Sometimes, it’s not a data problem. It’s an imagination problem.

One of my favorite things on the planet, is to activate my imagination and figure out how to leverage a piece of data into something actually useful for someone. To make a new way to track what a good customer means, to help someone get data in minutes that used to take hours. To help expose problems that were once hidden in manual processes and silos of systems.


Interestingly, the major breakthroughs I’ve had with successfully leveraging data have never been asked for. They’ve been created in those quiet moments when I witness frustration or confusion by my bosses, peers, and clients. I go into ideating what’s possible with what I have. I experiment, fail, try again, and I emerge with new ideas and prototypes.


Oftentimes, it comes from a single request, which leads to a bigger question (usually with no clear answer). The conversation generally tapers off into silence, or goes back to the tangible work to be done. I generally face a fork in the road here. Do I go and do the work that’s requested, or do I take a chance and do the work that’s really needed?


While the second path is the harder path, the path that’s often dismissed or shot down, it can also be the most rewarding path. The one that can propel the conversation forward and spark new ideas. Sometimes we just need to sit down and apply imagination to the data we have today. Imagination and bravery will take us somewhere new and interesting.I know it’s hard to apply imagination. It’s a skill that takes lots of practice, and the courage to try. To help get you started, I made you something.


There’s a method called Mash-Up that I learned while taking an intro Design Thinking Class @IDEOU . It’s about taking 2 unrelated categories of things and mashing them up to help generate new ideas. I created some mashups for you to print out and play with, and hopefully inspire you to make your own mashups! So get out there and get messy, creative, and start finding the new ways forward!


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