Monday, May 5, 2008

Open Source Innovation: What is it?

Each year our planet’s inhabitance’ become more competitive with one another for resources. Whether you’re a starving artist who dreams of one day selling your work, or a well established corporate giant looking for the next best thing, we are all looking for ways to produce products which are unique and in demand. Without continual growth and innovative change we will become stagnant; our products will become dinosaurs irrelevant to the fast changing consumer environment we are confronted with today.

In the past organizations have confronted this need for continuous refinement with vigilant research and design teams but, today the speed of communication and technology has for many, changed the equation. To stay relevant and satisfy customer needs many groups have chosen to open up their research and design efforts to the public.

By supporting web sites and blogs dedicated to consumer feedback and product suggestions, organizations are able to collect valuable data which can be instrumental in successful product innovation. While internal R&D teams may have explored many of the incoming outsider ideas themselves previously, there is also the possibility that many minds are greater than the few (especially when they belong to the individuals who utilize the products); who is better to generate a demand than those with a need?
What problems does it present?

Of course there are many problems presented with open innovation, as it is an innovative idea in itself. To begin with, someone needs to support and mange the meeting place; take care of software and site maintenance. Another concern, which is of monumental proportion, is how to compensate outside contributors. To what extent does one idea contribute to product innovation? How many ideas where built on and modified before a challenge was overcome? Open innovation may create a demand for us to refine our copyright guidelines and force us to deal with intellectual property in another way.
Another problem, which I believe will be a great obstacle and which may not be so obvious, is how to manage volumes of consumer feedback if it does arrive on the organization’s doorstep. Who will determine whether the ideas are old hat or fresh perspectives? Someone will need to extract that data and they will need to manage it properly or it may itself represent a missed opportunity for the organization.
The open sourcing of innovative efforts doesn’t represent an end to internal R&D efforts but it does create some interesting demand for creative individuals outside of the product development area. As I have mentioned, organizations will need to manage the information as it comes in. Having individuals who can see the potential in ideas and extract value from the various inputs will inevitably be an asset.

Open source innovation is testament to the notion that product innovation is less frequently a genius revelation from one mind than it is the collective creative results of many minds. Organizations who seek to compete in our rapidly changing environments will need to rely more and more heavily on creative solutions. To stay viable both products and people alike must become more sensitive to new ways of looking at things and also be ready to adapt and react to the demands of an ever changing consumer’s marketplace.

Open source innovation is a response to the need for rapid development but I think it also represents a new era in creative collaboration. Many may resist the change but I believe it is inevitable. In the past, customer collaboration of this kind could have only been possible through a promotion or contest but today it has the potential to become a standard of product innovation. With its’ inception will come many new challenges as well as countless new opportunities.
Shawn Hess, ICSC Graduate Student

Creativity and Technology

It is interesting and quite paradoxical that I have been assigned the topic of Creativity and technology in the classroom. As my classmates know, I am the one who has just received my first cell phone this past Christmas. I still don’t know how to use it, other than to answer it and punch phone numbers in and press send (or the green phone sign) I had my kids a just the sound so if by any slight chance I get a call during class it will not disturb anyone else. However, it was quite a novel experience for me to be having a conversation while driving during a recent road trip. What a wonderful opportunity to utilize time to accomplish another task. Mind you I would not have tried it in intercity driving; too many distractions and I am not a multi-tasker by today’s standards. Now admit it ...if I was talking on my cell, even with the earpiece, but slowing down others or recklessly driving you would be cursing me on the road.

I come from a different generation whether I want to acknowledge it or not. The fact is “ More information has been produced in the last 30 years than in the previous 5000” (Wurman,1989,p.229 in Runco, 2007) It is hard to believe I know, but I was completing my undergraduate work thirty years ago this spring! I was entering the education field without the use of computers. The first home computer had just been introduced less than half a year before my graduation. There was no internet, no search engine and Sony's Walkman was the most incredible piece of technological genius on campuses at the time! The Post-it had not been introduced until 1980.

With the way the education system works, you know these technologies would not be available in the classroom for some. I know it is a stretch for some of you, but really consider how you could learn/teach/facilitate in an environment without the technology you have currently available. Can I adapt to the new technology? Yes, I can. Do I want to adapt to it? Well, this is a more important question for an individual to consider.

I have personally begun to acknowledge new technologies in what has become a disposable society. With some certainty, I can state that at some point for a number of people, all of these new technologies are novel. It is a judgment call whether they are truly useful. Ascertaining usefulness is the key using any new technology, especially in the classroom. Let us also remember that the parameters of the “classroom” are not necessarily the traditional ones.

What is it we really need to educate students in today’s classrooms? What is the main objective or goal we are trying to achieve in educating our students? Does technology allow us to achieve more of these goals in a faster period? Can we achieve the same goals without the expense of new technologies? Can we engage our students without using technology as a crutch or is it a necessity?

