Showing posts with label Creativity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Creativity. Show all posts

September 27, 2019

That Decisive Qualitative Edge

So I am reading this book called "Israel's Edge."

It's basically about their elite genius program, "Talpiot," in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).  

Each year the program accepts only the top 50 out of 100,000 graduating high school students for a 9-year commitment. 

There are the mathematicians, physicists, and computer scientists that help give the IDF the cutting edge in military R&D and other innovations. 

These are the brain trust behind Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system and Trophy tank active protection system and many more both military and industrial advances. 

This program was born after the almost disastrous 1973 Yom Kippur War where Israel misjudged the intelligence and the advances in their enemies capability and almost lost the war. 

I like the philosophy of General Yitzhak Ben-Israel who understands the importance of challenging the status quo and looking differently at critical situations and avoiding confirmation bias:
My method is not to look for supporting evidence. I look for refuting evidence...you see one white swan, then a second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. You still can't conclude that all swans are white...nature builds us to be inductive, to make generalizations from past experience...this standard way of scientific thinking can be limiting and destructive."
Instead we must be continuously curious, think outside the box, be creative, and innovate. 

Especially, where we don't have a quantitative advantage like with Israel surrounded by many enemies, then we must rely on a very sharp qualitative edge. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
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August 25, 2019

Tyson's Corner Wall Art

Thought this was cool at Tyson's Corner Mall in Virginia. 

Create your own wall art. 

People passing by in the mall, just pull over and start drawing with their fingers in these cool colorful shiny sequin tiles. 

One way moves the sequins to one color and the other direction to an alternate color. 

Some people went up to draw and then took a picture of themselves next to their artwork. 

Everyone loves a little creativity (even in between shopping). ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 7, 2019

Ocean of Words

I really like this phrase from a book that I'm reading called "Like Dreamers."
An ocean of words and a desert of ideas.

Too often, we hear people who like to hear themselves talk, think very highly of themselves, show off, or just spout away. 

And while they say a lot...

There may not be a lot there. 

New ideas, thoughts, ways of looking at things, innovation, creativity, outside the box thinking--that's like a desert!

In Yiddish (and it's always funnier in Yiddish), we say:
A big, big mouth, and a tiny, tiny head.

Similarly, in Hebrew, there is phrase that translates to:
Say a little, and do a lot. 

Sometimes, the smartest people are the ones who use their words wisely, strategically, with depth and meaning, and when they really have something to say.

It's at that time that you better be listening.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 27, 2019

Is Beer A Color?

So thought this was an interestingly funny flip chart. 

It's titled "Colors".

And it has the typical ones you'd expect: blue, red, green, yellow, orange, purple, black, white, grey, brown, and tan. 

But thrown into the mix is beer (and Summer)--maybe these go together! 

Perhaps, someone had a little too much beer when asked about colors.

On second thought, maybe beer is a color.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 18, 2019

Beautiful Architecture, Washington DC

Check out this beautiful exterior architecture.  

This fine exquisite pattern is all around this building by Metro Center. 

I think this must've been restored over the last few years, because I don't remember it being this colorful and awesome in the past. 

Civilization can still create some amazing works...whether technology, medical cures, and even beautiful pieces of artwork. 

Now we just need to proceed with the positives of creativity and productivity without destroying ourselves with indifference, dysfunction, and mismanagement in the process. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 16, 2018

Breaking The Paradigm

So a colleague has this sticker (with a do not image) on their computer that says:

"But we've always done it that way."

They told me a funny story about the lady that made the ham with the head and tail ends always cut off.

One day, her daughter asked, "Why mom do you make the ham with the head and tail ends always cut off?"

The mother answers and says because "My mother always made it that way!"

So they went to her mother and ask the question and they get the same answer again.

Finally, they went to her great grandmother and ask, "Why do you always make the ham with the head and tail ends cut off?"

And the old lady takes a breath, pauses, and says, "Because, we didn't have a pan big enough to fit the whole ham!"

Just thought this was a great lesson on critical thinking and also on "asking why."

Change can be brought about by questioning underlying assumptions and historical ways of doing things and bringing an open mind and fresh light to it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 13, 2018

Ship+ In A Bottle

You ever wonder how they build that big ship in that little bottle. 

Someone needs very dexterous hands and a lot of patience to put the pieces through the opening of the bottle and assemble the ship inside. 

But this second grader, Dylan Yasseri, upped the game on this whole concept and imagined a whole beach in the bottle. 

The sand, ocean, sky, birds, crabs, fish, umbrella, and even the shack (snack?) bar!

This is one reason that kids are so awesome--their purity of heart and their endless imaginations make almost anything possible.

The fantasy becomes the reality. 

