Archive for February, 2012

Photos from “Fostering Innovations in Organizations”

February 29, 2012 Comments off


Pictured: Chancellor Kenyon Chan, Professor Alan Wood, Richard Shea, Lou Gray, and Deborah Wilds


Reflection on the Opening Forum Session

February 15, 2012 Comments off

The first event of the Innovation Forum kicked off this morning with a discussion by three members of the Advisory Board for UWB: Deborah Wilds, President and CEO of College Success Foundation, Rick Shea, President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Olympus Respiratory America, and Lou Gray, entrepreneur and CEO.  Introduced and moderated by Chancellor Chan, the discussion focused on successful strategies these innovative leaders have adopted that fostered innovation in their organizations.


The discussion was so wide-ranging I can’t do justice to it here, other than to mention a few items I found to be interesting and worthy of emulating.  Lou Gray emphasized the importance of openness, and of encouraging the belief that it was okay to fail.  Rick Shea mentioned the need to think big, to remove self-limiting obstacles and ideas in order to foster a discussion “without boundaries” that could stimulate the imagination, and to encourage experimentation and see the inevitable resulting “failures” as part of the learning process.   Deborah Wilds stressed the importance of distributive leadership coming from throughout the organization, and of creating a culture of using data to drive new innovative policies.


As the discussion evolved, some clear strategies began to appear on the table.  The panelists acknowledged that most people tend to resist change, and therefore emphasized the utility of creating pilot programs that were given the mission of experimenting—what didn’t work should be abandoned, and what did work should be preserved and adopted.  [My first thought when I heard this was that this wasn’t just a strategy for organizational change; this was how evolution in nature itself worked—differentiate, select, and amplify!]


The more they talked, the more the discussants started spinning off ideas on how to improve education.  Rather than identify individual speakers at this point, let me just hit a few of the high points of the discussion:

  • Throw out the standard model of having students spend a small fortune coming to a central campus for exactly four years of seat time—take learning to where the students are.
  • Figure out what it means to be “educated,” and then figure out a better means of evaluating and measuring when you have achieved that goal.
  • Change the incentive structure to get faculty out of their silos.  You can talk until you are blue in the face and it’s not going to change behavior as long as the incentive structure reinforces the traditional model of learning.  In other words, incentivize risk.
  • Create collaborative systems that bring students into the process with more hybrid forms of learning.
  • Create cross-functional teams that bring all members of the organization together to solve problems.
  • Celebrate successes and make innovation fun and meaningful.
  • Foster leadership to manage all the component elements of a successful team so that the pieces reinforce each other in positive ways.
  • Create in students an appreciation of life-long learning, particularly as the specific skills that might apply in one stage of technology are no longer relevant a few years later.
  • Get students into practical learning environments as interns where they can see how their learning is applied, so when they graduate they have already developed practical skills that are valuable to potential employers.
  • From the perspective of potential employers, too much curiosity and imagination can become a liability when they are not channeled into some constructive and practical purpose.
  • Cultivate a global perspective among students—their “competitors” are not the people sitting next to them in class, or even nearby, but people sitting in China and India and Brazil studying hard and working hard and learning how to collaborate.
  • What would happen if tomorrow companies in the United States (and elsewhere) suddenly said okay, a college degree no longer matters to us?  We don’t care about the piece of paper—what we want are skills and learning, and we have discovered that there is very little correlation between skills and degrees.  Many students graduate without learning the skills they need, and without acquiring the knowledge they need, while other students have developed those skills and knowledge without ever graduating.  Why should students spend a small fortune going to an institution when they can get those skills and learning on their own?  Who said students need to plant their seats in a chair for four years before they are certified as educated?  It might have made sense a century ago, but it no longer does.
  • We need to radically re-think our funding mechanism.  Lou Gray mentioned President Young’s idea of students getting a free education and then donating a percentage of their future earnings to their schools as a great idea that ought to be tried out.


