When Creativity Wants to Drive
There is a stream of thought out there (I don’t think it’s coalesced enough yet to call it a “school of thought”) that extols the virtues of studying improv comedy as a means of growing one’s business management skill. The reason, of course, is creativity, which conventional wisdom in business recognizes is vital to business success.
And yet, most in business still don’t really get creativity or how it works. Here is but one example from some of the smartest business strategists at McKinsey & Co.: a 4-point plan for management practices “associated with creativity and innovation.” Well intentioned it may be, but this is like trying to measure artistic creativity by surveying the size of famous paintings and the amount of oil and strokes used.
The secret to being creative can’t be gleaned from data analysis done on surveys of business executives. Creativity is done by creative people thinking creatively. If you want know how it’s done, listen to comedians, song writers, and artists. That’s just what author and artist Austin Kleon is providing to the rest of us with his post featuring the thoughts of, among others, comedic legends Jerry Seinfeld and Dave Chappelle.
“Within two days, the baby had a normal heart…”
This story about a new advancement in medical science is simply breathtaking. In short: surgeons remove a scrap of healthy tissue from the patient, spin it through a blender and then a centrifuge to separate the mitochondria from the cells of the tissue, load up about a billion of said mitochondria into a syringe, inject it into the dead or dying heart tissue of an infant suffering from heart defects … and watch as the heart returns to normal.
My favorite aspect of this story was in reading how the idea came about.
Of course it did. So many of the great ideas do.
The Design Genius of Railway Maps
I found this article about the graphic design work behind railway maps and their use in advertising to be doubly timely and interesting.
First: earlier this week, my family spent an afternoon experiencing travel aboard an old railroad car whose seats were nearly 100 years old. We weren’t traveling anywhere, though. It was simply a 90 minute there-and-back ride on the historic railroad of local significance: the Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad.
Second: it reminds once again about how thoughtful, purposeful design thinking is critical to visually displaying information. Graphical information is always a representation of an abstraction, and it is there that the power of design work is needed the most.
Communicating abstraction for ease of understanding is an intentional act. The effective communicator/designer understands when to aim for more realism and less abstraction, and when to do the opposite. This is as true for London Underground maps (1933 version | current version) as it is charts, graphs and the Excel spreadsheets that feed them. For a great resource on the latter, check out the work of Ann K. Emery.
Here is everything you could possibly need or want to know about the science and technique behind a successful campfire. Getting a good fire going is for me what golf is to others. Most of the time, it is a frustrating, emasculating exhibition of failure. But, every once in awhile, I stumble my way into a roaring pyre. In those rare instances, I turn into Tom Hanks on a deserted beach with utterly no shame whatsoever.
Those who do not understand fire are less apt to enjoy it properly.
Taking a Picture of Your IQ
There are many people in positions of leadership and power who think IQ holds great value in predicting performance and competence. Per scientists at Caltech, that information can now be uncovered through the use of an fMRI and an interpretive algorithm that turns bloodflow patterns into an approximation of intellectual horsepower.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of IQ obsession and love Stephen Hawking’s take on it: “People who boast about their IQ are losers.” There are others who think otherwise. If this technology proves true (it’s very early), here’s hoping that the ease of obtaining a measurement doesn’t further mechanize our way of assessing people. The last thing we need to do is turn intelligence and IQ assessments into the mental version of the NFL’s obsession with 40-yard-dash times.
If you’ve ever wanted to better understand what IQ scores actually measure — and what “intelligence” means (or doesn’t) — this Q&A in Scientific American is for you.