Kids deserve creativity

As the new school year starts, I always find it shocking how poorly many schools develop children’s creativity. Although creativity and innovation is fundamentally important for economic growth, in most schools it has become totally subservient to the need to push kids through ever more tests. Continue reading Kids deserve creativity

The quiet revolution.

Some revolutions happen quietly, but have profound impacts.

We used to have the idea that “Mankind” was completely separate from “nature”. We thought that humans were the only species on earth with consciousness/intelligence/creativity, and that the Earth and its resources were there for us to exploit without comeback.

Some of us still do think this, but over the last few decades, it has become increasingly clear that none of these statements are true.   Continue reading The quiet revolution.

Natural creativity.

The other day I asked Mike (a pseudonym) , a mid-career manager “How’s it going?”  He replied with quite a tirade.

The essence was that while on holiday, he’d had the space to think about the underlying causes of problems he spent his working days battling with. He had just written (but thankfully not yet sent) a steaming email to his boss demanding that the problems were fixed, or he’d leave.  We discussed the issue (basically, a chaotic production department run by an increasingly alcoholic manager producing defective products that upset Mike’s customers) and came up with a constructive solution that he could propose to his boss.

This is of course the holiday season, and I find it interesting how common it is for people to return from holiday having had important creative insights into their careers or problems at work. Continue reading Natural creativity.

Brexit as Innovation

As the UK embarks on the complicated process of negotiating itself out of the EU, I found myself reflecting about the parallels with innovation.

Many R&D managers will recognise the feeling of being asked to achieve a complex multifaceted project with an apparently impossible timescale and distracting internal politics, while being under-resourced and under huge pressure to “just get on with it”.  Continue reading Brexit as Innovation

Coffee Time Conversation: Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a 15 minute podcast of a conversation on brainstorming between Anne Miller and Ieva Martinaityte, Creativity Researcher at the University of East Anglia.  It discusses the brainstorming rules, the role of the facilitator and various tools and techniques you can use to achieve a good result.

It should be very useful if you need to facilitate a creative workshop.

To brainstorm, or not to brainstorm?

Probably the best known ideation technique of all is brainstorming.  In this, a group of around 6-12 people get together to develop new ideas, guided by a facilitator and a few basic rules. These rules can be summarised as

  • build on previous ideas,
  • encourage wild ideas,
  • go for quantity,
  • no negativity.

Continue reading To brainstorm, or not to brainstorm?

Breaking the cycle of distrust

Whatever happens as a result of the current political turmoil, we’ll have to work together and be creative if we’re to solve the problems ahead of us.

I believe that an underlying problem is that over the last few decades, particularly in the English-speaking world, we’ve developed a box ticking culture in many of our institutions which involves a cycle of lack of trust, fear, risk aversion and micromanagement.  This plays out in our political systems, our education system, our healthcare systems, our banks and many corporations. It is damaging creativity, and making it increasingly impossible for leaders to lead. Continue reading Breaking the cycle of distrust

Breaking the Cycle of Distrust: developing creativity and empathy in a challenging world.

This is a summary of my longer article, first published by Friends of the Earth, and available here

It’s very clear that the next generation will need to do better than us if they’re to resolve the huge environmental and economic challenges ahead of us, build a better society and provide wellbeing for 8-10 billion people while using less resources than at present. They will need innovators, but educational systems in many countries – not least the UK – are killing rather than fostering creativity. Continue reading Breaking the Cycle of Distrust: developing creativity and empathy in a challenging world.

Purposeful play

The recent launch of Cambridge’s Raspberry Pi, a £15 credit card sized computer, designed to encourage beginners to have fun programming, reminded me of the days when I was a student at Churchill College. Most of my male friends seemed to spend most of their time utterly absorbed in playing around with computers, electronics and software. Continue reading Purposeful play