Scaffolding for Innovation
There's a couple of key parts of scaffolding for innovation, that will really help, because you know, the thing about thinking freely and thinking creatively is, if you're in that area of bearable discomfort, it's kinda wild; it's not structured. Sometimes it can really be helpful to start with some loose structure; to hang off. You know as an architect, I used to not be the happiest when people would say, oh here's, well in my case, back in the day they'd be like here's a million dollars, do whatever you think you should do for us, and I'd be like, oh yeah, like I'd rather have some limitations, you know. Here's a million dollars or here's a blank piece of paper. So you guys have at your front, you have a blank piece of paper, and it can be pretty confronting, a blank piece of paper. It's just like fly and be free people, and you're just waiting. It's like Jack London, the San Francisco writer, who said, you know, you can't wait for innovation to come or invention, he was imagination,...
you can't wait for imagination to come to you, you've got to beat it down with a club. So we're basically gonna head out and beat it down with a club, but before we do, we need to set some ground rules. So, the idea is, this, Warren Buffet, the idea is that we create enough of a scaffold that we can than go freeform without it going completely pear-shaped. And I think this is a, this is that classic concept that chaos is not a lack of order, it's just an absence of the order that the observer is used to. Right, so we can think incredibly creatively, we can structure for that, to a degree, to allow ourselves to really go big. And so part of that is just this idea that we need the freedom, but we also need the limitations. I think, I read this quote by Warren Buffet, and I think of this resurgence of an adventure playground. You know it's funny, remember in the 70s, people were, I was a kid in the 70s, and people were really in to adventure playgrounds, where you could fall off ropes, and really long slides where you hit the bottom, and just totally wiped you out. Right, and then we came to this helicopter age of safety and everything is about safety, in our culture at least. It's about lowering the height of the slippery dip or slide. It's about no seesaws or teeter totters. It's about like, nice, soft landing ground, in the adventure playgrounds, except that, it's kinda not, 'cause what we've realized is that doesn't help people think creatively. It's handing everyone safety on a plate, and while we want our darlings to be safe, we also want them to be creative and realize their potential, and so now we're seeing these crazy playgrounds where kids are nailing like bits of wood, and there's hammers and nails, and glass, and stuff, and I don't know, that's how I grew up, so I kinda like it. So what we're gonna do is look at structure personally, and then structure in the workplace, to see how we could just create a loose web, that we can then hang off in all sorts of cool ways, like a trapeze. So personal, you've got in front of you some blank paper, but if you turn up a few pages, you've also got some graph paper. Now I find, I'm not a drawing type of gal, I find, but I like to doodle, and actually if you doodle while you're listening to new information, it substantially unloads your working memory to help you learn more new stuff. So, counterintuitive in classrooms because kids are told not to doodle, but in fact if you were all doodling while you're listening to me, if you're at home watching this right now, and you're doodling, or at work and doodling, it's actually helping you take in new information, really important, but sometimes when we're so, you know, somebody says we need to be creative, we need to be innovative, you're looking at a blank sheet of paper, it can be, like me with my open brief as an architect, the most confronting thing. If you have graph paper, its made the first designs decision for you. Simply having graph paper, makes you make the first decision, am I inside the lines or outside the lines? Once you've made the first design decision, it starts to flow more freely. So this tiny amount of structure, just this idea of having graph, is actually incredibly useful, when it comes to looking at a blank page and trying to come up with something new, 'cause with graph paper, there's something about humans, you have graph paper, you start either coloring in that square, or following the line, or if you may you start drawing right across it, just a thing, and it helps you promote the first bit of thinking, the doodling important too. Music is an interesting one. Who here works with music on? So, what's interesting about working with music on, is that, if you're playing music you know, and you're doing something routine in your expert brain that you're used to doing, your accuracy is improved when you play music, you know, however, if you're trying to learn something new, and you're playing music, your right (mumbles) will massively increase, and you're intake of new information is lessened. Kind of interesting, because in every creative office I've ever worked in, we had music going all the time, I love it, but when people are steady, when their brain is steadied, you're less likely to take on new stuff, if you're listening to something you know. Interesting. What's even more interesting is the main research in that was done on surgeons. You wouldn't want to be a patient right? (laughs) Okay, regular idea sharing is also something, we've talked about structuring. Whether you structure a constant coffee group, and then you decide with those people to bring ideas to it, or a drink and think, because in fact, two alcoholic beverages is proven to reduce the strength of your working memory, and actually allow the ideas to flow more freely. So even though, I can't endorse alcohol, and in fact, I can't drink, you know, a drink and think is a beautiful thing, in Australia it's a huge thing with engineers. Engineers like to, at the end of the day, head to the pub, and then just review, maybe their trickiest problem of the day, even