October 24, 2010

Change by Design - by Tim Brown

How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation.

[Good book indeed, on how to grow creative thinking and design process in an org]

Three spaces of innovation.
Desirability, Viability & Feasibility

It was the necessity is the mother of all inventions as inspiration, the problem or opportunity that motivates the search of solutions. There are three overlapping spaces over the course of a project: an inspiration space in which insights are gathered from every possible source; an ideation space in which those insights are translated into ideas; and an implementation space in which the best ideas are developed into a concrete fully conceived plan of actions.

'Fail early to succeed sooner' is what they say at IDEO. (other such phrase is go slow to move fast forward). Chance only favors the prepared mind - Louis Pasteur.

The classic starting point of any project is the brief. The brief is a set of mental constraints that gives the project framework from which to begin, benchmarks by which they can measure progress, and a set of objects to be realized; price point, available technology, market segment and so on. A well-documented brief will allow for serendipity, unpredictability and the capricious whims of fate, for that is the creative realm from which break-through ideas merge.

There is a popular saying around IDEO that "all of us are smarter than any of us'. and this is the key to unlocking the creative power of any organization. We ask people not simply to offer advice on materials, behaviors or software but to be active in each of the spaces of innovation: inspiration, ideation and implementation. The dream team should have interdisciplinary skills, an individual needs to have strength in two dimension - the T-shaped person made by the famous McKinney company. On vertical axis, every member of the team needs to posses a depth of skill that allows him or her to make tangible contribution to the outcome. (Multidisciplinary experts - T-shaped person). A creative organization is consistently on the lookout for people with the capacity and the disposition is what for collaboration across disciplines. Should move from T-shaped to cross T-shaped (from multidisciplinary to inter-disciplinary). Multidisciplinary team, each individual becomes an advocate for his or her own technical specialty and the project becomes a protracted negotiation among them, likely resulting in a gray compromise. In an interdisciplinary team, there is a collective ownership of ideas and everybody takes responsibility for them.

Design thinking is the opposite of group thinking , but paradoxically it takes place in groups. Group thinking is to suppress people's creativity and design thinking, seeks to liberate it.

Henry Ford remarked, " If I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they'd have said 'a faster horse'. This is why traditional technique such as focus group and survey rarely yield important results. These conventional market research is good for incremental innovation, but not for rule-breaking, revolutionary, game-changing, paradigm-shifting breakthroughs that leave us scratching our heads and wondering why nobody ever thought of them before (e.g. Sony's Walk-man, Apple's iPad/iPhone/iPod). The three mutually reinforcing elements needed in any successful design programs are insight, observation and empathy.

The quadrant approach is the following

X- Axis: existing users and then new users
Y-axis: existing offering and then new offering.

Q1 - existing users and existing offering : manager or create incremental development
Q2 - existing users and new offering - extend the product (evolutionary)
Q3 - new users and existing offerings - Adapt (evolutionary)
Q4 - new users and new offering - create new solution (revolutionary)

Insight: learning from the lives of others
In an analytical paradigm, we simply solve for the missing number; in design paradigm, the solution is not locked away somewhere, but lies in the creative work of the team. The evolution from design to design thinking is the story of the evolution from the creation of products to the analysis of the relationship between people and products and from there to the relationship between people and people.

Watching what people don't do, listening to what they don't say.
There is nothing simple about determining whom to observe, what research technique to use, how to draw useful inferences from the begins to point us toward a solution. For insights at that level, we need to head for the edges, the places where we can expect to find 'extreme' users who live differently, think differently and consume differently.

Empathy: Sstanding in the shoes of others
The mission of design thinking is to translate observations into insights and insights into products and service that will improve lives. Empathy is the mental habit that moves us beyond thinking of people as laboratory rats or standard deviations. This layer - beyond the functional and cognitive- comes into play when we begin working with ideas that matter to people at an emotional level. Emotional understanding becomes essential here. what do the people in your target population feel? what touches them? What motivates them?

Convergent and divergent thinking:
Westerners are taught to take a series of inputs, analyze them, and then converge upon a single answer. in Divergent thinking, we are collecting all possible ideas or solutions and in the convergent thinking, deciding among existing ideas/solutions the best possible options.
If the convergent phase of problem solving is what drives us toward solutions, the objective of divergent thinking is to multiply options to create choices.

Linus Pauling said, " To have a good idea, you must first have lots of ideas'".

Analysis and synthesis:
These are natural complements to divergent and convergent thinking. Without analytical forms of thinking, we would not run large corp. or manage household budgets. In analytical process or tools are used to break apart complex problems to understand and manage it better.

Synthesis , the act of extracting meaningful patterns from masses of raw information, is a fundamentally creative act; the data are just that -data- and the facts never speak for themselves. In every case we may think of the designer as a master storyteller whose skill is measured by his or her ability to craft a compelling, consistent and believable narrative.

An attitude of experimentation:
Organization should have 'intelligent design' - a bottom-up experimentation and guidance .from above. Following are the rules:
1. The best ideas emerge when the whole org. ecosystem -not just its designers and engineers and certainly not just management - has room to experiment

2. Those most exposed to changing externalizes (new tech. shifting consumer base, strategic threats or opportunities) are the ones best placed to respond and most motivated to do so.

