Archiv der Kategorie: Meaning design

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Stimulate recognition

Sometimes we let inspirations vanish unused that seem to come out of nowhere and strike like lightning, although we desperately search for them on another occasion. A eureka simply takes time to evolve. The paradoxical request to have a spontaneous idea prevents more than it provides ideas. With increasing agility, however, the expectation rises that employees will deliver solutions in short cycles, called sprints. This requires means to stimulate recognition.

An important engine for our capability to find something new is our perception. It is always active and receives stimuli at any time and simultaneously through any sense. Once you have become aware of the stimulating buttons, thinking creates results that are promising for the current task. Let’s take a look at the five channels (in short: VAKOG) that are available to us in order to simply attentively trigger the charging flashes of inspiration.

Visual (V)
At 40 Bit/sec, our vision is the sense with the greatest bandwidth. You can see that way the light of a candle across many kilometers in a dark night. With this sense we receive forms and colors. Use this channel as follows:

  • Change the viewing direction!
  • Surf through unknown websites, magazines and illustrated books!
  • Close your eyes for a minute and notice after opening the eyes the changes in the environment!
  • After that: Discover the emerging thoughts and connect them with your current task!

Auditive (A)
Our hearing still manages 30 Bit/sec. It allows us to hear the ticking of a clock from more than six meters. Hereby noises and rhythms, sounds and music as well as speech are perceived. This channel can be provoked as follows:

  • Close your eyes now or take a little walk and listen!
  • Find a sound that sticks out or that you like to hear!
  • Start a canned music and let your thoughts drift.
  • After that: Notice the emerging thoughts and connect them with the current task!

Kinesthetic (K)
We feel with our body 5 Bit/sec. This is enough to feel a bee’s wing falling on our cheek from 1cm. The fingertips distinguish surfaces and edges. Our body perceives fluctuations in temperature before we become aware of them. We feel the position and movement of our body and react with pains to thermal, mechanical and chemical stress. These channels can be used in the following way:

  • Just close your eyes and strike over a reachable surface!
  • Feel the temperature of a heat source near you or in the sun!
  • Stand up, take a lap and feel your body – the feet, the knees, the back, the shoulders, the neck and whatever!
  • After that: Notice the emerging thoughts and connect them with the current task!

Olfactory (O)
Even though our nose only has a speed of more than 1 Bit/sec. bandwidth, you can still smell a drop of perfume in a three-room apartment:

  • Close your eyes and sniff your surroundings!
  • Get up, take a walk through your immediate surroundings and pay attention to the smells in the different places!
  • Take a splash of perfume or enjoy the smell of fresh coffee!
  • After that: Notice the emerging thoughts and connect them with the current task!

Gustatory (G)
The taste buds work closely with the nose and have a bandwidth of 1 Bit/sec. With this we taste another teaspoon of sugar dissolved in 7.5 liter of water:

  • Close your eyes and taste your surroundings!
  • Use a small snack or coffee to bring about a change in your taste!
  • Try something completely different or even unloved!
  • After that: Notice the emerging thoughts and connect them with the current task!

Bottom line: All senses are always active and receive stimuli from the environment without our continuous attention. Of the 100% stimuli that our senses absorb, only 10% become conscious. More would drive us mad. However, we can activate perception and fire our thinking. The concentration on single or multiple channels provides us with a completely new view of the world – and offers us the desired stimulations of our thinking, which release our inspirations from the subconscious and would otherwise not be easily reachable. Thus, the VAKOG channels offer a possibility to stimulate our recognition and to reach spontaneous insights.

In search of the right rhythm

The word rhythm is derived from the Greek rhythmós, “measure of time, and beat” and describes a temporal division into equal or variable activities occurring from time to time. Rhythmic fluctuations of measured variables are used to assess the condition of all kinds of systems, like the fever curve of the human organism, the electrical impulses of the brain, the heart rhythm and even the number of sick leaves, the frequency of work absences or the local accumulations of crimes. There is the hope that early detection and correct interpretation of these fluctuations will enable reliable predictions about the near future. In business life, one can observe how the pendulum swings back and forth between centralization and decentralization. Culture is driven by ever new, but also frequently recurring trends. As there are many areas that interact with each other, there are a lot of parameters that oscillate in the areas. In this context, the search for the right rhythm becomes a complex question.

Since many oscillations take place at the same time, we hope to find simple and synchronized rhythms. But maybe we are just learning that the synchronized pace of the impulses is an expression of unhealthy solidification and lack of energy. A good example is traffic, which is becoming increasingly congested due to more and more drivers behaving in the same way. The solution can be found in the systemic approach. Let’s be aware of a few areas with periodic fluctuations.

