Archive for May, 2012

WSJ: Interior Gardens Hit the Wall but Don’t Forget to Water Them

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

This article (WSJ May 30, 2012, Personal section) reminded me of Rik Juan Yikai’s design of a green office divider.  I am going to order a few of the Wally Ones by the Woolly Pocket Garden Company: one to try out in my office, and the others to inspire similar thinking in a YCISL exercise, perhaps rapid visualization and prototyping. We can look at the feature set as well as the challenges that must have been faced in the design. Will we be able to detect any issues that were not addressed? The blend of garden greenery, home decor, architectural feature (uses wall space which is often ample in a home) and recycled material serves as a good case study for the YCISL.

Quotable: WSJ Article “How Not to Ruin a Swimming Prodigy”

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Tucked away in the Sports section of the May 30, 2012 WSJ (yes, I read the Sports section of the WSJ), is an article by Matthew Futterman about one coach’s successful style which incorporates adaptation in order to maintain an element of fun in practice. In the end, the element of fun extends the training and achieves more than if the drills were fixed. To a degree, the coach allows some elective participation but this seems to have resulted in a greater focus on the outcome. In swimming as much as in any other sport I can think of, the swimmer must come up for air and periodically think about how much more they need to put in to reach the goal. To the YCISL, this style of training with an element of fun is one I would care to embrace.

Here is some extracted text that impresses me…

As a coach, however, Schmitz stands out for a devotion to rest and play. No less important than his swimmers’ splits is whether they are having fun inside and outside the natatorium. At practice, if the kids seem spent, he’ll end the workout midway through and start a game of water polo. “He’s a fun loving kid, he laughs with them, he plays loud music,” said D.A. Franklin, Missy’s mother.

Schmitz’s swimmers also go through a structured dry land practice twice a week that focuses on building core strength and athleticism. “Looking at a black line all day, every day gets awfully dull,” he said.

Even when it comes to improving form—something other coaches regard as a strict science—Schmitz believes in the art of play. Sometimes, in fact, he orders his charges into the deep end for a session of vertical kicking, with the aim of lifting their torsos out of the water.

“A lot of this is about simply playing around in the water,” he said. “That’s what kids do naturally, and the play engages the mind and gives the swimmer the tools to figure out the right way to move their body.”


Thoughts: A Flurry of WSJ Articles on Innovation

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Several articles appeared in the WSJ recently on the topic of “Innovation.” To start, the May 23, 2012 WSJ has an article titled “You Call That Innovation?” written by Leslie Kwoh that describes how “innovation” is an overused term (practically “ubiquitous”) often indicating an intended direction rather than an achievement. Even in the event of accomplished change, the result is usually at best “invention” rather than true innovation (e.g., electricity, flight and my personal favorite, the pencil). The distortion of the term is perhaps understandable with b-schools believing that they can teach innovation (see B-Schools’ Innovation Rush” by Melissa Korn) and stretching the realm to encompass incremental change in order to attract students and provide modern examples for academic learning. Look too at the WSJ May 17, 2012 (Bay Area) issue which has an article titled “Stanford Dean on Teaching the Skill Set of Innovation” by Pui-Wing Tam which reports an interview with Stanford GSB Dean Garth Saloner. The interview discusses the components of the innovation curriculum which is similar on the surface to the components covered by our YCISL program. However, the basic premises and approach are fairly dissimilar. The Stanford GSB approach is based on a belief that innovation is a skill that can be “nurtured.” YCISL treats innovation as a process that can be manifested if chosen; similar to experimental technique. Our YCISL framework also takes a view that creativity, the predominant energy for innovation (our process), is present in everyone and can be made into a journey by anyone who has their barriers lowered. Not focusing on financial outcome is also a key YCISL premise (utilizing intrinsic motivation) and advantage.

Exercise: Uses for a Pail (Multitasking Revisited)

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

In extension to the entry titled “Unitaskers Bad, Multitaskers Good,” I am thinking that a bucket/pail might be a great object to ponder multitasking. I have several around the house and in the garden.

One approach would be to actually bring one or more pails in. We could do the brainstorming exercise (a) with no visual identification of the object (i.e., just tell them it’s a pail), (b) with an image on a screen or piece of paper (i.e., no 3-d impression), (c) with a pail sitting at the front of the room (i.e., observe from a distance, or (d) actually have participants play with one first or during.

I am also thinking to make this an experiment where we also develop a methodology and collect data for analysis.

We would give the same exercise to individuals not in the workshop to create a reference set of ideas for usage. The reference set would be longitudinal in age, and these references would be used to compare with the results from workshop participants.

