Sunday, October 19, 2008

More Compendium history (part 6): Creativity Takes Center Stage

This is part 6 in a series

As we were puzzling about this paradox of having a powerful, successful, flexible technique that we could not convince many others to take on for themselves, a further major influence came into the picture. In 1998 and 1999 we began several collaborations with outside groups. 

One of these was with the New Lenses on Learning research group at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), connected by one of our executive internal clients who also served on an advisory board at CCL. This group, particularly our primary contacts Chuck Palus and David Horth, shared a similar interest in “putting something in the middle,” using image-rich visual artifacts in group dialogues to foster creative thinking and exploration of complex challenges.

Their use of manual and paper techniques and ours of software-based issue maps seemed more complementary than opposed, and we began looking at ways to combine our approaches. An early development was adding the capability to display digital photos and images to Compendium, so that the evocative images in CCL’s Visual Explorer toolkit (then existing only on paper) could be loaded into our software and manipulated, adding to the discussion, model, rationale, and issue maps we were already working with. We experimented with different ways to use our combined approaches in the experiential workshops that CCL conducted in different organizations.

The other chief collaboration that began at that time was with Simon Buckingham Shum of the Knowledge Media Institute at the Open University in the UK. Simon’s long background and deep research interest in IBIS, QOC, and related tools and approaches led to a highly generative research collaboration, both exploring the approaches we had developed to date and expanding them in new directions. 

Taken together, the KMi and CCL collaborations held out the promise of integrating creative exploration, issue mapping, model-based design, rationale capture, and meeting facilitation together in one tool. We generated many research papers and formed collaborations that continue to this day. The potential seemed (and still seems) enormous.

Next: Difficulties in Diffusing the Practices

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