Check out what your classmates thought about our session on the Innovation Engine:
Culture has an enormous impact on creativity.
“I thought it was interesting when Tina pointed out that habitat also included the incentives/processes around your job/workplace/environment. I definitely feel that a lot of pursuing my own passions has been figuring out sacrifices to make in not catering to those incentives. I wonder if there is a way to redesign these processes to give more flexibility for people to learn/explore more of their own passions.
It was also very insightful when Tina said you can start anywhere in the innovation triangle. Instead of just focusing on imagination (which leads to the thinking of “”I either have it or I don’t”"), you can start from what you do have (your knowledge or your attitude), and go from there.
Finally, I liked the connection between attitude and culture, imagination and habitat, and knowledge and resources.
Thanks Tina for the book! That was touching ”
“- Thinking about creating win-win culture (inspired by hangman game) isn’t intuitive but something very effective to understand is possible to do
- Intrigued by the 4 quadrants of passion v. confidence. It was fascinating for me to distill how I feel about certain topics – and I even surprised myself with tasks I put in certain categories. Would love to go deeper into unpacking how habits and attitudes are affected by where a task falls on passion and confidence spectrum
- Really love the metaphor of a quilt over a puzzle – “”fix it!”"”
Being able to be fully into an activity and getting everything we’re able to out of it really depends on the people we do the activity with. For the first activity where we had to laugh hysterically at the joke someone made up on the spot was really hard, no one really laughed so it was hard for each person to feel like they can laugh.
“1. Punch Line game
2. Natural resources are an asset
3. Culture is a strong influence
4. Attitude is important!
5. Six attributes for creative environment”
“Have fun. Be creative. Be bold. These are the takeaways that I get from each class that I attend for MS&E 277.
Today, my major takeaway I got came from the thought experiment, “”Design a Birthday Party v. Design a Birthday Celebration.”" From this, I understand that even though I’ve been working toward seeing the world through a different lenses, how I frame my situation sets the stage for how I tackle the problem. Looking forward, I will continue to look for the angles outside of the physical laminations of the problem. For example, what ?????? = a Celebration!
p.s. Thank you so much for being unconventional and giving students the books as a gift . Way cool. I really think this will shift how students interact with the material. ”
I really liked the idea that habitat has a big effect on innovation and creative thinking. I have noticed, since starting to visit the d.school for this class and working on projects in this space that being aware of the resources in your surrounding affects your creative process. I think if you are open to the resources around you and treat things as tools then you can fully take advantage of your environment and allow yourself to think freely and be creative. However, if you do not think about your surroundings as tools or opportunities then you limit yourself to the norm. It is very hard to see opportunities if you are not open to them and would like to understand more how you can train yourself to be more aware and observant of problems that you can solve.
“I really liked the emphasis that the presentation placed on environment. So many people today anecdotally ascribe success of any kind, innovative breakthroughs that require a lot of creativity to achieve, to an innate “”genius”" based solely on intelligence that very few people have. Even worse, they see this “”genius”" is something that you either have or you don’t.
However, I liked how the lecture presented a person’s environment as a crucial factor influencing his or her creativity. Someone could be the most creative person in the world, yet such talent may remain hidden if it is confined to a typical school desk or high-walled cubicle or squelched by a culture that does not celebrate any departure from convention.Such a culture is perpetuated by the idea that creativity is a type of genius that only certain people have. This is tragic as society needs to harvest its best innovators in order to make appropriate progress in the twentifirst century. In order to change this, institutions (such as schools and companies) should disrupt their very structures by purging them of anything that encourages rigid, fixed thinking and creating a more collaborative,playful atmosphere.”
The six factors of creativity, i.e. imagination, knowledge, attitude, habitat, resources and culture are dependent on each other. I found the habitat idea most interesting. As Silicon Valley is one of the most creative places in the world, I once heard my friends ask why all the companies around are like kindergartens. This idea also applies to team brainstorming, it’s important to find a right space for it and prepare the right tools.
“1. External and internal forces work in complementary ways to shape creative thinking- Attitude & Culture, Imagination & Habitat, Knowledge & Resources.
2. Habitat is the stage and physical space where you play out your life. Culture is the soundtrack to that stage. (I came up with this last piece based on the different music played in the Coca-Cola commercials.)
