Tag challenge

{ Inspiration for Knowmads } Celebrating Our Endless Opportunities To Cross the Threshold Into “Real” Life …*

{ Inspiration for Knowmads } Celebrating Our Endless Opportunities To Cross the Threshold Into "Real" Life ...*  | rethinked.org

I think it’s fair to say that we have a collective metaphor of college graduation as a time when we cross the threshold into “real” life–working life, adulthood. The problem with this idea of “real” life is that it structures the notion of both time and living as linear–it presumes an official start to Life and Adulthood that simply do not exist. Having dabbled in said “real” life for several years now, I have become highly aware of the fact that living is anything but linear. Circular at best, but perhaps more zigzagy– lines of flight rather than circles. How one defines “real” life is, of course, highly subjective–financial independence, autonomy, starting one’s family, etc. Our real life is what we make it.

“Narrow minds devoid of imagination. Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems. Those are the things that really frighten me. What I absolutely fear and loathe.” -Haruki Murakami

In a sense, the quote above represents the dangers and consequences of a live lived believing in a single threshold into “real” life. I completely agree with Murakami, that those people who live their lives around imagined certainties, who believe they’ve found The Answer or The Way are truly fearsome beasts indeed. I also understand that it is human nature to try and reduce risk and uncertainty in one’s life. I do it all the time and find I have to be very intentional about staying productively within the tensions that inform my every day experience. I’ve started thinking more and more of myself as a knowmad. Knowmad is a bit of a trite play on words, but it symbolizes something essential in how I want to live my life. The knowmad is a perpetual w[o|a]nderer. Someone who seeks out the in-between spaces, the tensions, someone dedicated to living a life of questions and inquiry rather than one of linear certitudes. It’s about living in such a way that each day brings a renewed opportunity and challenge to create a “real” life.

Which brings me to my adoration of commencement addresses. Commencement speeches deal with some of the important tensions and questions that come up when we are faced with the formidable challenge of creating our “real” life. As celebrated cultural figures share the insights and struggles they have encountered in creating their lives, we are reminded that designing one’s life is an ongoing quest and it gives us the opportunity to check in with ourselves, to question our beliefs and behaviors and challenge the definition and path of our lives. You can therefore imagine my excitement yesterday, when I discovered NPR’s new app The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever:

We are now in a golden age of the commencement speech as a hilarious, inspiring form of popular art. And to pay our respects to graduations past and present, NPR Ed and the NPR Visuals team have built a searchable, shareable database of over 300 commencement speeches dating back to 1774. 

To help you explore this history, we tagged every speech with a few words that express its theme or take-home message. Here is a countdown of the dozen most popular tags — a tweet-length guide to life. Click on any tag to view all the corresponding speeches in our app.

I love the tags that they’ve created, which touch on topics dear to my heart and which I often write about here on rethinked* 

PlayYOLOInner VoiceEmbrace FailureRemember HistoryMake ArtUnplugWork Hard – Don’t Give Up Fight for equalityBe KindChange the WorldTipsBalanceDream

Source: What We Learned From The Best Commencement Speeches Ever via NPR, published May 19, 2014.

explore, question, rethink & create a “real” life worth living …*

{ Stanford 2025 } Design Thinking Major Paradigm Shifts For Future Learning Opportunities …*

Just yesterday, I was writing about an upcoming MOOC on the Science of Happiness that is poised to make online learning history according to this Forbes writer. MOOCs have sent the world of education into a bit of a frenzy as we attempt to collectively shape and understand the disruptive effects that online learning will have on future learning environments. Personally, I find the idea that schools have now been rendered obsolete by online learning misguided. It is a gross oversight of the critical need and function of social connection to deep learning. As Sophia Pink, daughter of Dan Pink, observed after spending a year of independent learning, using a mix of online learning courses and independent projects:

“classroom education shouldn’t be fully replaced by online courses, but it can draw on what works well online. Huge online courses have many virtues but need to do better at fostering the sort of side by side back and forth collaboration that we all need to learn.”

