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Yesterday, we talked about the creative constraint at the Boulder Journey School Summer Conference where we were limited to taking only five pictures of the school environment. Today, I wanted to share my six (yes six, not five) photos!

I’m sure I wasn’t as strategic and reasoned in selecting my photos as the teachers who were at the Boulder Journey School Summer Conference. Obviously, I wasn’t looking for specific projects or to bring into a classroom setting. Nevertheless, they all represent aspects of the school that served as creative inspiration for me.

It’s a Museum

As someone explained it to me matter of factly, “This is a Saturn V rocket; it’s the biggest rocket there is.” Well of course it is. Notice the black walls and ceiling along with the planets and stars. It stuck me that not only was building the Saturn V a project, the entire installation conveys a sense of the Boulder Journey School as a museum for children to appreciate art, science, and multiple other disciplines.

BJS-SaturnV

Changing Scale for Creative Inspiration

We were introduced to several examples of using GoPro cameras as a means to explode the size of very small scenes so the children can interact and engage in new ways. This shows a scene the children drew, turned into a 3-D scene, and then were videoing and projecting at a huge scale on the wall. I excited about the possibilities for how something comparable might let us show what happens at a Brainzooming strategy or creativity event in new ways.

BJS-GoPro-Dinner

This Is Where the Wild Things Are!

This was the actually the first photo I took once our photo taking time began. I had been in this classroom earlier and noticed the Where the Wild Things Are characters sitting on a couch in front of pillows that look like the ones we have on our couch at home…except these have orange in the design! Plus, I painted the character on the right as part of a huge event banner in graduate school, so that brought back memories of long ago creative inspiration.

BJS-Wild-Things

What Goes into Creativity?

If I were being completely strict about ONLY five pictures, this would have been the one that would have gone. I really wanted the list of words tied to creativity: Thinking, Analyzing, Processing, Guessing, Hypothesizing, Predicting, Manipulating, Sloping, Rolling, Blocking, Falling (and one other word I can’t make out). Yes, I could have just written the words, but the creative inspiration for me was in how they dissected this process into a whole series of specific actions adults would typically never think about as discrete activities.

BJS-Creativity

One of the Creative Inspiration Stars

I’d heard stories about the fish at Boulder Journey School Skyping with one another and was mystified. When I heard the full story of how the children wanted to connect the fish tanks at the school so the fish could interact, it started to make sense. Then when they showed how they used GoPro cameras to project the fish (including this cutire, Diggum) on a wall so they were larger than the children, it really started to come together for how it all provided creative inspiration. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t leave without taking a picture of Diggum!

BJS-Diggum

This Was Definitely the Sixth Picture, but Hardly an Afterthought

While this was my sixth (and more than last) photo, I identified it as a strong possibility early in the conference. This is the intra-school mail center. Children can write notes to other kids, but importantly, parents can leave notes for children that will be delivered later in the day. When I worked in a ten-story office building, we had intra-office mail, even after email was prevalent. Why WOULDN’T you have the same capability in an early childhood school? The answer is you’d only have it when the administrators and staff are incredibly open to translating beneficial concepts into a child’s world!

BJS-Intra-Email

– Mike Brown

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Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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An intriguing creative thinking twist at the Boulder Journey School Summer Conference runs counter to all but one other event I’ve spoken at or attended in the past several years.

What’s the twist?

It was the spoken expectation that attendees would take no more than five pictures of the Boulder Journey School environment. These five pictures were all to be taken during an ice cream and exploration break on the conference’s second afternoon.

Creative Thinking – Focusing Your Ideas BEFORE You Get Creative

I first learned about the five picture creative thinking and implementation constraint during our preparatory calls for my conference presentation. There are several reasons for the request, including keeping attendees focused on experiencing the current moment, not clogging the narrow hallways with picture takers throughout the event, and helping to reinforce the message that teachers and administrators shouldn’t expect to recreate exactly what Bolder Journey School has done.