3. We don’t think creatively, because we’ve always been taught that there is one and only one answer. ”
I really appreciated the practice of having to think about the plethora of resources that are at our disposal, especially while at Stanford. I often think I take these things for granted and therefore do not always take advantage of them. I also found my classmates’ ideas to be incredibly insightful in highlighting resources that I often overlook, (such as literacy). This has inspired me to reflect on the resources that are available to me, and how I can leverage them to propel me into the future.
“I really like the exercise where we were given time to list the resources we already have. It made me see things quite differently: we tend to take for granted things we have to search for other things and lose the opportunity to make use of what we already have.
The exercises that teach us on the power of paying attention was also very powerful. Made me a lot more aware of the importance of details we often overlook. Wonder if there’s any exercises to help practice paying attention in real life because I feel like it’s really easy to forget even though I became more aware of it.
Overall, quite an amazing class today. Learned a lot of cool and useful stuff and it was super fun.”
“If I had to pick only one thing in the lecture, the example 5+5 = ? vs. ?+? = 10 was *very* striking and meaningful to me. It really looks like traditional education doesn’t put students in the right mindset to be creative.
Other than that, I liked the section about the habitat and environment: I think people often underestimate the importance of this, and it was very useful to stress that even more: even if I think I had that feeling before, stating it in such a clear way made me concretely realize how much this is important.
Finally, I liked the 2 axis diagram (confident vs. not confident, passionate vs. not passionate) and Rich’s advices to make us move post-its from the lower right corner to the upper right corner. It looks like many of our dreams lie in the lower right corner, and after all it doesn’t seem that hard to make them come true.”
“I had two major takeaways from today’s class. First, the idea of internal influences (imagination, knowledge, attitude) and external influences (habitat, resources, culture) was the first time we have really discussed in class the idea of external factors. We have discussed the concept of “”spaces”" and standing up during brainstorming to help raise the energy, but this was the first time external influences was really highlighted as being a major contributor to the creativity process and it was really enlightening.
My second takeaway ties directly into the first. As the class progresses and as this session in particular highlighted, much of the creative and innovation process hinges on the concept of “”reframing.”" Tina has referred to the Einstein quote twice now in class, and it really resonates. Realizing what resources you really have at your disposal is a problem of reframing. Understanding the benefits (and limitations) of your habitat requires reframing. Really changing your POV and PAYING ATTENTION, as the shopping center exercise demonstrated, requires reframing. I understand that most of the concepts are much more complex than simply allowing oneself to view things differently, but it seems that, in most cases, that is always the first step or the first requirement, whether it be in defining the problem or coming up with the solution. It especially hits home with me as I am not particularly good at reframing. I tend to get very comfortable in my current frame and am reluctant to challenge it. Rather, I sit around and view everything from the status quo, and, at times, try to make things fit into that view even though they don’t. In short, the revelation has really helped me identify an area in which I need to focus on improving. I need to, stealing a line from Apple marketing, “”Think Different.”"
“What really stuck with me is the interplay of all 6 elements of the creativity engine. The engine is also incomplete without any one of the 6. It inspired me to build up my knowledge base, but also to know that this is just one part of a much bigger puzzle. What’s more important than a store of knowledge is the toolkit to put that knowledge to work.
PS: I’m very excited to create my failure resume!”
Habitat is a critical aspect of your ability to work effectively, and if your surroundings aren’t suitable for your needs, change them.
I felt that we received a lot of great information in today’s class. It was definitely interesting to see how companies have tried to integrate creativity in their work environment.
“I enjoyed class especially working with random groups of students in the class. I thought we went through culture perhaps a little too quick. On a different note however I really liked thinking about what resources I have and I think that was a little eye opening.
“My two favorite moments from yesterday’s class were the mapping of the passionate vs. confident and the conclusion of the inGenius presentation. Taking time to segment different activities by confidence and passion made me realize that overcoming low confidence is much easier than overcoming a lack of passion. Furthermore, gaining confidence in something I am passionate about is simply a matter of putting in the time, and the process should be exciting and enjoyable because I would be growing in a direction of interest. Passion on the other hand isn’t really something that can be forced, and may not be gained through time; it requires a change of perspective.
Lastly, examining the correlation of multiple degrees of Tina’s innovation engine framework was very interesting. The idea that greater knowledge begets greater resources and vice versa in the same way that culture and attitude may influence one another is an intuitive concept, but one that is certainly not obvious. It is exciting to think of these relationships functioning almost like a perpetual motion device, in which ever greater momentum may be attained.”
“The discussion on available resources really caught my attention. Like Tina mentioned, my first thought about available assets was about money and skills but essentially there are numerous resources around us which in the first thought may seem intangible but if used wisely, are extremely invaluable.
