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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Design Element: You Can Destroy the Whole by Way of the Details

"When you dissect a frog, you learn a lot about a frog, but in the end what you have is a dead frog."

-Mark Twain

When a solution has been created in a collaborative, multi-iterative group process over a period time, the group's intimacy with the solution, in part, is what makes for success in a session. They understand how the parts make the whole. Basically, they have spent time with the frog. The result is a solution set that is often more innovative and unrepeatable than a solution crafted under more conventional means.

When people ask to be brought into the session late, because of schedule conflicts or other barriers, it is a disincentive to the process - lacking hands on experience and context they need to be "brought up-to-speed". The “bringing them up-to-speed” means taking valuable time and energy going back and explaining and recreating the work up to the moment. It diminishes the energy of the group, as it often takes many people to explain to one. It channels the energy away from the true goal of creating the solution.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Photo Safari

I carry a simple Canon digital camera everywhere I go. I use it to shoot my work and it cleans up very nicely in Photoshop. I have also found it to be a great way to build visual content in my head and on my hard drive, and have started going out and doing what I call a Photo Safari. Because I travel a great deal and go to some notable locations, I have a wealth of things from which to choose.

Originally I found myself overwhelmed with wanting to shoot postcard subject photos to share with others about my trips, as well as the interesting stuff to inspire my imagination. I found, over time, that most of those postcards subjects are indeed postcards already available and can be bought for a minimal amount or the image can be found on the internet. Re-shooting these images is like shooting the amazing sunset I and everybody on earth has photographed at least once.

So instead, I leave those subjects to the professionals and concentrate on the little things that catch my eye. Among those I have found interesting are:
  • Graffiti lettering and characters
  • Unique signs
  • Statues and parts of statues
  • Plants and animals
  • Architecture and spaces
  • Unique people (with permission and sometimes a donation)
Not only does this type of focus and capture help build more visual inspiration and imagination, it also builds an eye for seeing the wealth of the world around us - how parts make a whole, how connections can be found in previously disconnected things. One of my favorite bloggers is Robert Genn. In a great blog post; Working with Miksang, he goes even deeper into the mediative and contemplative nature of using the digital camera as a tool for focusing on the world around us. Check it out.