Liked Slouching Towards Innovation (

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.

Liked New Metrics for Success | It’s About Learning (

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.

Replied to Matthias Ott (

So the next time you are trying to solve a problem, give yourself permission to explore it freely. Build a few prototypes. Try out things with an open mind and without presumptions. And when someone walks by and asks what you are doing, just answer:

I really enjoyed this reflection on play Matthias, one to add to the list (Brendan HyndmanNarissa Leung, Adrian Camm and John Johnston ). Personally, I went to two gatherings on the weekend and although there were games and colouring books, the kids had more fun with a piece of string and a bunch of balloons. Sometimes I think we can overthink these things I guess, and as you suggest, we just need the ‘permission to innovate‘.
Replied to Learning In And Through Times Of Crisis, Chaos And Disruption (Part 1) by David Culberhouse (

Meesters shares that, “You can divide a crisis into three phases.”

  • Immediate Response Phase – this is the phase that he refers to as happening immediately following the crisis, disaster, etc. It is a time of unity and support. “What you see is that people start helping each other to alleviate the suffering, there is understanding and solidarity.” It is also a phase that Meesters refers to as being relatively short.
  • Relief Phase – this is a somewhat longer and more complex phase, in which, “As time passes, interest starts to flag. It becomes more difficult to sustain all the initiatives that have been developed.” Meesters adds that this is a phase of time when the needs and far-reaching consequences become much more clear for the short-term and the long-term. For which he adds, “At the same time, the long-term impact also takes its toll; people become fatigued and energy runs out.”
  • Recovery Phase – Meesters shares, “In the recovery phase, unity disintegrates.” This is the phase where the crisis has ended and there is a need to get back on track. “In this phase, difficult choices have to be made.” This is the phase where those adaptive challenges, dilemmas and polarities become much more prevalent and visible. Not only is this the longest phase, it is also the phase where, “The unity that was abundant in the first phase disintegrates.”

When leaders acknowledge these phases in the midst of a crisis or disruption, it allows for a more intentional design towards learning in these VUCA-infused environments that we find ourselves thrust into.

David, I liked Kenny Meesters ‘three phrases’. This is useful alongside Simon Breakspeare’s discussion of building back better.
Replied to The Most Shocking Audio Stat of the Year and What it Means by Tom Webster (

Our commutes were not “taken away;” our commuting time was given back to us. What really changed was what the late Clayton Christensen, one of our most influential thinkers on business and the man who literally wrote the book on disruptive innovation, would call jobs to be done.

Morning radio is not about a block of time. It’s about what jobs we need it to do in that block of time. A typical morning radio show generally does well because it does those jobs. But today, in July of 2020 and maybe in July of 2021, fewer of us need those jobs.

Tom, I really enjoyed this newsletter. I have found that the change in work and getting back the commute time really interesting. I am no longer stressing about waking at six and rushing around frantically in the morning trying to the kids and I out the door. However, as you touch upon, this has not necessarily provided more time, but instead a different set of jobs to be done. In regards to audio, I no longer listen on my commute, instead I have found myself listening to podcasts as I do the morning rounds (something that used to be the afternoon rounds).

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 steal time when it may arise.

Bookmarked Innovation Compression – Tom Barrett’s Blog by Tom (

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?

Talking about change and innovation, Tom Barrett talks about ‘innovation compression’, where the addition of new ideas weakens pre-exisiting ones but starving them of space.

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.

Bookmarked Silicon Valley Abandons the Culture That Made It the Envy of the World (The Atlantic)

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.”

Alexis Madrigal discusses the way in which Silicon Valley has pivoted the narrative about innovation away from small startups to big is best.
Bookmarked What if Experimentation & Play Were a Daily Part of the Classroom? – Etale – Exploring Education Futures & Innovations with Bernard Bull (

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.”

Bernard Bull makes the case for more play. As he states:

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.

Replied to Innovation in schools (the édu flâneuse)

For me, innovation in education is about interrogating where voice, power and agency reside. It is worth asking: who has power and influence? Who has control of measures, expectations, systems, norms and processes? Who has autonomy, voice and ownership? And what can we each do, now, that is productive and meaningful for our students?

Deborah, I really like your discussion of innovation and ecosystems:

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 ‘client ethnographies‘:

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 dead metaphors and failed frameworks:

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.

Liked We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take us on or spare us by Doug BelshawDoug Belshaw (Doug Belshaw’s Thought Shrapnel)

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.

Bookmarked Making Room for Asset Pedagogies by Benjamin Doxtdator (

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.”

Benjamin Doxtdator uses George Couros and Katie Novak’s book Innovate Inside as a launching point to critique innovation, technology and Universal Design for Learning. Although framed as a ‘review’, I think that this post is better considered as an investigation of ‘asset pedagogies’.
Bookmarked Planned Obsolescence: We’re Killing Old Technology With New Technology (Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.)

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.

Ernie Smith discusses the effort involved in allowing vintage computers to live on the modern internet. Whether it be HTTPS, Bit-rate or drivers, there a number of blockers which dis-allow older devices to continue to exist.
Replied to

This has me wondering about ‘what works’ and how this can be subjective. Uber may have disrupted the taxi industry, but it is yet to succeed in making a profit. The same goes for Netflix. I wonder if what works is platform cooperatives, rather platform capitalism?
Replied to How to Innovate: Ask Forgiveness, Not Permission – Joel Speranza (Joel Speranza)

A few years ago now, I decided I wanted to trying doing a kind “flipped learning thing with videos”. I didn’t really tell anyone about it, maybe because I was a bit shy about the whole thing. But I filmed a few videos, I uploaded them to youtube and shared them to my students. The impact was immediate. Students loved, parents loved and my bosses loved it!

Another great share Joel, thank you. This is an interesting to compare with Adrian Camm’sPermission to Innovate‘. Maybe what you are offering is an informal permission to innovate?

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.

Replied to The Real Dark Web by Charlie OwenCharlie Owen (

I want to innovate. I love learning new things. It’s what attracted so many of us to this industry. But let’s take time to think about what we build, and how appropriate it is for any given situation.

Perhaps the client-side framework developed by a multi-billion dollar company isn’t the one that you should be pushing into the browser of your local grocery website? Perhaps the buildchains that require ancient dark magick to invocate are not appropriate on a team that simply compiles some Sass to CSS?

Charlie, this post reminds me of the importance of maintainers and how important they are as a foundation for innovation.