Mar 182013

In an effort to continue the exploration of creativity, innovation and Design Thinking, I have created a project called, talk with Roger.

On this web page, I enter into a virtual dialog with Distinguished Chair, Roger Malina.  Dr. Malina holds a dual appointment at the University of Texas at Dallas, as professor of Arts and Technology and physics.  Malina is a physicist, astronomer and executive editor of the Leonardo publications at MIT Press.  He is a leading contributor to the international dialog on design and innovation.

To follow the dialog, go to

Mar 182013

It is important to note that I am fully aware that most academics discount the right-left brain metaphor.  They direct the conversation to neuroscience research which claims the whole brain forms any given thought and the brain function cannot be explained by the separation of two independently functioning brain hemispheres.  The most recent research I’ve read made this point and then slid back to preferential influences from each hemisphere.  In this study, the researcher used a gradient scale of specificity as opposed to a clearly delineated line of separation by the corpus callosum.  I fully understand the complexity of the brain, and the primary reason I am dubious as academia moves to a position more reliant on MRI research and certainty in their latest map of the brain.  The very fact of new research and a closer examination of the glial cells reinforces my inclination to focus on the spaces between the cells and less on the firing of neurons.

I would not argue with my fellow scholar’s new understanding of the human brain, but point to the fact that our new understanding of the brain function does not negate the work of Nobel Laureate Roger Sperry’s work of dual modalities of thought within the brain.  Although, his work was conducted in the sixties, his exploration of split brain symptoms is the ideal metaphor to a psychological phenomenon explored by Dr. Betty Edwards and Dr. Jerre Levy in the eighties.  It’s not an idea of old science, but an ideal metaphor that describes a perspective that affects our thinking, actions and decisions how we approach life.

There are disciplines that benefit from a certain perspective and approach to life.  In the extreme, the artist accesses the abstractions of life and articulates this vision in a fashion that is consumed with the senses; while, the engineer is firmly grounded in the discipline of science and expresses themselves in practical applications.  This requires two completely different disciplines of thought.  For an even more extreme scenario, I have overlaid the artist’s approach to life to the business person’s need for efficiency, organization, structure and profits.  The two perspectives are far apart; yet, the business community talks about the need for innovation.  The issue is artists innovate as if breathing, but suffocate in the structured environment of a business.  The business person prospers in the delineated lines of an organization and flounders in the abstractions of innovation.  The two perspectives can co-exist, but never fully integrate or collaborate.

From personal experiences and empirical evidence, I see dominant traits which influences the way people interact with the world.  Since the focus of my work is creativity and innovation, I have identified the traits that embrace, practice and promote creativity, and those that do not.  The shorthand that best serves my purpose is the term right and left brain thinking.  The individual who accesses and utilizes a “whole brain” approach is practicing Design Thinking, which I will address at a later time.

My request:  Do not use the science of the brain, to be confused with the exploration of the mind, and a distraction from the conversation of creativity.  As the physicist David Bohm once lamented, disassembling the watch will not help one understand time.  I believe our efforts to observe the firing of neurons as we map the brain, does not provide insights into the abstractions of creativity which occurs between the cells.