Monday, October 15, 2012

Top Posts on Creativity and TED Talks by Nobel Prize Winners

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!

11 Creative Breakthroughs People Had in Their Sleep

These 11 people, on the other hand, had dreams that changed the world. Let’s hope that my visions take a turn toward genius sometime soon. Until then, I’ll just take inspiration from these guys.
  1. The Periodic Table
  2. “Yesterday”
  3. Frankenstein’s Monster
  4. Jekyll and Hyde
  5. Twilight
  6. The Necronomicon
  7. The Terminator
  8. Jack Nicklaus’ Golf Swing
  9. The Sewing Machine Needle
  10. DNA
  11. Stephen King’s Misery

How to Be More Creative

This is the single best speech on creativity I’ve ever seen. It’s from Jack White, rock star and former upholsterer. I love this because it shows that creative work is not about magic and mystery. It’s about designing an environment that helps you make new connections in the brain you already have. (The whole clip is useful, but if you’re short on time, skip ahead to the 40-second mark.)
Here are the takeaways:
  1. Inspiration is hugely overrated. Don’t wait for the clouds to part and rays from heaven to come down. Do the work, every day.
  2. Scarcity is fuel. Luxuries of time and space don’t help creativity; they strangle it. Constrict your time and choices; it creates clarity.
  3. Avoid comfort. Don’t settle into patterns, but seek ways to create tension

“Force yourself into it. Force yourself…. Deadlines and things make you creative. But opportunity and telling yourself, “Oh you have all that time in the world, all the money in the world, all the colors in your palette you want, anything you want…” – that just kills creativity.”

12 Ted Talks from Nobel Prize Winners

In honor of last week’s awards
  1. Leymah Gbowee, winner of the 2011 Prize in Peace, asks us to unlock the intelligence, passion and greatness of girls  (2012)
  2. James Watson, winner of the 1962 Prize in Medicine, on how we discovered DNA (2005)
  3. George Smoot, winner of the 2006 Prize in Physics, shares the design of the universe (2008)
  4. Kary Mullis, winner of the 1993 Prize in Chemistry, celebrates the experiment (2002)
  5. Kary Mullis on the next-gen cure for killer infections (2009)
  6. Jody Williams, winner of the 1997 Peace Prize, gives a realistic vision for world peace (2011)
  7. Murray Gell-Mann, winner of the 1969 Prize in Physics, on the ancestor of language (2007)
  8. Murray Gell-Mann talks beauty and truth in physics (2007)
  9. Daniel Kahneman, winner of the 2002 Prize in Economics, brings the riddle of experience vs. memory (2011)
  10. Al Gore, winner of the 2007 in Prize in Peace, on averting the climate crisis (2006)
  11. Al Gore gives new thinking on the climate crisis (2008)
  12. And Al Gore warns on the latest climate trends (2009)

NASA Issues Big Data Challenge

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation recently created the Big Data Challenge, a competition to develop new ways to capitalize on the data generated by the federal government. The Big Data Challenge aims to identify ways to analyze and share large amounts of data across government, using information sets taken from the health, energy, and earth science fields. The challenge involves four contests, the first of which is an ideation challenge that seeks ideas for tools and techniques that can smooth out the gaps in disparate data sources and subjects. 

The top three finishers will each receive $500 in prize money. "Big data is characterized not only by the enormous volume or the velocity of its generation, but also by the heterogeneity, diversity, and complexity of the data," says the Big Data Senior Steering Group's Suzi Iacono. "There are enormous opportunities to extract knowledge from these large-scale diverse data sets, and to provide powerful new approaches to drive discovery and decision-making, and to make increasingly accurate predictions." The contest will be hosted by the NASA Tournament Lab.

11 Tips for Battling Creative Blocks

Here are some more suggestions for sparking inspiration, ranging from checking into a fancy hotel to just checking out.
1. Find yourself a genius.
2. Talk through it.
3. Check into an expensive hotel.
4. Follow these ten easy steps.
  1. Get enough sleep! Sleep is the best (and easiest) creative aphrodisiac.
  2. Read as much as you can, particularly classics. If a master of words can’t inspire you, see number 3.
  3. Color-code your library. This is fun, and you will realize how many great books you have that you haven’t read yet.
  4. More sleep! You can never get enough.
  5. Force yourself to procrastinate. Works every time!
  6. Look at the work of Tibor Kalman, Marian Bantjes, Jessica Hische, Christoph Niemann, and Paul Sahre.
  7. Weep. And then weep some more.
  8. Surf the Web. Write inane tweets. Check out your high school friends on Facebook. Feel smug.
  9. Watch Law & Order: SVU marathons. Revel in the ferocious beauty of Olivia Benson.
  10. Remember how L-U-C-K-Y you are to be a creative person to begin with and quit your bellyaching. Get to work now!
5. Keep your plate full.
6. Why not try coffee right before bed.
7. Paint the barn.
8. Sketch quickly, without getting caught up in the execution or technique.
9. Ask questions.
10. Sit down, shut up, go off-line.
11. Realize that great work can result from intense struggle.

