Innovating To Learn: Tapping Into Experimentation

“Adaptation does not happen without experimentation.”  -Juan Carlos Eichholz Adaptive Capacity: How Organizations Can Thrive in a Changing World

If we never ask what if…we will never be able to move past what is.

And yet, how often do we ask what if?  

Do we create the environments and spaces in our organizations for what if’s to even exist?

What we fail to acknowledge or understand, is that creating pockets of innovative disruption and creative experimentation in an organization, which are often deeply grounded in stasis and status quo processes and structures, requires an intentional act. As Michael Schrage shares in The Innovator’s Hypothesis, “The real innovation investment potential of experimentation has yet to be tapped.”

It is in that intentional tapping, in the willingness to be intentional towards experimental and discovery learning, that we not only grow and learn, but learn what works and what doesn’t work for us as individuals and as organizations. Or as Eichholz adds from his work Adaptive Capacity, “Experimentation increases an organization’s adaptive capacity by enhancing its responsiveness, because experiments force you to continuously look at reality to test new options.”

But seldom does experimentation and discovery learning scale in an organization haphazardly.  It requires intentionality, both in creating the processes and structures, as well the aim in regards to intent and outcomes. Organizations and the people within need not only the ability to innovate and experiment, they also need permission and a purpose.

As shared in Scaling Creativity and Innovation, “Permission provides the authority and license to try, to engage the new.” To add,Accountability and standardization have all but obliterated and wiped permission off of the educational landscape and map. Scripted curriculums, rigid pacing guides, high-stakes tests, and value-added evaluation systems have done little to embolden teachers or administrators to engage more creativity and innovation across our campuses. In fact, it has been quite the opposite.”

As Scaling Creativity and Innovation adds,

“Permission opens the door to possibilities.”

To add to this need for permission to open up the door to more experimental, discovery learning, “When you have an organization that has deep understanding of their goals and commitments, when permission is provided, when autonomy is granted, you will have set a foundation for more creative and innovative endeavors and work to be initiated, at all levels of the system.”

For which I will leave you with these thoughts, in regards to creativity, innovation, experimentation, and discovery learning from Scaling Creativity and Innovation

“If we are going to heighten the creative and innovative thinking in our classrooms, schools and districts, we are going to have to grant permission:”

  • Permission to experiment and engage trial and error discovery learning.
  • Permission to take chances, at the risk of failure, to further student and adult learning in our classrooms, schools and districts.
  • Permission to look at learning and school in new, novel and exciting ways that extend learning across the entire community.
  • Permission to engage ideas and thinking that open up possibilities, rather than present obstacles.

“Permission provides the consent and authority to engage the ideas and creative and innovative thinking that has often lain dormant and unexplored for far too long.”

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