Posts Tagged ‘Creativity’

Every country on Earth is reforming education and learning.

21 Oct

Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert, gave an enlightening talk about education reform around the world. Education reform is happening less through legislation, and more through an awakening of what creativity, knowledge-gathering, and motivation really are.

Education reform is a critical topic as Thomas Friedman (of the NYTimes and ‘The World is Flat’) recently opined that, ‘America’s core competency is is ability to attract, develop and unleash creative talent.

Is that competency in danger? Are other countries struggling as well?

Sir Ken Robinson challenges a few key assumptions that stem from the intellectual culture of the  Enlightenment and the economic circumstances of the Industrial Revolution.

  • Why do we batch students by age or year? Shouldn’t we batch students by their respective skill in a certain topic?
  • Why do we educate students in the same class sizes? Don’t some learn better in large groups, small groups, or even alone?
  • Why are all students forced to learn during the same hours? Some students are geared towards morning, afternoon, or evening learning.

The most alarming statistic Sir Ken Robinson provides is from a study on divergent thinking published in Breakpoint and Beyond. Divergent thinking is the ability to think of many answers to a specific problem… this is the first step to problem solving… before we get analytical and make THE BEST decision (this latter process if where business education focuses today). 98% of 1500 kindergartners scored at the genius level for divergent thinking. Their scores went down as they progressed in the education system.

What examples have you seen of successful education reform? What programs are creating vibrant students who are making a difference in the world?


Popularity: 37% [?]


Stress. And Creativity.

04 Jun

Let’s talk a moment about stress.  We all have it in our lives.  The endless to-do lists, the demands of job, family, bills.  You know the drill.  For most of us, stress is a familiar part of everyday life.  A day without it is, well, vacation.  Stress and creativity have a tricky relationship.  It takes a fair amount of comfort to foster creative ideas.  I don’t necessarily mean feet-up, chocolate-nearby sort of comfort, but rather a lack of stress.  The best ideas come when we are least stressed; when taking a shower or driving for example.  And yet the pressure to perform is a constant.

An interesting report on NPR the other day spoke to this phenomenon.   Dan Ariely, author of “The Upside of Irrationality” says:

“… when it comes to creativity and problem solving and thinking and memory and concentration, it turns out you can’t will yourself to a higher level of performance. … instead, the high bonus actually got people to be very stressed.”

In his behavioral experiments, the higher the reward stakes (i.e. performance bonus), the less performance he got from his participants.  This caught my attention and I began to think how it could apply to the work we do at Drawing Down the Vision.

Businesses who want the most creative work from their employees, entrepreneurs seeking to see their ideas come to fruition, anyone who wants to get the most from their creative thinking, all are under a fair amount of stress to get things done.  But concentrating on this stress will only make it more acute.  Instead, relaxing a bit will let the ideas come in through the back door…via your sketchbook.

By tracking your thoughts in your sketchbook and putting ideas down on paper, you can simply and cheaply activate the creative thinking that is harboring your next big idea.  Drawing Down the Vision can get your team working together and drumming up new and innovative ways to solve problems to grow your business.

Give drawing a try.  It’s a whole lot less stressful than the traditional approach and you might get some amazing new ideas out of it!

Related reading: The No. 1 Habit of Highly Creative People
Related video: Dan Pink, The surprising truth about what really motivates us

Popularity: 6% [?]


Score one for creativity

26 May

In a recent article in Fast Company Magazine, creativity was touted as the most important quality for business leaders today.  It seems this is a bit of a sea change in the world of business.  In the past, especially during economic hard times, business leaders would have buckled down with tried and true practices and hoped to weather the storm.  This is not the case however as CEO’s navigate an increasingly global and challenging marketplace.  They are instead developing creativity in themselves and their employees to find innovative ways to keep their ideas flowing and their companies growing.

How can business professionals develop their own creativity?  Getting outside of the normal routine of the day to day, drawing in a sketchbook, taking a different route to work are all small ways to create a big impact in thinking.  Team building workshops such as Drawing Down the Vision can get a group of people excited to approach a new project with the freshest ideas they can muster.  Encourage your team to develop their creativity.  Practice some creativity enhancing ideas yourself.  It’s the best thing you can bring to the table.

Popularity: 4% [?]



24 May

Recently on a trip to New York City, I had the privilege to meet up with an old friend and fellow art student Stephanie Koenig. Koenig and I were sculpture majors together at the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP School of Fine Art a number of years ago. While there we shared a love of all things involved in the creative process; drawing, research, materials, processes and tools. We both have gone on to follow our love and passion for Fine Art in many ways through teaching and by continuing to pursue our own studio work.

