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B822 Residential School : Creative Problem Solving for business

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 5 Jun 2014, 05:26

There's a way to generate ideas: this is it.

I have doodles, images, stuff on the iPad and memories bursting to get out. All from the B822 'Creativity, Innovation and Change' Residential School I attended last week. To some it was a freak show or a circus; I felt right at home. I'd spent a year, full-time doing things like this at the School of Communication Arts.

1) Random Stimulus

It was a small, plaster lobster. It was smiling.

2) Play Word Association

We chucked words out

(Abiding by 'ground rules' in relation to anything goes, support etcsmile

3) Brainstorm

We took this further still. Ideas put in PostIts and stuck to some double-doors.

4) Cluster

We then, collectively, moved these ideas about until they formed a number of clusters. A cluster was then removed to another space where three A1 Flip Chart sheets of paper had been stuck together.

5) To make a mindmap. And here it is:

 

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B822 Residential School : day two : 14 hours 25 minutes !

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 7 Feb 2013, 08:49

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In the right context with the right people role play can be used to help see or experience a problem from a different perspective. Here however, Virginia Woolf and friends pull off a hoax and a treated as royal guests on one of His Majesty's battleships.

So many people describe this OU Business School module (B822 : Creativity, Management & Change) and the residential school I am currently attending as something that changed their lives; I've been waiting for that moment, or for a series of insights to congregate and like a celestial choir sing something special.

I was up at 5.00 am and writing (of course), taking a swim at 6.45 am in the pool here at the Heathrow Marriott, into an Elective at 8.00 am and the first Tutor Workshop at 9.00 am.

The second workshop kicked in after lunch at 1.30 pm then from 7.00 pm three more hour long electives in a row.

At no stage was I ever tired or bored, indeed I feel embarrassed even writing this, the very thought!?

Too much new, too important, too interesting, too interested. Like my second week at nursery school: amongst friends, secure, allowed and expected to have fun. Alert.

It was in the very last cessation today, during an hour of guided relaxation, shoes off lying on the conference room floor, lights out, soft music playing that  my unconscious gave me a two word tip and did its best to visualise the love my children have for me and I have for them. I'm still trying to see what love looks like: white, a slightly crumpled unopened rosebud the size and shape of chicory but made of paper, or tissue. I tried (in the semi-conscious dream-like state that I was in) to cup 'love' in my hands as if I was scooping up water but it proved illusive, like a cloud.

After we were brought out of our semi-unconscious state (I fell asleep momentarily three times) we were all asked to share what we experienced; I eventually chirped up with the word 'profound'.

The detail of the day is here too, all typed up with pictures (courtesy of iPad and iPhone) of flip-charts, post-it notes, finger-paintings and slides. This will take a week to prepare as posts.

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B822 Techniques Library: Keeping a Dream Diary & Working with Dreams

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 5 Jun 2014, 05:25

The lack of control over where your head goes and what it reveals should understandably go with a note of considerable caution. There often is no such thing as an innocent dream. It sometimes throws me when what is apparent in the dream: its people, actions and events can once analysed tell you something you can't accept or dislike about yourself or others.

Context is everything.

What bothers you as you fall asleep?

What's on your mind?

A film you have just watched could very well fill your head; I'm still enjoying the afterglow of '500 days of summer': troubled because its truth but delighted in the outcome.

It is less the dream diary, but a diary that can help you put your subconscious to work.

Should you write up your troubled day, and should you care not only to bring work home with you but also take it to bed, then indeed, the issue that is strangling your budget, or losing you business friends could be resolved in a dream. Once you have that dream in the conscious arena you can even rework it like a TV producer changing the protagonists and outcomes.

I dreamt I was in a court of sorts (I can see it in my mind's eye but will neither describe it or attempt to draw it unless some detail needs bringing out).

I presume I was a prosecuting solicitor.

Two trials cut together one after the other (have dreams always been film literate?). The second case is a rape; he is 'cock sure' thankfully there is no murder involved. He deserves to receive the severest punishment. The previous case with a different barrister had gone off like a damp squib; perhaps it wasn't as serious a case but I felt the person had got off lightly and I blamed the barrister for not following my instructions suitably closely. In this second trial I have a word perfect summing up which I might expect this new barrister to follow. On the contrary, I find this person launch in more like a hack journalist/columnist than a prosecuting lawyer. I worry that the defendant will get off lightly; however, it soon dawns on me that this person is using my argument but not the script and like a stand-up comic (though with professionalism and the hint of a smile of confidence) they will deliver a knock-out blow: they have taken what I can provide and made it better.

