Skill introduction

The world is changing fast, we even have a word for it these days: disruptive. Employers are looking for employees who know their way around this rapidly innovating world, who can adapt and think and work innovatively. It is up to us as teachers to think about this and to get to work.

Is innovative thinking and working a separate soft skill or does innovative thinking and working (an attitude) consist of a combination of different soft skills? It resembles the latter. The most mentioned soft skill that is linked to innovative thinking and working is: ‘creative problem solving’. But ‘reflection’ , ‘iterating between abstract and concrete thinking’ , ‘mental resilience’, ‘courage’ score high.
For us as teachers, it is important to weave all these important soft skills into our education by creating activities and situations where innovative thinking and acting comes naturally to our students.

To this end, education must be organized in such a way that there is a balance between providing structure and offering playful space for our students. Playful space to experiment and tap into the intuition of our students and give them free rein. For example, in learning conversations, we have to be more aware of different multiple solutions next to each other, instead of working ‘directly’ towards ‘the best solution’. We must look for working methods that encourage innovative thinking and acting. Perhaps, as teachers, we must learn to surrender our need for control.

What certainly stimulates innovative thinking and acting are playful work forms such as games with multiple solutions and multiple paths to a solution. We will give a few digital examples of this and hope that these methods will put you as a teacher on the path to experimenting with this and further integrating it into your lessons.

Major innovations are the combination of different applications and utensils.
With the iPhone (2007- Steve Jobs), for example, you see such a spectacular innovation. By connecting different devices in one device, Steve Jobs developed a completely new concept.
This is a good example of :” One day someone comes along and sees one or more dots … dots that others missed, dots that are ignored”.

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With most devices we see a technical development towards improvements over time.

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When we think of innovation, we mainly think of technical innovation such as the iPhone. But now that companies are busy with the transition to the next (fourth) phase of industrialization, we must also look at the conditions for making that innovation possible in companies. It is no longer a question of whether or not innovation is important. Nowadays, the question is how innovative companies can organize themselves and what kind of employees fit in there.

The classic model of innovation: coming up with a solution in a closed (and well-secured) laboratory, and then dominate the market is outdated.

Innovation is only 25% about the use of new technology and 75% about servant leadership, self-organization, smarter working, and forms of co-creation.

This requires new skills of the employees. Including the soft skill innovation.
(Tip: for an image of ‘the employee of the future’, search the internet for the word: ‘T-shaped professional’)

What are the objectives of INNOVATION

  • Know that ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’ are linked.
  • Also know that innovation is broader than the technical product. The importance of social innovation is increasing.
  • If you want to innovate as a company these days, it is mainly about creating an innovative climate. An innovative climate of an organization presupposes a range of soft skills among the staff. If you work on all those soft skills with your students, then you also work on creating an innovative climate and thus on an interpretation of ‘innovation’.

  • Know that an important condition for innovative thinking and acting is the realization of ‘experimental space’ and that a multitude of mature and immature ideas may pop up in that space. And remember that all these ideas are initially of equal value. Compare the ideas, find similarities. Don’t work too quickly towards ‘the best idea’.
  • Learning through playful working methods encourages intrinsic motivation, creativity and innovation. Get acquainted with working methods that contain elements of gamification.

Let’s get started!