Does the future need experts?

Apr 10 2017 Published by Neil Gains under creativity

I was lucky to attend a very interesting panel discussion last week, organised by the British Council along with the University of London and Royal Holloway College. Much of the discussion focused on the current discontent with “experts”, expressed most famously by Michael Gove during the UK referendum which led to Brexit. Much of the discussion focused on the implications for higher education. Some panellists agreed with a statement I’ve heard elsewhere that one of the biggest trends of the last 100 years is the professionalisation and specialisation of the world. Read more »

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The Language of Colour

Jan 25 2017 Published by Neil Gains under book review

The Language of Colour is a short, readable and enjoyable introduction to visual communication and the semiotics of colour. Packed full of examples and exercises, Theo van Leeuwen moves from discussions of the meanings of individual colours and colour naming to a theory of how colours combine. The author argues that colour schemes and combinations are more important than the individual colours that comprise any combination.

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Don’t Let Short Term Thinking Kill Creativity

Oct 30 2016 Published by Neil Gains under creativity

In their most recent report on advertising creativity and effectiveness, the IPA and author Peter Field reach the startling conclusion that both creativity and effectiveness are under threat. And who are the culprits? They believe that short-term thinking and especially a focus on driving rapid sales effects, combined with the post-global financial crisis recession, are killing the creativity of advertising. Read more »

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Design Methods #38 – Crowdsourcing

May 28 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

Crowdsourcing happens when a “crowd” or group of volunteers help to solve or complete a task or project. Crowdsourcing is an approach that can be used to collect large quantities of data or solutions from a range of people outside your organisation in a short amount of time. Read more »

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Principles of Design #70 – Iteration

Apr 26 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

The principle of iteration is central to design thinking. Just as evolution allows complex structures to develop over time in nature, iteration is at the core of good design, building on simple foundations to develop more complex designs. This is achieved by progressively exploring, testing and refining a design over time, often with very fast cycles of iteration. Iteration is often broken into two phases: design iteration and development iteration. Read more »

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Design Methods #34 – Photo Studies

Dec 09 2015 Published by Neil Gains under design

In photo studies, participants are asked to document ideas, events and aspects of their lives with photos, allowing researchers and designers to collect visual insights into their behaviours, motivations and beliefs. Such studies are very personal and provide inspiration for design and co-creation based on the worlds of the users of products or services.

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The Importance of Curiosity

Oct 14 2015 Published by Neil Gains under book review

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein

“Curiosity is insubordination in its purest form.” Vladimir Nabokov

I seem to have been reading a lot of books recently on the topic of questions (perhaps inspired by a good friend), and so I was curious to read Curious by Ian Leslie, all about the importance of curiosity in human life and its place in learning, business and innovation. ┬áComing off the back of reading A More Beautiful Question (read more here), Ian Leslie arguably suffers from a lack of more practical argument and application to the reality of business, but still offers up some nuggets of insight into the importance of curiosity in the success of humans. After all, curiosity is linked to the most fundamental animal behaviour (called ‘seeking by Jaak Panksepp) and the need to explore the world.

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Design Methods #32 – Mind Mapping

Aug 16 2015 Published by Neil Gains under design

Mind mapping helps capture and generate ideas using visual thinking, through a nonlinear process of capturing thoughts and ideas that are associated in the mind(s) of people. The process allows anyone to consolidate information, interpret the links between ideas, communicate the linkages and hierarchy between different ideas and concepts and enhance problem solving and memory of multiple thoughts.

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Digest, Sleep, Create

Aug 13 2015 Published by Neil Gains under creativity

What can sleep teach us about creativity? In The Secret World of Sleep, Penelope Lewis describes what sleep enables us to do that we can’t while awake. In many ways, the book is not just about sleep, but about the science of the brain, how memory works and what sleep brings to the creative process. You can easily go to sleep by using earplugs comfortable while sleeping to not be distured at all.

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Contradict, Connect and Create: A better way to insights?

Jul 17 2015 Published by Neil Gains under book review

What is remarkable about insights?

In the first chapter of Seeing What Others Don’t, Gary Klein references a slide that he had often used to argue for the importance of insights and their relative neglect in business. The slide showed visually that Performance improvements = reducing errors + increasing insights. As he points out, businesses too often focus on the first at the expense of the second. They spend a lot of energy trying to eliminate errors rather than opening themselves up to potential (and often more impactful) insights that can create value.

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