April 12, 2013

Issue 28 – April 12, 2013

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Integrating Value & Innovation in the C-Suite.............................………….. Stephan Liozu Achieving Innovation Resonance …………………...………………..…….…. Braden Kelley An Inside Look at Social TV in France …………..…………….……..…..……… Nicolas Bry Company Secrets for Disruptive Innovation……………………..…...... Stefan Lindegaard 5 Steps to Innovate How You Innovate .……………………………....……… Soren Kaplan Innovation Strategy: How to build an office of innovation …….………. Bryan Mahoney Cairo Innovation Clouds ……….……............................................................…. Steve Todd Pay Attention! ………………………………………….…….……………..…….. Jeffrey Phillips There’s No Innovation Without Uncertainty …………………………….....….. Tim Kastelle 50 Ways to Integrate Art into Any Lesson ………………………………….…. Lisa Chesser

Your hosts, Braden Kelley, Julie Anixter and Rowan Gibson, are innovation writers, speakers and strategic advisors to many of the world’s leading companies.

“Our mission is to help you achieve innovation excellence inside your own organization by making innovation resources, answers, and best practices accessible for the greater good.”

Cover Image credit: smooth water ripples background from Bigstock

Integrating Value & Innovation in the C-Suite
Posted on April 7, 2013 by Stephan Liozu

The world of business and economics change fast and is getting more complex every decade. Firms are faced with the choice to adapt, reinvent and differentiate themselves or die. Over the past few years, the nature and intensity of these changes in the business landscape have created organizational disruption and a realistic need to redesign organizational structure and leadership approaches. As a result, the nature and structure of the C-suite has also been changing to respond to these exogenous trends.

While traditionally C-level positions were focused on operations (Chief Operations Officer), on finance (Chief Financial Officer), on information systems (Chief Information Officer), and innovation (Chief Innovation Officer), we have witnessed the emergence of a flurry of new C-level titles emanating from new management theory (Chief Learning Officer, Chief Knowledge Officer), from increased business regulations (Chief Compliance Officer, Chief Ethics Officer, Chief Risk Officer) and from increased focused on markets and customers (Chief Customer Officer, Chief Growth Officer, Chief Commercial Officer, and Chief Marketing Officer).

Today more and more firms realize that they cannot cut their way to prosperity and that their growth potential has been severely reduced due to the continued recessionary trends. Business are looking at innovation in their business models and re-inventing their value propositions in order to generate customer excitement, boost value creation programs, and capture value through value-based pricing. This trend towards value begs the question of who is in charge of value management processes and programs in firms. Another interesting question to consider is the place of innovation within the value management concept. Where should innovation sit in the organization if you place value at the center of the innovation process?

Innovation as Part of the CVO Mandate

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) positions have been widely accepted over the past decade. About 200 CCOs have been appointed worldwide since the role emerged . Among Fortune 100 firms, 23 had a CMO as the head of marketing in 2008 . In many large firms, chances are that you will have a Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) in the C-suite or you will find innovation as a stand alone function reporting to R&D, technology or some type of centralized center of excellence. But not every firm can afford to have a CMO, a CIO and a CPO for example. So how do you combine the function and where do you place innovation? This is where it gets controversial.

With the emerging importance of value and innovation, I conjecture that both need to be managed together under the role of Chief Value Officer. The CMO, CPO, CCO and CVO roles are different but present some overlapping functions. While job descriptions might differ from firm to firm, I find that the CVO function best captures the systematic and holistic creation, assessment and capture of value and should include innovation, marketing, pricing and customer insight processes. The CVO role can be designed to be a process-oriented function or as an integrated group of functions all focused on value management excellence.

Value at the Organizational Level

I propose that value must be elevated to the organizational level. Firms must put business value at the center of their existence , make it part of their DNA and focus on creating sustainable value for stakeholders. To do this, they need to have the proper tools, systems and programs in place to manage value systematically and with clear intention. I also propose that innovation has to be embedded in the value management process to make sure that all innovation programs bring value to the business and deliver exciting opportunities for value creation.

By continuously creating, assessing, and capturing value, firms can reap the fruits of their holistic value management programs and can reinvest significant portions of their incremental profitability into innovation. Simply put, enterprises need to innovate for growth and price for profit. Profit being the price an enterprise pays to create the future; both innovation and profit depend on value creation.

So, who is in charge of value in your company?

image credit: maslansky.com & meeting room image from bigstock

Stephan Liozu, PhD is the Founder of Value Innoruption Advisors and specializes in disruptive approaches in innovation and value management. He holds a PhD in Management at Case Western Reserve University and can be reached at sliozu@case.edu

Achieving Innovation Resonance
Posted on April 8, 2013 by Braden Kelley

What does resonance mean to you?

The word has many different dictionary definitions depending on the context, but most of them focus on vibrations reaching an ideal state.

Here are two of the most relevant dictionary definitions for our innovation resonance context today:

 

“a quality of evoking response” (Merriam-Webster) “the effect of an event or work of art beyond its immediate or surface meaning” (Bing)

Here also are a couple of my favorite resonance quotes:

“I think whatever resonance I may be able to achieve is in part simply from the amount of reading and learning that I acquired along the way.” – Robert B. Parker

“I think if the movie has resonance and stimulates the viewer to talk about it, you can have as large an audience as you want.” – Andy Garcia

I’ve written in the past about how innovation is all about value and about how innovation veracity is more important than innovation velocity. Now it is time to take the innovation conversations about value and veracity to the next level – to innovation resonance – and how difficult it is to achieve and maintain.

Achieving innovation resonance is about going from 1+1=2 to a state where 1+1+1+1=7, where the sum of the valuable parts in some new potential innovation suddenly becomes greater than the individual components and value may be created that you might not have even anticipated. When you reach this state of innovation nirvana, the power of resonance pushes your invention over the line from invention to innovation, and adoption becomes widespread. People start talking about, spreading it like a virus, and ultimately supplementing your marketing efforts in much more effective ways.

To achieve innovation resonance you must create value with innovation veracity and deliver it in a product or service with the right velocity and course corrections as you bring your potential innovation into the marketplace. Innovation veracity is about identifying the truths that are important to the customer in the problem space you are investigating, the inspirations and the insights that will hopefully lead to better ideas, more value creation, and hopefully, eventually – innovation resonance.

You’ll notice that I used the words hopefully and eventually in the last sentence in relation to achieving innovation resonan ce, and this is because our best attempts to anticipate the wants and needs of the marketplace will not always be immediately correct, and may require course corrections in the product or service to better match the expected or desired value.

And the ultimate value encompassed in a potential innovation attempting to achieve resonance, comes from three main sources:

1. Value Creation 2. Value Access 3. Value Translation

Innovation = Value Creation * Value Access * Value Translation

You’ll notice in this equation that the parts mult iply, and as a result if you do any of the three badly, your potential innovation will fail. But do ALL three well and you will have the opportunity to achieve innovation resonance.

