3 Quick Creative Thinking Activities

3 Quick Creative Thinking Activities

Everybody can be creative. An artist is no more inherently creative than an accountant, despite the stereotypes we have affixed the two roles. The only difference is the amount of practice with letting that creativity out. In that spirit, here are a bunch of ways for you to practice creativity in your everyday work, to get better results.

Before you dive straight in to the creative thinking exercises, it might be a great idea to read up on convergent and divergent thinking. It’s important that you tease out the good principles behind each generated idea before you kill it. The rule you need to remember is pretty simple – don’t throw out any ideas, no matter how bad they seem. The throwing out process can begin when you’re done generating and grabbing the good bits from your ideas. So without further ado, some simple creative thinking activities:

Be Someone Else

This exercise is pretty easy, and applicable to any work you could possibly be doing. It does require some empathy, so perhaps it won’t work if you’re a little psycho 😉

To perform this creative thinking activity, simply think of someone you admire, for any reason. Imagine that person has to do the job you’re doing right now. How would they do it differently? How would they do it better?

Some examples:
A truck driver who really likes David Beckham. How might David Beckham get from A to B in a truck? Well, on the pitch, a great player is determined by how much of a team player he is. So, in the spirit of team-play, how about a world where all truckers assist each other with wind-resistance, through a tight setup of caravanning, just like a pro cycling team? How much fuel might that save? Is it an idea worth throwing at management? Quite possibly!

A designer working at a marketing agency, who really likes Mike Tyson. What would Mike do, if he was set to work on digital marketing design? The brain is a massive associative machine, and right away you can probably picture the enormous muscle-bound man sitting at a 13″ macbook air doing graphic design. Seems dissonant somehow. Nonetheless, there are some things Mike would definitely do differently. First off, he’d introduce his special brand of self-deprecating humour to whatever was being communicated. Also, perhaps he’d alter the process in favour of a speedy hand-off, so perhaps making sure to send out an extra mock-up or two, to ensure he was still tracking right.

This method works with your brain’s fantastic ability to connect the dots, stereotyping (the good kind), and by providing creative constraints.

Imagine you had unlimited/0 budget

What happens if you have to do your work with no resources? What about if you have access to unlimited resources? Unlimited resources probably gets you thinking in terms of automation/robotics and 0 budget probably gets you thinking about sourcing cheaper to earn a higher margin.Pursue this for a bit. Especially thinking outside of economic constraint, as this lets you consider more deeply why your work is structured the way it is.

Play with words

In exercise #1, we used empathy and stereotypes to kickstart the brain’s associative machinery. In this exercise we’ll just use a simple list of words. How you generate the words is totally up to you, but go for nouns. If you don’t fancy generating a list of odd words, here’s one for free:

Fish – Pork – Potion – Castle – Peanut – Road – Park – Plastic – Brick – Ruins – Knife – Staircase – Knight – King

Now, the process is simple. Pair the task you have at hand, with the words in the list, one at a time. Remember to extend the meaning of the words to be non-literal. So, if you’re trying to invent a new type of soup, and you pair that with fish – don’t invent a fish-soup. Instead, expand into the word fish. There’s some saltiness, some freedom. There’s caviar/luxury. Fish-eyes, so perhaps your soup can should have a peep hole. See the idea? Let your brain associate, it’s super good at it.

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Those were 3 quick and easy creativity exercises, which you can expand infinitely or use as they stand in different contexts. These tools are valuable if you are looking for a business idea too, and are partially how these to business ideas were generated: Great business idea #1Great business idea #2

There are a bunch of other tools for ungluing your creativity, just comment if you want more, I’ll make this post much longer.

Free Business Idea #2 – Pre-Filled Family Calendars (Physical)

Free Business Idea #2 – Pre-Filled Family Calendars (Physical)


You know those big A3 size family planners smacked up on the wall in every family household around the globe? You know, the ones that list everybody’s birthdays, school terms, afternoon activities and weekend trips. The one stop overview of a busy family.

They’re super cool, except for one time of the year – new year, when you have to go and get a new one. When you have to copy over every single birthday and recurring event specific to your family into the new planner.

So, there is pain. And luckily there is an easy solution.