Boulder-Journey-Selfie

L to R: @teachercoder, @Brainzooming, @accruick

The five picture expectation, while obviously grounded in a strategic rationale, does seem counter to the school’s philosophy of creative exploration – at least creative exploration as most of us have come to think of it in the age of digital assets. Being limited to five photos along with the expectation that attendees would spend 1 1/2 days of creative thinking time to explore and select what the five photos should be is a huge throwback to the days before digital assets:

  • When you had to print a picture to know how it looked, so you were careful about getting things right the first time
  • When you had to type something on paper and couldn’t easily edit it after it was typed, so you focused on outlining and crafting polished prose
  • When creating a “moving picture” involved physically processing film, then splicing it, so you didn’t just show up, start shooting, and see what happens

Yes, the five-picture expectation causes different creative thinking and creative behaviors. It makes you:

  • Think and plan where you will focus your creative energy before expending it
  • Edit your creative aspirations to stay within a very real creative constraint
  • Get it as close to right the first time as you can since you can’t simply pick five great photos from two hundred photos you took and call it good
BJSSC-Orange-Socks

My Incredible Speaker’s Gift from #BJSSC15 – Orange Socks!

Wonder how I did with the five picture creative thinking and implementation constraint?

In the next post, I’ll show you what SIX things I considered creatively intriguing enough to be picture-worthy! – Mike Brown

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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I was in Boulder, CO last week for the Boulder Journey School Summer Conference. As more than one person asked me, “Why were you at an early childhood education conference?”

Fair question.

Mike-BJSSC15

The short answer was the school’s founder, Dr. Ellen Hall, and I serve together on the board of another non-profit, Nature Explore. Ellen Hall paved the way for the invitation to speak and attend both days of the conference.

The longer answer is, beyond speaking on creative thinking, it was a welcome change to be surrounded by people and an environment fostering in children the same types of creative thinking we try to instigate among adults in the business world.

And as expected, it was an incredible learning experience.

I’ll share various creative thinking insights and images from the Boulder Journey School Summer conference this week; they are all related to the adult world of strategy, creativity, and innovation we cover.

Today, here are creative thinking quotes and comments that resonated and pushed my own thinking:

Creative Thinking Quotes Mentioned During Presentations

“You can’t do a good job unless you’re keen on it yourself.” – quoting David Hawkins

 

“To be in dialogue means to accept transformation.” – quoting Carlina Rinaldi, President of Reggio Children

 

“If you have no bloody owies, you’re being too careful. If you have more than three bloody owies, you’re probably not being careful enough.” – quoting Teacher Tom

  • This does a lot better job of conveying the whole “you have to fail to succeed” perspective than anything else I’ve seen on the topic.

 

“To listen is not to fit what we hear into what we already know, but rather to be poised for the possibilities of what we are about to come to know.” – quoting Davies

 

Live Creative Thinking Quotes from Speakers

“I have a lot of learning to do, that’s why I’m up here presenting today.” – Jen Selbitschka, Studio Teacher

 

“You can’t bring seventy-five people together and make a decision.” – Andrea Sisbarro, School Director at Boulder Journey School

 

“You could look at turning over 41 interns every year as a disaster, or you can see it as a great opportunity to bring new learning into the school.” – Alison Maher, Education Director at Boulder Journey School

 

“The best thing about dandelions is nobody cares if you pull them up.” Another Teacher at the Boulder Journey School

 

“What are we working on together?” – Mary Jane Moran

Mike Brown

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We all encounter strategic bumps in the road in both our business and in our personal lives. To help you address the problem solving associated with some of the more common bumps in the road you may face on a daily basis, here are twenty-five articles to help you devise your plan of attack.

