Thursday, January 21, 2010

More Ted Videos - Play and motivation

I watched five videos today, mostly focused on creativity, but at the end, going where the suggestions took me.

Creativity and Play and Surprising Science of Motivation were great. Gilbert was interesting but, for me, insubstantial. Tan was a waste of time. Behar was interesting, but more product oriented - good, but not my focus.

As Ken Robinson said, kids aren't embarrassed by making mistakes. Adults are.

Security to take risks.

Playfulness helps us get to better creative solutions

Kids ask "what is it?" + "What can I do with it?"

Test or skill or exercise:
30 circles test. 6 circles across by 5 deep. Adapt as many circles as you can into objects (give example) Quantity is important: One minute.
Who used variations on a theme? - Smiley face, angry face, sad face…
Who followed the examples given?
The goal is to break self-editing. The first stage of brainstorming is to not edit or censor yourself.

I feel, as did the audience when asked to draw their neighbor, I should apologize or defend the small number (and low quality) of my drawings. If you couldn't tell, there are three faces, two fruit (and you probably couldn't tell. They are an orange and a watermelon) and a globe.

Purdue Creativity test. - find out what it is. It seems to be related to the 30 circles. Find many uses for a paperclip.

Brainstorming rules on wall of Ideo (Brown's company) of conference room - defer judgement, go for quantity,
Rules for creativity - break the old rules and norms. Better brainstorming and outcomes from following the rules.

Building: Average western first grader - 50% of their time in construction play. Classic learn by doing.

Mentions 'post it notes' the only creative tool in cubicle-land - one of my favorite tools for ESL class.
If you care, my Post-it in-the-classroom suggestion is to use them
and a blank page to make a board game. Different coloured tiles
can have different meanings in the game. Trivia games work well, as do
Snakes-and-ladders type games and combinations - come on, be creative about it!

Creativity and role-play. Test for flaws in design.

When children role play, they actually follow social scripts closely that they learn from us adults.

Play is not anarchy. Play has rules. When kids play 'cops and robbers', they have an agreed script.

Good teachers spend a lot of time thinking about how to move kids in and out of play.

Generative mode, then development - divergent, then convergent. A serious, professional adult and be playful.

summary: We need trust to play and trust to be creative.
Exploration - go for quantity
building - thinking with your hands
role play


"…advertising is the price companies pay for being unoriginal."


A little boring to me. Funny, but not informative.

After her bestseller book, people would ask her about fear: "Aren't you afraid that you will never write a book to top this one?", "Aren't you afraid that you are keep writing all your life and you're never going to write another book that anyone cares about?"

The candle problem: candle, a box of thumbtacks and matches: Your job is to attach the candle to the wall so it doesn't drip on the wall.
Most people take a lot of time to do it. Use the box (holding the thumbtack) to hold the candle.

More from Lifehacker - also discussing Dan Pink's TED talk.

Motivation and creativity

I will time you on how fast you can solve the problem

one group was told, "You are the control group I am timing you to find an average time, the normal time, the typical time."

Second group was offered rewards: top 25% = $5. The fastest = $20

Second group took 3:30 longer than the first group.

Motivator is meant to enhance creativity but actually blocks or inhibits creativity. Many motivators don't work or do harm.

"There's a mismatch between what science knows and what business does."

extrinsic motivators - carrot and stick - often don't work and do harm.

Rewards narrow our focus, concentrate the mind, that's what they are meant to do.

Pink shows how the candle problem can be much easier and extrinsically motivated: Move the tacks out of the box. Now, rewards enhance the speed greatly -- because the solution is much clearer when the box is there empty. Obviously, use the box.

Old job descriptions were like the easy candle problem, but new job descriptions are like the hard candle problem.

Computers and mechanical solutions can solve the easy problems, people are needed to do the creative stuff.

researchers (Areily, Gneezy, Lowenstein and Mazar) had subjects play games and offered 1) low rewards, 2) medium rewards and 3) large rewards)
"As long as the task involved only mechanical skills, bonuses worked as they would be expected: the higher the pay, the better the performance."
"But once the task called for "even rudimentary cognitive skill", a larger reward led to poorer performance."
"…higher incentives led to worse performance."

Autonomy: Management is great if what you want is compliance. If you want engagement, self-direction is better.
Pay people honestly and fairly -get the issue of pay right off the table.

Examples: an Australian software company gives engineers one day every few months off of regular work and orders the engineers to work on something personal and individual. Google does the same thing with it's 20% plan - spend 20% of your time on personal projects.
Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) - autonomy on schedule and workplace, but deliver content. How, when, where is up to the staff.
Encarta (Microsoft encyclopedia) vs Wikipedia - Encarta had well-paid staff and managers, Wikipedians work for free, for fun. Which is more famous and used now?
Hey, I should check out Wikipedia on creativity!

Other parts of performance but not covered in this TED Talk: Mastery & Purpose


This one is next for me. I am not sure how or if it will relate to creativity, but it does sound interesting.

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