My friend showed me this website and it is perfect. No one uses them. Happy Weekend!
Why is ‘gamestorming‘ better than traditional brainstorming? It’s more fun! And I felt free to question, create, and share more than usual. In other idea-centered meetings, I sensor my thoughts and answer them in my head or feel in competition with my coworkers to produce the best idea. Dave Gray, who co-authored ‘Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers‘ with Sunni Brown and James Macanufo, explains it best. Watch his UX Week 2010 video:
Friday I experienced my first gamestorming session, courtesy of C Todd Lombardo who also contributes to Inside BSS. First, let me give you some context. Our Boston Startup School (BSS) team is currently working on a roommate-matching concept, taking it from a 60-second pitch to a barebones minimum viable product (MVP) in about one week. A week of validation via targeted surveys and communication. But, before you can validate an assumption you have to figure out where you stand and what you assume. Enter gamestorming, brainstorming’s fun cousin.
Our goal is to ask questions, and lots of them, that stand between us and our barebones MVP. The symbol in the corner explains the rules of the game. The post-its are easy to move around to create categories once the gush of ideas is complete.
In twos, we went up to the board and silently moved things around to find common themes in our group’s questions. Then, as a group we labeled each category and further distilled ideas. By the end, we decided on a core set of questions we needed to assess.
We have a lot of work ahead of us, but at least we are all on the same page as to what we need to ask our prospective stakeholders. On to empathy maps, survey questions, and data collection! How did we get through the week and perform in our demo in front of BSS? Check back next week and I’ll let you know.
How do you like to start a project? Let me know in the comments.
How many of us get time alone? Time to be thoughtful, creative, or mindful does not seem justifiable with so much to do in the day. Why waste a second when family, work, and home offer an endless stream of tasks and errands? It can be tough to breakaway from your to-do list, notifications, and explain to others why you would like time to yourself. Have you ever said, “Sorry, can’t come to your party. That’s my time to be alone.” They would look at you like a crazy person. But is it really crazy to take time to replenish your energy and renew your convictions? Is it a secret vice to hide? I don’t think so.
Every year I read, “Gift from the Sea,” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh because she makes it seem not only excusable, but something that must be done every year, or better yet, every day.
“Certain springs are tapped only when we are alone. The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer, to work out his thoughts; the musician, to compose; the saint, to pray.”
She argues that solitude is a means to feed the soul. Who needs to be convinced that ‘feeding the soul’ is good? Every tale of a hero overcoming an injustice or villain involves them going off on their own to come to terms with their obstacle. Repowering the will or your creative juices doesn’t only apply to work and creativity. What about relationships?Healthy relationships or connections require that you have something to offer or give the other person.
“Only when one is connected to one’s own core is one connected to others.”
Try it for a week. Be alone for five minutes every day. Use that time to be mindful, whether that means meditation, writing, sitting outside, walking while lost in thought, or anything else that quietly centers your focus. You will notice a new found energy in your tasks and a willingness to give to others because you seem more whole on your own. In the book, she keeps a moonshell to remind her of her precious solitude, or as she calls it, her island-quality.
“You will remind me that I must try to be alone for part of each year, even a week or a few days; and for part of each day, even for an hour or a few minutes in order to keep my core, my center, my island-quality. You will remind me that unless I keep the island-quality intact somewhere within me, I will have little to give my husband, my children, my friends or the world at large.”
Once you have mastered taking time out of every day to be alone, consider using some of your vacation time (or weekends) to be alone for a day or two every year. Big or small, this is one of my most cherished rituals and hopefully something you will enjoy, too. What do you do for solitude? Let me know in the comments.
Improve your quality of life with exercise. Its intrinsic benefits may surprise and delight you. Inspired by and based on Spark by John J. Ratey, MD – a read that I highly recommend. I hope this list motivates you to get moving.
- Exercise strengthens the cardiovascular system. It releases growth factors, which through a chain reaction, aid in the production of new blood vessels. Another byproduct of exercise widens the pathways where blood flows and in turn boosts blood volume. Increased blood flow reduces hardening of the arteries.
- Exercise regulates your fuel. It increases regulatory factors that help maintain proper insulin and glucose levels. This is vital since insulin levels drop as we age making it harder for our cells to uptake glucose and use it as energy. When glucose isn’t used for fuel, and is left to its own devices, it creates waste. This waste, such as free radicals, eventually puts the body at risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s.
- Exercise reduces obesity. It burns calories and reduces appetite. High body fat is harmful to the cardiovascular, metabolic, and nervous systems. Being overweight doubles your chance of developing dementia and obesity is frequently paired with high blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Exercise elevates your stress threshold. It makes proteins that combat free radicals and ex- citatory neurotransmitters, which stress your cells and trigger the cell death process and aging. Exercise also combats cortisol, a product of the stress response. By lowering your stress thresh- old, you are also lowering your risk of depression and dementia.
- Exercise boosts the immune system. It brings the immune system back into equilibrium and fights the effects of stress and age. Even moderate activity increases antibody and lymphocyte levels, which make the body more alert to and better able to deal with bodily threats.
- Exercise fortifies your bones. Regular weight training, or any sport that requires you to jump or run, helps counteract natural bone loss. You need a strong skeletal system to continue to stay active as you age. Remember, it is never too late to reverse or prevent bone loss.