What might this relationship between social and online learning look like? And what types(s) of environment might facilitate and enhance this hybrid form of learning? Those are precisely the questions that Stanford’s d.school explored through its @Stanford Project, which ultimately generated the Stanford2025 exhibit and website. Noting the potential disruption posed by online learning and noticing that “many parts of the undergraduate experience are ripe for reinvention” prompted a team at the d.school to question how time, space, expertise, accreditation, and student agency may also change within higher education:

College has multiple aims: it’s a place to gain expertise and develop abilities, but also to come of age. These are entwined together in a residential college experience―a complex and special setting. Enormous energy and investment are now being placed in experimentation and pioneering in the online learning space. We wanted to complement these efforts with an exploration of learning and living on campus, now and in the future.

A design team from the Stanford d.school worked with hundreds of perceptive, creative, and generous students, faculty, and administrators over the course of a year to explore this territory. We considered many lenses—from how students prepare for a Stanford education while still in high school, to patterns of undergraduate decision-making about what and how they study, to the shifting needs and expectations from future employers. 

The project culminated with an experiential exhibit entitled “Stanford 2025,” held at the d.school in May 2014. To encourage an exploratory mindset, the event was staged as a time-travel journey. The community embarked to the distant future—and landed just at the moment when Stanford was looking back retrospectively at major paradigm shifts that “happened” around 2025. These possible shifts were shared as provocations—a subjective, student-centered imagining of what could happen as the future unfolds.

While the Stanford2025 exploration of future learning environments is focused on higher education, the provocations listed are critically relevant to K-12 learning as well. Head over to the website to dive more deeply into each of the four provocations and download the accompanying toolkit to “Make them your own. Try them, tweak them, push them, or even reject them.”

  • The Reflect Worksheets are excursions into imagined worlds inspired by the provocations.
  • The Imagine Cards are prompts to spark inspiration in your own work.
  • The Try Playbook is a set of activities and suggestions to get started.

reflect, imagine, try & rethink …*

{ OPEN LOOP UNIVERSITY } Bringing an End to a Society of Alumni in Favor of Lifetime Learning:

From: Students received four years of college education, front-loaded at the beginning of adulthood

To: Students received a lifetime of learning opportunities.

The perspective that the university could effectively serve its original mission while continuing to narrowly define the time in one’s life when learning would happen was challenged.

Open Loop Vimeo from Stanford d.school on Vimeo.

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PACED EDUCATION } Abolishing the Class Year & Embracing Adaptive Learning:

From: Structured, 4-year courses of study advanced students by seat hours on a quarterly rhythm.

To: Three phases of varied lengths provided personalized, adaptive, calibrated learning.

Paced Education Vimeo from Stanford d.school on Vimeo.

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AXIS FLIP }  Flipping the Axes of Knowledge & Competency:

From: Knowledge within a particular discipline was the criteria for graduation; skill development was secondary.

To: Stanford flipped the axes so that skill development became the foundation.

Axis Flip Vimeo from Stanford d.school on Vimeo.

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PURPOSE LEARNING } Declaring Missions, Not Majors:

From: Students declared Majors and focused their studies around set requirements.

To: Students declared Missions and coupled their disciplinary pursuit with the purpose that fueled it. 

“I’m a biology major” was replaced by “I’m learning human biology to eliminate world hunger.” Or “I’m learning Computer Science and Political Science to rebuild how citizens engage with their governments.”  

The goal was to help students select a meaningful course of study while in school, and then scaffold a clear arc for the first 10 – 15 years of their professional lives. It wasn’t about the career trajectory, but the reasons behind it.

Purpose Learning Vimeo from Stanford d.school on Vimeo.

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[ Hat Tip: Students Travel To 2025 To Question the Future Of Higher Education via PSFK, published May 9, 2014 ]

Stanford’s Dave Evans & Bill Burnett on Using Design Thinking to Address the “Wicked Problem” of Designing Your Life & Career

Here’s a great ‘open office hours’ chat with Stanford’s Dave Evans and Bill Burnett, who co-teach a course called “Designing Your Life ” at the d.life lab. The course uses design thinking to address the “wicked problem” of designing your life and career.