As educators/facilitators, these are the questions we must explore when dealing with technology. The reality is that teachers must be creative both innovating and adapting programs, methods and tools to aid in reaching the ultimate goals of our endeavors. Buying into the latest technology is not always the best call. It really is up to us to do our homework and use our minds in these kinds of decisions. It is a great way to use the Creative Problem Solving process to decide what is best for the given situation.
That being said I did a search and found the following interesting read with some great applications of technology for the classroom. The abstract and reference is below with a link to the PDF.

Bonnie Doliszny, ICSC graduate student

Runco, M. A. (2007). Creativity theories and themes: Research, development, and practice. New York: Elsevier

Abstract ftaken directly from:

Thompson, S. D., Martin, L., Richards, L., & Branson, D. (2003). Assessing critical thinking and problem solving using a Web-based curriculum for students. Internet and Higher education, 6, 185-191.

Assessing critical thinking and problem solving using a Web-based curriculum for students
Critical thinking skills lead to more productive, prepared, and employable students in the workforce. In view of the skills that are necessary when students enter the job market, a Web-based curriculum requiring critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills was developed to meet those needs. A multidisciplinary team of educators created the “virtual exchange,” in which students are presented with scenarios involving relevant societal issues. Each student was assigned a scenario character to portray in their interactions with the other characters (students). They interact on the Internet to promote critical thinking skills in a “virtual exchange” of research-based ideas. The process used to design this exchange is discussed


Personality and Motivation

Chapter 9

Phares (1986) as cited in Runco (2007) defines personality as “that pattern of characteristic thoughts, feelings and behaviors that distinguishes one person from and that persists over time and situations”. Phares’ works well within my understanding of personality. It has been my experience that personalities rarely change outside of some unfortunate incident or necessity.

Feist (1998) determined that creative individuals have common tendencies and traits and that a “general creative personality” does exist and creative achievement can be related to it.

Some disagree with Feist’s conclusion. Mumford and Gustafson (1988) find personality to be at fault for an individual’s inability to convert ideas into action. I happen to also disagree with Feist. I don’t believe that all creative individuals share a common personality. The fact that we are not expectedly similar is a wonderful part of what makes us creative individuals.

Creative persons often have a playful mood or childlike tendency. This is usually indicative of spontaneity and self-actualization. It is now my belief (after attending and facilitating several creative problem solving sessions) that thinking and believing that anything is possible as we did when we were younger heightens our creative capability.

Intrinsic motivation is one of the more prominent characteristics of a creative individual. Runco (p. 37) discusses the work of Sir Francis Galton (1869), Nicholls (1983), MacKinnon(1962), Crutchfield (1962) and Golann (1963) and concludes in his analysis that all agree on this point.

Amabile (1996) makes mention of a more specific type of motivation (task motivation) as one of three necessary pieces for her componential theory, the other two being domain relevant skills and creativity relevant processes.

Runco states that Gardner (1993) believed the seven (7) persons he studied during his development of the initial multiple intelligences all were consummate creators who possessed a significant degree of perseverance. Additionally, Runco defined a similar attribute of persistence as “the willingness to expend effort” (p. 295).

Perseverance and persistence are two more traits listed in a creative person’s personality repertoire. This is justified by the 10 year rule. 10 years is the length of time considered necessary for one to gain the knowledge necessary for a given field or domain to be considered an expert (Runco, p. 37).

In addition to the ones listed, confidence, sensitivity, autonomy, flexibility, tolerance of ambiguity, risk taking, psychological androgyny, values and self-efficacy may be found among traits, tendencies or characteristics which may be combined within a creative individual.

Surprisingly or not, it is possible to possess all the recognized traits of a creative individual and to not behave in a creative manner. I find this to be a sad realization that one can be filled with all the aids to be creative and make a cognizant choice to not make use of them. I believe that it is much more common for an individual to be unaware that within her is everything she needs to be creative.

As I have come to learn as a student of creative studies, we are all creative but may demonstrate our ability differently.
Shelaine Rigby, Graduate Student


Amabile, T. (2001, April). Beyond Talent. American Psychologist, 56(4), 333-336. Retrieved February 10, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.

Conti, R., Coon, H., & Amabile, T. (1996). Evidence to Support the Componential Model of Creativity: Secondary Analyses of Three Studies. Creativity Research Journal, 9(4), 385. Retrieved February 27, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.

Parnes, S.(Ed.) 1992. Sourcebook for creative problem solving: A fifty year digest of proven innovation processes. (pp. 164-200). Creative Education Foundation Press. Hadley, MA.

Runco, M. (2007). Creativity theories and themes: research, development and practice. Burlington, MA. Elsevier Academic Press.