Archive for July, 2009

game plan_3

Participation in social media teaches us a few creative thinking skills we didn’t learn in school. The term TIMTOWDI, pronounced “Tim Toady,” is an acronym for “there is more than one way to do it.”  The best online conversations challenge us to see things from different perspectives and maybe even change our minds. For every question or issue, there suddenly appear before our eyes many more ways to do things than we could ever have imagined.

By contrast, my early education was all about right and wrong answers based on indisputable facts. Except in art class, the thought of doing something for the first time was out of the question. Most insidious of all from a contra-innovation perspective was the whole notion of a high school debating team. At the time I remember feeling vaguely repulsed by the thought of being rewarded for single-mindedly defending one point of view. Today the spirit of high school debate lives on in polarizing, argument-driven T.V. and radio talk shows.

For those of us who were influenced by such constipated approaches during our early school days, social media is a crash course in the discipline of undisciplined thought. There is indeed more than one way to define a problem or see a gap in client services. Here’s to making the most of those Tim Toady moments.

– Sharon VanderKaay

human innovation

The human realities of innovation are fascinating. Each day the practice of planning and designing buildings provides us with lessons to be learned about the challenges and rewards of not settling for minor improvements. As Farrow makes this journey with clients and colleagues, we believe there is always the potential to do great, innovative things. But what tends to get in the way of progress? How can we work though these obstacles together?

Our frontline observation and academic research on the nature of innovation have uncovered some recurring patterns, pitfalls and questions. We see three questions as a good place to open our conversation to the world: What happens when you believe that buildings should feed peoples’ souls, as well as solve practical problems? How can clients be encouraged to take a visionary approach to planning, rather than simply aim to fit pieces of a program puzzle together? And how can the inevitable naysayers become supporters of innovation?

Much of the writing we’ve encountered on creativity either dwells on warm and fuzzy aspects, or approaches the subject as unemotional puzzle solving. And innovation is often viewed through the lens of technical solutions. This is our attempt to explore the messy, emotional, human side of innovation.

We hope to hear your stories of innovation yea-sayers and naysayers.

– Sharon Vanderkaay

photo source: Susan Ottevanger

  • About The Nature of Innovation

    We see our collaboration with clients and colleagues as providing a living lab for enriching the creative process. Farrow’s built work has been internationally recognized for leadership in human-centric design. This is where we come to discuss our ideas as they hatch and our experiences as they happen.
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