Reminds you of anything? That’s right–rethinked*annex! For those of you unfamiliar with rethinked*annex, it is a side project that I started last year in which I experiment at an individual and personal level with some of the methodologies that we explore on the blog. In particular, design thinking, integrative thinking and positive psychology. My goal had been to do three months with each and while I completed the design thinking and integrative thinking cycles, I never got around to experimenting with positive psychology. Get excited, because starting this week, I am getting back into the swing of things and will post about my experiments in positive psychology here on rethinked …* every Thursday.

Check out Bill and Dave’s course website for tons of other inspiring resources on design thinking your way to the life you want.

Stanford Open Office Hours: Dave Evans and Bill Burnett via Stanford University, published January 30, 2014.

– Passion is a capacity that can be developed, not an inherent attribute –

The research says that maybe only two or three out of ten people actually have a passion that they’ve identified, that they can work into. We believe that actually, passion turns out to be what you develop after you find the things that you enjoy doing.

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– Shedding Dysfunctional beliefs –

These are two, what we call dysfunctional beliefs, and once you get rid of both of those –that your major is linked to your job and that your passion is somehow an innate quality–once you realize neither of those things are actually true, you’re really free to use design thinking to start designing the life you want to have.

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– Counsel vs. Advice –

Do we give advice or do we give counsel? And we make a distinction there, by the way, which is counsel is when we help you figure out what you’re thinking and advice is when we tell you what we think and they’re very different.

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– Start where you’re at –

If you’re in the situation where there’s lots and lots of things you’re excited and interested about but you can’t pick one, our advice, again, is to start where you’re at. There will be one or two things that maybe have a slightly different emotional energy in them than the other ones. So you go find somebody who does something like that. You look at the future you–someone who’s already living the you you might become–and you go talk to them.

There’s a place again where the design thinking really impacts reality. We kind of go with prototype iteration, try stuff, see what works, bias to action.

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– BIAS TO ACTION & REFRAMING THE PROBLEM –

Bias to action — don’t try to decide your way forward, just do something. Design your way forward. And the second is reframe. Reframe the problem from, “Gee, I can’t figure out which one of these is my most favorite to all of these are good, I’m just going to start doing them.”

So if i’m a generalist with equal interests, I’m in a much more powerful position because I have lots of available starting places to begin to understand what it is I really want to do. As opposed to “I can’t possibly choose,” you’re not choosing yet, you’re just starting. Which is a very powerful reframe. In the old position, since I can’t choose, I can’t start, I have no power. In the reframed position, I’m in a better situation than a specialist. Which is the design point of view, you know you don’t know the answer. Many people in this vocational way-finding, we call it, think you have to know the answer at the beginning and then you implement. And then you’re screwed. But what it really means is, “I just know what I know,” take the next step, it will be revealed as you go.

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– On Figuring Out Who You Want To Be When You Grow Up –

It’s a pretty common question, and again, it’s one of those things where we’d like to sort of reframe the answer. Because you can’t know, ultimately, who you will become when you, quote, ‘grow up’. And by the way, that’s the good news –do you really want to be able to know at twenty-two who your sixty year-old self should be? I mean do you really want this twenty-two year old running the next fifty years of your life? We hope to find out things we couldn’t possibly have imagined. The design perspective is, when I’m starting a new design, I don’t actually know the answer. I’m going to design into that possible future. So we reframe the question not as, “what do I want to be when I grow up?,” it’s like, “where am I right now and what is the next step I can take to move towards the best possible version of me?”

– NAVIGATING VS. WAY-FINDING –

We frame that with language. So the way the question is usually posed, assumes you could navigate to where you should be. That you know the end point. I need to get to Fresno so I just GPS myself to Fresno. But we can’t, because I don’t know where I’m going so I can’t navigate, so I have to way-find. What’s way-finding? It’s moving from where you are to the next available place that you can make a decision about. It’s the same thing as the generalist deciding, “hey, what’s available to me?”

