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Our memory of how to do things is tied to the situation in which it was learnt


‘The now well attested implication’, writes Jane Henry in the B822 ‘Creativity, Cognition & Development’ handbook (p74) ‘is that knowledge is situated and does not transfer easily’.

This has significant implication on how we learn, the reasons why we learn (or have to be taught), how we are tested formerly in an assessment or exam, and critically, how what we have learnt is applied.

A Level 3 Coaching course I am taking with the ASA relies on too much theory (rushed workshops in meetings rooms in leisure centres, but note poolside). We submit assignments. These are handwritten into forms. Marking takes months and plagiarism is rife. Whilst how we are taught and how we are tested match, there is little correlation to what we do poolside with athletes. It is neither applied nor situated.

Lawyers live by the written word; I can see that reading, writing and exams suit how they will act in practice.

What about elearning? Or mlearning? Learning online, whether from a desk or a mobile device (smartphone or tablet) has the potential to take the lesson into the situation where this knowledge is required. Swimming coaching and teaching ought to be be taught ‘just in time’ with bitesize learning before and after (even during) swimming sessions.

There are many training situations where the lesson is best taught, as if by a supervisor shadowing an apprentice in the workplace.  In this way the lesson taught is associated with the problem that is being dealt with as it arises.

If I study everything online, at a screen, typing at a QWERTY keyboard I should be assessed in the same way, which in the MAODE is exactly what happens: I type out assignments and upload them for marking. I get the ‘paper’ back a file with annotations.

Coming to the end of B822 I find myself having to pick up a pen. The prospect is that I will be tested, old school, writing three essays in three hours into a blank workbook.

Curiosity, Forgiveness, Love … everyday attributes of the innovative organisation?

B822 BK 2 C6 Precepts

Especially actions that DISCOURAGE speculation/creativity Henry (2010:93)

Curiosity Charles Handy (1991) Creativity in Management, Radio 1, B822
Forgiveness Charles Handy (1991)
Love Charles Handy (1991)
A sense of direction Schon, D.A. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner

Some ‘Set Breakers’ Henry (2010:96)

1. Develop broad background experience and many interests

2. Find and challenge your own blind spots

3. Explore many different perspectives

4. Challenge yourself

5. Develop good browsing facilities

6. Change techniques or different mental modes

7. Seek out people with other points of view

8. In a group

Relevance bias

1. Dry Run

2. Quota of alternatives

3. Inverse optional question

4. Checklist of transformations

5. Reverse the problem

6. Boundary relaxation

7. What difference?

8. Get several people to try it

9. Deep questioning

10. Challenge

11. Fresh eye

6.4 Value of Play

1. Play is key to learning activity

2. The objects of play are both objective and subjective

3. The ability of play helps create the sense of independence.

4. Play offers a protected area of illusion

5. Plays is a way of managing unfulfilled need.

6. Play can lead to a particular state of mind.

7. Play breaks down outside certain emotional limits.

8. Shared play builds relationships

A. Choice of Setting

B. Choice of team members

C. Climate to aim for

D. Don’t demystify

E. Management of coping mechanisms

F. An aid to team building

McCaskey (1988)

· Problem finding (experience)

· Map building

· Janusian Thinking

· Controlling and not controlling

· Using domain and direction

· Planning rather than goal-directed planning

· Humour that oils

· Charisma

· Using ad hoc structures such as task force and project teams

· Using a core group embedded in a network of contracts and information

· ‘Turbulence management’

N.B. Creativity needs space vs. time pressure, interruption

· Create Space

6.8 involve others

The more participants you have, the more ideas you get.

‘Successfully creative people are often deeply committed to a particular domain, that has strong internal significance to them, and they focus very firmly on particular goals’. (e.g. Tessa Ross, Lionel Wigram, William Hague)

‘Passion and persistence can motivate sustained work; attract the loyalty of helpers; create awareness of you and your project in people who have relevant resources; and reassure those who need to take risks on your behalf.’ Henry (2010:114)

CATWOE p115

  • Blind chance
  • Wide-ranging exploration
  • The prepared mind
  • Individualised Action

6.12 Manage the Process Henry (2010:1113)

· Get the parameters right

· Record

· Sustain pace and energy

· Develop trust

· Keep the experience positive

· Plan

· Do – analyse either side and separately

· What?

· Why?

Learn from experience of others

  • Experiment

REFERENCE

Adams, J.L. (1987) Chase, Chance and Creativity: The Lucky Art of Novelty; New York; Columbia University Press.

Austin, J.H. (1978) Chase, Chance and Creativity: The Lucky Art of Novelty: New York: Columbia University Press.

