Reading List

Reading List #7

OK so there’s been a bit of a break – so this is a bit longer than expected. So this reading list has a bit of a thematic grouping.


Innovation Isn’t an Idea Problem

I agree with the assessment that innovation is not an idea problem; it’s a recognition problem. Most organisations don’t seem able recognise or support real innovation – it goes unrecognised and unsupported. I really like the ides of the ideas market that’s outlined.

Instead of using the traditional hierarchy to find and approve ideas, the approval process could be spread across the whole organization. That’s the approach Rhode Island-based Rite-Solutions has taken for almost a decade. Rite-Solutions has set up an “idea market” on their internal website where anyone can post an idea and list it as a “stock” on the market, called “Mutual Fun.” Every employee is also given $10,000 in virtual currency to “invest” in ideas. In addition to the investment, employees also volunteer to work on project ideas they support. If an idea gathers enough support, the project is approved.

Could be a really novel way of transgressing past the structure of the hierarchy and supporting a more networked organisation.

Two Roads to Innovation

In this post George Couros outlines that to create an innovative “mindset” a culture there are two important factors: mass collaboration and individual connection. George points out that these factors seemingly operate at opposite sides of a spectrum but I like to see them instead as different perspectives or levels of detail. It reminds me a lot of a little scrap of paper I tore from an article that gave names to the different levels of scale:

  • mono – one, alone, singluar
  • micro – small
  • meso – middle
  • macro – large-scale, overall
  • mondo – worldly

The discussion around mass groups and then smaller Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) tend to fit this model. They are connected networks of people – but just seen through a different lens. That said the dynamics that drive each of the different levels of scale are completely different – so creating that mindset of innovation isn’t a single event or action – it requires support at each level of scale to become culturallu embedded.

Who Innovates: Creating the Innovation Culture with Geniuses, Leaders & Champions

Tying in perhaps with that idea of scale are the ideas from this article. It outlines that people are what drive the organization actively engage in promoting and supporting innovation, implementing rigorous innovation methods, by filling three essential roles – Creative Geniuses, Innovation Champions, and Innovation Leaders.

The Geniuses would operate in the mono and micro levels, Champions are visible in the meso and Leaders work at the macro scale.

The article also posts a table of the Status Quo Culture vs an Innovation Culture. I think this is an interesting way to view innovation within an organisation because the reality is you want a duality where both coexist because they each provide specific benefits.

This highlights one of the struggles I am having at the moment in trying to understand innovation. The many differences in opperation required between the two cultures questions whether innovation is actually possible to be part of the everyday function of an organisation. Isn’t there a cultural clash, and if so do we need to quarantine one from the other? Or do organisations need to develop more organic and permeable structures that allow the cultures to entwine and feed into one another?

State of innovation: Busting the private-sector myth

Really like this piece because there is a prevalent (and quite misleading) view that innovation only comes from the private sector – when the reality is the opposite.

Yet it is ideology, not evidence, that fuels this image. A quick look at the pioneering technologies of the past century points to the state, not the private sector, as the most decisive player in the game.

This is part of the reason why I think universities need to, at least in some part, operate as an incubator of innovation rather than a just an accreditation and training organisation.

Institutional innovation

While I’m not the biggest fan of a lot of what comes out of Deloitte, this piece on Institutional Innovation has some interesting points and example.

Institutional innovation requires embracing a new rationale of “scalable learning” with the goal of creating smarter institutions that can thrive in a world of exponential change. Through new architectures, organizations can build “creation spaces” that help facilitate (rather than limit) interactions and relationships, allowing organizations to increase the flow of information within and across their organization’s walls to increase learning, adaptability, and downstream product and process innovations.

I think that’s a sentiment I can not only agree with but a vision that I could buy into of what innovation within an organisation should look like.

Why do some innovations spread slowly?

Always nice to find pointers to earlier ideas. I hadn’t come across Everett Rogers ideas about the Diffusion of Innovation so was glad that Scott Berkun introduced me.

The essential factors that explain “the adoption of innovation, or more precisely, the factors that if absent prevent an idea from being adopted”:

  1. Relative Advantage: this is perceived advantage.
  2. Compatibility: How much effort is required?
  3. Complexity: How much learning is required to apply the innovation?
  4. Trial-ability: Is it easy to try out?
  5. Observability: How visible are the results of the innovation?

I think I’ve just added another layer of information to one of my key markers of innovation – Adoption!

Innovation Travels on Two Legs

Another post on the topic on the spread of innovation. The overview is that innovation is spread from person to person – it travels on two legs.

Innovation is social. It is people-centric. Innovation requires a change in behaviour, and that is why we need to activate our networks to get new ideas to spread.

I was going to move this post up to make a more linear list but instead I think I’ll leave it here as a reminder that innovation is all about people. They connect as individuals, groups and masses – at different scales, speeds and preparedness to adopt.


“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

I share the same bug bear about the term ‘interactive’. It’s become so misused and abused that it seems to lost any sense of its original meaning.

Interaction is a reciprocal word in the same sense that it takes two to tango.

Am I a Content Strategist?

An interesting post exploring the concept of the Content Strategist. It’s interesting to see the emergence of these new kinds of roles and how they are evolving.