The colors are magical too here. 

If adults could maintain even half the heart and creativity of our children--oh what a world it could be. ;-)

(Source: Andy Blumenthal Photo of Dylan's beautiful painting).
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April 22, 2018

Sugarloaf Crafts Festival


I love this time of year when the weather gets nice and we can do more outdoor activities. 

Today, we took the opportunity to go to the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival. 

There were so many vendors with artistic works in metal, glass, art, jewelry, leather, photography, pottery, and more. 

Everyone seemed to be looking for those one-of-a-kind special pieces.

I did manage to find a very special colorful menorah, which I had my eye on since last year, and which I was glad that I waited for because the artisan made it even better and more beautiful than before. 

Again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and most things were an easy pass on, but some things definitely caught my eye and attention. 

The photo here was one of them where the artist was selling pots, and he set up this plastic chicken--as if the chicken was set and ready to go into the oven. 

Creativity can definitely get weird, but everyone likes a standout. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumethal)
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April 19, 2018

Make The Right Move To Agile Education

So, unfortunately, our education system in this country is highly troubled

Generally, we teach by strict curriculum forcing children to learn what we consider "the fundamentals".

But they are anything but that and kids come out not knowing how to do the very basics or survive in life. 

Test scores have not been improving--that's not the student's fault, but the education system, which cannot force feed what students minds are rejecting as "old school" and out of touch.

Not only don't we fish for them, but we don't even teach them to fish. 

We throw at them esoteric subjects to memorize, spit back, and forget. 

Wash, rinse, repeat. 

We waste years of their life and the productivity and creativity of society. 

Ever really wonder why GDP growth is only around 2% despite all the rapid technology that we are rolling out. 

It is just not drones that we are rolling off the assembly line, but human automatons as well. 

This is where agile education comes into aspect. 

Like with software development, we can gather requirements and build, and then show the customer, and then refine again and again. 

We let the development grow and mature naturally as the code takes shape. 

No more years of development and voila here's something for you, and with the customer exclaiming loudly, "What the F*** is that!"

So too with education, we need to follow the spirit and train of thought naturally. 

Where we let the students guide the teacher to what their questions are, what they are interested in learning about, where their creative juices take them, and what is relevant. 

Rigidity in the education system leaves our students as dead ends, and not as critical thinkers and innovators.

We have a dearth of leaders we can look up to and a plethora of people that couldn't survive the Spring without their Visa/Mastercard.  

Ever wonder why so many of our great innovators are college dropouts who built their companies in their garages instead of occupying a seat in a classroom and filling their heads with teacher rhetoric. 

Most people learn by seeing, internalizing, and doing useful things for themselves, not by listening and violently rejecting the irrelevant in their lives. 

Let us release the choking reigns of our education system. 

Teachers should be able to follow the questions and interests and natural evolution of thought and creativity and wonderment with their students. 

The mark of learning is not the answers on a standardized test, but the light bulb of critical thinking and innovation from our progeny. 

Exploration and discovery and skills to be self-sufficient and survive are far more beneficial than what we are giving our children today.

We owe them a better education, but we are not delivering because we are the automatons of yesteryear. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 20, 2017

Hammer and Nail

Often, we have a one size fits all orientation to life. 
"To a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

We try to solve fresh daily problems, yet everything we are going through is seen through our preset filters and mindsets. 

In many cases, we are simply and undeniably biased, mistakenly believing that what worked in the past or for particular challenges will always work in the future and for all our problems. 

We stereotype people and races and see them as either "the good guys" or "the bad guys"--but there's no grey in there to further differentiate.  

Also, we work in a comfortable zone of blind routine thinking that we wish it's all as simple as wash, rinse, and repeat.

But while some die-hard habits and lessons learned in life are very valuable and should be mentally recorded and referenced, seeing life through a single, or even a few handy-dandy, filters can prove disastrous when things or times change. 

For example, one big criticism of our dealing in Washington is that:
"Politicians, like generals, have a tendency to fight the last war."

Instead, if we evaluate the nuances of each person and particular situation, we can work to get a more detailed evaluation, and potentially be able to fine-tune approaches for what needs to be done, and how, with each and every one, accordingly. 

Chucking a batman belt approach to just using whatever tools are immediately available, can facilitate a broader and more creative approach to problem-solving. 

Sure, to a certain degree, we are creatures of habit--and we intuitively rely on what's worked in the past, and reject and shun what hasn't--but past experiences do not necessarily foretell future successes. 

If we don't stay agile and resilient, we can easily get blown away by the situation or the competition. 

There is always a new challenge to test us and someone coming up who may be better, faster, or stronger that wants to try and take us on or down. 

