CREATIVE DISSENT

golden-book

Much of what I have seen in response to the leader of our neighbor to the south has the same angry and dark tone that he himself uses.  What humor does is to use the same tactic  by simply shifting the context. Ms. Conway’s phrase  “Alternative Facts” deserves  exactly this kind of reply.  What she is trying to do is to erode the meaning of the word, fact  – which is extremely dangerous.  It is illustrated by the reaction of many of the leader’s supporters, who simply respond – I don’t care.  But if we stop caring, who are we?

One simply hopes that someone who accepts alternative facts can see the reality pictured here rather than putting all their aspirational eggs in one questionable basket.

Another more lighthearted response comes from a Dutch talk show.

The beauty of both these approaches – rather than angry rants – is that they’re fun and help us get on with our lives and doing whatever good we can in our small corners – and whatever the leader next door thinks of them – he’ll be less able to end his Tweet with “sad”.

Transformation – and how it happens

I spent the morning seeing pictures and hearing about a recent trip to China – two working professionals spent a month there last November on holiday. One is a lawyer.  Her husband is the dean of a cathedral in a neighboring city.  He started by saying that getting his visa was more difficult than for any other member of the touring group.  Apparently he was seen as a threat who might be up to converting the 1.5 billion Chinese he’d run in to.

They had marvelous pictures – and raved about the luxurious accommodation and the food.  The dean remarked that for him, what was odd was not visiting any place of worship of his own denomination during his time on the mainland – though there was clearly lots of exposure to temples and shrines.  The way he described the experience – and especially the contacts with young English speaking guides was “transforming”.

This made sense to me.  On thing that bugs me about any enterprise is how often we seek transforming experiences is by hanging out with people so much like ourselves. In his book, Imagine, How Creativity Works, Jonah Lehrer notes how the strength of the high tech industry in Israel is influenced by the fact that most young men have compulsory military service a few weeks of the year.  It means that they make loose connections with people frequently and reconnect – and this spills over into new ideas from varied sources and capabilities in different fields.

But Lehrer also notes that our  “friends” and connections so beloved of social media – surely loose ones – are no substitute for real learning from others.  Thinking that others really care about what I have for dinner, or where I am right now, or my latest selfie may just represent the triumph of ego over reality.  But I find there are benefits of following different folks on Twitter who come from different fields and perspectives.  Some of them are good curators of new ideas well worth a read.

A new year of possibilities

Happy New Year!

And a quick reminder – thanks to Creative Confidence from the Kelley brothers of the famous Ideo – a company renowned for its innovative design. It’s a good read.

The brothers remind us that Mind Mapping is a great tool to expand and generate new ideas – making notes instead of taking notes.  The further you go in adding words and ideas to each branch the more innovative the ideas because of the mind’s incredible ability to make links and associations.

Lists, on the other hand, are excellent reminders of what you know already.

In a recent session where the objective was to generate new ideas, the facilitator suggested that we make lists first – and then turn the contents into a mind map.  but the reverse process will actually work better.  If you are using mapping using software, of course, you can turn any map into a list with the flick of a button or two – a way to deal with your list loving friends.

I’ve started the year by making a map of all the things that I want to do in order to have more fun.  That’s different than making resolutions and we’ll see how it works.

A revaluation of one MOOC experience

When I last wrote about a Coursera MOOC called Creativity, Innovation and Change, I was quite optimistic about it.  So were some 125,000 others who enrolled, probably.  But for the second time, I have dropped out of a MOOC.

I’m not exactly a novice in the subject matter this time, unlike jazz improv.  I have produced concerts in professional halls right from concept to implementation and an international tour for a choir of 40 young people.  I helped an organization or two create themselves, helped organizations go through some rather traumatic change processes and wrote grant proposals for them that worked in realizing hundreds of thousands of dollars.  As a former teacher, I also developed courses from scratch, taught them and evaluated them. I’ve had one of my portraits chosen for a juried local art show, and had music that I have written performed. When I enrolled in the Coursera course, I was finishing producing a reunion and working on another major project involving vision and change.  So when I found that the course wasn’t really addressing things that were new to me, I did one of the things that you can do with any learning project.  I ended it.