– COHERENCE –

By coherence we mean, you know, “who am I? What do I believe and what am I doing?” If I understand what those things are–what do I think about life and who I am, what I’m actually doing and where I’m trying to go–if I can describe those things articulately and interconnect the dots, not that they’re perfect, but even understanding where the compromises are, I’m living coherently. Who I am, what I’m doing all lines up for me, that’s the coherent life and even positive psychology research demonstrates pretty clearly, if I can articulate what those things are–who I am, what I believe and what I’m doing–and I can understand the interrelationship between them, my chance of feeling good about my life, that it’s a meaningful experience, is much higher.

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– ENCORE CAREER –

Usually the best place to start is what did you notice that you’re already doing that you could grow into a new thing? Or, who’s that person you used to be that you left behind and do you want to bring her back out of the freezer and give her another shot?

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– The Courage to accept the truth about yourself  –

You’ve got to accept the truth about yourself. So we have all of our students write two things: a work view and a world view. What do you think work is for and how does that connect to why you’re here? And it takes a lot of courage not to sell out those two ideas about yourself.

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Two Challenges To Enhance Learning, Gratitude & Happiness …*

Two Challenges To Enhance Learning, Gratitude & Happiness ...*  | rethinked.org

 

I don’t know about you, but I am feeling drained by this interminable winter and I find myself on travel sites, more often than I care to admit, checking out airfare to warmer climes. Unfortunately a trip to a warm sandy beach is not really in my immediate future so I’m turning to the next best (also, free and local) thing: CHALLENGES. As a child, whenever I was bored or disengaged, I would ask my father for a “project”. Basically, he would give me a challenge, a set of guidelines and constraints, and I would go off and build or make something, thrilled with the task of navigating the constraints he gave me. These projects never failed to reinvigorate me so here are two challenges for March that I will be trying out. Join me?

– DRAW A PICTURE OF EVERYTHING YOU LEARN – 

The other night, I was having dinner with some friends and we were talking about the injustice of growing out of kindergarten and how great life was when 90% of our days revolved around arts and crafts (I told you, I’ve been feeling quite grumpy lately.) My friend remarked that back in those days, “you drew a picture of everything you learned,” and wondered why that ends once we graduate to middle school. Good question, why do we stop? Especially when we know what a tremendous thinking tool drawing can be. So for the next month, I will draw a picture of something that I have learned every day.

– #100HAPPYDAYS – 

The next challenge is something that I’ve noticed popping up all over my social media channels lately: #100HappyDays. The premise couldn’t be simpler, note the sources of joy and happiness in your day, every day for 100 days, and document these sparks of happy with a daily picture. Nothing like focusing one’s attention on the positive to experience increased gratitude (and its many social, emotional and cognitive benefits) and happiness.

Every day submit a picture of what made you happy! It can be anything from a meet-up with a friend to a very tasty cake in the nearby coffee place, from a feeling of being at home after a hard day to a favor you did to a stranger. 

So first you register in the challenge, then choose your favorite platform for submitting pictures. Here you can decide yourself on the privacy of your participation and happy moments. 

  • Share your picture via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with a public hashtag #100HappyDays; 
  • Come up with your own hashtag to share your pictures with to limit publicity. (Don’t forget to tell us how to find your pictures though)
  • Simply send your pictures to MYHAPPY(AT)100HAPPYDAYS.COM to avoid any publicity. 

People Successfully Completing the Challenge Claimed To: 

  • Start noticing what makes them happy every day;
  • Be in a better mood every day;
  • Start receiving more compliments from other people
  • Realize how lucky they are to have the life they have;
  • Become more optimistic;
  • Fall in love during the challenge. 

Sounds like exactly what I’m looking for! Who’s in?

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{ Civic Hacking } The idea that if you see a problem, you work to fix it and not just complain about it …*

Hacking is really just any amateur innovation on an existing system. And it is a deeply democratic activity. It’s about critical thinking, it’s about questioning existing ways of doing things. It’s the idea that if you see a problem, you work to fix it and not just complain about it.” – Catherine Bracy

Does Code for America’s Catherine Bracy‘s definition of hacking remind you of any other term we’re super fond of around here? Yes, rethinking * of course! I’ve always thought of hacking and rethinking as interchangeable terms and was glad to hear that confirmed by Bracy’s TEDCity2.0 talk on civic hacking.