Optimizing Innovation Resonance

To optimize the value creation component of innovation, you must seek innovation veracity early on, identifying the fundamental truths upon which your potentially innovative solution will be built. During the value creation process you must prototype early and often to test and learn whether your insights are correct and resonating in their expression within the product or service as you expect. From the reactions to your prototypes you must evolve the solution to create more value.

To optimize the value access piece of innovation, you must seek to identify where friction is created in the delivery of your solution and seek to remove it. Carefully observe both where things are awkward or difficult for you to produce and scale the solution, and for your customer to consider and consume it. These friction points represent an opportunity to remove barriers to adoption and to increase potential innovation resonance through better production, purchase and consumption experiences.

To optimize the value translation piece of innovation, you must first identify the gaps in understanding and readiness among your target customers, your plan for working to close these gaps and prepare the market for your launch, and then you’ll want to find you r picture or image that communicates a thousand words. Most importantly, you must be aware that the more disruptive your potential innovation the more you may have to educate your potential customers before you even try to sell to them, and so you must build the appropriate amount of market preparation time into the launch plan for your potential innovation plan. Thought leadership marketing and innovation marketing strategies can be very powerful here to help customers understand how the new solution will fit into their lives and why they will want to abandon their existing solution – even if it is the ‘do nothing’ solution.

Resonance Example #1 – The BMW Mini – Barbie in Motion

One of those most fun, visually appealing vehicles on the road has to be BMW’s re -release of the Mini. I don’t have one, have only ridden in one once, but whenever I see one driving around, it makes me smile. And if you have any question about whether or not the Mini has achieved a level of resonance (at least in the USA and probably elsewhere), then how would you explain the photo of the Mini on the left that shows you can buy a Mini to drive Ken and Barbie around in? Can you buy a convertible Chrysler LeBaron for Barbie to drive around in? No, but you can buy a Fiat 500, another car achieving resonance here in the USA.

Resonance Example #2 – iPod Nano – Falling from the Pinnacle

The iPod Nano is a great example of the rise and fall of innovation resonance. The iPod took three years to take off (right about the time the iPod Nano was released). The trigger for innovation resonance was the Windows version of iTunes (Value Creation), combined with the launch of Apple Retail Stores (Value Access), combined with the iconic advertising campaigns (Value Translation). The iPod became a phenomenon with sales peaking in 2008 right after the iPhone release. Sales have been falling since then, but during this decline came the September 2010 release of the 6th Generation iPod Nano – which resonates to this day – so much so that Apple replaced the design six months ago to protect the market for their upcoming iWatch ( killing off products like this).

Maintaining Innovation Resonance

As we know from music, to maintain resonance, you must continue to inject energy and focus into the system – a bell won’t ring forever. And as we know from human psychology, just because you continue to ring the bell doesn’t mean that people will continue to want to l isten to it in the same way forever. Tastes change, preferences change, the definition of value for each component creating value for customers can potentially change. And so to remain the market leader, to maintain innovation resonance, you must continue to observe, to learn, and to modify your solution to optimize the innovation value equation as needed over time.

One great example of an innovative organization losing resonance over time was Dell. They (and a handful others) came into the PC marketplace with a disruptive business model, captured market share, rose to #1, and then gradually started to lose their position because they didn’t recognize a shift in the relative value of cost vs. design in the marketplace, causing them to lose market share to HP , Apple and others.

One way to look at the difference in strategies between HP and Dell might be to use the Strategy Canvas from the Blue Ocean Strategy methodology. You can see an example of a Strategy Canvas for the wine industry here:

But traditional Blue Ocean Strategy (or Value Innovation) is very static. As you can see, building a Strategy Canvas using Blue Ocean Strategy methods is a snapshot in time looking at the relative performance of a company on a selected set of value dimensions against its competition. To sail into a Blue Ocean the theory goes, you must select certain value dimensions to either:

1. 2. 3. 4.

Raise Eliminate Reduce Create

But as we know, value dimension performance, value dimension importance, and the competitive dynamics within the industry are not static, but change over time.

It is because of this weakness in the Blue Ocean Strategy methodology that I layer on the investigation of value dimension performance and importance onto any Value Innovation work that I might do. You can see in the two example images below related to the Dell vs. HP example about how changes in performance over time on certain value dimensions relative to what is “good enough” in the minds of cust omers can lead to changes in the relative importance of various value dimensions in the mind of the customers.

Because we cannot perfectly predict how customers will consume our product or service when we bring it to market, and because of the shifting sands of value force you to continuously re-evaluate the current situation with value dimensions and value importance, we must re-evaluate where we see the innovation process beginning and ending. Smart companies are recognizing that is not just about coming up with a great idea, or having a great launch, but about creating a commitment to launching, learning, and dialing in success by working to create and then maintain innovation resonance. Whirlpool Corporation, one of the early pioneers of a systematic pursuit of innovation excellence, has seen this and has created a commitment to launching and learning and has added a third diamond to their double diamond innovation methodology called ‘Deliver and Grow’.

Moises Norena, the Global Director of Innovation at the Whirlpool Corporation, was kind enough to share these thoughts:

“While we put a significant emphasis in the front end of innovation and in the commercialization phase, we recognize that you can not launch a product and sit and wait for its success. With the third diamond we assure that innovation teams stay engaged in the product management while it is in the market, contrasting the results with the predictions, not only on business performance but against the consumer and trade promise they were designed to deliver. We also ask these teams to use the innovation tools and process to identify opportunities to experiment and to maximize value extraction from the market.”


To achieve and maintain innovation resonance, you must nurture a commitment to learning fast, both during the innovation development process and after the launch of a potential innovation. You must maintain a laser focus on how you are creating value, helping people access that value, and translating that value for people so they can understand how your potential innovation may fit into their lives. So, do you have processes in place as part of your innovation methodology for measuring and evolving solutions in place to help you get to innovation resonance?

If not, keep a focus on value creation, value access, and value translation, use my evolutions of the Blue Ocean Strategy framework, and have a look at The Eight I’s of Infinite Innovation framework that I created or at the Whirlpool Corporation’s Triple Dia mond methodology to help you deliver and grow more successful innovation into your organization, and hopefully reach some level of innovation resonance.

Braden Kelley is a popular innovation speaker, embeds innovation across the organization with innovation training, and builds B2B pull marketing strategies that drive increased revenue, visibility and inbound sales leads. He is currently advising an early-stage fashion startup making jewelry for your hair and is the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. He tweets from @innovate.

An Inside Look at Social TV in France
Posted on April 7, 2013 by Nicolas Bry

Below is a short interview I completed about Social TV with Natan Edelsburg from Lost Remote.