though they move quickly past two beverages, it is a fact that you will come up with substantially more creative things after the two alcoholic bevies. Sorry, that's a good one right? (giggles) Hard to structure into the workday, but it's at the end. So John Cleese calls this a Turtle Haven. He talks about creativity being the turtle, that wants to poke its head out, and gets donked by basically, your expert brain, or all the other stuff out there that's designed to get us moving and come to an answer as quickly as possible. So scaffolding personally, is about creating yourself a space where you can flourish with just a couple of structural boundaries, you know, which is, make sure you have regular idea sharing, give yourself some graph paper, you should be good. Environmental is a big one, and again, it's a relevant to families and self-employed as it is to groups, and that is, what language are you using. You know, so there's that classic thing, in (mumbles), and in business, and in everything, where people say, yes and, you know, somebody comes up with an idea, and you're just supposed to endorse it and add to it. You're like, everybody already knows that. You know, that's just positive (giggles). But, you know, other language, like allowing people, like using the idea of failure and rebound is one thing, one part of it. In your group interaction, what's really interesting, is that a walking meeting, walking and talking, is significantly more creative on your output than sitting at a desk. So, if you were sitting and talking, you'd want to be doodling, is that what you're thinking? To your full potential? But in fact, walking and talking, is something like 30% more likely to have you creating, and so I've had a bunch of people come in from Brazil and Colombia, I run a lot of classes in Brazil and for Colombians, and when I talk to their professors, we now do this walking meeting down through Sausalito, and it, I only started walking the talk, my own talk, a little while ago, and it actually makes a massive difference, so walk and talk is huge, and time that thing. So now, say you've got work, imagine if, when you went to book a meeting with another person in a different department, it defaulted to walking. So when I work with companies, we often plot a walking trail, we look at how long it will take to walk, and we look at a 10 to 15 minute walk, so you can now program a meeting in, and know that you've got 10 to 15. You could be on a bike, slightly more precarious, but it can be a really useful thing, and regular idea is sharing across silos, if you're in a workplace, is key. It's actually really hard to do. Everytime I go into a company I find, that when departments are siloed, so too are budgets siloed, and when budgets are siloed, then the person bringing me in doesn't want to share me with the people from the other silos, which is the core of the problem. So, you somehow, in your workplace, need to orchestrate, whether its you saying, you know what, in my job, I don't have enough of this, I'm gonna create a group that comes together once a month, and we just talk about cool things we've seen for five minutes each, perhaps. Somehow you need to orechestrate that cross pollination, because in my experience, the bigger the company, the less likely it is that, you know, dude down here in product development is gonna talk to a person up here in branding, and in fact it was interesting, I ran an adventure seeking workshop for a big food bar company, and they only wanted their branding departement, but I brought in food engineers, people from the kitchen, production people, and the support staff. The support staff had some of the best ideas all day in terms of new directions for that company that really held the core values of the company at the heart of the new direction. You know, but how often do you call on the support staff, who may have been there forever? How often do you call on them to help you with stuff, in terms of ideas and thinking? It's really interesting to look at who your resources are, and try cross across the normal barriers you've created by having departments and teams, and obviously I'm not a massive fan of an innovation team, 'cause like, shouldn't you be all innovating? Just a thought. All right, I just thought I'd share with you something that has been really productive in a corporate setting, and that it the Coca-Cola 70/20/10. This is an idea that, you know, we still need to deliver stuff, right, people still want results, we're a results driven society, but we want to give people time to try something really radical. So Coke does 70% of the time, do it the way you always have and get it done, 20% of the time do, you know, pointy edge stuff that other people are doing, keep reading, keep learning, try it, but 10% of the time, stick it with adventurous thinking. I put that in, they didn't say that, but they should. Right, so 10% of the time you want to try stuff that has not been done. It's in the realm of possibility and imagination, you were the first, 10% of the time. So, scaffolding.
One question, about some of the lingo, pear-shaped.
I get this quite often.
Do people not understand pear-shaped?
I think with all the Britishing, we kind of do this, we have lots of weird things, so just explain what pear-shaped means.
Oh, yeah, pear-shaped, it's interesting actually, 'cause I am pear-shaped (laughs). So pear-shaped in human is not the point, pear-shaped is when you have something, I'm gonna describe it with my hands, pear-shaped is when everything was like in a cylinder, and suddenly it just went, ploof, fell out, right. So when I designed my rainwater hold tank, it's a rainwater system, it's a tank, it's plastic, and (mumbles) it's long and narrow like this, and it's holding water, and water has this huge head of pressure, I took it to be tested and I was really excited. I was like this thing is the new normal in rainwater harvesting, and as I filled it up, the bottom of it went bloop, and ballooned out, and ultimately, just exploded open. Pear-shaped, right, so that is that, it means it went slightly awol. (laughs)