The elements that are at the core of civic hacking–it’s citizens who saw things that could be working better and they decided to fix them and through that work they’re creating a twenty-first century ecosystem of participation. They’re creating a whole new set of ways for citizens to be involved besides voting or signing a petition or protesting–they can actually build government.

Catherine Bracy: Why Good Hackers Make Good Citizens, published February 2014.

Tim Brown On Nurturing Your Creative Capacity Through Relaxed Attention …*

IDEO‘s Tim Brown has just published a great post over on LinkedIn about the importance of relaxed attention to creative problem-solving :

During relaxed attention, a problem or challenge is taking up space in your brain, but it isn’t on the front burner. Relaxed attention lies somewhere between meditation, where you completely clear your mind, and the laser-like focus you apply when tackling a tough math problem. Our brains can make cognitive leaps when we’re not completely obsessed with a challenge, which is why good ideas sometimes come to us when we’re in the shower or talking a walk or on a long drive.

Unfortunately, our education system provides ever shrinking opportunities for students to engage in the types of activities that lead to relaxed attention:

in both the UK and US education systems, since the late 1980s, the trend has been away from unstructured play and time studying the arts—both prime times for switching gears into relaxed cognition—and toward more structured, standardized National Curriculums. According to the report, this focus on finding the single right answer for the test instead of exploring many alternate solutions has resulted in “a significant decline in creative thinking scores in US schools. Using the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT), and a sample of 272,599 pupils (kindergarten to fourth grade), evidence suggests that the decline is steady and persistent [affecting] teachers’ and pupils’ ability to think creatively, imaginatively and flexibly.”

Luckily, Brown offers three suggestions on how to enhance your own and your students’ creative capacity through engaging relaxed attention.

Source: Why Daydreamers Will Save the World, published February 24, 2014.

Friday Link Fest…*

Friday Link Fest...* | rethinked.org | Photo by Elsa Fridman

“I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures… I divide the world into the learners and the nonlearners.” -Benjamin Barber

READ

Five Ways that Games are More than Just Fun ~ They make us more social; They empower us to be creative; They help us develop empathy; They make us act playful and silly; They force us to tinker.  via GOOD, published August 1, 2013.

How Your Morning Coffee Can Make You a Better Designer ~ Tim Brown on how conscious observation, followed by iterating and testing potential solutions, can transform activities we take for granted. via GOOD, published August 2, 2013.

Why Some Great Ideas Catch And Others Don’t ~ Anesthesia caught on overnight, while antiseptic took decades. Why? via FastCo.Design, published July 30, 2013.

Literature Therapy Program Delivers Personalized Reading Lists ~ Bibliotherapy is a prescription reading service from the London-based cultural enterprise The School of Life that offers curated reading lists tailored to an individual’s struggles or personal situation. Patrons of the service book one-hour assessments with The School of Life for an in-person, telephone or Skype session with a well-read advisory team composed of an artist, a novelist and an independent bookstore owner. Instant prescriptions of recommended fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction are given at the end of the consultation, with a full prescription following within a few days. via PSFK, published July 29, 2013.

A Do-It-Yourself MBA? This Guy Did It–and So Can You ~ Victor Saad wrote his own masters-level education plan before becoming an entrepreneur. Now, he has founded an institute, The Experience Institute, to help others do the same. via Inc., published July 29, 2013.

The Daily Routines of 12 Famous Writers ~ via James Clear, published July 29, 2013.

Five Ways to Ease Your Envy ~ Envy is a state of desiring something that someone else possesses. It’s a vicious emotion that can crush self-esteem, inspire efforts to undermine others’ successes, or even cause people to lash out violently. It also just feels horrible. So what can we do to disarm the green-eyed monster when it strikes? Here are five suggestions. via Greater Good Science Center, published August 1, 2013.