Does this solve my problem?

It doesn't answer something specific. If the photocopier is broken and never gets fixed I don't think I'd turn to my 'dream spirits' for the answer.

Does it even suggest to you that this approach has legs?

Me, I'm the defence solicitor, not the barrister. I may not solve the 'problem' the defendant, though I make my contribution.

Nor have I had to resort to a set of 27 questions to reach this point (see below).

I do not imagine sitting with a bunch of colleagues interpreting their dreams would be appropriate or suitable; they ate too random, and so are we. But I do recommend this approach for personal problem resolution, but be warned, you may try to get your dreams to set out your next career move only to discover that in your heart you hate your job and sector and wish instead to teach English to Japanese school-girls.

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 11 Jan 2012, 07:06)
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B822 Techniques Library: Time Line

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 9 Jan 2012, 19:53

Mark out a Time Line and begin at the 'time' the problem began.

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Time Line Software

Developing a careers information video some years ago I did this exercise with 50 Youth Theatre students by placing out long lines of coloured discs on the floor. I bought these from a sports shop: I think they are used in P.E. Classes.

I could then help them go through periods of their life imagining where they would be and the steps, literally, that they'd have to take to achieve their goals.

This was in turn translated into a video production where we represented all young people (Year 9) with one character and had them move through time using the combination of a partially dismantled running machine and a green screen.

There's clip on YouTube (JJ27VV) Corporate Showreel

I agree that this approach makes it 'easier to get into a strongly 'associated' or 'merged' state'. That the idea is easy to grasp, not simply because we follow Dr Who or saw 'Back to the Future' or even read HGWells, but we all have, written or not, a personal journey that can be envisaged as a time line with a past, present and future: a beginning and an end.

We are told that this could be considered as a variant of other 'Neuro-linguistic Programming techniqes' 'aimed at helping you shift your perceptual position'. I don't see this yet but am referred to a technique I've thus far ignored called 'Disney technique'.

REFERENCE

James,T. and Woodsmall, W (1988) Time Line THerapy and the Basis of Personality. Capitola, Meta Publications INc.

Bodehamer, B.G. and Hall, L.M. (1997) Time-Lining: Patterns for Adventuring in 'Time', Bancyfelin, Anglo-American Book Company.

 

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B822 Techniques Library: Keeping a Dream Diary and Working with Dreams

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 19 Apr 2012, 08:08

Other people's dreams are a bore.

So don't read this unless you too are interested in using dreams or guided imagery to interpet and solve issues.

I woke with two dreams and lost one; they are after all like the proverbial 'fart in the wind': difficult to hold on to.

As I think about the dream I can recall I've decided it reveals too much about my character ... and is irrelevant to problem solving at work!

CONCLUSION

If you want to use a technique that is like chasing guinea-pigs around the garden do so. I'd keep it to yourself though or at least work with the insights offered rather than the content, feelings, images and actions of the dream itself.

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B822 Techniques Library 'Working with dreams and imagery'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 5 Feb 2013, 06:05

There's a warning on this activity, that the techniques may draw up uncomfortable events from your past.

This also highlights a major problem with such techniques:they can throw up the unexpected.

I like to think I have ample experience 'working with dreams' ; I have used them to develop story-lines and ideas, even to some degree for personal cognisance so it felt like an obvious one to give a try.

Context is vital, picking the right activity or game for the people you are working with.

How well do you know them?

It also makes me realise that I'd like to be in a working environment with the kind of colleagues and friends where I could employ such techniques.

I feel like a big fail; there are two activities suggested for problem solving, or creativity, innovation and change: keeping a dream diary and this, which offers ways to explore a dream's meanings and to re-enter and work with this environment created by your subconscious.

There's plenty troubling me at the moment but I find repeatedly that holding onto a dream is like chasing autumn leaves in a stiff breeze.

Take this morning; just a few moments awake I recall I had been dreaming and that it had been a 'good one': vivid but apparently not memorable enough. I tried all the tips in the book to recover or return to the dream: you have to place yourself exactly as you were as you had the dream. I still can't get it; I feel like MacBeth clutching at the dagger; it is always just out of reach.

