Seth Godin's blog has a good tip on creative thinking.
Where do you find good ideas?
Do you often find ideas that change everything in a windowless conference room, with bottled water on the side table and a circle of critics and skeptics wearing suits looking at you as the clock ticks down to the 60 minutes allocated for this meeting?
If not, then why do you keep looking for them there?
The best ideas come out of the corner of our eye, the edge of our consciousness, in a flash. They are the result of misdirection and random collisions, not a grinding corporate onslaught. And yet we waste billions of dollars in time looking for them where they're not.
A practical tip: buy a big box of real wooden blocks. Write a key factor/asset/strategy on each block in big letters. Play with the blocks. Build concrete things out of non-concrete concepts. Uninvite the devil's advocate, since the devil doesn't need one, he's doing fine.
Have fun. Why not? It works.
The block ideas a good one, to work with physical interaction to stimulate creativity.
But I am going to try and go further with K'Nex Engineering Marvels: Buildings, Structures, and Machines which is a closer alignment to data center challenges.
Engineering Marvels: Building, Structures and Machines
- Systems and Order within Systems
- The Technological Design Process and Problem Solving
- Identifying and Using Patterns as Recurring Elements
- Careers in Technology and Engineering
- Science and Technology Concepts that could Solve Practical Problems
- Motion and Energy Transfer in Physical Systems
- Processes of Inventions and Innovations
- Modeling, Testing, Evaluating, and Modifying
- Construction Technologies
I can see it now, I'll be spending hours working on complex data center concepts, and my wife will come into the office and see me playing with legos. I'll try to explain I am working on complex systems modeling concepts and lego parts don't work, and I want to try K'Nex to illustrate complex system relationships. One good benefit of working from a home office is I don't have to worry about co-workers or my boss watching me play with toys.
I could do all this in Visio or some other tool, but there is a brain stimulation that happens you use your hands to create a physical abstraction, a model representation of reality. Also, Visio is 2D and I don't have the time to learn or think I need to spend the money on a 3D AutoCad program.