How to Kill Creativity ~ Teresa Amabile on the three components of creativity and the six general categories of managerial practices that affect creativity: challenge, freedom, resources, work-group, features, supervisory encouragement, and organizational support. via Sage Publications,  published July 12, 2006.

Unstoppable Learning ~ Learning is an integral part of human nature. But why do we — as adults — assume learning must be taught, tested and reinforced? Why do we put so much effort into making kids think and act like us? In this hour, TED speakers explore the ways babies and children learn, from the womb to the playground to the Web. via NPR TED Radio Hour.

Organize an Office Recess and Create Your Own Game ~  A toolkit to organize an office recess and create your own game. via GOOD, published August 1, 2013.

LOOK

Babilawn: Ornamental Air Conditioning Attachments ~ American designers Daniel Licalzi and Paul Genberg have developed a solution to help aid the visual pollution caused by air conditioners sticking out from one’s window. Influenced by the hanging garden’s of Babylon, ‘Babilawn‘, the faux grass mat attaches to the top of the A/C unit, giving users the opportunity to decorate their ‘lawn’ with miniature ornaments such as a white picket fence, yellow or blue daisies, and even a garden gnome. via designboom, published July 30, 2013.

“Uncarriable Carrier Bags” Remind Us, Cheekily, Not To Carry Bags ~ Mother London really wants you to stop carrying plastic bags, and the ad firm will shame you into compliance if necessary. Their yellow Uncarriable Carrier Bags are overlaid with pictures of objects that you wouldn’t want strangers on the street–let alone your own mama–to see you with. via FastCo.Create, published July 31, 2013.

Cakes Shaped Like Planets Have Scientifically Accurate Cross-Sections ~ via design taxi, published July 31, 2013. 

14 innovative & practical solutions to today’s most urgent education challenges ~ The 2013 WISE Awards Finalists from around the globe represent some of the best and most creative work being done in education by non-governmental organizations, charity groups, cultural institutions and the private sector. The 14 projects demonstrate practical solutions to today’s most urgent education challenges. Selected by a pre-Jury of international education experts, the project Finalists showcase unusual approaches to issues of access, quality, and employment needs. via WISE.

Could This Cardboard Furniture Replace Your Ikea Chairs And Bookshelves? Cardboard furniture for the urban nomad. Chairigami’s furniture is made from recycled cardboard and there’s no assembly required: They don’t use any glue or fasteners.~ via FastCo.Exist, published July 29, 2013.

Nobel Prize Winners Are Put to the Task of Drawing Their Discoveries ~ “The idea was, basically, to portray them in a way that was fun, personal and creative,” says Volker Steger. “I wanted to visually link them directly to their discoveries.” via Smithsonian Magazine, published July 23, 2013.

Look, No Grid! NYC Reimagined As A Circular Metropolis ~ Mapmaker Max Roberts‘ original designs aim to challenge conventional map dogma, a lot of which he says are outdated. Rather than emphasize straight lines, clean angles, and geographical accuracy, Roberts’ maps embody a more nuanced approach to mapping, one that combines aesthetics with usability. via FastCo.Design, published July 29, 2013.

WATCH

Find Your Creative Flow State ~ “Happiness is absorption.” – T.E. Lawrence. via Jason Silva’s Shots of Awe project, published July 30, 2013.

8 Things We Simply Don’t Understand About the Human Brain ~Despite all the recent advances in the cognitive and neurosciences, there’s still much about the human brain that we do not know. Here are 8 of the most baffling problems currently facing science. via io9, published July 29, 2013.

David Kelley on Creative Confidence, Building to Think, Defining Innovation, Multidisciplinary Teams & So Much More…*

David Kelley, founder of IDEO consultants and Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, shares his thoughts and experiences on a wide range of topics in this engaging hour-long conversation and Q & A with longtime television journalist, Richard Sergay. From building creative confidence, embracing failure, learning by building, multidisciplinary teams, defining innovation to facing his own mortality and his friendship with Steve Jobs, Kelley’s pointed and valuable insights are sure to resonate deeply with anyone interested in rethinking…* how we approach the challenges of the 21st century. I have transcribed some of my favorite stories and insights from the conversation, which took place at the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships 8th Reunion & Conference at Stanford, July 11-14, but the full video is well worth a watch.

d.school founder taps into humankind’s innate creativity | via Knight Foundation, published July 18, 2013.

