When Trails Of Science and Art Cross

What causes burn out? Is it the path to competency? It seems the world is full of paths to follow, many of which leave us isolated from different modes of thought. Different points of view. When your right brain and left brain argue interesting things develop. Was reading October’s copy of Smithsonian while baking in the Community Center sauna, one of the few places I’m still tethered to paper, when I read of a meeting between Margaret Geller, David DeVorkin, Atesh Sonneborn, and Mickey Hart. “So what?” you might ask. Better said, this was a meeting between an astrophysicist, a science historian, an ethnomusicologist, and, wait for it…. a drummer for the Grateful Dead. Ideas from strange places. Ya gotta love them. Ya gotta be open to them. All members of the meeting are at the top of their game, simply different games. Hart, of the Dead, called the meeting. He … Continue reading

The Power Of “What Can I Do?” and Puppies Behind Bars

“Puppies Behind Bars started dog tags when I, just as a private citizen, would read the paper every day and just hear about the number of our men and women who were getting wounded. And I said, what can I do? I’m sitting here in my comfort of New York and they’re in Iraq and Afghanistan, what can I do?” -Gloria Gilbert Stoga on Fresh Air August 12, 2009 Innovation starts and stops on the personal level. There are many things society, organizations, friends, strangers, business, and random acts of kindness can do to encourage innovation. But in the end it takes individuals who want to make a difference. What Can I Do? Is such a powerful statement. It has to rival the power of Why? In the lexicon of innovation that happens. Puppies Behind Bars has been in the news a lot lately, and it’s been a growing organization … Continue reading

Why Is Competition Good?

Was flipping channels and came across a story on Russian TV about the first object on the moon. Courtesy of the USSR the Luna 2 landed (well, intentionally crashed actually) 50 years ago today, September 14th, 1959. Haven’t seen it anywhere else and may have forgotten except for this amazing world of new media where international viewpoints are as accessible as the local sports scores. Luna 2 woke up U.S. politicians and scientists a little like a snooze alarm repeating two years after Sputnik 1 flew by, helping drive a space race that motivated scientific effort through the 60’s and well into the 70’s. Nothing landed safely until Luna 9 (again U.S.S.R.) in 1966. The list of stuff that was crashed into the moon getting ready for brave crew of Apollo 11 is really quite long. Would the U.S. or the U.S.S.R. have had the political will to spend the … Continue reading

Biomutualism, Breaking Down Silos, and Finding Inspiration

Developing a structure that encourages cross pollination of ideas is difficult at best. We are barely able to keep up with all the advances within a discipline, let alone take time to see what is happening in other fields. But as you may know from my love of ideas from strange places, I’m a big believer in breaking those silos down to drive innovative thought. In that vein I came across this Ted Talk from June by Robert Full called Learning from the gecko’s tail. His presentation demonstrates the powerful possibilities of cross discipline approaches to innovation. A few quotes really stood out: “[Biomutualism is] An association between biology and another discipline where each discipline reciprocally advances the other to where the collective advances that emerge are beyond any single field.” And: “We need to build biomutualisms like I showed that will increase the pace of basic discovery, in their … Continue reading

Design By Committee.

A good friend pointed this sign out to me the other day and I had to laugh. Looks like your typical, run of the mill parking sign designed to protect precious slots for diners at Andy’s Deli, a popular spot on the NW side. Perfectly normal, and yet… 35 minute parking? I’ve seen 10, 15, 30, 45… but 35? I get the feeling there is a committee at work here. And that they thought very hard about this sign. Parking is a critical retail element that can make or break a business, so I’m glad they thought about it. Creativity is messy when it comes to collaborative projects. There are committees, layers of approval, regulations, stakeholders. Run well with inspiration collaboration can take us beyond ourselves, creating something no single individual could have come up with alone. Run poorly and, well, you’ve probably already run into that so no need … Continue reading