Lost Remote is the home of social TV, covering how social media is changing TV, from Twitter to second screen apps.

They wanted to talk about Blended TV, social TV in France, and what the industry will look like in 2020.

Lost Remote: After taking an inside look at social TV in Brazil and Port ugal, it’s time to turn our attention to France. Orange is one of France’s biggest telco providers, serving five million subscribers through its IPTV and satellite TV network – a 15.8% increase over last year. Leading this charge is Nicolas Bry, a Senior VP at Orange responsible for the company’s Blended TV product. According to Bry, Blended TV is “designed as a platform accessible to others trough its API,” and is “embedded in a dozen of Orange services after only one year. Orange app s welcome and display social buzz in an environment familiar to the end-user, without the need to install a new app, and over multiple screens: mobile, TV, tablet, PC.”

Below are some insights on how Social TV is unfolding in France, analyses on the various strategies of the players, and what shows are the most popular on social networks.

What is Blended TV and how will it benefit consumers?

Nicolas Bry: While we watch, we tweet! Last Super Bowl just beat a new record. Besides, even more users find value in ‘listening’ to th e social conversation.

But live tweets are not always easy to read, and social networks can be quite noisy. Blended TV is Orange’s social buzz platform, dedicated to sorting real-time social conversations according to specific entertainment topics: live tv programs for social TV, catch-up TV, movies in theater, VoD, and sports competitions. Blended TV makes comprehensible social buzz, turning content discovery into a pleasurable exper ience for the viewer.

Designed as a platform accessible to others trough its API, Blended TV is embedded in a dozen of Orange services after only one year. Orange apps welcome and display social buzz in an environment familiar to the end-user, without the need to install a new app, and over multiple screens: mobile, TV, tablet, PC.

Describe social TV in France - how is similar and different to the rest of the world?

Nicolas Bry: Social TV got traction in France in 2012. As in the US, we beat some tweeting records (with pr oportional figures to France’s population, which is 5 times lower than the US population): social activity surrounding the best shows now reaches over 100k tweets. TF1, the main TV channel in terms of audience, drove 13 millions tweets last year around its programming.

Channels utilize various social TV strategies:

Companion apps on tablet and smartphones: myTF1 ‘Connect’ combines live TV, replay TV, live tweets and instant replay (short video sharing) for the show ‘The Voice’; M6 ‘Devant ma TV’ pushes info rmation synchronized with the program broadcasted, and

offers a range of ways to interact (voting, polling, Live tweets); Canal+ Football lets you select your camera angle, rate a player, and interact with other viewers of the game;

Official hashtags tend to be more frequently displayed on the TV screen, presenters and participants on stage live tweet during the shows, and curation teams select the best tweets to display on air;

Transmedia experiences are designed by creative teams from Arte, France Télévisions, Canal+, linking the first screen and the second screen with enriched narratives.

It’s interesting to note as well, that recent channels like D8 and NRJ12 are quite successful social TV examples, making prop ortionally more impact on social than their actual audience: NRJ12 ‘Star Academy’ and D8 ‘Nouvelle Star’, both music reality shows, generated 318,000 and 145,000 tweets, respectively, in January 2013.

What social TV apps or websites are most popular among French consumers?

Nicolas Bry: Besides channel initiatives, social platforms that come to mind include:

  

Devant La Télé, a pioneer of social TV, presents a web site dedicated to live tweets; TV Tweet, is more BtoB oriented by the mean of its API; Programme TV d’Orange, widely used by Orange mobile customers, focuses on content discovery and directs you to most commented TV program in real-time;

TV check is the leading platform in social gaming around TV.

What will social TV and the television experience as a whole look like in the year 2020?

Nicolas Bry: We realize that TV keeps moving toward more interactivity, more flexibility of use, and enriched experiences during live shows. This trend won’t stop. Actually, in 8 years time, it will be made stronger by the extending capabilities of smartphones & tablets, powerful mobile network (4G LTE today, 6G in 2020?) and proliferation of connected screens. Wall screens ( NDS Surfaces) or car windows (Woo) are absolutely breath taking. To travel across these new types of screens, we need a landmark: mobile has strong assets to be that companion. Being personal, ultra-portable and always-connected, mobile is designed to be the backbone of our future media experiences.

What are the most popular shows in France that people interact with on social?

Nicolas Bry: The most popular shows are the music shows I’ve mentioned. Football games, political debates, and serial soaps, also attract quite a lot of tweets. One might say these are programs open to ‘interpassivity’, meaning there are windows to interact and s witch from the passive lean back to an active attitude: commenting, reading, and voting.

The most commented-on show last year was the Miss France Election, typically a show that invites comments: it sparked over 420,000 tweets. In fact, the record was recently beaten in early 2013 with the NRJ Music Awards, broadcasted on two channels, TF1 and NRJ, driving 1.45 million tweets.

Credits: 24imedia.com, visionmobile.com, planetech.uol.com.br, Getglue Trendrr

Nicolas is a senior VP at Orange Innovation Group. Serial innovator, he set-up creative BU with an international challenge, and a focus on new TV experiences. Forward thinker, he completed a thesis on “Rapid Innovation”, implemented successfully at Orange, and further developed at nbry.wordpress.com. He tweets @nicobry

Company Secrets for Disruptive Innovation
Posted on April 6, 2013 by Stefan Lindegaard

What are the secrets of companies that manage to bring disruptive innovation to market?

I often argue that you cannot plan for disruptive or breakthrough innovation, but you can definitely create the right framework and conditions for this to happen. But what if there is some secret sauce that can inspire others? What would this look like?

I do not have the answer for this so in this post, I would like to start a discussion aimed at finding some common denominators for bringing disruptive or breakthrough innovation to market. You input is needed.

Here you get some discussion starters:
Develop arms-length structures:

You cannot create disruptive innovation within the current organization. You need to protect your projects from the bureaucracy and “we do as we always do” mentality of the big organization just as you do not want rebels with a “we do not accept the status quo” mindset disrupting the big organization which in the end of the day pays the bills.

Get executives out of the way and provide autonomy:

Many executives and top managers do not know much about innovation let alone disruptive innovation. So get out of the way! They should hire program managers that make them feel a bit uncomfortable because they are definitely out of their comfort zone here. Let the program managers do what the see fit in the context of the organization and the industry.

Hire proven innovators as program managers:

I am often amazed by the importance of just one person when I look back at the successful implementation of open or disruptive innovation programs at large companies. One thing that stands out here is that these people have fought in the trenches themselves and they really know the importance of stakeholder management.

A great example is Mark Randall, who is running a disruptive innovation program at Adobe to lead such programs. I really like how Mark labels himself as a disruptive influence. You need a (positive) disruptive influence to succeed with such programs.