A shotgun approach, in lieu of a more precise surgical strike, can result in a lot of collateral damage and maybe even missing the mark altogether. 

Think, think, think. 

Focus on what needs to get done--apply lessons learned as applicable, but also look for new sources and methods to build a bigger and more versatile tool chest.

In the walking dead, a hammer to the head works fairly well on all Zombies, but sometimes there are too many zombies in the hoard or even more dangerous living people and situations to attend to. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to stevepb)
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August 1, 2016

Technology Hope For The Future

Ok, this gives me tremendous technology hope for the future. 

This 4-year old kid is working diligently on her smartphone, while her mom is shopping not far away in the clothing store at the mall. 

She didn't seem to care about the clothes hanging all around her or the fun in the mall or really anything else at all...she was content with her tech!

And while I certainly believe in work-life balance and in kids being able to really jsut be kids, there was just something so amazing about the promise of technology, especially for those who are now growing up with it. 

After all, it was very cute how intent this kid was with all the technology power right in the palm of her hands, and I could easily see a budding CIO in the making here. 

And of course, with even better and more capable technology in the future. 

Through technology and belief, we can find hope in the impossible. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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July 31, 2016

What Is The Creative Process and Success?


One of my colleagues at work had this hanging on his wall. 

It caught my eye and I thought it was worth sharing.

The creative process (ah, not my style of working, however--I am too much of a planner and worrier): 

1) Work Begins - It starts with, "I have a bright idea" or a "go do" from some other genius. 

2) F*ck Off - Then comes some procrastination and maybe thought process about what you are going to do, but in the meantime, everyone leave me alone to percolate and brew. 

3) Panic - Of sh*t, time is running out, and where the h*ck am I on this project, better get my a*s in gear. 

4) All the work while crying - Hurry, hurry, hurry and get it done. Wa, I feel like such a crybaby and wreck, but I'm going to finish it, I am. 

5) Deadline - Made it by a hair...uh, the whole thing was easy, for me, as pie!

Another thing that I heard this week is that "success is failing to fail."  

Think about that a minute.  ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Toothpaste for Dinner)
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June 15, 2016

What's Old And New

Just want to share a quote that a colleague said they saw recently displayed at the Kennedy Center:

"I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones." 

- John Cage

Perhaps, it's not what's old or what's new that is scary, but simply what is unconstrained evil in men's hearts at any time or place. 

It's the age old fight of good over evil, and when evil gets the upper hand, even if just for a short time, it can be the most unbelievable and frightening to face off with. 

Let's give new ideas plenty of opportunity as long as they are based in kindness, compassion, and humanity. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 16, 2015

Wild Advertising Art

I took this photo of an ad for Milagro Tequila on the side of a tour bus in Washington, D.C.

Milagro ("Miracle") is a company that prides itself on it's collaboration with artists to create cool murals to advertise it's liquor. 

Tequila is made from the sweet, fruity, blue agave plant from northwest Mexico, hence the writing over the mural saying, "Agave Expressionism."

It must be challenging to look out the windows of this tour bus covered in this very blue mural and messaging. 

Why is this ad effective? 

First, it is intense and exciting--the vibrant colors, the big mask with the bulging eyes, and the skulls with the green leafy stuff growing out of the head. 

Second, it really is a work of art, and you wouldn't expect to see this on a regular tour bus shlepping around town. 

Third, the cultural contrast between the Mexican artistic expressionism and the rest of the comparatively humdrum city life is standout. 

Fourth, after a long hard day at work, people are tired, thirsty, and ready for some fun--so this is a welcome message.

Overall, this has the creativity and connection with the people to hit the mark--pretty neat. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 15, 2015

The Wrong Way To Test

As educators are pushed to improve students' test scores, sometimes they run afoul.

In Atlanta, 8 former public school educators were sentenced to prison--three were sentenced to as long as seven years--for a conspiracy inflating student scores by "changing answers" to the tests. 

Interestingly, in another article today, we see that not only are students put to the test, but so are job applicants

In fact, "Eight of the top 10 U.S. private employers now administrator pre-hire tests in their job applications."

While testing can certainly show some things, they can also miss the point completely. 

I know some people that test wonderfully--straight A students, 100+ on all exams, 4.0 GPAs--and for the most part, they are wonderful at memorizing and prepping for the test...but sometimes not much else. 

Some of them have no practical knowledge, little critical thinking or creativity, and are even sort of jerky. 

And others who test poorly may be well thought, articulate, hands-on, and good with people--I'd take a million of them. 

"Failing the test" is not necessarily getting it wrong...it may just be errant to the current educational and professional testing system that values memorization and spitting back over insight, innovation, and practical skills. 

