In working with many diverse groups of people, coming together to solve complex problems, I am absolutely flummoxed by this paradox: young minds struggle with complex, inter-related problems, while "more mature" minds struggle to learn new concepts.
Rather than throw both brains out with the bathwater (what a badly mixed metaphor!) how best do we design collaborative projects and discussions that accommodate all brains, whether wily, worldly or wise?
When older people can no longer remember names at a cocktail party, they tend to think that their brainpower is declining. But a growing number of studies suggest that this assumption is often wrong.
Instead, the research finds, the aging brain is simply taking in more data and trying to sift through a clutter of information, often to its long-term benefit.
The studies are analyzed in a new edition of a neurology book, “Progress in Brain Research.”
For example, in studies where subjects are asked to read passages that are interrupted with unexpected words or phrases, adults 60 and older work much more slowly than college students. Although the students plow through the texts at a consistent speed regardless of what the out-of-place words mean, older people slow down even more when the words are related to the topic at hand. That indicates that they are not just stumbling over the extra information, but are taking it in and processing it.
We've been preaching it for years, but I guess it is now news:
Creative work environments improve creative thinking!
Congrats to Leslie Marquard and Catalyst Ranch on leading the piece. Thanks for bringing "right-brained thinking" to a "left-brained" world. (Actually, working in creative environments and using multiple learning modalities inspires whole-brain thinking.)
Steve Kagan for The New York Times
By ELAINE GLUSAC | Published: April 30, 2008
WHEN Leslie Marquard, an executive coach, holds strategy sessions for consulting firms or university administrators, she ushers her buttoned-up clientele into rooms full of Pogo sticks, ethnic art, hammocks, vintage furniture and a pillow “harem.”
“They are surprised and also endeared by it,” said Ms. Marquard, a co-founder of Marble Leadership Partners in Chicago. The “it” she referred to is Catalyst Ranch, an independent alternative meeting space in a former sausage factory near the Loop in Chicago. “They’ll say, ‘That table looks just like one I grew up with.’ It subconsciously releases the mind.”
MANAGERS striving to foster creativity often use the time-worn phrase “thinking outside the box” to encourage workers to come up with something nobody else in the room is thinking. But the improvisational actress Patricia Ryan Madson has a better idea: Look inside the box and take a fresh look at what’s already there.
The author of “Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up,” Ms. Madson helps organizations find new ways to play off one another in an unscripted romp toward what might be. Turning the planning process inside out, she says, is an important part of learning how best to “ready, fire, aim.”
“We’re all creators given the conditions and permission to do so,” she says. “All too often, there are corporate cultures that say: ‘Be creative, but don’t make any mistakes.’ Improv opens doors to doing things a different way.”
Written by the talented content maven (and Dashboard Spy reader!), Meryl K. Evans, it features carefully vetted data visualization related web sites categorized into the 3 groups of Examples, Blogs and Resources. I’m a bit upset at being beaten to the punch (just a little), but I certainly respect the quality of the list. Meryl told me she spent 3 solid weeks editing the links. Let’s help her maintain and grow this valuable resource. See the list of 175.
Definitely visit Meryl’s list, but here’s a teaser sampling of some cool data visualization sites:
If you have been confused about the exact utility and function of
wikis, take a look at this very fun and accessible video clip by CommonCraft.
I have be a what you might call a "power-user" of the project management sofeware Basecamp for several years now. And, of Blogger. Oh, and TypePad (which powers this site).
Plus I've sunk oodles of time and ca$h into designing the Web2.0 app for graphic facilitators, MissingLink. All of the aforementioned tools are essentially mutant forms of a wiki--as is the ever popular source of all knowledge, Wikipedia. Each one of these browser-based tools allows multiple users (aka. people) to create, edit and participate in on-line communities.
Master Facilitator, Steve Davis, describes what he has learned facilitating inter-cultural
groups. To say the least, it requires alternate structures, methods, and processes.
He shares his experience teaching teleconferences to 45 people operating in the Pacific Rim for a large global
corporation, focused on virtual meeting facilitation. Most of the participants
on these calls were from Asian cultures for whom English was a second language.
The Open University, part of the OpenLearn story, has also allowed free access to part of their courses on "systems" courses which can be found at the bottom of this page for those who don't know how to map systems its a basic start.
They have many simple tutorials for educators and life-long learners on new web-based learning tools, for example:
FlashMeeting is a one-click video conferencing tool. It allows a
dispersed group of people to meet from anywhere in the world with an
internet connection, running in a standard web browser window, with the
Adobe Flash 'plug in'. If you have a properly installed web cam and
microphone you will be able to communicate with friends and colleagues
anywhere they are. See OU QuickGuide
Compendiumis a software tool for visual thinking.
You can use it to cluster and connect icons linked to ideas, concepts,
arguments, websites and documents. Use it just for personal reflection
as you study or work on a problem, or share your maps with others...
your summary of a topic, or a learning path through the maze of the
Web, might really help someone else! See OU QuickGuide
This is it, kids! The single resource for all the tools and methods out
there for making ideas visual. Everything from cartoons to strategy
maps. The map allows the user to get a visual image of each method upon
rollover with the mouse.
This Periodic Table of Visualization Methods was created in Switzerland by the Visual Literacy folks. I thought you would enjoy it too. I was happy to see Graphic Facilitation right there at the top (G)!
But here is a package from the Grandaddy of MindMapLand...
Tony Buzan is the world's leading expert on the brain and is the inventor of Mind Maps®, the thinking tool used by over 250 million people. Mind Mapping helps you to excel in every area of your life by allowing you to achieve your full mental potential. A Mind Map is a tool for any thinking task.
Whilst many products have claimed to allow you to Mind Map on a computer, none have managed to fully duplicate Tony's world renown process. Until now that is! iMindMap™ gives you the infinite visual variety, portability, freedom, brain friendliness and effectiveness of traditional highly proven Mind Mapping techniques. Watch our free videos on computer based mind mapping to find out more by clicking here.
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