Although this is not the great presentation, I recently heard from Mark on the Adobe program, you could still find some good insights here: How to Boost Creativity

Once you got the right people on board, you need to let them do what they do best. Don’t micromanage them!

Match the right people with the right ideas:

Once you got the right captain onboard, you also need to identify and develop the right kind of people having the mindset and skills needed to take a project through the different phases of innovation (discovery – incubation – acceleration). If you fail to find the right people and staff the projects with what you got at hand, I am pretty sure you will fail.

Here I suggest that you build a pool of people who can be ready for the right idea before you even have the ideas. Keep them idle with other projects (where they add value with their skills and mindset) but have them stand by for the right project. This is a needed investment if you really want to pursue disruptive innovation.

If you still do not have the right people for the idea, hire someone from the outside.

Be careful when copying others:

It is tempting to “just” copy ideas and programs such as Google’s 20% time or Apple’s approach to innovation. Be careful! – and check this post : Strategies for Building and Supporting an Innovation Culture

My starters… What are your ideas and input for creating a setup and culture that drives more disruptive innovation projects w ithin big companies?

image credit: shh gesture image from bigstock

Stefan Lindegaard is an author, speaker and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, social media and intrapreneurship.

5 Steps to Innovate How You Innovate
Posted on April 7, 2013 by Soren Kaplan

Sustained competitive advantage comes from innovating how we innovate. That’s the essence of real innovation.
In the past, new products and technologies consumed the vast majority of the innovation air-time. That’s no longer the case.

The most innovative companies today realize that competitive differentiation comes as much from how they innovate as it does from what they’re innovating. Here are five trends shaping the world of innovation itself that anyone can apply to their business:

#1: Co-Create with Customers

Thanks to Facebook and YouTube, almost 10 years ago Time Magazine named “You” as their Person of the Year. Our collective 15 minutes of fame didn’t end there.

The convergence of ubiquitous Internet access, mobile devices, and social networking has created an environment in which customers are front and center. Companies now realize that innovation is a team sport in which their customers need to play a direct, if not lead role.

Vans, the classic yet youthful shoe brand, provides a fully customizable shoe-building experience on their website. Customers literally start out with a blank canvas and design dream shoes that they can “share” with friends and family.

More and more, customer co-creation will be seen as one of the best sources of creating what customers really want – because customers create it for themselves.

#2: Create an Experience

You know that design has found its place when Fortune 500 companies like Samsung, Ford, P&G and others instill Chief Creative Officers and Chief Design Officers to lead their innovation efforts. Whereas design used to be equivalent with industrial design, its scope has expanded to include experience design. Experience design involves the practice of designing products, services, events and environments with an emphasis on the quality of the customer experience, not simply on form or functionality.

Unilever, for example, recently spun-off an experimental retail store it created called Rituals. The store isn’t organized by rows of products, but rather the personal “wellness” experience. Product names, colors, packaging and promotion are all geared toward the consumer’s desired emotional state and include areas focused on “relaxing,” “energizing” and “purifying.”

Experience innovation provides a broader lens with which to view customers’ needs and desires, which can help pinpoint the “touch points” that will deliver true surprise and delight.

#3: Servicize

Services now account for about 80% of US output (GDP) and over 70% of output from other industrialized nations.

Companies like Facebook, Square, OpenTable, and others have proven that great service business models can be build upon web and mobile technologies. But as I described in my latest article for FastCompany, “servicizing” is as much about reinventing a product -based business model as it is about creating new services.

Rolls Royce, for example, sells more than cars; they also sell airplane engines. When they modified their sales model and introduced service fees based on “uptime” (the actual time the engines are flying in the air), their airline customers were e lated. Airlines prefer to pay as their own cash comes in from their passengers and cargo instead of buying an engine up-front. Rolls Royce sells “hot air out of the back of the engine,” not the actual engines.

Servicizing isn’t about creating customer support or training for existing products. It’s an entirely new way of thinking about customers and the value they desire.

#4: Profit with Purpose

With climate change, the looming healthcare crisis, rampant childhood obesity, and other social ills, we’ve final ly seen the light (or at least the glimmer of a candle): business should be able to make money while at the same time providing a broader benefit to people, the community and the environment.

It’s not just the Ben & Jerry’s or the Patagonia’s of the world who are blending social responsibility with business. WalMart, once known for its business ruthlessness, has become an unexpected model by gathering more than 1,000 leading suppliers to review goals and expectations for creating a more environmentally and socially responsible global supply chain. Schools like Oxford, Cornell University and Dartmount College are creating a host of programs to help students create businesses that support the triple bottom line (people, planet and profit).

Profit and purpose are no longer mutually exclusive. They’re becoming intertwined as a source of competitive advantage.

#5: Build Your Innovation Network

Innovation was once the role of a handful of people “at the top” or in R&D. Open Innovation and Open Business Models will continue to drive new opportunities using external networks. More and more, the job of innovation has expanded to include employees, customers, partners and anyone else who has value to contribute.

Kimberly-Clark’s Huggies Mom Inspired program solicits new business ideas directly from “mompreneurs.” The company also promotes one-day “expert acceleration sessions” that bring hand-picked outside “thought leaders” face to face with business teams to bust mental models and create game-changing strategies.

To harness innovation networks, it’s vital for companies to rethink the traditional command and control structure. The goal is to tapped into internal and external resources to quickly ideate, iterate, prototype and launch new ideas.

Here’s one final thought… Just like today’s world, innovation is complex. While new products, services and technologies are always important, the field of innovation is about much more. Sustained value creation relies on innovating how we innovate. That’s the essence of real innovation.

What trends do you see? What other strategies are important? What are your favorite examples of “innovating innovation”?

Soren Kaplan is the author of Leapfrogging and a Managing Principal at InnovationPoint LLC where he advises start-ups and also consults to Cisco, Colgate, Disney, Medtronic, Visa, and others larger firms. He led the internal strategy group at HP and is an Adjunct Professor within the Imagineering Academy at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands. To learn about the book Leapfrogging or contact Soren visit www.leapfrogging.com

Innovation Strategy: How to build an office of innovation
Posted on April 9, 2013 by Bryan Mahoney

Creating an office of innovation, one that strikes with disruptive new ideas and insights on a regular basis, is a task rapidly rising on CEOs’ lists for 2013. According to latest research from the Conference Board, CEO Challenges 2013, innovation is among the top three challenges faced by CEOs in 2013. The report goes on to identify top five strategies to address innovation, one of which entails the creation of culture of innovation by promoting and rewarding entrepreneurship and risk-taking.

As CEOs embark or continue on their innovation journey, they are dedicating teams and whole departments to lead their organizations toward change, improvement and growth. The Chief Innovation Officer may be a new addition to corporate staff but the role has a familiar charge: To guide the organization toward new ways of thinking, working and acting that produce a palpable and profitable shift in the way everyone works.