I think “”failure”" on its facade, does sound like an unfortunate event but in a holistic scheme of things, any failure does teach you a lesson. Especially it helps setting up the right priorities next time you attempt a similar thing!”
“I had two major takeaways from the class. The first was the blatant realization that I am the only one getting in the way of making the things that I am passionate about the things that I am confident in. I can enrich the experiences in my life and treat my problems more like quilts.
The second takeaway from the class was a reflection on what is passion. When Tina was going to give the books away, the teaching team had mentioned something about them going to the most passionate people, the ones who stepped forward. But stepping forward was an act of agency not a manifestation of passion. My takeaway from that is that passion is like fire, it can be big, bright, hot, and out there, or it can be the red, ever-burning coals that keep the fire going long after the flame has died away. My manifestation of passion is more coal like, it is what drives me it is what gives an even keel and the strength to continue. It may not manifest itself in jumping at the first chance that occurs, it is what reminds me that I will create more chances for myself in the future allowing me to be thoughtful of my surroundings and the priorities of others.”
Would you like to read a very short romantic story (9 paragraphs) that would not only be fun to read but would also bring some of the amazing tools we learned in class such as storytelling, reframing, taking risks and having fun? If yes, please read it and feel free to give me any feedback!
A TRUE ROMANTIC STORY
April 13, 1963
It all started on a very bright Saturday morning. Hogan finished his breakfast at the hotel and went to the swimming pool with his friends before they all went to a local music and arts festival. He was staring into the pool when, out of nowhere, he saw a goddess jumping into the water. The image froze for a few seconds and he jumped into the water irrationally while thinking: “I would love to meet her in person.”
They soon got closer and Hogan engaged her in polite conversation. Her lips were irresistible, and everything made more sense when Louise, that goddess, explained her origins: she was born in Lebanon from Armenian stock, but was raised in the US. Although Hogan was born and raised in Brazil, he was also one-quarter Lebanese. That must have been one of the reasons they got along so well in such a short amount of time. A magic feeling took them over by surprise, but no one else could feel this besides them. They felt very connected in the pool; Hogan was already touching her arms and shoulders unconsciously when one of her friends shouted to her… Louise replied “We are just friends, he is from Brazil but has a Lebanese background as well.” Right after that, Louise came to Hogan’s lap on the pool. The texture of her skin was addictive, and it was exactly that moment when their connection grew even stronger.
Louise and her friends were out together on a girl’s weekend because all of them were married. Louise actually had 2 daughters and Hogan loved the company of children. She got married at the age of 23 with a man of the same culture because her family demanded that she adhere to their tradition. During their conversation, she admitted that there had actually never been a great connection between herself and her husband. This topic was quite fascinating to Hogan because in less than an hour together, both he and Louise had uncovered such an amazing bond. They continued talking, but the words of the conversation weren’t that important anymore – it was the underlying connection that was so significant. They shared a mojito inside the pool and laughed a lot in the meantime. Her glowing smile, her smooth skin, her fit posture, her shining hair, her smooth voice, and her rosy lips on that bright day were the perfect scenario for a romantic story. They talked about happiness, connection, love, passion, culture, business, and children for more than an hour. They seemed to have known each other for ages.
Hogan’s friends were getting ready to go to the festival, but he was still in the pool, feeling love-struck by that amazing girl. He wanted to stay with her longer, but couldn’t miss one of his favorite new bands, The Beach Boys, and had made such important plans with his friends. He thought: “What should I do? Stay here with my goddess or go to the festival?” The chemistry between them was strong and they couldn’t stop looking into each other eyes and lips while hugging at the pool. Hogan was so comfortable that he even teased her several times. Hogan looked mischievously at her and said: “Louise, you have two girls and, if one day we live together, we just have to have one more girl.” She laughed and said: “Two are enough, no more girls.”
They were both feeling radiant, and that idyllic Saturday afternoon highlighted this special moment in their lives. Hogan had to leave, but he couldn’t live with the idea of never seeing Louise again. He wanted to be with her, to connect with her, to smell her, and to kiss her forever. But this wasn’t the place for that, because Louise’s friends were all gathering by the other edge of the pool. Quickly, Louise and Hogan drifted to the other side, right next to the notebook he had left lying there.
