Share the Well – A Thirst for Innovation

Share the well.

At Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, we work to be very intentional about culture. Our mission begins, “We are a school of inquiry, innovation, and impact.” To continuously live into this mission requires a deliberateness about our culture. So, we are responsible and accountable to one another in our school community through the norms that we’ve chosen. One of these norms is “share the well.”

To “share the well” originates from the offering of one’s water source to another. It literally means to invite others to one’s own source of sustenance and refreshment. Also, to “share the well” means to offer well-ness to one another… to share the health of oneself to others.

By sharing the well, we are setting the conditions for connection to others, to other ways of thinking, to deeper collaboration. To stand at the proverbial water cooler allows for essential exchange to occur. Repeatedly. Intentionally.

In addition to strengthening relationships, sharing the well also makes possible the networking and associative thinking that we know is essential to innovation. Being students and stewards of The Innovator’s DNA, we draw on “share the well” to heighten the possibilities for 1) observing, 2) questioning, 3) experimenting, 4) networking, and 5) associative thinking.

Because MVIFI (the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation) serves as a major component of Mount Vernon’s R&D efforts in educational innovation, MVIFI feels responsible for helping to set the conditions so that sharing the well can happen systemically.

During the month of October, MVIFI has hosted three events that function to share the well at various scales of community. For in sharing the well, we enhance the opportunities for networking and associative thinking.

  1. MVPS School Visit Day.  On Thursday, October 6, MVIFI hosted 45 people from 14 different schools and organizations around the country. During the morning program, we offer a “crash course” in learning walks and instructional rounds, and we send our visitors to conduct an experiential learning walk. At the conclusion of the morning’s learning journey, we listen for feedback from our visitors. We ask them to describe what they saw, as well as what their observations made them think and wonder. By sharing the well with those who do not spend every day at MVPS, we grow from their particular vision and perspective. Such associations help us to innovate our practices by inviting outside experience to look at what we are doing as a school.
  2. Collider. On the very next day, October 7, MVIFI produced an internal professional learning day that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Schools often describe their faculty as their greatest asset. Yet, ironically, few schools seem to make time and room for faculty to gather and “collide” across regular work flows to take next steps with specific strategic objectives. So, Collider was created so that Mount Vernon faculty could share the well on particular work that we are advancing as a school. Various teacher leaders offer sessions that function as test kitchens and camp fires to forward our ambitious intentions as a school of inquiry, innovation, and impact.
  3. A Night of Inquiry, Innovation, and Impact. On October 20, MVIFI and MVPS hosted an evening entitled A Night of Inquiry, Innovation, and Impact for us to “look up and look out” so that we could learn from what other mavericks are doing and experiencing in innovation spaces connected to PK-12, college and university, and corporations. We curated six speakers and a looping cellist to share powerful talks and performances about what it means to pursue three design drivers that we’ve positioned in our next strategic plan: a) How might we make school life more reflective of real life, b) How might we encourage all learners to be seekers and explorers, and c) How might we inspire each other, and the broader world, with the work we undertake? So, these seven innovation agents shared the well so that we could be challenged and stretched from our daily thinking.

As a school of inquiry, innovation, and impact, we believe deeply in sharing the well – within our own community, beyond our immediate school community, and across perceived industry boundaries – so that we might set conditions for networking of people and ideas and so that we might optimize the power of associative thinking to advance our work as mavericks.

How are you being intentional about the culture you create at your organizations and schools so that inquiry, innovation, and impact can flourish? How are you sharing the well?

=====

This post originally appeared on mvifi.org/blog, Monday, October 31, 2016.

Innovation Diploma Consultivation

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used the Innovation Diploma Disney Cohort as consultants for learning and integrating design thinking into their Open Idea Lab in Atlanta, the doctors and administrators there coined a hashtag at the end (because the approach created great impact): #RentAStudent

Well, iDiploma Director Meghan Cureton (@MeghanCureton) seized on that insight and started an adVenture series that the Disney Cohort named “Consultivation.” In short, an outside person spends a 90-minute session with the Cohort to work through a rapid design lab to address a challenge or opportunity he or she faces in work or business.

Today, the iDiploma Disney Cohort hosted its third consultivation. The chief engineer for NAES (North American Energy Services) joined us to share a challenge his team is facing in communication. A photo gallery of the consultivation can be found below, and a Google doc of the facilitation flow is also provided.