For the past three years the Innovation Leaders Forum (ILF) has connected the innovators charged with bringing about this organizational change and the resources and peers who can help them. On April 23 the ILF returns to Boston for a day of workshops and discussion to help create an enterprise innovation function.

Moises Norena will share his experiences building a global innovation function at Whirlpool, while Lorna Ross from Mayo Clinic will speak about transformative innovation. Phil Swisher from Brown Brothers Harriman will show you how to make the case for the right Chief Innovation Officer and Jim Euchner, VP of innovation at Goodyear, will explore enterprise innovation best practice. Innovation columnist Scott Kirsner of the Boston Globe will then join the speakers for a panel discussion.

This daylong conference and networking event brings together the best minds in collaborative innovation, and this year’s pres entations will spark new thinking in how enterprise innovation is built and systematized in your organization. We hope you can join us for the day.

image credit: extralast.com

Bryan Mahoney is the business writer and content editor at Imaginatik, an innovation management consultancy and software company based in Boston.

Cairo Innovation Clouds
Posted on April 5, 2013 by Steve Todd

In March I visited two universities in Egypt that have deployed “mini -clouds” for the purpose of education and innovation: German University Cairo (GUC) and Ain Shams University.

This visit is related with a blog post I wrote several years ago (2011) called Cairo Cloud Formations. In that post, I discussed how the Egyptian innovation ecosystem was “primed and ready” to learn about cloud computing, design cloud archit ectures, build their own systems, and innovate within those systems.

Looking back on that 2011 visit, several things come to mind:

Cloud computing was a government priority. I met with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and they had already adopted EMC’s Cloud

Computing Curriculum to bring them up to speed on the topic. 
The university research community in Cairo had multiple professors that were well-versed in cloud computing, but the student population as a whole were not aware of the cloud computing definition, benefits, and approaches.

My EMC co-workers were well aware of EMC’s cloud computing strategy, but none of them had hands -on experience with physically and logically piecing together a cloud computing infrastructure.

Our strategy after this visit was to (a) focus heavily on cloud education, (b) generate cloud-specific research proposals with select universities, and (c) build a “mini-cloud” on-premise at the Cairo Center of Excellence with EMC employees.

Two years later, there has been significant progress made on all three fronts.

The “mini-cloud” action item, however, has had the most impact in terms of advancing the state of cloud comp uting knowledge (and practice).

The mini-cloud was designed by EMC Distinguished Engineer Wissam Halabi. To say that Wissam has cloud knowledge would be an understatement. Wissam is EMC’s leading Cloud Architect and a major force behind the implementation of EMC’s internal private cloud, which supports over 60,000 employees, enables over 400,000 customer/partners, spans 5 geographic data centers, contains over 8 PB of data, and hosts well over 400 unique applications and tools.

So we asked Wissam: what is the minimum configuration that we could build in Egypt that qualifies as a “cloud”?

Below is a picture of his mini-cloud architecture:

It is not my purpose to step through this architecture, explain the components, and articulate how this minimalistic architecture satisfies certain cloud computing characteristics (although I can certainly work with Wissam on a separate blog post if there is interest).

Instead I prefer to focus on the impact this approach had on the innovation ecosystem. EMC employees were able to augment their cloud knowledge with a hands-on activity. They communicated this new knowledge to relevant government and university partners. Customers were brought in to the lab and educated on the approach. Without exception, our government and university partners raised their hands and said “we would like to do the same thing”.

As a result we have launched two EMC cloud computing research labs. These labs are dedicated to serve as a sandbox for (a) students completing the EMC Academic Alliance cloud computing course, and (b) researchers desiring a location to try out new cloud algorithms and ideas. Each lab consists of a VNXe, several servers, and VMware cloud assets.

Why VNXe? Because the system in and of itself is cloud-like.

The mini-cloud approach is cookie cutter; any university can build a similar system for students.

In upcoming posts I will look at some of the research emerging from these systems, and share a bit more detail about EMC Cairo’s advanced innovation program.

GM Magued Mahmoud, myself, Innovation and University Research Program Manager Marwa Zaghow, and Distinguished Engineer Wissam Halabi with the “mini-cloud” at German University Cairo.

image credit: emc.com

Steve Todd is an EMC Fellow, the Director of EMC’s Innovation Network, and a high -tech inventor and book author Innovate With Global Influence. An EMC Intrapreneur with over 200 patent applications and billions in product revenue, he writes about innovation on his personal blog, the Information Playground. Twitter: @SteveTodd

Pay Attention!
Posted on April 8, 2013 by Jeffrey Phillips

You want to know what the biggest input gap is where innovation is concerned? Want to know what really matters when you are starting an innovation initiative? Did the bright sparkly pop-up advertisement steal your attention in the last 20 seconds? Did your email notification sound while reading this blog?

Pay Attention

Perhaps the biggest gap between knowing and doing innovation is what I call the attention gap. It is evident throughout all layers of the organization, across all industries and functions. People need to pay attention to innovation.

The problem is our business as usual entity functions fairly well in the b ackground, and we’ve lost the rationale to pay attention to anything for any significant period of time. The biggest compliment you can pay to anyone in business today is to actively, completely pay attention to what they say. That means shutting out the day to day distractions, the “fires” that constantly pop up, the incessant demands from social media, the phone, email, Twitter, instant messaging and a hundred other constant interruptions. Undivided, consistent, engaged attention – what some people call “being present” is the most valuable commodity for engagement, change and innovation in any organization. And, unfortunately, that commodity is overly committed to efficiency, easily distracted by short term needs and often in very short supply.

Executive Attention matters

Let’s start at the top. Executive attention matters. If what gets measured gets managed, then what gets executive attention g ets focus from the rest of the organization. While many initiatives can be “signed off” and then delegated to the appropriate leader or team without fear of distraction or delay, innovation needs consistent executive attention to succeed and flourish. There are simply too many uncertainties and unknowns prevalent in innovation work to delegate innovation and lose executive attention. And we know how valuable and rare deep executive attention can be. What do the executives in your business pay attention to? What captures their attention? If it is n’t innovation, then innovation won’t capture the attention of the rest of the organization.

Middle Management Attention matters

If executive attention matters and is crucial for success, middle management attention is ultimately decisive and vital. That ’s because while executives propose, mid-management disposes, to paraphrase another saying. No matter what the executives detail and delegate, the middle managers are the ones who determine what initiatives receive high priority and resources, and which circle slowly in a backwater, never quite

dead yet never quite alive. Middle managers can’t afford to be distracted from efficiency a nd predictability, their attention is completely focused on these criteria, until an executive who is paying attention tells them otherwise. And not a one time suggestion or directive but a consistent interaction to signal that a middle manager must pay attention to innovation activities and prioritize them accordingly.

