Where Good Ideas Come From

April 27th, 2011 | Posted by John Kapeleris in Ideas - (2 Comments)

“Chance favors the connected mind!”

I found the following video on “Where Good Ideas Come From” very knowledgeable and informative.

You can also check out Steven Johnson’s interesting book “Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation” which describes Seven Key Principles to maximize creativity:

  1. The adjacent possible – the principle that at any given moment, extraordinary change is possible but that only certain changes can occur (this describes those who create ideas that are ahead of their time and whose ideas reach their ultimate potential years later).
  2. Liquid networks – the nature of the connections that enable ideas to be born, to be nurtured and to blossom and how these networks are formed and grown.
  3. The slow hunch – the acceptance that creativity doesn’t guarantee an instant flash of insight but rather, germinates over time before manifesting.
  4. Serendipity – the notion that while happy accidents help allow creativity to flourish, it is the nature of how our ideas are freely shared, how they connect with other ideas and how we perceive the connection at a specific moment that creates profound results.
  5. Error – the realization that some of our greatest ideas didn’t come as a result of a flash of insight that followed a number of brilliant successes but rather, that some of those successes come as a result of one or more spectacular failures that produced a brilliant result.
  6. Exaptation – the principle of seizing existing components or ideas and re-purposing them for a completely different use (for example, using a GPS unit to find your way to a reunion with a long-lost friend when GPS technology was originally created to help us accurately bomb another country into oblivion).
  7. Platforms – adapting many layers of existing knowledge, components, delivery mechanisms and such that in themselves may not be unique but which can be recombined or leveraged into something new that is unique or novel.

Where do you get your ideas from?

Dr John Kapeleris

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Napoleon Hill in his all-time bestselling book “Think and Grow Rich” makes mention of the power of the Mastermind. The mastermind principle is defined as the coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people for the achievement of a definite purpose. A mastermind group can be a powerful way to achieve your definite purpose or goals. I have joined a few mastermind groups each having a specific purpose or goal where the contribution of the knowledge, experience and united spirit of all members can catapult you to the next level of achievement. Members of a mastermind group will have a common interest where each person is willing to discuss topics openly and contribute knowledge and experience. The mastermind groups that I belong to meet regularly and have formal and informal agendas for prior preparation and subsequent discussion. A number of outcomes have emerged from my mastermind groups, including sharing knowledge and ideas, creating new start-up businesses, identifying new commercial opportunities, and developing solutions for business and community problems. Some of the most successful people in the world (e.g. Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie) have relied on their mastermind groups to guide them or provide wisdom and inspiration.

Another mastermind concept is establishing your personal “Board of Directors” which involves a group of trusted people or mentors who can guide you or coach you in various aspects of your life, including business, career, personal development, financial or health. For example, when I was between jobs I had a personal fitness and conditioning coach, a career coach and a personal development coach. I would meet with my personal fitness and conditioning coach three times a week for a period of eighteen months undergoing fitness, physical endurance and mental conditioning training. I would also meet with my career and personal development coaches once every two weeks, alternating between each coach weekly. When I met with my personal development coach I would discuss my progress in building and enhancing my skills for my next challenge in life. My mentor would give me self discovery exercises, references to read and small development projects to complete between the meeting sessions. My mentor also opened my mind to a wealth of opportunities that I would investigate and develop in later months and years.

Many successful people establish their own personal “Board of Directors” by identifying key individuals who can assist them in specific areas of focus. If you need a business mentor or adviser you proceed by identifying and choosing someone who has had considerable success and achievement in business. Finding the right mentor or business coach can have a significant affect on your life. A mentor can teach and guide you through your life journey and can be one of the best ways to achieve personal success. Mentors can also accelerate your learning curve by providing the knowledge to fill the gap of “What you don’t know you don’t know“. For example, a business mentor can provide you with the tools and resources to grow your business or to teach you the strategies and processes (tricks of the trade) for a new business opportunity.

