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Using Kolb's experiential learning cycle to assess a creative workshop I gave in 2012 as part of the long gone, though brilliant module 'Creativity, Innovation and Change'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:17

 

Fig. 1. Kolb’s ‘Experiential Learning Cycle’ reversioned.

I did something …

This is my take on Kolb’s ‘Experiential Learning Cycle’ which I will use to explore what I ‘did’. I ran a creative problem solving workshop. The motivation for attendees was to pick up some creative problem solving techniques, to solve a problem we had with using social media and to do some team building. The objective for me was to crack this problem and to introduce a more creative and collaborative approach to problem solving.

Fig. 2. Coach to Olympians running a workshop - part class, part ‘pool side’

I couldn’t help but draw on experience as a Club Swimming Coach planning programmes of swimming for a squad swimmers and as the ‘workforce development’ running training programmes for our club’s teachers and coaches. Planning and preparation when you are putting athletes in the pool several times a week over months is vital. On a smaller scale this workshop required a schedule, to the minute, with some contingency, allowing you to build in flexibility for both content and timings.

 

Fig. 3. Planned to the minute - my creative problem solving workshop

The plan was for five to six creative problem solving techniques to be used, top and tailed by, using terms from swimming, a ‘warm up’ and a ‘warm down’. The modus operandi of the Residential School had been to introduce, experience and play with as many creative problem solving techniques as possible.

Fig. 4. As a prop, food and aid memoir a bunch of bananas has multiple uses

‘Bunch of Bananas’ is a creative problem solving technique that suggests that you include in the group a ‘plant’ - a person over whom other’s will slip, like the proverbial banana. My take on this was to introduce two outsiders - a Russian academic who would bring a different take on things and the a mathematician and senior programmer.

Fig. 5. ‘Mother-in-law, Samurai, Tiger’ is a great warm up.

We did a warm up called  ‘Mother-in-law, Samurai, Tiger’. This is the team equivalent of ‘Paper, Scissors, Stone’ where two teams face each other and on the count of three, having agreed what their response would as a team, they either 'Tut-tut’ and wag their finger like a mother-in-law, 'growl' and get their claws out like a Tiger, or shout 'ha!' while posing like a Samurai warrior brandishing his sword. This is the ‘warm down’ to stick with the swimming coaching metaphor was to have participants get into the ‘streamlined’ position that swimmers adopt - essentially a stretching exercise.

Fig. 6. Human Sculpture and Timeline are useful ways to have people look at and feel a problem in a different way and from a different angle.

In between we did a mixture of physical and mental activities, including Human Sculpture where one person becomes the sculptor and uses everyone else to form a tableau or sculpture that expresses their talk on the problem. Another was timeline where you imagine looking at the problem from the perspective of the past and future.

Now, stand back  …

Standing back I’d say that running a workshop for colleagues has advantages and disadvantages. How would a director or line manager feel about their views being exposed like this. On the other hand if well managed it becomes a team building exercise too.

The challenge is to know what risks to take and how to build in flexibility, not just in timing, but in the kind of activities. This requires that despite the plan you are alert to signals that suggest an activity should be developed or dropped. Workshops and seminars I take have a common element - there is ‘hands on’ activity.The goal is that at the end of the session people feel confident that they could do these things themselves. I’m less comfortable about teaching where the communication is one way - me talking and them taking notes. I value encouraging self-discover and people being on their feet, interacting and having fun.

The workshop was experiential

It was collaborative and iterative, it was problem-based learning that used communication skills.

How did you feel about that ?  

Fig. 7. How we like to be ‘in the flow’ rather either bored or stressed from being too challenged. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1975) Mental state in terms of challenge level and skill level.

I felt ‘in the flow’ for most of the time, suitably challenged and never bored. Though anxious and surprised when a colleague gave me a drubbing the day after feeling that they had been tricked into attending. This came as a surprise, the other surprise was how away from their desk and computers the apparently introverted could become so animated and responsive.

I felt like a party planner. I was hosting an event. The atmosphere of controlled enthusiasm would be down to me. I would be, to use a French expression, the ‘animateur’ or ‘realisateur’ - the one who would make this happen and bring it to life.

