Aside from not speaking any of the native languages, what seems to be crippling me in Switzerland are two things.
The first is the lack of a formal brainstorm space. Notice I say “space” as in most corporations the thought that a cubicle is a proper creative space will fill most accountants ideals, and while any creative can work in any “space.” You probably will get better results with an actual space designed to allow people to work, think, play, and repeatedly fail with business models, sketches and prototypes than a full roll out product disaster in the marketplace. Ask coke how they feel about changing the formula to “coke” years ago.
The other part that bothers me, is that unwittingly years ago when a gentleman wanted what I felt was an exorbitant amount of money to build 8 speak rigs – I went out and started to learn how to use tools and build my own prototypes. Having all the tools and raw stock within arms reach is really a wonderful way to work.
There are a few reasons why everyone should do this. The first comes from trying to develop within a normal corporate environment versus a skunkworks environment. Normally, it seems you have to keep a large amount of people in a loop, of which, lets face it, in business there are a lot of odd and unique personalities with great talents, as well as great insecurities. Many want to control the process instead of letting it grow and evolve.
Another is that the more skills you can learn, the less you need to go outside to vendors, schedule prototype runs and part making to come back at a later date and build the prototype, only to find there are better solutions that could have been identified much sooner and the project momentum would have been stronger. This is where I wish I lived next to a tech-space shop.
After having to scrimp and save and then many times learn by trial and error and reading books to learn “how.” Thankfully today we have Google search that you can type any question in and will be led to someone putting a note or video. As Einstein said, “you have no need to remember that which you can look up.”
The other path in the last 25 years has been the advent of the desktop; make that the laptop and even mobile phone where if one takes the time to learn the software, it is a tool to push computer models out to the world of CNC, laser, plasma, vacuum forming, and rapid prototyping machines and tools. These tools make life simpler, but if you know how to use the actual hand tools to bash out some ideas - you can think and work with your hands and create much faster and come up with better ideas.
In a lot of the world, there is the thought process between “brains” and “brawn” thinking. There are many well-educated people that have marvelous brains, yet, can’t do much in actually building. There are others that are great builders who do incredible work; yet, they are devoid with creativity and ideas. Learn to Hyrbrid yourself with one specialty and several "pretty good at" skills.
You don’t need to be great all the skills, a professional who does one skill all day over and over will kick your butt in doing that one thing with time and skill. But the crossover between brain and hands working together – is another big secret revealed to you for creativity.
You can design a Virtual 3d model of what something will look like. With raydiosity lighting, and advanced physics modules and more accurate textures and mapping - you can simulate pretty accurately what the space will look like.
But, when you build it out in 1:1 scale without mocking up or prototyping, very rarely will one go “wow, that is perfect!”
Another odd thing I noticed is that in a professional shop, you will have tools all nicely in a row. The one thing I used to love about the idea of the cloud computer and Ogilvy open office spaces was that the space was dynamic and could be used, changed and modified to fit any need. If you look at the designs for the Colorado lab – this has been encapsulated in the way space is used and how the space can change.
It brings me to the “tools” people use. In most companies the “tools” that are purchased usually follow some budget protocol, have to go through lot so hoops and requisition to get anything new. I remember in one company I worked, we were told not to print because there was no more toner money in the budget.
“So what do you want me to do? Take up the ways of the old scribe and make hand written scrolls? Will there be money for thread so I can do ancient book binding techniques?”
When it comes to tools, my dad always said, “tools make your job easier, the right tool will save you a great deal of time.”
If you look at the productivity output of an average American, It isn’t because we are that much better or educated than we were 50 years ago. It is said you only need to work 22 hours today to produce what took 40 hours a worker then.
It is the tools we have and the automation and computer intelligence that allow this increased productivity.
For the person that says they always come up with great solutions on the first attempt is usually either lucky, a liar, or they have done the same problem 20 times before and have a memory problem
While not the way I wanted to end this daily bowl of vowels and consonants – here is a simple guide for what you need for a creative space:
FIRST -the space within one can create. Try to avoid a box, but if that is all you have, use it.
SECOND –time to allow minds to think, percolate, stew, process.
THIRD – the space with which to play and ask “why?” without fear.
FOURTH – the tools to allow hands to assemble, tinker, play, and work with physical prototypes and models to allow better understanding and solutions to whatever the problems are.
FIFTH – eliminate as much of the time wasting activities that are part of life in the normal business world.
LAST – know that for every failure, it is not a "failure." it is simply one thing that didn't work. it means you are one step closer to finding the solution that will work.