Creating innovators

Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, by Tony Wagner


“If we are to remain globally competitive in today’s world, we need to produce more than just a few entrepreneurs and innovators. We need to develop the creative and enterprising capacities of all our students” (pg 4).

“the greatest innovations of the 21st century will be those that have helped to address human needs more than those that had created the most profit” (pg 6).

“Innovation may then be defined as the process of having original ideas and insights that have value, and then implementing them so that they are accepted and used by significant numbers of people” (pg 8).

“Incremental innovation is about significantly improving existing products, processes, or services. Disruptive or transformative innovation on the other hand, is about creating a new or fundamentally different product or service that disrupts existing markets and displaces formerly dominant technologies” (pg 10).

Seven Survival Skills of Innovators:

  1. Critical thinking and problem solving

  2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence

  3. Agility and adaptability

  4. Initiative and entrepreneurship

  5. Accessing and analyzing information

  6. Effective oral and written communication

  7. Curiosity and imagination

Tim Brown’s Five Characteristics of “Design Thinkers”

  1. Empathy

  2. Integrative thinking

  3. Optimism

  4. Experimentalism

  5. Collaborators

Leader: “someone who will take control of the situation verses waiting to be led.” The ask, “How can I make things better?” (pg 15).

Innovators have the following qualities:

  1. Curiosity, which is a habit of asking good questions and a desire to understand more deeply

  2. Collaboration, which begins with listening to and learning from others who have perspectives and expertise that very different from your own

  3. Associative or integrative thinking

  4. a bias toward action and experimentation (pg 16)

“If you look at 4-year olds, they are constantly asking questions and wondering how things work. But by the time they are 6.5 years old they stop asking questions because they quickly learn that teachers value the right answers more then provocative questions. High school students rarely show inquisitiveness. And by the time they’re grown up and are in corporate settings, they have laready had the curiosity drummed out of them. 80% of executives spend less then 20% of their time on discovering new ideas . . . The problem is that school sometimes treat {curiosity} as a bad habit . . . like any habit, creativity can either be encouraged or discouraged” (pg 17).

“It’s a lot easier to name the things that stifle innovation like rigid bureaucratic structures, isolation, and a high-stress work enviornment” (pg 23).

“Expertise and creative thinking are an individual’s raw materials - his or her natural resources, if you will. But a third factor - motivation - determines what people will actually do” (pg 25)

Intrinsic motivation, play, passion, and purpose: Whether - and to what extent - parents, teachers, mentors, and employers encourage these qualities make an enormous difference in the lives of young innovators” (pg 26).

“A child has to get bored before he can figure out how to get himself out of the boredom, and a lot of that happens out of door” (pg 36).

Empowerment: “students can go out and apply what they’ve learned to the problems that they’ve never seen before with the parts that they’ve never used before” (pg 50).

“The most important aspect of being in an innovative environment is not being afraid to fail” (pg 67).

“So often in school, the what-if question is eliminated, but that’s the source of true creativity and innovation” (pg 97).

“Our education system does not encourage risk-taking and penalizes failure, and too many parents and teachers believe that a “safe” and lucrative career in business or law or medicine is what young people should strive for - rather than something to do with ‘changing the world’” (pg 113).

“Without a reason - without passion and purpose - many disadvantaged young people simply can’t tolerate the tedium of school. Passion and purpose are what give them hope, a clear focus, and a reason to acquire the skills and the knowledge they will need to succeed” (pg 128).

“What you know is far less important that what you can do with what you know. The interest in and ability to create new knowledge to solve new problems is the single most important skill that all students must master today. All successful innovators have mastered the ability to learn on their own ‘in the moment’ and then apply that knowledge in new ways” (pg 142).

Traditional classrooms are all about instructor control. You tell students what’s important to learn and why and then you evaluate them. I’ve come to realize a lot of responsibility and choices can and should be turned over to the learner” (pg 163).

For more one . . .

Education : Reading Log : Creativity