At that moment both remembered that Hogan had to leave. But the vibe between them was so strong that he didn’t have the will power to abandon her there. They hugged each other deeply for a couple of minutes when Hogan whispered a few soft words in her ears. He couldn’t hold himself back any longer, and ended up kissing her bright, moist lips. They would have loved to kiss each other forever; the smoldering energy between them was sweet, but the taste of their lips together was even sweeter. However, there, on the edge of the pool wasn’t the best place for this engulfing exchange of affection, and they were forced to end this magical experience in their lives. Their bodies were bonded in a very unique fashion – beautiful for all eyes beyond themselves.
Hogan did not believe what had just happened, so he asked Louise: “Did you enjoy spending time with me?” She immediately told him: “Of course, otherwise I wasn’t going to give you my number and stay connected with you in the future.” He wrote down her telephone number and hugged her for more than a minute before their bodies came apart and moved into different directions. Louise joined her friends right outside the pool and Hogan went back to his bedroom to get ready for the festival. Although alone for the rest of the day, they both couldn’t forget such radiant happiness. Hogan wondered why he could not have met her when both of them were younger and totally free to love one another without reservation and be completely together.
Their minds couldn’t stop thinking and questioning about both love and destiny. Would they see each other again, at some other point in their lives? How many years of love would the average couple need in order to express the enormous amount of love they both had shared during an hour or so? What are the mechanisms behind love’s amazing connections? How important is time and place when connecting to a lover? Could humans even describe that very special, magic feeling experienced by these two lovers? Would Louise ever think about breaking up with her husband to become Hogan’s girl? Would Hogan be courageous enough to pursue Louise as a long-term partner? And is God responsible for all human decisions anyway?
But nobody will ever be able to answer their questions because love, real connection, and inner feelings cannot be described: each person feels them uniquely and differently at different times. The only thing we can say is that Hogan and Louise had such strong feelings for each other that even the best writer in the world wouldn’t be able to write them down adequately on paper.
Last night, as I was just getting off my couch and deciding to head to sleep, the unexpected happened. I live on the 7th floor and I heard flapping. I looked around and the flapping turned out to be a small bat(or a huge insect)! It was small, but it was making a lot of noise that I could hear it above the vacuum cleaner next door. So, you can imagine how loud it was!
My next thoughts: Can I go to sleep with that bat flying over my bed? What if I woke up to the bat sitting on me? However, I decided that the tiny bat is not going to be an issue. I can just imagine it away as a small insect flying around and I can get to sleep sooner if I do this. So, with my leg injury, I limped across to the light switch hoping that nothing would settle on my head. This was the risk that I took.
However, the bat had thoughts of its own. It settled on a package I had gotten a few days before. I realized that now was the time to act! I closed the lid of the package on the bat and I could hear it flapping around in my box. To reinforce its prison, I placed two books on top of the box to make sure the package would remain closed. I went to sleep.
I woke up the next morning and took the package to the balcony. I opened the package. Voila! The bat flew away into the sky. My risk paid off. I was happily asleep last night and hopefully, the bat didn’t mind its prison too much.
This incident makes me wonder if we can mitigate risks just by choosing a good alternate solution to our problem. Creativity and action could really help us reduce the riskiness of an approach.
Like Bennett, I saw the task of providing breakfast for the class as an opportunity to take a risk. When planning the menu, I wanted to go beyond the traditional pastries and juice to do something more interesting. I brainstormed a little bit, and decided that the best thing to complement the high-sugar, high-fat pastries was something with vitamins and protein. I then decide that out of the different foods that met such criteria, smoothies were the best option as they were the cheapest to make and the most scalable for a group of 40 people. There was only one problem:prior to Tuesday, I had never made my own fruit smoothie. In fact, anytime I tried to make something similar (such as a protein shake, frappuccino, or milkshake) in a blender, it failed miserably, resulting in an awkward consistency and a weird taste.
Not wanting something similar to happen here, I asked myself: why did this happen every time? I discovered that it was because I often used ice and tried to mix too many things at once, which sometimes caused the thing I did not want to be the dominant taste (e.g. vanilla ice cream in a vanilla frappuccino) to overpower the rest of the smoothie. Most of the time the ice would not crush all the way, causing random chunks of ice to appear. I also never measured anything out, which made the weird taste problem worse.
How, then, could I fix these problems? I decided to observe how my roommate made smoothies every day: she did not use ice but rather frozen fruit and yogurt. Thus, I made my smoothies for class out of equal amounts of frozen fruit and yogurt. Instead of trying to mix flax and honey into the smoothies, I left them on the side for people to stir in, making less for me to blend. When it looked like failure was imminent (they were not blending) , I took suggestions from other people in the class and added milk and apple juice to then them out so that they eventually blended well.