McCaskey, M.B. (1988) ‘The challenge of managing ambiguity’, in Pondy, L.R, Boland, R.J and Thomas, H (eds) Managing Ambiguity and Change, new York, pp 2-11

Schon, A.A. (1983) The Reflective Practioner: How Professionals think in Action, London: Temple Smith

Wetherall, A. and Nunamaker, J (1999) Getting Results from Electronic Meetings

Winnicott, D.W (1972) Playing and Reality. Harmondsworth (1983) Davis, M and Wallbridge, D (1983) Boundary and Space: An Introduction to the Work of D.W. Winnicott. Harmondsorth.

Analogical Thinking in Business, Organisations and Mangement Styles

 

 

 

Fig. 1. The School of Communication Arts (1986 intake)

(My idea on how to promote the School of Communication Arts. Which one am I?)

 

In the past I used successfully the idea of ‘nurturing’ to represent first a school (Arts College) and then my own services to graduate recruiters.

Analogical thinking, from Churchill’s ‘iron curtain’ to the invention of Velcro.

(Indeed neurologists believe there is a gene that causes human beings to think in metaphors and that it is exactly this that allows us to invent, in fact  creativity in the face of adversity still rings true today, though we are not  facing a Sabre-toothed tiger at the entrance to the cave, or changing climate  with the onset of the ice age.)

Analogy – transfer of an idea from one domain to another.

Metaphor – resemblance or flavour. A way of making the strange familiar p.85. Or the hard to comprehend (trees, ecosystems, architecture, traffic lights).

Morgan (1986)

Kinds of metaphor:

·         Mechanistic

·         Ecological

·         Social

·         Cognitive

·         Systematic

Metaphors as labels:

Manager as captain or conductor.

Morgan (1986, 1997)

·         Machine

·         Organism

·         Culture

·         Brain

·         Political System

·         Psychic prison

·         Flux

·         Transformation

·         Instrument of domination

ACTIVITY 4.1

1) Pick three metaphors (a, b, c) for organisations, for instance the organisation as machine, organism or political system.

2) List the characteristics you associate with each.

3) Try and relate each characteristic to a feature in an organisation that you know.

4) What features of organisations do these characteristics highlight, and what do they conceal?

A) As an orchestra, ABB, 1999. A corporate cliché I have seen applied to Abbey National and others. Visually it may have resonance, though the cost of featuring musicians, let alone playing a piece where used is prohibitive to all but the largest organisations. The characteristics are of complementary divisions ‘playing the same tune’ with woodwind, strings and brass, for example representing the different businesses. With a single conductor it may better fit the largely privately owned enterprise, say a Richard Branson and Virgin, or a Russian Oligarch, though no longer News International and the Murdochs. The features perhaps work for News International with newspapers and TV interests, even having a go with MySpace being largely media, whilst Branson is more the empirical Napoleonic conqueror of anything going?

B) As a strawberry plant, i.e. a federal organisation that has grown organically rather than by acquisition, perhaps like a clearing bank? Perhaps like a franchise such as Kall-Kwik. Or a retail chain, appropriately, such as Body Shop. The characteristics I think of are independently managed businesses that sell the same range of products, with common branding and sales materials, though with some localisation. This works well in relation to the plant performing differently on a variety of local soils/climates i.e. the same organism but in different settings/opportunities to flourish or not.

An empire

C) As an empire, where a holding company or private equity group has gone on the acquisition trail buying up businesses for the opportunity, rather than as sets of businesses that complement each other, so take over, create economies of scale in management and Head Office functions. The characteristics here feel as if it should be military with no good outcome, ala ‘Wall Street’, though there are or nave been more benevolent, squid give groups or holdings companies in the past such as the long gone Ferguson Industrial Holdings PLC, or perhaps Unipart Group of Companies (UGC). This suggests a dictator at the top, though the leaders can be benevolent even if a tall pyramid is the business structure.

If the organisation doesn’t fit the metaphor, it is too simplistic a metaphor!  

The metaphor can intone a favourable or negative bias. For example, if asked in research to describe the organisation you work for as a car do you want it to be a Citroen 2CV, or a VW Golf, a Rolls-Royce or Ford Escort, a 1980s Ford Cortina or a Triumph Stag?

A business that is a machine I the digital age is surely going to get left behind through its rigid bureaucracies and hierarchies, a predilection for quantitative measures (ROI and KPIs) too?

In 2011 it seems archaic to think of teachers or tutors in this way, people who are moderators, coaches or facilitators. (The ecological metaphor is used with a cartoon not dissimilar to my own p.88 not shown here for copyright reasons, to represent people as seedlings or potted plants).

