Archive for the 'Creativity' Category

CEOs: Scratch the learning from the past. Embrace lifelong learning in your workpace

This environment did not train the workforce we need today and tomorrow:

OldSCHOOL

 

We need to start fostering a learning environment and culture within our own organizations that encourages life long learners. Without this culture & environment we will not be able to generate the innovation and solutions that allow us to be leaders in the market yet alone keep up the pace demanded by changing technologies and a public who demands inter-connectivity via technology. 

Learning organizations both grow and attract star innovators and performers. Organizations that refuse to change wisely & rapidly often fade or fail. There are no magic bullets when it comes to developing a learning culture and environment. It’s really damn hard work, that doesn’t seem to pay off immediately, but it does require a vision and courage to change.

 

Slideshare: Meeting the Needs of a Rapidly Changing Workforce with the Learning Organization of the 21st Century

You’ve got diamonds in the rough, you just have to look for them

Sorry for the long hiatus from my blog life.

Wow, that’s an understatement, at almost 10 months with no writing or sharing.  I hope to be more attentive to this blog in the near future. It’s been too long.

Since I have been fascinated with the idea of the odd man out in corporate culture since I started working there over 15 years ago, I started crafting a story/presentation on the value of “Outliers & Misfits” within a corporate setting.

If you’re to summarize the message in three lines it would be this:

  • If you’re a CEO, manager, or leader, learn how to appreciate the value that these outliers can bring to your company or organization. Learn how to engage or entertain alternative perspectives.
  • Understand that their misfit energy & ideas should be channeled according to your business goals, and learn how to do so.
  • If you’re an outlier or misfit, then learn how to communicate clearly so that your ideas align with organization goals. And don’t forget to find a champion.

 

 

Week 2 Reflections: No One is Born “A Creative”

3Monkeys

It’s the 2nd week of Leading Strategic Innovation in Organizations and the focus this week has been on individual constraints to innovation. According to Owen’s there are three main individual constraints to innovation: perception, intellection, and expression.

I’ve taken a cue from the last course I took (#edcmooc) and I’m making an attempt to define what I’ve learned this week visually (see the image above). But what I’ve really taken away from this week’s content are the following three bits:

Lesson 1: “There is no such thing as a creative personality.”

In other words, creative people aren’t born, they’re made or developed by their learning and experience. Numerous studies have shown that children are naturally open to experience and creative. But arguably our education system and life experience shapes or constrains this ability to be creative. We are taught the proper way to solve problems or how to keep our ideas and thoughts in check.

What Owens does argue is that there are personality traits conducive to creativity, and these are:

  • Agreeableness
  • Extroversion
  • Conscientiousness
  • Openness
Personality traits conducive to creativity

If neurosis is so bad for creativity – how does this explain Woody Allen?

Logically, if you are open-minded to multiple ways of seeing a problem you’ll come up with a number of different ways to solve it. If you’re agreeable and able to connect effectively with others, you’re better able to explain your solutions to them.   Neurotic behaviors and thinking on the other hand can negatively affect one’s ability to be creative here’s an example of how neurotic thinking can prevent creativity and innovative problem solving.

“I can’t share that solution or express that that in front of others, they’ll think I’m a.)wrong, b.)stupid and I’ll just embarrass myself.” 

In order to be a truly effective at innovation, you need to be able to share your ideas freely without fear of being judged.  Perhaps that’s ultimately what makes Woody Allen one of the most creative storytellers of our time. He’s portrayed himself as the lovable neurotic, but he has never flinched at attempting to portray this neurosis in stories that examine the human condition from different perspectives.

Lesson 2: It’s important to always approach the problem from multiple perspectives.

In reading through Chapter 2 of “Creative People Must be Stopped, I ran across the story of a playwright who purchased different “odd magazines” for hobbies or topics foreign to her. Her purpose was to “see” things from that particular magazine audience’s views and therefore reinterpret what might be seen in her own vision portrayed in her plays.  Of course, your savvy marketing professional would simply call this focusing on your target markets, but there’s something so simply empowering about this approach to seeing other’s views of the same situation or problem you’re attempting to solve.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you’re analyzing a problem:

  • How would someone who is completely polar opposite to me see this problem? How would they describe it?
  • Why might they not see it as a problem?
  • What solutions may they came up with?