{ CURIOSITY } As a designer, you kind of do everything in your life with intention. You know, like I decided to wear these shoes, or this wall is painted exactly or not painted the way exactly because of intention. And so, when you’re that way, you’re always wondering why things are because you’re about to have to design the future and so being curious about the way things are now and being empathetic to people is the way that you […] you know, if you’re responsible for painting a picture of the future with your ideas in it, being hyper diligent about understanding what makes things stick.

{ CREATIVITY } Everybody is wildly creative–go into a kindergarten class, go into a first grade, just don’t go into a fifth grade class. But as long as you go early enough, it’s really clear that everybody is wildly creative. When we started working on this notion of building creative confidence in people, we were thinking we would have to do some remedial work, it’s just not true. I mean hundreds of students come through this building and they’re all wildly creative. We just have to remove some of the blocks. What happens is, somewhere along the way, you opt out of thinking of yourself as creative–a teacher said that wasn’t a very good drawing, or you don’t pick up the piano in the first lesson. I mean, I know what this is because I opted out of athletics. I said, “I’m not athletic,” and that allowed me to play sports for the rest of my life but I told everybody that I wasn’t athletic so they lowered the bar. If you say, “I’m not creative,” that’s a strategy for having people not judge you. Because when we look at it, the big fear is this fear of being judged. The reason you move from thinking of yourself being creative, to thinking of yourself as not creative, is really a fear of being judged–that other kids can draw better than you or your idea is not going to be up to snuff.

{ MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAMS & THE GENESIS OF THE D.SCHOOL } People have been talking about multidisciplinary teams for like 25 years and at Stanford, I can tell you, that meant that faculty from different departments came together, they had a meeting, they fought a little bit and they said, “I’m never coming back to this meeting again.” And then we said, “check, we’re multidisciplinary.” But what I saw after I got tenure and I started teaching classes with different professors–I taught with an art professor, I taught with a computer science professor, I taught with a business school professor–is that when the students from the different departments came together, it was kind of easier to come up with innovations because they were coming from different places IF there was a glue that held them together. The problem with the meetings, where they didn’t work, is that there was no common methodology. So what everybody wanted to do is to do the same thing that they are doing now and have everybody else do it that way. And so the idea for the d.school came from the fact that I noticed people would sign up for our methodology. […] What we saw early on was that design, for whatever reason, was a methodology, was nonthreatening. It’s all so human-centered, so when you got people from different backgrounds together and you said, “Ok, let’s go out and build empathy for the people we’re trying to help in Africa or waiting for the train, or checking in to the hospital,” for some reason, all these various disciplines, these big shot professors who had been trying to win a Nobel Prize, going in in their way, we’re willing to do that. So I felt like I was just, luckily, in the discipline that had a methodology, we call it design thinking, that people would sign up to do. And so I decided that I had to try to touch as many people at the university as possible and I proposed this notion of an institute that could bring all seven schools together and that we would do it in this way that I had seen prototyped in these other classes. […] It’s really about this notion that in this multidisciplinary world, I think diversity is the number one thing that correlates to better innovation. So different people, with different ideas, from different backgrounds–if you can get them to have a methodology where they can build on each other’s ideas, you, by definition, get to places, to breakthrough ideas because those brains have never done the mind-meld to the result in that new thing. The reason that I ended up at the center of this is that our methodology seems to be a universally acceptable way to do innovation, problem-solving, and that kind of stuff.

{ DEFINING SUCCESS AT THE D.SCHOOL } Our success, if you can call it that, has to do with finding a way to get these students to think of themselves in a creative way. And it’s through this confidence that they build by doing–everything is a project, everything is a real world project, and so they see that they have this sense of the world and that they can do what they set out to do.

