Recommend me a software for editing photos and creating new designs, please. Well, there are many different programs to work with graphics, a list of photo editing software you will find the link. The most popular software programs now are Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw and Adobe Illustrator. Here you can download this software: download adobe photoshop cs5
Download CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X5 Download Illustrator CS4 I hope I helped you! Yes thanks, this information helped me a lot, I downloaded Adobe Photoshop and is very happy with it.

Archive for the ‘Technique’ Category

Using Game Data to Study Learning Strategies

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Practicing by learning from experience is important in sports and many types of knowledge work.  Deliberate practice that involves dynamically adjusting the difficulty of the practice task,  is often touted as the best way to rapidly move up the learning curve from novice to expert.  One reason video games are so engaging is that they use levels, restarts and automatic dynamic difficulty adjustment to keep you at the edge of psychological flow and in deliberate practice mode.

Understanding the cognition of learning is fundamental to good game design and vice versa. For example, recent research reported in Psychological Science reveals that players of the game Axon where able to improve their performance quicker by engaging in specific learning strategies.

The more effective learning strategies included previewing (exploring how the game worked) and spacing out their practice session.  These are two strategies that you can easily build into other types of facilitated or self-directed study materials or learning processes.  For example, the static chapter previews offered in traditional textbooks might be far more effective if there were hyper-linked.

Studying people as they play video games or massive online multi-player games offers a new view into the cognition of learning compared to what we have learned from the lab or field.  As the authors point out:

“This kind of data affords us to look in an unprecedented way at the shape of the learning curve, allowing us to explore how the way we practice helps or hinders learning,”

This is especially important for cognitive designers as games are one context where learning is pleasurable and participants are blissfully productive sometimes to extreme levels.


How Innovators Empathize

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

To empathize means we not only understand the thoughts and feelings of others but we actually have or share them. Achieving empathy is a source of inspiration for innovators and designers as it reveals unmet needs, especially psychological ones. Of course achieving empathy is not always possible but you should work hard to get as close as you can.

For example, a couple of years ago in my cognitive design course at Northwestern University, I had a student team working in the area of obesity. To gain empathy, one of the team members wore a backpack with 20 pounds of extra weight in it for a day.   Wanting to go further, they wore padding to increase their body size and added elastic bands to decrease their mobility.  And they did not stop there.  It took  quite some effort to assemble the materials and make the wearables to simulate the experience of being obese. They even consulted friends in the movie business.  The result was a multi-day empathy exercise that was transformational.

I recently read of another example focused on innovating for the elderly (see image above).   The Ageing Empathy Exercise, is one of 20 concepts  in the evaluation stage of OpenIDEO’s design challenge, How might we all maintain well being and thrive as we age?    In this empathy exercise they have you put cotton balls in your ears and noise and wear glasses with dirty lenses to dull you senses. You also wear latex gloves with rubber bands around your knuckles to impede your hand dexterity. Once suited up you try and perform simple everyday activities such as buttoning your shirt, getting coins out of your wallet or opening a pill bottle.

Give it a try.

How have you used designed empathy exercises and experiences as an innovation technique? What materials and procedures did you use? How far did you have to push it to generate usable insights?


How to Develop a Multi-Frame Thinking Habit

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

It is widely understood that rigorously thinking about a problem from multiple perspectives can give rise to creative solutions.  New frames take thinking in different directions.  For example, understanding a customer complaint as an opportunity to learn and innovate rather than a painful problem is a classic reframing.  New frames also create the opportunity for a synthesis especially if you have a lot of them.  The parable of the several blind men touching different parts of an elephant illustrates the point. Each blind man describes only part of the elephant – a long smooth tube (a tusk), a flat velvety surface (ear), a thick tree trunk (leg) and so on.  It is only by synthesizing or combining these various frames that we come to understand the elephant.

Despite being widely understood, few have mastered multi-frame thinking.

Fortunately, there are many excellent techniques for generating and combining multiple mental frames. One of my favorites is DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats. In this technique, trying on a new hat is a metaphor for generating point of view. Each hat also has a color that denotes the specific mental frame you need to adopt. For example, when you wear the white hat you focus on listing just the facts of the situation. But  when you wear the red hat you  focus on your feelings and intuitions about the situation including likes, dislikes, fears and other emotions.  There is even a blue hat your wear to manage the overall thinking process and synthesize the multiple perspectives created from the other hats. You can use the six hats by yourself but it works better in a group. While it may seem trivial at first if you use it with discipline and rigor it can produce good results.

