Posts tagged “creativity”

We say we value innovation and creativity…but do we?

It shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone reading this that the uncertainty of something new and innovative creates a feeling of risk, and can discourage the pursuit of a creative option.

Some research from 2012 (The Bias Against Creativity: Why People Desire but Reject Creative Ideas) delves into that further.

“Prior research shows that uncertainty spurs the search for and generation of creative ideas, yet our findings reveal that uncertainty also makes us less able to recognize creativity, perhaps when we need it most.”

Via the New York Times,

“People actually have strong associations between the concept of creativity and other negative associations like vomit and poison,” said Jack Goncalo, a business professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Agony was another one.”

A new study shows how people unfavorably evaluate others who are described as being creative. It appears that even the mention of their creativity (as opposed to experiencing it directly) was sufficient to cause a negative assessment of the creative person.

Like many biases, being aware of their existence can be a first step to addressing them, but like many biases, their baked-in nature can make for a significant challenge to overcome.

My talk about improv from UX New Zealand

Last year I gave a highly interactive talk at UX New Zealand about improv, creativity and design, entitled Yes, My Tuatara Loves to Cha-Cha. They’ve just posted the video and I’ve embedded it and the slides below.

Steve Portigal @ UX New Zealand 2015

Sketchnotes, from Matthew Magain

and Kim Anderson

A new article about what I learned while doodling

I’ve just published What I Learned From 100 Doodles in 100 Days, my first article in a long time. Here’s an excerpt, but check out the whole thing on Medium.

Last November I sat in the audience at the HOW Interactive Design Conference as Jim Krause spoke about “Habitual Creativity.” He talked about breaking out of unconscious habits (e.g., driving to work the same way each day and never really “seeing” what was around you) and creating new habits by taking on new behaviors. At some point during his talk, I made a note that read simply “100 doodles in 100 days project.”

The idea of taking something new and doing it deliberately and repeatedly appealed to me. I was even reminded of other efforts like Rachel Hinman’s 2008 project “90 mobiles in 90 days.”

After making the note, I set the idea aside, eventually deciding to kick the project off in the New Year. I framed the task in a way that was safe for me. No, don’t worry, I’m not drawing, I’m not even sketching. I’m just doodling! Doodles aren’t of consequence, they’re little visuals you do mindlessly in the margin of your notebook to keep your hands busy while talking on the telephone. They aren’t intended to be “good” (whatever that means).


An update on 100 doodles in 100 days

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been working on 100 doodles in 100 days. I’ll probably wait for the project to complete before I reflect in more detail but I thought for the last half I’d do a few posts to share the output. Here are the 50s.











Creative collaboration with jerks

d_school_the whiteboard_Yes and_vs_that sucks because_

I love this great post by Margaret Hagan that looks at a few different ways to deal with a “Yes, and…” collaboration when your partner won’t play by those rules, falling back on “that sucks” a little too often. She suggests three different approaches, which I’ve spun as follows

  1. Redirect – go off on your own or find other people to interact with and bring that good stuff back to the collaboration
  2. Respond – challenge those that challenge you with their stinky negativity
  3. Reframe – do all the design activities you like, but don’t describe them with code words, eliminating one particular generator of pushback.

There’s much more to be said about all of these, but Margaret’s simple post and lively illustrations are a good bit of inspiration

Trying the Iguana Cha-Cha: Thoughts on Steve Portigal’s Improv Talk

Alicia Dornadic has a great writeup of last week’s talk on improv, creativity and design.

Overcoming one’s fears to do improv in front of a group of strangers must feel so empowering, but watching it can be excruciating. Some people are deer in headlights, whereas others are composed and focused. But the activity goes well, meaning everyone manages to say a word in turn, and at times the sentences actually make sense. “How did it go?” Steve asks when they’re done. Participants share that it was hard to anticipate what would be said, so they had to be “in the moment.” You can’t control the sentence and so just have to go with the flow. Sometimes you have be a “the” person or an “and” person to help the sentence make sense, sacrificing a cool word choice to help the team. Get where this is going? Good collaboration tips. Personally, I love to see the player’s expression the second after they say their word. Eyes wide, relieved that they said something, hopeful to see what comes next. It was exciting.

Our latest article: Content, the Once and Future King

Our latest interactions column Content, the Once and Future King has just been published.