So what are my own preliminary thoughts after today’s session?  I am frequently struck by the obstacles to change that we ourselves create in the university, and in the end most experiments never get off the ground because the existing system does such a good job of discouraging change.  That’s why I’ve always been intrigued by skunk works—protected places that businesses create which are given the freedom to experiment.  We don’t have that in academic life.  But clearly, we are in a new world now.  What we are doing is unsustainable.  We must change.  So how about the notion that came up in today’s discussion of “pilot programs” that are given some kind of autonomy from the constraints we all know and love.  Yes, most faculty members would not be willing to participate, because the risk is too great.  But there might be enough folks willing to set sail into the unknown that could form a kind of institutional exploring party.  Let’s experiment and see what works and what doesn’t.  What doesn’t work—we jettison.  What does work—we embrace.

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Innovation Forum Day 3 Schedule

February 15, 2012 Comments off

11:30am-1:00pm On the Ceiling Exhibition Viewing @ North Creek Events Center

On the Ceiling is an exhibition of student work created as a visual response project, inspired by the novel Au Plafond (On the Ceiling) by Eric Chevillard.  The images will be on display throughout the Innovation Forum week.

12:00pm-1:30pm TIC Talk Series: Innovative Approaches to Geographic Information Science @Rose Room

Innovative Approaches to Geographic Information Science (GISc) features brief research presentations by Prof. Jin-Kyu Jung and Prof. Santiago Lopez, followed by a panel discussion on the emerging field of Geographic Information Science (GISc).

Light refreshments included.

1:30pm-3:00pm 22 Ways to be More Sustainable @ UW2-305

The Sustainability Organization at UWB is proud to present Sabrina Combs, Joy Johnston, and Janet Gear from the city of Bothell who will be giving a presentation on “22 Easy Ways To Be More Sustainable”. This presentations is based on a program developed by the Mercer Island Green Ribbon Commission to promote easy steps we can all take to live well without having a big impact. After the presentation the Sustainability Organization and guest speakers will have a tabling event featuring specific ways to be more sustainable with green giveaways.

Light refreshments included.

4:00pm-5:30pm Zines: Alternative Knowledge and Media Production in the Academy @ the Truly House

Ari Roy and Heath Davis will discuss their experience using zines as an alternative and supplement to traditional written papers in an academic setting. In addition, they will also talk about their zine work and its links to possibilities for civic engagement outside of the academy. Nora Mukaihata, archives and library manager with Zine Archives and Publishing Project (ZAPP) in Seattle, will provide a community organization perspective and talk about ZAPP as a cultural site and highlight some of the work they have done.

Light refreshments included.

6:00pm-7:00pm Representation of the Marginal in Bollywood and its “Others” @ North Creek Events Center

Presentation by Prof. Alka Kurian on how Bollywood movies have contributed to a critique of right-wing activities in India but at the risk of needlessly over-simplifying a complex problem, raising larger issues of the responsibility of media in general.

Light refreshments included.

7:30pm-10:00pm Bollywood Movie Night: “Delhi Belly” @ North Creek Events Center

Bollywood movie night for students and the UW Bothell community, sponsored by the UW Bothell Alumni Council.

Delhi Belly (2011): Three young and somewhat clueless flatmates get involved in the shady and dangerous business belonging to one roomie’s fiancee. Each buddy manages to make things worse until they discover that a global crime syndicate is gunning for them.

Pizza, popcorn, and candy will be provided.

Check out the full Innovation Forum schedule here!

Innovation Forum Day 2 Schedule

February 14, 2012 Comments off

10:45-11:45am Exploring Creativity Through Games @ UW1-103

We speak about “playing games” in our day-to-day lives, whether we refer to actual games or whether we refer metaphorically to a mode of conduct. However, who do we mean when we say, “she” is winning or “he” likes playing games? When does the game become the “player?”

In this presentation by Prof. Nicole Calian we will engage two philosophers from different time periods, namely Immanuel Kant and Hans-Georg Gadamer, to address this question.

Light refreshments included.

12:00pm-1:30pm TIC Talk Series: Increasing Engagement and Learning in STEM Education @ Rose Room

Increasing Engagement and Learning in STEM Education features brief research presentations, followed by a panel discussion about innovative teaching methods to foster student success in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) areas. Presentations include: “Science Teaching for Diverse Learners” by Prof. Carrie Tzou, “Game-Themed Introductory Programming Project” by Prof. Kelvin Sung, and “Interactive Visualizations to Enhance Student Learning” by Prof. Robin Angotti.