Another proven multi-frame thinking technique is stakeholder value analysis. In this business-oriented technique you list all the parties or groups that have skin in the game and describe how they receive and contribute value to the situation. For example, employees are an important stakeholder group in a company. They contribute value through their time, effort, creativity and loyalty and they receive value in the form of a pay check, benefits, meaningful work and personal satisfaction.  Seeing value in both tangible ways (time, effort, money, benefit) and intangible ways (creativity, loyalty, meaning, satisfaction) has proven very important for the modern organization.  It has also helped to give voice to new perspectives about how to think about the environment and future generations as important stakeholders and the need to balance purely economic thinking with social concerns.

General  methods for multi-frame thinking include:

- Lateral and divergent thinking
- Helicopter and systemic thinking
- Structured inventive thinking
- Appreciative intelligence
- Visual sense making and metaphors.

To get good results you need to use these methods with discipline and rigor. Ideally, they will become a matter of habit. This means applying them on a regular basis until they become an automatic thinking response.

To help you develop a multi-frame thinking habit I have created a mobile learning program called NewHabits.   It includes a mobile App called Reframe that covers 25 specific techniques you can apply to generate multiple perspectives on situations at home or work.  Each technique is described by a knowledge card that quickly explains the concept behind the technique and recommends a specific action for using it.  Cards take just a few minutes to play but trigger small bursts of learning from experience. These small steps accumulate over time into significant new skills and habits.



Going in Circles as Best You Can!

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Have you ever noticed that most improvement methodologies have you going in circles?   Consider the examples below.

1.  The Shewhart cycle (made popular by Deming) of plan-do-check-adjust that has been used in one form or another by nearly every organization on earth.

2.  Kolb’s learning cycle, perhaps the most successful model of how adults learn from experience.

3.  The method of validated learning (build-measure-learn) in the lean start-up movement that is sweeping the globe.

4. And even the scientific method itself.

This means there is a common architecture for learning, innovation and change making.  It is used by the most successful coaches, leaders, entrepreneurs and activists.  In my classes on leadership and innovation at Northwestern University, I present the common architecture for improvement as follows:

To get good at this you need to be skilled at each step (set the stage, try, observe and interpret), be able to manage motivation and willpower and otherwise move through the cycle fast and cheap.

That is a tall order. To help clients and students get good at going in circles, I have created a  free mobile learning program called NewHabits. The program consists of decks of knowledge cards, including for example,

Each deck includes 25 proven practices for getting better at one of the steps in the improvement process. A card in the deck “sets the stage” and gives you something specific to try to get better at observation, interpretation, willpower or whatever you select.  Having 25 cards in a deck keeps you going through the improvement process multiple times.  Cards are designed to fit into your daily work or home routine and takes just minutes to play.  Each card is one small improvement step but the effects accumulate over time into significant new competencies and habits. In other words, the App will keep you going in circles until you get better!

The neat thing about NewHabits is you can write a deck of knowledge cards to address many behavior change and skill building challenges.   For example, you can create decks to improve sales skills, customer service, teamwork or creativity.   Or on the personal front knowledge cards are a good way to approach money, relationship and health challenges.   I’ve taught hundreds of clients and students how to write knowledge cards and invite you to do the same.


25 Small Steps to Your Innovation Calling

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Innovation requires tons of personal energy and professional will.  In the best case it flows from a deep attachment to a particular problem or opportunity.  Something about the challenge or how you see approaching it stirs your heart, mind or soul. In short,  the most effective innovators are energized by a calling.

Finding or creating an  innovation calling takes time. And you need certain skills and habits of mind to do it.   While you most likely won’t find it by reading a book you can cultivate the skills and habits needed to eventually develop one.  At least that is the spirit behind an assignment I give in my graduate class in the Foundations of Leadership at Northwestern University.

The work is guided by a set of 25 knowledge cards (example to the left) that students access from NewHabits  a free iPhone and iPad App or from a private social networking site.  The knowledge cards describe a proven practice for getting in touch with your innovation calling. The idea is to build these practices into your daily routine until they form habits.

While each card is only one small step toward finding your innovation calling the steps can add up. To see this effective check out a log recently created by a student documenting some 20 small steps.  An excerpt is shown below.

After using the deck for a month the student concludes:

“The deck has all the elements to develop a leadership calling.  To put it broadly, find something you are passionate about (stir mind, heart, soul).  Find an opportunity to create value and follow through on the compassion.  All of the cards are very doable (take two minutes, find one way, make a short list, etc.) and will be useful as I progress in my career.”