3. ideas should not be favored based on who creates them

4. Ideas that create a buzz should be favored. Indeed, ideas should gain a vocal following, however small before being given org. support

5. The gardening skills of senior leadership should be used to tend, prune, and harvest ideas. MBAs call this risk tolerance. I call it the top-down bit

6. An overarching purpose should be articulated so that the org. has a sense of direction and innovators don't feel the need for consistent supervision.

A culture of optimism:
Without optimism - the unshakable belief that things could be better than they are - the will to experiment will be continually frustrated until it withers. Positive encouragement does not require the pretense that all ideas are created equal. To harvest the power of design thinking, individuals, teams and whole org. have to cultivate optimism. People have to believe that it is within their power to create new ideas that will serve unmet needs and that will have a positive impact.

What we learn from the hospitality industry, where brands are built on the delivery of great experience, is that transforming the culture of an org. is every bit as important as designing the lobby or the curbside service. Empowering employee to seize opportunities when and where they see them and giving them the tools to create unscripted experience is an essential element of that transformation. rather than delivering a set of instructions created for them by a bunch of designers somewhere, we encourage them to become design thinkers themselves.

There are strict rules for brainstorming - defer judgment, encourage wild ideas, stay focused on the topic & the most important of them is 'build on the ideas of others'.

Visual thinking:
Design professional spend years learning how to draw and they learn to draw so that they can express their ideas. drawing express both functional characteristics and its emotional content.

Design thinking is neither art nor science nor religion. It is the capacity, ultimately for integrative thinking. In 'The Opposable Mind' based on more than fifty in-depth interviews, martin argues that "thinkers who exploit opposing ideas to construct a new solution enjoy a built-in advantage over thinkers who can consider only one model at a time".

Building to think:

Since openness to experimentation is the lifeblood of any creative org., prototyping - the willingness to go ahead and try something by building it - is the best evidence of experimentation. David Kelley calls prototyping 'thinking with your hands' and he contrasts it with specification-led, planning-driven abstract thinking. both have value and each has its place, but one is much more effective at creating new ideas and driving them forward.
(e.g. doing it with Legos are simpler approach)

As the prototypes unfolded, we learned that a story needs to be repeated many times, before people understand how it applies to them and many more times again before they change their behavior.

Design Challenge:
There is almost no trick in the design thinker's tool kit more enjoyable to observe or more productive of results than a design challenge. Design challenges are not only a great way to unleash the power of competition, they also create stories around an idea, transforming people from passive onlookers into engaged participants. People love the idea of following bands of adventures as they compete to archive the impossible. Reality TV has exploited this fascination with dubious results.

October 19, 2010

It’s about more than Money - Saly A. Glassman

Investment Wisdom for building a better-life.

[Generic statements /rules to do better experience with your investments]]

Rules in investment world do not provide guaranteed positive outcome. However they are guidelines that improve the probability and that can make all the differences. From 1989 to early 2009, the S&P 500 stock market index return has been almost 8.4% and the average investor's rate of return is around 2%.

Focus your predictions on what you can control: your priorities.
Money making is not the all purpose in life. How satisfying is your family life, How rewarding is your friendship? How is your health? What is my priorities in life? See few folks priorities.

Person A: Fin. security, Family, Health, Hobbies, Career
Person B: Career, Hobbies, Fin. Security, Family, Health.

In each phase of our life, these priorities change as we move forward with our life.

Focusing on 'what might have been' can be unproductive and painful process. You will do better to forget this as a way of viewing your financial life and practice a more constructive approach. This can be accomplished in three steps.

1. Learn to recognize the 'what might have been' in your language. At the time you made the decision, were they the right decisions based on the information you had then? Give yourself some credit! If you made the best decision with the advice and knowledge you had at that time, there is no point inf flogging yourself because events went differently and you didbn't get teh results you wanted.

2. See it for what is really is. The 'what might have been ' view of investing does not take close to solve the problems; it allows you to escape from them (without even solving it)

3. Eliminate 'What might have been' from you language.

Following are the basic rules that every investor should have

1. As the investor, I must understand what I own
2. I must understand the degree which my investments are truly liquid (e.g. stock vs. real-estate)
3. My investment should be completely transparent.(should know details of inner working of your funds - e.g. mutual fund's individual position within the fund)
4. My investments must be audited by federal regulators and /or independent third party (e.g. Ponzies scheme issue catching)
5. I must understand how I am paying for investment advice services and products
6. I don't delegate my critical responsibilities to third party. I have personally investigated the character of people with whom I associate and do business.

The time to have the fire drill is not in the middle of the fire.

We must do the most difficult task - planning - first, when we can think clearly and have the opportunities to evaluate our strategy. Then the consequences are small. When there is no pressure or need for immediate reaction, we can contemplate various options and discuss them with family members and advisers.

Asset allocation and investment strategy:

This is allocated among generally accepted classes: cash, stock, bonds and hard assets such as real-estate or collectables(these hard assets are called illiquid and the others are called liquid) .

Rule of 72.
If you divide 72 by your interest rate, the answer is how many years it will take your money to double. For example, if the interest rate is 7.2%, then it takes 10 year to double it (72/7,2=10)

When counting your investment, don't involve money.