From Table 4.1 metaphors of businesses in relation to:

  • Character
  • Flair
  • Structure
  • Climate
  • Style
  • Authority
  •  Form
  •  Control
  • Decisions
  • Strategy
  • Adaptability
  • Orientation
  • Approach
  • Procedure
  • Attitude

ACTIVITY 4.2

Take expressions of the above for a ‘Machine like business, as 0 on a scale and

‘Organic’ as 10, then decide where:

a) you place your own organisation and b) yourself.

ACTIVITY 4.3

I’ll do this one offline.

Other metaphors might include:

  • Brain
  • Knowledge
  • Learning

Network (Morgan, 1993) business as a spider-plant.

Federal (Handy, 1989) business as shamrock

Chaos and complexity.

Brains and cities.

Supporting ‘patterns of transformation that emerge spontaneously in complex adaptive systems’. (Henry 2006:95)

Complex adaptive systems: termites, flock movements,  (anecdote of the aeroplane simulator managed by parts of an audience that  collectively cancels out the oddball, incompetent, inattentive or would-be plane-crashing individuals) p96 (Berreby, 1998:45 and Clark, 1997:75).

Self-organisation

‘people do not need to be told what to do: they are intelligent agents continuously learning and modifying their behaviour on the basis if feedback’. Handy (2010:97)

See DVD 2, Video 3

N.B. The metaphors chosen tend to reflect the chooser’s values. (Henry 2006:98)

Activity 4.4

What metaphor would you use to describe your organisation?

Activity 4.5

Describe the process of management as you experience it.

  • Warlike
  • Sporting
  • Spiritual

Activity 4.6

A metaphor to describe my management style.

Activity 4.7

Note metaphors to describe daily management styles.

Activity 4.8

Take a current task, associate with it an appropriate metaphor then give it  another that is far removed from the first.

Organisational paradigms p.104

Functionalist paradigm – world as an objective reality.

Kolb (1984) drawing on Pepper (1942)

Four ways of thinking about the world:

  1. Mechanistic
  2. Realist
  3. Organicist
  4. Pragmatic

And thinking styles:

  • Assimilator
  • Converger
  • Diverger
  • Accommodator

Table 4.2 Organisational metaphors and paradigms

Activity 4.9 WHAT METAPHOR WOULD YOU OFFER FOR MANAGEMENT IN THE 21st CENTURY?

 I’ve experienced many, including from the table:

·         Chaos/postmodern/play

 I know of:

·         System/participatory/co-create

 I like the sound of:

·         Drama/interpretive/enact

For the 21st Century I like the model of the modern ideas lab in which innovative ideas are trialled, developed then kicked out with a chunk of financing to thrive however turns out best! 

This is the sink or swim analogy.  

But after suitable teaching/coaching. Or perhaps a metaphor of procreation, raising and nurturing a child then letting them go? So organic or animal (or in particular mammalian or human).

Stacy (1996) and danger of controls, procedures and Pre-specified objectives.

FURTHER READING

Morgan, G. ‘Paradigms, metaphors and puzzle-solving’, C9 in Henry (1999a)

FROM MY OU STUDENT BLOG

‘Consider this medium as like talking with your fingers – half-way between spoken conversation and written discourse.’ (Hawkridge, Morgan and Jeffs, 1997,  quoted in Salmon 2005)

Salmon, G (2005) E-moderating. The Key to teaching and learning online.

REFERENCE

Berreby, D (1998) ‘Complexity theory: fact-free science or business tool?

Strategy and Business, No. 10, pp. 40-50.

Clark, A (1997) Being there. Cambridge, MA. MIT

Henry, J & the MBA Course Team (2006, 2010) B822 ‘Creativity, Innovation and Change’  Book 1 ‘Creativity, Cognition and Development’. The Open University Business School

Morgan, G. (1986 2nd 1997) Images of Organisation

B822 WK 1 Creativity, Cognition & Development (Activities 1.1 to 1.4)

CHAPTER 1 CREATIVITY (pp13-30)

What a fool. I always thought of business as boring.

I was a creative, an actor or performer, a writer or director, a visualiser. Yet beyond the antics of the undergraduate each of these can only happen in the context of a business: they have to be financed.   Perhaps for too long I toyed unsuccessfully with the idea of being alone in a space with paints or pens (actually a MAC and a Wacom board).

I take notes, pen onto paper, while reading from an iPad. I will get home and find a box of books and will then read from paper and take notes on the iPad. My inclination is to have TWO tablets, one in my left hand to read (a Kindle if it will take the PDFs) the iPad under my right hand so that I can type in notes as I go along.