25 Articles on Problem Solving and Handling Bumps in the Road

Bump-Bump

Problem Solving Exercises

Brand Challenges and Turnarounds

Innovation and Change Challenges

Getting Things Done

Personal Bumps in the Road

Career Challenges

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Today, I am co-delivering the welcoming session for the two-day Boulder Journey School Summer Conference. The Boulder Journey School, founded by my friend, Dr. Ellen Hall, educates young children with fundamental values “based on an image of children as competent and capable, and as valuable citizens with inherent and irrefutable rights.”

The school’s curriculum focuses on “21st Century Skills” including:

  • Critical Thinking and Reasoning
  • Information Literacy
  • Collaboration
  • Self-Direction
  • Invention

The list should sound very familiar to long-term Brainzooming readers since these are many of the same topics we try to address here related to creative thinking for professionals in the workplace.

In my opening talk on “Creativity, Talents, and Perspectives” at the conference, I will share a few Brainzooming creative thinking concepts plus a couple of idea capture frameworks specifically designed for the educators attending the conference to help think about their experiences and ideas to take back home to their own schools.

Creative Thinking Skills

Here are links to the Brainzooming creative thinking skills content shaping the talk.

Perspective and Talent – Common Challenges for Creative Leaders

Defining Creativity

Using All the Talents a Creative Leader and Team Has

Cultivating a Creative Perspective

Embracing a Creative Experience

I will be at the Boulder Journey School Summer Conference throughout the event, so I plan to immerse myself and be able to share some new insights on creative thinking skills here soon! – Mike Brown

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Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help you generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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Mike Brown

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We are huge fans of using a four-box matrix-based strategic thinking exercises to help clients evaluate priorities. There is something about arranging strategic options against two strategic dimensions that brings new (often, much needed) clarity to a business decision.

While extolling the benefits of these simple strategic thinking exercises, we recognize not all major decisions actually come down to only two strategic dimensions.

That has been in evidence recently when making personal decisions having a significant business impact. My mother-in-law has been going through a serious illness, and for various reasons, I have needed to take significant time away to be with her and the rest of the family.

Thinking about the strategic decision to concentrate on family concerns, I cannot point to any typical decision factors in strategic thinking exercises that would place diverting focus from the business in the “attractive” upper right quadrant of a matrix. In fact, the decision involved many things I consider “unattractive” – long car trips, sitting around doing nothing, making small talk about whatever is happening, not having opportunities to exercise, scarcely focusing on business development, etc.

Kansas-Highway

In fact, thinking about the decision criteria on the way back from my most recent trip to see my mother-in-law, I realized the factors keeping me focused on family over business the past few weeks are ones I would never include in a business-oriented strategic thinking exercise: sense of obligation, ability to be available, and regret from not acting.

Even though these decision factors are all personally driven and there are more than two of them, they are the most important areas shaping my business life right now.

Pat-Room

So while our standard four-box matrix-based strategic thinking exercises overwhelmingly deliver what we need so often, there are times when you have to put them to the side and make the right decision no matter what the matrix shows. – Mike Brown

 

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Going back through extreme creativity content for a Brainzooming workshop prompted a new look at Peter’s’ Laws. We used these sometimes way over-the-top laws in developing our first set of extreme creativity questions.

Then, after a conversation about how a leader can develop and implement a strategic initiative without letting everyone KNOW a strategic initiative is underway, it prompted spelling out The Weasel Principles of Getting Things Done.

Weasel

The name is a bit of a misnomer. It springs from a college nickname relating to someone’s ability to maneuver into and out of difficult situations in the pursuit of getting things done with no apparent political or social harm to the maneuvering. In other words, it’s about carrying out project management techniques that are vital to getting things done when thing REALLY need to get done.

This list will likely grow over time, but here’s a first version of The Weasel Principles of Getting Things Done, just to get you thinking and talking!

Project Management Techniques – The Weasel Principles of Getting Things Done

Weasel-Principles

What would you add to this list of project management techniques? You know, the ones where you have to twist and turn a bit to hold a project together and bring it completion.

If you’d like a pdf download of The Weasel Principles of Getting Things Done, you can grab it right here.

Mike Brown

 

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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