Monday, February 25, 2013

The courage to innovate

Our R&D team is reading about creativity and innovation - we've all been given The Innovator's DNA by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen and Clayton M. Christensen.  The first part of this book is about disruptive innovation and deals with how to become more creative:  creativity has been identified by IBM as the number one leadership competency of the future. The book itself is aimed at businesses, so as I'm reading through the introduction I'm asking myself how this applies to education.  One of the first quotes to really leap out at me was this:  innovative companies are almost always led by innovative leaders .... if you want innovation you need creativity skills within the top management team of your company."  The books goes further to define these creativity skills that characterize innovative people:  they engage in observing, questioning, experimenting and networking, all of which spark new ideas.  Most important of all, innovative institutions develop processes that encourage this observing, questioning, experimenting and networking by employees.

Reflecting on this in the light of schools where I have worked I have to agree.  There is a huge difference working for a school that promotes rather than suppresses questioning.  My observation is that schools such as ASB, ISA and NIST that encouraged questioning were the schools that moved forward in many different ways:  at ISA we moved forward with the curriculum, our teachers and administrators were some of the designers and developers of the PYP; at NIST we moved forward with technology, introducing a 1:1 tablet programme; at ASB we have moved forward by superstructing: our T&L (teaching and learning) team is moving forward with our goals of personalizing learning and developing 21st century skills while our R&D team is investigating project-based learning, gamification, an alternative school calendar, internships, BYOD2 and library 3.0.  This team is encouraged to ask questions to understand why we are doing things the way we are today, and think about how they can be disrupted so that we embrace new possibilities and changes of direction.  We are discussing new ideas, considering different points of view, and prototyping.  We want to change the status quo, and to do that we have to have the courage to innovate, which involves taking risks to make change happen.  How different from schools where there is comfort in the routine and where rocking the boat is discouraged!  Reading through the first part of this book I came to a better understanding of why this was the case:  the reason why some organizations fail at disruptive innovation is because "the top management team is dominated by individuals who have been selected for delivery skills, not discovery skills ... most don't know how to think different."  However, it is also apparent that you can learn to think differently and as I read on in the book I'll be blogging about how to do this and become more creative and innovative.

Image Credit:  EdWilder on

1 comment:

  1. I love reading your blog! Very thought provoking. I can't wait to hear more.