Following is a process of finding the right mentors to build your personal “Board of Directors”:

  1. Identify a person in your domain or area of interest who has been successful and would make a great mentor. e.g. a business mentor
  2. Your next step is to contact the person via telephone or a written letter and request whether they can be your mentor.
  3. Don’t be afraid; the worst thing that can happen is that they say “No”.
  4. If you do get a “No” then continue to look for another possible mentor.
  5. Once you have found a group of mentors establish a meeting schedule with an agenda to maximise the full benefits of the engagement. I find that monthly meetings over a coffee or tea is the best approach.
  6. The engagement should be a “win-win” therefore it is important that you also provide some value back to your mentor. This could be in the form of new leads, new business opportunities, information of interest or business intelligence.

Don’t hesitate. Start identifying potential mentors today and begin building your personal “Board of Directors”.

Dr John Kapeleris

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The “butterfly effect” refers to the idea that a small flap of a butterfly’s wings in one location could set off a chain of events in the atmosphere that could lead to large scale alterations or consequences, such as a tornado, in another location. The butterfly effect concept relates to the sensitive dependence on initial conditions as applied to chaos theory. In simple terms this means that a small change or activity in one location within a complex system results in large effects or consequences in another location or situation. Chaos theory is used to study the behaviour of dynamic and complex systems such as the weather, the changing landscape, the environment, medicine and biological evolution.

The concept of the “butterfly effect” can also be applied to our work and personal lives to provide insights about:

  • Considering how everything is interconnected
  • Understanding the law of cause and effect
  • Knowing the impact of the choices and decisions you make
  • Accepting the results you create
  • Achieving significant outcomes through small actions

Your personal and business life is part of a larger network of connections. You generally find that an action made (or not made) in life can have multiple influences and effects. For example, in the recent Brisbane, Australia flood, if water was released from the dams progressively as the dam levels were rising, could this have avoided the flood that Brisbane experienced? Related to this observation is the law of cause and effect which states that for every action there is an effect or reaction. In other words, “You reap what you sow”.

Your pathway in life and the decisions you make can also create ripples in life just like a “butterfly effect”. We are continuously faced with decisions that we have to make in life. The decisions could relate to education, career, lifestyle, personal development, opportunity and investment, that can change your pathway to higher prosperity. Of course making the wrong decisions could lead to a negative outcome. These inflection points in your life path will create your future destiny. You therefore have the option to influence your own destiny or allow your destiny to be dictated by external influences. In summary, “The decisions we make and the action we take today will determine our future results and outcomes”.

To achieve significant outcomes you need to reduce activities into small manageable tasks that require action. By mastering each of the small actions and disciplines, you build momentum that allows you to achieve the bigger outcomes that are linked to the actions.

A simple approach that can be implemented to achieve results is outlined below:

  1. Goals – Set your S.M.A.R.T. goals and objectives.
  2. Beliefs and Emotion – Establish a positive mindset and remove any limiting beliefs.
  3. Decision – Develop a plan of activities and tasks by making the right decision. Take into account all the impacts and influences the decision will produce.
  4. Action – Take small incremental and disciplined actions based on the activities and sub-tasks that you document in your plan.
  5. Results – Achieve the results and successful outcomes that you deserve.

Dr John Kapeleris

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Creative Hothouses Part 2

March 7th, 2011 | Posted by John Kapeleris in Creativity - (6 Comments)

A colleague asked me to provide further information on history’s “Creative Hothouses”, such as ancient Athens, Renaissance Florence, the creative communities of the Parisian cafes and salons (early 1900s) and the German Bauhaus (1919-1933). Following is a summary of history’s creative hothouses.

Ancient Athens

The Athenians during the Golden Age of Greece (500 – 300 BC), created forms of history, mathematics, democracy, political science, philosophy, drama, architecture and sculpture, that continue to influence our world today. The hothouse of Athens was able to fuse a number of cultural domains into distinctive forms such as buildings, literature and politics. Thousands of years later the achievements of Athens played a crucial role in inspiring the Renaissance.

