big enterprise acquisition target? Gamification startups

“Gamification is a core offering for the enterprise,” said Gabe Zichermann, the chairman of the Gamification Summit. “Today it’s a tactic but over the the next couple of years it’s going to be a core feature set for enterprises driven by the consumerization of IT.”
Zichermann doesn’t think there will be a lot of immediate acquisitions of gamification startups this year. But in the next 12-24 months, he believes big enterprise companies will start to make moves in this space as their top executives realize the strategic benefits of gamification.

Help Wantedà Seriously! A Movie about Play *

There is a campaign to create a new documentary in progress called Seriously! A movie about PLAY. Filmmaker and former Muppet Maker Gwen Gordon has already interviewed a brilliant and motley chorus of play experts. She's planning on adding some compelling stories, a promiscuous red ball, and a menagerie of exuberant playmates to make an irrefutable and wildly entertaining film about the vital importance of play.

She has just launched an interesting and entertaining KickStarter campaign to raise the funds for the film.

Adapting to the Era of Deep Engagement

…the present communications revolution upended our notions of which data was vital — and which incidental — to how our companies functioned. In particular, the rise of the Internet, e-mail, and then social media has created a vast network of new channelscommunities, and ecosystems of communication that have essentially reframed the discussion for the business world. In short, who we are connected to, what everyone is saying, and then determining how it impacts us as a business has been moved onto more or less equal footing with the other key systems for running our organizations.

To underscore this point, Constellation Research’s Ray Wang just last week posted his initial work in formalizing this new construct in our business landscape: The “engagement platform” as a full-on entity in its own right. As our level of engagement with the world keeps increasing, becoming more real-time and impactful to how we work, more and more attention is being given to the discipline. What an articulation of the elements of a modern engagement system gives us, specifically, is a way to reason about what they consist of, what they do, and how we can apply them to improve our businesses.

Psychological Scientists Honored for Improbable Research

For the second year in a row, research published in Psychological Science is being recognized with the, erm, prestigious Ig Nobel Psychology Prize for scientific achievements that “first make people laugh, and then make them think.”

This year’s Ig Nobel–winning research was published in the December 2011 issue of Psychological Science. Anita Eerland, Rolf Zwaan, and Tuilo Guadalupe of Erasmus University, the Netherlands, reported that “Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller.”
The researchers conducted their study — which involved asking participants to stand on a Wii Balance Board tilted to the left, tilted to the right, or positioned upright — to test the mental-number-line theory. The theory suggests that people mentally represent numbers along a line with smaller numbers on the left and larger numbers on the right.

APS Members Abigail Baird of Vassar College and George Wolford of Dartmouth College were also honored with the Ig Nobel Neuroscience Prize. Baird, Wolford, and their coauthors demonstrated that a “brain researcher, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere — even in a dead salmon.” Performing a brain scan on a dead fish may seem unworthy of an award (even an Ig Nobel), but this study demonstrated that neuroimaging researchers must use strong controls to make sure the brain activity they’re observing is actually brain activity.

THE US 20: Twenty Big Trends That Will Dominate America's Future

Recently BI ran one of their guaranteed to generate a ton of page views slideshows that actually drove me to click through all (70!) distinct pages. Titled 'The US 20: Twenty Big Trends That Will Dominate America's Future', it was just the right blend of data, speculation, hype, and occasional insight that makes BI a go-to site.
The entire slideshow is worth a read click-through, but in case you are one of the 'I hate internet slideshow' types, I will spare you all the clicks and page loads and give you just 5 of the 20 Big Trends from the BI piece, the ones that might have the most direct impact to you as a HR, Talent, of HR Technology pro.

Innovation as the Human Enterprise

Innovation was the overarching theme of the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Annual Meeting of the New Champions (AMNC) 2012 in Tianjin this week. As a representative of a design and innovation firm and as a member of the WEF Global Agenda Council on Values, I was delighted to see that many panels and conversations approached innovation from a holistic perspective. That meant not contextualizing it solely as technological disruption or process optimization, but as a deeply humanistic endeavour that connects consumer and producer, along with other stakeholders (increasingly in hybrid roles), in a creative act. Innovation, after all, is a human enterprise.
When we talk about enablers of innovation, we essentially talk about enabling forces that help us to unleash our very humanity. Innovation brings us to life because it connects our vision, our ideas of a better future, with our enormous ingenuity and capacity for proactive change. More innovative business means more human business. The WEF Tech Pioneers and Social Entrepreneurs who were awarded in Tianjin, as well as the remarkable social technology start-up founders and employees I had met in Beijing just before the AMNC, all exemplified this spirit.
As several sessions looked at enablers of innovation, they examined what China can learn from Western-style innovation, but increasingly also what the Western world can learn from China (which, for example, iscreating the world’s largest market for mobile learning).

“The Science of Happiness” and Creativity

“With the right exercises we can increase our capacity for happiness” [page xvi].
Our body processes emotion before our brain does, which means we develop awareness of our emotions while they are already happening, which perhaps suggests our source of intuition [page 13, 15].
Positive and negative feelings are generated from different systems in the brain [page 33] (unhappiness on the right, happiness on the left page 35).
Letting off steam is actually unnecessary and can reinforce neuron connections, which encourage the behavior [page 41].
We are driven by novelty [page 99].
Surprises/gifts/rewards can maintain intelligence [page 101].
Social connection is important [page 158].
Exercise is our body’s natural version of Prozac. It releases endorphins  and neurotransmitters that promote brain growth and regeneration of our grey matter. Literally, a jog can be as effective for lifting one’s spirits (for someone mildly depressed) as medication [page 167].

The gamification brain trust: 6 experts on why game elements are critical in our work and social lives

At the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab, Margaret Wallace (far left), the chief executive of Playmatics, led a discussion about gamification at the Stanford Business School in Palo Alto, Calif. From left to right, the speakers included Courtney Guertin, the chief technology officer of Kiip; Rajat Paharia, the founder and chief product officer of gamification firm Bunchball; Amy Jo Kim, the game designer and CEO of ShuffleBrain; Joshua Williams, the senior software design engineer at Microsoft; and Andrew Trader, a venture partner at Maveron. They talked about everything from using gamification to squashing bugs to the question, is gamification overhyped?

Why We Need to Study the Brain’s Evolution in Order to Understand the Modern Mind

Gottlieb proposes that understanding “how the mind works” is more important than understanding “how the mind has been shaped”—that once you have achieved the former, you need not bother with the latter. One could take a supremely utilitarian approach to the study of the brain and mind, confining oneself to research with explicit practical applications. All Why questions are off the table! We only care about how the mind works. Just explain what happens and move on. No need to think about what any of it means. To be perfectly honest, that sounds unbearably boring to me. More fundamentally, understanding how the mind works and why it works that way are indivisible goals. The human brain’s evolutionary past is not just some cute story we can leave on the shelf if we so please. Every cell in our brains—every moment of our mental lives—is intimately connected to the entire history of life on this planet.