Category Archives: Creativity & Innovation

How to write a book – A Play

I’m listening to an interview of author Janice Day who wrote about her breast cancer experience. I like her style and her struggle to find a story format to suit her story.  You can listen to the podcast at  Creative Breakthrough Podcast 1 with Jurgen Wolff.

Janice talks about studying screen writing and being interested in Aristotle’s analysis of the three act play into pity, fear and catharsis.

It’s is a great description of this year’s book writing course and explains my different bouts of writer’s block.

How to Write a Book – A Play
Act I: Pity.
Scene: A desk, a computer, an empty chair.
A woman walks into the room, looks at the computer and wails “oh woe is me, I can’t write a book. I’m doomed.”
Act II: Fear.
Scene: The woman sits on the chair and starts typing, then stops and screeches “oh no, I can write a book… oooh, but it won’t be good enough and people will snigger behind my back. I’m doomed if I do and doomed if I dont.”
Act III: Catharsis.
Scene: The woman sits in the chair, typing on the keyboard. The screen comes into focus and we see the words  “the end”. She leans back takes a deep breath, exhales audibly, smiles and says: “wow, so that’s how you write a book.  I’ll be damned.”


Dont fight the status quo – make it obsolete

Confronting corporations and their lack of sustainable practices will only get us so far. As Buckminster Fuller, the designer and systems theorist, said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

In the transition to a renewable energy, steady-state economy, entrepreneurs can follow Fuller’s advice by nurturing business models that create shared value, applying alternative business structures, and tracking social and environmental performance. We can start to re-use the most plentiful resource on earth – people power – instead of the current focus on automation technology using scarce resources.

We, the public, can also agitate for legislation to “internalise” social costs such as pollution and health risks, instead of the current externalising which pushes the profits to our corporations and the remeditation costs to us the public.


On not writing – perfectly

This describes it perfectly doesn’t it:

Perfectionism is really dangerous because if your fidelity to perfection is too high you never do anything because doing anything results in a … tragedy …because you sacrifice how gorgeous and perfect it is in your head for what it really is”.
David Foster Wallace

Lots of really interesting short videos at PBS Digital, especially if you are looking to distract yourself from writing anything that is less than perfect ha ha!

Watch the rest of the PBS Digital video here and then check out Philip Seymour Hoffman on happiness vs pleasure if you are a serious procrastinator.

What’s the equivalent to “productivity” for creative types?

I’ve enjoyed the book Time Management for Unmanageable People so I was pondering a good equivalent for time management in the 21st century. My resident e-Organising guru suggested “productivity” but it doesn’t really resonate. Nothing came up in the thesaurus so off to Mr Google I went. Immediately Todd Henry’s blog smacked me in the head. Off course, productivity is an noun – it describes a desired state of being. But Henry says that what creatives want or need to do is produce real stuff. So I’m off to produce something – this blog – and then polish it until it shines.

The triumph of technology or humanity

I am enjoying reading a friend’s first encounters with the Apple iPhone 4S.  Steve B has a wicked sense of humour and has started asking Siri questions such as “What is the meaning of life Siri?” to the hilarious response of “I don’t know but I think there is an app for that!”.

He then tried the ultimate command “open the pod doors Siri” to a response of “sigh” and after some funny back and forth about insensitivity to intelligent agents, finally got the response, “I’m afraid I can’t do that Steve…are you happy now?”

Is this technology getting clever or humans programmers having the best time of their lives with technology that can deliver their dreams into reality.  I can only imagine how much fun it must have been in the Apple programmers’ workplaces calling out “what about this one Steve?”  – Steve Jobs RIP.

The power in storytelling

Over the past five months I’ve been privileged to facilitate an Innovation Pilot for a not-for-profit organisation.  The aim of the pilot was to work with a group of employees and simultaneously teach them about innovation whilst taking their ideas through the early stages of innovation, from creative ideas to proposal.

Last week, three groups presented their proposals to management and I was impressed and moved at the effort they had put in to be creative in their presentations. One group role-played how they would work with teenagers, so that the managers could imagine how the teenagers would initially react – and how the program would provide benefits.  A second group brought along a range of props so that managers could see and get a real feel for how their proposal would benefit the target audience.  The third group seemed to be delivering a standard “proposal” until they got to their stories – two simple but compelling examples of how specific people could benefit from the program they were proposing.

Their efforts reminded me of  Steve Denning’s story and comments about the power of storytelling.  He comments and that the difference between analysis and narrative is that analysis is objective and “heartless” whilst narrative taps into “the heart that we need to reach to get people enthusiastically into action”.  It certainly seemed to enthuse the managers and I am looking forward to hearing about their progress in the New Year.        

Design Thinking

Courtesy of AFR BOSS and UTS, I enjoyed hearing Roger Martin – Dean of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management  – talk about design thinking yesterday.  I especially liked hearing his experiences as a consultant with business managers and their reliability focus.  It seems that the killer question that is asked of any new innovative recommendation is “can you prove it works?”, which is, of course impossible ahead of time.  So Martin has a neat way of turning the future into the past, as well as other tools and techniques he has studied and developed over the past decade.

The comments were quite helpful for me as a consultant promoting new social and sustainable business practices, as well as the engineering colleague at our table, who is working with clients to develop closed loop sustainable business models.

For more on this topic, check out Roger Martin’s website library of books, articles, videos and blogs, including his new book ‘The Design of Business’ – available through Amazon, or Dymocks in Australia.

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Bill Gates starts the ‘Innovate to Zero’ party

Thanks to Remo Guiffre from my favourite online shop REMO, for conneting me to Bill Gates’ latest TED Talk.

Bill believes that climate is even important than “vaccines and seeds” and is challenging us to “innovate to Zero” emissions.  I love that he is using a positive word like innovate – rather than a call to wage another war.  Bring it on I say and let’s see who can compete best and quickest in service to the planet.