How to make an ergonomic pillow from a blanket when you are traveling.

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I didn’t create this innovation, but I helped trigger it through the use of two ProxPatterns. It also illustrates how it can take multiple people to innovate. I’ll tell you the story first, and then mention the proximity thinking involved.

I use an ergonomic pillow at home, but don’t travel with it. I’ve never found a hotel that offers them. I was in Denver at a hotel, needed an extra blanket, and went to the front desk. After I got the blanket, I thought, hey, it never hurts to ask, so I said, “This is going to be a crazy question, but by any chance do you have an ergonomic pillow?”

The front desk clerk said, “What’s an ergonomic pillow?” I explained it to him, and drew a shape in the air that shows the side of an ergonomic pillow. And he said, “Oh, I know what those are. Those are cool.” Then he went back into the supply room.

When he came back, he had one of those foamy blankets folded inside a pillowcase. He said “Would this help?” I said, “Yeah, maybe, thanks so much! That’s a great idea!” It wasn’t exactly the right shape, but the basic idea was born.

In the hotel room, I experimented and tweaked it. I found that with a different blanket, and a different way of folding it, I could mimic the shape and firmness of my ergonomic pillow at home.

The photo you see is after four nights of sleeping on the pillow. It was the best four nights of sleep I think I’ve had in a hotel. I thank that hotel clerk and the Drury Inn. I wonder if they encourage this kind of customer service from their staff?

Obviously, my tweaking of the clerk’s idea didn’t take any great talent. But asking him the question about whether they had ergonomic pillows was the result of two ProxPatterns I often use. One is seeking greater ProxAwareness. The other is allowing some uncertainty in asking a dumb question.

This led in turn to examples of two other ProxPatterns. The front desk clerk was seeking to honor the integrity of my request. He did this partly by ProxAwareness of the available resources. And partly by relating a wider variety of elements than normal, those elements being pillowcases and blankets. Normally, blankets don’t go inside pillowcases, but the clerk was able not only to consider it, but try it too, which is a great example of relating a variety.

Of course he didn’t consciously use those ProxPatterns. But I have found that useful and/or interesting ideas and processes often exhibit ProxPatterns.

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Things to remember about proximities – Part 1

Perhaps we should start a list of things to remember about proximities. Here are a few to start with:

• Your proximity isn’t the only one that matters.

• Proximities overlap.

• Proximities are as important as elements, relationships and situations. Since each is related to the others, and defined in relationship to the others, none is more important than the others.

• Networks allow us to relate more directly to proximities than in the past.

NOTE: For definitions of terms like proximity, element, relationship and situation, see the Basics section of the ProxThink website.

New ProxThink Slide Show

I recently finished a new slide show. It’s a good, concise introduction to both the ProxThink Basics and the ProxPatterns.

The show is hosted on, and is also on the ProxThink home page. It’s in the Start pages inside the ProxThink User Area as well.

Enjoy and please leave any comments below. Thanks!

Choosing an Image Management Software Package

A friend of mine just asked me “How would you use ProxThink to choose an image management software package?”

My answer relies mostly on the ProxPatterns. If you’re familiar with them, you can use them to help with a task like this, and also to have it perhaps be more than just another task to get done. In other words, perhaps it can have some fun points and some style points, rather than just being a job.

Every bold word or phrase in what follows is related to a ProxPattern or ProxThink Basic. You should be able to figure out which ones. If it seems hard, I’ll put a hint in brackets like [this].

So her question is her situation. I’d use ProxAwareness to become more aware of some of the possible features, options, and available software packages. But don’t drive yourself crazy because there are limits to what any one person can research about this. Your ProxAwareness search should probably [allow uncertainty] include reviews by some experts if possible. Experts have a different proximity related to these types of situations. Also develop of list of your critical needs and the problems the software must address. You want to honor the integrity of these needs and problems, as well as the people who will use the software. Do these users possess skills or abilities, as well as challenges or limits which you must honor? The best software package will relate to a variety of the needs and problems, as well as the characteristics of the users. If possible, it will also allow a smooth transition to the new software, both on the technical side, and the user side. However, how each user will rank it depends on their unique proximity or ProxSet. And of course, there are limits of any one element (the software) to relate to other elements.

The decision process takes active involvement, but being is about relating, so it can be satisfying. At each point in the process, if you are getting stuck, discouraged or even angry, keep the ProxPatterns in mind, especially the Combo ProxPatterns (PPs). Use the Combo PPs even in moment-by-moment decisions as you both dance and wrestle with the situation. For example: “OK, I’m going to allow some uncertainty as I explore this or try that. Oh, I’m meeting some resistance, as I’ve found something or someone asking that I honor the integrity of their characteristics or needs. I’ll avoid forcing it while I figure out how to honor them or it. Perhaps [allow uncertainty] there is a way to relate to a variety of these elements and relationships which I need to honor. By using other ProxPatterns alone or in combination, perhaps [allow uncertainty] I’ll find a way to relate to this variety. Yet, using the Limits PPs, I know there is probably [allow uncertainty] value in making some progress here.”

With active involvement, proximity awareness, and allowing some uncertainty, you will probably come across elements of this situation which are quite unique, interesting, perhaps funny and potentially related to other elements and situations in your life. You might [allow uncertainty] find ways to create links to them for future reference, use or entertainment.

Of course my friend’s proximity for this situation of hers will contain much more specific and detailed elements and relationships.

But perhaps [allow uncertainty], once the new software in installed and in use, she will have carried out some of the ProxThink Core Idea: “In a situation, change elements, relationships and the proximity to better relate to each other.” In other words, the images, users, needs, challenges, software and hardware will be better related than before. And, an improvement in the proximity related to this situation may improve the proximity of other situations which include some of the same elements (such as the same people or the same computers). Not only that, the proximity of the new software may itself be an element in the proximity of other situations, such as the atmosphere of the office, the enjoyment of work, the profitability of the company, or the speed of the development of other projects.

Yes, all this proximity thinking terminology may be a little overwhelming if you’re not familiar with it. Avoid forcing it, perhaps [allow uncertainty] learn some more about the ProxPatterns and the ProxThink Basics. Stay actively involved, but honor the integrity of your interest and energy. Ungroup or “unpack” the ProxPatterns and Basics, and group them again, as you become more proximate with them. It’s possible you’ll make a smooth transition to “getting” the above example. Of course, allowing uncertainty, it’s possible you won’t! In that case, perhaps [allow uncertainty] move on with your life, at least for a while [value of some]. Then, perhaps [allow uncertainty], come back and give it another try.

Thanks for the question Coco!