From ‘Trial and Error’ to ‘Trial and LEARN’

by Roger Firestien with Pamela Szalay and Cher Ravenell

A music director once told me that when he rehearsed, he preferred the musicians to make mistakes confidently. He wanted the mistakes to be big and loud so he would notice them quickly, provide coaching and help the ensemble improve. In the end, the concert audience would only hear the orchestra at their best.

Don’t avoid mistakes on the path to creating a great outcome. There are plenty of “right” mistakes that can be made! The biggest way to make “wrong” mistakes is by trying to avoid making mistakes at all. In fact, avoidance can cause stress, make you worry about failing and can hinder creativity. Like the music director, I recommend that you take on the attitude that mistakes can help you improve and make progress.

Consider the phrase, “trial and error.” “Error” in this context is not a negative word. It is a sign that adjustment is needed. Making many “good” mistakes has driven invention, product development, scientific discovery and the creative process for hundreds of years. Tests are run, results are noted, changes are made, tests are run again and eventually the outcome improves.

Still not ready to embrace mistakes? Look at it another way: a mistake is a result you didn’t anticipate. So think, what can I LEARN from that result? Challenge yourself to change your thinking from “Trail and Error” to “Trial and LEARN.” Think about it: if you were learning to ride a bike and fell down, would you call that a mistake and punish yourself? Or would you get up, learn from the fall, and get moving again? Ups and downs are all just part of the process!

Because it is so important to be open to making mistakes, bring this concept to the forefront during group creative problem solving sessions. Give each participant a mistake quotient. I give them permission to make 30 mistakes, and if they use all 30, I give them 30 more. According to Dave Meir, director of the Center for Accelerated Learning, the greatest block to adult learning is defensiveness. By giving participants a mistake quotient, they relax and enjoy learning instead of avoiding or defending their mistakes.

If you want to bring more creativity into your work and personal life, embrace the mistake quotient. Give yourself permission to make lots of “right” mistakes. Make ‘em big and make ‘em loud. Laugh about them and learn from them. That way, when it’s show time, you are ready to give the audience your best!

“We made too many wrong mistakes” –Yogi Berra


Innovation brings #BigData and Fashion together

by Mónica De Salazar

It was a matter of time until #bigdata went further into people’s lives as in giving something back to them (more than it does today, at least in a visible way).

This new innovative articulation joins data with fashion in a new concept called #CodedCouture, which is supposed to be a digital platform that keeps track on your activities and lifestyle to create a personalized and unique dress, specially designed for you.

In this idea, the innovation may not come from the idea of making this (kind-of) natural match, as pretty much all data science is useful for a number of industries and applications, but on how the implementation is driven. And as you may know, frequently innovation is the implementation of a good idea taken to life.

As most of the times, this kind of breakthroughs begins with one of Creative Problem Solvers favourite questions: How might we…? In this case the creators of Coded Couture may have though: How can we create personalized fashion for mobile data?

Welcome to the future of fashion through #CreativeProblemSolving and Innovation!

The Power of Incubation

by Roger Firestien

The classic view of creativity is that an idea comes to us after we have been working on a problem for a long time, have made  little or no progress and then we step away from the problem and INCUBATE.  After a period of incubation – a time when you are not consciously working on the problem. Eureka. The idea hits you! 

Incubation, by definition means, the process of incubating eggs, cells, bacteria or even a disease. In creative problem solving it means something else entirely. It means you are your most creative when you are not consciously working on your problem. Or maybe you are doing something else that your mind can pay attention to in an almost automatic or routine way. You could be on a run, working out, relaxing in a lounger, but you aren’t concentrating on any one particular task. You might even be in the shower. Then the solution to your problem hits you right in the face. Then you begin to wonder why you didn’t think of it sooner. Chances are, you were over-thinking the problem.

When your brain is at rest or you do not feel psychologically threatened you are at your most creative. Some think it is because when your brain has been uninterrupted, it gives it time to refresh itself. You can spend too much time exploring solutions, focusing on the problem, looking at it from different angles. Your brain becomes overloaded with possibilities, complications, and the twisting and turning actually hinder your creative process.

Over thinking serves as a roadblock to letting your brain work out the problem. This is the time for you to walk away. I mean, literally walk away. Talk a walk, don’t think, but look around you. Empty your mind and put all those problems behind you. Think of it as a mini vacation. Do something else…give it a rest. To some of you this may seem like a time waster and a little bit new age. What it is really going on is that you are recharging your most valuable asset, your brain. It needs time to unjumble itself. After your incubation period you will be surprised that the ideas start to flow almost non-endingly. 

The incubation period can happen at any point in the #creativeproblemsolving process. In a particularly long or complicated Creative Problem Solving session, let everyone break often to process the information. You and your team will come back recharged, often with new ideas or more novel ones. Sometimes it is best to give instructions on how to incubate; which is to not think of the problem but pay attention to something else.  That’s the reason for the walk. Some people have never tried to turn off their brain and the idea may seem strange. But encourage them to try it. They may be surprised by the results. I mean, real workable solutions that provide results… and you can shampoo your hair at the same time.