You’ve heard me talk about the importance of innovation, creativity, and problem-solving, and recently I had a chance to explore it further.
On Sunday on my way to the airport, I had breakfast with Dr. Chris Stevens and David Burroughs of Creative Mastery at Lori’s Diner in San Francisco (a classic American diner) to talk about innovation. At the UK eLearning Mission last month, I had chatted with Charles Jennings of Reuters about trying to generate innovation, and he suggested I contact Chris.
As background, my PhD thesis focused on improving general (analogical) reasoning skills, while the whole lab was focused on user interface design. As a consequence, I started teaching interaction design at the University of New South Wales in 1991, and got interested in the design process itself, naturally wanting to transfer that to learning system design as well.
Looking at design naturally led me also to look at innovation and creativity, other general purpose skills. Given the increasing pressures on organizations for problem-solving and innovation, I’m increasingly thinking that has to be an explicit focus for curriculum. And can be. Naturally, my interest is also in how technology might facilitate this.
Creative Mastery provide interventions around organizational creativity. It’s clear that they were passionate about the need, knowledgeable about the solutions, and professional about the implementation.
Their business has been the ‘creative’ industries, but we agreed that this is going to have to go global across any industry that will need innovation to thrive or even just survive. There are component skills, but their position is that there’s more about the mental space needed. This is in consonance with Don Norman’s points about the effects of emotional design, a positive affects supports lateral and associative thinking. It also takes ongoing support to develop it as a culture, not just a one-off workshop.
There’s lots of cognitive science research that problem-solving support is domain-specific, but increasingly our knowledge workers are getting into new domains, and the value of more general approaches makes sense, and there are some more domain-general approaches (e.g. engineering’s Triz approach). I think making support available, whether formal courses, or informal resources, is an obvious first step, but I’m also thinking about ways in which we can ‘bake’ this into our IT infrastructure. An opportunity for innovation and creative problem-solving; I’d love to hear from you if this interests you.