- Exercise boosts motivation and lifts your mood. It strengthens connections between dopa- mine neurons, which is key to the brain’s motivation system. This will help guard against the trap of becoming sedentary and solitary. Mobility helps you maintain social connections important to sustaining mood and motivation.
- Exercise fosters neuroplasticity. It builds a stronger, more flexible brain. Exercise elevates the supply of growth factors and neurotrophic factors in the brain. This leads to better connections, more synapses, and more new stem cells ready to become neurons. All of these effects improve your brain’s ability to learn, remember, execute higher thought processes, adapt, and manage your emotions.
Do you wonder why buying a pretty dress doesn’t give you the same positive feeling as seeing your loved one come home from a trip? The most recent Longwood Seminar at Harvard Medical School: The Science of Emotion, delved into that murky water and further into the neuroscience behind happiness, fear, and love. The best part? It was free.
Richard Schwartz, MD and his wife, Jacqueline Olds, MD, were the crowd favorites (and mine too). It’s no surprise, romantic love is a captivating topic for most. Personally, I plan on following-up by reading their book, Marriage in Motion.
The big question was where do you fall on the romantic love spectrum: new (honeymoon) love, settled and stable love, or the holy grail of both (see Love Can Last)? And are you currently moving toward renewing your love or distancing from your partner?
There are positives to both, they explained. It’s important to rekindle intimacy and keep your bond strong. It provides the confidence to then distance yourself from your loved one and go out into the world to create and connect. Alarms should go off when this continuum stagnates or the distance becomes too great to reconnect. This is true for friendships, too, I think.
Is creating distance and intimacy a natural for you in relationships?
I included a link to the supplementary course materials, so you can all join in on the discussion. Thank you to HMS for providing this wonderful series and to George Vaillant, MD and Mohammed Milad, PhD for their insightful talks as well.
My recent mission for breaking into the education field: first become a student.
It’s been so long since I was in college, around 5 years, and it feels great to revitalize my skills. Lucky for me it’s happening at a very exciting time. I’m currently taking CS101 from the newly founded Udacity and am enjoying the happy coincidence that Skillshare has opened in Boston, following NYC.
Not only does this make me a more competitive employee, it reminds me about what makes an excellent teacher. I get to take notes each class and decide which traits I want to bring to the classroom when it is my turn to lead.
Do yourself a favor and sign up for Skillshare. And, stay tuned for my upcoming classes.
I am joining many others, and hopefully you too, in standing up against these pending bills in the House and Senate: PIPA and SOPA. Do you agree with the UN that internet access is a human right? I do. I already reached out to Congress expressing my disapproval.
Tomorrow is American Censorship Day and I’ll be participating, as you can see by the “Stop Censorship” image over my normal header. Congress is scheduled to vote on Friday, Dec 16.
The following video does a good job of explaining the intent of the bills and the ease with which they can be abused:
The following letter was written by Matt Warner, a longtime teacher and former student of Mike Olmert – our common thread. Thank goodness Olmert posted it so I can, in turn, share it with you, here. I whole-heartedly support Mr. Warner’s message. His passion for his profession and students is obvious and contagious.
“LETTER TO MALCOLM GLADWELL:
I knew this would be tough, but it’s hard for reasons I didn’t anticipate.
I’m teaching a reading class at a very poor school in Baltimore. Most of the kids are in the 11th grade. I knew it would be tough to teach an informational text rather than literature, but this is really bad. “Outliers” is written from such a middle class perspective that the basic concepts are not getting through.
The chapter about how kids born in January and February have an advantage over kids born later in the year goes right over their heads because it’s so common in a Baltimore high school to have kids in a grade with widely varying ages. Frequently the youngest kid in the class is the smartest. So when we’re reading it, that kid is thinking to herself “I’m sitting next to a 17 year old 9th grader who can barely read and acts like he’s 11. Being a bit older is certainly not an advantage.”
Of course we don’t track, so the kids who are moderately bright think they’re geniuses–you would too if you were in their shoes–they have no idea that there are tons of kids their age who are so far ahead. They’re their teachers’ favorites because they read almost on grade level. They can’t see how it really IS a disadvantage that they’re young.
Oh and since hardly any have ever played organized youth sports, that was a foreign idea as well.
They may as well live in a different world.
Baltimore City Public Schools”
This recent article about a school board member who took the standardized tests for 10th graders in his school system. It talks about the validity of the scores and if they are in any way related to future performance. The article isn’t the first to examine standardized tests (more resources listed below).
If a successful adult can perform so poorly, to me, it seems worth probing further and asking some basic questions:
What do we want these tests to measure? Is this a worthy measurement for students’ abilities? How can we make the material fit this need? Should we use them to assess our teachers’ and schools’ performance?
What do you think? Check out the links below.
In this recent video on the new Maryland basketball program leadership, the team practices rebounds, which is pretty normal stuff. But, I was intrigued by the device they put over the hoop. It was designed to send the ball flying every which way and to introduce a little uncertainty into the preparation.
This made me think about how this would work in life, outside of sports. In what ways to you attempt to practice the unknown, so you can be prepared when it counts?
Entertainment fills this void for me. Movies, books, and games consist of scenarios that are possible (albeit sometimes very far-fetched), but since we are only indirectly involved in traditional entertainment, we’re left reacting to what the main participants are dealt. However, we are still able to ask the question, “What would I do if that happened to me?”