Tag doing

“Fantasies Are For Dreaming, Ideas Are For Doing” Reframing Ideas As the Tools of Action …*

"Fantasies Are For Dreaming, Ideas Are For Doing" Reframing Ideas As the Tools of Action ...* | rethinked.org - Photograph: Elsa Fridman

“FANTASIES ARE FOR DREAMING, IDEAS ARE FOR DOING. START WITH A DREAM AND THEN FORMULATE IDEAS TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.”

-Kenny Rufino

I was quite struck by this quote because I always tend to think of ideas as being for dreaming rather than doing. I do realize how tied up this framework is to my own biases, of course ideas and action are tightly linked, but to me, and I think I am not alone in this, thinking and executing often feel like opposites and I sometimes struggle to find ways to bridge the distance between the two. I found the notion of ideas as tools for doing to be a powerful way to frame the process of creation, especially for people like me, who may feel quite comfortable thinking and a bit challenged acting on these ideas.

I also liked what Rufino had to say about failure:

“It can be tough. I’ve been around long enough to know it can be a blessing sometimes. Take advantage of getting knocked down. It’s the best opportunity you’ll ever get to rethink and reset.”

Source: Kenny Rufino via Neue Journal 

{ Ambiguity & Passion } How Integrative Thinking Can Help Us Build A Strategy For Winning in Life & Work …*

{ Ambiguity & Passion } How Integrative Thinking Can Help Us Build A Strategy For Winning in Life & Work ...* | rethinked.org

For this week’s Friday Link Fest, I want to explore something that has kept cropping up in my reading over the past few days and which is a core tension in most aspects of people’s lives and creative work: convergence versus divergence. The need for balance between converging and diverging–dreaming and focusing, thinking and doing–has certainly been a central and uncomfortable tension in my own life. In fact, I have made finding a better way to live out that tension a core priority of my 2015 resolutions by giving this year the theme of “Execution”.

I hate easy binaries but on the thinking-doing spectrum, I must admit to being firmly in the thinking camp. I love thinking, in all its forms and can spend hours, days even, questioning, planning, reflecting, imagining and daydreaming. Execution, however, is a different matter– I freeze up, I delay, I procrastinate, I tell myself I haven’t had time to properly think everything through. Learning about a growth mindset has helped me make some progress in being less afraid of taking action, as has practicing design thinking with its strong emphasis on rapid prototyping. Yet, taking action remains a tentative, sporadic and laborious endeavor for me.

Earlier this week I read an excellent essay, Ambiguity & the Art of Meaning, by Umair Haque, which examined this tension between our love of ambiguity and open-ended possibility and our need to feel we are living meaningful, enriching lives.

“Ambiguity. It’s the defining characteristic of this age.”

[ … ]

“And so we’re all what you might call faithful ambiguists these days. We’re fascinated by the in between; drawn to the double-sided; obsessed by the contradictory.

Ambiguity’s exciting. Thrilling, even. The unresolved is the undecided; and the undecided, like a roulette wheel, rouses our blood while it spins.”

[ … ]

“Here’s the truth. That’s not good enough. What are we really protecting ourselves from when we declare our tiny wars on ambiguity? Ourselves. The people we were meant to be.

“Ambiguity asks us: what do our lives mean? And unless we can resolve ambiguity, we will always be left with the lingering suspicion: they could, and should, have meant more. That what we took with one hand, we simply gave away with the other. “

– Ambiguity & The Art of Meaning, Umair Haque

I am aware that part of my mental block with execution has much to do with my fear of making the wrong choice, of going the wrong route. While I explore ideas and options in my head, I tell myself that I am keeping my possibilities in “real life” open. But after a while, the days become weeks, then months, then years and still I put things off; I don’t commit and I stay stagnant. A growing anxiety within me whispers that I am wasting my time and my opportunities.

“There is a great tension at the heart of every ambiguity. This or that? Up or down? Left or right? The answer is not either or. The choice might leave you satisfied — but the tension will surely leave you discontented with your very satisfaction. The answer, if there is one, is through. Resolving ambiguity is not just making choices between two opposites; nor is it merely learning to see two opposites, and throwing one’s hands up in the air at them. It is synthesis. Discovering how to forge two opposites, which should repel, into one whole — that is greater than the sum of its parts.” 

