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Why Innovation Matters?

Innovation is one of the key ideas that allow any business to grow, be it a school or organisation. It helps leaders conceive previously unimagined strategic options. Organizations constantly focusing on bringing change in the way they function, might not just survive but also flourish in times of fluctuating business and economic conditions.

Albert Einstein once said that “we cannot solve the problem with the same thinking we used when we created them”. When trying to understand innovation, one must look at a situation through a different lens to come up with creative ways to solve problems that may arise. We need to be in constant touch with our purpose and vision and then strive to improve the ways a business functions as well as our way of thinking.

In order to succeed, we need to understand that innovation is not something that only some of us can adopt – it is for all and can easily be turned into a way of life. It is easy to put this off because it can sometimes push you out of your comfort zone; however it is important to differentiate excuses from reasons and bring in the change.

A.G. Lafley and Ram Charan in their the book The Game Changer: How Every Leader Can Drive Everyday Innovation, suggest that innovation is a social process, and this process can only happen when people do that simple, profound thing — connect to share problems, opportunities and learning. To put it another way, anyone can innovate, but no one can innovate alone.

Innovation in Schools

Innovation does not just refer to technology and can be applied to all fields. Last week, we went over to Raha International School, Abu Dhabi, to see how they brought innovation to the classrooms. We were delighted to have a chat with Art teacher, Daniela Parkinson to hear her thoughts on innovation in visual arts. She has brought innovation to her art classes in many ways.

Daniella believes that, “to create innovation you have to understand tradition because innovation is something new – you can teach students what innovation is once they know the tradition because this gives them room for creativity and they still feel safe to experiment. If you open up a project that is too broad, the student feels out of their depth because they have too much choice”.

An example of an innovative Arts project that the 10th graders in Raha School have been working on is to create self-portraits without actually revealing themselves. They draw objects that personally relate to them – in the past, it was teenage angst, relationship with their parents and their peers, but now that's all changed.

This year they had to illustrate what made them happy. They weren’t allowed to show it in a square or a rectangle which is also a tradition in art but had to use circles or triangles. Since the KHDA launched the happiness initiative last year, many schools have joined in to focus on the wellbeing of students.

“Our students paint objects in their art that gives them joy and this was the happiness project that we incorporated. The objects were anything from planes, to dragonflies, to ribbons sketched with graphite pencils” she added.

She was more than happy to share her experiences and give other teachers some advice that can help them to be innovative in their teaching methods.

“As a teacher, you need to provide confined areas that give them a basis but then allow them to see that they’re breaking rules – and those students who are incredibly spontaneous with imagination that just flows in, will often elevate the others”.

Daniela advises teachers to go out and see exhibitions to know what is happening globally and locally to stay constantly inspired. “The secret is to cheat! You grab pieces that inspire you, mix it together and practice it first so that you know the technical difficulties and all the steps you went through. The difficulty faced by teachers today with the workload and amount of students to manage is not so much in coming up with ideas but in practising it and finding the right balance” she explains.

In conclusion, it is important to know that creativity and innovation go hand in hand. Creativity is the driving force behind innovation, and looking at things from a different perspective provides freedom from rules that may exist. This quote by Peter F. Drucker is good to ponder on. He said “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old”.

We want to know what innovation looks like in your school! Share your ideas with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or give us a live demonstration, and feature in the next issue of GESS Talks. Get in touch with Natasha Shetty natasha.shetty@fegroup.ae to find out more.