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Common sense tells us that constraints and parameters are bad when it comes to idea generation. According to the latest psychological research, this has been shown not to be the case.

In one study that was done, a group of adults were asked to make a construction using Lego. One group were given no constraints while another group was told that their construction must contain no right-angled joints and that only one kind of brick was allowed to be used. The constructions built by the ‘constraints group’ were judged to be significantly more creative and lateral than those in the free expression group.

Try challenging yourself or your team to a task that has a constraint this week (e.g. create a presentation without PowerPoint, express an idea without speaking), and watch the creative juices flow.


CEO language can predict innovation

Predicting a firm’s innovation success can be as simple as analysing the words used by the company’s CEO in letters to shareholders.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota have revealed that organisations whose CEO used more future-oriented words in communication with shareholders performed significantly better in relation to innovation. For example, these companies were shown to adopt new technology at a greater pace and develop innovations more quickly than their competitors.

So to find out whether you are working for an innovative company, go and find your CEOs letters to shareholders and start counting.


Pretty pictures and hackers

A group of researchers at Newcastle University (in the UK, as opposed to regional NSW) have come up with an inventive way of improving password security for touchscreen devices such as iPhones, Palms and Blackberries.

Rather than type in a password, this new technology requires users to draw a password. Apparently graphical passwords are 1024 times more secure than textual ones and can also be easier to remember according to early testing.

Microsoft’s research centre has already pumped more money into this idea to develop it further. Stay tuned for more updates on when pretty pictures will be able to prevent hackers.