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A Whole New Mind: Symphony Chapter Resources, Activities and Links

Raja inspired me to create a resource page for Chapter Six: Symphony from Daniel Pink’s 2008 Book A Whole New Mind, I am hoping this post will be a useful accompaniment while you are actually reading the chapter.

All images in this post are links, click away. I have checked and rechecked the links, if any are broken do let me know.

Part I

The chapter starts with Daniel Pink portraying the first drawing class of Drawing on the Right Side of the brain experience. The class is structured to trick the left hemisphere then “the mind is free to see relationships and to integrate those relationships into a whole”. If seeing relationships is so critical in what ways can we accomplish this, at least in drawing negative spaces, shadows, distance between features come handy. Start from below to trick the left and activate the right.

Part II

What does it take to see relationships and the 3 types of people

1. Boundary Crossers

Who solve other domain problems with their perspective and leap if thought. Nicholas Negroponte archives from Wired is a great place to start

2. Inventors

Who can get into a flow state and possibly blend concepts from one domain to other. At you can get more details on conceptual blending and how it applies to invention

3. Metaphor Makers

Who can imagine metaphors and forge connections and communicate those experiences to others

Part III

This part explains “What does it take to see the big picture”. Here he explains how entrepreneurs and innovators who have the capacity look holistic, across various aspects prosper.

Part IV

This part explains the final day of the drawing class where he actually accomplishes a better self-portrait. I have been drawing for more than a year now and I personally see significant improvements in the portraits I draw.

Symphony Portfolio

As with every other chapter the portfolio part of this chapter is interesting

Hear Music Activity

Start to hear some great samples from the classical music genre, you can find at least one good rendition with a single search.

· Beethoven’s 9 th Symphony

· Mozart’s Symphony 35 Haffners Symphony

· Mahler’s 4 th Symphony in G Major

· Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture

· Haydn’s Symphony 94 in G Major Surprise

Hit the Newsstand Activity

I would say hit the library on a Friday and browse older issues of magazines that you have never read, borrow them for the weekend

Draw Activity

One of the exercises that Daniel Pink suggests is a 5 line self-portrait, try it. It is fun, with just 5 lines can you draw your face?

Maintaining Metaphor log Activity

This is a simple exercise; just capture any compelling or surprising metaphors that you come across. Not just that try capturing metaphors that you use by simply being aware of what you are speaking. One week and your log will be so wide and rich, after this you can actually see the power behind creating meaning with the metaphors.

Following Links Activity

It is a fun exercise to follow just a single link from a web page and going deeper and deeper. After you have reached the 6 th level, just try making the connections between them all the way back to where you started and see how we can actually learn by serendipity.

Random Website generates random urls. Another great way is Google Reader Play.

Look For Solutions in Search of Problems Activity

Using 2 powerful questions from Yale professors Ian Ayres and Barry Nalebuff to examine existing solutions (possibly in your project)

· Where else would it work?

· Would flipping it work?

Why Not? How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small

Creating an Inspiration Board Activity

When on a project, just keep tacking compelling pictures, fabric, page to a physical board. Over a period it will serve as a wild collage from which connections can be made and will always expand and enliven your work.

Reading References


More Maps

After joining my current job, when I started "Knowledge Mapping" I have encountered and applied several other maps. I want to leave a record here of a few that I have been practicing.

Mind Map to Concept Map

Mind Map is basically a flowery diagram that helps you remember a "linear" hierarchy of concepts but without any cross linkages. Tony Buzan made this famous with case studies like "when I was a student, I had this hard course I had to take and when I started adopting mind maps for taking class notes it became so much more easier and recall just before exam was so good I became the university topper". This is great and there are so many tools available including the clunky but popular FreeMind

and tools like MindMeister available over the internet with a simple registration or as device apps.

As I said Mind Map is linear hierarchy that does not allow cross linkages, so to represent a domain that is complex you need support for all hierarchies and relationships, which is what concept map does. You can form meaningful propositions and make sense of a complex domain easily. My faith in concept map was reinforced specifically by 2 sources

1. Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) work done by Gary Klein and others who have been propagating concept map as a standard way to represent knowledge domains

2. Ed Rogers CKO NASA who visited us last year, was doing the entire presentation from a single concept map and NASA also applies concept map internally a lot.

Nowadays all my presentations have at least one concept map (around 6-10 slides get represented in 1 concept map) , I use VUE in rapid prototyping mode to create the representations quickly

Here is a reproduction of a concept map (on concept map) from Working Minds

that is one of the greatest references for CTA.

Perception Map

Recently we did a conversation based training on Perception map. This is a powerful technique when it comes to dealing with perceptions on highly sensitive or people oriented issues within teams. It lets you define the core issue more clearly, as people problems gets cloudy when the number of perceptions gets beyond 3 (another limit of our pre-frontal cortex)

I am particularly interested how the teams actually do the mapping, after perceptions are collected and de-duped. In my opinion, you can enforce a lot of rules into this, or you can simply let it emerge by constraining the leads to step (one perception can only lead to one other perception not more). All sorts of collectors, loops and conflicts surface and it is fun to watch as this happens in groups. Making this step anonymous helps, with managers or other leaders excluded from the meeting.

Tree Map

When you look at a visual there are only 3 cues actually, 1. relative size of the object 2. the color of the object in relation to others and 3. the text that is there in the object. If it is a representation of some form of flow then you will have connectors, but tree map is not suited for those. Tree map is suited when you have a hierarchy of data elements and you want to drill down layer after layer in that data set. I use it for parsing our internal MIS reports and make sense and to decide where to put the focus effort.

I think I encountered tree map first in Many Eyes but started using the tree map application of UMD

Story Map

I got interested in story maps when our user centric design community

floated a session. The concept is as simple as a time line on a specific user action (I will call this The Spine) and you will have multiple user stories that is mapped against the spine. Key take away is not just that, you can actually classify based on user need and from this plan which story will be developed in a Sprint cycle.


Learning TM

It was a pleasure to learn Transcendental Meditation of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi from Lane Wagger. The guru bhakti (devotion), dedication to help the seeker, coupled with clear concept delivery were awesome.
The way Lane oriented people to practice and shared some excellent analogies (must have been refined over the years) was really good. I distinctly remember the analogy of dyeing a white cloth in yellow to explain the cumulative effect of TM.All in all great and I have been practicing it once a day as against the recommended 2 per day schedule, but clearly see changes in how people respond and relate to me.
I highly recomend Lane to any Corporate if you are serious about TM. Right most on first row is Lane.
Here are a few points from Lane for the practitioners
1. Remember to start your TM with half a minute sitting easily, and end the meditation with 2-3 minutes of silence.
2. If you feel sleepy during TM, that is OK. Sleep comes during meditation if there is some tiredness in the body. We never force ourselves to stay alert in order to continue thinking the mantra. If sleep comes, we let it come. Just remember to meditate for another 5 to 10 minutes after waking up.
3. We do not give any importance to the meaning of thoughts during TM. Thoughts are just the by-product of the release of stress. When a thought comes during TM, we don’t feel bad, we just easily return to the mantra.
4. If you feel you are too busy to do your TM, then don’t do it for yourself, do it for the sake of world peace.