Is that failure?  I’d feel differently if I were an undergraduate and this were a required course.  I did pass Anglo Saxon and at one time could even translate it, along with some Latin and Greek – and I passed an undergraduate elective course on Leibnitz and Spinoza, even though I didn’t get it and wasn’t mature enough to be ready for it.  Later life learning offers wider options.  The main learning in this time frame was instead about how I learn – and often don’t!

Restless to consolidate what I did know about learning, I re-read three books, by Robert Fritz: The Path of Least Resistance, Creating, and Your Life as Art.  I have praised his approach elsewhere on this site. (Simply search on “Robert Fritz” in the search button on the top right if you want to read them).  I was not disappointed.  Fritz bases and applies his learning processes on his experience as a musician, composer, teacher, visual artist, film maker and management trainer and consultant.  His process is simple and straightforward.  I took the online version of Your Life as Art some years ago, liked it then and still do.  What struck me about my own learning is recognizing what he has to say about oscillation. That’s what I have to relearn and alter some practices related to the structure.

Front elastic landscape

Imagine yourself with an elastic attached to your waist and drawing you toward a wall;  The wall with its clothes line-like roller is a metaphor for something you have determined that you want. You desire to see your goal completed in a pre-determined time frame of short to medium duration.

Back wall second

Now imagine yourself with another elastic attached to the wall behind you, pulling you back toward your usual state with its immediate needs, desires and impulses.  A simple example is your usual response when you are hungry to the smell of a nearby Big Mac.

Two elastics

Now you are pulled both ways. As you draw nearer to the longer term objective, (the  goal) the forward pulling elastic relaxes because you seem to be well on the way to reaching the goal. But when this happens, the backward pulling elastic (the impluses/patterns) tightens – and you find yourself saying – “well just this once”.

And after gaining another 10 pounds, the desire to lose the original 20 comes back.  Your’re moving back and forth all right – but not anywhere fast. And you can almost feel the tension of being stuck in this structure when you look at the image.

(Just in case you are wondering, the painting in the local art show was a better example of drawing than these.)

I’m like the third drawing on a lot of my personal projects.  Because I have something of what someone recently referred to as the “helpful gene”, I love collaborating, and suddenly the personal projects get cast aside – because I can always do them later. There will always be more time – only there isn’t any more.

Fritz’s solutions are straight forward and simple and well worth a visit to his site, purchase of his books and enrollment in his courses.   Even though The Path of Least Resistance was revised in a second edition in 1989, it still reads as freshly as ever in our multitasking, over-worked times.  I frankly find the learning options here much more useful than the particular Coursera Course that I dropped.

That doesn’t in any way mean that the course might not be immensely useful to the 125,000 minus one students who have signed up.  I’m sure they will start their own learning about creativity, innovation and change in their own stage of the journey – as well as some valuable things about themselves.

The Next MOOC Adventure

This one is a Coursera course called Creativity, Innovation and Change.  Compared with Jazz Improvisation, where I was well out of my league and alas never completed the course, though I would like to return to it after some upgrading of my basic knowledge – and Song Writing, where I was much more attuned to the work and really enjoyed composing a song from scratch, this one in part of a territory that is familiar as well.  But I am always interested in learning how others view creating.

The first week’s assignment includes the creation of a Life Ring – a visual presentation of roles and responsibilities – with a view to getting them down to a manageable number based on passion and priorities.  The centre is to delineate a passion or driving force.  I like the graphic image of the course itself – which shows a mixture of organic and man made features so that became the centre.  And the obvious way for me to create such a map was with the use of VisiMap.

Creative Design (2)

You can look at a full size version here

The course is just getting underway.  So if you need to go to class in September, it looks as though this one would be more than worthwhile.

Preaching what they practise

This video link should stimulate your appetite to learn more about visual thinking.  It’s worth noting how many forms you know and are already putting into practice yourself.

Thinking About Learning

A re-broadcast by TV Ontario inspired the creation of this slide set.  The book, A New Culture of Learning, and a .pdf summary is also available and is well worth a visit.

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