Category: Innovation

14
Apr

Design Thinking The Steve Jobs Way

Image via successfulworkplace.org

Image via successfulworkplace.org

Humans innovate. We are wired and curious seekers. And when it comes to work, we are, it seems, inexorably driven to tinker and improve the patterns, people and processes. We can’t help but seek out the novel ways to create and produce our services and products. Alexis de Toqueville in the 18th Century wondered about the “American” temperament of industriousness, what he and many after him, referred to as a resolved determination to seek more and more value in everything.

Interconnecting with what was thought to be a superficial “seeking of value,” is the active pursuit of innovation. It’s no small task to step back from habits and mindsets of work and build better products or engineer services people feel they must have.  Steve Jobs, heralded as the innovator archetype, embodies this philosophy and action, with his ambition and obsessive approach to product design.

But the way we frame Steve Jobs often overlooks his intellectual depth, passion and purpose. It’s an unconscious move, a mental shortcut really. It’s easier to evaluate successes backwards than it is to study the billions of people who almost succeed or fail any given year and to see what works.

Jobs’ many successes, the ones that matter to design thinkers, were his grit, systemic thinking, flexibility and originality. More than a leader of design-driven products, he drove businesses to understand the value designers bring to the bottom line and innovative company cultures. He taught us that design thinking is radical and cyclical. It seeks to outpace demand, and bring excitement to crowded and competitive markets. More than corporate value, thinkers like Jobs normalized the belief that designers were integral to business thinking.

There are plenty of books about Jobs, some good, but most unexceptional. I want to draw attention to a recently published book that isn’t about Jobs, but nonetheless carries his design-thinking legacy and places it firmly and realistically into our time.

The Rise of the DEO, Leadership By Design by Maria Guidice and Christopher Ireland is a how-to book that doesn’t promise you will become a design thinker — but you just might. By way of clear prose and case studies, the authors take you out of yourself and hold up a mirror of reality. Times are quickly changing; it’s no longer enough to think like Jobs. To stay relevant, firms need to find and retain talent who will work, experiment and work some more. Innovative firms are run with the help of innovative people who ask for help, make mistakes and do what scientists have done for centuries — laboriously use their minds to craft solutions. Take a step back and think harder and smarter for solutions. It’s the 10,000-hour rule with mind maps and directions.

So surround yourself with people who will push, challenge, instigate, and affirm (or not) your pursuit of becoming a design thinker.

 

04
Apr

Millennials Make Us Better Creatives

Image via blog.mindjet.com

Image via blog.mindjet.com

Many of our colleagues recently gathered in London for the PromaxBDA Europe conference. One of the talks discussed provided some insight into new data around Millennials, specifically on their hopes, dreams and trust levels.

For us in the entertainment and branding spaces, Millennials are important. Their tastes, interests and desires will directly imprint and shape our creative efforts, process and work. Depending on how young or old you skew this group, there are any number of key and actionable insights for media and entertainment. Our job is to translate these values into tangible creative and experiences. We interpret them in order to inspire and connect with Millennials in particular — and audiences in general — in a genuine and meaningful way.

According to the last Pew Research, Millennials describe themselves as motivated by the values of individuality, authenticity, optimism and integrity. At the same time, however, this group has surprisingly little trust for people and society. A scant 19% of respondents said they trusted other people and governments. This is not often seen in this way nor explicitly mentioned as a trend we should worry about. I think we should at the very least think about this paradox, and turn it into an opportunity.

How can people have so little trust and at the same time describe themselves as generally optimistic? In Psychology there’s a term called cognitive dissonance. It is a situation where a person feels uncomfortable, stressed even, because they hold two contradictory values at the same time. I want to prod us creatives into a state of “dissonance” because I think it will, in the long run, make us think and work smarter.

We shouldn’t be so sanguine about Millennials’ distrust because we are, in our unique way, functioning as institutions just like any other social or political organization. We create within the social fabric, shaping and distributing stories, ideas and values, into content. Whether we’re experimenting with the latest ad tech, native advertising or app, thinking about and understanding our cultural role, and the way we create to savvy digital natives, gives us a chance to work more intelligently and differently.

Talk about disruption. Listening to young audiences and consumers, building their trust and earning their respect — now that’s creative that I want to be a part of.

 

21
Mar

Why Neil deGrasse Tyson Rocked SXSWi

Photo via Network World

Photo via Network World

My goal at SXSWi this year was to not only make it into the actual keynote presentations (which meant arriving early!), but to attend sessions that were outside of my comfort zone. I wanted to feel inspired in my everyday life and broaden my perspective both personally and professionally.