Exercise: School Rules

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Briefly, the idea is a PostIt type exercise where participants brainstorm changes to the rules at school. Simple targets may be the timetable (including start and end times, lunch breaks, etc) and dress code. How about rearranging the seating style in a classroom (oftentimes in rows)? I am sure we could also examine one or two sets of school guidelines to come up with more. This exercise hopefully mixes feasibility with fantasy, and reality with possibility.


Exercise: Design a Mascot

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Working up an idea about having students create ideas for school mascots.


Design Challenge: Paper Planes

Saturday, May 19th, 2012






In today’s WSJ (Thursday May 17, 2012), there is an article titled “Paper Plane Champ Watches His Record Fly, Fly Away” about a controversy in the competitive paper plane world. This reminded me of a time someone suggested that a paper plane exercise could serve as a basis for a YCISL exercise.

The article mentions an iPad app – which I have downloaded. The base version of the app shows how to fold three types of paper planes: Stunt (flips), Dart (distance), Eagle (hang time).

This also reminds me of a scene where kids throw paper planes off a building where the paper has something written in it.

I am thinking that we would use such an exercise for younger students, or perhaps a preview event. Three attempts? Three paper planes? Team or individual?

Could we use recycled material for this exercise? Would newspaper work? Could we use aluminum foil that has been used previously in the chute exercise?

Perhaps as a parallel type exercise, students could design a trebuchet or crossbow or a stomp rocket or a finger blaster or a mentor rocket (reminder, use eye protection).

Could this be set up as a fundraising competition (like a walkathon) where a person is sponsored by the number of paper airplanes made or the time a plane hangs in the air or the distance it flies?

Article link:

WSJ: School-Test Backlash Grows

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

In the May 16, 2012 issue of the WSJ, there is an article that echoes once again the frustration felt about education in the US.

The article starts with “The increasing role of standardized testing in U.S. classrooms is triggering pockets of rebellion across the country from school officials, teachers and parents who say the system is stifling teaching and learning.” It describes attitudes towards standardized testing and propagates the image that US education is in a mess, and going in circles – all true, but again lacking in a promising outcome (what does being absent from standardized testing accomplish?)

As I view it, the problem is NOT standardized testing – in the form of an annual assessment so that useful feedback can be gathered – it’s the paucity of design and useful data that defeats the humanitarian purpose of the exercise. For example, why is there not a balance between the current IQ-based assessment and an EQ-based assessment which together would better predict successful and meaningful learning? Why is the focus on how much knowledge/information a student can absorb and regurgitate? That is a recipe for an experiment with no controls, no frame or reference. In other words, production of useless data. Even worse, that useless data influences actions.

Annual standardized testing would be very useful in comparing educational productivity across cultures and other divides; and may direct our attention to systems that work better (although I don’t think anyone is using this method). Rather, I question the need for continuous assessment where every minute assignment has to result in a letter grade – that is what has taken the creativity out of learning, and the trend to grade lower and lower grades (in some cases, Kindergarten now) has made clear that this is educational bureaucracy’s  focused goal.

I can accept that schools are knowledge transfer centers and that is what they strive to excel at. What is disappointing is the intrusive nature of the educational system which over-reaches by assigning useless and time-based homework as if intentionally aiming to prevent integration with real life. The school’s job could be better – to inspire students to want to learn outside of school times, to relate to the experience out of school, and to learn through self-awareness and other EQ qualities.

Put in the YCISL framework, it appears that while there is creative and critical thinking being exercise (our energy), it is fettered and too weak to make it all the way through the innovation process to create cases of successful leadership. This innovation step must be in a true quantum nature, and not incremental because of compromise.

Article link:

Stanford Report: Where does that creative spark come from? Stanford’s Tina Seelig has some ideas

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

This article in the Stanford Report promotes Tina Seelig’s new book “inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity” and makes connections to her class (possibly MS&E 277: Creativity and Innovation).

Personally, I prefer the title of the prior book “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20: A Crash Course on Making Your Place in the World” which effused purpose, inclusiveness, accessibility and timing – all important persuasive and attractive elements.

Still, I am optimistic that I will find the new book a worthwhile read. I am looking forward to finding how her new insights can help improve the CSDGC Youth Development Program. My contribution to creativity and innovation through the YCISL program would be to cast intervention to creativity-poor education earlier in the process.

ExploreCourses Course Listing: MS&E 277: Creativity and Innovation
Factors that promote and inhibit creativity of individuals, teams, and organizations. Creativity tools, assessment metrics, and exercises; workshops, field trips, and case studies. Each student completes an individual creativity portfolio and participates in a long-term team project. Enrollment limited to 32. Admission by application. See
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
Instructors: Seelig, T. (PI)

Article link: