Want To Think Smarter? Use Atoms not Pixels!


Waddaya made of?

Atoms. We are made of atoms and we spend our lives interacting and making with a world of atoms. So instead of sequestering ourselves in our cerebral ivory towers, it makes sense that we should solve problems and create solutions by… using atoms. By using our bodies to think, and by making stuff for people to interact with to see what feels right, what works and what doesn’t.

That’s why designers, artists and engineers talk about thinking with your hands. They all make to think, and they make to engage. They make models and maquettes, studies and quick and dirty prototypes. They use atoms to test theories, and to engage all of a person’s thinking responses, not just the conscious cognitive ones. After all, they’re usually creating an experience, not an algorithm.

Easy ways to do it?

1. Engage your own atoms. Use your body to think. Move (studies show you’ll be much more creative.) Think on walls and whiteboards, map situations on the floor with objects and move them around, then move around them to change perspective so that you’re using more than just your wrist and fingers when you think. Go for a walk when you have meetings or discussions or gnarly conundrums to solve. Dance.

2. Make stuff for people to play with. Atoms are less forgiving but far more engaging and use a different part of our brains.

3. Keep it cheap and scrappy so that people feel they can pull it apart and change it. Pixels look perfect, so people look for problems. With scrappy atoms people look for possibility. They test the idea and experience and feel free to make it better.

We are makers, made from atoms. Use them.

Excerpt from Wicked Wisdom. Click here for more Wicked Wisdom or a hard copy — or several!

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