Censemaking No.21

Vive Innovation

Vive is Latin for 'to live' and innovation is all about living to the fullest right now. Whether it is 'thrive' or 'survive' - vive is a part of what shapes our present and future in 2020/.
This week we look at ways in which innovation is enhancing our lives and sustaining us through uncertainty.
We look at developing the beginner's mind, how to teach better over Zoom, some thoughts on the design sprint, how leadership lessons from the art world might lead us through change, and more. 
Kettle's boiling, coffee is on, and the cookies are plated. Let's get learning. 
Keep safe, well, and caffeinated :) 

-- Cameron

Making and Movement

Lessons from the Art World

What if you thought less about a mission statement and more about creating a movement for change? That's the message that marketer Scott Goodson makes as he looks at the ways in which artists, using the provocation of beauty, imagery, contrast, and reflection of people's lives around them create ways to engage people and lead them to issues and action in ways that are both familiar and original. The world can change through art and leadership.

Design Sprints 

Sometimes movements are more sprints. The design sprint (there are many ways to do one) -- has been lauded by designers, does it really move us toward innovation? Not so fast. Swiss-based designer Kevin Richard recently wrote an insightful critique of the design sprint, arguing that much of the foundations of the methods aren't strong, with circular reasoning, faulty assumptions, rigid structures (when flexibility is demanded) and more. Before running over to a sprint you might want to walk back a little and read this piece. 

Learning From Nature

Natural Innovation 

A recent article on Medium drew some attention for highlighting some of the physiological adaptations that help certain animals survive. Take the Darkling beetle from Namibia - one of the driest places on earth -- that can use its body to draw water from fog to survive (called vapour harvesting). This same approach has been adapted to provide fresh drinking water for humans. The lesson is that nature's survival techniques can provide design inspiration to help us thrive and survive, too. 

Looking Back to Look Forward

The threats of the present and future might be prevented by looking backward and using our relationship with nature as a guide. That's the argument made in a recent NY Times Magazine profile of ways designers and architects are using nature, history, and our understanding of both to create structures and solutions that can address future problems like climate change. From indoor farms to 'milking parlours' for cows, the ideas and innovations profiled bring together old ideas and new technologies to help see the future, today. 

Teaching: The Ultimate Change

Teaching Online: The Long (Not Short) of it

Sheila B Robinson, a master instructor, visual presenter, and educator recently joined Barbi Honeycutt on the Lecturebreakers podcast to discuss one of the big challenges facing presenters today: how to do long-format instruction over Zoom? Many of us face situations where we can't do short sessions and this conversation is packed with tips for presenters, teachers, and learners all around.
For those interested in teaching and presenting online and learning more, I'd highly recommend listening to Dr. Honeycutt's podcast and subscribing to Dr. Robinson's great newsletter on teaching and learning (The Learning Curve) and includes gems like this one devoted to online engagement of learners. Learn well, my friends. 

The Learners Mind

Innovation is principally about putting learning into action. The Japanese term shoshin describes a practice of cultivating 'the beginner's mind', which is a key to being open to new things and learning as we go. Cognitive neuroscientist and psychologist Christian Jarrett recently profiled this way of thinking, seeing, and engaging with the world in a recent issue of Psyche, pointing out strategies for cultivating this approach in yourself and your teams to learn better and more often and overcoming the hubris of our own expertise in the process.  


Virtual Collaboration

The Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement is hosting the fourth edition of its wildly popular workshop on turf, trust, and virtual collaboration coming up October 29, 2020. Registration is online.  

Systemic Design

The premier conference on systemic design is online this year and is one of the most affordable ways to learn how to bring together systems thinking and design for change-making and impact. Indian agricultural advocate Vandana Shiva and systemic design leader Harold Nelson headline the list of speakers, workshops and activities starting October 9th through to October 17th. Registration is online. 


If there's ever been a time to learn how change happens and is created, it's now. At least, that's what I think so I'm starting up a new learning series on innovation, the art and science of change - starting with a one-hour, free webinar delivered by me (Cameron Norman) October 22, 2020 at 1100 EDT. Registration is required. See you there!
Share this with others -- coffee's better when you can share it with someone.
"In a world buffeted by change, faced daily with new threats to its safety, the only way to conserve is by innovating. The oldest stability possible is stability in motion.” —John W. Gardner (1912-2002)
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