PICNIC day two

Today was day two of PICNIC and another great day, maybe not as great as yesterday but never mind! The weather had improved tremendously over night. The day started with the Vodafone Mobile Clicks presentations. After a short delay and an introduction that was a little bit to long they kicked off with Wunderlist and Frogtek. Both were clearly startups in a more mature phase indicating the level was high. Wunderlist is a task management app for a number of platforms. This app already has a large fanbase and a number of mentions on prominent media! Frogtek is a service for small shop owners in developing countries to help run their businesses more efficient. Frogtek was my favorite because for me it was more innovative than a task management app. I did not stay tuned for the other candidates but the prize money will be rewarded tomorrow.

After lunch I sat in on a discussion about database cities and urban stories. The panel consisted of some great minds from the US and The Netherlands on this topic. Combining the data that cities are generating and augmenting this into the real world will shape the urban stories that make culture. A nice art example is The Catalogue made by Chris Oakley in 2004, where he envisions a world where tremendous amounts of data are combined. The internet of things comes into play. This is a big theme of PICNIC this year. The internet of things will be combined with social media (the internet of people?), ambient intelligence and mobility to improve life in cities. The discussion ended with the thought that although technology is great, people that are interacting with each other is the real stimulus for creativity and knowledge sharing.

My day ended with two great talks by Charles Landry and Victor van der Chijs from OMA. One of the thoughtfull questions by Charles was why people asked what the Zuidas is but the NDSM area is completely clear. The zuidas ,nice name for a financial district with international aspirations ūüėČ costed 2 bilion euro’s, where the NDSM island started with a briefing on the feel and culture of the area. Victor talked about the dimise of the creative class. Inspired by Richard Florida he made a case for creative class to team up with other the other promising sectors in The Netherlands to add value. An example is the Energy Roadmap 2050 to create an european powergrid.

PICNIC day one

My first ever PICNIC festival day started with a nice talk by professor Robbert Dijkgraaf, president of the KNAW. He talked about the relationship between creativity and physics. One of the best parts was about most important element of a formula, the equals sign. This sign brings together two worlds and lets ideas and concepts flow between these two worlds.

The second part of the creativity session was by Mark Runco, who talked about ideation and divergent thinking. Three elements are important in ideation: originality, fluency and flexibility. Time and associations have an effect on ideation and thus creativity. Playfullness will produce better ideas than being serious, so there is a wise lesson for all workshops!

The third part of creativity was about the concept of fractal. This shape is used by nature all the time and can be applied to business problems aswell. Searching the right information should use fractal trajectories to cover the most space on an efficient way.

During lunch I really enjoyed the Boom Chicago Pitch Training, where we learned a lot about giving a good pitch or presentation. A lot of good tips on stature, eye contact,¬†acknowledging¬†energy and presence. In speaking we should avoid “uhmm” and similar words, which can be done by a more than average preparation. At the office we discussed the hitchcock effect, that is to state the conclusion upfront and elaborate afterwards. During this session we talked about the scheme to state a conclusion “I like this bottle of water”, state three short reasons for the conclusion (“because it is fresh, sustainable and a good presentation prop”) and than elaborate on the reasoning. You can take a half day workshop at Boom Chicago for ‚ā¨95 euro, which should be fun and a good investment in your presentation skills!

After lunch I attended a workshop together¬†with @ARoelofswaard on open data combining data from cities and people. The last one is trending as the Quantified Self lately. They mentioned some great stuff that is happening right now like weavrs.com, a site generates a fake person based on a big mix of data. The other service that was really nice is ifttt.com, a site that lets you make a litte app or service combining a number of channels, based on the priciple “if this than that”, hence the name ifttt ;-). Pachube was mentioned shortly, what is a nice service to manage data in the internet of things.

All together a really, really great first day and I am excited to go back to Amsterdam tomorrow!

Interaction means better ideas faster?

Today I had a few discussions with coworkers on various matters. All were needed and essential to straighten out my own ideas and take these ideas to the next level. The morning started with a discussion about my new blogging impulse. Clearly I am setting some expectations about frequency but more importantly on the results of my work. For me the most important element is a moment to let go of the day and ensure more focus on a longer timescale.

Next I called a few coworkers to discuss a new idea. I will disclose this idea later on. Obviously I needed to explain my idea but I was keen not to tell to much. I did not want to set to many boundaries for this idea. Discussing the idea briefly a few times made it clearer to me as well. And I got some other ideas to for free!

After lunch I had a teammeeting onsite with a customer. When the meeting was finished we returned to the office and discussed our ideas with a coworker. In this discussion he managed to break out of our ‘groupthink’ and get some fresh and good ideas on the table. Now we can act on these ideas and get back on track faster!

My 2% learning curve of today would be to get someone with fresh ears and brains in a 15 minute ‘power’ meeting more regularly to talk and get better results in less time.

Learning and Creativity

This week I read the article “Teaching Smart People How to Learn” by Chris Argyris. It is a great piece of work discussing the idea and practical application of double loop learning. The examples in this article are very vivid and really get to the point why proffesionals or knowledge workers avoid learning.

Defensive reasoning is a big barrier for double loop learning. Teammembers search for solutions and reasons to problems outside themselves. They are affraid to acknoledge failure and thus are preventing themselves from learning. Success in their careers is the main source for them to be affraid of critisicm.

Learning and the educational systems are two subjects rather close to each other and there is a great video from TED by Sir Ken Robinson.

[ted id=”66″]

Ken argues that educational systems kill creativity. Kids are not affraid to be wrong and if you are not prepared to be wrong you never come up with something original. Kids lose this ability to be wrong and turn in to adults that are affraid to be wrong. Education is telling students that mistakes are the worst things to make.

In sports it is a common sense that mistakes and losing are needed to win matches and achieve goals. If a player makes a mistake during a match this is the only moment you can make them see how to perform better and to avoid the mistake. When I am coaching I always try to make teams lose bigtime during the training season. That is the time when they learn the most and create a bigger appetite for succes.

Chris and Ken are both stating that the inability to make mistakes, to be wrong and be defensive about them is a big problem. This problem leads to the inability to learn and the inability to be creative. We need to start learning again to make mistakes, be honest about them and learn from these mistakes to do a better job!