Sunday, July 31, 2005

Philosophical Toys - Exhibition at Apexart, New York, until August 6

[By Writer Sina Najafi] On Wonder and Pain: There are two paths in pedagogy. One is the Path of Pain, and the other the Path of Wonder. Like many people, I have experienced both. ... Viewers will be happy to know this exhibition is concerned with an alternative tradition, the more palatable Path of Wonder. I say tradition because it is neither the twentieth century nor the nineteenth nor even the Age of Enlightenment that recognizes the place of wonder and curiosity in learning, though it is true that eighteenth-century philosophers like Rousseau did much to rethink the idea of pedagogy from ground up. ... The idea of a formal pedagogical system based not on the memorization of facts and information but on the development of the "natural" curiosity inherent in every child emerged out of the eighteenth century. One book above all signaled the sea-change that education was about to undergo—Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Émile, where we find the following summary: "Remember that this is the essential point in my method: Do not teach the child many things, but never let him form inaccurate or confused ideas." ... The Path of Wonder is always in the process of producing new devices. Juxtaposed with artifacts from Fröbel’s original system of kindergarten, the Logic Alphabet devised by Shea Zellweger and the computational origami innovated by Jeannine Mosely both follow Fröbelian principles where the tactile, the visual, and the conceptual are merged into one. Playing with Zellweger’s beautiful devices and with Mosely’s seductive paper confections is an object lesson in the structures of logic and geometry respectively, a pedagogy that happens as much through our fingers and eyes as it does with the mind. Or as Rousseau puts it in Émile, "Our first teachers of philosophy are our feet, our hands, and our eyes." More

Unlocking Your Creativity

[27 July 2005 - American Chronicle] People who think they aren't creative are what you might call "creatively locked." They likely just haven’t dug far enough to find the treasures buried within. If being creative locked describes you, here are suggestions for unlocking your creativity, for uncorking your bottled up creativity. More

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Stirring the Creative Juices

[July 2005 - US Airways Attache magazine] Looking for fresh ideas? Inventive ways to solve problems? Read this. ... “Most of us will never be Einstein or Picasso,” acknowledges Steven Dahlberg, general manager of the Creative Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Hadley, Massachusetts. “But that’s not the issue. All of us have the ability to apply more of our creativity than we typically do. Creativity-oriented tools and techniques aren’t about pushing creativity into people, but allowing it to come out.” ... The Creative Education Foundation has encouraged use of this approach at the Creative Problem Solving Institute, a one-week total-immersion experience offered every year since 1954. Systematic applications of the process run through the courses offered by the ICSC, which since the graduate program’s start in 1975 has awarded master’s degrees in creativity to well over 200 graduates—teachers, corporate executives, and a diverse group of counselors, artists, and entrepreneurs. ICSC faculty members also apply these rules in consultation and training for Fortune 500 corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. More

Monday, July 25, 2005

Jeff Immelt: A candid conversation with the CEO of General Electric about leadership, creativity, fear -- and what it's really like to run the world

[July 2005 - Fast Company] What's the idea behind imagination breakthroughs? ... We had to have some way to pull ideas out of the pile, make sure they were funded, and really try to redefine what it meant to innovate in a big company. We started two years ago. We tested the time-honored tradition of pulling things out of the pile, putting good people on them, and finding ways to share ideas. In the beginning, we said, "Let's start with ideas that could generate more than $100 million of incremental revenue." We had 30 ideas. It was almost nothing for a company of our size. About 20 of them turned out to be good projects, from a dual card for consumer finance to a hybrid locomotive for GE railcars. What's magical about them? We picked who would lead them, and every penny is funded. Our leaders know they have to pony up. So I now have 80 projects inside the company that are fully funded with the best people we can find. The big difference is that the business leaders have no choices here. Nobody is allowed not to play. Nobody can say, "I'm going to sit this one out." That's the way you drive change. More

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Entering a dark age of innovation

