… this is sooooo last century !

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A Mindset for the 21st Century ?

Education, education, education.  We hear a lot about the importance of getting the education for our children right. I absolutely agree. For example, if we were not educating creativity out of children we would not struggle so much revitalising it once children have become grown-ups… British comedian John Cleese has shared some interesting thoughts on creativity (and many other things) recently.

However, in many respects am more concerned about the education of those in devision-making positions today, rather than the upcoming generations.  Why?  For those growing up right now, the reality of the 21st Century is their ‘normality’, given that we tend to perceive as ‘normal’ that which we experience on a daily basis. They inhale the speed of change, the interconnectivity, the convergence, the uncertainty and complexity every day; for them linearity and predictability are concepts of the ‘olden days’.

Yet not so for many of those in decision-making positions today who are often too busy ‘doing’ to sit back, observe, think and reflect.  And don’t forget: their way of thinking and behaving has taken them to where they are today … at the top. Yet management guru Gary Hamel pointed out in his Harvard Business Review article “Strategy as Revolution” (back in 1996!), ‘Experience is valuable only to the extent that the future is like the past.  In industry after industry the terrain is changing so fast that experience is becoming irrelevant and even dangerous.

Even those who take some time out to keep in the learning loop and attend executive programmes to further their thinking will find that most executive training runs along the well trodden paths of the 20thcentury, no chance of creating a mindset appropriate for the 21st century.  (Well trodden paths always reminds me of a poem by Sam Foss that Mark Brown, creator of the Dolphin Index and good friend of the Innovation Leadership Forum, once shared with me – have a read!).  Where is the experiential learning that facilitates deep understanding?  Where is the deep integration of content that is required to match reality’s high levels of complexity? Where is the courage to put soft skills, emotional intelligence and intuition at par with analysis, predictability and numbers? I am all with H.R.H The Prince of Wales who said, “Much of our education seems to have been designed to destroy what is so unique in humanity – the balance between our rational and intuitive selves.” (I found this lovely quote in the newsletter of one of our ILF Wider Community members; Penelope Tobin – have a look at her blog).

We are talking about the need for a different skill set – as for example, shown in the list of top 10 skills required in 2015 and 2020 from a 2015 report of the World Economic Forum(you can read more here).  Yet do you feel that is something that is being taught ?  At school? In executive education?

Yes yes, I know there are exceptions, and that’s what they are … exceptions, and certainly not as widely spread as they would need to be to have an impact and change mindsets on a broader basis. So let’s see what we can do to spread news about programmes that move in this direction!

One such programme is the MBI at DEUSTO Busienss School in Bilbao, Spain, Master of Business Innovation – rather than administration – much more appropriate for the 21stcentury.

Another programme that looks quite promising is EMIL, the “Executive Master in Innovation Leadership” offered by the Institute of Advanced Executive Education from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University which is all about nurturing innovation leaders.  Not surprisingly, EMIL integrates design thinking, design methodologies and perspectives and “the core values of “Making Meaning”, to allow senior executives to create a greater sense of self-awareness and generate more innovative perspectives.” As they say in their brochure, “Participants will be equipped with the ability to approach open, complex, dynamic and networked problems in a systematic and effective way.“ Details are available from their website.

On the note of education and Design Thinking, design and innovation consultancy IDEO have created a ‘Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit’ as they believe that “every teacher is a designer”. One of the collaborations that is a result of this initiative is with America’s First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Reach Higher’ and ‘Better Make Room’ initiatives.  You see, Design Thinking takes root everywhere!

If you’d like to experience Design Thinking and happen to be in London 25th & 26thFebruary, another of our community, Julia Goga-Cooke, is offering a workshop to facilitate just that – doubly tempting as Julia has very kindly offered a 20% discount for members of the ILF Wider Community.  Click here to register with the discount and to find out more.

