Censemaking No. 36

The Creative Season is Here

With a turn of the season and dawn of summer (or winter for those in South) comes another chance to have a fresh start to create something special in your work, life, and community.

It’s often a season for books, catching up with friends, and the kind of free thinking that often spurs new insights and innovations and we’re looking to set you off on your summer right.

We’re going to learn how Lin Manuel Miranda generates his ideas, share some suggestions for books and podcasts, use our downtime to inspire new thinking and offer some thoughts on preparing for what’s next (and designing it, too).

That and a whole lot more.

Maybe your coffee is taken cold these days and maybe a little sweet. However it’s taken, put it on, sit back and let’s get summer going in a year where we all could use a bit of a break and some healthy inspiration.

Keep well and keep cool — Cameron

Blue Sky Creativity

Lin Manuel Miranda’s stories are inspiring because they are both remarkable and everyday. His success path represents something we can all aspire toward and learn from. He recently spoke with Adam Grant about his creative process and argues that, as busy as things get, creating the time to do nothing but daydream is one key to getting great things done and for generating great ideas.

Adam Grant’s Worklife podcast series is a great source for other lessons about creative thinking and problem-solving at work. For example, his recent conversation with John Green looks at mindful attention and how to be better at focusing what we focus on.

ItsNiceThat is a web platform dedicated solely to enhancing creativity. Recently they hosted a panel on how creativity will shape a post-Covid world where they looked at the future of creativity itself.

Creativity is messy and there is some evidence that a messy workspace can encourage creative thinking. So give your inner Marie Kondo a break and let the mess fuel some creative ideas this summer.

Why does creativity matter? Scientists are starting to consider how our limited imagination might be hindering our ability to address climate change. Being able to see things differently might be the key to shifting the course of our future when it comes to tackling our biggest problem.

Organizing Our Inspiration

Organizing our time not only helps our work, but it improves our wellbeing. Research shows that organization of our time has a great impact on how we feel about what we do than our actual performance.

It’s easy to get caught thinking about too much, but as Melody Wilding points out, overthinking things can cripple our ability to act on it.

Creating spaces for people to come together to discuss ideas is one way to help them grow. Ethan N.. Gotian, writing in the journal Nature, argues we could advance far further and faster in many scientific areas if we better organize the opportunities for good ideas to come together in physical and social settings.

But if you think that just setting up a watercooler is all that’s needed, the evidence suggests that the idea that ‘chance encounters’ at work sparks innovation just isn’t there. A profile in the New York Times suggests this is all a myth and how creativity is best fostered by design, not happenstance.

New Thoughts, New Season

Sometimes the best way to learn something requires unlearning other things. Enrique Martinez’s latest post explores the role of unlearning as a first step toward better problem-solving. By unlearning past patterns we can build trust, create shared visions and innovate to something new.

The Behavioral Scientist’s 2021 summer booklist is out. This list provides so many great ideas on how to think, see, act, collaborate, share, and organize ourselves.

If podcasts are more your thing — or also your thing — here are some of my summer 2021 recommendations to keep you learning and inspired:

> Richard Atherton’s Being Human podcast lives up to its title. His guests cover behaviour change, complexity, strategy, creativity, wellbeing and nearly every aspect of healthy innovation for and by humans.

> APM’s Marketplace and spin-off the Make Me Smart Podcast are two gems that connect business with humanity in an informative and provocative way. These are part of my must-listens.

> Another pod focused on business, society and ideas is the incomparable ‘Prof G’ Scott Galloway’s Prof G Podcast.

> For those interested in the latest thinking in psychology, consider Adam Grant’s podcast mentioned above, Katy Milkman’s Choice-ology, The Psychology Podcast with Scott Barry Kaufman, and the PsychCrunch Podcast from the British Psychological Society.

I’ll be sharing many more recommendations as the summer continues. In the meantime — happy listening!

Designing for What’s Next

Last week I held the first of two webinars on Designing for What’s Next. The recording is available here and registration for the next one in September and the two-part in-depth workshop in October is now open.

Designing for what’s next is also about designing for humans. The Censemaking series on what it means to design for real people continues with a look at diversity and how we consider what that really means when we create things.

Designing for what’s next also means taking a break from what has been a very difficult period in our history. Designing can help us take control and make us feel better, but so can just doing nothing and, as Steve Magness argues, taking a break has benefits for our bodies, our brains, and our creativity.

A break also allows us to better get in touch with ourselves. Theordore Kinni suggests that taking time and focusing energy on ourselves is not only good for personal wellbeing, it makes a substantial contribution to becoming a better leader. Thinking about our thinking is a good idea.

Warmest - not necessarily the hottest — wishes for a great start to summer. Be kind to yourself and to others. We all deserve some time to slow down and smell the flowers.

Until our next coffee break….


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