Engaging And Sustaining Creativity And Innovation: Part I

“The first step toward being creative is often simply to go beyond being a passive observer and to translate thoughts into deeds.  With a little creative confidence, we can spark positive action in the world.”  -Tom and David Kelley Creative Confidence

We would be hard-pressed to find an adult that doesn’t have some recollection of the traditional English nursery rhyme…”Jack and Jill”.  Especially the first two stanzas…

Jack and Jill went up the hill

To fetch a pail of water.

It is within these first two lines, if we look deep enough, that we are provided great insight and consideration…into our next steps for engaging and sustaining creativity and innovation in our schools and organizations.

And while it did not work out for them in the end, as Jack fell down and broke his crown

Jack and Jill were very sure why they were going up the mountain and what they were after.  As to whether that well and pail of water existed at the top of the hill, we will never be sure.  For, according to Wikipedia…”the rhyme has traditionally been seen as a nonsense verse, particularly as the couple go up a hill to find water, which is often thought to be found at the bottom of hills.

Which provides us with an interesting perspective as we determine how to better infuse and engage creativity and innovation…in our schools and our organizations.

Unlike Jack and Jill

Do we always know why we are going up the hill?  Do we even really and truly know what we are after? Is the hill even where we need to go?

Or, are we making our way up the hill in search of answers to questions that we haven’t even truly clarified for ourselves, let alone for others…and our organization as a whole.

And even if we make up it to the well (network), have we equipped ourselves with the necessary questions (the pail), to pull up and gather the water (ideas) that can drive us towards the vision and direction that we seek.

As we consider our next steps…

We understand and see the necessity and need for infusing and weaving creativity and innovation into all that we do. but we struggle to visualize what that truly looks like…or even means.

So, in regards to creativity and innovation, we’ve sounded the trumpets, we’ve rolled out the red carpet, we’ve even opened the gates of the kingdom wide to welcome both of them in.  The only problem…

Neither creativity or innovation may be standing at the gate waiting to come in…and if they are, we may struggle to recognize who they are.

And even if we have the awareness to notice and welcome them both into the kingdom, we would be hard-pressed on how to get them to take up residence and stick around.

However, the only thing we do know for sure…we can’t wait much longer to usher them in because we know how much they will add and benefit the kingdom as a whole and everyone in it…making it better place for us all to live.

Which is why, in the end, we know that creativity and innovation will play a vital role in moving education forward, as well as creating and sustaining positive organizational momentum…as well as relevance.  Creativity and innovation will be processes that we will not only need to infuse and engage to improve learning…but the overall lives and futures of our students and adults.

Which is why it will be so important for us to push forward in our efforts to infuse and engage creativity and innovation at all levels of our organizations…

So even though we know it, we say it, and we expound their benefits…it often comes to a screeching halt at this point.  Knowing about the importance and benefits of something is much different than taking action and determining ways to experiment with, incorporate, and weave it into the processes of what we do…on an ongoing and daily basis.

And while we know they are both necessary, needed, and important…we are still often not sure how to truly infuse and engage creativity and innovation…especially as sustainable and scalable processes across our schools and organizations.

Which is why we not only have to determine and define for ourselves what creativity and innovation is, but where it comes from, and even what it looks like…

We have to look at those methods, strategies and processes that allow them to cascade and flow across and at all levels of the organization.

And that begins first…with our mindset.

And unfortunately, most of us fail to consider ourselves to be either creative or innovative.  We lack what Tom and David Kelley refer in their new book as “Creative Confidence”.  Which is where the discussion must begin…our starting point.  Especially, if we are going to move towards increased creativity and innovation across the organization.  If we are going to move it beyond small pockets and just a few individuals.

We have to begin by determining what are the first, as well as the next steps, towards infusing creativity and innovation into education.  To weave them seamlessly into the very fabric of what we do…

Which will require us to figure out what that looks like, sounds like, feels like, is like…when engaged and active.  To determine how we, as educational organizations, districts, classrooms, teams, and individuals…create that necessary “Creative Confidence” that the Kelley Brothers refer to.

So, instead of trying to take it all on, maybe we need to just start here…

We need to make sure we know why we are going up the hill.

To overcome inertia, good ideas are not enough.  Careful planning is not enough.  The organizations, communities, and nations that thrive are the ones that initiate action, that launch rapid innovation cycles, that learn by doing as soon as they can.  They are sprinting forward, while others are still waiting at the starting line.” -Tom and David Kelley Creative Confidence

(In a future post, we will look at a variety of processes that successful institutions have implemented and incorporated to build up and sustain creativity and innovation across all levels of their organization).

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