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February 9, 2011 / Mike Biggs

Question: Do you like reading about the Brain and Thinking Creatively?

If you would like to read about:

  • Thinking

  • Creativity

  • The brain

  • Celebrity Thinkers

  • Cognitive Science

  • Thinking Tools

  • Thinking Book Reviews

Then could you please help me. I am developing a new website and need to know a little more about people who are interested in these subjects. Could you please tell us a little about yourself. I don’t need private information, just approximate age, profession, etc. Just a little paragraph about you would be very helpful.

Thanks very much.




February 9, 2011 / Mike Biggs

The superficial reasons people don’t think I am a designer


I don’t wear T-shirts and jeans to work

I don’t love ‘sticking it to the man’

I don’t ride a Fixie (the latest trend in bicycling)

I am not up on the latest happenings amongst a group of pretentious self indulgent wankers.

I can read and write properly

I don’t have crazy hair, makeup, or jewellery

I don’t hate ‘the system’

I don’t love Macs as if they are some kind of embodiment of GOD

I’m not into games past 1995

I don’t care about the environment

I don’t drive a trendy car

I live in the suburbs

I ‘get’ business stuff

I am happy to speak positively about the client

Have you experienced similar image problems? Share them here in the comments 🙂

February 8, 2011 / Mike Biggs

A designer never actually creates anything new; A designer is a Design@er [designater]

There are two ways of looking at design:

a:The output of a new product. OR

b:The knowledgeable application of a process.

Clients will often be under the misconception that they are purchasing a product from their designer, or even those that are purchasing a service, beleive it is the fruits of that service that the designer is providing. This is remiss.

An experienced and skilled designer realises that what they offer is a process. An informed process being executed by an experienced, professional opinion. The output of the process is what may be required for a particular use, but it is the process of getting there that the designer offers.

Why are designers really Design@ers.

During the process of design (as identified above as option b. In case it is not clear, option b is the correct understanding of design) a designer uses experience, testing, and heruistics to define the components that should be combined. They designate the colours, sizes, styles, types of interaction, words, sounds, etc. The resulting combination is a creation, but it is the output of designation; hence they are a designer.

You can’t invent colours

You can’t create new materials

You can’t bring into existence new frequencies of sound

In web design, product design, architecture, fashion, or food design, all creators are limited by their materials and are in a position of designation, not creation in the godly sense.

Design@tion is not easy

To state that designers simply select from a range of options is to make it sound very easy. It is not. Good design requires alot of knowledge, skill, and understanding of the true requirements of the ouput. For me, this statement is to educate and announce that hidden in the word design is a clue to the true nature of the work, which is the skillful application of a process of selection, not the pulling of a rabbit from ones arse.

I have created a logo to share the concept. Please share it around with a blog, or on the twitter.

February 8, 2011 / Mike Biggs

A short letter to the blogging world about short posts

Dear Self Important Academic Blogging Types,


I’m sick of the unspoken rule that a post needs to be a certain length or have detailed supports.

What I write is my business and if you wish to read it then great for the both of us.


If I write short, you can read it.

If I write long, you can read it.


Seth Godin said it’s ok. What do you think about that?



January 20, 2011 / Mike Biggs

Life problems require Wisdom- but how do I apply it?. Includes Video: Barry Schwartz- Using Practical Wisdom

Problems in life are the same as problems in design, they are not problems in the proper sense at all. They are dilemmas with no actual right or wrong answer. When faced with a dilemma, a judgement needs to be made by the application of wisdom. This wisdom comes  in the form of experience, expertise, and the process in which to guide and apply.

Devising a ‘solution’ to a dilemma requires a judgement based on many quantifiable and unquantifiable factors. This can only be executed by someone with the experience and knowledge of the right process to follow. A scientific approach which ensures no particular outcome other than an appropriate judgement to the said dilemma.

In the field of design there is a tension between the vision (developed by the professional opinion of the designer) and the practical needs of the situation. This tention is where the dilemma exists, and from it comes the creation of the ‘solution’. This space is where creativity exists.  The validity of any process to be applied and of the output is judged by the designer, and it seems the reverse is true in that a Judgement (by a Judge) requires design.

So it is the Scientific Process which leads to ‘good’ or ‘right’ design, AND judgements. While Wisdom also ensures the application of ‘good’ and ‘right’ processes and design outcomes.

So what is this scientific process?

Generally speaking good design is arrived at by an iterative approach. Using the experience of the designer, and working within the space between that vision and the practical considerations of the situation. This tension-gap exists whether designing a product or designing a legal solution to a criminal act. Basically the same process is at play, the application of a process to the existing situation and a (or multiple) potential solutions in the form of a vision held by the professional (a designer or a judge).  Luckily this process has been articulated by Michael Hewitt-Gleeson of the School of Thinking already. The process is SDNT [start, do, notice, think]

On further investigation, this is actually just the creation of a hypothesis, subsequent testing, and repeat. However, such a simple, effective, and un-ending process is often not looked upon favourably in issues of business, law, and, life where we worship the idea of an ultimate rightness. The key to understanding and effective use of SDNT is to realise that it is an iterative process and may be repeated over and over within a dilemma, and used at multiple points within the ‘problem’ solving process.

