What Is Your Catalyst For Change?


Curiosity is the currency of change that move us from what is to what if.

Curiosity creates the conditions to continually question the current state of things…it is willful and wayward.  It disturbs and disrupts.  

The status quo detests the questions and considerations that curiosity creates…

Curiosity creates the space for wonder, imagination and amazement to exist, in a world where we’ve very often lost the will, want or ability to be astonished.

The status quo deems wonder and amazement as child-like traits that have no business in our grown-up world…

Curiosity makes us want to know how things work, in a world where most often we are just happy that we don’t have to be concerned about it.

The status quo very often views the tinkerers, inventors and creators as the crazy ones…

Curiosity makes us want to know why people and systems interact and react in the way they do, so that we can create a better world.

The status quo would question why you would want to ‘fix’ something that is not broken…

Curiosity makes us willing to go where others aren’t willing to go, in order to see things that others haven’t seen.

The status quo very often views the the explorers and pioneers as the ‘lost’ ones…

In the end, we have an obligation and a responsibility to keep curiosity, imagination, wonder, amazement and awe alive.  In our children…and in ourselves.


Neurating Curiosity


“There is nothing more important or more strange than curiosity.”  -Ian Leslie ‘Curious’

Curiosity makes us want to explore.  Curiosity turns us into pioneers.  Curiosity makes us willing to leave the safety of our comfortable lives and our known world.  Curiosity drives us out of the ordinary and mundane, in search of the hidden and the unknown.  Curiosity makes us want to take things apart, to know how things work, to see what makes them tick.  In many ways…

Curiosity is disruptive.  

Curiosity is impulsive.  

Curiosity is powerful and difficult to deny.

Curiosity is a gateway…one that leads to imagination, creativity and innovation.  To all that which makes us human.

Curiosity makes us ask questions that change ourselves, our organizations, our lives and even our world.  Curiosity is infectious, irresistible, even compelling.

But in a world where everything has become instantaneous…are we losing our will, our want, our need to be curious?

Have our minds become numb to curating curiosity?

As Ian Leslie shares in his work ‘Curious’…in the “age of immediacy” we may have lost “desirable difficulties.”  Or as he adds, “We confuse the practice of curiosity with ease of access to information and forget that real curiosity requires the exercise of effort.”  “In a world where vast inequalities in access to information are finally being leveled, a new divide is emerging – between the curious and the incurious.”

“Curiosity is contagious.”

and yet…

“So is incuriosity.”

Curiosity is a primal part of what makes us human and the very reason we ask why…

In a world that has become much more uncertain, curiosity pushes us forward through the ambiguity and fear that threatens to paralyze us into inaction and immobility.  In other words…

“Curiosity is the sweetest form of dissatisfaction.”  -Ian Leslie ‘Curious’

Measuring Creativity And Innovation?


“Our future prosperity depends on the quality of our collective imaginations.” -Eric Ries

In his book The Lean Startup, Eric Ries shares the thought that, “When I meet with most entrepreneurial teams, I ask them a simple question: How do you know that you’re making progress?  Most of them really can’t answer that question.”  For which Ries adds, “It’s not enough to just give it a whirl; you’ve got to give it a whirl with purpose and direction.”

Which is an interesting idea on how startups should operate.  Especially when we tend to think of startups as these shifting, pivoting, freewheeling, innovative, and agile juggernauts.  We have this idea that for an organization to be creative, innovative and agile…measurement and metrics would not only get in the way, but dampen and diminish the energy and flow of the organizational culture and environment.

Which runs contrary to how creativity and innovation actually work…

Creativity and innovation is not something we indulge because it sounds cool, rather it is the process of looking at new and novel ways to add value to the work and lives of those we lead at all levels of our organization.  It is not an event, as much as it is a way of operating, doing and being.

It is about designing a better user experience…from the classroom to the boardroom.

And to do this, we need to determine not only if we are progressing with our work, but that it is providing value we intended to the user.  Whether that value is in something that has been curated or created, the use or implementation of technology or tools, or even the flows,structures, processes and systems we have built up within our organization.  Inability of any of these to add value to the user experience is not only a flaw in the design, but initiates frustration as the innovation is found to be useless, tedious, obtrusive or unnecessary.

And why shouldn’t this design of the user experience be the goal of education?  Why aren’t we looking to design a better learning experience; from the learning spaces we create to the curriculum we curate…value, rather than completion should be the focus of our work.  The creator should always be working from the eye of the user.

