Censemaking No. 32

Self-Psychology and Innovation

We — us, ourselves — are the greatest vehicle for innovation. The quality of our creations is tied intimately to how we are and who we are. So this issue, we’re paying particular attention to ways to support, encourage, protect, and energize ourselves.

We’re going to look at what it means to be a leader, the role of connection, how to take action, how to be more purposeful (and maybe happy), gardening and overcoming hope as acts of resistance and social change, lessons on how to learn (and grow) and much more on things that can help you be more creative, healthy, and innovative.

As the world feels more complicated than ever, the way we manage and care for ourselves will shape how well we care for others and create the kind of things that the world needs and we enjoy making.

Keep well. I hope this week’s innovation coffee break provides some ways to help you do it, maintain it, and grow wellness within your practice and life.

- Cameron

Excellence and Learning

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” – Albert Einstein

One of the best way to be your best is to keep learning. This helpful infographic summarizes the strategies that are most likely to help you foster your own personal practice of learning through life.

Being excellent isn’t just for Bill and Ted, it’s for all of us. As part of its most excellent series, Aeon Psyche has published a guide to being excellent. See how Plato, Aristotle and your life can spur excellence.

While we are talking philosophers and learning, let’s talk about what makes the great ones great at both: questions. Specifically, it’s about asking good questions. This summary drawn from philosophy can help frame your inquiries for teaching, learning, and sharing ideas better.

Global consulting giant McKinsey recently published an intentional learning framework that provides a simple 3x3x3 approach to better focusing not only how you learn, but what and when. Doing so focuses our attention on what’s most important and achievable.

Another way to hone excellence and learning is by doing. One barrier to doing new things are the excuses we make for why things won’t work. Nir Eyal looks at the common excusethat won’t work for me” and how we often fail to start rather than start and fail. Learn more by doing more and not excusing before we try.

Happiness and Resistance

Want to feel happy? Find happiness, don’t chase it. That’s the lesson from new research study titled The Paradox of Pursuing Happiness that shows, like many other pursuits of change in complex situations, we’re more likely to achieve it indirectly.

Maybe the answer isn’t about pursuing happiness, but finding purpose. The Japanese concept of Ikigai is loosely translated into a “life well-lived” and, like the research above, speaks to the practice of acting in service and purpose as a pathway to wellbeing (and happiness) instead of as a goal unto itself. Not only that, it can add years to your life, too.

For many, gardening is a means of finding purpose. What Maria Popova has found is that it’s also a way of fostering great social change. In this beautiful look at the literature and research on gardening-as-resistance Popova pulls some gems from what great gardeners have learned: the pursuit of paradise often begins in the garden.

Thinking happy thoughts is not a productive way to happiness unless it is backed with action. Research on happiness has found that daydreaming about happy things does little to improve your mood than taking a small action — even smiling. Get out of our heads and into our bodies is the lesson for improving your mood and your creativity.

Events & Learning

The Canadian Evaluation Society’s CES Ontario’s annual conference is May 11th and I’ll be offering a workshop on visual thinking tools for learning and innovation. Registration is required and open to all.

The next offering of Peter Horvath’s cohort-based, university accredited course on the fundamentals of systems thinking and service design begins in mid-May. As a reader of Censemaking you’re entitled to a 30% discount using the code censemaking30 when you register.

The Weekend University has a great collection of resources, event listings, and a regular newsletter on psychology that’s worth the read. Check out their latest issue for upcoming events and interesting and emerging research from psychology and related sciences.

Collaborative drawing is a way to explore ideas that might be complicated. The Design and Critical Thinking group is hosting a free, participatory workshop on The Product Field: Sensemaking and the Shapes of Innovation on Thursday May 6 at 1200 ET (1800 CET). Register online and have fun while learning at the same time.

Influence and Persuasion

Innovation is largely about changing people’s minds. One way that doesn’t work all that well is through facts. Ozan Varol points out how, despite having great evidence, changing people’s minds is more about appealing to people’s sense of identity than relying on facts alone.

Vaccinations are one of the few ways we’ll all get out of the pandemic, yet many people are still hesitant. There are some lessons from behavioural economics that help us to nudge people toward a healthy decision that we can apply to vaccines or any issue we’re looking to influence.

Nudges, like the ones mentioned above, require a design strategy to do well. The conditions and approach to change need to be thought-through and designed. Our recent Censemaking post looked at this issue and point to how big changes come from designing small actions.

Hope is nice, but it doesn’t change things much. That’s the conclusion that Extinction Rebellion’s Clare Farrell has concluded after years of climate activism. In this conversation with Yancey Strickler, she points to how providing points of action for people counter the inertia that is created when people rely too much on hope for change.

There’s lots to do, but being kind to yourself is one of the most important. Be kind and be well


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