Sunday, January 8, 2012

Innovation: An Inquiry Retold through ScreenShots

On Sunday morning, Seth Levitt (@sethleavitt) tweeted this:


I knew this would take more than 140 characters.

I. Lighting Out

I began by trying to get clear about what we might mean when we use the term, innovation and I was wondering how it differed from invention.  So I turned to Wikipedia for a quick grounding.

From Here.

I also appreciate this definition published by FutureLab in their handbook, Promoting Transformative Innovation.

, learning
From Here.

Then I began to do a bit of reading/viewing all the while thinking about what ideas/methods/tools are used in new, better or more effective ways. I also wondered if there are conditions that give rise to innovation?

II. Context

from this post

Naomi Fried's comment that innovation occurs within a required culture is important. One characteristic then of innovation is that there is a culture that supports risk taking, idea generation, failure, community-based ways of knowing.

This blog post by Baker and Burns explores ways of Crating a culture via Goggle.
III. Innovation Cycle

In the FutureLab Handbook an innovation cycle is identified that is helpful.
from FutureLab Handbook

Adapted from FutureLab Handbook

IV. Leadership and Agency

Leadership matters.  At schools where leadership is distributed, occurring through non-hierarchical methods--a greater range of potential sources for innovation may occur.  In contrast, bureaucratic leadership tends to limit sites of innovation by fixing organization roles, reducing the potential for neighbor interactions.  As this is true at the district or school level, I think one could also argue it could be equally true at the classroom level. 

Innovation requires rhizomatic possibilities. A few things that come to mind:

It's a challenging road to create and maintain conditions where others might be innovative.  Here in the US, the emphasis on measuring excellence through student performance on math and reading tests creates an anti-intellectual environment. Gregory Michie, a professor writing in The Washington Post about the limitations on teachers and students to be innovative in this test-privileged world said this:

from Here.
V. Fail Often. Fail Safe

The use of pilots, start-ups, innovation labs--all help to manage failure, that surely will accompany innovation, in ways that make it doable to critically learn from errors.

Scale across, not up. See Walk Out, Walk On net.


  1. On Michelle Rhee’s point, it is true, if you cannot read or write you will not be able to get a job in any creative environment. It is very important for individuals with learning disabilities to understand this.

  2. @Anonymous: I appreciate you pointing to that important reality about reading and writing. Unfortunately, we needn't settle for one (to read & write)or the other (be creative and innovative). Creativity is critical and can flourish in environments where agency is privileged. The apt leader understands this and doesn't rule in autocratic ways. Ms. Rhee's comment is a bit foolish as reading is directly connected with creating.


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