SAN JOSE — Physicist Ransom Stephens gave attendees his perspectives on how to kick your problem-solving skills into high gear in his keynote presentation “The Keys to Innovation” at the Embedded Systems Conference, San Jose. Stephens based his presentation on his recently-published book The Left Brain Speaks, The Right Brain Laughs, from Cleis Press, which takes a look at the neuroscience of creativity. The presentation provided a six-step process for enhancing your creative response to challenges facing electronics designers such as debugging and new product creation.
“A frog, a dog, and Richard Feynman walk into your cranium” may sound like the opening line to a lame joke, but is actually the starting point for Stephens' description on how the brain works. The description is based on the triune brain model, which roughly breaks the human brain into three systems. In the theory, the brain stem (reptilian brain, i.e., the frog) handles autonomic systems such as heartrate and breathing, the limbic system (mammalian brain, i.e., the dog, specifically a puppy) handles emotional response and value judgements, and the neocortex (Feynman) handles conscious reasoning and thought. Knowing this structure and how to engage its capabilities, Stephens asserted, is essential to maximizing creativity and problem solving.
Stephens's advice to engineers (and other humans) calls for a six-step process (continued….)