You, the entrepreneur, may choose to enter this dying niche with some fresh perspective. The world is going online, but there is still some tech missing for us to bring all of our family planning into the cloud, and so there are a few good years of physical calendar sales to tap into. So how about a hybrid?

Set up a subscription based calendar service, where each family can enter all of the birthdays, planned holidays, term lengths for the kids, meditation weekends, family trips and other goodies they have planned, and save it as part of an online profile.

You then take this information and print and fulfil calendar shipments once each year on a subscription basis, saving your customers a day’s work of copy pasting, and making some smooth looking cal’s in the process.

 

Yes, there are rough edges, and no, the challenges are not insurmountable.

Go and make the future.

 

Not your cup of tea? How about Free Business Idea #1 – Niche Book Club / Publishing Gig ?

Effectuation Principles – Truth, Objectivity, and Motivation

Effectuation Principles – Truth, Objectivity, and Motivation

Effectuation principles, first introduced by this name in modern literature by Saras Sarasvathy, are powerful decision-making tools to employ when embarking on a quest of creation. Let us examine what we can glean through the lens of each principle
– which theories of truth are assumed?
– how objective can the creator be expected to be?
– from where does motivation spring?

This essay assumes a degree of free will and indeterminism.

The Bird In Hand Principle:

Start with what you have, and build what can be built. Do not attempt to reach an arbitrary goal, rather know that you would create, and look inwards for cues on how to proceed in your creation.

The very idea of synthesising a series of possible creative projects suggests a very variable view of truth. We can rule out correspondence truth theory immediately. It’s less important to find “the true” goal to work towards, and more important to start working towards *any* goal, thereby defining it as your own true goal. Starting with the creation of many possible paths and goals is, apart from rejecting the idea of a golden truth, also distinctly a-platonic in other ways. It suggests a disregard for the idea that we can model the world, and that instead we must create reality, not try to follow an inaccurate map of patently unknown territories.

Objectivity is non-existent in effectuation. Everything stems from the creator, including all of their bias.

So what motivates the creator to act? Considering that there is no tangible project goal in the beginning of the effectuation process, the answer lays beyond the framework. Possibly personal gain in the form of income, freedom, recognition, self-realisation or legacy, and possibly fulfilment of a responsibility towards humanity to move the species onwards and upwards. Since the motivations are extrinsic, the effectuation framework alone will never yield a single answer, and leaves room for many levels of motivation.

(On a separate note, the bird in hand principle is what makes this free business idea worth pursuing mainly for people who are super looped into the publishing business or book club business already!)

The Affordable Loss Principle:

What can *you* afford to lose? What are *you* willing to risk?

Any truth here is your own. Most people won’t be able to find any comfortable measure of willingness to lose.

Your motivations will play a major part in interpreting this principle. Are you in this world to ensure that future generations move on to bigger and better things? Is there any price too great to pay for that? Or are you just looking for some well-deserved recognition? In this case, the price you’re willing to pay would be a lot lower!

The Crazy Quilt Principle & The Lemonade principle:

Build trust, drive involvement. Find people who can be committed to your goals. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Not revolutionary concepts to be sure.

The principles don’t lend us much in the way of new information for our original question, either.

The Pilot-in-the-plane principle:

The future is not predictable (Taleb would be proud, screw models). However, some tools to alter the future are within the creator’s control. These tools are, of course, encompassed by the 4 other principles of effectuation. So, there is some correspondence-truth at play, since effectuation principles are defined as your absolute best tools for manipulating the outcomes of your creative venture.

Why you do all of this is still totally up to you. Your motivations are your own, as a creator. And objectivity? As pilot in your own plane, there is none 🙂

Free Business Idea #1 – Niche Book Club / Publishing Gig

Free Business Idea #1 – Niche Book Club / Publishing Gig

The Problem:
All good problems have more than one angle. Let’s examine the problem of niche underground authors from two such angles!

First, imagine this: You’re an author. That is to say, writing is your passion. Never mind the fact that you’re effectively a professional barista, 3 years of experience and counting, that’s far from the point. You are an *author*, and a great one!
You’ve written 5 manuscripts in the last 3 years, 2 stirring novels about love and loss, and 3 philosophical short stories about finding meaning. Sometimes you show your work to the customers. They love it. Your manager doesn’t.
You’ve sent your work to countless publishers. In the beginning you had hope, just like J.K. Rowling, that you’d prove them wrong, all the agents who dismissed you carelessly. You’re starting to lose that hope. But you remain an author. It is who you are.