European Renaissance

The Renaissance Period (1300 to 1600), particularly in Florence, was characterised as the age of exploration with an emergence of new knowledge that influenced art and science. The knowledge from the ancient Greco-Roman period, that had lay dormant for a millennium, suddenly gained a renewed interest that further influenced the explosion of art and science. Advances in a number of industries occurred, including, travel, metallurgy, optics, ballistics, construction and agriculture. An exponential growth of wealth and knowledge also drove the emergence of the nation-state, each with its increased military power. The legacy created by the Renaissance Period was in the form of art. Life-like oil paintings and sculptures, the use of perspective, and the design of visually inspiring architecture was developed during the Renaissance.

The Parisian Cafes and Salons

During the early twentieth century, following the Paris World Fair in 1900, an industrial boom occurred in Europe and the United States, bringing new technological developments such as the horseless carriage, the wireless radio, widespread use of the telephone, and the proliferation of electric light bulbs. It was also the time when Albert Einstein published his first paper on the Theory of Relativity. During the early 1900s the Parisian cafes were social hubs fuelled by coffee, wine, and creative passion, where people would meet in an environment conducive to sharing mutually stimulating ideas and conversations. Gertrude Stein’s apartment also became one of the significant hothouses in Paris in the 1920s, with gatherings every Saturday night (salons) and visits throughout the week. Stein collected paintings of notable artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Braque before they became famous. The apartment became a salon of creativity where artists, poets and writers (Pablo Picasso, Guillaume Apollinaire, Ernest Hemingway and Thornton Wilder to name a few) came together to share their experiences and fuel creative inspiration through the process of osmosis.

German Bauhaus

The German Bauhaus (1919-1933) under the leadership of Walter Gropius provided a workshop experience for architecture, sculpture, art and design. It also became the creative hub that bridged art and business where new creations could be transformed into products for the market. It brought together the cultural and physical landscapes to develop and stimulate students through transfering the skills of the masters. Many students then became masters teaching their learnings and experiences to future students. In 1934 when the Nazis declared all modern art to be ‘un-German”, the Bauhaus moved to Chicago where it became the New Bauhaus and later the Institute of Design.

Common Characteristics

The hothouses in history had a number of characteristics that were common, particularly the ability to accomplish the following (extracted from “The Hothouse Effect”):

  1. Sustain a high level of innovative creativity for a significant period of time
  2. Draw on the knowledge and innovation of the broader cultural community to which it belonged
  3. Spawn geniuses whose achievements climax the work of many other practitioners at all levels of achievements
  4. Establish a new paradigm, that is, a new way of doing things that informs its creative products and establishes new principles, procedures and standards.
  5. Achieve wide recognition and establish a lasting legacy to which future generations continually return to emulate.

It may also be interesting to study some of the more modern creative hothouses, such as Silicon Valley, and learn how intellectual exchanges led, in this example, to the development of the “dot.com boom”.

You may also know of other creative hothouses, local regional or national, that you would like to share.

Dr John Kapeleris

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Crowdsourcing refers to the outsourcing of tasks and activities, traditionally performed internally by an employee or an external contractor, to a large group of people (a crowd), through an open innovation approach or an open call.

In their book Wikinomics Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams discuss how mass collaboration can impact big changes in business. They also present a number of case studies of successful outsourcing and collaboration, including Goldcorp and Proctor & Gamble. In the case of Goldcorp, a Canadian gold mining company, after internal reports and advice from technical staff indicated that the gold mine had run out of gold, the CEO placed all the geological studies, surveys and reports related to the gold mine into the public domain via the Internet and offered a sum of money to whoever could come up with new information or leads for new gold deposits. The CEO’s strategy was successful. New computer modeling technology located in another small organization was able to predict the location of new gold deposits using the existing geological survey data.

By utilizing an open call to an undefined group of people (generally through the Internet), the call brings together people who are in the best position to be able to solve complex problems, provide new ideas and develop new opportunities.