But this has not been the traditional way of how we have approached education.  Input in, output out.  We have traditionally spent more time determining a pacing guide than the learning environment and experience where it would be initiated.

Moving away from these traditional approaches will require not only more experimental learning, but delving much more often into trial and error, discovery learning.  Requiring our educational institutions to learn how to become more creative, innovative and agile as organizations.  Especially when shifting and pivoting has not been a necessary or prevalent part of our educational vernacular.

However, it is not enough to transform and evolve our work towards being more creative, innovative and agile, if we are unwilling to take that same trial and error, discovery learning mindset towards the metrics and measurements we use to determine progress, both individually and as organizations.

As our work evolves and transforms, so must our metrics and measurements…

Which means we are going to need to get more creative and innovative on how we set the metrics and measurements if we are going to do the creative and innovative work necessary to prepare our students for a rapidly shifting and changing world.  Innovative work, bound by traditional metrics and measures, leads not only to deepening levels of frustration, but creates misalignment at all levels of the system.

In the end, the goal is not to determine if we can measure the creative and innovative thinking and ideas of our students and educators, but can we determine if growth and learning is actually occurring.  And to tell you the truth, we just don’t need a rubric to tell us if that is or isn’t happening.  If you really want to see if something is working, if value is being added, you have to go to ground level and see for yourself.  Just watching, along with a few minutes of conversation can provide us a plethora of information and real time data.

Remember, we like to repeat the mantra that what get’s measured…is what gets done.  But the funny thing about data, just like the questions we ask, is that if we are measuring the wrong things, if we are asking the wrong questions…don’t be surprised if we don’t end up with or where we expected.

I will leave you with this final Eric Ries quote from The Lean Startup, “Our educational system is not preparing people for the 21st century.  Failure is an essential part of entrepreneurship.  If you work hard, you can get an ‘A’ pretty much guaranteed, but in entrepreneurship, that’s not how it works.”

If we want to prepare our students and educators for this rapidly shifting and turbulent world, then we may need to become not only more creative, innovative and agile as organizations and individuals…but more creative and innovative of the metrics and measurements we determine to chart our path of progress.

The Art Of Innovating Engagement


“Wherever there is a point of interaction, there is potential for innovation.” -Bruce Nussbaum ‘Creative Intelligence’

We live in a time of information and interaction overload, leading to a plethora of engagement access and excess.  Learning to traverse, as well as enhance these interaction and engagement opportunities will be the difference in our ability to communicate and collaborate at deeper and greater levels in the future.

But first, it begins with understanding the shifts that are occurring not only in society, but in our approach and mindset to these shifts.  These understandings will serve us better in creating opportunities to innovate our organizational environments and cultures in a more creative and dynamic manner.

For example, we shifted from a mindset of…

  • Hoarding to sharing information.
  • Passive consumption to active creation.
  • From silo environments to collaborative cultures.
  • Instruction implementation to creative problem-solving.

As society has shifted, so have those expectations around how we view engagement as individuals and as organizations.  As Bruce Nussbaum shares in Creative Intelligence, “These new interactions and connections provide people with a deep sense of meaning.”  From our schools to businesses, people are looking to engage in deeper, more meaningful ways.  People are moving from disconnected, detached collisions and contacts too much more connected, relational influences and networks.  Inability of schools or businesses to embrace these changes and shifts effectively and proactively are often the first signs of the unraveling of their relevance.

In his work Creative Intelligence, Nussbaum adds that “More and more people are rejecting the passive consumption of the past…”  For which he adds, “We want to be actively engaged, and we want to shape that engagement.”

Which is a shift that we have to be very aware of as we look to build the creative and innovative capacity of our organizational environments and cultures.  Individuals are not just looking to be part of that environment and culture, they want to have a voice in shaping and molding it.  Whether 5 or 55, people are no longer willing to remain passively on the sidelines, they want to be active participants in the process, whether that process is the learning they focus on or the products they are buying.

Seeing the importance of voice, will ultimately lead to organizations with individuals that have higher levels of engagement, of commitment, leading to greater organizational relevance and significance.

In the end, awareness of these mental mindshits allow us to create more engaged, more creative, more innovative, and more productive individuals and organizations.

“It’s time we recognized that today what we often value most are these special, active engagements.”  -Bruce Nussbaum ‘Creative Intelligence’

References and quotes from…

Nussbaum, Bruce. Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire. New York. 2013.