The Capabilities Your Organization Needs to Sustain Innovation

Three key activities that truly innovative organizations are able to do well: creative abrasion, creative agility, creative resolution.

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There are three key activities that truly innovative organizations, like Pixar, are able to do well. First, the people and groups in them do collaborative problem solving, which we call creative abrasion. Second, they try things and learn by discovery, demonstrating creative agility. Third, they create new and better solutions because they integrate existing ideas in unanticipated ways, practicing creative resolution.


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This is great. I love this framework. Wondering how you could promote this in classrooms. How might you model - for example - creative abrasions for students? And within teaching, I see agility as a key challenge - because it can be hard for a school to quickly change something based on a learning given the dynamism of school environments and how structured they are.

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Creative abrasions could be difficult for students who are not used to disagreement and discourse, but I think if you start the year off introducing and teaching these routines, even primary kids could have valuable interactions. The main thing that seems to work against encouraging creative agility is time. There does not seem to be enough time to iterate, test and experiment. So, the next question becomes, How might we reschedule the school day to give us time to establish a culture of innovation in our schools?

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I would agree with the time issue. I currently teach an engineering class and the shortness of the class periods makes iteration difficult. Having taught a summer engineering program it was amazing what kids could do when you have longer periods of time.

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Yes! Agreed that time and assumption are to big hurdles here. I love the idea of restructuring time to facilitate "creative abrasions," and I'd love for us to work on a prototype for such a schedule. Jo-Ann Fox has raised a similar question, so perhaps we can work up the idea in our "Ideate" phase (see her post below, especially the comments). I'm excited to see what we can build together, even if it's a "moonshot" idea.

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Been thinking more about this. Let's see what we can come up with in the Ideate phase!

Photo of Moss Pike

Fantastic! Looking forward to it and happy to be of service in any way!

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Photo of Emma Scripps

yaya! Can't wait to read your Ideate post!

Photo of Amelia Shull

What a succinct (and fabulous) way of looking at the ultimate goal of being an innovative community! I see this as such an important framework for staff working together with admin on new structures. I'm excited to see what ideas emerge on that front (as well as for the classroom). As an Upper School visual arts teacher, this provides clarity for group projects, for sure. Love the language around it all.

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Thank you for posting this. I read the article you linked to and the three capabilities of innovation are exciting to think about, not only as individual capabilities but also how they work together.

I also agree that time is probably one of the biggest challenges to most classroom teachers and school leaders (and students). Thinking about the ways in which we can create more time and space during the day and the ways we can work these routines or pedagogies seamlessly into our practice are important next steps for all of us.

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Yes, this is fantastic! I'm wondering how we might build the necessary skills to find value in abrasion, resolution, and agility. What are the finer skills underlying these ideas? What does it take for a team, let alone an entire community, to develop these skills? A lot of potential to consider here!