David Price OBE is a Learning Futurist and Senior Associate at the UK’s Innovation Unit, a not-for-profit social enterprise committed to using the power of innovation to solve social challenges. The focus of his work is finding innovative ways to engage learners from the classroom to the workplace.
Marcus | What is the ‘open learning revolution’?
David | The open learning revolution is about recognising the impact of learning socially, beyond the classroom and the workplace. It’s about changing the way we learn formally to reflect how we prefer to learn socially. It’s about non-hierarchical systems, peer-to-peer collaboration, learning with a moral purpose.
It’s not simply about the technology. The internet is assisting a return to values that we’ve been told weren’t good for us, like trust, transparency and playfulness. The challenge for the formal environments (the classroom, the workplace) is to adapt to the the way people are engaging with the world around them, in the social space.
Can you tell me what you’ll be talking about at Amplify Festival 2013?
I’ll be talking about the characteristics of how we learn when we’re in social/informal spaces and how these characteristics can be transferred to the workplace. I call them the Six Do It’s:
1. Do it yourself. 2. Do it now.
3. Do it with friends. 4. Do it for fun.
5. Do unto others. 6. Do it for the world to see.
How important is creative thinking for someone who isn’t a creative professional?
I would argue that creativity – the lifeblood of innovation – is essential to practically every industry. It’s been fascinating to see the nature of labour outsourcing. Knowledge Process Outsourcing now affects every industry, in every country. It’s radically changing organisational working, and the idea of a job. No industry, the financial services included, is safe. Knowledge professionals can’t compete with emerging economies on price, so they have to be more innovative. You can’t innovate without being creative, and we’re at our most creative when we’re engaging in open learning.
What do you think are some of the more tokenistic approaches to creative capacity building in corporate culture?
A classic downfall is seeing creativity as an exclusive function of the arts. Companies often make the mistake of setting-up enclosures around creativity; they’ll establish a program or a space in which to be creative but it’s too often with the proviso of satisfying the bottom line. If you look at the most innovative and successful companies in the world – Google and Facebook and 3M come to mind – they’ve all created what I call a ‘global learning commons’, in which employees can collaborate, have the right to roam and permission to fail. We have to create dynamic learning environments. Without changing the culture and the structure of an organisation, you’ll never truly allow people to be their most creative selves. It’s radical, but the research shows the direct connection between openness, employee engagement, innovation and performance – the fact is, creative employees are productive employees.