By way of example I have a snippet of a dream from a few days ago: returning to the campsite after some kind of trip or activity in the woods I find my tent has gone: everything has been removed, as if I had never been there. The plot is bare. Why should I be thinking this as I return to work after a two week break?

The 'activity' is then to work with and develop your feelings about this moment, been to re-enter the dream, not simply to see what happens next but to change or influence the outcome. This then MAY offer a solution or at least an understanding of your feelings so that you can deal with them.

How to work with a dream or metaphorical image:

  • Entering the dream
  • Studying the dream
  • Becoming the images
  • Integrating the viewpoints
  • Reworking the dream

Appreciating, reflecting, looking forward and emerging

P.S. I just returned to work and couldn't have entered a more friendly environment, my desk as I'd left it.

P.P.S. I realise why I am 'losing' my dreams: stress. I'm waking up with a jolt, some unpleasant thought in the back of my mind.

Steve Jobs was hugely influenced by Zen Buddhism; this I understand would play to the importance of intuition. Intuition alone is not enough; this for Jobs was also the product of intense effort to get his head around an issue; he immersed himself in it until, to paraphrase the historian E.H.Carr he could 'hear it speak'.

20 LIFE LESSONS FROM STEVE JOBS

http://mashable.com/2011/12/18/steve-jobs-20-life-lessons/

REFERENCE

Glouberman, D. (1989) Life Choices and Life Changes Through Imagework, London, Unwin, pp. 232-6

Isaacson, W. (2011) Steve Jobs. Little Brown.

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B822 Creativity, Innovation and Change AUDIO PACK

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 21 Feb 2014, 17:56

I am listening through a 28 minute audio on creativity, innovation and change.

This is part of the OU MBA programme, but for me an elective 30 credits as part of the Masters in Open in Distance Education having already taken H807, H808 and H800.

I need a transcript.

I would skim read it, then listen once.

Instead, on the third listening I find I am writing a transcript, bullet points becoming sentences, sentences becoming paragraphs, those interviewed gaining a picture from Google Images and a resume from the institute where they are currently based.

Where the interviews intercut, I am taking them back to FOUR single interviews.

I am deconstructing, as if I had conducted the interviews myself.

(Two hours later I have a fourth listen. Why? Because I believe that the effort made to extract learning from these audio tracks will pay dividends. The ideas will begin to mean something)

(24 hours later I have the Media Book that supports the audio. Not the transcript that I desire, but notes from the Course Chair Jane Henry. I am struck both by what I HAVE picked up from the audio, as well as arguments/opinions that totally escaped me, that I'll have to seek out simply to be sure that these things were ever said. As I am currently on Jury Service I am struck how we as humans are, indeed have to be, selective regarding what we see and hear. We cannot take it all in. Context is everything. We are not a sponge, at best a Gouda cheese).

Creativity. Innovation and Change

Charles Handy (born 1932) is an Irish author/philosopher specialising in organisational behaviour and management. Among the ideas he has advanced are the ...

Two major things:

1.Globalisation: organisations have got bigger to be there and smaller to be human

2.From things to knowledge/ideas.

People are identifiable people with names who have to be cossetted.

Reorganise into projects and teams so that people know each other.

  • Importance of informal contacts.
  • People reach out to people.
  • Inside and outside organisations.
  • Groups are there to deliver something.
  • Informal cells made official.
  • Managers can say what is wanted at the end of the project, but not how to get there.
  • Creativity will blossom.

People will have to reinvent themselves.

  • People want to feel they are giving their lives, or a bit of it, to something that matters.
  • What is it that people need?
  • Businesses that grow out of frustrations (Michael Young, Richard Branson)

Prof. Rossabeth Moss Kanter

Professor Kanter holds the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professorship at Harvard Business School, where she specializes in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change. Her strategic and practical insights have guided leaders of large and small organizations worldwide for over 25 years, through teaching, writing, and direct consultation to major corporations and governments.

Interviewed for the Open University's module B822 'Creativity, Innovation and Change' Module she talks for the need for:

  • Less bureaucracy
  • Emphasis on team work
  • On sharing leadership
  • Emphasis on customer responsive decisions … working on feedback directly from customers.

To be like leaders of volunteers.

