Innovation work should start with narrative. Create a perspective on the world and from there develop a set of research / data / prototypes / experiments that all ladder back to your narrative.
This narrative-first approach to innovation feels designed for a professional world that is increasingly a “space of flows”.
Of course, it’s harder. Because most innovation teams don’t have a perspective on the world. They don’t have a thesis or core insight about how the world is changing or where things are headed. Instead they get obsessed with new shiny things.
Learning Creates is a new alliance bringing together a range of stakeholders to focus on personalized, passion-based learning as the key to modernizing education and preparing young people for successful futures. There is now an Australian hub for the Mastery Transcript Consortium, an expanding network of schools who are introducing a digital high school transcript for students to have their unique strengths, abilities, interests, and histories nurtured and recognized. Big Picture Learning Australia is transforming education by retiring the traditional ‘appointment learning’ where everyone learns the same things according to a fixed timetable inside the walls of a school.
6 track album
Now, starting our audio day at 8:30 instead of 7:15 doesn’t necessarily mean we are sleeping in later, but I am sure that’s true for many people. I’m not getting any more sleep, I can tell you that, because… [gestures broadly at the outside world.] But one of the many things COVID-19 hath wrought is a drastic reduction in the Great American Commute. On any given day, work can throw you a curveball, kids and family can have their issues, but the commute is ritualized behavior. It’s one of the reasons that AM/FM remains the leading source of audio in the car—it has been expertly designed to serve that ritual.
In April, most of the country (and the world) was shut down, and EVERY form of media had a dramatic consumption shift. Podcasts, AM/FM Radio, even Audiobooks, all went down. “Tiger King” went up (man does that seem a long time ago?) We didn’t just lose our commutes—we lost the gym, we lost our “lunch hour,” and we lost something crucial for listening to many podcasts and audiobooks, Me Time. If you thought quarantine was going to give you more Me Time, you didn’t think through the impact of being a 100%-on-duty spouse, son, daughter, mother, or father, in addition to whatever your job entailed for those of us lucky enough to still be working.
Gradually, however, overall audio consumption has returned to something approaching pre-pandemic levels. We might be starting our audio days 75 minutes later, but COVID didn’t permanently rob us of 75 minutes of audio listening. Comparing Q2 2020 to last year, we are down about 10 minutes per day, not 75. We’ve settled into the this that is whatever this this is. Podcasts are fitting back into our lives.
I think that what I have come to appreciate about podcasts as opposed to radio (although many of my podcasts actually are deduced from radio) is that they allow me to.
How might we fully appreciate the resources needed to introduce these new ideas and what they overlap with? How can we create space for people to make the most of this idea and for it to have the impact we want? Which programmes or existing innovations might be discarded to release energy and resources?
When new programmes are introduced, that draw down on the finite energy and effort from those involved without stopping other parallel ideas and releasing resource reserves, we get innovation compression, and a potential weakening of the original ideas.
Therefore, when leading, we should be mindful about what we are clearing away just as much as what we are adding.
We need to lead with a deep appreciation for what is on people’s plates. We need to avoid innovation compression by clearing the way, closing existing programmes and providing people the resources they need to make things work.
It is interesting to consider this alongside Alex Quigley’s post about change in isolation.
This is a full reversal of the language that tech promoters used to sell Silicon Valley–style innovation and competitiveness for decades. Saxenian has noticed the change in how the Valley describes itself, or at least in how the dominant firms do. “Advocacy of the small, innovative firm and entrepreneurial ecosystem is giving way to more and more justifications for bigness (scale economics, competitive advantage, etc.),” Saxenian wrote to me in an email. “The big is beautiful line is coming especially from the large companies (Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple) that are threatened by antitrust and need to justify their scale.”
By adding more play and experimentation in our learning communities, we are embracing a sense of possibility, and possibility breeds hope and a deeper sense of meaning. As Paul Rogat Loeb wrote, “Possibility is the oxygen upon which hope thrives.”
Stuart Brown, a leading expert on the merits of play, argues that, “Play is a basic human need as essential to our well-being as sleep, so when we’re low on play, our minds and bodies notice…” If this is true, then play is certainly not just for children, nor is it best reserved for a special treat. If humans really are designed to crave play, then it is best made a part of our daily lives, and the daily lives of learners around the world.
Central to play is the act of experimenting.
Experiments are, in one sense, tests that we conduct to explore some thesis, question, or examine a possibility. They often grow out of a willingness to ask and wonder. Some of the most powerful questions in human history led to both play and experimentation but went on to discovery and transformation.
This helps make more sense of what Richard Olsen was getting at with the Modern Learning Canvas and the innovation thesis.
An ecosystem is a complex community of interconnected organisms in which each part, no matter how seemingly small, has an active, agentic part to play in the community. There are constant interdependent relationships and influences. The notion of an ecosystem of education resonates with Bob Garmston and Bruce Wellman’s third Adaptive Schools underlying principle of what they call ‘nonlinear dynamical’ systems: that tiny events create major disturbances. This principle reflects the way change often happens. The little things we change or do can have unexpected, chaotic, incremental effects that are difficult to quantify or not immediately noticeable.
Working as one of those ‘little things’ that come into the school it can be easy to bring in a script when arriving at a new school. The problem is that each school is made up of many other ‘little things’. I have therefore found it more useful to gauge as much about the school’s context as quickly as possible and then re-framing my message to fit.
Tom Critchlow describes this as ‘‘:
Every time you’re on-site with a client’s organization you’re studying the people, the behaviours, the motivations. You’re asking questions of as many people as you can.
While Doug Belshaw talks about the dangers of:
So although it takes time, effort, and resources, you’ve got to put in the hard yards to see an innovation through all three of those stages outlined by Jisc. Although the temptation is to nail things down initially, the opposite is actually the best way forward. Take people on a journey and get them to invest in what’s at stake. Embrace the ambiguity.
Although it can be a challenge to find the time and resources, without it change is often frustrating to say the least.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen an example where, without any contextualisation, an individual or organisation has taken something ‘off the shelf’ and applied it to achieve uniformly fantastic results. That’s not how these things work.
Humans are complex organisms; we’re not machines. For a given input you can’t expect the same output. We’re not lossless replicators.
But both UDL and CSP have more to offer than removing barriers. At heart, they are as Susan Baglieri argues, asset pedagogies: “it’s not only about access. It is not only about barriers.” We also need to recognize “the assets that disability experiences bring”. This recognition is part of a larger political project that goes beyond what Django Paris identifies as “simple notions of resilience” that leave out “the political underpinnings of work for social and cultural change.” We need to “understand young people as whole, not broken.”
How we keep screwing over yesterday’s technology due to an intent focus on what we’re doing today. The problem of planned obsolescence is getting worse.
I still wonder how this fits with wider school change? In particular, I am reminded of Dave Cormier’s concern over the champion of change and the focus on the complicated over the complex.
Guts, because it might not work.
And generosity, because guts without seeking to make things better is merely hustle.
Although Germany is considered the birthplace of printing, it was the Venetian Republic that played a major role in its development.