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Tag Archives: problem solving

This week I’ve been listening to an audiobook Accidental Genius, Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content, by Mark Levy. The title and description caught my eye and by the time I’d listened to the introduction I was saying to myself “this is going to be good; this is what I need!” I have long wanted to be a better writer and to write more and by following the suggestions and exercises in this book I am confident I will achieve those goals.

The basic premise of the book is built around the activity of “free writing” (what the author had called private writing in the first edition of the book). Free writing is an unstructured, uncensored, unedited flow of your thoughts to paper or keyboard. The idea may be nothing new – it sounds similar to the  practice of daily jounalling or the “morning pages” that I heard about in Julia Cameron’s book The Artist Way. Levy contends (and I believe) that we have enormous creativity  and answers to problems with in us. The trick is to draw them out of us so we can discover and use them. This book breaks down some simple techniques for doing just that. The insights gained through these practices will be of value whether one wants to solve business problems or actually produce “writing” – anywwhere on the continuum from a blog to a novel.

I have just listened to this book once but  I recommend it. I will soon start a second listen as I begin my own daily free writing practice. I am also giving thought to picking up a hard copy of the book for easier reference.

For more info, visit this link for the Fast Company blog/Interview with Mark Levy about the book.

Hear and see the author, Mark Levy, himself describe his book in this 3 minute YouTube video.

If this topic interests you I also recommend that you visit Mark Levy’s website/blog, Levy Innovation, which (as I write this)  includes a link to download Levy’s free e-book “List Making as a Tool of Thought Leadership”

 

Are you a regular writer? Have you read/listened to this book – what do you think about it?

What does engineering have to do with the arts? This is a topic I expected to address eventually and to come back to periodically, but now is the time. I’m inspired by an article in the Spring 2010 issue of U of A Engineer magazine* that arrived in my mail today. Tom Murray says it well in his article, “Engineers of Note”, which tells the story of four engineers and their passions and success in music:

There are stereotypes that say engineers are preoccupied with math and science… yet you don’t have to look far to find engineers who excel in creative endeavors within and beyond their profession – and in many cases you’ll find that their engineering education helps in their artistic pursuits.

I know personally that it is not the just the musical arts that attract and appeal to engineers. I know of many engineers (and geoscientists) that enjoy and excel at the visual arts, notably painting and photography.

This connection between art and engineering is not at all surprising to me. Engineering is very much about problem solving and problem solving requires creativity. What is art about if not creativity! Art too has its problem solving in a more traditional engineering sense. Modern visual artists frequently run into challenges with the materials they use, the structures that support the works or mechanical devices that must be invented to achieve a desired effect.

Taking the melding of art and engineering even further are some modern installation art pieces. Here is a link to a paper will give you a taste of this relationship: http://prosjekt.idi.ntnu.no/sart/publications/TechReport-TowardsGoodSEpracticesInIIA.pdf

Another superb example that engineering and the arts from centuries ago is Leonardo da Vinci, a renaissance man as recognized for his inventions and engineering achievements, as he was for his superb works of art.

Bravo to this most natural union – engineering and the arts!

I’m sure there are many more examples of the engineer as artist. Please share yours examples as a comment.

*Here is a link to the U of A Engineer magazine: http://www.engineering.ualberta.ca/uofaengineer/