Fig. 8. For all the playful activities, we are still reliant on Post It Notes and flip charts

Now what ?

On this occasion we delivered a couple of distinct responses to the problem. People reflected on the experienced and felt it was both enjoyable and of practical value. The request was not that others would host such an exercise, but that I would do more. I was subsequently booked to run a few more workshops on specific topics with different groups in the faculty. The question that we couldn’t resolve was whether were  a ‘creative organisation’ ? My own conclusion being that we quite palpably were not.

REFERENCE

Ackoff, R.L. (1979) The Art of Problem-Solving, New York: Wiley

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1975). Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: Experiencing Flow in Work and Play, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0-87589-261-2

Experiential learning theory. (Available from http://www2.glos.ac.uk/gdn/gibbs/ch2.htm. Accessed 22FEB14)

Gundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed, Van Norstrand Reinhold. Te hniques 4.01, 4.06, 4.57

Henry, J and the course team (2006, 2010) 'Creativity, Cognition and Development" Book 1 B822 Creativity, Innovation and Change.

Henry, J (2010) ‘Set Breakers’ Henry (P. 96)

Kolb, D.A. 1984 Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

McCaskey, M.B. (1988) ‘The challenge of managing ambiguity’, in Pondy, L.R, Boland, R.J and Thomas, H (eds) Managing Ambiguity and Change, new York, pp 2-11

Henry, J & Martin J (2010) Book 2 Managing Problems Creatively

Schon, A.A. (1983) The Reflective Practioner: How Professionals think in Action, London: Temple Smith

Tassoul, M, & Buijs, J ( 2007, )'Clustering: An Essential Step from Diverging to Converging', Creativity & Innovation Management, 16, 1, pp. 16-26, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 22 February 2014.

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H818 Activity 3.2

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 16:08

INCLUSION

Inclusion/Case Study : John, an engineering Postgrad PhD student with Cerberal Palsy

Inclusion/Multimedia Demo: Xerte

Inclusion/Workshop: Creative Problem Solving: YouTube

http://youtu.be/LFYLeT9q8tk

Loads of ideas in VanGundy's book: VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed, Van Norstrand Reinhold. Techniques 4.01, 4.06, 4.57

INNOVATION

Innovation/Paper: Spaced-Ed, now QStream. A platform initially designed to support junior doctors as they revised for formal knowledge assessments. Paper (Paper available in OU Library)

Innovation/demo: QStream 90 day trial

Innovation/Workshop: Creative Problem Solving

TAGS: cerebral palsy, accessibility, junior doctors, harvard, qstream, spaced-ed, structured problem solving, van gundy, xerte, multimedia, inclusion, case study, engineering, phd, innovation, youtube,

 

 

 

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Creative Problem Solving with Van Gundy

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 May 2014, 07:12

A year ago I was relishing creative problem solving in business using techniques developed largely by Van Gundy. I just got this 1970s edition hardback through the post from the US. A little indulgent, but hopefully of practical use too.

Odd for me not to have it as an eBook. These days I prefer to shift from iBook to Kindle or to PC screen to read, annotate, note, highlight ... even share online to Twitter and Facebook as a I read.

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B822 Techniques Library : Selling

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 22:04

B822 Techniques Library ‘Factors in ‘Selling’ ideas

Context

  • Timing
  • Audience
  • Idea champion

Content

Use simple language

Use a clear statement of the need for the idea. Describe the problem your idea will solve and explain why it needs to be solved.

  • Present both pros and cons
  • Provide evidence
  • Stress key points
  • Anticipate questions
  • Be persistent

Based on: VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed., Van Norstrand Reinhold. Technique p. 285

 

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B822 BK2 Technique Library for creative problem solving

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 21 Feb 2014, 16:38

B822 Technique Library

My mother has always had a large drawer in a sideboard full of board games: Risk, Monopoly, Twister, Cluedo and Othello, and at some stage Chartbuster, Kerplunk, Masterpiece, Mousetrap and others.

Having picked my way through the B822 Creativity Innovation and Change ‘Technique Library’ A5 folder I feel I am looking into this drawer.

IDEA ONE: VISUALISATION

We have a large ‘Really Useful Box’ full of board games too.

