8/04/2004

Creativity and such

Creativity

Can't live with it, can't live without it. Pretty interesting guidelines, but it's funny how creative people have to tell you how creative they are all the time. Even have to have it in their job title - "Creative Director". Interestingly enough, how do you really "direct" creativity?

"Hey you!, be creative now!"

Of course only the advertising world calls themselves "creative". In the art world it's "artist" please. However, over in the engineering world we're just "product development". That's partly because in the adverising world it just takes some half-assed idea to sell pantyhose or tampons or bath soap. If it doesn't work, then no harm done, move along, nothing to see here, let's just try the next half-assed idea.

In the engineering world if we field a half-assed idea people die.

Bad airplane design? Oops, sorry, was that a relative of yours?

So we don't do that. We're not only pretty damn creative, we also have to think about what happens if ten different things go wrong simultaneously. And given the vagaries of human behavior that's a creative exercise in and of itself.

In fact, it may be the height of creativity to come up with the stupidest possible things people can do with your product. In many ways it's a sort of "stupid human tricks" guessing game.

So the next time you're relying on some critical piece of equipment, whether it be your car (or indeed the cars around you on the freeway), the toaster or the weedwhacker, remember the creativity of the engineers that went into the design and production of that item, and don't get too creative in using it (and no, that lighted mirror on the flip down shade is NOT for shaving with at 55 mph.)

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