New Video: Palette Power

by Kirby Ferguson

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The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne

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A palette is a selection of colors from which an artist paints. But palettes don’t just apply to visual art. They apply to just about any kind of creative work.

For instance, the selection of instruments in a song is a palette. Two guitars, a bass, drums and a vocalist is a classic rock palette. If you start plucking a harp half-way through a rock song, it’s probably gonna sound out of place.

Another example, a film’s genre is a palette. When people go see a thriller, they expect certain conventions, like a moment where the hero is at the mercy of the villain. This is an obligatory element of the genre. You can—and should—bend and twist and subvert these rules, but you can’t simply ignore them. If you do, much of the audience will be frustrated with your film and they won’t know why. It’s because you didn’t stick to the palette or at least acknowledge it. For more on this, read Shawn Coyne’s The Story Grid.

Palettes are recurring styles and elements within your work. They simplify your aesthetic and make it feel more unified and cohesive. They can also help organize and structure your work.

Palettes aren’t just for visuals artists. Whatever it is you’re working on, see if you can incorporate the power of palettes.

Multiyear project coming to close

by Kirby Ferguson

Six years later, my doc series "This is Not a Conspiracy Theory" is finally entering its last phase of production. This is an exciting time and I've started an audio diary podcast about the whole experience. This is Not a Conspiracy Theory can be purchased here.

You can listen to the first episode above. See below to subscribe to the podcast.


by Kirby Ferguson

Find out how diversity makes us more innovative, more productive and smarter, while ultimately making us stronger. 


When people say “diversity” they’re generally referring to three things: race, sex, and sexual orientation, and increasingly, people are referring to gender identification. But diversity is also about something else that it’s important we remember. It’s also about thinking differently, about looking at the world in different ways.

This kind of diversity -- diversity of thought -- is the hidden advantage of diversity because it better enables us to solve complex problems. Complex problems come in lots of different forms: How do I grow grow my business? How do we decrease poverty in our county? How do we reduce carbon emissions? All of these are complex problems -- they’re incredibly stubborn and difficult to solve. These kinds of problems are so difficult that they have not been solved and most efforts to will fail.

The key to solving problems like these is to try lots of different tactics until you finally find something that works. And that’s what diversity gives us -- it gives us lots of angles from which to attack problems.

So how do we think more diversely? By incorporating different paradigms. A paradigm is how you see the world, it’s your outlook. So a politician, a writer, a technologist all interpret the world in different ways -- that’s their paradigm.

People with different paradigms use different tools, different problem solving methods. So a politician thinks in terms of policies and public support, a writer thinks in stories, a technologist thinks in hardware and software -- so they use these kinds of tools to solve problems.

So diverse thinkers have different paradigms -- different ways of looking at the world -- and this means they use different tools to solve problems.

But diverse thinkers and diverse groups have more advantages because they can also cooperate and compete with each other.

So for instance, if Business A doesn’t have one kind of tool, it can tap into another business who does -- they can cooperate. And Business A also has to compete with Business, B, C, D and so on. And the winner of this contest will likely be better, cheaper and/or faster.

Now what’s sometimes forgotten about diversity is that it incorporates different, conflicting ideologies -- people with different paradigms who may not get along very well.

So it’s liberals, conservatives, libertarians, socialists, the religious, the non-religious, all finding ways to peacefully compete and cooperate. Each will win at different times because their tools will be better suited to certain problems. And if they can’t win enough, their paradigm will be phased out over time.

Diversity is the strength of democracies, free markets, and open platforms. Diversity tends to beat less diverse rivals. And it doesn’t win because it’s right, because it’s just, or because it’s moral. It might be all those things, but that isn’t why it wins. Diversity wins because it is a better way to solve complex problems.

It’s more innovative, it’s more productive, it’s more adaptive, and it’s smarter. It makes us stronger because it allows us to cooperate with some groups, while forcing us to compete with others.

When you’re trying to solve difficult, complex problems beware of groupthink and echo chambers. Consider how you can become more diverse, how you can incorporate different paradigms and different tools.