This tool [SDNT] will be expanded upon in detail in coming posts, however for this article it is sufficient to say that there IS a process, but it is just that, not a prescriptive solution to a set problem which can be looked up in a catalogue. I should also note that the DO component could not be actioned in a legal justice situation, however some version of playing out the events could be used, for example a deep roleplay which would enact the situations to follow and provide an opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t.

So what is the answer to a dilemma? As said by many in the User Experience field, ‘It depends’. And it does.

January 20, 2011 / Mike Biggs

Thinking Lessons Revisited DFQ#10 – Ken Robinson

This is not a lesson in the traditional sense, and there is no question and work to be done.

Just watch and be amused and enlightened.

January 19, 2011 / Mike Biggs

Thinking Lessons Revisited DFQ#9 How important is creativity -Edward de Bono

Edward de Bono, co-founder of SOT and author of Lateral Thinking:

“There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.”

DFQ: What patterns can you escape from today?

i have accidented upon an opportunity to escape from my normal saturday by way of attending a nephew’s fencing competition. The simple changes in pattern have offered some interesting situations already; new systems and procedures to follow, no food on site so i am starving (a physiological change).

If I make a conscious decision about which pattern to break, it would have to be my personal pattern of not following through on things as simple as putting the bread away. Make an effort and the change in behavior leads to new opportunities in other situations.

January 18, 2011 / Mike Biggs

Thinking Lessons Revisited DFQ#8 Richard Hoggart, British sociologist

Richard Hoggart, British sociologist, director of UNESCO and author of First and Last Things:

“Democracy is never an abstraction. It has to be rooted
in a sense of our own particular culture, of its virtues,
strengths, limitations … It arises from the people
we have known, loved, respected as we grew up, whether that
was among the urban or rural working class,
or the conscientious and public-spirited among the middle class,
or the upper class.”


Daily Feedback Question:

What can you take from this to think about today?

My response:

The first thing I notice is that he qualifies the lower, working, and middle classes but does not qualify the upper class. Does this imply that the upper class is by virtue ‘conscientious and public-spirited’? This is probably a pedestrian observation.

The modus operandi of anything needs to be part of the core organic make up. For example democracy came about due to market forces, and has become and is part of the fabric.

Thinking is the same, it needs to be part of what we do, not something else we do.

Democracy is a fine example of an organic system that has the ability to self reflect and change it’s own very structure to suit new situations. Unlike a rigid system of Government or Religion that has a set of systems and procedures that are unchangeable and isolated from its constituents.


January 17, 2011 / Mike Biggs

Thinking Lesons Revisited DFQ#7 Maria Spiropulu- Physicist at CERN

Conceptually, this lesson is very strong although very short. Here is the quote and subsequent question:

Maria Spiropulu, Physicist at CERN,
the European Organization for Nuclear Research, Geneva says:

“I believe nothing to be true if it cannot be proved. If you believe something, then you don’t need proof of it, and if you have proof, you don’t need to believe it.”

The DFQ for today is: “What do you believe that you cannot prove?”

Wow, this question (including the preceding quote) almost answers its own question. Here was my answer when I did the course originally:

No matter how much of the unknown we uncover, it does nothing to reduce the unknowable.

Looking at it now, I think that answer may have reflected the reading material I was exposing myself to at the time. Carlos Castaneda’s Tales of Power has many philosophical questions and potential understandings thereof which you could subscribe to. I may have overshot the depth on this question, or did I?


On a side note, I have some theories that there are strong connections and crossovers in concept and methodology between those described in Castaneda’s work, and the concepts being discussed here in the Thinking Course. The most explainable is that the concept of Power as used in the Castaneda books, and the concept of creativity have a very strong link. Further to that, creativity and evolution are without a doubt linked.

I would like to work up this idea into something more substantial. If you have any interest in reading about my ideas in depth, please just shoot me an email or comment, so I can gauge interest.



January 14, 2011 / Mike Biggs

Thinking Lessons Revisited DFQ#6 – Muslim Authour Irshad Manji

Irshad Manji, author of The Trouble With Islam:

“Praise Allah for the Internet! With the web making self-censorship irrelevant—someone else is bound to say what you won’t—it became a place where intellectual risk-takers finally exhaled.”

The daily feedback question is: ‘What is someone else saying that you won’t risk saying?’

On reflection I am not sure that I have answered the question directly, however, I am confident the intention of the question is to get the debate going, not to set a logic test.

Here is my response, which I would not revise at all if I were to re-consider this question.

I love to say controversial things, but I am pained to announce with the same level of confidence, my most honest thoughts if considered controversial by others.

If we state what we won’t risk, is it a moot point because we have now stated it?

Actual statement: I’m sick of people saying and acting as though cultural differences are only superficial and don’t pose significant problems when attempting to co-exist.

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