Young Child: what makes a person really wealthy
Wise elder: You are truly wealthy when you are satisfied with what you have.

few formulas:
1. Adjusting your monthly fin. needs for 3% inflation over 25 years
FV(future value) = PV(present value)(1+ inflation rate) power of number of years
FV= 7500(1+.03) power of 25 = 15,700.

October 17, 2010

Creating Minds - by Howard Gardner

An anatomy of Creativity Seen through the lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi.

{His classic book is Frames of Mind]

While focusing on the moment of each creator's most significant breakthrough, Gardner discovers patterns crucial to our understanding of the creative process. he notes, that it almost invariably taken ten years to make the initial creative breakthrough and another 10 years for subsequent breakthroughs.

Approaches to Creativity
The key idea in the psychologist's conception of creativity has been divergent thinking. By standard measures intelligent people are thought of as converges.

After considerable debate and experimentation in the decades following Gulford's challenge, psychologist reached three conclusions.
1, Creativity is not same as intelligence. When these two traits are correlated, an individual may be far more creative than he or she is intelligent.

2. Creativity tests are reliable. That is, if an individual takes the same creativity test more than once, the person likely to get same score.

3.Despite a few suggestive findings, it has not been possible to demonstrate that creativity tests are valid.

Approaches in terms of personality and motivation:
In a representative study conducted by the Berkley Institute of Personality Assessment, 'creative architects' as distinguished from their less creative peers, exhibited a greater incidence of such personality traits as independence, self-confidence, unconventionality , alertness, ready access to unconscious process, ambition and commitment to work.

Psychoanalytic Perspective:
Having demonstrated the importance of sexuality in motivating human behaviour in general, Freud called attention to the sexual factors that under-grid a creative life. In Freud's view, creative individuals are inclined to sublimate much of their libidinal energy into 'secondary' pursuits, such as writing, drawing, composing or investigating scientific puzzles. Freud was impressed by the parallels between the child at play, the adult daydreamer, and the creative artist.

Behaviorist Perspective:
In Freud's account, artists seek power and money ad unable to secure these directly, find a haven in creative activities or they attain indirectly from their creative work some of the libidinal and Oedipal pleasures they crave.

Following analyze framework is followed in the 7 people's case study.

1. A concern with the universals of childhood as well as the particularities of specific childhoods
2. An examination of initial interest and its conversion into sustained mastery of a domain
3. The discovery or creation of novel or discrepant elements at some point after mastery has been obtained.
4. The ways in which the creator deals with the initial novelty and embarks on a program,m of exploration
5. The supportive or inhibitory roles played by other individuals during the period of isolation
6. The ways in which a new symbol system, language, or model of expression is gradually worked out
7. The initial reactions of the relevant critics and the ways in which these reaction are transformed over a significant period of time
8. The events surrounding a second, more comprehensive innovation that often occurs during middle life.

Definition of Creative individual: Is a person who regularly solves problem, fashions products, or defines new questions in a domain in a way that is initially considered novel but that ultimately becomes accepted in a particular cultural setting.

Freud - Alone with the World:
Freud was a very talented child and among the 7 people, he was probably the one with the greatest strength. He was moved by a sort of greed for knowledge and he read extremely widely. Freud's preoccupation with riddles and puzzles is notable.

Interpretation of Dreams - Certainly the most written about, and perhaps the most important finding was the centrality of the Oedipal complex. On his analysis, the young boy felt strong attraction, love and lust for the mother, contrasting with jealousy, fear and even hatred of the father. Also evolving at this time was Freud's theory of infantile sexuality. The dream analysis and his self-analysis and convinced him that from infancy youngsters are subjected to strong sexual striving.

Freud case perfectly follows 10 year rule. his work on dreams control almost exactly a decade after his initial apprenticeship. He had the faith that ultimately his discoveries would be seen as having a neurological and chemical basis. Most hard-nosed scientists do not take Freud seriously as a member of their fraternity. This situation would have disappointed Freud, but probably not surprised him, and he would have contended that in the long run, the scientific basis of his principal discoveries would be confirmed.

His cast study is a stunning demonstration that one may attain the heights of creativity through the use of a particular intelligence: through the intra-personal examination of one's own thoughts and feelings, and in his case, persistence even when no one else displays sympathy for or understanding of what one is doing.

Einstein - The Perennial Child
While not avowedly antisocial, Einstein seems from an early age to have marched to his own drummer. He is supposed to have walked through the streets of Munich by himself as early as age of three; he often played alone even when other children were around. Einstein once recalled, " I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of quiet life stimulates the creative mind".

As Morris Raphael Cohen mentioned about Einstein, " Like so many of the very young men who have revolutionized physics in our day, he has not been embarrassed by too much learning about the past or by what the Germans call the literature of the subject.

Einstein's interest centered around the world of objects and the physical forces around them. Einstein seems to have had a special gift not always available to scientists - the gift of envisioning problems and situations of relevance and of carrying out those vivid and revealing mental puzzlement.

Simplified view of his relativity theorem is given by himself - " It was formerly believed that if all material things disappeared out of the universe, time and space would be left. According to the relativity theory, however time and space would disappear together with the things."

Hermann Minkowski's comment on the theory, is quite interesting and eye-opener; "From now on, space by itself and time by itself much sink into the shadows, while t=only union of the two preserves independence".