We pretend to work

There was an old saying in the Soviet Union about work commitments. It went something like this: They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work. If executives won’t commitment limited and valuable attention to innovation, in the form of their time, their energy and they vision, and if middle managers can’t find time to pay attention to innovation and don’t want to take their eyes off the efficiency engines, why oh why would anyone else in an organization expect anyone else to pay attention to innovation. There’s a reason many innovators often earn the title “mavericks” – its because they are often a lonely voice in the wilderness trying to draw attention (there’s that word a gain) to new and different realities.

If executives can’t or won’t pay attention to innovation, and if middle managers can’t be bothered to glance away from short term crises and the efficient engines they’ve created and sustain, no one else is going to pa y attention either. In fact perhaps one of the best methods to move up in an organization is to mimic the behavior that your management team demonstrates. If paying attention to innovation isn’t impo rtant to them, why should it be important to anyone else?

The Innovation Inbox

In my innovation heart of hearts I imagine the creation of an innovation inbox – a place so compelling, that refreshes so quickly and demands so much attention that it distracts people from other, less pressing mundane work. Now, can we create an innovation activity that is as compelling as your email inbox, that attracts and retains attention like a short term crisis and is important enough to demand a lot of your attention?

Of course not. We could create constant crisis, like “burning platforms” that pop up and are extinguished, but they wouldn’t sustain over time. What is urgent is not a momentary, short term set of innovation emergencies but a long term cultural change to refocus attention to what is important. What does your team pay attention to?

image credit: attending image from bigstock

Jeffrey Phillips is a senior leader at OVO Innovation. OVO works with large distributed organizations to build innovation teams, processes and capabilities. Jeffrey is the author of Relentless Innovation and the blog Innovate on Purpose.

There’s No Innovation Without Uncertainty
Posted on April 10, 2013 by Tim Kastelle

Here is one of the biggest innovation obstacles around: the need for certainty.

Dwight Towers posted a great quote from Frederick Douglass over the weekend that gets at the problem:

“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.”

Douglass was obviously talking about bigger issues than I am, but the same principle holds. You can’t innovate without uncert ainty.

Here is how Jeffrey Phillips puts it in his book Relentless Innovation:

“Everyone understands from the beginning how difficult it is to create compelling new ideas in any sutation, much less to con vert those ideas into viable products and services. To compound the difficulty, executives are asking for disruptive ideas while expecting the business to continue to operate at full effectiveness and efficiency. Middle managers receive these messages and understand the unspoken dichotomy in the request: create radical, valuable new pr oducts and services but don’t upset the status quo.”

You can’t manage that way. To gain the benefits of innovation, which are substantial, you have to learn to live with some uncertainty.

Sacha Chua addresses this issue in the context of figuring out what you should do with your life in a really good post on passion and uncertainty:

“When people wish for passion, I think what they’re really wishing for is certainty: the knowledge that this, here, is exactly what you are meant to do, that intersection of what you love, what you’re good at, and what the world values. The certainty that this is the best way to spend this moment in time, and the ease of not having to make yourself do something or fight distractions.”

This is why I think that the single most important management skill to develop is a tolerance for ambiguity.

Just as you don’t get crops without plowing the ground, you don’t get innovation without creating uncertainty. In some respec ts, tolerating uncertainty isn’t enough – you have to actively invite it in.

There is no innovation without uncertainty.

Sacha asks a really good question: what happens if you let go of the need for certainty? What if you don’t know that what you’re doing will work? What if people hate your idea? What if there’s a chance you could be embarrassed? And worse, what if it happens in front of your peers, or your boss?

If you have to have certainty, none of these bad things will happen. But you won’t innovate. You won’t learn what you’re capa ble of doing, and you won’t get better. In fact, it’s impossible to learn without making mistakes.

Learning is the way around this problem. If we actively court uncertainty, then we put ourselves in a position to learn.

In a complex economy, the way to think about the future is this:

   

We can’t predict the future – there is no certainty. But we can learn about the patterns from which the future will emerge. In fact, while we can’t control the future, we can influence it. The best way to influence the future is by innovating through experiments.

Here’s my prescription for tomorrow: Let go of the need for certainty. Try an experiment. Learn.

I’ve got my experiment planned – what’s yours?

image credit: from flickr/Ecoagriculture Partners

Tim Kastelle is a Lecturer in Innovation Management in the University of Queensland Business School. He blogs about innovation at the Innovation Leadership Network.

50 Ways to Integrate Art into Any Lesson
Posted on April 5, 2013 by Lisa Chesser

As children, young children, everything meant playing and art. We saw the world as a playground and a canvass. It didn’t matter whether or not we could actually draw. What mattered was the thrill of creating something beautiful.

We were all artists. We still are.

So reminding students that inspiration matters, that art lives and breathes inside every segment of education also means tweaking your lessons a bit. Switching your perspective to what’s really important at the core of any lesson may mean the difference between losing your students’ attention and actually getting your point across.

Albert Einstein wrote: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. So the unknown, the mysterious, is where art and science meet.”

Keeping his words in mind, educators everywhere are beginning to work art into education. Because we live in the 21st century, we have all the tools right at our fingertips, quite literally. The Internet hosts site after site devoted to integrating art into education. Right here, you’ll find some of the best websites and some interesting ideas that are easily altered to fit various lessons. Explore 50 ways to add artistic elements to the simplest and most complex lessons.

1. Lego Engineers

Besides LegoLand embodying a living, breathing demonstration of how Legos inspire children, Lego is making a fortune off the coolest kits around. Lego building requires everything from patience to vision. To achieve that vision, the builder needs good strategy. Strategy relies on mathematical skills. Everything from basic addition and subtraction to engineering s kills blossoms when Lego’s pop into the picture. So, have students use Legos to demonstrate mathematical skills at each and every level. From robotics to engineering, Legos inspire learners.

2. Marshmallow Math

Stack them. Create shapes with them. Add, subtract, multiply and divide them.

Then eat them. If you take a bag of marshmallows and you tell a child, “I’ll let you eat these if you get all the answers correct,” then you let the child use the marshmallows to find the answer, that child will get all the answers correct.

That’s the art of teaching math. I used to think that the older kids got, the less they cared about silly rewards like those marshmallows, but I was so wrong. They care even more. Life becomes a series of “pointless” classwork and homework assignments with quizzes and tests to follow if teachers don’t force fun.

3. Design Parks

Mathematicians, whether they’re engineers or architects or otherwise, know the importance of technolog y so teachers need to utilize it when helping students understand the value of every lesson. At mathbydesign you can find interactive games where students can design a park in the center of town.