  • I’m the leader here’s my vision, so that you can bring to it the best that you can do.
  • A sense of mission.
  • Motivated by the chance to learn.
  • Or if you have to leave.
  • An enhanced reputation.
  • You’ll get recognition.
  • People being owners of the business, to share in the value they create.

The ladders aren’t there anymore.

What’s my profession? What’s my skill set.

__________________________________________________

The Hollywood model

  • Where you get the best producers and directors, and some investors and actors. These sets of projects can be in the same company … if the company is providing.

______________________________________________________

For me this is a concept that rings most true having contemplated how to assemble a team of people with different skills, indeed, why a variety of skills are necessary and that these should be distinguishable and come from the contrebutions of several people. Currently, social media, is vested in one person, whereas it should be shared across several skill sets. The creative teams in advertising are made up of a copywriter and art director, in a web agency we had an editor, designer and programmer. In each case a producer is required too.

_________________________________________________________________

  • Employment relationships are shorter term. Employees have to recommit each year.
  • Engaging the minds and hearts of the people.

Prof. Charles Hampden Turner. The Judge Institute, University of Cambridge.

Charles Hampden-Turner (a dilemma enthusiast), they talk these days not so much of country stereotypes as the need to understand individuals. He received his masters and doctorate degrees from the Harvard Business School and was the recipient of the Douglas McGregor Memorial Award, as well as the Columbia University Prize for the Study of the Corporation.

Networks and accelerating returns.

  • A critical moment when the network becomes incredibly valuable.
  • The concept of the employee society is going to die.
  • A buffalo and being hunted down by Indians again ?!
  • Vs. being fad proan.
  • Think in terms of paradox.
  • Time and motion studies.
    But it ran to its own limits.

____________________________________________

Professor Henry Mintzberg, OC, OQ, FRSC (born in Montreal, 1939) is an internationally renowned academic and author on business and ...

  • People who are truly empowered don’t need to be empowered by managers. It doesn’t bring about more creative organisations.
  • Learning organisations as they have a healthy culture.
  • Build cultures that support maverick, a ‘why not?’ culture that a ‘Why?’ culture.

(See more about organisational configurations)

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B822 All Change!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 7 Dec 2011, 12:57

A few paragraphs into my first course book after a year of having everything online and I am once again drawn to reflect on the pace, scale and scope of technological advance on the one hand, while people don't change one jot, even to the degree that toppled dictators are shot in the back of the head (scenes my 13 year old son guiltily admitted to following on YouTube without the slightest concern for what my generation would have called a snuff movie and have censored all images, still and moving).

40 years ago: 'No mobile phones, no satellite television, no bio-engineered plants, Cloned animals, Micro-surgery or precision missiles that can hit a ventilation shaft from thousands of miles away'. Henry 2010:13

Just 10 years ago and there is no Facebook nor Google, no YouTube either.

It's getting to the stage when the speed of change is so swift that looking back only 4 years feels like a glimpse of another era without Twitter or iPads. I went from following the Japanese tsunami on various satellite channels, BBC24, CNN the Japanese NHK, to watching it from Smartphone content uploaded to YouTube.

Didn't people once fear that travelling at over 30 mph in a train they would disintegrate ?

Personally I feel that my mind risks disintegration trying to keep up with the rate of change, my mind fed by Zite and Stumbleupon, the spherical probably the latest thing to capture my attention and sustain my interest for longer than a week.

1970-2010

Growing up in the 1970s I often bemoaned the fact, and into the 1980s, that compared to my Grandfather (born 1896, died 1993), that 'not much had happened' OK, I had no desire to wish two world wars on us, but I didn't think colour TV, Stylophones and Space Hoppers were significant (A man or five on the moon was an achievement of course).

By comparison what had 1870-1910 seen?

Age 14 my Grandfather started work as the Office Boy, they had telephones, cars had appeared and were already hogging the roads, Airoplanes  were up and Bleriot had crossed the English Channel .There was no QWERTY keyboards, but movies were stretching to a second reel. 

The forty year stretch 1910 to 1950 saw the establishment of motor vehicles, Airoplanes and telephones,  cinema burgeoned and radio was everywhere with TV in  the wings.

REFERENCE

Ask via Google Yahoo by way of Google

Henry, J (2010) Creativity, cognition and Development. Book 1: 'Creativity, Innovation and Change'.

