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Working with dreams : e-learning and the unconscious

Fig. 1. A mash-up in Picasa of a 3D laser generated image generated at the Design Museum during their ‘Digital Crystal’ exhibition.

The image exists and is transformed by the presence of the observer in front of a Kinex device making this a one-off and an expression or interpretation of that exact moment.

‘Working with dreams’ and ‘Keeping a dream journal’ are taught creative problem solving techniques at the Open University Business School. I did B822 ‘Creativity, Innovation and Change’ in 2012 (Henry et al 2010). I have the problem solving toolkit. I even got a hardback copy of VanGundy’s book on creative problem solving.

Using your unconscious isn’t difficult.

Just go to bed early with a ‘work’ related book and be prepared to write it down when you stir.

I woke soon after 4.00am. I’d nodded off between 9.30 and 11.30 so feel I’ve had my sleep.

Virtual bodies for first year medical students to work on, an automated mash-up of your ‘lifelog’ to stimulate new thinking and the traditional class, lecture and university as a hub for millions – for every student you have in a lecture hall you have 1000 online.

Making it happen is quite another matter. So I’m writing letters and with far greater consideration working on a topic or too for research.

“Nights through dreams tell the myths forgotten by the day.” C.G. Jung (Memories, Dreams, Reflections)

How to work with a dream or metaphorical image:

  • Entering the dream
  • Studying the dream
  • Becoming the images
  • Integrating the viewpoints
  • Reworking the dream

Appreciating, reflecting, looking forward and emerging

REFERENCE

Glouberman, D. (1989) Life Choices and Life Changes Through Imagework, London, Unwin, pp. 232-6

Henry, J., Mayle, D., Bell, R., Carlisle, Y. Managing Problems Creatively (3rd edn) 2010. The Open University.

Isaacson, W. (2011) Steve Jobs. Little Brown.

VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of structured problem solving (2nd edn), New York: Van Nostran Reinhold.

 

What is learning design?

Learning design, indeed any design, is about problem solving. If there isn’t a problem there is nothing to do.

No need to create learning, to advertise, to change, to brainstorm … recognise the problem then resolve to fix it. If this requires problem solving techniques just to get the scope of the problem, or objective set down, so be it. Then set about solving the problem, not shoehorning a response whether it is e-learning, video, a job description … but looking for the best, most appropriate or right way forward.

E-learning is no panacea.

There are still leaflets, workshops, conferences … Then research, write and agree a creative brief.

Then cost, schedule and build your team.

Then get on with it.

You might end up with the equivalent of a chair, a house or a small town … but it is fundamentally problem solving.

Creative Technique: Working with Dreams and/or Keeping a Dream Diary

This from B822 Creativity, Innovation and Change which ended in April.

Several reasons why as a technique it is out of the reach if most of us and impractical as a management tool.

a) What good is it ‘dreaming up’ something at random.

b) That has nothing to do with the course.

I found myself giving a presentation to an eager group in a crowded boardroom. I don’t know why.

‘and Jonathan is going to give you the criteria’.

And up I step, in a two piece suit with the manner of Montgomery addressing the troops – effusive, informed, consided and persuasive.

It went something like this:

“We human are blessed with an innate ability to float in water, though not necessarily fully clothed, or carrying a backpack and rifle.”

Laughter.

“We should encourage swimming for a number of reasons: for the love of it, as a life skill, as a competitive sport and for fitness’.

At which point I am full conscious, which from a dream state meant ‘I lost it’.

Why this dream?

I am reading a good deal on the First World War and I am swimming four or more times a week again after a long, slow easing back into the sport over the lt five months. I even got papers through yesterday which I only opened late in the evening before going to bed to say that I had passed the ASA Level 3 module on Sports Psychology (which makes 10// modules down on that ‘Front’.

Working with dreams

This from B822 Creativity, Innovation and Change which ended in April.

Several reasons why as a technique it is out of the reach if most of us and impractical as a management tool.

a) What good is it ‘dreaming up’ something at random.

b) That has nothing to do with the course.