[2 July 2005 - New Scientist] SURFING the web and making free internet phone calls on your Wi-Fi laptop, listening to your iPod on the way home, it often seems that, technologically speaking, we are enjoying a golden age. Human inventiveness is so finely honed, and the globalised technology industries so productive, that there appears to be an invention to cater for every modern whim. But according to a new analysis, this view couldn't be more wrong: far from being in technological nirvana, we are fast approaching a new dark age. That, at least, is the conclusion of Jonathan Huebner, a physicist working at the Pentagon's Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, California. He says the rate of technological innovation reached a peak a century ago and has been declining ever since. And like the lookout on the Titanic who spotted the fateful iceberg, Huebner sees the end of innovation looming dead ahead. His study will be published in Technological Forecasting and Social Change. It's an unfashionable view. More

British Government Unveils Creative Sparks, A Government Plan To Ensure That Every School Child Gets The Chance To Take Part In Arts And Culture

[29 March 2005 - British Government Department for Culture, Media and Sport] The Government today made a commitment that, within the next ten years, no child will leave school without having had access to high quality arts and culture. Creative Sparks, a key part of the Culture Department's Five Year Plan for the nation's artistic and creative life, aims to deliver that commitment. ... Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said: "Creativity will be at the heart of this nation's success in the future. Already it accounts for around eight per cent of our GDP, and is the fastest creator of jobs in the whole economy. The Government is determined to ensure that our young people get the best possible preparation for this bright future. Where they live, or their social circumstances, must not be allowed to hold them back. We want that spark of creativity that lives in every child to be recognised and nurtured." More

So Giotto drew on rocks … Children’s Art, Creativity, and Everyday Democracy

[8 July 2005 - Demos Greenhouse - UK] This is an essay on children's art which formed the basis for Tom Bentley's recent speech at 'How old do you have to be to be an artist?' on Children's Art Day (Tate Modern, 30 June 2005). ... Children’s art is thus not solely about learning how to draw, paint, sculpt or work in any other media. To see the child as producing 'art' is to think of him or her as a conscious participant in what is essentially an adult process. Far better, instead, to think of what the child is getting out of its creative engagement and what, consequently, the effect might be as the child grows up. More

The Art of Making Change Stick

[Summer 2005 - MIT Sloan Management Review] Often it seems like the vast majority of change initiatives are doomed to failure. In fact, there are four critical processes -- that rely on understanding emotions and behavior, not numbers -- that will give employees a visceral sense of the need for change. These process will motivate them to maintain their change efforts long after management attention has turned elsewhere. More

Tapping Into "Underground Innovators"

[Summer 2005 - MIT Sloan Management Review] How should managers respond when a hacker or other underground innovator alters their proprietary electronic systems? At companies like Sony, AT&T and Microsoft, managers have reacted, as one might expect with alarm and antagonism. Yet there is a better way. When enterprises handle unsolicited innovation well, they discover promising new business models and products. Underground innovators may be categorized as "elites"--who are mostly constructive--and "kiddies"--who are usually destructive. When managers harness elites' desire for recognition and persuade them to work cooperatively, as they did at Epic Games and TiVo, they create an all-around win- win. More

Managing for Creativity

[July/August 2005 - Harvard Business Review] Economist Richard Florida and SAS's Jim Goodnight explore ... A company's most important asset isn't raw materials, transportation systems, or political influence. It's creative capital--simply put, an arsenal of creative thinkers whose ideas can be turned into valuable products and services. Creative employees pioneer new technologies, birth new industries, and power economic growth. If you want your company to succeed, these are the people you entrust it to. But how do you accommodate the complex and chaotic nature of the creative process while increasing efficiency, improving quality, and raising productivity? Most businesses haven't figured this out. A notable exception is SAS Institute, the world's largest privately held software company. SAS makes Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For list every year. The company has enjoyed low employee turnover, high customer satisfaction, and 28 straight years of revenue growth. What's the secret to all this success? The authors, an academic and a CEO, approach this question differently, but they've come to the same conclusion: SAS has learned how to harness the creative energies of all its stakeholders, including its customers, software developers, managers, and support staff. Its framework for managing creativity rests on three guiding principles. First, help employees do their best work by keeping them intellectually engaged and by removing distractions. Second, make managers responsible for sparking creativity and eliminate arbitrary distinctions between "suits" and "creatives." And third, engage customers as creative partners so you can deliver superior products. Underlying all three principles is a mandate to foster interaction--not just to collect individuals' ideas. By nurturing relationships among developers, salespeople, and customers, SAS is investing in its future creative capital. More

Read how the online Slashdot ("News for Nerds. Stuff that matters.") community is responding to this article about creativity in organizations.

