Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Develop creativity and empathy through opposing perspectives

I have been rethinking my focus. I started working within the framework of knowledge management and communities of practice. But knowledge management in the Netherlands is still associated with databasebuilders. And communities are hijacked by the marketeers for client communities... The core of my work is about 'the learning professional' / the innovative professional / the creative professional. Communities of practice as still a very powerful environment to stimulate professional innovation at an individual and collective level. I found a book which divides the learning professional in personal and professional development. Not sure how useful I find this distinction however.

I've lived in various countries and I am convinced that a new environment works great for self-knowledge and awareness of your own beliefs. An anecdote: when we lived in Mali we were invited by Bintou, a colleague to join her for lunch on a Saturday. We were very surprised to see that everyone had already eaten, and we were seated separately with a dish to eat and left alone. We thought we were late but that was not the case. Then you realize again that there is a strong social connotation in the Netherlands to lunch invitations. It's not about the food, it's primarily a social activity, eating together, while at Bintou's she literally wanted to feed us. Those types of collisions between different worlds make you more creative and empathetic.

Here's a great TEDtalks of Raghava KK, artist. He wrote a children's book on the ipad. If you shake the iPhone changes the perspective, instead of a father and mother there are suddenly two mothers. He believes that learning children to understand different perspectives stimulates creativity and empathy. Have a look, it's great!

And for the social media twist... you can use social media to broaden your view to various perspectives. It's not automatic though. You have to be aware of your networks and who you are following. Follow some people on twitter from a radically different background, or lurk in some totally different communities... Who knows what you will learn..
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