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Let’s all go to Stanford d. school to get some great innovation and creativity education (for free!) – they started the design thinking trend and have mastered the skillset.
Hikmaty Discovery is all about mastering the core 21C skills of innovation and creativity. We are going to support your learning journey by guiding you to some great resources we include for our Discovery programs and we will be delivering a free webinar to guide you on how best to use them.
The world of 21C work is hungry for innovation and creative people. Employers constantly ask for more recruits with creativity skills and whilst it is one of the most overused words in LinkedIn profiles – there is a mismatch because whilst people use the word to describe themselves – they really don’t truly know how to apply it effectively in their lives.
You don’t just need to learn about innovation processes and creativity skills – you need to master them. It is no good saying ‘I am just not creative’ either – The book Innovators DNA suggests only 25% of your capability is down to genetics – 75% is about mastering some key behaviours, learning to use your mind and the right mindset. Mastery is about depth not breadth so we are going to direct you to the resources that will build your competencies but you need to do the regular workouts – applied knowledge = wisdom.
This months ‘Discovery Manifesto’ introduces the Discovery DNA traits and we are going to spend time looking at each element in more detail. However our ‘Discovery Dossier’ does not commence with DNA but rather at Stanford University (USA). Stanford is a great College to get an education and their d. school aims to be ‘the best design school. Period.’
Stanford established d. School as the hub for innovators – it is not one of their seven Colleges and it does not grant degrees – instead it is a resource for all the students to come and learn these key 21C skills together. Students and faculty in engineering, medicine, business, law, the humanities, sciences, and education collaborate on transformative learning experiences, knowing that inevitably the innovations will follow. d.school is evolving into a mash up of industry, academia and the wider world beyond campus through business collaborations and open course to use design thinking principles. They developed a process for reliably producing creative solutions to nearly any challenge that they call design thinking. A term used widely in business – these guys have mastered it.
Firstly, just get inspired by their ethos – they say on their website ‘Students come to the d.school with an intense curiosity, a deep affinity for other people, and the desire to gain an understanding beyond their own experience. …… our culture of collaboration means we move quickly beyond obvious ideas. We help each other even if it’s inconvenient. We ask for inspiration when stuck. We play. And we defer judgment long enough to build on each other’s ideas.’ This is certainly an ethos, mindset and value system worth catching. The d.school Manifesto of Intent:
Not long ago if you wanted a Stanford education you had to go be a student on Campus but now we all should be really grateful that some of these learning resources are available for you to use free online – so everyone can get a little bit of a Stanford education – wherever they are in the world. They help you learn to innovate and be more creative using both your left and right brains with 21C mindsets and skillsets.
The simple structured approach and toolkit that supports the process provide an amazingly useful introduction to innovation and creativity techniques. Master this toolkit and you are well on the way to getting a real competitive advantage to keep your business and career on track – these are tools you should know and understand how to apply as you seek to solve everyday challenges in your work and life generally. It is a way of being in the world which directly relates back to the Innovators DNA – the discovery skills.
So what is available?
The d.school bootcamp bootleg guide – described as more of a recipe book than textbook – a set of colour coded cards intended for graduates of their Bootcamp: Adventures in Design Thinking class. You can review it online and it is also available for you to download here for free. They are all shared under a Creative Commons license whereby d.school must be attributed and they are for non-commercial use (i.e. not to be resold).
They also have two 90-minute fun and fast-paced projects called the Wallet Exercise and the Gift-Giving Exercise that each take you through a full design cycle. Students pair up to interview each other, create a point-of-view, ideate, and make a new solution that is “useful and meaningful” to their partner. The tools for these are available for download here
d.school have also published the book Spaces which is a great guide to creating innovative environments and how to kit them out.
How should you approach it?
Start by reviewing downloading the bootcamp bootleg guide. Initially just get acquainted with the d. mindsets, the 5 design modes and the toolkit of methods.
We then recommend that the best way to get to grips with design thinking is to experience it and reflect on your learning after each exercise.
- Pair up with a friend and do one of the two exercises (or both of themJ) – make it fun.
- Then take on the role of Facilitator using the facilitation guides provided with a team you work with and do the exercises again.
- Finally take the individual tools in the pack and work out how you might apply each of them in different modes in your work environment. For guidance on how to think this through also take a look at the ‘mixtapes’ and look at how they are structured.
- Reflect on the process, the toolkit, your skillset and your mindset? How did it work for you? Reflect on what you learnt as a participant and as a facilitator? What are the benefits of the approach? What are the challenges? Can you adapt the tools to create your own toolkit? How can you create opportunities to keep practising so that you really master these tools not just have a working knowledge of them?
Finally going back to the d.school ethos what can you learn from ‘we help each other even if it is inconvenient’ – who could you help today?