Comparison between Freud and Einstein:
Both men were preeminently scholars, thinkers and academics - individuals devoted their lives to the construction of knowledge. What we see at work in Einstein's formulation of relativity theory and in Freud's explorations of the unconscious is better thought of as system building. Though both were quite isolated during the years of their greatest breakthrough, they benefited from the cognitive and affective support of either a single individual as with Freud, or a small group of friends as with Einstein. Both transcended initial disappointments and preserved perhaps even gaining some pleasure from the controversies involving them. And they both sacrificed much in order to focus exclusively on their work.

Freud made the events of early childhood the principal propellant of the emotions and personality of later life. Einstein esteemed the mind of the young child, granting it powerful intuitions about physics and he encouraged his peer to investigate children's thinking in the physical realm. As Einstein often pointed out, the problems he pondered were those that children spontaneously raise, but that most adults have long since stopped thinking about it.

Picasso - Prodigious and Beyond.
He was a Prodigy (a gift that borders on the miraculous - like Mozart, Bobby Fisher, Carl Gauss, Wang Yani etc). His long time friend observed his childhood "Picasso wrote painting as other children wrote their a b c.. drawing was always his way of talking." It has been said that Picasso never mastermind certain scholastic skills and had trouble with abstract thinking. Another fact of Picasso's childhood may have contributed the most important contributor to his ultimate artistic accomplishment (earthquake at 3, death of his younger sister). He remembered with stunning vividness the appearance of events and persons from his first years.

Les demoiselles d"Avignon which many see as the most important painting of the century and of the critical turning points in the history of any art form (IMO, it was the beginning of modern art painting).

On his personal life, women were always with him. Mary Gedo calls Picasso a ' tragedy addict' maintaining that he was attracted to women who were fragile and that he reminded in their lives until tragedy occurred. Picasso can hardly be considered innocent in this matter. "When I die, it will be a shipwreck and as when a huge ship sinks, many people all around will be sucked down with it" - Picasso mentioned once.

Picasso's gifts and energies meant that with few exceptions, he was able to do whatever he wanted whenever and wherever he wanted, throughout his life. His virtuosity was never seriously challenged, let alone vanquished and he seldom met his equal, of either sex , in any sphere that he valued.

Stravinsky - Poetics and politics of music.
Though interested in music, Stravinsky was not a musical prodigy. He was not a good student and usually performed at or below the average level for his class. Unlike Picasso, who appears to have had genuine learning problems, Stravinsky was simply not interested in formal schooling and preferred throughout his life to educate himself.

However he believed in disciplinary regime. As Stravinsky mentioned, "No matter what the subject may be, there is only one course for the beginner; he mush at first accept a discipline from without, but only as the means of obtaining freedom for, and strengthening himself in, his personal methods of expressions."

In both the initial vision and the early sketches, Stravinsky had in mind what the overall piece should sound like. " I had imagined the spectacular part of the performance as a series of rhythmic mass movements of the greatest simplicity which would have an instantaneous effect on the audience, with no superficial details or complications. The only solo was to be the sacrificial dance at the end of the piece."

No other significant piece of classic music performed in modern times has been greeted with so overtly hostile a reaction as Le sacre.

In my view, Le sacre and Les noces are the two most important compositions by Stravinsky, comparable to Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake by Joyce, Les demoiselles d'Avignon & Guernica by Picasso and the two theories of relativity by Einstein.

Stravinsky described his own composing activities: "For me as a creative musician, composition is a daily function that I feel compelled to discharge, I compose because I am made for that and cannot do otherwise.... I am far from saying that there is no such thing as inspirations. Work brings inspiration if inspiration is not desirable in the beginning (likewise Freud said, "when inspiration does not come to me, I go half way to meet it'). Stravinsky remarked on the opportunistic aspects of composing. "I stumble upon something unexpected. his unexpected element strikes me. I make a note of it. As the proper time, I put it to the profitable use." In the paradox-packed closing lines of 'the poetics of music, Stravinsky declared: " My freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful, the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraints, diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one's self of the chains that shackle the spirit."

He once remarked."I am the first to recognize that daring is the motive force of the finest and greatest artist. I approve of daring,; I see no limits to it."

Eliot - The marginal master.

Eliot was a somewhat sickly child whom his mother shielded. He was surrounded by women, - not only mother and sisters but more distant relatives as well as a beloved Irish nurse. Recognized as extremely intelligent and talented from an early age, he was expected t adhere to very high academic and moral standards. Young Eliot had a very capacious linguistic memory.

His poem - the waste land (the most famous English poem of 20th century) was striking. the poem was difficult and forbidding, filled with lines that only the learned could understand and allusions that even the extensive footnotes did not fully elucidate. yet, rather than mystifying or turning off readers, the enigmatic and abstruse quality of the The Waste Land seems to have contributed to the poem's effectiveness and to have carried readers beyond the evident snob appeal entailed in reading a doc. of such apparent profundity. As one read and reread the poem, individual sections may not have pellucid, but Eliot's elegiac mood came across with ever clearer convictions and power.

In terms of personality traits, Eliot was clearly an insecure introvert, and he risked leading a life in isolation from other individuals. Eliot continued to admire talent of the highest rank. Eliot retained an endearing childlike quality throughout his life.

