Round table: Innovation in times of change of era
Chairs: Enric Roca, professor of the Department of Systematic and Social Pedagogy, UAB.
What values and what frameworks promote innovation? Which ones are a barrier to it? What characterizes innovative schools and innovative projects?
Joaquim Brugué, director of the Institute of Government and Public Policies (IGOP), UAB.
As these are times of change, it seems common sense that institutions should change too. Thus, innovation look like the best means to drive this change. But change makes change more complex. Problems become wicked, problems that cannot be simplified or reduced to simpler components. There is no simple answer or, simply, not just one single answer.
BUT: instead of trying to approach wicked problems in different and many ways, what institutions are doing is to specialize put all their effort in being more efficient and effective in their field of specialization… leaving wicked problems unsolved or, at least, providing wicked problems with one single perfect solution that actually does not solve all the complexity of the given issue.
This is the approach of a technocratic society or a technocratic organization that creates no externalities, no networks, no lateral vision.
Màrius Martínez, professor of the Departament of Applied Pedagogy, UAB.
We heavily rely on our own mindsets and mental frameworks, which drag us and stop us from looking at problems from different points of view.
Only dialogue can make these mindsets emerge, ideas be exchanged, and mindsets be changed, or adapted to others’.
There is a need to have a culture of transformation, of “why not?”, to give a chance to change, to transformation.
Once there is such a culture, innovation becomes explicit — not tacit — and can be transferred, replicated.
We have to have a systemic point of view, to look at the whole so that we can clearly frame the problems, the resources, the possibilities.
Trust and accountability, not suspicion and control.
Leadership has to be strong, but distributed, leaving room for collaboration and participation.
Provide resources, especially time, but with some planning, with deadlines, so that accountability can happen.
Emphasis on learning, on development. Innovation has to target learning, learning of the students or of the teaching stuff, but innovation has to lead to learn more and better things. And innovation has to be also an acknowledgement. The acknowledgement that (1) something is wrong and (2) it is wrong that something it is wrong. And, thus, it has to be fixed. Learning and equity are linked to innovation.
Martínez: innovation requires a shared project. And this shared project, or vision, is usually illustrated with a motto. The shared project and motto helps in building a story, a tale, a dialogue.
Enric Roca: Does everyone has to be an innovator in their same role? Can we specialize? Should we not?
Quim Brugué: there should not be such a role as “the innovator”. Instead, conditions have to be created where innovation can happen. These conditions include, most of the times, dialogue and the hybridization of approaches.
Màrius Martínez: in an innovative environment, people feel like agents, agents of change. So, yes there is a need to find agents of change. Distributed leadership is about identifying the existing talent and putting it to work. In this train of thought, maybe the term “good practices” is not as good as “practices of reference”.
Quim Brugué: we have to be aware that what we take for learning is not sheer imitation. This is the risk of having “practices of reference” which, in the end, evolve into bad copies.
Màrius Martinez: the currículum should be put in crisis and, in this exercise, the student should have a leading role.
Q: why most institutions and people deny complexity? Màrius Martinez: sometimes it is a matter of perception, that is, of not perceiving complexity. Quim Brugué: sometimes because complexity is a blocking scenario and, thus, decision-makers rather approach not complexity but simplicity, where traditional rules and tools used to work.