I found myself giving a presentation to an eager group in a crowded boardroom. I don’t know why.

‘and Jonathan is going to give you the criteria’.

And up I step, in a two piece suit with the manner of Montgomery addressing the troops – effusive, informed, considered and persuasive.

It went something like this:

“We human are blessed with an innate ability to float in water, though not necessarily fully clothed, or carrying a backpack and rifle.”

Laughter.

“We should encourage swimming for a number of reasons: for the love of it, as a life skill, as a competitive sport and for fitness’.

At which point I am full conscious, which from a dream state meant ‘I lost it’.

Why this dream?

I am reading a good deal on the First World War and I am swimming four or more times a week again after a long, slow easing back into the sport over the lt five months. I even got papers through yesterday which I only opened late in the evening before going to bed to say that I had passed the ASA Level 3 module on Sports Psychology (which makes 10/11  modules down on that ‘Front’.

Creative Problem Solving Techniques

 

Rob’s group 2nd day pm Thursday 12th January 2012

X8 Techniques tried

Mice out of a box

Rabbit out of a hat

David HQ to Europe business and separate businesses with undercutting control from US Gunter in Fool’s hat (distinctly uncomfortable and soon removed it) persona – not for profit

B822 Superheroes

People don’t play unless they dress up.

Exception the drunk Irish.

Finger puppets – story of senior engineer at BAE who didn’t want to give up his puppet.

Finger painting – kinaesthetic and visual

Swim coach and 80 swimmers

List and triangulate

IMAGE getting stuff out on the table in open ways.

ONLINE B822 Techniques Library : Drawing

INSERT IMAGE (pool with swimmers and one coach)

Finger painting

Needed to let go more before hand to conjure up an abstract image of the problem. Became too left brain by explaining rather than simply expressing. I should have suspended judgement more. Could have associated with words. There are other ways to use images to prompt comments. Could have created a rich picture (even hired a cartoonist or artist to do this).

IMAGE

‘For many of us drawing a picture is closer to how our thoughts grow naturally’.

REFERENCE

Adapted from: Miller, W.C. (1987) The Creative Edge: Fostering Innovation Where You Work, Reading, MA, Addison-Wesley, pp. 91-5

SEPARATE FILE B822 Techniques Library : Role storming (other group) Griggs (1985) idea generation as someone else. Easier to be silly in character (see Superheroes)

1) start with conventional brainstorming to sift ideas.

2) individual or joint role play to develop it further.

REFERENCE

Griggs, R.E. (1985) ‘A Storm of Ideas’, reported in Training, 22, 66 (November) Based on: VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed., Van Nostrand. Technique 4.48, p. 163

PRECEPTS CHECK

  • Know what you really want
  • Involve others
  • Value play
  • Adopt a set to break sets
  • Explore the givens
  • Broad picture local detail
  • Build up, don’t knock down
  • Live with looseness
  • It is there already
  • Connect and be receptive
  • Cycle often and close late
  • Manage the process

This need to be expressed as a table and all the ideas we used then placed on it and cross-referenced.

RELAXATION PROCESS

INSERT

IMAGE OF HOUSE Off the Military Road on the way to Mowden.

We did a relaxation technique that had me fall asleep.

10mins to sleep Tense and relax body Leave x to country A river A bridge A house A spa And I fell asleep.

STOP TECHNIQUE

Three breaths Out the toes Why? MASSAGE TECHNIQUE Appropriateness of a neck massage Five of us did. What technique? (see final day) —

VALIDATION

Size Too many/few Context May need incremental approach with ‘s’ types.