Light refreshments included.

1:30pm-3:00pm On the Ceiling Exhibition Discussion @ North Creek Events Center

On the Ceiling is an exhibition of student work created as a visual response project, inspired by the novel Au Plafond (On the Ceiling) by Éric Chevillard. The images will be on display throughout Innovation Forum week. Professor Hiebert and student exhibitors will discuss the project at this session.

In the novel, one of the distinguishing features of the main character is that he wears a chair upside-down on his head — both an absurdist gesture and a creative horizon from which the story itself unfolds.

For the project, students were challenged to take a picture of someone wearing a chair, incorporating the spirit of engagement into the process. The intent was to initiate dialogue among participants – as a space for whimsical speculation and creative rethinking of performance and representation.

Light Refreshments Included.

5:00pm-6:30pm Innovation Squared: Why Innovations in Technology Require Innovations in Ethics @ Rose Room

Innovations in science and technology can enable human beings to do entirely new things. But the possibilities they create may leave us unsure about what is the right thing to do. In this one-and-a-half hour panel discussion led by Prof. Gwen Ottinger, researchers from diverse disciplines:

•give examples of cutting edge technology that is creating new ethical dilemmas;

•explain why our current best thinking about ethics cannot fully resolve them; and

•sketch out the ethical innovations needed to act well in the context of rapid technological advance.

Light refreshments included.

6:00pm-8:00pm Theater of Situations @ North Creek Events Center

Theater of Situations is a mixed media presentation, exhibit, demonstration and game participation event, devised by IAS Professor Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren and students in the course, Theatre of Situations: Games as Workshop, Games as Performance during Winter Quarter.

The program begins with an introduction to and demonstration of creativity, improvisation, and games. The second part is an opportunity to try out discipline-specific games (Nursing, Computing, Business and Global Studies) created and run by the students. The third part is a campus-wide game called Theater of Situations. Audience members can watch a live video stream of the game in North Creek Events Center, follow the student teams around campus as they race to complete the relay, or participate in a side event called “Eccentric Showcase” that will occur at the same time.

Check out the full Innovation Forum schedule here!

Innovation Forum Day 1 Schedule

February 13, 2012 Comments off

9:30am-11:00am Fostering Innovation in Organizations: Opening Remarks and Panel Discussion @ UW Bothell Commons

Fostering Innovation in Organizations is the opening plenary session of the Innovation Forum, moderated by Chancellor Kenyon S. Chan.  This session will examine how organizations promote innovation from within.  Regional leaders in education, business, and technology will discuss their experiences as entrepreneurs and leaders in building innovative organizations.

Light refreshments included.

11:30am-1:00pm On the Ceiling Exhibition Viewing @ North Creek Events Center

On the Ceiling is an exhibition of student work created as a visual response project, inspired by the novel Au Plafond (On the Ceiling) by Eric Chevillard.  The images will be on display throughout the Innovation Forum week.

Students, faculty, staff, and the community are invited to visit.  All are invited to meet the artists and learn more about the project at a presentation on Tuesday Feb. 14, 1:30pm-3:00pm, also in the North Creek Events Center.

12:00pm-1:30pm TIC Talk Series: Building Great Teams @ Rose Room

Building Great Teams features brief research presentations, followed by a panel discussion on organizations, teams, and collaborative technologies.  Presentations include: “Analyzing Team Structures and Processes Now to Build Better Teams Tomorrow” by Prof. Deanna Kennedy, “Collaborative Technologies’ Role in Teamwork” by Prof. Tayfun Keskin, and “Greatness” by Prof. David Socha.

Light refreshments included.

6:00pm-7:30pm Collaboration Across Campus: Student Leader Round-Table @ the Truly House

Collaboration Across Campus is a round table discussion for student leaders.  Participants will discuss how collaboration works within campus organizations, as well as with the external community.

Light refreshments included.

6:00pm-8:00pm Priorities in Global Health @ Rose Room

Priorities in Global Health, moderated by Chris Wade, is a panel discussion exploring innovative approaches to global health issues. A panel from UW Seattle and UW Bothell discuss the impact of global health issues, assess current ideology, research, and practices that encumber progress, and present ideas for interventions, actions, and practices to make a positive impact.  Presentations will be followed by discussion, facilitated by Carolyn Brennan and Andrea Kovalesky.

