Friday, November 1, 2013

Innovator's DNA Book Review with a lens towards Education

Here is another book review with perspective with how the content can be applied to education. This is how I always read my materials.

On with the review.

Book website:

This book was another fascinating read. I have been blessed to have read many great books in a row. This one is another one that all people should read.

The authors conducted an eight year study that established 5 Skills that all innovators possess.

1. Association
2. Question
3. Observe
4. Network
5. Experiment

When I think of these five skills I don't think of successful people despite that many have these skills, but I instantly think of kids. All kids have these five skills. The key idea that I left this book with is that schools and society must change to quit killing these skills in youth. My young children possess these skills, but as they get older I fear they will lose these vital skills to be successful in life.

It is hard to innovate when structure does not change and even more so in schools with such limited scope when educators are forced to fight for obedience instead of learning.

The authors mention that large companies typically fail at disrupting innovation because top management team is dominant by people with delivery skills, not discovery skills. I think this holds true in some regards in education as well. The schools that deliver have administration that get it and work for discovery and testing the edge of chaos.

If we want this to change then I think the honest question must be

How does your company/school reward and promote discovery skills?

I am not suggesting that we just go wild fire and leave things completely wide open without restriction. Creativity loves constraint. We must remember that questions alone do not produce innovation. They are necessary, but insufficient. We need those people that can deliver. You need big ideas, but you need those who work through the details to get it done. In schools I think it would be amazing if we took time to assemble teacher teams divided up by these skills. You need teams with a variety of skills and abilities. Discovery driven people are not all that matters

The book talks about people who would be good for teams and innovation. I like these skills for educators as well. I often wonder if colleges prepare student teachers for these skills and more importantly are schools screening teachers with these skills. If not, then I think this is something that needs to be addressed. The skills are 

1. Show a track record that demonstrate discovery skills
2. Possess deep expertise in at least on knowledge area and show breadth in a few others (T shaped knowledge)
3. Display a passion to change world and make a difference

If we know that innovators and creators are going to be the face of change and the future of business, then we as educators and schools need to shift how we teach and the values we express. I think we are in a pivotal time that we must begin to change some things up. Not everything is broken, but we are in need of an update.

This book was an essential read that left me with many great ideas to think about and items that I need to address. My current goal as a result of this book is to create a place for teachers to come tinker, explore, question, observe, and experiment. I am calling it Tinker Time and it starts this week. I will continue to push myself as an educator to allow more of these 5 skills to develop in my classroom and school.

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