Comparing Picasso, Stravinsky & Eliot:
All of these three personalities came from a family that valued the particular art form in which they worked. Their most radical works benefits directly from the aid of individuals to whom they felt personally and professionally close.

Martha Graham - discovering the dance of America.

Martha Graham's breakthrough entailed a reaction to two major strands of dance.
1 - classical ballet was a form that dated back several hundred years. With its five basic positions of the feet, prescribed positions of the body, and articulated geometrical relationship among he dancers, ballet epitomized precision in an art form.
2. dance associated with non-EU, particularly the folks dances of Asia, Africa and native American populations.
Graham's father once discovered that she was not telling the truth. " Don't you know when you do something like this I always know? There is always some movement that tells me that you are deceiving me. You see, no matter what you say, you reveal yourself - you make fists, you think I don't notice, your back gets straight, maybe you shuffle your feet, your eye lids drop. Movements does not lie". This insightful parental response to a youthful peccadillo carried an important message for alter life.

During here teen days, she happened to see a Ruth St. Denis's famous characterization of Radha, the beloved of the Hindu God Krishna. "For that moment on, my fate was sealed. I could not wait to learn to dance as the goddess did", said Graham.

Ballet has a highly linear design, whereas Graham's dances emphasize dynamic irregular forms. Ballet highlights legs and arms used as separate revolving members and it is taught through series of fixed positions. Graham's idiom strives to keep the body in constant flux with movement flowing from the pelvis to the head.

" I get ideas going. Then I write it down, I copy out of any books that stimulate me at the time many quotations and I keep it. And I put it down the source. Then when it comes to the actual work, I keep complete record of the steps. I keep note of every dance I have. I don't have notations. I just put it down and know what the words means or what the movements mean and where you go and what you do and maybe an explanation here and there."

Graham spokes openly about here incorporation of the ideas and images of others. " I am a thief and I am not ashamed. I steal from the best where it happens to be. I glory in it.....I think I know the value of what I steal and I treasure it for all the time - not as a possession, bt as a heritage and legacy.

Graham's friend, Agnes says, " Martha felt that she must cut down from her life, all deep emotional involvements, all attachments, all comforts, even moments of leisure and beyond that, love involving family and children. She gave everything to her work, withheld nothing, kept nothing part."

Gandhi - A hold upon others.
India under British rule; In 1600 the British East India Trade company was formed and a decade later, the Crown gave the company unlimited authority to trade throughout Asia. Over the next two hundreds years, the company's power and influence gave stability. Indian agricultural products and textiles were exported while English manufactured goods were imported, duty free to the Indian sub-Continent. In the wake of the decline of the Mugul empire, the company brought a firm ruling hand, a measure of stability and some industrialization to India, even as it provided huge profits to its foreign Owens.

As a child, Gandhi was puny, inclined to solitude and reluctant to engage in sports. Not a particularly good student, he found school unappealing. He once remarked."I am an average man with less than an average ability. I admit that I am not sharp intellectually. But I don't mind. There is a limit to the development of the intellectual but none to that of the heart."

Gandhi married at the age of 13 and that lasted for 50 years. Gandhi resented many aspects of this forced alliance in what he later called "the cruel custom of child marriage." Gandhi ardently desired his young wife and yet felt guilty about his lustful thoughts and deeds. These feelings were fanned enormously when Gandhi who had been at the bed side of his dying father, retired to have sexual relations with his pregnant bride, only to learn shortly thereafter that his father had died. Gandhi never forgave himself for this act of filial disloyalty.

By electing to study in England, Gandhi had chosen to follow a forbidden course. When Gandhi vowed to maintain his Hindu practices and sought to defend his decision, the headman of his community responded decisively." This boy shall be treated as an out-caste from today. Whoever helps him or goes to see him of at the dock shall be punishable with fine of one rupee four annas."

After coming back from England, when an opportunity arose to travel to Durban (South Africa)to provide advice about a law-suite, Gandhi hesitated little before accepting it and once again abandoning his growing family. One can see at work here an important facet of Gandhi's personality: when opportunity knocked, no matter at what distance and cost to self and family, he seized it.

The moment of truth: A defining event occurred when, after a week in Durban, Gandhi decided to take a train to Pretoria. A white man entered the compartment in which he was seated and refused to spend the night in the same space as the dark-skinned Gandhi. The conductor ordered Gandhi to a third class compartment, but Gandhi refused to comply. Gandhi was removed from the train and forced to spend the night freezing in a railway station. Gandhi decided that the position of Indians as second-class citizen and was acceptable. He organized a meeting of all Indians in Pretoria to discuss a position that he considered to be untenable. That begins his working for the Indians in South Africa.

With his good professional life, he did not feel a sense of accomplishment. If anything he felt frustrated and in the deepest sense, unfulfilled.

He moved away from the professional life and found Tolstoy farm - an 1,100 acre development farm two miles from Johannesburg. There he lived with his family and works whom he considered extended part of his family. Only by leading an exemplary life, and by attempting to influence those around him to do the same, did Gandhi feel like he ad attained the necessary degree of spiritual purity and only when such purity had been achieved did he believe that he had the moral authority to make demands on others within the public arena.

