Creativity Hacks: Five steps to using constraints to solve problems fast

Boxed

“Think outside the box.” That advice is about as helpful under time pressure as telling a three year old to “calm down!” in the middle of a tantrum. We all want to be creative when we face tricky problems, but how?

Many creativity experts advise opening your mind to wacky ideas, and creating a sense of total freedom when you’re brainstorming. I’m here to argue for the opposite: Limitations actually help you create new ideas and solve big tricky problems. Why? My research suggests that too much freedom is actually paralyzing – it provides too many choices and our brains get overwhelmed.  Limitations, or constraints, help you unleash creativity inside your own brain, and inside your team.

I was recently interviewed on the Thrivecast podcast about using constraints to get creative in solving business problems. (All forms of creative work, from running a startup to launching a new innovation demands creative problem solving, and running an innovative accounting practice like the Thrivecast advocates is no different!)

Here are some of the tips that came out of the conversation. Give them a try. More

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Design is an Organizational Behavior Challenge

What do top universities, international airlines, and the California DMV have in common? Answer: Terrible websites, with so much hierarchy in their navigation scheme that accomplishing a basic task requires a black belt in enterprise bureaucracy.  Why do companies with so many resources at their disposal have such a hard time producing good design?

Simple, clean UX design is hard work. Sometimes you just have to lock yourself up for a week to figure out how to make the complex look simple. But getting design done in a huge enterprise – where stakeholders are spread across departments with decades of political history dividing their interests – is a total bitch.

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Why the Los Angeles startup scene will keep growing

You’ve probably heard that my home town of Los Angeles has startup fever. There is no doubt that the LA tech scene is heating up. But is high-tech a trend, or can “Silicon Beach” really make a dent in the culture of a town where “the industry” refers to entertainment and not technology?

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Growth is not magic.

There’s been lots of hype lately about growth and growth hacking. I’ve even heard such nonsense as “we can turn on virality whenever we want to.” (Um, if it were that easy….. never mind.)

The truth about user acquisition is that while there are some fundamental principles at work, there is no substitute for having a valuable product and delivering it in a great user experience. This truth is both refreshing and stabilizing. It’s about the product, people.

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The Best of London: Hipster Scene, Cheap Eats, Gourmet Coffee & Pubs

My husband Roy and I lived in London for 2+ years while I was on faculty at the London School of Economics and he worked at Shazam. We’ve been back in San Francisco for over a year now, but his Google Map of favorite places has lots of the best places to see and be seen in London, complete with descriptions (written from our Bay Area perspective). We always share it with friends going to visit and in the process we fell in love with Google Maps for quickly sharing our favorite places with friends going to visit London in a format that they can actually use.

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How to do lean startup: Sharing user feedback & release notes with your team

At Britely we aim to follow a lean startup approach of talking to users before, during, and after building every part of our product. A common challenge in startups though is that everybody is so busy building that very few people actually “get out of the building” and talk to users. So how can you get your team on the same page?

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