Tuesday, October 8, 2013

the truly creative thinker



this last month, i was able to join in a great webinar from amber kane.   the original broadcast ended up with several technical problems, but that happens.   she re-recorded the whole thing and posted it here-
creative class webinar
password: thecreativeclass

i finally got to watch it today and loved it!   i also watched a conversation she had with tara gentile about marketing.   the-customer-perspective-with-tara-gentile   also great.

you may ask what the first one, on creative and divergent thinking has to do with marketing . . . i made several connection but that's just the way i think.   so i wanted to share both with you and then give you my tweaked version and vision.

first, divergent thinking.   this was great because i came to understand why i do the things i do, the way that i do them.   there are 3 practices she covers in the video that research says divergent thinkers do.   seriously, watch the video.

the first thing she talked about was the paperclip test.   personally, i think a creativity or divergent thinking "test" is an oxymoron but whatever.   it was fun too.  you name as many things as you can that you can do with a paperclip.   little kids can come up with over a hundred things usually, but only 2% of adults can.   i had to make myself quit at 136 because the kids got home from school and i really needed to get things done.    that was a fun adventure though.   i had actually done about half or more of the things i wrote down.   divergent thinker, a.k.a crafter, a.k.a. cub scout leader, a.k.a. mom . . . .

ok, first divergent practice - get out of your comfort zone.   this is why you don't get patterns from me.  i don't use them.   i just dive into stuff.  i see something and think, "wow!    all of these images and great ideas are popping into my head, i'm going to try them all at once!"   i have always been willing to try new things but i still had a comfort zone.   then we moved to germany.   i was hurled out of my comfort zone at light speeds.  i kept thinking i can't do this anymore and yet, there i was.   still alive and kicking because i don't know how to lay down and die.  so, now, what comfort zone?   ok, somethings are easier than others, but i am learning to walk over comfort lines without much thought.   (please don't confuse comfort zones with moral codes or creeds.   two really different things and one should be challenged, the other not.)

another practice she mentioned - write things down.   everything!   ideas come to mind and i have to record them.   which is why i am up at 11pm writing a blog post instead of sleeping.   my brain just wouldn't shut off until i got it out of my head and onto print.

another one that was new to me but i am having tons of fun with is image streaming.   it's like a rollercoaster in your head!  wheeeee!  the theory is that you have images running through your head all the time but tend to zone them out so you can get things done.   thank you schooling and fitting in.   when you image stream, you close your eyes, and the first image you see, describe it in full detail.   use all five senses and speak out loud.   it doesn't need to be actual, "the chair is blue" stuff.  it can be things it reminds you of, things you feel or hear or smell when you see the image.   it's lots of fun.     i'm going to come back to this one so don't lose it.

the other video is about marketing.   i run businesses online so this was interesting to me.   as i watched it though, i saw the two combining.

the interesting thing that she said about marketing is that instead of target markets you should listen to target conversations.   so, you still need to know who you're trying to sell to but you need to know how they communicate so you can speak their language.   (again, watch the video, even if you're not selling anything.  i'll tell you why in a just a second).   it doesn't mean lose your own voice but know how to communicate, the language that the target uses so you can see their own language to get their attention and get across important info.

the second point of the video (at least what i got out of it) was that instead of trying to tell someone about your product, tell them about what matters to them.   the result!   "i don't want to know that it's a great product, i want to know what it does for me."

ok, now why marketing is useful to you no matter what you do.  i am thinking and talking as a wife/mom/teacher because that is my thought process but you can translate this to co-workers, teachers, etc. anyone you want something from.  isn't this a dirty marketing trick?   well, no, it's better communication.   you want your kids to clean their rooms, do their homework etc?  you want something from them.   you want your husband to listen, fix the whatever is broken, yada etc?   you want a good grade from your teacher?   well, there you go.   you want something.   this is better communication.

so, listen to your target's communications with others.   facebook, other people, observe them from this perspective.   i really want you to pay attention because each person communicates with each other person differently.   my son doesn't talk to me the way he talks to his sister.   my grandmother doesn't talk to me the same way she talks to my uncle.   this is a bonus of paying attention to how some people interact.   you will find that you automatically get irritated by one person but totally let stuff slide with another.   if you change the thought process, you can change the attitude.   for instance, i have told my kids to talk to each other the way they would talk to me.    now, back at that marketing stuff.   use this different communication in those moments that you want them to pay attention, use their language and what interests them to tell them what the results are you are looking for, the results that you can give them if they will do what you need them to.   this has been said about communication before, don't just say what should (or shouldn't) be done but also why.   for me this means talking to my kids on their level and interacting with them in their communication method.   it means that i explain why i want them to do or don't do something and give them positive alternatives for the don'ts.    amber gave an interesting example of how her students gave her an unexpected result to her assignment.   i had this light come on, "know your target audience's language and way to communicate.   present the results not just the product.   this marketing scheme, this different communication thinking would help there too."    obviously, you can't necessarily know that the kids are going to freak out about a lesson but this is how my new thought process was born.