Ambiguity & The Art of Meaning, Umair Haque

Does this sound familiar to you? Yes, Integrative Thinking! Speaking of Integrative Thinking, I have just finished reading Roger Martin’s latest book, co-authored with A.G. Lafley, Playing To Win: How Strategy Really Works (2013), which made me think of Haque’s essay by focusing on the need to make choices. According to the father of Integrative Thinking, strategy is, at its core, just a synonym for making choices and performing the actions that support that choice.

“It is natural to want to keep options open as long as possible, rather than closing off possibilities by making explicit choices. But it is only through making and acting on choices that you can win. Yes, clear, tough choices force your hand and confine you to a path. But they also free you to focus on what matters. What matters is winning. Great organizations–whether companies, not-for-profits, political organizations, agencies, what have you–choose to win rather than simply play.”

– Playing To Win, Roger & Lafley, pg.5

“Winning” may sound a bit strange in a personal context. We are told often enough that comparing ourselves to others is a losing game. But if one frames winning in terms of being all that one can be, winning by making the choices that will allow us to reach a full, purposeful life lived with passion, commitment and conviction, we very quickly can see how applicable strategy is to our personal lives.

In Playing to Win, Martin and Lafley create a framework, which revolves around five core choices, to approach strategic thinking:

“Winning should be at the heart of any strategy. In our terms, a strategy is a coordinated and integrated set of fives choices: a winning aspiration, where to play, how to win, core capabilities, and management systems.”

– Playing To Win, Roger & Lafley, pg.5

Playing to Win is an excellent book if you’re looking to rethink your strategy and update your business model. Yet, while I was reading it, and learning more about each of the five choices, I could not stop thinking about how relevant this framework was for one’s personal life.

So while the ambiguous and the open-ended are immensely attractive, meaning, purpose and growth come from making choices.

“It is not just finding a lover you hate; or a friend you desperately love…but a lover you can build a great friendship with. It is not just finding a career that enriches you, or a fortune that impoverishes you…but riches that enlarge you…and leave you feeling fortunate enough to thank creation for every moment you are alive. It is not just a life that makes you happy…where “happiness” is merely suffering you are relieved to avoid…but a happiness that makes you ache with purpose, burn with passion, laugh at fate, rebel against destiny.”

– Ambiguity & The Art of Meaning, Umair Haque

These choices are not compromises, the issue at hand is not choosing for the sake of choosing. We must move past the false binaries we create, we must put in the hard work necessary to reframe either-or choices as integrated options that take the best of option A and the best of option B to create an optimal choice in C (to that end, I highly recommend Martin’s books on Integrative Thinking, The Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking). This an uncomfortable process, as the authors of The Capabilities Your Organization Needs to Sustain Innovation published this week on Harvard Business Review, point out:

“The problem – and the leadership challenge – arises because options A and B are often incompatible, even completely opposable, ideas. To arrive at option C means people must keep both A and B on the table, and that is difficult to do. When faced with two seemingly mutually exclusive alternatives, the human impulse is to choose one and discard the other as soon as possible, or to forge a simple compromise. We crave the clarity provided by that kind of clean, assured decision-making. We crave it so much, in fact, that when a leader refuses to make a choice quickly, even when it can only be arbitrary or capricious, we grumble about the “lack of leadership around here.” It takes courage to hold open a multitude of possibilities long enough that new ways of combining them can emerge. There is often great pressure to make a choice, any choice, and move on.”

Once we decide what it is we will commit to, what path is right for us to grow into ever richer and fuller versions of who we might become, we must continue to push and provide the effort necessary to support and activate these choices (to which end, I highly recommend Martin and Lafley’s book on strategy, Playing To Win: How Strategy Really Works.) For as Haque points out at the end of his essay,

“The question is this. Whose lives are we creating? Ours — or someone else’s? Do we become the people we are told to be — or the people we were meant to be?”

Ambiguity & The Art of Meaning, Umair Haque

John Maeda: The Gift of Ideas, Is the Curse of Doing Nothing …*

Here’s a very important insight from rethinked …* favorite, John Maeda: the gift of ideas, is the curse of doing nothing.