4. I Hart Math Doodles

Take note of a girl and a math mission. She blows the concept that math means repetition and rudimentary mechanics right out of the water. Her site provides plenty of innovative “techniques” for seeing math in a different light. In o ne very amusing video, she shows how the typical factoring lesson turns into doodling stars, which she turns into a lesson on factoring itself. Check her doodles.

5. Khan Academy

If doodling isn’t quite enough, try the Khan Academy for more of Vi Hart and the basics as well as anything else your heart desires. Math, Science, Economics, Humanities, and even test prep fill the website. It’s different because it doesn’t condescend. It doesn’t condescend because the site and it’s master creator, Sal Khan, offer visuals on how to understand the basics of math and other educational s ubjects without the assumption that it’s impossible to communicate. Start with the link on how to use it in the classroom. It will make all the difference.

6. MArTH Tools

At Math Munch, they’ve even conjured up a witty name for their merging of art and math called MArTH Tools. Teachers can find resources for inspiration, but more importantly, there are links to interactive tools that teach difficult concepts as well as practical skills.

7. Colors Multiplied

Multiplication can be taught with simple yet beautiful colors and shapes. Check out some beautiful images at mathlesstraveled.com. Even teach prime numbers using some manipulation.

8. Math Journals

Teachers can vary assignments and difficulty levels by creating a math journal, which is ultimately a math adventure in the same vein as Indiana Jones. It gives importance and application to mathsquad.

9. Bridges

Basic word problems require students to draw or write out how they came to their conclusion. So why shouldn’t more complicate d math be seen in the same way?

According to the Bridges Organization, math needs art and vice versa. This organization plans an annual conference focusing on the connection between art and math. At their website, you can find a wealth of information on mathematics and art.

10. Cinderella

Cinderella.2 software offers users geometry, virtual laboratories, and university-level mathematics with analytical functions. Students will learn while creating.

11. GeoGebra

GeoGebra gives students insight into planetary motion, exterior angles of polygons, rotating triangles, and more. The site also offers loads of information and worksheets.

12. Mosaics

Mosaics are a great way to introduce shapes to young minds so why not communicate the same way with older students. You can create them the traditional way, out of glass, or use cellophane paper or even just regular paper. Review basic shapes then piece them together and have students create patterns.

13. Patterns

Tessellations, infinite patterns with varying shapes, can help you teach about the polygon, plane, vertex, and adjacent. Students can put patterns together on paper or use basic computer programs to tile images. Just taking the time to show students something so simple gives them the basis they need to move on to more difficult problem solving lessons.

14. Origami Art

Origami art will add dimension with texture and movement. While giving young students a fun way to see shapes come together and create all sorts of animals or three-dimensional geometric shapes to marvel at, the origami art can evolve into a sophisticated tool for using math and engineering skills. Robert Lang explains the transformation at the following video:

15. Three-Dimensional shapes

With some compass points, scissors, glue, construction paper and bobby pins, students can create Polyhedra. Learn more about that at ldlewis.

16. Wheel of Theodorus

Students calculate, draw and create new images while learning the Pythagorean Theorem. Find details at ldlewis.

17. Alice & Algebra

Teach multiplication of fractions using the story of Alice in Wonderland. Melanie Bayley, an Oxford scholar, wrote a dissertation on this very subject. Just the manipulation of size from small to large and back again becomes a starting point for calculations to begin. Find out more on the practical implementation in the classroom at

18. Triangle to Square

So many sites and blogs have great animation to teach all kinds of theories. Matt Henderson teaches signal processing with rotating circles and a digital square wave. He also creates some cool doodle animation showing how drawing lines starting with a simple triangle can turn into a square.

19. Art in Labs

Students take a concept and turn it into art or even use the materials for art. M any artists do this anyway so why shouldn’t this be a part of coursework? Visit here. Working in labs themselves, students then create art out of bacteria and fungi.

20. The Art of Biology

Students create beautiful works of art with imaging technologies. Use that to introduce various lessons or a concept and the brain’s eye will attach itself to the particulars much better than simply assigning homework and moving on to an exam. Visit Cmu to learn more.

21. Toothbrush Robots

If your goal hinges on recruiting girls into the scientific field then art helps. Try coolgirls-scienceart.org They gather the girls to shoot rockets, create art shows, and play with bugs. Just knowing that science is NOT a man in a white lab coat ready to slice open a dead animal might mean the difference between a career in fashion and a career in chemical engineering. You’ll also find information on unique activities such as making toothbrush robots.

22. Chemistry

Through the Art Institute of Chicago, teachers can access lectures and lesson plans on the value of art in teaching chemistry and the chemistry of physics and light plus art and astronomy.

23. Fresco Chemistry

Check out issuu.com’s newsletter on various activities from green chemistry to music in chemistry. Several activities fill the newsletter with step-by-step processes followed by an explanation of how the chemistry works. One of those is making a fresco.

24. The Golden Dream

Return to the beginnings of chemistry and art with alchemy at Pbs. Follow the guide to turn metal into gold. The fascination with the process sparks curiosity if nothing else.

25. Unique Perspectives

Try www.cosmosmagazine.com for ideas and articles on the mixture of science and art. Article upon article covers current topics in relation to the importance of science past, present and future. Ready for students to read, bring reality into science fiction with art icles such as “Earth-like Planets May Be Closer than Thought.”

Computer Science
26. Alice.org

Alice teaches students how to program through dragging and dropping graphics. They’re taking 3-D objects inside a virtual world and animating them. They ultimately learn to build stories, create interactive games or video’s for sharing.

27. Polynomiography

Dr. Bahman Kalantari, professor of computer science at Rutgers University, introduced the idea of polynomiography. It literally means the visualization of polynomials. “Polynomials are so important that all students need to know about them no matter what scientific field they would want to follow.

But because the foundation of solving equations can be identified with points in the plane, visually it is very appealing to all ages,” Dr. Kalantari explains.

28. Scratch

Scratch is a site hailing from MIT. Students gain access to software that teaches them to create and share interactive stories, games, music, and art.

Movies used across curricula
29. BrainPop

There is nothing that BrainPop can’t teach. The films are silly yet humorous and by far, they’re educational. The mini movies run the gamut from Language Arts to Math to Science to Social Studies. Kids like it because it’s not in a textbook. Adults like it because it’s not in a textbook.

30. Bitesize

In the same vein as BrainPop, Bitesize delivers the basics in short movies or sound bites. Teachers can use this to help students practice or even begin their journey into standardized essays and Spanish basics. The visuals and set up make it a great place to return to in order to build upon different lessons within any subject.

31. Sheppard Software

Like Brainpop and Bitesize, Sheppard has mini movies and games. Choosing one over the other depends on the difficulty of the lesson and the extent of the film.