Wikipedia via Google 

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eht egnahc uoy yaw ees flesruoy 

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 25 Oct 2011, 17:01

eht egnahc uoy yaw ees flesruoy by Kathryn D. Cramer, Ph.D. and Hank Wasiak

Change the Way You See Yourself is offered by Alan's Cre8ng

Challenges (http://www.cre8ng.com/CC/) which in turn forms part of a collection of resources in 'Creativity, Innovation and Change.' (B822)

The opportunity exists, with a week still to go, to consider the differences between an MA module with the Institute of Educational Technology and a MBA module with the Open University Business School. 

A 2 1/2 hour tutorial in the first week of November is new; there is no set tutorial time in the MAODE.

Other than a few shared emails my only ever interaction with the tutor was as part of a tutor group live using Elluminate or in asynchronous forum threads. 

The international mix is more apparent too with a strong contingent from 'Continental Europe'.

'Change the Way You See Yourself' asks you to get others to consider your strengths and weaknesses.  

The exercise Alan Robert Black Ph.D then asks you to do in this instance (he has a decade of activities in his collection) is, from Monday through to Friday consider thing that would take a day, week, month, quarter or year or then on Saturday reflect on these and set out to 'change yourself'.

This is an exercise that Benjamin Franklin followed we are told.

This draws on Alan Black's work where he used a list of 52 traits of highly creative people (20 from Paul Torrance's TTCT work over 50 years and 32 from a study he did of traits of highly creative people in 1980 as part of his doctorate when he collected 400 different traits from reading articles by 147 different authors, consultants, researcher, professors who focused on creativity and creative thinking development).

This then an era when creativity was considered to be a trait or condition of some people, rather than an innate part of human nature. Is it not the case that we consider all people to be creative?

Alan Black has updated this resource each year from 1998 to 2010 (where he offers exercises for the first quarter only). This is one of 26 links offered to B822 students, with Dyson, ICI, Edward de Bono and a daily quote from Frank Zappa in here too.

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B822 WK Zero - 10 days Creativity and change from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to Kobe, Japan

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 21 Oct 2011, 04:18
I tried to describe what it is like to be about to embark on 150 hours of studying (or is it more?) with three assignments (and an exam?)
There is a buzz.
Like people in the lobby of a theatre ahead of a show.
I think of the Kathryn Tickell concert the other night, outside the auditorium at The Stables;
I think of my first RSC Shakespeare at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle. I still have the programme featuring Derek Jacobi, in Hamlet I think, so ... 1978?
But we are no audience, we are the Players.
Perhaps it would be better to think of us as members of a newly formed orchestra about to meet Sir Simon Rattle.
Ten days 'til the doors open; some have popped in to say hello then gone off to prepare for then sit an exam.
Many now add in brackets where they are:
Hamburg, Bratislava,   San Jose, Costa Rica, Kobe, Japan, Frankfurt, Newcastle, Kent, Bristol, For a module on creativity an international mix, with the widest variety of backgrounds, should result in fireworks. Meanwhile for the 1998 paper 'How to kill creativity' (Amabile) alone I feel the my working life exposed, enhanced and potentially 'enabled'. Decades ago I hung to the belief that I would learn by doing and three times set up fledgling production companies, too often these were conduits for my 'talent' yet I see that all of us needed to be gaining intrinsic value, indeed the most success came with non-commercial short films where this spirit had to be fostered.
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All change!

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The OU will change this VLE and MyStuff in July 2011.

Having blogged about implied and/or necessary improvements to some of the key tools it amused me to read that the OU are doing exactly this.

I embrace change so can't wait. I'll have another year to go of the MA.

Evidence?

A job ad in the Guardian for a couple of Project Managers to handle/manage 'business change' at the Open University.

'Would you enjoy leading on the development of new ways of working with Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) software, content management systems and eLearning projects?'

Curiouser, and curiouser.

I trust a way to transfer assets out of MyStuff will be produced.

Is it an in-house job, or has Cisco Systems, Google or Facebook come in?

We'll have to wait and see, though for someone fascinated by e-learning it will be interesting to observe as it occurs.

Perhaps the two roles could be roled into a number of collaborative exercises in H807 'Innovations in e-Learning,' with contributions from H808 'The elearning Professional' not forgetting H810 and the importance, particularly for the OU to be the King of Accessibility.

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