The power of creativity amazes me. My once mentor Tadashi Sasaki told me while I was just starting out, “You have the gift.” I was surprised, “The gift?” Sasaki said, “Yes, the gift of creativity. Did you know it is also a curse?” I wasn’t sure what he meant until many years later. What Sasaki meant, I think, is that it is a real gift to think of all kinds of things you can possibly do. Unfortunately, it can be a curse because it prevents you from ever doing anything at all. You can get started on something, and then immediately derailed because you start to see something completely new elsewhere. And then when you branch off to that, you get off on another tangent. If you are not careful, all you leave is a massive trail of unfinished work with nothing to show for. So the gift of ideas, is the curse of doing nothing.

Whenever students start to think too much, I try to warn them not to think so much, and just do. I wish that was my own idea, but Horace came a long time before me. It is not easy to warn students that they are thinking too much. After all, we are taught in school that it is hard to think. The profession of professors exist because we are thought to be able to think a great deal. So why should the student not think? Maybe what I mean is that over-creative students should not think, because they already think too much. They can waste too much time in the fascinating world of thought. “Doing” is outright dirty in the land of pure academia. There is a saying that supports this mindset with negative connotations, “Those who do, do. Those who can’t, teach.” I would change this to, “Those who are young, should do. Those who teach, should do too.” Do not waste your precious gift while young and able. Do. And do not fear the curse of “the gift.”

What Maeda describes about ‘doing’ being a dirty word in the land of pure academia and the disconnect which that creates for students once they enter the “real” world is something which I and many of my friends have experienced first hand. My first couple years out of school, I learned that no matter how original and holistic your idea may be, if you can’t execute it, it is useless. How might we redress this overemphasis on thinking in schools and academia? How might we help students become fluent in both literacies of doing and thinking?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

think, do & rethink …

Source: The Gift (from ca 2000) | Laws of Simplicity

 

Buzzwords Can Be Dangerous If They Don’t Promote Sustainable Changes In Thinking, Doing & Shared Understanding …*

Buzzwords Can Be Dangerous If They Don’t Promote Sustainable Changes In Thinking, Doing & Shared Understanding ...* | rethinked.org

You may find the confession I’m about to make a bit strange given how central design thinking is to our team’s work as well as my rethinked*annex side project. But here it goes: I am sick and tired of talking about design thinking. As you know, design thinking is a huge buzzword right now in innovation and management circles. Unfortunately, most conversations and articles about the discipline center on either embracing it as a cure-all methodology for every single one of our innovation and creativity woes or decrying it as a depthless, overhyped, passing fad. I find these two binary views to critically miss the point about what design thinking is and what it can offer.

Just yesterday, browsing LinkedIn’s “Management Consulting” news tab, I found two separate articles detailing the woes of design thinking. In “Design Thinking” Destroyed Us, Brian de Haaff  writes:

The problem is when this approach is fervently adopted as the only approach to solving challenges and delivering great customer experiences. And this is where it all went wrong. Everything looked like a problem that we could “design think” our way out of to the UX teams.

Even problems that no one on the product team thought were customer or business problems became ripe for long design-centered studies by people who never previously spoke with customers and definitely did not grok our product.

I see three big problems with the above passage. First, nothing about design thinking mandates that it should be embraced as a step by step recipe. “When this approach is fervently adopted as the only approach to solving challenges” –who is doing the fervent, exclusive, adoption? That is a result of the company’s culture and management, not the discipline of design thinking itself. The second issue is the “long design-centered studies” that he describes. As IDEO’s Kelley brothers like to say, “Fail faster, succeed sooner.” Design thinking is about rapid prototyping and iteration, not months of market research. Also, and perhaps more worryingly, why are these studies being conducted by people who are not at all plugged in to the environment of the challenge they are trying to solve–those “people who never previously spoke with customers and definitely did not grok our product”? If there were a design thinking mandate it would be to empathize. Design thinking is, above all, human-centered–meaning the solutions focus on the actual perspective and experience of the people invested in the challenge, not on unexplored assumptions of what that experience might be.

The third big issue here is “everything looked like a problem that we could “design think”.” I think this statement reflects a serious misunderstanding of the design thinking process. It is not simply a list of steps to problem solve, it’s a way to explore and redefine the problem landscape to uncover more holistic and potent solutions. One of the major benefits of design thinking is how richly it allows one to explore and reframe the problem one is trying to solve. In design thinking, teams use an initial definition of the challenge at hand as a springboard for further exploration. I have never participated in a design thinking challenge where the initial statement of the problem wasn’t later reframed and recrafted.

de Haaff goes on to list some of the specific reasons why his company’s “application of design thinking destroyed progress and fractured the UX groups from the product and engineering teams“:

“The core issue was that design thinking fundamentally requires that no matter how obvious the solution may seem, many solutions must be created for consideration and testing.” 