If you are looking for creative and productive ways to blur lines between “school” and “real world,” you may want to consider something like our consultivation. Our student learners are not only amazing future resources, but they are incredible current resources – growing designers who want to and can contribute to real-world problem solving and solution seeking.

Our client left this morning saying that he was extremely excited to explore the solutions our iDiploma Disney Cohort created – hybrid systems that combine and integrate already-available tools which work together to address the needs that our user shared with us. He also indicated that he was leaving with a “standard” against which to measure future, potential solutions because of the needfinding and prototyping that was made visible this morning… in just 90 minutes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

==========

Views on iDiploma Consultivation from other Angles:

An Open Letter to My Beloved Community @MVPSchool and @MVIFI

To My Beloved Community at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School and The Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation:

You inspire me.

Your inquiry. (You’re inquiry.)

Your innovation. (You’re innovation.)

Your impact. (You’re impact.)

They inspire me, and you inspire me. And so I challenge you.

What is your “mold?” What is your idea bubbling forward and exploding out from/to your inquiry and innovation and impact?

I challenge you to spend as long as it takes to watch “The Year in Ideas: TED Talks in 2014.” (And if you are “older,” please consider starting with the TEDx below from Jonathan Sackner-Bernstein: “It’s Not Too Late to Make a Difference.”)

The talks themselves are incredible, instructive, and educational. I learned quite a bit from watching them all myself. They are full of content. They model remarkable skills. They are stories from innovators nurtured.

But that’s not why I share them here and challenge you.

I share them with you and use them to catalyze a challenge that you are already engaged in. More than most schools, our school is designed for us to find our mold and make a difference, whether defined through an inquiry, an innovation, or an impact…or perhaps at the intersection of all three.

We have our courses. We have our co-curriculars. We also gloriously have our (i)Project. We have our (i)Diploma. We have MoVe talks. We have #MVIFI. We have our R&D teams.

Yes, more than most, we live in a system that encourages us and supports us to be just like the people on that stage in the TED and TEDx talks.

What will your talk be about? What actions and pursuits will provide the meat and potatoes for your talk?

I cannot wait to listen and learn from you!

And please let me know how I can help, join in, participate, celebrate, provoke, applaud, provide feedback, nourish, spur, support, and challenge you even more.

Thank you for all you do to inspire and challenge me daily. I am grateful and humbled at being a part of this beloved community. I am thankful to be a #Transformer alongside you.

On to 2015!

Sincerely,

Bo Adams

Parent, Colleague & Chief Learning and Innovation Officer

iD in pictures

Meghan Cureton (@MeghanCureton) shares an early chapter in pictures for (i)Diploma — Mount Vernon’s Innovation Diploma (@MViDiploma). I’m privileged to co-facilitate the cohort with Mrs. Cureton.

I wonder...

Sometimes it’s hard to explain all the learning we are doing in words, so here’s a glimpse in pictures:

View original post

Sharing the Well Through Design Thinking — and #fuse15! #MVIFI @MVPSchool @modatl

An open letter to Mount Vernon Faculty and Staff:

Dear Mount Vernon Faculty and Staff:

I love a good story. I particularly love story that reveals to us some of the fruits of our labors and reminds us of the motivations for why we do some of what we do.

“Learners apply knowledge to make an impact.” “Empathy influences learning.”

As designers, you empower your learners to be change agents, and our school family believes so deeply in empathy and the power of applied learning. Through your work, you have helped spring forth the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation and events like #fuse14 where we can share our practice and nurture innovators beyond our own campus and immediate community.

Thanks to #fuse14 and our amazing partnership with MODA, we helped play a part in a story of Francis W. Parker School exhibiting pieces of MODA’s recent “Design for Social Impact” show – the show that was up when we spent a night at MODA for a segment of #fuse14. You can read about it here: https://www.fwparker.org/MODAExhibit

I love thinking that learners in Chicago are emboldened and inspired to see themselves even more as design thinkers and change makers. And I love that we got to be a part of that story through your committed work, sharing the well, and collaborating with our partner MODA.

A number of other schools around the country and world have let us know that they are implementing design thinking thanks to the support and practice that we provided them at #fuse14.

Let’s do so again, and help share the well to nurture even more innovators.

#fuse15 is June 3, 4, 5. Mark the date and continue to make your mark!

THANK YOU for all you do and share and inspire!

fuse15 June 3-5 2015