Part of Gandhi's personality led him to an ascetic life, removed from the centers of power; yet he also felt strongly to political involvement and protest. In 1909 he wrote Indian Home rule as he put it." The true remedy lies in my humble opinion in England's discarding modern civilization which is en-souled by this spirit of selfishness and materialism which is purposeless, vain and a negation of the spirit of Christianity"

[not listing the known part of Gandhi's story here]

Personal side of Gandhi.
Ram Nanda has characterized Gandhi's method of reflection. "In every case he posed to himself a problem for which he sought a solution by framing a proposition in moral algebra. 'Never again' was his promise to himself after each escapade and he kept his promise". Gandhi himself commented: "such experiments are an integral part of my life; they are essential for my mental peace and self-realization".

Being part of Gandhi's circle had its costs. In effect, Gandhi made all the major decisions and rarely allowed competing viewpoint to alter his course of thought or action.

Gandhi had very poor relations with his children and particularly with his eldest son. Gandhi held very high expectations from his children and when they failed to meet those expectations, he turned against them. Gandhi struggled against his wife for years. When she became ill, he was matter-of-fact, almost cruel allowing his idiosyncratic medical theories to take precedence over what common sense and prudent medical practice indicated. He paid grudging respect to here and in his own way, may have loved her, but her lief with him was long suffering.

Gandhi seems to have had unusual difficulties in sustaining long-term intimate relationship with those who should have been close to him.

in 1949 the year following Gandhi's assassination, Nehru (Prime-minster of India) visited Einstein. Einstein took out a pad of paper and wrote down a number of dates on one side and number of events on the other side. Decade by decade, he showed a parallel evolution of the nuclear bomb, on the other side, and of Gandhi's satyagraha methods and accomplishments on the other. The quite amazing parallels served as a list of human options available in the nuclear age. Einstein was struck by the analogy." Gandhi had demonstrated that a powerful human following can be assembled not only through the cunning game of the usual political maneuvers and trickeries but through the cogent example of a morally superior conduct of life. In our time of utter moral decadence, he was the only true statesman to stand for a higher human relationship in the political sphere. Generations to come, it may be, will scarcely believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth."

Creativity across domains.
From these 7 case studies, a typical 'Exemplary Creator (EC) will have following path of life.

EC comes form a locale somewhat removed from the actual centers of power. Family is neither wealthy nor in dire financial straits and the life of young EC is reasonably comfortable in material sense. Young creator often feels a bit estranged from here biological family and an intimacy build with a nanny or maid or more distant member of her family. Family is not highly educated, but value learning.

EC's areas of strength emerged at a relatively young age and here family encouraged these interests. As an adolescent adult, EC ventures toward the city that is seen as a center of vital activities for her domain. With surprising speed, EC discovers in the metropolis a set of peers who share the same interests; together they explore the terrain of the domain.

With greater or lesser speed, EC discovers a problem area or realm of special interest, one that promises to take the domain into uncharted waters. This is highly charged moment. At this point, EC becomes isolated from her peers and must work mostly on her own. She sense that she is on the verge of a breakthrough that is as yet little understood, even by her. Surprisingly at this crucial moment, EC craves both cognitive and effective support, so that she can retain her bearings.

In the happy period, EC succeeds in one major breakthrough and the field rather rapidly acknowledge the power of the breakthrough. She is now self-confident , able to deal with false stars , proud and stubborn and reluctant to admit mistakes. Given EC's enormous energy and commitment, she has an opportunity for a second breakthrough which occurs a decade after the first one.

Inevitably with aging, limits EC's creative powers and she sometimes exploits young persons as a means of rejuvenation.

ECs are indeed self-confident, alert, unconventional hardworking, and committed obsessively to their work. Social life or hobbies are almost immaterial, representing at most a fringe on the creators work-time.

/note: since the tables are not coming inline, I use () & [] for subsequent colomns

Person (Strength) [Weakness]
Freud (Linguistic, personal) [spatial, musical]
Einstein (logical-spatial) [personal]
Picasso (spatial,personal, bodily) [scholastic]
Stravinsky (musical, other artistic)
Eliot (linguistic, scholastic) [musical, bodily]
Graham (bodily, linguistic) [logical-mathematical]
Gandhi (personal, linguistic) [artistic]

[Freud has intra-personal ability and Gandhi has inter-personal ability]

Indeed, of the seven creators, only Picasso comes close to the classic view of the prodigy - an individual performing at a master level skills still a child.

Picasso represents the opposite extreme; he seems to have obtained sadistic pleasure, if not creative inspiration from inducing discomfort in others.

Disregarding others (Difficult toward others) [ Frankly sadistic]
Einstein, (Eliot Gandhi,Stravinsky) [Picasso]
(Graham, Freud)

Ordinary self-promotion Extremely self-promotion
Einstein Picasso Eliot/Graham Stravinsky Gandhi Freud

A notable characteristic of creativity, I have argued, is its special amalgam of the childlike and the adult-like. This amalgam can occur both in the sphere of personality and in the sphere of ideas.

These creative individuals were involved in at least five district kinds of activities.

1. Solving a particular problem
2. Putting forth a general conceptual scheme
3. Creating a product
4. A stylized kind of performance
5. A performance for high stakes

The triangle of Creativity:
Person or talent
Domain in which person is working
Field of knowledgeable experts who evaluate works in a domain

October 14, 2010

Emotional Design - by Donald A. Norman

Why we love (or hate) everyday things.

