Archive for August, 2009

Musings from Santa Fe
August 26, 2009

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picasso

I love this sign I found on an adobe wall nestled in a side street of downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. My husband and I visited there last week. We make an annual pilgrimage to see his eldest son and to immerse ourselves in this fascinating environment.

Santa Fe is a magical place, and spending a few days there never ceases to relax, reinvigorate and inspire me. The weather is perfect; warm, sunny, dry days and soft, star soaked nights. The earth toned adobe buildings are human scale; all rounded edges that feel organic and inviting. The spirit of native peoples is palpable, and the art! Is exquisite.

We were in town for Indian Market weekend when master artists and craftspeople from around the country bring their best creations—paintings, jewelry, carvings, clothing, instruments and more for judging and for sale. The town is inundated, literally stall-to-stall and wall-to-wall with magnificent works—and some less pleasing to my eyes. I especially enjoyed the artists who took the time to share the stories behind their creations.  But there was so much to take in that it became overwhelming; and I welcomed the afternoon spent in the open country at Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch, in Abiquiu.

During my travels I found myself pondering the nature of “inspiration”. I use this word freely in the ideation side of my business and design activities that I hope will bring participants to places in their imaginations that will lead to new ideas and business strategies.

Knowing how time “back in the office” can quickly diminish the clarity of sweet memories, I’m noting headline images of a few peak experiences from Santa Fe. Perhaps these will inspire you in some way too and serve as a stimulus for creative thought or action.

  • A cooling summer breeze converged with bubbling heat as I immersed myself in a relaxing hot tub at dusk at my favorite spa, Ten Thousand Waves
  • A handmade, carved wooden flute, adorned with red feathers, and the haunting tune played by it’s maker
  • The majestic “Twin Chimneys” touched by puffy white clouds at Ghost Ranch; a scene often painted by Georgia O’Keeffe
  • Dining al fresco at Luminaria fascinated by the contrasting flavors, colors and textures of a bowl of spicy red gazpacho soup surrounding a ball of frozen avocado sorbet
  • The sweet smoky smell of sage smudge sticks
  • The sculptor who shows me how she painstakingly brings texture to her Hopi woman statue
  • A goofy carved wooden bird wearing bright purple sneakers
  • Sign on a now defunct The Awakening Museum: “A heart on fire lights the world”

More later.


August 18, 2009

Hello Dear Readers

I’m amused and intrigued at at this growing trend among corporate giants to solicit ideas from consumers via open calls for innovation. The other day I noticed Reckitt Benckiser’s R&D challenge to create innovative ideas that would appeal to music festival goers. No doubt a contest  inspired by Woodstock’s 40th anniversary  (BTW, I was there…but that’s a whole ‘nother story!).

The RB challenge is explained in a video which gives little direction as to the nature of the product ideas they are looking for. Participants are invited to send in a video clip pitching the idea and rationale and the public can vote for their favorites. Thus far the winner, with 348 votes, is “The Cosy Place,” a big waterproof blanket that can connect with other blankets at a festival.   I’m sure the reasons this idea has garnered so many “thumbs up” are the high production values of the video, the attractive male spokesperson and his two curvy female sidekicks engaged in a mock brainstorming session.

Now is The Cosy Place a good idea for RB, and one they’re likely to pursue? I doubt this fits their corporate competencies or business model, however there were other submissions, less attractively presented, that seemed more on target.

What I appreciate about this call for open innovation is that it will force corporate members to stretch their thinking, and perhaps even the most far flung ideas will be the springboard for a viable and innovative idea for the company.  In my experience, innovative and feasible results emerge when you bring  expertise and “naivety” (those unfamiliar with the details of a business) together. We work hard to orchestrate this blending of talents in our client or consumer team Innovation Sessions. And  it works best when  client team leaders provide good direction and a foundation (but without a lot of constraints) from which members can collaborate together.

So I wonder whether contests and challenges like this will prove fruitful in the long haul.  It’s easy to generate a lot of ideas, it’s harder to create those that are novel and are implementable. Aside from strategic business fit, there’s the issue of employee alignment. I’ve long experienced that “people support what they help to create.” Ideas that are solicited from outside sources may not have as good a chance of being lovingly developed and nurtured by corporate employees through the challenging new product development process.

What do you think?

August 17, 2009

Hello There!

I’ve been considering a blog for years, but I guess there’s a right time for everything, and this seems to be it!

I’ll start by briefly introducing myself and what I hope to do via this blog.

I’m a long-standing “creative catalyst”.  Now you might be wondering, what does that mean? I help my clients invent the future; generate and develop strategic vision, identify new business opportunities, create ideas for new products and positioning. I do that through consulting, designing and conducting Innovation Sessions and Qualitative Market Research Studies using “high touch”, intensely human interactions, and some “high tech” via on-line methodologies.

I’m passionate about the work that I do, helping people uncover knowledge and ideas and putting those ideas into practice. While the work sometimes seems as if it’s blue sky/ in the clouds, it’s really very grounded, and practical,always focused on getting implementable results;  hence the name of my company, Practical Imagination Enterprises. This is the second consulting firm I’ve launched; I’ve been an entrepreneur for most of my career.  I’m extremely fortunate that my work takes me on amazing journeys of learning into companies, categories, worlds of information and people with vastly different views, backgrounds and culture. It never ceases to fascinate, and it makes me perhaps a “dangerous woman” because I’ve learned a bit about so many things that I constantly connect knowledge from one category/industry/topic to another.

Aside from the creative process, I’m passionate about family, music, cooking, and doing great work. I’m a soprano with the VOICES Chorale, have trained in theater, and occasionally do story-telling with my husband, a master story-teller, Ron O’Reilly.

Over the years I’ve been called a Muse by friends, family, colleagues and clients, and looked to for advice, inspiration and ideas. And in that spirit I look forward to sharing my Musings with you about creativity, innovation, food, music, story-telling, and whatever else comes to mind. And I look forward to hearing from  you, dear Readers, and will be happy to respond, as time permits.  Life is very busy these days, and I don’t expect this to be a daily post, but a periodic “Spark”.

Enjoy the day.


Hello world!
August 17, 2009

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