ok, so how do i wrap these two things together?   use the image streaming as a group!   i thought about the communication skills this could bring to our family or any group.   one person briefly describes the first image that comes to mind with all five senses.   everyone listens and forms the image according to what was said.(you could use a picture or object instead of having someone come up with an image if you wanted.   this might be a better alternative for larger groups.)      the next person takes that image and describes it with their five senses and so on.   stick with the original description.   you can't change what's in the other person's mind.   (also a good lesson)   we did it as a family while fixing and eating dinner.   we each took a turn starting and then went around describing what we saw from the original description.   this was fascinating!   i learned a lot about my kids listening to their images and their descriptions.   this activity really gets the creativity flowing and helps everyone to think differently.   you get some interesting observations from this.   my tomboy princess had a problem describing how her pony tasted.   that part was priceless, but i think she improved in just the few rounds we did tonight.  

 it was so much fun!   the kids said we have to start doing it all the time.     it' our new game.   this is such a multi-tasker.   it encourages the us to be more divergent thinkers.   it helps us focus on one thing and describe it.   it helps us to sense things with all five senses and be more aware of our surroundings.    it helps us focus on what the other people are saying.   that helps communication skills.   it helps us understand each other's language better so we can communicate better.    it gives us a better understanding of how others sense the world.   it helps us verbalize our ideas.  . . . .this can go on and on.  

it was really interesting to hear the kids describe something from their heads.  i think it really gave me insight into what goes on inside of them.   they have such different ways of describing things and such different things they chose to describe.   it was seriously awesome!   my son said he was going to tell his teacher about it and see if she wants to do it at school.   i think this would be a great team or class building game.   it would be a great way to learn more about a group or class.   this could be done out loud or written if you used a picture or object.   i think out loud encourages spontaneity but written would be good for a class that might be judgemental of each other.   there are several directions you could go with it.

another way you can use image streaming with your kids is to have your child tell you about the story in a book, or pictures they love, etc.   ask them how things feel, smell, sound, etc as they tell you about them.   you can use this when they tell you about a picture the have drawn as well.   i used this to spend time with my little one while doing the chores.   i wash dishes and he tells me about a book.   it's fun!    

i hope you check out the videos, there is way more than i can tell you.   i hope you can use the practices to better your life and the lives around you.

i have a couple last thoughts about communication and teaching.
when you want something, when you assign something, be clear, then, stick to what you have said.   just because you thought you covered the bases, you may have that divergent thinker that goes off somewhere else you didn't think of.     that's not their fault.   you have to respect their creativity and your own rules.
follow these 4 perfect p words and then hold them and yourself to them.   these may be an exercise for your brain as well.

purpose - what are we trying to get out of this?  give them something they are aiming for or what they are trying to accomplish with the task.

process - what are we trying to learn?   what way of thinking, working, creating, are we trying to practice here?   what do you want them to get out of this?   what is the process you want them to learn?

parameters - set the boundaries so they know where they can go.

probe - understand why that divergent thinker, did what they did so you can change your run at getting the message through.    understand why it didn't work so you can make it better.

here is the story as to why i have these 4p's.

in first grade, my teacher gave us a picture to color every month for the front of our folder for the month.     at first, she said we could color them any way we wanted to.   i colored my sky green and trees blue and grass orange.   i liked it that way.   she did not.

next, she told us we had to color them realistic colors.  ok, i had a picture of a group of school children.   i colored one's hair brown, one blonde, one black and still had  few to go.   i wanted diversity!  so, i decided that no two should have the same color hair . . . .but, it had to be realistic.     one of the kids in our class had great orange hair.   in my box of crayons, there wasn't an exact match but i used a basic orange. . . then i started thinking.   i had heard the term, "red hair".   so, one kid got red hair.   i had no idea that the kid in my class with orange hair was a redhead.   i  mean, that's stupid.   now, i had also heard the term "blue hair".   so, one of my kids got blue hair.   now, i was just 6 but it seemed to me that if someone with red hair married someone with blue hair, their kid would have purple hair.   oh, yes, the last kid got purple hair! . . . .
guess how much my teacher liked this picture.
i am still stumped as to why, but i was sent to the principal's office over this picture.  i am so not kidding you!

the principal actually talked to me about the hair colors and explained to me what i had misunderstood.   i felt like it was dumb and like she should have been there instead of me.  even at just my shy 6 years old, i was stubborn.   i spent a lot of time in the principal's office that year.

that year was horrible for me.   i cried all the time, but i refused to let my mom change classes.   stubborn.   i was determined to win, and i didn't want to leave the little orange haired kid that was also getting the brunt of her difficult year.

in this woman's defense, there were things happening in her life that a 6 year old could not have known or understood.   i saw her many times as a teen and adult.   she always hugged me and called me her favorite student.   i wondered why, until much later, when we found out about the personal trials she had going on that year.   i just accepted that she loved me and truly i loved her because of it.   i really hope she remembered it that way and that she didn't know what she put me through.   i was glad that i had the opportunity to grow under her.      i am thankful for the lessons i learned from it as i reflected on it from adulthood.   i am grateful that i could feel her love later in life.

so, there i leave you with lots of fun stuff to think about and ponder.   hopefully, some of it will be of use to you.   i am going to image stream it that way at least.