Next, imagine this: You are an avid reader. You have torn through all the classics in fiction and non-fiction alike, and you eat up the best-seller lists and critics’ recommendations faster than they can be produced.
You are starting to feel a level of same-ness. There is a comfortable homogenous mix of topics and methods that never stray very far from the norm. You want more.
You want rare pieces, new perspectives, amazing thinkers, something that’s not on the main stream. But it is non-existent. Anything that makes it into a bookstore is mainstream, otherwise the publisher would have waved it lazily away as too risky to print.

It is somewhat obvious when you lay it out like this, that if you could supply these hungry readers with the special books they so crave, and at the same time could publish these author/baristas and make dreams come true, you are on to something. So, the solution is elegant.

The Solution:
Publish and print niche books in tiny batches, and send to readers who are hungry for unique and personal content for their collections.

The Why:
Because of your own burning passion for making people’s dreams come true, for expanding people’s horizons, and for exposing the world to more opinions that the mainstream ones that end up on the bestseller lists.

Thoughts on Method:
Concept for authors: Get your work out there and appreciated.
Concept for readers: Get access to new and unique material, sign up for a new book each month, guaranteed small print volume and unknown gem authors.

Make sure to keep total print volume per piece low. Maximally one book per club member, and no 2nd editions in most cases. Keep it special, keep it high end.

Plenty of print shops exist that will print tiny batches of books. Any author could do this on their own. If you build an audience large enough, you will be able to do it a little cheaper, but this is not where you win. You win because you connect people, you provide authors with an outlet, and you provide avantgarde readers with a way to breathe new ideas and perspectives.

The age of mass advertising is dead. You must not find an author, print 500 books, and try to find readers. Instead you must find the hungry readers, and ask them what they want. In that endeavour it’s a powerful asset for you if you’re already in the underground literature arena, so you know who to start talking to. If you’re a stock MBA you’ll have trouble empathising fully with the target market. Although perhaps some authors could help uncover their potential readers to some degree too.

Technically, you have two markets here, and it’s up to you where the primary cashflow should derive. However, if you adopt a free model for authors and premium model for book club members, you are adapting best to where the real money is at.

Insurance of Green Buildings – The Implications

Insurance of Green Buildings – The Implications

To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed

-Theodore Roosevelt

 

Roosevelt was not attempting to carve out a space for himself in the subject of environmental conservatism. He had amassed plenty of significance in that arena of policy already. No, he was simply and nobly concerned with future generations. Since the environment affects us equally, why not look at one of the most revolutionary conservation approaches and how it could possibly affect your bank account once you decide to adopt it. Let’s explore green buildings and the challenges that these pose in terms of specifically insurance and securities.

Sustainability is the way to go for the sake of our beloved planet. Sustainability does not necessarily mean conservation, though. There is so much talk about resource conservation and the appropriate precautions to take. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is expected to be at the forefront of advocating or implementing energy-saving initiatives at the household, community, and institutional level. While this is certainly a way to go in terms of getting as many people actively involved in conservation efforts as possible, it is imperative to understand the financial implications of these efforts as related to green construction. Green buildings have a lot of benefits, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that green buildings have not only environmental but also economic and social benefits. It’s proven, so why not participate in conservation and make your next home a green building! You can get further insights on the particulars of green building as listed by the U.S. EPA here. Besides these points, there are other important considerations as highlighted by Catherine Mohr

 

Green buildings are beginning to enjoy mainstream adoption and success. With this development come many insurance issues that are of concern in every aspect of green building. As an interested individual, you are required to be familiar with the forms of related insurance. Insuring a green building requires an understanding of a form of insurance known as green insurance that aims to cater for unforeseen and un-anticipated risks. It has incorporated extra considerations to traditional forms of housing insurance. Some of these green insurance concerns are damageability, rating issues and availability of building materials. For the sake of being on the safe side after the occurrence of a risk it is better that you, an earth lover, fully grasp the dynamics of the green insurance.

