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Archive for the ‘creativity’ Category

Yesterday I attended a talk about crowdsourcing. Interesting subject. Inspiring talk by @JWalphenaar.

What inspired me most was not how he kept being surprised about his own successes. It was the opposite. It was the full genuineness of his feelings when things weren’t going as planned. Still, he kept going. He didn’t give up. He had hardly a choice, with the whole of the Netherlands breathing down his back, but still.

He showed me that showing your failures is ok. It is ok to fail. And it is ok to tell other people about it. You learn from the processes you create for yourself. And by sharing both your successes and your failures to the world, you can teach everybody something.

Sharing failures is not the same as whining. Sharing failures is letting others know it’s ok to fail. Let’s all celebrate our successes AND our failures. Again, why do we keep pretending?

So. I’ll start.

In the process of naming my company I wanted to experiment a bit. On a fling, I decided to give it a go and ask people via twitter and Facebook to associate on things with us, while we were doing all the creative things in a room in Utrecht.

Unfortunately, it didn’t really work. There were a handful of friend reacting (thank you for that!), but timing was, of course, off, and they didn’t know what the process was about so for them it must have been confusing. It must be hard to tap into the energy of a creative session from a distance.
It could have been due to the lack of preparation (which consisted solely of: hey do you think we can do this?). It could have been that it just doesn’t work, being creative through Social Media. However, I’ve not given up. If ever I have a creative session and would be able to incorporate Social Media channels, I think I’ll give it a try, just to check whether it really doesn’t work.

What’s your latest failure? And what did you learn from it?

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Half a year ago, when I still have a regular job at a company, the dream of visiting my sister who lives at the other side of the ocean was there, but I never acknowledged it, because I ‘only had 20 vacation days’.

It was only after giving up this job, that I realized this was in fact a very silly reason not to go visit her.

Seth Godin in this talk explains this by saying that we all have a lizard brain whose job it is to be afraid when you’re about to do something cool. We chicken out. A chicken only has a lizard brain. Us humans, in addition to the lizard brain (the amygdala) have other parts of our brain that makes us the cool beings we are. And I’m in the learning process of using these parts more and more.

I like this talk. It inspires me to get more done and get less stuck in the things I’m doing.

Go watch it!

http://the99percent.com/videos/5822/Seth-Godin-Quieting-the-Lizard-Brain

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Today I had an appointment to get my company officially registered. The reason why I hadn’t done this earlier is, that I did not have a name for the company yet. If you’re interested, here’s the story of the quest (or hunt) for my company’s name.

Chapter 1: The early days…

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And after a few weeks of not quite knowing, it all fell into place a couple of weeks ago: I knew what I was going to do.

Up until then, there was a vague idea, and a vague explanation. Now, it’s all so crystal clear. And that feels good!

This is what it is. I used the WHY, HOW, WHAT principle as was explained by Simon Sinek at a TedTalk. Watch it, it is pretty inspiring!

My WHY:

CONGRUENCY: I believe in the feeling that things fall into place. They feel right. They are supposed to be like this. Whether it’s quitting your job to start up your own company, finding a solution to a design problem or using a product for a specific purpose. All that should be congruent with everything else that is part of reality at that moment.
VALUE: I believe that everything I do should have value. I try to only do things that I think are valuable to me, the world and other people in the world.

My HOW:

NATURAL: I do this by turning things into something natural. Use of a product should be intuitive, easy, unobtrusive, effortless and supportive of the goals.
STORIES: I do this by listening to stories of real people. Every story is worth listening to, and is of value because you can learn from it. Feeling connected to others adds value to the process.
CREATIVE:I do this by being creative, by looking beyond the problem at hand and finding the solution beyond the ones that already exist.
SMALL: I do this by starting small and then spreading. I believe in an agile, flexible process that fits with what is really needed at that point in time. Doing lots of little things at a time and adjusting them has more value than doing one bulk of work with the possibility of getting it wrong. Without losing the overview of what is really important.