Crowdsourcing has a number of advantages, however, it can also result in intellectual property (IP) issues, including ownership issues and confidentiality of IP. An appropriate governance process is required to ensure the disadvantages of crowdsourcing are minimized. Some of the advantages of using a crowdsourcing approach can include:

  • Reducing transaction costs of organisations
  • Finding new business opportunities
  • Building appropriate teams by finding the right  external people
  • Re-using previous work
  • Building user defined products and services
  • Solving difficult and complex problems

A number of online sites are available that specialise in bringing together different parties or groups to work on a particular project or solve a specific problem. Alternatively an organisation can also ask a question through one of its online networks such as facebook or LinkedIn. A selection of crowdsourcing sites of interest are outlined below:

  • ChaordixBusiness innovation – Engaging crowds through the web to solve your business problem
  • kluster – Brainstorming / feedback – Harness the power of your own hand-picked crowd to brainstorm ideas
  • namethisBrand names – A 48 hour competition site to find a suitable brand name for your venture
  • innocentive –  Problem solving – Brings together seekers who have a problem together with solvers from around the world who may be able to help
  • Rent A Coder – Software development – International marketplace to locate software coders
  • Global Ideas Bank – Social innovation – A site which collects social inventions that can change the world, which are rated by online voters.

One specific type of crowdsourcing strategy is crowdfunding which is also referred to as crowdlending. Crowdfunding is the collective cooperation,  attention and trust by people who network and pool their money together, usually via the Internet, in order to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. For example, crowdfunding has been used to fund open source live chat software, online services, music, independent films, charity and social enterprises.

A number of online crowdfunding and crowdlending websites are available that can be used to raise funds for specific projects or for charitable work. A number of websites are described below:

An entrepreneur seeking seed funding for a new venture, who has not been successful sourcing funds through either government funding programs or through traditional angel investors or venture capitalists, could use crowdfunding from online communities to solicit pledges of small amounts of money from individuals who typically would not be professional financiers. The amounts pledged are usually so small people tend to support a venture that has the right value proposition for them. Confirming a threshold value also ensures that all pledges will not be used unless a threshold target amount is reached.

Crowdfunding, therefore, has the potential to help launch simple ideas through minimal investment, resulting in faster outcomes and the development of new products or services, particularly for social enterprises.

To your success!

Dr John Kapeleris

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“The purpose of man is in action, not thought.” — Thomas Carlyle

We are fast approaching Christmas and this is always a sign that we have once again reached the end of another calendar year. I always find the end of the year to be a time of reflection and review. It is also a time to evaluate the progress of your life purpose, goals and objectives that were set at the start of the year or the longer term goals set in previous years.

The end of the year also offers a fresh start for activities that we had intended to do but never got around to doing them. Although I had previously stated that any day can be the start of the rest of your life, the end of the year can be a special time because it can provide closure to outstanding action items that may no longer be relevant, but also removing limiting beliefs by leaving them behind in the current year. The dawning of a new year provides the incentive to start a fresh action list and the motivation to get things done.

Many people make New Year’s resolutions, however, they quickly discover that the resolutions fade even before the first quarter of the calender year is reached. It is not just about making New Year’s resolutions at the dawn of the New Year, it is about making a committed effort to set written goals and objectives for the coming year and for the medium to longer term timeframe.

I challenge you to make a committed effort, that is, take ACTION, to review your previous goals and objectives, and to set new goals and objectives for 2011. Begin by identifying the major achievements and highlights for 2010. These could include work achievements, financial objectives, family highlights, personal development, educational achievements or personal success outcomes. Achievements should also be acknowledged and celebrated to ensure mental reinforcement and capitalizing on the motivation that this can provide to your subconscious mind. I try to reward myself when I achieve a particular goal or objective. For example, I will buy a gift for myself that reminds me of the success that I have achieved, or I will organise a special holiday trip for myself and my family. Last January I decided to go to Byron Bay and live in a beach house for ten days to celebrate a very successful 2009. In previous years I bought myself a Tag Heuer watch to remind me of a successful multi-million dollar deal I had closed in the year.

