Plane travel is an interesting opportunity to chat with folks solving real problems. Last fall, while awaiting my flight I had the pleasure of chatting with a gent who was working out of Asia and was concerned that his folks didn’t have a cultural bent towards continuous innovation. He figured that they didn’t want to put themselves out of a job, when in fact they were growing so fast that he was more concerned with getting enough folks.
Still, that systematic self-reflection and continual search for improvement isn’t necessarily natural. On a recent gig a client was spending serious effort to get more systematic about process, to the level of every individual reviewing their own work product, and recognized the pragmatic difficulties despite obvious benefits.
I’m on a plane to Taiwan (via Japan) as I write this, and my seatmate was talking about how their company (renown for quality), worked towards creativity in their work processes. Again, a quick question revealed opportunities for improvement.
As Dan Pink (author of A Whole New Mind) talked about in his keynote for the eLearning Guild conference, creativity is going to be a core skill going forward. Dan’s message was that the global pressures were going to mean that the competitive edge will shift from execution to elegance, and that we’d need to tap into and integrate our right brain as well as our left. As a consequence, by the way, that’s part of the components of my thoughts on a new curriculum, for the same reasons.
One of the things I’ve looked at is design and creativity, and quite a bit is known about it. There are ways we can foster innovation explicitly. Yet we don’t typically talk about it nor make it part of our curriculum (what part of No Child Left Untested addresses creativity?). We can and should make it part of our culture, our values, and our education system, both organizationally and societally (as well as personally). While you can make a separate course, it’s better off layered atop our ongoing process, but it needs to not just be presented, but made part of our process.