Dream Jobs Survey Shows Creativity is the Key to Career Happiness

[18 July 2005 - KSBI-TV - Oklahoma] It's not just child's play - most kids would rather grow up to be a doctor or nurse than a famous footballer, new research revealed. Medical professions like Doctors, Nurses and Vets have beaten occupations such as Footballers, Dancers and Pop Stars in a poll to find out what Brits most wanted to be when they were kids. As a sector, the creative industries scored the highest. More than 30 per cent of Brits specified some type of creative career as their dream job in childhood. But just 11 per cent of Brits have managed to achieve these career ambitions. More

Monday, July 18, 2005

Schools, students losing their creativity (Opinion)

[17 July 2005 - The Herald-Mail ONLINE] America is in the midst of a drought of epic proportions. Across the country, well-springs are drying up. The harvest that every American contributes to - one initially of growth and stability - is simply dying out. And yet, you cannot see this drought. ... So, with creativity dwindling in America's high schools, one would think that President Bush would be putting forth more programs to inspire the next generation of artists, musicians and writers, as well as well-rounded individuals. However, in his budget for 2006, President Bush proposed several severe cuts in education funding, specifically for art programs. In all, the president would eliminate 48 education programs. The president plans to terminate programs such as the National Writing Project and Arts in Education. More

Friday, July 15, 2005

An equal and opposite reaction

[July/August 2005 - KMWorld] David Weinberger of Journal of Hyperlinked Organizations (JOHO) writes: "The connectedness of the Net has clearly changed the way our kids learn. The default for many of them is to do their homework with whoever else is on their buddy list. Collaborating on assignments just seems natural. ... Yet, how does our educational system react? Our governments—national and state—impose more and stricter standardized exams that test our children’s retention of standardized content. Weeks of class time are given over to this testing, and, worse, the entire educational system is bent to a very old idea of what constitutes intelligence. ... In short: As connectedness transforms knowledge, our education system is swinging—running—in the other direction." More

What's the big idea?

[22 June 2005 - IBM Global Services] Whatever an idea is and wherever it comes from, its value comes from clearly communicating it to other people. Four steps can help an innovator methodically move a big idea from the concept stage to the point of engaging others in its development. More

Design Minded

[July 2005 - Fast Company] Dan Pink examines some of the causes of the rise of the creative class. ... "You can't automate artistry, empathy, and seeing the big picture. Those are very difficult to outsource. And that's where opportunity lies for the future." More

Monday, July 11, 2005

Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI) 2005 - Followup Resources

Searching for Creativity: Richard Florida on Minnesota Public Radio
[27 June 2005 - Midmorning - Minnesota Public Radio] He first promoted the idea that artists and other creative types could revitalize neighborhoods just by moving in. Now Florida looks at where the next creative class is coming from, and why the U.S. may not benefit from their talents. Guest: Richard Florida is the author of The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent. He's also the author of The Rise of the Creative Class. Listen to story online

Is the Twin Cities metro really a haven for the creative class?

[5 July 2005 - Minnesota Public Radio] Economist Richard Florida has declared the Twin Cities a world leader in attracting creative people. Florida draws a connection between the health of cities and their ability to attract what's defined as "the creative class." He describes the creative class as an increasingly mobile, educated and well-paid section of society. But a Minnesota economist says while it's a nice idea, the creative class theory just doesn't hold water. Listen to the story; read the story

In Praise of Play (audio)

[30 June 2005 - American Public Media's "Speaking of Faith"] If sport is an American religion, is that bad for us? What is the metaphysic of baseball? Hear from a theologian and sports fan who has spent much of his career studying the religious character of rituals in sporting events and the spiritual significance of fans' attention to sports. More