Well, I have to say that Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson (host of FOX’s rebooted “Cosmos” show) handily — and emphatically — delivered. His Bill Cosby-like comedic chops, likeable personality, vast knowledge of science and uncanny ability to make the subject accessible to anyone — made me want to jump back into my grade school science class and learn all over again.

Tyson is, by far, one of the most engaging speakers I’ve ever come across in any conference, festival or event. And it was clear by the wild applause, hoots and hollers from the audience that they were just as captivated by him as I was.

Said Tyson: “I don’t want to hand out answers. When you explore, all those answers come for free.”

One of my favorite parts was when Tyson talked about how children perceive the world, and aren’t afraid to challenge or question the status quo. He shared a hilarious story about how he encouraged his daughter to take a skeptical view and test the myth of the Tooth Fairy. Rather than flat-out denying the childhood fantasy figure’s existence, he equipped his daughter to do experiments with her friends. What did they do? They put their teeth under their pillows without telling their parents!

My takeaway from Dr. Tyson’s keynote is to see the world through the lens of a child. Never suppress your curiosity. Test and try things out for yourself. Don’t just accept what others tell you as truth. Keeping an open mind and open heart will lead to many discoveries about yourself and the universe around you.

10 Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes To Fuel Your Love Of Science

Courtesy of Mashable

1. “A scientist is just a kid who never grew up.”

2. “Science literacy is how much do you still wonder about the world around you. What is your state of curiosity?”

3. “You can’t just choose what is true and what isn’t.”

4. “All the nine-planet people out there, just get over it. It’s eight!”

5. “There’s so much to be impressed with in the universe. I don’t want you to be distracted by things in the universe that are not.”

6. “One reason we should go space: You know the dinosaurs would have gone there if they could have. Dinosaurs didn’t have opposable thumbs or a space program, though.”

7. “To be scientifically literate is to know when someone else is full of bologna sandwich.”

8. “The missing skepticism is the problem.”

9. “If we’re trying to go into the 21st century and be competitive, we can’t just believe we’ll be competitive.”

10. “I would encourage you to not become attached to the number of things. There’s no physics in the number of things.”

And a brilliant piece by Fredric Paul of Network World on how Dr. Tyson’s insights could apply to the world of enterprise technology and networking.

— Michele Lu Kumar, Principal of Priya PR

14
Mar

Design, Strategy & Visual Thinking: Your How-To Guide To Thinking Differently

Image via thoughtleaderzone.com. Illustration by hikingartist.com.

Image via thoughtleaderzone.com. Illustration by hikingartist.com.

Design is not “gift wrapping,” but an integral part of any competitive business and strategic branding goal.  Those of us in the entertainment space are fortunate because we do not have to relentlessly “prove” the power of our creative departments nor do we usually have to fight for the right to be a part of the decision-making process.

However, in many industries, design talent is siloed into marketing departments. Here, far downstream from other decision makers, the visual and content creative teams only get meaningfully involved in brand work after management decides to launch or operationalize a particular initiative. This is the “design gift wrapping” approach. Thus, the power of innovative creative thinking isn’t really leveraged pointedly into business decisions, market research or strategic planning.

In this post, I want to talk generally about the competitive advantages of design; what is often referred to as design thinking. Whether you make decisions about marketing budgets in broadcast cable departments, generate content for digital campaigns, or lead initiatives about how to best spend creative resources, thinking about the strategic purpose of design benefits you, your career and the company.

One way to do this is to think of creative as a strategy role. What does this mean? We’re referring to when we look at consulting firms that help corporate clients integrate solutions into their company organization — whether it’s servicing their end clients or streamlining technology developments. It could be many things, but it’s simplest to think about their role as improving performance in targeted areas of the company.

The changing market landscape has meant many companies have been scrambling to make these changes, but without paying high consultant fees. In fact, in a recent Harvard Business Review piece, the consulting industry is going through disruptive times, forcing it to change how it helps companies make change.

Why not help your organization make change from within?

  • Do Your Research. Spend 30 minutes a day doing research about your company’s product, services and reputation. Look for social science research measuring sentiment and observing trends. Read what non-biased sources say about the space your company works in. Ask yourself what your company should be doing in 5 and 10 years.