Plurality – Life in 2030

A low budget project but done with a high level of skills and creativity. This short film gives a glimpse into the year 2023. Directed by Dennis Liu.

Few enterprises are ready for the app economy’s data explosion

Traditional enterprise data sources — be they business systems or even the exhaust from corporate websites — represent the data that is typically captured by an enterprise for analytics and business insight. However, in the new world of APIs and the app economy, organizations no longer own, much less control, all the data they need to make accurate business decisions.
A growing number of businesses are successfully building new channels through APIs and third-party applications that tap their data and Web services. As a result, all kinds of important customer interaction is happening in apps written by other people (partners and developers), far away from the enterprise core. There are three ensuing new sources of data that organizations must be able to capture, measure and analyze to get a complete view of their customers and businesses:
  • The first is the data that is generated around the use of the APIs exposed by that enterprise. This data reflects API calls, correlating Web traffic and contextual data that adds color to the API traffic.
  • The second is the data that is generated by the applications that make calls to the enterprise APIs. These applications also make calls to various backend-as-a-service APIs, creating performance- and behavior-related data that reflects user and app behavior.
  • The third is relevant, contextual data generated by the use of other enterprises’ APIs — such as Github, Twitter, Stackexchange — all of which annotate and add color to the specific interactions with the enterprise in question.
  • These three new categories of data have important characteristics that make them very different from the traditional enterprise data.

The Anti-Meeting Culture

Wasteful meetings. We've all been there. We are all still there. Meetings are at once the object of our ire and the very rhythm of our business. How can something be so derided and yet so important? There are books, articles and blogs about better meetings but all any of them serve up is the same exercise in pointing out the obvious. Here's a brief tour of published folly:
"Do the pre-reading." Yeah, like that's going to happen.

"Be on time." Sure, it's not like we're busy or anything. Deadlines, schmedlines!
"Know everyone's name." Five minutes of intro time saved! Go buy some blue tights and paint an 'S' on your chest.
"Be a proactive listener." Darn, that whole not listening thing seemed like such a great career move. Is 'reactive listening' even possible? What did you say? Sorry I must've missed that.
"Have a good reason to meet." Ok, this one just pisses me off. If you are meeting for no good reason, no advice about the semantics of a meeting can help you. Whoever wrote this, please never work in the software industry.

Oh there are plenty more, like taking good notes, creating action items, using good humor (hey I called this meeting to fire you, but have I got a great joke about being unemployed! You see this jobless guy walks into a bar ...) and stating the purpose of the meeting in advance. Boy, wouldn't have thought of those in a million years.


This advice is as unproductive as the unproductive meetings it is trying to alleviate. I've been to meetings with all these ingredients and guess what? Those meetings still sucked. Why? Because good meetings are not about the way the meeting is held but about the culture of the organization that is holding those meetings. Thus, my thesis: If you want productive meetings, create an anti meeting culture.

What Are Grand Technology and Scientific Challenges for the 21st Century?

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) recently put out a public call for ideas that could form Grand Challenges, which are ambitious but achievable goals that would lead to substantial breakthroughs in science and technology. Grand Challenges would have a major impact on fields such as health, energy, sustainability, education, economic opportunity, national security, and human exploration. They also would help drive and harness innovation and advances in science and technology. Other organizations also have called for challenges to promote science and technology innovation. 

For example, X Prize recently announced its top list of eight key challenges that could become public competitions in the near future, which include a personal health monitoring system, brain-computer interfaces, wireless power transmission, and ultra-fast point-to-point travel. In addition, the National Research Council recently highlighted five challenges that focus on new optics and photonics technologies and improving the energy grid. OSTP deputy director Thomas Kalil also has highlighted several challenges and ideas, such as encouraging research universities to launch the Grand Challenge Scholars Program, which enables engineering students to organize their coursework, research, service, international studies, and experiential learning.