Again, design thinking doesn’t fundamentally require anything–it’s a tool. If you had to mow your lawn and you had at your disposal a lawn mower and a pair of scissors and decided to use the scissors, when you found yourself exhausted and discouraged at having wasted your afternoon cutting only a small patch of grass with your scissors instead of finishing the job in an hour with the lawn mower, you wouldn’t blame your scissors for the poor outcome, would you? Tools are just tools, their impact and effectiveness depends on how we choose to use them.

I do not mean to pick on Mr. de Haaff, but I think his article illustrates a lot of the problematic ways in which design thinking is being framed and experienced. Design thinking is a human-centered problem solving methodology–it gives us a framework and a set of tools to problem solve. It is neither a miracle nor a curse, it is what we make it. Which is what makes Tamara Christensen‘s interview on think jar collective about Demystifying Design Thinking such a refreshing and important read:

Buzzwords can be dangerous if they don’t promote sustainable changes in thinking and doing, and shared understanding. They can be easily dismissed. Ironically, I find that most designers have trouble clarifying exactly how they think and making their own process explicit for others. The most simple definition of design that I use is by Herbert Simon, from Sciences of the Artificial (MIT Press, 1969) where he describes design as “transformation of existing conditions into preferred ones”. Design thinking, therefore, is basically about the kind of mental activity that facilitates this transformation. Fortunately IDEO and the d.school at Stanford (among others) have done a great job of promoting the process and providing a wealth of information about how it’s done and why it’s valuable.

I think the biggest obstacle to understanding Design Thinking is to treat it as a rigid process, a series of steps that must be followed in a particular sequence. I have seen this happen time and again when a team tries to apply Design Thinking with questionable success and then decides “Design Thinking doesn’t work.” In reality, what doesn’t work is treating Design Thinking like a recipe that must be adhered to. It is more like a mindset, multiple modes of thinking and doing that are iteratively utilized as the project requires. Design Thinking is first and foremost about people and keeping them at the center of the process.

The most common modes are Empathize (with humans), Frame (an opportunity from the perspective of a human), Ideate (about how to address the opportunity), Prototype (possible solutions) and Test (your ideas with people using the prototypes).

IN MY EXPERIENCE THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL THINGS TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT DESIGN THINKING (AS A PROCESS AND A MINDSET) ARE:

  1. It is human-centered and people-powered, keep stakeholders engaged as much as possible.
  2. Empathy is an essential and transformational experience for fueling creativity.
  3. Prototyping is about building to think and test ideas. The faster we fail, the better.

Source: Demystifying Design Thinking: Interview With Tamara Christensen via Think Jar Collective

“Own your attention — it’s all you really have.” – Jonathan Harris on Navigating Stuckness …*

"Own your attention — it’s all you really have." - Jonathan Harris on Navigating Stuckness | rethinked.org

“We have these brief lives, and our only real choice is how we will fill them. Your attention is precious. Don’t squander it. Don’t throw it away. Don’t let companies and products steal it from you. Don’t let advertisers trick you into lusting after things you don’t need. Don’t let the media convince you to covet the lives of celebrities. Own your attention — it’s all you really have.” 

-from Jonathan Harris‘s Transom Manifesto, “Navigating Stuckness,” – an autobiographical journey with teachable moments (Set aside some time to read the full thing, it is well worth your attention.)

[H/T: Don’t Wait via SwissMiss, published January 17, 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…*

 

READ

Playtime is elusive, but also essential ~ via Boston Globe, published June 8, 2013.

How Awe Can Help Students Develop Purpose ~ Research suggests that inducing awe in the classroom might inspire kids to find a sense of purpose in life. via Greater Good Science Center, published June 11, 2013.

5 Points for Your Empathy Arsenal ~ The arguments you need to explain why empathy is a key to life-long learning. via Start Empathy, published May 28, 2012.

No Learning Without Feeling ~ via New York Times, published June 8, 2013.

Happiness Should Be a Verb ~  “Well-doing” is more precise than “well-being”. via Scientific American, published June 7, 2013.