Give the calling cards a try and let me know how they work. What idea do you find so compelling that must take action on it?


Are You a Skilled Observer?

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

How often do you really pay attention to what you see, touch, smell, taste and hear? And when you do pay attention how do you do it? Do you use specific tools and techniques?   If you want to be an effective designer or innovator you need to be an active observer. Indeed, good observation skills are important for all professions and everyday life.

One way to get better at making observations is to practice using a proven technique for a few minutes everyday.  I have assemble 25 proven techniques in a deck of knowledge cards.  Each card briefly introduces the technique and then suggests a specific way to practice it. An example is given below.

A simple practice that teaches you to engage and integrate odors into a perceptual stream that is normally dominated by sight and sound.

You can access all 25 knowledge cards for building observation skills in NewHabits, a free iPhone and iPad application. Give the deck a try and let me know how they work for you. Especially interested in your ideas for new knowledge cards for observation skills and other topics.


Cognitive Modeling for Innovators & Designers

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Cognitive design makes an unique contribution to improvement and innovation efforts by focusing on the workflow between the ears. By discovering and documenting mental processes and psychological needs cognitive designers bring important new requirements, constraints and opportunities to the table.   There are five ways to get at the workflow between the ears:

  1. Search the literature and develop a hypothesis. If someone else has already developed a cognitive model of the domain you are working in make use of it. This can include general processes such as recognition-primed decisions making or something more specific such as threat detection in battle field management.
  2. Do some fieldwork. This means going out and watching and making inferences about what people are thinking and feeling. Ethnographic methods and empathy mapping used in design thinking are popular examples.
  3. Use lightweight modeling techniques. These often include using validated psychological assessment instruments to measure individual’s strengths, weaknesses and needs against a known model. For example, two instruments that are very useful for cognitive designers are the learning style inventory that gives insights into how individuals learn from experience and the sensory profile that provides a measure of how sensitive an individual is to sensory stimulation.  Both these instruments are very useful when you are designing for behavior change.
  4. Use heavyweight modeling techniques.  These are cognitive engineering and artificial intelligence techniques and include for example cognitive task analysis and protocol analysis.   With these techniques experts are sometimes asked to  think-aloud while they are doing the mental work of interest. These verbal reports are treated as data and are analyzed and scored to develop a model of the mental process.  Another technique is the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique  that focuses on the collection and analysis of images that users provide to infer the mental models and metaphors that are guiding their thinking.  While the use of these heayweight techniques requires considerably more expertise than the previous techniques, they are essential for many application of cognitive design.
  5. Lab and Clinical Modeling: These are often the most expensive and complex to use and include for example eye-motion. EEG and brain scanning studies.  The idea is to directly measure brain states or related psychological states to understand how people think-and-feel when interacting with a product or other artifact.  Usually this happens in a cognitive or neuroscience lab but over the last few years companies have formed to make the techniques more accessible especially in advertising, marketing and brand management.  See NeuroFocus for example.

It is best to work these in order as each provides context and insights for how best to scope the next one in line.

While many current innovation methods stress field work and rapid prototyping with users, it is often necessary to use light-and-heavy weight modeling methods to generate real insights into how to move hearts and minds.


Magic Reveals Insights for Cognitive Designers

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

I’m often asked for good examples of cognitive design.  Some of the best are:

Powerball (multi-million dollar jackpot lottery tickets), Angry Birds (a mobile game), the Dom Zu Kohn (cathedral in Germany), your favorite piece of art, using the placebo effect to heal, pictures of cute baby animals, the alert tone on a cell phone and magic tricks you can’t see even after they are explained.

The success of all of these artifacts turns on the fact that they generate far  more mental energy than it takes to interact with them. They deliver a powerful think-and-feel experience because features and functions are optimized for how our minds actually work.  Said another way, they reveal the secret sauce for how to design for psychological impact . They are a laboratory for applied cognitive scientists and a potential design pattern for innovators.

 So far our attempts at applying the lessons learn from these artifacts to other design problems has seen little success.   For example, serious games (i.e. application of game mechanics to education, health and and business) have yet to produce a block buster and lottery-based savings products have yet to make a dent in our need to prepare for retirement.

