Thursday, April 1, 2010

Innovation and Inspiration

This can sometimes be a daunting task for designers. Especially when a deadline is approaching, things become stressful, and start unraveling. Unfortunately innovation, creativity, inspiration, and meeting deadlines are all crucial parts of being a designer despite what may be going on personally or professionally that stifles your thinking.

I was given this article by a coworker with some tips for staying creative and innovative!


Bring More Innovation to Your Work

Is it possible to learn how to be more creative and innovative?

"I believe so," says Fridolin Beisert, Creative Consultant for Disney Consumer Products and Associate Professor, Art Center College of Design. "In fact, I've done it and spent two years studying the subject for my master's degree."

Today's leading innovators agree with Fridolin—innovation is a practice and a skill to be learned. And it's a skill that's becoming more of a necessity in today's fast changing business and technological climate.

If you're looking to bring more innovation to your work, try applying these seven strategies by Fridolin.

Problem Framing
Take a step back and analyze the problem to find its cause. People often assume that they know what the issue is and waste their effort on finding good solutions to the wrong problem. As a quick exercise, ask a succession of five "why's" when confronted with a problem. The answers will likely start to point towards the real cause and allow you to reframe the problem appropriately.

Pattern Breaking
We all fall into habits, including when working on projects that require innovative thinking. To break these patterns, write down all of the immediate solutions to a problem that occur to you and put them on a "will not use" list. This will force you to generate new and creative ideas—often some that seem impossible at the time.

Inspirational Investment
Make plans to be inspired at least once a month. To be filled with fresh inspiration requires making regular deposits in an "innovation account"—it is an investment that runs dry if not funded. This weekend, make a plan to invest time and energy to be inspired by something that is completely different from your routine.

Cross Pollination
Connecting unconnected ideas can produce stronger concepts that flourish. Cross pollination can be done with concepts, ideas, words, people, styles, technology or virtually anything that consists of separate elements. Children are experts at this because they do not necessarily know right from wrong. But as we grow and mature our flexibility of thinking is often lost and replaced by categorized order. For an easy start, begin by connecting adjectives to your problems to generate additional layers of depth.

Perspective Shift
Use viewpoints other than your own to approach a problem. Although your perspective is important, looking through someone else's eyes can provide a valuable shift that leads to new approaches for innovation. Just imagine how someone you know would start the process. A change of approach will allow you to cross into unchartered territories easily and without fear of failure.

Investigation and Insight
Do thorough research on the topic at hand. A Japanese expression called "Shi-Ta Shirabe" loosely translates to "Before you go somewhere to do something, investigate beneath the surface to gain insight into the situation." Seeking knowledge from all possible sources will inform your decision making and problem solving process along the way.

Power of Constraints
Reducing the options and variables in a project allow you to focus on exercising creativity within a set framework. More time, resources and technology usually do not provide better results. Less is more.


Also a lecture by Tim Brown discussing creativity and how to stimulate our minds during the design process through play.

He focuses on some really fun exercises to exaggerate the gap between the creativity of a child versus adults, explaining why this happens to us all and how to break the mental creative block and stop self editing.


  1. Good article. Do you have more, this is why I am going to grad school.

  2. I'll try to dig around and find some stuff you you to look at. You can browse TED, I just got a link from Z to another page called they may have some useful stuff for you to check out!

    Yo thanks for the comments too!