“We want more disruptive innovation and less planned innovation. To do this, we had to let go. We thought, what if we removed the obstacles that are stopping people from innovating? What if we gave them the resources? There are no rules or constraints. The approach to innovation in KickStart is giving people the permission to go do it.”
(Mark Randall, Adobe KickStart founder)
A Red Box
If you haven’t heard about Adobe’s (maybe) radical approach to encouraging innovation and creativity, then you’ve got to check this out.
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Adobe’s idea that all ideas are bad ones, until given the chance to be explored, tweaked, and grown, is incredibly inspiring. Their idea of using the “Red Box” to encourage and enable employees to be innovative and to move forward on their “crazy ideas” is something I would like to see more of… in fact, I would love to see this concept in education (gasp!).
Why is it, that in education, an area which arguably should be most responsible for molding and producing inspired, creative, world-changing, mind-shifting young adults, the thought of doing something completely different is (usually) frowned upon?
Sure, administrations and government agencies talk about transformation and making education “better,” but when it comes to the nitty-gritty of actually allowing some of these ideas to blossom, the hard heel of “NO” quickly stomps out the sparks.
What if we gave students and teachers a Red Box?
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What if we asked students for their ideas? Maybe they would create ideas about improving education and making it more useful, practical, efficient, and applicable. Maybe they would create ideas about a new technology, or a new literary work, or a new way of transforming a process. What if…?
What if we empowered teachers to grow their ideas? Maybe they would change the face of education, the how and the why, forever. Maybe they would turn their “subject” area inside out and grow students who are inspired, passionate, and confident in their ability to make a difference in their world. Maybe they would find new ways to make education welcoming, fun, and exciting. What if…?
All this isn’t to say that there aren’t interesting ideas or great teachers and administrators doing amazing things, or that there aren’t students impacting their world in major ways. But imagine the possibilities if ideas (without a pre-conceived “no”) were encouraged, guided, nurtured, and given water to grow.
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One question that Adobe says it gets a lot from other businesses toying with the idea of implementing the KickBox idea is whether or not they must include the $1000 gift card. Some argue that it could be wasted or misspent. However, Adobe responds by stressing the importance of this investment, and explains that in their experience, this $1000 is guarded closely and spent meticulously and wisely, because those who are given a Red Box have an idea they want to see succeed. Ideas must be invested in. The $1000 is often the missing ingredient needed to get an idea off the notepad and into reality.
Education isn’t exactly big business with a solid stream of income, so giving each student or teacher $1000 is probably not realistic. But maybe there’s a different form of “currency” that could be used. I don’t know what that would be, maybe additional planning time, maybe the ability to meet with “those in power” and try their idea, maybe something completely different.
As an educator, an inspirer, a kindler of minds, I want my students to dream. I want them to sprout ideas like my yard sprouts weeds (excessively, by the way). Not all are good ideas, but some are destined for greatness… if only they are encouraged, allowed, and given the tools to go and do.
In the end, I don’t know what an educational Red Box looks like, but you can bet I’ll spend my summer thinking of a way to use that concept in my classroom. And maybe it will be contagious.