The challenge is how do we compare and contrast students and professionals competing for schools and career advancement, if we don't easily have something standardized like a test to rally around. 

Maybe there is no getting away from more holistic assessments--where we look at bona fide life and career experience, a wide range of recommendations from teachers, coaches, and supervisors, hard and soft skills (including communications and interpersonal), professional and personal ethics, genuine interest in the pursuit, and the motivation to work hard and contribute.  

Tests--students cheat, educators game the system, memorization and robotic answers are the name of the game to get the A, and boring homogeneity prevails--but it's often the easy way out to evaluating candidates for a phony success. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 18, 2015

Seeing Double

I had to do a double take seeing this yesterday in D.C.

No this is not someone leaning up against a mirror.

This is two people, back-to-back on the train.

They have the same jacket, haircut, glasses, as well as pants and shoes (although you can't see these in the picture). 

They are looking in same general direction. 

The only difference is the collar that's up on the guy on the right. 

Imagine if we all looked and dressed and even acted identically...one big homogeneous and ultimately boring and uncreative society.

Please give me some individualism, spontaneity, and make me whole. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 2, 2015

Design Is Cool

I took this photo of this Design logo on the side of a bag this guy was carrying. 

It is from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in NYC (and if I am ever back in town there, I'd like to go there).

I like this logo a lot...everything from DE*SIGN to all the descriptions of design and why it's so important to us.

- "Design is art people use." (Design is artisitic and creative)

- "Design is communication." (A picture is worth a thousand words)

- "Design is the stuff around us." (It's practical and functional)

- "Design is a verb." (Design is something we do from coming up with the concept to creating the end product)

- "Design is systems." (Design is how we format and package and is integral to making the content easy to use and come alive)

- "Design is a way of thinking." (Design is big-picture thinking that connects the dots)

- "Design is problem-solving." (Design uses visualization to understand and think through process and problems). 

A good designer is invaluable and design is absolutely cool. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 23, 2014

Freedom Pays

Another great article by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal today.

The usual saying is that freedom is not free (i.e. that we must fight for it). 

But Stephens shows us that Freedom actually pays. 

It is our freedom that helps us to be creative and innovative like no others on this Earth.

Stephens comments on his growing up as an American abroad:

"I find it amazing that, in the U.S., I can drink water straight from a tap, that a policeman has never asked me for a 'contribution,' that my luggage has never been stolen, that notbody gets kidnapped for ransom, that Mao-esque political purges are conducted only inthe editorial of the New York Times."

Instead of having to focus on fear in everyday life--we can use our energies to plow creatively into the next great thing for mankind. 

In sync with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, when we are not scavaging for food and huttling in some abandoned building or cave to protect ourselves from marauding bandits or corrupt dictators, we can self-actualize ourselves by leaps and bound contributions through science, technology, engineering, mathematics, humanities and arts. 

Our society looks for opportunities, rather than having to look over our shoulder at daily threats.

We run to invest in great ideas, rather than have to use our money to escape the corruption and tyranny that surround us.

With the holidays are upon us, it's a perfect time to reflect on our good fortune at being part of a democracy where freedom and human rights power our success.

Thank G-d for where we live and what we are able to achieve. ;-)

(Source photo: here with attribution to Eric Magnuson)
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October 31, 2014

Draining Our Life Force

Here's a photo I snapped of one of the Fantastic Four (superheroes).

He's telling the evil Galactus, who drains planets of their life's energy, to "Stop!"

He yells at Galactus, "You have facilitated the Corporate Fascist Agenda long enough."

I think we all know a Galactus (or two)!

In every company and agency...there are individuals that seem to literally suck the creativity, problem solving, and life force from the bowels of the organization. 

They complain incessantly, make excuses for their lack of support and contribution, erect obstacles to progress, and needlessly put down other people's ideas and contributions.

These Galactuses facilitate their own or a corporate agenda in order to raise their stature, power, and purse.

They can be--almost G-d like figures in the organization that are feared and cowed to--but in the long term it's counterproductive to enslave humanity to them.

You can be like the Fantastic Four, who recognizes problem people and calls them out for bad behavior--you can be part of changing the culture from a BIG VILIAN negative to a SUPERHERO positive.

It starts, like in the comic--by identifying their personal agendas and bad behaviors and telling them to stop as well as by working with or around them to facilitate progress.

Galactus, you are finished! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 9, 2014

Head Ripped

Took this photo today in Washington, D.C.

Someone drew this funny face on a USPS Priority Postal Sticker. 

But the top was ripped off...ouch!

And so it ends up looking like he's screaming that somebody ripped off/open the top of his peabrain head. 

I love a little creativity...where's my fix? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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