Belbin types and too many plant types

Resources Time required Permission or contract with everyone if it may become personal. Have to think it through Trained to do it. (do you want the Line Manager there? not if they may unbalance it) Embarrassment (how do you take them there) E.g taster sessions to start with

I now understand why people say the course changes lives, because it teaches you problem solving techniques that can be applied to all manner of issues. Most potentially life changing for me to see a problem resolved, to visualise it then working back from this til it is all joined up and works. This can be applied to fiction; everyone had a good idea for a story, the trick is to know its ending and work back from this finding away to create steps to the beginning and then to write this up as a treatment without deviation. With very risk averse people go with a list. Or ask them how much risk? Expectation to behave in a crazy way. Being outcome focussed may permit people to go along with it.

VALIDATION

This proved to be a fascinating and engaging exercise where we saw the fruits of our efforts beginning to deliver results. lots of ideas Scoreboard of: Resources Cost Time Voting Use a pen Or 3-5 dots A nominal group technique (if there are many ideas) VS a group decision. Validation Panel consensus Why use one and not another. Filter Q- sort

INSERT IMAGES

Criteria VS options Weight % Criteria across the top Options vertical Option high low Can indicate all options and show choices. A, b, c, d

INSERT IMAGES

Two relate, constraining factors Restraints y axis Drivers x axis Developed an idea with David Gunter developed a further idea with David (akin to Comparison Tables) Gunter was always looking for ways to measure. I presented a filter process using either dots or weighted marking with the reserved ideas going to the next level of expertise and authority, using army and legal analogies: associate to partner, partner to barrister, barrister to judge. Private to middle ranking to senior officer. ‘Progressive hurdles’ suggests setting specific sieves such as cost. Ratings to can offer a blunt ‘yes – no’. Ending with full cost business and Market analysis.

REFERENCE

Derived from: Hamilton, H.R. (1974) ‘Screening business development opportunities’ Business Horizons, August, pp. 13-24 Based on VanGundy, A.B (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed., Van Norstrand Reinhold. technique 5.02. pp. 213-17

B822 Techniques Library : Comparison Tables A widely used approach, from the B822 Course Team.

SEE IMAGE

Another that Gunter adapted was: B822 Techniques Library : Force-Field Analysis Derived on Gestalt techniques of Kurt Lewin. Identify the driving and restraining factors SEE IMAGE (I might slant restraining forces to the left, driving forces pushing to the right) Blend of techniques. Then in relation to precepts? Wanting something that is achievable with the resources. Not play, but exploring the givens.

ONLINE B822 Techniques Library : Bunches of Bananas Bringing out the bananas is one approach, otherwise it could be a well placed joke or image. Lateral thinking techniques are often as much about reducing excessive left-brain attention. 1) Are there signs of stuckness? 2) Bring out the ‘bunches of bananas’ or some such to help unstick. 3) N.B. just as with a comedian it is just as much about delivery.

REFERENCE

Adapted from: Richards, T. (1998) Creativity at Work, Aldershot, Gower, pp. 80-2 ONLINE

B822 Techniques Library : Random Stimuli of Various Kinds 1) Identify what it is you want ideas for. 2) Grab an idea from a paper, from looking out of the window, or by throwing dice. 3) Connect this idea back to the issue, if necessary using Free Association or Excursion. 4) If it doesn’t work try something else. Could pick a fixed or specific element of the problem and do the same. * Select grammatically appropriate stimuli: noun+verb, adjective+noun, but make bizarre combinations (which is how David Bowie often wrote song lyrics). * Deliberately do something different, or speak to someone new or travel home in a different way. * Allow the idea to incubate while going about your normal day.

REFERENCE

Whiting (1958), Taylor (1962), de Bono (1970), Rickards (1974) and VanGundy (1988).

B822 Techniques Library : Excursion As part of synectics developed by Gordon and Prince (1972).

An attempt to use metaphor as an aid to creativity in a systematic way.

1) Problem statement

2) Select trigger object (smiling lobster)

3) Examination of this trigger

4) Force fit back to the problem + role into several other techniques: examples, analogies, career excursion, representation in other media, random stimuli, street excursion, essential paradox.