THE POWER OF QUESTIONS – YOUR ONE WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE
The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean –
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
From new and selected Poems, 1992 Beacon Press, Boston, MA
The Harvard Business School Portrait Project has run for seventeen years., An inspired MBA student at Harvard by the name of Tony Deifell borrowed that line from the poem and asked it of his classmates, beginning the annual tradition of Harvard Portrait Project. Since 2002, entrepreneur Deifell has returned to campus from his home in California with his camera every year to capture the essence of the winning essays in beautiful black and white portrait photographs that bring his subject matter to life. They are a wonderful historical record of a moment in time for each person:
Harvard Business School, of their Portrait Project says: “Each year we ask our classmates a straightforward, simple question taken from the last lines of a poem by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Mary Oliver. It seems such an easy question on the surface, but sometimes the easy questions are the hardest to answer. Indeed, although we ask for only 200 words or less, most people grapple with the question a long time.”
”What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”.
It is an intriguing and profound project undertaken by classmates since 2002 that provides insights into the personal worlds of students and their motivations. Ultimately, the project is about storytelling and a community of people. Take a few minutes out to look through the profiles at the Portrait Project – to see what they say to you. For me, the first thing is, they tell powerful compelling stories about individual lives and a story about a decade; and most importantly how it has changed – history in the making. They also represent diversity, beauty, hopes and dreams. All in just 200 words.
We found this site when researching on profiles for personal brands and resumes. Yes we wander online looking for differences that make the difference. It struck me that often it is the quality of the question that delivers the greatest insights. It seems that people get so wrapped up in the process of producing a resume or describing their personal brand rather than spending time asking themselves quality questions to get the story first. Albert Einstein said ‘If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes’.
This is where the MBA programmes like Harvard and other leading schools admissions programmes can help you. Not only to differentiate what you write but also what you say in interviews – as at the heart of these questions is the desire to bring out the real person with an acceptance that they have learnt from their successes and struggles in life. Not surprisingly they seem to ask questions around similar themes.
Consider the HBS goals essay: “What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you?” Again in just 400 words! What is “career vision?” In their terms, what does “vision” mean? What does “meaningful” really mean? What do they expect of you? This is effectively asking the same thing, that is: “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” You may say you want to be an IT information security manager or a business entrepreneur … or anything. There’s no right or wrong answer. The point is why is it worth spending your one wild and precious life on? You have to justify it in those terms.
Other questions (all in 400 to 600 words) include:
- Why do you want an MBA (or why our job)? (Stanford)
- What matters most to you and why? (Stanford)
- What do you want to do – REALLY – and why us? (Stanford)
- What makes you stand out among other candidates?
- How would you introduce yourself to your classmates?
- What can you contribute?
- What are your expectations?
- What are your greatest strengths?
- Tell us about three of your accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (Harvard).
- Tell us about a time in the last three years when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations? (Stanford)
- Tell us about a time in the last three years when you identified and pursued an opportunity to improve an organization? (Stanford)
- Tell us about a time in the last years when you went beyond what was defined or established. (Stanford)
- Select a course, opportunity or cause that you are interested in. Tell us why you chose this activity and how it connects to your interests. (Wharton)
- Imagine your work obligations for the afternoon were cancelled and you found yourself “work free” for three hours, what would you do? (Wharton)
- Reflect on a time when you turned down an opportunity. What was the thought process behind your decision? Would you make the same decision today? (Wharton)
- Tell us three setbacks you have faced? (Harvard)
- Tell us about a time in your professional experience when you were frustrated or disappointed? (Harvard)
- Describe a failure that you have experienced. What role did you play, and what did you learn about yourself? How did this experience help to create your definition of failure? (Wharton)
- Discuss a time when you navigated a challenging experience in either a personal or professional relationship? (Wharton)
- Where do you want to be in ten years’ time?
- How would your colleagues describe you? (ask them)
- What are your hobbies? (your interests tell people a lot about you)
Answering these questions and those similar gives us a vivid and genuine image of who you are – and they convey how you have become the person you are. They do not focus merely on what you have done or accomplished. Instead they share the values, experiences and lessons that have shaped your perspectives on life. They are written from the heart and address not only a person, situation or event but also how it has influenced your life.
Whether you write the answers, reflect on them or just talk about them; they will help to broaden your thinking to present yourself well, create your profile/ resume, identify your keywords that make up your personal brand or prepare for an interview. These questions also help you identify your great work projects – delve into what makes them great work and you probably have a definition of what your ideal role encompasses too.
BREVITY – JUST 200 WORDS
I also want to reflect on the word count 200 words in one paragraph. I am reminded of the famous quote ‘I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have time’ (Blaith Pascal not Churchill). It is a real skill to write succinctly. A Resume should be no longer than two pages and yet it needs to include your profile, core responsibilities, key projects and achievements. But far more important than these – it needs to make you stand out – so it has to represent who you REALLY are, your character, your brand values and your differences. This makes up the content of your Resume, LinkedIn profile and personal website (if you have one). This requires more than a process – spend your time developing quality content and then consider how best to present it based upon your objective.
START WITH QUESTIONS NOT ANSWERS
So start with what questions do you need to answer not the answers. In my consultancy role I often find myself asking can you just tell me the question that what you just said was the answer to? Often we focus too much on the solution before we have exhausted looking at the questions.
Finally imagine you are asked the question ‘Take me through your resume?’ What is the story you want to tell about you, your life, your accomplishments and what you bring to the table? This takes us full circle to: ”What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”.
Lastly no apologies that this is a long post – it needed to be J.
Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence
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