Other forms of housing finance differ considerably from green insurance. It is important for insurance underwriters to consider that it takes more time and specialised materials to repair malfunctioning components of green buildings. Linda Kornfield observes that the time elapses while searching for appropriate materials for each building and the repair duration. Usually, as the owner of the green property, you will need to pay for the difference between the repair of a standard house and that of a green building. In the future, insurance policies for green building will need to cater for replacement of the malfunctioned parts of the cost of a new creation. Some elements of green building pose additional insurance considerations since they tend to cause additional risks or reactions. An example is the inclusion of vegetative roofs and fuel cell technologies. The interaction of these technologies with other components of green building is uncertain but also a risk for consideration for insurance underwriters. Already, there are claims of unexpected interactions giving rise to the “green gaps” that can cause damage. Insurance underwriters, now and going forward need to factor these uncertainties. This is likely to see the insurance cost for green building rise than the traditional house insurance.

Vegetative Roof

Pretty and green, but safe and secure?

Insurance coverage for green buildings will also needs to factor the recertification costs in the event that a green building sustains extensive damage. You might ask, what is the role of recertification and is it necessary? The role of the recertification is to document the levels of green guarantee required while making the repairs. These costs meet the demands of expert consultants, engineers and other workforce need for designing and reconstruction. Insurance underwriting will also have to factor the recycling and debris removal costs. The materials to be recycled need to be separated before they are sent to a certified recycling establishment. These extra costs in separating the materials from the damage of a green building need to reflect in the insurance policies.

According to Erik D. Nevala-Lee, underwriters need to include other common hazards in green insurance policies in the near future. Green buildings are being used increasingly for business purposes. Therefore, it is not only critical and appropriate for the policies to have additional coverage for business interruption losses now going into the future. The typical business interruption policies seek to pay the profits foregone during the period that the business was not operational. Green buildings will normally take more time to repair or replace. Kornfield asserts that the period of indemnity is longer since the construction of green building must comply with certification and probably use special consultants or tools. Therefore, considering the time taken to get a business back in operation is and will be important for policy considerations. However, you will have to dig deeper into your pocket. As the insured will have to pay more in expectation of the unique dynamics of operating a business in a green building. This is so if the rebuilding process is to be within the green certification standards.

Green-Magic-Homes-110

The future of green buildings? Maybe – but this comes at a price for insuring the values here. How do you replace materials when damaged? What sort of follow-on effects are there in these houses that would not be present in regular building blocks or villas? Hard to tell, so hard to insure.

Another future insurance consideration for green building concerns contractual risks that emerge from rating issues. With each level of certification of green buildings, there are expected performances. If the expected performances are not in line with the level of certification pursued, there are consequences. Insurance underwriters need to be aware of these consequences and use them to devise policies that factor the same. There is also reputation damage that emerges if the green improvements do not end up giving the expected performance. However, it is imperative to note that the care of green buildings is constantly changing and makes it difficult for insurance underwriters to substantiate a claim. There may be different considerations that makes it difficult to distinguish a normal and a “green” claim. For instance, a green building may have attained a LEED Silver certification but experiences a poor performance of its ventilation system. It could be that the system was designed poorly. While some may call it a green claim, it is essentially a normal claim caused by the mechanical engineers designing the system. This implies that the rating system does not offer a solid provision that all resulting claims will be green claims. Insurance underwriters will have to work with skilled consultants to eliminate the ambiguity in classifying the claims resulting from green rated/certified buildings.

Summing it up, green buildings pose a unique set of risks. Additionally, there are evolving ways of maintenance of green buildings. This present insurance policies makes with unique set of risk exposures for considerations and some ambiguous claims. Essentially, insurance underwriting, going forward, will need to consider that green buildings require specialized consultations and engineers, special building materials and take more time to repair. Additionally, the future policies should include unexpected risks of interactions of some of the green building materials while designing the insurance policies. There should also be policy considerations for business interruptions and poor performance of some elements of the green building based on their rating expectations. The insurance considerations in green building evolve over time as new challenges and opportunities emerge.

Do you have a green building project that is proving challenging to insure or otherwise secure? Are you concerned about how safe vegetative roofing or rainwater filtering really is for you and your kids?