Christian Marclay’s The Clock is a 24-hour film, in which each minute of the 24 hours is depicted by images of clocks (or other depictions of the time) from other movies. Creating The Clock was an intensive, meticulous process. For at least several months, as many as six people spent their days watching DVDs and ripping potential clips; Marclay spent three years working at his computer for 10 to 12 hours a day. With at least 90 years of cinematic history to work with, and perhaps 90,000 movies available, there is a substantial corpus of moving images to draw from. Let’s call this Big Content.

Get the PDF here.

Previous articles also available:

This Week @ Portigal

Here’s what’s going on for us this week

  • We made rapid progress through our data last week to produce a final deliverable for our client. Due to some scheduling challenges, we won’t actually talk through what this means for them in terms of new opportunities until next week. So this week, the project is in a holding pattern. We lose a bit of momentum this way, but there’s nothing we can do about it.
  • Up next? For the past 6 weeks we’ve been making slow but steady progress on a new project that should take us to some interesting business and industrial environments across the US. The client team is super engaged and understandably taking a lot of time to align on the details, having never done this sort of work before. Meanwhile, we’re crawling our way through the corporate processes, finding ourselves assigned vendor numbers, and other trappings of the way that sourcing works. I hope for this week to be the one that officially moves us towards the next steps, but it’s entirely out of my hands.
  • We’ll be publishing some fieldwork War Stories this week. I’ve got one in hand as of this writing and another promised to me. As this archive continues to grow, we welcome your contribution!
  • We’re gathering applications for our open positions. Interested in working with us? Let us know!
  • Tamara is in Hot’lanta to speak at CPSI, connecting the insights from research to ideation.
  • I’m speaking in Cupertino this Wednesday for the San Francisco ACM, talking about improv, creativity, and design. This event is free, open to the public, and I’m told there is going to be food. Come on out!
  • I’m working with Kelly and Alison at gotomedia to finalize our Barcelona WebVisions workshop (use reg code PORTIGAL to save 40%). It promises to be an interesting synthesis of our complementary approaches and best practices.
  • Early this week, I’ll turn over the next revision of my book manuscript, now with all the figures detailed. It’s been a flurry of activity tracking down original files (in some cases, original paper documents) and numbering and cataloging them.
  • I’m excited about meeting some new people this week, possible colleagues and collaborators that I’ll be having lunches and introductory phone calls with.
  • Check out my pictures from Lisbon and UXLX!
  • Ten Years Gone: On All This ChittahChattah in June, 2002: umbrage over MCI (remember them?) sales scumbaggery, appreciation for an early archive of Internet humor.
  • What we’re consuming: the LEO at Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen, Chum-chum the bored bear, The Other F Word, and Big Train

Creativity and Haiku

5 ways to test it
7 big ways to kill it
5+ ways to win

I keep coming across articles about creativity that use the numbers 5 and 7. This got me thinking about haiku poems, often written 3 lines long with 5, 7 and 5 syllables respectively. I took this as an opportunity to get creative, so I wrote the haiku above and one for each of the articles that sparked my haiku-frenzy.

Test Your Creativity: 5 Classic Creative Challenges [Behance]
Do it yourself tests
Learn how to assess
And find when you flow

The 7 Biggest Creativity Killers [Co.CREATE]
Crime scene metaphor.
Who killed creativity?
Whodunnit plus tips.

5 Ways to Win With Creativity [Inc.]
Beat competition
Questions, courage, bold gestures
Gotta play the part.


Steve speaking locally, about improv, design, and creativity

I am frequently asked when I’m doing a public talk in the SF Bay Area, and now I can answer: next week!

I’m giving my popular talk Yes, My Iguana Loves to Cha-Cha in Cupertino on Wednesday, June 20th, at 6:30. This talk, about improv, creativity, and design, is something I’ve revisited and revised for a number of years. As the talk has evolved, I’ve presented it at CHIFOO, Puget Sound SIGCHI, IxDA New York (slides, video), IDSA’s Southern Conference, IDSA/ICSID World Design Congress, IDSA 2009, and DUX05.

Read more here, and come on down to the event
HP Oak Room
19111 Pruneridge Avenue
Cupertino, CA 95014

I hope to see you there. No iguanas will be harmed. No one will be forced to do improv but there should be plenty of opportunities to try it out if you’re up for it!


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