The Myth of ‘Just Do It’ — rethinking…* the idea that we perform best when not thinking about what we are doing. via New York Times, published June 9, 2013.

Place & public health: the impact of architecture on wellbeing ~ Architecture helps shape the quality of our environments and can contribute to health and happiness, writes Karl Johnsonvia The Guardian, published June 11, 2013.

Ideo’s 3 Steps To A More Open, Innovative Mind ~ via Fast Company, published June 12, 2013.

Einstein’s Problem-Solving Formula, And Why You’re Doing It All Wrong ~ via Fast Company, published March 26, 2013.

Innovation Is 1% Inspiration, 99% Perspiration ~ It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. via Forbes, published June 13, 2013.

LOOK

Office Frontiers ~ NeoCon fair: rethinking…* workplace solutions to enhance collaboration & boost productivity. via Metropolis Magazine, published June 2013.

Who Made That? The New York Times Magazine 2013 Innovations Issue ~ via New York Times, published June 7, 2013.

The National Gallery Makes 25,000 Images of Artwork Freely Available Online ~ via Open Culture, published June 11, 2013.

Seeking Wisdom: 7 Dangers Of Human Virtue by Mahatma Gandhi ~ via Teach Thought, published June 11, 2013.

Ahhh, Music To My… Eyes? ~ Sonic Sculptures by Martin Klimas. via Scientific American, published June 3, 2013.

WATCH

Empathy 101: Parents: Start by sharing, not by asking ~ via Ashoka, published October 13, 2011.

A Look Inside Japan’s Suh-weet Underground Automated Bicycle Server ~ Eco Cycle Anti-Seismic Underground Bicycle Park. via Core77, published June 10, 2013.

Daniel Goleman on Different Kinds of Empathy ~ via bvo.com, published January 26, 2011.

The Enormous Opportunity In Educating And Empowering Girls ~ Girl Rising is a documentary featuring nine girls from nine countries as they seek out an education. via FastCo.Exist, published June 13, 2013.

Fruit snack Gogo squeeZ Addresses Playfulness Deficit with New Campaign ~ Wherever You Go, Go Playfully. via FastCoCreate, published June 11, 2013.

21st Century Masters Create Their Own Fields ~ via Big Think, published May 12, 2013.

Friday Link Fest…*

photo 5

READ

Gearing Up for a Summer of Making, Connecting and Learning by Doing  ~ Suzie Boss, on project-based learning ideas for summer. via New York Times, published May 15, 2013.

Daniel Dennett’s seven tools for thinking ~Cognitive scientist and philosopher Daniel Dennett is one of America’s foremost thinkers. In this extract from his new book, he reveals some of the lessons life has taught him. via The Guardian, published May 18, 2013

{ Pattern Thinkers } How an Entirely New, Autistic Way of Thinking Powers Silicon Valley ~ Three kinds of minds — visual, verbal, pattern — naturally complement one another. Yet society puts them together without anybody thinking about it. via Wired, published May 23, 2013.

Stanford Builds Strong Innovators with New “Design Thinking” Curriculum ~ via Product Lifecycle Stories, published May 8, 2013

16 Learning Strategies To Promote Grit And Delayed Gratification In Students  ~ In psychology, intelligence is not the primary predictor of success. It is the ability to persevere in hardship, persist and learn after failure, and have a resilient spirit in the face of obstacles. Intelligence is a gift that can be developed and nurtured, but continuing on a difficult path when the gratification is far away? That is an invaluable skill for all of us to learn. via TeachThought, published May 3, 2013

Technology for Learning vs.Technology for Education ~ Learn about Sylvia’s Super Awesome Maker Show and what researchers Rich Halverson and Benjamin Shapiro at the University of Wisconsin-Madison call “technologies for learners” as opposed to “technologies for education.” The latter include student information management systems, adaptive learning software, and computerized assessment tools. Technologies for learners, however, are designed to support the specific needs, goals, and learning styles of curious individuals—like Sylvia. via Remake Learning, published May 15, 2013.

How to Expel Hurtful Stereotypes from Classrooms across the Country ~ The fear of confirming derogatory stereotypes can hinder academic performance. Researchers are scaling up relevant interventions to statewide programs.via Scientific American, published May 22, 2013.