Though this is a small example, I learned a lot from it. By taking a risk, I failed fast (they were not blending at all at first) to succeed quicker (once I added liquid, they blended right away). By learning from previous failures, I was able to correct my mistakes and create something that was more successful than if I had just played it safe and brought in some fruit.
I wanted to redesign the breakfast experience somewhat when our team was scheduled to present, so I took a risk by serving inspirational quotes instead of food. Our team had food as well, so it was the best of both worlds. I guess I would classify the risk as social, there was the potential that people wouldn’t understand or like the different spin on breakfast.
I was curious to see who would ask for a menu item that wasn’t free, only Adam actually went for something that required pushups. I hope everyone enjoyed their inspirational items!
One risk I took this weekend was deciding to stick with a difficult class project I had proposed for STATS 318. Most of the options for the projects are to read a paper and try to just add something small to it, in addition to summarizing it. I had been excited about a certain area that was not covered as much in the class, so I asked the professor if I could try applying the same techniques in the class to proving things in that area. This is more risky because theoretical research projects are usually all or nothing. At the end of last week, I tried working on my ideas, and realized that it was going to be difficult and quite uncertain. Nevertheless, I decided to stick with my plan, and ended up spending most of my free time this weekend tackling this proof (and still haven’t gotten anywhere).
At this moment, it still isn’t clear whether the risk will pay off. It is possible that I will have spent a ton of time, and still have almost nothing to write for my project. It is also possible that I’ll have a nice start to a paper in an area that I’m interested in learning.
One reflection I had about this is that my resolve to take risks is affected by those around me. Somehow, the professor who is teaching this class (Persi Diaconis) has this air that makes me want to take risks and pursue my passions
Last weekend, I found myself at a Mexican restaurant, and as I was trying to decide what to order, I saw that the enchiladas were described as very spicy. In general, I like spicy food, but there is definitely a level of spiciness past which I no longer enjoy a meal. But, in the spirit of risk taking, I decided to just order them and see what happened.
Very spicy. Too spicy.
Now I’m sitting here with really spicy enchiladas trying to figure out what to do. I’m not going to let them go to waste, and no one else wants to trade me their food, so I just struggle through eating them, sweating the whole time, wishing that my risk paid off.
After thinking about this for a while, I decided that my risk-taking adventure was pretty dumb. Most importantly, if you’re going to take a risk, the potential reward needs to be adequate. In my case, it would have just resulted in enchiladas that were a little better, but not by much. Secondly, you need to know enough about the situation that you can estimate your chances of each case. I could have asked the person at the restaurant really how spicy they were, and they could have helped me make an informed decision, but I just decided to fly in blind. I still could have taken a risk by ordering them after that person theoretically told me how spicy they were, it would have just been a much smarter risk. And really, there’s no point in taking dumb risks, which I learned the hard way.
This weekend, I went camping in Big Basin State Park with my four friends. At one point, we veered off the trail and didn’t realize it until we saw signs that said “Private Property”. The map was unclear and there were no signposts. We came across a large black gate with a big red triangle symbol in the middle. There were multiple signs that said “Keep Out,” but I was pretty confident that our map showed that we were supposed to go in the direction past the gate in order to find the trail again. We were also rushed for time because we started late on Saturday, and we had to get to our campsite, which was supposed to be less than a mile away at that point, before sunset. I decided to take a risk and cross the gate to see if our campsite might be close by, despite the ominous signs that lined the trees saying “Keep Out” and the eerie symbol on the gate. When we crossed over, we had to walk around tall weeds and shrubbery. At one point, one of my friends yelled, “These are bones!” We looked down and realized that these weren’t twigs we heard cracking underneath our boots, but bones of some hooved animals and some claws. When I saw a vertebrae on my right, I panicked.
I realized that when under pressure, I am willing to take a much bigger risk, until there is a clear sign that this was the wrong decision. I was worried that the sky would get dark and we still weren’t at our campsite yet. We were also dehydrated and we were all completely out of water. We decided that the worse that could happen was that we asked the family living behind the gate for water. Then, I realized that this could lead to the same tragic ending as in Hansel and Gretel. Now, looking back, I realized that could have been really dangerous if we continued to pursue that path. It wasn’t until I saw the bones that I realized this was a stupid risk to take on.