Posts Tagged ‘ideas’


Irrational economy

April 1, 2014

I am currently taking a MOOC on irrational behavior with Dan Ariely and my assignment was to solve a problem. I get to choose the problem, use the resources provided, and find a way to fix it. I thought I’d share my problem and my solution with you. I haven’t received my grades yet … so I’m interested to know what do you think of it, and how much would you give me, out of 9 points 🙂

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** 

Having ideas is a problem we all face daily. It doesn’t matter if there are not enough ideas or not enough “good” ideas, the problem remains that everyone needs ideas daily.

Not having enough ideas, or not having the right idea can worry a person so much that goes beyond what keeps him/her productive (Frank, 2011). We need ideas to manage our time, to raise our kids, to use our limited resources. We need ideas to run our businesses, to stay connected, to feel alive. We need ideas to live by, to interpret our public policies, to impose fairness and figure out ways of making the impossible, possible (Surowiecki , 2012)

What if, hypothetically, we asked people about their intention to generate more ideas on a daily basis, Would that imply an increase in the probability of their subsequently engaging in that behavior? Would they actually produce more ideas?

In a number of experiments that asked participants about their intention to engage in various behaviors, they were more likely to engage in those behaviors than participants not asked (Levav & Fitzsimons, 2006).

In one of those experiments, participants found it easier to imagine themselves engaging in a behavior rather than to imagine someone else engage in that behavior (Experiment 1, p.208). I would add, who would admit of NOT having any ideas at all during any given day? Or that their colleagues have better or more ideas then they do?

In the second experiment, it was the framing of the question about intention that was the focal point; weather participants had intention to engage in a behavior (intent condition), the likelihood of not engaging in the behavior (negation condition), or likelihood of avoiding it (avoidance condition) (p.209). In such experiment, we expect similar results of people finding it much easier to either produce more ideas when intending it beforehand (intent condition) or avoid new ideas at all cost (avoidance condition). It would be similarly difficult to represent the negation condition of asking them what was the likelihood of not producing any ideas at all.

Therefore, as Levav and Fitzsimons (2012) clarified, we have evidence that “the simple act of stating one’s intent to engage in a behavior is associated with an increased likelihood of subsequently engaging in the behavior when it is easy to mentally represent or imagine” (p.211). This is good news for the hungry artists among us.


My suggested solution is creating situations in which we can exchange the use of money with producing ideas. What if we pay for some products and services with ideas, and not money. This would instantly shift the power from those with lots of money, to those with lots of ideas. It might also help shift us slightly from monetary market to a social one (Heyman & Ariely, 2004), making us happier (Quoidbach et al, 2010). Consider for example a local bakery that needs creative ideas in packaging, accounting, or using unique ingredients in different recipes. The experiments explained by Heyman and Ariely (2004) can shed some light on how to move our relationship with our baker slightly from pure monetary market into a social one. It’s important to keep those two methods of compensation distinct and not comparable so as not convert a social market into a monetary one by mistake. This could happen simply by converting the number of ideas into monetary expression or a “non-social extrinsic reward” (p.793), but to add it to a “package” option by offering products or services that are not listed in the menu of dollars at all (so as not to compare the number of ideas to a dollar sign). An example of this is: rather than stating the coffee price as either $2.50 or 10 marketing ideas, we offer the following menu:

  1. espresso for $2.50,
  2. espresso with almond croissants for $2.50 and 10 marketing
  3. espresso with caramel truffles for $2.50 and 10 ideas on using caramel in different recipes.


Please note that almond croissants and caramel truffles are NOT offered for any other price.


Any other ideas?



  • Frank, R. (2011, May 14). Why Worry? It’s Good For You. The New York Times.
  • Heyman, J., & Ariely, D. (2004). Effort for Payment: A Tale of Two Markets. Psychological Science, 15 (11), 787 – 793.
  • Levav, J., & Fitzsimons, G.J. (2006). When Questions Change Behavior: the Role of Ease of Representation. Psychological Science, 17 (3), 207 – 213.
  • Quoidbach, J., Dunn, E. W., Petrides, K.V., & Mikolajczak, M. (2010). Money Giveth, Money Taketh Away: The Dual Effect of Wealth on Happiness. Psychological Science, 21 (6), 759 – 763.
  • Surowiecki, J. (2012, June 4). The Fairness Trap. The New Yorker

Ideating in Design Thinking.

January 15, 2009

According to legend …  or at least to the d school , the next two steps in design thinking is to ideate and prototype under the Exploration phase.

let’s try to understand what does ideate means.d-school-design-thinking-model-elaborate

To visualize, is to have a vision of your desired outcome. To ideate, is to come up with as many images in your mind in relation to the issue at hand. The problem that many people face when ideating is they become overly concerned about how their ideas will be perceived. Most ideas never leave the thinker’s mind because of the internal calculations and scrutinizing. This has many reasons, it could be to save face and not seem ridiculous, not feeling confident in own idea, or not trusting the receiving end. Sadly, it is everybody’s loss as well.

To overcome such situation, an important concept needs to be in place: that is separating divergent and convergent thinking when addressing issues at hand. The balance between both is so central that I will focus on each separately while explaining the design thinking model at hand.

Puccio, Murdock and Mance in their book “Creative leadership” (2007) explained how Guilford identified four basic characteristics of divergent thinking: fluency, flexibility, elaboration and originality. I won’t go into detail in each one of them but the idea is when we ideate, we don’t squelsh the ideas made by us or by others and we come up with as many from our minds as well as building on others.

Many tools have been used for ideating. For example, in brainstorming we come up with numerous point of views that are directly or indirectly related to our subject matter. The trick is not to give any idea more than few seconds of our time when it is stated and documented, then we move on to other ideas until we are ready to converge or evaluate. brainstorming has many variations, such as brain writing, brain walking, or SCAMPER (Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to Other Uses, Eliminate, Rearrange).  You can find out more about conducing a good brainstorming session from this short article titled “10 guidelines for effective brainstorming“.

On a wilder side, you can use tools such as “Forced Connections” by using objects that are unrelated to the situation. This ability to borrow ideas from one context to solve a problem in other context. here’s how:

1. Identify a challenge. Offer it as a question to be answered. i.e. How might we address the pollution in the city?

2. Select an object unrelated to the challenge. Anything! a chair, a lamp, a an office building.

3. Note the characteristics of the object. What’s the size, shape, color, uses, texture, smell, etc.

4. Force a connection between the object and the challenge. Ask “what ideas do I get for addressing pollution from my jeans?

5. Repeat with additional objects. keep selecting new ones and connecting new ideas.

6. Use other senses and modalities. explore listening, touching, etc.

7. Let us know how did it go 🙂

While this tool requires effort only the first few times (after that it will be second to nature, believe me!), there are other tools that are less innovative in that sense but have the same effect such as the Random Word. Here’s how: Get a dictionary or open any book on any page and place your finger on any word, then force a connection between that word and your challenge and enjoy the rich texture of your new ideas.

In this step of design thinking, I have not connected directly with social innovation since ideational thinking is a skill applied to everything we do on a daily basis. Using stories to come up with scenarios and visualizing our solutions in very colorful mind images are very powerful tools that if one has, one can accomplish much.

Happy imagination.