  • Rhythms of nature
    In nature, everything follows recurring changes without exception. This applies to the becoming and passing of a life and extends to the oscillating movements within the individual steps of a lifecycle. Thus, biological cells divide at fixed intervals and renew that way their structure until it finally fades away. By the pulse, the breathing rate or electric activity of the brain, we can recognize the health state of living beings – uniformity is an indication of trouble. In the environment, the tides or El Niño are changes that keep Gaia going through the seasons – extreme swings lead to droughts or heavy rainfall. The earth rotates once a day around its own axis and needs a year around the sun – due to the angle of inclination of the axes of the world these cycles lead to the seasons and together with the moon to the tides. What we rarely become aware of is the fact that the changes in the countless building blocks of nature follow vibrations, which are difficult to detect.
    Since all components follow their own number of cycles, we only notice overlapping deflections. That is why we are constantly looking for natural patterns that show us a direction in our activities – similar to the fluctuations that have been recognized over a long period of time and packed into proverbial rules – e.g. April showers bring May flowers; Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning.
  • Rhythm of culture
    Our lifestyles consist of our identities and beliefs, languages and actions, stories and experiences. They appear in the visible behaviors, rituals, stories and things. The underlying values and basic assumptions can only be derived indirectly. Cultural aspects also have their own cycle: the zeitgeist follows changing conditions in science and popular art; the mass media have their publication rhythms; sporting events have seasons.
    The rhythm is driven by the alternation of generations, which makes everything different and, after a few changes, reuses something old – when the young rediscover vinyl and shellac; when, despite all the digitalization, the book format survives with old printing techniques and haptic attractive books. These trends are triggered by disturbances that emerge out of nowhere, pass the tipping point and become a cultural wave.
  • Rhythm of the economy
    The economy not only generates but also drives the general ups and downs of markets and businesses. The economic complexity results from accelerating changes in technology, creating faster new goods and services, and more capable types of customers, who move swifter than the companies. Let us think of the Kondratiev cycles, whose long waves are characterized by certain machines and objects and describe every sixty years a new paradigm that shake existing business models – the age of the steam engine and cotton (approx. 1771), the age of the railway and steel (approx.1829), the age of electricity and chemistry (approx.1875), the age of oil, cars and mass production (approx.1908), and the age of information and telecommunications (approx.1971). The digital transformation is for the time being the culmination of the current wave that is leading to massive job losses for simple tasks.
    The rhythm of the economy is the result of countless variations in management styles, collaboration models, manufacturing and software technologies – in other words, the waves are hidden in a broad band of white noise. This explains the continuous attempts to process more and more data (Big Data), in order to filter out the patterns, which would allow better prediction of the markets. The advantage lies in the opportunity of taking into account comprehensive data sets. The disadvantage lies in the evaluation models, which, despite the huge computer power, set the framework for the results. We should not forget that old approaches, like tossing a coin or looking into the crystal ball, already have a 50/50 chance.
  • Rhythm of personal expressions
    Even we experience such waves. We present, for example, in a lecture our messages with the help of our posture, gestures, facial expressions and intonation. The way one is posing and uses the space during the lecture, the usage of arms and hands, the volatile facial expressions and the volume, height and emphasis of the spoken words create additional expressions besides the content statements and together result in a positive or negative evaluation. If the expression lacks rhythm, i.e. if you stand motionlessly in the same place and rattle off passionlessly, you lose the attention of the audience and do not achieve the desired effect.
    It is possible to improve your own presentation style through practice and conscious control of the expression. Then you manage to create the different rhythms, and thus strengthen your own message. This creates acceptance, especially, if you keep the audience swinging along.

These examples are a simple collection of aspects that are in oscillation, up and down, and that we want to understand and predict. It is important to realize that no matter where you look, the wave movements of each aspect happen completely detached from one another. However, the more different the individual rhythms are, the healthier seems to be the whole. Tightly organized groups are losing their agility through rigid chains of command – like in Fukushima, in the former Eastern Bloc states and soon in the U.S. The attempt to bring everything in lockstep is rather counterproductive, because all examples show that only the ‘chaotic’ oscillation of the elements creates a viable system.

Bottom line: One sees in nature, culture, economy and even in personal expression that waves are overlapping. This means that traditional organizational structures of the industrial age, which were designed to synchronize all functions, are no longer adequate. Agility requires openness, commitment, dedication and the corresponding Y-image of people. The right rhythm is therefore not ONE uniform vibration of the components, but the living, unpredictable hodgepodge of countless oscillations.