In order to appreciate the game, to know if you like or loathe it, to know who would or would not enjoy it, you have to get them out and have a play. Over time attitudes to a game change. People take on a persona, you expect a certain kind of performance out of them. I rarely win at Monopoly because I buy everything until I run out of money.

Returning to the idea of a collection of board games I would far prefer a colourful pack of A5 cards, on one face an image, perhaps a colourful, humorous Steven Appleby cartoon, on the other the ‘game’.

The B822 Techniques ‘Library’ of assembled cards, ideas, folder is ‘like a collection of board games’ you might find at your Mum’s, in a box in the garage, or stacked on a cloakroom shelf in a holiday cottage. You get them out when you are bored, or in this case, stuck for an idea.

Middle Farm sells many varieties of cider and perry.

There is no catalogue. You cannot taste a list of titles. You collect a tasting cup and try out a selection; you get stuck in. You can ask the experts behind the counter, when you have something to discuss.

The B822 Techniques ‘Library’ of assembled cards, ideas, folder is ‘like a cider distillery’ where, to get beyond the titles and cataloguing, especially the false preference given by alphabetical order, you have to ‘have a taste’ and come to your own opinion.

My approach, against the advice, has been to read through them all. I remain tempted to take them all out and glue them inside pieces of card on which I will do a doodle or stick an image.

My first selection, my inquisitive mind, likes the look of :

Analogies

A succinct definition is required: A form of logical inference or an instance of it, based on the assumption that if two things are known to be alike in some respects, then they must be alike in other respects. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/analogy)

There is an albatross airplane, this one in the USAF. It looks like a Puffin or a Dodo.

I would never liken a Jumbo jet to an albatross as the bird already has negative connotations. You cannot see it for its history. You shoot the thing and hang it around your neck.

A puffin or cormorant then.

Does anyone need to be told why a Jumbo jet and an albatross are not alike?

Filling in the blanks and sticking with the albatross I get the improbably sentence, ‘This problem makes me think of an albatross – that suggests to me that maybe we could try feathers (idea drawn from albatross)’. Sounds like a dead duck. Are there planes that were an albatross?

Perhaps Leonardo Da Vinci thought of a plane as a bird?

Were I to be introduce the concept of analogies to a group I would start with a blank sheet, seeking out people’s favourite analogies for everyday situations or problems and build from there. There’s a problem if you set in train a thought, here ornithological. Before you know it all the ideas are tits and boobies, eagles and dodos.

‘Try to find core verb phrase that captures the essential functional nature of what you are looking for’ (Martin & Bell, 2010). (There are no page numbers, so how do you reference it?)

If analogies taught the world to think, then promoted like this I would conclude that to use an analogy with its ‘analogues’ (sic) is akin to painting by numbers. It is present in such an unnecessarily analytical manner.

Definition: An analogue is: something analogous to something else (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/analogue)

How can a simple concept me made to sound like something carried out by an audit team from the local firm of accountants. It sounds painful rather than fun.

I have to look up (q.v) as in quo vid, or ‘which see’.

I track down the reference to Gordon by ‘going to see’ Synectics, a software version as ThoughtPath exists.

· Are you dealing with the person who owns the problem?

· Are they looking for a number of solutions

· Establish the team

If ‘analogies are often used very informally’ then an informal, rather than this proposed formal approach should be offered.

1. What is it you want ideas for?

2. Based on the verb phrases list items that it is like

3. Pick an interesting one

4. Describe the analogy

Gordon (1961) identified four types:

· Direct

· Symbolic

· Fantasy

· Personal

IDEA TWO: MIND-MAP

IDEA THREE: RELATIONAL DATABASE

I would put all these problems onto a wall chart. I’d put everything online into a blog that could be searched by tag (or key word), or load them into a relational database such as FilemakerPro.

Twenty years ago (perhaps fifteen?) I used a CD-ROM called 'Ideafisher' to help generate ideas. I treated it as the equivalent of a mental tickling stick, not a set of answers, but a potential catalyst that would open up my mind (sometimes too far).

 

REFERENCE

Gordon, W.J.J. (1961) Synectics, New York, Harper & Row.

VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed, Van Norstrand Reinhold. Techniques 4.01, 4.06, 4.57

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