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Creative Intelligence at work

The verdict is in.

Apple won just over $1-billion in damages from Samsung for patent infringement.

As somebody who has used the iPhone since the 3G model (currently on the 4S) and who has had about a week’s experience with an el-cheapo Samsung Android device I can say I am not surprised. Compared to Blackberry OS, which I have extensive experience of from the enterprise environment, and also compared to Windows Phone (which I played with once in a shop), Android feels largely derivative of iOS. Both Blackberry OS and Windows Phone are different paradigms.

But here’s the rub.

I think what Android has done, in many cases, is innovation by iteration. This is something that happens often – where invention happens in the way ancient cities rose. You always build the new levels on the old foundations. In this process they have come up with innovations that are beneficial to the end-user and that MAY NOT have existed ever before. Swype, for example, is a superior alternative to typing as it fully uses the glass screen surface in a way that is more suited to the medium than tapping and in fact leads to faster text input. Would I love to have Swype on my iPhone? You bet.

So what really is on trial here, is the US Patent Law’s inability to acknowledge this basic inherent truth about creativity.

Apple themselves have innovated by iteration in their development of the mouse, just to cite one example.

What should happen is for acknowledgement within patent law of iteration and let the market decide. If a company chooses a new paradigm, let’s see if Windows Phone can be beat Apple and Android. If Android takes on iOS then let them duke it out to make each other better – because, let’s face it, iOS has improved because it too has built on some of the innovation within Android. I’m looking at you here, Notification Centre.

Ideas flourish when they exist within open systems. When they are free to jump from brain to brain and to get better with each jump. It is time patent laws acknowledge this. And it is time for companies like Apple and Samsung to dedicate their time to out-innovating each other so the consumer can decide and choose from the very best human ingenuity can offer.

Further reading on innovation by iteration, click here.

 

Two completely unrelated things happened this week.

Or are they unrelated?

First. Greece is now edging closer to an exit of no return out of the Euro which seems to be be pulling the entire Europe, nay, the entire planet on a course to macro-economic meltdown of cyberpunk proportions, leaving most of us, wandering a desolate landscape of dystopia in search of scraps fo fried chicken and lama beans.

Second. Two Zimbo’s have packed a Smart Car to drive up into Africa.

Ex-Saatchi Creative Director turned film-maker, Brett Wild, and my long-time Art Director, turned travel writer and photographer (of brightcontinent.co.za -fame) Anton Crone are undertaking the “Smart in Africa” challenge to prove the old Saatchi moniker that nothing, is indeed, impossible.

They are setting out to prove, that life’s problems might seem too big to challenge – when in fact, with ingenuity, any challenge could be overcome.

This is something I feel passionate about too and I will be following the chaps with great interest.

Africa itself, is a continent that has proven, that with scarce resources and plenty of ingenuity, anything could happen. Baby incubators powered by Toyota headlamps come to mind as an example.

And here’s where Greece and the impending Euro implosion comes in: in a world where governments and corporations can no longer provide the means for you to attain wealth, when resources dwindle and the going gets tough, its time for the going to get innovative.

There is no doubt that personal, small-scale ingenuity is going to become extremely important in the next few years.

Initiatives like Smart in Africa are a brilliant example to follow.

Here’s an idea out of Droga5, New York, that will put hair on an angel’s chest. This is just a metaphor of course.

Whenever you cut yourself shaving, you can use a special plaster to stop the bleeding. This plaster can then be sent in to a central repository where a bone marrow registry is being built.

Two important insights connected and a new idea that could save thousands of lives is born.

That is the power of creativity.

It’s fair to say “The Artist” had a reasonable evening at the Academy Awards this week.

It won Oscars for:

  • Best Picture (the biggie)
  • Best Director
  • Best Actor
  • Best Original Score
  • Best Costume Design

I have written before about the power of obstruction.

For a director to set out to make a silent film in today’s age where every possibility is possible in audio design sounds like madness. Counter-intuitive. But that is exactly what  Michel Hazanavicius did. And one can argue that this obstruction made rise to the challenge to deliver something truly special.

Creative? Obstruction is your friend.

I was working this week with some of our teams in Warsaw. I showed them a brainstorming technique I used to play with Anton Crone. They seemed to get a lot of use out of it so I wanted to post it here.

When you’re brainstorming fast in a team you work in blocks of five minutes. Draw five squares on a page, time the 5 minutes and work in silence to fill each square with one idea related to the challenge/brief. There is only one rule. Each square has to be filled no matter how weak the idea seems.

At the end of the five minutes the five squared ideas are shared – and of course discussed.

Two things happen here. Firstly, the fear is removed that a bad idea would be criticised – because those are the rules. And secondly, it neatly allowed for for focused thinking AND collaboration because those bad ideas may seem like bad ideas but they are potentially hunches that will connect with another hunch your team members may have, connecting into great ideas.

A simple game – but one with great power.

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