Sunday, July 3, 2011

How Do We Learn To Make Things Again?

We're in a creative slump - as a society.  We need to relearn how to make stuff.  We need to create ideas - small and big - and build these ideas into works of art; products to rebuild our economy, services which help us live better, and solutions that solve problems.  We all feel the impact of our collective creative slump, but what can we do to change the situation?

I asked someone who knows, Nick Kypreos.  Nick is a successful entrepreneur, community leader, and philanthropist.  Nick was trained as a researcher; he created a new method for the production and application of most of the finishes in your car.  He built a multi-million dollar business around his innovation.  He has created new products, new companies, and new thinking.  I asked him, "How do we teach ourselves to make things again?"  Here are four of Nick's quotes that stood out from our conversation.

"It's starts with education - community education.  We have to offer kids a wide range of experiences so they can find something they love - something they will want to spend their time, their life doing.  We need to have more experiences in our education system.  We need to help our kids get excited; we need to help them find a passion.  Most of us are not geniuses. It's passion for something that will set us apart and will lead to new ideas and the desire to create something new."

"Once kids know what they love, we need to teach them how to be researchers.  We need to show them how to explore what has been done, what has been thought, what conclusions have been made.  Once they have a deep understanding of the knowledge to date, then they can take the past thinking to new places.  But we must encourage research and show how the process of accumulating knowledge will enhance an individual's thinking and allow them a foundation from the past to build new ideas for the future."

"Most innovations come from ideas already in use in other fields.  We must teach our kids to look around the world to see how it's already being done and try to apply these practices and solutions to their problems or ideas.  Most new methods are reconfigurations of methodologies in other industries.  We can become builders and manufacturers again if we look to what is being created in other parts of the world."

"We must teach our kids  how to think,  not necessarily what to think.  This allows them to be creative and original, both prerequisites for discovery and innovation." 

From Nick's thoughts, I took four action steps.

1)  Create opportunities and environments for a number of experiences to allow people to find their passion.

2)  Establish the importance of accurate and in-depth research.  Educate people in methodology, enable access to critical information, and promote the work ethic required to be a good researcher.

3)  Encourage people to look beyond their horizons for answers to problems they experience.  Be curious and open to other methods, techniques, and thinking of other industries, communities, and countries.  The key to their next innovation my be on display for an observant researcher.

4)  We must enhance creative thinking and critical thinking in balance.  We must give our future creators the mental tools to build again. 

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