Thursday, April 19, 2012

Creativity and Design Stuff on My Mind

Recently, I've run into a number of blog posts and other items that have had me thinking a lot about creativity. Rather than apply too much structure to them, I'm just going to send them out your way for you to use as you see fit.

Here's a link to a post I came across on PandoDaily the other day. The Illusion of Imagination (And How It Drives Silicon Valley) by Francisco Dao is a great example of how one nugget, one kernel of thought, can change your perspective on things. Here's a sample:
Instead of actually considering odds, we tend to calculate probability based on the ease with which we can imagine something. And whether or not we can imagine something is often determined by specific details that create subsets, thereby lowering the actual probability of it occurring. I know that’s a bit confusing so let me give you an example.

When people were asked how likely they were to die in a plane crash caused by a terrorist attack, compared to people who were asked how likely they were to die in an unspecified plane crash, significantly more people believed the odds were higher in the terrorist attack scenario. This, despite the fact that an airplane crash caused by terrorism is a small subset of all total crashes.
This is truly an interesting read and totally in line with some of the other creativity things I've been seeing recently.

Here are a couple of posts by Hamish McKenzie for PandoDaily. These are interview segments from his conversation with Jonah Lehrer on his book, Imagine: How Creativity Works. There’s No Such Thing as Individual Genius in Silicon Valley and Steve Jobs Was Right to ‘Steal,’ and Beer is Inspiring give you a nice window into the ideas in the book.

Here's another one that we came across recently. How to hire a product manager by Ken Norton is an interesting look into one guy's idea of what makes a good product manager. There are some amusing elements here (like big company specialization versus start-up flexibility), but there are also a few points that he makes that seem internally contradictory. This piece is yet another reminder of the philosophical battle between "need to be technical and have an engineering background" versus "need to have a broader, more creative background with an ability to comprehend complex technology".  For me, I find the default to an engineering background to be a mindset that is hamstrung by conventional wisdom that forms an funny contrast to the idolization of Steve Jobs -- not that Norton covers that here, but it's another topic that I've seen a lot about since Jobs' biography was published.

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