Light refreshments and beverages will be provided. Sponsored by the UW Bothell Alumni Council.

Check out the full Innovation Forum schedule here!

Guest Post: Skip Walter Part II

February 12, 2012 Comments off

Skip Walter is a serial entrepreneur, consultant, angel investor and affiliate faculty member in the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering and an instructor in the Foster Business MBA program at the University of Washington.  As part of his commitment to HCDE, he serves as the Chairman of the External Advisory Board.  Skip has over forty years of experience in executive management, software product development, and new venture development.  He was the founding CEO of Attenex which was sold to FTI Consulting for $91M.  Skip and UW Bothell Professor David Socha regularly collaborate on principles for designing innovative software products and teaching human centered design.

Too Much to Know – The Death of the Long Form Book?

At dinner the other evening at Crush with my valued all things marketing and branding colleague, Katherine James Schuitemaker, I shared with her that I finally produced a draft of the book on Attenex Patterns I’ve wanted to write for a long time. She patiently listened without interrupting as I energetically talked about the topics and ideas I wanted to highlight.

When I finished and took a deep, expectant breath, I asked “so what do you think?”

Providing the gift that only long time colleagues have permission to do, she looked at me and then said “Skip, that is so old school.  You’ve waited so long to publish your first book that the world of book publishing has passed you by.  Toss the book idea out and start developing the iPad app that both of us really want.”

While this was not the comment or pat on the back I was looking for, I knew I was about to get something better.  So of course I had to ask “what do you think that app looks like?”

Katherine was at her most eloquent, software conceptualization best as she launched with the synthesis of threads we’ve talked about for twenty years since we first met at Aldus (now Adobe).  Energized, she leaned across the table and lamented “I am so tired of the linear book.  I am so tired of reading books and making notes in them that become completely inaccessible.  What I want is to have a tool that is the combination of the two tools we built at Attenex – Structure for authoring and Patterns for making sense of all the reference materials.”

“I want you to provide the same content that you were going to put in your book but now do it in app form.  But most importantly, I want that app to be the starting point of what I need.  I need to be able to put in a current project that I am working on and have your application point out the gaps between your framework and what I am doing.  I don’t want more information in the form of static content.  I want dynamic, connected knowledge that is ‘news I can use’ when I need it and in the context of what I need.”

“Skip, you have to go back to your original vision at Attenex of connecting authoring (Structure) with discovering (Patterns).  Stop with this book nonsense.  This is your legacy that only you can do.  The previous forty years are all prelude to preparing you for this killer app.”

Well, she had me know.  Legacy.  That was really unfair to entice me with the thought of producing a legacy.

While one part of my brain knew that she was on to something important, I couldn’t let go of the idea of writing a book now that I finally had the energy, motivation and stamina to do the writing.  With my high tolerance for ambiguity, I looked her straight in the eye “I’m going to be incongruent for a bit.  My gut tells me that you are right on.  Yet, my analytic brain is fighting your idea something fierce.  So I’m going to let my analytic self argue with you for a half hour and then I am going to agree with you and change course in some fundamental ways.”

Katherine was very patient with me for the next half hour as I served up objection after objection.  She did her best not to laugh as we’d played this game many times before.  Finally, as my “objection energy” ran out, I said “OK.  New game.  How do we marshal the resources to make it happen?”

As we parted, Katherine turned to me and commanded “Skip, free us from the tyranny of the linear book!”

Read more…

Innovation Forum Highlights: 22 Ways to be More Sustainable

February 11, 2012 Comments off

The Sustainability Organization at UWB is proud to present Sabrina Combs, Joy Johnston, and Janet Geer from the city of Bothell who will be giving a presentation on “22 Easy Ways To Be More Sustainable”. This presentations is based on a program developed by the Mercer Island Green Ribbon Commission to promote easy steps we can all take to live well without having a big impact. After the presentation the Sustainability Organization and guest speakers will have a tabling event featuring specific ways to be more sustainable with green giveaways.

This event will take place on Wednesday Feb. 15, 1:30pm-3:00pm in UW2-305.

RSVP Here.

Check out the full Innovation Schedule!