Innovation, Education and Innovation Climate

In one of his recent articles, Garr Reynolds from the → Presentation Zen blog writtes about Sir Ken Robinson, who has a lot to say in terms of education and our education systems.

One information, which I read in this blog made me think about the climate, which we need to support innovative processes, and creativity.

Today I want to write about characteristics of our education system, which makes it hard to be creative and innovative. If you follow me in this, you will probably understand, how you best organize the innovation process in your company in a way that it supports creativity.

The animated Sir Ken Robinson

In his article → The animated Sir Ken Robinson Reynolds is showing below animated presentation, which is very impressive from the viewpoint of the presentation technique (If you want to know more about his aspect, I suggest that you read the abovementioned article).

Between 5.50 min and 9:50 min, Robinson is making the statements, which interest me the most:

„The Arts are Victims of this mentality. The Arts especially adress the idea of aesthetic experience. An aesthetic experience is one in which you sense are operating at their peak, when you are present a the current moment, when you are resonating with the excitement of this thing, when you are fully alive. Anaesthetic – Shut your senses off – Deaden to what is happening. …We should waken them up to what is inside of themselves“.

Later on in his speech, he shows that the current education system is created for the requirement of the industrialization. In our days we need the exact opposite – a system, which supports the divergent thinking. He sees the divergent thinking as an essential capacity of creativity, and he understands creativity as the process of having original ideas that have value.

For him, divergent thinking itself is the capacity to see lots of possible answers to a question, the ability to see lots of ways to interpret a question, or to think laterally. He then states that most people, been given the question of „How many uses can you think for a paper clip“ see between 10-15 uses. People, which are good at this see 200 uses, and they do this by questioning, wether a paper clip can be made entirely different, than the ones we know.

Some thoughts on the Realization

When it comes to the act of organizing innovation, you should have the abovementioned findings in mind. First of all, it is helpful to accept that you need to support your employees in becomming creative (again), and that this investment is worth the effort.

Initially, you probably start with teams of persons, which do not think divergently. Thus, first of all, you need to create a climate, which allows divergent thinking to evolve. To do so, you could use techniques, which support creativity, such as for example brainstorming, team discussions, etc. In addition, you need to think about your organization’s capabilities.

Often, organizations are very much focussed on the delivery of products, and they aim at the fulfillment of key performance indicators. The danger is that such organizations „shut their senses of“, and become anaesthetic in the abovementioned sense. Here it would be helpful to change the organization into one that is „present in the current moment, and which is fully alive“.

Do do so you could think about substituting the given performance management system with a system that puts more emphasis on the things that excite your people most. Furthermore you could implement programs that give the people the needed space to work on innovation (see i.e. the „Good Friday“ program made by Google).

Also on the level of our economies there is much to change. If it is really the case that our system does not support the needed skills of our children, we should think about how we can make our schools more of a place where pupils can keep their natural resources, and are allowed to keep their inner kindergarden child alive.

In the following video can you find Robinson’s view

Further Information

In my following articles you can find  additional, and related reading:

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