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I've been playing with four different decks of what I can only describe as Design and Innovation cards. They're kinda like flash cards, but supposed to encourage lateral thinking and discussion. They range in tone from very general to very specific in terms of the strategies they suggest, and I'm a little surprised to find that while I find the more specific ones more interesting to read, the more general ones seem to be more useful. I've written a capsule review of all four card decks,
and have ordered a couple more sets of other brands to try out. This is all a little touchy feely for the engineer in me, but I'm interested in others' experiences with stuff like this in terms of generating product development ideas or dealing with design issues. (Disclaimer: I have no connection with any of the folks who make these things other than I gave them my Visa card number.)
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
This sounds like something that I would like but from the 20 seconds I spent reading this post and skimming your blog, I am not sure what it is exactly. You buy a deck of cards that have design puzzles on them or something like that? One of those lateral thinking type things?
They aren't puzzles or games, although I've got a fifth set on order that are described that way. I think of them more like reminders or suggestions: "Have you thought of XXX?" or "Try YYY." The general idea seems to be either  you sort through them using them as reminders of things you should be thinking of while problem solving (strategies, approaches, etc.), or  you use them in a group setting to spur discussion while brainstorming new ideas. I feel confident with the left-brain (rational) stuff, but the idea that these cards might be useful for boosting creativity appeals to me. I don't think there's any easy answer to innovation or creativity: wasn't it Edison who said "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration"? And for sure 99% of innovation is "turning the crank". But getting help with that 1% sometimes takes more than my reading the latest article in Dr. Dobbs.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
You might like to have a look at an innovation method called TRIZ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triz). The guy that invented the method, Gerald Altshuller, basically reviewed a zillion patents and distilled the basic patterns that covered a majority of the innovations contained within the patents. The method uses this knowledgebase of patterns to help prompt the kind of lateral thinking you mention.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
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