  • Go To Emerging Markets. You may not be able to go to the outskirts of the globe and open up shop, but you and your team can take on an untested and unfamiliar initiative. You will gain experience and test your skills in ways you can’t imagine. The experience could dramatically shift your perspective about your work, projects, department and company.

  • Model. Design thinking emerges when doing things. Depending on your particular role, use your skillset, be it visual or writing, to push yourselves along. A good way to do this is to schedule short blocks of time with your team or others and begin talking about the newest trends or ideas that are already out there. Talk about what works and what doesn’t. In these conversations, you will find moments that will pique your interest, and take shape into a future project.

— Kate Canada Obregon, VP of Oishii Creative

08
Mar

28
Feb

Five Tips For Making Your Office A Creative Space

oishii-studio-pics-08Our VP, Kate Canada Obregon, wrote a blog post on “Five Tips for Making Your Office a Creative Space,” which appeared in The Agency Post today.

An excerpt:

Here are five elements that can contribute to making your space the type of generative office that supports and amplifies creativity:

1. Familiar People

Researchers have demonstrated that collaborative work environments create happier and more productive employees. J. Richard Hackman, one of the world’s leading researchers on organizational behavior, found group work, particularly a familiar group, to be more productive when compared to individuals who worked alone. When a familiar group is encouraged to share ideas, hear other perspectives and receive constructive feedback, they report greater satisfaction with their job, their peers and culture.

2. Collision Brainstorming

Writing in the New York Times, Greg Lindsay observes that successful tech firms know the benefits of people coming together for an impromptu brainstorm via happy accidents and aggressively seek what Google calls the “casual collisions” or Yahoo’s “serendipity” meetings. This is because research strongly suggests that structured group work has limits. In the new context of an informal chat, the brain has a chance to re-engage and renew a problem, and possibly come up with new approaches or ways of thinking.

3. Solitary Creativity

Most neuroscience studies on creativity and problem-solving demonstrate the powers of intermittent group work coupled with “incubation” or quiet time and solo work. This is where the lounge and reading areas and ping-pong tables that startups are famous for come in. After a group meeting, the brain needs some distraction and ambient activity to reassess a problem or create. Neuroscientists such as Rex Jung and others have studied the brain in “action,” and observed what is called fluid or dynamic activity in the brain during quiet times of relaxation and calm, which could yield high creative output benefits.

4. Tactile Engagement

If you consume lots of data everyday and need to recall information quickly, there’s new research showing that keeping information slows down our ability to remember and process. One powerful method for what is called “embedding” information is getting tactile at work. Embracing the old-school pen and pencil during a meeting, or taking marginalia in a book can code information into our brains in ways that author Clive Thompson suggests are deeper and more meaningful than on touchscreens. That’s why writable walls, movable whiteboards and active work sessions are excellent ways at getting the brain and body physically involved in learning and doing, fostering neuron activity in the brain.

5. Good Reading Materials

A well-stocked library in your office gives people places to relax between projects, but reading has other powerful cognitive benefits. Recently, researchers at Emory University observed changes in the executive functional part of brain in fiction readers. Participants in the study showed heightened neural activity in the part of the verbal and visual sections of the brain when reading. So, not only were subjects able to “imagine” a character, they were able to activate senses in their brains — deepening their awareness and imaginative capabilities.

See more at The Agency Post.

21
Feb

Open Offices: Fostering Creativity or Killing Productivity?

Open OfficeFor 60 years, the open office floorplan has been both the standard and ideal for office design. Mirroring economic changes since the 1950s and into the 1990s, architects have designed work environments for the booming “knowledge industries,” spaces where people create and produce ideas as part of their company bottom lines.

Symbolically speaking, people like to work in open office spaces, because they report feeling connected to the company’s organizational mission and to their fellow office mates. These spaces do well at creating “communities.” And while the intangible benefits are apparent, studies conducted by organizational psychologists on large corporations show mixed results on the measures of productivity.

Workers in open offices complain most often about noise, loss of privacy and constant distraction. What open floorplans do really well for creative industries is provide two key components: Collisions and Quiet.

* Collisions or happy accidents among workers can happen anywhere from a meeting to lunch, coffee or a chance meet-up in the hallway. Researchers have shown that these collisions can be methods to generate fertile conversations and move along ideas previously discussed.

* Quiet is incubation time. Many problems or ideas people are tasked to bring to market require vast amounts of time. This is because the creative process has many stages, one of which is when ideas go into hiding, or into unconscious activity and emerges again in a new context; in a meeting, for example.