[discuss three levels that we internally use to decide about any objects]

Visceral, behavioral & reflective are the three very different dimensions are interwoven through any design. The visceral level is fast; it makes rapid judgments of what is good or bad / safe or dangerous. Behavioral level is the site of most human behavior which is control signal to brain to rejudge the earlier decision. The highest layer is reflective layer or thoughts which watches over, reflects upon and tries to bias the behavior level. Of the three levels, reflective one is the most vulnerable to variability through culture, experience, education and individual differences.

Visceral design - appearance
Behavioral design - the pleasure and effective of use
reflective design - self-image, personal satisfaction & memories.

When activity is initiated from the lowest layer - visceral level, it is called bottom-up and when it comes from reflective level, it is called top-down behavior. Bottom up behavior /processes are those driven by perception whereas top-down are driven by thoughts. The result is that everything you do as has both a cognitive and and affective component - cognitive to assign meaning and effective to assign value.

Design requires creative thinking followed by considerable period of concentrated, focused effort. This is the reason when brainstorming is done, no criticism is allowed because it raise the level of anxiety among the participants.

Although the visceral level is the lowest, simplest and most primitive part of the brain, it is sensitive to a very wide range of conditions. This level is incapable of reasoning , of comparing a situation with past history. It works by 'pattern matching'. What are people are programmed for?

These conditions that arise positive effect include:
warm. comfortably lit places
temperate climate
sweet tastes and smells
bright, highly saturated hues
soothing sounds and simple melodies and rhythms
harmonious music and sounds
smiling faces
rhythmic beats
attractive people
symmetrical objects
rounded, smooth subjects
sensuous feelings sounds and shapes

Attractive things do work better - their attractiveness produces positive emotions, causing mental processes to be more creative more tolerant of minor difficulties.

Conditions that create negative effect include:
sudden, unexpected loud sounds or bright lights
looming objects (objects that appear to be about to hit the observer)
extreme hot or cold
extremely bright lights or loud sounds
empty, flat terrain (deserts)
crowded dense terrain (jungles or forests)
crowds of people
rotting smell, decaying foods
bitter tastes
sharp objects
harsh, abrupt sounds
grating and discordant sounds
misshapen human bodies
snakes and spiders
human feces (and its smell)
other people's body fluids

We like to keep souvenir which may not be attractive (e.g. Eiffel tower); the reason is it is rich in emotional meaning because of the memories they evoke (site visited)

At visceral level, physical features matters - look, feel and sound- dominate.

The four components that matter in behavioral design are function(performance), understandability, usability, and physical feel.

Reflective design, is all about message, about culture, meaning of a product or its use, its image(brand). "When you are wearing a 1000-dollar suite, you project a different aura. And then people treat you differently. You exude confidence and if you can feel confidence, you will act confident" said Mort Spivas (a super salesman). For fashion, emotion is the key.

'In designing pleasurable products' one of the few scientific studies pf pleasure and design, it lists four kinds of pleasure:

1. Physio-pleasure - pleasures of the body, sights, sounds, smells, taste & touch
2. Socio-pleasure - social pleasure derived from interaction with others
3. Psycho-pleasure - pleasure deals with people's reactions
4. Ideo-pleasure - this is where one appreciates, the aesthetics, or quality or enhances life.

In the famous book 'A pattern language' by Christopher Alexander describes 253 different design patterns derived from their observations and analysis. One of the 253 is pattern number 134 deals with the problem of overexposure.

pattern 134: Zen view. If there is a beautiful view, don't spoil it by building huge windows that gape incessantly as it. Instead, put the windows which look onto the view at places of transition - along paths, in hallways, in entry ways, on stairs, between rooms.

If the view window is correctly placed, people will see a glimpse of the distant view as they come up to the window or pass it: but the view is never visible from the places where people stay. the conclusion has two important implications. First the object must be rich and complex. Second, the viewer must be able to take time to study, analyze and consider such rich interplay: otherwise the scene becomes commonplace. If something is to give a lifelong pleasure, two components are required: the skill of the designer in providing a powerful, rich experience and the skill of the perceiver.

The factors of such the design skill are
1. Entices by diverting attention
2. Delivers surprising novelty
3. Goes beyond obvious needs and expectations
4. Creates an instinctive response.
5. exposes values or connections to personal goals
6. Promises to fulfill these goals
7. Leads the casual viewer to discover something deeper about the juicing experience
8. Fulfills these promises.

Books mentioned in this book (to read)
- The meaning of Things by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi & Eugene Rochberg-Halton.
- A pattern language' by Christopher Alexander

October 11, 2010

Women Food and God - by Geneen Roth

Women Food and God - by Geneen Roth
An unexpected path to almost everything.

[I am not sure how does this book got into my reading list. Its about controlling your food intake].

The shape of your body obeys the shape of your beliefs above love, value and possibility. To change your body, you must first understand that which is shaping it. Not fight it. not force it. Not deprive it. Because if you force it, and deprive and shame yourself into being thin, you end up a deprived, shamed, fearful person who will also be thin for 10 min. When you abuse yourself, you become a bruised human being no matter how much you weight.