Lesson 3: It’s not how cool your idea is, it’s how you sell it to your audience.

Inarticulate but might be right

Sometimes, and I admit I’m guilty of this as well, when you come up with what you think is a ‘great idea’ its logic seems to inherently obvious to you and therefore everyone else should see it that way. However, other’s way of viewing things may NOT be aligned with your own.  I feel that this is one of my greatest Individual Constraints to innovation. I’m not always adept and explaining or selling my solutions to others.  In actuality, I am really the Asian guy in the image above from Kathy Sierra’s blog post from years back. I often have hunches or feelings about when things are right or wrong, but I’m not always able to explain them to other people around me. This is where exercises and questions from my previous lesson would come in handy. Or…

Developing a ‘common language’ might be helpful.

Reminds me of that meeting game "B.S. Bingo."

Reminds me of that meeting game “B.S. Bingo.”

I had to laugh when Owens made a dig at using ‘buzzwords.’ As he noted, they may make you feel important, but they’re not a great way of gaining common understanding of both the problem and your proposed solution.  At one of my former jobs, a former colleague of mine and I played a game called B.S. Bingo in meetings that seemed like more verbal exposition than development or planning (or action).  Though arguably, these same buzzwords are the common language used by people in the corporate world to talk with each other. I do agree with Owens that when they’re bandied about to elevate your business klout or savvy they’re simply about posturing. However, I should consider that if this is the ‘speak’ that’s being used by people who are using this language, I should develop translations of my ideas in this language.

I’ve decided to create a template for writing out my ideas to better articulate them. It’s pretty simple. I would take the idea as I see it and then translate it into at least three or four different perspectives including the intended audience or end user, my peers, my boss, and my boss’s boss. This may take a little more discipline than I’m used to.

MyIdeaTranslationTool

Image of worksheet

Click the link above to view/download the worksheet

Creativity Exercise: Circle Opportunities

David Owens has his students come up with as many uses for a paperclip

David Owens has his students come up with as many uses for a paperclip

I saw this somewhere, maybe it was part of a TED talk where people are given paper with a lot of circles on it and then are asked to draw as many pictures as they can incorporating or using these circles.

The Paper Clip exercise shared by Prof. Owens in this week’s lectures (from Leading Strategic Innovation in Organizations) inspired me to create my own worksheet for this activity. I’ll share it with you here.  For those of you who are not taking the class. Owens asked us to take a paper clip and a piece of paper and list as many uses as you can think of for a paperclip. Strangely, I haven’t kept paper clips in the house forever so I could NOT find one, but I made due with my imagination.

Print a few of these pages for yourself and go ahead and give yourself about 5 minutes to complete the exercise.  Go ahead if you’d like and comment on your results or observations.

  • How many recognizable options did you create?
  • What did you notice about the flow of your ideas? What do you think limited you?
  • How is this similar and different to Owen’s paperclilp exercise?

Click the link below to open the worksheet.

Circles

 

Circles

Digital Artefact: The Future of Learning #edcmooc

I think I’ll have more time to reflect and comment on my artefact and the experience of making it in a few days, but for now here it is.

http://prezi.com/eaixra1t5vnf/future-of-learning/

Frontpage of digital artefact for #edcmooc

Digital Artefact for my “Elearning & Digital Cultures” class

 

Technology is Magic. Stop Thinking in 19th & 20th Century Metaphors Already! #edcmooc

Our relative view of the magic

Arthur C. Clarke’s third law states that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Don’t you think someone born 300 years ago would think this is magic?

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 10.18.32 PM

How about someone alive 30 years ago (including myself). Wouldn’t I think this is magic?

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 10.18.01 PM

For nerdy little me… it’s this dream come true:

Screen shot 2013-02-09 at 7.09.08 PM

When I watched the films from this week’s resources: A Day Made of Glass & Productivity Vision of the Future, Clarke’s law repeated in my mind. Glass becomes a tool that people use to access information, view entertainment & learn. The other thing that struck me was how incredibly antiseptic & affluent both views of the future were.