REFERENCE

Prince,G.M. (1970) The Practice of Creativity, New York, Collier MacMillan, Chapter 5. Nolan, V. (1989) The Innovator’s Handbook

Creative Problem Solving Techniques Library : Human Sculpture & Timeline

Fig.1 Bodies in urban spaces 

Image Credit Flickr User Andrew Russeth // Bodies in Urban Spaces 

(These are not the original participants though it may be interesting to introduce a fun version of ‘human sculpture’ as a Christmas Entertainment. As a team creating a tableau from a movie or some such?)

The Human Sculpture

We were invited to offer a personal problem; it was made quite clear that we had to be comfortable with this. Without saying what the problem was and with the facilitator’s help a ‘human sculpture’ was made to represent the problem. In this instance there were forces pulling him in two directions (partner and ego) with this person’s current/former employer behind and his future employment/employer in front.

There were therefore FIVE participants who made up the ‘sculpture’.

It was fascinating to have each factor comment on how they felt, even if this ‘factor’ was an entity, psyche or ‘unknown’ future.

This was recognised as a way to see the problem for what it is, for the problem owner to see it as others see it, to get the sentence that an entity, played out as a person, can have feelings.

I particularly liked the idea of being able to talk to the desired or possible outcome in a kind of role play.

The technique from the B822 Technique Library where you do something similar is with ‘Timeline’ placing people at points now and in the future. In a way I did this years ago to visualise a careers advice video using members of a Youth Theatre who had to be someone 1, 5 and 10 years along a career path based on different decisions they took at 14/16 regarding school, a job, training or university.

From the B822 ‘Creativity, Innovation and Change’ Residential School

P.S. The image above might offer part of our conclusion, that all the factors should be brought into consideration. What is more, where the problem isn’t too sensitive or the individual/participants want an aide memoire then a series of pictures could be taken.

When is it appropriate to use Creative Problem Solving?

Creativity Residential School : day two : 14 hours 25 minutes

In the right context with the right people role play can be used to help see or experience a problem from a different perspective. Here however, Virginia Woolf and friends pull off a hoax and a treated as royal guests on one of His Majesty’s battleships.

So many people describe this OU Business School module (B822 : Creativity, Management & Change) and the residential school I am currently attending as something that changed their lives; I’ve been waiting for that moment, or for a series of insights to congregate and like a celestial choir sing something special.

I was up at 5.00 am and writing (of course), taking a swim at 6.45 am in the pool here at the Heathrow Marriott, into an Elective at 8.00 am and the first Tutor Workshop at 9.00 am.

The second workshop kicked in after lunch at 1.30 pm then from 7.00 pm three more hour long electives in a row.

At no stage was I ever tired or bored, indeed I feel embarrassed even writing this, the very thought!?

Too much new, too important, too interesting, too interested. Like my second week at nursery school: amongst friends, secure, allowed and expected to have fun. Alert.

It was in the very last cessation today, during an hour of guided relaxation, shoes off lying on the conference room floor, lights out, soft music playing that  my unconscious gave me a two word tip and did its best to visualise the love my children have for me and I have for them. I’m still trying to see what love looks like: white, a slightly crumpled unopened rosebud the size and shape of chicory but made of paper, or tissue. I tried (in the semi-conscious dream-like state that I was in) to cup ‘love’ in my hands as if I was scooping up water but it proved illusive, like a cloud.

After we were brought out of our semi-unconscious state (I fell asleep momentarily three times) we were all asked to share what we experienced; I eventually chirped up with the word ‘profound’.

The detail of the day is here too, all typed up with pictures (courtesy of iPad and iPhone) of flip-charts, post-it notes, finger-paintings and slides. This will take a week to prepare as posts.

Creative Problem Solving: Keeping a Dream Diary & Working with Dreams

The lack of control over where your head goes and what it reveals should understandably go with a note of considerable caution. There often is no such thing as an innocent dream. It sometimes throws me when what is apparent in the dream: its people, actions and events can once analysed tell you something you can’t accept or dislike about yourself or others.

Context is everything.

  • What bothers you as you fall asleep?
  • What’s on your mind?