Change, if it is to be long lasting, must occur on the unseen levels first. With understanding, inquiry,openness. With the realization that you can eat the way you do for lifesaving reasons. You will stop turning to food when you start understanding in your body, not just your mind, that there is something better than turning to food. Truth, not force, does the work of ending compulsive eating. Awareness, not deprivation, informs what you eat. Presence, not shame, changes how you see yourself and what you rely on.

The desire to eat when you are not hungry reveals what you truly believe about life here on earth. And once you know what you believe, you can begin to question if it is true. When you first begin questioning your core beliefs, you don't try to fix or change or improve them. You take a breath, then you take another. You notice sensations in your body, if there is tingling or pulsing or warmth or coolness. You notice what you feel, and even if you have always called this feeling, "sadness", you are curious about it as if there is no word associated with it, no label describing it, as if it is the first time, you have ever encountered it. is it a lump of blue burned ashes in your chest? Does it feel like a hole in your heart? When you notice it, does it open or change?

This kind of questioning provides a bridge between who you take yourself to be and who you actually are. Between what you tell yourself abased on your direct experience now. It allows you to distinguish between outdated familiar patterns and the current, living truth.

With awareness(the ability to know what you are feeling) and presence (the ability to inhabit a feeling while sensing that which is bigger than the feeling), it is possible to be with what you believe will destroy you without being destroyed.

The biggest obstacle to any kind of transformation is the voice that tells you it is impossible. The voice steps in when we want to challenge the status qua. The voice controls the impulses, mediates between the proper and the outrageous; one of its primary functions is to suppress behaviors that could lead to one's arrest.

When you disengage from the voice, you have access to yourself and everything. The voice renders you incapable of contacting your own authority. It treats you as a child in need of a moral compass, but it is north does not include any terrain that is fresh or new. Think of voice as a GPS from the twilight zone. When you follow its directions, you spend your life trying to find streets that no longer exist in a city that vanished decades ago Then you wonder why you feel so unbearably lost.

As famous Zen master said," There is no right. There is no wrong. But right is right and wrong is wrong."

The same is true for eating guidelines. Following them does not lead you to a life free from emotional eating. But you cannot free yourself from the obsession with food without following them. Food - as matter turned to spirit- is the direct connection between the physical and the spiritual, between what we put in our mouths and what we feel in our hearts. Passion, strength, joy cannot take root in exhausted, burdened, half-dead bodies.

You listen to your body. You'd eat to nourish yourself. You'd love yourself with food. If you pay attention to when you are hungry, what your body wants, what you are eating, when you have had enough, you end the obsession because obsession and awareness cannot coexist. When you pay attention to yourself, you notice the difference between being tired and being hungry, Between being satisfied and being full. Between wanting to scream and wanting to eat.

The more you pay attention, the more you fall in love with that which is not obsessed:that which is blazing itself through you. Food becomes a way to sustain that blaze. When that happens, you slowly realize that you are being lived by that which is God and you wouldn't have it any other way.

Envisioning Information by Edward R Tufte

Envisioning Information by Edward R Tufte
(Same author of famous book, 'The visual display of quantitative Information'.

The book is explaining how to represent rich visual world of experience and measurement in a paper(flatland). It is called 'cognitive art' by Philip Morrison. Mainly talking about importance of color combination in large data representations (e.g. maps, landscape etc)

Confusion and clutter are failures of design, not attributes of information. Among the most powerful devices for reducing noise and enriching the content of displays is the technique of layering and separation, visually stratifying various aspects of data.

The various elements collected together on flatland interact, creating non-information patterns and texture simply through their combined presence. Josef Alberts described this visual effect as 1*1=3. (e.g. keeping 5 pentagons each other in round, creates 6th pentagon inside).

Human eyes exquisitely sensitive to color variations: a trained colorist can distinguish among 1,000,000 colors; some 20,000 colors are accessible to many viewers.

The first rule of color composition : Pure, bright or very strong colors have loud, unbearable effects when they stand unrelieved over large areas adjacent to each other, but extraordinary effects can be achieved when they are sparingly on or between dull background tones. 'Noise is not music... only on a quite background can a colorful theme be constructed" - Windisch. If one limits strong, heavy, rich and solid colors to the small areas of extremes, then expressive and beautiful patterns occur. If one gives all, esp. large areas, glaring, rich colors, the picture have brilliant, disordered, confusing and unpleasant effects.

Second rule: The placing of light, bright colors mixed with white next to each other usually produces unpleasant results, esp. if the colors are used for large areas.

(color spots against a light gray or muted field highlight and italicize data, and also help to weave an overall harmony).

Third rule: Large area background or base-colors should do their work most quietly, allowing the smaller, bright areas to stand out most vividly, if the former are muted, grayish or neutral. For this very good reason, Grey is regarded in painting to be one of the prettiest, most important and most versatile of colors. Strongly muted colors, mixed with Grey, provide the best background for colored theme.

Fourth rule: If a picture is composed of two or more large, enclosed areas in different colors, then the picture falls apart. Unity will be maintained, however, if the colors of one area are repeatedly interrupted in the other, if the colors are interwoven carpet-fashion throughout the other. All colors of the main theme should be created like islands in the background color.