These are my notes from the SXSWedu session, “Growing Nimble Thinkers for the Creative Economy” by Deborah Morrison and Glenn Griffin. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. The session description was:

What do the best classrooms, labs, and creative organizations have in common?

They’re all built on productivity, generosity, failing fast, accountability, and a type of nimble creativity that builds enthusiastic participation and great ideas.

Based on their work in creative classrooms and professional consultancy with idea-driven cultures (including Google and many advertising and design firms), Glenn Griffin and Deb Morrison, co-authors of The Creative Process Illustrated: How Advertising’s Big Ideas Are Born (2010), offer insights and innovative practice for building a classroom that serves as catalyst for great ideas and energy. Designed for the cross-disciplinary university classroom and to connect with the global creative economy, this session outlines concepts and skills to develop nimble thinking skills among students who want to compete in today’s idea industries.

Growing Nimble Thinkers for the Creative Economy by Deborah Morrison and Glenn Griffin

students need to be nimble
– nimble is a subset of creativity

The creative economy needs more nimble
– needs more noble than ever before
– walls are coming down between disciplines

Analogy of t-shaped thinkers
– problem solvers
– hypbrid specialties

t-shaped model offers more than the i-shaped model for thinking about specialities


radical interdisciplinary
– we are all interdisciplinary at this point
– this is looking and
– collaboration in hubs across disciplines
– majors are false walls at this point
– our students won’t go out ‘in majors’ into the work world

interdisciplinary is the hot buzz word today

radical disciplinary approaches: bringing hip-hop, acoustic guitar, and academics together in last session (“Schools Not Jails, Education Not Incarceration“)

SXSW is known for its interdisciplinary approaches
– people with core ideas being brought together to establish collaborative groups
– we are living the dream right here

from video: rule #1 is to increase the number of interations
– don’t be afraid to build things at first that are ugly
– let’s see what fails and what sticks
– don’t be fearful to work fast and be prolific

If you’re not teaching your kids to think creatively and FAST today you’re doing them a disservice
– thinking creatively fast is a competitive advantage

clutch of change agents
– churn of classes
– diversity of approaches
– media convergence
– voices of optimism

The fact that we only have students for a short time can work in our advantage
– let’s get it done!

Media confidence moment: Andy Warhol’s dream realized
– fame and attention via social media channels is very attainable
– students just have to think about what to put out there

Powerful evidences of this
– students creating publishing, and curating as a way of life
– ‘white space’ between classes offers opportunities for nimble thinking
– mobile technologies shape nimble behavior

many of us are now looking at a second screen
– ask how we can ask students to use that second screen in an engaging way
– Twitter is sometimes the default for that in college classrooms

Reliance upon iteration and fast prototyping requires feedback, you have to be open to criticism
– creative cultures use change as a powerful tool

Creativity can be most powerful at a certain moment
– not just the ‘a-ha’ or ‘I’ve got it’ moment
– moments of bleak failure or backtrack and try again, or interruption, unpredictability

Let’s stop thinking the most powerful time in the creative process is the discovery moment

Teresa Amabile is one of our academic crushes
– director of research at the Harvard Business School on the topic of creativity as it spans disciplines
– also statistics!
– she has given us the componential model of creativity: intrinsic motivation, creativity-relevant skills, domain-relevant skills

Our book: “The Creative Process Illustrated” is about advertising but also about the enterprise of creativity

in the creative process, keep the judge muffled” until the time is right

Examples of creative visual art from Danny Gregory

Whiteboards and writeable spaces everywhere in our college of journalism at the Univ of Oregon is REALLY changing conversations, thinking, and behaviors positively!

Unconferences are great!


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One Response to Growing Nimble Thinkers for the Creative Economy by Deborah Morrison and Glenn Griffin

  1. Gabby Williams says:

    Hi, I’m a student at the University of South Alabama. I’m majoring in English and Education and am currently in Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class. This post is very interesting for me. I also think that creativeness is important for education and student success. I think it was a very valid point when it says that creativity isn’t just the “a-ha” moment but also when failure occurs. I think that failure or re-do’s can help more than anything. I like to believe that brick walls aren’t there to keep us out but to test us to see how much we want to know what’s on the other side. Failure can help with someones creativity by allowing them to try again and to try harder. Very interesting and educational post!

    Thanks- Gabby

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