The Difference Between Digital Literacy and Digital Fluency

Not sure if this is better placed here or under learning – but something important when we discuss digital literacies.

a literate person is perfectly capable of using the tools. They know how to use them and what to do with them, but the outcome is less likely to match their intention. It is not until that person reaches a level of fluency, however, that they are comfortable with when to use the tools to achieve the desired outcome, and even why the tools they are using are likely to have the desired outcome at all.

Google is defragging Android

For Android fans this sounds a bit like “while you were sleeping”. A silent updater that can grant itself permissions – the next logical step it would seem in tech companies wanting to take back control from users.

The Lords of Vendorbation

This idea of vendorbation describes my experience with pretty much every piece of software & system I have to use at work. I would say that it extends so far that it’s the biggest blight on Educational Technology at the moment.


It’s not personal, it’s policy

While I wouldn’t go as far to say that my experience in a large organisation has been like working in “a wretched hive of scum and villainy”, it certainly has its challenges. I have seen how personal confrontation becomes a modus operandi and that policy is a tool that can improve equality and reduce the importance of the personal.

Policy helps avoid personal confrontations with management that you would almost certainly not win.

While the rest of the article discusses the issues of a web team – many of the tips are generic.

Where’s the work?

Something short and sweet. This is the problem I have with current project methodologies like Prince 2 – where’s the work? Too much time and effort put on following the process and not enough on doing it.

The Seemingly Peculiar Property of Projects

Following on from that is this great post from

Projects fail not because of any of the reasons above. They fail because 1) they are projects and 2) projects are typically structured incorrectly.

Many of the ideas here resonate with my thinking (and working) around projects – and why I’ve been trying to adopt a different approach to working in them – adopting components of the lean and agile approaches.

Projects cannot be monolithic. They cannot be command and control. They need to be structured to take advantage of tinkering. I covered tinkering in an earlier post, but in short tinkering (also known as organic, grass-roots, agile, along with a slew of other names) is the process of unplanned trial and error – of experimentation – to see what works and what doesn’t and then move forward with what does (or perhaps move forward with what doesn’t if it turns out to be better).


Some interesting posts on learning as a personal process.

Rhizomatic me, a learning nomad

I really got a lot out of this post from Helen Crump as I share quite a lot of what resonates with her. From Dave Cormier’s

Learning for the nomad is the point where the steps in a process go away

and the interpretation that

there’s a point where you stop thinking of facts or steps and understand the act.

Helen also make mention of Harold Jarche (whom I’m become quite well acquainted with) and the “knowledge artisans” of the network era with whom I tend to resonate with.

Connected and knowledgeable individuals with their own learning networks and their own ways of working, individuals who are often more independent and … probably more comfortable with uncertainty.

Go your own way

This post from Steve Wheeler make mention of the last post and uses it to explore the scope of learning in a personal way.

For many, ‘going your own way’ is becoming a very important lifestyle choice.

I think this asks some poignant questions about formal education and institutions. What are we doing and how can we contend with these kinds of societal changes?

How Large Systems Change

A great presentation from George Siemens looking at many of the changes and possibilities for Higher Education.

Universities will continue to exist. They will continue to play a greater and a greater role in society and business.

Go Ahead, Mess With Texas Instruments

Wholeheartedly agree with the point that education thrives in the healthy tension between convention and subversion.


‘Why We Talk in Tongues’

While I don’t want to buy into the debate or the vitriol the original posts or John Gruber’s evoked – I really did like his response:

A lack of respect is not hatred; I do not respect superstitious nonsense. But this framing — equating lack of respect with hatred — is what keeps many from criticizing nonsensical religious views.

I think there is a line around respect and understanding which is often blurred and confusing. Not understanding or paying respect is not the equivalent of hate or opposition – but perhaps it has more to do with one’s willingness to engage and dedicate effort.

France’s Glorious Malaise

I love France and I love the French – yes a Francophile. I am starting to really develop a sense of the ‘nation’ from articles like this – how an identity can develop and frame a state of self.

Better to be miserable than a hypocrite, nauseated than naive — and far better to be morose than a fool.

How Three Quiet, Seismic Shifts Are Changing the Social Enterprise and Social Innovation Landscape

This is an interesting post with quite a few curious ideas about the trends happening in enterprise and marketing spaces. I put this one here because I think it is an interesting take on the ways in which society (in a local and global sense) is changing because of our greater connections and broader networks.

The “culture of contest” that results from this is becoming increasingly maladaptive in an age of ever-increasing social and ecological interdependence.

Bill Watterson: A cartoonist’s advice

A simple and beautiful cartoon. Take the time to enjoy it.

My Notes

I’ve started up a new ‘blog’, for want of a better word. Conceptually it’s my live notes and it runs from an Evernote Notebook using I just start a new note, put in my Postachio notebook and tag as published when I want it to go live. The idea here it live the “work out loud” methodology and share what I do. I used it to great effect at the recent Blackboard Teaching & Learning Conference and the mTech Mobile & Wearables Event. What goes up here is what I consider a work in progress – notes are alive and change. They are also notes – not transcripts of talks. I tend to think about quite a lot during a good presentation (I don’t do “passive absorption” and I’m always processing and questioning as I go). The notes reflect this space that my mind operates in and should never be seen as a transcript of an event.



By Tim Klapdor

Passionate about good design, motivated by the power of media and enchanted by the opportunities of technology.

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