A film you have just watched could very well fill your head; I’m still enjoying the afterglow of ‘500 days of summer’: troubled because its truth but delighted in the outcome.

It is less the dream diary, but a diary that can help you put your subconscious to work.

Should you write-up your troubled day, and should you care not only to bring work home with you but also take it to bed, then indeed, the issue that is strangling your budget, or losing you business friends could be resolved in a dream. Once you have that dream in the conscious arena you can even rework it like a TV producer changing the protagonists and outcomes.

I dreamt I was in a court of sorts (I can see it in my mind’s eye but will neither describe it or attempt to draw it unless some detail needs bringing out).

I presume I was a prosecuting solicitor.

Two trials cut together one after the other (have dreams always been film literate?). The second case is a rape; he is ‘cock sure’ thankfully there is no murder involved. He deserves to receive the severest punishment. The previous case with a different barrister had gone off like a damp squib; perhaps it wasn’t as serious a case but I felt the person had got off lightly and I blamed the barrister for not following my instructions suitably closely. In this second trial I have a word-perfect summing up which I might expect this new barrister to follow. On the contrary, I find this person launch in more like a hack journalist/columnist than a prosecuting lawyer. I worry that the defendant will get off lightly; however, it soon dawns on me that this person is using my argument but not the script and like a stand-up comic (though with professionalism and the hint of a smile of confidence) they will deliver a knock-out blow: they have taken what I can provide and made it better.

Does this solve my problem?

It doesn’t answer something specific. If the photocopier is broken and never gets fixed I don’t think I’d turn to my ‘dream spirits’ for the answer.

Does it even suggest to you that this approach has legs?

Me, I’m the defence solicitor, not the barrister. I may not solve the ‘problem’ the defendant, though I make my contribution.

Nor have I had to resort to a set of 27 questions to reach this point (see below).

I do not imagine sitting with a bunch of colleagues interpreting their dreams would be appropriate or suitable; they ate too random, and so are we. But I do recommend this approach for personal problem resolution, but be warned, you may try to get your dreams to set out your next career move only to discover that in your heart you hate your job and sector and wish instead to teach English to Japanese school-girls.

Creative Problem Solving: Synectics

Is this where it all began; where creative techniques were formalised to help resolve problems?

This is the 1940s and 1950s. W.J.J. Gordon and G.M. Prince develop what comes to be called ‘Synectics’.

It benefits from having a trained facilitator, though once you know what you’re doing you can do it alone.

The Techniques Library offers a brief outline, for more refer to Nolan (1989)

PRELIMINARY PLANNING

Who owns the problem and does this person have the authority to do something about it?

Consider the scope of the problem, the number and quality of solutions required and set realistic expectations.

PHASE 1

  • Refine the problem as a springboard
  • Generate other springboard

PHASE 2

  • A springboard ‘owner’ justifies their work.
  • Ideas are generated to make it work.
  • Understanding is checked
  • List the solution and only then attach the problems these could resolve.
  • Recyle or end.

REFERENCE

Gordon, W.J.J. (1961) Synectics, New York, Harper and Row

Prince, G.M. (1970) The Practice of Creativity, New York, Collier Books.

VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of structured problem solving, “nd ed., Van Nostrand Reinhold. Technique 4.57, pp. 182-95

Based on: Nolan, V. (1989) The Innovator’s Handbook, London, Sphere Book.

Creative Problem Solving: Keeping a Dream Diary and Working with Dreams

Other people’s dreams are a bore.

So don’t read this unless you too are interested in using dreams or guided imagery to interpret and solve issues.

I woke with two dreams and lost one; they are after all like the proverbial ‘fart in the wind’: difficult to hold on to.

As I think about the dream I can recall I’ve decided it reveals too much about my character … and is irrelevant to problem solving at work!

CONCLUSION

If you want to use a technique that is like chasing guinea-pigs around the garden do so. I’d keep it to yourself though or at least work with the insights offered rather than the content, feelings, images and actions of the dream itself.

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