As we are fixed in our time and reality, technology that is unfamiliar may seem like magic to us, but because we live in times where things are changing rapidly and imagining the future and it’s technology is a normal part of our culture. Thinking about my relative understanding of technology as magic got me to think about my own education and understanding of how things have developed even in my lifetime. I decided to create a timeline of my own education and compare it to the development of technology in that time. It’s in rainbow colors because I was a child of the 80’s.

My Digital Timeline

Click to view in full size

So just by looking at this timeline that spans over forty years, claims made that technology pundits that technology is developing and advancing at a more rapid speed. The ways and tools that we can use to learn and whom we can learn with has expanded even in my lifetime.

Will Technology Replace Teachers?

Many science fiction depictions of both utopia & dystopia paint a view of the future in which humans have been replaced by technology. Similarly, I’ve seen this question come out of several discussions in the #edcmooc class: Will technology make the teacher obsolete? As is evidenced in numerous forum posts, tweets from students in this class. The act of making order out of the chaos of a learning experience with so many people and so many learning tools has required guidance, the human kind. If not from a facilitator, from the other students. We still need teachers and guides. Every learner is different and how the learn best is unique. Can we assume that technology will devise a mechanism, automaton or script functions like a combination Yoda & “Electric Grandmother.”

I think what’s more likely, is that learners are learning how to adapt to use the tools and technology for learning to their best advantage. We learn to use tools online that help us filter and use content. Here are a few tools, some of which were new to me before I took this course. But here’s the thing… no tool is perfect. Again, it’s all about diving in and finding out what works for you.

Twitter Feed → Tweetchat, TweetDeck, Paper.li

Content Curation (Bookmarks) → Scoop.it, Storify, PearlTrees – pearl trees provides a visual map of what you’re curating or sites your saving online.

Blogs → Quadblogging (to connect and reach your audience) edutopia article on

Stop Using the Classroom Metaphor to Describe the Online Learning Experience!

23368071

I know that metaphors are powerful in explaining and introducing the strange and foreign to the natives. But is it just me or am I the only one who’s tired of hearing this metaphor used to describe online learning. Perhaps my irritation and other’s indicate the obsolete nature of the metaphor. This bothers me just as much as my last boss insisting on using the logo below to indicate a phone contact for an audience of 20 somethings:

rotary_phone_0515-0909-2116-0157_smu

Here’s why we’re not in a classroom anymore:

  1. You might be sitting at a desk but not looking out a window wishing that the teacher would stop droning on and on
  2. You don’t have to have your attention fixed only on the teacher. In fact the other students can provide just as much information and knowledge as the teacher
  3. You’re not learning from a text book that has gum stuck to the cover or doodles from the previous owner anymore; texts and media are available online

I could go on…. but most importantly, when you’re learning online you expect to be able to share, re-mix, create content. Like these kids:

How Technology Can Fuel a Culture of Lifelong Learning #edcmooc

In another assignment or response to the resources for this course we are asked to choose which of the perspectives below most resembles our views on the relationship between technology and pedagogy. We are asked to answer the question:  Can you point to instances in society or in your own context where this stance is necessary or useful?

  1. Uses determination: technology is shaped and takes meaning from how individuals and groups choose to use it. Technology itself is neutral. An example of this way of thinking can be seen in the educational mantra: ‘The pedagogy must lead the technology’.
  2. Technological determination: technology ‘produces new realities’, new ways of communicating, learning and living, and its effects can be unpredictable. This is the position Chandler explores in detail in our core reading.
  3. Social determination: technology is determined by the political and economic structures of society. Questions about ownership and control are key in this orientation.

The Pedagogy must lead the technology or do we find the technology and use it as we see fit?

This sounds about as stuffy and patronizing as a grammarian berating you for ending a sentence with a preposition. But if I take the view at face value it really means that the needs of the students to achieve the stated learning objectives must drive the design and use of the technology. Online learning has really been through some experimental phases in the last ten or so years so it actually seems that stance #2 or the idea that “technology produces new realities” (or learning environments is the case.  Let’s take the example of online forums and chat and their adoption as learning environment tools. Forums and chats were really developed more as a way for people online to carry on social conversations. One only needs to recall the days of the AOL chatrooms as places to meet like-minded folks. Developers of online learning courses adopted these tools as areas for discussing course topics and content. Later as the Internet became the spawning ground of many social sharing tools like YouTube, SlideShare, online communities, wikis, blogs and self expression tools like Glogster many tech savvy teachers saw the potential use for these tools as ways for students to develop expressive content in response to whatever they were learning. So it seems that both teachers and learners online were adopting the technologies as they existed rather that requiring that technologies be designed to meet their needs.  Most of the time pedagogy and the need to educate formally was NOT requiring or driving the formation of these tools and widgets.