I use a visual journal with white pages to document my goals and objectives for the new calendar year. Once I complete this activity I then develop Action Plans for the major goals and objectives. Throughout the year I periodically review my goals and revise any action plans that are not progressing as expected. You should also prepare a vision board which consists of a portfolio of visual material or a collage of images that portray your vision, goals and objectives. The vision board helps to stimulate your reticular activating system in your mind to reaffirm your subconscious.

Like most people I also identify a few missed opportunities or disappointments for the year. This allows me to learn from the experience so that I can strengthen my future plans moving forward. Go ahead and document the missed opportunities and disappointments. Ask yourself, “What could I have done differently to capitalise on the missed opportunities or overcame the disappointments?”, and document potential changes and actions for the future. Don’t spend too much time regretting the missed opportunities. The rest of your life starts now, therefore focus on your future goals and plans for 2011. Some of these goals could also be carried over from 2010. Particularly goals that were over ambitious, which is common amongst high achievers.

I had also previously posted a number of blog entries that can provide further detailed information on developing your goals and objectives (see below). Furthermore, I have included a Personal Development Plan Template that may also be used as a guide. A decent driveway paint site will get you the driveway paint you want.

What does your personal development plan look like?

Have a merry Christmas and I wish you every success for 2011!

Dr John Kapeleris

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The interaction with people throughout your life can influence and determine your future path. My parents and grandparents were a strong influence in my younger years, guiding me and providing me with direction and knowledge. Many of my values and beliefs originated from my parents and grandparents, predominantly through story-telling in the evening and during bed-time. My parents and grandparents were my mentors in my early life.

Throughout my education and career I would source new mentors who would continue to influence me and guide me through my learning and development. One of my career mentors was Dr David Wyatt who was also the Chief Executive of a company where I worked as a senior manager. He was a person who could inspire you to seek new ideas, and continually learn and develop. He would motivate you in your work and make you feel positive and energised. David was also a wealth of knowledge and creative inspiration. He provided me with frequent articles of useful information that would challenge my thinking and provide me with new knowledge. David would also challenge me to think beyond the immediate problem or opportunity. When I was working for David I just couldn’t wait to get to work on Monday morning so that I could experience something new, exciting and motivating. My personal development at that time in my life soared significantly.

In another example, after leaving a company that I worked in for 12 years I employed the services of a personal development mentor to guide me through my next career transition. I would meet with the coach on a weekly basis over three months and discuss my progress in building and enhancing my skills for my next challenge in life. My mentor would give me self discovery exercises, references to read and small development projects to complete between the meeting sessions. My mentor also opened my mind to a wealth of opportunities that I would investigate and develop in later months and years.

Finding the right mentor or business coach can have a significant effect on your life. A mentor can teach and guide you through your life journey and can be one of the best ways to achieve personal success. For example, a business mentor can provide you with the tools and resources to grow your business or to teach you the strategies and processes (tricks of the trade) for a new business opportunity. In a recent experience, without the influence of an internet business coach I would not have been able to develop my internet-based business skills. Can you identify a person in your domain or area of interest who has been successful and would make a great mentor? Your next step is to contact the person via telephone or a written letter and request whether they can be your mentor. Don’t be afraid; the worst thing that can happen is that they say “No”. If this occurs you then look for another possible mentor. For additional mobile information, consult the experts when it comes to samsung galaxy specifications.

Building networks of people who can add value, share ideas and build collaborations or alliances should be one of your key goals, if you are going to succeed in any business or creative endeavour. Your networks will become a source of ideas, knowledge, support, motivation, channels to other networks, access to markets, and even revenue sources. How do you then set about building a network? The first step is to become a better networker by improving your networking skills and overcoming fear and low self-esteem. Following is a simple six-step approach to networking:

  1. Identify networking opportunities and events such as meetings, luncheons, seminars and conferences. Target specific events with a topic of interest related to your definite purpose or goal.
  2. Take the responsibility to interact first. Remember the worst thing that can happen to you is a polite rejection. Network the room as much as possible. Don’t stick to a single person, or remain alone at the outer perimeter of the room, which is common amongst people with low self-esteem. Try to join a group of people who are already interacting or look for someone who is alone.
  3. Have a topic of interest to discuss e.g. a topic from the seminar or conference, or ask the other person a question about their job or work. I always like to begin with “Hi, my name is John and I work for …”. After the other person responds with their name and organisation, I immediately follow with a question or statement related to the seminar or conference. If the networking occurs before the event I tend to ask a general question such as “Are you looking forward to listening to the speaker?”, “What attracted you to this seminar?” or “What do you do for a living?”. It is also a good idea to have a prepared 2-3 minute “Elevator Pitch” describing what you do. For example I say, “I put money into people’s pockets by helping them take their ideas to market”. This generally grabs the person’s attention.
  4. Exchange business cards or contact details. This is generally done during the introduction or after you have found out more about the person. Ensure that you offer your business card first as the other person will generally reciprocate. If the other person does not have a business card write their contact information in a notebook or on a piece of paper. It is also a good idea to write where you met and any follow-up action items or notes about the person on the back of the business card. Don’t forget to record their details, as soon as possible, in a contact database together with notes about the person, where you met and any follow-up actions.
  5. Cultivate your relationship through maintaining regular contact. This could be done through the use of a combination of tools and processes, such as regular email, the online tool LinkedIn, a contact database or by periodically catching up face-to-face for coffee, lunch or at upcoming meetings and seminars. I use LinkedIn quite extensively as this allows me to build a network of people very easily. It also has an email function that allows me to send individual or group messages, and also includes a short message function linked to Twitter. For more specific profile building of my contacts I use a database such as Microsoft Business Contact Manager which is linked to Outlook. I like to use a Relationship Maintenance Schedule (in spreadsheet format) for my more important contacts where I build in a schedule of activities, including periodically sending my contacts articles of interest, links to interesting internet sites, or provide them with business leads and new opportunities.
  6. Become a network architect for others. The ultimate goal is to become the “go-to” person for introducing others to people you know. You essentially become the “intellectual gravity” or thought leader for a given domain and its networks, by attracting like-minded individuals or people seeking knowledge and inspiration.

Napoleon Hill in “Think and Grow Rich” described the power of the Mastermind. The mastermind principle is defined as the coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people for the achievement of a definite purpose. A mastermind group can be a powerful way to achieve your definite purpose or goal. I have joined a few mastermind groups each having a specific purpose or goal where the contribution of the knowledge, experience and united spirit of all members can catapult you to the next level of achievement. Members of a mastermind group will have a common interest where each person is willing to discuss topics openly and contribute knowledge and experience. The mastermind groups that I belong to meet regularly and have formal and informal agendas for prior preparation and subsequent discussion. A number of outcomes have emerged from my mastermind groups, including sharing knowledge and ideas, creating new start-up businesses, identifying new commercial opportunities, and developing solutions for business and community problems. Some of the most successful people in the world (e.g. Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie) have relied on their mastermind groups to guide them or provide wisdom and inspiration.

Another example of a mastermind alliance is that of the creative community which dates back to the Middle Ages. For example, Leonardo da Vinci worked in a master’s studio (Verrocchio’s workshop) with like-minded people to learn his trade, and share knowledge and technical skills, including drafting, chemistry, metallurgy, metal working, plaster casting, leather working, mechanics and carpentry, as well as the artistic skills of drawing, painting, sculpting and modelling. The Parisian Salons of the 1920’s and 1930’s are other examples of creative communities, where people like Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and Thornton Wilder would get together informally at the Parisian apartments of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, to fuel their creative inspiration. You can also locate and join a mastermind group or creative community that focuses on your domain or area of interest. Searching the internet, reading trade journals or popular magazines can identify mastermind groups or creative communities. You can also ask your contacts through your networks if they belong to any mastermind groups or creative communities. If you cannot locate a particular mastermind group or creative community then you might consider forming your own.

Make it a great life!

Dr John Kapeleris

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