If Design Thinking is one topic that seems to resonate a lot in today’s context, biomimicry is certainly another. People often wonder what it actually is and means, and how it can be used in the context of business.  In response to such questions Denise DeLuca, Friend of the ILF, has put together a brilliant online course that offers a ‘step-by-step method for turning nature’s strategies into innovative solutions’.

Coming back to the context of education, you may also be interested in an article showcasing the world’s 10 most innovative schools, or a summary of an article by ILF Wider Community member Salvatore Moccia, in which he shares his views on educational reform at the university level.

There are a few more activities and initiatives from within the Friends of the ILF and the ILF Wider Community that I can definitely not miss here.  The first is Dennis Stauffer’s Innovator Mindset, a diagnostic tool that helps you (your team) understand your potential to innovate. Not only that, you can also use Innovator Mindset as a development tool.  You can try it out online, and get an already quite useful short report By the way, Dennis has just published his second in a series of 3 articles in which he positions and explains his tool.

A somewhat less intense yet none the less highly educational event is the next session of Innovators Anonymous where we will be experiencing Effectuation, a way of thinking that serves entrepreneurs in the processes of opportunity identification and new venture creation. The workshop will be led by Susanne Kistler who is an expert in Effectuation and part of the international Effectuation community.

Once you have upped your entrepreneurial skills you may want to think about  trying them out!  ILF Wider Community member Zavae Zaheer has developed an online incubator,co.creator, which sounds not only fun and exciting, it also seems to work – read a little more about it here.

Or there is Unitiate which “empowers young professionals and top achieving senior college students from the fields of Business, Design, Engineering and Law, by helping them build strong connections with their respective industries. The program promotes exchanges between these four professional fields in order to facilitate early career developments.” Each cohort consists of 20 sponsored students who collaborate to create a professional case study for mentors and partner companies.  Rewarding excellence, creating a strong network, developing employability and insights into global market trends are key aspects of the programme.

Talking of case studies, ISPIM has put out a call for ‘great innovation stories’  that illustrate achievements of organisations in the field of Innovation Management. Last year’s ISPIM Innovation Grand Prizefinalists were Cisco, The United States Department of Energy (DOE) and Tata. For full details click here. Submission deadline is the 8th April 2016 – send completed entry form in pdf format to grandprize@ispim.org.

If your particular interest and passion are around socially responsible design, perhaps you might want to consider submitting to theBuckminster Fuller Challenge. From their website: “Launched in 2007, the Fuller Challenge has defined an emerging field of practice: the whole systems approach to understanding and intervening in complex and interrelated crises for wide-scale social and environmental impact. The entry criteria have established a new framework through which to identify and measure effective, enduring solutions to global sustainability’s most entrenched challenges. The rigorous selection process has set a unique standard, gaining renown as ‘Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award’.” The deadline for general submissions is March 1st, 2016 at 5 PM ET.
That reminds me to mention two books I would like to share. The first is Consumer Product Innovation and Sustainable Design by Robin Roy in which he looks at evolution and impacts of successful products and offers some guidelines and lessons designing for product success (e.g. offering a genuine innovation; designing products as an integrated whole; ensuring wider system compatibility), designing for the environment (e.g. different approaches, from single issue green design to sustainable systems innovation), taking social influences and impacts into account, and designing for the future (e.g. smart consumer products; inclusive design). We are delighted to have secured a 20% discount when you purchase via the publishers website – enter the code FLR40.

The second book, Personal and Organizational Transformation Towards Sustainability: Walking a Twin-Path, shares Dorothea Ernst’s journey into understanding what sustainability (in the sense of the triple bottom line) and sustainability-driven innovation mean and how they can be brought to life. Dorothea also portrays how this journey is inseparable from, and would probably have been impossible without, a personal journey of discovery and growth. In addition to her story of personal growth and corporate transformation, Dorothea provides deep insights and practical tools for anyone driving sustainable development within their organisations and in their own lives. I highly recommend it, despite its somewhat slightly academic title it is a very readable book that feels more like a novel than a factual business book.

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