Technology is determined by the political & economic structure of society. Copyright is King. So What’s a Mashup Maker to Do?

The third position maintains that technology is determined by the political and economic structures of society.  You could rephrase this in the argument that the market demand or the government may determine the development in one area of technology. One might argue on one hand that in a society where the government regulates application of technology via patents, is stifling innovation. On the other hand this same government could be protecting the interests of those who invest their resources in research and development of these technologies.  I’m of the view that stringent control will only stifle open exchange that leads to more innovation. Great ideas and the next disruptive innovation will most likely be based on ideas or products that are already out there, and to plant the seeds for this innovation the ground needs to be fertile with exchange, exploration and application of existing technology. Some of the most innovative and creative works are often derivative of past works and content, as Kirby Ferguson so effectively points out in his video series, “Everything is a Remix.” As Ferguson illustrates film makers such as Quentin Tarentino often borrow and reinterpret classic movies that inspired them early on. Tarentino’s Kill Bill series references many of classic Asian Martial Arts films while the recently released Django Unchained re-imagines and brilliantly combines elements of both Spaghetti Westerns and 70’s Blaxsploitation. Both Kill Bill & Django Unchained are remixed products that are completely unique and do what film should do & they do it well: they entertain.

But the creative process that relies upon being able to reference, re-hash or remix older works may be under threat. As content has become more easily shared on the Internet and corporations learn that there’s a demand for this content some may see opportunities in mining for content that has potential. As the European powers staked out land for their colonies entertainment corporations will lay claim on classics in the public domain. Watch out Dickens fans. Currently some major music labels are claiming copyright on public domain songs. Lobbyists for the copyright industry continue to push for laws that extend copyright claims.

Online resources for public domain works that provide a rich source of educational resources such as Project Gutenberg may be at risk in the future, and so is the ability to use content on the Internet creatively to learn. Several years ago Internet sharing helped give birth to the Mashup which allowed many people including students to do some remixing of their own.  If I were still teaching in a classroom, Mashups present the kind of learning opportunities that would excite me as an educator. They allow the student to really internalize the content and reinterpret it, which if I’m not mistaken prove that learning has occurred on the higher end of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  It makes a lot of sense that in this Coursera class, we’re being asked to create a Digital Artifact as our final project. It’s a way of proving whether we got the major points of the class, but not in some old fashioned way like writing an essay. We’re embracing the new way of measuring learning: making our own content to express and demonstrate how we’ve internalized what we learned.

While intellectual property laws are meant to protect everyone who creates content, it seems that eventually the only parties that IP laws will benefit will be the companies that have the resources to bankroll the legal teams it takes to enforce and defend. I could be wrong, but it seems that these opportunities for engaging in creative learning experiences may be at risk.

Which position do I lean towards?

Perhaps the question isn’t worded correctly or at least to my liking. I don’t feel like I lean towards any of these positions. Seven years ago, I felt that the Internet and sharing and content creation technologies opened a wonderful playground for learners, the kind of playground that would get people to fall in love with learning.  The tools and access to information and material allowed people to engage, learn and create their own content. But I have to admit I felt that we were living in the “Wild West” where possibilities were endless. It also seemed that my biggest wish as a child had been answered. From a very early age, I wanted an “Answer Genie.” This would be a genie that could answer any question that I had. The Internet seemed to provide me with something that’s just about as good, a philosopher’s stone. But this technology is changing me and everyone. As the economy and markets drive corporations to claim ownership of more, I can’t help but see them as this Leviathan that will sweep us away.

I can’t predict how things will develop. However, unless more people become more active producers of content instead of passive consumers of it, or if they realize the potential the Internet has as a learner’s gold mine, then we may not be able to take cues from anyone other than the companies that claim to own the content.

Kirby Ferguson Points Out: Nothing is Original

Additional Reads:

Copyright Monopoly Trends and Predictions for 2013

Discussion: Major Labels Claim Copyright Over Public Domain Songs


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