Check out the first part of this “Simplicity Cycle” series, “How to add.”

The concept behind Garfield minus Garfield is pretty straightforward: erase the tubby orange cat from the comic strip that bears his name, but leave behind the props and other characters. The result is brilliant, fascinating, and poignant. On his site dedicated to “G-G,” Dan Walsh explains the edited comics are “a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.” If you have a taste for schadenfreude (and who doesn’t?), these comics can be super funny.

How does it work? Removing Garfield fundamentally changes the nature and message of each strip. It creates new space for the reader to explore, and introduces a wider variety of tones than the original comic ever displayed. For example, one G-G comic starts with a panel in which Garfield’s owner Jon says “These are troubled times.” For the remaining two panels, Jon sits and holds his coffee cup, without further comment, as if inviting the reader to join him in his thoughtful anxiety. (read more…)

Another 3-minute design lesson from “The Simplicity Cycle”

Imagine Sherlock without Watson, chocolate without peanut butter, or an accelerator without a brake. In each case, we would have something good but incomplete. Sherlock may be brilliant at solving crimes but he lacks a humanizing bedside manner, which Watson provides. Chocolate is delicious on its own, but the sweet notes are improved and elevated by the addition of a slightly salty peanut butter. And the gas pedal is terrific at making the car go, but at some point we’ll want to slow down or perhaps even stop. Thus, the brake pedal. In each case, adding something (a partner, a complementary flavor, an opposing mechanism) improves the overall experience. The story gets more interesting, the dessert more delicious, the vehicle more drivable.

As designers, coders, or engineers, adding to a design is one of the first creative steps we take. In fact, when we face a blank sheet of paper or an empty screen, adding is the only move available to use. (read more…)

bob caporale bookThis post is adapted from the book “Creative Strategy Generation” by Bob Caporale (McGraw-Hill, 2015). Caporale is the president of Sequent Learning Networks. His goal is to help business practitioners infuse more passion and creativity into their jobs. You can learn more about his work by visiting or following him on Twitter @bobcaporale.

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Ask where do great ideas come from and you’ll likely hear why they evolved rather than how. They were inspired.

Some of the best ideas haven’t been developed; they’ve been inspired. I say this because if you ask someone where their great ideas come from, they will probably be more inclined to tell you why they evolved rather than how. In other words, they’ll be telling you what inspired them.

When people are inspired, it usually means that some external force has pulled on their emotions and caused them to see or feel something that they may not have been seeing or feeling previously; and this often compels them to take some action in order to express that feeling. (read more…)

The 21st century is characterized by one dominant trait — self-determination. Gone are the days of mass production, economies of scale and standardization typical for last century. We, as a people, have a deep sense that it is our privilege to “make” ourselves.

Many times in my career, I tried to “make” myself only to be shunned. In 2000, for example, I jumped from Salomon Smith Barney to Merrill Lynch with the goal of dreaming a new dream. I wanted to challenge myself and grow but when I approached my managers about a new opportunity, they told me to stay put. So I switched firms.

By 2005, having been Institutional Investor-ranked for eight years straight, I again felt ready for a new learning curve. When I approached management, I heard the same script: “We like you just where you are.” This time, I took my dreams and walked out of the industry.

Much of the corporate world is not open to allowing us to work toward our dreams. (read more…)

One of the hardest times to find a taxi in busy downtown metropolitan areas, at least in the pre-Uber era, is when it’s raining. Studies conducted in London, New York City and elsewhere have shown that the meaningful uptick in rider demand during inclement weather is not matched by taxi availability. Soggy would-be riders are often forced to stand in the rain for a protracted period before being picked up, assuming that they get a ride at all.

The obvious question is why? Why wouldn’t cabbies be out in droves on days like this, looking to grab as many customers as they can and pad their income? A number of theories have been advanced to answer this question. One is simple supply and demand. A fleet of taxis cannot exist in an on-demand economy. It has to be built to meet the standard demand in order to be fiscally viable. When demand reaches unusually high levels, there is no place to draw available drivers from. (read more…)