Koenig is based in Philadelphia these days and like most artists, she wears many hats. One of her jobs is studio manager at NextFab Organization where innovators go to translate new ideas into physical prototypes. NextFab is a place where business innovation directly intersects with artistic creativity. The organization employs industrial designers, mechanical engineers, animators as well as artists to create a team of individuals who can solve most problems on route to producing new products. Stephanie and I spent a good bit of our conversation sharing our anecdotes of the intersection of art and business. It seems the more people we meet in the entrepreneurial world, the more we realize how artists can contribute to the creative side of business.

I am extremely excited to hear that other artists are dipping their toes into the business pool. I find that developing my own inner entrepreneur is strengthening my career as a working artist. Working with Adam on Drawing Down the Vision has shown us both how tapping into creativity and maintaining a vibrant sketchbook can enhance his professional career. We should all step outside of our self imposed labels and make a point to connect and intersect with those in other fields.

At this intersection lies true creative potential.

Popularity: 9% [?]


Trajectory of the creative mind

24 Mar
The Seed of a New Business: These sketches evolved into Dan's current product, artwork for offices. Every successful business starts small.

The Seed of a New Business: These sketches evolved into Dan's current product, artwork for offices. Every successful business starts small.

Notes that don't fall away: Dan shifted from legal pads and post-its to have a central journal where he could track, develop, and revisit his ideas.

Notes that don't fall away: Dan shifted from legal pads and post-its to have a central journal where he could track, develop, and revisit his ideas.

In our working culture, creative people are perceived to be ‘born.’ They’re creative just because they are! Unless we’re studying art history… seldom do we hear about how someone’s creative abilities changed over time. At Drawing Down the Vision, we believe that everyone has tremendous innate creative capacity, and would like share stories of how others have strengthened, and continue to strengthen their creative thinking. To begin, Denver Faulk and I had some fun talking with Dan Wallace of Ideafood. Here’s what we learned…

Dan is a creative journaler. He’s been successfully self-employed in the marketing industry for the last 23 years; using his unique  perspective, skills and network to deliver the results his clients needed. Those experiences, and a desire to succeed, have put his creativity on trajectory starting as a legal pad note-taker, and growing into the creative journaler he is today.

Dan originally used journaling as a bucket for his thoughts when he started his career at Fallon in 1984 (then Advertising Age’s Ad Agency of the Year). He had been burdened by the note-taker sickness of too many pieces of paper, always in a jumbled mess which would one day ‘just fall away.’ He shifted to one central place to collect those notes, his journal. This way, Dan could continue capturing his thoughts, but also have a record to return and explore his growth. He could make connections between the different states of mind he had working with different people in different environments.

The journal was a form of knowledge gathering. It helped him to practice active learning, applying his thoughts immediately in creative ways… always trying to come up with a concise visual way to document his thoughts. This process supported him as he moved on to build his digital marketing business in the late 90s and early 00s. The journal enabled Dan to seize more understanding of the world around him… to be able to critically analyze it, with open eyes, and to share his thoughts on client projects and the digital marketing industry.

Then, the dot-com-bomb blasted. Dan’s digital marketing suffered a significant decline in 2000, and he was put in a position where he had to reinvent himself and his business. With newfound time on his hands, and a passion to come up with new fresh ideas, he dove deeper into his journal, trying to build his creativity. What had once been his tool for active learning, on the side from his day-to-day business, but a core component of success… now became his full-time job! Discovering the next venture would consume Dan, and his search for ways to serve his customers drove a shift to journaling new product concepts, rather than just marketing ideas.

With a large collection of developed ideas and hand-rendered prototypes, Dan needed to find a way to make them real. He connected with Robyn Waters, who was VP of Trend at Target. Being astounded by the content of the journal, and his creative methodology, she offered to co-present his original idea, artwork for offices, at the national Innovation Convergence. Today, this initial concept of artwork for offices has morphed into a product that helps companies hire, educate, and motivate employees.

The focus on product development versus active learning in Dan’s journal was inversely related to the amount of time he devoted to his work. When his business was booming, he learned in the journal… when his business was struggling, his journal was booming… helping him to find his way. Today, Dan is actively developing the product line that sprung from his exploratory product development journals, with five sales to Fortune 500 companies under his belt.

Now that product development is occupying much of his time, he uses his journal to flex his creative muscles, keeping them active for the next time he needs them. Being in a more entreprenurial mode… he’s looking to continue that creative momentum. The journal, one of 30 over his career, serves to keep him fresh.

To close, we asked Dan a question… what would you say to those who have never journaled before? His response:

‘Do anything… ugly or poorly written, set the bar low. Get started. You can only go up from there.’

Popularity: 18% [?]


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