Analytics and Creativity

These are some thoughts on learning styles, education, predictive analytics and creativity, but to get there I need to share some background.  One of the things I appreciated most about my high school education was the fact that the curriculum was developed with the express goal of teaching us how to think rather than teaching us by rote.  There was no “new math” or studying to the test or things like that, thankfully, as that is definitely not one of my learning styles.  Unfortunately that did me a bit of a disservice when I went to college, because engineering school it seemed to me was all about rote or “plug ‘n chug” as my instructors referred to it.  This was especially true of the hard sciences.  I loved Physics and really wanted to continue to explore that further, but Physics in college is about applying the right equation and nothing could be more boring to me.  Gone was the mystery of the universe, instead it was insert tab A into slot B.  Now, I could’ve slogged through it until a Master’s or Doctoral program when things get interesting again, but why on earth wait?  So I changed my major to Computer Science where you solved problems creatively, if you were so inclined, by writing awesome software.

There is a point after this preamble, I promise.  I’ve been very excited about the possibilities that exist in the realm of Big Data, or as I prefer to think of it Big Information trending toward Big Knowledge.  EMC has been doing great stuff in this space and our consulting organization is helping customers with some incredible solutions.  Analytics is becoming a core value creator to many companies and it is a new channel for IT to contribute to shareholder value and business agility.   Continue reading Analytics and Creativity


The innovation engine and censoring

Perhaps it’s apophenia or selection bias but reading Stephen’s latest post over at Pack Rat on Tim Cook and Steve Ballmer struck a chord with some other stuff I’ve been reading and thinking about and my goal of kickstarting my innovation engine. As I wrote previously I’ve been concerned with self-censoring and fostering creativity lately, both for my organization and my personal benefit.  I started reading Tina Seelig’s “inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity” and was very interested to see that she calls out some research by Charles Limb at Johns Hopkins University that notes that it looks like the brain turns off some self-monitoring functions during acts of creativity.  Interesting, I’m sure many people would posit that Steve Jobs often had his self-monitoring, or self-censoring, functions turned off, perhaps that’s why he was so creative.  Another interesting observation that Prof. Seelig makes is that as people and organizations mature they often focus on execution to the detriment of creativity, and this mirrors some of the observations, or concerns, that Stephen raises in his post.  But there’s good news according to Prof. Seelig, you can learn to be creative and to put your own innovation engine to work.  I recommend you read “inGenius” for more, I will say she does a very good job of laying this all out and giving you some tactical ways to amp up your creativity.

Continue reading The innovation engine and censoring