Cognitive design needs to mature.  One strategy is to get much better at translating the results of cognitive science and engineering into innovations that authentically move our hearts and accelerate our minds.  What we need are scientific studies of artifacts with high cognitive impact that are specific enough to offer design insights. For example, actionable research on the visual neuroscience of magic has come out of the Barrow Neurological Institute. In a recent press release they shared these  findings:

“The researchers discovered that curved motion engaged smooth pursuit eye movements (in which the eye follows a moving object smoothly), whereas straight motion led to saccadic eye movements (in which the eye jumps from one point of interest to another).”

“They studied a popular coin-vanishing trick, in which King tosses a coin up and down in his right hand before “tossing” it to his left hand, where it subsequently disappears. In reality, the magician only simulates tossing the coin to the left hand, an implied motion that essentially tricks the neurons into responding as they would have if the coin had actually been thrown. “

These have very specific implications for designers.  For a deeper dive into the neuroscience behind magic check out Sleights of Mind and the Best Illusions of the Year Contest.

It is interesting to note that magic was developed through experimentation and tradecraft.  Neuroscience is trying to catch up but once it does we should see a new type of magic emerge. The same it true for games, art and much of architecture, marketing, education and entertainment. Tradecraft trumps science’s ability to generate breathtaking think-and-feel experiences but for how long?


Reading Faces to Decode Emotional States

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Emotions play a huge role in how our minds work. They shape and sometimes determine how we learn, make decisions, solve problems, change behavior and interact with others.  Decoding emotions is critical step in cognitive design no matter what application you are working on.

Emotions are visible through actions, body-language (especially facial expressions) and words.  Learning to read emotions in people and animals is not only good cognitive design, it builds emotional intelligence.   A well-known observational technique plays off the assumption that our biology determines how our facial muscles react when we experience a basic emotion such as surprise, fear, joy, disgust, anger, contempt and sadness. I frown when sad, my eyes widened when surprised and so on.

Of course it is more complex than that. For a deeper dive, check out Humintell’s microexpression recognition training, especially the tab on The Science.

Over the years of use I have noticed individual differences in how emotions play out on faces, perhaps due to context or something more fundamental.  For instance, some people narrow their eyes when surprised or smile when angry. While I could never prove they were in a base emotional state and exhibited a facial expressions that conflicts with the standard view, my experience supported it.  And the closer I looked the more variation I found.

Now there is a small but growing body of scientific work that is focused on the variations in the facial expression of emotions.  A recent press release by the Association for Psychological Science highlights some of the work:

“Contrary to what many psychological scientists think, people do not all have the same set of biologically “basic” emotions, and those emotions are not automatically expressed on the faces of those around us, according to the author of a new article published in …”

The note goes on to claim:

“Some scientists have proposed that emotions regulate your physical response to a situation, but there’s no evidence, for example, that a certain emotion usually produces the same physical changes each time it is experienced, Barrett says. “There’s tremendous variety in what people do and what their bodies and faces do in anger or sadness or in fear,” she says. People do a lot of things when they’re angry. Sometimes they yell; sometimes they smile.”

The implications for cognitive design are clear.  General rules for decoding emotions from facial expressions are fine but they only go so far. In complex or high-risk situations the real value might be in the variations from those rules.

Source of Image:  Seven Basic Emotions


Progress Can Trigger Relapse in Behavior Change

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Sometimes progress and success messes things up.   For example,  demand for a start-ups product or service grows so fast they cannot meet it. Quality slips and promised delivery dates are missed.  Or a successful company becomes complacent and arrogant because they dominate the market and starts making mistakes.

According to an interesting post by Dr. McGonigal on her Science of Willpower Blog, this can happen during the behavior change process. As we make progress our executive function exerting the self control becomes satisfied and our impulse for the old behavior can kick in. Focusing on the progress we have made actually sets us up for a relapse.  Indeed, celebrating success, the way we traditionally do with a minor indulgence, may be the worse thing to do.

What to do? One way is to reframe what progress means so it maintains emphasis on the executive function of self-control:

“Progress can be motivating, and even inspire future self-control, but only if you view your actions as evidence that that you are committed to your goal. You need to look at what you have done and conclude that you must really care about your goal. So much so, that you want to do even more to reach to it. This perspective is easy to adopt; it’s just not our usual mindset. More typically, we look for the reason to stop.”

The goal is to reflect on the why or reason for your self-control, not just the accomplishment.  Using your accomplishment to stay focused on the psychology of commitment avoids success-related relapse.

Clearly a good insight into how  minds actually work and it is actionable enough for cognitive designers working on behavior change challenges.  The post in the Willpower Blog is sneak preview of one of the chapters in Dr. McGonigal’s  new book,  The Willpower Instinct.  I have it on pre-0rder and will do a review.