32. VideoLab

If you can’t actually demonstrate in the lab, the next best thing is video. At video.sciencemag.org teachers can show short videos to begin a lesson, transition from one to another, or just explain the facts and information with the necessary visuals.

Writing & Grammar
33. Art in a Word

Inspired by Doodle for Google, the annual competition giving students a chance to draw a new Google theme, the idea of Art in a Word challenges students to take the vocabulary word and turn each letter into the representation of its meaning. On the back of the page, teachers should have students use the word within context, writing it in a sentence, identifying the part of speech, then defining it.

34. Advertising

Have students create a full-page ad for their favorite product. Make up the criteria for them so that they have to use sentences with adjectives and strong verbs. Then have them edit their work. Meanwhile, teach them all types of grammar lessons in the process.

35. Bare Books

A book of their own means more to students than an ipod. They just don’t know it until they’ve created it. Depending on the a ssignment, teachers can buy books in bulk for as little as a dollar each. These books can be used for poetry or stories, leaving the rest of the blank space for art. If your students are more electronically inclined check out a new site that’s making it even easier to create e-books.

36. Paint the Strawberry

For writing teachers who need to emphasize the idea of “show don’t tell,” have students describe the strawberry or another ty pe of food commonly eaten. They need to reconstr uct the image including taste and sensations in the reader’s mind.

This means they have to come up with 10 to 20 descriptive words (depends on difficulty level) and use them in a paragraph describing the strawberry. The strawberry should be on display on a stool as the subject of their work of art. It sometimes draws a comedic response for an even better lesson.

Some students thrive in any reading environment. Others crumble. Over the years, I’ve noticed the basic difference between an engaged reader and one who struggles is the ability to visualize.

37. LiteracyHead

Whether students are struggling with basic reading awareness or writing skills, this site helps teachers use art as an inspiration to bridge the gap in communication. For comprehension, an image opens on the screen and asks the question, “In what ways does this picture connect to others?”

38. Graphic Novels

Greek Myths can confuse even the most interested reader, but turn it into a gr aphic novel or a booklet with illustrations and you’ve got an active, engaged reader. There’s a reason why there’s a comic culture out there in which people become obsessed with superhero es.

39. Comic Creator

When reading Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe with students, I rely on an amazing website full of free lesson plans and links to everything you need. For this one, I read the story in a scary voice, the room dark, only the words projected while the students predict the next twist. Then they have the option of creating a comic strip about it. They can use the comic creator if they don’t want to draw it themsel ves.

40. Poetry Café

This can be used as monthly or even weekly motivation for students to work on poetry. Decorate the room with poems and artwork inspired by those poems. Then let the students enjoy readings from other students. At the end of a lesson or as a reward for long, tough assignments, students can organize a coffee and cake session where they read their works or the works of poets around the world.

Social Studies
41. Map Art

Old maps hanging on a wall build an atmosphere of art and history combined with adventure. But, understanding them can be a difficult task. So having students create maps ignites the learning process and forces them to work through those difficulties. Visit historymatters.gmu.edu for simple explanations on the creation process.

42. Divide and Conquer

Teaching about different cultures means making them come alive. The Inuit people should live on a canvass, dancing, singing, hunting, and building. So, have students make a brochure from a poster cut in half. Bend it into threes. Divide into sections such as origins, tradition, geography, food and accomplishments.

43. Forget-Me-Not Dioramas

I haven’t met a history teacher who hasn’t had a diorama project quick on hand. However, requiri ng an artistic approach changes the dynamics of the criteria with which the student learns. Give the students an assignment they will never forget. Isn’t that the idea?

For example, war isn’t about guns and death as much as it’s about lost love. If World W ar I must be represented, let it be told with love. Start with the love letters of Harriet Johnson to her boyfriend and continue from there. This not only teaches the emotional loss at Wartime but adds value and meaning to a lesson.

44. Folk Art

It’s as simple as having students recreate folk art from a certain time period and a culture and presenting it with facts and information. The inspiration matches the assignment giving each student a firm grasp of the value of an individual within a larger segment of society. Visit www.folkartmuseum.org or MexicanFolkArtGuide.com for more ideas and information.

45. Transformation

Change the entire classroom into a diorama. It’s been done many times in my own classroom. Entire walls become pyramids. Othe rs become waterfalls. And, the great part isn’t even the fact that students will work 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to build a p yramid, but they will learn everything about

that time period while they’re doing it. It takes a lot of patience, planning, and very considerate faculty, but it’s worth i t because of the pride and energy students earn from this lesson.

46. Film Recreations

Students, especially older ones, love filming anything. So have them recreate a historical event, film it, and present it to the class. Sure you could have them act it out but using video and technology will allow them to edit and start over if necessary.

47. Documentaries

In order to get students’ attention, tell them they need to mimic documentaries. Show them several types and then let them ch oose one to duplicate or even come up with a current event of their own to document. The student presentations not only reteach the subject matter to each other but give them control over their learning.

48. Write History

Have students recreate a time in history and include themselves. They can take on characteristics of certain people who lived at that time or they can create their own person from pieces of different types of people during that time period.

49. Hero History

Twist the concept of a hero into the ordinary citizen as a leader, innovator, and survivor of that time. Students can choose an actual “hero” or famous character to dress as and give a speech about or they can piece together a hero from the famous leaders of the time.

50. Twisted Timeline

There’s nothing better than a timeline to teach important dates in history. But, no one ever teaches that stories, which are what history is about, never quite move in a straight line. The timeline still flows in the same direction, students just twist it a little, take side routes and learn about details they might never have paid attention to when cramming for a test.

For example, if the time period focuses on the American Revolution then use the dates to carry students through to the next date but wind around to the left or right, take a detour, find out some interesting cultural facts within those two dates and add that to the timeline.

Visit timelines.com for detailed timelines with great images that students can add to their own.

As a final note, if the art warrants it, always make sure there’s a wall or a tab le for display. Displaying finished pieces gives artists a sense of satisfaction. Children who don’t see their work rewarded lose motivation, the same is true of young adults, and even more so of adults.

If yours is a virtual classroom, build a blog around your students’ creations. Creating one is simple enough nowadays. You don’t even have to know how to code. It doesn’t matter if the entire world knows about it. All that matters is that they know about it, that they can say they’re work “hangs” there.

Lastly, introducing art into any classroom means thoughtful planning but also a very real understanding that there will be loss of control. Knowing this can be very liberating for a teacher, but it can also be uncomfortable. However, once you allow yourself to be comfortable with it, students will master the lesson and, more often than not, surpass it.

Previously posted on informED

Lisa Chesser is a former Publications Specialist at Florida International University where she also received a bachelor’s degree in English, Lisa Chesser left the publishing field to pursue a career in education. In her first three years of teaching Language Arts, she won an Excellence in Teaching Award for helping students achieve 50 percent learning gains.


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