MY NOTES:

  • developments so fast that they are unpredictable.
  • expect the unexpected (Handy, 1991)
  • increasing competition
  • increasing pace of change
  • need to add value through continual innovation
  • globalisation
  • creativity, knowledge & innovation over capital, labour & land
  • growth in value of intangible assets

I can see that B822 complements H807 ‘Innovations in E-learning’.

In truth this already is closer to what I perceived H807 would be as there is substantial use of audio and video.

Table 1.0 Innovations with major impact on human history
I want to return to this, add to it and include images.

Plenty will be available under Creative Commons and Google Images.

ACTIVITY 1.1 How would I define creativity?

Innovative problem solving (business, technical, communications, aesthetic) with the outcome a product or artefact that is unique and possibly challenging or controversial.

WHAT ASSOCIATIONS DOES CREATIVITY HAVE FOR YOU?

The arts and media, from TV to film and music, theatre, art, books, ceramics and sculpture to creativity in commerce with advertising and architecture. Even putting up a pedestrian bridge can be a creative endeavour. Or making a sandcastle.

WRITE DOWN WORDS AND PHRASES THAT IT SUGGESTS TO YOU
illustration  Design Copywriting Inventiveness Innovative Clever Head turning Memorable Unique Controversial Skilled

ALSO THINK OF:
Problem solving (appropriate) New Novelty is relative Lasting impact

ACTIVITY 2.1
WHAT DO YO THINK CAUSES CREATIVITY, AND WHERE DO NEW IDEAS COME FROM?

In adverting a creative team, a copywriter and art doctor sit together to come up with ideas to sell a product based on a Creative Brief that answers the question ‘what is the problem?’ in this respect creativity is about solving problems, indeed movie producers and directors define film making as solving problems. Greyson Perry, the ceramicist, argues that ‘creativity is mistakes’, indeed creativity needs to be a challenge and a risk if the requisite innovation is to occur. For me creativity therefore comes from the desire to overcome a problem, which applies as much to composing a new song, writing copy or a book, designing a new machine, simplifying source code, drawing a sel-portrait, even making a meal with left-overs from the cupboard.
Creativity can be taught and engendered in everyone. The ‘genius’ is rarely born with a god-given gift, often a parent has pushed them to acquire and practice skills from a very early age. The successful ‘creative’ may well put in far more hours than Others, even possess a keener, more urgent desire and curiosity.

1950s an ability  1960s mental flexibility 1970s relevant experience 1980s intrinsic motivation 1990s work culture
(Engestrom’s ideas of activity systems are worth bringing in here).

ACTIVITY 1.3

Think about two or three people fro the worlds of: Science: Prof. Brian Cox – his ability to communicate the complex in a clear and memorable way. Art:  Stephen Appleby – transvestite cartoonist. Caravagio, but perhaps not the Pre-Raphaelites. Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dali and Picaso. Music: Bjork – weird and wonderful, Gary Neuman, David Bowie …  Business: Dyson – from the cyclone vacuum cleaner to the air-blade. Sport: George Best – I don’t even follow football but at times his skill looks inventive, playful and in control. Some skiers and skaters. Literature: Haruki Murakami – he has a voice of his own. Henry Miller, Will Self …  And any others: The Saatchis for their advertising in the 1980s; Terry Gilliam and the Monty Python Team. Fashion: Jean-Paul Gaultier – how he dresses, what he design. Architects such as Richard Rogers and Zaha Hadid.
QQ. What do I think is creative about them or what they produce?

It can be outrageous, it works, it solves a problem, it leaves a lasting impression. They may be extrovert, outrageous self-publicists or introvert, even quite ‘normal’ like James Dyson, Terrance Conran or John Hegarty (Bartle Bogle, Hegarty). They persevere, they are confident or know no better than to be themselves writ large. They learnt their trade from the bottom up and stuck with it.

ACTIVITY 1.4
Think of someone creative people you know, and from work: a friend, relative or child.
What sort of people are they and how do they do thing?

They are observers and can be set apart. They can be egotistical and rubbish at time keeping and the everyday and mundane. They think a lot. They draw upon multiple references. They are highly intelligent. They may be troubled souls in conflict with themselves and the world. They care about their craft skills. Are they performers of sorts seeking cognition as well as reward for what they do? They are the first to do it? They are focused and goal driven.

But the truth, in a business setting might be quite different, with the ‘creative’ in this setting the good listener and team player?

REFERENCE

Handy, C. (1991) ‘The Age of Unreason’ in Henry (1991)

Henry, J., Mayles, D., Bell, R., et al (2010) Book 1, Creativity, Cognition and Development.

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