Kevin Johnson has said “Chance favors the well connected.” By that, we think he means the office that is open in connectivity, but also open to the processes required for real creativity and innovation.

We cannot create without other people. We are social animals. Some philosophers and scientists argue that physical and sensorial evocative environments act like our scaffolding into the world, giving us humans opportunities to deepen our brain activity and expand into the world.

What is your office experience like? Do you think it fosters collaboration and ideation?

14
Feb

How To “Think Like A Tourist”

Conference RoomMany people have asked us about the meaning behind the need to “think like a tourist” — a topic we’ve covered before on our blog. It sounds fun and slightly risky, but what is it? How does it help people come up with innovative solutions? Push along a brainstorming session? How does thinking help people think creatively?

“Thinking like a tourist” is what psychologists and scientists refer to as the attitude of perceptual innocence. Basically, it’s a learned method of thinking and ideation; of looking at ordinary objects around us, focusing on their details and then letting the mind wander gently to make connections, or even make remote or obscure links to the object. Once learned and practiced, it opens the door to playful thinking and experimentation, and can be brought back to any number of problems we are playing with on any given day.

Think of it this way: it’s like waking up in a new city. Walking out of your hotel room and tossing out the GPS. It’s taking in the smells, sights and sounds. Your senses see the ordinary sights in a new context. And in the process, you awaken new connections, such as finding the best corners to explore and visit.

There are any number of creativity techniques: divergent thinking, vertical thinking, and lateral ideation. Thinking about the ordinary in extraordinary ways opens up new possibilities, and takes us into the unknown.

Try this “tourist” technique today — and notice how differently your everyday world and situations look to you.

08
Nov

Big Fish: Taking You To The Depths Of Mindfulness

bigfishRecently, we talked about How Meditation Makes You a Mindful Multitasker, but the benefits of mindful meditation go even beyond improving our ability to juggle our work, it’s also a cognitive workout. We spend so much time focusing on improving our bodies that it’s easy to forget about giving our brains a little strength training as well. In a recent article in The Atlantic titled “How Meditation Works,” Dr. Katherine MacLean, a psychologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine stated that when “you strip it of its religio-historical context, mindfulness meditation is essentially cognitive fitness with a humanist face.” Studies have shown that just like other forms of exercise, the more you do it, the more of a lasting impact it has.

Filmmaker David Lynch is a firm believer in this concept and has even published his thoughts on meditation and creativity in the collection Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity. In it, he describes the creative benefits he’s received from practicing meditation and how it’s influenced his style as an artist by keeping his mind nimble and helping him dig deeper into his creative conscious.

According to Lynch: Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful. The more your consciousness – your awareness – is expanded, the deeper you go toward this source, and the bigger the fish you can catch.

Just as we wouldn’t expect our bodies to be capable of running a marathon without plenty of training, if you want to be able to fully flex your creative muscle, you need to build up core strength in your mind, and mindful meditation is a great way to start.

Image Credit: Abstract Screams Of A Dying Fish Painting by Ginette Callaway

 

01
Nov

Same Old Story: Why Technology Will Never Outpace Good Storytelling

Image courtesy of imaginarycollection.org

Image courtesy of imaginarycollection.org

At Oishii, storytelling is at the heart of what we do. Whether we’re launching a new brand, redefining an existing one or creating a 360-degree integrated experience, storytelling drives every one of these projects. The rise of digital technology means more opportunities to get your message out – more than we’ve ever had before. But with these new platforms also comes the fear that the rise of digital storytelling will fundamentally change what we do, shifting it into something unrecognizable. After all, if we can’t foresee it, then how can we adapt and excel with it?

But the key to good storytelling is older than any technology. No matter how many new ways we come up with to tell a story, the fundamental core of it remains the same: a good story is about connecting, be it to a character, an emotion, or, yes, even a product. Worrying that the story is dead just because the mediums for it have evolved would be like worrying that we’re no longer capable of love just because people use dating sites to meet someone.

Good storytelling transcends the platforms we use to deliver it, ensuring that no matter what technological changes we see, if your story is well told, engaging, and, most importantly, provides a value to your audience – be it informative or entertaining – it will make that connection. All of the companion Twitter feeds and carefully-timed video series in the world are not going to give your audience a reason to care. So, before you start wondering whether a Pinterest board or a sponsored Buzzfeed article is the best delivery medium for your story, make sure you’re telling a good one.