Not trying too hard

Jocelyn Glei writes about What we can learn from babies. She talks about the kind of meditative state in which a particular kind of creative thinking can happen. Edison allegedly trained himself to spend time in the twilight zone between waking and sleeping. As she writes These a-ha moments spring not from concerted effort but […]

Willpower and its limits

Nice report on research from Scientific American: Setting your mind on a goal may be counterproductive. Instead think of the future as an open question. They split people into two groups for a series of experiments. One group was primed for willpower (eg by having to write out the phrase “I will” multiple times); the […]

The power of touch

I’ve long thought that a clipboard was a powerful prop. I only have to hold one and I start to feel more officious. So it’s good to see this research reported by Ed Yong that goes further suggesting that the weight of the clipboard has a significant impact on our thinking: Ackerman showed that holding […]

Empathy and innovation

Tim Kastelle has a good post about Empathy and Innovation. I’m fond of talking about “relationships before ideas” and Tim seems to be in similar territory. One of the supposed challenges of innovation is getting ideas to spread and Tim argues that empathy is pretty key to that especially if you’re into Mark’s Herd worldview. […]

Re-examining the familiar

I reread something I wrote back in 2006 about Ellen Langer’s work on mindful learning. She makes this point:When people overlearn a task so that they can perform it by rote the individual steps that make up the skill come together into larger and larger units. As a consequence, the smaller components of the activity […]

Kindergarten kids beat MBAs

Tom Wujek’s TED talk explores how business training limits creative thinking. (Click here if embedded video isn’t showing.) Hat tips: Rob Paterson and Screw Work Let’s Play

Agile Procurement

Dominic Campbell’s challenge to clumsy government procurement has the best title of the year – It’s Time People Got Fired for Hiring IBM. The rest is pretty good too.. Government has a uniquely long and drawn-out procurement process weighed down by red tape and requirements and an unhealthy addiction to big initiatives over many small […]

Innovation theatre: empty rituals

(This is the second in a series of somewhat ranty posts I started the other day. General theme: is a lot of the fuss and bother about innovation more hat than cattle?) As a child I was made to go to church where my father would lend me his wristwatch. This was so I could […]

Innovation, or just innovation theatre?

A while ago I wrote about action theatre. It was inspired by Bruce Schneier’s term security theatre, to describe tiresome security measures at airports etc that might create a sense of security but don’t actually work. Action theatre is what happens in organisations where there are lots of rituals to do with action happening, and […]


Dan Pallotta makes a lot of sense to me. More often than not we see life through a barely translucent movie screen in our minds that is running nine shows at once. These inputs deafen and blind us to reality. It is a testament to our capacity for unconsciousness that we hefted luggage around airports […]