Collaborative Platforms Empower Citizens to Shape Their Communities ~ Design Thinking comes to the neighborhood: Participatory online platforms and visual tools help gauge and meet the actual needs of the population. via PSFK.

Why getting new things makes us feel so good: Novelty and the brain ~how intricately novelty seems to be associated with learning, which means we can use this knowledge to our advantage for learning new things and improving our memory. via Buffer, published May 16, 2013.

LOOK

BMW Guggenheim Lab Maps the Trends Shaping Our Cities ~The BMW Guggenheim Lab, a traveling think tank/community discussion space, released their latest list of urban trends, gleaned from almost six months’ worth of workshops held in Mumbai, Berlin, and New York City. via Wired Design, published May 22, 2013.

Harvard Scientist Creates Incredible Microscopic Crystal Flowers In A Beaker ~ via Beautiful Decay, published May 22, 2013.

See The Works, And Stories, Of Renoir And Van Gogh As Comics ~ The Museum of Art of São Paulo brings the dramatic stories behind famous art works to life. via comics via FastCo.Create, published May 16, 2013.

Ernest Hemingway Creates a Reading List for a Young Writer, 1934  ~ via Open Culture, published May 23, 2013.

Boring Math Equations Turned Into Whimsical Animal Illustrations ~ In her illustrated series ‘Drawing Mathematics’, Zurich-based illustrator Kasia Jackowska turns boring math equations and concepts into adorable, whimsical animal illustrations. via Design Taxi, published May 20, 2013

{ Lucien Hervé: Le Corbusier in India } A Stunning Survey Of Pics By Le Corbusier’s Trusted Photographer ~ via FastCo.Design, published May 16, 2013.

WATCH

Fostering Growth Mindsets ~ Why fostering a growth mindset can give your children the drive to succeed. Part of a discussion series between Christine Carter and Kelly Corrigan. via Greater Good Science Center, published October 2007.

How Coca-Cola Used Vending Machines To Try And Unite The People Of India And Pakistan~ Rethinking…* the vending machine as medium for exchange, expressing empathy & promoting peace: Specially designed Small World Machines placed in both countries in March served as live communications portals. via FastCo.Create, published May 20, 2013.

{ Limor Fried’s Circuit Playground } A Web Series For Kids Aims To Be The “Elmo for Engineering ~ Engineer and Adafruit Industries founder Limor Fried saw an unmet need in the educational-video space. “We looked around and didn’t see an ‘Elmo for engineering’ or a kid’s show that celebrated science and engineering,” she tells Co.Design. “Every kid seems to have a cell phone or a tablet, but they know more about SpongeBob than how a LED works on the device or TV they’re watching, and we wanted to change that.” via FastCo.Design, published May 22, 2013.

Shannon Rankin’s Gorgeous Collages Made Entirely Of Old Maps  ~ “Maps are subjective. Every map is an interpretation. We bring our own personal meaning when we view them. They can reference the physical and psychological simultaneously. They elicit our memories and become a metaphor of life and personal cosmologies.” via FastCo.Design, published May 20, 2013.

Why Our Brains Get Addicted to the Internet (and How to Avoid It) ~  via Lifehacker, published May 10, 2013.

Teaching Youngsters About Medical Science With A Game–And Killer Muenster ~ Genentech teams with Ideo to create Ralph’s Killer Muenster, which makes science weird & fun enough for kids to care. via FastCo.Create, published May 21, 2013.

{ Studio Schools } “They want to do things, they want to get their hands dirty, they want education to be for real.”

“We called it a studio school to go back to the original idea of a studio in the Renaissance where work and learning are integrated. You work by learning, and you learn by working.”

CREATE Framework | via http://www.studioschoolstrust.org/

The CREATE framework is grounded in a wide range of skills typologies and has been developed specifically for Studio Schools in order to equip young people with the key employability skills that they need to flourish in life.

 

In this short TED talk from July 2011, Geoff Mulgan introduces The Studio School, “a new concept in education, which seeks to address the growing gap between the skills and knowledge that young people require to succeed, and those that the current education system provides.” The Studio Schools are based on a “simple idea about turning education on its head and putting the things which were marginal, things like working in teams, doing practical projects, and putting them right at the heart of learning, rather than on the edges.”

“We think we’re onto something. It’s not perfect yet, but we think this is one idea which can transform the lives of thousands, possibly millions, of teenagers who are really bored by schooling. It doesn’t animate them. […] They want to do things, they want to get their hands dirty, they want education to be for real.” 