{ DEFINING INNOVATION } Somebody, I’m trying to remember who, said, “innovation is creativity plus implementation.” I think that resonates with me. Being creative is this notion of having an open mind and trying different things and not having this fear of being judged or failing or that kind of stuff. But innovation is doing something that has real impact on the world. So taking those new ideas and sorting them and synthesizing them and deciding what to do and measuring its impact is really innovation. I usually try to stay away from the word creativity, because it has this meaning associated with talent and artistic that I don’t really mean when I say “creative,” and try to use the word innovation most of the time.

{ FAILURE } The trick is to kind of fail early on so that you get to a new place. […] We reward a spectacular failure and a spectacular success in the same way in the early stages of the project. That allows you to have insights and build a point of view that comes from a wider range of possibilities because you’re not fearful about failing. But then, as we start to converge, we’re not looking for failure, as it were. […] It’s actually hard to fail in our process because it’s so iterative. So, you basically come up with ideas, you show them to everybody that is a stakeholder, including the person who is going to use it, they tell you what’s wrong with it and then you go back and redesign it or even redefine the problem. […] And so, if you do enough iterations, it’s hard to have a failure in the end, because it’s built in that we’re going to cycle through and improve and improve and show it to the people. So we’re not surprised when the product or service goes out into the world because we’ve messed with a lot of people before that.

{ BUILD TO THINK } We really believe, at IDEO and the d.school, that the kind of fastest way to get to an innovation is to not do a lot of strategizing and planning–you know, cash flow analysis out ten years and stuff like that–and that all that planning is useful but AFTER you’ve done what we would say ‘building’. We call it a bias toward action. So, if you want to improve the experience of taking the train to San Francisco, you could start analyzing the train and all that stuff but what we would do is just go talk to Caltrans and have them give us a car and try a bunch of stuff. You know, like tear the seats out, serve coffee on the platform or try to get our bikes on–do a bunch of stuff. We think it’s a way of thinking. This building, this doing, prototyping, whatever we’re going to call it, is a way of thinking. As opposed to the kind of grubby thing manufacturing does after all the decisions are made. We spend a lot of time getting the students and at IDEO, to kind of think about how can you be really clever about jumping right in and finding out as much as you can from building. And we don’t mean like in a machine shop, we mean by doing something in the real place, with the real people and it really works for us because then you start to have real empathy, you start to have real understanding of the situation–what’s really going on on that platform when people are waiting for the train and what’s really going on when they find their way out of the station or how they book their seat in the first place.

[ H/T ] d.school founder taps into humankind’s innate creativity via John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford, published July 18, 2013.

Friday Link Fest…*

Friday Link Fest...* | rethinked.org

WE ARE THE LANDSCAPE OF ALL WE KNOW ” – Isamu Noguchi

 

READ

Want To Help Kids Solve Problems? Have Them Design Their Own Solutions ~ via FastCoDesign, published July 11, 2013.

Empathy’s Non-Verbal Language: Six tips on how to reach children through our actions ~ via Ashoka, published July 10, 2013.

Improving 3-D Printing by Copying Nature: Biomimicry could make the technology safer and better ~ via National Geographic, published July 7, 2013.

LOOK

Monumental Plant Sculptures at the 2013 Mosaicultures Internationales de Montréal ~ via Colossal, published July 9, 2013.

A Strategy For Promoting Resilience In Children ~ Catch, Challenge, & Change. via Teach Thought, published July 9, 2013.

Total Strangers Who Have Never Met Pose Together In Intimate Portraits ~ via Design Taxi, published July 12, 2013.

51 Sources Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Free eBooks ~ via Teach Thought, published July 11, 2013.

The Modern Seaweed House by Vandkunsten and Realdania Byg ~ via Dezeen, published July 10, 2013.

WATCH

How 80,000 Bees Printed A Bottle For Dewar’s ~ via FastCoCreate, published July 9, 2013.

55 MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) for the Dog Days of Summer ~ via Open Culture, published July 9, 2013.

4D printing: buildings that can change over time ~ via BBC Future, published July 11, 2013.

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