Category Archives: Philosophy

Fluency . . .

the ability to produce a quantity of ideas, answers, or problem solutions (Meador, 1996)

Having spent a good 15 years of my life trying to teach others about creative thinking, today I’m working with the concept of fluency. It’s the first “F” of FFOE commonly referred to in creativity literature. FFOE represents fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration upon which most creative activities are based. Initially, I studied these in writing my masters thesis and preparing activities to improve areas of challenge for creative thinkers. We utilized those activities for many years in working with adolescent Creative Scholars in summer programs in Louisiana. Later, I continued to study FFOE during dissertation work and the writing of Synectics activities for Kindergarten children. Following years involved training teachers to help students think more creatively as well as writing books and articles to help them (see publications list:

Today, I’m struck by the fact that all that study and work has submerged itself only to erupt in the design work (I wonder if it helps with the ranch work . . . ?). Whether consciously or subconsciously, I’m using FFOE every day.

Experts tell us that fluency is needed to help us explore all possibilities in an effort to find the most suitable one. But what if the best one came first? We wouldn’t know it was best without the propagation of others. But isn’t fluency a waste of time? It doesn’t waste as much time as completing an idea that didn’t work. (Yes, I do this too often as evidenced by a basket full of UFOs, unfinished objects.)

In an effort to be fluent today, I’ve added a gallery section to this blog which displays a quantity of ideas. It will continue to grow as more photos are uploaded.



I’m struck today by the many opposites in my environment and wondering how that context might fit into the design work. The picture at the left is analogous to hiding money under your mattress. The two nitrogen tanks filled with valuable embryos collected from our donor cows sits in the living room with the grand piano. If I thought it would make the embryos any more viable, I would play them special music. But the tanks were not placed in this room for nurturing, rather they are there due to the value of their contents.

While the idea of opposites in design work is not unique and today this thought might lead to pearls and metal in a piece, I’m gleaning a different message. Opposites (as opposed to opposition) may be good for the designer. For example, I’m a rancher by day and beader by night. When I’m covered in “it” from ranch work by day, I know that my opposite time will arrive after supper. When the designs don’t go well at night, I can remember my opposite day work and be thankful that at the least I accomplished feeding the animals and getting the data into the computer.

The dichotomous parts of our lives enrich each other. Certainly elements of shapes, colors and textures from my day creep into the design work at night making the pieces more interesting. On the opposite side, hopefully we will never find beads handing round a cow’s neck.

Do opposites attract? I don’t know; but I do believe that opposites are good for the designer. When I’m totally stuck on a design idea, I may go outside and throw the ball for the heelers or bottle feed a calf. Going in an opposite direction helps clear my head and free my mind for problem solving.

Perfect Light

The title of the entry sounds as though something philosophical should appear in the words that follow. Alas, this is not necessarily the case. I’ve put off preparing and returning the necklaces for several pendants given me by a retailer. Yet, there comes a time when you can wait no longer and this is the day. Unfortunately, this day started dark and drizzly – not a good combination for selecting matching colors for the pendants. Realizing that I’m working with greens today, you may wish to nod your head in understanding.

Although I arranged what seemed to be good color matches, I was about to give up on the process for lack of clear light and the clarity it brings. Then it dawned! The perfect sunlight crept over my shoulder to shine directly on the pendants and provide an opportunity to find a beautiful match. PICT0372 You can see from the picture that sunlight wasn’t the only thing that crept over my shoulder. I guess my cat Blue thought the sunlight arrived solely to warm his back. Luckily, as the sun moved on, so did Blue. Unluckily, I needed the sun back WITHOUT the cat! I’m thankful that I was able to quickly grab the right colors for the pendants even in the midst of the brief sunlight and the warming cat. Perhaps a few rays of sunlight once in a while is all I need.

Philosophical Query: As we wait for clarity on things much more important that designs, do we need to be prepared to capture that fleeting moment of clarity as it passes us by? Is that moment sometimes hidden by some distraction?