Studio Schools, which operate in the UK exclusively, are based on seven key features:

  1. Academic Excellence ~ Like traditional schools, Studio Schools teach the National Curriculum and offer key academic and vocational qualifications. On leaving their Studio School, students will have the full range of progression routes available to them. They will have gained the qualifications, knowledge and skills to choose the option which is suitable to them: entering the jobs market from an advantageous position; starting an apprenticeship; or going on to further or higher education.
  2. Employability and Enterprise Skills ~ Key employability and life skills underpin all the activities at a Studio School through the unique CREATE skills framework. CREATE is comprised of a wide range of skills and stands for Communication, Relating to people, Enterprise, Applied skills, Thinking skills and Emotional intelligence. Four years in the making, CREATE is grounded in a wide range of skills typologies and has been developed specifically for Studio Schools in order to equip young people with the key skills that they need to flourish.
  3. Personalized Curriculum ~ all students are assigned a ‘personal coach’ who meets with them one-to-one every fortnight to develop their own personalized learning plan. This allows students to tailor their curriculum to their individual needs and aspirations, and track their progress towards their CREATE skills and qualifications. Personalization of the curriculum is further supported through a small school environment in which every young person is able to access the tailored support that they need.
  4. Practical Learning ~ Enquiry-based learning (EBL) lies at the heart of the Studio Schools’ curriculum model. In Studio Schools, students learn the National Curriculum principally through Enterprise Projects in their school, local businesses and surrounding community. To root students’ learning in the real world most projects involve external commissions. So whether it is a health report for their local hospital or a business brief for a local employer, students’ learning is authentic and actively involves them in local community life.
  5. Real Work ~ students spend a significant portion of their weekly time on real work placements. Students work as employees in local businesses and, crucially, students over sixteen earn a wage. Students in Year 10 and 11 participate in four hours work experience each week, and students in Year 12 and 13 spend two days per week in work. There is considerable evidence that this direct, ‘hands on’ experience better prepares young people for life and work.
  6. Small Schools ~ As small schools of around 300 students, Studio Schools offer a supportive, personalized learning environment in which strong pastoral care runs throughout the school’s activities. This helps to ensure that no young person gets lost within the institution and that young people are able to build strong relationships with their peers and coaches. Crucially, coaches know students well, making them better able to tailor the curriculum to their individual needs and aspirations.
  7. Students of All Abilities

 …*

Speaking of studio schools, I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a deep critical thinker turned designer who shared some fascinating insight about her transition from ‘traditional’ classrooms to a studio-based learning environment. She noted that studio-based schools promote an enhanced sense of transparency and openness that is markedly absent from desks and rows types of schools. In the studio, everything one works on is out in the open, visible to all other pupils. Being a learner in this type of environment, requires one to adjust to a certain level of comfort with ‘failing’ publicly–when one’s process is laid bare for all to see, the inherent stumbles and mistakes of learning and growing can and will be witnessed by others. This typically is not the case in traditional classrooms, as pupils’ processes and mistakes are shielded and contained by their individual desks and notebooks. What really interested me, was this designer’s observation that whereas while she was in traditional types of schools the emphasis was on seeming as intelligent as possible, once she entered studio-based education, her focus shifted to learning how to embrace this transparency which was inherent to her new learning environment. This observation made me wonder about the link between learning environments and Carol Dweck‘s research on growth mindset. Can growth mindset be nurtured and communicated through spatial arrangements? Are pupils in studio-based learning environments more likely to adhere to a growth mindset than those whose process and learning practices are shielded by the boundaries of their desks and the neat rows in which these desks are arranged? I’d love to know what you think…*

Geoff Mulgan: A short intro to the Studio School | via TED.Com, published September 2011.

 

Embodied Curiosity as A Framework for Being | Everything I’ve Learned About Being A Knowmad { so far }

Embodied Curiosity as A Framework for Being | Everything I’ve Learned About Being A Knowmad { so far }

This is the final article in a series of posts synthesizing my insights from the past three months spent attempting to apply concepts from Integrative Thinking to my every day life as an individual.

