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Censemaking No.19

Innovating Our Work

Innovation work requires an extraordinary level of self-care, attention, and motivation to sustain at the best of times. And these are not those times.   
This issue we're bringing together lessons for how to sustain, survive, and thrive in times of persistent challenges like those we're facing in 2020. You might be seeking to develop skills, catch up on reading, or just keeping it together as this cartoon from Tom Fishburne illustrates. 
Whatever your situation, innovation -- helping people and things to change through new ideas brought to life -- is not simple, especially in 2020. This week we'll explore some ways to manage it and do it a little better. 
Put the coffee on, steep that tea, and let's get learning. 
Keep well and keep curious, friends. Thanks for reading. -- Cameron 

Remote Working

Working apart from others has its challenges. Whether it's being creative, fostering innovation, or staying motivated, there are ways to gain the benefits from others while working at a distance. 

Creativity at a Distance 

With many teams working remotely, how do you capture some of the creativity that you had working face-to-face? In a nod to my childhood, Inc. Magazine editor Leigh Buchanan profiles Radio Flyer (famous for their little red wagons) and other companies who've maintained creative collaboration remotely. Building empathy for customers and company, bring in diverse perspectives and voices, and focus on 'building' things are among the key lessons. Another: don't let distance kill creativity.  

Consensus: The Innovation Killer

Humans like agreement. Greg Satell - who's always worth reading -- makes the case for why our yearning for agreement through consensus is an innovation killer. Looking at the scientific literature on conformity, dissent, and the use of what's called 'pre-mortems', Satell illustrates how we can overcome this urge for agreement and instead get more and better ideas to foster innovation. Agree to disagree is the message. 

Focus & Motivation

The biggest lesson from the pandemic on productivity and avoiding burnout is meaningful work. That is the insight from psychologists and mental health professionals interviewed by Jane Brody as part of her Personal Health column from the New York Times. Asking yourself what matters most can help you put things into perspective, foster generosity and compassion, and strengthen our brains -- all in service of better work and a healthy life. 

Together

Creating Community

If you can't find a community of people who share your interests or support your work why don't you just create one? That's the question Madeline Dore explored as she uncovered ways to literally design, nourish, and grow a global community. In this detailed explorative article, Dore outlines the steps she's undertaken and lessons learned to provide concrete, practical examples to help you foster connections with others, online, now. 

Online Learning

Whether it's hosting a webinar, doing a presentation, or delivering an online course we're all looking to find ways to get and keep people engaged when they are working at a distance. Edutopia asked expert educators how they engage their students and provide 8 useful strategies to help you improve your participation. The overall lesson is that virtual learning is something we design, not something we just do. Design better experiences, get better outcomes. 
And if you want to teach better online, here are tips on how to do it from award-winning educators. 

Tools & Techniques

Conflict Resolution

Every innovator knows conflict. Most of us struggle with how to handle it. NPR's Life Kit program looked at the techniques and strategies for resolving conflicts and finds, among other things, that approaching conflict through curiosity can amplify compassion while also finding possible avenues for resolution. It's like design thinking for your arguments. 

Stategic Foresight Tools

Want to plan in a way that recognizes uncertainty, but doesn't use that as an excuse? The Future Institute Today has a set of tools that can be used to apply strategic foresight methods to strategy development that are simple, template-based, and free. 

Resilient Strategic Planning

Tools are only as useful as the mindset we bring to our strategy and planning. XPlane has developed a set of guidelines for how to build out a strategy process that incorporates uncertainty into the plan rather than ignores it. When combined with tools like those mentioned above, you might find yourself seeing opportunities, rather than fear, in that uncertainty and plan better because of it.
Sharing is caring as they say. If this touched or inspired you please share it with others. If you have ideas for a future issue -- share them with me. 
“Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.”
- William James
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