My WHAT:

USERS: I look at users
SITUATION: I look at the situation the user is in
NEEDS: I look at user’s needs, even the ones they don’t know they have
PROBLEMS: And then I solve problems to make things easier.
SPECIFIC: I do this for specific situations and target groups.

(I can hear you all ask: of WHAT exactly? I’m working on getting that clear right now)

I call myself the user’s advocate.

Pleased to meet you.

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“Let’s brainstorm about this.”

In my opinion, most people use this sentence too lightly. After uttering the sentence, they’d set up a meeting and apply the BOGSATT model (a Bunch Of Guys Sitting At a Table Talking). For me, a brainstorm (sometimes called a creative session) involves people, lots of post-its, talking while standing up and sitting and moving around, lots of colors and stuff hanging on the wall, maybe some magazines for inspiration or other visual material, people yelling, people reacting, and more of the same craziness. From this craziness arise ideas that would otherwise be ignored or worse, would not even have turned up. And I think that in these ideas at the periphery of our problem space, the brilliance can be found.

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I love people’s stories. I think every person has an interesting story that is worth hearing and telling. Maybe this is the reason why I like using storyboarding in my work.

Storyboarding is a technique that originated in the film industry, but more and more product developers are using it in their design processes. It puts the use of a product in its context and focuses on the user and his interaction with the product.

A storyboard is a couple of images that together form a story around the use of a product. For examples, simply google on storyboard and look at the images available.

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I’m no good at drawing. But, as with other things, I’m learning not to mind that, which helped me in my latest project at work.

I’m also a big fan of Infographics. If you’re not familiar with this way of conveying information, you’re in for a treat! I think they make things understandable, simple, fun and memorable. Things that are always important when you’re trying to get your information across.

At my work at InTAAL, we’re making a new product. I always start with a product vision (what should it do, what do we take into account, what’s our opinion on how it should work and for whom, what’s the basic idea that will make it different from similar products, etc. Don’t worry, I probably will do a blog post on design visions someday.) I could not get into the flow and started making my own design vision infographic. It’s not very slick, but I had fun doing it and it felt very useful. Now we have something to point at, something to keep in our minds while designing the product and something that we can communicate to other people. I’m pretty happy with the result. Tell me what you think!

An infographic is basically one huge poster. The difference with a poster is, that it actually has more than only an invitation. It strives to contain all the information you need on one subject. It makes use of all the graphical trickery you can imagine, which help you understand the information better.

The trick of making a good infographic is to use your space and also very much the size of the things you put on it. Things that need to be noticed first have to be HUGE (such as the subject of the infographic). Things like explanations or further details can be small. Futhermore, you can go wild on all the other graphical tricks you can find, like flow diagrams, maps and icons. There are a lot of pictures and drawings in there, since we are all convinced that a pictures says more than a thousand words. It’s a big challenge to put everything you want to say on one sheet of paper, but it’s a good (although very different) process of organizing data. It also allows you to put more information in there than you’d initially think possible. Some people are very creative when it comes down to presenting information visually, which goes from the flag of the United States turning into a stock market graph to the height of buildings indicating how many people live in a city (just google on infographic images and you’ll find more examples).

I think these are so great because making one forces you to think about the levels of information you have. It forces you to be concise (something I have to practice) and play with your information. You guide your reader through all the different levels you provide them and if you did it well, you just made your reader a discovery through the subject of the infographic. It makes learning about things fun. It makes writing about things fun. The creativity part is undeniable. And they just simply look better than a bunch of words sitting in a Word-document (no matter how well written and how well organized the document is).

Here are some great examples of infographics that I came across:

infographic User Centred Design (a must see for all of you who want to know what I do for a living and what my company will be all about! And a very good infographic which makes use of all its benefits)

infographic about a hangover (make it smaller by hitting Ctrl + – for a couple of times and notice the different levels you see. First you notice the guy and the title, then you might notice the arrows and then you might start reading letters)

Inception infographic (it can be about anything!)

infographic about smoking (amazing how much information you can put in one of these things!)

infographic about cheap and good wines (I like the way they make the subject clear immediately. The reader does not have to do any effort to understand it’s about wine.)

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