When I set out to explore this idea of embodied curiosity, I had grand plans of creating an entire ‘idea harvesting’ system for myself. I decided to create a process to guide my w{o|a}ndering and a system to store and display the treasures uncovered by my curiosity. I beefed up my Google Reader, bought a very large daily planner which I made into a “learning milestones” notebook and started a private blog in which to collect photographs, videos and articles that I found inspiring. The first two weeks of this big curiosity overhaul were positively thrilling–I was engaged, focused and motivated. I nearly jumped out of bed in the mornings I was so excited to get to work and at the end of the day as I lovingly flipped through my notebook or scrolled through my blog, I felt a great sense of accomplishment seeing all these nuggets of potential grouped together in an easily accessible way. I could feel the beginnings of new connections forming in my head. I was burning through Post-Its, littering my walls with reminders to “explore the relationship between z and x further” or “get the book on y mentioned by w”.

About a month into my new embodied curiosity lifestyle, I had a spectacular intellectual burnout. One morning I woke up and found that the excitement had gone and all that was left was dread. Dread at the thought of the hundreds of millions of interesting things that I wanted to but wouldn’t be able to uncover that day. Dread when I realized how long it had been since I had created rather than consumed. I started feeling massively overwhelmed by the amount of content and input surrounding me–so many books, articles, videos, photographs and people that I wanted to engage with and so little time. By sticking the word embodied in front of curiosity I had given myself free reign to let my curious nature loose, unchecked and unproductive. My life had become all input and no output. It was a bad place to be in. So I stepped away from my books, computer, phone and magazines and decided to go back to the beginning.

Embodied curiosity, to me, means translating ideas into action by infusing curiosity into every facet of my life and acting on the fruits of that curiosity as often as possible. What it comes down to is much simpler than what I had envisioned: it’s about asking questions and acting on ideas, every day, with every new opportunity that presents itself. Embodied curiosity is much more than a system or tool, it’s a mindset and way of being in the world. It’s a framework for subjectivity and experience. I decided to write down everything I knew about being curious, generating ideas and acting on them. I now carry the list everywhere I go so that I can revisit it daily during in-between moments and remind myself of the small behaviors and attitudes that I can nurture and develop on a daily basis to infuse my life with embodied curiosity. Here is what I know, so far:

 

  • Be grateful
  • Take in, but also, let go
  • Get lost ~ at least once a day
  • Look. Really, look
  • Listen (and try to hear)
  • Walk, everyday. MOVE
  • Look for patterns, but do not get lost in them
  • Play—hard & daily
  • Never give up trying to find ways to move past language
  • Ask questions & be wary of answers
  • Observe & seek connections with the mind of a beginner { shoshin }
  • Learn to zoom in & out
  • Seek wonder, banish contempt
  • Do not underestimate the potential of constraints
  • Surrender to your obsessions
  • Drop the thread
  • Never confuse the construct of linearity for reality
  • Collect moments & experiences with the fervor of the curator
  • Define things for yourself & revisit your definitions often
  • Create multiplicities
  • In all things, aim to be like the ink drop ~ fluid & bleeding through
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously
  • Let others in
  • Aim to make the ordinary unknown
  • Be aware of theviolenceofpunctuation
  • Redefine value with each new context you encounter
  • Observe, record, remix
  • Empathy is the most salient of currencies
  • Do not lose sight of the relativity of suffering
  • Delight ~ often & freely
  • Consume + produce ~ It’s a precarious balancing act, keep the equilibrium
  • Cultivate the skills to adapt & improvise
  • Imagine wildly & with abandon
  • Give back
  • Failure is in the eye of the beholder
  • Change perspectives as often as you change underwear, but hold on to your core.
  • The other exists only in relation to the self, so for the sake of all, exercise your compassion muscle daily
  • Growth hurts, accept that its part of the process
  • Travel lightly & shed along the way
  • Embrace the unknown & learn to be comfortable with uncertainty
  • Flee perfection & expertise ~ broaden & blur
  • Take chances
  • Translate everything ~ ideas into action, challenges into opportunities, problems into solutions…*
  • Know when to stop & move on
  • Show up & begin
  • Meaning is never given, you must create it for yourself
  • rethinking > inventing
  • One of the most important things you can do is surround yourself with good walking companions
  • Do not dismiss or scorn that which you do not understand
  • Look to the extremes
  • Context!
  • There are no beginnings or endings, just spectrums of intensities
  • Seek to exist within tensions
  • Wake up for sunrise

 

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