J
ust a few days ago I read a post by Tim Brown, CEO IDEO, titled “How Might Design Thinking Help the TSA?”  He discussed how air travel is comprised of an interconnected system, and it is hard to effect significant change in any system by looking at only one part of the experience. He says when IDEO takes on such complex challenges, they try to look at the whole pie rather than just a slice.

The Do-Lab-94

I immediately thought about education and how my early stage nonprofit, innovators4purpose, is attempting to bring innovation education to students who through normal course of action would be the last to receive it.  Preparing students for the 21st Century involves a very complex interconnected system of School Leaders, Civic Leaders, Teachers, Parents, Students, Edu Innovators, Funders and many more.  Students more so than anyone in the ecosystem understands their needs, however they are the least empowered to drive change.

As we wrapped up our 5th grade Creative Doers program, we presented the Principal at our partner school, Fletcher Maynard Academy (FMA) in Cambridge, MA, with a poster of John Maeda’s “Characteristics of the Creative Leader.”  John Maeda was a professor at the MIT Media Lab, President of Rhode Island School of Design and is currently a Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers venture capital firm.  The list compares and contrasts Creative Leaders with Traditional Leaders.

One of my favorite distinctions is that Creative Leaders “iterate and do” vs. Traditional Leaders who “plan and execute.”  Planning most often turns into talking then more talking. We have been fortunate in finding a Creative Leader at FMA having just completed the second iteration of our program there.  Conversely, we are still in the planning (talking) stages with many others. Here is a partial listing of the characteristics of a Creative Leader:

Traditional Leader
Creative Leader
Symbol of Authority
Symbol of Inspiration
Sustaining Order
Taking Risks
Thinks like a General or Conductor
Thinks like an Artist or Designer
Loves to Avoid Mistakes
Loves to Learn from Mistakes
Wants to be Right
Hopes to be Right

Read the entire list here: Characteristics of the Creative Leader

The educational ecosystem is filled with traditional leaders. However, today’s challenges requires creative leadership.  Fortunately, Creative Leaders are both born and made. So, let’s start making!

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Michael K. Dawson

Co-Founder, Chief Doer, Innovators For Purpose, Inc. Creative Doing - the act of changing or influencing with the intent of leaving a mark on the world...